2236-12-15 - Three Strikes is the Charm?

Isolde and Van actually manage to talk things over without yelling.

Date: 2236-12-15

Location: Rec Room, Deck 8, Battlestar //Galactica//

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 921

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It is late, according to Galactica's clock. The transition between second and third shift is just starting, and people are quietly filing out of the rec room to get to their duty stations while others are filing in to do something with their brains before hitting the rack. Isolde Asa has been here for a long while based on the sprawl of books and copious notes taken in what looks to be a standard-issue notebook. She is sitting at one of the tables, head nestled in the curl of her arms, with a rather thick book with very thin pages opened beneath them. She has a pair of headphones on, connected to a small thumb-sized music player. She appears to be asleep.

Van is now awake after a shift asleep, and looking to wake up a little before he has a shift off. He's in his tanktops and duty-green pants. The pilot yawns as he steps past another member of the Wolfpack, exchanging handshakes with the woman as he covers his mouth with the back of his other hand. He starts over toward the nearest screen, then spots the woman asleep atop her study-work. He hesitates for a moment, looking between Isolde and the screen, and his feet feel locked to the deck. Eventually, he makes up his mind and heads over toward her, reaching out to touch her shoulder with two fingers.

The single tap sends her startled out of her half-sleep, and she shoots her hand out to grasp at the books as if the table is about to tip over with all her books and notes. She blinks several times, trying to shake her mind out of the fog of being somewhere between awake and asleep. She then looks up at Van, and her brows arch high. "Van," she says, rubbing her palm at her eye. "Gods, what time is it?" She feels a sudden surge of panic as she peels her sleeve back from her watch. At seeing the time, she relaxes a bit. "Okay... three hours left," she mumbles to herself.

As Isolde starts upright, Van settles his hand on her shoulder to brace her. "Easy. Easy." He's about to answer her question when she answers it herself, and he frowns slightly, "Have you slept at all except on my books?" He's assuming that they're his books, but glances down to make sure, "Excellent, you didn't add to my drool puddles."

"I don't drool," Isolde protests, only picking up that he said she didn't a moment too late. She shakes her head, and looks up at him with a slight quirk of her brows. "I don't have time to sleep... I need to study." She rubs at her eye again with her palm, slumping back into her chair. She is quiet for a moment, and then looks up toward the J.G. with a slight frown. "Talked to Ryan today..."

Van yawns again, covering his mouth with the back of his left hand. Once his jaws are done cracking wide, he draws in a little breath and nods, "And what happens when you have to do your job without sleep?" There's a pause, and he quirks his brows, "Or are you one of those keyboard jockeys who works purely on caffeine?" And then his brows go up still further, "Ryan? Colonel Ryan the XO? What's he like?" Shaking that off, he glances down to a chair opposite her, then back to her, a request for permission in his gaze before he revises his question to, "What did he want to speak with you about?"

"I cross my fingers and pray to Kobol," Isolde says simply in response. Then she nods at his wordless question of whether or not he should sit, and waits for him to take the seat. She is still breaking out of her half-sleep fog, blinking across the table at Van. She's almost too tired to be awkward, sinking into her chair with her arms crossed. "ECO," she says simply. "I took his offer... Acting Ensign, and field training. Lots and lots of field training..."

Van settles down in the chair opposite her, a faint smile just touching one corner of his lips at her prayerful response, "And thus is our defense against Cylon infiltration secured." Shaking off the faint amusement, he nods, "Acting Ensign then. You'll need new uniforms and insignia." And then he freezes a moment, some awkwardness filtering through his sleepiness, "And you'll probably move into officers' quarters."

Isolde snorts slightly at his amusement, but she offers a small smile of her own. When his awkwardness filters in, she shifts uneasily in her seat. "It's okay. It's a big berthing hall... I'm sure we will be nowhere near each other." It is strange how much that simple sentence sends a twang of hurt through her, but she smiles through it with a touch of dignity. "Besides... as you can see... I don't sleep."

