PHD #031: You're Gonna Carry That Weight
You're Gonna Carry That Weight
Summary: Damon tries to turn in his pins and Atreus talks him out of it.
Date: 29 Mar 2041 AE
Related Logs: Tug of War
Atreus Damon 
Chief's Office - Hangar Deck - Battlestar Cerberus
Post Holocaust Day: #31
The room is fairly small, to maximize the area of the deck itself. It contains a smallish metal desk with locking drawers, a computer terminal, a file cabinet against one wall and metal shelves filled with tools, spare parts, and manuals. There are two chairs facing the desk, clearly scavenged from somewhere else. One area of the shelving, nearest the desk, has been cleared and is clean. This holds a coffee maker that constantly seems to have some brew or other in it. Above the chair behind the desk, in a position of prominence, a framed picture has been hung. It is an embroidered image depicting Hephaestus with his two metal helpers. The work is beautiful and almost lovingly detailed. The god is laughing, one eye bright where a patch covers the other. He is held aloft by his helpers, one done in glittering gold, the other in silver.
Condition Level: 3 - All Clear

The Chief's office is quiet, though not silent. The man is typing away on several pieces of either information or mail by flipping through screens to append or cut and paste from one to the other. He holds a pen in his mouth like a cigarette and another rests behind one ear. His manner is fairly focused, but there is evidence of either irritation or fatigue around his eyes. The three piles of papers on his desk have dwindled to one, though this is thicker than the others.

Damon hangs by the doorway for a moment, uncertainty scrawled on his face. Deep breath. Decision time. He strides into the Chief's office without knocking and stands before the desk. He's in his duty greens, but without the pins - those are in his hand, which he holds out in front of the Chief. "I'm not so sure if I should be wearin' these, Chief," he says quietly.

Atreus blinks twice, then looks slowly over to where Damon stands, pins in hand. He looks down at the pins, then up at the man. Turning off the screen, Atreus removes the pen from his mouth and sets it on top of the pile of papers and folders. Pushing that to one side, he motions toward a chair, "That's… a big decision, Damon. Please tell me your reasoning?" He does not move to take the pins, folding his hands on his desk instead.

Retracting his hand - and the pins within them - Damon puts them behind his back to stand at ease. A range of emotions flicker across his face before he speaks. "We're out here and we're alone," he says. "I'm supposed to - to look after those under me and be responsible for them." His brows twitch downward and he clears his throat. "That was all fine, you know, before. Before there we were wading through floating dead bodies and getting shot at." He rocks back and forth a little bit on the balls of his feet, kind of nodding with his whole body. "Vought died, and he died on a mission under my command. Rationally, I know there was nothing I could've done for him out there. But I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since." The pins rattle in his hand as he brings them forward again. "These're too heavy."

Atreus listens, his expression open and concerned. A nod and he extends one hand to take the pins. Before speaking, he lets them roll around in his hand for a moment, the sound of the metal clinking gently together. "I can understand that." Again, he motions for you to sit down. "There is nothing worse than having someone die under your command. Nothing." Setting the pins down, he lowers his gaze a bit, memory surfacing before he can shove it down. When he speaks again, his voice is almost weary, "You are right, you know. It is different now. Now, all we have is each other. People we hardly know must be as close as brothers, in a way. Folk we have learned to rely on… to trust… are more precious than creds. More precious than blood." Drawing in a slow breath, Atreus looks up again, "I trust you, Damon. I rely on you. I know that you will do your frakin' best in whatever situation you are stuck in. You've proven yourself to me more times than you know. More importantly, they trust you." His eyes flicker to the hatch. "They know that you will not lead them falsely if you can at all avoid it. That kind of trust can't be purchased, it is earned. I need someone as my second who has that respect, that trust. Someone I know will never look at the techs and think of them as expendable resources. In all honesty, I need you." One finger moves the pins, though his gaze does not fall, "I'll tell you what… I am willing to return these to you right now. Wear them for a week, then we'll talk again if you still want to turn them in."

Damon's expression is unreadable as the Chief speaks. It's hard to tell if any of it is really getting through to him, or if he's got that thousand-yard-stare, mind-somewhere-else thing going on again. "I know heroes are supposed to power through," he says, finally taking a seat. "But that's just it, Chief. I'm not a frakkin' hero. I think I've puked on every single mission I've been on since Picon Anchorage. Last night, at that Marine training thing, I'm pretty sure I was the first one down." He looks down at the pins as they're offered back to him, then drops his head into his hands. "Your trust, their trust, that means a lot to me, Chief. But it also drives me half-the-frak insane when something like this happens. And it's going to happen, I'd love to pretend we're never gonna lose another mechanic or technician but just from what we've seen in the last, what, month? That'd be puttin' blinders on." He looks up at Atreus, hands folded and covering his mouth. "I don't know that I was ever made to be a wartime soldier. But none of us have any choice anymore." Is… that a yes or a no?

