The Trouble With Me
The Trouble With Me
Summary: Roubani learns some unexpected trivia about Legacy when she opens up to him.
Date: PHD013
Related Logs: References to Role Models

Kharon - Ready Room

Ready room. Silent this time of the "evening", the third shift out on CAP. Roubani has several books with him, stacked up on the floor near the chair he's chosen. Two calculators lie about on the stacks. A large portfolio of glossy photos is closed on a nearby desk. But he's reading nothing just now, instead watching the large projection screen as it rolls footage. Gun camera footage from the Constantine, the stuff they've all seen before.

Into the Ready Room strides Thea Legacy. She's not been out on CAPs since that fateful meeting. In fact, her name's been off the flight schedule, scratched out through the next week. She's in uniform, but has been, according to rumor, off-duty since her little performance. This evening, she's looking fully professional. And she's wearing makeup. "Ensign Roubani," she greets quietly as she sails in. The footage on the screen gives her only a moment's pause.

There's no answer. One might think maybe Roubani's just focused and in the zone, but no. He's asleep. His elbow on the chair's desk and cheek on his hand, his head is slowly sliding along his knuckles in the grip of gravity, eyes closed.

Finding the Ensign like that is enough to have that professional demeanor faltering just a little. Consternation and a hint of worry crosses her features as she makes her way to a nearby chair and puts the files down. She starts to reach out for him, but pauses, hand hovering over his shoulder - but not making contact. "Ensign Roubani," she says quietly, voice low, but there's a bit more force to it.

"Hmm." The grunt is way deep in Roubani's throat, the kind of petulant noise a teenager makes when you try and kick them out of bed for school. His head slides off his hand jerks up, eyes blinking open. Oops. "Sir." He reaches out for his open notebook and ends up knocking it off the desk. "I'm so sorry, I didn't realise you hand the room scheduled."

Thea crouches to pick up the notebook and hands it up to him, smile warm and wry. "Poet," she says, voice softening. "Don't bother apologizing, please. Your work, right now, takes precedence." Yeah, she looks a little older and a little more tired than she did a few days ago. "I scheduled it for a few hours to take care of a few things. The Naval office is busy, of late."

Roubani clears the frog out of his throat, looking politely embarassed as she hands him back the notebook. "I suppose it probably is. If you need me to go I certainly can. I'm sure the fabrication lab is deserted this time of day."

"You have priority Poet," she says, remaining in the crouch, knees bent, hands folded. "Is there anything I can help with? Besides shooing you off to your rack to get some actual sleep, that is."

"I wasn't sleeping." The dignified petulance flickers back into Roubani's tone, however briefly. He rubs his ear and sits up straighter in the chair, searching through his things. "I just had this report for you, I think." Search, search. He stands to stand up, attention aimed at the organised chaos on the floor around him. "Did Captain Marek tell you what that whole meeting was supposed to be about?"

Thea cocks her head slightly to the side as she watches him, though she doesn't stand - she simply remains crouched where she is. Very briefly, possibly too briefly for him to see, a hint of shame flashes across her features. "He didn't, no," she says quietly. "We're waiting to see what the CAG has to say." Likely about her behavior. "Want to fill me in now?"

Roubani is focused on his papers, so her shame gets to remain private. "It's all so strange. I mean, you already knew everything." Sitting back on his heels, he picks through a couple black folders. "Do you remember when Lieutenant Yuuri and I came to ask after that data from your Raptor? That project we talked about?"

Thea nods slowly, watching him. She doesn't reach out to help him - leaving his papers alone. Some things are private and sacred, and Thea clearly feels that Poet's paperwork and organization system is one of those things. There's a bit of a guarded look that comes into her eyes when he mentions her knowing everything. "I do," she says slowly, after a brief hesitation.

"Well. That's what it was." Roubani glances into a folder that he'd carefully written her name on in the corner and hands it up. "It's not more work, I promise. But it might be a little glimmer of hope to know it looks like we can do it. At least…it looks more like we can do it than it looked like before."

Legacy's brows furrow for a moment as she takes the folder, but then she smiles a little and dips her head. "Good," she says, nodding once and rising to her feet again as she flips the file open. "I'm sorry about what happened, Ensign. It was irresponsible of me to behave in such a fashion. I'm sorry that your meeting was disrupted."

Roubani slowly shrugs one shoulder, pulling his feet under him. "To say that I forgive implies I have the right to judge you, sir. I don't. I'm sure you acted for a reason." He unbends, using a hand against his leg to push up. "If you feel you want to talk about that reason, I'll certainly listen. But I'm not asking for any apologies."

The Captain moves to a chair, settling down without looking up. She's studying the folder, but whether or not she's actually -seeing- the contents is a different story. "Did the CAG release -all- of the footage to you, Ensign," she asks quietly.

