PHD #356: A Touch of Innocence
A Touch of Innocence
Summary: Cameron brings Elpis by Vandenberg's bunk, as promised. Vandenberg is reduced to a marshmallow like consistency.
Date: 17 Feb 2042 AE
Related Logs: A Formal Apology
Cameron Elpis Vandenberg 
Marine Officer Berths - Deck 6 - Battlestar Cerberus
Almost an afterthought, this is the smallest berthing on the ship. A few short rows of bunks are set one over-top of the other. The lockers here are a bit larger than most elsewhere on the ship so as to accommodate the bulky combat gear associated with the security details of the officers that live here. A single table sits in the center of the room with chairs arranged around it loosely; more available than there are bunks in the room.
Post-Holocaust Day: #356

It’s not past anyone's bedtime by a long shot. But first checking the Security Hub, Cameron would then be sent along to find an off-duty Vandenberg in the berths. The place is tiny for the rest of the ship's housing with only eight bunks in here. The rest of the room that usually might go to bunks is gear storage lockers. It would seem that each Marine Officer gets their own normal locker and a secondary huge one. Van's bunk is where she is now, second stack on the left, top bunk. She's got the blind partially closed as she lazes about in her tank tops and taps a pen on a pad of paper.

Stepping up to the door, Cameron lets Elpis do the honors of knocking before calling out as well, "Knock knock! Anybody home?" The door swings open fully to reveal the doctor with his 'daughter' seated upon his shoulders, his hands busy holding onto her legs to make sure that she remains in her seat. Ducking down so as not to clonk the little girl on the forehead, he announces, "Thought we would drop by for a visit." He looks tired and the smile on his lips is lopsided, as if he were pasting it on out of effort but hadn't used quite enough glue. "Unless now is not a good time," he quickly adds, wandering over such that Elpis at the same height as the marine, even with her sitting on the top bunk. "Elpis, you remember Lieutenant Vandenberg, don't you?" The child leans forward, Cameron bracing himself against the shift in weight as she considers Natalie's face closely and then smile and nods before offering the marine a proper salute.

Van leans over at the knock to see who is coming in and her face just -beams- at seeing the little girl. The notepad is immediately tossed aside and forgotten. "Now is just perfect, Doc," she sighs. The woman winces a little as she turns to face the girl. Her face is still a little swollen. A little. Makeup hides the bruise still. But Cam can probably notice two more fresh purple and black bruises with defined knuckles. There is one into each shoulder like someone punched into the straps of the tank tops. "Hello there, Miss Elpis. You are looking especially beautiful this evening." She fakes a grump to the child and returns a sharp salute. "Would you like to come on up here and hang out with me for a few minutes? I got some crayons for you from supply when your big buddy Cameron here told me I was going to get to see you again."

Elpis smiles and nods, awkwardly scrambling off of Cameron's shoulders and onto the bunk, much to the doctor's dismay. "Hey, hey, careful there! I need my ears y'know!" Rubbing at his shoulder and cheek in the aftermath of her escape, Cam's eyes lift to study Van, wondering silently if the bruises he sees today are new or if he just missed them the first time around. But she's a big girl, he has to remind himself. She can take care of herself. In the meanwhile Elpis has thrown her thin arms about Van's neck to give her a biiiiiiiig hug before settling down next to her and delicately straightening the pleats of her skirt as if she were a proper lady and not the wild tomboy that just scrambled willy nilly off of poor Cameron's head. One hand, however, reaches out very gently touch the bruises on Van's shoulder, a worried expression creasing her tiny brow.

Vandenberg laughs in her own right, extending her arms to Elpis as she scrambles off. She falls back into the bed with the girl, rolling her in a big growling hug. "Grrrr you're so much bigger than the last time I saw you." She backs out of the hug and reaches out to tap the girl's nose with her finger. "And I think you gained about twenty pounds of Cute As A Button. You are destined to break hearts, young lady. Just don't listen to Doctor Cameron. He doesn't need ears." She grins and sits up a little to make room for the girl - which isn't hard. Van's tiny size doesn't take up much space on the bunk. But at the poke to her bruises she sighs, nodding. There's a glance to Cam and then back. "Sometimes grown ups have to do things that hurt in order to protect other people. Just like Cameron. I just bruise more because of my job." As she nudges around on the bed, the girl's elbow hits her left side and she winces. Something happened to her between last night and tonight. Given the position that since came from, she probably isn't too limber.

