AWD #011: Won't You Light My Candle
Won't You Light My Candle
Summary: Cole finds comforting Iphigenia after the destruction of Virgon to be a much more difficult task than he expected.
Date: 16/01/2012 (OOC Date)
Related Logs: None
Iphigenia Cole 
The chapel is one of the few quiet places to be found on a battlestar. Even rarer still, it's one of the few places that doesn't look like it's part of a battlestar. Heavy blue curtains have been hung from the walls, obscuring the bulkheads. The lights are kept low, adding a certain mystery and gravitas to the space. The central altar is made of a pale grey wood, as are the several rows of pews which extend from it. Laid against the far right wall is a long, low table with several rows of simple white votive candles to be used as vigil lights. Centered among them is a brass plate for burnt offerings from supplicants. Several cushions rest on the floor before the table, where the faithful may kneel to offer their prayers to the Lords and Ladies of Kobol. On the left wall are several compartments which have been sectioned off for private use.
AWD #11

The chapel is empty. Perhaps that's surprising, as so many people these days have the need to feel the hand of the gods on them. But the chapel - well, no, it's not. Iphigenia is on her knees in front of Hestia, the patroness of Virgon. Her officer's jacket has been draped on a pew, so she's down to her shirt and tank, and her hair has been freed of her knot, to fall down around her face and back and shoulders. Open before her on the ground is a small spread of silk; there are various trinkets on it. A few buds of chamalla candies. A couple of photos. A slim white candle, a portion of which is melted. Four coins.

Boots squeak on the deck, the sort of noise that comes with one's shoes are wet. As it doesn't rain on a Battlestar, the sound may be a bit out of place. Aristides enters the chapel, quiet save the unfortunate sound of his soles and the occasional drip of water from the cuff of his pants or the tip of his nose. It looks as if he's fresh out of the shower, and forgot to disrobe before such a task was undertaken. "Iphigenia…" He sounds hesitant to interrupt.

Her head is bowed, her face hidden, palms turned upward with her forearms resting against her thighs. There's the faintest motion of her head that indicates she's heard him, and then her head turns, to look back and up over her shoulder. Her face is pale - but then, she's always been porcelain skinned. Her eyes are dry, but they are also red. She is silent, staring at him for a long moment, and then she asks, "Ari, what can I do for you?" Giving. Always giving.

The sodden Ari crouches down behind and just to the side of the priestess, his hand reaching out to sweep the hair back from her shoulder. "I can come back later." Though that fact that he's standing in the chapel, drenched, implies he came here out of some sort of rush to begin with. Nothing goes unnoticed from his roving eyes, not the red rimmed eyes nor the offering laid out on silk.

Something happens when he touches her; when he brushes the hair back from her face, against her neck. A small shudder; a frisson so delicate he may blink and miss it. "Do you need confession?" she asks. The photographs are mostly old, clear Iphigenia and her siblings at various ages; a few of her parents; one very old photo, some eighty plus years, of a young man in Colonial uniform.

"No." Ari murmurs, his thumb following the curve of her cheek as if he could trace an invisible tear. That's all he says, that single word. The candles waiver and the water drips from his wet clothes, but other than that the room is still for a second. "Tell you the truth, I've forgotten why I came."

Her breath is caught and holds a moment, slowly releasing in a moment of tension. There is the faintest pressure against his finger, like she's leaning into it. "Everyone is grieving. But we have to keep going. Of course we do. This is indulgent. I should put this all away." She looks up at him like she's on the edge of more words, but they do not leap off her tongue.

Cole presses a hand in her shoulder in a silent bid for her to stay exactly where she is. Maybe the man notices her reactions to his touch, or maybe he's just blissfully ignorant. At least he's probably not intentionally cruel. He then finds a piece of deck beside her, one leg folding over the other. "If anyone asks, I'll tell them you're leading /me/ in prayer." His eyes then focus forward at the altar, letting his tongue fall silent so she can pray and grieve for as long as she likes.

"This isn't prayer." she whispers. She touches the photographs. "These are my parents. This is Oscar, and Lydia. You'd like Lydia, I think." The oldest picture is gingerly carressed. "This was my grandfather when he'd just started service. He was a great and terrible old bird, and half the time I was terrified of him, and the other half I adored him. He died years ago though, so I don't have to carry his coin."

