Ships Passing
Ships Passing
Summary: In which Timon learns that philosophy puts his fellow pilots to sleep (and worse).
Date: PH057 (14 June 2009)
Related Logs: None

Kharon - Lounge

Roubani is seated on one of the couches in the officer area, away from the main traffic through the room. Wearing his drab olive fatigue pants and a T-shirt, his duty jacket folded very neatly over the back of the couch. There's a large, sketchbook-sized notebook on his lap and a pencil in hand, a cup of tea sitting on the low table.

Leda steps into the lounge as sans cigar or booze, it would seem the pilot has cut back slightly on his drinking habits. His eyes scan the room and as he spots Roubani he walks over to the pilot, "Poet, how are you?" He says as he moves over to take a peak at the notebook if he can, "Working on something fun or is this one of those engineering conundrums?" His tones are light and playfull.

Roubani looks up from the sketchbook. It looks like the book was being used for what it was meant for, as there's a shape taking form that might be the beginning of someone's face. "Sir." He looks back down, rubbing the side of his thumb over some of the shading. "It's Morales' birthday present. Well, a late one."

Castor raises an eyebrow unaware that Mooner had a birthday recently, "I missed Mooner's birthday." He clucks softly, "Well, that isn't good for morale and all." He then takes a moment to let Roubani draw as he says, "How are things going on your end these days, Poet?" His tones take a genuine feel seeing as how the pair have started over.

"I'm sure you might still tell her happy birthday, sir." Roubani talks quietly to the page rather than Castor, but it's probably just because he's drawing. The pencil softly scratches as he shades around a curve. "I'm alright. Yourself, then?"

Castor takes a moment to lean back content to let the pilot and now engineer draw, "Me? I'm on top of the world…" He then takes a moment to lean back slightly in his chair, "I'll tell Mooner happy birthday the next time I see her." He then takes a moment to pat his pockets for a cigar that isn't there.

"Good," Roubani comments softly. As to whether that's an answer to Castor's well-being or to his promise to embarass Eddie, who's to say. He glances at the table, where another number pencil sits by his teacup. "Could you…?" He points to the pencil.

Castor looks down at the teacup and then he picks up the pencil offering it to Roubani, "Well, I hope this gift makes Mooner happy." He then leans back, "Anything new going on in engineering?" He asks in conversational tones, "Cause nothing is going on in the air wing right now. Even a church mouse would have run from all the silence in our wing."

Roubani sets the pencil he was holding down by his leg and takes the new one, setting it to the large page. His right arm is still couched in its heavy cast and sling, kept close to his chest. Head tilted down, his dark eyes make one flicker up to look at Castor from under his brows. "I find that difficult to believe, sir."

Castor chuckles softly, "I meant we have no joy in contacting the enemy since our last outting in which you and yours again saved us all." He shakes his head as he thinks about it all. "Anyway, the regular shenanigans of the air wing continue and we can't wait to see you get back out there in a Viper." He then takes a moment to cross his legs as he sits.

Roubani's eyes drift to the table edge, then down to his sketchbook again. There's a few beats of silence. "So what has been new among people, then?"

Castor considers for a moment, "Well, so far as I know Mooner and Jupiter haven't hit anyone. I've found love. Kai is still the papabear and legacy is the mamabear." He considers for a moment, "We've got a pilot who came out of the recovery ward who wants in…I don't know if you two would get along. He likes to tell a lot of jokes, his name is Xanthus." He then adds, "And I would say that is about it."

"I recall him, I believe. From the mess hell. He was…very gregarious." Roubani turns his hand, sliding it over some lines he'd just drawn. The graphite rubs off on the blade of his hand and he uses it to feather the edges of the sketch. "I shouldn't think he would have much trouble."

Castor grins, "Gregarious is a good word." He takes a moment to look over at Roubani, "Your hand, you might want to rub it off." He says as if he has some knowledge of this, "The lead gets on to your hands and it needs to be washed off." He waits a beat, "I spent some time with street artists on Aquaria and the pencilers always had that problem. So make sure to wash it off before it leads to long term lead poisoning."

