2237-10-28 - All Bets Are Off

As rumors continue to spread about the romance novel 'Pinned Down' -- a new series following the romantic exploits of Cage Lowjak, who looks a whole lot like Corporal Gage Tomak -- the architect of that prank encounters its object, and things come to a, um...head. (Because it happens in the head. Get it??) Irene and Aleksander show up mid-squabble, the boys attempt to further their ruse to extort Irene for beer, and Irene may or may not be having any of it.

Date: 2237-10-28

Location: Head

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 1519

Jump to End

Gage isn't looking all that flash. In addition to the bruising at the side of his mouth, he's got a nasty, dark line along his throat. Right now, however, he's distracted from such discomforts with his work -- he's been put on floor mopping duty, though most of the floor looks dry, so he's either doing a really bad job at it, or he's very, very slow. He also looks like he just swallowed something uncomfortable, so maybe that talking-to from Ryan was particularly nasty. At least one of the stalls of the toilets is occupied.

-

Ines has looked better, herself, though that owes itself to the fact that she's obviously just coming from a long session in the gym, and not any kind of personal injury. She has a drawstring bag dangling from one shoulder, a smaller, zippered tote in one hand, and a rolled-up towel pinned between her arm and her ribs. She's with two other pilots when she arrives, both women, all three chattering quietly.

That conversation breaks off pretty suddenly when one of them gets a look at who it is with the mop, at which point Ines is elbowed in the ribs. Giggling commences, though the amusement from Ines is accompanied by a widening of the eyes and spin in place, as though she intends to march right back out again, sweaty or not. One of the girls she's with grabs hold of the strap of her bag of shower things, though, preventing any swift escape.

-

Gage doesn't even seem to be pretending to work. He's more just leaning on the mop, gripping at the handle, expression fixed. And that's before he sees Ines -- gaze narrowing as he sees her enter, her aborted attempt to leave, and her friends' insistence that she join in.

A half a minute after the three pilots arrive, the source of Gage's visible discomfort becomes clear. A feminine voice coming from behind the closed stall door, rising in protest, "I can't do that!" and a masculine one, "But it's totally in the book. You wanted to re-create it, right? Well, Cage hoists her upside down, and then he's leaning over her while she..."

"I don't bend that way!"

-

Captured, Ines clears her throat, sniffs, draws a long breath through her nose, and coasts with the other two toward the lockers, never once looking at Gage a second time. Head up, chin lifted, defiant of any attention aimed in her direction, it's almost possible to get a glimpse of who she might have been before the war, swanning around Leonis. She resolutely opens a locker as though this is just another day, nothing unusual about it, and removes her shoes, setting them neatly inside. The other two pilots with her, of course, have no such compunctions about playing things down. They're watching the whole thing unfold with the kind of relish that only popcorn could improve upon.

And then the voices come from the bathroom stall, and Ines, after a valiant struggle, completely loses her shit. Her expression crumples in on itself and the effort of trying to keep from dissolving into audible hysterics has her folding forward into the bank of lockers, against which she's able to brace herself for maybe five seconds, head down and shoulders shaking, before she gives in and drops completely onto her knees. One hand covers her face, the other grasps the sweatpants of the girl next to her, as though to draw strength enough from her not to howl.

-

If anything, Gage's expression when Ines adopts her haughty demeanor is even more furious, white-knuckled hands looking like they're going to snap the mop's handle in half. His expression, when he hears more conversation -- protest -- flowing from the bathroom stall has him moving, finally, advancing on Ines where she's crumbled down, looming over her as he drops the mop's handle and lets it fall to the floor. He leans forward, like he's going to take a hold of her shoulders, when...

"O.M.G. Look, it's Cage! I love your book!" The owner of the female voice surges forward, straightening her off duty uniform as she beams and reaches up to touch Gage's bicep. Gage gives her a glowering look that might be enough to fend off most people, but the girl appears oblivious. Behind her, her male companion looks equally unhappy, eyeing Gage up and down like he's assessing whether he can take him on.

