The ever-escalating prank war between two residents of C Berth is getting a little bit out of hand. Literally. As in, it shoots across the room, covered in almond oil. Gage takes it to the chest, but in the end the only casualties are Correa's dignity and any hope of a truce.
Related Scenes: None
Scene Number: 1525
It's hard to keep track of time on the ship. Only the turning of duty and the occasional clock on the wall is enough to track it. It's probably nearing evening -- though not full night -- but Gage's curtain is closed. He does seem to be present, given there's a foot hanging downwards out of the edge of it. All is quiet, and all is well.
Given how badly their back-and-forth one-up-man-ship is going, it'd be utterly stupid of Gage to continue it. Except well, Gage is Gage. Before he slept, he left a present in Ines' bed. It's comparatively innocuous, really. Unless you've read that novel that's been doing the rounds lately, because... well, it's a cucumber.
Fresh out of the showers following what had been a somewhat harrowing flight, all things considered -- not for her but for people she likes, and for Ines that's almost worse -- Ines is properly exhausted. She's dressed for racktime in a slightly loose t-shirt and pair of boxers with the waistband rolled up, still technically regulation, even if that particular regulation garment wasn't meant for her. She vaults up into her bunk, draws her curtain closed, and with a sigh of relief stretches out in the comparative darkness, face turned into her pillow.
It's almost grudgingly that she eventually rouses enough to push the sheets down and get her legs under them, never opening her eyes and certainly not sitting up again. Somewhere in that fumbling she finally succeeds, though, and then she stills, one eye opening, staring at nothing. There's something hard. Under her knee. Bafflement slides in where weariness was, and she reaches down with one hand, feeling around until she puts her hand on --
That one open eye narrows again. She sits up, and drags the offending vegetable out to hold it up, staring at it in the shadows.
There's a long, thoughtful silence.
She leans her head toward the curtain, listening. Is he awake?
Her bunkmate appears to be solidly asleep. Gage ought to be, considering he's lying facedown on his injured chest. That's going to hurt, later. For now, his breathing is deep and even, threat of vegetable retaliation far from his mind. He's probably dreaming about exploding things.
But no. As far as she can tell...
She closes the curtain. For a moment she squeezes her eyes shut, covering her face with one hand, girding herself for what it is that she's about to do. No one can ever say she isn't willing to suffer for her art.
It's an open question as to when he'll wake up, once she gets started. It'll all start out oh-so-quietly, but volume will increase until results are had. Sitting there in her bunk with her back against the wall, legs crossed casually, she gives a solid -- but admittedly not inspired -- performance in the role of 'young woman who sounds like she's enjoying herself far too much with a cucumber.'
Gods. She is.
He flicks back his curtain, feet hitting the ground... and then he pauses. If she really is, he can't just...
He barely keeps it together as he slides, oh-so-carefully, to his feet, trying to keep quiet in doing so. He thuds his feet -- not quite so effective as his boots -- against the deck once, twice, and then in his best echo of his Tauran drill sergeant: "ATTEN-SHUN!"
Sadly, it does make the thing slippery, and so when that voice BOOMS through the berthing suddenly, from a position she does not associate with the bunkmate she assumes is still under her bunk, she full-body clenches as though she's just been struck by lightning, and the cucumber goes SHOOTING out of her bunk, swiftly followed by Ines in a full panic. She nearly drags her curtain down with her as she spills out of her bunk, squinting in the sudden light, still very much dressed for bed -- key word being 'dressed.' "Sorry it's nothing don't worry about it it's not what it sounds like it's-"
The cucumber, indeed, goes flying out. Thankfully, it's not an officer standing there -- since he or she would be in for a real surprise -- but Gage. From the top of the bunk, the cucumber has just enough time to drop in height that it smacks Gage full in the chest. It doesn't have nearly enough force to stagger him back, but it does cause him to exhale a sharp breath of pain, reflexively grunting as a hand comes up to clutch at his bandaged, and otherwise uncovered, chest.
He misses the opportunity to enjoy Ines' humiliation, taking a moment to catch his suddenly coughing breath. Mistakes were made.
It's a rare opportunity that he's missing, too: Ines isn't a blusher, but right now she's pink from collarbone to eartips. She wouldn't have been had she realized who it was doing the yelling, but the thought of being embarrassed in this particular way in front of a superior officer definitely crosses the line into 'welp, guess my life is over' territory.
For a moment her relief at finding Gage there instead of someone else is so acute that she forgets entirely to feel pique, exhaling in a rush and bending forward, hands on knees, momentarily light-headed. Oh, thank the gods.
Just a moment, though.
She leans over that much further to snap up the cucumber and wags it in his face admonishingly. "Serves you right!"
