Good Enough
Good Enough
Summary: Spider and Ivory come to an accord, of sorts.
Date: PHD117
Related Logs: References the conversation in Respect.


Firing range. Ten minutes to midnight. There's a single occupied booth, from which the repeated CRACK, CRACK, CRACK of a gun going off can be heard. The sidearm in question holds a nine round clip, judging by the count before a reload. The officer in ownership of this fine piece of mechanics is one Captain Karim Marek, currently outfitted in clean, pressed and buttoned blues with a standard aircrew holster at his left thigh. Ear protection and snazzy orange goggles are worn over his head of dark, tousled curls and his target currently has a plethora of bulletholes in the region of its head.

This counts as early morning for Timon, under whose eyes are still visible a few stray crumbs — those trademark indications of long days and short nights. But despite his haggard appearance, the pilot's movements are quick and alert as he steps through the hatch, service pistol belted to his waist. It's the first time he's been here, or so it seems: Ivory even stops to read the range rules before moving to the storage locker beside them. "Captain," he says in passing, though it's unclear if he's even audible over the sound of a single gun firing.

Kai, on the other hand, seems a veteran of this particular cranny of the ship. If he can't be found in the ready room, his bunk or on the hangar bay— he's most likely up here working on his target practice. The sidearm's hoisted up in both hands, aim adjusted a fraction, and then three shots snapped off in quick succession this time. Either he has good hearing, or some skill as a lipreader; there's a slight turn of his head once he's lowered and safetied his weapon, and a curt nod for Timon. "Lieutenant." And then his stance is squared again, and he aims, and rattles off another six.

Kai's shots elicit a grimace from Ivory, whose hands fly to his head by reflex — not cowardice, this, but merely the defense mechanism of a man who prizes being able to, you know, hear things. When the CAG's through, fingers remove themselves from still-vibrating eardrums and return to the locker, from which he removes a worn pair of goggles and their ear-protecting kin. Fortunately, Timon's not so much a newbie that he can't put on all this silly gear without help; yellow-green foam crumples up nicely between the thumb and middle finger of his left hand.

Ouch, yeah, that's gotta hurt. Kai at least has the grace to pause after he's ejected his empty clip, slotted in a new one and racked the slide, to offer over one shoulder, "Sorry about that." The weapon's kept pointed at the floor for the time being, safety still on while he seems to contemplate something. Whatever it is, doesn't get verbalised. Kai: 0, Social Failure: 1. He raises his weapon, and fires again.

Now that everything's so nicely muffled, Kai's words are just barely audible, though Timon makes an informed guess as to their meaning. "Not a problem, sir," he says, much louder than is likely necessary: like many people, he hasn't quite learned how to calibrate the volume of his voice when he can't really hear himself talk. On go the goggles, next. Though they might look good on Kai, they look patently absurd on Ivory, whose brown curls flop around their neon-orange rims as the pilot grabs a box of ammo and heads over to the bench.

Kai empties the second clip, too, before pausing again to speak. The gun's lifted, the empty slid out in the same motion, and a new one fetched from the table and slotted in. "How're you feeling, Stathis?" Talk about a question out of nowhere.

Most Marines can load a pistol in little under a second. Ivory, though, takes a good ten times that to slot his clip into the grip of his gun, in part because he spends five of those seconds making sure the safety is on. Only when he's good and satisfied that he won't accidentally shoot somebody in the head does he move toward a booth — one away from the CAG. It's like choosing urinals, really, only less awkward and involving a totally different kind of ammunition. The question, though, takes him by surprise. "I've been worse, sir," he says rather carefully, taking advantage of the pause to snag a silhouette from the locker. Then: "And yourself?"

Kai is no marine, but he's pretty quick with that gun. One would think he makes up for his general lack of grace by having good hands, and one might be right. He keeps his gun pointed at the floor while he talks, safety still on. "I'm good," he answers somewhat blandly. Par for the course. "How'd your first flight go?" His voice is necessarily raised a fraction, to compensate for the ear protection of course.

"Well, sir." Ivory sets his pistol down on the metal tabletop before him, tip pointed away from his body — or the CAG's, for that matter. The man grunts as he reaches up for something hanging above and in front of him, leaning forward to attach his paper target to its clamp. For a moment, a bit of his usual self-deprecating humor bubbles to the surface: "Neither Thorn nor I ended up in the middle of a sun, or on the surface of a planet, or adrift in deep space, so I'll count that as a win." But any hint of jocularity is swept away by the "Sir" he appends to the back of that. His booth's metal wheel grinds loudly as its current occupant spools the silhouette to the end of the alley.

It would be precisely the second time today, that someone not on stellar terms with the CAG walked into a room with him in it, bearing a sidearm. Not that Timon is privy to this fact, of course. "Whatever you walk away from," he answers, quoting an epithet oft-used by viper jocks. "You're also one of Legacy's best pilots. She speaks very highly of you." It's hard to gauge his tone, especially with the ear protection and the need to pitch voices louder than normal.