The girl leans forward, pseudo-whispering, "Did you really sleep with the admiral's daughter in the room next to his? That's so ballsy!"

-

To Ines' credit, even in extremis she's aware of her surroundings enough that when she hears the mop handle hit the floor she's suddenly all movement, scrambling -- inelegantly, because she is dying -- to shift around and put her back to the lockers in preparation for whatever unholy vengeance is coming her way. The girls she came in with get the hell out of the way -- traitors -- so they can look on from a suitable vantage point outside of the blast radius. Sorry, Ines, is the consensus. You're on your own.

And Ines continues to silently weep tears of the purest joy, still somehow, improbably, silent -- until Gage gets cornered by someone, and then it's all over. That's it. She's done. The head is not a clean place to lay on the floor, but all of her bones seem to dissolve at the same time and she keels over, clutching her ribs and fighting to breathe, a puddle of useless, absolutely helpless laughter. "Y-...yes!" Strangled. "So...so ballsy..."

She's not going to live to see tomorrow. If he doesn't kill her, the hysterics are going to.

-

Gage's expression hardens, as much for the woman now accosting him as Ines' reaction to it, shaking off the the woman's hand. "Aint done shit. It's all bullshit." The woman's face shifts, on the verge of disappointment: "Even the part with the cucumber?" To which Gage's baffled silence is taken not as a negative, but a positive. "I knew it! See, Derrick, he knows how to treat a lady."

Derrick, behind them, scowls and reaches for the woman's arm. "Come on, Ness. We're on shift in a few." The woman -- Ness -- frowns briefly at the reminder, and blows Gage a kiss, before giving Ines a baffled look as she's pulled towards the exit. She's rolling around on the floor of the bathroom after all, eww.

Cage -- er, Gage, settles hands on his hips, lets out the longest sigh anyone's ever heard, and tilts his head backwards. Yeah, the ceiling is safe. It also shows off all the lovely bruising patterning his throat.

-

By now there are tears running down cheeks flushed rose with laughter, and her abdominal muscles are in full rebellion -- she's just come from the gym, where she worked them hard to begin with; this is just an unanticipated bonus round, and she is exhausted. She's only just beginning to regain her composure when she hears the word cucumber and it starts her up all over again, forcing her to roll into the base of the lockers, as though facing the wall might protect her from any further volleys.

Eventually the couple leaves, and she extends a hand blindly -- her eyes are still brimming with glittering rinds of unshed tears -- to put it on his boot. "Oh. Tomak. I can't. Please. PLEASE. Get -- get help. I think I'm dying."

-

The boot is still for a moment, and then she feels it pull away. Maybe to get help! Because Gage is just that sort of guy. Well, maybe Cage is, but Gage is an asshole, after all. So perhaps it is no surprise when he returns, carrying that bucket of cold, dirty bathroom floor water, holding it over her. Waiting just long enough for her to notice it.

And then he upends it above her.

-

It's no surprise, but it still arrives as a shock -- more because the water is cold than anything. It certainly helps to snap her out of her weeping laughter; he'll have the satisfaction of seeing her flinch and then gasp hugely...

Just before she snaps up to her feet and launches herself at him. Because Ines had a baby brother, once, and the maneuvers of sibling conflict are well-trod. This one is textbook: when someone covers you in something they wouldn't want to be covered in themselves, you have one obvious means of immediate reprisal.

You give them a hug.

-

Despite the fact that Gage is clearly going to have to clean up this mess -- because the bathroom cleaning is his punishment after all -- he looks pleased with himself. He's smirking, holding the bucket in one hand as he regards Ines' reaction. And then she's launching herself towards him, and he manages two steps back, and uselessly warding hand before she gets arms around him. If she's pressed up against his chest, she can practically feel the growl that comes from him. His free hand clenches into the material of her shirt at her back to try as if to yank her free -- but then he abruptly releases her.

A moment of kindness? Nicety? Nahhh. This is Gage -- he's just busy upending the bucket again -- with the dirty, grimy dregs, over her head, smoothing it into her hair.

