2237-07-27 - Down on the Water

A mysterious note. A not so clandestine meeting on the beach.

Date: 2237-07-27

Location: Argentum Bay, Scorpia

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 1287

Jump to End

Having arrived so late to the Wolves, as it were, Micah Knoor found himself sent to one of the three bedroom houses at Ceara. No guest suite at the Shipyard for the Captain. Those were all already claimed, by the time he had finished signing in, getting his debrief and then finishing all of the paperwork that one if forced to fill out to prove one is supposed to be where one did not even have a choice in being. Such as it is, he finally finds himself assigned free bunk in one of the houses. And later, at some point between his arrival at the house and his departure for duties and return, he will find a note, folded neatly on the center of the bed. The note reads:

"2100 hours. Pier 16. Come alone. Bring a bathing suit."

And this is how the new guy ends up on the golf course when the sprinklers hit. Micah’s eyebrows raise. “Pier 16. If I get murdered...Yeah.” He says to the empty room, showing the paper to the wallpaper. Swimwear was going to be a challenge. He’d traveled light, coming from Caprica. It’s with a little effort, and a lot of luck, that he finds a pair of white, black, and teal board shorts at the very bottom of his duffel bag. After a short ritual of showering and changing, the tall pilot emerges into a still empty room wearing said shorts, a light grey v-neck, and a pair of flip flop sandals. For the first time in a long time, the tattoos covering his entire right arm and the majority of his left leg are visible to the light of day. Stylized music notes in treble clef, wrapping a number of fancy musical instruments go all the way north from his wrist and reappear on his left leg. There, they end about mid calf. The former rocker pauses at his bunk, slipping his hat and sunglasses into safety under the bed. “What’s the worst that can happen?” He laughs, shakes his head, checks his watch, and leaves the house through the front door.

The walk was uneventful. No one, thankfully, noticed him or paused to try to get a better look. His approach to the pier was a bit slower, his careful eyes looking for anyone or anything he knew.

Pier 16 is...really nothing special. It’s no different than any of the other piers along this stretch of beach. It stretches out far into the water and here and there, locals and tourists alike appear to be fishing off of the rails. There are various and sundry seating, some of which is used and others not. The boat launch at the end has been barred for the night, the chains twisted into the gate, for safety.

Sitting on one of the pilings, feet dangling down on the water side, rather than the pier side, is a familiar figure. Abigail is, for what it’s worth, not in her uniform, but she’s not at all dressed for fashion. Instead, she’s wearing a pair of white cutoff jeans shorts, the style looking, rather than worn in, looking artful, in that way of clothes that probably cost too much, but are made to look ‘lived in’ have. This is what tourist shops will net you. A bikini top, in a bright royal blue and a pair of comfortable sandals complete her ‘outfit’. Her hair’s been put into a pair of double braids. Her heels are kicking against the wood of the piling, as she looks off into the distance, out across the water, rather than looking as though she’s been checking to see who might be coming up at 2100 hours.

Seeing Abigail, the man’s shoulders relax a little. He allows himself a private smile and a shake of his head. Yeah, an ambiguous and cryptic note would be her style. His long legs make short work of the pier. He passes quite a few interesting looking people. Scorpia is a place he’d never get used to. Finally, he comes to rest a few steps behind Abby’s left hand side. His dark eyes look past her into the water. “If you’re going to kill me, make it quick? I think I deserve at least that.” His tone was quiet, but that voice is absolutely unmistakable. He makes absolutely no further move to approach or sit down. Instead, the pilot tucks his hands into his pockets. The ravages of the war with the cylons hadn’t found a foothold on Scorpia yet. Evidence of their own internal disputes remained, but nothing so small could damage that coastline or the ocean it guarded.

Abigail remains where she’s sitting, still looking out towards the water. And not just the water, but the boardwalk, which is just a few piers further down along the beach. At least that’s one mystery solved. Pier 16 provides the best view of the boardwalk that allows not only a view of the attraction in all of its glory, but it also places it in the context of the place, with the sun already set, with the flights reflected on the water, and the darkness of the ocean beyond. Recognizing the voice, and hearing the words, “I’m not going to kill you, Busker. If I had planned to do that, I would have asked you to come to Pier 13, that’s the one that’s almost completely collapsed and just waiting to catch your ankle when your foot goes through the board. And then I would have pushed you under the boat launch.” Her smile, as she finally does turn, enough to see his face, enough to have enough pier beneath her to be able to hop down from the piling. “You have someone expecting you back at a certain time?”

“Expecting me back? This is sounding more and more like the beginning of a murder by the second.” Micah laughs, stepping out of the way as she nails the dismount. “No. I’m fairly certain my roommates have no idea I exist. So...I’d say we’re good.” Those storm grey eyes look out at the boardwalk. The last bits of sunlight were curling across the water, touching that boardwalk as they lost their battle with the encroaching darkness. He finally takes a step forward and turns, leaning back against that railing, and that scenery, to look at her. He smirks. “Two days and you found me, though? Not bad at all, Miss Walker. I’m rather impressed.” His glances back up that pier, and down it again. “You’ve got me as late as you feel like challenging yourself. Now. What exactly are they going to put on my death certificate tonight?”

It’s a brief moment of adjustment, to go from being at an eye level that was about four inches higher than Micah’s 6’ and 1” to suddenly find herself back at at more than a half a foot under his height. Long way to fall. Alas, for the lack of a better fashion wardrobe, “I’m in service as a combat engineer for the Wolves, Mr. Knoor,” picking up on his form of address of choice, “I’m not some sort of recon warrior. I’m afraid that if I intended to kill you, you would most certainly see me coming. Sadly.” A theatrically sad look crosses her face for a moment, before her smile returns, “I thought I would make sure that there wasn’t some woman or man, or both, or neither, I don’t judge, that I needed to explain why I kept you out so late.” Once she’s settled, “I promised you an introduction to the boardwalk. Also...we’re in the same team. And I’m in the house across from yours. So it really wasn’t that hard to ask around. If nothing else, half of the female contingent was fully capable of pointing in your direction. And tonight? ‘He died doing the right thing.’”

