2237-06-09 - Awkward Squared

Lyn checks in on Aldrich after his fast is broken, and things go downhill from there.

Date: 2237-06-09

Location: Chapel and Halls -- Vanguard

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 1111

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A week's worth of fasting and meditating does not make for a super spry Aldrich, but a chaplain's gotta do what a chaplain's gotta do. And apparently today he's gotta work in the chapel, setting things to rights after leaving it in someone else's care for the week. Just at the moment, he has a rag and is dusting all the various shelves and their candles.

Lyn visited Aldrich every day during his fast and meditation, making sure no one had been messing with him, tidying up around him, wiping his face and hands if needed, just to give the poor guy a break. He may have heard the rumblings about the confrontation in the Head while he was out of touch. Lyn has been scarce for the last two days, hiding out in the chapel for a bit, then in some of her other various hidey holes. Today, finding Aldrich absent from his rack, she steps into the chapel in search of him. "Hey, Al," she greets. She looks exhausted, with dark circles under her eyes, as if she's slept very little lately. She's in her off duty tans.

Aldrich probably did not respond well to having his face and hands wiped, any more than he would have responded to someone trying to draw on him (He was meditating, not dead, after all). But otherwise, although he didn't speak during the week, he did offer grateful smiles here and there, when she caught him during his rare breaks.

He glances up when he hears the greetings, and gives the same sort of smile: tired but gracious. "Hello, Lyn." His smile falters a touch into worry. "Is everything okay?"

Lyn wraps her arms around herself as she makes her way to one of the pews to sit and watch him clean. "I was just coming to ask you how your fast went," she says with a grim smile. "I tried to keep the clowns from messing with you too much."

Aldrich goes back to dusting, since that seems to be the thing to do. He's moving rather carefully, but hey, at least he's upright. "As well as a fast ever does," he replies, with a little sigh. "I feel... emptied out, in a way. Spiritually, I mean." Ne picks up a candle to give it the once-over, before carefully replacing it. "I do appreciate that, by the way. I can handle them, but it /is/ kind of a distraction from what I'm meant to be doing."

"That's what I figured. It'd be like taking a difficult exam that really needs your concentration, and having some jackhole throwing spitballs at you the whole time," Lyn notes. "Being emptied out sounds pretty welcoming about now."

Aldrich nods a little, confirming her assessment. "Something like that," he agrees, and leaves the dust rag on the shelf for now, as he moves back over to the pew and settles down, a bit heavily. "So I wasn't exactly /entirely/ unaware of things. Do you need to talk?"

Lyn sighs. "Probably. But I'm so tired I'm not sure what would come out of my mouth," she admits. "I haven't been sleeping well since we got back from leave. Been seeing the new shrink. Ironically, he happens to be my old shrink." She scowls. "But I'm guessing you mean the screaming match in the head."

Aldrich has his typical look of kind concern, only slightly dimmed by the weariness that comes from not eating for most of a week. "Yes... Well, I had heard some glimmer of a rumor about it. That's the thing about Gemenese New Year as an expatriate. People tend to forget you're there and say things they might not otherwise... Are you okay?"

"Not really? That's the honest answer. I feel very, very alone right now. I'm hoping Doctor Anders can help fix my head, then maybe my heart can follow suit." Lyn pinches the bridge of her nose. "If not, I may need to put in for a transfer. I'm no good to anyone like this." She looks around at all the religious paraphernalia. "I was thinking about having a little funeral of sorts. The ring, the letters I wrote him, a photo of my dad. Saying some words and airlocking them. Maybe that would help."

Aldrich nods a little, and after a moment's hesitation, he reaches to give her shoulder a kind of pat. It's awkward, but he means well. "You aren't alone. And... for what it's worth, talking to the ship psychologist doesn't make you broken. Everyone can use a tune-up now and then." He pulls his hand away, and glances around, himself. "Oh? Well... I suppose we could put together something like that. Do you want me to just make something up for you, or did you have a particular service in mind?"

