PHD 237: Father Figure
Father Figure
Summary: Kai manages to track Eddie down for a heart to heart.
Date: PHD 237 (December 11th)
Related Logs: None

Red Berthings. Thirty-eight minutes to shift change, and the morning patrol's already finished showering, changing, and hustling over to the mess hall for grub before the jarheads get it all. The table at the centre of the room is occupied by a solitary officer in fatigues and a black tee shirt. It fits a tad small to be his, and has a few wet splotches from his dripping hair. He looks to be playing a game of solitaire with basra cards.

Eddie still works the dog shift with Hale, so her hours are off from most everyone elses. While people are sleeping, she's up, and while she's sleeping others are playing…solitaire. She emerges from her bunk after a fitful sleep, tugging open her curtain with a bleary blink or three. "Captain." She greets in a voice gravelled from sleep and cigarettes, as her legs swing over the edge of the mattress.

Kai doesn't need to look up, to know who the owner of that voice is. But he does anyway, a brief flash of blue eyes beneath dark, brooding brows. "Up and at 'em, Morales," is his typically deadpan greeting. There's a twitch of a smile at the scarred corner of his mouth, which quickly melts back into a frown as he resumes his game. "How'd you sleep." His gruff voice makes questions difficult to discern from statements.

"Like shit." The heel of her hands gets ground into her eyes, as she tries to get the sleep out of them. "But that's pretty much par for the course." With a groan, Eddie clamps a hand on the edge of the barrier that separates her bunk from that of Alex's above. Using that grip, she hoists herself out and onto her feet with a little swing of her torso. Sleepy zombie steps draw her up to the table, where she glances down at his game. "Do you always play with yourself, sir?" She asks with a hint of a smirk before dropping into a chair kitty-corner of him.

"Bad dreams, or do I need to requisition more pillows for you?" murmurs the CAG, contemplating his cards for a few moments before swapping two of them, face up, on the table. There's a pack of cigarettes, opened, and his lighter resting nearby. As to her last remark, "Sure. It's less satisfying, but I always finish." As if to punctuate those words, he tosses his last card down, then grunts, and scoops everything back up again. "Winning's another matter."

"I'm told I have stress issues. I'm working on it." To the rest, Eddie manages a true smile, despite her sleepiness and her penchant for having a foul mood the past week or so. It lights up her normally dark face, chasing away shadows of a fitful night of rest. "Nice." For once, Mooner has no snappy come back. "Here, deal me in, we can play double."

"Thought we might talk about that, actually." It's spoken almost hesitantly, like Kai's unsure of whether saying the words will cause her to bolt. He pauses a moment to watch Eddie's face, meeting her eyes for a split second before lowering his gaze again. "Sure, you know how to play basra?" She's hung out with Roubani enough, she just might have some idea how to play the Saggie card game. He starts shuffling the cards together with an impressive display of speed and dexterity. Then again, he is a stick jockey.

The smile falters on Eddie's features, but by some feat of modern engineering, it doesn't fall. She keeps it plastered there, but now it just seems a little fake. "Sure, talk away, bossman." She tries to keep her tone neutral, but there's cracks in that facade that by now Marek should be able to detect. Especially seeming how she's still smiling, which is odd within itself. "Mind if I…" Bum one of those cigarettes she's already reaching for. "I can pick it up as we go along."

Kai crooks his finger at her, then points to the chair directly opposite him in silent command. Since Eddie's sitting kitty corner at the moment. "You can take the clown smile off your face, Morales." He folds the cards together, shuffles again. "And the idea is that you talk, and I listen. I just want to know how you're doing." Beneath the gruff, even tone of his voice, is a thread of concern that Eddie, likewise, should be able to detect. She's certainly been serving with him long enough. "Go for it." The cigarette.

Eddie puts her palms on the table in a moment of hesitation before she indeed switches seats. By the time her rump hits the new chair, the smile is gone and the weariness is back at the corners of her eyes. Twenty three years old, and she looks closer to Kai's age at the moment. Her fingers connect with the pack of cigarettes, and she shakes one out far enough to grip the filter with her lips and pull it free. She also helps himself to his lighter, but is kind enough to replace it this time. As the first puff of smoke is taken, she slumps back into the chair, though bolting is still an option.
"Like most of us, I'm worried about a transfer. What's it going to mean for wing-mate teams. Am I going to have to break in a new CAG. I was meant to live and die a vigilante…" Something she's said repeatedly lately. "I don't think I'm going to acclimate well to another command." Read: she likes Marek. "I see lots of toilet scrubbing in my future."