“I think you’re vastly overestimating my social prowess. Half the time, my pillow doesn’t even notice it when I don’t come home.” Micah grins, looking down the 1.5 stories to where she stands. He shifts a little, putting the railing of the pier directly across the small of his back and crossing his arms over his chest. The same little watch she would have seen him with yesterday sits on his wrist. Besides the chain for his dog tags, that watch appears to be his only jewelry. “The boardwalk it is, then.” He comes to his full height, taking a step down the pier toward the coastline. “And what about you? Is there a time you need to be back? Or do we have to make this interesting and see who calls it quits first?” Knoor does, in fact, nearly have a bachelor’s degree in all nighters. He waits for her, giving her the opportunity to walk on his right side. A hand rises to pull his hair back behind an ear, a mischievous smile playing at those lips.

Abigail, for her part, has made it second nature to always step far enough away from someone, so that she needs only lift her chin a bit to be able to meet his eyes. Looking up at someone...is really not the business. “I would say, rather that I am trying not to underestimate your reputation as a pilot.” Because yes, that is a thing. Nobody brags like a pilot, so who knows how much is real? “Or how deeply you’ve descended into the hole of anonymity.” She remains standing in place, not in any sort of rush, as he takes a few minutes to relax, “I thought that I had better not take you cliff jumping in the middle of the night. We’ll save that for the next time we have leave, yes? Because that...that...never ends well.” And like Micah, a watch, her dogtags are the only accessories in sight, “Oh, I don’t have a curfew. So if you’re throwing down the gauntlet, Mr. Knoor, then I will happily pick it up.” Her smile widens, as she looks over, “Have you at least been to the boardwalk on Picon?” She’s happy enough to settle in on his right side, matching his stride with lengthened ones of her own.

Micah smiles as they walk, the talk of the reputation of pilot’s bringing a warm chuckle to his throat. “I think a lot of them get issued revolving doors when they leave flight school. I have no idea where I missed the line on that one, but my romantic life’s been a bit more….tame. If your brother has any intel...” He glances down at her, that familiar gleam in his eye. “Hit me up.” They pass a young couple seated on the pier who stare openly at the pair, their heads absently tracking them as mental gears turn, trying to place where they’d seen them both before. The pilot notices this, but only puts his head down a bit and moves to block their view of Abby a little more. It’s almost an unconscious motion, in fact. “I think I’ve been there before. I don’t really remember it well, though. I want to say…. Disgustingly scenic with beautiful people everywhere?” A pause. After what seems like a year and a half’s worth of walking, the pier ends at last, and their sandaled feet find purchase on the concrete sidewalk on the far end of the beach. “And before you ask, yes. They were almost all wearing Poseidon Swimwear.”

“They graduate more every few months, no reason you can’t get back into line.” A laugh, as she considers, “I’ll ask him to pass along anything he might know.” She keeps a steady pace, if only because the pier they were on, is not that close to the boardwalk, so it’ll be a bit of a way to finally get there, even after they get to the end of the pier.. “I don’t mind, Mr. Knoor. I’m more worried about you.” It’s her words, rather than any outward manifestation, that indicates that she noticed the way the Micah turned away, the way he put himself between Abigail and prying eyes. “Yes, that’s the boardwalk I mean. It’s not what it was, when I was growing up. It used to be just a great place to play midway games and collect trinkets, maybe ride the ferris wheel, or the carnival rides. Now it’s for looking, and for being looked at.” Abigail though, shakes her head, “I wasn’t going to ask. It hasn’t been so long that the designs haven’t been burned into my brain.”

“Worried about me?” Micah asks with a lifted eyebrow. When it’s clear they’re out of eyeshot of the pair, the pilot relaxes more. He actually takes a moment to look up as he walks, that sandy blond hair shifting and waving as he does so. If there’s an award for pilot with best hair? Micah’s a shoe in. “Nothing in the colonies to worry about with me. Eh, other than mild insanity, of course.” What he’s looking at becomes clear after a few seconds. The marker lights on an aircraft, flying somewhere just below cruising altitude, disturb the still darkening sky. “THAT’s a pilot stereotype I can vouch for. We’re all just a little bit crazy. Probably a musician stereotype too, actually.” He looks back down with a laugh, still trudging on. Thankfully, no more prying eyes seem interested in what they’re up to. “Atmospheric densities of all of the planets in the colonies are a little different. Sometimes guys don’t take their autopilot off fast enough to make the changes and they come in at the wrong angle. It doesn’t seem like a big deal until you’re in the aircraft. Turbulence isn’t the correct term. More like… being thrown in a dryer.” His eyes look down to her, that little smile riding his lips. “Thus, how I arrived on Scorpia.” He pauses, considering. “I actually don’t think I remember a Midway game at all on the boardwalk on Picon. I must’ve been there during it’s glam years. I...actually.” He bites his lip, thinking. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been to an actual midway. Or on a ferris wheel.”

