2237-10-09 - The Ones Left Behind

Aldrich and Cate touch base after the prisoners are back safe.

Date: 2237-10-09

Location: Chapel

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 1474

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Apart from being tapped to steer the rescue mission, Cate has been on light duty since getting back. The bruises and cuts are starting to fade, but her hand's still bandaged. She's found her way to the chapel, and is sitting in one of the front pews. She's got earbuds in, the music too quiet to hear.

Aldrich hadn't been sleeping since Lyn disappeared. Knowing she was still alive but captured didn't really do much to improve that situation. The moment that he knew she was safe (at least, after he visited with her long enough to get kicked out by the medical staff), he slept for a good long while. Then it was straight back to visit until getting kicked out again. But in spite of all that, there is still work to be done, and so he finally shows back up at the chapel. He looks a little startled to see someone present, but when he realizes it's Cate, his footsteps quicken a little. "Cate?"

Cate hasn't slept much at all in the past week, and it shows in her posture and the tired circles under her eyes. She jumps a little at Al's call and shifts to look at him, pulling the earphones out of her ears. "Hey," is the subdued greeting she offers, fussing with the player to turn the music off.

Aldrich only hesitates a second before taking a seat next to Cate, deep concern shadowing his face. "I tried to catch up to you, but things have been kind of crazy... Are you..." He stops himself, with a humorless smile. "Well. No, you won't be okay, will you? Do you... is there anything I can do?"

Cate doesn't seem to mind him taking a seat. The aborted question gets a sad half-smile. "I don't even know what okay looks like any more," she admits. "But I'll survive. I always do. That's my thing, apparently." She slants him a look that's concerned in its own way. "You doing better, now that Lyn's back?"

Aldrich smiles, but it's combined with an odd little worried look. "I'm fine. You don't need to worry about me. She...told me about some of what happened to her in there." He hesitates, and then offers, "I'm here to talk if you need to."

Cate frowns when he mentions what happened to Lyn and looks down at her hands. Seconds tick by, as she fusses with a tiny little string that's come loose from the gauze. "Thanks," she murmurs. "I didn't ask her what happened after I..." Her throat bobs. "After I got out. Suppose I was afraid to hear it."

Aldrich tilts his head a little, watching Cate closely. "It was really brave," he remarks, tentatively. "Fighting your way out of there. Going back to help rescue them. I'm sure they're... Well, I know /I'm/ grateful. And I never got the chance to tell you I'm glad that you're alive. Even if you're not okay."

Cate continues to fidget, eyes still locked on her hands so she doesn't have to look at him. When he calls it brave, her brow creases, face settling into a pained expression. "Everyone keeps saying that, but... it didn't feel brave," she admits in a small voice. "It felt like I was abandoning them. I thought I didn't have a choice... that getting help was their only chance, but... maybe I was wrong."

Aldrich considers this for a moment, glancing down to her fidgeting fingers. He keeps his own hands folded in his lap, for now. "Well," he says, slowly. "What was the alternative?"

Cate hitches a shoulder. "Maybe I should've stayed in the caves. Figured out a way to let them out, like that other guy did. Then we all could've gotten out together."

Aldrich looks a little skeptical. "But... didn't that only help because /you/ already had the cavalry on the way?" he points out, gently. "You did the only thing you could. If you had stayed, you might have been recaptured. Or you might have all been killed before anyone was able to find you."

"I don't know," Cate says softly. "I didn't think Lyn could've gotten far on that leg, but maybe we could've carried her. Or... something."

Aldrich raises an eyebrow slightly. "Or you'd have gotten just far enough to realize that none of you would get away if you didn't leave her behind," he points out. "Speaking as her boyfriend, I'm kind of glad you didn't take that route... Since what you /did/ choose got her home safely."

"Maybe," Cate grants, reluctance evident in her voice. "I'm glad they got back in one piece." And she's not just speaking metaphorically there. Her shoulders hunch a bit further, and she's silent for a little while before she says, "Y'know... back in Hyperion, when we were trapped in the pyramid arena... I left my best friend behind to go get help." Her throat bobs. "I got to Triton with some of the military guys but... we couldn't get back. Logistics." She says it like a four-letter word, then her voice grows quiet. "And they all died."

Aldrich's brow furrows. "Cate..." he says, gently, voice full of sympathy. "I know this is going to sound trite, but... I understand. I really do." He reaches over tentatively to touch her arm, unless she reacts negatively to it. "I know it's hard. But... I still believe that things happen for a reason."

Cate doesn't pull away when her arm is touched, but her face does twitch a little in sadness. "I want to believe that. But it's hard to see a reason in all this." She sniffles

"It's not our job to see it," Aldrich offers, gently. "We just... Have to trust it." He clears his throat and offers, "You know, you're not the only person who ever left someone behind."

Cate gives a soft mm to the first, but then shakes her head. "Never thought I was." Though the words do get her to finally turn her face to study his face.

Aldrich lifts a shoulder a little, and glances toward the viewport. "Sorry, I didn't mean it... What I meant was, you aren't alone." His brow is furrowed, thoughtfully, and then he admits, "I think that's why I decided to go the military route."

Cate continues to watch him, even when he looks out at the stars. "Tell me about it?" she asks tentatively.

Aldrich squeezes Cate's arm. "It was back on Leonis. They attacked, and a lot of us got caught up in occupied territory. I was there with my host family. We were trying to get out without getting caught. One night..." He lifts a shoulder, smiles tightly, and wipes a thumb at the corner of one eye. "Well it's not important. Sometimes I think I should have gone back for them, or tried harder to keep us together. But as far as I know, I'm the only one who made it out."

Cate puts her bandaged hand gently over his where it's squeezing her arm. "I'm sorry, Al." She too looks out at the view ports. "It's the 'what if's that eat away at you. I mean, I know you can't save everyone. I'm not an idiot. But still..."

Aldrich nods a little, and takes a deep breath. "Yes. It is. But we keep right on going. It's all we can do." He glances aside at Cate, and pats her hand. "Consider this Aldrich the man talking, and not the chaplain. Thank you for bringing Lyn back to me. And... Sometimes I find it's helpful to focus on the good we've done. Otherwise, you'll drive yourself crazy."

One corner of Cate's mouth lifts slightly. Almost a smile. "You don't have to thank me, Al. But thanks. And maybe you're right." Her brow creases again, sadness taking hold. "I saw Deb's husband, when they let us have passes back home during the last leave. I thought he'd hate me, but... he said he knew I did my best." Now it's her turn to wipe at her eye. "He said Deb would've wanted me to live. And he's right. It just... really sucks sometimes." She sniffs, then slants him a grateful look. "I've gotta go, but... thanks."


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