Stirling checks in on Eva following the Wolves failed mission above Sadah Province.
Location: Air Wing Offices, //Dauntless//
Related Scenes: None
Scene Number: 1427
It's a few hours on, since the Wolves returned from their failed mission. Well, the Wolves, less two of their number. One lost the other missing. And where the remaining wolves had gone off to rest, to drink, to celebrate their lives or commiserate their losses, one had not. Instead, after ensuring that her viper was squared away and her paperwork submitted, Eva had escaped sight and sound of the other wolves, retreating back to the air wing offices, settling, not at one of the shared desks, but in the meeting room. She'd spent some time searching the data storage, finding old gun camera footage and settled it, still in her flight suit, to watch Finn's old footage. For a viper pilot? It was as close as she would ever come to a home movie.
Stirling has not gotten any rest either since the mission. Between meeting with Ryan, delivering the bad news that they wouldn't immediately be turning around to mount a search and rescue, and making sure everything got squared away, she's barely had a chance to sit. She did at least change out of her flight suit and into duty greens. A soft rap of knuckles against the doorjamb announces her presence. There's a coffee cup in each hand.
Eva looks around, though she doesn't pause the footage. After all, she's not watching it for any of the reasons one would watch camera footage. She doesn't need to tally kills. The cylons had already gotten the only one that counted, nor to mark the things Finn could improve in his flying. He'd never fly again. No, this was just...a very poor sendoff for a man who deserved much better. "Come in, Major. I'll clear out of you need the room."
"No, I don't need the room," Stirling clarifies. She comes in and closes the door behind her. The CAG heads down to the end of the table, taking a seat opposite Eva. "Coffee?" she asks, setting down one cup in front of her and holding out the other cup to Eva. "Or..." There's a brief pause while her now-free hand pulls a small bottle of bourbon that she had tucked away in her cargo pants pocket. "Not coffee." Her eyes drift to the screen while Eva decides, brow creasing. "Is that from Picon?"
Eva ahs, and settles back into the seat, though she's turned now to be able to watch the CAG, as well as the footage. "Coffee would be wonderful. I've never been much of a drinker." She accepts the cup easily, offering, a "thank you," before she sets it on the meeting table, "Yes, from the battle over the Bay. That boy could fly head--" her words cut off, Eva lifting her hand, her first two fingers pressing to her lips, the sheer force of will she's exerting not to cry is nearly palpable, "I'm sorry that Soundbite had to pull me out of there."
Stirling leans forward so Eva doesn't have to reach as far for the cup. "I don't mind it on occasion," she says of the bourbon, but the bottle remains unopened on the table. She would have had a drink with Eva, but since the other pilot is abstaining and the CAG is technically still on duty, she abstains as well. A somber nod acknowledges the answer. "He was a hell of a pilot." Stirling waves a hand to dismiss the apology. "We're allowed to be human too. I'm glad Soundbite had your back."
Once she's settled, Eva reclaims the cup, holding it first in one hand and then the other, allowing the warmth of it to fight the chill in her fingers, "Most people don't. But it was a big part of the problems between Finn and I. It doesn't feel right to drink in his memory when the last thing I said to him, was that I couldn't watch him destroy himself with it." A lift of her shoulders, as she finally takes a sip of the coffee, "I hate that the last words we said to each other were in anger." A shake of her head at the dismissal, "The flight needed me, and I lost control out there. And we lost Hawk as a result."
The revelation about their argument causes Stirling's brows to knit. "I suppose I didn't know him as well as I should have," she offers in soft lament, taking a sip of her coffee. "I understand, though. We never know it's going to be the last conversation until it is. Then there's no chance to go back and say the things you wish you'd said." The words are offered with a soft, sympathetic frown. But then more firmly she says, "You can't blame yourself for Hawk. He was following Busker out. There was nothing you could've done for him."
"He was always good at hiding it from everyone else. But I suppose you let your guard down with lovers." And that would be no revelation. Eva and Finn's relationship was old news, carried over from the Galactica. "I suppose I had always hoped that what we had would be enough for him to turn away from it. Until he proved that it wasn't." She sets the coffee back down, carefully masking all but the smallest bit f the shaking of her hand, "Maybe that's so. But we were slow to leave and we could have gone faster. I could have kept up covering fire while the wing moved out of attack range." A shake of her head, "I'm just glad that Busker didn't go back for him."