“You think that I haven’t noticed the way you make every effort not to allow people to look at you? The way you tried to avoid those two back there? Yes, it was for my sake too, but I’m no one special, I never have been. I’m a face on a page, or a pinup on a wall. I think one of the Marines might have brought back an old calendar I did back in ‘35, so that’s kicking around. I’m not you.” Abigail keep her voice comfortably low, the way one does when they’re walking and having a private conversation, “I can’t even tell if you notice that you’ve been doing it.” As he marks the incoming plane, she watches its descent, listening to his words, “I can imagine it must have been terrible, for two reasons. Because of the difficulty with the turbulence, and because you weren’t at the controls. It’s difficult to sit in the back seat.” Abigail shifts her position, as they make it to about three quarters of the way to the boardwalk, turning around so that she’s now walking backwards; angled so that she can watch him as they talk. “Well, you have a choice then, of what you’d like to do first. Play games and win prizes, or ride the Ferris Wheel.”

Micah doesn’t break stride, but he nods his head. “No, I notice it. Believe me.” Quiet steps are continued, the click clack of flip flops against the pathway filling a hole the silence provides. “I… Didn’t have a great last few years in the business. The media and recognition really became more of an enemy than a friend toward the end. And since my life turned toward the military and the sterling image of Captain Knoor, I haven’t really wanted to be noticed for anything else. It’s one of the reasons I don’t play anymore, to be honest.” A rise and fall of his shoulders serve to accentuate the point. “Besides. You’re Abigail Walker. You…” She draws a smile out of him and he looks down at her. “You are significantly more than nobody. The last thing I want to happen to you are the tabloids. Can you imagine it? Our walking down the pier turns into ‘Micah Knoor, is he back?’. And ‘Abigail Walker, good girl with the bad boy?’. That’d be a completely unfair hit to your reputation. Just because of me.” The second question, when posed, makes him laugh out loud. “Would you laugh if I said ferris wheel?” Yup. Pilot is anxious to get back into the sky.

Abigail makes no attempt to interrupt Micah in mid-sentence. This is one of those moment that she recognises that she needs to really listen, and weigh whatever response she might give. And so, for a long while, she simply walks, keeping that same, even, steady pace, never forcing him to slow his stride to match hers, the pair slowly chewing up the distance between where they started and the boardwalk proper. “You can’t do that, you know. Give up the things that make you who you are. You told me...that self-doubt is a cancer...so is denying the reality of who you are. Talent and truth denied is the worst sort of poison. Never playing for another audience....that might be one thing..but if you never even play for yourself...” Abigail’s expression darkens, as she turns back, now facing in the same direction as you, as they approach the brighter lights of the midway. “As far as I know, I don’t have a reputation. In my experience, not many people pay attention to the person being used as a mannequin for clothes, or posing prettily in some pinup getup. Most of them have never even considered that I even have a name. My job isn't to have a name, it’s to be a body. And you'd be surprised how much anonymity that can afford you.” There’s a quirk, to the corner of her mouth, “And if your reputation really became as bad as all that,” which of course, she knows it would have been, “Then being around me, if I do, as you claim, have a sterling reputation, might just be the reputation booster you’ve been looking for.” It’s the laughter that nets him a full glance, “No, I'd actually be surprised that you’d want to go on it at all. For some reason most of the people I encounter are terrified of it.”

You have to love military girls. They really do know how to maintain that 30 inch gait. “Is that how you see yourself? A glorified mannequin? Half of the men I know would sacrifice half the years they have left to look at you in person, Abigail. You’re the object of more fantasy and jealousy than most of the people I knew back in the old days. I remember some of your pinups. And I know I immediately wanted to know who the hell you were.” Micah doesn’t turn to look at her. Instead, he continues covering ground, his left hand absently tapping against the side of his board shorts. Her words about talent wasted draw a nod of his head. “You have no idea how bad I want to play. It...seeps out of you, you know? Takes over your mind. Half the time, I hear people talk and I’m busy thinking about what the sheet music would look like based on the register of their voice.” The ferris wheel begins to spin in the distance. “My music always came from a dark place. I had a lot to say about things I didn’t know how to talk about. For me, the music became a drug. It...was a way to blot out reality. And soon, it wasn’t enough. So I had to find another way to do it.” And the rest was history. The singer’s battle with alcohol, and to a lesser extent, drugs, was a fairly public affair before he disappeared from the limelight. “People are afraid of the ferris wheel? Wait. You had better not be one of them. I will -so- strap you in raptor, turn down the dampeners, and make a couple FTL jumps.”

Abigail pauses, once again, again turning to face Micah, her expression, her tone, her demeanour so completely factual. It’s not self-deprecating, or demeaning towards herself at all. “When I am modeling, Mr. Knoor, I am exactly that. A glorified mannequin. A human clotheshorse. That is precisely what I’m being paid to do. To be. My job is to be the thing that sells the thing the company is selling, whether it’s clothes or what have you. And the fact that you’re mentioning that I have been the object of fantasy and jealousy is precisely the point. Of course men want the fantasy. It’s what we’re selling. We want them to buy into that. But the fantasy isn’t me. It’s not real. And any man who might want to meet me in the flesh, it isn’t me, me, Abigail Walker, from up the beach on the Bay, or Abigail Walker, Coast Guard Boatswain’s Mate, or Abigail Walker, Marine Diver, they want to meet. It’s who I am in their heads, and, I have no doubt, in their hands. But that still isn’t me.” She stands her ground, as if this were some sort of strange battlefield that needed to be crossed, “You should know that better than anyone. How easy it is for people to forget who you are because the person they think you are is what they want.”

She seems just as determined to lay the idea of abandoning music to rest as well, “Your music came from a dark place, perhaps, because you were in a dark place. Trees grow where you plant them. And sometimes trees bear bitter fruit. But all it needs is a change of soil, and the fruit can become sweet. You are not in that place, anymore, nor are you that man any more, if my own experiences in the military are anything to go by.” But beyond that, either wisely or unwisely, she won’t press. A battle for another day, perhaps, “No, actually. I’ve always loved going on the ferris wheel. It was a way to see the sky, but still be firmly planted on the ground. Although, if you want to take me on a raptor ride, I won’t stop you.” And then, as abruptly as she stopped, she’s off again, moving at pace to take the steps two at a time up to the boardwalk proper.

