MD #136: Loved Another Man
Loved Another Man
Summary: Awkward conversations between Toby and Kelsey's husband
Date: 29/08/2017
Related Logs: None
Toby Dropkickst 
Observation Deck - Deck 3 - Battlestar Orion
The Obs Deck is one of the more quiet areas on the ship where people can come to get away from the hustle and bustle that goes with the rest of service in the fleet. The front of the room is a very large armored glass window to allow a dominating view of whatever is out ahead of the battlestar. Seats rise up at even levels, plush chairs and couches provided for the crew to relax in. During Condition One an armored plate is lowered down to cover the view and prevent the room from becoming a hazard and sealing it tight.
MD #136

The Obs Deck has always been a place favoured by off-duty crew who are feeling contemplative, but with the rescued from Piraeus onboard it's now busy with civilians as well. With most of the comfy seats taken Toby is leaning up against the glass, staring out at stars he doesn't recognise, and feeling more trapped than he has in a very long time. Deep down he's feeling maudlin but with only one way to deal with complex matters such as emotions, it's manifesting as a serious grump. It's not anger, but the personal grey cloud is enough to afford him a small radius of personal space that no one as of yet seems willing to intrude upon.

A group of civilians is wandering out while a smaller group of three makes their way inside. A man in his 40's with a bushy black beard and two kids, a girl about fifteen and a boy about seventeen or so. They're all wearing the donated clothing and the girl has a fleet folder with her. The older man looks around and seems to zero in on Toby, ushering the two kids down with him. Approaching Toby, he seems to have a rather gruff disposition like the man at the glass. "Mister Shackleton?" If Toby looks over at the girl he's going to recognize that familiarity. It's like looking at a younger Melissa Wescott.

Toby had seen their approach in reflection but it's only when he turns at the greeting that he sees the lass clearly enough to make that recognition. While he was aware of them, and the plan to bring them onboard, he is in no way prepared for an ambush like this, with no way to back out. There's a tenseness about him for a moment, as the colossally unfair nature of the universe makes itself at home like a knife in his gut. He studies the other two for a moment until he can trust himself to open his mouth, although when he does so he keeps it simple, guarded, "yeah. Mr…" hmm, awkward… "Wescott? I Presume?" Frak it, he doesn't know the man’s name, but at least that says enough to know that he's worked out who they are.

There's a smile behind the beard. "Close enough." He extends his hand to shake. "Bill Decker. You guessed right on the important facet." The kids are here and mostly look oblivious as to why. But the two look strong, especially the boy. "I wanted to come down here and shake your hand and have a few words with you in private, if you're willing. But first I wanted to introduce you to my kids." His hand gestures them forward and he introduces them, "Tobias Marcus," Bill says of the boy, "and Lydia Randolph," of the girl. They both offer their hands to shake, «Good to meet you, sir,» they both greet in Tauran.

Toby shakes the hands offered, all be it stiffly, especially with the little extra twist of the knife with the lad's name. «And you,» he replies blunter than he'd like, but a lot of his efforts are going on sitting on the whole wellspring of conflicting feelings that are vying for control. Figuring that if the kids can speak Tauran, then likely so can Bill he continues in his native tongue, even if it is still heavy with his acquired Minoan accent. «Not much privacy on a Battlestar, but we can try.» He's doing his best not to look too much at Lydia, the facial features are just too similar, and it's hard to find that balance between staring and ignoring.

Bill seems amenable to that. «She insisted on us all learning Tauran, especially the kids. Mine isn't very good but I can make my way with it. Did all their school lessons in it.» The two kids stand to the side, looking around in a bit of wonderment at the stars. "Lydia." She looks back to him and he takes the folder, "Find a place to sit and start your lessons." The two nod, "Yes, papa," and move off. The boy has a protective arm around his sister, even though she doesn't look like she needs much in the way of a defender. Once they are out of earshot, Bill looks back to Toby and keeps his voice low. «I'm going to be blunt because I think you'll appreciate that more than fluff. At least I think that's what I can take away from what I know.» He takes a breath and looks Toby in the eye. «It was never easy knowing she also loved another man. I got some comfort in the belief that you had already moved on to death. She knew I felt that way, but she never gave up hope that you and this crew would come back. We were married for a long time and I figured that if it ever happened, it would be complex. But it breaks my heart that we had to meet like this. I can't imagine this is easy on you, either.» He looks to the kids and then back, «She didn't talk about you much in front of the kids, but privately, you were never far from her mind. She made me promise before she died that if you all ever came back, that I'd tell you that, man to man. And if I was going to pass, she wanted me to tell our son about you, too. Sorry it came to this, brother.» He extends the folder for Toby to take. «She didn't ask me to give you this. I wanted to. I have others. You can keep it if you like. If its too painful, I get it.» Inside the folder is a professionally done pencil and charcoal sketch of Kelsey. She looks a few years older, but its her shoulders and head. Her chin is tilted just a bit high, showing a defiant pride. That little hint of a smile like she knows something nobody else does. «That was done about a year before.. you know.»

