Micah and Aubrey share serious conversation and seriously delicious coffee.
Location: Storage Annex 6
Related Scenes: None
Scene Number: 378
It had been another long day of duty for the majority of the crew of the Dauntless. Nothing of real import had occurred, outside of routine CAP missions and an entire strategic training session for the officers. As people filter around the ship, there seems to be a conglomeration of people in one of the rarely used storage annexes. Just over ten folding chairs are set up, focused on one person standing before the crowd. There seems to be more thought than listening, though. If one observed carefully, Captain Knoor could be seen on one of the rearmost chairs. His hands held a cup of something steaming, though his posture was almost completely relaxed and leaned back. His dark eyes sat intent on the man in the front.
"And that is why, from here on out, I pledge that I won't touch the bottle again."
Aubrey is in her off duty's, having just finished a package delivery shift around the ship. She's passing by the storage annex, when she hears someone speaking in the tone of an address. She halts in mid step, then turns to pad her way down the hallway, before she leans against a wall just behind the chairs, listening. Her eyes sweep the attendees and land on the back of a head whose iconic hairstyle is unmistakable. Micah. Hm. She doesn't disturb yet, just observes for the moment.
The pledge earns a round of a applause from all those present, Micah included. Most of them, much like Aubrey, appear to be wearing their off duty uniforms. The man before the group cycles around and takes a seat, getting his shoulders slapped and his hand shaken by all those around. Micah, then stands, moving around the group with practiced ease. "Thank you, Rueben." He says in that accented verse of his. "We're behind you if you need any of us. You know what we always say?"
"One day at a time." The crowd repeats.
"Now I know I'm not your normal proctor, but Daniel is currently on patrol. He's asked me to step in and see if I can keep this thing going in a normal fashion. Would anyone else like to come up and share?" Three hands dart up. Micah motions with his coffee cup to one. She's a tiny young woman, but she jumps up and comes to the center of the room immediately. Knoor, thankfully, gets to return to his seat.
Aubrey moves to sit in a chair next to Micah, silently letting him know she's there. She folds her arms, listening, though she's certainly not a member of this little group. She probably should be, but life has kicked her in the teeth one too many times lately, and she's not ready to let go of her only real escape just yet. At least she doesn't drink on duty.
"Naxos? I thought they had you delivering packages or something?" Micah, for his part, looks rather surprised to see the woman. His eyes, filled with tired amusement, seem to settle on her. There isn't an ounce of embarrassment or hesitation marring his features. He is, simply put, a coffee laden rocker.
"Just finished," Aubrey replies, looking over at the rock star with a curious expression. "How long have you been clean and sober then?" she asks.
"How long has it been since my last album dropped?" Micah replies with a slight laugh. "Clean and sober? 10 years, 3 months, 24 days. Though, some days, I really don't feel it." His gaze goes back up to the young woman sharing a story about how alcohol had ruined her pre-military life. "What are you up to tonight? Big plans?"
"Nothing planned no. Jigger's on duty somewhere and he's who I usually hang out with in my spare time. Might hit the pool or the gym, or you know, shove bamboo under my fingernails if I'm too bored," Aubrey quips with a faint smile. "Ten years, huh? That's pretty impressive. I guess it's good to have people that support you."
"It's good to have people, in general. It makes you feel like your success and failure doesn't rest solely on you." Micah sips his coffee, offering the cup over to her immediately thereafter. The military kind of kills any worries one might have about germs. "I appreciate that. It took me quite a few years to find out what was poisoning my life. And... It took me quite a few more to cut it out." He pauses and shifts his gaze over to the young pilot sitting next to him. "I'll likely go hit the gym after this. It's a small group tonight. If you'd like to stick around until we're done, I'll give you a spot at the gym."
Aubrey accepts the coffee and takes a sip, feeling the psychological effect just the smell alone has to wake one up a bit after a long shift. She passes it back to him. "I hope I wind up figuring out what's broken in my life eventually. Doubt the war is going to give me much time for that sort of soul searching." The offer of a spot gets a nod. "Sure, right now just not being on my feet is enough to keep me at your meeting." The ship is much bigger than Vanguard, and package delivery much more arduous for it.
Micah nods his head, seeming to understand. "What do you think it is?" He asks after a moment of silence, raising the cup to his mouth again. It's said that coffee at support groups is an effort to provide an alternate addiction. Maybe, just maybe, that was one of the demons sitting on the tall Captain's psyche. "Regardless of whether it's about alcohol, Naxos, this is a place dedicated to helping people out. So, maybe, talking could help you."
Aubrey ponders the question for a long moment. "I really don't know. I think I've just always been trying so hard, so very hard, to be the fun one. The girl everyone wants to hang out with. The one trying to be noticed by a boy, or the cool kids, or whatever. I don't really know who Aubrey Naxos is. Just who she pretends to be." She grimaces and looks over at Micah. "I know Abigail is feeling the drift. I think Addison maybe understands a little more. Picon was a wake up call for me. I'm not that kid who tagged around behind them looking for fun and trying to be like the big kids anymore. I'm scared for my father. I'm still broken over my mother being gone. I'm exhausted trying to maintain the facade all the time."
Micah nods his head, considering her words for what seems like an eternity. "I actually think you may be in the right place." He offers her at last, nodding at the crowd in front of them. "These people, myself included, followed that same road, Aubrey." Her first name, touched at the corners by the Caprican accent, sounds absolutely foreign on Micah's lips. It's either the thought or that fact alone that creases his eyebrows. "It's hard to live a life when you don't know who you are. I didn't for years. I wanted to be cool, sexy, and talented more than I wanted air. It started with music, but it ended with me having no idea who was looking back out of the mirror at me." Sip. "Would you like to know what I figure out? When I finally sobered up, I mean?"