-

In the midst of a largely empty head (save two female pilots lingering at a distance from the ongoing display, watching wide-eyed and with no little relish), A very wet Ines, still dressed in her gym clothes, is hugging a very angry looking Gage, who appears to have otherwise been dry. Clinging, even, with all the modest strength available to her, backed by the engine of her determination. He's far taller than she is, so it only makes sense for her to wipe her face on his shirt, which is what she's busily doing when he delivers his coup de grace. He's already emptied most of the bucket of dirty water he was using to clean the head onto her -- hence the wet -- and now he empties the rest, including the awful sediment of grime that was at the bottom.

Into her hair.

It takes her a moment to realize what he's done, though it's easy to tell when she does: she utters a tiny little shriek -- it probably would've been louder if she weren't trying to avoid blowing out his eardrums -- and starts hopping and stamping her feet a little, the way arachnophobic people do when they see a spider.

It'd be letting him win to leave it at that, though, wouldn't it? Completely unacceptable. She reaches up and strips the tie out of her bunned hair, pushing up onto her toes, like she could maybe smear the top of her head on his face.

-

Irene couldn't have walked in at a better/worse moment. There's Ines and there's Gage, and they're sharing a wet, possibly sticky, embrace. Her jaw drops. She forgets why she's here. She forgets who she is. She forgets how to make thoughts. It's just an oh-my-gods expression and a blanked out shock stare. How do even words work? The pilot has forgotten that too.

And then, the shriek. That changes the context enough that her brain stops slipping gears and a thought snaps into place. Irene blinks. Her mouth shuts with a soft clack of teeth. She even seems to remember why she's here. She's in tanks and sweats, she has her shower bag too. There it is, Iris, you got it. Shower. But, maybe she'll just pop a brow up and watch for a bit first.

-

There's definite satisfaction in Gage's expression at that shriek. He even lets out a pleased guffaw of breath as she starts hopping and stamping around. Totally worth. When she comes at him like one of those goats trying to butt the tops of their heads into people, that's where he draws the line, apparently -- reaching out to try and catch her shoulders to hold her at bay.

And then he spots Irene. Is she still mad? He can't tell in a quick glance. "Harris, Correa's gone insane." Surely that's totally believable, given the circumstances.

-

Extra drills, extra duty, extra aggravation in Aleksander's point of view and he is somewhat sour. With the latest physical training session over with, one of many since that fracas down at Camp Thorpe, the Tauran's first trip was the bunkroom where he peeled off the sweat soaked, dirty and grimy clothes that was clinging to him and feeling gross. Then it was double-time to the Head so he can shower and scrub himself off, wanting to get what feels like a layer of filth off of himself. In his rush, he almost bowls over Irene who was stopped in her tracks, distracted by what's going on between Ines and Gage. "Hey! Watch whe..." Davion begins to complain rather loudly and annoyed until he realizes that it's Irene, the same Raptor pilot who was grilling the immature boys and girls for their misbehaving.

-

Sadly, there's no hope for Ines when it comes to besting Tomak in a contest of raw strength, so he's able to avoid having a grimy head of hair smudging his face. She relents, the forward pressure of her weight easing, but only so she can spin and whip her head enough to sling water behind her from the ends of her hair -- that is definitely deliberate -- on her way back to the bank of lockers, and all of the getting-ready-to-shower things she was doing at the point when she completely lost the ability to function for laughing too much.

"Don't listen to him, he's just having trouble adjusting to the pressures of his newfound celebrity," she advises Irene airily, with a wave of one now disconcertingly sticky hand. Ugh.

-

It was certainly a bad and upside down sideways situation if Irene had to become the voice of reason and authority in it. And not only that, it made her incredibly angry seeming. That's definitely rare for Lt. J.G. Sally Sunshine. Of course, with her name not appearing in Ryan's reordered duty roster for crap and other unfortunate details, she's calmed down from yesterday. She is still a bit shocked by this. Whatever this is. She shakes the last of that off with a toss of her head and is about to maybe say something when Aleks nearly runs her down.

