Cate enlists the help of a group she doesn't even know about when she talks to Van about a couple of Picons she knew at Triton.
Location: Laundry Room, Deck 8, Battlestar //Galactica//
Related Scenes: None
Scene Number: 902
The worst part about laundry day? Waiting around so that no one dumps your clothes out of either the washer or the dryer. Van could probably be working with his holoband right about now, but he's spent a lot of time in his own private V-World recently, and so instead he brought a book. Unfortunately, he misjudged how quickly he would get through it, and now the latest Game of Dragons book lies finished alongside him, and instead he sits atop a running dryer in his greens, idly bonking his head into the wall behind him lightly and tapping the heavy ring on his right hand against the top of the washer.
Cate comes into the laundry room, looking less-than-thrilled at the chore in front of her. A mesh bag stuffed with uniform bits is slung over one shoulder, and she's wearing one of her clean sets of fatigues. Upon noticing Van, she greets him with a light smile. "Now there's the look of a man bored out of his skull."
Van hesitates for a moment, then goes back to lightly bouncing his head off the bulkhead behind him, "Not yet. Give me another half hour and I might have the bored out of my skull." And then he stops, rubbing at his head, then shrugging a little helplessly. "I didn't bring my 'band, I finished my book, and everyone has just dumped and run. I would have done the same if I didn't need my blues by 2100."
"Another half hour and I think you might've put your skull through the wall just to have an excuse to get out of laundry," Cate replies lightly, before giving a sympathetic wince. "Sounds pretty dull, yeah. I like only having one uniform to worry about. I mean, one kind. Virgon was fussier about different occasions." She glances at the book lying on the table. "Game of Dragons huh. Is that the new one?"
Van smiles faintly in response to the return joke, nodding his agreement. "One would be quite nice. Four is ridiculous, and that's coming from a Picon Naval Academy man." Which is to say, one used to formality. The question about the book draws his eyes down, and he lifts it up, hefting the heavy book, "Yes, it is. I got caught up with the show and decided I should really get caught up with the books too." Offering it out, he inquires, "Do you read them? If you can finish it up before Isolde can get time to read the previous ones, you're welcome to it."
Cate shakes her head. "Not really. I read a little bit of the first one. Used to watch the show sometimes with..." she hesitates just slightly, as if trying to categorize, "..an old boyfriend." She fishes her own book out of the top of the duffel, handing it to him before starting to chuck her clothes in the washer. "That's more my speed." A thriller from one of those guys who's always on the bestseller list. "How're you doing?"
Van sets the book down, that faint smile returning at the hesitation-causing classification, nodding a little in understanding or sympathy. When she offers out her own book, he takes it, flips it over, and immediately scans the back, "I can't disconnect well enough when I read these. Like, I want it to be more realistic, because it's close, but still way in the uncanny valley." The book is set down well within her reach, and he considers the question, drawing in a slow breath and letting it out, "I'm doing pretty well. Frustrated that my CAP and sweeps never seem to run into any toasters. Digging through reams of paperwork. The usual. How about you, Doc? I heard you got nicked on one of the ground missions?"
"Yeah, I can see that," Cate grants about the thrillers. "I'm fine with almost-realistic." Clothes dumped in and washer engaged, she tosses the empty bag onto the table and takes a chair, slouching down into it. "Well I hope you find yourself some Toasters to scrap. I'm all right. Just nicked my arm. Lost Sergeant Moreau though." A tight frown there. "And the new PFC from Gemenon was lucky they didn't have AP rounds. Took, like, five shots to the chest."
Van nods at her hope, pointing generally up, "From your lips to their ears." His amusement fades quickly, however, "I'm sorry to hear that." About Sergeant Moreau. And then he rubs at his chest, wincing in sympathy, "Ow. I think I'll stay up in a Viper and let you guys take five to the chest. He should buy stock in whoever produces the armor for the Cee-Eff though." It's an assumption that the PFC is male, utterly unthinking on Van's part. "Unfortunately, Sergeant Moreau and Echo aren't likely to be the last losses on Galactica." Van's eyes tighten slightly, his lips pursing as he pauses there a moment, "Not if we're going to be in a position to do any good."