She doesn't like it, the bruises that is. That much is clear. The hug and the teasing cause her to squeal with laughter. But the bruises make her frown still she rises up, balancing carefully on the bed to place light, tiny little kisses to each bruise that she can find. And then, once that is done, she glances surreptitiously at Cameron before putting a finger to her lips in a 'shhhhhh' gesture before rolling up the leggings beneath her skirt to proudly show off two bruised and skinned knees. Whatever she did to get them, apparently it was a great and wonderful thing, because she shows off her boo-boos like badges of honor and valor. Cameron watches the pair, frowning at the wince that he sees and Elpis misses. But with the little girl here, he can't ask Van what is wrong. Instead he takes a seat on the bottom bunk of the bed next to theirs so he can watch without interfering, his gaze shadowed and pensive for his own unspoken reasons.

"Aww thank you, Elpis. You are too sweet to this aging Marine, you know that?" Vandenberg was nervous around the girl the last time. Something has really shifted in her life. Something huge. Even since he saw her last, the woman still seems tired but there is something lighter about her movements. Almost like there is a missing burden to her shoulders. But as the girl shows off her bruises Natalie 'Ooooo's at them. "Wow, Miss Elpis. That looks like it hurt. Did they hurt?" She then leans down to kiss the girl's own bruises in reply thanks for her own wounds to be healed. "You must be pretty brave to deal with that kind of hurt. I mean, you seem pretty brave." Nat reaches out a finger to poke the girl playfully in the side quickly. "You the bravest girl I know? I think you might be."

The little girl seems to be picking up a lot of facial expressions from Cameron, and this is one of them. One brow lifts and she gives Van a utterly disbelieving look when she refers to herself as 'aging'. Pah! But she's easily distracted by the compliments to her knees, nodding enthusiastically rather than being all butch and denying that they hurt. She doesn't know about just how brave she was, but she does know that she is ticklish, that little poke to her side causing her to squirm and giggle, shaking her head as if to deny the idea that she is the bravest of girls. The shift in Natalie's demeanor hasn't gone unnoticed by Cameron, his ocean eyes silent and watchful as the two 'girls' interact with one another playfully.

It's so rare to hear the squeal of a child's giggling and laughter on this ship. Especially on Deck Six. The people that pass the hatch - even the biggest and butchest Marines - smile in and even slow on the pass when they hear the light sounds. Some faces are probably even surprised to see who is playing with the kid. "Geez. How did you get to be so kyoooot??" Van demands with a head tilting towards Elpis. "You could just be packaged in kittens and riding on a puppy and I just don't think it'd be possible. So Cameron tells me you've been hanging out on -your- ship. It is your ship, you know that right? Its got your name on the side. I even voted for that ship to be named after you. Do you like it over there? Making any friends." She glances to Cameron and gives the man a reassuring nod. They will talk. She's already reaching for the crayons and the notepad again.

She giggles again at the idea of being packaged with kittens and puppies, even if she's not really sure exactly what that means. But it sounds good! She does sober a little at the mention of 'that' ship, her nose wrinkling as she shakes her head, though the idea that the ship was named after her? Well, that wins a few points, her expression going thoughtful. At the question of whether or not she likes it, Elpis' shoulders collapse a little, her gaze flickering to Cameron, as if torn between answering honestly and answering the way she thinks that she should. The first question is answered with a shake of her head. The second, with a raised hand that presents to Vandenberg two fingers. Two friends, perhaps? To the look that she gives Cameron, there is that uneven smile again, his head shaking as he waves a hand, silently indicating that she should continue doing what she wants.