The Captain looks up, and looks back down again. Finished shuffling the cards, he starts to deal them out. Eddie, Kai, Eddie, Kai, Eddie, Kai. "I don't know how it's going to shake out either," he confesses quietly. It's possible the fearless CAG is also having reservations about the upcoming merger, though one would never guess it judging by his manner. "But I am going to do my godsdamned best to work things out with Sito so that the wing's shaken up as little as possible." His lips twitch slightly at the toilet scrubbing comment, and he lays three cards out, face up, between them before setting the rest of the deck aside. "You should be a pro at it, by now."

Eddie grunts around the cigarette, leaving it dangling from her lips as she reaches out to scoop up her cards. She collects them into a pile, but leaves them face down until she sees what Marek is going to do with his so she can copy them. Despite Eddie's dumb jock exterior, she's alert enough to be able to pick up on certain little tasks that make her at least /seem/ like she knows what she's doing. "What's she like? The CAG over there?" Yeah, so they're supposed to be talking about Eddie, but it seems pertinent information seeming how Mooner's been avoiding cross-ship interaction like the plague.

Kai doesn't seem to mind the change in subject. So long as she's talking, that's something. "Smart woman. Knows her shit. Don't let the funny accent fool you." He takes the cue from Eddie to go first, and swaps out one of his cards with the face up ones on the table, to make what's ostensibly a better hand. And then he hitches his chin to indicate it's her turn. "There some reason you've been avoiding meeting her, when she drops by?"

Eddie fans out her cards to look at them, arranging them by suit for the time being. "What am I going for here? Pairs, runs, suits?" She asks, her words mumbled with the cigarette still waggling in her mouth. Nope, apparently she hasn't played this particular game with Roubani. The card game is proving a good distraction, to keep her mind occupied and her words free. She plucks the cigarette from her mouth, ashing it into a cup on the table as she fiddles with the cards. "This isn't the first time I've seen the Hussy."

The cards aren't really arranged in suits, so much as.. symbols. There's a scepter, a peacock, an urn, a citadel, a sword, amongst others. "You're going for the hand that you think has the best chance of defeating mine," he explains. "Think of it like two armies. The cards in your hand are tactics. The citadel provides protection, the swords provide offense. The scepter gives a bonus to all your cards, but if your opponent has an urn, it's destroyed." He pauses, then looks up at her again, as if waiting for her to elaborate on that last bit.

Eddie gives another grunt as she just about go cross-eyed at the card combination. She finally selects one that she deems inferior by whatever criteria (maybe it's just not as pretty as the others) and she exchanges that one for one from the central kitty. "When I was a little girl…" Her words are distracted as she shuffles through her cards again, "I went to a Colonial Day dinner for families of high ranking officers…my father was the Hestia's TACCO for as long as I can remember him in Lieutenant Colonel pins…"

Kai lowers his eyes to the card Eddie sets down, then drops his own challenge: a peacock. Whatever the hell that means. "Your family was military," he comments quietly. Again, it isn't really worded as a question so much as an observation. "Any idea whether he's still serving there?" His voice gentles a touch with those words, though there's a hint of something difficult to define. Maybe it's just that he considers Eddie, like many of the younger pilots, to be one of his kids. Paternal feelings are not something the surly Captain generally admits to.

Eddie doesn't seem to know, so she plays what she /thinks/ is the right card. Eddies more a trial and error sort of girl, instead of asking for directions. "Correction. My father was military. My mother was a military wife. She used to iron out her frustrations, which means even my underwear had creases and she hid a bottle of vodka behind the flour container." She leans back in her chair, and the cigarette makes another trip to her mouth to take a deep drag. "He retired six years ago as courtesy for not getting his own boat. Ashes to ashes…dust to dust."

There's a soft grunt from the Captain, perhaps a twinge at one corner of his mouth when Eddie explains what her family was like. A little too close to home, perhaps. Gods only know how his wife coped with him never being home. "You don't think he'd be proud of you?" is asked quietly while he considers his hand. Two more cards are discarded, and two more plucked off the top of the pile of face-downs. "I mean, if what you're afraid of is his ghost. You've come a long way since you first walked into the simulator room with a cigarette and an attitude, while we were docked at the Scorpian shipyards." It seems like a lifetime ago, now.

