Erin heads off base to meet up with Kyle Costello at her family's home.
Location: Fosterview Apartments, Caprica City, Southside
Related Scenes: None
Scene Number: 516
The southside of Caprica City isn't the worst part of town. It's only on the news every fourth story. The railcars run to the neighborhood all night long and people come and go from fast food restaurants at all hours without constant fear of having a gun put into their face. The middle-lower neighborhood has its fair share of graffiti and ever-constant steam coming up from the manhole covers, though, giving the bricks and building faces a sense of having been drawn on by ex-cons with crayons.
A short walk from the rail station, past the large sign reading 'COSTELLO ONE-STOP' is a courtyard apartment complex. With an unlocked gate in the front and a kidney bean-shaped swimming pool lined by a fence in the center. Knocked over tricycles and weeds that should have been pulled two weeks ago line the sandblasted bricks, giving way to the sound of the kind of muted rock music reserved for auto garages and the inside of garbage trucks.
Ten apartments in total...and plenty of them have plastic chairs on the walkways overlooking the courtyard where one could feasibly gawk at the argument happening somewhere inside of 'Unit Eight'.
But there's a better show. The scent of grilled meat floats a cloud from poolside, and the coolers have been kicked open. A gathering of nearly twenty people have taken to poolside, looming around the tall, leggy figure of a brunette sitting on a patio table with a beer in her hands. Horribly outside of regulation, she's unpacked her old flip-flops and cutoff shorts, and is leaning forward with elbows against knees in a black shirt that dangles perilously off of one bared shoulder.
The clan is assembled for late-night feeding time, and even from the front gate, it's clear that Kyle's had to cake eye makeup on to blot out the sore rims of reddened eyes from an afternoon in a pile of crying Costellos.
Erin's late. She said she'd be there in about thirty minutes, but it's been almost an hour.
As a highly-skilled, elite recon expert, Erin Hayes excels at orienteering. But Caprica isn't the wilderness and or a battlefront: it's a maze of buildings, with streets formed in between them. It's buzzing with people and vehicles, and everything that could make a jumpy raccoon positively paranoid.
But, just as the sun's about to yawn and crawl into bed, the elusive Trash Panda comes into sight. She's wearing a pair of pants that are just a little too big for her, and probably should be for someone 3 inches taller. She's also wearing a t-shirt sporting the COSTELLO ONE-STOP logo on it -- the one that Kyle traded to her for some booze. Add to this a familiar knit-cap and scarf, and it's impossible to mistake her for anyone else.
Erin's approach may be noticed by a family member. Maybe because she's wearing a cap and scarf when it's totally not the right weather.
There are actually smaller creatures, smaller than Erin, who scamper in the dark. Just as she crosses over the threshold and past the gate, a trio of children rush past her. Cutting before and after her like she's trapped on a freeway on all sides, the lead child is running for his life from two smaller children carrying balloons filled with water.
"...onna get you and smash this thin' on your frakkin head."
"LANGUAGE!" A woman calls out, with 'mom voice' towards the kids...which is precisely when the mother in her thirties looks through the bangs of her blonde pixie cut, and spies Erin.
"Kyyyyle, your friend's here."
Kyle looks out across the pool to Erin and grins broadly to the woman, then suddenly mean-faces to slug a man who could only be her brother in the shoulder. After a few shoves, she's slinking off of the table and dipping to dig into a cooler. She comes free with a freezing cold can of beer for her walk around the pool to meet Erin halfway.
"Well frakkin' hell-o you." Kyle shoves out the beer to the air before Erin in offering. "I was starting to think you took the wrong train or something."
"Got a bit turned around about a mile back. Mostly because I got out of the transport too early." Erin takes the beer, and snaps open the top with one hand. Skill. "Thanks." She looks around for a moment. To the "Mom." To the brother. Are they looking at her like they expect a hello kiss? Maybe? No. Okay, good.
"I'm sorry, ah -- " She leans in. " -- was I supposed to bring something?" There's a note of embarrassment in Erin's voice: she feels like she should know the answer, but she clearly doesn't. What's protocol now? Is she "Kyle's friend" that she goes to battle with or is she "Kyle's friend" that shows up for family gatherings, and no one talks about why Kyle always brings that friend, but it's been going on for a dozen years and they aren't fooling the kids any more.
The raccoon knocks back a long sip, and then lets out a thunderous belch. "Dang, that felt good." And then, she drinks some more.
That might be considered sexy in some parts.
