Clearing the Air
Clearing the Air
Summary: Rhea catches up to Zaharis. Apologies are had.
Date: 54 ACH
Related Logs: Adultery Hurts

Chief Medical Officers Office Genesis - Deck 13
53 ACH 23817 Souls

The office of the Chief Medical Officer is a small room, used mostly for consultations and review of sensitive patient materials than the paperwork of the Medical department, which goes through the Naval Administrative offices. Still somehow it has file cabinets along one wall stuffed full of papers, two chairs in front of a desk behind which a large leather chair is set. On the desk sits a computer terminal.
Sitting on the file cabinet is a Rod of Asclepius carved from two different types of wood. The rod is made from lighter wood, while the snake is darker. The eye of the snake is inlayed with tiny crystals so that it sparkles in the light. It stands on a smallish pedestal with a legend: Do no harm to thyself nor to others.

Zaharis is in his office, his desk laid out with documents and files. He's reading over one now with a focused expression, studying the columns of chemical names and the numbers next to them. His ashtray has been newly cleaned, but the smell of smoke is heavy in here.

Rhea's imminent presence is buzzed by one Zaharis' nurses. The ChEng actually knocks and waits for permission to enter before barging in. A rarity.

Zaharis' wireless is turned off, so the unfortunate nurse can't tell him exactly who it is waiting. She just has instructions to turn away anyone that isn't one of his sub-heads or another department's CO. Rhea passes the test. He hits the unlock button for the door without looking away from his files, just calling out. "Yes."

"Hey," Rhea says simply as she enters. Closing the door behind her. Presumably there is some sort of proper meeting called to hash this whole skinjob mess out. So that's probably not why she's here, fascinated as she clearly was with the pictures of them on the Hera.

Zaharis looks at her and then back at the papers and his computer. "We're not finished with the reports. They'll be issued at the meeting."

"Yeah. I know. I'm not here to talk about robots, Jesse." Rhea stands by the door, hesitant. Unsure of herself. Which doesn't suit her well. "I…wanted to see how you were. It was hades on the Nebula the other day, from the reports I've heard."

"I'm fine," Zaharis answers in a reserved tone, finishing what he was typing. His eyes then shift back to her, giving a few expectant seconds. "Do you need something?"

Rhea takes a breath. Bracing herself. This sort of thing is never easy for her. "Yeah. I need to apologize," she says. Sincerely, hard as it is. "I'm sorry I hit you. And I'm sorry about all that crap I said to you. It…none of that was about you. You know that, right?"

Zaharis looks at her for a long second before he snorts, looking back at the computer. "You're not sorry about a damn thing. Look, I'm sorry you think somebody should've been the morality police in your marriage, but I'm not going to be the Ephraim that you now get to be pissed off at whenever you want."

Rhea manages to look back at him for most of that, though she drops her eyes before he gets to the end. Nodding a little to herself. "Jesse…Look, I don't know what happened but…it takes two people to frak up a marriage, y'know? I was *really* hard to live with, those years I spent on Picon. I was unhappy and it was my own fault. I'd taken a desk job I wasn't suited for. I did a lot of stupid things, because I thought they were what he wanted. Perfect wife and mother garbage. And it wasn't what he wanted and I resented him for that, too. I thought I wrecked things between us and when I left for the Genesis…I just made a mess and left him with it. I'm not sure I have any right to be pissed off about how he cleaned it up…"

Zaharis hits enter a few times, moving a paragraph down. "I never asked you to explain yourself or defend yourself. Or condemn yourself. You're still talking to me like I'm some form of Ephraim. And I am not."

"I just want you to understand…he wasn't the bad guy in all this. A marriage is like a machine. And, for awhile there, neither of us did a very good job keeping up with the maintenance. I don't want you to think…frak, I don't know." She looks up at him. "Yeah. I know you're not."

"I don't think anything," Zaharis says, still talking to his computer as he works. "It's not my business to. I'm not your judge, I'm not your jury, I'm not your husband. So decide what you want. Do you want Jesse or do you want a confessional and a punching bag? Because I'm fine with being the former. I will not be the latter." His fingers stop moving and he finally looks straight at her.

