Sometimes, even the mother hen...needs a mother hen.
Location: Ready Room, //Vanguard//
Related Scenes: None
Scene Number: 1205
Eva's been hard at work, or so it would seem, since the wing returned from the rescue of the Ester Williams. Or at least, she hasn't been found in her usual haunts...the mess hall, or on her pile of mats in the gym. She is, however, still in her flightsuit, despite her shift having ended hours ago, siting at one of free desks in the room, a pen and paper set before her, filled with numerous line-outs. She looks like shit, really. Her broken nose is still only just starting to look less swollen, and she's sporting a pair of black eyes. Mostly, though she looks tired, and out of sorts.
"You're looking much better," Alain lies, although he's giving her a wry smile as he does it. He's dressed in his off duties, though immaculate as usual -- hair wet from a fresh shower as he settles down at the desk adjoining Eva's, a few button presses calling up some in-viper footage. He's not unaware of her writing attempts, eyeing them sidelong in a significant, if silent way.
"You are a terrible liar, Alain Tomlinson. I think that's why you ran off and joined this circus." The letter she's writing seems to be to Fish's next of kin. Normally, it might fall to Stirling, as his CAG, but Eva was the flight lead, so she seems to have decided to take the responsibility. "Looking to improve your game? I hear you and Banshee are neck in neck."
"And what a circus it was," Alain replies, easily. He's well aware of what she's writing, enough that he doesn't draw particular attention to it. Instead, he settles in to watch the footage. "It's always been a habit to review what... I might've done better," he admits. "Not sure it helps much, but I've been doing it so long now," he gives a shift of his shoulders, before a smile twitches his lips. "And a lot riding on that double ace kill for both of us. Not sure what we'll do if we both hit ace together." But he seems entertained about the possibilities, anyway. "Heard you've stepped miles out in front. You're putting the rest of us to shame, Cherry," he says, not-very-seriously. "Or setting a high bar, depending on who you ask."
"Sometimes there's nothing that you could have done better, Alain. And all you're doing is picking a scars that are better left to heal. Sometimes you just do what you can and it has to be enough, even if you think you could have done better." The letter Eva sets aside for the time being, reaching into a pocket to remove a vial of pills, and reaching under her seat for a bottle of water. "I'm glad you have someone who has your back." Her voice is fairly toneless, as she shakes out a couple of the pills and downs them with the water, "It doesn't mean anything you know, the kills."
"Sometimes," Alain allows, with a twist of lips. "But sometimes you see the thing you should've noticed. And maybe it makes you look next time." It's perhaps less the words than the pills that get the other pilots attention -- but the words sink in after a moment, and there's silence as he regards Eva. "It does, actually. War can be an endless tragedy. Rituals like celebrating an ace give us joy amongst all that. People might get transferred out, or... not make it," his gaze flickers to the letter. "But we'll always know how big an impact they had on the war."
"I can't say that I agree with you, to be honest. Gun footage can be useful, but watching it too much can have the opposite effect. To often, I've seen pilots view it as a permanent record of their failures. And they don't even realize that they're doing." She slips the pills back into the pocket on her flight suit, the water back under her seat, "Really? Because there didn't seem to be much impact here. And how do you write that in a letter? Dear Mr and Mrs. Kodd, I know you thought the world of your son, but I valued the lives of perfect strangers more than his and now he's dead. Sorry about that."
"Maybe," Alain allows, though that doesn't mean he switches off the footage. Besides, he's not presently watching it, but studying the other pilot instead. "He fought for the lives of others, people he didn't even know and would never meet live because of him." He leans closer, exhaling, voice quiet: "We all know the risks, what we do, and we all have our own reasons why. But at the end of the day, the things that unite us make us strong."
"Oh, he did. But that's not why he died, is it? See, you can justify that, in a way. Look, he died, but he died fighting. He died trying to save lives. Well, he didn't die trying to save lived. He died because I picked someone else's life instead of his. I heard the report, but I counted the ten people Nova could fit," actually, it ended up being eight, but whatever, "Could fit in her raptor as more important than his." Eva rises from her seat, leaving the pen and paper behind, heading to the white board that has the wing assignments. His name incidentally, is still on it.