Micah, for his part, almost sustains a case of whiplash. He stops to face her, searching her face as she speaks, knowing that there was absolutely a reason her heels dug into the sand. He doesn’t interrupt her, though. Because she did, in fact, have a very valid point. When she begins walking again, he joins her. Before they get too far in onto the boardwalk, though, he takes one long step and stands in front of Abby, resting a hand on her shoulder gently and momentarily to stop her. It’s a friendly gesture, but that first experimental contact between two people. The hand falls back to his side and he motions her over to the railing with a tip of his head. “When I was toward the end of my career, I was dating a Caprican girl that worked the modeling circuit named Junip. She… was a bit of a wild card. She was the kind of girl who knocks off a liquor store because she wants the attention and the danger. Literally insane. But anyway, I had a small studio in my house. We’d sit down there, her on the piano and me behind it. Drinking, smoking, and playing music. Gods, was it a great time. Until she started asking me to play some songs by Grapes of Wrath. And then, White Ragnar was the top request. She never wanted to hear my music. Come to find out, she’d never bought any of my albums and secretly hated the whole rock -genre-. Apparently, hip hop is where it’s at. Whatever the hell that means.” He smirks, though the look in his eyes is much more sad than happy. “I’ve experienced it too. People seem to like the arm candy but want something entirely different than the person you actually are. So I suppose you’re right. But maybe, sometimes, the look of someone is what makes you want to get to know them.”

Abigail is still making her dogged way towards the ferris wheel, her expression feathering at the edges, showing her frustration. But she knows better than to let it out, knows this man does not deserve the sharp side of her tongue. As soon as she feels Micah’s hand on her shoulder, she comes to a full stop, her expression correcting itself, as she catches the gesture and steps to the side, turning back to face him. It’s one of those impossible situations, as though they’re fighting but the things they’re fighting have nothing to do with each other. She remains silent, studying his face, looking, for the first time, really looking at him, whatever shyness, or reserve she might have had about that perhaps abandoned in the wake of her frustration. Once the story ends, her question is simple, “Why did you choose her? What was it about her, that made you want to be with that particular person?” She tilts her head, as she asks the question, “Was it her look? The danger she seemed to bring...the excitement? The danger? Was she an excuse to give in to your darker urges, or a scapegoat?”

Micah shakes his head, leaning against that railing and looking past her. “I don’t honestly know why I chose her. That’s something I still think about. She was into a lot of the same habits I was. I know that’s part of it. She didn’t take a lot of effort to keep around. She… was probably what I thought I deserved at that point in my life.” He then lowers his gaze, meeting hers. “Up until that point, I had to have someone in my life. I was one of those people who couldn’t be alone. Melanie went off to college and I went off the reservation. One day, maybe I’ll find something worth pulling the piano back out for. Something that gives me the right kind of inspiration. But that something…” He searches the lines on her face, surrounding her mouth, her eyes, and tightening along her jaw. “For me, that something has to be worth risking everything for. Because if, and I’m not saying when, but if I fall back into my old habits?” He pauses, smiling sadly. “I don’t know if I’d make it out a second time around.” Like a balloon without an anchor.

Abigail makes herself comfortable, hands folded lightly across her chest, weight canted to the side so that she can rest a hip against the railing as Micah considers, and, not of a wonder, but, still, seems to answer her questions with honesty, “So it wasn’t anything to do with her, if I’m reading what you’re saying. She was just...something, someone to hang your addictions and your needs on.” She lifts a hand, forestalling any protest, and her voice is mild enough, “A throwaway woman for a throwaway life. Which is how you seem to have felt then.” She makes no claim to know what he thinks now, “I hope that you will find that something that inspires you to try to find the better man that you used to be, to see if you can be that man again. But I think...before you can do that, you need to find a way to separate the darkness from the music. Because as long as you tie one to the other, even if you found that something, it would drag you back.”

“My hope is a bit different.” Micah offers. His hands slide into his pockets. “I’m holding out hope for something that can make that darkness seem unimportant. An entirely new inspiration. A muse.” The thought of it causes him to shift, smile, and look at the ground in front of both of them. His eyes return to her slowly, a look of amusement born into their grey depths. “I don’t want the same anymore. I don’t really want to recover anything I lost. I want new, and correct. With no shortcuts.” He turns toward that ferris wheel, never taking his eyes off her. It was clear that it was up to her if she still wanted to join him. “And I want to start with this ferris wheel. Because if you can’t have fun on a circle two hundred feet in the air, you need to check your pulse.” He walks. If she’s going to follow him, she’s going to follow him. There isn’t much he can do about that. “But what about you, Abigail? Any incredibly stupid decisions you’ve made in the past?”

“So what you’re doing, refusing to acknowledge your need to make music...that’s not punishing yourself for a life badly lived? It’s not just...a scourge?” Abigail shakes her head, reaching up, and without hair of her own, at the moment, to run her hands through, she settles for grabbing the ends of her braids and pulling on them. A nod, and as she moves to join him, “I hope that you find that thing that you are looking for, Mr. Knoor. And, I hope...that even if you don’t, you find a way to learn to live with your darkness.” And that’s all she can hope, for anyone, really. A life better than it is now. “I’m a good girl, remember? I’ve made some bad decisions in my career. A few in my personal life...but nothing catastrophic.” It’s not a far walk, to the ferris wheel, and Abigail moves to slips some cash from her pocket for the ride, as they get into the relatively short queue.

