While tending Cate's injuries, Aldrich shares his news and they talk about plans for the uncertain future.
Related Scenes: None
Scene Number: 1624
It's a few hours after they retreated from the factory. They paused just long enough to try to stabilize the two critically-injured marines. Poor SSG Jarrik was a lost cause, but they were able to patch up Scott enough that he's still hanging in there - barely. Cut off from their rendezvous by Cylon patrols and unable to call for a pickup due to radio jamming, they ultimately sought shelter for the night in a little hollow in the forest. Cate's been quiet, dazed and hurting but soldiering on without complaint. Now that they've found a safe-ish spot, she's sat down against the slope, resting with a vacant expression on her face.
There really isn't much to set up in their makeshift camp. You kind of need gear for that. So it isn't long before Aldrich comes over to check on Cate. He's blood and dirt stained after the chaos of the retreat, but his expression is dark with worry for Cate as he approaches, hauling his medkit. "Hey Cate," he says, gently. "How're you holding up?"
Cate is slow to drag her eyes over to him. She moves her head in a barely-perceptible headshake. "I don't feel so good," she admits softly, though that much is obvious from the pinched look of pain on her face, and the way she's hugging herself. The blood on her is mostly other peoples', but there are several tears from bullets visible in the front of her flak vest. But that doesn't stop her from eyeing him in concern. "You okay?"
Aldrich nods a little and comes over to find a seat next to her. "I'm fine," he assures her. "I saw you get hit. Let me check you out?" he suggests. The fact that he's already opening the medkit to go through his supplies makes that less of a question and more of a nicety. He gestures to her vest. "Those make it all the way through?"
Cate's head bobs the tiniest bit. "Vest took most of it." Most, but not all. She moves her arms out of the way, and there's some grimacing involved as she (with Al's help, presumably) gingerly shrugs out of the vest. She also unbuckles her helmet, letting it thunk to the ground next to them. There's a trickle of blood from a little cut behind her ear, but the bigger concern is the goose-egg bruise there and the concussion it likely caused. "Jake says I should buy stock in the armor company when this is all over," she observes dully, eyeing the mangled material.
Aldrich does, indeed, help Cate get out of the vest and helmet. He gives a sympathetic smile as he inspects the head wound, looking for any signs of fracture, etc. "I think you'd want to buy stock in the armor company before it's over," Al replies, with faux-seriousness. The humor is weak, but he's trying! "Those stocks are going to crash once you aren't being shot at on a regular basis."
Cate offers a weak chuckle. "Yeah. I should get my broker on that," she deadpans. Her glum mood is obvious in the way she lets him tend to her without any fussing about how fine she is. That thick Hibernian skull doesn't seem to be fractured, but a couple ribs probably are judging by the way she winces. Two of the bullets got through the vest but they didn't do much damage.
Aldrich goes about putting some bandages in place, as long as Cate isn't going to complain. "Any nausea? That sort of thing?" As he tapes the bandage over her head wound, he adds, "Everything's going to be okay. We've been in worse spots."
Cate indeed does not complain, even moving her arms as needed to make things easier for him. "Yeah, a bit. Probably another concussion." Her jaw tenses at his reassurances. "I don't want to be back here," she says in a soft, plaintive voice.
Aldrich nods. "I figured, just by the look on your face," he admits, gently. "But you're a doctor. If you start having symptoms of anything worse, you tell me, okay? Don't think you're going to just tough it out." He softens it with a little smile, but then that fades again at her last sentence. "I don't either," he agrees. "But this is where the gods sent us, so this must be where we're meant to be."
"Yeah," Cate agrees softly. "Don't feel very tough right now." She lets her damp eyes drift to him. "Wish you were back safe, but... I'm glad you're here. Lyn's okay, yeah?"
"I'd rather be here." Aldrich pulls out a one-dose packet of space-aspirin, along with his canteen. "If I were back on base, and you and Lyn were out here, I'd be going crazy... But yes, Lyn's fine. Bruised like the rest of us, but nothing worse." He starts packing up the medkit. "Did I tell you we had planned to get married on the next shore leave? Man plans and the gods laugh, I suppose."
