PWD #06: Knowledge and Understanding
Knowledge and Understanding
Summary: Bennett and Cole neither really know nor understand each other despite the common pain that they share.
Date: 30 Dec 2012 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: What Dreams May Come (for dreams of poppies and sundresses); N-ice A-ss, G-reat S-ass (first appearance of the letters to Cole's family); general 'Bennett and Cole are awkward and estranged' logs.
Cole Bennett 
Some Battlestar Orion Stairwell
It's a stairwell aboard Battlestar Orion. It has stairs.
30 Dec 2004

Slapping a stack of letters against his palm, Ari exits the Air Wing Corridor, making a sharp turn aft when he hits the main vein of the ship. Stepping past a few people, the viperjock makes his way to the stairs on his way presumably to the mail room to catch the Raptor that makes the leg back and forth to the Colonies once a month. His boot falls echo eerily in the empty stairwell, the flights above and below vacant at this particular moment. The man does not walk lightly on the metal treads, as his steps are as heavy as the thoughts that leave his brow furrowed.

Deep in thought as he is, Cole may or may not notice the tall, dark-haired officer with a bead on him as he ducks into the stairwell. Captains in duty blues are a dime a dozen on this deck, though her sleek and almost predatory gait seems more fitting on a marine than a pilot— as the flight wings pinned to her left breast would indicate she is. Catching the door as he swings it open, she slides in right after him; her voice echoes tinnily through the empty stairwell, "Lieutenant, hold up."

Ari knows that voice. How could he not? It's so very similiar to the one in his dreams of poppies and sundresses. His right shoulder seems to tense, edging up an inch towards his ear as his fingers tighten around the missives he carries. After just that split second, which can seem like an eternity, he turns on the landing and lifts one foot to rest it on a stair higher. "Captain." It's addressed more to her shoes, than anything else.

Shoes that are kept in immaculate condition, mind you. St. Clair has an eye for detail, even if her flair for painted nails and lips and painstaking eyeshadow borders on breaking regs. But then, this too is something she shares with her younger sister; Maggie always was a trendsetter. "I know they're fascinating, Lieutenant, but could you look at me when I'm speaking to you?" Beat. "Please?" As if that makes it less of an order somehow.

Tick, tick. His wrist makes little flicks, tapping the envelopes against his thigh before Cole eventually pulls his gaze up the row of buttons on her Duty Blues and finally meets her eyes. It seems like an almost painful exercise, however, as his own eyes crinkle at the corner as if he's biting back a bigger wince. Probably not much better than looking at her shoes, truth be told, but at least it's as she requested.

There are, of course, uncanny similarities between Cole's Magpie, and the woman in military uniform, gazing so steadily at him just now. They both have the same lopsided little smile. The same strong cheekbones and pointed chin. The same engulfing blue eyes. "You really hate me, don't you." So soft, the only reason her voice is audible at all is due to the fact they're alone in here, the rest of the ship's noise and clangor muffled by several layers of sheet metal in the walls. "I guess I can understand that, somewhat." She settles her hip and shoulder against the wall, arms folding under her breasts. "We need to talk."

There is the slightest shake of his head. "You'll never understand," is all Ari says in regards to her being hated by the stick jockey that's half a flight below her. The distance is closed, however, when his long lanky legs start to eat up the space between them two steps at a time. He exhales out of his nose like a stirring bull as he stands in front of his sister-in-law. "So talk."

"Then help me understand, Ari." The topic of whatever they need to discuss is not broached just yet. And the captain doesn't move an inch as Cole climbs toward her, narrowing the distance between them. "I didn't have anything to do with what happened to her." If he's perceptive, he might spot the fact that she's trembling, ever so slightly. Her relaxed stance and upraised chin give every impression otherwise, but lying… lying is something she's always been good at. "We… we grew apart, Ari, after I joined the military and she married you, but I had nothing to do with her suicide." The word is nearly whispered.

