Ines goes to visit Aldrich following her conversation with Cate about the chaplain. It's as the medic said: he's not okay.
Location: Northholt Sickbay
Related Scenes: None
Scene Number: 1673
It's not exactly a private room. Not with all the refugees they brought back with them... But Aldrich has a cot somewhere infirmary-adjacent, and it has a warm blanket and pillow. Just now, his eyes are closed, but given the slight frown and crease of his brow, he's not exactly resting peacefully.
Ines slept for three days after the rescue. It was late in the third day when the doctors finally consented to let her leave, exchanging intravenous antibiotics for the oral equivalents, promising to stay hydrated, stay rested. She's been somewhat scarce since then, not on active duty again yet and free to be elsewhere, so she often is: adjusting to life at base again has been difficult. Not just for Ines -- for most of the Wolves left behind for any significant length of time. She's spent time with Tomak and Nate, the boy they rescued, the latter now settled with refugees temporarily lodged in one of the hangars.
She's stayed away from the sickbay since being discharged, but she returns this afternoon in a pair of CF running tights and a sweatshirt slightly too large for her, hair up and wind-tousled: getting back into her physical routine, now. She's also wearing a pensive look when she stops to ask where the chaplain is, and by the time she gets to him it's a faint frown. He looks...asleep.
"Do you have a pen and a piece of paper? I could leave him a note," she's saying to the nurse who led her in.
Aldrich rouses slightly at the sound of voices, with a sharp intake of breath. His eyes open, joggling slightly in search of... something. Who knows? He still seems disoriented, even after several days of rest, but he gives a faint smile in Ines's direction. "What?" An odd first question, but after a moment he clears his throat. "I'm awake."
Sound from the cot draws Ines' gaze, and the nurse arches a brow at her, head tilting. The pilot's response is a shrug, a nod, a small smile, and it's enough to send the nurse off again on other business, leaving Correa to stand there looking down at the chaplain with the smile waning where it sits.
Her eventual question is quiet, in deference to the fact that she has no idea what's actually wrong with him. "How are you feeling?"
Aldrich looks more puzzled by the long silence, but after a moment of that, he starts moving to sit up, clumsily rearranging the pillow to prop himself up. "Tired," he admits, when she finally asks her question. "But the headache finally went away. That must be a good sign. So they tell me, anyway." He smiles, crookedly. "How are things with the survivors?"
The way Ines watches him shift is intent enough that it's probable she's trying to discern the nature of his injuries. Once he's shifted enough to leave room, she pivots and sinks down to a light seat on the edge of the cot, completely uninvited -- maybe to avoid looming. "I think we're all going to be tired for a while."
She leans forward, bracing against her knees with folded arms, head turned hard to the side to look at him. "They're adjusting. Some better than others. Relieved, though." Pause. "Rhodes told me what you did." Pause. "She also told me you're not alright, which wasn't what I expected to hear. What happened, Kavanagh?"
The only really obvious sign of weirdness is that, for some reason, Aldrich doesn't look at Ines. He's staring kind of glassy-eyed at some point on the blanket in front of him. The faint smile he'd welcomed her with fades a bit when she reveals that Cate has been talking. "I'm fine," he claims, but then falters a bit, swallowing hard. "I'm alive." That is also not a complete answer, so he finally waves a hand in front of his face, then smiles humorlessly. "I mean, I won't be doing any shooting anytime soon. But I'm alive."
Not making eye contact is not a weirdness to Ines: she just spent over a month with Gage. 'Evasive' is a thing she's gotten very used to. So it's the wave of his hand in front of his face that registers the strangeness of it, and when she realizes, her mouth opens a little, eyes wandering over his: the set of them, the lack of a fixed point of regard. That pause is weighted, too, but eventually she asks the question that wants asking, carefully: "How severe?"
Aldrich fidgets a little with the blanket during her silence, obviously uncomfortable. The question is met with a little sigh. "It's hard to describe. Sometimes I think I can see things moving, but..." He lifts a shoulder. "They say it's too soon to know what will happen. It could heal spontaneously, if the gods are willing."
Guiltily, Ines experiences the briefest pang of gratitude that it's probable Aldrich can't see the expression that his last, hopeful remark prompts. She's cautious with her tone, too -- because she wants that to be true, but she isn't sure she believes it enough to feed the fires of his hopes. "Maybe." Pause. "I'm sorry to hear it."
Tugging her eyes away from them and directing them out into the rest of the ward through the door, she wrestles with something within herself, and it would be visible...if he were able to see it. But she's buying herself time, and so: "...and Arda?"