"I'd rather take a bullet to the vest than be zipping around space in a tiny little ship," Cate replies with a smirk. "Being on a Raptor is more than enough flying for me, thanks." The smirk sobers, and she nods agreement. "Yeah, sad but true. Hopefully we get a lot more of them than they do us, though." She fusses with a loose string on the mesh bag for a moment, frowning in contemplation, before she ventures, "Was hoping I could ask you a favor."
"I'd rather take a bullet to the Viper than to the vest," Van retorts, and then he nods, "We're well ahead of them on Galactica so far, but we definitely have some ground to make up." The thoughtful frown causes Van to lift his brows in curiosity, and then her words clear any confusion away, and he nods, "If I can, I would be happy to Doc, what can I do for you?"
"Fair enough. Does suck, even with the vest. Bruises like hell. I've had two get through the vest enough to break the skin - well, one here, one at Triton - but I was still pretty lucky." Cate's frown deepens briefly at the memory before fading when he offers to help. "I've tried a couple of times to find out if Dub and Mute made it out of occupied territory. Got either nothing at all, or canned bullshit about not disclosing personnel info. I was thinking... maybe, since you're a Picon officer, and you were stationed with them... you might be able to find something out?" Her look is a mix of fretful and hopeful.
Van nods at the mention of Dub and Mute, "Right, I remember you mentioning them earlier. Sorry, I've been lost in my own things. Dub and Mute... Dub had a dog and a kid with him, right? Or was that Mute?" He starts to say something else, and then he bites it back, grimacing a little. Probably he heard some of the rumors, at least about Cate's connection to the crew, if not the PTSD and the fight. "But yes, I can look into it. I should have tried to keep in better contact with the other Sea Knights anyhow. I guess I just never got as close to them as I could have, because to them, I was the nugget coming into the fight, and after that... no time." He grimaces a touch, but nods again, as if making decision for himself.
Cate offers a faint, worried smile when he mentions the kid and dog. "Yeah, that was Evan. Er, Mute. He found his niece with one of the batches of refugees. Great kid. She helped take care of me after I got hurt in the evac." That's treading on less pleasant memories, though, and she brushes it off to say, "Thanks. I mean... for trying, at least. Even if they won't tell you either. Or there's nothing to tell."
Van nods a little warily, "I may not have any sort of 'need to know,' but..." and then he pauses, his brows lifting, "Did either of them go to the Academy?" Rolling his shoulders a little uncomfortably, he adds, "There are occasional benefits to being in the Ringknocker's Protection Association, and being able to get in touch with other grads can be one of them."
Cate thinks for a second, brow scrunching. "Pretty sure Evan did, yeah. Dub came up through the marines, so... I don't know." She then looks curious. "What's the Ringknocker's Protection Association?"
Van frowns in confusion at the mention of Dub's path, "That's... odd..." Shaking it off, however, Van runs a hand over his scalp, then glances down and away to where he knocks his ring against the washer again, "It's... nothing official, you understand. There's just a sort of fraternity -- or sorority -- among Academy grads. We look out for each other. Sometimes it means a complaint is looked into a little more closely, sometimes it means someone does a favor for another grad, sometimes it means putting in a good word for someone. It's never anything big, just a bit of shared history, even if we were at the Academy decades apart."
"Well not literally from the Marines. He transferred to the Navy after his tour was done," Cate clarifies, on seeing Van's confusion. "But I don't know if he went to the Academy or OCS or what." She shrugs, then listens to his explanation. "I see. Makes sense." She blows out a soft breath. "I really appreciate you doing this. We were close. They saved my life. I just want to know if they made it." The very real possibility that they didn't, or that she may never know, causes her expression to grow pained for a moment before she shakes it off to say, "I'll owe you one."
Van pops up off the edge of the washer, straightening the creased lines of his duty greens (who creases -- or starches -- their greens? really...), and crouches down in front of Cate, reaching out to rest a hand on her forearm, "Not at all, Doc. I still owe you one from cleaning up my arm so well. Call us even if I can find anything out. It's the least I can do in the name of inter-Colonial cooperation anyhow."
Cate shakes her head, smiling a little at the hand on her arm. "That was just doing my job." Or, well, doing the job she had volunteered to do after getting stuck there. "This is personal. But I won't arm-wrestle you over who's indebted to who." She shifts the subject a tiny bit by asking, "By the way... do you like Milkman or Newton better?"