The apartment complex has eyes. One or two in Erin's glance. The town crier of a blonde is taking her place next to Kyle's slapboxing partner, and when he looks Erin's way, he has the same eyes as Kyle. Glances here and there in a semi-captive audience, the horridly confident Kyle Costello doesn't bother to notice, even when she drops back her own beer for a sip and tugs Erin in with one arm for a lean-in hug.
"Bring something? No, no, no; I offered to make a store run for a beer and my father about shoved me into a chair. You're fine." Kyle leans back to hook a lock of hair behind her ear and turn to stand alongside, Erin, guiding her on with a hand at the center of her back. "I'm gonna run you through the gauntlet and then let's get you some food."
Kyle and her brother laugh at the belch...but it's the gray-haired man with his back turned, face down overlooking the smoking grill, who claps an old pair of barbecue tongs against the grill's top, who applauds.
Recon. Recon skills. Erin has them. The brother's too nonchalant about his sister's hand on a girl's back. His wife sneaks suspicious glances. The brown haired woman with crow's feet and a ponytail is too busy hurrying down from the stairwell to get a read on yet, but the old man...the old man with the Caprican Army tattoo on his forearm, turns to offer a heavy hand to Erin and speaks through his handlebar mustache. He has other interests in mind.
"Oh shit, take a look at that shirt; I know that shirt." The old man laughs, grinning through his lack of teeth on one side of his mouth. "Kyle said you was probably runnin' late from the base." His upper arm tightens with the offered hand and a stiff nod. "Davy Costello; that's my shop you're wearin there."
Erin's nervous. Very nervous. She nearly misses Davy's hand with hers -- nearly -- but ends up giving a pretty firm handshake. She has military manners, at least. "You must be Kyle's dad, then. Hi. I'm Erin." The Aquarian puts on a pretty smile, mostly because she's pretty when she isn't weeping out of everywhere. And then, it's off to whomever Kyle wants to take her. Compliantly. "Thanks for the beer." She knocks back another quaff. No belch comes out this time.
A step closer. That'll make things easier, right? Erin gives Kyle a sidelong glance, as if to tell her, all at once: "I'm good." "I'm scared." "Holy frak your family is huge." "I'm hungry."
Her free hand holds one end of her scarf tightly, unconsciously.
Davy Costello's hand is like a bear paw, and his grip is made of iron. He's bound in the generation of men who never learned to not turn every handshake into an arm wrestling match. "I am absolutely Kyle's dad." He replies with a quick shake. "And don't you two start on stories about your unit until I'm off the grill," He lets go and points to the two of them with his breed of intimidating sarcasm. "Make yourself at home, Erin. We're happy to have ye'."
Kyle makes a point to squeeze her father's arm when she tucks in closer to Erin, in passing.
"He served. He's your lifeline if we get separated. Oh my god he served," Kyle hush-whispers into Erin's ear while she leads her towards the tables. "He'll acronym you to death, but it's okay, we're not gonna get separated, but my brother's wife is a biiiii-"
Queue the blonde to start 'hisspering' with Kyle's brother from one table. Blue eyes peek out mid-chatter to size Erin up. A former cheerleader type that's past her prime and sizing up the foreign woman to her husband's side of the family.
Kyle slides back up onto the table to sit and drags Erin towards it. Once she's on, she twists at the hip for a plate of kebabs, which she balances on her knee...which casually moves to rest against Erin's. An untold statement or mindless point of comfort.
"Don't be scared, seriously. Their bark is way worse, but when you get to know them they're like the best pack of dogs ever." Kyle grins to Erin, continuing in her hushed tone. "Besides, Vin's other spouses are off doing whatever right now, so he keeps Marek in line when she gets all mouthy."
"Other spouses?" asks Erin mildly. She reaches down, without looking, to a kebab. At the same time, a grumbling sound erupts angrily from her belly, only to seethe into a dull roar thereafter. "Dammit."
She picks up the stick of MEAT. "I'll try not to keep poker-faced." She smiles briefly at Marek, the ex-cheerleader. "You know, Sarah brought me to her place a couple of times. Her parents always would talk my ear off." Then, Erin looks back to Davy. "Guess they seemed surprised their little girl found someone that put up with her." Huff. "Looking back, she was a tremendous frakkin' cunt to me."
She pauses to consume some food. And then some beer. This gives her a moment to reflect, and to look at the sky.
"So'm -- " Swallow. " -- those kids, they were, uh -- your brother's, I presume? His and those of his -- uhh -- other wives?" She looks inquisitive. Curious. "I mean, I'll bet they keep him very busy."
Chomp. Chew. Chomp.
