Man to Man
Man to Man
Summary: Komnenos and Roubani pull some extra hours in the office. After various social fails, they actually manage to have a normal conversation.
Date: PHD106 (1 August 2009)
Related Logs: None

Kharon - Naval Offices

It's getting into the evening, and only one of the desks in the office is still occupied. That individual is neither Captain Karim A. Marek, or Captain Althea D. Legacy, as the placards on the desk proclaim; nevertheless, Anton Komnenos is doing his best captain impression as he looks over checklists and types up reports.

Time is no object to some people, who seem to take shifts as just broad guidelines as to when to be getting work done. As usual, Roubani's not joining the laughter in the general lounge or hanging about in berthings, he's slipping into the offices with some folders in the crook of his arm. But a good impression of Sen he certainly isn't. Bypassing her desk, he sets his things down on the peon area of engineering, which happens to butt right up against the air wing's space. "Hey," he says to Thorn quietly, by way of greeting. It's almost hesitant, as normally he'd duck behind a simple 'sir' but that comfort's been stolen away.

Eyes glued to the computer as he looks over some record or another, Komnenos nearly misses Poet's entrance, but the man's quiet greeting quickly pierces Thorn's electronic reverie. "Oh. Hey, Poet." A quick input of keystrokes, and he's finished with the whatever-it-is, and turns his full attention to the pilot-turned-engineer. "How goes?"

Roubani combs through the heap of files he'd just stacked on the desk until he finds the one he wanted. That's put down closer to the computer, along with some handwritten notes. "As it goes." He considers the setup on the table for a moment, then the urns of hot water by the wall. "Calls for tea, I believe," he murmurs. "Would you like some?"

"Please." Thorn utters a perfunctory yawn. "I could use it." He opens one of the desk drawers, pulling out a few folders. Taking out a piece of paper from the first one, he begins to make official looking notations on the sheet. "Made a little bit this morning, but it didn't even last me until midday."

Roubani steps around the uncomfortable chair waiting for him, and finds two decently clean mugs in the haphazard pile by the urn. "At this point you might have better luck mainlining it." One teabag, great. He thins his lips and picks up a spoon, dunking the teabag first into one cup for about minute, then setting it in the other cup. Rationing ftw. Bringing the two back, Thorn gets the one that's still steeping.

"Hnh." Komnenos snorts, his lips twitching in a little sardonic smile. He accepts the cup with a nod. "Thanks." He leans back in his chair long enough to take a drink and light a smoke before picking up his pen once again. There's a pause, though, as pen touches paper; after a moment, the pen gets set back down, and Thorn swivels around to look at Roubani. "There still something you want t' talk about, Poet?"

Roubani has settled and picked up his own pen by now, scribbling little symbols on the paper that might be official. Or they might just be battlescars of a lack of concentration. "Oh. Yes." Pause, scribble. "Have you seen Captain Legacy lately?"

Komnenos' head cocks to one side. "Now that you mention it, I haven't." He reconsiders. "Well, I believe she did make an appearance at the fight, but I didn't happen t' talk t' her. Barely even seen her since the blackout." There's another long pause; Thorn takes a drag from his cigarette and another drink from his mug. "Something wrong? Whatever it is, I didn't do it… at least I don't think I did…" He smiles wanly at his meager attempt at humor.

Roubani's lips twitch, though it doesn't evolve into a real smile. He rests his elbows on the desk, looking down into his tea as he sips from it. "No, no…well. I don't know. I had simply heard she might be upset these days…understandable, of course. But I haven't been near your berthings in a while."

"Upset?" A hint of concern enters Komnenos' voice, though his facial features remain oddly blank. "Well, she's had a lot t' deal with lately, but so have we all. You heard anything else?" He turns back to his paperwork, though he's still paying attention. "Not sure what I'm supposed t' do about it, anyhow. I'm no bloody counselor."

Roubani shakes his head slightly, looking back down at his papers. "You misunderstand, I'm not asking you to do anything. Just if you'd seen her." Closing that before any more defensiveness can spark, he simply adds, "Thank you."

There's another long silence before Thorn finally replies. "Sorry… didn't mean t' snap at you. I'd assumed…" Presumably, the saying about making assumptions pops into his head at that moment, as he trails off rather abruptly. "Never mind," he mutters quietly, before burying his nose in the folder once again.

Social fail, epic. Roubani nods once and lapses into silence himself, pen gently scratching the paper as he gets on with it. You'd think pens would be obsolete by now.

Make that two counts of socialfail, as Thorn mutters something to himself, going back to his scribbling. A cloud of cigarette smoke begins to form above his head; somehow, the image seems apropos. "You heard anything more than just that she's upset?" he asks quietly.

