2238-02-18 - Walking Wounded

A sick Ines encounters a limping Aldrich whilst sitting at a window, waiting for Cate and Gage to return from scouting for antibiotics in town. The conversation that follows is clear evidence that the wounds that linger longest in people aren't always visible to the eye.

Date: 2238-02-18

Location: At The Ranch

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 1655

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It's late in the evening, and most of the civilian residents of the ranch are sleeping. There are watches and patrols, of course, largely consisting of the guerrilla fighters and the marines, but they tend to be out on the perimeter of the property. Inside, the usual late-night hush has descended on most of the rooms, mostly out of respect for the families with children.

It's bitterly cold out there, but Ines is still sitting next to a window with a throw blanket wrapped over her shoulders, looking out into the twilight with a distantly troubled expression. Without Gage's borrowed tactical vest on, she looks so much smaller than usual.

-

Aldrich would normally be asleep early in the evening unless he had watch, since he gets up so early for morning prayers. But this isn't exactly normal times. He and Lyn have claimed some corner of the house for sleeping in, but in the late evening hush, he sneaks out of there. A combination of stealth and the limp he's still unsuccessfully trying to hide results in a fairly slow gait. He has a somewhat troubled expression, himself, but he covers it with a smile when he sees Ines sitting by the window. "You're up late," he murmurs, in passing.

-

In tight quarters like these, everybody tends to know everything about everybody else, so it's not a secret: Ines is sick. Some sort of infection, maybe. Not a cold -- something to do with the shrapnel injuries she got somewhere along the way out of the cylon-occupied factory area. It shows in her face when she turns her head to look at Aldrich, cheeks flushed pink and eyes bright.

For him she has a small smile, one brow rising. "I could say the same about you." After a moment she gestures loosely at the window. "Rhodes and Tomak went out scouting." Pale eyes wander downward, tracking the difficulty he's having in moving. "Still hurting?"

-

"Nah," Aldrich claims, though he stops to lean against the wall. "I'm just trying to keep Lyn feeling sorry for me." Though that doesn't explain why he's still limping with his fiance asleep. "How are you feeling?"

-

Ines opens her mouth, on the verge of saying one thing...and then hesitates, visibly reconsidering. Her expression shifts, turning gradually rueful. "It seems wrong to lie to a chaplain," she observes, a kind of quiet lament. With a long inhale, she shifts her gaze back toward the window -- or maybe more toward the ghostly reflection of herself in it, against the darkness beyond. "I've been better. But I've been worse, too."

-

Aldrich looks toward the window, thoughtfully. "It /is/ easier to do our job if people tell the truth," he remarks, gently. He looks sidelong back to Ines, considering her for a moment before asking, "Is there anything I can do? I'm sure Cate has been taking care of your physical needs better than I could, but if you need to talk about anything...?"

-

It's not a strange kind of question to ask, but it seems to take Ines off-guard anyway, if her lip-parted expression is anything by which to judge. "Rhodes is great. She's been keeping an eye on things. And Tom-" Pause. "Tomak, too." There's a complicated nuance in her tone when she refers to the Tauran marine she arrived with, some of that troubled expression creeping back in. It leaves her looking at Aldrich in pensive silence for long moments, obviously debating whether or not to take him up on the second part of his offer.

"I'm not very good anymore at talking about things that actually matter," she finally admits, the statement somewhat stilted. "But...maybe. I don't know. Maybe."

-

Aldrich stays silent himself, waiting patiently while she decides if she wants to talk and what she wants to say. When she finally does, he gives a crooked little smile. "Well, for what it's worth, I don't think there's a right or wrong way to talk about things that matter." After a brief hesitation, and he asks, gently, "Something about Tomak, maybe?"

-

Ines manages a smile, though it continues to look uncertain about the wisdom of broaching the issue -- even with a man whose job it is to offer that kind of counsel. "No. Sort of. I mean, yeah, but, no. More...about me?" Dark brows slide together gently. "Maybe?"

She did warn him she was no good at this anymore.

"It's just..." The silence required to put her thoughts together is long. When she does finally speak, she visibly struggles: it's not easy to share. It's not usually her way. "This isn't...the first time. That I've been -- that I was lost. Somewhere. With cylons and..." She waves one hand, dismissing the rest of that thought. "But before, the first time, I was alone. And this time, Tomak was there. And, I wonder if- because, things were difficult and we went through some...things...if I'm not..." Her mouth opens, closes. Her expression remains collected, but she still has the sound of someone floundering in uncomfortable territory. "If...I've got some strange ideas about what we, how he-"

She gives up, finally, and covers her face, more out of embarrassment than any kind of painful feeling. Her voice is muffled: "Oh gods I'm really not good at this."

-

Aldrich does his part by providing the silence for Ines to awkwardly fill, but when she covers her face, he makes a sympathetic noise, and looks around for a chair to pull up. "No one is good at this," he offers, as he settles in to join her at the window. "I take it that you're experiencing some feelings that are... more than professional? Or is it that you think he is?"