It has to the be the word 'suicide' that causes Ari's arm to crack out like a whip, his hand slapping the hull next to Bennett as to cause it to ring. "That's what you think?!" A temper that is carefully kept in check with prayer, an anger that is addressed in counseling, a guilt that is assuaged with penance - it's all starting to bubble to the surface. "Be very, very careful what you say next to me, Bennett. VERY careful. And listen to me: she's alive, THEY are alive. Right here." He stabs at his chest with the index finger of the hand still curled around the letters. "Magnola. Our children. Your sister."

If Cole is seeking out the chaplain's ear in regards to his anger management issues, then he's likely a step ahead of Bennett. If the rumours are true, she finds her solace in meaningless sex with burly engineers. "I will not be careful." He lashes out with his words, and she reciprocates with the razor's edge of her voice. "I think the rest of the crew has been doing more than enough of that. Mollifying you. Telling you what you want to hear. Handling you with frakking kid gloves." Blue eyes are electric with anger. "She's dead, Ari. Dead and buried. You found her—"

Three inches taller is not a lot, unless that six foot frame is coming yet even closer and she'll be forced to look upwards unless she wants to talk to his nose. "No one knows unless you've been running your mouth." That part of his jacket isn't public knowledge; only Command, Iphigenia and now Duke have access to it. "Do you know what real love is, Ben? It's not a quiet whisper, it's a punch in the gut." Ari's words sound melodious as the anger melts away and his tongue becomes tainted with the accent of his native Scorpian language. "Your intestines knot around the fist, and your entrails are pulled from your body should that love ever leave you. If she is dead, than I am nothing but a walking corpse."

She does tip her chin up a fraction, out of necessity. As a woman in the military, she is accustomed to standing her ground against bigger men by sheer force of personality. And as Cole's voice grows more impassioned, and more steeped in the dialect of his native birthplace, so too does hers. Familiar things, little details that only siblings would share: her inflection is not 'proper' Virgonese, but an offshoot vaguely reminiscent of Leonisian. "Yes, Ari. I do." So close, he can probably smell the tea she drank not too long ago. Strawberry and anise. "Your heart lives somewhere outside of your body. It lives in the ones you love. And should anything happen to them, you know you could not go on living. You might breathe, eat, shit, and fly, but they're empty." Her voice is a hoarse whisper, blue eyes clouded with emotion. "You're empty. I know."

"On the contrary, irma." No, it's not a proper name he's calling her, but rather the term for 'sister' in his tongue. "She keeps me so very full." Where her breath smells sweet and spicy, his own smells of coffee and cigarettes both consumed in abundance. "So you know nothing." The word comes out like the strike of a scorpion's tail, quick and fleeting and followed by warmth for, if Ari is permitted, his hand cups Bennett's jaw while he says, "You have her eyes."

"Well, then, I'm happy for you." The captain fights to keep her voice steady, though it wavers just a hair on the word 'happy'. Her throat flashes with a swallow, and when finally she blinks, the tears that had welled up in the corners of her eyes overflow, and streak swift paths along the curve of her cheeks. She doesn't pull away at the touch. "I never understood what she saw in you." She sniffs audibly. "I told her you were going to break her heart."

For a long, long moment, Ari just watches those tears well in Bennett's eyes, following the wet trail one leaves on her cheek as it makes a random descent down to her chin. The thumb of the hand holding her face along the jawline makes a slow swipe to clear that away, and a follow-up pass to dry her cheek. "Your beloved Dionysus did that. Filled her heart so full it burst…" The words sound raw in his throat, the burn of emotion making it difficult to speak. Cole looks at Bennett a moment long, and then leans in as if he might kiss those sorrowful lips, but in the end, he just uses his hand to tilt Bennett's head down so he can place that chaste affection on her forehead.

She laughs, soft and sweet and raw all at once. "He is no beloved of mine, Ari." And yet she wears his mark in that simple piece; beaten silver pierced through her ear, like a sign of ownership. She, like Maggie, belongs to the god of ecstasy. "He has filled my heart with nothing but lies. Madness and lies." She closes her eyes when his lips land on her forehead, and finally expels a breath she'd been holding for some time. "She is gone, and you hold onto only a memory of her. A simulacrum. You need to let her go, Ari, and I will not ever be careful about telling you so." Her lashes drift open again, eyes once again steady on his. "Know that."

