So Others May Live


elisabeth2_icon.gif gavyn_icon.gif

Scene Title So Others May Live
Synopsis Elisabeth corners Gavyn and gets her to talk about the previous day's events.
Date November 29, 2010

Textile Factory 17

Gavyn's room.

She's maybe starting to feel a little more like a human being. Elisabeth blew off her paperwork last night and went to bed at barely 8:00 in the evening, finally succumbing to the illness that has been plaguing her. This morning she actually looks somewhat better, though she's still coughing a lot. She detours from her path toward her office, though, to check in on Gavyn Mitchell. "Morning," she greets quietly from the doorway.

Last night wasn't an easy one for Gavyn, and it shows. When the door to her room opens, she's found sitting against the far wall, legs crossed and folded before her. She did take that highly recommended shower and change out of her armor, but supper was skipped and it doesn't appear as though she'd slept much. Her head lifts at Elisabeth's greeting, eyes covered in sunglasses looking in askance.

There's a quiet sigh as Elisabeth lets herself into the room and closes the door. "You didn't want to talk to me yesterday, but I can't let you back out on the streets until you do, lady." She moves to park herself next to Gavyn, her mug of tea — she's been pretty much carrying one everywhere lately — with her and set on her leg as she crosses her ankles. Having lost ten years of her life, Liz doesn't remember the first time she shot someone and killed them. And with the experiences of the past two years, she's become….. not really inured to it, but she doesn't react quite as powerfully anymore.

"Been a pretty shitty month, huh?" Elisabeth asks rhetorically. "Before two years ago, I'd discharge my firearm perhaps a handful of times in my whole career." Her tone is gentle. "I took a hiatus from the force after the Bomb, and when I came back to the force in 2008, it was a whole new world. Evo powers, parts of the city devastated. The first time I had to make the choice to shoot as a soldier was against a group of people intending to launch a virus on the world. It was…. not what I thought it would be. More personal and less so than I expected." She leans her head back against the wall. "It was easier, because there were no options — it was us or them and we were pretty damn outnumbered. I could justify it because … we just did what had to be done. But as part of the SCOUT team," which was NYC's prototype to the FRONTLINE units, "I also had to go kicking in a few doors. And the first time we had to do that…. I threw up after," she admits softly.

Gavyn's head tips downward again as Elisabeth enters the room. It's a definite reflection of where she'd come from, the military background shining through in its meticulously clean presence, all lines and angles with no decor. In contrast is her rumpled appearance, certainly not the clean cut she usually is. Her elbows brace against her knees, hands cradling the top of her head while she listens to the older woman. Her eyes stay fixed on the floor and a silence follows Liz's words.

"I wasn't trying to kill him," Gavyn says finally, breaking the quiet with troubled tones. She really hadn't. The margine for error was paper thin and she hesitated. "He didn't have to die. I… It wasn't like the riots. He… I could have done something else." During the riots, she had the rest of the team there with her and those they were shooting weren't as close. There was a sense of anonimity, and the necessity was clear. There was no such buffer yesterday.

"Maybe," Elisabeth acknowledges quietly, giving her no quarter on this. "There may have been other options, Gavyn. But in the end, you do the best you can with what you have. And what you had was four men counting on you to help them come home alive and five men shooting at you trying to protect a cache of weapons that they did not want to give up." She purses her lips. "In my professional assessment, a SWAT team could have done no better."

Gavyn's head shakes mutely. No, there could have been another way to stop them, that wasn't a necessary shot. Weapons or not, she could have done something different. She presses the heels of her palms against her eyes, sunglasses hanging from her ears and dangling from her chin. There had to have been another way.

After drawing in a slow, little bit shakey breath, Gavyn lowers her hands. Her eyes slide toward Liz's feet, then with a long exhale she sets her shades to rights. "Why do we do it? Are we really making any headway with… anything?"

