2238-01-31 - Things To Worry About

Ines makes several errors in judgement in a row. Gage says something that he definitely won't regret later. <br> <br> What IS a coat-twister, though? Seriously.

Date: 2238-01-31

Location: Picon

Related Scenes: 2238-01-30 - Coming In From The Cold

Plot: Operation: Bullhorn

Scene Number: 1637

Jump to End

It's maybe half an hour after Tomak left the little room that serves as the infirmary in the warehouse-turned-safehouse when Ines is finally turned loose, new bandages wrapped around her left arm, the sleeve of her re-donned shirt carefully rolled partway up her forearm. Vest on, rifle over her shoulder, backpack once more on her back, she cuts her way through the milling bodies in the warehouse and leaves behind a ribbon of air that smells of antiseptic, shoulders tightened inward, eyes everywhere and an expression of poignant worry on her face -- more honest by a Picon country mile than the everything is fine display she put on when they arrived.

She's looking for him. Obviously. And the longer she goes without finding him, the more anxious she starts to look, until by the time she's done one loop around the inside of the building she can't stand it anymore: she pushes her way outside, doing her dead-level best to try and look as though she's not about to panic. Not because she's afraid of the people inside, though.

Not yet, at least.


Of course he's not inside. It's not where she would choose to be, either. It's still daylight, and there's a couple of people patrolling around the outside of the warehouse. If she dares question one of them, they'd nod northwards, into the woods. If not, well -- she'll find him eventually. He's set the backpack against a tree, the fur coat flung across it with the carelessless of someone using another person's things. A dead person's things, even.

The felled log makes a much different noise when the hatchet bites into it. Less a thwack than with the meat, and more a solid, satisfying thunk. Chips of wood go flying, and now and then, a larger chunk which Gage reaches down for and tosses onto the slowly growing pile. His rifle leans against the log to the left, shuddering every time he lands a blow.


She does eventually ask, when a circle of the building doesn't turn him up anywhere either, and her anxiety begins to outweigh the needs of her independence.

A week in the woods has left her more cautious. Ines is deliberately careless with her feet as she closes in on the place she can hear those telltale sounds, stepping on branches entirely on purpose. She eyes the backpack against the tree as she edges up to it, then leans her shoulder into it and rests one hand on the side of it, half-concealed by the trunk. Not all of the tension manages to bleed out of her, even now that she's found him.

"I thought you left." There's not a whole lot of intensity to the way she says it, but it probably explains the lingering crease between her brows. The chastened look, though, may owe itself to other things entirely.


Halfway through a swing of his hatchet, he hears it. The blade bites in deep, and his motion downwards keeps going, grabbing for his rifle with his left hand as he does so. His fingers are clutched tightly around the weapon when he hears her voice, and he stills for a moment, back shifting with the strength of the breath he takes, before his fingers release one weapon, and return to the other. It takes a leg braced against the log to free the hatchet again, done with a grunt.

"Aint anywhere to go. Not yet," is all he says, taking another swing. Thunk. His voice is pitched largely evenly, but even if he's trying he can't quite hide the undercurrent of anger still lingering in it.


Her eyes stay on his back, affixed there with a weight like stones. Ines wouldn't need the sound of his voice to know he's angry: he's exhausted and concussed and he's chopping wood.

Eventually he'll hear soft sounds that might eventually put together the picture of her stripping her backpack off and setting it down, slowly using the tree to slide down to sit on the ground -- the material of his vest, scuffed down flakes of bark. The quiet click of the rifle as she sets it into her lap.

It takes her a while to work up to it.

"There wasn't any point to telling you. You knew when I did, anyway. This morning. I don't- we couldn't have done anything differently."


And while she works her way up to speaking, he keeps working. If there was a comparison, it could be said that he swings harder now, like the source of his anger -- his frustration -- is right there, and her continued silence makes him fume all the more. When she finally speaks, the swinging motion stops, at the top of the arc, and he turns, staring at her.

So many thoughts pass through that sharp, heated look, and are left unspoken. What he settles on, instead, is a growled, "What were you planning to do, Correa? Wait until you were about to die on me, then go, by the way...?"


