Et Tu, Brute?
Location: Captain's Quarters
Timeline: After Dinosaurs! (Backpost)
Kelly made her way down the corridor to the CO's quarters, two bottles of whiskey in her hands, and a couple of tumblers. She was hoping the captain would have some ice in her quarters, but after a cup or two, you stopped minding warm whiskey anyway.
She was also hoping that the CO didn't take this as too forward of a move... Kelly was never one for strict formality, and it seemed like Ro wasn't either... couple of drinks between co-workers was always fun, right?
She reached the door and tapped the chime with the bottom of one of her bottles of booze.
"Come in!" answered a voice that was obviously Ro's, then mimicked by a higher, scratchier voice. When the door opened the room beyond it was sparsely decorated with bright colored fabrics and mandalas, a throw rug here, a blanket there, two very large cages in the back corner and a slew of unpacked boxes. Ro was sitting at her table with her hair loose and small reading glasses on, a book held in her hands and two large parrots perched on chair backs nearby her. "Mind the birds. They'll take off to explore if you leave the door open."
"Oops!" Kelly deftly swung the tumblers back into the door control as she stepped in, closing the door behind her.
"Boss lady, we're getting hammered. Or at least as close as we can manage and still make it to work tomorrow," She said, bluntly.
"Oh we are, are we?" Ro asked, reaching a hand out for the white bird to step to so Kelly could take a seat in the free chair. She transferred the cockatoo to her shoulder where it purred and hid in her hair. "You know it's impossible for me to drink to that extent without getting myself into trouble, so I typically set my non-foot-in-mouth/professing-love-to-my-ex limit at a single these days."
Kelly narrowed her eyes at the woman, "Can I get that made a double so we can cause a tiny bit of chaos?" She asked, conspiratorially.
The redhead grinned as she shook her head no, occasionally a beak would dart through her hair to cuddle against her cheek and interrupt the motion. "How about you have a double and I'll be hilarious without it? I've courted drinking issues in the past. I mean it when I say that I don't pick up a bottle lightly. One drink with friends is my limit without an invitation to pandemonium. I'm hopefully a few years out from one of those."
Kelly held up a hand, "Didn't know that one bit, boss lady, sorry. Double for me, single for you. I'll be on my best behavior, okay?" She said, grinning in a manner that said that probably wasn't true.
"Sounds good." Ro folded up her glasses and set them on her book, both of which were deposited on a nearby shelf out of reach of the birds. "What are we pouring?"
"It's an old earth delicacy, hard to find anymore. Johnnie Walker, Blue Label. I won a case in a game of poker at one point... I'm still working my way through it," She explained, proudly.
"I've never heard of it," admitted Ro as she started to gather up the red macaw as well. It ran from her hand and hissed at her, fluffing up and glaring at her from under hooded eyes. "I'm a colonist kid. My time on Earth was spent at the Academy. Come on Ptery. Go to bed so I can visit.."
"I'm Batman!" hissed the parrot venomously, raising his wings for added height.
"You're dinner if you don't go to bed. Bed Batman!" Ro fussed, pointing at the cage. With an unholy shriek the macaw dove for his cage, complaining, growling an beeping with a few curse words mixed in until the commander drew his drapery down. Once she did, he grew quiet except for a few quiet, questioning 'mom?' and then nothing more.
Kelly cackled as Ro worked with macaw, "Oh my god, he's magnificent!" She said, happily as she poured them both drinks - a single and a double as discussed. "How long have you had him?"
"Since my second year at the Academy. He was about twelve when I intended to borrow him for a jab at one of my professors who insisted that I was better cut out for smuggling contraband and illicit deals that a suave and stately position within Starfleet. I showed up the next day with the parrot. That was almost thirteen years ago now.." The redhead kicked her flats off into a corner and sat back down next to Kelly. Picking up the smaller of the two, she sniffed at it carefully then made a face. "Whoa.. potent stuff there."
"It's so smoooooth, though," Kelly said, downing her double shot in one gulp. "mmmm.... and warm," She said, looking quite contented.
Ro sipped at it, then nodded in agreement. She'd court that cup for a good long time just sipping at it. "Very smooth. Makes me think of warm amber."
