Respect
Respect
Summary: Kai gives Timon a lesson in respect.
Date: PHD086
Related Logs: Log refers to Conversations Over Morpha, Eating Tables, and various Scorpia logs. Takes place about ten minutes after Hit and Run.
Players:
Kai..Timon..

Rather than at his desk by the whiteboard, or in one of the chairs arranged in rows from the front to the back of the room, the CAG is pacing near the podium at the front. His hands are tucked into the pockets of his fatigues, jacket done up to signify he's technically on-duty. The lights are kept low, shadows prominent; none moreso than his.

Ivory's entrance will add another silhouette to the mix. "Captain," says Timon as he steps into the room, his eyes still bleary, voice still scratchy. Not 'Spider'; not even 'sir.' He's pretty sure he knows what's coming. He’s even a little out of breath — the lamb hasn’t tarried on the way to slaughter.

Kai looks up just as Timon arrives. Probably, he heard his hurried stride in the hall. "Lieutenant. Sit." Not 'have a seat', but 'sit'. As if he were a dog.

Which Timon does, as standing on a bum leg isn't much fun. Good doggie. He's even taken his usual chair.

Welcome to the club. Marek, on the other hand, doesn't sit. Even if the leg he went and got shot up, might be bothering him. He takes up his usual lean on the row of seats just in front of Timon, hands still in his pockets as he regards the other man. "Do you have a problem with me, Stathis?" is asked in a tone of voice utterly lacking inflection. Nothing like cutting straight to the chase.

Well — that was unexpected. "No, sir," says the lieutenant, though his face remains blank. He's going to let this one play out a bit longer before he says any more, though his braced wrist does rise to scratch at his nose — which, in the dark, almost looks like it hadn't been broken.

"Do you have a problem with Captain Legacy?" is the next question, right on beat after the raptor driver's given his reply. Kai attempts to hold Timon's eyes throughout; the low light makes blue appear almost grey.

A less stubborn pilot might choose to take advantage of the room's dim lighting, which casts several jagged shadows over convenient areas of his face. But Timon leans forward to meet the CAG's gaze. "Absolutely not," he says again, voice level.

Kai doesn't move a muscle, even as Timon leans in to return the eye contact that's sought. Is it a challenge from the CAG? Hard to tell. His expression remains maddeningly ambivalent. "Do you consider yourself to be a good officer?" is his next question— once again, just on the heels of Timon's answer. It's like a verbal ping pong match.

"No, sir." It's as if Timon's taken his racket and, instead of returning serve, sets it down. Brown eyes blink once, then twice, though whether he's quailed under pressure or he's dealing with allergies — that’s hard to tell.

"Why not, Lieutenant?" Marek's voice is a low murmur in the inky dark, threaded with the slight hoarseness that comes from too many years of smoking.

"I consider myself a capable pilot, sir, knock on wood." There's no arrogance in Timon's words, even as his good hand props his cane against his leg to brush back a bit of fluid from his eyes. "But if you'll permit me the luxury of introspection, recent events — " He doesn't say "Scorpia." " — have reinforced in my mind the belief that no, sir, I am not a good officer."

"Cut the verbal diarrhea, Lieutenant." There is, similarly, no bite in the viper jock's voice. His tone remains bland, even if his eyes maintain a sharp focus; like a hunter with a bead upon the other man. "What makes you think you're not a good officer? That's the first, and last time I'm going to repeat a question to you."

"I think too much," replies Timon simply. Apparently, he's capable of speaking in neither parables nor aphorisms. He moves to wipe his hand on his thigh; it drops out of sight.

Kai says nothing, though the expectant look on his face — what can be glimpsed of it in the sliver of light that crosses his cheek and the bridge of his nose — seems to imply a "go on".

"You asked me to be brief," Ivory observes, eyes watering. This time, though, his hands will stay where they are. "With your leave — ?"

Kai nods slightly, but keeps his arms folded across his midsection. No offer is made of a handkerchief, and it's not like there's a box of tissues sitting around in here.

