Once the wounded and the liberated have been extracted, things quiet down around the compound. It's an almost eerie silence after the bursts of gunfire, shouting, and explosives that only recently haunted the abandoned buildings. Jattic has spent the hour or so since their departure filling the hole with the bodies that they decorated the battlefield with. And now blood, scorch marks, an abandoned shuttle, and deep gouges where armored
#Kalus'Compound – March 17, 2019
boots marched are what remains of the battle amongst the pale white snow. Even the plumes of smoke that once rose from the crashed shuttle in the distance have long since disappeared. Jattic tirelessly shovels dirt into the hole, burying the secret of what happened here today one scoop at a time.
Leah's voice comes over comms. It's low and tinted with exhaustion. The comedown after battle is always like this for her. Biotics are draining. "Sitrep, Jattic? Still no sign of anything out there?" she asks.
Jattic halts his shoveling, burying the blade of the tool into the mound of dirt at his feet and rests his forearms against the handle. His gauntlets are back on to fight off the cold, but his spiked pauldrons have been left inside leaving his silhouette significantly less striking. He gives the skies a cursory glance. "No." he grunts, shoulders rising and falling as he pulls in deep breaths. "I will let you know if that
Nathan , in stark contrast to Jattic, has spent the past hour digging holes up. Not willing to leave a small armoury’s worth of explosives buried in the dirt, he’s methodically disarmed and reacquired each one that had been set. Occasionally he switches his HUD to the map, studying it for a second to quadruple check that he’s swept the area for any that had been buried off the mark or he may have missed. But,
so far, he hasn’t missed any. Leah’s question is almost missed as he carefully sets the last of the explosives into his bag, his focus completely on the task at hand. “Yeah, everything’s good here. Almost done.”
Nathan hums as he zips the bag up and lifts it, hoisting it over his shoulder. “Copy that. Be there in a minute.” He starts trudging back to the place they’ve called home for the last night, his helmet hiding the look of grim distaste on his features. He wanted to go home, back to his apartment and sleep for the next week and just try and forget about parts of today. The fact he blew up a slave, the fact he
executed not one, but two men... he just wanted to try and forget. But he’s been through this dance before, he firmly thought to himself. Their faces, the sound of the gunshots, they’re all seared into his brain for as long as he will live. He won’t be able to forget, no. He’ll have to find a way to live with it. And pray for forgiveness. “Ah, fuck me...” he hisses to himself as he makes his way
inside. A hiss and a click as he detaches his helmet from his armour, tucking it under his free arm as he looks around for Leah.
Leah seems to have tucked herself away in the rec room. The soft glow of her omni-tool interface spills out into the hallway from deeper within. As Nathan enters the hallway, her voice can be heard.
Leah gives another hum, that scrunched up face she makes practically heard in her voice. "Gonna have to say no. You're kind of a disgusting piece of shit and I don't know where your hands have been." she says before quickly adding as if worried he may elaborate, "And I don't want to know!"
There's a short period of silence that passes before a sigh sifts through the white noise. "I'll see what I can do." he says. Turning down the woman's request for assistance was never an option, afterall. Not really. "But you better talk to Jay, alright? I'm not doing anything behind his back."
Leah's voice softens and she lets out a sigh of relief. "I will. Promise." she assures. "Just... not until he's back from his trip." After a moment a quick, sincere, "Thank you." is added which is met by an unenthusiastic 'Uh huh.' by the man on the other side of the call. The soft beep of the call ending sounds out, but the glow of the omni-tool continues to spill out into the hall.
Nathan slows to a soft pace, brow turning into a mix between confusion and curiosity. Who the hell is that? He heads towards the glow of the doorway and peers inside just as Leah closes off the call. He leans against the doorframe, letting his helmet dangle in his hand by his side. “More help?” He asks softly, gesturing towards the omni-tool with his helmet. “Persistent... help?”
