Alain and Aubrey take a cold walk to the beach, and talk about their latest battle, as well as the struggles each of them are having with the war of late.
Scene Number: 1596
It's a cold winter's day on the base. Alain's wearing a thick, CF-issued coat suitable for the cold weather as he strides around the base in search of his wingmate. A few questions later -- he's directed to her location, wherever she's holed up, leaning casually in and calling, "Banshee? Up for a walk?"
Aubrey is in some nook or cranny of the base, bundled up in winter gear and sipping something hot out of a thermos. "A walk? Sure Jigs. I'm going stir crazy cooped up in here." She's a beach girl, but she's visited the northern part of Picon plenty of times with her father for commercial shoots. She refills the thermos with coffee and adds gloves and a hat and scarf to her gear. "Where to?"
"I thought we'd suss out the beach. You know -- size it up for surfing come summer," Alain's tone is wry -- clearly he doesn't expect them to be here that long, but it's wishful thinking and he's indulging it. He jerks a thumb over his shoulder in the direction of the beach, straightening while he waits for Aubrey to gather her things, before he sets an easy pace, matched to hers, to head towards the beach. It's already cold, and with the ocean breezes it's colder still.
Aubrey slings a satchel over her shoulder with the thermos in it and chuckles. "I imagine the waves up here would be crazy. Beyond my skills, but we can take a look, sure." She walks along with him, tugging her scarf up over her nose and mouth to keep her teeth from chattering audibly. "Just remember, when they find us frozen out here like Colonial Popsicles, this was your idea," she chirps.
"And here I thought you were game for anything, Banshee," Alain says with a brief grin. He shoves his hands into his coat pockets -- no gloves -- shoulders hunched against the wind. "Well -- I figure I can mug you for your thermos and survive a little longer than you, perhaps," he adds with a laugh. It doesn't take them long -- even in the snow -- to trudge out towards the beach. The cliffs provide some shelter from the wind, so it's warmer-by-comparison here, at least.
"It really is pretty out here, in a completely freezing, cutting wind, never gonna be warm again kind of way, isn't it?" Aubrey notes with a chuckle. She finds a rock to sit on, laying her scarf unfolded over it to put a bit of barrier between her backside and the cold stone. She hauls out the thermos, and an extra cup. "Coffee, Captain?" The title is said with a grin. She's so proud of him.
"It's funny, I never really pictured Picon in winter. Always thought of it -- always saw photos and vids of it -- in summer, on beaches," Alain admits, as his gaze flickers over the water, kind of wistfully. He settles down on the rock next to Aubrey, only a brief pause before he accepts the cup. He's more of a tea person, but it's cold. He takes a generous gulp, handing it back. "Thanks, Banshee." He falls silent, shifting his weight a little as if preparing to speak, but he stays silent, watching the waves.
"Well, we're in the northern hemisphere here, so it's a lot colder in winter. Down nearer the equator, like Biscayne Bay, it's warm year round pretty much." She waves off the cup, flipping the thermos cap over to use for her own. "Hang on to that. I find a hot drink seems to help keep my entire body from rattling so hard in the cold I fracture every bone in my body." She arches a brow at his expression and the shift in his weight, then cocks her head to the side. "What is it? I know that look by now, Alain."
"That explains why the Picon Military was just fine with us taking it over. Bet they all shipped down south where it's warm," Alain observes wryly. He cradles hands around the cup, looking thoughtful, and then rueful when she calls him on his hesitation. "Just thought... maybe you want to talk about our last flight, over the Picon base?"
"What about it? You scored your 30th, didn't you? That's pretty amazing. I'm never catching back up to you now," Bree chuckles and sips her coffee. If she has any idea what he's getting at, it's well hidden.
"Yeah, but that's not what I was talking about," Alain says, slowly, lifting a hand and brushing it down his coat, even if it doesn't need the gesture. "You never used to defer to me like that before. Is it... is it because I'm a Captain? Or..?" he can guess at another reason, but he doesn't verbalize it, seeming to prefer not to.
"Well, you do outrank me by a whole lot now," Aubrey points out with a smile, but it fades as she dips her head, sipping her coffee again. "I still don't have my spacelegs back I guess," she murmurs. "I'm worried about making a decision that's going to knock me out of the fight for good. Away from being able to protect the people I care about. Away from my best friend." She shoulder bumps him at that. "And maybe I've just grown up a little since my stay in the hospital. I'm not the crazy hotshot chick anymore."
"You know that doesn't matter," Alain says, as forcefully as he can while still at speaking tone. He exhales slowly. "I get it. But you're -- you're still you. You shouldn't doubt yourself, or your skills. You're in the CF for a reason," he says, with a grin as she shoulder bumps him. "Maybe you should lead next time, hm?"
