2236-11-23 - Fish Out of Water

A Hibernian and a Virgon officer have an awkward meeting in the pool.

Date: 2236-11-23

Location: Swimming Pool

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 889

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Swimming Pool Deck 8

11/22/2016 ~ 11/22/2236


Adjacent to the gymnasium is a room containing a small swimming pool. It's not much, not deep enough for diving, but for many of the sailors it's a nice break from shipboard life. There's a row of lockers along one wall, and a cabinet holding towels.

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The pool is pretty quiet today - just a lone crewwoman swimming in it. Well, actually, calling it 'swimming' would probably be too generous. Cate is near the shallower end of the pool, trying some experimental doggie paddles. Her long brown hair is pulled back into a ponytail and her official-issue swimsuit has no rank or division insignia. After some ineffectual splashing that doesn't really propel her anywhere, she puts her feet down with a frustrated sigh.

That's the end of Cate's loneliness -- or, shall we say, of her privacy in what looks to be an important experiment? -- for another woman admits herself to the pool area. She's slight, white-haired, older by far than the average crewman on Galactica, of uncertain rank in her plain grey and brown off-duty garments. These are as fresh as everybody else's on board: only a few prodigies have had time to wear holes in their newly-issued CF sweatpants.

She happens to catch Cate's eye as she skirts the pool itself, en route to the lockers; she gives her a little nod of greeting, courteous but impersonal, between strangers. Then, having possessed herself of an empty locker, she begins calmly stripping down to the bathing suit she's already wearing beneath the rest. "How is the water today?" she calls after a moment, in one of those clipped accents originated by Virgon's aristocracy and aped with varying degrees of eptness by its better class of broadcasters.

Cate looks up at the unfamiliar voice, brow creasing a bit when she recognizes the accent. The nod is met with a brief one in return. "Colder than I expected." It's a fair guess that Cressida is an officer - Virgon aristocrats would usually rather be caught dead than be caught in the rank and file - and yet there's no ma'am or sir attached to the sentence. Her own accent marks her as a Hibernian, though it's not as thick as some.

Waiter, waiter, there's a Hibernian in my pool! ... But, actually, Cressida doesn't seem to react in turn to the sound of Cate's voice. Perhaps it helps that she's pulling two tank tops over her head at once.

With white hair ruffled and gaze provisionally friendly she looks across to the pool again, taking a hanger out of the locker to hang them on. Again, both at once. Saves time. Her official Battlestar Galactica bathing suit (let's hope they put the licensing fees directly into weapons research) leaves bare the sinewy, rather well-developed musculature of her arms and shoulders, going some way toward answering the question of how a woman of her years has come to be serving in Colonial Forces. "Bracing, isn't it?" she asks wryly, giving the tank tops a quick shake to dispel a crease or two. Her boots follow them into the locker. Very well-polished boots, not a scuff on them.

"... Are you coming or going or staying? Will I be in your way?" she adds. Meaning of course two questions in one: does Cate intend to be in hers?

"Bracing -- that's one word for it. Freezing would be another," Cate quips. Her expression is guardedly neutral as she watches the older woman tuck away her uniform so carefully. There's a brief hesitation after the question. To vacate the pool to a Virgon and yield to expectations, or stay and look like an idiot who doesn't know how to swim? Quite the dilemma. Stubborn wins. "I'm sure we can manage to stay out of each others' way."

"No doubt," agrees Cressida with a polite inclination of her head.

The pockets of her sweatpants contain clean socks and underwear, ruthlessly folded -- the sweatpants themselves are quickly folded too, and draped across the bar of the hanger already occupied by the matching grey jacket. Even when this woman's trousers don't have creases, their legs must still be aligned as though they do. She wears no jewellery -- not so much as a wedding ring -- and so with the locker shut and a temporary combination programmed into it with swift, deliberate precision, she loses no time in climbing down the little ladder and into the... less shallow end, let's call it.

The Virgon Royal Navy demands absurd courage of its officers. Thus Cressida ducks under straight away and comes up again with her hair streaming wet.

If one were to open one of the other lockers, one would see Cate's marine khakis haphazardly folded and sitting on her boots. So she's actually a bit amused by the other woman's fastidious preparations. "I'm surprised a Virgon officer even owns a pair of sweatpants," she observes as Cressida comes up again. It's a wry comment - no obvious hostility in the words or anything.