Natalie knows she isn't going to get answers to questions beyond Yes and No so she keeps it simple. "Well I'm sorry to hear you don't like it. But if you ever run into trouble over there or somebody scares you? You come tug on the clothing of one of my Marines, okay?" She looks over to the side of her bunk and takes a picture off the wall. Cam may or may not be able to see who it is - but its a picture of herself and Sergeant Richards. She is in her brows, he is in his blacks. "You can keep this so you can show it to someone if you ever need help." Vandenberg turns the photo over and writes a note on the back with a pen. 'I need help. Take me to a Marine. Notify LT Vandenberg, CMC.' She hands it to the girl. Its not a huge photo. It could fit into her pocket if folded. "But I'm glad to hear you have friends. I'd love to know their names but I think I can wait until you're ready to tell. So I have an idea." Van brings the crayons down and dumps them onto her sheets. The pad is brought over too and turned over to a blank page. "My bunk is really boring. Can you draw me a picture of what you think might make it more exciting? I promise I'll hang it up."

Of all the troubles that Elpis has, people scaring her or running into trouble, that isn't of her own making, is not one of them apparently. She looks a trifle nonplussed at the very thought, but nods obediently in agreement. Elpis takes the photo and reads the words on the back, her brow screwing up again. But she keeps it more because it's a photo of Natalie than anything else. She smiles and very carefully slips it into the pocket of her dress. Her head tilts at Van's comments and request, her head bobbing as she leans over and starts picking through the crayons to find the right color to start with, then takes the paper and lays it on the bed flat, lying down on her stomach, her feet in the air, tapping against each other as she sticks her tongue out in concentration, thinking for a moment before she starts to draw.

Van looks down to the girl as she draws. Its very maternal. She reaches out to scratch at the girl's back idly while she draws. Natalie almost like a mother watching over a daughter that she so carefully dotes upon. It might even be hard to imagine the Marine being the insane, violent person that she is, while she sits in her bunk with the girl. Especially with that smile that just won't quit - even despite the swelling. Eventually her eyes lift back to Cameron and she mouths the words 'thank you' to him, looking like she might almost cry. This means a lot to her and there's just no indication as to why.

Now that she has a goal, the little girl is utterly focused on the work at hand. The green crayon in her hand seems to be drawing some kind of dragon, or monster, with multiple heads it looks like and long sinuous necks and spiky spines going down each and into the body and tail… no wait, tails? Or are those more heads? Hmmmmmm. She's humming a tuneless sort of sound, a funny little song that maybe she overheard or perhaps she's just making up on the spot. Her body is small and warm beneath Van's hand, utterly trusting of the adult as she idly pets the little girl. Cameron is almost bowled over by the practically tearful look she gives him as she speaks those silent words to him. This time his smile is real, not pasted on, his eyes warming with understanding and affection as he mouths back, 'any time'. He might not know exactly why this moment touches Van so, but he's been where she is now in his own way many times before not to recognize it.

"Grrrdragon. That what that is? That's pretty cool!" Natalie just grins back down to the piece of paper. She looks to Elpis and then behind her to a shelf. Something is taken and then she -carefully- sits up next to the girl. The Marine does her best to hide the wince but the pain is there. Thankfully, the little one is a good distraction. Nat takes up strands of hair and drops a few hair ties to her sheets. "Mind if I braid you hair, hon? I think you might look pretty great with some Virgan Braids." Van's never done more with her hair than a ponytail or helmet hair as far as Cam has probably seen. "So Cameron, how's things at the office? Meet any exciting people?" Assuming Elpis agrees to the braids, Natalie is already working.

Elpis casts a secretive little look over her shoulder, flipping a long strand of hair out of her way before returning to the very serious work of coloring in her monster. At the question however, Elpis turns her head and shakes her head, shifting till she's sitting upright, her drawing now resting in her lap to make the whole braiding process easier. Cameron keeps his voice low and casual, the effect being that Elpis doesn't seem to really pay any attention to what he's saying. It's almost like this is 'adult' talk, and as such she doesn't have to pay it any mind. "Lot of surgeries today. Had to pretty much reconstruct Lieutenant Wade's right hand. There's an EMT who wants me to teach her about trauma medicine and surgery. Long day." There's certainly more to all of that, but Cameron doesn't seem particularly eager to talk about it. "How about you? What's with all the bruises? You get into a fight or something?" He hasn't heard anything about any arrests or Marine action on board recently, and there haven't been any ground missions, so what else could it be? "Is everything okay? You're moving like you're in pain. You want me to take a look, make sure you didn't crack some ribs or something?" Yeah, he's worried. She can hear it in his voice and see it in his eyes for all the 'calm' talk he's doing so as not to worry the child.