"Oh, I still have the cigarette…" Mooner purses her lips and exhales towards the ceiling like an exclamation point on that sentence. "And the attitude. You just notice it less." She smirks lopsidedly, using her sardonic sense of humor to dance around the question that Marek just posed. "I'm afraid I'm going to walk onto that ship and his very essence is going to bleed into my pores. And when I walk the halls, all I'm going to hear is his voice in my head that my shoes aren't polished enough and my spine isn't rigid enough…" To Eddie, there's nothing to be proud of.

"I notice it plenty, Morales," Kai counters, somewhat bemusedly. He exchanges one more card, then tosses his hand down to signal he's ready to 'fight'. Three swords, an urn and a citadel. "But I've also noticed that you know how to put it to better use now. And don't bother contradicting me on that." A pause. "Look at me." It isn't a request.

Eddie leans forward to look at his cards, not really understanding quite how they correspond to hers yet. She lays them down anyways, and lets him declare who won and who lost. Of course, the game is just a back drop to a greater purpose: bonding time with the CAG. It's not something that's ever come easily to Eddie, but once it's there, he's going to have a hard time removing her even with a crowbar and industrial solvent. Looking at Marek is easier said then done, as she has rather a farmer's market of emotions invested in the man. Finally with a grit to her teeth and a set to her jaw, she brings her dark gaze up to meet lighter. When you think of it as rising to a challenge, it's much more palatable.

The game itself is only of secondary interest to Kai. He doesn't even look at the cards Eddie put down, but keeps his eyes on her darker ones as she complies with the ostensible order that he gave. A myriad of subtle emotion plays behind his paler blues, difficult to read as ever. "Don't think of it like starting over again. Don't think of it like everything you've been through, doesn't mean a damned thing. We're still Vigilantes, always will be." He blows a breath out his nose, and starts collecting the cards. It isn't clear who won, if he even bothered to figure that out. "Just promise you'll try. For me, all right?" He tries to smile, but it comes out somewhat bittersweet.

Eddie's eyes rove over Kai's features, from his serious brow to the line of his nose to the little scar on his lip. It takes a long moment before her eyes lock back on his, her mouth suddenly dry. She swallows, as if choking back something that was rising up in her throat. "Of course." She manages to say hoarsely, before masking anything else with another drag from her cigarette. "Vigilantes, forever." Bravado bubbles back up, a macho play for 'everything's cool, bro', as she holds her hand out, fingers curled in for a fist bump.

There's a slight tic in the Captain's jaw as Eddie's eyes take that long, scenic route across his features before finally meeting his own again. Maybe he's biting something back, too, or maybe it's just the usual restraint that seems to permanently cloud the older man's steely demeanor. The fist bump is returned, but before she can snatch her hand back, he reaches out to take it firmly, yet gently. His fingers are rough and marked with callouses that couldn't have come from stick jockeying, and the contact's simply held for a few moments before being released again.

When Karim takes her hand, there's a tension in her muscles that comes from surprise rather then resistance. She doesn't pull away, instead she just becomes rather still. Her eyes get a little watery, but before any tears can be shed, she's attempting to break the moment and cover-up her feelings with a laugh that seems a little forced. "You're a good man, Karim Marek, the squad would follow you into the hot surface of the sun." Or at least Eddie would. Hands down.

Kai's own hand retreats to scratch at his nose, once the contact is broken. The blue of his eyes is partly hidden beneath a swoop of dark lashes, and then he reaches for the cards again to put them away. "I don't think there's such a thing as good men," he murmurs, repeating something he'd said at Vendas' memorial service however many months ago. "Or bad men." He shoves the cards back into their box, closes it, and tucks it into a pocket of his fatigues. "Just men, doing the best they can." He's still for a long moment, and then checks his watch before easing back to his feet. "You have a good day, all right? And good hunting out there."

Eddie wraps her arms around her chest, as if there's a sudden chill in the air once Marek seems to be leaving. Kinda like being left raw without a bandaid to cover it. "You too, sir. I'll um…" She exhales, "Keep trying to do my best." Which makes her sound a little bit guilty as if she's been doing far from it, lately.

Kai fetches his jacket from the back of his chair, along with the pack of cigarettes and lighter from the table. They're shoved into a pocket, and he steps past Eddie on his way to the hatch. "That's all I ask." His hand closes over her shoulder, and gives it a warm squeeze. "You have trouble sleeping again, come find me." And then he's pulling away and trudging off for the hatch.

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