“Mic.” Micah offers quietly, pulling a folded bill out of his own pocket. “A good girl with a bit of a story, I bet. You don’t get credentials like yours out of a cereal box.” He doesn’t prod any further. What he does, is chew on his lip and slap those couple dollar bills against the side of his hand. “You know what? Frak the ferris wheel.” He turns, shaking his head. “Abigail? You want to go get into some trouble?” His own hand comes up, smoothing a few strands of hair from his face and better exposing a grin. Long, well muscled arms tuck those bills back into his shorts. And with a raise of his eyebrows and not another word, Knoor goes back the direction they just came. “I need you to take me to a bar.”

“Work is work.” She doesn’t use the name he gave her for her use, “I don’t take unfounded risks or try to make bad decisions in my work. I was working EOD before I came to the CF. Taking risks would have ended up with me or someone else badly injured or dead.” A slight pursing of her lips, as she sees his complete turn around, and a look of surprise. There’s a moment, of indecision on her face, as she hears the question, and then the request that comes after. But if he was expecting her to refuse or entice him to refrain, she doesn’t, instead stepping out of the line and moving to join him, “Any type of bar in particular you’re looking to be taken to, Mic?”

Boardwalk districts are usually packed with bars. Geniuses who graduate and become urban planners thrive on the danger of putting drunk people directly next to water. That’s one of the universal constants. Micah moves a bit faster, but not so fast as to make Abby fall behind. “You don’t take unfounded risks?” He repeats idly, grey eyes scanning and lips mouthing the names already illuminated on store fronts. “What an absolute shame. You and I…” He stops walking, his eyes so busy reading, his legs forget to move. It is a scientific fact that male brain chemistry makes them absolutely terrible at multitasking. The majority of the time, anyway. “May not get along as brilliantly as I thought if that’s the case.” His eyes stop on one particular sign, illuminated in bright green. It reads ‘Ansley’s Chowder’ in neon. Below that, the words ‘Hibernian Pub’. Micah nods in the bars direction, though it’s still quite a way to the end of the boardwalk. “I’m looking for that type of bar.”

“I do not take unfounded risks in my work, Mr. Knoor. I am not a pilot. Abigail does not allow Micah to leave her behind, and if she needs to move a bit faster to keep pace with him, so be it. She works out. She also does not claim whether or not she takes risks in any other way. Because that would be trying to one-up the man. As he falls still staring around at the selection of bars, her voice comes from someone to the right of him, “I feel, given your background, Mr. Knoor, that wanting someone who is willing to take unfounded risks is looking for another Junip Solus.” Yes, she recognized the name, and the surname that went with it. She might not have missed /all// the tabloids. She glances at the pub he’s standing in front of, seeming to take a moment to consider the merits of the place, before she takes off in the direction, coming up around him and passing him on her way to see about ‘Ansley’s Chowder’. “I am no Junip Solus. I am a wholly different animal.”

“Or wanting to move entirely past her. And start writing a new chapter, gods forbid.” Micah offers Abigail, his eyes following her with wry amusement as she moves past him. Her last comment is what restarts his own legs. “I’m banking on it, Abigail. Abby.” Judging by the tone of the words, they aren’t meant for anyone else to hear. Long legs make short work of the remaining ground on the boardwalk and before long, the pilot finds himself pushing open the doors of what looks to be either a really clever tourist trap, or a lived in local hangout. Peanut shells cover every inch of the floors. There are sticky patches, dirty tables, a couple college age kids, and a couple of folks who look a little worse for the wear. In essence, it’s everything a dive bar is supposed to be. The smell gives Micah a bit of hesitation. Beer and cigarettes mingle in the way only they can amidst drunk people. They’re the incense no one wanted. “Double New Anys. Neat. And a glass of water.” His voice is crystal clear, perfectly accented, and absolutely confident. His approach to the bar even shows a bit of that rockstar sway to his steps. It’s difficult to hide the elephant in the room, though. Or in this case, the dark oaken upright piano sitting against the far wall. It’s an old, dilapidated thing where the varnish is worn through and benches legs have been broken off and reattached.

When the whiskey is poured into small, clear glass and a questionably clean glass of ice water is presented, Micah presses two bills onto the bar, retrieves the glasses in strong hands, and nods toward the piano. “Mind if I touch the ivory?”

To her credit, the woman either has experience in places such as these, or a supremely strong constitution. Because the pong of beer and cigarettes is ridiculously bad. Even the smell of whatever is trying to come out of the kitchen does nothing to alleviate that smell. Abigail continues into the pub, falling into step with Micah as he follows in, heading over to the war. But before she can place her own order, he places his, and she settles in to wait, taking the time to study the room, noting the patrons, the seating, and the piano. In the glance away, she misses the drinks being delivered to Micah. But once he has them, she moves to stand in front of him, close enough that she does have to look up at him, her expression serious, accessing, before she looks down, plucking both drinks out of his hands, unless he fights her, and turns to move to the piano, “Of course he doesn’t mind.”

“A bit more than a finger of whiskey. But the real question… is whether that bench will hold both of us.” Micah releases the drinks without any fight at all. He does move over to the piano though, looking it over with careful, assessing eyes. After a moment, he sits down, adjusts the bench to compensate the foot pedals, and pats the bench next to him. “Let me see if I remember anything about how to do this.” His hands lay on the keys, pressing them down experimentally and listening for tuning. After a moment, he nods his head and tosses his hair back. It’s pointless. Rocker hair is made not to behave. “There’s not a part of me that thinks you’re anything like Junip, Abigail. You… Well, in the words of a friend of mine, you’re a wholly different animal.”

“Thank you.” Abigail continues on towards the piano, dropping off the whiskey at one of the tables that come complete with a full complement of locals, carrying only the water on towards the bench that Micah is inviting her to settle on to. The glass she sets down on a small folding cocktail table next to it, before she sits, making herself as comfortable as one can, on a quarter of a bench that is small as it is to begin with. But, to compensate and to save Micah from bumping into her, she twists, turning to that she rests an elbow on the frame of the piano, her body turned inward to allow her to study him. “That song, really?” But she doesn’t seem at all displeased by the choice.