Van settles back on his heels, still crouching, but now resting his forearms on his thighs. The question draws a grimace, and he shrugs, "I don't know. I guess that depends on whether or not you believe that I got the callsign because every run with me is a milk run, because I'm just that good." There's... not a lot of hope in his voice, more sardonically resigned than anything else.
"And here I thought it was just 'cause you had a thing for milk," Cate deadpans back with a smirk. "Milk runs, huh?"
Van grimaces again, "I didn't think so." Shaking his head, he lets out a breath, digging out a battered pack of cigarettes and then glancing around at all the nicely clean clothes and thinking better of it. He tucks the pack back and shrugs, "Back when I was flying Raptors, I complained about always being assigned to milk runs. My CO said I better get used to it, and..." one hand gestures to where his callsign would be if he were wearing his flight suit.
Cate ahs. "Well, at least it's not too embarrassing. Someone told me Evan got his because he never shut up - everyone was always looking for the 'mute' button." A weak chuckle there, then she says, "But still... I'm gathering you're not overly fond of it then."
"I've known pilots like that. It's fine on CAP, but when you're in a dogfight and want to call a warning, you don't want to have to shout over someone." He hesitates a little before directly answering the question, then shakes his head, "No, but I'm pretty much used to it by now."
Cate says, "Oh, no, not during a dogfight. Just, y'know, in general." Cate nods to the last part. "Yeah, I guess you get stuck with something long enough it kinda grows on you. Glad we don't have to worry about callsigns. Calling everyone by their last names is bad enough."
"Or Doc. Because that never gets confusing when there are two or more medics or doctors around." Van glances down again, studying his fingers for a moment before he straightens up and settles into a lean back against the dryer he was sitting on before, "So back... before... I heard some scuttlebutt. About you and Mute." His words are quiet, a grimace twisting his lips, "I don't want to bring up anything too painful, but how did the two of you make it work? In the middle of a war zone? I know that regs were..." non-existent, "...relaxed, but everything else." He barely lets that sit for a heartbeat before he adds quickly, "And if I'm off-base, or you don't want to talk about it, just tell me and I'll shove off."
"Yeah, I suppose I got one anyway," Cate mock-laments. The other question catches her off-guard. "Oh." It's not the most pleasant of subjects, given the way her expression shifts, but she answers him anyway. "We weren't..." She fumbles for the words, fails. "He lost his wife, before the war. She was the only woman for him." Even if Mute's flirty ways made it seem otherwise and gave the rumour mill more than enough to work with. A faint, sad smile flickers briefly before she shrugs. "So... it was kinda one-sided, but I don't think that made it any easier. The waiting, the worrying. He got shot once. It was really bad..." And there her voice takes on a more hushed tone. "I had to open him up in the back of the Raptor on the way back to base, just to keep him from bleeding out." The distant expression on her face, the bob of her throat attests to that being not one of her favorite memories. "That was hard."
Van grimaces harder as she settles into the difficult subject, a mute apology, but he still listens as she works her way through it, and then makes the apology verbal as well, "Sorry. I didn't mean to... I suppose that I did mean to dredge up old memories, but I'm still sorry that I did. I can only imagine. I think that might be why your job is harder than mine. So often, we don't see all the... gory... details. Although it's stuff like... well, like everything that went on in Triton," the stadium, although he's clearly shying away from the subject, "that's why I try to make sure the toasters always go down with their ships when I drop them."
Cate shakes her head. "Hey, it's all right. Not like I don't think about it a lot anyway." The mention of Triton gets a grim nod, and she says, "I don't think it's harder, just... different. I mean, yeah, you don't see the blood and guts, but I'm not sure the fireballs are really any better. More of them you can take out, the better." A beat, then she notes, "Isa seems really set on switching over to the Air Wing. I'm sure that's rough for you," she says with an understated sympathy.
"As long as their Cyper or Raider fireballs, I'm good." The grim tone from Van speaks eloquently to how un-good he is with Viper or Raptor fireballs. The mention of Isolde and her plans causes Van to shift, his ring knocking against the dryer again. For a moment, it looks like he's going to deny that there is any reason for sympathy or anything like that, but instead he just blows out a breath, "Going from Galactica to a Raptor? Definitely doesn't improve your chances. Then there's the fact that the Picon Naval Academy has a distinctly broader definition of 'fraternization' than the Colonial Forces. The whole situations is... complicated."