Aldrich lifts a shoulder slightly at her comment. "It's the will of the gods." He fidgets again during the silence, and almost winces at that question. "I don't know..." It seems for a moment that he'll leave it at that, but he finally continues. "It doesn't seem fair, holding her to a promise she made before... everything. I should just go home to Gemenon." That seems to bother him more than the lack of vision. Apparently it's not an appealing prospect.
It was just a question to solicit some news about Lyn's health -- whether or not she's alright, how she's adjusting to being back -- and it doesn't anticipate the answer he gives, clearly, because the response from Ines is a sudden blink and the snap of her gaze back to him, astonishment all over her countenance. "...What?" He doesn't need to see her to glean her incredulity.
Of course, she doesn't know them especially well, either of them, so it's entirely within the realm of possibility that Lyn could be the kind of person who would break things off over this development, but...
Her brows dagger down. The corners of her mouth turn downward, too. "What? What's not fair? That you wound up injured? It's a war, chap. And you're in the CF. In the Wolves. I mean..." She lifts her hands, palm upward with elbows still braced on her knees, expression knit-browed and somewhat at a loss. "Don't you think that was always sort of assumed to be a possibility...?"
Aldrich flinches a little at that. "No, I mean, obviously..." He breaks off, troubled, thinking over the problem, but he finally passes a hand over his forehead, wearily. "She's still a soldier. The war needs her. And I have to go somewhere. How can I--" He breaks off and presses his lips together, tightly. He clears his throat a bit. "Anyway. She's been... preoccupied since we got back, I guess. Probably helping with the other wounded. We haven't had a chance to talk."
Obviously, he says, and Ines' brow rises and quirks, too, skepticism in it. But whatever it was that drove that brief flare of very vocal disbelief, it's tempered moments later, gentled again into the sort of thing most people are accustomed to hearing from her: warmer things. Less confrontational things. "Probably. Things are still a mess." For a few moments she worries at the curve of her lower lip with her teeth, faint shadows in her expression. "There are rumors about the rescue mission not being officially sanctioned. Nobody's quite sure what that could mean for us. For Ryan."
Aldrich scratches the back of his neck, with a wince. "I heard that," he admits. "People talk... But that's about all I've heard. At least... none of the rest seems credible." He still looks troubled, though, and he tilts his head, facing Ines slightly more squarely. "Do you think the CF would really have left us and all those people there?"
That question pulls her focus back to him, lingering on his face -- not his eyes, but the nuance of feeling in the way he's looking roughly at her -- while she probes her insides about it.
"I don't know," is the unsatisfying conclusion she has to offer. Unsatisfying to her, too, to judge by her tone. "Maybe. I don't know what other factors they're dealing with. The cost of a squadron of raptors and vipers, the risk of the rescue going wrong, and I don't- I don't know about the rest of the front right now, you know? What situations they're monitoring, the- the costs they're anticipating." She mulls through that for long moments afterward, finally to dip her head and lazily strip the tie out of her tousled hair so that she can rake her fingers through it, nails grazing scalp, eyes distant. "All I know is that I'm glad it's not my job to make those decisions."
Aldrich is silent for a long time, still looking troubled. He pulls the blanket up closer to him. When he finally speaks, it's quieter than before. "I kept telling them not to worry. That we were going to be rescued. If we survived the escape, and got someone back here, they'd send someone to rescue all of us. I didn't ever stop to think the CF might make a liar out of me."
One of Ines' brows slowly rises on the heels of those words. She studies him sidelong, out of the corners of her eyes, letting the still-loosely tangled curtain of her hair hang heavily over her shoulder for the time being, fingers toying with the tie that had been holding it up in a tail. "Sometimes there are no good decisions," she says eventually, words halting. They strike close to a nerve still raw. She pushes forward, picking her way across her thoughts carefully, as though traversing a minefield.
"Like giving Nate my antibiotics. Or deciding to try to rescue the prisoners, with no guarantees that we'd be able to save them." Or forcing her to leave him behind on an airstrip, to defend the people who remained at the ranch. "I think...sometimes, all you can do is just..." Her hands splay. She looks at the space between them, gaze unfocused. "Make the decision you think you can live with, if you get to go on living."
Aldrich shakes his head. "It's one thing to sacrifice yourself. It's another entirely to sacrifice other people. To sacrifice civilians." He leaves it at that, and gives a tight smile. "But I guess it doesn't matter, since my days with the Wolves look to be over. I can only trust that the gods are guiding their actions for the best."
"Oh, I understand that feeling very well," Ines murmurs, some of the distance in her eyes returning to her voice. There are memories of conversations that replay in the darkness behind her gaze, but she keeps them to herself. "But you weren't trying to sacrifice them, no? Speak to them in the hangar now, and half of them would tell you they would still have wanted the chance. The other half might disagree. People are people. They can't agree on anything."