Roubani's pen keeps moving for a while before he speaks. His lips don't move much, and the volume is low. "Not really." His eyes come up and watch the edge of his paper, then go back to his stilled pen nib. "But I'm sure you know how she can be. She sees things come in waves."

"Yeah." Anton's volume matches Roubani's as he finishes his notations on one sheet and takes out another, starting the process all over again. "The poor woman… there are times she never seems t' catch a break." There's a brief injection of emotion in his voice; at that moment, he sounds as though he's talking about anyone but his superior officer.

Roubani shuffles through a few corners of his papers, looking for a number. When he finds it, the others are gently lowered again with a rustle, and it's marked on the front sheet. He looks up slowly and glances at Komnenos' profile, the deep brown of his eyes brought out by the darkened skin underneath. Then back down, signing his name to the bottom of the first of many papers. "It can be painful to care so much about someone like that."

"Like what?" Thorn replies sharply, his face taking on an ever-so-slight tinge of crimson. "Cat's important t' a lot of people. Anybody in the air wing would say the same thing." His words are vehement, but somehow unconvincing, as though he's telling himself that and not Roubani. Having thus planted his foot in his mouth twice in as many minutes, he quickly clams up, going back to writing and smoking furiously.

Roubani on the other hand just keeps writing as though nothing had happened. His fingers scratch briefly through the back of his unevenly hacked hair. "I know. I understand." A new page is shuffled to the front of the pile.

Komnenos grunts, but says nothing else, simply returning to his work. Puffs of smoke plume from his lips as though his mouth were a chimney. Another checklist is notarized, and he turns back to his computer and begins typing a report. After a moment, he frowns, opening his notebook and studying his notes from the library before the clacking of the keys starts once again.

Eventually the smell of smoke gets to Roubani and he fishes his own pack out from his front pocket. He retrieves a cigarette from it, partly bent from the battering his jacket takes on duty, and flicks his lighter to life. Silence doesn't seem to bother him much, not with the entire room so quiet. Keys clack and pen scratches.

Komnenos kills the last of his cup of tea, and leans back in his chair, taking a short breather. He sighs, staring at the half finished report on his screen. More smoke joins the haze that's beginning to form around him; finally, he reluctantly sits back up and gets back to work on the report. "I'll talk t' her. Lords know none of us should be left t' stew and suffer," he says softly, half to himself.

Roubani doesn't seem to notice Thorn's thoughtful interlude until the man speaks. His eyes flicker up, then he rolls a shoulder as he rearranges a few papers in front of him, uselessly squaring them up and setting them right back down again. His cigarette's retrieved again, a column of ash tapped off it. "Lords know," he repeats quietly. Then after a moment, "How have you been, anyway?"

Komnenos looks back at Roubani as he realizes the other man's addressed him. "I'm surviving," he replies simply. After a moment, a small, sardonic smile starts to form on his face. "I seem t' be developing a work ethic," he continues, gesturing to the papers in front of him. "You know, it seems t' be helping."

Roubani's mouth twitches slightly. There aren't enough muscles involved to call it a smile. "You didn't have one before?"

"Not much of one, anyway," comes the reply. "Had enough aptitude t' coast by in college. The habit stuck." Puff, puff. Thorn seems to be a little calmer now, as he blows a pair of smoke rings. "Why that changed, I don't know. But it feels strangely… fulfilling."

"It might sound odd… but I feel more like a real officer now than I ever have in my career," Thorn adds as an afterthought.

Roubani watches the smoke rings as they coast upwards, then his dark eyes shift back to the other man. Then the ashtray, as he rolls the tip of his cigarette against it. "I suppose," he murmurs, "That satisfaction comes more easily when one can see tangible evidence." His eyes flick to the papers that Thorn's already finished up.

"It does, at that," Thorn replies thoughtfully. "My educational experience would'ev been a lot smoother, had I learned that eight years earlier…" He shrugs. "…but I suppose it's a moot point now."

Roubani is still watching the papers, eyes heavy-lidded. For a few seconds it seems he hadn't even heard Thorn, but then he snaps out of his thoughts with a slow blink. "I don't know if I would ever call the past a moot point," he says, quietly. A small drag's pulled off the cigarette and he lifts his chin, making an 'o' of his mouth that expels a sloppy cloud of smoke instead of a ring. A very faint smirk. "I can't do that."

"I meant the time it took t' figure that out. Perhaps it was a lesson that I took too long t' learn, but at least it was learned, eh?" He grins at Roubani's attempt at a smoke ring. "Took me a while t' figure it out, myself. Didn't even know how I did it the first couple of times. Still not sure how I'd explain it, were I t' try." He takes another drag, but refrains from showing off, simply exhaling the smoke.