Timon looks down to check his posture, going through some mental checklist he must have learned way back during OCS: feet squared, shoulders steady, torso upright. A bead of sweat trickles down the side of his face before it's wiped away with the back of his hand. "When your Raptor hits deck she ceases to be your problem," Ivory affirms in the meantime, quoting an aphorism of his own. Now, only now, does he go for his gun, holding it in two hands as he was taught; then, arms swing upwards to bring its stainless-steel sight in line with his eye. "I appreciate the sentiment, sir," he says, and he even manages to make his tone sound mild despite having to speak like a drill sergeant. "I hope I may one day live up to her expectations."

Kai's lips quirk to one side with a briefly amused expression that could not quite be termed a smile. He glances downrange to his own target, and then across the glass enclosure toward Timon. The younger man is observed quietly while he lines up his shot; the nuances of his posture, the placement of his feet, any hints of tension that might be telegraphed through the above. He doesn't speak. Yet.

There's tension, all right — Timon's body is stiff as he swings his hands down and up, moving his pistol perpendicular to the table. Something's off, which should be patently obvious to a man of Kai's experience: Ivory's allowing his wrists and not his arms to control the direction of his gun, which may be why the single shot he fires makes a neat little hole a good five centimeters from the black. Back on goes the safety almost before he recovers from the recoil — it's time to readjust his grip. The smell of sulfur hangs sharp and acrid in the air.

Kai considers for a few moments more, and then checks his safety and unloads his clip. Thunk, thunk. It's placed on the table while he holsters his weapon, then collected along with the empties. He moves to the end of his booth to tear his target off its clips, and starts crumpling it as he rounds to where Timon's standing. The man moves with a very slight limp, which subtly breaks the cadence of his stride. "There's a difference, you know, between an egotistical man, and one who owns up to his accomplishments-" He touches Timon's shoulder lightly, to indicate for him to pause. "-and his mistakes." His hand slides down the pilot's arm, lifts his elbow briefly, then brushes over his wrist and straightens it. "Here. Shoulders down, don't lock your elbows."

Timon flinches noticeably at the touch, muscles freezing — Spider's hand meets significant resistance from Ivory's wrist as the subtle tension in the lieutenant's figure suddenly becomes a lot more obvious. After a few agonizing seconds, though, Timon does his best to follow the advice given, shoulders sagging incrementally to bring themselves to a more reasonable level. "There is, sir," is what he says aloud, speaking so slowly that it's almost as if his brain has to drag the words out from his mouth. More he doesn't say just yet, instead moving his thumb to the safety before pulling the trigger. Blam! screams the gun. This shot is better: at least he hit something, even though knocking the ear off a Centurion wouldn't do much of anything in real life.

The touch is withdrawn when that flinch is felt. Kai's not a particularly handsy sort of person, himself, but some things can't be communicated verbally alone. There's a small nod after the shot's fired. Approval, though not overt. "Better." He tucks his hands into the pockets of his trousers, holstered gun displaced a fraction with the motion. "You're turning away-" He demonstrates with a fractional shift of his head to the right. "-when you fire. You've got to keep your eyes level. Stare down whatever you've got in your sights. Look it in the eyes."

"If that's the case, sir, they should rig these silhouettes with a little red dot that hums as it moves." Timon delivers the observation as wryly as he can, shaking his head as sweat — flowing freely, now — seeps into the elastic band holding his goggles to his eyes. Gods bless the genius who invented anti-fog coating. It's with some amount of effort that he holds his gaze steady, though, for his third shot and his fourth — one to the target's left, shoulder, one through the target's right cheek. He still hasn't broken the habit — it's human instinct to duck at loud noises, after all — but this is a start.

"I meant it figuratively," the CAG answers, with a soft sound in his throat that's midway between a huff and a chuckle. He hovers his hand under Timon's wrist again, indicating that it's bending again. "Look it in the eyes." The advice is repeated again as if for emphasis, though it's the raptor pilot's eyes he's watching— behind the orange goggles, anyway. "You're doing fine."

"That's not good enough, sir," Ivory murmurs — the first time his voice has dropped below the forty-decibel mark this morning. It's an open question whether Kai hears, especially because Timon's now worked up enough courage to triple-tap. This, as it turns out, is not the best of ideas: for all the pistol's barking, only two of the man's shots hit the paper at all, and only one of those strikes true. There's a little hole where a Centurion's eye might be and another identical one five centimeters above it. The lieutenant's obviously hasn’t figured out how to handle recoil just yet. "Not anymore," he says, voice back up to normal.