A number of old, worn in couches are paired with low coffee tables. It looks as if there was once a large screen mounted on the wall, but all that's left is the mounting brackets. Even in the glow of Leah's omni-tool the room is rather dark. The dark conceals the wear and tear on everything in the room. Scratches and gouges etched into the coffee tables due to repeated use. The building has a lot of history, but there's nobody around to
Leah is seated on one of the couches, an open duffelbag sat beside her. The plating of her armor has all been removed and is neatly laid out atop one of the coffee tables, much like it was on the crate the previous night. Her left boot has been removed and set aside, pantleg rolled up. Her undersuit is unzipped in the back and peeled down on the right side, arm pulled out from the sleeve. Beneath it she's wearing a dark blue
sports bra, but it looks nearly black in the low light of the room. Considering the first aid kit laying open on the coffee table, it's probably not too difficult to figure out what she was doing. A nice sized gash runs up a good length of her left calf, splitting her delightfully-Christmas-themed long sock in half and a particularly painful-looking gouge is just below her ribcage. When she hears Nathan's voice, she
instinctively brings a hand up across herself as she looks his way. "Guess you could say that." she offers, a weak smile crossing her features as she lowers her guard. His additional comment is met with a brief, tired snicker that she doesn't bother commenting on. "Friend of Jason's. He's gonna see if he can get me in touch with some people who might be able to help the slaves we freed." she explains with a small shrug.
"Hopefully between that and your people we can-..." she trails off, giving a small shake of her head. "...We'll see." she sighs.
Nathan ‘s falls to the injury she sustained, his brow now knitting to that of concern. “Yeah. Hopefully they can do something for them.” Her own injury painfully reminds him of the one in his own shoulder, although not as serious as the gash. It was a clean wound, that went straight through. Honestly, he’s suffered a lot worse when he fell out of that tree back when he was just a boy. He swore he bled enough
to fill a bath tub, although that was more of a statement belonging to a child’s imagination at the time. His look of concern then momentarily turns sheepish at her state of undress and how his look might be interpreted, so to distract himself he walks over to one of the coffee tables to set the bag of disarmed explosives down. His gaze does, however, fall back to the wounds on her body and he says,
“Christ, you should’ve gone with the shuttle.” Before his brain has time to catch up with his actions, he’s already walking to the open med-kit, gauntlets being unclasped and removed. He looks to see what she’s already done in her bout of self care, grey eyes flicking between the supplies available and her wounds.
Leah turns a shade of red as Nathan looks her over, but his own sheepish look and brief discomfort seems to help ease hers. "Don't act like it's something you've never seen before." she teases, probably hoping to cover up her own awkwardness by worsening his. That's how it works, right? It looks as though she's only just begun addressing the wounds, having wiped away the layer of medigel haphazardly applied by her suit at the
time of trauma. His concerned comment causes her to let a puff of breath out through her nose. "It looks worse than it is." she assures and, on close inspection, she's not wrong. Painful, maybe, but the gouge doesn't seem too deep. "I just-..." she begins with a small, frustrated scoff, reaching across herself and twisting at the waist to emphasize the awkward, painful angle she'd need to contort into if she were going to
further address the wound herself due to how far back it sits. She gives an apologetic tilt of her head. "...Do you mind?"
Nathan mumbles under his breath at her initial comment, his cheeks turning a shade red once more. God he hopes that’s covered by the relative darkness. His eyes flick to the side, right where the omni-tool sits. He sighs internally, accepting that the blush is not going to be hidden this close. However, he’s already reaching into the Medkit as she asks, his head faintly bobbing in acknowledgement. “Stay still,
I’ll do what I can. But, uh, don’t get mad at me if this isn’t exactly the best patching up you’ve ever received. I mean, I’ve got great bed side manner, but I never got around to getting my PHD and all that.” A small part of his old self slips through as he sets himself to the task, giving her a small smile. He starts on the gouge beneath the rib cage, tending to it with what can be considered as
rudimentary but serviceable first aid. “I will never understand batarian’s obsession with spikes...” he murmurs under his breath. He glances to the side, towards the doorway he walked through as he asks softly, “How’s Tara doing? I’m going to hazard a guess she left with the others?”
