Summary: Kaye spreads some Christmas cheer.
Date: 2657.349
Related Logs: None

Vidroom - Deck 7

There's no movie playing here tonight, though the smell of popcorn hangs stale and buttery in the air nonetheless. Devoid of people, quiet and still, the dim recesses of the vidroom are a perfect place to find solace from the usual activity aboard a combat carrier like this one. It should be no surprise, then, that Aisling Kaye has come here after her latest uneventful patrol to read and decompress. Sitting on the stage with her back against a dusty burgundy curtain, the small woman is flipping through a worn book that - for once - doesn't appear to contain the Word of God. Her head rests against the burnished golden rope tying the drapes to the deck, nodding in time to music filtering through her truly massive headphones.

Aquilina hasn't been on patrol yet today, so the smell of Stiletto cockpit doesn't precede him into the room as it sometimes does. Observation deck cluttered with officers, berthings noisy, and mess hall…a mess, he's got a book in arm himself as he pokes his head into the vidroom. The littlish figure of Kaye isn't noticed right away, as who expects someone to be up on the stage? So, convinced the haven is undefiled, he lets his boots make relaxed thumps as he heads down one of the aisles.

That's Kaye's plan: to be as unexpected as the Spanish Inquisition. But her sleepy hazel eyes flicker Torch's way in subtle greeting before they return to the book in hand - a photo album, to be precise, whose plastic cover has been bent and unbent despite Mouse's best efforts to keep it safe. "Hullo," she murmurs, her low voice a little louder than usual thanks to the music in her ears. "I thought there wasn't a film on?" Aisling somehow manages to make a factual statement sound like a question as she turns the page. A momentary shadow passes across her canary yellow tee when she moves her arm, muting momentarily the brightest thing in the room by far.

Whoa, shit. Alex stops dead and looks up, and then around before he finds the source of the noise. "There isn't. At least I hope there isn't." He talks before he notices the headphones, only realizing then that she might not even hear him. Smirking a touch, he comes forward enother row or two and slides into a seat, setting the massive book on his knees.

Indeed she doesn't, and as somebody who very much lacks the ability to read lips, Kaye defaults to her usual behavior in such circumstances: she nods in agreement and falls silent. /Flip/ goes another page in her album as the soft strains of a familiar jazz standard filter through the edges of her ‘phones:

"You ain't been blue; no, no, no,
You ain't been blue,
Till you've had that mood indigo."

Aquilina winces slightly as he listens, but no comment from him. Not going to stifle a young artist's creativity, nope. He settles his ankle over his knee and flips the book open, letting the heavy tome rest on the horizontal leg, and slouches comfortably in the seat as he scratches the end of his nose.

Kaye's not so much singing as humming along, but even the isolated phrases she deigns to hum are proof enough of the fact that she has no future career as a lounge singer in the classical mode. Soon enough, though, slinky clarinets and delicate strings fade into silence, and it's with a contemplative sigh that the woman slips off her headphones. The snap of plasticized earpads echoes in the vidroom as they settle around her neck, dangling down to her chest.

The only sound that greets Kaye is the turn of a page. No applause, sadly. Alex does look up eventually though, sensing that something in the room's changed. Or he heard the sigh. As he looks back down at the page he turn it, he comments mildly, "You alright?"

"Uh-huh." Kaye smiles weakly before looking back down to brush a loop of brown hair off a picture with her fingers. Her hand lingers a little longer on the photograph than perhaps absolutely necessary. The woman leans forward, hugging her knees to herself while clasping her medallion in her palm. "You?"

"Just fine, thanks." Alex scratches a hand through his hair, looking up again as he marks a part on his page with his thumb. "What are you doing stashed down here? Couldn't stand berthings?"

"I - I think the people in the opposite bunk were - they were - " Kaye clears her throat. It's a delicate sound wholly unsuited to the matter at hand, which should be very clear in light of the fact that her face has suddenly turned pink. "They were loud," she says.

"Louder than those headphones?" Alex's voice is subdued but has the barest twinge of amusement regardless. "I'm impressed. Good call getting out of there; you might have gone deaf."

