Mess Meandering
Mess Meandering
Summary: Aquilina and Xiang chow in the mess hall and talk of Trey and music and lighters, and various other things. No cabbages or kings, however.
Date: 2657.324 (Fri Nov 20 2009 IRL)
Related Logs: Strike Two and The Captain and His Court sort of

Officers' Mess Deck 6

1936 Hours 2657.324 — Fri Nov 20 19:36:28 2009

Designed to seat approximately 50 officers, the Majestic's wardroom is built for maximum configurability. Small square tables are scattered through the room, able to be moved and secured together to form larger surfaces if a need arises. A cafeteria-style service line is set to one side of the room, serving the best food that the lowest bidder has to offer.

Contents: Xiang Aquilina
Exits: [O] TCN Officers


A meal cycle has just turned. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, depending on the shift one was just on. Alex is parked at a table with a tray of half-eaten food, paying a good deal less attention to that than to a laptop. And a bunch of heavy books. His fingers tap over the keys, eyes flicking back and forth between them and the screen, a fork still stuck in his mouth and held between his teeth from his last bite of food.

Aquilina's Desc
Standing at about 5'10", this man is probably nearing thirty years old. His regulation-short, rather thin hair is a very dark blond, almost brown. His face is nothing out of sorts, sort of squarish in the chin, and his eyes are a pale greenish-gray that some would associate with pond algae. Over those, his long brows have natural arches that never quite go away, lending an air that is - whether accurate or not - somewhat aristocratic. He almost never smiles, though when he does it brings out innocent-looking twin dimples.

He's wearing the standard uniform of a pilot in the Terran Confederation Space Force: dark brown shirt with a tan undershirt and dark blue trousers. The rank pips on his collar are those of a First Lieutenant.

Xiang strides into the mess hall, cycling for some meal or another. Still in uniform but she looks recently showered, so one can assume she just came off from some time on the flight line. She gets her tray, which is topped with mess hall chow by one of the cook staff, then angles over to get a cup of coffee. All of that done, she looks for a place to sit. And spots Aquilina. The lieutenant is eyed for a moment but she does head over to join him. "Alex."

Xiang's Desc
Xiang Jia is a young Terran woman, no older than her middle twenties, with an almond-shaped tilt of her eyes and olive cast to her skin that makes her Asian heritage clear. Chinese, specifically, if one knows about such things. She's a few inches above average height with a slender build that, while beaten into good shape from military life, isn't impressively muscular or toned. Her face is oval-shaped with high cheekbones and dark brown eyes. Those eyes are often given over to a contemplative, thoughtful look, as if she's turning something over and taking it apart in her head. Her hair, so dark is almost seems black, is generally worn pinned back in a rather severe bun.

She's dressed in the standard uniform of a pilot in the Terran Confederation Space Force: dark brown shirt with a tan undershirt and dark blue trousers. The rank insignia on her collar shows her to be a First Lieutenant, and a nametag reading 'XIANG' is stitched over one breast pocket.

Aquilina's hands keep moving on the keys, even as his pale eyes come up to look at his new tablemate from under his brows. "Jia." He looks back down and keeps typing until he hits the end of the sentence, then pulls the fork from his mouth and reaches over to stab some new piece of pale brown meatlike substance.

Xiang seats herself primly across from Aquilina. There's usually a sort of primness about her posture, but it seems just a *a bit* heightened at the moment. She takes a few sips of her coffee, before deciding to set it aside to cool and get to the food itself. A couple of bites are taken. She makes no attempt to converse just now, though she eyes Aquilina in a rather level way as she chews.

Aquilina chews, too. Epic chewing battle, eyes met and held. His being rather less prim, the ends of his brows ticked in a subtle arch that may or may not be amusement. Fork in mouth, pulled out, returned to plate, he brushes off his hands and reaches for the open text of the pile, thumb flipping a few thin pages.

Xiang's arches her brows right back at Aquilina. Though her thin dark ones lack humor. She swallows, washing that down with a few more sips of coffee. "Something amusing on your mind? Do share, please."

Aquilina shakes his head, moving a hand absently at the same time. "Thinking about Brownian motion." He breathes a chuckle under his breath. Oh, that silly Brown. His pinky skims the page and he finds what he was looking for, returning interest to the laptop and hitting page up about six times.

"How very random of you," Xiang quips, with a certain amount of humor. Her eyes retain some flintiness, though. "I really should deck you, you know." Since she's saying it aloud, it's probable she won't. But still.

"Well done," Alex compliments offhandedly, at the quip. He finds what he was looking for in the electronic document and glances back at the text, confirming something and then typing it in. After backspacing a bit. "And should you, now."

"Most certainly, for abandoning me to Second Lieutenant Grayson and his Thousand Hangar Pick-Up Lines," Xiang replies wryly. "I think payment in blood fits the crime."

Aquilina now does look awfully amused, which is a curious thing considering he's not smiling. Withdrawing his hand from the book, he folds his arms on the table behind the laptop. "Is that what I did. I'm sorry, I didn't realise you were such a damsel in distress."

"I'm not, of course, but that's hardly the point," Xiang replies, stabbing at her food. "If I didn't know any better, I'd have thought you were *encouraging* him." She eyes his apparent amusement. /Eyes/ it.

Aquilina fishes a cigarette from his front T-shirt pocket, plus his purple lighter. As she talks he flicks the flame to life, cherry flaring at the end of the white stick. Smoke rolls towards the ceiling, and he drags a used ashtray closer. "So tell me, what is the point?"

