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#MSVJackOfDiamonds – December 14, 2017
Nathan travels back down after a visit to the bathroom, which stretched to an almost worrying amount of time. He had waited until some of the colour returned to his face and he could force a smile onto his lips, to try and alleviate any concern that might spring from his companions. Although he considered that unlikely, given how tense and fearful most of the company seems to be. He heads straight to his
'workstation' and the armour that is strew across the crates, immediately picking back up from where he left off. He pushes his gauntlet to the side and heaves over his chest piece, cracking open a panel on the back to get to the innards of the armour. His tools are quickly snatched up and he begins to work on tweaking the systems from within.
Nathan wipes his mouth with the back of his hand as he finishes emptying the contents of his stomach. He groans quietly to himself, ashamed that he couldn't control the frightful thoughts pulsing through his mind. He felt like he was back in the early days of Sandbeck right now, a scared greenhorn quivering in his armour. At least now he is able to bury it after a moment of weakness. And that moment of weakness
happened to take form in vomit. Wonderful. He flushed the toilet and turned to the tap, washing away any lingering flecks of his stomach. He dries his hands and turns to the door, opening it with a deep inhale of breath to compose himself.
Jessica is stood outside of the bathroom, her face contorted into a look of disgust at having- apparently- overheard some of what transpired. She merely stares at Nathan in silence for a moment. "That is not from the-... Gah! What is called? Chili?" she asks, a bit of worry slipping into her tone at perhaps having eaten bad food.
Nathan baulks at sudden Jessica and he takes a step back, almost tripping straight back onto the toilet. He composes himself and shakes his head, standing up straight, staring back at her until she asks her question. "Nah, I... doubt it. Probably that protein bar I had. Think it was out of date or something," he offers lamely, before squinting at her. "How long have you been stood there?"
Jessica cocks an eyebrow, seeming unconvinced by his poor explanation. When he questions her, she scowls, almost looking defensive. "Wha-... I have to pee!" she says, "Is not my fault you are taking forever puking your-...." She trails off as something seems to occur to her, a small half-smile-half-sneer curling her lips. "You are scared!" she decides in what comes across as more of an accusation than an observation. She seems
Nathan stares at her, his face turning to one of frustration at being called out, then to one of annoyance at how she is going to capitalise on this. He folds his arms across his chest defensively, seeing that there is no point in bullshitting his way around this. "So?"
Jessica opens her mouth to speak, but his response catches her off guard. Seems she was expecting him to continue to try and hide it. Her gaze moves back towards the infirmary briefly before settling back on Nathan. She gives a small shrug of her shoulders and folds her arms across her chest. "...Why?" she asks simply as she's afforded no real avenue to poke and prod Nathan with. "We go and get the little girl and don't die
then go home, yes?" she explains as if the plan is that simple, "Is better than being on that fucking sand planet." She kicks at the ground with the toe of her armored boot as a frown crosses her face, "...I am still finding sand in my boots."
Senya 's voice sounds from the infirmary, but only a few scattered words are audible. "...duty to save the patient..." "...can't know before..."
Nathan manages a flicker of a smile at her latter comment, but then he leans against the wall. He furrows his brow as he thinks of a way to explain this, ignoring the sounds of the infirmary for now. "...Because everyone else is. There is something so... unexplained about what they fear they might face, that it's changed them so noticeably." He motions towards the makeshift accommodations, glancing to the side.
"Jason and Leah are two of the happiest and most positive people I know. Cracking witticisms and almost always bantering with others. Now, they brood. They're quiet. Almost reclusive. Almost." He folds his arms back across his chest, looking at Jessica with a hard gaze. "Jattic is usually quiet, barely speaks except to prod at Jasper. Now he's imparting warnings, checking if everyone is battle ready." He
sighs heavily, shaking his head. "But most of all... everyone is adamant that we are going to lose some of our number. Even when we were trapped on that fucking dustball, none of us openly gave in to the possibility that not all of us will make it back. Even as missiles were going to rain down upon us." At least from what he can remember. "And that? That scares me. That the people I know who I have come to
Halisi 's voice sounds in response, more audible thanks to the volume of her voice. "...trust me. I tried! For days! I saw my friends turn! You can't cure it!"
Jessica sighs. Not at the situation. But at the fact that, once again, Nathan has chosen to be earnest rather than choosing to argue. Arguing is much easier. But he's not wrong. The change in behavior isn't something that's gone unnoticed by her, even if she's chosen to ignore it. "Mmm." she hums, shifting a bit to put her back against the wall. Her undersuit- which is still tied around her waist with the sleeves- hangs
slightly off her hips, exposing a bit of skin between it and her white tanktop that shows a pattern of stars tattooed up her left hip and disappearing beneath her tanktop. Her gaze moves back to the infirmary door and she studies it in silence as she catches bits and pieces of the conversation. "You are worried for your little blonde beauty queen, yes?" she finally asks, giving a roll of her eye as she references Leah,
though a small smile eventually manifests as she glances back towards Nathan. "Worried that maybe she is going to be the one who we are going to lose?"