Her brows slide further together. For a moment she looks like she's at a loss, but of course, this is Ines: she's never lacked for passion. She lifts both of her hands, palms outward. "What are you talking about? I took the pill today. You watched me do it. Today was the first day I thought, 'yeah, it looks like it might be infected.' What else would you have had me do? You had-" She pauses, lowers her hands, presses her shoulders down and tries to reach for a quieter tone of voice.

"You had enough to worry about. I wouldn't have- I wouldn't have put us at risk. But there was nothing you could do about it. Nothing other than what I did. Non?"


He strides towards her, closing the distance between them in a few paces. His right hand still grips the hatchet, but his left reaches down for her arm -- and stops, just before he makes contact, fingers clenching as he straightens.

"There's plenty to worry about," is his snarled agreement, "But you dying is at the very frakking top of that list, you <<stupid Leonese coat-twister>>!" He slides into Tauran halfway through, mostly because it's much more satisfying and natural for swearing.


The back of her head -- or rather, the braided bun affixed there -- actually bumps into the tree as Ines leans back, uncertain in the face of all of that sudden wrath and the way he reaches for her arm, eyes slightly wide. It's not raw fear, but it looks like an expression that isn't sure whether or not it should be fear.

She's never seen him that angry. Certainly never with her, not like that -- pissy, grouchy, moody, but not this. And Tomak is a big man.

She swallows as he straightens. Her voice shrinks, too. But there's no contrition in it when she says the words: "I'm sorry." What sounds in her voice instead is something like understanding, or at least sympathy; because she comprehends that what she's apologizing for is scaring him, even if wild horses couldn't drag the words out of her.

"Tomak, I'm..." After a beat she presses a hand back into the tree behind her, pushing, gradually levering herself up off of the ground, but she keeps her back to the curved side of it. Flakes of bark dust her shoulders. << I'm not going to die. Not to this. >>

There's a long, heavy pause.

She probably shouldn't, but she can't help herself. That helpless, anxious, worried look remains, the tone of her voice doesn't really change, but when she opens her mouth again what she says is, << What's a coat-twister? >>


He's not looking at her, all too aware of his own mood, and -- after the barest of glances -- the effect it has on her. It makes the Tauran twist on a heel and retreat to the log, as much for his sake, as for hers. He slams the hatchet into the wood, before arms stretch out to lean against the log.

For a moment, just breathing. Her apology registers; at least, Gage straightens shortly after.

Finally, after a long silence: <<It's a, a woman who... never-frakking-mind.>> His voice shades from angry to awkward to irritated. Still, that's a step up from the fury of moments ago. <<Gotta finish this.>> A task no one set him to, but one he means to follow through with, owing to his typical stubborn determination. <<I just need to finish this.>> He doesn't ask her to leave, but he does heft the hatchet again.


He actually wants her to leave.

Not looking at her means Gage is spared the look on her face when she processes that piece of information, extracting it on her own from what he's said. There's a long silence, then the sound of a bit of velcro static as a pocket is opened, and then the sound of the top of his backpack being pushed down. Of her own things being picked up unhurriedly, or at least carefully, and when that stops a very quiet, mostly-toneless, "...okay. Cate...Cate gave me some pills for your headache. They're on your backpack."

And then she does turn to go, after all, only to stop three strides away, hating that she has to ask this question but unable or unwilling to follow through until she does. There's too much fear in it. "You wouldn't leave without me, would you?"


For a moment, Gage stops his swing. He could throw out a casual response, and it'd be sufficient, but he owes her more than that. Something in her voice, anyway, pulls him to look, to reinforce the words as he says them. "I won't," he says, simply. For a moment, he holds her gaze, reinforcing the words, and then he turns away, back to... whatever it is he's doing. Not chopping wood, certainly. That's just a byproduct of his need to do something other than think right now.


Something in her shoulders loosens a little. Something quiets in the eyes. Ines nods, visibly mollified if not necessarily freed of the weight of that tense exchange, and turns back around.

"Come find me later," she says, less the command it's phrased as than an invitation by way of her tone -- or possibly a hopeful suggestion. After a week in the woods she manages to be admirably silent in her retreat.


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