Roubani takes another drag off the cigarette, this time trying to pop the smoke from his mouth without inhaling it first. No use, the air above them gets treated to a thick mushroom cloud of fail. He just grunts softly, tapping the white stick against the ashtray. "Perhaps if I amassed enough knowledge of how not to do it, I would figure it out."

"Seemed t' work for me," Komnenos responds dryly. "I've every confidence in you t' figure it out." This time,he can't resist the temptation; he exhales a hazy little ring, which hangs tauntingly in the air for a few seconds before dissipating, assimilated into the rest of the smoky haze the two men have created. "Speaking of confidence…" Thorn's voice takes on a much more serious tone, as he goes off on another tangent. "I wanted t' say congratulations again on the promotion. I don't think anyone on this ship deserved it more than you." His lips quirk in a near-smile. "I'm also relieved you won't have the excuse t' call me sir all the bloody time anymore."

Roubani softly sucks his teeth at the appearance of a new ring. But he doesn't try again. "Thank you," he says after a second or two, more quietly. "It's not…an entirely comfortable skin yet," he admits, gently rubbing the end of his nose as he watches the ashtray. "I don't want to end up squandering trust."

Komnenos nods in understanding. "I understand." His voice drops almost to a whisper, and his eyes twitch to the floor. "That sort of trust… can be very difficult t' earn. I know." A pause, and another drag. No rings this time, though. As he speaks, he gets a distant look in his eyes, and it's a moment before he speaks again. "It speaks well of you, how quickly you've managed t' engender that kind of trust. From everyone."

Roubani offers a weak half-smile that fades as quickly as it came. "I don't know. Sometimes it feels like every day we all have to do it all over again."

Thorn leans forward in his chair as he faces the younger lieutenant, a sudden intensity in his eyes. "Spare me the modest crap, Poet. I've known enough bad officers in the past, myself included, t' know that you're on a different level. You're a damn good officer, and you're doing yourself a disservice if you think otherwise."

"I don't." Roubani replies, very quietly but at least sincerely. "Though there is a lot that I am uncertain whether I could or could not order a man to do…and I won't know until the time comes. I am not discounting your confidence, but even you have to admit that it's only a part of any battle." He isn't afraid of eye contact, that soft voice of his often mistaken for passivity. There's a second or two. "You believe yourself a bad officer?"

"I did. And believe me, I was." Thorn admits quietly. "I don't know. I'm certainly no shining example, t' say the least, though I like t' think I'm making some progress in that regard." He pauses a moment as he gathers his thoughts. For the moment, though, words fail him, and he settles with simply meeting Poet's eyes with a quietly meaningful look of his own.

Roubani keeps his eyes on Thorn. After a while he just says, "I would rather learn from a man who declares he's made mistakes than a man who believes he's made none."

"I'm not much of a teacher, Poet," is Thorn's only reply after another momentary pause. "But, if that's a vote of confidence, then I appreciate it all the same." First he's telling Roubani not to indulge in self-deprecating nonsense, and now here he is, doing the same. He's at least got the good grace to seem slightly disturbed by his own hypocracy.

"You haven't got much of a choice," Roubani replies quietly. "We teach each other and learn from each other whether we're trying to or not. I have learned many lessons from people lately…some that I wish I hadn't." He gently rubs the ridge above his left eyebrow with the tip of his thumb. "Rather like paint transfer when you hit something with your car."

Thorn grunts thoughtfully at the analogy. "True. Suppose it's not my place t' tell you who t' learn from. I just… I hope if you've picked up anything from me, it was at least something positive." Komnenos fumbles his words slightly, as the heart-to-heart is not exactly his forte. He does manage to convey a certain sincerity in his tone, though, as he stamps the smoldering embers of his forgotten cigarette into his ashtray. "As I mentioned… I'm not much of an example."

Roubani half-smiles and purses his lips at the same time, making the expression look unintentionally crooked. "Positive, yes. Or if not…at least something that can be easily taken care of with antibiotics."

"Antibiotics?" Thorn repeats, mirroring Roubani's crooked smile with one of his own. "Better explain that one, Poet, before I get the wrong idea." Seeing that he's not likely to get much more work done tonight, he shuts down the computer and begins refiling the random papers and folders strewn across the air wing captains' desk.

Roubani waves a hand slightly between them, dismissing the thought before it can spiral. The small smile fades away and he stubs out his cigarette, picking up his pen again. "Rest well, when you do," he murmurs to the ECO, as the papers get put away.

All of a sudden, Komnenos is terribly curious, but he doesn't push the younger man any further. Instead, there's a soft, raspy "And you, Poet," before the last of his folders are back in the drawer and he's on his feet, heading for the door.

The sound of the pen scratching follows Thorn out. Rest is apparently not on Roubani's agenda anytime soon.

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