Roubani's hand pauses on the paper. He glances up again, without moving his head. "Sir…you can't get lead poisoning from graphite."

Castor pauses a moment, "Seriously, that is what the artists on Aquaria told me." He takes a moment to consider this before his own cultural standards take hold, "No, really, Roubani, please wash your hand or use a cloth to rub the graphite off." His voice takes on a certain impeeding quality. "I'd rather not see you dead."

Thea steps into the Lounge in time to hear Castor's request and cants her head slightly to the side. "Graphite doesn't do anything, Tinman. If it did, few hundred thousand artists'd be dead." Her smile is faint, ghostly even. "Evening Ensign, Lieutenant." For once, Thea's in her blues. Looks like she's just coming in off CAP - though the flightsuit is left elsewhere.

Roubani looks at Castor blankly. "It's…graphite and clay, sir. Pencils have never contained actual lead…ever." Thea backs him up on this and he clears his throat softly. "Feathering is a common technique, Lieutenant. It'll be fine, I assure you." His voice remains quiet as ever; it's a wonder it carries as it does.

Castor looks at Roubani and then to Legacy, "It has lead in it…really. Seriously, haven't you ever heard of Sucheon the famous Aquarian artist I mean he went mad from lead poisoning." He then takes a moment to add, "No but seriously, it really happened, the led made Sucheon crazy and he cut his ear off for a prostitute."

The Raptor Captain cants her head slightly to the side and just looks at Castor for a time. "Tinman," she says, voice low and quiet. "Is this the point where I remind you of the conversation we had the other evening and ask you how much lead you've been ingesting?" A brow arches -ever- so delicately as she studies the other man, curiously.

Roubani is starting to look faintly uncomfortable with arguing with his superior, clearing his throat softly. "It sounds more like mercury poisoning, perhaps," he says softly. "If anything has a legend behind it of driving people mad. Did you know that one of the most common lethal agents in times past was the mercury in common household thermometers?" Scientists, wellsprings of morbid knowledge.

Castor seems unconvinced, "No but really, the lead in the pencils is poisoning." He takes a moment to look at Legacy, "I haven't ingested anything. I'm a magician and not a frakking man who holds such morbid knowledge as I wish to point out lead poisoning is a real thing despite what the doctors say."

Thea cants her head a little more then glances downward, pointedly, at Castor's trousers. "Yes, lead poisoning is a real thing," she tells Castor quietly. "However, Poet would not only need to be ingesting that graphite on a daily basis, but also sleeping with it, washing with it, and having orgies with it. Using a graphite pencil for his work will not kill him for many, many, many years. And I think we've got quite enough things to worry about before then." Someone's lost her sparkle and is a little matter of fact today. Rather than continue the argument, however, she makes her way over to the weak coffee and pours a cup. "Anyone else want some while I'm up?"

Castor simply smiles and says, "The poisoning is real." He then makes his way to the bulkhead and steps out, "Even if you don't believe me." He then steps out of the lounge to parts unknown.

Roubani is content to say nothing at all, letting the higher officers fight about graphite and lead. He simply sketches quietly, pencil making soft sounds on the paper. His right arm is still in its cast and sling, left wrist bearing a wide braid of leather with some strange little metallic pieces woven into it.

"Poet," Thea calls over her shoulder. "Need a drink while I'm here?" Her eyes watch Castor leave and she shakes her head ever so slightly.

From the hall, a new voice — "I'll take one, sir." The massive steel door to the hallway beyond creaks open and shut as an unassuming man ducks into the lounge, the bags under his eyes looking darker than ever. Delicately, Timon negotiates his way past a few worn couches to the countertop out back, bleary eyes glancing this way and that to avoid turning his trip into a fall. A thin black book is clutched under one arm possessively, and his movements are slower than usual — afraid, perhaps, that any sudden jolt will ruin whatever precious tidbits of knowledge are written inside.

Thea glances over her shoulder at Timon and laughs quietly. "One colored water coming up, Ivory. How're you doing this morning?"

Roubani's dark eyes flicker up from the notebook to Thea from under his brows, then the very unfamiliar Timon. They track the new person's movements for a few seconds. The young man is dressed in duty fatigues with the jacket off. His right arm is in a heavy cast from shoulder to knuckles, resting in a dark blue sling against his chest. On his lap is a large notebook, and a pencil nestled in left hand.