Cole is terribly intent when she runs him through the faces in the photographs, adding names and little quips about them. His forehead wrinkles with concentration, as if he's making sure that each tidbit is filed away in his memory out of respect for the Priestess. "I can't decide who you favor more." Weight gets shifted, and the cold material of his dress blues reminds him that, "Sorry. I'm getting the floor all wet. I just…" A laugh, and all he does is repeat that he's sorry again.

"It doesn't matter." She smiles at him faintly, and lifts the candle. "Did Magnola ever tell you about the Feast of Hestia, or take you to the parade?" she asks, fingers curling around the candle as if it was suddenly precious to her. No, not suddenly, but. She looks at him with sudden sorrow, and then she puts her palm on his cheek. Nothing else. She just rests it there, thumb stroking against his cheekbone and stares at him with so much sorrow such as never seen on her usually smooth countenance.

"She was devout to Dionysus." Ari mutters. "Touched." There is a long exhale and his eyes cast downwards. "I never understood true religion until it was too late. So the answer to your question is: if she did, I was too busy watching her instead of the parade." And then there is the cool rest of her hand on his face, and the smooth movement of her thumb. His chest expands as his lungs fill with air and there is a sudden tension in his frame like a coil ready to spring. "It's all gone, Geni. All of it. If we're able to salvage anything from the colonies, it will be ash and bone."

She does not take her hand away. "I know." she murmurs, the candle still clutched in one hand, held to her tightly. She's staring at him, but not at him exactly, sometimes it's his mouth, sometimes it's his eyes, and sometimes it's not so much at him as into him. "My family could trace itself back to the founding of Virgon, we can name the heirs of our line from the first appointed with his Countdom by the Royal House, and now there is nothing. Nothing."

Ari shifts his body so he's no longer offering just his profile. His hazel eyes tick tock, gaze roving her face as if to read every little nuance in her expression. If he's uncomfortable in his wet clothing, there are no longer any complaints. He's otherwise occupied. "There is you." The words come barely audible above the decible of an exhale of breath. Long-fingered hands drop to her waist, and a flex of muscles in his arms pull at her hips to bring her closer.

She blinks, looking at him and herself and their configuration. Longing and despair are at war in her face, but really, did her parents ever know what it meant when they dedicated their infant eldest to Aphrodite and Athena when she was but a few days old? Wisdom and grace, wit and beauty, leading to this. "I thought it was better to be empty." she murmurs. "I could fill myself with what other people needed if I was empty. But I didn't know. I didn't know. And I can't." Her head tilts foreward, her forehead not touching his, but close. "I can't put my pain over others. Over yours. I can't put my needs over yours. Over anyone's." The last seems a quick, hasty ammendment. She doesn't physically shake, but there's something electric under her skin. A war is being fought.

"You are not a vessel, you are a person." There may be a bit of bitterness in his voice, a tinge of past pain carved into his words. Or maybe this is an uncommon inflection, that's new to even him. Aristides moves his head, keeping that prudent hair's breadth between their skin ever touching. His face even angles towards hers so that the warmth of his breath may be felt when he talks and the whisper of his eyelashes stir the air when he closes them. "I want to kiss you." He confesses. "No, I want to push you down on that bit of silk and your photographs and frak away your pain."

"Whatever it is to me, it's still a sin to you." she murmurs. "Whatever I might want from you would swallow you up and you would regret it at the end of things. And you would never forgive me. Or yourself." The hand on his cheek withdraws, but only to press against his chest. Her head tilts to look over at the idol of Aphrodite, and then the other side to gaze up at Hestia. Her fingers curl against his chest, like somehow she could fit them against his heart and hold it in her hand. Pain has made her weak, she thinks, pain has made her reveal too much, brought too much to the surface. Hestia loses focus, and it's her grandfather in his officer's uniform that catches her eye, even with his heart beating under her hand. It draws her away though, to look at him once more. He can watch as the veil, the smoothness, the serenity - the lie - starts to slide into place.

When he feels the air between them widen, his eyes reopen. There is a wrinkle at the corner of each, like a wince from someone subjected to too bright of a light. His breathing comes out as a pant for air and fingers tighten at her hips as if he might force Iphigenia back to him by the benefit of muscle alone. "The Gods watch. They always watch. And they judge." Cole's nostrils flare. Anger. Shame. "Whatever it is to you." He repeats, loosing his grip of her clothing and the round of flesh beneath.