Vandenberg goes about working on the braids. "You have beautiful, soft hair Miss Elpis. I have a make-up kit in my locker we should let you mess around with sometime in the future, too." Yes, very maternal. This woman put one of her own Marines into critical condition barely three weeks ago, beating the man to within inches of his life with a metal baton. She glances up at the mention of Wade before she looks back to Elpis. "Ohhh Mister Duncan. I swear that man needs to figure a few things out on his own and think over what he says before he says it. Some people think I've got a high horse. Whew! But cool. I'd be interested in some more advanced trauma medicine, myself, but I'm busy as it is. And I like nursing." She preens her smile, working on the end of the braids on one side. "I really enjoy talking to people. Helping out. It feels good." But as the man brings up her bruises, she falls silent. Hands work to finish up the braid on one side. "Be right back to do the other," she whispers to Elpis. Normally Van would probably hop down but she uses the ladder and moves to Cameron. "Got some bruises on the rib. I fell down." She sotto-vocces the last line. Its her official excuse. A hand lifts the left side of her tanks almost to the bra. There's a large black and purple bruise on her ribs with five distinct red marks where it looks like someone was trying to drill in with just their fingers. Its tender to the touch but nothing seems to be broken.

Elpis looks over her shoulder again, clearly excited and a little bit mystified about the whole makeup thing. Clearly not something she's had the opportunity to play with much before apparently. But she turns her head back to her drawing, coloring with a simple intensity of pleasure and concentration. Shaking his head, Cameron replies, "He injured it during a recent attack, not because he tried to punch a hole in a wall or anything…." wondering mildly at Vandenberg's words. In truth, Cameron is surprised when Natalie actually comes down from her bunk and lets him see what she's been trying to hide. He fully expected her to just blow him off and claim it was nothing. His hands are warm and lightly calloused and they move with great tenderness over the injury, determining that nothing is broken. A finger tip drops to each red mark, resting there like proof. His eyes lift to meet hers, quiet and calm as he counters mildly, "No stairs did this, Natalie. You know it and I know it. If you want that to be the official line, that's fine. I'll keep your confidence. But I'd like to know what's going on. I don't like it when my friends are getting beaten on, and these aren't the sort of marks you get from sparring… which, by the by, would be a more believable excuse than 'I fell down'. That's almost as bad as 'I walked into a door'. Who believes that line?"

Van drops the shirt and glances back up towards Elpis to make sure she isn't intent on following this discussion. The Marine crosses her arms and looks back to Cameron. "Trust me, the bruises I carry right now? I deserved them. And I don't mean in that crappy Beaten Wife Syndrome way. I sought them out from someone. I had a Marine claim his love for me. I went to some incredibly low places, Cam, but it was necessary. As it stands right now, the fight and issue has been resolved. We are as close as we ever had been." And just like that, Van shows what she is made of. The woman will take what -had- to be a painful beating just to protect her men. Even if that means protecting them from themselves.

He doesn't quite follow her, really, the crease in his brow illuminating that fact. "Wait, so are you saying that you got someone to confess that they were in love with you, then rejected and put them down, had a fight, and now they're 'over' their feelings, which was your intention all along, and everything is back to normal?" And if he's right, how frakked up is that? But he lets his hand drop away after she pulls down her shirt and takes a step back. "Let me at least make you some liniment for it. Herbal. All natural. Not a waste of 'valuable medicine' as you put it." Elpis is, indeed, seemingly oblivious to the conversation, coloring up a storm it seems, so much so that she's started another picture.