"Yeah - that would suck," Cate says, obediently taking the aspirin. A relieved nod meets the news about Lyn being okay, but then she blinks. "Married?" Surprise gives way to a slight but sincere smile. "That's great. I'm happy for you."
Aldrich smiles a little, with a glance up from what he's doing. "Thanks... We were going to invite you, of course." He closes up the medkit, then settles back, in no hurry to rush off. Presumably if Scott takes a turn or some other emergency happens, it will be obvious. After an awkward pause, he admits, "The gods sent me a vision, and I realized... Everything I'm worried about doesn't matter. I need to start focusing a little more on the moment, while it's still here."
"Wouldn't miss it," Cate says, though the smile flickers at the thought that none of them might make it that far. She doesn't voice that thought, though, but instead focuses on his latter thought. "That's very seize-the-day of you," she observes.
Aldrich lifts a shoulder. "I suppose. It's hard not to be, these days." He gestures vaguely to their surroundings, as illustration of his point. He grows more solemn, then, and says, "When this is over, I want to talk to someone about getting you a break. I'm worried it's getting to be too much for you."
The remnants of Cate's smile fade to mirror his solemn expression. She lets her head rest against the soft earth, looking weary. She doesn't say anything at first, but finally offers the weak quip, "You think maybe four times being stuck in enemy territory is too many?" Then her brow furls. "Or was it five? Anyway."
"Everyone has their breaking point," Aldrich replies, quietly. He has a worried look as he watches her. "We just have to get you through this one without reaching it. Then we can figure out where to go from there."
Cate offers a bleak little chuckle, a memory stirring. "Y'know, I joked with Chance once that they could write on my tombstone: 'too stubborn to fall down'. He pointed out that'd never happen 'cause I'd have to fall down first." A sad look takes hold, but then she says softly, "You take good care of me, Al."
Aldrich reaches over to give Cate's arm a squeeze, making a point to pick a part that isn't wounded. "That's part of my job," he claims, with a crooked smile. "Not just as a chaplain, but as your friend. You've certainly had your turn taking care of me, so it's only fair."
Cate slants him a grateful look. "Sometimes more successfully than others," she says, flashing a little smile. It fades then to a more somber expression. "I wish the gods would smack me upside the head with a vision. Make me stop worrying about the future." She tries a strained joke, "You think maybe enough concussions'll do it?"
Aldrich snorts a laugh. "I didn't stop worrying about the future," he clarifies. "It still keeps me up at night. I just decided not to let that stop me, since it might never matter anyway." He glances over to Cate, with a crooked smile. "I could get you some of that tea, if you really want," he teases.
"Well, progress at least," Cate says, smirking weakly. "Thanks, but I think I'll pass. I'm loopy enough just on morpha." She lets out a soft sigh. "What did you imagine your future'd be like? I mean, before all this. Were you happy wandering around studying religions?"
Aldrich is silent for a long time after that question, looking out at the forest in thought. "I think happy would be a strong word," he replies, finally. "I felt... fulfilled. Useful. You know? But it was a lonely life. I don't know that I ever thought that hard about my future, beyond what I was doing."
Cate listens, waiting patiently while he considers the question and watching his face. She bobs her head slightly. "Well, even if you had, I'm sure it wouldn't hae included fighting in the Picon forests and marrying an Aquarian girl," she says with a tiny smile.
Aldrich chuckles at that. "No. I was a pretty dedicated pacifist," he agrees. "But after what happened on Leonis..." He lifts a shoulder slightly and lets it go at that. "But I suppose I thought that the gods would give me a mission, when they were ready. And that's precisely what happened." He glances aside at Cate, brow raising. "I know this isn't what you had in mind for yourself, either."
Cate's head bobs a tiny bit. "Yeah. Hard to sit out once we've seen what's going on," she agrees softly. "I think that's what's been so hard for me. I had such a clear idea of who I was and what my future was gonna look like. And now..." She blows out a soft sigh. "Well, I suppose any future where I make it out of this forest again, I should count myself lucky."