"Yes, sir." Roubani replies, setting two books on his desk.

She's quiet for a moment, head tilting to the side. "Did she release the footage from that evening," the Captain asks, voice going much, much more quiet.

"The rest of what Commander Sheridan showed during his address?" Roubani can only guess at her vague reference. "Yes, sir."

Thea dips her head slowly. "Good," she says, clear relief showing on her face. "There's some Raider behavior there I think might be helpful, though it may not. They have an interesting pack mentality."

"It's something several of the pilots have noted," Roubani replies, sitting down. He glances at the projection screen, which is now paused, then back at her. "But I'm a poor tactician, sir. I'm sure the analysis is better done by those who understand it."

She sighs softly and dips her head, once. Perhaps the man now has a clue about what set her off with Hellicon, perhaps not, but she doesn't push it. At least not right now. "The tacticians will be pouring over it, I'm sure," she murmurs. "Your contribution is going to be an important one, as will the contributions of the others working on the project."

"We will somehow," Roubani replies, picking up a stack of papers and squaring the edges. "Though I am quite sorry to have lost both you and Hellicon in a night. I can't lie, it sets us back."

"I'm still available," she tells him, looking up. "I'm not signing the NDA, not when I'm already under a gag order, but I'm still available to work on things. If the CAG puts the paper in front of me, I'll sign it. But I'm not letting my participation be determined by an oath I'm already bound by." Speaking of edge, there's a decided edge to her voice, though it's not directed at him, clearly. "We'll find another engineer, if need be."

"Sir, with all due respect," Roubani replies, looking at her. "I'm sure if JAG and everyone else want to sit about and argue law and CCMJ they'll have plenty of time later. But not if we're all dead. It's the 'Us not being all dead' part that I'm concerned about, and whatever has to happen to work against that threat, that's what I'm going to do. Of course, I can only speak for myself." He exhales through his nose, folding his hands. "I know I'm not supposed to criticise superior officers, sir, but the Lieutenant told us that if we didn't have him we wouldn't get far. I don't understand how someone can make a threat like that right now, but it doesn't bode well for the rest of this."

The folder gets neatly closed in her lap as she tilts her head slightly, considering him. "The Lieutenant had no right to make that statement, Ensign," she says simply, quietly. "I agree with you, whole-heartedly. Of course, it's also been my experience that people who say that others won't get far without them are overstating their own importance due to some mental deficiency."

"I don't think it was that, sir." Roubani glances at his folded fingers. "I understand how comforting and necessary rules are. If they were all gone we'd be in a state of chaos. The military is made of the sacrifices that we've made to stay a cohesive, organised force. That hasn't changed just because the rest of what we know has changed. But I feel sorry for those for whom it goes beyond comfort and becomes an excuse for ego."

Thea is quiet for a moment, simply studying the young man. "Perhaps," she says softly before looking away, a troubled expression on her face. "Of course, different people also understand the regulations differently. Regulations, or lack thereof, are no reason to act inappropriately, however, no matter what the situation."

Roubani nods once, raising an eyebrow wryly at his hands. "It is true. We diminish the honour of each other and thereby make our own superiority the greater. Ares would no doubt be repulsed to see his great war machines fall victims of hubris. I suppose we shall see."

Thea's quiet for a time, staring off into the distance. "With what I saw, Poet," she says finally, softly. "With being forced to hold that in, to say nothing, to have to hold my ECO together and then … and then my pilots…" Her voice trails off after that little hitch of something she didn't say. "That was the last straw for me. That was…it."

Roubani lets her talk that out, keeping his hands folded on his desk. "And how do you feel now?"

"Ashamed that good officers like yourself had to witness it," she replies without hesitation. "I was out of line. And I still have nightmares of flying over Sagittaron and hoping to find Spider's wife and children still alive." Not her family. Not her friends. Spider. The nightmares are normal, I know. Everyone is having them. But I have work to do, I have people to take care of. There are things that need to be done."

Roubani says in return, simply, "You can't take care of people if you're self-destructive, sir."

"I haven't hit self-destructive yet," she tells him, glancing over. "My career might take a hit and I'll have to eat a bit of crow, but I'm not self-destructive." A little defensive? Perhaps. But it's clear she believes it.

"It's not an insult," Roubani says, probably to address the defensiveness. "Humans are never very honest with themselves, it's just the way we are." He glances at the wall, considering. "We feel guilty about surviving, guilty about being powerless, and so we translate that into attempting to make martyrs of ourselves to make up for it. But building too high on a strained foundation always leads to a collapse."

Thea shakes her head slightly. "I'm not making a martyr out of anyone," she replies, chin coming up a bit. "Yes, I feel guilty. I feel guilty as hell. Why didn't I go pick up his family? Why didn't I check to see if there were survivors? Why didn't I go to Virgon and Scorpia to check for people there? Why…" Her voice suddenly chokes and she looks away, jaw locking. Silence fills the room for a time as she attempts to compose herself. "I understand what's going on, logically. I understand what went wrong the other night and am working on addressing that and just doing my -job-. My job, right now, is all I have left."