"Love…love never takes. Love gives." she says, leaning forward. But not into him, not onto him, even though it closes the inches between them again. Her hands brace the ground, but the withdrawal from his chest is slow and begrudging the loss of contact. "And I could not take away what you have strived so hard for. No matter how great my pain, no matter how empty I feel." She looks up at him then. "They watch, and they judge. But they are not cruel. We make the cruelty ourselves. And I cannot - I will not ever take from you."

"Next time, I just won't ask." Cole's tone is dark, plagued. It's hard to say if the venom in his voice is directly inward or outward, but either way he's holding up a hand to pause her when she leans forward, unsure of her intent. "Don't. You're right. I shouldn't have come to you like this. Much less have tried to take advantage of you when you're clearly grieving." He leans back, only to plant a palm on the floor to likely help himself to his feet.

"You can't take advantage of me." she replies. "To take advantage of me would imply that I would be an unwitting partner, that I would be succumbing to a desire I was not conscious of until this moment. She stays kneeling. "I would would want no one else I would want to comfort me but the man who stands in front of me." she says. "And nothing you have suggested to ease my pain sounds or feels wrong to me. But now, in this moment, it is very wrong for you, and I cannot permit that." She swallows and says quietly, "Please stay. If you feel you can't touch me - for your control, for your own purity, I understand. But please stay." She closes her eyes. She has never asked him for anything, but now that is no longer true.

It is with a remarkable sense of self control that Ari leans forward and just lightly places a kiss on her forehead. Her eyes are closed, and so he allows himself that one slight affection. "The transgression has already been made. It will be weighed when I stand before the ferry man whether I'll be taken to the fields or the meadow. It was just not made in flesh." He's not committed to staying, but nor is he actively leaving either.

"If thought was sin, we'd none of us go to the Fields of Elysium." she says quietly. "It's choice and action that matters." This is a thing she is certain of.

Ari covers his face with his hands, scrubbing at it with the coarseness of his palms. "I'm cold." It's probably a statement more to his current physical state rather than metaphysical. Maybe. Likely it's something that is occuring to him now as the life support system cycles, and the flush of a close call has started to subside. "I'd take off my shirts, but then you'd get all hot and bothered and we'd wind up back at square one." Iphigenia may have her practiced exterior of the serene Priestess. Ari can likewise hide behind that of a flippant pilot. At least he cracks a smirk..

Iphigenia rises to her feet, padding over to a cabinet. She opens it and withdraws a blanket, of all things. Yes, sometimes they have to deal with shock in the chapel, and blankets are helpful with that. She returns, dropping to her knees with an air of practice at doing so without it hurting, and presents the blanket to him. "If you like, I can be swooning on the inside."

Shock, or the occasionally Viper Jock who insists on sleeping on a pew shortly following War Day. "Try to contain yourself, woman." He takes the blanket from her by folding a hand beneath and ontop of it, sandwiching the fabric between them. Amazing how carefully fingertips can be placed so they don't errantly brush another's. He pulls the blanket to himself, leaving it across his lap and diverting his eyes there as well. Grasp free, he starts to disassemble the Officer's uniform.

It's not as if he's stripping for her entertainment, or even that there's all that much to see, but Iphigenia diverts her own eyes as well, more for him than herself. "Hestia's Feast is beautiful." she says, reaching for the candle. "All the electric lights are turned off, and the only light permitted is that which comes from flame. All the young women in the town or neighborhood or village gather together dressed in white, and right before dawn, they parade through the streets with lit candles, dressed in white and singing hymns to her. It's considered an honor to be the one who leads it. You're supposed to keep your candle from the processional for when you get married, to light your way as you walk to the altar."

The Blues jacket is shrugged off, folded neatly but it still slaps the deck like the wet wad of cloth that it is when he lays it down. With her gaze diverted so, it is only the jingle of his dogtags that might give away the fact that he's also stripping off the sodden tanks beneath. "How old were you, when you led the progression?" His mind makes the natural leap, the keen eyes of a pilot undoubtedly noticing the way she clings to that one particular candle through the evening.

"Fourteen." She smiles down at the candle, for a moment less here and more in her memory. "Old enough to be mindful of the responsibility, young enough for it to go completely to my head. I was likely insufferable for days, but of course my parents were terribly proud. There's never been an Arden daughter who didn't lead the processional at least once. When Lydia did it, I thought she was going to lead us all off a cliff."