"I won't pretend to know how it was with you two, but I know that sometimes it's not a question of wanting to, but being able to. Alcohol can sink its teeth into you." Stirling considers Eva's words. "You might have, but those weren't my orders." Sipping her coffee again, Stirling frowns. "There's plenty of guilt to go around in this war, Eva. Don't take more on yourself than you need to."
Eva nods, finger pushing the coffee around in a rough cross pattern on the table, "Yes, I had a discussion very similar to that with one of the other pilots. That most of the time, it's the alcohol in control and not you. But it sure feels like you when you're the one in the middle of the firestorm." She looks across at the CAG, "I loved him so much, Whisper. So much. I really thought that would be enough. I...I was angry at him that it wasn't. And that's terrible, isn't it?" A smile, though there's no humour in it, at that last, "The more I take on, the less the junior pilots have to shoulder."
"I can only imagine how difficult it was to be in that position. For what it's worth, though? I don't think it's terrible. I think it's natural to be frustrated and angry when you feel like you're losing someone you care about and you can't stop it." Those blue eyes of hers have a sad expression. "I know you and Hawk were old friends, so it's hard enough without you trying to blame yourself. Let me pick up the slack on this one, all right?" Stirling asks with a small, gentle smile.
"I know you're right. Logically, I know that you are. But I just." It's the hardest thing in the world, to let go. A shake of her head, as she retrieves the coffee. It's as though the woman couldn't settle her hands or her own thoughts, "Since Virgon, yes. I was still practically a kid, when Hawk and I first met. Brand new flight instructor. I was going to change the world, one pilot at a time. Bless his heart, he never tried to disabuse me of that notion." A nod, as she hears, "But who picks up the slack for the CAG?" A beat, "Have we gotten any word on when we'll be going back out?"
"All the words in the world can't stop you from beating yourself up. I know," Stirling says, that smile turning sad. "I still thought you should hear them anyway. As for me? The Colonel picks up my slack, of course," she replies easily. "We'll get Hawk back. The Royal Marines were already there, already familiar with the area - it made sense to give them first crack at it." The 'first' implying that more will come if that doesn't work out. "We'll be going out again tomorrow but I'm not sure if we'll take another crack at the mine. Remains to be seen." She frowns and takes a sip of her coffee. Obviously not entirely pleased with the situation.
Perhaps this, more than anything, is what Eva needed. Just to talk, to get the emotions out there, to focus on what she can do for the person she cares about that she can still save, "Do we have any Wolves from this Protectorate who might be familiar with the area? Could we possibly do some area scans, the way we did when we were looking for Pi's raptor? Do some quick passes and then review the footage? That close to the ground, we might have to worry about portable SAMs from the insurgents, but it might be a possibility."
Stirling nods attentively. "I'll talk to the Colonel about getting some satellite time over the area and we can go from there. I don't think we have anyone from this area but I'll double-check with personnel." Stirling rises, then, pausing briefly to pocket her bottle of bourbon. She steps around the head of the table to reach for Eva, intending to offer a comforting clasp of her shoulder. "I'm sorry about Finn. You tell me what you need and we'll sort it out."
Eva lifts a hand, actually settling it briefly on Stirling's, as she looks up to the CAG. It isn't often, in truth and up close, that either woman really could be mistaken for the same person, but every now and then, it's visible. As it is now, in the sadness that seems to have settled on both of their faces. That serious mien that is so much more a familiar feature of Stirling's face than Eva's. "Thank you, Whisper. I'll start seeing about getting some pilots who might be interested in the mission."
There's a look of shared understanding in Stirling's eyes. Beyond sympathy - it's a weight they both carry. Stirling lets her hand linger there for a few seconds before releasing it. She nods approval to Eva's plan, then says, "I'll go talk to the Colonel. If we can pick up anything useful on sat imagery we won't need to risk the birds." Coffee in hand, she starts to walk away, but only gets a couple steps before pausing. "Oh, and Nyssa is fine, when it's informal like this."
"And you can call me Eva, if you like. Only my old Da calls me Evangeline. I suppose you could split the difference and call me Evan, but then people would start looking around for a buff blonde Marine. And there would be much disappointment when they got me instead." The hand, now freed, returns to the table. And in the background, one of the last rides of Finn O'Day continues to play in the background.
Stirling smiles a little at that. "Rest when you can, Eva," she offers, though she seems to know that neither of them is getting any rest tonight. And then the CAG is heading out.