Micah’s look of shock is clearly faked. “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” A few more notes make it out of the piano, molding into a comfortable, if basic melody. His fingers move along the keys as easily as they ever had. When the melody loops, it becomes more complex. It’s what she would recognize off of his first album. His eyes close and his head bobs, sending the crazy composer hair up and down. When he finally opens his mouth and sings the first few bars of the song, his voice is clear, confident, and a little more charactered than it was all those years ago. But before long, he’s playing, swaying, singing, and all eyes in the bar are on him and Abby.

Abigail gives the man a look at his patently unconvincing protest. But she doesn’t rise from the bench. Rather, she settles a bit more comfortably, still trying to stay far enough away that she won’t interfere with his play. Because that is the key to making all of this work; his ability to play without interference. There’s smile, as the song develops out of the random melodies he was toying with as he warmed up. No words, or other response than that smile, seeming content to listen, and take in, not just the sound, but the sight of him, relaxed in a way she hasn’t seen in him before. The rest of the bar...that she pays no mind to.

A smile overtakes his face as he sings that song, leaning over so his shoulder purposefully bumps Abby somewhere in the middle of the song. It doesn’t cause him to miss a key. When his eyes open, somewhere around the third refrain, he looks over at her, continuing in every action but singing it -to- the woman sharing the bench with him. She had said she wanted their first meeting to be him serenading her. And up until the end chorus, he does. But when the mood heightens and the notes get higher, his eyes close and his mind gets entirely lost in the music. The piano sings, filling the bar with to the brim with chord after chord.

When the song concludes, Micah’s fingers remain on the piano keys as much as his smile remains on his face. He looks down at that sight for a few moments before turning those grey eyes up to Abby. The rest of the bar, for is part, is completely silent. “There’s a bit of rust around the edges. But what do you think? How do I rate live?”

Abigail, in perfect sync, dips back as she’s bumped, though she doesn’t bump him back. That’s not how that works. Instead, she glances out at the patrons, studying them intently. It doesn’t seem to be malicious, just...keeping a weather eye on the horizon. But she soon returns to the singer, to the song, marking the moment when the song becomes more than just the song, and the man finds his ‘place’ in the music. And once he’s found it, speaking to him, doing anything to interrupt his playing would be sacrilegious.

Once the music fades, and his fingers still on the keys, Abigail moves once again, freeing her elbow, but still shifted to be facing him, rather than away, “I like this Micah Knoor even more than I liked the old one. Your voice is much more smokey, it suits you even better now, than it did then.”

“Smokey?” Micah chuckles, punching out another melody she likely wouldn’t recognize. This one’s heavy and haunting, like a slow dark ship moving over a calm ocean. “That...would probably be the actual smoking. Absolute hell on the vocal cords.” The melody continues, but Knoor’s right hand slides up the scale, playing a soft, bright harmony on top of the heavy ballad. “It strikes me…” He continues, looking entirely over at her and ignoring the keys as he plays them. “We’ve really talked a lot about me. But you, Abigail. You’re still something of a mystery.” That bright harmony becomes substantially more powerful, giving the dark notes competition for dominion over the bar. “You don’t have to tell me anything. Just promise me you’ll try to let it go for tonight?”

“Smoking...” Abigail studying Micah’s face in profile, “Is an accepted substitute.” She will just leave it at that, as she allows her arm to free itself from resting against the piano, as she turns, still sitting half on the bench, but now studying the keys, watching his fingers move across the instrument, not quite swaying, but quite engaged in this new song that she has not heard before. “I’m afraid there isn’t much interesting about me that you don’t already know, Mr. Knoor. But you can certainly ask me any questions and I will answer them. I’ve been in, I think, as long as you have. I don’t we consider privacy in the same way as we once did.”

“Carte blanche on questions.” Micah murmurs. Those minor chords start to diminish as the major chords get louder, and more threatening. It’s reminiscent of the classical compositions from earlier in Caprica history. Beautiful, haunting, and entirely instrumental. As the sounds of thunder don’t feel as though they can get any louder or resonate any more, the tiny voice of higher notes melts back in, quieting the whole composition down. “You said earlier that you’d made mistakes in your personal life. You don’t have to share them, mind you. But you’ve sparked my curiosity.” His hands stop their playing, flexing slowly in and out as he looks at the folding cocktail table holding the glass of questionable water. His brows furrow, and those stormy eyes look around the bar until they find the table where Abigail had deposited the whiskey. It doesn’t take him long to realize what happened. It takes him even less time to appreciate it. So when he turns his attention back to her, there may be a little more affection in his eye. “What are the odds I get some kind of parasitic infection from that water?”

Abigail treads carefully, keeping the thread of the conversation, without risking the chance that he’ll stop playing. If indeed, he has not played, then these moments matter. She said as much, didn't she? And perhaps, just perhaps, being, as she proclaimed herself, a Knoor connoisseur, she’s taking note of the sound, and what it might mean. “Oh, I can’t say I’ve done anything particularly scandalous. You won’t find any stories out there about an unwanted pregnancy or a drive-through wedding. But I spent more than a fair amount of time the next years playing fast and loose with the feelings of the men that I’ve been involved with. It became difficult to tell when I was feeling something and when I was just enjoying the company. Even...I was seeing someone, not for long, just...for a few weeks, after I came aboard the Vanguard. He was KIA on Picon, and after...I thought...I still wasn’t sure what I was doing. And that’s terrible, isn’t it? When you can’t tell anymore when you’re playing the game, and when it’s started to play you?” Her eyes track, as the playing stops, though she offers no apology. At any rate, the whiskey has been drunk by now. So...she reaches over, picking up the water and handing it over, “Unlikely. A patron who can’t drink is a patron who won’t spend money.”