"There is a joke in there about lemmings…" That Cole doesn't further make. His mood is far to rooted someplace else for his sense of humor to fully emerge. The blanket gets unfurled and then wrapped around his heavily inked shoulders as a shudder overtakes him, traveling up his spine in rapid progression that has him hunkering down in the folds of the fabric with two fists gathering it his sternum. "Has it ever been re-lit?"

She chuckles. "That's not far from comments that Lydia made about the whole rigamarole. Of course, to her it was less a privilege and honor, and more a tedious obligation." There's a shift to her shoulders when she sees him shudder. The instinct to reach out is strong, but so is the remembrance of heat between them, and so she quells it. "No." she says quietly, eyes diverting to the candle once more. "I've never married. There was school, and seminary, and officer training, and then my career."

Cole unfolds his long legs, the heel of one of his boots giving him enough purchase on the deck to scoot him backwards so his spine can be supported by the edge of one of the sections of pews. "We always think there is enough time, until there isn't. Time for one more call, one more letter. The future being this great ball of promise to do all the things we put off in favor of something else, today. It's a great gift to learn how to live in the present."

Iphigenia says quietly, "I'm willing to wait. For the right time. The right person. And if they never come along, then that's what is meant to be." She lifts her gaze at him. "You talk about seizing the moment and living in the now, but we all of us live in the past. Especially now."

"I never said I was the one who was good at it." Ari slants a smirk at Iphigenia as she finally lifts her gaze to him again. He's cocooned himself well within the blanket, once more returning this to a (mostly) proprietous setting. "It's just something I strive for. A way to honor the missus. I'm not perfect." As much as that pains him to say. "But at least the Oprhics have specific rules. I can follow rules. I…" He suddenly gets an odd look on his face and freezes mid-sentence, but this time it's not from needing to choose a different path of his words. "…ACHOOFF." He shields his face with a curtain of blanket as he sneezes.

"Everything I've learned about Magnola and how incredible she is makes me think she'd want you to be happy." Iphigenia murmurs, but then a bewildered look crosses her face when he sneezes. Frowning, a hand goes to his forehead, perfunctory and testing to reassure he isn't getting a fever. But. "You are going to get a chill." she accuses him. "I shouldn't have kept you. You should go to medbay and have them give you something to stave it off. What were you doing that you go so wet in the first place? You know perfectly well how to dry off properly after a shower."

"Much less how to disrobe before I get into one. I wasn't thinking. I haven't been thinking." There is no trace of a fever, but his skin does seem to flush as Iphigenia touches him again. He raises a hand, blissfully not the one he just used to cover his sneeze, and pulls her fingers away from his forehead. "Now you asked me to stay, and I'm staying. C'mere." His grip on her hand tightens to draw him toward her, but it seems he's content now to just tuck the Priestess against his side. "Keep me warm."

The way these two play with fire. But love gives, and Iphigenia can't refuse him this. She moves closer on her knees, and unless he protests, moves under the blanket with him. arms go around his biceps, and legs settle on either side of his thighs, with her torso pressed against his back and her nose softly exhaling in his ear. He asked for warm, and so she gives it to him, unhesitatingly, even if it's making her heart pound in her chest.

Ari is easily accommodating to her choice, the blanket held aside so she can slip inside the warmth of it. Already, their combined body heat raises it a few degrees in the little shroud. He turns askance of the pew as she wraps herself around him, using his arm to pillow his head on the hard surface of the seat, and the curve of his shoulder and neck can in turn be used by her. His outside hand drops to her knee, slipping beneath it to cause a crook that further nestles him in her embrace. "Thank you." He murmurs, leaving his gratitude vague.

Iphigenia does not ask what for, but only murmurs in reply, "Thank you." in return. Even if he's colder than she is, body warmth works both ways. She uses the companionable silence that follows to calm her heart. Some instances of living in the moment are harder than others. This one is easy.

It wouldn't be the first time Cole has fallen asleep in the chapel. It likely won't be the last. Sometime during the silence that follows, the plagued viper pilot slips off into slumber in a last ditch effort of his body to conserve the energy that will be required he retain in the coming days. Probably not his wisest choice in all his thirty some years, to fall asleep with wet pants and with a priestess wrapped around him as his personal space heater. But in that moment? He doesn't seem to care.

She doesn't sleep, but she listens to him breathe in a sort of meditative state that is restful. Only when he seems deep in slumber does she permit herself a small vice; her mouth presses briefly against the sensitive skin just under and behind his ear in a kiss before she settles into a doze.

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