What do you do when the strategy that's served you for years just isn't working any more? To whom do you turn?
Timeline: GS phase 30, after Murrue leaves the bridge.
Summary: What do you do when the strategy that's served you for years just isn't working any more? To whom do you turn?
The last dregs of the adrenaline of combat gave out as the lift began its descent from the bridge. But rather than making directly for her own quarters, with Natarle's comments fresh in her mind, Murrue went in search of Commander la Fllaga.
She found him mostly by chance, striding along one of the ship's corridors with enough frustrated energy to make his steps ring out loudly in the vacant silence of the hallway. She had to break into a jog to catch up with him. "Commander!"
He stopped short - and so did she, taken aback by the uncharacteristic anger that tightened his face when he looked back.
"I wanted..." she began, and hesitated; he was already bringing his expression under control, but Raww le Klueze was suddenly no longer the primary concern on Murrue's mind. "What's wrong?"
Mwu dragged a hand back through his hair, breath hissing out through his teeth. "Sorry," he said. "The kid's just getting to me."
He nodded. "Have you seen him?"
"Not since the battle," she said, frowning. "What happened?"
His shoulders hitched in a shrug. "He's beating himself up about what happened out there with the Blitz, that's all. I know it's not easy on him, but..." He turned his face away from her to scowl down the empty hallway. "We're at war. We're only doing what we have to do. If he goes out there reluctant to kill, he's going to be the one who gets shot down. He just - doesn't get that."
Murrue watched him, quietly studying his face until he turned a wry grin her way. "It's not like he's the first rookie who's ever had a crisis of conscience," he said, in something more like his usual light tones. "I don't know why it's getting to me now."
She spent a while longer watching him in silence, turning her thoughts over carefully in her mind. "This is what I think," she said at last, hesitantly. "It's a serious thing to kill another person. In times like these, as soldiers, we may not have a choice, but..."
Mwu stood very still, eyes fixed on her with an uncharacteristically guarded, serious look. "You sound like he's been getting to you, too."
"Maybe," she admitted, smiling a little in spite of herself. "I've been doing a lot of thinking lately."
"But that doesn't change the situation we're in now." He sounded like he was prompting her for something.
"No." This time she looked away, bowing her head to press her fingers briefly over her eyes. "Our options are so limited... if we can, I'd rather get away without any more combat. But if they catch up with us again, what else can we do?" The breath went out of her in a sigh. "I just wish I knew why they're pursuing us so determinedly."
"Does it matter?" Mwu asked, and she looked up to meet his eyes again, smiling ruefully.
He said nothing to that. For the first time in a long while, she found herself vaguely uncomfortable with the silence - something about the way he looked at her, intently and with brow furrowed, making her wish she'd approached the whole subject differently, or not at all.
"I'm sorry," she said. "I know it's hard on Kira. You must be exhausted too; you're working miracles out there, going up against those mobile suits with only a fighter jet. I--"
She stopped herself there, and looked away so that she wouldn't see him tip his head to the side and prompt her to continue.
"Hey," he said after an uncertain interval, with a lightness that seemed just slightly awkward. "It's nothing. We do what we have to, right?"
"Maybe," she said, "but..." A pause, and then she shook her head. "Never mind. You should get some rest, Commander. We don't know what's going to happen next."
He grimaced, with a note of wry humor.
"I can make it an order if it'll make you feel better," she offered.
That earned an abbreviated snort of almost-laughter. "No, it's fine. I'm going." But he paused before he's quite begun to turn away. "What was it you wanted, before?"
"What?" It took Murrue several seconds to recall. "--Oh. No, it's nothing that can't wait. Sleep well, Commander."
"Here's hoping." He flicked a sketchy salute. "You rest, too."
She smiled. "I plan to."
But she waited until he was gone from view before she started down the corridor herself.
Author's Note: Directly inspired by Mwu's conversation with Kira towards the beginning of phase 30 - particularly by how uncharacteristically hard Mwu comes down on Kira for being upset over killing Nichol. His attitude during that scene strikes me as defensive, more than anything.