Atreus sets the pins down near your side of the desk. "Forget the hero hype, Damon. That's for cartoons and recruitment posters. The real heros are the people who go out and do their jobs even when doing it is the hardest thing there is. Firefighters, soldiers, frak even folk here on the deck." He half smiles, though his eyes remain sort of sad, "We don't judge who qualifies by the amount of vomit they chalk up. You did your duty. Still do. You more than qualify in my book." His tone softens, "Yeah, it drives me frakin' nuts too. But, it is also the best feeling there is. Knowing that people realize that you do have their back and they have yours. That you care enough to give them someone to believe in…" He pauses a moment to let that sink in then inhales slowly, "The training yesterday was just to find out what we need to learn to keep as many of us alive as possible. You may have been the first one down, but so what? You're not a Marine, Damon. Neither am I. What we found out is that we need to find better ways of looking at where we are. Or, find better ways to stop Cylon bullets. Or find better ways to kill those frakkers. Me? I suck with a gun, but kick some major ass with a wrench. So do you. In some areas, you are better than I am. So, we work smarter, not harder and take some personal time to train with rifles." Leaning back, he folds his hands once more on the desk, "You are right again. We will lose people. No blinders, no rose tinted glasses. It is inevitable. So, we arm our people with the best knowledge and the best skill set we can come up with. We find out who knows how to shoot and have them work with the rest of us. It will not be easy. But, it is not impossible either. Unless we give up. Give in. Fail to measure up." Then, oddly, the man smiles, "Sure. We have choices, even now. You can decide to lead by example. Be the best damn PO I have on the Deck. Or, you can choose to lead by example and go back to Crewman. Or… Lead by example and return to civilian life. I know what you are capable of. I just wish you could see yourself through my eyes. It is your choice to make. I hope you make the right one."

Silence. Damon swallows hard and measures Atreus' words carefully. "I know it's selfish, but shit'd be so much easier as a Crewman. Specialist. Do what you're told, do it well, and keep learning. You don't gotta deal with the frakkin' paperwork or tell people what to do or be responsible for their professional development, write-ups, reprimands, and all this crap…" He shakes his head, but there's a hint of a smile in there. "And you know what's the worst damn part? That I can't frakkin' stand the idea of turning in those pins and disappointing you." An accusing finger is pointed to the Chief, but with a glint of humor behind his eyes. "If it was any other damned Chief, I'd say, frak it. This isn't just a job or even a career anymore - this is life and death. This is serious shit now." His hand reaches out and swipes the pins back off the table. Cradling them against his chest, he rolls them around in his palm like a pair of dice about to be thrown. "So that's what this is, then, isn't it? Trust and respect? Your trust in me and my respect for you keeps me from parting with these?"

Atreus watches the man while the silence holds and words are measured. "I don't know about selfish, honestly. It's the Lords' own truth. It would be way easier to be a Crewman. I've thought of it, to be upfront and honest. But, if I don't do this job, who will? We might be stuck with some jaggoff who doesn't give a flying frak about us. I can't do that. Not to you. Not to them. So, I keep the pins and try not to let it get too heavy. Even when it just is." He twinkles a moment, then allows the smile hiding in his gaze a moment to tug at his mouth at the accusation, "Thank you. That means a frakton to me." The smile remains as the pins are reclaimed, though it quiets a little as he nods, "Pretty much, yeah. It also means that you can rely on me to have your back and I have the best frakin' PO around at mine. And since the rules have changed, we've gotta come up with some ways to blow off steam that won't get either of us brigged or broken. Deal?"

"Brigged or broken again," Damon appends to that last sentence - and even laughs. That familiar old chuckle that's gone silent as of late. "I figure that Raider they've got for us to look at will keep my brain occupied for a little while, anyway," he says, jingling his pins. Not yet putting them back on. "And from the sounds of it, we've got a lot to salvage and pull in as well, so…" A shrug. There's still tension in him, but the worst of it is gone. Or if not gone, at least partially lifted from his shoulders. "Work keeps us focused, drink keeps us sane, hey?" he snorts. "There's that, at least."

Atreus nods, "Yeah… That too." His laugh joins Damon's, the sound a low chuckle that compliment's the other man's. "Oh, definitely. Get with Bannik on that one. I thought I'd give the kid a taste of authority before recommending him for a promotion. I'd like your opinion on that when you have the time." Some of his tension eases with a long, slow exhalation that does not quite match an inhalation. "Yeah, no joke. Though I think we'll do more of the paintball runs to unwind. Get teams in to work together… Maybe bring in the CAG and some of her pilots and ECOs. Folk who aren't generally good with rifles. It beats the rifle range all to Hades and back again."

Damon rises from his seat, slowly unfurling himself. "Or some games of Pyramid, maybe. Get some inter-section teams up or something." The rank pins are deposited into his pocket. "I don't know Bannik that well, to be honest - I haven't worked with him much. I know he's good at what he does, at least, from the talk on the floor. I'll see if I can't find him out there and have a chat with him." He walks to the doorway, then turns to face Atreus, taking one step back into the doorway at attention. "I'll stick around so long as you want me around, Chief. And I'll try not to be such a whiny bitch about it, too." With that, he grins and dismisses himself from the office.

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