Cate is drawn into the situation between Jacob and Aldrich.
Location: The Ship And Castle
Related Scenes: 2237-11-25 - Throwing Punches
Scene Number: 1597
The day had, for the majority of the Wolve's marines, been a tedious one. It was a dance that was known as 'arms inspections'. Every weapon had been drawn, disassembled, and cleaned with the enthusiasm and proficiency of people who had done the same task thousands of times before. Days like that had, in all honesty, proven more difficult for the NCOs than anyone else. It was on their shoulders to maintain discipline, standards, and any semblance or moral that could be scraped off the floor.
The small pub had, fortunately, become tonight's hotspot to blow off the steam of the arms inspection. No shortage of men and women from the military base milled around the place. Because of such, though, few of the officers and NCOs were present. They had experienced enough of their lower enlisted counterparts during the day and had sought sanctuary away rom them for the evening. It was a typical tavern atmosphere with smoke filled air, conversation, laughter, and a few stifled drinking songs.
Jacob Marx seemed to be the one NCO that had braved the throngs of the lower enlisted. He was, for the moment, dressed in blue jeans and an old gym t-shirt of a soft grey. The worn and faded logo of a boxing gym still barely adorned the front, though as hunched as he was over the bar? Few would get the chance to see it. A tall glass of whiskey, accompanied by a bottle, decorate the bar top in front of him. A leather jacket, typical of the youth of New Castor, also rested on the bar top next to him, for the moment abandoned. It was a warm looking thing, lined with fleece to keep out the cold and strong leather to keep out the moisture. Unfortunately, it was another piece of their culture that had been stolen by the gangsters. His toothpick sat stiffly between his teeth, those bright blue eyes intently studying the pages of some coverless novel laying on the bar in front of him. To everything else in the world? Jacob paid no mind.
Cate was one of the few marines who didn't grouse about the mind-numbing task of cleaning the weapons. She had gone through it with a quiet competence. Now, though, she has escaped the base for the evening. Her eyes scan the room, doing a little double-take on seeing Jacob there. She hesitates a moment in the doorway, but another patron brushing past to get out jostles her out of her indecision. She parks herself on the stool next to him. "Same old jacket," she observes. Though maybe it only looks similar. She's wearing jeans and a simple blouse, topped with the CF-issue marine bomber jacket. Butterfly strips over a cut and bruise by her right ear show the lingering mark of the mission last night, but otherwise she doesn't seem worse for wear. Just tired, as always.
Jacob actually looks over at her for a moment before she earns a response. He chews that toothpick and watches with that guarded quality that screams that it wasn't his first or his last drink of the evening. A hand rises to remove the sliver of wood from his teeth and set it down on the bar. It still, honestly, smells a bit like a menthol cigarette. "Yeah. I never saw any point to fixing something that works. It's warm." Of course, she'd remember that. His jaw loosens a little, allowing his eyes to slide from her to the bartender. Silently, one finger is extended, indicating that he'd like another glass retrieved for Cate. "Your face okay?"
"Yeah. It was," Cate agrees, eyeing the jacket for a moment instead of him. The question about her face causes her to look over though. "Helmet took the worst of it," she non-answers. A quiet, "Thanks," is offered when the bartender deposits a glass in front of her, though a glance Jacob's way seems to extend the gratitude to him as well.
Jacob looks at her as she gives him the line about the helmet. It takes him only a moment to impart a knowing nod and slide the bottle of whiskey a few inches across the bar top. Such was his silent invitation to her. "Another helmet down. Think you should buy stock in that armor company before all this is over." He reaches a scarred hand for his own glass. The skin of his knuckles was red and raw, cracked slightly from heavy use and repeated impacts. Marx, it would seem, had been hitting the gym a bit heavier than usual. "Make you a damned millionaire whenever this shit show ends."
Cate hehs softly. "I probably should. Be kind of ironic given how often the damn things have saved my ass." She picks up the bottle and fills the shot glass. Her mouth presses together in a rueful smile. "Y'know my friend back at Triton - after the base fell and we crashed outside the city - he said 'You get out of this, you buy a lottery ticket or five'." She studies the glass for a moment before taking a healthy gulp. The skinned knuckles do not go unnoticed. "Heavy bag piss you off?"
