PHD #355: A Formal Apology
A Formal Apology
Summary: Vandenberg reports a medical concern to Cameron and receives a long overdue apology in return.
Date: 16 Feb 2042 AE
Related Logs: A Lack of Communication
Cameron Vandenberg 
Sickbay - Deck 10 - Battlestar Cerberus
Being able to accommodate combat casualties requires room, and the Sickbay has it. Beds line each side of the room with privacy curtains strung up and readily available. Large vaulted lockers hold access to the supplies at the far end of the area. Nearer the front, a Petty Officer sits ready to dispense simple items like ibuprofen and aspirin. Further to the rear is an area prepped twenty-four hours a day for emergency surgery. To the side are a set of double doors that lead to the Recovery Ward where patients can recuperate.
Post-Holocaust Day: #355

For once the Sickbay is quiet, but even so there is a subtle but unmistakeable tension in the air. The sense and knowledge that at any moment things could go terribly wrong, the department flooded with injured and wounded people. Cameron seems to float along on top of this wave of tension, more and more accustomed to it and acclimated. He's just finished his rounds with the patients under his care and has taken a seat to fill out some forms and reports for their medical records. Head bent, blonde hair falling over his brow and eyes, he has the look of someone who's been on call for a long time now, with no sign of being off any time soon.

Vandenberg has been volunteering down here more and more lately. She looks tired and a little weary, but for the tasks she's doing, she hasn't screwed up. Not even close. It just looks like she hasn't been sleeping well. As of today her left cheek is also swollen a little. The Lieutenant just doesn't smile on that side cuz, you know, it hurts. Things having been quiet between the two for some time, she makes her way over as her volunteer hours are coming to an end and she stands in front of him with her hands in her pockets, waiting for him to finish whatever he is doing.

As he senses someone before him, Cameron stops writing and glances up. He doesn't jerk in surprise or duck, despite the fact that he's been giving Vandenberg a wide berth ever since, well, ever since he screwed up apparently. But that's been harder and harder to do lately, what with her working in the medical department, practically underfoot every day. Maybe it's the hour. Maybe it's because he's tired of dodging her, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Or maybe he's just too tired to think clearly about what he's doing. Whatever the reason, his blue eyes focus on her left cheek with a hint of concern in them, his voice coming out soft and a little raspy, "Good evening, Lieutenant. You're looking a little rough around the edges, is there something I can do for you?" And already he's rising to his feet, studying her to see if there are any other obvious injuries to her person.

Vandenberg takes a step back as the man rises, giving him his personal space. "Not for me, Doc. I was just running my hours and doing normal stuff." As a volunteer nurse with hardly any formal training outside basic, all her skills came from the battlefield. She does stuff like take hourly notes on patients' conditions, change IV's, catheder bags, take temps. Basic stuff. "I talked to a Lieutenant Andrea Demarcos back in the recovery ward. She's a pilot who took a header a few days ago during a dogfight. It randomly came up in conversation, Doc, but she's riled. And I don't mean she's angry." That Canceran accent just rolls off her tongue easily. "Normally I wouldn't mention it but the patient says this is abnormal. Given the nature of her head injury, I thought it was worth notifying you right away. She says that her sexdrive is way up. She says its high normally but that its been very elevated since she has been in here. When I pressed for clarification, she says that she isn't sure if its since she took the injury or since Medical began to ween her off morpha. She's lookin for a waggin cod that pushes past her curtain and doesn't see the bandages. She knows somethin' is up, too."