Natalie chuckles, obviously not as phased as he is. "No, Cam. Not quite. This man because upset about a relationship with someone else - which I'm not going to comment on. We got into one helluvan argument when he professed his love for me. I knew he had been attracted to me for some time but I didn't realize how far it had gone. So I shut it down. I didn't just tell him 'No' because that crap never works. I slipped into Hell for what I said to him. Messed myself up bad, too, just saying what I did. But it worked. I needed him to cross the line of physical hatred of me to seal the deal. The man came through and will never be the wiser to what just took place."

Cameron just stares before a crooked bemused smile curls his lips. For all the insanity and illogic of her statement, it is just so very Vandenberg. "You're certifiable. You know this, right? I mean, they always say that women should be mysterious, but you're mysterious like a Electra/Oedipal murder crime scene." What's even stranger? The way he says it, that almost sounds like a compliment. His head tilts to one side as he guesses, "So you were not attracted to him, I gather? Or you just don't allow yourself to go there?"

Even despite the bruise on her cheek she lifts her chin and face and sports a BIG smile at his claim of her being certifiable. "Me! Lieutenant Mysterious!" GRIN! She preens a little before slipping back to the ladder. A positive attitude doesn't stop the movements from hurting, but it dulls the pain in a way that only a natural high can. Settling back down for more braining, Van shakes her head. "Nope. I don't go there with enlisted. I draw an important distinction between officers and enlisted. We lead, they follow. Dropping frat regs might be peachy for the rest of the fleet but front line combat units? Where orders mean the difference between life and death?" She looks at him, shaking her head slowly. "If you love a person under you and you have to order that unit on an insane mission, you may exclude them. You may react oddly. Anything. Men and women are equally capable fighters, but sharing each other is not acceptable across things like that."

Ahhhh, there is the logic, hidden beneath the unrevealed details of her story. Cameron smiles softly and grunts, "Alright. I'll grant you this point. Touché'." But apparently Elpis has decided to return to the conversation, turning about to hand Natalie the first of her two drawings. It depicts a monster, which looks very much like a Hydra, fighting a woman. Only instead of historical swords or spears, the woman in question is brandishing a very large gun at the beast and beneath her are the initials, Lt. V.

Natalie just nods to Cam. "Its a tough gig. I won't get into a 'heavy is the head that wears the crown' monologue, but things are tough all over. Its a life I choose and I wouldn't have any other. Because, the man this happened with? I served with him at Neath. I've got too much respect to just willy-nilly transfer him out or file charges. We've been through too much." The Marine seems about to jump to something else when Elpis turns to her and shows her the drawing. FREAKING AWWWWWWWWWWW. Natalie bites her lower lip and looks at the crayon artwork. If may occur to Cameron to take a picture because the look on her face is just purely defrosted and 100% touched by what the girl drew. "Thank you, Miss Elpis. Can you show it to Cameron?" She motions for the girl to do so and beams with pride. "Lieutenant V. Hydraslayer."

All good points. Cameron himself isn't bound quite so tightly by rules and restrictions, but he can certainly understand the need for them in her situation. He chuckles softly at Natalie's reaction to Elpis' drawing. Alas, there is no camera upon his person. He'll have to rely on memory for this photo moment. Elpis is grinning broadly and bobs her head enthusiastically, pleased that the marine that rescued them approves so highly of her picture. Twisting the other way, she shows it to Cameron, who leans in and ahhhhhs, commenting, "Indeed you are! Elpis has been reading a lot of mythology lately. She's been pretty fascinated by the Hydra. Most impressive!" Elpis turns back to Van and presses the drawing into her hands. It's for her bunk after all, right? Turning back to the other piece of paper, she hands that over as well. It shows two adults, a blond man and a blonde woman and a little girl with long brown hair between them. Beneath the figures is written, respectively, Cam, Lt. V., and Elpis, with a big heart hovering above them all. Regardless of whether her hair is done or not, Elpis has turned herself around to face Van, reaching out with one hand to squeeze the woman's fingers.

