2237-10-16 - No Shortcuts

After a mission over Sagittaron, Astraea and Kell talk. She finally pushes through some of her awkward fear to open up to him. A little.

Date: 2237-10-16

Location: Berthings

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 1496

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Having been sent back early was like a defeat for Astraea. To be certain, it was necessary and she wouldn't deny the state her Raptor was in, but a defeat it was all the same. Her first time back in the air, fighting alongside her wingmates, and she could barely hold her own with only one solid hit to speak of on enemy forces. She returned long enough after Hurricane that it was a solo venture through hangar, through shower, and an attempt at a meal. She aborted the last and simply returned to the bunk hall.

In shorts and a Colonial Fleet tee, she's ready for eventual sleep. Her hair is still just slightly damp and left free in its fluffy (frizzy) curls around her features. But Nova isn't sleeping, nor trying yet. Instead she's seated at the table in the center of the room, head in hands, staring at her sketchbook before her. In rough lines upon the page is an image she'll never forget: a half-dismantled cylon sitting slumped, cables running from its head.

Kell was with the rest of the squadron that was providing cover for the bomber squadron, the rest of the mission uneventful as they had already taken down the Cylon fighters that were sent out to try to maintain air superiority. By the time Razor was able to taxi his Viper and finally make his way to the berthings, Astraea is staring at her sketchbook. Walking into their bunkroom, his flighthelmet already stowed away, Kell begins heading towards his bunk and locker, his eyes shifting to the Scorpian Raptor pilot, "Hey Nova. Glad to see that you were able to return to the Dauntless safely. That was a bad missile hit from the Heavy Raider..." The only times that Razor has been shotdown or ended up in bad shape has also involved missiles either coming from Heavy Raiders or AA Batteries.

It's too late that Astraea realizes she isn't alone and so, when her hands come down -- with a slap -- over the sketch, there'd have been plenty of time for Kell to have seen it. She looks up at him, briefly wide-eyed, like someone who has just come to with no understanding of where they are. She stares at the Viper pilot before taking a sudden breath and looking away. "Uh-huh." It's all she can manage at first, recovering her breathing. When she does look back, there's another shuddering sort of inhalation. "I shoulda evaded it." She frowns down at her hands over the sketchbook. "Or been able to hit th' frakker back. I failed th' wing out there. I'm sorry."

Opening his locker, Kell did get a glance of her sketchbook but for now doesn't think anything of it, his mind focused on the mission they just flew. He begins undoing the fastenings and zippers that keeps him air-tight when he's in the Viper cockpit while chatting with Astraea, "Doubt it, Nova. When a missile gets a lock on you, it's almost impossible to dodge it. You can only hope that either the missile is a dud or whoever launched it didn't get a solid lock on you." As for her apology, Razor can't help but furrow his brows up into a frown, "Why are you sorry? You didn't fail us... not sure what you're talking about."

"I've dodged 'em before," Astraea points out quietly, sounding frustrated still. She lifts her hands to scrub at her face before closing up the sketchbook. The pencils are returned to their pouch and she forces herself to her feet, moving over to her bunk. Where she might have just stormed in previously to get to her space, uncaring of the close quarters it'd put her in with Kell... now she just sort of hovers nearby while he's at his locker. Like she's uncertain about breeching that space that their bunks share. "I-" she takes a slow breath, holding the items closer against her abdomen. "I barely hit anythin'. I did poorly. You'll see it on th' footage later." Since she knows he watches everyone's footage after combat. Finally, she does venture forward, leaning into her bunk to just drop the sketchbook and pencils atop the blankets. It's a step, even if she doesn't sally forward enough to actually put them away.

Kell can only release a sigh, "I've seen enough footages, like you said, to tell you if a missile has a hard lock on you, you can't dodge it. Usually, the only way when a hard lock doesn't happen is if the heavies or SAM batteries are being successfully jammed by the ECOs." For now, he doesn't seem to realize that she is walking on eggshells when she is close to him as he begins to peel the rumpled flightsuit off of himself. First he withdraws his arms and then begins pushing the flightsuit down to his midsection, "Nova, it's your first mission back. You might not have fully healed." He doesn't mention whether he means the physical wounds or mental ones that she may have incurred while being captive. "It's a huge step that you were out there and flight capable. Plus, if you weren't the unlucky one they picked to launch a missile at, it would've been one of us."