Of all the things that could have come out of Van's mouth, this is, by far, the least expected one. In fact, Cameron just stands there and blinks for a moment before his brain focuses on what she's telling him, his brow creasing in concentration. "It could be an aberrant reaction to some medication that she's on… or perhaps there is something going on intercranially - a pressure or clot that is pressing on that part of her brain, stimulating a reaction…." He's almost talking more to himself than to Vandenberg as he reaches down and starts to make quick notes on what she's telling him. It's that last little bit though that actually brings a faint blush to Cameron's cheeks. The man is certainly no innocent, but on occasion the rough talk of soldiers does tend to surprise him." His gaze lifts to her face as he offers earnestly, "Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Is there anything else?" And focusing on her face again, Cameron asks, "Lieutenant. Are you quite sure you're alright? Would you like me to give you an examination? Your cheek is clearly swollen and painful…." He's used to not seeing Vandenberg smile in his presence, but he's sharp enough to realize that she's not using that side of her face much as she talks, most likely because it hurts.

"I'm no Doctor. I'll leave that for your to figure out. But I was in there with Petty Officer MacManus delivered her blood results to her - which were apparently clean and showed no abnormalities. Whatever is going on with her is something worth checking. As I said, I just thought this was damned important. We don't need to lose any more people." Natalie keeps her eyes on him, waiting for the man to finish as he asks about her face. "I'm fine, Doc. You want someone to thank for this? You thank Commander Laughlin and his brilliant move to overturn frat regulations. You ever hear of someone coming in here with extensive injuries blaming me for it, you keep that in mind Doc. I'll be fine in a day or two. I'm in one piece." She doesn't comment about the other person - whoever it might have been.

"I'll check her charts and test results right away and talk with her about her experience. Run some more tests. I'll figure out what's going on, you have my word on that. It is important and I'm grateful that you brought it to my attention." His head tilts slightly, perhaps marginally surprised for a moment that Natalie would be against the change in rules before he remembers that she's a soldier through and through, and while some rules might be for bending, she's generally pretty strict about following them. "I don't assign blame, I just fix the damage done. If said person wants to press charges against you, I'm sure he or she will do so. Regardless, I'll treat both of you as you need it. But, if you feel that you're alright, I won't press you. Just don't hesitate should your condition worsen." Tucking his notes under his arm, Cameron hesitates before reaching out and lightly touching Vandenberg's arm, noting, "I hope you're off duty soon? You look like you could use a couple of days worth of rack time…"

Natalie just nods to the first part. "I come here to help people, Doc. I figure I've put enough holes in people over the years, its time I try helping them without a gun." When he mentions charges she shakes her head, her ponytail wagging with it. "Nobody will be pressing charges. Treat who comes in, Doc, and don't think more of it. The issue is close to resolution I think." Though his mention of rack time goes fine until he touches her. She glances to the touch and the looks back to him. Just when it looks like she might get angry she steps back from the rising emotions with a deep breath. "I could use it but I have Watch tonight. I'm not sleeping much anyway." There's only a beat of a pause. "You know where you frakked-up, right?" Her eyes are locked upwards towards his own.

He withdraws his hand at that look, his mouth opening for a moment before closing, his head nodding. "Yeah. I thought I understood the situation when I didn't. I made an assumption that I shouldn't have. And as a result I acted unprofessionally and disrespectfully towards you and abused my position as your physician. Which is why I removed myself from said position immediately afterward." He meets her gaze, holds it, despite the fact that it isn't easy to do so. "I'm sorry, Lieutenant. I realize that an apology is insufficient, and that you have every reason to choose not to trust me. Regardless, I'm sorry that I did not listen more carefully to what you were saying, and that I acted on an assumption that you would risk your health in the pursuit of your duty. My heart was in the right place, but my actions were not." He doesn't expect her to forgive him or absolve him, and as a result Cameron doesn't wait but presses on asking, "Would you like a prescription? Something to help you get some sleep when you have the time to get some sleep?" One might consider it a peace offering, save for the fact that Cameron would offer the same to anyone in her condition and situation. They all need just as much sleep as they can get these days.