Which is why Timon's duty uniform will likely need to be washed. Again. But aloud: "When I crashed my Raptor in Paros — " Active voice; Timon's taking ownership of the situation. No 'mistakes were made,' here. " — and encountered Lieutenant Nikolo, whom you might have met, I gave an order to Ensign Roubani as ranking officer on the ground: to shoot Lieutenant Nikolo if he so much as put one foot out of line. I repeated and expanded my order the next morning: not only with respect to personnel, by which I mean everybody under my command, but also with respect to content. Simply put, I ordered my men to prioritize their own safety over the lives of others, up to and including those of innocent civilians."

Kai doesn't so much blink at Timon's choice of wording, regarding his raptor going down. And he doesn't blink, either, as his actions down on the planet are elucidated upon. Whether the CAG approves or disapproves, is a matter of conjecture. "Where do you think your mistake was?" he asks then.

Up goes Timon's hand to his eyes once more; the back of his palm gleams under the room's faint light as it drops down to his lap. "Put simply, I believe that a man should never act in such a way that he treats humanity, whether in himself or in others, as a means only but always as an end in itself. I know the counterarguments — " At that, he smiles wanly. " — but will not preempt them here, for the sake of your time."

If Kai's sympathetic, at all, to Timon's inner turmoil, it doesn't show. If he notices the wetness on the back of the man's hand, it doesn't seem to move him. "Do you think we are philosophers, Lieutenant, or soldiers?"

Those aren't tears. "You're a soldier, Captain, and an officer." Timon certainly has a penchant for stating the obvious. "And from a soldier's perspective, my orders were, in those circumstances, justified. Ensign Roubani made that case quite convincingly yesterday evening." Timon clears his throat; already, his voice is fading. "A soldier will sleep soundly at night, secure in the knowledge that he's done the right thing. I do not. Which must mean, sir, that I'm less soldier than man. Hence: a bad officer." Quod erat demonstrandum.

Kai shakes his head slightly. "That's where you're wrong, Stathis. It isn't our duty to do what's right. It's our duty to do what we must. Whether it be right or wrong. Whether it makes us good men or bad. This is the burden of leadership." His voice doesn't waver, and nor do his eyes. "This is what it means to be human. To do what you must, to take responsibility for it, and to let the gods alone judge you." He leans in slightly closer, voice drawing low but not soft. "As soon as you start to question yourself, others will only be too happy to do so. You weaken your resolve, and then your leadership crumbles. They will have lost faith in you." There's a pause for breath, and finally, finally, his eyes flicker away. "To be a good officer and soldier, does not mean that you have no compunctions. It does not mean that you sleep soundly at night. It means that you undertake your duty with the full knowledge of what it is that you do; and you learn to sleep in spite of it. You learn to close your eyes, and not see the unspeakable things you've done."

As the CAG talks, Timon leans back against his chair, his face fading back into the shadows, his visage still blank. When Kai gets to the point about 'what it means to be human,' though, Ivory moves as if to interrupt — but thinks better of it. Only when the man finishes does he speak up, voice thoughtful: "And you have learned this, Captain?"

"I don't always enjoy the decisions I have to make," Kai answers evenly, in somewhat tangential satisfaction of the question.

"Hm." Timon purses his lips, hand rising to brush back more water from his eyes. And now it's his turn to talk. "I won't presume to put words in your mouth," he says at length, his tone mild. "But going back to your previous point — that it isn't our obligation to do what's right? With respect, sir, you're conflating two separate and contradictory sets of duties: those you voluntarily shouldered when you became an officer in the Fleet, and those incumbent upon you from birth, conferred upon you as a member of our blessed, benighted species. The former requires you to do what is necessary, and in certain circumstances — say, Paros — it supersedes the latter's requirement that you do — always — what is right. You swore an oath to evaluate the conflict in this way when you received your commission. So," he notes, "did I."

"I'm not going to get into a debate over stocism and epicurianism with you, Lieutenant." It comes roughly halfway through Timon's diatribe, possibly or possibly not leaving it unfinished. "This isn't a lesson in academics. You are an officer of the Colonial fleet navy. You have a duty, and you will perform that duty to the best of your ability, or I will remove you from said duty. Nobody, not one of us, is immune from doubting ourselves. If we didn't, we'd be cylons. And you know damned well what I meant, so cut the bullshit, and leave your ego at the door next time."