"No, the heavy bag is innocent. People have a tendency to piss me off." His own glass rises to his lips. When it comes back down, it's bare and absent any sort of liquid. As soon as the glass comes into contact with the wooden bar, Jacob turns his hands to look quietly at his knuckles. "Bags just don't whine when I beat their collective asses." It's a passing contemplation, one that is only a pause between his grip on his glass and his grip on the whiskey bottle. He refills her glass first, right to the very brim. His own, though, follows right after. "I have a feeling that you have some of the best and the worst luck of anyone I've ever seen. Lotto tickets? You'd either come up completely empty or win five separate jackpots. You've never been 'in betweens'."
Cate takes his response in stride. "Well. Probably better for you and them that you beat the shit out of the bag instead of their face. How's the hand?" she asks mildly. As soon as he refills the glass, she nods her thanks and takes another sip from it. "Yep, that's it in a nutshell. I always say my luck runs to extremes." She shrugs a little. "But what can you do."
"Not awful. Cold weather's kicking me around pretty good, though." Jacob looks down at his hand again, turning it over a bit this time. It's almost imperceptible, the shake of his head. That had always been his tell. Even when the man wanted to lie, it was those subtle motions that had always given it away. "Reminds me that I'm not as young as I used to be." He finally turns to look at her. There's a hesitation in those blue eyes. It wasn't typical. "Your luck always has. Hell of a curse."
Not awful is not very convincing, judging by Cate's concerned frown. "Yeah. The cold sucks for aching joints." She then says in a bland tone, "I'd tell you to give your hands a rest, but I doubt you'd give a shit and I know you wouldn't listen." There's a brief, sad smirk that is quickly covered by another drink. Then she shrugs again. "Yeah. Well. I may be the unlucky frakker who's been in a train crash and three - no, four - Raptor crashes. But I'm still here. That's the other extreme." The hesitation in his eyes causes her brow to crease a little, giving her pause. "What?"
"Wondering if I should leave you the bottle and go, is all. People." Jacob's voice comes with the sway of their shared accent. His, though, has always been a little more harsh and rough than hers. It may have been due to their personalities, or it may have been due to the vast differences between their homes on Hibernia. He shifts on that stool, settling more comfortably on the bar top and making that second shot disappear past his lips. His eyes shift, blink, and focus on the mirror behind the bar. Something about the whole situation as making the big marine more uncomfortable than he had ever been in combat. "And you wonder why I avoid flying with you. Or... hell, are trains even a thing anymore?"
"Oh," Cate says to the unexpected reply. It throws her for a loop for a second, then she shakes her head. "Well, you shouldn't have to. Nobody held a gun to my head and made me come over," she points out. The comment about flying with her causes her to snort. "And here I thought you were just avoiding me in general," she says dryly. She takes another gulp of her drink, not commenting about the trains.
"No, nobody forced you." Jacob muses, tipping his freshly refilled shot glass to the side a little so that he can examine the color of the drink he'd spent his evening consuming. "And yeah, I kind of have been, Catey. I mean, I really don't want to constantly be the person who comes around to piss you off. You deserve what little shred of happiness you can salvage out of this collective shitstorm of a war." His fingers twirl that glass in a slow circle, allowing the bright blue eyes, shaded with alcohol, to focus on her. Marx had always been a rare sort of drunk. With the folks he trusted? His guard came crashing down, allowing them to see the genuine soul beneath. The last time that had happened? He hadn't been called 'Jacob'. "Besides. If I see certain friends of yours in a social setting, I'm pretty determined I'll lose rank. So I don't know what to do, past avoid the situation entirely."
Confirmation that he has been avoiding her wasn't what she was expecting. She frowns down at her own glass, a sad look taking hold. "Always one step forward, two steps back with us, isn't it," she says flatly. She polishes off the shot and reaches for the bottle to refill it. "You don't always piss me off. I'm not that much of a glutton for punishment." To keep coming back, that is. She almost leaves it at that, then she shrugs and sighs softly. "Mostly you just remind me of better times." Which isn't always a great thing, judging by the way her lips press together.
"I think that if it was just us locked in a room? We'd be fine. It's the world added to the equation that I don't know about." Jacob shakes his head side to side, raising his glass and pausing to speak. Whatever he wanted to say, though, doesn't make it out. He just sighs, clenches his jaw, and puts down another shot. The empty glass descends a lot slower than it rose. "Better times. Gods, do I miss how simple that shit was. How simple I was. I have a hard time even thinking of myself that way anymore."
"Maybe. The world. The war." Cate shakes her head a little, lips still drawn into a thin line. "Y'know I'd give almost anything if we could just go back there." The pain and longing in her voice is palpable, and causes her to take another drink. "But we can't. So. Just keep stumbling along."