Lyn covers his hand with her own in the moment or two it's on her shoulder. "Maybe you could make something up. I'm pretty sure no one has a service for moving on from bad decisions and self blame," she points out with a tired smirk.

Aldrich chuckles faintly. "You'd be surprised. There's a pretty common theme among various sects of giving up or burning possessions as a symbolic act of moving on or personal change... But I'll come up with something for you. When would you like to do it?"

"We have a mission on the roster for tomorrow. Day after, maybe? Provided we make it back to the Vanguard in one piece?" Lyn asks, raising her brows hopefully. "I wonder if Kovac can give me something to sleep tonight. Being exhausted in the field is never good."

Aldrich nods a little. "That might be wise," he agrees, gently. "If he won't, I'm sure either Eli or Cate will. Would you like me to walk over and talk to them for you, just in case?" he offers.

Lyn nods at that. "That would be great, Al. I don't think Cate can get me anything, neither can Kovak on the books but he's, you know, him." She shakes her head at that. Rulebreaker!

Aldrich chuckles a little. "Perhaps we should start with Cadmus, just to be safe," he suggests, gently. "I'm pretty sure he can help you without breaking any rules. I know he seems gruff, but he really does want everyone to stay healthy and in fighting shape. You can't do that if you don't sleep."

"All right, we'll ask Cadmus. He must be pretty used to closing up holes in me by now, to know I really need to be rested to come home alive," Lyn says with a soft chuckle.

Aldrich gives a little crooked smile. "Well, he's threatened to drug me enough times if I didn't promise to sleep..." he offers, and starts to stand up. "I was just about to finish up here, anyway. We can swing by on the way to mess?"

"Sounds like a plan, Al. You must be starving. I had the flu once and couldn't eat much for a week, and I think I would have eaten an entire cow if you put one in front of me after," Lyn says, risking creakily from the pew.

Aldrich chuckles faintly. "Well, I'm not allowed to eat a cow. At least not for a few days," he answers, with genuine amusement. "Just broth for today. But yes, I am feeling it, for sure." He gestures for her to precede him to the exit, then follows along at his own leisurely pace. "Though fasting is a tiny bit different from being too sick to eat."

"Broth? For real? I think I'd be so cranky over that I'd end up punching someone just because," Lyn chuckles. She heads through the exit and waits for him to walk side by side. "Bad enough Chilly seems to exist soley on fruit. I don't know how she keeps going."

Aldrich shakes his head and catches up within a few steps, once they're into the hallway. "Well, it's not for religious reasons. Trust me, the last thing you want to do after a fast is eat a heavy meal. It doesn't taste nearly as good going the other way," he jokes.

Lyn wrinkles her nose and gives him a little shove with her shoulder. "Gross, Al. But I guess that would be true. Can you at least eat a little bread? I think I'd be just craving solids after a week."

Aldrich totters more than he generally would at the little shove, but he gives a little chuckle. "It's a whole process," he replies, gently. "Tradition, and all that. Broth today, salad tomorrow, and then I can go back to a moderate version of normal." After a moment, he gives a guilty little smile and adds, "But I'll admit, there's a lot I'd do for a slice of chocolate cake on that third day."

"Well, when you can finally eat like a normal person again, I'll bake you a chocolate cake. I have an arrangement with the galley chief, though he's a little sore with me from the last time I almost burned it down in a drunken baking stupor." Lyn shakes her head a little, shoving her hands into the pockets of her BDUs. "Anything else you want in or on it? I have sprinkles!"

Aldrich shoots Lyn a genuinely surprised look. "Seriously?" For a moment, he remains nonplussed, but then smiles slowly. "To be honest, I didn't think it was possible. But if you really don't mind... I love just plain chocolate. Though we'll have to find someone to share it. I don't think I could eat a whole cake by myself."

Lyn lifts a finger to her lips in a shhhhh motion. "Don't tell people but I've been a baker since I was a kid. Wasn't a lot else to do growing up at Arctic Station Thula. Got pretty good at it. And I have a pile of supplies in a crate labeled 'toxic - do not open' in one of the storage bays." She smiles.

