Stirling makes Astraea an offer she can't refuse: dinner with her family.
Related Scenes: None
Scene Number: 519
It was perhaps a strange and unexpected invitation, when Stirling caught Astraea on the way off the tarmac after their afternoon training exercise. 'Oh, Nova. If you're free, I thought you might like to join my family for dinner tonight. No pressure if you've already got plans, but you're welcome.' And that's how they ended up here, at a modest single-family home tucked away in one of Argyros' military family housing sub-divisions.
Stirling's family, it turned out, consisted of her parents and young newphew Max. All had been briefed by Stirling to refrain from interrogating the poor young lieutenant during supper, so the conversation stayed on pretty neutral and kid-friendly topics - dominated a great deal by chatterbox Max going on and on and on about Vipers and Raptors and his latest favorite cartoon.
But now Stirling's mom has excused herself to go tidy up the kitchen, and her dad has taken Max down to the basement to get the boy out of their hair for a bit, leaving the two pilots alone in the living room. "I'm glad you were able to come, Nova," Stirling says with a smile. She's dressed in casual jeans and a light cotton top, her hair down around her shoulders. "Would you like a drink?"
It was a wildly unexpected invitation and one that caught Nova wholly off-guard, but also one she didn't turn down. Out of a mix of curiousity, interest, and a touch of necessity. Your CAG invites you to dinner? You never say no. Nuh-uh. No matter how politely phrased.
Most of Astraea's civilian attire is suited for Scorpia's climate, but she's picked up a single outfit in the time they've been on Caprica. That came out for the meal: jeans and a blouse. She's still got her standard issue boots, but they'll do. Throughout dinner, she actually weathered Max fairly well. But then, the clan structure on Scorpia (at least for the smaller ones) often have a lot of 'co-op' type familial units. Kids all raised together. Not quite like the group marriages on Caprica, but more like everyone watching out for each other. You just grow up used to children around all the time and it means a rather high tolerance for the chatterboxes they can be.
Even so, it's a relief to have the peace and quiet brought by a child distracted by other things. Fussing, somewhat anxious, with a loose thread, Nova bobs her head at the offer of a drink. "I'd love one." Beat. "Thank you for inviting me. Your family is lovely."
"You're welcome, and thank you," Stirling replies with a sincere smile. "You were very patient with Max. I know he can talk your ear off sometimes." There's a fond smile there. "You have younger siblings?" she guesses. She moves over to a cabinet and fusses with a child-lock to access the booze inside. "Let's see, we've got..." She rattles off a couple liquor options, then says, "And I think there's beer in the fridge." She slants Astraea a glance to hear her answer. The living room is pretty tastefully decorated. Staunchly middle class - befitting a retired civil servant. There's a couch and some chairs around a central coffee table. Family photos on the wall and on an end table give a glimpse into the family's world.
Some of the photos are family portraits showing Stirling as a child (at various ages) with someone who's presumably her brother. There's a photo of that brother and a woman with a toddler-aged Max. One of a younger Stirling in her dress uniform at Academy graduation. Another at her wedding. And finally a fairly recent one showing her, her husband, and Max. It's a different pose from the same photo shoot that Stirling has on her desk in the Dauntless' squadron offices.
"Younger siblings, cousins, and-" Astraea lifts her hands to make air-quotes, "Cousins. I'm familiar with how they get, yeh." There's a bit of a smile and a glance towards the basement, where Max disappeared off to. "Hyperactive an' excited for an adult's attention." She gives a small shrug. "Th' rum would be good. Or beer. Whichever you'd prefer, sir." Drinking with the boss. Mind, it's easier since rumors of the bar fight reached the ears of the wing. Those that weren't present, that is. Whisper dumped her drink on a Caprican. Whisper stayed behind to take the fall. And more beyond. Some factual, some not. While the Major is at the liquor cabinet, the younger Raptor pilot leans forward to regard some of the photos.
Stirling smiles. "Sounds like a big family. But yes - 'hyperactive' sometimes seems like a bit of a mild word for it." The black eye Stirling received at the bar fight has faded to the point where a little makeup makes it pretty unobtrusive, but the gossip will probably follow her for quite while. Stirling gets two glasses out of the cabinet and pours the rum. She comes over and holds out one of the glasses in offer. "Are you close to them now? Your family, I mean." Her eyes drift to the photos as well, but she doesn't comment upon them. Stirling sits down on one of the chairs, and motions Astraea to sit too if she isn't already.
Accepting one of the glasses, Astraea does move to a seat and away from the photos. There's a sort of burning curiousity, but she manages to old her tongue. Stirling is her CAG, after all. There's just certain lines you don't cross for sake of your own hide. When the question of her own family comes up, the Scorpian's features go blank... but not before there's a flash of regret. She lifts the glass, swallowing a quick drink from within. "No, sir. Ain't spoken to 'em in a long time, if I'm bein' honest. Most..." Another drink and she casts her eyes down at her feet. "Ain't common for folks from my clan to leave, you see."