Van shifts his shoulders uneasily at Isolde's reassurance, but does his (not very good) best to play it off, "Why, do you snore?" Reaching a hand forward, he taps the book before her, "You know that being sleepless and flying doesn't mix, right? Even in a Raptor, where you have someone watching your back, you can't afford any mistakes like you can on a capital ship."

"Oh, loudly," Isolde offers, though she looks down at her books as if she doesn't want him to catch her looking uncomfortable again. She looks up slightly when he taps the book, and she shakes her head slightly. "I know... I just want to be ready for Kallas when he comes see me for my training schedule. I still have shifts in the tech shop until then." She lapses into silence, looking down at the books in front of her.

Van swallows back his first response to her counter, then shrugs a little helplessly, moving on without comment, "Does the CAG even know you have these books? If not, then anything that you learn out of them is bonus, right?" He settles back in his chair a little, glancing over toward the coffee pot at the back of the room but not getting up to head toward it, "What you need is a study partner. Someone who is on the same shift with you at the tech shop, ideally."

"I told Ryan that you loaned me some books," Isolde says, tone uncertain. Her eyes slide after his glance to the coffee pot, head tilted slightly. Then she looks back to him, brows furrowed in thought. "You mean, ask one of the techs to help me study?" She frowns. "I suppose I could ask Toss... she's been a bit... upset with me since I told her I was thinking of transferring to the Air Wing." She hesitates a moment, looking down at her books. "She thinks I'm chasing after you."

Van shrugs slightly, "I can't help you then. You gave away your advantage." A hint of humor filtering into his words. It's leeched away, however, as she speaks about Toss. "That's what that was all about then? All you have to do is tell her the truth, that you tossed me out, and that should put an end to that." But not an end to the seed of bitterness that replaces the amusement in his voice.

Isolde blinks at his response, leaning forward slightly across the sprawl of books. "I didn't toss you out," she protests -- even if, really, she did. "You decided to end it before it really even got started because of the regs. You said that things were going to get complicated with the chain of command if we continued. That the regs are more important to you, and you didn't want things to get complicated. Was there some other response I was supposed to have beyond... 'Okay, then you should leave so I can, you know, clean up and have a good cry, and then try to recover what dignity I have left after daring to assume you wanted more than a couple V-World hook-ups.'?"

Van lifts his brows slightly as she protests, biting back a quick retort. He looks aside for a moment, listening as she continues. He glances over to a pair of Marines playing on a VR game across the room, then back to Isolde, "I thought we could talk about the situation. See if there was a way that it could be more than a couple of V-World hook-ups."

Isolde stares at him, her mouth somewhat gaped at his follow-up. Her temper flares, and she leans in closer to whisper in a hurried, somewhat angried voice, "That's not what you said... that's not even how you started the conversation. You just talked about how complicated it was, and how it was going against the regs... we stepped out of the V-World, and you got nervous, and started sounding like you are backing out." She adds with exasperation, "Why didn't you just say you wanted to talk about things?"

Van lifts his hands up to either side, although he keep his voice quiet when he responds, "I just... I just wanted to stop things before they went past the point that either of us was going to stop." He looks down to the book- and paper-covered tabletop, shaking his head and running both hands back over his scalp, "I didn't say I wanted to talk about things because you didn't give me a chance to, Isolde."

"That's not fair," Isolde says, voice choked slightly. "That's not fair, Newton... you could have said something in the tool storage, or the moment we sat down to dinner, or when I was talking about the stupid ice wine..." Tears fill her eyes now. "Or you could have said something afterwards. You could have brought it up." Then she looks away, wiping her forearm across her eyes, unsure who she is angry at the most.