"Am I the first soldier you've brought home?"
"Oh gods-that-I-don't-pray-to, how do I answer that?" Kyle widens her hazel eyes and scritches the skin next to her eye. The beer in her hand waves past her face, thumb scratching, while she half-grins through a moment of hesitation. "No." Kyle finally answers with a lifted shoulder.
"I dated a guy in the Caprican Army before getting shipped off this time." Kyle pauses, reaching down to the plate to pry up her own stick of kebabs, which she holds like a corn cob in two hands to peck at with her teeth. She side-eyes Erin Hayes while she tears the seasoned meat from the stick, investigating the nervousness.
"But...I dated a girl for a year in high school."
Kyle perceptively narrows her eyes and slowly nods to Erin, brows shooting up in question if she's answered something...important.
"And Marek is a cunt, too, but Vin is great. I think I told you once that he and his clique from school decided to do the whole 'group marriage' thing here, right out of highschool?" Kyle tucks her hair away from her lip and points to the kids with her kebab stick. "His other husband and wife are alright, but those kids are amazing. They'll steal their mom's cigarettes and give them to us for the cheap price of a high five."
"I remember you saying that, but I wasn't quite sure what that meant." Erin finishes off her kebab while Kyle talks. She can eat quickly, see. It is a raccoon talent. She's already reaching for a second one.
"Like, is it a Caprican thing? You just -- " Break. " -- I'm guessing you can marry more than one person here, then? What's it called -- polygamy? Yeah. Is that a thing, or is it part of what your family and friends believe in?" Erin licks her lips for a second. "Damn, this is good." Beat. "I mean, I've never thought about it, really."
Shrug. "The idea of a committed relationship was somthing I -- well, my parents weren't exactly the best example when it came to wedded bliss." Snicker. "At times, they hated each other. Made living in a small enclosure for months at a time a little awkward. There weren't any open hostilities, mind, but the two of them knew how to snipe and take shots at each other where it hurts." Sigh. "It was funny, in a way. Sad, in another."
"Oh, oh oh," Kyle quickly clicks her tongue against her teeth three times, waving her kebab in the air while she does so. "It's not polygamy because we're Caprica and we're..." Airquotes. "...cultured. So it's a..." Return airquotes. "Group Marriage."
Kyle smirks and looks up rather quickly to make sure her brother and his first wife isn't listening to their conversation. Sensing the road is clear, she runs her tongue over her lips and takes another bite from her food.
"It's less 'oh my god let's all frak' and more 'can seven people or whatever all become each other's wives and husbands and love each other blah blah' I don't know. They swear by it, but I don't have nearly that kind of space in my bunk." Pausing, Kyle holds her beer in front of her mouth while she takes on too much kebab. Hiding her mouth while she overchews, she's quieted for a few seconds while eating like a ghetto calf.
"I love my dad's cooking. I can do this, you know. The grill." Kyle sidebars, then scoots her hips closer in to better balance the plate between their two knees. "An-Eee-Way. My folks are in love. They fight. They bicker. I don't know. Do I think it's possible? I don't know, but like your folks I don't think I could ever see a relationship being really good without a few things to fight about."
Kyle sets her kebab down on the plate and switches out for her beer.
"Angry means you give a frak."
"Anger's good, yeah, I guess. But it wasn't just angry. It was this, like -- this cold sort of indifference after a while." Beat. "They'd say things knowing that it'd get the other person angry, but I guess they weren't any more. Like beating a dead cat. They would say those things, and then move on, like nothing happened." Shrug. "I didn't think it was healthy."
"I, ah -- you know, after you went MIA, I was a wreck." Erin chuckles, self-deprecatingly. "I tried to make things work with Katja, but she -- well, it was like she ditched me, she was never around. She was probably busy, but I just never took the time to, you know, hunt her down." Beat. Shrug. "I'm not sure what that means."
She scratches the side of her nose. "I mean, she didn't look for me, I didn't look for her. Maybe we didn't care 'bout each other as much as we thought we did." Another shrug.
Kyle quiets in her place, quietly eating. Trading beer for kebab and back again, her silence comes with tiny glances out to the assembled people, but her chin always returns to point Erin's way. Her hair drifts over her bared shoulder, falling sideways with a lean. Watchful.
"I'm...sorry if I caused that to erupt, you know." Kyle speaks after a moment's consideration. "I. I mean it means a lot to me that when I fell out of that Raptor that it touched you, a wreck even, but when it all went down I just hoped that the two of you were doing okay and that you were happy. So...if you and I and what happened caused that." Kyle flattens her lips. "I really am sorry."