"As I said, sir, I think too much." Timon's expression remains blank; his voice, as mild as warm milk. "May I speak freely?"

It's probably not too far off from the CAG's. Kai's a difficult man to rile up; and thus far, his voice hasn't wavered once. "No, you may not." Silence for a few seconds. "Furthermore, you will observe proper protocol in the future. I am not your friend, your buddy or your sibling, and I do not report to you, Lieutenant. You will address me as 'sir'. You will salute, in duty areas such as this. You will be a role model and an example to the junior officers in your squadron, and you will not be a behavioural problem again for Captain Legacy, or I will shove my boot up your ass so far you'll be spitting shoelaces for a week. Do I make myself clear?"

Timon doesn't answer for a while, as he weighs options in his mind. Then — and now he leans forward — he talks, voice a near whisper. "I am a behavioral problem," he repeats. At that, he actually chuckles.

"I said," Kai returns in the same low voice, "do I make myself clear, Lieutenant?"

"I discovered a lot of things about myself in Paros, Captain." Timon's voice remains conversational. "One thing in particular I discovered was a spine. So let me say this one thing, Captain — me, Captain, meek and quavering Ivory, effete product of the academy, who's never talked back once. Not to you, not to Captain Legacy, not ever. I do perform my duty, sir, to the best of my ability." There's no heat in his words, nor will there be in the recitation that follows. "The reprimand I'm undoubtedly about to receive will be the first in my file. But as for Paros, for which you were absent: I did give that order, and I did expand that order, and I did instruct my men to return to the Raptor and salvage the communications drone that proved to be our ticket off-world, back home, despite the risk that some if not all of us would be grievously wounded or killed outright." The fact that he himself was one of those casualties he leaves unsaid. "I did those things without hesitation, and if I must, I'll do them again. But I refuse, Captain, to learn to close my eyes."

One thing Timon likely doesn't know about the Captain, is his service on the Pegasus. Or the fact that, in a different place and a different time, he might have a sidearm at his hip with a single bullet reserved for mutineers. What that may or may not make the Lieutenant, he may never know. But the rambling reply is actually listened to, and there isn't an ounce of tension in the viper pilot's frame. A tetch of it around his eyes, possibly, but his posture remains neutral and non-confrontational. "Then stand by what you did," he answers in conclusion, voice having gentled just a fraction from its earlier steel. "Courage is not the absence of fear. And a good soldier, a good officer, understands that accepting responsibility is not the same as absolution of guilt." A beat, and he starts to push off the back of the chair, and to his full height. Which is still a shade less than Timon's. "If I see anything less than exemplary manners from you, Stathis, there'll be more than a reprimand on your file. I don't know where you learned this casual disrespect, but it ends right here. Right now. If the next words coming out of your mouth aren't 'yes' and 'sir', in that order, myself and Captain Legacy will be re-evaluating your position in this wing. Am I clear?"

"Sir. Yes, sir." A little bit of defiance — just a little. Timon's said his piece. "And for what it's worth, Captain — " It's not precisely contempt in his expression but disappointment: that this man, at this time, will make a row over something as insignificant as whether his boots are properly licked. Fortunately for the lieutenant, Ivory doesn't make that opinion known. " — I apologize if my violations of protocol offended you or Captain Legacy. I can assure you with confidence, sir, I meant no disrespect." Only when he's steadied himself, boots apart, back straight, does he swap his cane from good hand to bad so he can salute.

Kai didn't, presumably, gain his reputation for being a jerk ass son of a bitch with a good-sized book on military protocol shoved up his ass along with the stick, for nothing. He doesn't speak to what's said, save to return the salute crisply and utter a steely, "Noted, Lieutenant. You're dismissed." And judging by the time, they're all but bound to be headed the same way. Oh joy of joys.

Timon's going to Sickbay to treat his eyes, which are much more inflamed now than they were when he entered the room. Gee thanks, Cap'n. But he bears the irritation with icy composure — something he's picked up recently, it seems, as he pauses. He'll let the more senior officer pass before he settles two steps behind and a step to the right. Protocol: he knows it.

Kai heads for the hatch shortly thereafter, his stride clipped and slightly uneven on the deck as he passes. Not a word more is spoken; here, or on the way down.

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