2237-09-26 - Laundry Rites

Alain finds Eva, in the aftermath of the failed mission.

Date: 2237-09-26

Location: Laundry

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 1442

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It's been nearly a full cycle, since the failed air mission that saw the loss of one pilot and the potential loss of a second. A full cycle since Eva Thorne walked off of the line and into the ship. A full cycle since anyone who might have been familiar with the woman's usual haunts had been able to find her. And so, it might be unexpected to find her here, in the laundry. But here she is, carefully sorting through what looks to be two full bags of laundry. It's probably a good job that she has most of the place to herself, as she seems to have commandeered a full four washers for her own use. Not all of the clothes, if any at all, seem to be hers.

Alain has largely been keeping to himself since they left Caprican space, spending a lot more time in the Chapel when spare time allows for it. Maybe he's been looking for Eva, maybe he hasn't -- either way, he's not carrying any laundry when he passes by, slows, and enters the room. His eyes flicker over, taking in everything -- the laundry, the four, humming washers, and the pilot herself. There's sympathy in his gaze, but he doesn't express it verbally as he moves further in, towards her.

Eva, turned away from the door as she is, doesn't seem to notice Alain's entrance. She's busied herself with sorting through what look to be duty blues and greens. They get tossed into one of the washers that seems still to be waiting, and the shirts that go beneath into another. She's almost to the bottom of the bag, and reaching out a hand to straighten it to dig into the dregs, the name stitched onto to the bag is visible, 'O'Day'. Once Alain's further in, she can catch sight of the movement in her peripheral vision, and she looks around, "Alain, you're up late."

"So are you," the Gemenese pilot replies, gently. "Just came off CAP," as evidenced by his still-damp hair, part of his post-flight routine. There's a tension about Alain that's just been subtly present for some time, perhaps jerking his movements a bit as he moves over towards her. Still, there's no hesitation as he seeks to draw her into a hug.

The hair. That she lifts her eyes to note and then begins a systematic appraisal of the slim brunette. There's nothing avaricious in the look, it's, rather a thorough going over to ensure that he really is as well as he claims. And then? What do you say...when the one person who, after all this time, is likely the oldest friend you have on board (the missing excepted) comes to find you? If you're Eva Thorne, nothing. And what do you do when that oldest of friends attempts to draw you into a hug? Apparently, you let him do it. With only the slightest hitch of her shoulders, Eva turns her face into Alain's chest, pressing her cheek just above where she can hear his heart beating. If ever there was a time or a woman who needed to know that one of the things she cared about most in this world was still alive it would be this moment and this woman. So, the hug, gratefully accepted, her own arms rising to slip around him. And no tears, though he'd be able to feel the tension in her, the fight not to allow herself to break.

Alain doesn't say anything, just draws her close, arms wrapping around her and squeezing tightly. She can hear his heart, feel his breath, the scent of shampoo he uses -- just the regulation one, nothing fancy. All very human, very alive things. She can feel the large breath that he expels through his chest, the pause of something thought but unspoken. Instead, he presses lips against the top of her head, his cheek resting there a moment.

And Eva needs, for a little while, perhaps nothing more than this. To hold, and to be held, to know, even if only briefly, that she was not wholly alone in the world. Alive. Alive is a very, very good thing. And who better to bring that sort of silent hope than Alain Tomlinson, who has survived just such as this more times than either of them would care to remember? So, quiet, the sound of his heart, his breath. His presence. The slight shift of her face, pressing just a bit harder into his chest, as she feels the kiss to her hair, the weight of his cheek there. And her voice, slightly muffled, but audible enough across such a small distance. "What's got you so tense?"

She can feel Alain's breath stir her hair as he gives an amused snort in response to her question. He doesn't try and deny it; she knows him far too well for that. "Caprica still bothers me. The Galactica and Athena showing up like that, right when we needed them." Not that he's ungrateful, but it's hard not to credit their arrival as more than mere coincidence. "We lost a lot of good people, that night," he says, with a bite of something unsaid. Unnecessarily, perhaps.