"I want a friend," Rhea replies softly, looking back at him. "I want my friend, Jesse. At least…is that how I've treated you? Like a confessional?" She sighs. "That's not what I want. I don't mean to dump my mess on you. Jesse I…I can be hard to be with sometimes. If I've frakked things up between us…"

Zaharis is silent for a long while before he exhales through his nose. "Look, I know it's not fair that Ephraim isn't here and can't hear all this. There's a lot of things he should have done. I wasn't there for all of it, and…I don't know how much one person versus the other said is true. I don't care anymore. I think you're a good person and you deserve to go and be happy. Everyone fraks up."

"You forgive me, then?" Rhea tilts her head at him as she asks it. "I am sorry. I hit you with a lot of shit that wasn't on you. I don't just mean my fist." She smirks. She's quiet a beat, taking a breath. "I wouldn't have left him, you know. I would've been pissed off for awhile, probably frakked up in a dozen new and interesting ways but…" She shrugs. "I respect that you had the guts to tell me. People deserve to look at their lives the way they really are. Face up to who they are."

"A lot of people can't." Zaharis replies, shrugging. "But anyway. I forgive you, so we can stop with the apologising and all that shit." He pauses. "But thank you for apologising."

"I don't say that to just anyone, you know," Rhea replies wryly. Smiling. But it's a faint smile. She regards him. "I've gotten the feeling that before world blew up, even after fourteen years, I didn't know you that well. The drugs…your little girl…You carried a lot on yourself. And I never knew it. I'm not sure what kind of friend that makes me. I'd like to be a better one. If you'll let me."

"It makes you a friend I wasn't very open with," Zaharis says, shaking his head. "And that's on me, not on you, so really it's up to me to be a better person. Which I can't promise, but I'll try." He finally smiles a little. "Sorry all this had to happen to you, Rhea. Nobody deserves to hurt. But…you know I'm here to help make it better, however I can."

"A better person…yeah…" Rhea sighs. "I'd like to think I learned something. That I'm not just going to make the same damn mess again…I don't know. I'm sorry all this had to happen to you, too. I'd make it easier somehow for you, if I could. If I knew how. Anyway. I'm here for you, too."

"I know. I've just been too much of a coward to take your hand when you've offered it," Zaharis replies, then he stands up and steps out from around his desk. "You know I hate being all huggy, but come here."

Rhea is nothing if not a toucher. She clasps her arms around him tightly. As close to a bear hug as she can manage. She's smaller than the CMO.

Zaharis is not a toucher. And initiating a hug is supremely awkward for him. Like a baby's first step. He puts his arms around her shoulders, being eight inches taller than she is, and gives her a careful squeeze. "And next time you feel the need to punch me? Do it in the gut. Seriously, everyone asking me how the other guy looks is really annoying."

Rhea gets a laugh out of that. He /does/ have several inches and pounds on her. It's kind of funny. "What're you telling them?"

"Fell down some stairs," Zaharis replies, in an intentionally bland tone. "If the Marines can do it, so can I."

Rhea tries to look a little abashed. She *is* sorry she hit him. "I told Reed you walked into a door. A door shaped like my closed fist." She smirks. "I'll ask him not to spread it around."

Zaharis shrugs. "I don't care. Door, stairs, barfight…leaves a little mystique. Or something." He smirks.

"Barfight?" Rhea ponders that. "I like it. You can tell everyone you got into it with a crazed Sagittaron knuckle-dragger." She lets him go. "Anyway. I won't embarrass you by dragging this warm little moment out. I'll leave you to your test results."

Zaharis smirks, then is quiet a few seconds. "I probably got a little angrier over being hit than I should have," he says. And he seems about to leave it there, but goes on. He did just chastise himself for not being open, didn't he? "I had a foster mother when I was young who used to beat the shit out of me whenever she was mad at someone else. Just because I was there, I guess. So…I've always been kind of prickly about that. You think you grow out of stuff but you don't."

"Oh frak…" Rhea sighs heavily, running her fingers through her long dark hair. "Jesse…That's not me. You know that, right? I've never…I'd break all my own fingers, one by one, before I ever hit my kid." She clasps her hands tightly together. "My mother never hit us. It's not…people have a lot of ideas about what living with that is. She was just so…afraid. I don't even know of what. And sad. She'd just sit in her room, with chamalla and morpha and cheap wine…try to keep the demons and bay. Pray for the gods to come and make it all better for her…and my brother and I would get as far away as we could."

