2238-02-23 - All There Actually Is

Cate stops by to check on Ines. Difficult truths are acknowledged. Promises are made.

Date: 2238-02-23

Location: Picon Ranch

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 1658

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The day after Cate and Gage attempted to find antibiotics in the pillaged, wrecked town on the outskirts of which the ranch sits, Ines stopped doing chores and sitting watches. She stopped leaving the house at all, in fact, fever too vulnerable to the cold outdoors for comfort. It couldn't make her much worse, but it felt miserable.

Two days after that -- the day before yesterday -- she stopped leaving Nate's room. She's spending a lot of time sleeping. Her heart rate hasn't skyrocketed, so septic shock seems unlikely, but the risk remains.

Sweetly, Nate refused to keep using the bed and now she occupies it. He's presently sitting on the end of it, reading some sort of kid's book to her -- not exactly riveting material, but the gesture is too touching to refuse.

-

Cate has been dutifully mother-henning over all of the injured - as much as one can, anyway, with barely any food and even less supplies. Not to mention trying to balance medical duties with watches and scouting while running on empty herself. There's a soft rap on the doorframe and then she comes in. "Hey," she greets with a wan smile for the both of them.

-

Like most of the rest of the kids at the ranch, Nate likes Cate. He looks up with a grin, then shoots Ines an uncertain look. The pilot, previously prone and lid-eyed, curled onto her side, sits up onto her hip and has a smile for Cate of her own, waving her in. She keeps the blanket swirled up around her shoulders, though, cloaking her from the neck down. "Hey, Rhodes. Nate, could you-"

"I know, I know," he grouses, in the theatrical way that kids do. But he closes the book, anyway, and hops down. "I wanna get dinner anyway."

In a flash, he's gone, leaving Cate with Ines and her silent, appraising study of the medic. "How're you holding up?"

-

Cate gives Nate a hair-ruffle on his way past that has him scowling and grinning. She's developed a rapport with most of the kids around the ranch. "Hey maybe we can do the next round of our league later," she suggests - a little fantasy-league type game they made up after discovering a shared interest in pyramid. Once he's gone, she comes over to take up his spot on the bed. "Eh, you know. Tired." Cate states the obvious then hitches her shoulders in a little shrug. "I'd ask how you're doing but it's kinda obvious." Sympathetic concern creeps into her tone there.

-

Ines isn't especially good with kids. It's an odd contrast, really; the gruff, moody Tauran marine is infinitely more gifted with Nate than Ines is, for all that she's the warmer personality of the two. Still, she likes Nate. It's in her face as she watches Cate menace him.

Her brows stitch together, a single nod claiming understanding of everything Cate's shrug stands in for. "You look it," she says, with a note of apology in her expression and voice.

For herself, she has a similar shrug, head tilting, eyes struck with rueful humor. "It's because we're still planning to go to the mine. If we weren't, I wouldn't feel I had to stay in bed yet, but I need to be ready. Have energy." She strives for a determined look, but there's a note of worry in it, anyway. "Have people decided what they're, what we're going to do..?"

-

"It's good that you are," Cate says, voice growing more serious. "I think we need to go sooner rather than later. Getting you back to base is your best chance." She rubs one temple with a tired sign. "I'm not sure we have a good plan, but I don't think it's going to get any better. You guys steal the Raider, Tomak blows up the fuel depot, we create a diversion, give those people as much chance to make a run for it as we can."

-

Grave, pale eyes watch Cate as she makes her way through those thoughts, hanging on the sigh and weary massaging of her temple with a slight downward turn to one corner of her mouth. She lowers her voice, glances up at the half-open doorway briefly. "Are we putting everyone at risk without good enough reason?" A shadow nicks between her brows, some of that worry coming to the fore. "I told Tomak we would do this, and I'm prepared to gamble on it with myself. But other people...?" Beneath the blanket something moves -- her hand lifted, cupped over the nape of her neck. "Would we still be doing this if I were healthy? We would, right?" Because she can't stand the thought of being responsible. It's clear as day in her tone.