-

If Ines had any doubts about what a huge mistake it was to try to talk to someone, ANYone, about this, Aldrich puts them to rest by being frank and direct and interested and nice and it's terrible. It's the worst. She might die.

Her eyes get very wide as she pulls her hands down over her face, momentarily distorting her features. "What? No!" But it's probably a crime somewhere to lie to a chaplain, as she's already said, and even though she doesn't believe in the pantheon anymore it seems like it might be inviting divine wrath in a bad situation to do that so why chance it, really? So she amends, with a wince. "It's- I don't know, we don't- we're not really, uh, we don't talk. About things." These things. Any things? Most things? "I mean. Ever. But I thought we had a, some kind of understanding, about how things work. And then he just-" Once she rediscovers her irritation with Tomak it helps; she gains momentum, sweeping a hand toward the window, expression clouding. "Decides he's going to go on this scouting thing and he wasn't even going to tell me. We were partners. Who does that?"

She slowly begins to lose steam as the uncertainty creeps back in. Her voice gets smaller. "But then I started wondering if maybe that's just me reading into things, because I'm- because I was so relieved. Not to be alone. Like...maybe I'm expecting things I shouldn't."

-

Aldrich holds his hands up, brows lifting. "My mistake, my mistake..." But then she goes on, so he stops and lets her talk, listening carefully as she explains. He jumps in when she loses steam, with a genuine concern. "You went through a very stressful experience together. A traumatic one... I think your feelings are only natural." He glances to the window again, with a thoughtful look. "But... the fact that he didn't tell you might not be because he doesn't care. Sometimes when we care about people, we don't tell them things out of a desire not to worry them."

-

Most of her frantic energy seems to have quieted enough for her to knit her brows and sit in a barely-fidgety silence while he speaks, and she listens. Partway through she starts to nod, but then she shakes her head, which renders her choice to do either somewhat pointless. "No, I know he-" The word 'cares' sticks in her throat like a barbed hook; she has to settle for something else. "-...does. We had that argument, once." She pauses, then tilts her lips into a rueful moue. "Less an argument than him yelling at me and me apologizing. I didn't tell him I thought my arm was getting worse while we were traveling. There wasn't anything he could do. So I thought we'd -- I just, I thought...if it was something dangerous, we'd talk about it." Two beats of silence, then a swallow. She's still looking at the window. It's easier than looking at Aldrich. "I thought I'd earned that, you know?"

-

Aldrich is silent for a long time. His troubled expression returns as he mulls it over. "Do you think you can forgive him for not telling you?" he wonders, and glances back toward her with an odd, almost intent expression.

-

Surprise spikes through her weighted expression like a flash of silver in the sun, both brows leaping upward, and she does actually turn her head to look at him again. "He saved my life. I'd forgive him for far worse than that." The knit of her brows remains, but something in her expression slowly begins to gentle -- maybe because of the reminder as to what she owes the man in question, and maybe through the thoughtfulness that follows. "I'm not even sure it's about forgiveness. It's more that I thought I understood things, and now I'm not sure that I do."

-

Aldrich nods slowly, solemnly, and looks toward the window. "That's good... I think forgiveness is important..." he trails off, but then clears his throat a little. "I think maybe it's not a matter of understanding or not. We're all under a lot of stress right now... Perhaps he was worried that you'd want to join him, and he was trying to protect you? I'm sure you're quite capable, but given your injuries..."

-

The little dry sound that Ines exhales all but confirms Aldrich's theory before she ever opens her mouth. "That's exactly what he was doing. Not without reason. But..." Pause. She sits back from her lean toward the window, retugging the blanket over her shoulders so that it's more closely bundled around her neck, and watches Aldrich sidelong, studying his expression. "So you don't..." She stops that thought partway through, and some moments after that exhales a long sigh, her shoulders bending. "Actually, I think this conversation has cleared a few things up for me." How or why she doesn't say, but she does offer him a slightly abashed smile. Shyness looks strange on her -- her features are practically made for it, but it doesn't look like an expression she ever wears. "Thanks, chaplain."

-

Aldrich smiles, a touch tentatively, but still with a warmly genuine cast. "I don't know how much I helped, but I'm glad if I did." He starts climbing to his feet, and gives her a light pat on the shoulder, wherever seems safe without affecting any injury. "I'm sure you two will work things out. You clearly care about each other, and that's the most important part."

-

With the difficult business of talking about things like feelings now behind her, Ines can afford to inject greater warmth into her smile, and by the time he pats her on the shoulder she looks as though she is ready to reassure him. "No...you did. Really. Thanks."

And that's the most important part, Aldrich says, a simple, straightforward sentiment, not difficult to understand. It still seems to give Ines pause, leave her looking as though she's probing the truth of that, disconcerted. "I feel like I knew that a long time ago, maybe," she says, words dressed in a tone of something nostalgic in a melancholy way, gently baffled and a little bit self-deprecating. "I'll try to remember. I hope your leg feels better soon."

-

Aldrich smiles, a bit melancholy as well. "It's easy to lose sight of. For all of us. And I hope you feel better soon, too." He smiles, kindly, and starts away to do whatever he had been going to in the beginning.


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