Cressida acknowledges the justice of the remark with a lift of one corner of her mouth, as she runs her hands back over her head to press some of that water out of her short-cropped pale hair. "A white paper was submitted to the logistics taskforce charged with the responsibility of designing uniforms for the united Colonial Forces, citing our own statistics with regard to the uplifting effect of formal attire upon ship's morale; but the representatives from Scorpia and Leonis did a deal to vote down our suggestions," she explains seriously. "It was felt that the exigent situation warranted a temporary compromise, but I understand the matter of sweatpants and tank tops is to be raised again in eighteen months' time." She says all this with a straight face -- but a gleam in her blue eyes. After a beat she adds in the same level tone of voice, "A pity, considering how much more comfortable they are to sleep in."

Cate lifts eyebrows at the response, amused. "Well, enjoy your eighteen months of slumming it in comfort. Then it's back to starched pajamas, I guess." She leans back, kicking her feet out in an attempt to float on her back... aaaand fails. Her head goes under. She at least was braced for it and doesn't take in any water, but there's a brief, alarmed flail as she tries to right herself.

Another precisely-graded inclination of Cressida's white head. "If Admiralty House triumphs," she agrees drily; and then, by the time of Cate's aquatic panic she's under water, kicking off from her end of the pool and swimming toward Cate's end powerful stroke by powerful stroke. Her eyes are open; she has a fine view of the proceedings as she turns her head to draw a breath.

Thus it is that when she comes up again a few feet away from Cate, it's with a dubious expression which qualifies as the most vivid the Hibernian marine has yet seen upon her chiseled aristocratic features.

She kicks off again to swim her next lap, but by the end of her third she has made up her mind to say something. Pausing, resting a hand on the edge of the pool, she suggests: "When you lean back, relax. Your body's instincts are better than your own -- it wants to float, if you let it."

Cate has tried and failed a couple more times while Cressida was doing her laps, the last time accompanied by a frustrated swat at the water. There might have been a little bit of envious watching at the ease with which the woman glided through the water, not that she'd ever admit it. Cate was brushing a few strands of wet hair back from her face when the officer pauses nearby. "Relax," she echoes dubiously. Still, she seems willing to give it a try, kicking her legs out again. But alas, the idea of trying to relax while being fearful of drowning with a Virgon officer watching... nope. Not happening.

It's appalling, the way these Virgon officers just stand there waist-deep in chilly water looking as though all this splashing about were an activity as effortless as it is healthful, a natural component of their aristocratic birthright. Cressida runs a hand over her hair again, smoothing out water which would otherwise perhaps presume to drip down over her face; she seems to come to some sort of decision. "A sailor ought to know how to swim," she remarks mildly, "even in the present day." A beat. "Are you a sailor, or a marine?"

"Not too much water in space," Cate points out dryly. "But it seemed like a handy thing to learn." She tugs at her ear a little, having gotten some water in it at some point during her flailing. It's an unfamiliar discomfort. There are a few old shrapnel scars on her arm; they flex a little at the movement. "Marine," Cate answers warily.

Cressida is calmly unsympathetic to Cate's first: "This," and with a small, well-kept hand she gestures to the pool around them, "is more than enough to drown in, under the right circumstances." Or, more to the point, the wrong ones. "I haven't a great deal of time left today before my shift, but if you haven't anyone else on board who might be willing to teach you...?" She's regarding the younger woman with fractionally narrowed eyes, the better to gauge reluctance and evasion.

The comment about drowning is not entirely reassuring, and Cate casts her wary look down the length of the pool. The surprising offer drags her eyes back to the officer, eyebrows arching. "Seriously?" Not reluctant, exactly, just floored that a Virgon officer would deign to offer swimming lessons to a Hibernian. Perhaps wondering where the catch is. But since she hardly knows anyone on board and doesn't exactly have a better offer... "Um... yeah, I guess that would be all right. Thanks," the last added as an afterthought, juuuust a touch grudgingly.

The white-haired officer (let's hope the rank doesn't match the hair) inclines her head again. Civilian rather than military manners, when off-duty and in matching bathing costumes. "You're welcome," she says quietly. "One hour earlier tomorrow morning. I imagine we'll still have the pool to ourselves."

And she turns away to recommence her laps, for she has a highish number to get through before showering and reporting to duty. Not much time, indeed, but she makes unflaggingly determined use of every moment.


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