Alain is silent while she speaks, his even gaze following her. After a moment, while she moves up to the board, he flicks off the monitor and stands from the desk. "Would you come up to the Chapel with me," he asks, softly. "Just sit there for a bit while I pray?"
Eva may not have finished the letter, but she can at least finish this part of the duty. She removes Fish from the lineup, and adds herself in, even though that gives her quite a number of doubleshifts. Such is life. At Alain's question, she turns, setting down the dry erase marker, "Sure, if you like." She will take the letter and water with her though. No one needs to find those lying around.
There might be a slight crease in Alain's forehead of a frown at Eva's taking of the shifts, but he doesn't press, not now. Instead, he nods his head, keeping in step behind her as they walk through the ship, up through the decks, and towards the Chapel. The Vanguard is, as ever, full of life -- with such a small ship, it's hard not to move and pass other people, see familiar faces coming and going, on duty or off. The Chapel, though, is quiet, peaceful. Alain stops to make an offering to each of the Gods, Ares last, before he settles down onto one of the benches, head dropping. Other than the sound of his breathing, the murmured, inaudible words of his prayer, and the familiar hum of the Vanguard beneath them, all is quiet.
Eva is silent, as she moves through the ship, nodding only vaguely, as she passes people she might know, seeming not to really notice the hustle and bustle, though, she rarely seems to as it is. Once they're in the chapel, she settles into the bench beside Alain, eyes finding the view port, as she has no prayers to offer, though she knows well enough not to bother him when he is at his.
While Alain's prayer is soft, Eva can undoubtedly hear her name mentioned, as well as Fish's, and the Timber Wolves. When he finally finishes and his eyes open, Alain seems more relaxed, reaching out a hand after a moment to rest against her arm as if to share that in some fashion.
Eva reaches out, her hand covering the one Alain has on her arm. "I appreciate the prayer, Alain, but I know there are many more that would benefit from your calling of the gods than I." There's nothing dismissive in the comment, "I don't hold out much hope for myself, anymore. I'm just a weapon."
"Maybe, maybe not," Alain says, with a faint smile. "Anyway, hard to pray for everyone else. Easy enough to pray for my friend." His smile flickers and fades at that last, expression growing serious. "Do you really believe that?"
"After all this time, Alain, there isn't much left. I will never have the life most women look forward to. A husband, a home, children. I knew that when I accepted my commission to the Academy. And I think Finn summed it up very well. Fly or die. That's the job. Except that eventually it's both, isn't it? I've been made into a weapon. That's all. And most days, that's enough."
"A life isn't defined just by how much kids you have, or how good or expensive your home is. Fly or die... isn't wrong, but it isn't an accurate summation of what you are and who you are, Eva," Alain says, with a twist of lips. "You love, and are loved in turn. You have a squadron of pilots who respect you and have your back. You don't just destroy -- you create. You make a mean cake," that has a none-too-sheepish smile.
"Maybe not, but those things matter, Alain. Leaving something behind, besides a kill count. That matters. Yes, I love Finn, and he loves me, though I have never had any expectations for that love. Not in the family sense." A shake of her head, she won't tell Finn's secrets. "We have what we have, and it's enough. But the wing? It's the pilot they respect. And I get that cake mix from someone else." A shake of her head, "It's fine, Alain, honestly."
Alain exhales, silent for a moment. Finally, he says, "We are leaving behind something. A future where others don't have to fight." He hopes, anyway. Maybe that's what he prayed for, too?
Eva smiles, as she looks over at Alain, "That's why I keep you around, Alain. You never fail to find the light at the end of every road." Another squeeze, of the hand he has on her arm, "It's hard, having to choose, Alain. Nova, Meteor. They followed my orders. But I let him die."