Physics and Psych must have been next door to each other at Roubani's university. His own composure is bulletproof, the compassion in his voice kept just detached enough so it doesn't become patronizing. "Choices are about sacrifices, sir," he says, gently. "You sacrificed not going to check for people, but in the end it's a much smaller sacrifice than would have been made if you never made it back to show us what had happened. You had to make what I'm sure is one of the hardest decisions ever made by a human. But you can't let regret control you."

She doesn't look at him. Her attention is straight ahead in a thousand yard stare that must have been perfected back in her Academy days. Jaw set, shoulders back. "I was insulted not just for myself, but for every other officer in that room," she says in a low and quiet voice. "Officers who have made sacrifices, quite a few sacrifices, were being treated like school-children who didn't know better. After what I saw? It was too much. Just…too much. I regret my behavior in that it reflected poorly on the Wing. But that's as far as it goes."

Roubani gives her a wary look when she starts staring, as though unsure if she's about to pull a gun and shoot him in the face. "Sir, all due respect," he replies, softly. "You seem to be a woman who spends a great amount of time on her regrets. If I could wish anything for you, it's that one day you'll be able to let some go."

The pen is, honestly, mightier than the sword. And, in this case, the simple pinprick Roubani applies to the bubble of her comfortable delusions is much more powerful than anything else that could have been done. He can see in her face the moment the strike makes impact. Even in profile, her eyes widen slightly and her mouth opens, as if she's about to argue with him. But, clearly, how can you argue with someone who's right? "I only have a few, Poet," she says, deflating enough to turn toward him, curling in her chair. "The slight regrets about my behavior are small, and will, honestly, pass once I've apologized to those I need to apologize to and have squared things with the CAG. I have one regret that I may never let go of, especially not now. I tried for almost ten years, and it's still there. It is one, however, I can live with."

Roubani isn't sure, for a moment, how to respond to that. He offers carefully, "Is it something you want to talk about?"

Legacy actually laughs very softly, quietly, at that, but there's no real humor to it. "If I'm not mistaken, you were the one who clued into it before anyone else did, Poet," she says, leaning back in the chair, fingers picking idly at the edge of the folder. "I walked away from Captain Marek ten years ago after we had two years together. I walked away because of my career and telling myself that we never said it was forever. I regretted it almost immediately, but was too stubborn to try to go back. When I came aboard, it was the first time in ten years I'd seen him." She goes quiet for a moment. "His daughter was beautiful. Raven. She had his eyes."

Roubani blinks slowly. "Before he was married?" He asks, very cautious of asking that question.

She gives him a little quirked smile. "I may be less than wholly contained, Poet," she says, tone just a little dry. "But there -are- things that are sacred. Marriage is one of them. Yes, it was before he was married. Well before he was engaged or even involved with his wife."

Roubani turns rather red. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to…imply. Sir." He clears his throat softly, jarring his foot back out of his mouth. "It must be a very difficult thing to deal with."

Thea can't help but smile and she shakes her head. "You're a confident man, Poet," she says softly. "You need to show it and quit apologizing for everything. It'll take some time, but you can do it. It's alright, you didn't imply anything. It was a natural question. I rather suppose that I DO give off the air of a woman who…may not honor someone else's wedding vows. But that's something I've always held sacred." No, she doesn't seem upset or even to think he put his foot in his mouth. "And Poet? When we're talking like this, when we're talking casually, even about work, please feel free to call me Thea or Black Cat. It doesn't always have to be Sir."

"It wasn't about you," Roubani backtracks, apparently feeling the need to be sure she knows that. "It's just that's not uncommon for men in our tradition to…go outside a marriage, when it's arranged. A marriage is not an emotional attachment." He explains this like a textbook, then rubs his nose. "Black Cat. I admit when I first heard your name I thought your callsign ought to be Legs."

She blinks at him for a moment then glances down at her legs, quirking a brow. "Hh," she murmurs, after a bit. "Well, I guess I can see that, given my name." She gives him a grin and shakes her head slightly. "My callsign came from an op I was part of many, many, many years ago, back before Ri and I were together. According to the mission commander, I made a Raptor slide through the sky, unnoticed, through several layers of vipers and raptors. He said I was like a black cat slinking through the sky and, well, it stuck."

Roubani does not look at her legs. "I suppose it would. Do you agree with the assessment?"

A brow arches slightly as she considers the question. "Well, yes. It seems to fit, and it's stuck for well over ten years now. As far as my prowess - well, I'm good with a bird. But some of it is the will of the universe."