"Dandy, sir." Timon's voice belies his words as he accepts the proffered cup from his CO's' hand, making as if to sniff it for flavor. Then, thinking better of it, he instead starts sipping, brown liquid staining his upper lip before it's wiped away by the back of one hand. A grimace. "Worse, now. But I could have predicted that."

Meanwhile, his steady gaze drifts over to the one-armed fellow sitting nearby. "How's the hand?"

Legacy is in her uniform, looking as though she's just come back from CAP. She settles into a seat not too far from Roubani, but also not at the same table. The Raptor captain looks thoughtful, but also interested in what Roubani has to say.

"Improving, sir, thank you." Roubani has a naturally soft voice, the kind better suited to a library than a military lounge. It makes most of his speech sound quite formal, even when it isn't. There's a cup of tea sitting on the table, though it's half-full and it's been a while since he had a sip. "And are you well?"

"'Pain is life,'" observes the lieutenant, his thin tenor roughening as he tries — probably unsuccessfully — to mimic the guttural snarl of a grizzled non-com. "'If you do not feel the pain, you will shortly be expiring. So love the pain.'" Timon shakes his head, a wan smile dancing across his sallow face. "Least that's what my old puff used to tell me before he made me run fifty laps around the AB." Taking another sip from his morning brew, he knees a chair out from beneath One-Arm's table before sitting down, hand extended in greeting — his left, which just happens to have a few dribbles of coffee running down the palm. "Ivory. I'm well." Any ambiguity in that statement is, of course, unintentional.

"Ivory is one of mine, Thumper," Thea tells Roubani quietly from her perch somewhat away from the men. "We finally convinced him to come out of his rack and be sociable. The process of socializing a Raptor isn't anywhere near as bad as one might think." She grins over at Ivory, tiredly, head canting to the side. "You're sounding more and more like a Marine, Lieutenant."

Roubani raises both slender brows at the long speech, as if unused to hearing so much in a breath. A corner of his mouth tugs into an expression that would've made the Mona Lisa jealous. "I shall endeavour to do so, sir. Your old…puff? Is that your father?" He ventures this guess cautiously, because gods only know. The hand coming out sort of makes him stop moving for a second or two as he regards it, shoulders slightly tense, and softly clears his throat. "I apologise, sir. It would make an awful mess." He holds up his left hand, showing Timon the pencil lead covering the fingers and side. "A raincheck, perhaps, for when I'm less metallic?" His dark eyes then switch to Thea. "Ah, I see. Is there an Ebony as well?"

"Tarkus sure liked to pretend." Timon's eyes scour the table for anything that might damage his book. Satisfied, he sets it down before leaning back in his chair, taking another sip from his steaming mug. The handshake, he'll let slide. "As for me, my plate is full — I have a hard enough time pretending I know how to fly." Then, to Roubani: "That would be Martin Tarkus, the CPO who made it his mission to whip me into fighting shape at OCS — oh, eight years ago? Does that sound right, Black?" There's the ebony. "He had a penchant for making up aphorisms on the spot, and needless to say, some made more sense than others." It does indeed seem that Ivory's used to talking in clauses within clauses.

Thea simply listens, watching the two men, eyes twinkling a bit. But then the call comes over the coms - someone's due to report. The rest of her coffee gets knocked back and she rolls to her feet. "You gentlemen have a good evening," she says quietly. She's been calling it evening all day, apparently. "Thumper, it was good to see you again." She offers Roubani a soft smile, then starts for the door at a good clip.

"Sir." Roubani replies to Thea, quietly and efficiently. He rubs the pencil eraser against his eyebrow and then his temple, getting an annoying piece of dark hair off his skin with a small, absent motion, and his solemn eyes return to Timon. "At least he was gracious enough to be brief." A slight smile. "You fly raptors." This observation is given with a vague uptone at the end, partly invitation to go on about it.