And the tenderness is whipped away as the hand that cups her chin falls to her chest, giving her a little shove with a five-pointed battering ram. It's not enough to bruise, but it conveys Ari's message just fine. "Bite your tongue around me, Ben, until it bleeds. She's still here, she's still with me. Just because your blasphemous soul can no longer feel her doesn't make it any less true. You are the empty one. Don't lash your forked tongue at me just because you're jealous."

"She is gone," Bennett repeats, her hand grabbing for the wall as Cole shoves her back. She stumbles slightly, but remains on her feet without much effort. "She is gone. Maggie is gone. Ivy is gone." Her voice is rough and earnest, like she's trying to convince herself as much as him. "You have got to get your head back in the game, Ari, I will not bite my tongue. I will not bite my tongue." She does not bellow, she never bellows, but the words are sharp and cut more effectively than if she'd raised her voice.

"Next you're going to stamp your foot like a petulant child, insisting I give your ball back. My wife is mine. Ivy is mine. So you don't get to say they're gone. You no longer get to have any say in any matter regarding Magnola. So you push all you want, sweet cheeks. Just know my soul is stronger. I will prove to the GODS that I am worthy of her, and then not even death will stand In. My. Way." Somewhere during this, Ari has dropped his letters, which have drifted here and there like heavy snowflakes, and both his hands have taken hold of the shoulders of her uniform.

The fallen letters are ignored. The grating sound of a warning klaxxon going off in an adjacent hallway is ignored. It's as if Cole and his voice and his rough hands on her uniform are all she can process right now, and the illogic of it all only fuels her own anger. Anger slashed through with grief, which the still-drying tears on her cheeks are a testament to. "This alone is what I wish for you," she whispers, letting him push, letting him pull, letting him do whatever he will. "Knowledge. To understand each desire has an edge. To know we are responsible for the lives we change. No faith comes without cost. No one believes without dying." Her words are an ocean swell; soft but inexorable. "Now for the first time I see clearly the trail you planted, what ground opened to waste, though you dreamed a wealth of flowers…"

Ari swallows, his adam's apple bobbing in his slender neck so hard it might as well break his collar bone. "You see nothing but a picture you paint for yourself. Suspiciously like a mirror, isn't it?" He finally realizes he has lost his letters, and hastily he untwines his fingers from her uniform without even bothering to try and smoothe the wrinkles he's caused. Instead, he's intent on picking up the envelopes, which just so happen to have one addressed to Magnola and one to Ivy, care of their estates he must have set up with an attorney.

The remainder of the prayer, or the song, or whatever she was reciting, is left unspoken. Her smile, when it curves her lips just so, hasn't a trace of warmth in it. "You don't know anything about me, Ari." She's still as he unhands her, and a few moments later she troubles to tidy up her rumpled uniform. The unbuttoned collar suggests that, at least, she's off duty. "But you do know the truth. And it's what makes you so angry. And I am afraid for who takes the collateral damage when you finally wake up." Rustle of movement as she crouches, fetches the last letter — the one with 'Ivy Cole' handwritten on it — and holds it out to him between index and middle fingers.

"I'm not angry," Ari says quietly, yanking that precious letter from her fingertips. "I just don't like you." His gaze is now back to his hands as he shuffles the letters back into a neat stack then rearranges a few as if they need to be in some certain order. "You and your damnable eyes." Without further ado, the man pushes back to his feet. "Now if you'll excuse me, Captain, I need to hurry before I miss the post."

Bennett seems to know when to back down, at least. Perhaps only to let Cole lick his wounds, or perhaps she has someplace else to be, her own self. Gods know she's been burning the midnight oil enough lately, and racking out far later than she should. Her smile remains, perhaps a bit smug as he snatches the letter from her hand. "I know." That he doesn't like her. She eases back to her feet smoothly, tap tap of her boot heels on the deck as she takes two steps back. "Of course, Lieutenant. I will see you later." And she turns to go as if they'd just concluded a completely civil conversation about the weather.

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