It doesn't take long for Gage's expression to mutate from 'fml', to his far more typical scowl, one hand still pressed to his chest as he straightens and stares down at her. The slight shift of his weight suggests he's somewhat nonplussed about the casual way she's waving the cucumber about. "Don't have to near kill a man because you're a sore loser, Correa," he growls. "All you have to do is admit you wrote that frakking book, because clearly," a flippant gesture of his other hand indicates the cucumber she's brandishing, "You've been writing from personal experience."
"I didn't write it, I just...wrote a nice letter to the lady who did write it, and told her all about how much I-" She clasps her hands under her chin, tilts her head, and puts on an overwrought expression of -- it's not clear. Not clear what emotion that's supposed to be. Possibly 'wistfulness.' "-depended on her stories of love to see me through the dark hours of the war, because I'd been so lonely, ever since the soldier I fell desperately in love with went missing in the field! I sent her a picture of him, sleeping of course -- a precious token of our time together. She was so moved, she swore she would immortalize his spirit in her next great work." She closes her eyes and brings the knuckle of her index finger up to the lower lid of one of them, as though to sweep away a single tear.
The drama falls away all at once as she straightens again, tossing the cucumber into his bunk underhand and cocking a hip, hand atop. "You don't want to know what would be in that book if I wrote it."
Gage's scowl deepens even further, if that's possible, and is accompanied by a growl as he takes a threatening step towards her. Usually the use of height and looming, growling muscle of a marine is enough to intimidate most people. Of course, she's one of the Wolves, and so, "You've no idea what you've started, Correa. You're going to regret that." A beat, narrowed eyes watching the cucumber fly into his bunk, "And that. Shame. Sounds like you were really enjoying it, too. Only fair to tell everyone how the tale in the book really came about."
"I have no idea what I've started?" It's true: she doesn't move. Ines isn't afraid of Gage, for all that he could break every last bone in her body, probably without even breaking a sweat in the process. She would be -- very afraid, in fact -- if she believed he would actually hurt her, but that clearly isn't the case. "You-" She greets his advancing chest with the tip of her index finger, carefully wide of the bandages, "-told me I would break first. The moment you said that, you chose this. You can tap out any time, Tomak..." The curl at the corner of her mouth says she knows perfectly well he never would, "Or you can admit that I wouldn't break first. I'd accept that concession. But until then..."
"And you will," Gage seems supremely confident of that, even if there's a momentary, defensive shift of his body as she goes to poke towards his chest, even if it doesn't land where it's painful. He pushes past her, towards his bunk, sliding in and picking up the cucumber. He regards it for a few moments, and then starts echoing the noises she was faking earlier, with a grin.
As he brushes by, Ines tilts her head and rolls her eyes heavenward. She lets the little contact with her shoulder spin her conveniently around, intercepting the side of the bottom of her bunk with one hand and then leaning all of her weight into it, one brow arched. "If you can't tell when someone's faking it, you've got much bigger problems than cucumbers." Such a serene smile, and then she leans back again, plants her foot on the edge of his bunk to prepare to climb up into hers.
"I'm starting to think Irene's right. Nobody's been this determined to pull my pigtails in a long time."
Gage slaps the cucumber against that foot she's resting on his bunk -- not hard, but enough for her to feel it. "She does have a point," they seem to agree on that one, if in a roundabout way, the marine chuckling low, "Aint never seen anyone so willing to embarrass themselves so much before. And you were awful quick to hug me yesterday. Guess you can't stop touching me? Can't hardly blame you, I'm me, but people are gonna talk soon, Correa."
Well, they probably already are, but details.
"Ah!" The foot he's assaulting shifts away, then disappears upward as she boosts herself into her bunk again. There's a lengthy silence, and then, incredulous: "That was your takeaway from yesterday? A hug?" Her long-suffering sigh is almost enough to stir the curtains she slides closed. After a few moments of muffled cloth sounds she seems to settle again. "Like I said -- you had no idea what you were getting yourself into. I don't give up, Tomak. I do whatever it takes." There is, it's fair to say, a little bit more intensity to those words than is strictly called for by the exercise in question. That sentiment has deep roots. "And don't be ridiculous. You're the last marine on this boat anybody thinks is going to break out into a...a sudden fit of romance."
"You were clinging pretty tightly. Even I couldn't prise you off," Gage is exaggerating, sure, but it serves his story well enough to do so. There's no more appearance from the cucumber. He's probably stowing it away till later. His low, amused laugh answers her sentiment that she'll do whatever, like he's challenging the very notion as laughable. The latter only earns a belated grunt, and no more. Maybe she scored a point? Or maybe... he's sleeping already?
Did he just...?
Did he fall asleep before she finished telling him off?
Improbably, of all the things he's said and done, this one appears to be the most offensive. Her brows dip down together. She'd been so tired when she came in here, but now her blood is up, and she suspects it's going to be a little while before that's not true anymore. She stares at the wall in front of her, drags the covers beneath her chin, and frowns.
The one benefit of being a marine? You learn to sleep anywhere, anywhen. Even if the midst of an argument, and especially when it serves to make a point.