"I really don't mind. It's almost Christmas, Alex, and I don't think it's a sin to be glad for them." Kaye leans her cheek against her knees, her eyes focused on one of the projection lamps bolted to the ceiling. "It's just - I mean, it's - not very good for thinking. That's all."

Aquilina pulls the pen from behind his ear and pulls off the back cap with his teeth, exposing a small highliter. "Suppose it is." Almost Christmas, that is. His eyes are back down, finding the passage he wanted and running the bright yellow over it. "Lot of things to think about?"

Mouse's only answer to that is a small shrug. Nimble fingers undo the elastic knot holding her bobtail in place, snapping her dark green hair tie around her wrist before running her hands through her unbound hair. "Do you celebrate it?" she wonders after a while, turning her attention from her album to the other pilot - if not her face. "Christmas."

Aquilina finishes the line highlite and rolls the pen on the tip of his index finger. His head makes a slight shake before he talks. "No." Page turn. "Pretty sure you do, no?"

"Uh-huh." Kaye looks a little crestfallen when she lifts her head to regard the man below her, her small nose wrinkling. "But it's such a nice holiday," Mouse ventures. "Trees and snow and carols and lights - " A flash of excitement makes itself known in her otherwise controlled alto, lending her even more of a childish mien than usual. "And presents," she adds, her fluttering smile turning impish as she pulls up the left leg of her baggy sweats to reveal a thick sock woven from blinding red and green yarn. "Mum made them for me last year." There's a brief pause as the woman covers her ankle once more. "You don't do any of that?"

"No, I…used to, but," Alex's head shakes again, eyes skimming over his page. "Fell out of practice, I guess." He glances up from under his brows when she indicates the socks. The corner of his mouth pulls up, and he looks back down to scribble more. "Mother feeds your sock habit? Must be nice."

"Don't tell her I said this, but she's /terrible/ at it." This is spoken in a rather loud stage-whisper, followed by a self-conscious giggle Aisling can't entirely control. It doesn't take long, however, for her expression to turn solemn once more. "Am I allowed to ask why you stopped?" Mouse swivels to allow her legs to hang over the lip of the stage, folding one over the other before setting her hands on her lap.

"Oh…" Alex shrugs one shoulder. "It's kind of group activity, holidays. I suppose I'm just not that motivated." Omitting things in there, perhaps, but it doesn't sound a lie. "This going to be your first time away from your family for it, or have you done it before?"

"I went to boarding school," Aisling points out, lifting her forearm to reveal the letters running down the length of her sweats: 'ST BRIGID'S.' "So - it's - it's been a long time." This smile is more than a little forlorn. "I put the pictures in my album, if you want to see."

"Boarding school. No kidding." Alex has been talking with the highliter cap between his teeth this whole time. He finally takes it out, snapping it on the back of the pen again. Album. He looks up, at the thing she's holding rather than at her face. "Yeah, sure. If you want to show them to me."

"They're not very good," mumbles Kaye, who nevertheless drops off the stage without so much as a sound. Quiet, sprightly steps soon bring her to the chair directly in front of Torch, into the seat of which she now clambers, knees first, elbows propped on the plush burgundy seats. "Here - it's - " Mouse fumbles with the pages, hand trembling slightly as she hands over the book. "That's Dad - " A tall, burly fellow with a tired smile standing before a modest Christmas tree, his wrinkled black suit in sharp contrast to the outrageous Santa hat atop his balding head.

"And that's Mum - " A surprisingly elegant woman who manages to make her worn black evening gown and fake pearls look good, beside whom is an even younger Aisling Kaye in a flowery sundress and a handsome youth in a TCSF uniform who looks like - "My brother, Alex. I mean, his name - is - " Mouse stumbles over the linking verb. "We took it in forty-nine," she murmurs. "So. Yeah."

Aquilina closes the heavy text he was poring over, pushing it onto the next seat. Pulling his ankle up to rest on his knee, he treats her album carefully, setting it down open on his leg. His attention stays down on the photos as she points out her family. "Your mother looks like a writer," he says, in a complimentary sort of way. "Brother's a pilot?"