Aldrich nods a little, but he looks solemn as he watches her. "Cate... You know that it's okay to grieve for the life you wanted for yourself." He smiles, weakly, and squeezes her arm again. "I know you haven't really had time..."
"Thanks, Al," Cate says, giving him another grateful look. She falls quiet for a long stretch, her brow creasing in a contemplative look. She watches him for a few seconds, then finally says, "I never told you about my dad, did I?"
Aldrich shakes his head, but he looks interested. "No, I don't think you did." He waits attentively for her to continue.
Cate lets out a slow breath, her expression growing pensive. After a moment, she presses on tentatively. "He's been in jail since I was a kid. They caught him trying to plant a bomb. And my uncle... they've been after him for a long time. That guy we met on Sag - what was his name? Chambers? He reminded me of Uncle Jack."
Aldrich nods sympathetically. "That must have been a difficult environment to grow up in," he offers, gently. "I noticed you haven't really been yourself since then. More so than the rest of us."
"Yeah," is Cate's strained agreement to all his points. She casts a sad, uncertain glance to Aldrich, but then continues. "I used to help him. Whenever he needed a doctor." She sighs. "So that future I imagined for myself... it wasn't exactly roses and sunshine. Even odds I'd end up like the rest of my family. Dead. In hiding. In jail." Her lips thin at the latter.
Aldrich nods a little. "Well, you didn't ask to be born into that situation," he points out. "Anymore than we asked to be stuck in this war. Maybe the best we can do is to make the best of what the gods give us."
Cate's brow creases a little at that, still uncertain, but she nods. "Maybe so. The thing is... some days... I don't grieve about losing that life I imagined. I think... maybe I got lucky, to get out when I did. And other days... all I want to do is go back and kick those (something mumbled unpleasant in Celtan) bastards' asses." She offers him a weak, sad smile. "I told you I was frakked up."
Aldrich shakes his head, suddenly concerned. "Cate, no. You aren't frakked up. I think that makes perfect sense under the circumstances." He smiles sadly. "I wish there were something more I could do than offer sympathetic words."
Cate's brow knits, perplexed by his response, and then her expression softens. She looks almost... choked up. "You do?"
Aldrich looks almost puzzled by her reaction, but then he softens, entirely sincere as he leans toward her slightly. "Of course I do. You're my friend. That comes with the territory."
Cate looks confused for a second, then shakes her head - though she seems to regret that motion, judging from the way she winces. "I know you do. And that means a lot to me. But I meant... you really think it makes sense? To be so indecisive?"
Aldrich actually chuckles a little at that. "Of course. It's human nature. Do any of us ever feel only one thing at any given moment? It's quite common to feel conflicting things."
Cate offers a somewhat sheepish shrug, and a tiny smile. "I guess it's just weird for me. Ever since college, I've been so sure about my place. My path. When I joined the marines... I knew it was the right thing to do, but I've felt... adrift." She watches him, gratitude evident. "You're the only one who's understood."
Aldrich smiles back at Cate. "Well, I guess it's because I've had my own conflicted feelings at times... And I know what you mean when you say that you feel adrift. I felt much the same way after I left home."
The tiny smile remains. "Well, least you've got Lyn now. You guys can drift together," Cate says.
Aldrich shakes his head slightly. "Well, I feel a bit more purposeful, these days," he admits. "Even if it's not the happiest purpose, I feel that I'm where the gods mean for me to be. I hope one day you can feel that way, too."
"I hope so too," Cate says somberly. "Though I'm okay with where I'm at. Well..." She grimaces at the forest. "Maybe not, like, right this instant. But in general. The war. It's the future I have a problem with."
Aldrich nods, sympathetically. "Don't we all have a problem with the future?" He glances off for a second, then back to Cate. "I should probably go check on Scott. Do you need anything else before I go?"
"I'm okay. Thanks Al," Cate says, and settles back to stare at the trees some more.