"That's a darn good comparison, boss lady," Kelly replied. She seemed to think about that for a moment then looked earnestly at Ro, "Can I... am I allowed to be informal... er... with you off duty?" She asked, not sure if she had to keep with the bossladies and ma'ams.
"Yeah," sighed Ro as she leaned back in her chair and curled both of her legs up under her. "I'm not exactly what you'd call a formal person when it's not required. On the bridge it's all business. Off hours I'm allowed to be human."
"Soooo... I can call you Ro? Or do you prefer Rohana?" She asked.
"Ro, Red, Rusty: I pretty much answer to all of that. Mom if you have feathers." The redhead put her hand over the tumbler's mouth when the cockatoo on her shoulder leaned forward to sample some. "Uh-uh. Hot. Burny. Ow. No good."
"I have no feathers, so I'll avoid mom," She said with a chuckle. She thought about it for a moment, then "I sorta like Rusty, if that's okay," Kelly said, grinning a bit.
"Rusty's fine. My dad went by that, too, when he was in the fleet. He was a pilot, though, and that's not my shtick. Boats. Boats work. Sails, oars or a rudder: can do. Nine million panels with blinking lights? Nope. I prefer simplicity," the commander sighed.
Kelly laughed, "Speak for yourself, lady," she replied, laughing. True to her word, Kelly corked the bottle and sat her glass aside, happy for the warmth in her gut. "I don't understand you Rusty. I've been in the fleet for a while now, and I've never met a CO like you. What's your story?" She asked casually. Ro felt like an old friend to her. It was easy to forget she was her superior officer, and that was definitely something new for Kelly.
Ro's lips twitched a little at the question. She was never sure how to answer questions like that. There were a dozen different pieces of her that made up who she was, and most of them were bleak to start with and fanned up into flames of 'not quite ready to give up yet'. "Oh, I had some pretty good COs. A couple were spare dads, one was a bonafide ass kicker and good gods did he hate me at first until he saw the whole picture. Taking the best from all of them brought me the style that I offer my crew. I think it's easier to say that I am a reformed bit of chaos and being out here is my therapy. Beyond that, it's a whole kettle of fish that I'm sure you don't want to hear."
"You might be surprised," Kelly replied. "You tell me your kettle, I'll tell you mine. The majority of my life isn't in my file," She explained.
"Well.. I was not the model student from the get go. I started off in security and I was rather good at it, because if there was trouble, I was usually right there in the thick of it. Trouble maker, party gal, go to fun in a nutshell. I grew up very sheltered in a small communal fishing island on a colony that went from dusk to dawn. No doors, no privacy, no entertainment. I mean it was cut off, so getting out was really a time to kick up my heels and go. Then I met this beautiful guy-" Ro looked up at the ceiling as she spoke, smiling slightly. "And we had a fabulous fling until we ended up pregnant and Captain Kick Ass encouraged Gary to marry me which was not good for either of us."
"A few months in we divorced and I took some time off to raise our son Charlie solo. Gary wanted the career, I wanted the boy: it worked out in theory. It took a few years and the help of my folks to really get this free range parenting thing down pat. Charlie was a real difficult boy. Afraid of everything. So very, very smart. Smarter than I was. We were a good team, though. Me and Charlie. He and another drowned on the cusp of a storm a few years back." Her lips quirked again, but she continued on. Ro's ceiling watching was more of a defense than a reminiscing notion at that point. "Once I dug myself out of the pit I buried myself in for a bit, I left home and came back to the Fleet. It wasn't glorious by any means and I had a lot of people who remembered me as Gary's wife the arm candy, but I worked hard. I took more classes. I kicked some of my own ass and now I'm here."
"That's a winner, that one," Kelly replied, nodding solomnly. Where Ro found the ceiling, Kelly found the table, tracing her finger through the ring of whiskey she'd left from her glass, "I grew up in this shitty little town called North Tamarac. Most people forget that not everywhere is bright and shiny and perfect out there. North Tam was one of those places. We had old everything, old schools, old hospitals. Nothing. Town was an old mining town. We just couldn't afford anything," She explained.
"My dad," Her eyes instantly twinkled lovingly at those words, "was a pilot, like me. He flew planes for the local airfield in the town, trying to earn money. We'd scraped and saved and broken our backs to have enough money to move if Dad found a job. He did, finally. At a starship manufacturing plant in San Francisco. We'd made all the plans, found a place to live, worked out a budget for the move. Our car was packed to leave the next day, right after his last flight," She explained.