Van flinches slightly at the tears, his own frustration and anger bubbling up a little as he struggles to contain the emotions. Drawing in a slow breath, he tamps them down harshly, blanking his features as best as he can, "I didn't think it was going to go as far as it was going to." That sentence doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but he seems to think it does. "And I did say something afterwards. At the pool. I couldn't exactly say something when you were telling me to get the frak out."

"You... what?" Isolde asks, her brow furrowing in earnest confusion. "When we were in the tool storage, you said that we needed to find somewhere else to... do what we were wanting to do." The techie sounds genuinely confused now, fighting to keep all her memories in order. "I took that as... as you wanting to keep going forward." She then rubs at her own cheeks and temples, trying to remember the pool. "You brought up my dad, Van... and you did so from a very mean place... how was that saying something?" She looks across from him, her expression desperately seeking understanding. While he closes up, she opens up.

"No, I was saying that when, if..." Van trails off, rubbing at his own temples and slipping the hand back over his hair, "Before that. Before I got out. And I wasn't trying to be mean. Alright, maybe I was hurting, but I wasn't trying to be mean." He keeps his features as neutral as he can, even as his brows knot a touch, and his voice is tight, if still well-controlled, "I'm sorry, I wasn't looking to hurt you. Either time. Any time."

Isolde looks away at his clarification. Her arms cross at her chest, expression going hard and distant. She dashes away the mere threat of tears. "I don't understand," she confesses in a hush. "I just... don't understand." She then looks across the table at him, looking for something from the pilot beyond his neutral expression and tight, well-controlled voice.

When everything he says seems to make Isolde angrier, Van blows out a breath in a sigh, "I don't know what there is to understand. I don't like to break the rules. I fly under control, I live under control, I survive." He glances aside again, looking over to the Marines across the room again before he admits, "I just wanted to talk about what was happening, before it got too late."

Isolde just looks down at the books, and her copious notes, and she offers a silent nod. She closes the first book, and then the second, and begins to stack them carefully, quietly. She looks up after a moment, offering a watery smile. "Okay. But it's too late now, right?" She closes her notebook, and places it on top. Her pencil is picked up, and her glasses, the latter hooked in the collar of her layered tank tops.

Van hesitates then, licking his lips and working them together for a moment. "I don't know. You hurt me, throwing me out like that and then getting angry at me whenever we talk, and I know I hurt you by asking to hold off." He starts to feel around for his cigarettes, fishing out the pack, but not actually feeding out a cigarette, "Do you think it's too late?"

Isolde is surprised a bit by the admission that she hurt him. Her brows furrow as she stares at him, books between them now. "You didn't hurt me by asking me to hold off, Van... because that's not what you said." Or not how she interpreted it. She shakes her head, looking down at the cover of her notebook, jaw working and brows furrowing. His question isn't given an immediate answer as her thoughts race around in her head. Then she offers a quiet, "I don't know..."

Van sits up all the straighter at her response, his brows drawing down into a confused frown, "That's what I..." Shaking off his words, he tries again, "I don't remember exactly what I said, but that's what I meant. That we should hold off and talk about it, so if things changed, they didn't get..." and then he gestures between them, a bit of his tamped-down frustration bleeding through with the sharp motion, "...weird."

"You said that you didn't want it to get complicated, and that the regs said we weren't allowed, so we should stop," Isolde provides, though she can't even really remember his exact words either. "You never uttered the words that we should talk about it." Then she shakes her head, feeling the anger deflate, and her shoulders sag a bit. "You hurt me because you made it sound like there was no way it was going to work... that staying in Operations and enlisted was definitely against the regs, and then transferring into the Air Wing would just make things complicated... and dangerous. It didn't sound like there was anything to talk about." She reaches for her third book -- a rather slender book compared to the other monstrosities directly in front of Van.

