Jacob and Cate wonder if they've changed too much to be friends.
Scene Number: 1584
Following his surgery, Jacob was caught amid a ship in transition. They had begun their final preparations to disembark onto one of Picon's little used military installations. It was, in all honesty, the worst time in the history of the Dauntless to have a major medical procedure performed. In an effort to transfer some of the equipment down to the surface, he had been taken from one of the recovery wards into one of the rehab rooms aboard the craft. There, he lay in his hospital bed, sitting slightly up thanks to the assistance of the raised back, chewing angrily on a stump of a toothpick. The television was on in the room, displaying some old, black and white, wartime movie that the marine seemed less than inclined to pay attention to. Instead? He held a magnetic dart in his right hand, the bright blue of his gaze focused on the bulkhead about fifteen feet off the foot of the bed. There hung a poster of a CF campaign for 'wellness'. This particular one detailed the negative health effects of smoking. For some reason, any onlooker may get the idea that Marx was aiming those darts at the picture of the overzealous man tossing a pack of cigarettes into a trash can.
The marine had begun to recover. He was still pale, with his eyes slightly shadowed. The usual edge of ferocity had begun to return, though. And, even looking into the room, any of the medical staff could likely feel the taint of boredom staining the air.
Cate had spent the better part of the afternoon drawn into the transfer preparations, but now her shift is over. Still in her duty khakis, looking tired but unharmed, she arrives in his doorway. There's a light knock to announce her presence, but she doesn't wait for a response before she's coming in. She's carrying a tray from the mess hall, laden with two separate plates, a cup of coffee with lid, and a bottle of water. "So this is where they've hidden you away."
Cate blinks slightly as the dart goes flying across the room. Didn't expect that, obviously. "Nice shot," she comments dryly. She comes over to his bedside, pushing along a stool with her foot until it's alongside the bed. "I missed lunch, and I thought you might want something better than the hospital food." Her plate has a sandwich and some chips. His has something he used to like that would be copasetic with doctors' orders. Soup and a muffin maybe?
Chowder and soda bread. Such were the foods of the tiny moon. Even more than that, such were the foods of the soup kitchens in the slums. "Thanks. Bastard's been staring at me all day." His tone is dry, joined by a gentle and almost imperceptible shrug of his shoulders. More than that would upset his wounds, of course. He offers a chuckle and a quiet word of thanks when the food gets close enough for him to see it. "Been on duty down here, I take it?" Sickbay was, at least in his mind, Cate's home away from home. That simple fact may account for why he avoided it like the plague. Marx was, however, always had been uncomfortable in hospitals.
"Hard to get in peoples' faces about the perils of smoking when they're getting shot at on a daily basis," Cate said with a snort towards Mr. Wellness. She perches on the stool and shuffles things on the tray. Her coffee and plate are set on the end table briefly so she can hand the tray with his food over to him. "Yeah," she answers off-hand, not sounding particularly enthusiastic about it. "Getting supplies ready to move down to the planet. There's a clinic there but they haven't used it for much in awhile." She frowns, eyeing him with concern. "You doing all right?"
"Well enough. They're pumping enough shit into me to either get me healthy or add flavor before they pit roast me. Time will tell." Rather than take the tray, he simply grasps the bowl in one hand and the chunk of bread in the other. They retreat back to his chest where, immediately, the dipping and soaking begins. "Lind was telling me about the new assignment to the planet. Sounds like it's going to be a monumental pain in the ass to get down there. Should be pretty nice digs after that, though." He pulls the bread from the soup and takes an experimental bite, nodding appreciatively. "How about you? You doing okay? Or are you letting him-" He gestures to Mister Wellness. "-get to you as much as he's getting to me?"
"Nah, they wouldn't pit roast you. All that muscle? Too stringy." Cate makes a face of mock-distaste. She takes the tray back and puts her stuff back onto it, taking a drink of the coffee before even touching the food. The frown returns when he mentions the planetary assignment. "Yeah, especially for the pilots I guess, moving all the planes and stuff." Then she shrugs. "Not particularly keen about being on a base on Picon again, but it's not like anybody asked my opinion, so... I'll muddle through, as always." She breezes right past that by observing mildly. "The chaplain thinks he's done something to piss you off. I told him you were just an ass sometimes." A little smirk creeps out there, teasing.