Kyle clears her throat and sets her empty can down beside her hip. There's only so much room on the circular table. Kyle has to stretch her back, bend, twist, but when she comes back it's with a hand to the small of Erin's back, where she splays her palm and rubs her hand in circles. Sand. The. Floor.
"I'm not saying that I'm sorry that it happened," Kyle intones quietly. "But when I figured out you had more of a heart for her than I thought you did I wanted to give you two all the space you needed."
"That's kind of the thing. Maybe I didn't have that much of a heart."
Erin sighs. "When I got the news, I was devastated. Who did I go to? Chuck." Spectre, of course. "I was awful. But after, I just -- I don't know, I didn't really try to make things work with Katja. I didn't." She frowns for a second. "I mean, maybe I still felt guilty about it. Or maybe I really didn't want things to work out. All I knew then was that I felt empty. Just empty."
She scratches the side of her face for a second, and then goes back to eating thoughtfully.
"So, we weren't seeing each other, and I ended up sleeping around a little." She gestures through the air with the remnants of a kebab. "And I was about to break-up formally, and then she's there again. Ended up -- " Beat. " -- you know, doing it in the uncomfortable confines of a bunk."
Huff. "And the bad news? One's another pilot." Erin gestures at her head. "She's got hair like fire. She's hot. But she wanted to, like, a commitment, right from the start, and I'm just, like -- whoa, wait a minute, no, I have commitment issues, clearly, right?" She laughs again, shortly. "I mean, I was flirting with her, having just slept with someone else, and all while I was supposed to be working on things with Katja."
"Frak, I'm a frakkin' awful person."
"Frak, no you're not." Kyle snorts, rolling her eyes, even.
Kyle hooks her ankle around Erin's and tucks in tightly. She leans back past her empty beer can, flipping open the cooler to dig out two more beers. Erin's poor ankle, the counterbalance, is held onto for dear life, but when Kyle comes back, it's with two sweaty cans of beer.
"This shit fraks with everyone's head, Erin." Kyle continues, setting one beer next to Erin's feet and cracking her next one open. "We're getting shot at for a living. I fell out of a Raptor and broke my leg and everyone thought I was dead. There's a reason why people do shit like...I don't know...farm or frak the pyramid team or marry three of their friends." Kyle motions to her brother, Vin, at this last one.
Kyle sighs softly, then twists her head to look to Erin.
"You totally have commitment issues." Kyle laughs, eyes crinkling as the beer rises to her lips. "But for the record? This?" Pinky points to Erin, then back. "Didn't happen because I give no fraks."
"I know." Beat. "I just don't know what to do." Erin snorts, and rolls her eyes. "I mean, what happens, right? I got to Katja, tell her I have commitment issues, she gets angry. Then, go to Verity, she gets angry." Snickers. "Next time I'm in a Raptor, I'll be mysteriously pushed out."
"Hold on." She drains her first beer, and puts the can aside. Onto the second, after she gnashed off the last bit of meat from the seconds skewer.
"Look, what I know is that I felt like someone tore something out of me when I got the news, that's all. Figured that meant something. Probably meant, hey, maybe it was more than just a hot fingerbang." And then, Erin frowns, and nudges Kyle with her elbow. "And, thanks to you, when I hear a washing machine going I get wet." Snort. "Thanks a lot."
Sigh. Another sip of beer. "This is nice." Beat. "Thanks for inviting me, Kyle. I was surprised you did. Thought you might want to spend more time with just your family."
Kyle's tongue lashes out, catching at the corner of her mouth. Eyelids close to hazel slits at the mention of the washing machine. Sorry? No. Definitely not sorry. There's pride in such a momentarily saucy look. Pride.
But in lieu of the moment, Kyle lets the look fade peacefully, back to a realm of shared seriousness.
"And I missed you, Erin Hayes." Kyle replies with a growl. "If it were turned around I would have hurt, too. What does that mean? I don't know; words are stupid. I'm not a wizard or a shrink, nor would I want to be one, but you've left a frakkin' mark." Kyle taps the center of her chest, between the outline of her breasts, with her finger.
Kyle balances her beer against her knee and looks out to her family. Three beats pass as she considers in silence.
"It is nice. It's a promise kept, but...after two hours of tears and six hours of hugs..." Kyle blinks. "...there's something alien about it. I love them, but there's something sad about it, too."
Sigh. Kyle lifts her shoulders and lowers her chin, eyes sidelonging to Erin.
"So does this mean you're offering to do all of my laundry, Erin?"
In a word: "Yes."