Nathan winces faintly. "Of course I'm worried about her," he admits. "But I'm worried I'll lose any of you. I know death is always a factor in our line of work. I'm not that naive. But it doesn't mean I'll try my damnedest to make sure my teammates, my friends, are spared it. I can't... I can't go through it again," he mutters, although for Jessica there is a whole lot of context that she is missing with that
statement. Hearing Halisi seems to worsen his mood and his face contorts into a grimace. "To be told by those closest to me that I need to forget protecting them, trying to save them if it comes down to the wire... it's thrown me." It's not lost on him at how honest he is being with Jessica, of all the people to be honest to, but he also can't bring himself to so casually brush her off. Regardless of his
personal feeling about her, she's a teammate, she's going to face the same abominations as he and he can't bare the thought of losing any teammate.
Senya speaks up again after a delay. "...understand..." "...follow the captain's orders..." "...talk to..." "...lose..."
Jessica's gaze once again turns away when Nathan's words make it clear that he's lost people he cared about in the past. And, for a few moments, she seems content to just focus on eavesdropping on whatever she can make out of the argument on the other side of the infirmary door. But between the muffled nature and her own mind wandering, she's unable to get much from it. Her arms unfold and she reaches across herself with her
right hand, grasping at her left shoulder as she continues to lean against the wall. Her left hand moves down and she presses her palm against the outside of her left thigh. With a dismissive shrug, she looks back to the man beside her. "People die." she says plainly, face set in stone. "Sometimes they are good people. Sometimes maybe not so much. But-... Is not always up to you." Her expression falters, however, and
she lowers her gaze with a nod. "It does not mean you should not try." she seems to agree, her left hand gripping at the bunched up undersuit around her left thigh. She looks back up to him, looking him straight in the eye. "You fight. You kill. You-... You do whatever you have to do in order to protect the people that you love. Yes? If they think otherwise? Then fuck them. They are being stupid. Because if they die?
Nathan rolls his shoulders in a shrug as she begins talking, but it is her intense stare that causes him to keep his gaze locked with hers. He listens, still underneath her look. And he found something that made him internally baulk at the realisation. He agrees with Jessica, finding her words wise albeit delivered in a base manner. But he agrees. "You're right. About all of it... all we can do is try." He breathes
in deeply, leaning his head back to thunk against the wall as his eyes drift to the ceiling and the lights that shine down on them. "But still... with how defeatist they're being it makes me wonder... will they just leave me if it comes down to it? If these creatures are there and I'm caught amongst them, will they just... leave me for dead? Assume that I'm beyond saving, as they've done with the captain's
husband? Do they... they think it'll be easier to head home to my little sister and tell her that her older brother is not coming home?" The last causes the words to catch in his throat, his eyes squeezing shut in a mix of embarrassment and dread. At this point, he doesn't care if Jessica mocks these thoughts. At least it'll be some semblance of normality for him to cling to.
Jessica once again shrugs her shoulders, her attention drifting across to the opposite wall. "Does it matter?" she asks, suddenly finding herself thinking about Yan Sun. About how that interaction would go. Jason showing up to deliver the bad news. "I do not know about you, but I do not plan on letting it come to that." she says, confidence in her voice. "Besides. I am seeing how little miss perfect looks at you." she says,
cocking a grin as she glances back at Nathan. "I do not think she will be going anywhere without you."
Nathan finds himself actually chuckling, lowering his gaze to look at Jessica with the faintest of smiles. "You think?" He doesn't wait for an answer as he pushes off against the wall, rolling his shoulders once more. "...I had no plans on dying. I just... needed to voice my worries, I guess. It's kinda cathartic." He gives Jessica a nod and a grateful look in his eye. "Thanks."
Jessica rolls her good eye, responding to his gratitude by extending the middle finger on her left hand and raising it high enough for Nathan to see. "Mmm. Whatever." she says dismissively, unable to simply say 'You're welcome' as that might be an acknowledgement that she was nice to him. "I am just not wanting you crying instead of watching my back when all of these-... spooooky monsters-..." she gives a goofy little
inflection, as if she's not entirely buying what Jason and company are selling, "...come to eat us."
Nathan tisks and returns the gesture with his finger to her. "And there's the Jessica I know. For a minute, I thought you had a shred of humanity in you, a lick of decency." His tone is mostly jovial, to show that he does believe that she may be slightly okay in his book. Slightly. He looks towards the infirmary and starts towards it, throwing a hand over his shoulder. "Go take your piss. I'll make sure everything
Jessica bounces a boot against the wall to push herself back away from it. "Mmm. You see? Shows how stupid you are, yes?" she asks and, despite her ability to turn from nearly heartfelt to condescending on a dime, it seems to be mostly in jest. Even if it's hard to tell. "If you made the bathroom gross I am going to kick your ass." she adds as she steps past Nathan, giving a quick glance back over her shoulder.
Nathan pauses to look over his shoulder, giving Jessica perhaps the most honest grin he has ever given her. "It's fine! Smell ain't pleasant, though. But it's fine." He then turns and walks to the infirmary door, raising his knuckles to rap them against the door.
