2238-02-26 - Worth It

Aldrich gets bad news about his condition, but decides that getting captured to help the POWs was still worth it.

Date: 2238-02-26

Location: Sickbay

Related Scenes: None

Plot: None

Scene Number: 1674

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Aldrich got a cot somewhere either in the infirmary or adjacent... Other people with more life-threatening injuries have been taking priority, and he hasn't been complaining. Even if he wanted to, he probably wouldn't have had the energy. He's been sleeping soundly, except for when he was roused to be poked, prodded, scanned, and what-have-you. But even in sleep, he has a furrow to his brow and a certain faint tension in his expression.

Cate has barely stopped moving since they got on that Raptor back at the farm. With the influx of wounded and malnourished POWs, Northholt's clinic was swamped and nobody pushed too hard against the stubborn Hibernian doctor who insisted on helping out. Nevermind the splint on her arm and assorted scrapes and bruises. Buffed up with coffee and aspirin, Cate helped out for as long as she could manage before finally giving in to Deb and the other docs' worried nagging. Now she's cleaned, fed, and her wounds tended - including a cast on her right forearm. She still looks like hell though - not that Al can see it - and she slouches a bit in her borrowed hospital scrubs. A soft rap on the doorframe announces her presence. "Hey Al," she greets softly.

Aldrich rouses with a sharp intake of breath. He looks deeply disoriented for several long moments before everything starts to come back to him, and he swipes a hand over his face. There was a time when he would have been one of those stubborn helpers, working with the wounded... But he must have been work hard to hide how poor he felt. He looks haggard, now. "Cate?" He starts an uncoordinated effort to push himself up, until he's propped against the wall. "Is... Have you-- Lyn? Geoff?"

"Yeah, it's me," Cate confirms, hearing that questioning note in his voice. Soft footsteps cross the room and Cate settles into the stool beside his bed. "They're both okay. You manage to get any rest?"

Relief floods Aldrich's expression, and while he still looks tired, at least it seems a weight has been taken from him. "Good... Good." He scrubs at his face, and takes a deep breath. "I think I slept? What time is it?"

"That's good," Cate says, a bit dully. "It's, uh..." There's a slight pause while she glances at her watch before answering. "Almost eleven hundred. Are you hungry? I can go get you something..." Stalling much? There's something off in her voice. A tentative worry.

"I must have slept then..." Aldrich says, finally leaning his head back against the wall. Even without the tension of worry, he looks exhausted. "Still could sleep another week, I think. I'm not hungry though." He clears his throat of a bit of sleep gunk, and then remembers to ask, "Deb. How's Deb? Is she okay?"

"Yeah, I know what you mean. I'm still too wired to sleep though. I'll crash eventually." Even if she sounds a little dubious about that. Cate continues to watch him, a sad frown starting to settle on her face. It's held at bay, though, by the question about Deb. "Yeah, yeah, she's okay. Gods, I still can't even believe it." Her wistful tone turns more somber. "She told me what you did in there. Getting everyone organized. Y'know, those extra couple minutes of them breaking the door open ... that probably saved a lot of their lives. I'm sure there were more reinforcements on the way."

Aldrich nods and relaxes his head back again. "Good, good..." he murmurs. Her comments about what he did draw a faint smile. "Then it was worth it," he says, but then gives a little sigh. "I think Geoff may never talk to me again, though. That's... difficult." After a beat or two, he adds, "I don't even know what Lyn's feelings are."

"Then he's a dumbass," is Cate's blunt assessment of that situation. "I'll talk to him." She doesn't seem to know what to say about Lyn at first, so there's a stretch of silence. "She'll come around. She loves you." After another long pause, Cate reaches for his forearm gently with her free hand. "Listen, Al," her voice softens. "I need to talk to you." It's probably good that her face is fuzzy to him, so he can't see the pained look there.

"Don't," Al suggests, gently. "He has a right to his feelings. Whatever they are." He fidgets a bit during the pause, a new habit that may have more to do with subconscious anxiety than anything. He smiles again, still weakly, at her final words. "I know. It's bad news, isn't it?"

Cate's throat bobs. No matter how practiced she might be at delivering bad news, it's different when it's someone you love. "Yeah," she confirms softly. "They got the results of your tests." She really doesn't mean to leave him hanging - the lengthy pause is an artifact of how hard it is to continue. "It's likely that... the visual deficits you're having now are going to be permanent." She does explain a bit more about why that is, but keeps the medical mumbo-jumbo to a minimum. "I'm sorry, Al." She squeezes his forearm.

Aldrich listens to all of this with surprising, though solemn, calm. He nods a bit, as she finishes the explanation and expression of regret, and gives a pat to the hand on his arm. He smiles, faintly, and says, "If that's so, it's the will of the gods. And it was still worth it." He still blinks hard as he says that, but he's oddly serene about the whole thing.

Cate doesn't move her hand from his arm. "I stopped trying to figure out their will a long time ago." She swallows hard again. "But nothing's impossible, Al. I mean, hell... if it were just down to the odds, I'd be dead a dozen times over. I sat across from Deb's husband and told him that she was dead. I've seen miracles, Al. If anybody deserves one - I'd say you're pretty high on the list."

Aldrich sighs, wearily. "Even if I believed that, I don't think the gods dole out miracles based on who deserves them the most. I've seen too many people who deserve them more than I do who..." He lifts a shoulder, and presses his fingers against his eyes. "So what's going to happen to me?"

"I think sometimes they do. I like to believe that anyway," Cate says, stubbornly clinging to that hope even if he won't. As for the other question, that causes a sad frown to settle on her face. "You'll be sent off to a rehab hospital for awhile. They'll try some different therapies to see if your vision improves any, and you'll learn to adapt to it. They've got really good people..." And that's when the veneer of professionalism cracks, along with her voice, and she just stops in mid-sentence, overcome.

Aldrich nods slowly, mulling that over for a time. "And after that?" he persists, uncharacteristically ignoring that crack in her voice. "If it doesn't improve, and I've learned to adapt?"

Cate's throat bobs again as she swallows past the tightness there. She doesn't answer the question directly, but instead asks, "Have you and Lyn talked about where you want to settle down?" There's still a slight quaver in her voice, but she at least has it mostly under control.

Aldrich nods a little. "All right," he says, instead of answering the question. There's a barely contained energy about him, underneath the weariness and difficult to define. But he squeezes Cate's hand and then gently moves it off his arm. "I think... maybe I want to be alone for a few minutes. Is that okay?"

"Yeah, sure," Cate doesn't sound put out about it, but her voice is already so off it might be hard to tell even if she were. Either way, she rises and pushes back the stool. "One of the nurses can fetch me if you need me." She turns to go.

Aldrich looks almost regretful, but he doesn't call her back when she turns to go. He just sort of rubs his arm where her hand had been resting, and calls after her, "Cate? Thank you..."

Cate nods, even if some part of her realizes that's dumb because he can't really see it. She just offers a soft, "Sure. I'll seeya later," she promises, and then she's ducking out the door.


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