Toby watches the kids as they head off rather than their dad, asking once they're gone, «do they know why they learnt it?» Not perhaps the most logical question to start with, but it buys him time to sort out his thoughts for the trickier ones. Moving his gaze back to meet the look he listens silently, giving Decker the chance to say what he needs to, and also himself the chance to file it away. Processing will happen later, somewhere where there is no one else to see. «It's not easy no,» Toby agrees with a single, very slow nod, «but you've at least had twenty years to deal with it. A couple of weeks ago I was still focusing on the future.» There's bitterness there, but it's not aimed at the man or his family, a distinction he hopes to clarify with what he says next. «I'm glad she was happy, she always wanted more kids,» something he was unlikely to provide, «but I'm also glad that she fought. When I heard how long we'd lost.. Well, she was either going to be leading the resistance, or dead.» Unable to return the other man's 'brother' he glances away and down, painful is one word for it, crushingly terrible another. There is after all, nothing quite like having the one thing you were clinging onto ripped away and then having to talk to the person who got to enjoy it instead. He does take the folder though, half dreading what’s inside, but looking anyway. It’s clear that he understands, the way his jaw clenches to keep back any sound that might have been emitted and he switches back into business mode to help suppress the tidal wave that is threatening. «I know» he confirms quietly, then glances back to the kids, «do me one favour? Don't ever let anyone tell them who they have to be because of her. From what I've heard the Fleet used and abused Melissa shamelessly for their own promotional and PR purposes. Protect them from that.»

«Yes, they do.» Bill is very sure of that. «To keep a culture alive. Nobody should be forgotten, especially people that understand oppression better than most. They learned pretty young that Taurans were needed now more than ever. I never gave it much thought until I listened to her giving lessons.» And Bill looks like he gets it. He doesn't seem like the sort to assume he understands, but does get the concepts. «Not quite twenty years. But five years, yeah. Doesn't sting any less.» He crosses his arms and leans on the glass. «She did both, Mister Shackleton. She fought with her last breath. When she died, the resistance did too. I never seen so many people come out to witness an execution. She was loved and did love.» When Toby needs a moment, he's kind enough to look away to the stars, letting the man regroup. Bill has been there. Nothing's been easy. Looking back when Toby brings up Melissa, he thinks on that. «Thank you. I'll keep that in mind. I gotta go see Melissa next. A photo of that girl hung on our mantle until the day we walked out the door to this fleet. But…» He heaves a long breath and looks to Toby. «I don't know much of anything about Melissa, Mister Shackleton. But I know she loved you and it’s pretty obvious you loved her. If something happens to me, anything, could you do me a favor and look in on the kids? Protect them from what you mentioned? They'll respect a Tauran more than their stranger half-sister, I'm guessing.»

«Twenty,» Toby repeats, doing his best to answer gently but not really making a complete success of it, «to come to terms with her loving another.» The five years? Yeah, that’s a thing too, but not the one he'd been referring to. As for the size of the crowd he just nods slowly again, «I heard there were many there. If I ever get back to P I'll kill them all, starting with the one who betrayed her, but from what the Brass have been saying I don't hold out much hope. We've effectively abandoned the planet to the collaborators,» he point-blank refuses to use the term 'Loyalist', «my only path home may be in death.» Not that that's the stumbling block it used to be mind, but still. As the conversation turns to Melissa he is forced to add «I met her a few times when she was small, then again only recently. The fleet fraked her up, badly. She was still struggling to get over having Ke.. her mother reappear in her life when all this happened. She's a good kid though, very like her mother.» Then, at the direct request he draws himself up a bit, and looks Bill directly in the eye again. «If you're going to ask something like that then you need to know that I'm not the man she saw me as. One a good day perhaps, but she believed in me far more than I warrant. I have one trick only, and that’s violence. Now, I'll happily cream any fleet recruiter who pushes their luck, but that doesn't make me the kind of person who should be setting an example to your kids. They deserve better.»