Van blows out another breath of frustration, "I just said..." Sitting back in his chair, the pilot rubs both eyes with the heels of his hands. And then he does tip out a cigarette, catching it between his lips and tucking the back away. The matchbox its fished out and he strikes the match, drawing in to light the coffin-nail. The ritual -- or the nicotine -- seems to steady him somewhat, and as he puts the match in an ashtray and gathers up the cigarette in one hand, he starts over, "Can you focus on what I'm saying I didn't get a chance to say, not on what I got out before you cut me off? Please?"

Isolde catches his frustration, and frowns at it. She then leans back in her chair, all three books now collected. She watches him go through the ritual, brows still furrowed. When he finally makes his request, her lips tighten together and she nods -- together a neat signal of 'Okay, I'm shutting up.' She waits, brows furrowed deeply over her eyes and expression uneasy, but at least waiting.

The sudden silence and stillness surprises Van, and he blinks, for a minute like, 'what, right now?' and then he takes another drag of his cigarette, blowing the smoke up toward the air filters, and then goes in slowly, "Like I said, I was trying to stop us before we went too far, so that we could sit down and talk about the situation. I wasn't trying to say 'never,'" The hand with the cigarette between its fingers gestures searchingly, "I was just trying to... trying to slow us down before we got past the point of no return."

"Okay," Isolde says in a hush. She frowns at Van, expression looking wary and tired. She has not gotten much sleep in the last few nights, that's for certain. She looks down at the orderly stack of books and papers, and then back up at Van. "So... now what?" The question seems to be offered between them, an attempt to bridge a space that keeps growing like a divide.

"I don't know," the pilot admits. He gestures over to the pile of books, "You're going to become an ECO. You're an officer," there's a momentary pause as the faintest of smiles tries to shine through, "...once you get the proper insignia. That cuts out some of the problems. Most of the problems." Van's thumb fiddles with the filter end of the cigarette clasped between his fingers, "I suppose that the biggest questions is if you want there to be a 'what's next.'"

Isolde does not seem to have a smile left in her despite the faint one that he manages. Her own exhaustion seems to be winning out, her mood sinking into levity. "I don't know," she also admits. Then she drops her eyes, staring at her folded arms. "Maybe..." She closes her eyes, working through the words in her head first. "Maybe we should just... see if we can spark again." She offers him a watery smile -- dredging one up after all. "'Three strikes and we're out,' or 'third time's the charm', right?" Then she sobers once more, drawing the books off the table and into her arms.

"I'd rather not," Van seems to realize how the start of the sentence sounds, and hurries on, "start over again. I'd rather not start over again." The second repetition is more normal sounding, not as rushed, "Why try to forget that the past didn't happen, when we both know it did? If we can't get past that, find what we did have before, then what's the point?"

Isolde flinches a bit at the first attempt at those words, but looks up at the second offering of those words. She frowns slightly at his questions, letting them settle between them without response for a few moments. Then she nods, slowly and thoughtfully. "Okay," she says softly. "I'll... I'll think about it." She's probably got this backwards: rushing to accept Ryan's offer for Acting Ensign while being hesitant and thoughtful about Van's offer to pick up and try this whole thing again. She starts to stand, books gathered. The change of light really captures how exhausted Isolde looks. "I'm on shift in the tech shop in a couple hours. I need to get some sleep." Which means, really, laying in her bunk and staring at the ceiling until it is too late to actually fall asleep, and then going to work with heavy machinery.

Van looks down to his cigarette, suddenly not wanting to finish it and crushing it out in the ashtray. "Okay." The pilot draws in a breath, but lets it out in a slow hiss rather than an actual sigh, "Don't keep yourself up thinking about it. There's always tomorrow." And then that little faint grin trickles back, "Miss Asa." Because that's what you call a junior officer like an Ensign (or a Lieutenant J.G. if you're a superior officer).

Isolde catches the faint grin, and she offers one back even if it just barely touches the dimples of her cheeks. "I'll try not to," she says, though he might know by now that she will be keeping herself up, thinking about. She ducks away, holding her books to her chest as she retreats.


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