Kai drops his hand, of course, when Timon goes to fire again. The perforation each shot creates is observed, before his blue eyes tick back to the man. "Drop your shoulders a little. If you don't absorb the shock, it'll throw off your aim." And then, "I didn't say it was good enough. None of us are good enough. I'm not good enough. But second guessing everything you're told makes you a liability, Stathis." It's not spoken with any rancor, at all. Just brutal honesty, as the Captain seems to favour. Sugar-coating is not in his vocabulary.

Two shots remaining. This time, Ivory takes things slow, going so far as to smooth out his ragged breathing before firing the last few bullets in his clip. There's a sharp CRACK, followed by ten seconds of silence, and then another CRACK, before Timon ejects his spent clip and safes his weapon once again. One hand removes one of the plugs from his ears; the other gathers up the spent casings around him, warm brass clattering lightly under his palm. "Orders are orders, sir," he notes as he works, keeping his expression carefully neutral. "I understand that as well as anybody."

"I know you do," Kai answers, just as evenly. He turns away once Timon's emptied his clip, and shoves the used target into the trash. "You're an intelligent man." The spent casings he'd gathered up are tossed into a nearby bin designated for them. "But I need people who can do more than just follow orders." His ear protection's tugged out, one at a time, and tossed into another bin. Goggles are next; his motions are relaxed, no sign that he's particularly annoyed. "I need people whom I can trust." And therein lies the crux of it, t'would seem.

Timon leaves his weapon where it is, sliding past the CAG to deposit his brass in the bucket laid out precisely for that purpose. His earplugs go into the small bin nearby for recycling and reprocessing: it'd be a shame to let perfectly good material go to waste. He's silent through it all, taking advantage of the time to gather his thoughts. Then: "Trust to do what, Captain?"

"Whatever I ask," is the Captain's quiet reply. There's nobody discharging weapons in here any longer, so there's no need to raise voices. He attempts to meet Timon's eyes there. "I was a flight instructor before I came aboard the Kharon, Timon. I've seen my share of egos. Egos that would dwarf yours in comparison. I know you think I must have quite the nerve to dare to take you down a few notches, but you need to understand something: I am not your friend. And I am not your squad leader. I need to be able to rely on you, and until you trust me, it's going to be an uphill battle." He smiles faintly. "You're lucky I'm a patient man."

Ivory stays silent as he digests Spider's words, busying himself with his gun and target while he thinks. The latter is crumpled into a ball he has the decency not to attempt to toss into the trash; the former slips safely into its holster. "Sir — " he begins — and then stops, remembering that he's still wearing a pair of immensely goofy-looking goggles. That situation is remedied with the quick snap of elastic. "I used to think that things would be a lot easier for all of us if we could just be more like the Cylons," he says, after stowing them where they belong. "See X, do Y, and wash our hands of the choice. But then I realized that the Cylons didn't work like that, not at all — else every single Raider would fly the same way, and they most assuredly don't, not even in our models." Somebody's been paying attention to his ECO's side project, it seems. "My point is, Captain, that blind obedience can be as dangerous as perpetual noncompliance."

"Do you think I would ask for blind obedience?" comes the riposte, once again quietly.

"I don't know what to think, sir," is Timon's reply, equally calm. "In the same way you don't know if I'm the type of officer who'll overrule your orders on a whim."

"Then you figure it out." Silence for a measure, then a breath is taken and released slowly. Kai does a brief check of his watch before buttoning up the top flap of his blues jacket. "Because I will ride you until the day we're both bloodstains on a windscreen, Timon, if I have to." Two things might be evident in his voice, in his eyes: conviction, and dedication.

"A moment ago you spoke to me about trust, Captain. A few weeks ago, you spoke to me about respect." The shadow from that conversation is still hanging over the pair of pilots as they talk. "Neither, sir, is a one-way street. I need to know if you'll stay in your lane as much as you need to know if I'll stay in mine. So we'll both have to figure it out." There's no edge in Timon's voice, or anything else along those lines. "But speaking for myself? I'm willing to try." And then he does a monumentally stupid thing: he extends his hand, still spotted here and there with red and black ink.

Oh boy. This one's gonna be a project, all right. Kai does not comment on anything that's said, perhaps leaving that as an exercise to the man to deduce his own answers. He does however, after a moment's pause, accept the offered hand. It's grasped firmly, and shaken once; not quite so overbearing as your average stick jockey shake, but there's no doubt what he is and what he flies. "It's not good enough," he murmurs, unable to keep a twitch of a smile from marring his otherwise staid features. "But it's a start." The hand's released, and he takes a step back for the hatch. "Good night, Timon."

Ivory's grip isn't nearly as firm — no wonder he failed all those interviews in his other, previous life. Only when his hand is safely in his possession does he speak up again. "No, sir," the Raptor pilot murmurs. "It's not good enough. But like somebody I know once told me not too long ago: nobody — nothing — is." His wan smile almost doesn't make it past his lips. "Good morning, Captain." And then he's out the door, the scent of gunpowder trailing in his wake.

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