Roubani's slight smile doesn't move the muscles around his eyes. "I suppose I would argue that all of it is. But it's a touch too late in the evening for philosophy."

Legacy laughs quietly and dips her head. "Considering you'd be arguing philosophy with a brick wall, I'd rather agree with you that yes, it's too late in the evening. Catch me one night at the end of the spin cycle and I might have a good argument." Her head tilts a little as she watches him, consideringly.

Roubani almost makes it without blushing. Really, he does. But then there go the ears, just a little bit red, and he rubs his fingers over the shell of his left ear to cover it up. "Pretend I said something awfully witty just there, please."

Cat's eyes crinkle at the corners as she watches him, quirking a brow. "As tempting as it is to tease you about the blushing, just to see you be adorable when you blush more, I'll behave myself." There's a moment's hesitation. "Gemenese background, if you don't mind my asking?"

At her comment about his blushing, Roubani lightly sucks his teeth. Hmph. The question makes a brow raise, curiously. "Me? No, Sagittaron."

That seems to have her a touch surprised, but she nods, once. "Gemenon," she says with a small quirk of her lips. "I was curious because of something you said earlier."

Roubani looks uncertain about asking, but does it anyway. "What did I say?"

She curls herself up in the chair a bit. The name Black Cat? It's actually quite fitting given her mannerisms when she's relaxed. All she's missing is a sunbeam. "You spoke of men in your tradition going outside of the marriage for affection when the marriage is arranged."

Roubani nods once. "Yes, si-…yes."

"That's what made me think Gemenese," she explains, head tilting to the side a little. "Well, that and the fact I grew up there."

"Oh." Roubani makes that one sound. The pause stretches on a while. "No, I don't believe I'd ever been there."

"It's a lovely … " She pauses, then sighs. "Was a lovely colony with absolutely amazing people. I'm not native Gemenese, but a transplant. Well, I was born on Gemenon, military family. I guess you could say I'm Gemenon born with a Caprican heart." Her grin turns wry. "I didn't realize that about Sagittaron, though. I don't think I ever considered it. So it's…socially acceptable for a man in an arranged marriage to stray? Or is it one of those things that's not acceptable, but not frowned on?"

Roubani's dark eyes flicker towards the frozen projection screen. "It isn't all of Sagittaron. And I suppose it's more the latter. You don't exactly discuss it at the dinner table."

Thea's eyes follow his for a moment before returning to his face, as they always do. "I've always been fascinated by the differences among the colonies. I've never made a study, though, just an informal curiosity. Of course, my father always told me never to discuss politics or religion at the dinner table." Her eyes twinkle just a little.

Roubani watches the screen a few seconds longer before looking back at her. "Your father was a smart man."

"Did yours have similar sayings," she asks, a hint of curiosity in her voice.

Roubani shrugs. His fingers fold together on his desk.

Thea's quiet for a bit, simply watching him. "You're not handling things as well as you'd like people to believe you are," she states softly.

"I'm getting things done," Roubani answers her, matter-of-factly. "In the end, that's all that matters."

"And if I gave you the same answer," Thea points out in her usual blunt manner. "You'd call bullshit on it. Unless I'm mistaken, you already have." She may be blunt, but it's not unkindly so.

"I haven't seen you once in a week where you haven't looked exhausted and in pain," Roubani replies, picking up one of his pens. "Naturally I'm not going to accept that you were fine."

"I was shot in the ass," she says simply, quietly. "Contrary to popular belief, bullet wounds hurt," Thea continues, head tilting to the side. "And I've not seen you where you haven't been hiding behind something. Honestly, for the past two weeks, I've not been sleeping well, for obvious reasons. Watching Battlestars slowly rolling over and exploding like child's toys, ships where my friends and family once were, the friends and loved ones of the people I serve with…" After a moment she just nods a bit. "Nightmares don't care that you're tired."

Roubani nods, once. "It must be very difficult. Physical pain and then all this pushing on top of it, and not being able to speak openly."

A brow arches delicately, but then she nods slowly. "It has been. Thank you for checking on me, Poet. If and when you're ever ready to talk, I hope you find someone who is as good a listener as you are."

Roubani doesn't seem to know what to say. So he motions to the folder he gave her. "When you have time, if you'd look that over. I'm not a Raptor expert, so some of it is surely beyond me. We'll all meet again in a day or two. And thank you, I appreciate it."

"Poet," Thea says quietly, fingers curling around the folder. "Please talk to someone. I know, by the fact you know about Ri's marriage, that he trusts you. I'm certain he would be more than willing to listen if you wanted to sit and talk." Something darkens in her eyes and while it seems like she's about to say something else, she simply gathers the folder and stands, turning for the door.

"Thank you," Roubani says. His tone muddles the exact reason for saying so. As she packs up to go he picks up the remote, and a few seconds later the footage is rolling on the screen again.

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