"Get some rest, sir." Timon raises his cup to mark her passing, closing his eyes before downing the rest of its contents in a single gulp. He has to clear his throat three times to do it, too — "Grinds," he says, by way of explanation. "Never thought I'd be drinking coffee demonstrably worse than the slop I had to put up with in college, but — " The man stops himself mid-sentence, perhaps noticing the veiled rebuke in Roubani's words.

"Yeah," he says at length, this time more deliberately. "First Atlantia, now here. You?"

Roubani actually starts to laugh softly when Timon changes like that. "I'm sorry, sir! I didn't mean it like that…" He puts the back of his hand against his mouth but still fails to stifle it for a few seconds. "I'm so sorry, how embarassing."

Matto loiters on the threshold as the Cap'n rushes out, looking tempted to go after, but she's got other places to be, and so he just purses his lips together to exhale in a silent whistle, then scrunches up his nose, drawing a little bit of air in between his front teeth before he jumps on into the lounge. "Poetryslam. Aaaah'vry," he greets, the first word with no discernible accent to it beyond perhaps a bit of Leontinian, the second with a deep Aerelonese Plains drawl slapped onto his voice evidently for his fellow Raptor pilot's gratification alone. "What up?" Again, no accent. He does lean behind Timon as he comes over and gives him a brief hug about the shoulders. Free hugs!

Both of Timon's eyebrows go up a notch — he hasn't quite mastered the art of the one-brow question. "Fault's mine, Ensign." There's a sheepish note in the lieutenant's voice, one he tries to hide by scratching his nose as nonchalantly as he can. "Honestly, I should have listened to my gut and stayed put in my favorite dank corner. I used to be a grad student," he adds, as if that's an excuse for possessing limited social graces. "You know the type? Showering twice a week, buried ankle-deep in books?" Roubani probably doesn't, but just as he's about to go on and add to the awkwardness, who else but Kissybear drops in to make everything okay.

With a faint smile, Ivory reaches back to give his fellow pilot a tap on the arm. "Me," says the lieutenant. "My CAP's in an hour or so and I figured I'd get some jet fuel in me before I head on out." A sigh. "This stuff's more like — oh, I don't know. Unfiltered spring water." He's not very good at analogies.

Roubani gives Timon a faint but forgiving half-smile. His face is a little red, as truly embarassed as he claimed to be. "A student of what, sir?" The soft-spoken Ensign doesn't answer whether or not he might know the type, but as for signs of limited social graces? He does have a mathematical formula tattooed in bold black on his left forearm. Nerds happen. His eyes flicker up as Matto wraps himself around Timon, and he rests his hand down on his page somewhere where it won't muss the intricate drawing he was doing. "Good morning, Kissy. I was just gleefully making an idiot of myself in front of a new acquaintance, apparently."

Matto doesn't Free Hug Roubani. Either he doesn't know Roubani well enough, or he knows Roubani well enough. He just gives Ivory a squeeze and then stands up, working out the analogy in his mind, "A little gritty and just sulphurous enough to make you feel like you swallowed a fart? Sounds like our coffee, alright," he cocks a half-grin, a cheeky little look over to the Poetryslam, "Wait, you've never met our Ivoryman? This has been blessfully remedied, wot," who knows what sort of accent he's trying to pull there. "Don't worry, I make an idiot of myself in front of Ivory every day and he doesn't hold it against me."

"Doesn't hold it against you … much." This is Timon's attempt at humor, and the effortless way in which he says it testifies to just how hard he's trying to make nice. "But to the matter at hand, I majored in philosophy. Political philosophy, to be precise: from whence justice, states, war…" His voice tapers off, his brown eyes focusing on a point due north of Roubani's head. "Things that would put Lieutenant Matto here to bed in an instant, if I went on for long enough." As if anything could make the jig go to bed before he wanted to. "When I want peace and quiet in the bunks, I threaten to read a chapter of my dissertation aloud. The literature review part, if I'm feeling especially dour."

"Oh," Roubani says. Amazing how much one little lofted sound can contain. "Philosophy. I don't think I've ever quite had the head for such things, though it is fascinating when someone gets going about it. People never believe me when I say maths and philosophy have so much in common. They're convinced by convention that they must be opposite sides of the spectrum." Sadness. He exhales softly and looks at Matto. "I hadn't met him, no. But I suppose I've never spent much time in Black berthings. I may have to though, if that's the only way to find out what happens in that book."