Micah takes a long drink from the proffered glass. Although afterward, he stares at it with a raised eyebrow. “It’s sort of chewy. But if you can get past that, I’d say it’s better then half the water on Gemenon.” He hands the glass back over to her with a quiet note of thanks, smoothing the piano keys protectively. “I’d say it’s probably one of the worst feelings I’ve had, actually. What kills you is that until you see yourself doing the things you don’t like, you think you’re completely in the right. And then the reveal comes, you can’t believe you didn’t see where it went wrong.” He starts playing a few notes, again, fiddling with the strange lack of tuning this piano seems to struggle with. “I’m sorry to hear that, though. After everything you and your brother had been through, I’m sure you felt like you were being kicked while you were down. How are you doing with it all now?” The strangely tuned piano chirps the first line of Another Man’s Problem, causing Micah to laugh. “This piano makes some of the strangest sounds I’ve ever heard come out of -any- instrument.”

The water is accepted, as Micah hands it back, and Abigail takes a sip herself, taking a minute to get the feel of it in her mouth, complete with that ‘I’m tasting something not at all good’ expression, before she sets the glass back down on the cocktail table. “Or you find yourself not being able to stop, even when you see what it is you are doing. That was the worst for me. It was like...being outside of my body. I could logically see what i was doing, but I still did it.” She gives a shake of her head, “It was just...so random. So sudden. So everything they tell you happens in war. So...I’m here. I’m fine. As fine as I can be, under the circumstance, I suppose. I know there are others on the ship who were hit worse than I was, with the grief of his loss. His sister, his ex-girlfriend, a few others. And I have support systems in place.”

Micah dips his head, playing a few more bars of the song that had been on the radio 10 years before. “As long as you’ve got the systems in place. You know how to find me if you need anything.” He continues playing, studying her. Those nimble fingers move up into the first refrain of the song. The quiet melody builds with a complex series of short notes meant to draw attention. That was one of the secrets behind good music. At some point, your composition had to make people perk up and take an interest. Playing it actually draws his attention to the piano, the strength of playing coming from his shoulders which causes him to bob a bit on the bench. “I think it may be about the people. Mind you, I’m no expert. But maybe someday, someone will come around who won’t let you get away with it. They’ll keep you honest, for lack of a better term. Honest and interested.”

It’s in the middle of this conversation that the bartender walks up carrying another whiskey and a water. the shadow of a smirk dances on his face for the first time. “Tell ya what.” He says in a thick, husky accent. “This round’s on me. I’ll buy ya another if ya play another one of them songs for us. People been stayin, and that’s the first time that piano’s gotten this much attention in years.”

This causes Micah to smile, his chin indicating Abby beside him. “Whiskey’s for her.” He stares a bit too long at the water the man holds before reaching out, slightly apprehensively, to take it. “I’d love something bottled if you have it. A soda, maybe? That’s if my partner in crime doesn’t mind sticking out a little while longer, that is...”

“That’s very kind of you to offer, Mic, I appreciate the offer, and of course the offer is just as genuine from my side.” Abigail, having moved only what small amount might have been required to ensure that she remained comfortable on her perch, considers the song, as it’s teased out of the, seemingly, recalcitrant piano, her attention divided between hearing the music, and watching the music being played. Not everyone actually appreciates live music, but this is a rare treat. And worth every moment of her attention, “Is that what you think the trouble was? That I just never found someone who could, on the one hand, call me on my bullshit, but on the other demand more from me than I was giving? In my experience...interest, is not usually that difficult to come by.”

Her eyes lift off, from Micah, and towards the bartender, falling from his face, and the slightly less intractable expression, to the glasses he’s holding in his hands. “That’s very kind of you. It has been wonderful to have a bit of music, hasn’t it?” And then, a nod of her head, her smile bright, and guileless, “How about a soda for me as well.” Her glances indicates the whiskey glass, and she offers an artful shrug of her shoulders, “Early duty in the morning, and that might get me in the wrong sort of trouble.” What can you do, her look says. A glance back to Micah, the angle of her head allowing her face to be hidden from the bartender, that guileless expression deepening into concern for a moment, before it clears and she turns back, “Of course, we’d be happy to stay.”

“Thank you, sir.” Micah smiles at the stubby man before turning his attention back to the short blond woman perched on the piano bench. As he considers her, the song comes to a full crescendo, sounding dark and haunting without the words attached to it. “Either that… or someone who makes you fall for them again every day.” The refrain of the song drops off to nothing as Micah takes that second glass of water, sips it, makes a face only Abby can see, and sets in on top of the piano. What the -frak- was wrong with the water on Scorpia? “If such a person is capable of existing, that is.” His looks down at his hands and the keys, his back straightening up. “Any requests?”

The bartender, for his part, nods his head and tosses back the whiskey himself. He lumbers over to the bar, an indicative limp indicating that his left leg probably didn’t work properly. He disappears behind the bar for a moment and returns with two frosty dark sodas. His return points out another irregularity with the bar, however. Everyone seemed to be LOOKING at them. There were no guarded glares or peering from overtop mugs. It was blatant, unadulterated staring. Even the college kids, girls who seemed to have found the laps of their boyfriends, were taking a breather from the systematic destruction of one another’s faces.