It's like being pulled in two directions. The part of her that wants to be near to him and the part of her that can only see the Kell that stood over her, talking in that monotone before the simulation was cut. There's a second of Astraea suppressing a shudder. She ultimately fails, looking away and staring down at her bunk by her hip. "I did better after my last crash," she points out. Assuming, perhaps, that he meant the physical. "An'... yeh, it'd've been one of ya, but... I wanna be more than jes' a target."

"It's not a contest, Nova. Any mission we come back from successfully without losing anyone is a huge win. For everyone." Kell says, as if that answer would make things better and not worse. He's not using a condescending tone, more of just a simple fact. "I've eaten a missile on the first exchange more than once and had to either fall back or just return to base." He pushes his flightsuit the rest of the way down and steps out of them, crumbling up the protective outfit and stuffing it into a laundry bag.

"You can't say ya don't feel frustrated when that happens," Astraea points out quietly. She looks over to him, then away. "Especially... I mean, after that time ya were down on Picon... yer first mission back, if you hadn't performed th' way ya wanted, it'd've been upsettin', yeh?" She finally does turn, leaning her shoulders back against the divider between the two bunks. Her hands go to her hair, pulling at it a bit before they just drop to her sides. "It's gotta eat at ya some when yer contributions inna fight are less than you expect of yerself."

A simple shrug is offered, "For a mission like this, not as much. I'm usually more relieved that the missile didn't hit the cockpit and kill me or at least injure me badly where I can't fly anymore." A pause as he pulls his shower kit out of his locker, "Despite how many combat hours I've logged... the missiles are still my worst nightmare. Whenever heavies or SAMs are on the mission parameters, it's worrisome. As for my performance, if I did something wrong when I fly, or didn't properly cover my wingman or the Raptors, then yeah, I do get frustrated. Especially if I catch it on tape later. But contributions isn't always about shooting down Cylons, as long as your squadmates are safe and the objectives are accomplished, you /have/ contributed just by being there. I know I have."

"Rockets are worse," Astraea says, simply. "Three times now. Three that I've had my bird destroyed by a frakkin' rocket. Twice while the thing was landed." She sighs, lifting hands to clasp fingers behind her neck, elbows winging out. "I jes'... wanna get back to normal." The words come slowly, as she directs her gaze somewhere between their feet on the deck. "I was doin' well. More frequent, direct hits. Gettin' hit less. I felt... confident out there. I didn't today."

When Astraea mentions rockets from launcher wielding Centurions, Kell can't help but wince and shake his head, "I won't dispute that, Nova. I'm lucky, I fly Vipers so we're usually much higher off the ground and too fast for those rockets to hit us, you have to engage the Cylons in the air and on the ground. I do not envy your job." Setting the shower kit on the bench, he turns around and pushes the top layer of his bunk bed up so he can grab a fresh set of clothes to bring with him to the showers, "It'll take time. I can't say I know what's it like to be captured by the Cylons," And have them frak with your mind but that is left unsaid, "But I'm sure it isn't easy to recover from. Some people have it worse than you, they can't get better. Just focus on healing, Nova, flying comes second."

When he mentions that he doesn't envy her job, Astraea just laughs. It's a short, clipped thing. She brings her arms together, flexing her shoulders. The Scorpian breathes lowly, finally looking away from the ground to focus on him. It's probably the first time she's looked directly at Razor since she got back. There's a measure of discomfort in her mien as she does so; it's not easy to make herself do that. "I... keep bein' told that I need to... talk 'bout what happened to heal, but- I don't really..." she exhales suddenly. "I don't feel comfortable 'round Dr. Anders. He's makin' me see him for a while, to keep my flight status, but I jes' can't..." Her arms drop and she shudders.

When the subject shifts more directly to the psychological issue and Doctor Anders, Kell does look a little uncomfortable, not because he doesn't like talking about this, but it is unknown territory for him, "He must be getting you to see him for a reason. If you talk to just anyone... they may not be able to give you the answers you want, or may even give you the wrong path to recovery. With Doctor Anders, he knows what he is talking about. He's trained for it, went to school for it. Just like we did to become pilots."

"It's... not like that." Astraea looks up at him, then away. It's Kell. Normal Kell. Not Cylon projection. Not even the somewhat abnormal behavior she saw when he visited her in sickbay. Just Kell. Same as he always was. She takes a slow breath. "I've talked to Hurricane. I guess... since he'd been captured for a long time, he knows. Sort of." Different types of captivity. She bites at her lower lip briefly, thoughtful. "He said it's... easier to deal with th' doctors once you've... processed some, an' I can... I can see that. They're evaluatin' you, y'know? It's... it's not th' same." She swallows. "He said I need to... talk 'bout what happened with someone I trust, so I can start that. But I-" she lets out a breath, all at once. "Who the frak would even want or care to hear that shit?"