Cate arches an eyebrow there. "You're kinda already screwed under the Picon definition, aren't you? Officer and enlisted? Least from what I heard around Triton. None of that applied to me because I was a civilian, but still... not quite following how that's more of an issue if she transfers. Especially if they make her an officer."
Van nods, "I am indeed. I am indeed. About my only hope is that she does decide to go ECO, and gets assigned to the Argonauts." He glances down, his shoulders hunching a little, "Or that nothing comes of it." Which is clearly grudging. "That it doesn't become anything more than it is, or isn't."
Cate watches him, squinting a little and very clearly debating whether to say anything. In the end, she does. "You hope so because of the regs or because you don't want to worry about her? 'Cause I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that you're going to worry about her whether she's flying on your wing or someone else's. I always felt better when it was my wing... figuratively speaking, obviously."
That... pretty clearly isn't a question Van wants to think about. His head still bowed, he scrubs at his buzzed hair with the palm of one hand, grimacing hard. "I guess that really depends, doesn't it? On what matters to me. If she matters the most, I say I want her in my squadron, so I can watch out for her, even if it means we can't... fraternize. If I matter the most, I say I want her in the Argonauts, where we can fraternize, but I can't watch her as closely." His lips go white a moment as they tighten, and he lets out a gust of breath, "No good options, Doc."
Cate tilts her head a bit at the response. "Unless she becomes an ECO and an officer, then you're not breaking any regs even if she is in your squadron. Seems like a pretty good option from where I'm sitting." She offers a wan smirk. "But from where I'm sitting, I'd say frak regulations, some things are more important in life. But that's just me."
Van brings one hand up, waggling is in an 'iffy' response to Cate's statement, a very coastal Picon gesture. "No Colonial regs. I mean, I suppose that with her in a Raptor, I wouldn't ever be her element or flight lead..." there's a touch of hope there, but he still grimaces a little, "You saw how most of the pilots flew from Triton, Doc. Fighter jocks through and through. And so many of them went down in flames, but not me, not the guy who got his Viper wings a couple of months before the Uprising. Flying and living by the book kept me alive down there."
Cate shrugs, "Even if it did, you're not a rookie any more. Look, I'm not trying to tell you how to live your life. You got through Triton flying and living by the book. I got through Triton by pushing boundaries. How else you think I convinced them to send an untrained civilian doctor out with the marines?" She lets out a soft sigh, shaking her head. "Like you said, it all comes down to what's most important to you. That's something only you can decide."
Van nods at Cate's first words, "Hell, I'm an ace now. Combined Picon and Colonial scores." Which isn't how his fellow pilots are counting. "But I got that way following the book." A flash of his faint smile returns to the young man's lips, "And you convinced them to send a qualified civilian doctor by being better than any of the others present, Doc, although I'll deny saying that if pressed by any Picon Naval medical staff." The dryer he's leaning against buzzes, and he turns around to pull it open, carefully withdrawing his jacket first, smoothing it out and folding it carefully as he thinks, "But you're definitely right that I need to figure out what is more important to me." Not that he sounds happy about that -- or like he's sure which one is more important.
Cate smirks, shrugging. "Hell, it was more a matter of there not /being/ many others present." Since the main military hospital in the area was at Amphritite across the bay, which was wiped out. Triton had only a small clinic. "Victory by default. But I appreciate the vote of confidence anyway." She nods to the last, letting it rest by just saying, "Good luck with that."
"Well, I wasn't going to say it..." about there not being many others. Van places the jacket in his basket, then withdraws the pants and carefully folds them as well, using his chin to hold them in place as he gets the creases just right. As they too go into the basket, the pilot shrugs a little, "Thanks. I have a feeling the favor for you might be easier. I'll start poking around there right away, send a couple of notes along through channels." Unofficial ones, if he's still talking about the Ringknocker's Protection Association. "I'll let you know as soon as I hear anything back--I should get these on a hanger before the folds cool in." Several of the dark tanktops and some black socks are piled out of the dryer on top of the blues, and then Van gathers up detergent, dryer sheets, book, and basket and gets set to head out.
"Thanks. Take care, Newton," Cate offers as he gets his things and prepares to head out.