For a little while longer, as long as he will allow, Eva remains as she is, though she does shift the press of her cheek so that she isn't trying to bore a hole through his chest. For a little while, she's simply comfortable and comforted, "We were bait. If you want to know what I think, Alain. They looked at the potential gain to the war effort and they calculated how many losses would be acceptable. They found a target they knew the Cylons couldn't pass up. Pass up same Wolves that had helped hand them such a defeat as they saw at Delphi? Not likely. And then they waited."

"We were bait," Alain agrees, with that same tone of tension to his voice, felt, too, through the lines of her body where she's pressed against him. "In my head, I do the calculations. I wonder -- if it were me, could I make the call to let people die? To listen to their," his, in several cases that night, "Frustration and grief as they lost one after the other of their fellows." Maybe he doesn't know the answer to that yet, given his sharp exhale of breath.

"I think it requires a certain level of ruthlessness, that I'm not sure either of us has reached yet. To consider the potential gain, against the loss of life? To consider the message it would be sending to the enemy?" because, no matter how much so many of their fellows want to deny the Cylons consciousness and autonomy, clearly, they seem to be exhibiting both, "And, to cement the need for the colonial forces to the other colonies through a show of the force the Cylons were able to bring to bear? While still selecting a target that would be more able to recover from the damage than say...Aerilon? I think that was a large part of the equation as well. In the face of those three potential gains...what were a few lives, compared to that?" Eva might claim she hasn't the ruthlessness for it, but given she was able to voice those so easily, well...

"I'm glad we're not that ruthless," Alain says, with an unusual hint of sharpness for the normally at-ease Gemenese pilot, that might as much be a warning for her, too, given the slight tightening of his arms around her. It might be a good thing that his expression is concealed from hers, and vice-versa. "I see the reasoning. I'm just not right with it. Not sure I ever will be."

"So am I, Alain. I'm not sure I could keep doing the job if I were." There have been very few times, in all the long while that they've known each other, that Eva has had cause to be on the receiving end of Alain's censure. Whether it's verbal, or in deed or gesture. So when she does feel it? She knows well enough to take note of it. And to acquiesce to his feelings on the matter. "I'm doing my best, I promise." To not let the darkness, and the loss and the need to sight turn her into something else, "I don't want you ever to be, Alain. Not you. Not ever."

Alain exhales; is that relief at her assurance? Maybe, given there's a slight lessening of tension. "And not you, either, Eva Thorne," he says, with a sober warning that is turned, likewise, back to her. He draws back, just enough that he can catch sight of her expression. "We'll find Hawk," he murmurs, with a certainty like an unspoken promise.

Eva loosens the hold she's had on Alain, likely a relief to the man's ribs, lifting her face to study his, though she doesn't move far. The truthfulness, the honesty of her assurance is similarly writ on her face. Eva has never had cause or reason to lie to Alain, and today is not the day she seems inclined to begin, "I'm doing my best," she reiterates, "It's why it's so important for you to be..you, to be here." The angel on her shoulder, "I know that we will. I just...Finn...I can't do that a second time, Alain. I know that's selfish."

That tension hasn't completely left Alain's expression as he studies hers, nodding slowly. "It's not selfish, Eva. It's... human," he gives her a little smile at that. "I did my laundry earlier today, but I'm just going to sit here for a while and pray you finish, okay?" He gestures towards one of the benches. He's not leaving.

Eva says, "It's hard to be human, sometimes, Alain." Eva makes no protest, as the Gemenese man finally steps away, moving away to a free bench, and she returns to finishing sorting Finn's clothes and starting the washing. "I'd be happy for the company." She pauses, now and then, as she plucks the pins and decorations off of his collars, each one turned over in her hand, thumb grazing over the enameling. No different than hers, to be honest, but they are unique all the same. "So many things I wish I had had time to say to him. 'I'm sorry', and 'I still love you,' and 'I want to help you.' A part of me hopes he knows I meant all of those things. A part of me thinks...he's finally with the two people he loved most in the world. But that doesn't make it easier."