"I'm sorry you had to see that," Zaharis says, talking in a lower voice now. "Sometimes it's a wonder any of us survive at all, isn't it? But we do. And you're one of the best mothers I've ever seen."

"Reece is the only thing I've built in my life I give a frak about," Rhea murmurs, in a low but firm tone. "It's amazing the power the little frakkers have over you, isn't it? I was done the second he wrapped his little hand around my finger…" Her eyes lift back up to Zaharis. "I can't even imagine what I'd do if I lost him. I can't imagine that kind of pain."

Zaharis' eyes flicker away. "Reece is okay. I can't speak for tomorrow or next week. Only right now. You've just got to make right now count. Even though when it's over you know it still wasn't enough."

"The only thing I ever promised myself, as a mother, was that he'd be able to feel safe with me," Rhea says. "I don't know if anywhere is safe right now. I'm trying, but…he deserved so much better than this frakked up mess we're all left with now."

"Yeah, he does," Zaharis says. "But you can't change circumstance, Rhea. Only thing we can change is what we do about it. And I know you're doing the best you can for him. It counts. Somewhere, it counts. We have to believe in that."

"I'm just trying to do the best I can for him. I wish I could…fix it. Give him back Picon. Frak, even give him back the station. But, it is what it is. Adele's been really good to him. He's in a safe place. That'll have to be enough for now." Rhea pauses a beat. "You've been great with him, too. He's really needed that. He looks up to you. You're one more point of stability for him, I think."

"We all just do what we can," Zaharis says, shaking his head. "As do you. You're doing a good job, Rhea. You're doing more than a good job, you're a fecking great job. We've got people going to shit left and right and you're still here. Not only still here but still here for Reece too. Shit, most boys couldn't dream of having a mother that cool. Even if he's at an age where admitting his mother is cool is only a little less appealing than say, walking around in a pair of pink heart boxers."

Rhea smirks at that. The image sinking into her head. And then she just starts laughing. Soft chuckles, but it's a good while before she can stop. "Don't even think of calling me cool in front of him…my poor Sprocket couldn't take it." *re*

"You know, that actually sounds fun." Zaharis gets a small glint in his eye. "Maybe I'll start doing that. How many teenage synonyms for 'cool' do you think there are these days? I could find them all."

"I'm sure you could. You are an adolescent at heart." Rhea laughs. Then, something ominous occurs to her. "Frak. He is almost a teenager, isn't he? He'll be thirteen this spring."

"Yeah…" Zaharis pauses as the thought comes to him too. "Thirteen. Gods, you think you're so old when you're thirteen. And you have no idea how young you really still are."

"I'd like to think I've done better for him than I had at that age," Rhea says with a smirk. "Of course, the Cylons hadn't destroyed nearly everything I held dear. But, he's not on Sagittaron. Small favors and all that."

"Trade one thing for another," Zaharis smiles, though it's not an amused look. Kind of bittersweet. "You can't give him a perfect world, much as you might want to. But you know what…I would rather see a child go through all this and be surrounded by people who love him, than have grown up with no knowledge of the cylons but all alone."

"I'd rather see him surrounded by people who love him, all of them, with no knowledge of Cylons except as scary stories in history books," Rhea says. "But, I'll make due with what I can feasibly give him. I don't even feel right calling him a child anymore, all he's been through." Sad as it makes her to say it. "Anyhow. I'm going to hoof it out of Sickbay before I get myself tested for something."

"He's twelve. He's a child," Zaharis replies. "Having been through a lot doesn't magically mean you can deal with it like an adult. We have to remember that when we look at him." Her jab at sickbay makes him smirk, and he steps back towards his desk. "Yeah, I should get this stuff done. I'll see you at Regas' beck and call tomorrow."

"That should be interesting," Rhea says wryly. As to Regas and the impending meeting. She nods a little at the former. She'll keep her son a child as long as she can. "Take care of yourself, Jesse." With that, she leaves him to it.

"You too." Zaharis sit back down with a thump. The computer glares at him. How dare it be neglected?

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License