Xiang wrinkles her nose, just a little, at the smoke. She seems to make herself not do that /too/ much, though. "Simply to express my feelings, Alex. Consider it a feminine impulse, if you must." That /was/ a joke, dryly delivered as it was. "Though I don't think it was *that* amusing." Not *that* amusing. She shrugs, stabbing more at her dinner. "In any case, the young lieutenant seems to have taken the hint and moved on. I do feel a bit of sympathy for Lieutenant Kaye, though. I hope he's not pestering her too badly."

"Then you won't mind terribly if I ignore it. Call it a masculine impulse. If you must." Returned joke, not quite as dry. Alex smirks as he takes another drag off the cigarette, exhaling away from her face. "Got a soft spot for our Lieutenant Kaye then, have you? I doubt she's in much danger. That man is a menace to exactly one person, and that's himself."

"I must, I think," Xiang replies, smirking in kind. Though she nods about Kaye. "I do rather like her. It's refreshing to have someone in the bunks more low-key to talk to. I don't think she's in *danger*, precisely, but with men like that you have to be rather…firm if you want them to get the message." A little nod to that last. "I'll be quite surprised if he doesn't get himself slapped soon. But he does seem harmless enough. Very eager, which I suppose is a good trait in the cockpit."

"If it's well-directed," Alex interjects, ashing the cigarette. "Sometimes eager means you'll get the job done, and sometimes it means you'll just push every button without knowing what it does. Including on people."

"True enough that. The lieutenant does seem to be trying to push as many buttons as he can," Xiang notes. Was that a vague sex joke? With her generally prim tone, it's hard to tell. She watches Aquilina smoke for a moment as she continues to eat. "Was that lighter a gift?" she asks, an abrupt change of subject.

"No. Do you really not have an ear for music?" Alex flips the conversation just as easily, as though they'd agreed to play a game of twenty questions.

"Really? I'd assumed it had some sort of sentimental value. It's unusual." Xiang sounds more curious than anything else. As for his question, she chuckles. "I'd like to think I can appreciate good music, but my attempts to play it were rather terrible. There are few sounds uglier than a poorly-played violin. It's rather like a shrieking cat. I finally convinced my mother to let me stop with the lessons. She tried to get my sister to make use of the instrument a few years later. Min ended up breaking it, I think. I just haven't the head for that sort of thing, I don't think."

"It belonged to someone," Alex says, neutrally. His pale eyes stay on the ashtray as he taps his thumb against the end of the cig, then come back up. "That's a relief. It isn't so much the violin as that I've never met a violinist I could stand. I've a theory that the entire string section of an orchestra is an illusion. The instruments are all really the same size; it's just the heads of violinsts are that much bigger."

"My mother played the violin," Xiang says, sounding mildly amused. "I think you might be on to something with that theory." His answer about the lighter illicits a soft "Ah." Still curious, but she doesn't pursue it. "Do you play something musical, then?"

Aquilina answers with the cigarette bobbing gently in his mouth. "Does chairs count?"

Xiang cracks a smile at that, chuckling. "I'm of the opinion it does, but I said I'd no talent for music. The pianist pilot would probably disagree. So. What do you do in your off-time? Aside from musical chairs and pondering Brownian motion?"

Aquilina indicates the laptop with a dry flick of his eyes. "Mostly this pile of shitty academic self-validation. My dissertation." The cigarette's mostly done, and he gets a last drag out of it before mashing it out. "When I'm not doing that I'm having nightmares about it. What about you?"

"Dissertation? Are you working through graduate school in the middle of all this?" Xiang sounds, just a little, impressed. She expresses no sorrow when the cigarette is smothered. "I brought a small library with me. Murder mysteries mostly, as cliche as that sounds. It passes the time. Passing the time between fires seems to be half the battle on these cruises. My father let me take his chess set with me when I left Luna Base, but I haven't been able to find anyone to play with."

"Doctorate. And it's because of this, you could say," Alex substitutes that in, folding his arms again on the table. "Military fellowship with the rats down in the labs up here. Mostly to make sure when my arse gets too shot up to fight anymore, I can claim I'm still useful." Boy, that was dry. "You play chess?" Slightly more interested, a long brow raising again. "How good are you?"

"Prudent," Xiang says simply. "It will give you something to do after the war as well." Presuming they'll see the end of it, but she manages to sound like she believes there'll be a long view to all this. She and Aquilina are seated at one of the tables. Xiang's finished most of the food on her tray and is nursing a coffee. As for chess, she smiles faintly. "I know my Knights from my Bishops, at the very least. You?"

"I can win a game against a blindfolded six year old," Alex says, with a grave nod. "I know you're impressed but it's true. I've tried."

Xiang half-smiles and replies, far too seriously to actually be serious, "A proper grand master, then." On a more sincere note she says, "I'll have to break the set out for you sometime. Wouldn't want it to start gathering dust. That'd be fun, I think."

"You just want to wipe the floor with me since you don't have the balls to deck me proper," Alex says, the corner of his mouth twisting to show a hint of teeth. "I see it in your blackened heart."

"I haven't balls at all, Alex," Xiang deadpans. "I've never been in a real fist fight, actually. Chess is less painful on the knuckles, as I understand it."

"When civilised, sure." Alex cracks a slight grin. It's not an expression that looks like it belongs on his face, really, even with the dimples that go along with it. He might've been about to say something else, but then he notices the time on his laptop screen. "Shit, it got late. Are you on this patrol?" The huge textbook's shut with a loud thud, then his laptop.

Xiang notes the time, and looks surprised as well. "I'm due for it, yes." She stands, picking up her tray. That'll need to be stowed before she gets in the cockpit.

"Perfect. Off we go, then." Alex hauls the books and computer up into his arms, which is no small feat considering they probably weigh as much as a small child. Getting through the mess hall crowd is a contact sport. Out he goes.

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