Aubrey nods at him, murmuring, "Please," quietly so as not to disturb the meeting. Her eyes look a little watery, from voicing things she hasn't actually told anyone before, not even Abigail. Not Jigger. No one.
"What made me cool was the fact that I did what I believed in regardless of everybody else." Micah's words also come rather quietly, though he seems far less concerned with disturbing the meeting than she is. His cool, steel colored gaze focuses on the young woman still telling her story while his bottom lip finds a place between his teeth. "I played music that I loved. I wrote music that I was proud of. All that stuff, I loved every bit of it. Until someone came in and told me that I needed to change it to make more people happy. When that happened?" His eyes return to her, softening a bit. "Everyone hated me. My sound sucked. I sucked. And everything that I had built crashed and lay in ruins around me."
"You can only pretend for so long, before the mask cracks," Aubrey says quietly in understanding. "But where do I even start looking for myself? While I'm in the middle of a war. I thought, for a little bit, that maybe I'd started to, but it feels like I backslid."
"Start with the mirror, Banshee." Micah offers, both of his hands holding that coffee cup in idle concentration. "You do what makes you happy. Don't worry about the opinions of anyone else. If Addison doesn't like you? He'll get over it. If Abby doesn't like you? I'm sure she will too. Whatever a Jigger is? Sure! Every person on this boat may develop a problem with you, but that's on them, not on you." He finishes his words with a soft smile, one of the napkins he'd taken for his coffee is picked up and passed to her for her eyes. "If you want a man? Walk up to him and tell him. You owe yourself that. Take the things you want, don't wait for them to come to you."
"I did the latter. He friend-zoned me hard," Aubrey points out, taking the napkin and dabbing at her eyes. "I think I've been a bit gun-shy since. It's just so hard for me to do that. I think I'm more self-conscious than I'd like to admit."
"Self-conscious?" The young woman who was in front of the group finally concludes. Even Micah, who was looking at Aubrey, sets his coffee cup down to clap for her. "Give me one moment." He promises, standing. His steps are brisk, strides long, and it doesn't take him long to take his place in front of all of the people gathered. "Ladies and Gentlemen. As you know, we're getting a bit late. I've got room for two more folks to present and then we're going to wrap up for coffee. Nicolas? I believe you're next."
A short man, somewhat stubby in shape, stands and moves toward the middle of the room. He's still dressed in his deck crew garb, however, and he seems to wring his hands in and out of one another in hesitation. "H-H-Hi." He starts. That, causes Micah to raise an eyebrow. "Hi, Nick. We're all family here. Go ahead. No one's judging you." When at long last, Nick begins speaking in clear sentences, Micah moves off. He's more slow this time, though, keeping an eye on the younger man before the crowd.
"Self-conscious." Know repeats, settling back into his seat. It takes him only a moment to clear his head before he turns back to Aubrey. "What by the gods do you have to be self conscious about? You're beautiful, bright, AND you know how to fly. I don't see where you're not making high marks."
"Am I? Am I any of those things?" Aubrey asks, with a furrowed brow. "I am painfully single, never made it far in my career, and I probably rendered a good half the Vanguard's Vipers unflyable after I was in them. I may be just shy of triple ace, but I usually land a flaming wreck." She twines her fingers through a lock of her hair, unconsciously braiding it.
"Who the hell cares? You land, right?" Micah smiles at her, his head shaking. "I hear you. If you look at it in this moment and this moment along, you don't seem to be where you'd like to be." He shakes out his own hair, leaning back somewhat in that chair. "But this thing isn't a sprint. It's a marathon. I was painfully single years. We all know what happened to my career, and I frakked up my first day of flight school so bad, my instructor said I'd have to play a street corner if I wanted to eat. We all get stuck in that lurch." He picks that coffee cup back up, blowing across it's surface before taking another long sip. "I'm at the point in my life where I'd rather know a former model who fights for what she believes in than a successful model who worries about wrinkles. So, to me, you're not in bad shape."
"Thanks," Aubrey says sincerely. "How are you with scissors?" she asks, out of the blue.
"I haven't cut myself in 11 days." Micah replies with perfect composure.
"Instead of the gym, want to give me a hair cut? I've thought about it for a long time. Just my vanity keeping it this long. But something shorter, maybe a fresh haircut for a fresh start?" Aubrey looks over at him hopefully.
Micah raises an eyebrow AND a coffee mug. "I hardly think I'm qualified, Banshee. Wouldn't Abigail be better at this sort of thing? Or Addison? Or even a paper shredder?"
"I can clean it up. I just need someone to do the first big chop," Aubrey points out. "I'm thinking up to here," a little longer than chin length
This gives Micah pause. His grey eyes study her face for a moment, shifting to her hair and the way it's measured against her face. "If you're sure. I can't guarantee I'm any sort of famous Caprican barber, but I know how to work a pair of scissors."
"Let's do it. I'm done with second guessing myself. This time, I want to do something for me," Aubrey says firmly.
The meeting has one more speaker. He's an older man, who's voice and convictions wander. He tells an interesting story, though, about a Arctic ground station and the things the personnel had to do to keep warm. That, he claimed, was his reason for picking up the bottle. It was never made clear if it was because alcohol warms you, or the things other people did drove him to drink. Micah appeared a bit like his old self in front of those people. He directed, smiled, and ushered. But before they know it? The former rock star is folding up chairs, smiling, and giving quiet words of encouragement.
Aubrey pitches in, helping fold up the chairs and pick up the coffee cups and other detritus, nodding to the people as they make their way out.