The Lieutenant just listens with barely a tick of emotion. The woman looks to be a slab of marble frozen in the moment since she asked him about everything. "No thank you, Doctor. Save the drugs for people who need them. This will be healed in a few days." She finally takes another long breath, steadying her body and mind. "I understand why you did that, Doctor. What I wanted to hear is that you also understood that it was a huge mistake. I had considering filing charges against you and another volunteer nurse, a Lieutenant Evan Doe from the Air Wing, convinced me that I needed to calm down. You have him to thank for everything, including this next part: I accept the apology, Doctor. And I do, very seriously, appreciate it. All I would like to know is that in the future your judgment won't be so quick to fall. I'm going to trust that given all of this, its not a problem. So for what its worth, Doc, we're good." She pauses, a smile ticking ever so slightly at the edge of her expression. "Until we fight again."

His eyes narrow as Cameron replies, "Yes, I learned of her actions after I came to visit you to apologize and found you drugged to the gills. I had… words with said nurse and had her removed from your care as well and made some very pointed notes on your chart regarding your medication dosages from there on out." Perhaps something she did not know? Not that it matters all that much any more. "I will keep in mind that I owe the Lieutenant a thank you and I will do my best not to pre-judge a situation based on what I think I know about the patient. I cannot promise I will not fail in some regard again. I am only human and sometimes my need to protect my patients, even if I think they need it from themselves, weighs heavily upon my conscience and guides my actions. But I will strive to work solely with fact, not assumptions." His lips quirk a little as he offers her his hand and concurs, "Until we fight again. And, if you have the yen, you've earned the right to take a pot shot at me."

Again, she waits through his own reply until the end to give her own. That expression lingers on the right side of her face. "The only shot I'm interested in taking at you right now involves this." She sticks his right hand out for him to shake. "Friends, Doc. you don't have to give me assurances. We all frak-up. If the last two months have taught me anything, its that I'm a poster-child for it. Who the hell am I to start taking heads off for someone else screwing up. Like I said, I trust that what happened did teach a valuable lesson. I don't think it will happen again. If it does?" Is there a threat coming? It doesn't look like it. "If it does, I'm sure you'll remember this conversation and that one of the most violent, unforgiving Marines could still find it to understand. Just do your best. You guys do a lot of hard work under impossible circumstances. Its not fair for me to beat ya about the balls with this. And for what its worth, I'm sorry for being such a high-handed bitch. I shoulda come to you about this sooner."

The doctor's gaze widens at Van's words, as she not only reassures him that it's okay to be human and make mistakes, but owns up to making some of her own. He actually blinks in surprise, his lips quirking as he rumbles jokingly, "Who are you and what have you done with Lieutenant Natalie Vandenberg??" But his hand shakes her firmly, his smile growing wider as the hatchet has been buried, and it isn't sticking out of his head! "No, I should have apologized to you sooner. I mean, when you could actually hear my apologizing. I did a lot of it at your bedside, after you'd been dosed and restrained, but of course you probably didn't catch of a word of it. You were having a hard time just drooling. I felt terrible." His eyes touch on her face again as he notes, "But I do hope that if you're in need, you won't hesitate to ask for help, be it medical or otherwise. Yes?"

"Lieutenant Doe helped me see the light on a few things, Doc. Also been talking to a fri- Yea, a friend. Someone from my home. Captain Vakos has been helping, too. I've got a lot of lingering anger after Neath, Cam. I'm still trying to resolve it one day at a time, one avoided fight at a time. I've got my other demons I'm trying to get through but I believe in you. If not just because you are your parents' son, then because I know you've got your heart in the right place." Van's crooked smile is due to that cheek, but its there and genuine. "Sorry I don't remember the apologies. I don't remember much of my time in here. But if I do need care, you'll be the Doctor I see. I do forgive Doctor, and I may not forget what happened anytime soon, but time will take care of that."