"It is," Alain agrees, exhaling as he settles onto the bench, folding his hands neatly into his lap. He watches her, with Finn's uniform, a flickering expression of sympathy and sadness crossing his features. "You can still say them, should still say them. The Gods don't talk back, either, but putting them out there -- it makes them solid, real. Here," his hand presses over his chest, briefly. His gaze flickers from the uniform to the woman. "No, it doesn't," he agrees, quietly.

Eva, once she starts the two washers containing the last of Finn's clothes, moves over towards the dryers, a few of which she also seems to have commandeered. These are also not her clothes, but with enough lounge wear, such as the man ever wore, with his old Virgon postings, on them to identify them as Emrys'. "I thought he might appreciate not having to do chores as soon as he got back," Eva offers. Finn, of course, those are her form of last rites, putting his things in order to be sent on, or sent home, as he indicated. "Nice to have clean clothes to step back into, you know?" She begins to fold, in that thoughtless but still efficient way the military seems to ingrain in you. "Maybe I will say them, one day. But it's just too hard just now." She glances back, hands working her way through the off-duty gear, "How are you holding up, though, I know they've been moving you and a few of the other Lieutenants to flight lead." Both out of a need to train them, and for lack of, well, Captains. A hard way to advance.

It makes him crook a smile, mouth lifting up at one corner. "You're a softy, Eva Thorne," Alain murmurs, with an audible fondness. He doesn't offer to help -- aware of the power of certain rituals, certain actions. With an expressive face as he has, it's not hard to read the grimace that briefly flickers there -- not for the need to lead, as much as the reason for it. "It's a strange... it's sobering, that I'm one of the longest serving Lieutenants with our outfit these days," he admits. "I know I fly comparatively cautious compared to many of the other senior pilots, but I think that balance will be... good."

Eva says, "Only with you, Alain." And in many ways, that is true. For all that some of the pilots consider her the 'Mom' of the wing, in many ways, it's because of her age, and not really her gentle demeanour. "The rest of the wing, they need the Ace, just now." That other mask she wears. She makes a few neat piles, seeing to have some knowledge of how Emrys likes to have his clothes sorted, before she begins to pack them back into his duffel, "You are. You and I...Soundbite, Ringer, Milkman, Pi, there are so few of us left, who remember the Galactica. Who came up with the Wolves before we were what we are now. And some of these kids they're bringing in..they're so young. I don't even know why they were chosen. They have so little experience." A smirk, at that last comment, "More conservatively than me, you mean? Oh, you do. Having been flying with Hurricane hasn't done a thing for my reckless nature.""

"Perhaps it wouldn't be bad for them to see the human, too, Eva," Alain says, slowly. "Everyone knows what you've--" lost? Been through? All awkward and little words to describe such a big thing. "You're allowed to grieve. If I weren't so sure you'd flatly refuse, I'd even suggest taking time off, but," he lifts a hand, smile tight, "At least consider a vacation from Eva Thorne, the Captain, to Eva Thorne, who lost someone she loved but still plans to kick ass and/or toasters as the need calls for it." The smile fades, as she mentions how few from the Galactica are still present. "It's going to be like this going forward, I'd say," he says, with a frown. "No, it hasn't," he agrees, of her observation about Hurricane, but if it's a rebuke it's gentle at best.

"I don't think they want to see that. It's different, I think when you're a junior officer. I think it's expected that you're going to be emotional, that you're going to act up, that you're going to make mistakes. And it's okay to do that, I think because you know there are other pilots above you who are towing the line. How do you think the younger pilots looked at me after the mission?" Since Eva didn't stick around long enough, she can only speculate, "When they saw me have to be brought back into line by Soundbite? That's not the Eva Thorne they want to see. They want the one who is a rock so that they don't have to be." A rueful smile, as she looks up from where she's now heading back to move the rest of Emrys' clothes to the dryers. "I'm that woman now, Alain. When it's safe to be so. With someone who's safe to be that woman with. But you're right. I just worry that we'll keep getting in new people who aren't ready for what the Wolves will ask them to do. That's my real concern."