Aldrich raises his eyebrows, makes a show of glancing up and down the hallway to be sure no one is around to overhear, then smirks a little. "All right, your secret is safe with me, in that case. Truly, though. That's almost too kind. You really don't have to."

"Of course I don't have to. I want to," Lyn insists. "You have been here for me, Al, time and time again. I can't even express to you how much that means. If it weren't for you and Cate, I'm not sure I'd even still be here on Vanguard."

Aldrich's smile softens a little. "All right, well. As long as you help me eat it." He walks in silence for a few paces, and then adds, "I'm very glad that you didn't leave the Vanguard. And if anything I've done has made your time here easier, that makes me very happy."

Lyn colors ever so slightly, the tiniest bit of a blush. "Sure, I'll help you eat it, and you have made a difference. I promise." She scrubs one hand across her forehead. "You helped me see things from a different perspective outside of that hole I've been in for so long."

Aldrich folds his hands behind his back. "Well, you've certainly paid me back already, and more," he points out, gently, and then gives a bit of a chuckle. "This is a yearly ritual, and in all the years since I left Gemenon, I don't think anyone has ever took it upon themselves to /guard/ me before."

"Well, I protect the ones I care about, fiercely if necessary," Lyn adds, knocking her knuckles on a bulkhead. "Hopefully they never require it."

Aldrich glances aside at Lyn, again seeming a little surprised by that. "I guess I'm not really used to that," he admits, quietly. "Having people who care about me, I mean. Generally it goes the other direction. Which is to be expected, of course..."

Lyn looks at him curiously. "To be expected as a Chaplain, but you're also a person, Al. You're allowed to care about people." She shoves her hands back into her pockets and looks ahead down the hall. "And caring about people again is new to me. The last two years I shut down that part of myself to keep from going insane at everything I lost. But I'm slowly finding that some people persistently make me care about them." She gives him a little smile at that.

Aldrich lifts a shoulder. "I care about many people," he replies, gently. "But... I think it's difficult to do my job if people care too much about me, in return. For a variety of reasons." He lets it go at that, and gives it a little smile. "But if I'm helping you learn to care about people, that can only be a good thing. And I'm glad."

"What reasons are those? You told me you're allowed to have relationships and the like, didn't you?" Lyn asks curiously, but gently.

Aldrich nods a little, and looks toward the ceiling, thoughtfully. "Yes, of course I am. It's... tricky. It varies from person to person, but across the board, it's my job to be a sounding board and emotional support. Having relationships with those same people can get very sticky, very quickly." He gives a crooked grin, and adds, "I think psychologists call it a dual relationship. But I've already seen how damaging it can be."

"You've been burned by it before, I take it?" Lyn asks. "If it's any help, I have a shrink to be my sounding board these days, so you get to take a break in that department." She chuckles a little with another gentle shoulder nudge.

Aldrich totters again with the shoulder nudge, but smiles a bit. "I dated Eli briefly before he took off to be with Mikolas. It was... very difficult to be objective with either of them for some time afterwards. And Mikolas did not take it well when I suggested it would be better for him to deal with a different chaplain." He lifts a shoulder slightly. "I'm trying to avoid a similar scenario from happening again."

"Ouch. I'm sorry, Al. I didn't know you, ah, preferred guys. Not that there's anything wrong with it. I've had my own dabbling with the ladies when I was younger," She chews on her lip at that. "You can't just make yourself a pillar of stone though. You have to keep your heart open." Pot, kettle.

Aldrich chuckles faintly at that. "I don't necessarily have a preference," he replies, "It's...complicated. Anyway, I don't think I've made myself a pillar of stone," he points out, glancing aside at Lyn with some amusement. "However much Cadmus might like to accuse me of such... Do I seem particularly stony to you?"

"I just mean, you can't purposely not have relationships. What if you do that, and you miss out a chance at real, true happiness? It's the greatest gift you can have at a time like this. Or so I'm told. Repeatedly." She chuckles. "Hey, if I can get over my ex and all the idiocy that spawned, you sure as hades can."