Her lips curled in for a moment and her face strained, like she was fighting back tears, "He never made it home. Old engine blew... he hated the plane he was in. He said it wasn't safe, but the man running the airfield insisted on it, because it was one of those old earth biplanes and that sold tickets. He bit it. Bad," Kelly explained. "He survived the crash, and we poured all of our moving money into medical bills trying to save him... but... he didn't make it," She took a deep breath then continued on, "I went... haywire. Got into fights, almost failed out of highschool. Mom dug herself into a bottle and hasn't come back out to this day," She said, sighing heavily.
With the heart wrenching part of the story passed, Kelly risked a tentative moment of eye contact before looking way again, "When I turned eighteen I went to the academy. They were about to reject me outright because of my academic record, but I talked them into giving me a chance to take the aptitude tests, and I scored higher than any of the candidates they currently had. I got in, but... I had it rough. I finally had an instructor named Trent McMasters that saw the diamond under all that rough and put some time into me. He's the only reason I graduated, I can tell you that," She explained, laughing a bit. "A few junior postings later and here I am. You're stuck with me," She said.
She laughed bitterly, "You know, I bet the car is still packed for the move, sitting in the same spot in the driveway," She admitted.
Ro let the quiet creep between them for a moment, then nodded and moved her cup to the left just enough to clink it against Kelly's. "Bad ass women don't give up. Don't know that word."
"Give up? Sounds like a bunch of gibberish to me," Kelly replied, flicking her fingers into her glass to make them clink again, "Never heard the term," She said, smiling up at Ro. "Couple of women been through hell and back, still came through smelling like roses... guess that's why we click, huh."
"Probably. I didn't think my essential oil drew future nuns. It's supposed to inspire balance. Rosewood, tansy, spruce- There's frankincense in there. That might have done it your holiness." Ro elbowed her pilot lightly in the arm, mindful of the glass sloshing.
"Oh, good lord. The habit would burn if I ever put it on," She said, laughing heartily.
"At least you'll always stay warm," Ro suggested with a halfhearted shrug that had the cockatoo dancing on her shoulder.
Kelly laughed, "Lord, chica, you're as crazy as I am, you know it?" She said, laughing warmly. "I'm going test out that coffee maker of yours. I'm pretty sure I can whip up some espresso for us. I'm assuming you do coffee from time to time?" She asked.
"Here and there, yeah. I try to stay away from too rich or too sugary. I take it black or with light milk if it's coffee. I'm not sure how I'd take my espresso. I've never had it. It's sort of coffee, right?" As she spoke, Ro put the cockatoo in its cage, too and petted her a few times before closing the door.
"It's coffee, but it's like... coffee on crack," Kelly replied, already working the coffee maker. "It's a bit stronger, so you might want a little bit more milk in this," She explained.
"Okay.." the redhead said as she idly began to wander her room and the various boxes still there, plucking up a trinket here and a picture there to place on shelves and tables.
"The hell is wrong with this thing..." Kelly muttered, "Hey, Rusty, what is all this gibberish? Is this like... Finnish or something?" She asked, pointing at the kanji on the display. "I don't know which damn button to push!"
Looking over the other woman's shoulder, Ro made a face. "Why is anything with a computer near me changing to Japanese? First the damn console on my chair, then my desk terminal, now the coffee pot? I've had engineering on this multiple times now.."
"Gah, they're probably just slacking off," Kelly said with a laugh, stepping over to a console on the wall and pulling up the Engineering logs to see what was going on.
"Whoa..." She said, scrolling through a long list of entries, "Seems like they've been busy he last few days. Nothing major, but a veritable smorgasboard of tiny issues," She said, scowling. "Hope this old boat isn't a lemon."
"New boat. Plastic still attached, new ship smell.." Sighed Ro. "I really don't like the number of incidents on and off ship. It's too fishy. The security chief didn't think anything of it. Hel says it's just integration bugs or something like that, but I don't know. It's setting my gut off."
"Yeah... me too," Kelly said, shrugging. "It's weird. We're probably just being dumb," Kelly said, chuckling a bit. "Oo, look! It's English again... Espresso, HO!" She said, turning back to work on the coffee pot again. "You're gonna LOVE this..."