Stirling leans back in the chair, a relaxed side of the older pilot that she doesn't usually get a chance to display. "I'm sorry to hear that." There's a sympathetic crease to her brow as she regards the younger woman. "I know it's not at all the same, but I know how hard it is for me, just being stationed away from my family. I can only imagine..." She sips her drink and then says, "So I imagine 'home' isn't really a pleasant topic, though you can talk about it if you like. What do you like to do for fun? And, by the way, you're allowed to ask questions too. Otherwise it feels too much like a debriefing." A little smile accompanies the words, either conscious of Astraea's curiosity or aware of the potential awkwardness inherent in being subject to the CAG's friendly interrogation.
"It's... well, it's a topic," Astraea offers lamely, trying to smile it away. She's not wholly successful, either. When Stirling brings up that she can ask questions, there's a look back to the photographs. She takes a slow breath. "I... well, Max- ah, ya call him your nephew, but he's... in a lotta these photos with ya." She looks rather nervous. "It's, well, more... I s'ppose intimate? Than I usually see someone... with a nephew." She squirms, just a bit. "An' I've seen a similar one in th' offices. I don't wanna impose, but- are y'all just that close?"
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bring up a sore subject," Stirling replies when she sees that reaction. The question about Max gets a little smile. Her eyes drift to the photo briefly. "I was surprised nobody asked me about that after I brought him by the hangar," she says thoughtfully. Never mind that they've been a little busy, or that the CAG isn't exactly the most social of creatures, or that prying might be seen as bad form by some. She looks back to Astraea, "My brother and his wife... they died when Max was three. Car crash." Her lips tighten into a sad line, but otherwise her composure doesn't waver. "Eion and I - we were babysitting that night, and..." She waves a hand in a 'there you go' gesture. "Max has been with us since. On paper he's my son - we adopted him last year. But he thinks of me as Auntie most of the time and I don't see any point in correcting him." A sad smile is offered, then Stirling asks, "You never told me what you like to do for fun though, did you?"
"S'fine. It's a normal sorta question. Most folks gotta home an' all. Well... yeah. Hopefully." Most of the wing has been fortunate to not have theirs be one of those wholly destroyed or lost. Astraea gains a look of understanding as Stirling explains things with Max. "I... well, admittedly, I think plenty of us wished to ask, but we weren't quite certain how to, Whisper." At least she didn't opt for 'sir' this time around. There's a bit of a draw of her mouth to one side. "I'm sorry to hear, 'bout your brother. But good for Max, t'have family an' all lookin' after him." At the question about what she does for fun, the Scorpian takes a deep breath. "I... drink-" a self-deprecating grin as she lifts the glass for a sip, "an' bake. I also fancy karaoke sometimes. Was startin' on learnin' to tattoo professionally b'fore Academy. I've done some work for others in th' Wing."
"Most, fortunately, but... I'm sad to say I don't think you're alone in that either," Stirling says, on the subject of lost homes. When Astraea points out that some may have wished to ask, she smiles. "I suppose it isn't the easiest thing to just slide into conversation, either," she admits. She sips at her drink a bit more and nods. "I'm incredibly fortunate that my parents have been able to take him while I'm on deployment, though it still breaks my heart to have to leave him behind." A wan smile is offered to Astraea before she tilts her head interested in the hobbies. "Karaoke. We should do that sometime with the squad. Why tattooing? Is it a tradition - I know there's some thing with clan markings - or is it just a passion of yours?"
"Well, Max seems happy 'nough to hear stories 'bout Vipers an' Raptors, so I don't think he resents ya for it. That's important." Though she can't say for sure. She has siblings, cousins, but no children. There's a marked difference. "I know on leave sometimes, folks have gone to karaoke. I tried last time, one night, but wasn't quite able ta get anyone to step up." Astraea offers a bit of a grin. "Might hafta make an outin' of it, yeh. Mebbe if it's properly advertised." At the question with tattoos, there's a thoughtful sound. "Well, yeh, we got our clan tattoos. Those're... important. Who we are, what we do. There's... a lotta history to it. An' a clan's gotta have its tattoo artists. I was learnin' under my uncle, to someday work in his shop."
Stirling's smile quirks up a little at the talk of Max's obsession. "He wants to be a pilot when he grows up, so yes - I suppose he must not think it's all bad." Her shoulder lifts in a light shrug. "As for karaoke - yes, I think you should. Lords know the squad could probably use a safer activity for bar outings." She smirks, but the expression grows more somberly interested when Astraea explains about tattoos. "Your uncle has a tattoo shop?" She sounds interested.
"What, sir, ya don't find startin' bar fights ta be a good way of fosterin' goodwill with th' wing?" There's a slight broadening of Astraea's grin. "Just wish I'd been there to see it. Shame only hearin' secondhand." She downs the rest of her rum, holding the glass between both hands. "But I know of a few proper karaoke bars 'round Argentum. Could mebbe arrange a room for th' Wing next leave for th' wing so we can have a proper outin' rather'n a... brawl." Her lips twitch. She tilts her head in a nod at the question. "Aye, he does. Does all th' family's work an' a few other's too." She looks down at her arms. "Everythin' I got b'fore Academy was done by him." And she'll continue talking Scorpian tattooing customs and maybe even asking about some Caprican culture until it's time to return to base.