Turning away from the Chief she tries her best to catch up to Hamish, but frak those long legs of his make it a little difficult for someone of her stature to keep up.
It doesn't help that he's also taking three steps at a time on the ladder leading out of the hangar deck. She calls after him twice but he ignores her, keeps his head focused forward, and she finally gives up after chasing him through a couple of corridors.
He's pissed, she gets that. Funny thing is she's not. And while she didn't think she was making excuses for the Chief down there, now that she has time to think about it, it sure comes off that way.
Nobody got hurt.
Thinking about the garbled mess of twisted metal, it's a frakking miracle she and Skulls walked away from it. Without a bump, scratch, or bruise on to boot.
Forget it you're only human.
Humans make mistakes. Humans are fallible. Sometimes people die because of it, and sometimes they don't.
Still, she has to wonder if she'd be so understanding if Cally hadn't died. She has to wonder if she wouldn't have wanted to rip his gods' damn head off for such a simple little mistake if his wife hadn't shot herself out of an airlock.
It's only when she stops does it actually hit, stomach bottoming out, breath shakily released from her lungs. Dropping to a crouch, she braces herself against the bulkhead, mutters crap softly as she tries to keep the tears threatening to spill at bay.
Hamish's words echo in her mind: We could have died.
And while it's true, she could have died a hundred times over by now.
But not like that, she thinks.
The spinning, dragging, screeching mess of broken glass and flames, her eyes open the entire time, seeing every single second of it.
Not like that.
In the mess everyone's morbid curiosity seems to come out in obvious stares her way, doing what she can to ignore the murmurs, she tries her best to choke down some meatloaf style hunk of algae. She doesn't know why she bothered coming here. Why she thought that this gods' awful mound of protein would settle her swirling stomach, why she even thought food could possibly do something to settle her still edgy nerves.
Hiccup and Sever take a seat across from her, eyes wide and curious, just barely remaining tactful. She knows why they're there. When a pilot dies it's usually one quick explosion and that's all she wrote. It's so rare that a crash landing occurs without combat causing it. She answers stupid questions about how she feels, what it was like, did her life flash before her eyes?
Swallowing that last of her drink, she gives them short clipped answers because she really doesn't want to talk about it, and slams her cup on the table to emphasize her point.
The chatter in the room almost dies down instantly, and she's getting all the attention she didn't want more so. Everyone eyes are on her as she tosses her food in the recycler. Still feels them there as she storms out.
The Admiral offered her a few days off, even though Cottle gave her the okay to remain on duty, to gather her bearings. She declined, knowing the best way to deal was to jump right back into a bird, and simply plow through any issues that may arise.
She took a shift with the Vampires because she knew sleep was out of the question. Anytime she closes her eyes she sees the flash of the deck lights crashing toward her, feels the vertigo of an uncontrolled spin.
She hasn't seen Skulls since he stormed away, so she convinced Fuzzy to let her take the stick, making him the ECO for his own CAP. Once in the pilot's seat, she's in control, feels the familiar confidence swelling in her hands.
No shit talking this time, though Hex and Two Times are rattling off each other like a couple of school kids, she keeps her mouth shut. Keeps focused on the stick, the task at hand. Dradis is clear, the fleet is quiet, and Fuzzy tries to make idle chatter but gives up after a few minutes.
She can't talk because she's trying her best to keep the tremor in her hand from spreading, knows that if she lets it, it will snake its way to the rest of her body and she'll be pulled from duty anyway. Two Times has them doing a slow circle around Space Park when Fuzzy suddenly asks her who she is talking to.
The question startles her for a second, and when she asks him what he's talking about, he tells her she's been muttering to herself for the last five minutes.
Oh hell, she thinks, realizing the mantra she'd been repeating in her mind since takeoff had somehow slipped passed her lips.
Don't think about it, don't think about it, don't think about it.
No matter how many she's taken, cold showers are something she'll never be used to. Coming off graveyard shift means all the hot water was taken up by all the pilots' coming off their own CAP hours before.
When she closes her eyes against the harsh spray of water on her face the deck rushing up at her flashes before her eyes again and she gasps and falls back against the stall, her hands clutching at the sides to keep herself upright.
You're fine, she tells herself. Just fine.
Even though she's gotten used it, she can't stop shivering, realizes it has nothing to do with the water.
When she finally makes her way back to the bunk room, everyone is still asleep, but she knows for sure one person who isn't. His curtain is closed, but that doesn't stop her from sitting on the edge of his rack anyway.
The curtain is drawn back slightly, she feels it brush the edge of her back, before hearing him turn toward her.
"How'd you know I'd be awake?" He asks.
"Because I am," she replies.
They're quiet for a minute.
"This is starting to become a habit don't you think?" He wonders aloud. "You, me, and a frakked up Raptor."