Aldrich snorts faintly. "And what if by seeking my own happiness, I hurt someone else?" he points out, gently. "That isn't an acceptable risk for me. Not with the position I've accepted, here." He snorts faintly, "Besides. I find it highly unlikely that the situation will even come up again, so the question is kind of academic, isn't it?"

"Then you and they experience part of life. We're all soldiers, Al. We're not teenagers, even if some of us might act like it. You can't avoid that part of yourself without doing real, genuine damage to who you are. Take my word for that," Lyn grimaces. She spent the last two years doing just that and look where she is now. "And you never know. That's the thing about love. It tends to ambush you when you aren't looking for it."

Aldrich shakes his head a little. "I'm sure that's true for you," he answers, still gentle but a bit more firm. "My situation is different. It wouldn't be appropriate /or/ ethical." He takes a deep breath, mustering his energy. "And like I said, the question is academic. Honestly, it's a bit exhausting to have people constantly fighting me on my life choices over some hypothetical situation that is never going to happen. I don't mean to be rude, but..."

Lyn pulls her hands out of her pockets and holds them up, backing away. "Whoa, Al. Ok, I get it. You're not interested. I'll quit my terrible attempts at flirting." If that was flirting, she really needs help in that department.

Aldrich stops walking. He looks a little like he just got smacked with a board on the back of the head. Given the week he's had, that might not be the healthiest thing. "I'm sorry..." he finally manages, faintly. "I didn't realize."

Lyn shrugs. "Nothing to be sorry about. It was just a random thought." She keeps walking, training her eyes ahead of them down the hall.

Aldrich stays motionless for several long moments before he manages to resume forward motion, perhaps a little unsteadier than before. "Lyn, wait. I don't... I /am/ sorry. I didn't mean to... What I mean is, it's okay. I understand what you're going through. With everything that's happened between you and Ingvar."

Lyn pauses for him to catch up. "I just haven't slept in a few days, Al. In my head all the nice things you've done for me just..." she shrugs again, "They were nice is all. If I ever was going to be in a relationship again, I'd want it to be with someone like you. Someone who honestly cares about people. Who understands sacrifice and doesn't make it all about him."

Aldrich falls back in next to Lyn, listening to her explanation. "My brain is not exactly working at full capacity at the moment, I'm afraid," he offers, tentatively. "The last thing I would want is to hurt you. It's...easy, after a breakup, to transfer those messy feelings onto the next person to come along. I understand. I just didn't realize that's what was happening."

"That breakup happened two years ago, Al. Since he came back it's just been a miniature war in which we each try to hurt the other more, and pass the blame. He's with someone. He's in love with her, I think. When do I get to have my chance at that?" Lyn takes in a steadying breath.

Aldrich stops and reaches for Lyn's hand to try to stop her, as well. "That's exactly what I'm talking about," he says, quietly, and not unkindly. "That question you're asking... when do you get to have your chance? That's not about me. That's...rebounding." He smiles crookedly. "I ought to know. It's the same thing that happened with Eli. If I can help comfort you, that's wonderful, and I'm glad to, but...not like that."

Lyn flinches a little at the touch of her hand and she lets out the breath she'd been holding. "No, I get it. Really. But I've been alone, really alone, for over two years now. And it's eating me alive, Al. The longer it goes on, the less and less I feel like even trying."

Aldrich pulls his hand back when Lyn flinches, looking more deeply troubled than ever. "I know that feeling," he answers, quietly. "That's how I ended up in trouble the last time around. But you don't need a... a placeholder."

"I don't want a placeholder. I want something real. Because I have begun doubting what I had with Jonas was ever real." She grimaces. "Don't worry about it, Al. It was like you said, just me feeling a need to bounce back or whatever."

Aldrich nods a little, but he still looks a little uncertain about the whole thing. "I'm sorry..." he offers again, faintly. He glances up the hall and back the other way. "We should get to the clinic, I guess?"