"You watch the-" Iris snaps, but she trails off to instead lift a finger up into the Tauron's face and then sweep said finger off to direct his attention to the hugging going on. "I told you, Davion. They're flirting."

-

There's another scowl for the flicked, dirty hair-water his way, Gage scrubbing a hand over his face -- more gently over the side of his mouth and his heavily bruised throat -- to try and clean it. His dark glance follows Ines for a beat, before flickering back towards Irene, and settling on Aleksander next to her. He smirks, abruptly -- he knows what it might look like -- before he deliberately stomps over to collect his mop from where he dropped it on the ground earlier.

-

Standing there, Aleksander's gaze is also on Ines and Gage who seems to have finally broken up what shenanigans were going on, a long look directed in that direction before glancing back to Irene, "Hmm..." Lowering his voice, he half whispers to the Raptor pilot, "I was going to try to find you and give you an update, but I've been... busy." Meaning Davion was slammed with punishment, especially after what happened with the friendly fire. He then looks over to Ines as he begins making his way towards one of the lockers, "Celebrity? Who's a celebrity now?" Apparently the rumors about Cage Lockjaw has not reached Aleksander yet, as he has no interest in steamy romance novels.

-

Ines, midway through beginning to unpack her bag of shower things -- she needed one before, and now she's desperate for one -- snaps her head up and looks around the line of her shoulder toward Irene and Aleks with an expression of utmost skepticsm. "We're what?" Incredulous eyes flick between them. "Please. That's the kind of plot you'd find in 'Pinned Down,' the debut novel about Cage Lowjak and his outrageous romantic exploits." Which, one assumes, is partially to answer Davy's question, and partly because she's still basking in the warm glow of her success. "That's not real life."

The insinuation, however, makes the prospect of stripping down to shower even more vaguely uncomfortable than usual for the Leonese pilot, who never has fully adjusted to the arrangement.

-

"Well, back on Aerilon, if you want a boy's attention you just have to wrestle him." Irene says, like that explains the possible confusion on her part. She doesn't look nor sound entirely convinced that there wasn't flirting going on, but her Virgan discretion kicks in and she leaves the topic off to the side. That's the polite thing to do. "Cage Lowjak?" She wonders aloud, because she, like Davion, isn't familiar with the subject of that segue. "Is that...?" Gage Tomak? She's thinking it. She wouldn't turn a questioning stare on the marine if she wasn't. Suspicion growing. It'll keep growing as she feels the weight of the shower bag hanging from her wrist and remembers why she's here to begin with.

-

Bending to turn the now-empty bucket upright, Gage leans the mop against the wall as he stomps over to the sinks to refill the bucket. Over the sound of running water, he shoots a look Aleksander and Irene's way. He can't hear what they're saying, but it's probably a fair assumption it's not good. Pointedly he doesn't try and issue a denial on the heels of Ines' regarding the flirting; just smirks, briefly, as he continues to fill up. Of course, the smirking doesn't continue for long after he's flicked off the water, because they're talking about Cage again. He flicks some water -- cold, but clean this time -- Ines' way. "Aint nothing," he scowls.

-

At Ines's rather strong and passionate protest, Aleksander only gives her another look, a blink, then back to the locker he had opened. It seems like he has no retort to the Viper pilot as he puts his change of clean clothes into the locker and some of his personal items. Closing the locker door, Davion has a large, dry towel and his basket of shampoo and soap in hand. He does give Irene another look, shaking his head slightly as if he doesn't believe that the scene was as innocent as it looked. But that is conversation for another time as he heads to the showers, "Tomak, if the Gunny catches you horsing around and flirting while you're supposed to be cleaning, he'll tear you a new one. He did me when I tried to skip a set earlier when drilling." A slight scowl made there, just briefly present though as he asks, "What's a Cage Lowjack? A new trap prototype to catch a Centurion?"

