A complicated relationship becomes even more so when two with a past have trouble finding their groove.
Location: Crew Lounge
Related Scenes: None
Scene Number: 423
The lounge was rather quiet at this time of the evening. A few crew members adorned various tables, playing Triad, or drinking and laughing. It was sort of a hushed tone for one of the few places on the Dauntless not dedicated to war duty. Jacob Marx decorated a table in the back corner of the room. He had his back to the wall, enabling him to face the door. The man was dressed in a 'Timber Wolves' tank top, meant primarily for working out. Between that and the workout shorts, it was likely he was either returning from or heading to the gym. His tattoos stood out like beacons, denoting his birth and likely upbringing. A glass full of dark whiskey adorns the table in front of him. And? A cheesy sci-fi novel seems to cradled by scared and worn hands.
Light duty. For the workaholic who keeps busy as a coping mechanism, it's a special kind of torture. A grumpy-looking Cate wanders into the rec room, heading over to the coffee machine in the corner. As she fixes herself a cup - loaded with sugar, as usual - she notices Jacob lurking in the corner. She slants him a look, offering a quiet, "Hey." Her sweatshirt hoodie covers up the bandages, but the lingering effect of injury is probably noticeable in the stiff, careful way she walks and carries herself.
"You still wearing a plate carrier?" The bulky Hibernian man lifts his eyes from his book, offering her a tight lipped half-smile. That's only until he can inspect her more fully, though. That warrants a folded page and an absent closing of the paperback as an eyebrow climbs his forehead. One thick hand pulls the whiskey glass more toward his side of the table as Jacob sits up a bit in his chair, eyes searching. "Catey? What happened? You okay?"
"A plate... oh," Cate gets the reference. "No, kinda hard to hide a vest under this thing," she observes with a light 'heh'. Then she frowns at the question, shrugging a little. "Got hit again last time out. I'll be all right. Vest took the worst of it." She doesn't join him at the table without invitation, but does lean against the back of a chair at the one next to his, sipping at her coffee before asking. "You been down planetside yet?"
"Yeah. Yesterday. Caprican entrenched position. They wanted us to flank to give them some room to move." Jacob motions to that chair with his hand, murmuring a quiet invitation in his own way. He'd never been great at the 'proper manners' game. She does earn a suspicious look, that eyebrow still arched even as the whiskey glass rises to meet his lips. "You know. You've always underplayed everything. And you..." He motions to her with that glass, offering a slight grin. "Have a tell. So honestly. How were you hit?"
Cate nods to his description of the mission. "Hard to tell if we're making any progress down there." She takes the seat when it's offered, then lifts her brows. "I have a tell?" Equal parts amused and interested by that declaration. But the amusement quickly gives way to a frown when he presses for details. "Took a burst to the chest. Two of them got through but they weren't too deep. I'll be fine. Mostly just bruised to hell from the vest." Then she tries to change the topic. "What're you reading?"
Jacob glances down to the cover of the book, almost laughing. "Star Raiders. I thought it was a stupid way to waste time. But now that we're fighting robots in space?" He shrugs, supremely confident, and sips that whiskey one more time before setting the glass down on the table. "I consider the thing a tactical manual." He smiles at her, though those dark eyes go back down to that sweatshirt for a moment before returning to study her face. "You know me. As soon as reading takes on too much substance, I head for the hills." He clearly opts to follow her change of subject, pushing the book over to her with one scarred finger. "Trash like this, though? I've always had a soft spot."
"Star Raiders," Cate echoes, amused. "Well, least nobody can talk about how implausible the setting is. And hey, I'm not one to throw stones. I haven't read a serious book since med school. Well..." she has second thoughts and amends. "I guess there was some crap to read in basic but I probably skimmed more of it than I read." A wry smirk is offered there.
"There was crap to read in basic?" Jacob blinks, looking down at the book and back up to her. "That... may be why I did enough pushups to make an indent in the concrete." He looks down at the table as if truly considering. The smile that appears on his face is almost well hidden. When he looks up, though, it's plain enough to see, his fingers still idly twirling the glass on the table. "So? What book graces the nightstand of the great Catherine Rhodes?" And yes. Both eyebrows raise at that question.
"Well, I had to read the regs and stuff to find out how to get around them." Though the tone sounds like a joke, she's probably dead serious. Rebel to the end. Cate takes another drink of coffee, then smirks when he asks what she's reading. "Right now? It's this thriller about a Caprican spy in the Tauron-controlled zone on Sag. One of the pilots loaned it to me. Some of us trade books around when we're done with them."
"Makes sense. There's not exactly a bookstore hidden in any of the storage annexes." Jacob replies, chuckling. "Though if there was? My money would be on you knowing." He raises that glass again, taking a pretty steady drink of the dark liquid within. When it lowers again, he considers it and the book, pulling the worn paperback a bit closer to him and glancing at the cover. "Never thought I'd be one to read many books. I brought a grand total of three." He smirks, his tone dripping with amusement. "Gym's getting to be hard, though. Well, at least without gloves on."