Well, now that's the real question, isn't it? Elisabeth's voice still holds a rough edge, but it's kind. "The day you stop asking yourself what you could have done differently to save more lives — even bad guy lives — is the day that you quit. Because then you're not doing anyone any good. In spite of how much it sucks, we are making headway," she reassures quietly. "I'm not going to sit here and give you meaningless platitudes. The job you're doing out here is one of the hardest jobs on the ground. It's not like being a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan — out there, it's easier to make 'them' the enemy. They're more faceless, you can dehumanize them and make them evil. Being a cop, being a soldier on American soil…. you don't get that luxury. 'Bad guy' is a relative term — it applies to any asshole who shoots to kill at you. And when the choice is who goes home alive at the end of the day, you have to choose you and yours."

Elisabeth shakes her head a little. "The whole point of what we're doing here is trying to rout out the lawless ones so that the people who live here, who have been run out of their homes, can come home again. You have to keep the goal firmly in mind. It's the only way to survive this job, Gavyn. And in the end, you're the only one who can choose if it's a job you can do."

Gavyn sits back and looks up at Elisabeth as she speaks. She'd chosen to do this, understanding what the job would require of her. But understanding the description doesn't count for understanding the conditions. Her eyes close and head leans back against the wall. "Harder than I expected it to be. Killing people I'd sworn to protect, it's…" Gav shakes her head and sighs. "I'm not… I can't quit. Not yet."

The blonde is more than a little sympathetic. But her sympathy is tempered by experience. "It is harder. Harder than you ever think it will be. Believe me, Gavyn… to this day, I have regrets — things I wish I could have done differently. Situations that in hindsight I wonder 'well, if I'd just done this or that differently, maybe I could have changed it.' If you let them, the what-ifs will destroy you," Elisabeth says gently. "It's not a pretty job. Doing the right thing sometimes even means looking like the enemy themselves, I guess," she admits. "You have to believe in what you're doing — the same things that you believed when you signed up are the things that you have to hold onto when the reality of killing another human being hits. God willing, the only people you will ever kill are the ones trying to kill you."

Liz puts a hand on Gavyn's shoulder and says softly, "The Coast Guard have a saying — 'these things we do that others might live.' It's what I hold onto in the dark when I doubt. We do this job because it needs to be done — it's not pretty. It's not nice. It's not fun. It's unlikely anyone will ever really appreciate it or say thank you. But you'll know that you did the best you could for people who couldn't fight for themselves."

There's no immediate response, Gavyn continuing to sit quietly. It's not quite the troubled silence that had met Liz when she first stepped in. The haunted feeling lingers, and chances are will hang around for some time, but the younger woman seems more thoughtful. Some things are re-evaluated, others are sinking in.

Gavyn catches her lips between her teeth and nods, slowly, after a long moment. "That's… something I forgot," she admits slowly. "I didn't think about since…" Stopping herself, Gav looks up at Elisabeth. Still troubled, maybe a little uncertain if she's even ready to go out there again, but she asks, "…When's my next assignment?"

Elisabeth's style of leadership is not Kershner's — she's a bit more of a hands-on kind of person. She squeezes Gavyn's shoulder for a long moment and then moves to stand up carefully with her mug of tea. "Take today to stick close to the base. I won't send you out unless I need you. Tomorrow you'll be back on the streets," she says quietly. Because we're spread too thin and Liz doesn't have the manpower to afford her people more time. If anything drives home how much of a war zone New York City is, it's that reality. "Let me know if you need anything, okay?" she says as she stands.

"Yes ma'am," Gavyn responds. She knows the squad doesn't have the numbers required for a city and population this size. Still, she's relieved she doesn't have to go out right away. Hopefully the day will continue uneventful, but if not… She'll handle it if it comes up. She unfolds herself from the floor and stands, head nodding to Liz's second line. "I will," Gav says. And she might.

There's a faint smile from the blonde. "I know you will," Elisabeth concurs quietly. And then she's gone, closing the door nearly silently behind her.

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