As the bartender heads off, Abigail takes the time to shift on the bench, turning so that she’s now facing away from the piano, and out towards the crowd. If nothing else, it makes it just that much easier to talk, without having to find ways to engage side to side. “Yes, either that. That’s the sort of guy that lives in movies, and pages of the sort of romance novels you read on the beach and pitch out before you get off the sand, I’ve found.” A beat, “Which, I suppose, does not speak well for my taste in men.” A tilt of her head, as she hears the question, “Do you remember..” and then she cuts off, abruptly, as if she recognized the stupidity of that question. “Could you do ‘Bed of Roses?’” One of the sleeper tracks, which never actually made it to a single, but was a standout, on the second album.

Abigail’s new position, allows her to both track the bartender, noting the taking of the shot, which really, is all for the good in the current circumstances, and the limp. “That’s another one I bet has a story to tell.” She tracks the man’s walk back as well, the line of her vision allowing her to take in the rest of the bar. There’s nothing blatant, or aggressive, in her response, however, though Micah will feel her shift her weight, adjusting her position beside him, so that she’s shifted enough that her back is touching the left side of his. It’s not draping, in the sort of...arm candy hanging off the arm sort of thing, pretty but useless, but it is shielding. A subtle movement to place herself between the crowd in the bar and the man at the piano.

Micah hadn’t been in a fist fight in years. He hadn’t been in a fist fight he could -remember- in even longer than that. He was used to being in the relative safety offered by the dodgy tin cans the Navy provided, moving at speeds that make many pass out. When Abby’s body shifts, though, he notices. Her small back presses lightly into his, and takes another sip of the water atop the piano. “Do I remember?” He asks quietly, ensuring his voice remains only between them. If anyone tried anything, he genuinely felt bad for them. Abigail was a marine, and no slouch even in that. “Bed of Roses? Really? A bit of a romantic after all…” His fingers play the opening notes much more slowly than normal, a smile appearing on those lips as he contemplates the words of the song. His fingers stop. With Abby leaning against him, there is a gravity in his voice when the first verse of the song emerges. Since there is no need to compete with the piano, the words come quieter. Emotion pours off the verse, like a sponge pulled from a bucket of water. The piano starts to fill the silence left by the words and the haunting melody fills the bar.

“Seems a bit stupid to ask you if you remember your own song. You’ll have to forgive me. I’m not used to requesting that song, or any song from the artist themselves.” Abigail, for all that she’s taken up a ‘covering’ position for Micah, has changed her demeanour not a wit. She still looks relaxed, at ease, as if using Micah so...comfortably, were just second nature. Even her expression is mild, engaging and attentive, rather than confrontational. This is just...the sort of thing that happens at a local bar. On Scorpia. In the middle of a war. A slight shift of her head, looking back along his shoulder, “All the best tragedies are born out of romance, Mic.” And then the music begins, and she’s content to rest there, listening, swaying, so lightly, that only the contact between them makes it perceptible.

The song, for its credit, is more one that relies on Micah’s voice than it does the piano. The years added to those vocal cords make the song sound much different. There’s even more of an air of wanting sadness that drifts around the ballad now. But, luckily for all of the souls in the tiny bar, Knoor remembers how to sing. The song continues, the major chords getting louder and longer until the music breaks into it’s final refrain. The sounds of the piano die away, replaced only by the artist’s unaided voice. The acapella version of that last line never appeared on any albums. It also never reared its head at a show. It was the singer being a singer, knowing his voice well enough to trust it’s lead into the music. The song ends on a soft piano chord, allowed to ring into the bar without the piano’s sound dampener engaged. “If that statement isn’t a byline for my life, I don’t know what is.” Mic replies to her without turning his head. His hand, however, pulls that soda from atop the piano and takes a long draft. “Hell. It may make it onto my tombstone.”

Abigail settles, her weight light, against Micah’s back, her attention now more on the song rising up from the play of fingers on keys, and voice than what might be happening in the bar. It’s a rare thing, to hear a song you’ve known by heart for well over a decade be reborn so beautifully, by the man who created it. And even if all or most of the people in the bar have no idea of who he...and she..might be, and the song is utterly new to them, they also feel the power of the music, the staring no longer quite so much like animals stalking prey and more introspective, reflective. And that last final line, the crystal clarity of the words, bring a hand to Abigail’s face, fingertips swiping away tears. Tears she doesn’t acknowledge. They’re just...as they should be. Music, good music, should bring you to tears. Once she has herself back under control, she smiles, sadness, rather than joy in the expression, her face turned to study his in profile, “Then it sounds as though you have just as terrible history as I do.”

“That may be.” Micah offers, turning his head enough to look at the back of her shoulders. He’s quiet a long moment, looking down the neck of that soda bottle as if it holds the answers to life itself. “They say that suffering builds character. So, if that’s the case… I don’t know that I’d trade it for all the worlds in the system.” He shrugs, shifting his gaze a bit and staring at the back of her shoulders as he thinks. “It’s what got us here, right?” The bottle of soda comes back one more time, the contents disappearing. The glass bottle is placed back atop the piano. Micah then leans back into Abby, his voice low. “Let’s get out of here.” They’re the only words he speaks, his hands flexing in and out to rid them of the stiffness caused by playing. It had been a long time since he’d played that much piano. “Something about that sand is calling my name. And I have a feeling Scorpian water is better suited for looking at than drinking.”

“I don’t know if that sentiment is enlightened or not, Mic. Or just a way to try to make sense of the things that have happened to you that have changed you for the worse. I mean, it’s noble, certainly, that ‘what doesn't kill you makes you stronger’, but sometimes...you didn’t need to face death to grow.” A tip of her head, as if she were accepting his words, “Yes, but we might have met in some other way as well. It didn’t have to be this place, this bar, this soldier or this pilot. And who knows who we might have been to each other then?” She pauses, listening to his words, before she nods, rising from the bench with easy grace, a hand reaching over to grab both of their bottles. Hers still full, his almost finished, “I know just the spot.”


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