-

"Doing the rescue? Yes, absolutely," Cate replies with an obvious, almost zealot-like conviction. "I'll admit I wasn't a big fan of the Raider-hijacking idea at first, but..." She lets out another little sigh. "Look, Ines... we're past the point where a bottle of penicillin will fix you up. And if the infection gets worse, you'll start to go into septic shock, and then your organs will fail and you'll die. Even if we can get to the hospital with the new patrols -" Apparently they stirred up the hornets with their last venture into town. "The odds of them having everything we need - IV antibiotics, fluids, pressors... they're pretty bad. I'm sorry."

-

Ines makes an earnest effort to guard her expression, keep it neutral, but in the same way the worry crept out of her, so does the relief when Cate confirms they'd be going ahead with it regardless. She exhales a slow breath, her expression a braid of complicated things: rue, gallows humor, a strange kind of self-deprecation and an oh-so-subtle melancholy. Acceptance, sheening everything. "Yeah. It's okay, Cate." She sounds...reassuring. "It's...not what anybody wanted. But it was always going to be a possibility, and, you know. If I had the choice to make again..." She angles her eyes toward the door, the look conflicted for some moments, resolving into a slow blink and shake of the head. "I guess I'd do it the same way."

Which reminds her, something she shares in words hushed down to a near-whisper: "Nate doesn't know. I don't want anybody to tell him. He thinks we found the antibiotics in town that day."

-

Cate bobs her head slightly. "He's a lucky kid. Without you shoring those meds with him - I'd be here having the shitty 'there's nothing we can do' talk with him instead." Cate's brow creases in guilty apology. "I won't tell him, of course. Have you... does he know about the plan? "

-

One of Ines' hands escapes the blankets to sea-saw back and forth, but there's an almost mirroring guilt in it. "Sort of. He knows we're planning something, and that if it worked we might be able to get outside help. But..." She silences, swallows, then turns her head, gaze slid off of the medic uneasily. "Not really what any of that means, I don't think. That they're very long odds, or what might happen if things go poorly. I don't know how to tell him and Tomak..." Pause. "Isn't...isn't going to talk about what-ifs where it doesn't work out. Not with me, so definitely not with Nate."

She shifts a little where she's sitting, looking down at the rumpled sheets, mulling. "Are you going to use the back entrance? Did you talk to King? It used to be a smuggler's den or something? This mine."

-

Cate nods grimly. "Hard enough having those conversations with anyone, let alone a kid. But..." Her mouth twists a bit. "If you want my unsolicited advice - I think you should. It sucks to leave things unsaid. And kids are more resilient than we sometimes like to give them credit for." A brief smirk there, then she turns more serious then, nodding to the question about the mine. "Yeah. Hopefully get some people out that way."

-

She says nothing more about Nate, but her expression takes on a visible weight at the thought of having that conversation with the boy. Weight and weariness, as though the prospect of being made to feel the things involved is already a burden. Still, she must agree: she nods wordlessly, some of that weariness transitioning into resignation.

It's far easier to discuss plans. "Okay. I wish I had something else to offer, to help. Maybe my pistol?" One dark brow rises, almost hopeful. "I don't think it'll do much on its own against cylons once we're on the airstrip."

-

"You should keep it," Cate advises. "We've got weapons... and anyway, if it comes down to a long firefight we're pretty much frakked anyway, so..." She shakes her head a little bit, then says, "I just hope these guys here will be all right."

-

"Yeah." Troubled thoughts cast shadow over her expression, like a sheet of clouds scudding in front of a sun. "That's why we weren't ready to agree to something like this, at first. The- the families, kids. People who can't just march for days to relocate. No plan for where to go. We-"

But that line of thinking is so well-trod for Ines now that the thought of traversing it again -- especially now that they've committed to acting, anyway -- causes a wave of exhaustion to roll over her, momentarily closing her eyes. The blanket slips as she lets go with one hand to wave the whole thing away. "Gods, nevermind. I can't." She drags the blanket back up with a grimace that rises on a tide of chills. Grave, her tone stays soft. "We'll see soon enough."

