Mathias looked up as Margaret came through the hatch to his quarters and shut it firmly behind her—and the CLANG of metal on metal was great deal louder than was honestly called for; he frowned slightly at that.
She marched up to his desk and stood at attention in her flight suit—and her expression reminded him oh so much of her mother Sara when she
had been pissed.
“Personal business or official, Lieutenant Edmondson?” he asked.
“Personal, Sir,” she answered. “Request permission to speak freely and off the record.”
Yep, Mathias thought. She is pissed
. “Permission granted.”
Her posture relaxed, but her muscles were still tense and she leaned over and pocked a finger across his desk. “My love life is none of your concern, Uncle Mat!” she barked. “Fuzzy is shaking like a leaf—and he won’t even talk to me about what you said to him! What the Hells did
you tell him?”
“We had a little chat about what is and is not allowed on this ship, Margaret—and no, your love-life isn’t any of my concern. Do you love this man, Kief?”
“That isn’t relevant!” she snapped.
“That wasn’t an answer, Margaret. I’m . . . concerned
about you. Perhaps I should have kept my mouth shut—perhaps Sidewinder shouldn’t have told me—but I would have found out anyway. Clearly it is open scuttlebutt on Galactica
, at least from what my sources have gathered. You are a Colonial officer and you well know the regs against fraternization.”
“Regs? Regs? You have no idea how many people I’ve seen die in the past year, Uncle Mat! None! How many people that I called my friends go out there every day and not come home again! No idea how it feels to know that sooner or later your time is going to come and you are going to be the one to go down in flames. We comfort ourselves how
we can, when
we can—because that is all
we have left.”
“No, Margaret, it’s not,” Matt said as he stood and then opened a refrigerator and pulled out two bottles of Scorpia Necrosia. He popped the tops off of both of them and handed one to his niece and took a sip from the second. And then he pointed to the sofa and two chairs. Margaret hesitated for a moment, but then she sat down and Mathias sat down across from her.
is why I’m concerned, Margaret—that attitude
. I knew that you would hear about what I said to Mister Kief and that if you were anything like your mother when she was your age, you would come barging in here to set me straight. ‘Abuse of authority and position’, ‘conduct unbecoming a Colonial officer’, and ‘undue influence to nepotism’. Right?”
Racetrack’s eyes narrowed and Mathias grinned. “Instead of me
coming to you
and you automatically getting your hackles up and walking off when I try to raise this issue, you
came to me
. Margaret, I don’t care who
you decide to frack—although I will say your taste in men has gone downhill if Mister Kief is your choice. But I am
worried and concerned over this . . . this death-wish
you seem to have. Thoughts like that, they tend to come true for pilots, because they become convinced that something bad is going to happen, then sure enough they make a mistake—and something bad does
“I’m not . . . ,” she began.
“You are, Racetrack,” her uncle interrupted softly, using her call sign to emphasize the point. “You are stressed, you are grieving for your friends and your lovers and your family—the whole world has ended. And you—and some of the other pilots—genuinely believe that your time will
come. That you are going to die
out there in the cockpit of a Raptor; and baby-girl, that
is what is concerning me. Not as a Colonial Fleet officer, not as your higher-ranking superior, but as your uncle. This jumping around from rack to rack and going through partners like crap through a goose is just a symptom of what is bothering you—and you need to work through that before you wind up transforming that belief into reality. I don’t want to attend your funeral because of a self-fulfilling prophecy
She just stared at Mathias, a tear leaking out of the corner of her eye and he nodded. “Your superiors should have already addressed this with you—but they are torn up as well, hon. I’ve got someone I want you to talk to while you are here on board Scorpia
. Erin Hayes—she’s a specialist in stuff like this.”
“A shrink? You want me to see a shrink
?” Racetrack said bitterly.
“She’s a civilian—but she knows post-traumatic stress, Margaret. Nothing goes in your file. Nothing goes on your record. What happens between you and her stays
between you and her. And I don’t just
want you to speak with her. There are several others that Sidewinder noted that are having the same problems—Fuzzy Kief isn’t one of them. He just took the opportunity to get in your pants because you were willing to let him in your rack.”
Mathias snorted. “In fact, if you are like your mother at this age,” he said again, “you probably grabbed him
him into your rack without waiting for an answer.”
Racetrack let out a laugh, amid the tears, and she actually looked surprised at the laugh. Mathias nodded. “That’s my girl,” he said. “I think that is the first laugh I’ve heard from you since you came aboard—there have been no smiles, no joy, just that desperate pain that you keep trying to frack away. Talk to Miss Hayes, Margaret—I won’t make you. I’m asking
you. Talk to her, and remember that I’m here if you need to talk to me. Even after you get back to your squadron on Galactica
“You aren’t transferring me? That’s the scuttlebutt; that you are going to transfer me here where you can keep an eye on me!” Racetrack said.
“Nope. I’m not having you transferred, Margaret. Scuttlebutt is wrong this time—and Adama won’t treat you any differently because you are my niece; no more than he would expect me to treat Lee differently because he is Adama’s son.”
She sat there and Mathias could see the anger drain from her—leaving just an exhausted and depressed young woman. “I’ll talk to her, Uncle Mat,” she whispered. And then took a sip of the thick black beer—and looked pleasantly surprised. “This is good.”
“Best beer in the Colonies, Margaret,” Mathias said with a sad smile. He picked up the phone from its station on the wall. “Tom, can you page Doctor Hayes and have her report to my quarters?” He paused. “Thank you.”
“You want me to talk her here? Now
“You got anything better to do with your time, Margaret? I’ll leave you two alone—or, if you prefer, you can go with her to the office I’ve assigned her. Up to you.”
Racetrack took another slug of the beer and then she nodded. “You . . . ,” she started, and then she paused. She took in a deep breath. “You don’t have to go. But you might not like
all the details.”
“I’m from Scorpia, Margaret honey; born and raised. Trust me,” Mathias said with a smile, “I’ve seen worse; I’ve heard worse; I’ve probably done worse. Remind me to tell you what Josie was experimenting with before I left her in the capable hands of Emily to fly this mission,” he said with a snort. “If you want me to stay, I’ll stay. If you want me to go, I’ll go. But either way, Maggie-girl, I’m not going to quit loving you or caring about you.”
“Okay,” she said with a swallow of a sudden lump in her throat.