Aubrey barks out a laugh at that idea. "Me? I am not command material, Jigger. I'd order everyone to the nearest bar for drinks. Really though, you're a great strategist, and I respect that. I've never been much of a follower, but I am happy to follow your lead. I trust you."
"I honestly didn't think I was either. It's funny, how necessity dictates outcomes, though," Alain shakes his head, slowly, while he leans in to reach for the thermos and refill his cup, before wrapping hands around it again -- seeming to enjoy it more for the warmth than the drink itself. "Nothing wrong with a break at the local bar -- I hear there's one in town, although I haven't been myself." The latter words earn a moment's silence, and then a genuine smile as he glances sidelong at her. "Thanks, Banshee, that means a lot. I trust you, too."
"Why?" Aubrey asks, looking over at him with an earnest expression. "Why do you trust me? I don't think I've earned it. I was reckless and partied too much and didn't take anything as seriously as I should have." She shakes her head and looks out at the sluggish waves, thick with cold. "I mean, I hit on the last CAG, I hit on you, I fought with Nova over you, I drank like a fish, I flew like a crazy person. I wasn't trustworthy at all."
"Because you're great in the bird when you keep your head -- and while you're struggled with that, you're conscious enough of it now that you're learning when it's best and when it isn't. More importantly, you've always had my back when I needed it. I... yeah, things have been a bit awkward on the ground," he admits, with a brief, wry smile, "But you've kept my back safe, and that of the rest of the flight, and that means a lot, you know?" More, probably, than Alain expresses, judging by his earnest tone.
That gets a bit of a smile from her. "Thanks. That means a lot," Aubrey says sincerely. Mind you, she hasn't managed to date anyone since joining the Wolves, so she's either still holding out hope that her wingman will wake up some day, or she's just given up on men as a whole. "I need to be better though. I need to feel more confident that I can protect you and the rest of the Wolves. I've been spending time studying vids and some texts and stuff."
"Bree... we all feel that. That want to be better, do better. I feel that even more now I've been promoted, like people are watching me and expecting me to get magically so much better." Alain makes a brief face, lifting the cup to his lips and taking a slow sip. "You'll get your confidence back, with time. If you want some time in the sims, I can train with you, too," he offers.
"Alain, I've watched you do your piloting trials. You can't get better than perfect," Aubrey says with a small smile. "I aspire to be half as good as you are. As a pilot, and a person." She shoulder bumps him once more. "And sure. Sim time would be good."
"You can," Alain is serious, despite her smile. "You can stop your fellow pilots from dying. That's when you're better than perfect." His left hand, not holding the mug of coffee, curls briefly into a fist, tone tight. It stays curled despite the fact that there's a brief smile at her latter words. "Consider it done." He drains the remainder of his coffee, exhaling and pushing to his feet. "We should probably get moving before we freeze to death, right?"
Aubrey eyes the clenched hand, and she puts her gloved one over it for a moment, her brow furrowed. "We should, yeah, but are you going to tell me what that's all about?" She lets the fist go as she packs away the thermos, watching him.
Alain stills briefly when her hand touches his, exhaling, but he doesn't move away at least. "You missed the battle over Caprica. We were -- we were bait. Lost a lot of good men and women before the Battlestars show up." He swallows, hard, jaw tightening as he glances away towards the water. "I'm not right with that, and I'm not sure I'll ever be. All I can do -- especially now -- is work to protect ours from the decisions higher up, as much as I can."
"Frakking hell," Aubrey mutters, before she reaches to hug her friend. "I'm sorry you had to go through that. And I'm furious they'd do that to the Wolves." She lets him go and makes sure to catch his eyes. "That is NOT your fault. That's on command. And I'm glad you got promoted so you can work to make sure they don't do that again."
"It was for the greater good. I recognize that, but I'm still not right with it." Alain's shoulders shift, as he glances back to Aubrey, tense despite the hug, arm only briefly wrapping around hers before releasing her. "The thing is, there's not much we can do. I'm pretty sure even Whisper was blindsided by it. The only thing we can do is learn to be better, to protect each other."
"That kind of thing at least deserves to let us be aware, and volunteer for it," Aubrey says quietly as she stands and retrieves her scarf, looping it back over her shoulders. "But yeah, if the CF sees us as expendable, then all we have is one another to make sure we make it back alive."
Although he's still tense, it seems like Alain isn't given to discussing the topic further, instead reaching out to loop an arm through Aubrey's. "I'm glad you're back with us, Banshee," he says, with a genuine sentiment, as he begins leading the way back towards the base.
"Me too, Jigger," Banshee says with a smile.