Lyn nods, looking embarrassed on top of exhausted. "Yeah, I really need some sleep," she murmurs.

Aldrich nods a little, and starts to walk again, but he still looks aside at Lyn now and then, as he walks. "You need sleep, I need food," he replies. "Sounds like a perfect storm to me..."

"Sounds like the story of my life at this point," Lyn snorts. Her hands are back in her pockets and she can't look at him. She feels like an idiot, that is clearly on her face.

Aldrich walks for a few paces in awkward silence. Then, just as awkwardly, he offers, "We have arranged marriages where I come from." A beat, and then he adds, "I never really learned how to do this the way the other colonies do." He doesn't look like he's feeling too smart, himself.

"Oh," Lyn replies. "Arranged marriages. That sounds pretty unpleasant." How frakking far away is the damned Sick Bay anyway!?

A million years, apparently. "It's not," Aldrich answers, simply. "It's just different." Holy awkwardness, Batman.

"Where I'm from it's basically, date, date some more, seriously date some more, then he asks your dad for permission, get engaged, get married, make fat babies," Lyn explains. Fat babies because Aquaria is cold. "I think most colonies do things along that line." Worst conversation ever.

Aldrich nods a little, and gives an awkward smile. "Well, no, I understand /that/. I didn't exactly just fall off a shuttle..." he explains, quietly. "I just... thought it might help to know." Back to walking in awkward silence.

"So you'll have a marriage arranged for you then?" Lyn asks. Walk. Walk. Walk.

Aldrich shakes his head. "No. Not anymore, obviously. But that's what I grew up believing would happen. That's what I prepared for. It's... a different skill set, I guess."

"You don't have to explain, Al. Really. I blindsided you, and you were right to think it was bad timing and probably just not ok." Lyn is focusing on her breathing. "I wasn't kidding when I said you were too nice to deserve a bag of issues like me." Back at the barbeque.

Aldrich blinks rapidly. "Don't do that," he says, quietly. "You are..." He hesitates over that for a moment, searching for words. "Lovely. And caring. And warm. You're a wonderful person, and you deserve happiness. You're getting it all backward..."

"I'm none of those things. I'm a flaming Raptor wreck inside, my head and my heart. I shouldn't be putting the burden of that on anyone until I get things right." Lyn shakes her head.

"You're hurt," Aldrich corrects, quietly. "That's not the same thing. And I'm not going to allow you to use /my/ brokenness to justify feeling bad about yourself." A few paces, and then he adds another awkward, "Sorry."

"It's not a contest over who's more broken," Lyn mumbles. "But I am, really broken. I have been a machine for the last two years, focused on nothing, nothing but my job, shutting out everyone and everything else so I wouldn't have to think about the things that caused me pain, or take any risks that might lead to that kind of pain again."

Aldrich looks down at the ground, frowning deeply. "I don't understand what's different now," he replies, quietly. "But... I don't want you to shut down again. You're obviously not happy that way."

"Shrink said I needed to start seeing myself as someone who deserves to be happy, to have happy relationships." Clearly Lyn is gonna have some words with Anders over this debacle. "I'll be fine. I just need some sleep."

Aldrich shakes his head a little, and looks down at the ground again. "He's right," he offers, quietly, but leaves it at that as they finally reach the clinic entrance.

"I can probably handle it from here. You should go get some food, Al," Lyn says quietly, as she stops in the hatchway entrance to the sick bay.

Aldrich lingers a moment, glancing past her into the clinic. "All right," he allows, after a moment, but he still looks kind of worried. "But if something goes wrong, you'll let me know? I'll check in later and make sure you got taken care of..."

"Sure, Al. Just take care of you, today, all right? You've been starving yourself for a week," Lyn says quietly. She turns and heads into the bay to seek out something to help her sleep.

Aldrich nods a little, and watches her go inside, but he still looks a little worried. Maybe it's hunger brain! Who knows. In any case, he finally moves on, presumably to the mess hall.


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