"Reading a lot into mythology? Really?" Vandenberg is still on pause while working on that second braid. "I have actually been doing lots of research in that area, myself, munchkin. Readin lots of books, talking to people. And you know what I'll tell you a secret." Natalie bends her head down with a big smile, whispering. "Some of the happier stories? The ones about the Gods and parties and beautiful goddesses? I think they're true." Nodnodnod. She leans back and then looks at the next picture and it looks like Van's heart just breaks for it. "Awww, Elpis. That's freaking adorable!!" She drops the braid. She can start again. That hand squeezing her rough fingers gets lifted and she smooches at it. "I love you too, deary. Love, with little side helpings of delicious love sammiches. And love-flavored ice cream… which tastes like strawberries."

In a million years Cameron never would have thought that he would see Lt. Natalie Vandenberg like this. Which is to say, lovey dovey with little hearts and flowers over every i. He honestly just blinks in amazement, his lips curled into an almost disbelieving smile. At the question, Elpis nods somberly. Clearly she takes reading quite seriously, it being her main occupation most of the time. She giggles at Van's reaction to her second drawing and giggles again when her hand gets kissed like Van was some knight and she was a princess or something. There is more giggling at the idea of love sandwiches and love flavored ice cream, though clearly strawberries was a good choice, because Elpis bounces up and down at the very idea. Since she showed the first picture to Cam, she assumes that Van will want her to show him the second, and so she does so. "Hey, it's me," he exclaims cheerfully, as if she hadn't already shown and given him dozens of drawings with him in them. "This is really good, Elpis," he compliments, handing it back to her so she can give it again to Van. Success! Which makes the little girl turn around once more and stare at the paper in front of her before she starts drawing once more. "She could do this all night long," Cameron warns Vandenberg wryly.

"Cam? Do me a favor and open my locker? Its this one right here at my end of the bunk. Just pop it open. There should be a roll of tape on the top shelf. Hand it to me?" Assuming he goes in there, there are boxes of ammo, a loaded rifle, handguns, body armor, and weapons galore. Even more fuel to the odd difference between the woman and her job. There just isn't much by way of personal items in there. She didn't arrive with much, though there is a personal sketch in there with a signature that isn't her own. "Lords alive, miss Elpis, you keep pumping out these drawings and my bunk is going to be looking like your own personal ground zero." A glance up to Cam and she smiles. "I'd love her to. Fact is, I wouldn't mind her stayin if you need to get things done. Maybe get in a nap or something later." Just an offer..of babysitting?

Obligingly, Cameron opens the locker and sifts through it's contents. In truth, the armor and the weapons is far more what he's used to associating with Van than a mothering nature and hair braiding. Just goes to show that people are always so much more than they might seem on the surface. The tape is found and delivered. Elpis' hand goes still for a moment at something Van said, her gaze shifting to Cameron quietly for a moment before she starts drawing again, now much more slowly than before. One brow lifts at Natalie's offer as he confesses, "I figured we would be hitting our own racks soon enough. We're bunking down in the Recovery Ward tonight." Not the greatest place to sleep, but he'll be close to work in an emergency and getting Elpis back over onto the Elpis isn't too likely. "We can stay till she falls asleep, if you like. Or we can come back again tomorrow. Whichever you prefer…" Cam has taken a seat again and he looks, quite frankly, wiped and ready to be tucked in himself.

Van takes the tape with a nodded thanks. She tears off a few pieces and begins placing them on the back of the first picture drawn. "Well she's welcome to stay here. She's not exactly loud." Van is coming close to finishing those braids again. "Besides, I don't have to work until the afternoon. She can sleep in and you can deal with people in the morning without concerning about Miss Elpis underfoot. I can get her cleaned-up and fed tomorrow. But if you're uncomfortable with it, by all means. She's your ward, Cam." The Marine seems completely giddy at the idea but would probably be able to handle a rejection well.