"L'etat… c'est moi," Kissy spits out about the only political philosophy he can think of at the drop of a hat, but… somehow manages to make it sound about ten thousand times more like a line delivered by a sultry starlet than it could -ever- have possibly been intended. "Oh! You're going to love the scene at the ball. Will he ask her to marry him? Will he not? Here's a hint: we still have eight hundred pages to go."

"You see what I mean," Timon deadpans. "Matto's never met a scholar he's liked in his life — and who can fault him, after his experience at the diploma mill that got him into the Fleet? He's lucky he still knows how to count to ten." Then, to Roubani, who's just made the terrible mistake of professing he doesn't have the head for Ivory's favorite pursuit: "It's not as hard as it sounds," the lieutenant begins, his voice losing its deliberate cadence as he slowly picks up steam. "I've a few books for you to read if you're interested — and have the time to be interested, that is. Say — Theories of Justice? A relatively new work by my old advisor, actually, about how society should conceive of the Good and the Right, positing that — well." Once more he stops himself mid-sentence. "If you're interested," he repeats, eyes trained a point due north of Poet's head.

Roubani gives Matto a longsuffering sigh at the page count, too quietly dramatic to be sincere. "You'd think a truly omniscient narrator would find it in his heart to skip to the end." He taps his pencil eraser against the drawing on his lap. "But at least it's lovely prose, and I am unfortunately hooked." He makes a what can you do shrug with one shoulder and looks back at Timon, just in time to catch the swell of words. It causes him to sit up a little straighter. "I'm not sure I'll understand it, sir," he says, sounding a little embarassed. "But I would like to read it nevertheless. I've run out of things and I've settled lately for reading the back of my handheld calibrators which, while fascinating, do give the strangest nightmares."

"Aww, but I like -you,- guy," Kissy assures Timon with a clap of a hand on a shoulder, "And I like Poetryslam over there. He's a freaky genius, too. Just don't slam the old Alma Mater, huh? VAU!" Victoria Adsit (Online) University, for those keeping score, "Very Accredited University!" Kisseus uses its affectionate nickname, "Like our school motto says. 'We're Totally Legit.'" He looks to Poetryslam, then. "Alright, tell us about these calibrator-induced nightmares. I -must- know."

"Believe me, all philosophers know that omniscience is unattainable. The bad ones — the prolix ones — try anyway." Timon's gaze drops to check on his book — still there; did he expect any differently? — before it darts back to the ceiling. "Anyway, you never want to jump to the end — the marriage, to run with Kissy's colorful example. Begin with the primaries: man and woman, or man and man and woman, or whatever you prefer." Ivory's fairly sure Matto's more a fan of the latter, but he makes no mention of it. "Then, the courtship; then, the dance; then, the wedding; and then — " He chuckles softly. "Then, the divorce. But jump to the end and you'll never know why. Yeah?" The ball's in Roubani's court. Please don't talk about nightmares.

"I'm not," Roubani tells Matto in quiet but firm protest. Not a freak? Not a genius? Not slamming the man's alma mater? There's no clarification. He half-smiles at Timon and then at Matto, pronouncing in a sort of stage whisper while Timon talks. "Perhaps…later. I think this talk is the Lieutenant engaging in a sort of filibuster." He sounds a little amused, and clears his throat softly before raising his voice. Figuratively. It never gets very loud regardless. "Never know why, yes. And wouldn't that be a terrible shame."

"It's true," Kissy finally flops down into a chair, crossing one ankle over his other leg as he slouches comfortably, "The earliest literature was simply the retelling of stories that everyone already knew. The endings always had to remain the same. From fixed point to fixed point, but the path between the two is mutable."

"He really is a 'freaky genius,'" says Timon to his squadmate, his words slightly muffled by a sleeve as he scratches his nose once more. It never ceases to look self-conscious. Then, absently: "Not from fixed point to fixed point. From a set of common assumptions, maybe, applied as dictated by mores: the evil clan elder, the scheming mother-in-law — " Timon flails for another example before realization dawns in his eyes. "Did Lieutenant Matto just try to agree with me?" The surprise isn't totally feigned.