Leah searches Nathan's face as his cheeks darken. It causes her amused smile to widen but she's quick to suck in her lips in a failed attempt at concealing it. Her green eyes meet his briefly but, just as quickly, dart to the side to avoid his gaze, her own cheeks once again growing crimson. As he gets to work on her wound, she shifts away from him to give him better access to it. It's a good excuse to avoid eye contact. "Just
do what you can. A nice even layer of medigel. Tape some gauze over it. And I'll be right as rain." she says, having endured her fair share of patchwork field dressings. "Right?!" she agrees with his statement regarding batarians, a bit of energy creeping into her statement despite the fatigue. "They're always so-... sharp..." she continues in a mumble that gets lost beneath his follow-up question. The question causes
her to draw in a breath. With everything going on, she hasn't even had time to sit down and talk to Tara about everything. No, that's not true. She's avoided Tara. Her mouth opens to form a response, but she only manages to get out, "No, she-..." by the time his hands come in contact with skin, causing her to wince painfully to the side and arch away from him. It's less about the aggitation of the wound than it is about
Nathan takes a measure of comfort in the awkwardness shared between them. It was familiar. Normal. And it was doing a great job of suppressing the events of the day into the recesses of his mind. He nods at her instructions and gathers the medigel dispenser and the gauze. After cleaning his hands, he’s about to get to work when she recoils and there is a brief moment where he’s scared he did something to irritate
the wound. But as she pushes the real reason out between her teeth, he gives her a flat look that gives way to a mildly amused chuckle. “You’ve been stabbed, shot, slashed and blown up, yet it’s cold hands that bothers you?” He gives her a playful roll of his eyes and adds, “Stop being a baby and hold still. Now what were you saying? No? She’s still here?” He affords a glance around the room,
half expecting Tara o be lingering in the shadows. He’s still not entirely sure how she manages to be so quiet and sneaky.
Leah gives a furrow of her brow, canting her head to try and glare back at Nathan over her shoulder as he chastizes her. It's not too successful. "Fuck you." That gets the point across. Her warbraid has been removed in the time since the shuttle's departure, leaving her blonde hair a bit of a mess. She tugs at the left sleeve of her undersuit, rolling it up a bit to get at the mess of colorful hair ties beneath. She seems to
choose one at random, orange this time, and pulls it free. Bowing her head forward, she clutches the hair tie between her teeth as she reaches back to get her unruly blonde locks out of Nathan's way, pulling them into a loose ponytail and expertly slipping the hair tie into place. Her short fingernails are each painted a different, bright color, made a bit more dull by the glow of the omni-tool. Light blue. Orange. Yellow.
Red. Light purple. The paint is imperfect and chipped from the day's battle. "She wanted to stay..." she says, bringing her left leg up onto the couch to get a little more comfortable as he works. "I just-..." she begins, but cuts herself off by drawing in a deep breath through her nose. "...What about you?" she asks, sharply steering the conversation away from Tara. It's less than subtle. "How is the shoulder?"
Nathan idly blows a lock out the way, hands too occupied with applying the medigel and gauze. His smile widens a bit at her jab at him, a soft shake of his head accompanying it. A light application of gel. Smooth it out. Now apply the gauze. He gently, gingerly, presses the gauze onto the wound and leans his head back a smidgen to let her round up her mess of hair, his eyes being momentarily distracted by the rainbow
colours of her fingernails. Huh. Fashionable battle. However, he’s not distracted enough and clocks into her poor attempt at changing the subject. He remains quiet for a moment, eyes drifting to the doorway as if considering whether to press the issue or not. But ultimately, in the end, he chooses not to. She’s avoiding it for a reason and it’s not his place to pry too deeply into it. No, instead, he
looks down at his shoulder and sighs. “Haven’t... checked actually.” Giving Leah a moment to sort out her hair, he begins the process of removing his upper armour, starting with the arms. He detaches the red and orange style armour, the movements in his left arm noticeable stiff from where his wound is. But he’s done this routine, enough times and it’s not long before he’s working on removing the
chest plate... emphasis on working on it. Okay, he’s done this enough times without a goddamn hole in his shoulder, this time it’s a little more difficult. Pride prevents him from speaking, a look of sheer focus as he tries to work on one of the clasps.