Senya is on the other side of the door when it opens, with Halisi further back in the infirmary, arms crossed and one hand reaching up to partly cover her face, fingertips on her temple and thumb on her cheek. The room itself is much cleaner than the rest of the ship, and has a sterile white color. There's a single medical bed with monitoring equipment, and most of the walls are lined with cabinets, aside from the
window, and one wall where a desk is palced. A small door leads to a storage closet. "Yes...?" the asari doctor says, studying Nathan with her good eye.
Nathan nods at the doctor, giving Halisi a look that reads 'You okay?'. He then glances at Senya and flashes her one of his wide, charming smiles and looks around the room, almost as if admiring the decor of a potential home. "Just heard some commotion from here. Was wondering if everything was alright?"
Halisi lets out a quiet sigh, lowering her hand and turning to face Nathan, propping up a reassuring smile. "Yes. Everything is fine. I was just sharing what I know with Dr. T'Mari here."
Senya nods in agreement. There's no hint of a smile on her face. Just a stern stare. "Are you well?" she asks, studying his face.
Nathan nods along with them, still wearing his smile. "Hmm? Oh, just a little queasy. Seems mixing my protein bar and chilli wasn't a smart move!" He chuckles, leaning against the doorframe for the moment. "Nothing to be overly concerned about."
Senya furrows her eyebrows slightly. "Very well..." she says, stepping aside as Halisi heads towards the door. "We're well stocked if you need something to settle your stomach." she adds.
Halisi gives Senya a nod. "Please let me know after you've talked to the captain about... what we discussed." she says, her expression wavering briefly. She looks to Nathan. "Have you seen Ilyna?"
Nathan hums before nodding after a moment of looking thoughtful. "You know what, sure. I'll take something if you can spare it." He eyes Halisi out of the corner of his eyes when she asks that question and he shakes his head. "No... although, her and Jason were having a little spat I think?"
Senya nods, moving over to one of the cabinets and grabbing a small pill bottle which she hands over to Nathan on her return. "Take two of these with some water. More in a couple of hours if you need it."
Nathan nods his thanks to Senya and steps back. "Thank you." He makes room for the doors to close before looking at Halisi and nodding, motioning to their accommodations. "Yeah."
Halisi follows Nathan out of the infirmary, nodding her goodbye to Senya after the asari acknowledges her request. "I'll come with, then."
Nathan walks a few steps before he glances at Halisi with a concerned look in his eyes. "Halisi... I heard bits and pieces of your... discussion."
Halisi 's gaze falls briefly, and she continues to walk, starting down the stairs. "I... see." she replies, not appearing particularly eager about the topic.
Nathan continues a few more steps before stopping, stowing away the pills in his pocket as he waits on the stairs. "I... know there probably isn't anything I can say to help, Halisi. But we'll make it back. All of us." He looks firmly at her, the conviction in his eyes trumping over the fear he feels in the pit of his stomach. "Even when it seems bleak, there is always, -always- a way to triumph, to move forward."
Jessica steps out of the bathroom, glancing about as she ties her sleeves back around her waist to keep the lower half of her undersuit up. Time to see what else she can cram down her throat in the galley.
Halisi stops as well when she realizes Nathan has, looking back at him over her shoulder. "Maybe there is." she agrees, but a distant frown crosses her face as she looks downstairs instead. "But you shouldn't speak so confidently of things you know nothing about." she adds. There's a hint of bitterness to her voice, but the detached sadness is far more obvious, her mind drifting back yet again to the many lost. Too many. She
Nathan exhales sharply through his nose, shaking his head softly. "Maybe not. But if all of us are dragged down by despair, then none of us will make it back. And I'd be damned if I let that happen," he says as he walks down, moving past her on the walkway. "I have people to get back to, and people here to protect." He doesn't stop to afford her any response, only looking back to give her frown. "Maybe you should
all think of what you can do, rather than what you can't." He then continues down the stairs, having no interest in being dragged down into hopelessness once. Maybe his blind optimism is giving him false confidence. But if that lets him keep a fragment of who he is and what he stands for, then he'll keep it. Jessica was right. You do what you can in order to protect those you care about and if they think
otherwise, fuck them. Someone has to be there to help them when they fall, rather than wallow in pity and despair.
Halisi 's frown only deepens as Nathan speaks. She fully believes in saving as many people as possible, but it's hard for her not to take such blind, ignorant optimism as a disrespect to all those that have died. Not to mention what it means for Nathan. She's seen more than one person charge in with such boldness, only to be ground into the dirt for daring to have hope. She decides to slow her pace, eventually stopping
completely and lingering atop the walkway, letting Nathan head off on his own as she leans against the railing, dark hair falling to cover her face as she looks down at the cargo hold below, images of the past, of what she knows awaits, inevitably flooding her mind.
Nathan disappears down the stairs, heading towards where he set up his 'workshop'. And unless someone stops him along the way or engages with him, he would continue his earlier maintenance with renewed vigor. Sure, that element of fear will be ever present in his mind and he welcomes it. Without it, he would likely end up dead. But he won't let it completely control him, nor make him abandon hope. He'll keep on
fighting for those he cares about. He'll do everything in his power to save his friends. And if it isn't enough... then he'll make sure their death will not be in vein.