Roubani settles his working hand on his leg close to his waist, falling quiet. It's something he does well when the number of people in a conversation goes above two. His eyes flicker from man to man while they talk and joke, silently observing.

Matto makes a vague tsking sound, tipping his head back toward Roubani as he looks aside to Timon, "No way, guy. At the -earliest- you can trace that sort of stock social figure to Euripides. And it only -flourishes- by the time of Menander," he replies, "Before that, the lit was crafted around a set of basic facts. Helen was taken away to Troy. Fact. Why? Bugger if I know. One version goes that she was kidnapped. One version goes that she was a cheating whore. One version goes that she was bewitched by Aphrodite, which— I guess is just another way of saying she was a cheating whore," he chuckles. "Another version goes that Zeus made a cloud in the shape of Helen and it was the cloud that caused all the trouble because Zeus wanted the Trojan war to happen."

"She was a cheating whore — but that's beside the point." If Timon notices that this three-man conversation has diminished to two, he doesn't show it, instead tapping his fingers against the hard steel table — syncopation for his rebuttal. "Consider the Two Worlds problem: parallel universes, identical physically, mentally, socially in all but one respect. One world's water — ours — is H2O, dihydrogen monoxide. Their water — precisely the same as ours in function, purpose, taste, whatever — is ABCD, an alphabet soup that bears no resemblance to the atomic compound we in our world would call water. Can you really say that our parallel worlds have the same understanding of fact?" A diffident shrug. "Each version of Helen's tale is a different fact, a different world. Common assumptions, divergent applications."

Roubani watches the conversation for a time, then watches his knee for a while. Then begins idly shading on the drawing in his lap. Not so much that he isn't still listening - for every so often something in his expression indicates he did in fact take something in and ponder it - but that looking down is much more polite than staring at people while they're trying to talk.

Matto is stuck picturing a world with big oceans of alphabet soup. Alphabet soup rivers, alphabet soup coming out of faucets. He tries to keep it locked inside a wavering half-frown of trying-not-to-laugh, but when two young boys are floating on inflatable rings in a pond of alphabet soup in his brain the giggles erupt, and soon he's crying of laughter, leaning over to cry on the table, "I don't know what you're arguing anymore."

"There there." Awkwardly, Timon leans over, placing his arm over Matto's shoulder while making quite sure he doesn't touch any skin. "Neither do I, Kissy. Neither do I." Ivory spares an apologetic glance at Roubani, whose silence — prolonged, now — manages to seem damning inside the cobwebs of his head. The lieutenant's used to being on the other side of the equation — the observer, not the observed. "Sorry," he says, rather lamely. "Power of argument, huh."

Most people do eventually realise when they don't quite belong. This takes a little while longer than it should with Roubani, social graces somewhat lacking as they are. He turns rather red when Timon points out his silence. Well that's humiliating. "Oh, I…I'm terribly sorry, sir, I didn't mean to interrupt. I'll certainly leave you be." He picks up his sketchbook and gives Matto in particular an apologetic smile as he stands up and slides past the cushions. "Excuse me."

Matto is just in his off-duty tanks, so Timon's hand has all of several inches of landing space without hitting skin. Suddenly Kissy's whole body torso lurches as he's laughed himself into a fit of the hiccups, and he tries to lift his head to say something to Roubani, but ends up hiccuping at him, instead.

"Oh," is all Stathis has to say to that, his brown eyes following the Ensign out the door. Matto's abrupt jerk sends his hand careening off to the side; then, with a distracted expression, the lieutenant folds both arms over his chest. "I don't think he likes me," Ivory observes. Perceptive much?

"Oh, guy, seriously, he's *HIC* he's always like that. *HIC* Just a little shy. I'm sure he likes you just fine," Kissy hiccups again, leaning back once more and resting his hands on his stomach, resting one knee up on the edge of the table. "You and your damned alphabet soup gave me the hiccups," he chides. And hiccups.