Leah doesn't seem too bothered by the burning that travels across her side when the gauze is applied. A small, involuntary muscle spasm that causes her abdominal muscles to tighten is the only sign that anything is amiss. Apparently a stab wound is more welcome than icy fingers. She secures the familiar ponytail, giving glimpses of the port that's surgically implanted in base of her skull as the ponytail is bounced about. Once
the gauze has been applied, she slowly begins to tuck her arm back into the sleeve of her undersuit, careful not to further aggitate the wound. She does a little shuffle in place against the couch to better shift her undersuit into place and then turns to face Nathan once again, left leg leaving the couch, right leg on the couch. His stiff, slow movements as he tries to shed his chestplate causes her eyes to turn to the
armor and she scoots closer. Without prompting she brings a hand up to take over for him, gently pushing his hands away and working at the clasp. "Hurting...?" she asks, eyes flicking up to meet his briefly as she begins to help slip the armor off which is sure to put an uneven amount of pressure on the wound.
Nathan is about to grumble underneath his breath when her hands brush his away. He blinks and looks up, eyes meeting where a warm tinge rises in his cheeks. This time, however, he makes no attempt at avoiding her gaze or trying to hide the crimson in his skin. He exhales, a short, sharp gust of air from his nose as he says, “Irritable more than anything.” Probably the closest admission she’ll get in regards to
the pain. He winces a little for emphasis as she removes the armour. The small puncture wound in his shoulder is evident now, the black undersuit mildly stained in red from where it bled before the medigel began its suppression. But it is a clean entry and exit wound. However, being shot by a LMG still leaves a significant mark on him and Nathan seems to agree, given the muttered, “Shit,” that escapes him
Leah's green eyes flick back and forth between Nathan's eyes and the armor. Feeling his eyes on her, she shifts uncomfortably. Self consciously. She focuses on the chestplate, carefully freeing it from him and leaning to the side to reach out and set it atop the coffee table. When she settles back into place, her gaze turns to the wound beneath it. Brow furrowed, she presses a finger against the undersuit around the wound.
"...Shit." she exhales, an echo to his own words. She swallows the small spike of guilt that bubbles up. After all, he's here because of her. Just another person she cares about pulled into the cyclone of her crazy life. "...Yeah." she agrees softly. A sudden thought creeps in. One that silences her other concerns. "I... kind of wanna stick my finger in it." she adds, gently brushing her thumb around the edge of the
undersuit. Her green eyes meet his once more, a wince crossing her features at having voiced her thoughts aloud. "Is that weird? I feel like that's weird. Yep. Yep. Toooootally weird..." she sighs, talking to try and sweep the comment under the rug. The rug of words spewing from her mouth. "Okay. Alright. Shut up. Let's get you cleaned up." she continues, reaching out for the first aid-kit and bringing it over to sit
Nathan blinks rapidly at her comment, causing his eyes to eventually settled in widened surprise. “...yeah that’s really fucking weird, please do not do that.” He does, however, manage to eek out a smile at her. He decides to take a place on the couch next to her, shifting to get himself as comfortable as he can. With a careful hand, he shifts and pulls down part of the undersuit, hissing between clenched teeth
as it scrapes over the wound. He bares his shoulder and upper arm, glancing across to Leah as he nods his readiness. “Just try not to somehow accidentally amputate my arm in the process, alright? I don’t think I’m ready for a cybernetic replacement... or a bat grown one.” He shudders at the thought. Vat grown. For some reason, it really creeps him the fuck out.
Leah winces once again as Nathan comments on her... comment. "I'm not gonna stick my finger in it!" she's quick to assure overtop of him. She who talks the loudest wins. Her bangs fall in her face as she looks down into the medkit, retrieving some cotton swabs and a bottle of solvent designed to dillude medigel. After dousing the cotton swabs, she turns her attention to Nathan, rising to her knee on the couch for a bit of
additional height as she moves to address his wound. His comment gets an unamused, blank look from her. "No promises." she says flatly. With a roll of her eyes she turns her attention back to the gunshot. But, even amongst the heavy weight pressing down on her, the exchange manages to get a small smile that tugs at the corner of her lips. With her free hand she hooks her index finger into the hem of his undersuit and tugs
it down a little more to give her room to work before resting her hand against his shoulder to keep herself steady. "You are very lucky." she says softly as she studies the wound, giving light, gentle swipes of the cotton swab to clear away the wad of medigel pumped onto the damage by his suit's systems. "Seems to be a clean through-and-through." she hums absently, confirming his earlier assessment. Her eyes meet his
once more, smile widening slightly as she adds a snarky, "...Just like the space between your ears."