-

"I really don't think-" But whatever Ines was going to say about wrestling, she stops as she's spattered with more water, frowning in the other direction preemptively, as though she half-expects him to have gotten some directly out of the toilets for the purpose. "Cage Lowjak," she says, articulating the words with special care so that it takes her a longer amount of time to explain, thus maximizing the amount of time Gage has to listen to his conversation, "Is the name of the hero of a new series of romance books. They're very popular, I understand!" The clothes come off, though they don't go into the locker with her shoes. They're too gross. She drops them on the ground beside her bag of shampoo and whatever else. "I wouldn't know, myself; I don't read romance."

-

"Oh, alright." Irene replies as though she doesn't read romance enough to be on top of the newest trends in leading men. In fact, the way she's almost side-eyeing Ines once she's reached a free locker of her own suggests she might be thinking that all this Cage Lowjak might be some devious attempt to put her off the whole wrestling = flirting business. "But you two, you don't like each other? Like you don't want to kiss each other and stare dreamily into one another's eyes and hold hands and whisper sweet nothings?" Inquiring Virgons want to know! As she cranks the locker door open she looks from one person to the next, for reactions and possibly clues. Even Aleks. He might have clues, he did mention an update.

-

Gage gives Aleksander a look, a particularly ill-pleased one at the advice, but he is thumping the filled bucket onto the floor, and dunking the mop soon after. The area near the lockers is damp and dirty from whatever occurred just before Irene and Aleksander stepped in; he starts there, using the clean mop to brush the dirty water into the drain in the corner. He's not exactly methodical about it, either, haphazardly sweeping. The fact that the motion might splash some of it onto Ines is probably purposeful, given the topic she's espousing. Any accidental splashing of Aleksander or Irene is just that. He's definitely not answering Irene, giving her a level look that could mean anything from 'I'm totally into her bod and trying to hide it', to, 'I'd rather go down on my knees and lick this dirty bathroom floor water'. He goes back to swishing, mostly ineffectively, at the pools of dirty water.

-

Hearing the question, Aleksander can't help but laugh, and he also attempts to stifle the laugh at the same time which resorted in a somewhat loud snort, giggle. He tries to play it off as if he was clearing his throat and quickly turns on the water of the shower head he is standing under, letting the water spill all over him, feeling a bit more refreshed and relaxed already. Running his hand through his hair, Davion glances back to Irene, catching her look before shaking his head again, mouthing 'Not right now' to her before reaching for his shampoo. "Unless Cage Lockjaw appears in Guns'n'Gurlz, I wouldn't recognize her. I wouldn't be surprised if the ladies of this outfit are all over the new books though." A pause as the bubbles and soapy foam begin to build on his hair as he begins washing, "So what does Tomak have to do with the romance novel?"

-

Ines, for her part, seems to know which way she's interpreting the look Gage gives Irene, because she gestures at him as if to say, 'see? I told you.' That he splashes over her ankles with horrible, filthy water just afterward only underlines her point. "Sweet nothings and dreamy stares? And Tomak? Really, Iris? That's a bit of a stretch, isn't it?" She slings her towel over her shoulder and picks up her shower caddy, leaving the soaked locker area behind in favor of the still-soaked-but-less-disgusting far wall, and the showers. She tosses the towel over the railing and twists on the tap, then flashes Aleks a brilliant smile. "I hear Cage Lowjak looks an awful lot like Gage Tomak." She emphasizes the pronunciation, and watches the Tauran with expectant eyes, obviously waiting for the 'eureka' moment.

-

Iris listens and watches each person with hawk-like intensity and files their reactions away for later study or something. For now, she takes the 'not right now' to heart and squinty eye nods back at the other pilot. Yes, that's a bit of a stretch. I agree completely. She all but says. With that, she claims a towel for herself, strips and pads to a shower, carefully avoiding the nasty mop water on the way. It's about then the explanation comes out. Finkle is Einhorn! Er, Lowjak is Tomak. Tomak is Lowjak! "Is, that... what? How? Is this from before times? Has your sordid past caught up to you, Tomak? Kestrel, I don't understand."