"Stay away from my cooking," Timon replies mildly. "My cream of broccoli will give you more than hiccups, rest assured." The pilot rubs his eyes with the back of his hand, trying to get as much of the crust out as he can. Water's scarce, and it wouldn't do to waste it on a need as trivial as personal hygiene. Then, after a few seconds: "Smart guy, though," he says to nobody in particular. "But I never got to give him that book."

General Lounge, stopover for viper sticks and raptor drivers alike, purveyor of shitty coffee and comfy couches. The pilot who trudges in, coffee cup dangling from his fingers, is most likely of the former persuasion. While lacking a cocky swagger, the patch on his zipped-open flight suit proclaims him to be a 'vigilante' however. Stopping off at the coffee machine, Kai jabs the button with his thumb and starts filling; the nearby conversation draws a sidelong glance.

"Is that *HIC*?" Kissy asks, the last word totally mangled by a hiccup even as he leans over and reaches into Timon's lap to lift up the book there and read the spine. "Yeah, really smart. A good egg, too. Just jumpy, *HIC*. Hey, it's the Spider Man. *HIC* Hey, guy," he calls over. "So. What is 'Just*HIC*e'?" he asks, opening up a new topic of conversation.

"Captain." Timon doesn't get up, instead lifting his empty coffee mug in some semblance of a toast. "Beware: it's extra watery today." Back to his usual laconic self; this time, at least, Ivory won't take the bait, leaving it up to the squadron commander to see if he wants to answer Matto's question.

Coffee sloshes into Kai's mug, rapidly reaching the top while his thumb stays on the button. Just when it seems it might spill over, he releases it. "Watery," he remarks, taking a sniff as he trudges away with his prize, "with a hint of char. I'd say it's an improvement over last week's." He drops into a chair opposite the pair, with a crunch of his flight suit. "I couldn't even begin to speculate," he tells Matto, squinting slightly while he tries to parse what the young man just said.

Matto is squinted upon, "His *HIC*ing soup gave me the *HIC*," Kissy hiccups, then leans forward, laughing, tears watering at his eyes again, shaking of his shoulders punctuated by two more hiccups before he looks up, tears streaming down his face, and he tries to clear his throat. "What about you, Ivory*HIC*? You can speculate. That's why they give you the *HIC* bucks."

"An improvement, yes. Good, no. Watch out for the grinds, sir." Timon tips his cup so Kai can see the grainy residue littering its side. "A real pity that they don't actually impart any flavor, but hey, I take what I can." There's that wan smile again, flickering across his face for a second or two before vanishing into practiced solemnity. "Kissy and I were talking about philosophy," he says. "That is, until I started into solipsism, at which point our conversation became rather one-sided." To say the least. "I don't suppose you'd care to discuss what you think justice is?"

Kai keeps his eyes trained on Matto, to the tune of a rather blank look. Frakking raptor drivers. He slurps his coffee, and tugs the zipper down a little further on his flight suit while the conversation once again ebbs away from him, then creeps back. "That's a pretty broad question, Lieutenant," he supplies, dragging the back of his hand across his mouth. Classy. "In what context?"

"The trick is," Kisseus hiccups, "To find one definition that fits all cont*HIC*ts." He considers the question while his diaphram continues to spasm. "Just*HIC*e. Acting justly. Holding all individuals to the same standards within the cultural *HIC*work?"

Kai doesn't know the trouble he's gotten himself into, even as Timon straightens in his seat and ticks off a pair of principles on his knuckled fingers. "Let's keep things normative for now. One: all actors, whether individual or societal, are generally willing to comply with the principles you select; two: there exist generally favorable social conditions that permit actors to abide by those principles." Still want this conversation, Spider? For no web is as sticky as those guarding a philosopher's lair.

Matto, meanwhile, is spared an approving nod: this is step eight hundred and seventy-two in Timon's campaign to tease some semblance of thought out of his squadmate. "That's one way to think about it, yes." How Ivory manages to decipher his words is a mystery. "But where you started isn't exactly where you ended. You want a definition applicable to all contexts — and then you limit yours to the dictates of a particular culture. Hmm?"