Sound like this Lieutenant Doe might deserve more than just a thank you. "I can understand that," Cameron offers somberly. "Elpis is only just now starting to experience the anger, fear, and loss she experienced on Aerilon, and I know for myself that it's still stored up inside of me, cropping up at unexpected moments when someone manages to push the right set of buttons. But I appreciate your vote of confidence and I won't fail you again." Impulsively Cameron pulls Van into a friendly hug noting, "If this is too mushy, you can slap me…" but he doesn't hold her long, just in case. "I'm really glad we can be friends again. I really like you Natalie. I missed you."

Van doesn't fight the hug. In fact she returns it with a squeeze and a deflated breath. She doesn't say anything, she just lingers with him until he pulls away. When he does, she goes to her toes to brush a friendly peck to his cheek. "I missed you, too, Cam." She backs away from the hug andputs her hands back into her pockets. "How is that dear holding up? I- I know I'm not great with kids but I wouldn't mind seeing her again. She's a nice reminder of what things used to be like."

She can feel the relief that moves through him as the uncertain tension in his body relaxes when she returns his embrace, though he's clearly a little surprised by the kiss she busses against his cheek, though by no means unpleasantly so. Leaning back against the desk he had been sitting behind, Cameron runs a hand through his air and breathes out a sigh, the smile on his lips fading as he replies, "Not so good. She's having… a hard time. She still isn't talking, but she's starting to remember I think. She has terrible nightmares, wakes up screaming half the nights. She's starting to act out more often when I'm not around. She resents me not being with her all the time like I used to be down on Aerilon. I honestly don't know how to help her through this. She doesn't want to remember. That much is clear. And I can't say that I blame her. But she's going to have to face it some day. I think we both just wish that day was farther off." Pinching the bridge of his nose, Cameron notes, "That's part of why I haven't been around as much. When things were quiet, I was trying to get as much time as possible off to be with her. Give her the support and attention she needs." His head tilts upward to study Van's face as he notes, "I think she would like to see you though. She doesn't like being with the civilians as much as the military. I can only guess that it's too close to what she's lost. The military is so different and so interesting to her. Different world. I'm thinking I might bring her to work with me more often, if she can control herself and know when she can tag along with me and when she needs to entertain herself. But at least that way she can be with me more of the time, which is what I think she wants the most right now."

Van's face turns towards sympathetic. It might be a little entertaining with that swollen cheek, though. Listening to him describe Elpis' condition.. If Van theoretically has a heart, its probably breaking for that little girl. "I don't think she resents you, Cam. She probably just loves you and misses you. You rescued her and saved her life. Its hard when your hero can't be there and you're that young." She shakes her head and looks away for just a few quick moments. "If you bring her by, and if she remembers me, let her know that I miss her. I've been thinking about her lately. There's this eighteen year old girl Nataly Rassvet that lost her whole family, too. She talks and she can be rough. But its also reminded me that there's more at stake than my own personal beliefs. Kids need our help. I can plan ops all week but knowing why I keep doing it and seeing her adorable face would probably help me as much her."

"No, no, I know she doesn't resent me…. just the work, or anything that keeps me away from her. And I know that she understands that it's important work, but I think she's just reaching a point where she just can't pretend that everything is okay any more. Which is some ways just makes it worse. She'll act out, throw a tantrum or worse, and then she feels horrible about losing control like that. So she has guilt on top of her fear and anger." His head lifts with a curious expression as Cameron murmurs, "You're the second person in two days to mention this Nataly to me…" Taking a deep breath, Cameron notes, "Well, you know? It's worth trying. I'll start bringing Elpis with me and see if it helps. Gods know I grew up surrounded by patients and injured people and it didn't screw me up too much." His lips quirk slightly at his lame little joke.