A little noise that might be a 'Yeah' bubbles up from Kaye's direction. "Mum can't write, really, herself," she says, a tad bit louder. "She just reads what /other/ people write." Mouse leans back into her ankles to place her chin where her elbows once were. "And Alex, he - " There's a long, searching silence as the woman wonders whether to continue. "I think I told you my brother lost his job," she whispers after a few seconds pass. "That was kind of a lie. He - he lost his job because he got killed five months later, so - well. Kind of a lie, I guess."

"I'm sorry." The words aren't empty. Alex looks over that photo for a while more, between the triangle of faces looking back at him through the lens of time. "Were you guys pretty close?"

"He was older than me, so he'd tease me a lot." Kaye's tone has become a little too matter-of-fact to be entirely genuine. She turns in her seat, sitting herself down in a more normal position so she's facing the stage, her back turned to the other pilot. "I wanted him to get me a cat that year, but he said he didn't want me to become an old lady with kittens at seventeen, so he gave me St Christopher instead."

"St. Christopher?" Alex doesn't turn any pages in the album while her back's to him. The book stays open on his leg, held at the bottom corners.

"My necklace. Patron saint of travelers." You can bet Kaye is listening for the telltale /flick/ of a turning page, though she keeps herself as still as possible under the dim lights of the room. Her messy brown hair looks almost black against the faded yellow of her tee. "Did your family do anything special?" she asks soon after, as if eager to change the subject.

Aquilina obliges, glancing up towards the ceiling. "When I was little we'd always go back to Buenos Aires to see my parents' families. Middle of summer there, of course. You haven't lived till you've spent Christmas in a crowded apartment in 95 degree weather. My father liked going to Noche Buena. Every Christmas Eve at ten o' clock."

"That must have been really nice." There's no irony or sarcasm in Kaye's voice; to the contrary, she sounds genuinely interested. "I think it's good to spend time with your family." The woman bows her head, leaning sideways against the armrest to her left. "So - " Back to the original question. "Why - why did you stop?"

"He died," Alex says, after a beat or two. "And…" He shakes his head, lifting one shoulder. "…things just changed. You know?" He smiles a little at her, briefly. "Anyway. You know who's probably celebrating up here? Markovic. She's a Catholic I think, she'd probably like to do something if you wanted to."

"Oh," says Mouse, who doesn't see the smile. Unlike Torch, she can't even come up with the requisite 'I'm sorry.' Instead, she sits mute for the next full minute, fingers toying absently with the worn silver medallion whose chains are visible through her hair. "I'll - I'll talk to the Captain, I guess. But - " More silence. Then: "Do you - do you want to sing a carol? Or something?"

"I can't sing." Alex smirks faintly, closing her photo album with care over his fingers. "You know that."

"Neither can I." Kaye fumbles to her feet, stepping backwards and spinning on one heel so she's leaning against the stage. "Maybe - maybe we should just hum."

"I don't…really remember the tunes." It doesn't sound like the truth, and there's a faint apology in Alex's tone. He sits up so he can extend the album back to her over the seat. Of course she's out of range, so he just holds it there. "You can hum if you want to."

"Oh - oh." It takes a while, but understanding /does/ eventually dawn. With hesitant steps, Mouse moves to retrieve her album from the other pilot, her eyes fixed on the circle-of-fifths design glittering on its front cover. "It's okay. I - I didn't realize - I mean - " Aisling shivers in her socks, a look of regret coloring her features. "Merry Christmas, Alex," she mumbles. "I should - I'm going to - "

'Go,' presumably, is the end of that sentence, and unless she's stopped, go she does.

"Merry Christmas." Alex settles back, picking his own heavy book back up and onto his legs. "Hey." He looks up, and over to the aisle. "Supposed to be a happy time of year, right? Talk to Markovic, make something nice out of it. Caroling in the halls or something."

For a moment, Kaye brightens. Her hands tucked into the elastic waistband of her sweatpants, her hair falling over her shoulder like she's just gotten out of bed, she looks almost like the seventeen-year-old in the sundress when silhouetted against the light streaming from the now-open hatch. "Fa-la-la-la-laaaa," the woman sings - but she's gone before the echo of the last note disappears.

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