"Stumbling. Excellent word choice." Jacob agrees. He reaches for the bottle again, uncorking it and raising it to pour another round. Something in the motion, stops his arm. He peers, leans forward, and snatches two drying highball glasses from a drying mat just on the other side of the bar. The bartender, it would appear, was none the wiser. It's those glasses that are filled with a healthy dose of three or four shots a piece. One of them is slid over to Cate. "Had an interesting talk with the Gunny today. Your preacher friend tell you anything about it?"
Cate watches him snag the other glasses and start pouring. "I don't usually drink much any more. Not since Triton. Sometimes, though, it's really tempting." She lets out a little sign, voice somber, clearly tempted. For now, she's still nursing her original glass, still unfinished. The latter question gets a confused look. "About what?" That'd be a 'no' most likely.
"About him writing a note to our command about me being unfit for duty. Apparently, I'm a danger to you and everyone else around me." Jacob meets her with a raised eyebrow. His own glass rises to his lips with those brilliantly blue eyes still studying her face. He had no qualms with drinking, rather clearly. "Have fun." He says quietly, lowering his own glass. "Neither one of us knows when the music stops for us. Trying to stay a step ahead of it at the cost of alcohol? I really don't know that life's worth all that." There's a careful smile that creases one of the corners of his lips. "Be you. You'll never be able to prepare for whatever it is that's going to get you, anyhow."
"Yeah, well, you see how 'fun' it is after you've tried running for your life with a concussion mixed with a killer hangover," Cate points out dryly, though she does drain her smaller, original glass. As for the note, her brow creases. "What?" The confused look mingles with incredulity, trying to make sense of his statement.
"He 'spoke' to me in the gym the other day. I was working a bag, trying to rehab my..." Marx makes that circular motion with one finger, indicating his abdomen. His gunshot wound had required surgery and a bit of rehab. He was, by and large, almost completely functional again. "I think the term he used was 'sadist' and 'evil' or something of the sort. I, rightly, told him he was a pissant and to frak off. He reported me. Apparently, I need to be kinder to the wildlife that happens to wear the expensive rank pins." He takes another drink of that glass, finally closing his book and pushing it forward. The cover had been ripped off, but it didn't look like the usual sort of novel Jacob went after. "And I could argue that you, as a medic, could just start an IV before bed... Couldn't ya? I mean, Lind..."
The furrow never quite leaves Cate's brow, but by the end of the explanation she shrugs, frowning. "Well, it's not like you give a shit what he thinks anyway. What was it you said.. 'frak nice'?" She turns the empty shot glass around in her hands, staring at it. The comment about the IV goes unanswered.
"No, but I give a mild shit about my Gunny questioning my sanity. Even if he didn't sound like he gave two shits what anyone thought." Jacob watches her toy with that empty service ware. One of his eyebrows rises in motion with that glass. Before long, he needs a refill. Rather than reach for Cate's untouched glass, though, he goes again for the bottle. "It took a lot for me to limit our discussion to words. Something about a man telling me that I intend to hurt you every time I talk to you. That I get pleasure out of it..." He shakes his head. "Keep him away from me? I'd hate him to have to pick his teeth out of his own shit. But... certain things are unavoidable when dealing with us sadists."
Cate listens to him, her frown deepening. Enough that she does reach for that extra glass to take another gulp. She rubs the bridge of her nose for a few seconds, pained, before finally saying, "Do you even hear yourself, Jake?" she asks plaintively. "You have a frakking death wish. You're a functional alcoholic. And now you're telling me I'd better keep the frakking 90 pound chaplain away from you because otherwise you might bash his face in for daring to think that maybe you've got issues?" The whole spiel is hissed in a low tone, not wanting anyone else to hear, and then she shakes her head. "Don't be an ass and try to put me in the middle of some spat between two people I love. You guys are both supposedly grown-ups. You sort it out." The way her brows knit afterward, though, suggest that maybe she realizes she's said more than she ought to.
"You want me to sort it out?" Jacob asks her with arched eyebrows. He actually turns a little in that barstool, moving to look for fully at Cate. He was anything but a 90 pound chaplain. In fact, one of his arms may have weighed that if it was separated from his torso. "I'll do so. But remember that I came to you first? That, for some reason, he felt he had to come and slay the dragon when the damsel came to him and cried. That I frakking tried to be somewhat functional, not a gods damned marine designed to destroy everything he touches." His own tone is perfectly level. It's actually almost frigid in tone, with those bright eyes entirely honest in everything he says. Her words hit him like a sledgehammer, though. Soon, he's shaking his head, looking at her, and refilling his whiskey glass. "I do hear myself, Catey. And I might be a danger to me. But you know that I'd die for anybody on those teams. Even his dumb ass, if it came down to it. So? To go to my frakking command?" He shakes his head. "You're right. I'll sort it out. And don't waste your love on me. I'm sick of disappointing you."