She nods silently, the thought of what had happened only a few months ago with the tylium impurities and crashing into Colonial One, only now coming to mind. Before that it was Kelly's bomb in her bird. Before that, the cylon missile they barely escaped. Hell, before she was ever paired up with Skulls, there was Boomer and that mess above Kobol, then the ten scariest minutes of her life waiting inside that basestar.
It's a wonder no one's ever suggested changing her call sign to Dead Meat. Because if she keeps toeing the line between life and death so casually, and often as she seems to do, it's really going to fit one day.
"They're going to stop calling us the Dynamic Duo after this one," he goes on.
"Yeah?" She replies, still keeping her back to him, "what are they going to call us then?"
"I don't know, dead men walking?" He suggests. "Something like that."
She can't help but smile at that one. Thinking that sometimes it seemed he could tell exactly what was on her mind. It's what made them such a good team.
"Accidents are one thing Maggie," he says. "Sabotage another. But this was negligence, pure and simple."
"I know," she replies.
"I don't want to go out because some dumb knuckle dragger forgot to switch a frakking fuse."
"Hey, stow that kind of talk will you? The chief's a friend of mine."
He sighs, and she hears him roll partially away from her.
"Sometimes I think the gods are out to get us," he says, his tone is light, but she can feel the seriousness behind them.
She doesn't know why, but it causes a choked sob to escape her, she's been thinking it too.
"Hey," his starts, his voice soft, hand reaching up for her shoulder. "You alright?"
"Yeah," she says, taking a deep breath and pushing down the emotion she doesn't want to deal with, wiping at her eyes quickly before finally turning back to look at him. "You still pissed?"
He chuckles softly.
She knows they'll be okay.
Gods it's a strange thing to say. She's been calling him chief since the day she set foot on Galactica. It's just as strange not being able to find him on the hangar deck at any time of day. No, now she has to walk the extra ten minutes to the aft end of the old battlstar, she has to squeeze through the annoyingly narrow corridors as she gets closer to the engine room.
Her eyes are heavy, she's in a bad mood because (predictably) she barely slept, and they ran out of real coffee so long ago she's beginning to forget what it tasted like. A few crewman look at her strangely as she walks, the sight of a pilot so rare in this part of the ship they don't know what to make of it.
She finds him wrenching on some big valve, it's loud as hell down here, and she stands there for three whole minutes before he even notices he's no longer alone. Their eyes lock briefly, it being the only acknowledgement of her presence he gives, before going back to wrenching.
"Chi-" she starts, before cutting herself off, old habits. She doubts he heard her over the noise. Saying specialist doesn't seem right either, and if she calls him Galen he'll probably think she pities him, so she just moves closer to where he can't simply ignore her.
He finally looks back at her when he's finally done wrenching, doesn't say a word, just waits for her.
She wants to tell him that it's all his fault. That she and Skulls just had one of the worst frakking nights of their lives because he couldn't pull his head from his ass and concentrate on what he was doing. That he could have taken both their lives because he couldn't pull himself away from the deck to deal with Cally taking hers.
No, she won't tell him like that, she's not that cruel. Cally was her friend, and despite what happened, she wants to think he's still her friend too. Instead she reaches out a hand to his shoulder, a gesture he looks upon as if it's the last thing he needs, but doesn't shrug her off.
She leans in close, so that he can hear her clearly, won't mistake the words she's trying to say.
"You frakked up," she says, turns away and leaves him there.
She used to come to the memorial wall everyday when it was first put up, having taken the one picture she had left of her family out of her locker, and pinning it alongside so many others.
She used to be so angry after kneeling in front of it, praying to the gods to watch over them, cursing the cylons to hell and back for taking them away.
She used to wish she could join them.
Finding the photo in the mass of so many others is still easy, even though she hasn't been by to seem them in quite some time. The candle perched atop a case sitting in front of her mom and dad's smiling faces has gone out, and she looks around for any leftover matches. Sparking the last one in a booklet someone left on the floor, she kneels down as she relights the wick.
Hands clasped together, head tilted downward, she prays to the gods, asks them as she has so many times before, to watch over her family in the life beyond this. She then tells her parents she still misses them as much as she had the first day she knew they were gone.
She thinks of so many times they could have been reunited. Kobol, the basestar, the missile, the tylium incident,yesterday.
She closes her eyes, sees the flash of the deck lights rushing toward her, hears her own face over the comm.
Coming in hot. Too hot!
The fleet tells you to assume you're dead already, because dead men don't freeze up under pressure. But what they don't tell is how a dead man deals with not dying. There are no lectures on how to carry yourself when coming back from the brink. The admiralty must have just assumed that a pilot would be so damned grateful their ass was alive the rest will have taken care of itself.
Standing up slowly, she pulls her flight suit back over her shoulders, clenching her hands against the lapels to stop the shaking.
She remembers thinking she saw her mom and dad standing just outside the smashed canopy of the Raptor, waving at her, calling for her to come home.
Placing her fingers gently against the picture, across their smiling faces, she's knows she's not ready to do that just yet.
She's got CAP in ten minutes.