When Astraea talks about Addison and what that pilot has shared with her, Kell makes a thoughtful noise and nods his head slightly, "He is right that the doctors are tehre to evaluate you, it's their job. They can't send someone back into combat who isn't ready. Not only is it a risk to that person, but also to everyone else." Something that Nova probably has heard a hundred times by now, "And you shouldn't rush back if you aren't fully ready, this isn't a race." As for talking to someone who she trusts first before fully opening up to the doctor, he either doesn't fully agree with that or just has no feedback on it, not knowing if it is right or wrong. "I don't know who, Nova, everyone is different. Do you know how... the others are dealing with it? Maybe you can all talk to each other, or talk to Doctor Anders together. It may be more intimidating if you go to the doctor by yourself, but if you have a group session, you can support each other."

"It's not a race, no." Astraea lifts her hands to rub at her face. "I just want to be back out there, Kell. Bein' a pilot is all I've got. It... it drives me mad not being in the cockpit. Just doin' paperwork an' goin' over footage. Th' holobands aren't good enough, either." She takes a deep breath, calming her suddenly racing heart by a small measure. "I... I dunno how they're handlin' it. I barely know th' others. For all I know, they're doin' just fine. I haven't... seen Hawk recently. Can you see him doin' some sort of..." she shakes her head. "No. I don't want group therapy, I just want-" she cuts herself off, trying to calm again. Taking a few breaths, slowly. "I want a lot of things," she says finally, once she's recovered herself. "But mostly I just want to feel like I'm... one of you again, not something to be kept at a distance."

Kell can't help Astraea with her urgency and need to get back into the cockpit, in any condition. He only knows that it is probably a very helpless feeling, one that he doesn't know the solution to. "Maybe now is the time to get to know them better, Nova. You all went through something terrible, something no one else has gone through. You've all had a special bond now and maybe it is something that you all need to get through together." When she mentions she doesn't want group therapy, Razor can't help but shake his head, "I know you wish for the final result as quickly as possible, but sometimes things just can't happen like that. It's not like flying waypoint to waypoint. The path back may be a long and windy road, one step at a time."

"An' how would sittin' around discussin' our shit help each other? I asked Jigger if I could... tell him about what happened an' he couldn't handle it. If someone who... doesn't have this weight on them can't, what right do I have to go to someone who does an' ask them to take on more? It just seems... cruel." Astraea gives a slow shake of her head. "I'm sure they've... got people anyway. Friends. Loved ones. Shit like that. Hurricane said his sister was th' person he talked to. I-" she shrugs, finally sitting heavily on the edge of her bunk. "I don't. An' th' doc jus... I can't. He makes me uncomfortable. That's why I just... want to be back to normal. Forget it all ever happened."

It looks like Kell doesn't have the answer to her question, as they venture deeper into territory that is completely alien to him. "I don't know, Nova, sorry." Looking down at his clean clothes, the duty blues, that he had left on his bed, Razor can only slowly shake his head again, "I'm not sure there is some magic switch that can turn everything back to normal. And I don't know how you would go about doing that." His tone growing quieter, uncertainty obvious in his tone.

There's a long moment of quiet from Astraea. She's deep enough in it at the moment. This is the most she has managed to open up to someone, really. Go figure. She presses her palms to her knees, taking a slow breath. She starts to look up at him, but doesn't get further than a point on his torso. Not able to meet the Libran pilot's eyes, but at least not looking away. "They used you against me. I see you an' I go... back to that place sometimes. That's why I want... need things to be normal again."

When Astraea admits that the Cylons used /him/ against her, Kell can't help but furrow his brows again, anger flashing through his features, his body tensing. That is why he puts up a wall between himself and the others in the squadron, a line that he draws and does not let people step too close. Because it opens up vulnerabilities to things like this. When you lose someone special, it hurts extra much, puts you out of commission extra long. For a moment, Razor is quiet, until he finally says in a quiet voice, "I'm sorry they did that to you, Nova." A pause, before he picks up his clothes and his shower kit, "I should go get cleaned up."

The anger isn't what Astraea expected. She doesn't know what she expected, but the answer isn't it. She happens to look up in time to see it across his features. She flinches, looking away. "I'm sorry," she says, voice quiet. Her hands curl into fists at her knees, heels of palms digging into her legs just above her kneecaps. She starts to say something else, but just swallows and nods slowly.

And that is how Kell parts, with his items in hand, he quietly heads out of the bunkroom, definitely needing a soak under the showers.


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