Cate looks a little bewildered when Jacob talks about the dragon and the crying damsel, then her expression shifts. Realizing that maybe she's partially to blame for all this. She continues to frown, contemplating the glass for several seconds. "I know you'd die for any of us. All too well. But fine. I'll talk to him." She shakes her head. "But you know what Jake? He's the one who's been there for me this past year. About you. About the war. About..." She waves a hand vaguely. "Shit you don't even know about. You want to hate him, that's fine. That's your prerogative. Maybe he frakked up, but he's a good man, and a good friend. And the only reason he would've gone to command is because he cares about you, me, and everyone on this team. As for me? I'll waste my love on whomever I damn well want to. You don't get to choose that for me." But that does call for another gulp of whiskey. She's really going to regret this tomorrow.
"He may be a good man, Cate. But I'm not. I'm..." Jacob shakes his head, watching that whiskey glass meet her lips. "Not." The final word comes with a tone of soft surrender. "I am a functional alcoholic. I've had a death wish since I realized what the frak the Virgon Marine Corps had in store for me. I've... outlived almost everybody." He shakes his head. "But that's on me. That's my issue. I'm not a danger to any of you. And for him to get into my face and accuse me of purposefully hurting you? You know what it took to keep me from mopping the floor with that kid?" He shakes his head and reaches for his glass again. "You... Are always going to be a hot button topic for me. What happened with us will always be a scar. But I've never purposefully hurt you. No more than I'll ever ask you to hate the chaplain. All I want?" He shrugs, reaching for the bottle again. This fill is way more than the last ones. The glass is well over half, almost touching the absolute lip of that glass. "Is a bit of peace. I want him to leave me alone. I want to be able to love Lind in my own frakked up way and live my frakked up life."
Cate takes another drink, his words only fueling her own sadness. When he's done talking, there's a resigned look on her face. "I hope you get that peace, Jake. And I'm glad you've found someone. I really am. But the truth is? You did hurt me. Purposefully. Back when we were together." Her voice is taut with emotion, but not angry. It's a fairly flat statement, considering. "And Al? He doesn't know everything, but he knows enough. So maybe you shouldn't be so hard on him for questioning your intentions." She slides off the barstool, checking her balance for a second. Then, after a brief hesitation, she shifts forward intending to lean her head on his shoulder to murmur. "You're a good man too, Jake."
"No I'm not, Cate. You... don't know everything. But you know enough." Jacob's voice takes on an almost soft quality as he watches her stand. His hands, perhaps unconsciously, move from the glass and bar top to his knees, ready to catch her if she goes over one way or the other. "I didn't, actually. I wanted to take you with me. I was coming back for you as soon as I got debriefed I..." He sighs, closes his eyes, and shakes his head, "Realize that it doesn't matter now. What's done is done. And I don't blame the kid for caring. I blame him for shooting his mouth off half cocked. For trying to turn a personal dispute into something formal. For..." Marx's voice cuts off. He reaches for his glass and drains it. It's only when her head touches his shoulder that he looks over. It's a careful moment, taken to study her, before his arms rise and pull her closer to him. They're thick, heavy, and familiar as they embrace her in a hug. Jake, thankfully, smells as he always has. Gun oil, green grass, some kind of wood, and barrel aged alcohol. "Thank you, Catey. Tove's wonderful to me. Better than I deserve, honestly. I just... hope I can do right by her."
"I believe you are. Even if you don't. Should know by now you can't out-stubborn me," Cate insists. She leans into the hug - a little longer than she should, a little shorter than she'd like. A little nod acknowledges his words, but she says no more about Al, or Tove, or what happened between them years ago. In truth she looks a little choked up. She just pats his chest, straightens up, and starts to go.
"It was a hard learned lesson. You're a bear to deal with when you've made your mind up." Jake's reply comes in a very quiet tone, meant to stay between them. That hug, makes him smile. So much so that he is, still, doing so when she withdraws. "I'll walk you back, Catey. It isn't often that you drink quite this much, I think." He withdraws a few bills from his pocket and tosses them onto the bar. Bottle, book, and coat are all withdrawn into a hand without a moment of drunken behavior or anything looking even partially off balance. This would be the functional part of the alcoholism. "The last thing I want is for your stubborn self to be found frozen in place out there."