<Fair enough.» Bill doesn't push the point. This isn't easy on either of them and no sense trying to push his point. It would never help anything. «Ain't much left on P to kill, Mister Shackleton. The ghost-soldier people killed pretty much all of them. I think probably the only people left there are the ones who didn't want to evac with us.» The point about death gets a slow nod, though. «That is something I will not fault the thinking for. Considered it myself a few times. But I can't quit on the kids. As for Melissa? Yeah, she was worried about Melissa. When the Orion went missing I remember seeing her at Charlies for weeks on end, drinking herself into a bottle. It went on for a long time. People tried to take care of her but… she…» Would not be the easiest person to convince that she needs help. More Tauran than Pican in so many ways. Toby's admission has him nod slowly and look down. «That's fair. I think a lot of us men are like that, though. It scares us. We know who we are and what we've done. What kind of person we have been. I know that's how it was for me. But when kids look to you for guidance? For help? It changes a man. I know you'd never hit kids or her, so I know that violence isn't your only trick, Mister Shackleton.» He looks back to Toby, «They're old enough to make their own calls. Lydia killed the priest that executed her mom, she poisoned him. She doesn't know that I know, and her brother doesn't know either. But they understand violence and the necessity better than most of the kids that grew up under Skath rule. Thing is, that doesn't mean they don't need help coming back into a society like this. That's why I'm saying. I'm not making you promise to be a dad if something happens. Just keep them in mind. Damned sure nobody else on this ship will look out for their best interests.»

«I'm not thinking quitting,» Toby almost snaps back, «it achieves nothing». He's clearly trying not to take offence at the implication, but he words appear to have cut deep. «When I go I'm going to take as many of those frakers with me as I can, and send as many on ahead as I can before and all.» Hoping that has clarified sufficiently he moves on. The comment about having been at Charlies in the immediate aftermath of Orion's disapearance makes him curious and he asks «who were you back then? Kid of a vet? Military yourself?» before the other man's words make him look away again. «I'm glad you're so sure of that, because I'm not. Granted, she was perhaps the only one who could talk me down when it got bad, but all I'd've had to do is lose control once…» The thought still both terrifies and angers him and his fists clench for the briefest of moments as he's sorely tempted to thump the window, but he controls it. Getting angry and an inability to not get angry is a vicious cycle. «I'll keep them in mind» he states, bringing things back on topic, «as I'm sure will Lieutenant Flynn if you ask her. Melissa though, if she's willing, she's your best bet. I've not seen her yet though, not since the news, and I imagine she'll take it hard, losing her mother again so soon after being reuinited.»

«I'm a farmer, Mister Shackleton. Do you have any idea the amount of fertilizer I had access to? I was talking about similar things. Making it count.» Bill keeps it quiet and calm, not looking to raise the conversation beyond the low voice of where it is. «No, I never was military. I was a war orphan. A couple of veterans adopted me and I was working construction in Sheridan. Nothing special.» The guy looks down while the Tauran continues, listening rather than replying right away. «She used to say that she trusted you because you knew that you couldn't trust yourself. There's a certain intelligence that comes with that understanding about yourself, Mister Shackleton. No mentor or parent or guide for a child is perfect. We just do our best. That said, I'll keep the others in mind. They wouldn't be my first pick, but then again, I haven't met them either. But she made sure I knew you.» He offers his hand to shake one more time. «Thank you, Mister Shackleton. You kept her fighting.»

Toby hadn't realised quite how hard he'd been holding onto the folder before he has to switch hands with it to shake Bill's again. «Thank you, Mr Wescott» he returns, «for making her happy, and giving her the family she desperately wanted.» His eyes flick to the kids for a moment and there's another stab of pain at the lad's name. It means a lot to him, but boy does it drive home the future he didn't get a shot at. «Maybe. In time. We could… have a drink… talk more. Just… not now, not… yet.» Maybe not even for a long time, but perhaps one day he'll be able to.

«I appreciate the sentiment, Mister Shackleton. We do our best. As I said, I wish this could have been under different circumstances.» Bill shakes the hand easily, grip firm. When it drops he steps back and nods, considering it. «When you feel up for it, I'm game. Feel free to visit the kids, too. Get to know them. Hearts of fire. You're always welcome with us.» He nods once more and steps back with a deep nod of respect and moves to gather the kids.

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