"Try holding your breath," the Captain suggests, blue eyes cutting back to Matto for a moment as he sets his coffee cup aside. Shifting in his chair, he leans to the right so he can dig in a pocket of his flight suit with the left hand. A pack of cigarettes is withdrawn, and a single one slid out along with his lighter. "I'd say it's a set of rules, rewards and punishments, that treat everyone in a society or.. a cultural framework, if you want to call it that, equally. Fairly. What brings this on, anyway?" And then Timon starts talking philosophy, and the squad leader’s eyes visibly start to glaze over. Huhwha? "There isn't a definition applicable to all contexts, Lieutenant. Which is why I asked for one."

Matto waves a hand, "Inside ANY GIVEN culture," he hiccups, nodding over toward Kai, "What he said. -Laws- are canonized expressions of moral code. *HIC* won't be the same from culture to culture. But justice can be the universal appl*HIC*ation of those laws in accordance with justness." He tries holding his breath.

"A tautology, Kissy, but a start. Try taking context and culture out of this discussion entirely," Timon suggests, tapping his right index finger against the left. "After all, neither one of you seems comfortable with limiting your definition to a single time or a single place. But is either of you willing to go so far as to suggest that there exist universal principles that all peoples should strive for? And if so, what are those?"

Then, as an afterthought: "This was my dissertation, sir," he tells Kai sotto voce. "Sorry."

Kai might be starting to look uncomfortable right about now. If, you know, he ever looked much of anything, outside of bored or distracted. "Yeah," he answers Timon, after a pause fraught with careful scrutiny of the man. "I believe there are principles that govern basic animal biology and social behaviour, that help define what we consider to be right.. and wrong. But are we talking about justice now, or morality? The former's predicated by fairness, the latter by survival." He lights up, and brings the cigarette to his lips while tucking the lighter away. "And survival," he adds, around the smoke, "is rarely fair."

"Alright, alright. Justice is applying law or cultural judgements fairly," Kissy amends culture out of it completely. "But do I think that justice is necessarily a universal good? No. I'm pretty sure I was raised to think treating people fairly is a good thing. It's just another societal construct… not a universal principle."

"Yes, sir, it isn't." Timon meets his superior officer's gaze for a moment, his tired brown eyes seeking to divine what's going on in Kai's head. A fruitless endeavor. "But to your question, and yours too, Matto: what principles of justice can we rightly consider, well, fair?" He shrugs. If he's got an answer, he doesn't say it aloud. "Figure out that question — identify and justify a criterion by which to evaluate the principles you choose — and only then can we talk about what justice is. Otherwise — " One hand slips by another. "Two ships passing in the night."

Matto eases up out of his chair as his hiccups return after a momentary retreat. "Grr argh," he grumbles. "I'm going to go drink some water upside down through a paper towel or something," he hiccups. "I'll be back in a little. *HIC* Figure it out, huh?" he gives a vague laugh and hiccups off elsehwere.

Kai's expression remains bland, and inscrutable for the most part. He takes a drag of his cigarette while Timon speaks, and chases it with a sip of coffee. After a glance at his watch, the rest of his watered down liquid fuel is drained. "Sorry, Lieutenant, I've got a mission briefing to prepare, and a shower to take. You'll thank me for the latter." His cigarette's extinguished after one last pull, and he starts easing to his feet. "Good talk. People need to think, as well as fight. Afraid I'm not much competition for you and your dissertation, though. I'll see you in the briefing in an hour." With a nod to the raptor driver, Kai starts to head off.

"Keep selling yourself short, Spider, and I'll start trying harder to prove you wrong." Timon half-smiles, waving a hand toward the door. Reluctantly, he pulls himself upright, grabbing his book from the table with his other — non-waving — hand. "And sir?" he says, before Kai can reach the door. "I never finished it. The dissertation, I mean." His smile becomes wistful before fading completely. "In an hour, sir."

Kai doesn't smile, but Timon'll get used to it. He does turn however, once he reaches the door, and winks at the man. "It's good to have goals." A pause. A rather long pause, while he considers Timon and the wistfulness in his smile. "You still could." And then he turns to trudge out, clipped bootfalls betraying a hint of a limp in his stride.

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