"He's a chaplain. Pissing me off has been a joint effort done by all of their kind." Jacob answers with a spoon full of stew hovering over the bowl. He looks at her with a dark smile, though, tipping his head to the side. "But... fair point. I'm good at what I do. And everyone has to have a hobby." The spoon finds home and the big Hibernian man chews on a potato silently. "Picon's done you a fair bit of wrong. I can imagine you're not the head of the party planning committee on this one. Gonna be able to do it, though?"
Cate arches an eyebrow at his response. "Since when did you give a shit what the priests had to say about anything?" She shrugs to the latter question, frowning before picking up a chip to start munching on. "I'll do my job. Doesn't mean I have to be happy about it."
"Strikes me that, lately, you ain't been happy about much." His words are absolutely empty of emotion. It's almost an aside, in fact. It's the blue eyes that look up at her, searching and examining, that seem to allude to the purposeful nature of the words. Her features are so familiar to him. But there's so much of her that isn't. So much has changed so far as to become alien. "Makes me wonder what happened to Doctor Rhodes, actually." Another bare moment of that gaze, and he returns to looking into his soup, sopping up another bit with his bread. "I started giving a shit when their sanctimonious 'advice' started to sound like something they should listen to rather than dispense."
"Haven't had much to be happy about," Cate responds dully, lifting her eyes to his so he can see the weary sadness reflected there. "Doctor Rhodes doesn't exist any more, any more than Sean McConnell does. There's just Corporal Rhodes and Sergeant Marx." Another chip is eaten and then she says, "Al's different than most priests. You should give him a chance. He's a good guy."
"His first words to me went along the lines of, 'let someone else determine how injured you are'. As well meaning as that shit is? I don't care for it. If I want to charge a machine gun nest with my arms off? That's my business." All spoken without a single glance up. The bread earns a murmur of appreciation, though, as he works on finishing up his soup. It would appear that Marx hadn't actually partaken in much hospital food. Or, he had the appetite of three men. "You're still breathing, Catey. And you're still you. Dedicated to saving lives, having a purpose, being an absolute gods damned force of nature. What more is there? In the middle of this shit storm war?" He shakes his head a little, chewing another bite. "And McConnell stopped existing about halfway through our relationship. It was me you were dating then. Even if you didn't know it."
Cate arches her eyebrows at him. "Seriously? You're going to be pissed at a medic for telling you to sit down and let yourself be checked out?" She smirks around another chip, the sandwich still untouched. "Guess I'm lucky he said it before I did or you'd be pissed at me." The rest of his words cause the smirk to fade, her brow creasing. She lifts a shoulder, unsure how to respond. Instead she changes the subject. "So what happened with you and Lind? You do something to piss her off?"
"In the middle of an enemy facility surrounded by the black reaches of space? With little to no support? Yeah, I'm going to reserve my right to be pissed. Like I said. Armless machine gun nest. My business." Jacob seems to have eaten everything but the varnish off that bowl. So, with a soft sigh of disappointment, he reaches over to set it on the stand next to the bed. A wince marks his face as he does it. "Coming from you? It's a medic and a friend. Coming from him? It's a kneeler. Regardless of whatever other MOS he holds." Again, he looks down at her, folding his hands lazily in his lap and rolling his head from side to side to pop something in his neck. There were even more scars there, amid the tattoos that peeked themselves up from the collar of the hospital gown. "With Lind? I punched a couple guys in the mouth when I'd been drinking. Had some pain in my hand the next day. She... has a passionate opinion about whether or not I should still be boxing."
Cate reaches out to intercept the bowl so he doesn't have to twist as much. Seeing that sigh, she holds up half of her sandwich in silent offer. A displeased look meets his insistence on charging the machinegun nest, but she just points out mildly, "Out there with us? He's a medic. He's worked hard for that. He's also my friend, so... I'd take it as a favor if you didn't bite his head off for caring whether you bleed to death." She ahs softly at the explanation about Lind. "Well. Hopefully she'll come around," she says with careful neutrality.
The expression that meets Cate then can only be described as a tightening of his jaw. He doesn't answer immediately. Nor does he offer her any sort of expression when she moves to help him. "I'm supposed to be your friend too, Rhodes." The careful pronunciation of her last name seems entirely purposeful. Above that expression and that jaw, there's an edge of hostility that edges it's way into his expression. "And we don't live in a universe where everybody gets along. So. I'll take it as a kindness if you withhold judgement about feelings toward asinine comments. If I want to bleed to death? It's my right. If I want to do it so that someone else may not have to? Then, perhaps, I'll have decorated one world with a little bit of good before I get to take my dirt nap." Those hands, carefully folded in his lap, seem to be more tightly wound together than they were moments ago. At the end of that look, he turns his head toward the posted on the far side of the room. "Lind and I are fine. She's actually only out long enough to do some rounds and smoke. She'll be back before long."