Alain returns the smile, genuine and pleased by her words. He nods along to her latter, as the smile fades. "You let him die," he murmurs in apparent agreement, but adds, "But you let others live," he corrects her. "It was a hard choice. Either way, you were going to lose someone."
"Better the ones who weren't already halfway there, you mean? I suppose it's triage, of the worst possible sort." Eva shakes her head, "You know, it isn't as if I haven't lost people before, hell, I've sent people out to die, and I've been fine with that. I don't know why I care more about this than the others."
"Picon's been... harder than anywhere, so far," Alain says, after a moment, lips twisting. "Getting Razor back was..." he might've said, 'a miracle', but instead: "Something we sorely needed."
Certainly there have been more people that need our help. But I think it's just the scale that makes it seem so overwhelming. All of the other places we've been, it's been small pockets of this sort of cylon presence and engagement. Picon is just...infested. Eva reaches down, picking up her water, offering to Alain first, before she'll take a sip.
Alain shakes his head to the offer of water, instead folding his hands and resting them in his lap. "Some of the stories the marines are bringing back about conditions down there..." he shakes his head. "Could use a Battlestar to help even things up."
"I am sure most of the Colonies would say that, when it came to the battlestars. But they really were not built to do this sort of work. They were built to go toe to toe with the basestars. And there are many more of those than our three battlestars can handle. So pulling them away to do work like this isn't likely to happen again. I think they were just on the training wheels before."
"We know at least one basestar is around here, so if nothing else it'd be a fair fight." Alain makes a face at the idea the Battlestar was training before. "Maybe. All this running away -- breaking off mid fight -- it's hard." On him, personally, as well as others.
"Is it hard? Or is it as strategic as we can be, under the circumstances? We can't build more pilots the way they can built more cylons. We need to be more careful about how and when we pick our battles. This is guerrilla warfare, a small group against a much larger, much more powerful foe." Eva sets her water back down, and sits back on the bench, "This is all attrition, Alain."
"Not saying it's the wrong play... just saying, every instinct of training and practice makes it hard. It's as much a mental game as anything," Alain says, slowly. "You know?" There's a brief grimace when he reminds her of the latter, his eyes closing for a moment. Maybe he's saying a prayer for the pilots they've lost.
Eva gives the question careful consideration, "I suppose it really depends on how you look at things. You want to go out there and fight, and win, but you also want to go out there and live to fight another day." Unless you're Eva who never saw a kamikaze run she didn't like. "Most of us have things we want to come back to, things that are more tangible than 'the future'. And that affects how we fly and fight and when we know when to say when."
"That's the hardest part. Knowing when to say when." After a slow breath, Alain finally opens his eyes. With a wry twist of lips and a pat to Eva's hand, he asks, "You up for some chow? My stomach's grumbling fiercely."
"Not really. I haven't been hungry in...a while. These painkillers seriously dull my appetite. But I'm happy to sit with you, if you like. If not, I'll see you later. I've got the next CAP," when she would normally be sleeping. "And I think you're on Alert 5."
"What would you say to one of your pilots who told you that?" Alain, though no mother hen, gives her a stern look. "Have some soup at least," he adds, as he stands and leads the way to the mess hall. "Yeah, I know. I'm stuck with Hotshot, and he keeps trying to make me bet on Triad with him..." he starts to tell her as they head out.
No mother hen is he, but Alain Tomlinson is probably one of the only people who could bully Eva into taking care of herself. And so he does, as she rises to her feet, Picking up her water on the way and heading out with him. "It's his particular charm. Which, he just doesn't seem to realize is not that charming. You should hook him up with Banshee. I hear she likes Triad."
"Are you kidding? She'd kill me, and I rather like having her as my wingman..." Alain, all about himself!
"You don't think she might enjoy taking him down a peg? He does seem to think highly of his skills. Could even do it as a championship of sorts." World Series of Triad! Eva pauses, as they enter into the mess hall, and she looks for a place to sit. "Any preference?"