Cameron trusts Van completely. He has no doubt that she would do anything and everything that Elpis might need. He's not uncomfortable leaving the child with her. He's certainly had to leave her with others before. But he is… worried. Rising up and crossing over to the bed, he folds his arms over the end of the bunk, resting his chin on them as he peers up at Elpis. "What do you say? You want to spend the night here with Lieutenant Vandenberg?" Again, the crayon stops moving, the little girl's eyes fixed to her paper before she lifts her gaze uncertainly, searching Cameron's eyes. "It's up to you," he offers softly. "Your bed is already next to mine if you want to sleep with me. But if you'd rather have a girl's night and stay with Natalie, I won't be upset or put out. Whatever you want, okay?" Her blue gaze drifts back down to her paper, crayon hovering over it before she shyly nods yes. Reaching out, Cameron lets a finger drift down the soft curve of her cheek and murmurs, "Okay then. If you change your mind at any time and you want to sleep with me, Natalie will bring you to me, okay? Just show her the sign, yes?" Nodding, Elpis sits up again and turns around, her hand doing a funny little gesture where her palm is held out, fingers splayed, her thumb tapping against her forehead lightly. "If she does that, it means she wants me," Cam explains simply. Crossing over to the side, Cam crooks his finger at Elpis, the little girl leaning over till he can kiss her cheek. "I'll go get your jammies…" he offers.

Natalie does her best to just go about affixing the pictures to the inside of her bunk while Elpis answers the questions. She waits until the girl has answered before looking back. The sign is noted and she mimics it with a big smile at the little girl. "No matter what, I'll bring you to Cam if you do that. Even if people are going crazy." She watches the kissed cheek and interaction with Cam melts her heart a little more. "You're a lucky man, Cameron. Not as lucky as Elpis is, though." She settles carefully down onto her pillow with a wince. "Miss Elpis? Tomorrow morning, after we get you cleaned-up and fed? We'll play some dress-up. Complete with make-up. Think you can handle that?"

Studying Elpis for a long moment, Cam's gaze lifts to Van's as he smiles wistfully and replies, "I know. I'm luckier." The girl stretches out and snuggles up next to Van, nodding as she drums her heels together in the air and starts working on her latest drawing again, her eyes a little heavy lidded, but with that intensity that children who are determined not to sleep tend to get. Cameron departs so quietly she doesn't even notice at first, only glancing up a few minutes later to realize that he's gone, her tiny body going quite still for a moment before she turns her head and smiles softly at Van before returning to her coloring.

Van puts the hair tie on the braid and begins playing with them, seeing which way they might look best if she were to try and style them. Eventually she just lets them hang and taps them with a playful swat of her hand. "All done, munchkin." While the girl may be snuggled, Natalie lies herself down and gets comfortable while she watches the little one draw, Cam already gone. "Cam's a real sweet guy. I know you care about him a lot." Her hand fiddles with the drawing of them three and the hearts. "I think I like this one best because it has you in it. Do you get to do a lot of drawing on your ship?"

At her comment about Cam, Elpis rolls over slightly, reaching out to trace over the heart she drew, staring at Vandenberg seriously. But she doesn't really know how to express just how much she loves Cam. She doesn't really understand it herself. But in many ways, he's her life. He found her, saved her, healed her, takes care of her. He's the only one she can depend on, or so she believes. But instead of trying to explain what she doesn't even understand herself, she starts drawing again, working on a female figure drawing a bow up toward the sky. Artemis, perhaps? She nods in agreement to the question. Oh yes, she draws a lot. For a girl who doesn't talk, she's fairly expressive and, in a pinch, she makes a little drawing or writes a word or two to clarify what she means to say. At some point during the night, Cameron slips back in with her pajamas and, when Vandenberg goes to put them on Elpis, she'll find a little jar with some ointment in it that smells of sage and herbs and has a gentle numbing sensation when rubbed into the skin. That would be Caerlyn Adair's teachings right there, all her odd herbal remedies, poultices, and treatments.

"Well this is a girl so it’s not Apollo. Looks like Lady Artemis?" Van scritches at the girl's back some more. "That would be your patron Goddess to young girls." Though if this is for her it takes on a different meaning. The hunt? Childbirth? Maybe protecting little girls? The Marine tries not to think about the meaning of it. When Cam finally returns with all of it, she slips the pajamas on the little girl and tucks her into her bunk before applying the ointment with a chuckle. Adair. Gods, she'll never escape them and that's just fine with her. Climbing back up into the bunk, she shuts off the light and curls up with the little girl.

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