Cate's lips thin at the response, her brow creasing at the pointed use of her last name. "Fine," she says tightly. She slides off the stool, getting to her feet with a new tension visible in the set of her shoulders. "I'll see you later."
"I guess that puts you on a side, doesn't it?" Jacob doesn't hold back a bit in his reply. His own shoulders, broad as they are, hold nothing that was unusual for him. "Beginning to think, Catey, that you and I might be better off letting bygones be bygones. Seems that every time you and I talk, there's something that pisses you off to holy hades."
Cate stops her flight after a step, turning back to him with a little lift of her shoulders. It's not anger in her face though, but pain. "Are you trying to hurt me? Is that it? Punish me for caring? Push me away? Or are you just so frakking dense that it doesn't occur to you that maybe I don't like listening to you talk about throwing your life away?"
"I'm trying to figure out what the hell you've become, Cate. You and I used to be absolutely inseparable. We were the absolute best of friends. And I know, I frakked all that up, but do you not realize that it feels the same to me to listen to you? You used to be so gods damned full of life. Beautiful, brilliant, and unstoppable. Now?" Jacob shakes his head, turning just enough to watch her. "You have no idea what or who you are. Me? I know enough about myself to know that, without Lind? The best I can hope for is to save someone like you. That, maybe, my life would be worth something. I could be more than a kid from the projects who is really good at hurting everything he frakking touches."
Cate recoils at his words. Not physically so much, but it's obvious in the shift of her expression. Tears well up and then spill over, and she doesn't move to wipe them away. And not just because her hands are full with the tray. "You think I don't know that I'm a frakking shell of who I was?" she replies, voice taut. "The Cate you knew? Doctor Rhodes." She spits out the title like a curse. "She had a family. A home. A cause. A career. A man she loved. Hope for the future. That's all gone. What do I have now huh?" Her face twists with a bitter sneer. "A body full of scars, a head full of tortured memories, and an ever-growing list of dead friends. So I'm sorry -" #SorryNotSorry. "If me not wanting your name added to that list somehow gets in the way of your godsdamn 'right' to sacrifice yourself."
"It is my right, Cate." Compared to her, his tone is absolutely devoid of feeling. The only sign that may, potentially, give him away is the white knuckled grip that his hands seem to have on one another on his lap. "And because you aren't who you were, you have absolutely no desire to ever be happy again? Frak, Cate. A body full of scars, a head full of pain... We all have that. Every gods damned one of us. You may be there to a different extent, but every human walking around is fighting the worst battle of their collective, shit-eating lives." Jacob sits up. Yes, he sits up, grimacing at the pain in his abdomen as he does so. His hand absently goes to the rail on the side of the bed, looking for the little yellow lever to let it down. "And yeah. I have it too. But? I don't know if I want to live with it. That's my choice. And it's a damn bit more decisive than being pissed off and constantly trying to tell the man who loved you that his shit doesn't matter. That he should be 'nice'. Frak that. Frak nice. Sean's dead. And you know what? The soft bastard had it coming."
Cate just shakes her head, absorbing his words like a boxer taking punches. By the time he's done, the tracks of tears still remain but she just looks utterly drained. "I never said your shit doesn't matter. All I asked was if you could do me a favor and lay off Al, 'cause I've got precious few friends and I don't like them hating each other. But apparently that's too much to ask, so fine. Frak it. Do what you like, it's not like you ever needed my permission for that anyway." Once again she turns to go.
"Fix what we can. Accept what we can't. Sound familiar?" Jacob's tone is dark, bleeding an echo of forewarning about his intentions to the woman. He opens his mouth to say something. For some reason, though? He pauses before the words can come out. Something in him stops him as those blue eyes watch those familiar shoulders retreat. "Never been what you wanted. I'm... Sorry, Catey. Thank you for the meal." The replies is, at least, civil. There's no life in it, though. And there's none left over in his eyes as he leans his head back again and closes them. She wasn't the only one who was drained. He was, after all, still riding the morpha dragon. But, at this point, he wasn't going to ask her to turn around a second time.
The apology at least causes Cate to pause at the door. "You were once," she reminds him, the years-old pain reflected in her eyes. Then she ducks out.