"They looked at you like you were a person who'd just lost someone. And that's okay. It won't make them worse pilots. And knowing that you're not--" a robot? "--that you're as human as everyone is a good thing, Eva. These days, we need that reminder more than anything." When she looks up, he gives a brief smile in return. "You don't always have to be the rock. Whisper's more than adequate for that role." Especially after Caprica. He brushes down the front of his shirt, some invisible wrinkle smoothed out to his satisfaction. "I don't think any of them are ready for what we ask them to do. But they'll learn, like we did." The hard way.

"Or they'll die. But that's an acceptable loss, as far as the brass is concerned." A hard truth, but perhaps just the way Eva looks at it. Eva sets the two dryers closer to her to working, once she's empties out the washers, and then moves to hop up on the folding table, setting herself so that she can look across the small distance towards Alain, "Yes, Whisper said that herself. That I didn't need to take the burden all on myself, but you know as well as I do. What we should do and what we do aren't the same thing." A smile, if a faint one, "I don't know what I would do without you, Alain."

The tightening of Alain's saw clearly suggests he doesn't see it that way. His, "As far as they're concerned," is pointed, just shy of terse, before he exhales. "Whisper's a wise woman, and a good CAG," he says, with a twitch at the corner of his lips. Once she settles down, he meets her gaze, evenly, giving her one of his familiar, jovial grins. "Not going anywhere, Eva." After a beat, "Certainly not going back to being a grunt. Being here -- back at Sag," his grin fades into a grimace. "I don't envy the marines."

"Yes," Eva is not going to argue that point, "But we serve at their pleasure. We always have. And so does Whisper, for all that she's been a fine and capable CAG." There's a hint of humour there, as though harkening back to an old joke. 'No Kallas, but then, who is.' Eva still, after all this time, maintains and remains the chief and founding member of the fan club for that particular Legionnaire and first CAG. "Have you never considered it? I mean, obviously, the wing would hate to lose you, but the Marines could certainly use your experience as much as we could. And even moreso to have a marine with as much experience on this colony as you have."

"Yes." Alain acknowledges that, for all it's done grudgingly. The unspoken words -- as much as the humor he hears -- makes him grin, briefly. "She's done well by us. She's exactly what we need right now. Webb was--" he trails off, then shakes his head at her question. "It was terrible here, even before the cylons. It felt--" his jaw tightens as he searches for the right word, "--fruitless. And always, the civilians were caught in the middle. No," he says, sharply as he's ever inclined to, "I couldn't go back to that. Not now. Maybe... maybe after the war is over." He's a lifer, no matter what happens, that much is obvious.

Eva shifts, hopping down from the folding table to check on the washers. The first two she filled are both finished, and those she begins to move over. She seems to be in the final stretch of her labours now, "Webb was a good pilot. A terrible leader." Alain might be the sort not to want to speak poorly of those not around to defend themselves, but Eva seems to have no such qualms. "Yes, I can imagine, from what I've read. All of the different protectorates, many of whom are fighting their colonial masters. It almost reminds me of Hibernia. Another, often seemingly fruitless battle. There's something warm, in Eva's smile, as she considers Alain Tomlinson, v 2.0, the Marine redux. "I think you would be a hell of a thing if you went back to the marines. An impossible thing."

Alain's expressive face portrays agreement with her assessment of Webb, even if he's too polite to voice it aloud. "It took me a long time to get past. It's part of what spurred me to apply for flight school," he admits, with an exhale. Her words earn a twitch of lips: "Probably too old a thing, by then. Have to bribe one of the younger marines to carry my pack as well. Lost most of my muscles, sitting behind a stick."

"Never too old a thing, Alain. I have a feeling you'd go back there and you'd end up being a bit of a rock star. Not too many that can play both sides of the field and come out a winner." Eva resorts the clothes as she sets them into the dryer, shaking them out so that they won't ball up and wrinkle. "Also, I've seen you working out. You might not be going balls to the walls, marine style, but you still like to keep yourself in shape. "Although, really, would you complain about having a younger marine around to shlep your things around for you while you were off having a grand adventure?" Those last two words are said with no small amount of snark. Well she knows how unlike the recruitment commercials life in the military actually is.