-

Maybe Gage is making some real progress now that he's trying -- or now that there's no one nearby he's straining to resist the urge to splash dirty water all over again, anyway. The scowl that splits his features, accompanied by the harder than necessary swish of his mop sends dirty water flying as much towards the wall as towards the drain. He's going to have to clean that, too, a fact that clearly occurs to him, judging by the grunt. Irene's question earns a sharp: "Correa thinks she's a novelist. Wishful thinking on her part. I mean... cucumbers?" He scowls some more, flicks some more dirty water with the mop.

-

Aleksander's reaction may not be what Ines was looking for, instead of his eyes opening wider in understanding and amazement, his brows only furrow up in confusion. "Huh..." Is the reaction that is grunted from the Tauran rifleman at first as he begins rinsing his hair clean of the shampoo, "Why would a novelist pick Tomak as inspiration for cover art?" The question asked to no one in particular, as if it was just self musing. He then looks over to Gage who is busy cleaning, or making the place dirtier, "Did you hook up with a writer on one of our leaves or something?" Then Davion's gaze shifts to Ines, "Wait, /you're/ the writer?" Now there his eyes widen slightly, the 'eureka' moment finally coming. "I see."

-

She looks...disappointed, when Aleks catches her meaning, but fails to be amused. Which is alright, in the end, because Gage says: Cucumbers? and Ines, squeezing shampoo out into her palm, ducks her head and chokes back a laugh that nevertheless means she squeezes the bottle a little too hard. That is way, way too much shampoo. "Gods, I wish I was the one who wrote the book. Someone out there is going to make a lot of money from the CF on this series. But no. It wasn't me." And then she's going to be incommunicado for a moment, because there's slimy filth in her hair and it needs soaping and rinsing stat.

-

Maybe showering and not talking about this anymore would be the best thing to do, Irene eventually seems to decide for herself. There's definitely more questions rattling around in her head but after opening her mouth, none fall out, so she snaps it shut and stands under her shower instead, soaking in silence.

-

"Uhhhhn." Gage remains unconvinced by Ines' claim she didn't write the thing, if his grunting response is to be interpreted properly. He's making some headway with the mop, reducing the pool of dirty water near the lockers, anyway. It's still in a earful from a passing Gunny state, but perhaps less of a dragged away by the ear by a passing Gunny state. He seems more than good with the not talking vote that seems to be up for proposal at present.

-

Another thoughtful "Hmm..." is made by Aleksander but as the others drift to silence, so does the Tauran as he begins using the body wash to wash himself. There may be ideas bouncing around in his head but he isn't sharing his thoughts.

-

It could have ended there, but of course it won't. If either Ines or Gage were the sort to sensibly leave matters be at an impasse, none of this would be happening. Once Ines is clean, wrapped in a towel, and has her hair pinned up behind her head, and after she's soaked and rinsed her clothes so that they're slightly less likely to foul up the rest of her laundry, she pauses on her way out near the marine with the mop to lean in and smile a smug, feline smile. "Shouldn't have told me I'd break first, Tomak. You didn't know what you were getting yourself int-" The look stutters, wanes to neutral. She finally gets a look at the bruises, and her brows knit. She looks genuinely sympathetic, in fact. "What-?"

"COME ON, Correa! We're starving." One of the two other pilots she arrived with.

She glances that way, then back at the marine, and after a beat turns to trot off after the other two, mixed signals sufficiently given, one assumes.

-

Gage seems determined to stick to his corner, having largely covered up any evidence that he lost his cool and splashed an entire bucket out over anyone. There's still the wall, of course, but those flickers are faint and perhaps easily missed. He might be casting the occasional glance towards the showers, if just to make sure there's no secret whispering going on over there, and totally not because he wants to just look, no. Ines' approach is met with a scowling look, that only deepens, oddly at that sympathetic cast. And then he's back to ineffectively mopping.

-

"Well, it looks like you get no beer." Irene says just loud enough to be heard over the shower she's still soaking under. What that means, or who it pertains to, she doesn't specify exactly. She just watches Ines leave then closes her eyes and turns her face up to the water.


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