"Cam? She's a little girl who has been through some horrible stuff. Eventually she's going to have to face it." Natalie's voice, maybe the first time he's heard it, is soft and compassionate. "She doesn't want to, like you're saying. But having people around her who are strong and have faced it will only help her. Eventually, one day, she will on her own terms. It'll be bad. But the best thing you can do is be there when you can. Its hard now, but you don't have to be the only one to carry that burden. We're all that's left. We can't afford to play coy with raising our children. If you need me, I'll be there for her when I can. And bringing her here?" She glances to their surroundings. "It might help her face what she's been through. It might be hard but there is no part of it that will be easy for her." The bitchy, angry, violent Marine before him looks like she just wants to give the little girl a big hug and tell her things will be alright.

"You think you're telling me something I don't know? Of course she's going to have to face it. I've known that since the moment I found her. I just…." and his voice breaks off as he looks away and takes a steadying breath, one hand lifting to wipe at his eyes before any moisture there can betray him. "I just wish I could be there for her, more than I am. But yeah…." and turning back to Van he nods and concurs, "I don't get to choose the when of it. None of us do. All I can do is my best for her. But I do need to find others that she can relate to and trust, who can help out when I can't be there for her. Ryder suggested I talk to this Nataly just the other day. Clearly she can understand where Elpis is coming from."

Vandenberg sighs, tilting her head as she looks up to Cam with sympathy. She takes a step forward to cup his cheeks in her hands. "Its okay, Cam," she whispers before dropping her hands to his chest. Its not a romantic or intimate gesture. Its meant to be comforting. "If you need someone else to help, I will while I'm here." Assuming she isn't killed, being the implication. "You're doing your best. But we can all help her. I'll schedule some time out of my day in the next few to come by and see her if she wants to." Two months ago she might have punched him and told him to get over it and be strong for her. Now? "Nataly's position is unique. I've been trying to help her. She might be of some good comfort, too. Just remember that we're here for each other now. These kids are our future if we are to have one. I'd like to help if I can."

Comfort. That's something Cameron is used to giving but not receiving. His chest rises and falls beneath her fingers as he takes a deep breath once again, his eyes lifting to hers quietly. "Thank you. It'll all work out. Some how. Because I won't accept anything else." His head tilts as he murmurs, "I appreciate it. I think if I can keep her busy, keep her distracted, or at least give her something to invest her time and interest in, that will help. I think is some ways it's almost easier for us adults. We don't have the time to linger and wallow. There's too much work to be done. But a child has nothing but time on their hands, and few ways to be able to spend it on board a ship. I appreciate your willingness to help. And if you know of anyone who you think might be good for Elpis. Someone with experience or just the patience to deal with a child who's overcoming some trauma in her life, well, that would be good too. I know you're already a busy person with a lot on your plate. I already worry that you're going to burn yourself out."

"Cam? I'm already burned out. I've got very little left. What I do have should be spent towards a child who needs help." Her hands slowly drop from his chest. The woman means what she says. The emotion in her eyes couldn't be faked. Gods, she wants so badly to do some good. "I know what you're saying about the child. Bring her. I'll bring good people to see her. People you would wish to be there. I won't hurt her or betray a trust. I'll treat her like my own blood… no, better." Van would never wish a child upon herself. Too cruel. "Tell me when and where."

Smiling, Cameron notes, "Well, on the up side, I generally find spending time with Elpis leaves me energized, not enervated. You might just find spending time with you leaves you with a little bit more than what you started with…" Reaching out, he catches one of Van's hands with his own, squeezing it gently. "I'll bring her. We'll make this work. And no, I know that you would never hurt her. I trust you completely when it comes to protecting others." His head tilts as he smiles and offers, "Just drop by for a visit. I'll start bringing her to work with me tomorrow. We'll take it from there and see how it goes. Fly by the seat of our pants on this one."

Van nods once, her swollen face smiling as much as it can. She squeezes his hand in reply. "Team effort, Cam. She needs us. But it ain't about me. I'll drain what I have to for her." Her hand drops from his as she takes a step back. "Go with the Gods, Doc. May they guide your judgment true." Solemn words from the Marine. "I'll be by tomorrow." She gives him another parting nod before she heads for the door.

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