-

Cate nods grimly. "Yeah. I know." Her expression grows pinched, and there's a little stretch of silence before she says, "I was here, you know, at the beginning of the war. Well, not here here, but Hyperion. Trapped in the arena there." It may be a hundred miles distant, at least, but this is the closest she's been back. "Some of us got out, got to the navy base. The brass there..." Her throat bobs at the memory. "They wrote the rest of them off. 'Too risky to try anything.' So the Toasters... they firebombed the frakking arena, and the navy base fell anyway." She lets her voice trail off, jaw hardened in a bitter line. "I can't write off the people in the mine. We have to do something to give them at least some kind of chance. Even if it's tiny."

-

It's so rare a thing that Ines hears any soldier talk about the early days that the moment Cate breaks that silence in that way, she has the whole of the Leonese pilot's attention. Beneath slant, sympathetic brows she watches the medic, taking in all of the little signs of lingering pain as a grim story unfolds. The personal reasons to put everything on the line for the people in the work camp.

Other thoughts trickle into the silence that follows that retelling -- thoughts that leave her expression softened, underpinned with that rare melancholy. They aren't what she articulates though, when she opens her mouth. "If we can make it out, we'll bring help back, Rhodes. I promise. We won't roll over for the brass and leave you. We won't."

-

Ines' promise pulls the medic back from the pit of bad memories, and Cate offers a wan smile. "You may not have a choice. I didn't. I mean, I suppose technically I could have done a one-woman suicide assault on the arena, but... that wouldn't have done anybody any good." She lets out a mirthless snort-chuckle, then shakes her head. "I know you'll do your best. That's all you can do. Either way... if we make it out of the mine, I'll keep looking after Nate and the others here." Another wan smirk is offered briefly. "Least I get to be a doctor again here. For all the good it does." She rubs a hand across her face, as if that could banish the bleakness, and sighs.

-

"We'll find a way." Whether that determination is realistic or not doesn't seem to be a factor in Ines' unremitting certainty: she can't countenance any other possibility. But with that said, there seems to be little else she can say by way of reassurance. The odds of making it out in the first place are long, long odds indeed.

Both of her brows rise on the heels of that last observation. "It's priceless. Having one must be good for everyone's peace of mind, and anything you can't fix is..." Her mouth opens, then closes. Dark brows slide gently together, and the light in her eyes -- they're bright, still, a factor of her fever -- comes over with a sudden wave of compassion and empathy. "Gods, we all take every last tragedy that we cannot prevent so personally, whether we could have done something about them or not. Myself, as well. And if Tomak could fist-fight my infection, I really believe he would." The corner of her mouth turns upward, sad and fond and amused all at once. "He told me, a while ago, that there wouldn't be any point to any of it if Nate died after everything. But I don't know, Rhodes. From where I'm sitting right now..." She worries her lower lip: she means in a place of uncertainty, at risk of dying. "Giving people a chance, that's everything. Helping the kids feel something normal. All of these things. They still matter. It all matters. I think it might be all there actually is."

-

Cate lets out another soft heh at the idea of Gage fist-fighting Ines' infection. "He probably would," she agrees, amused. "Hell, I would too, if I could." She grows more somber then, nodding slowly at the rest of Ines' sentiment. "But I agree with you. It's not the end result that matters, it's what we do. Whether we save any of those people down there or not, at least we tried." She shrugs again. "Not that it'll stop us from beating ourselves up about it." She flashes another weak smirk, then shifts position, clearly preparing to leave. "You need anything, before I go?"

-

I would too, Cate says, and the sympathy in Ines' eyes softens again. "I believe you." That it's necessary to view their efforts in this light -- as important in their own right, even if it all comes to nothing tomorrow, because of the good that can be done for today -- is absolutely grim. It's still a more peaceful sentiment on which to end their conversation than what came before it, and Ines exhales a little breath that releases some of that tension, letting go of what-ifs, for now.

The last offer Cate makes gets her gaze for a few silent seconds, and then a slow shake of the head. "Thanks, though." As she readjusts the blanket, sliding back down onto the mattress, her tone turns fussy. "Just try to get some rest at some point!"

-

Cate bobs her head once more and then pats Ines' leg under the blanket before standing. "Believe it or not, I do try." Though from how exhausted she looks, it would be easy enough to disbelieve. "Take care."


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