Nathan now has this horrible, overbearing feeling that she’s definitely going to stick her finger in the gunshot wound, just to spite him! He wouldn’t put it past her. She is evil. He merely offers her a shit-eating grin in response to her own smile and sits in silence as she brings the buds to bear on the wound. There’s a moment where there is a wince of the brow, but otherwise he remains perfectly still.
“Yeah, I could feel it was a clean sh- wait, fuck you.” He squints at her from the corner of his gaze, adding a middle finger from his other hand for good measure. He sets it down again as he sighs, staring off ahead as the silence settles over them. And with silence, comes daunting thoughts and probable futures. One such future being... “We’re going to really get chewed out by Jason and Vasquez when
we get back, aren’t we? Well, you get chewed out. The Chief will probably just shoot me. With the mini gun. On full auto. With explosive rounds.” Silence. “She hates me.” He gives a dismissive wave of his hand, banishing his own tangent. “Point is, the cat will be out the bag regardless of what we do... guess I just want to know what the plan is for when we get back?”
Leah's smile further widens at Nathan's outburst. She remains before him, eyes fixed to the hole in his chest, slowly working away all of the excess medigel as silence takes hold. When he breaks the silence, her brow furrows. It's a concern that she, too, has been considering. "Ooooh yeah." she says to his initial question, a humorless snort accompanying her words. "When we get back? The plan is to get those people some
help. When Jason and the Chief get back?" she sighs, focus remaining on the wound as she speaks. "...You just let me handle it. This was my operation. I'll shoulder the blame for it." It's not something she's looking forward to. It feels like she's just been a burden to Redrock. "Besides, I'm faaar less hateable than you are. So, less of a chance of me eating fully automatic gunfire." she adds, forcing a small smile as
her gaze flicks to meet his once again. But the smile quickly fades as silence washes over her once more. She's forced to press down a bit harder to get the last bit of medigel free from around the wound. Probably not the most pleasant of feelings. "...I, umm-..." she starts again, brow furrowing as she works the stubborn gel away with the cotton swab, "...Thank you, Nate. For doing this. For being here." Her words
are laced with an uncomfortable sincerity. He risked more than just his job to be here. "You're a good man." she adds.
Nathan tisks softly at her comment about likability, about to snap back with something... before he pauses, considers, then makes a small noise of agreeing. That was a fair comment, he couldn’t argue with that. “Well, if you want to dodge the bullets, you go right ahead. But I’ll still stand next to you, no way in hell I’m letting you take all the... ah, shit that’s sharp... blame.” He hisses a little as
she presses against the wound. But as she continues on, his brow gently knits together in a frown. He wasn’t entirely sure what to think in regards to that. He executed two men. Two unarmed, defenceless men. He couldn’t really set himself into the good category after that. But she didn’t need him to voice those thoughts aloud. Her sincerity, the hesitation between words... it causes his muscles to
slacken and he carefully reaches a hand up to slide behind her neck. He skin brushes over the amp as he gingerly pulls her in for an embrace, his wounded arm remaining stock still. “I wasn’t going to let you tackle this alone.” He pauses and adds, barely above a whisper, “I’ll be there when you need me. Alright?”
Leah gently traces her thumb around the gunshot wound once the detritus has been cleared, using touch to make sure it's smooth and clean. Her gaze remains fixed on the wound until she feels the hand against her skin. Her eyes snap to his, studying them as his hand brushes over the amp. It isn't a place on her body that has seen much attention from others. Not outside of doctors. There's a reason why plenty of biotics hide their
ports behind hair. That fear of being judged. Being hated for what you are. And, even though Nathan is well aware of exactly what she is, there's still a tension that settles into her shoulders as his hand comes in contact with the synthetic material. It's instinctive. A discomfort washes over her face as she searches his eyes for any sort of sign that he's bothered by it. Revulsion. But it never comes. Instead, he pulls
her in for a hug. One that she gladly returns. It's only in that moment that she realizes just how badly she needs a hug. The tension in her shoulders is replaced by goosebumps that scatter across her skin. She lets out a long, heavy breath as she wraps her arms around him, perhaps a bit tighter than intended, and utters a soft, emotion-laden "...Thank you..."