Alain chuckles, but shakes his head. "I'm not even sure how that'd work, going back. Do I get demoted back to Staff Sergeant? Or shoved behind a desk? Neither seems that appealing." His flicker of fingers seems an attempt to deflect from her words. "I couldn't run a pack in the hot Sag sun for eight hours anymore, either." There's a wryness to his expression at the latter. "Join the marines, see the world? It's funny -- that was never the reason I joined."

Eva, finished moving over the clothes, begins to clean up the space she's been using, putting away soap, and dryer sheets. A luxury that takes up space in underbed storage, but apparently, it's one of the Captain's secret weaknesses, "Maybe it'll be a new military and you won't have to choose one or the other. Who knows what the CF will become." A bubble of laughter, as she sees Alain try to brush off commentary on his physique. "You do have a point though. At least the flight suits are environmentally controlled." And then, with no small amount of curiosity, "Do you regret it? I mean to say, obviously if you hadn't, you wouldn't have ended up here. But do you ever think you should have stayed on Gemenon? Become the priest you were meant to be?"

Giving a quick smile, Alain says, "Something better, I hope. Something to aspire to. Something less... desperate." His smile has vanished by that last word. The answer isn't immediate, but it is certain, when he does speak: "No. Don't get me wrong, I could've lived a life -- done something worthwhile -- but I think there would've always been that niggling in the back of my head that it wasn't what I should be doing. I've too much of Ares in me," he admits, without a trace of awkwardness, just a statement of fact.

"I do as well. I think that the CF is in a terrible position, as it stands. They are fighting two impossible enemies at once. The Cylons, and all of the people on the colonies that do not want to work with them to win the war. They all signed the Articles of Unification, but none of the Colonies really seem to feel that way at all. And I think that that's holding us back from victory. Imagine how much easier it would be to run missions if we didn't have to coordinate with multiple other militaries? If we didn't have to deal with so much constant mistrust?" A smile though, as she acknowledges Alain's words, "Yes. You are too much of a warrior to have ever been happy in a temple, I think."

Slowly, Alain says, "It would be different," he acknowledges, "But it would still be -- people bring their own baggage along with them. And their strengths, too. I think too much has happened to completely do away with the mistrust, no matter what. It's a nice thought, though," he adds, almost wistfully. It quickly becomes a grin at her latter words. "Sometimes we end up right where we need to be," he replies.

"I'm not saying it would be perfect, by any stretch of the imagination. People will still be people, of course. But it would make it much easier if you didn't have three or four or more chains of command you had to think about when you were trying to fight the war. And the caliber of the soldiers we had would be much better, I think. We have good people now, of course we do, but I know for a fact, that Virgon has refused duty with the CF to many of the marines and navy that they feel are their best soldiers. They want them on their colony fighting for them. But imagine if we didn't have to worry about that and we had that pool to draw from and we could send those people to defend not only their own colonies but every colony that needed them. A truly unified force. Like what the ICKPJ tried so very hard to be." But, as Alain, a veteran of that force himself would know, often hampered by colonial bureaucracy. "Yes, sometimes...I think that we do."

"Sacrificing their own -- their own colony, possibly -- for the greater good?" Alain's a little wry. "I didn't realize how much of an optimist you've become, Eva Thorne." And with that, he stretches out a hand, with the intent of drawing her down onto the bench beside him.

"But they wouldn't be though because it would be all of the colonies truly working together to protect each other." Eva smirks, at Alain's tone. "I didn't realize how much you had rubbed off on me, Alain Tomlinson." The hand gives her pause, and she stops the busy work she'd been doing, slipping hers into his and coming to rest on the bench beside him. "Not that I'm complaining."

"Neither am I," Alain replies, with a low chuckle, obviously pleased at the idea he might be rubbing off on her. Once she gets settled, he keeps hold of her hand, but falls silent for a moment. And then he murmurs in low Gemenese, a prayer -- she can hear the various Gods' names -- along with Finn O'Day, Emrys Montjoy, and herself, to boot. It's a familiar, perhaps soothing routine, and when done, he'll wait around until she's finished with her laundry to go seek out a meal together. He might not even judge if she gets ice cream or cake.


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