Pause. Gently: "If you had waited for certainties, you would still be waiting." After a beat her lips quirk, dry and amused, rueful and apologetic. Her tone of voice carries all of those things in it. "I'm not saying it was the best plan, chap." There's even a little bit of laughter that percolates up through the next four words: "It was mad, frankly." Pause. "But it worked. There are no certainties in the life we're living, you know? But we've done things that mattered. Made a difference. You made a difference. There's risk in it. Prices to pay. Some of them hard. Some very hard."
She extends a hand to pat the outline of his shin. "I don't even believe in the pantheon anymore. It was just easier, after everything, to go on living in a universe where I couldn't hold anyone or anything wholly responsible for what happened to me. Us, really. But if you can still put your faith there after everything, I think you're going to be alright, chap. And- I don't know. The Wolves have non-combat personnel, don't they? Counseling, and such?"
She's guessing, actually. She's never been the type to utilize anything like that.
Aldrich frowns deeply at her words for some reason. "I don't know if I would have followed through on that plan, without my faith..." he explains, slowly. "Not that I thought the gods would save my life. They can sometimes seem cruel that way, from the perspective of an individual. But... I still believe the gods guided my actions. And I think the outcome was their will. Whatever comes of it for me..." He shrugs, and clears his throat. "Technically, chaplains are supposed to be non-combatants. Cylons typically don't respect those traditional boundaries. They've been known to specifically target non-combatants, you know."
He can probably count out the measure of that silence in whole seconds. If he could track the subtleties in the way she looks, he'd find her sitting there and studying him, debating within herself as to whether or not to ask the question that she does eventually ask, soft-voiced and curious. "If you're already technically a non-combatant, why-" Pause. "Is it that you want to leave, after what happened?"
Aldrich's brow slowly furrows at that question. There's something almost wounded in his expression, before it disappears behind his typical tight smile. "I don't /want/ to leave. But non-combatant or no, there's no place for a blind man in an army. Certainly not in /this/ war."
Another stretch of silence. "I'm- I'm not sure I understand. If you're not armed and you're not trying to perform surgery, I'm- I don't know why that ought to matter." But he must have his reasons for believing so, obviously, so after another moment she forges delicately onward: "Did they tell you that you would have to leave...?"
Aldrich presses his lips together with a flash of impatience. "Correa." He stops, softens his tone, and says, "Ines. Think about what you're saying. What if Cylons attack the ship or the base I'm on? You've seen it. Unexpected things happen all the time, and I'm a huge liability, now. I can't even run to safety..." He swipes a hand over his face, and then gives a humorless laugh. "Most of you don't believe anyway. Maybe having a chaplain at all is an antiquated practice."
"I am thinking about it." The pilot's tone is dry, her brows skewed again into one of those skeptical looks that never fails to produce in the Tauran marine a similar response to the one she's getting from Aldrich now. She's on the verge of continuing to press the point when she stops short, open mouth closing, lips pressed together. It takes a moment, but she clears her expression and sets whatever she'd been about to say aside. "There's nothing antiquated about being there for other people. Especially soldiers. If that's what you want to do..." She drafts a small smile for him that he can't even see, lashes lowering over pale eyes. "Then I have faith in that, anyway. That you'll find a way to do it, no matter how things turn out."
Aldrich blinks hard at her words, his fingers twisting a bit in the blanket. He looks torn by something, no doubt working through a variety of internal struggles. "The gods called me to do so. I just... I don't yet know what this new development means. I need time to meditate on it." He smiles, tightly. "But also... What I did might easily get me kicked out on its own. If I get an honorable discharge, it's probably their kindness due to my being injured in the process." He clears his throat a little, and swipes at his eyes. "I'm sorry. I'm a bit tired..."
The sense that Ines has a great deal more she wants to say remains, even now, but Ines keeps hold of that resolve not to press. Enough that there's no hint of those restrained sentiments in the note of understanding she hums for him, or in the tone of her voice as she slides off of the cot and back to her feet, wrangling to banner of her hair back into a wound bun behind her head. "We all have that, now. Time." It's such an obvious thing to say, but for Ines in particular it's poignant, all the same: a little over a week ago, she wasn't sure that she did have that. "I'm glad you're alright, even if-" You're not okay. "...you know." Softly clearingg her throat, she retreats to the doorway. "I'll try to sneak you some better food," she promises.
"I'm glad you're all right, too." There's a hint of something to suggest Aldrich knows what she didn't say and somehow appreciates it. Then, he can't help a small chuckle at the promise. "I'll hold you to that. You are a blessing sent by the gods," he says, with a note of teasing, though it's obvious he's already fading a bit. He's readjusting the pillow so he can lie back, even before she leaves. "Thank you. For visiting, I mean..."