Cate smirks. "Yeah, I probably would. The canteen has a few, though, and they can order whatever you want. Just takes a little while." Causing him to rest his case, most likely. "Brought three with you here, you mean? That is a lot for a guy who doesn't like to read." The latter comment gets a confused look. "What do you mean, hard? Always figured that stuff was a breeze for you."
"Star Raiders, Solar Pilot, and something with a really angry space witch." Jacob nods, looking up from the refuge his eyes had taken in that drink. "And seriously. Tactical manuals. You can't have enough of them." The question about his gym experience earns a somewhat bitter smirk. "How many times do you think I broke them over the years?" He looks down at his hands all scarred knuckles and swollen joints. "Hitting something without gloves on? It kicks me in the teeth sometimes. Doc on the Athena kept trying to convince me to get some damned shots, but..." He shrugs his shoulders. "Not sure if I'm convinced."
"Sounds like you're set for a few hours there, at least," Cate says when he rattles off the books. Her brow creases in concern then, looking down at the hands. She starts to reach for one of them, then stops herself, a shadow crossing over her face. After an awkward pause, she says, "Let me see? What, did they say it was early arthritis?"
"Something about bone growth and swelling." Jacob replies, his hands withdrawing slightly and his head shaking. He sighs, and pushes them across the table a bit more toward her. There was a bit of swelling on the distal ends of the metacarpals. It seemed entirely settled around the joints. "All I could really get out of them is that it involves a big ass needle and some kind of steroid. To me?" He shrugs, an eyebrow raising for only a moment. "It sounds like I shouldn't be jumping between any ropes any time soon."
"Yeah that happens. Repeated trauma." Cate examines the fingers once he pushes them over, frowning at the swelling. There's a pensive look on her face, though, when she touches the fingers. Familiar, yet different. "The shot would help, but yeah - easing off the boxing is probably a good idea." She releases his hand and hesitates a moment before fumbling to venture, "I'm sorry. Know that meant a lot to you."
"It's just another kick." Jacob seems intent on watching her fingers against his. He'd always been amazed at how small the woman's hands were. But now, in this place, in this circumstance, he seems to hesitate. When she withdraws, he sighs, pulling his hands back across the table to the wonderful solace of that whiskey glass. "There's always training, though. And wrapping the hell out of them." He studies her for a few moments. "I may not be able to keep myself away, though. You know how I am. I'll...uhh..." A pause. "Try to come by sickbay when you're off duty. No need to make things harder than they have to be."
"No shortage of those these days," Cate reasons in soft sympathy. "One kick in the teeth after another." Her hands pick up her coffee cup again. "You don't have to avoid my shifts," she points out with a mild frown, then shakes her head. "You'd be seeing one of the docs anyway."
"Unless a certain medic is assigned to in process me." Jacob replies in a low tone, raising his whiskey glass to study it before taking another drink. "And then we're in for an awkward. Well." He pauses a moment, setting the whiskey back down on the table and pushing away with one outstretched finger. "Whatever this is." His jaw sets a little, and the burly marine looks between her face and her sweatshirt. An uncertain look seems to cross his face. "I don't know whether to call you a friend or avoid you anymore, Catey. Or... Whatever the frak's going on."
"You can always request someone else," Cate points out dryly. "And even if you don't, I think I can handle taking your blood pressure without imploding." The latter comment is met with a slightly pained look back. She frowns down at her coffee cup for several seconds before saying, "I don't know either. But it's not like we can snap our fingers and make it not be awkward. So. Guess we just have to figure out how to deal with it." She gets up then. "I'm gonna head back to my rack. More tired than I thought." There's a beat, and she adds, "And for the record - that's actually the truth, not just an excuse to avoid you."
Jacob nods, that whiskey glass rising for one slosh of the liquid gold. "Sure thing." He watches her stand, not looking entirely convinced. That glass, now empty, earns his eyes immediately after her, head shaking softly. "If we could only snap our damned fingers. I don't think we'd have to get rid of the awkwardness between us." He stands as well, a hand wrapping around that worn paperback and drawing it from the table. "Sleep well, Rhodes. I'm sure I'll catch you around." He looks up at the ceiling, allowing his gaze to trail down the wall. "Small ship." A smirk.
Cate gives him a quizzical look when he talks about snapping their fingers, but she doesn't follow up on that thread right now. Instead she just notes. "You calling me Rhodes is disconcerting." Military tradition or no. "Almost as weird as calling you Jake." Because no matter how much she tries, some part of her still sees him as 'Sean'. Her lips thin at that, then she says, "I'll seeya."
"I think disconcerting might be what we need. I'm trying not to be the guy who knew you as anything else." Though 'Catey' did slip a few times. Jacob offers her a tight lipped smile before he turns. His gate is slowly casual, with no sway to those broad shoulders. The only thing unusual is the one hand not holding a book and glass. Rather than being curled into a fist, per military tradition, it sat slightly open, swaying by his side much like something Marx hadn't been in a long time. A civilian.