PHD #416: When It's Almost Gone
PHD #416: When It's Almost Gone
Summary: Khloe checks up on other pilots in the recovery room of sickbay, but instead sees a very wounded Vandenberg. The dam finally breaks.
Date: 18 Apr 2042 AE
Related Logs: Areion final battle logs, past logs between Vandy and Khloe
Khloe Vandenberg 
Sickbay - Recovery Room - Sickbay - Deck 10 - Battlestar Cerberus
Hurt and sick people here! omai!
Post-Holocaust Day: #416

Three days after the events on the hangar deck of the Areion that very, very nearly killed Vandenberg, she'd been in a medically induced coma for the two days immediately after. Today, she's been in and out for a few minutes at a time. There's an oxygen mask over her nose and mouth still, head only slightly elevated. She hasn't moved much. Having been wounded fourteen times on the mission she demanded to lead in, the first-in, last-out Marine had to be medevac'd during the lull in fighting just to save her life. This late into the day, though, she's seemingly awake through the drugged haze. Eyes are open, but she just seems to be staring straight ahead as if dead to her own thoughts.

Looking no worse for wear, except for the large rectangular gauze dressing on her left thigh, Khloe picks her way into the recovery area. She's dressed in her tanks, but in loose PT shorts, presumably for easy access for her dressing, which looks fresh. She walks quietly along, looking for other pilots who were injured during the battle. But her eyes fall on Natalie, and there's a silent gasp as she recognizes her - she obviously had no idea she was so badly hurt. "Nata- er, Lieutenant?" Khloe calls out quietly, stepping by her bedside. "My gods."

Natalie seems to focus her eyes and drift them over towards Khloe. There's only a little life there as they stop at the other woman's face. Its a slow couple breaths before there is recognition. The wounds from the assault on the basestar still haven't full healed, either. The scars are still red and her hair hasn't grown to cover where the ability to grow has been burned away. That chewed ear, too.. This war is taking a horrible toll on Vandenberg physically. She mouthes something behind the mask, the word looking like Vakos' first name. Or was it 'Captain'? Hard to tell.

"Shh, don't try to talk," Khloe murmurs, drawing up to Vandenberg's bedside. It takes her a long moment to speak again, just taking in all of her fellow Canceran's injuries. She flexes her right hand, looking unsure as to whether or not to touch the injured Marine, as if her very touch might hasten her injuries or cause her to crumble to dust and blow away. Still, she carefully rests the hand on Natalie's forehead, stroking back whatever hair she has left. "It's over. The Areion is gone. I don't know if anyone's told you, but… we won. I suppose." Nobody wins when those who put their lives on the line end up trashed like this.

Vandenberg can't keep wit hthe movement of the Captain's hand. Even hesitating, its just too fast. She doesn't have the energy for it. Her eyes fall back to Khloe, watching the woman's face until that hand rests to her forehead. Natalie blinks slowly, face turning up slightly. Its obviously a welcome touch. When the news is delivered, Van shakes her head and lets out a loooong sigh. Its almost as if she deflates a little into the bed. Apparently nobody had told her. Or had even tried. After a moment, she swallows and tries to speak again. Her voice is just too quiet to be heard with the mask in the way plus everything else going on in a recovery ward.

"They jumped away. Some of their crew defected. It was a real shit-show, but everyone came back. The Marines were… amazing, I'm told," Khloe murmurs to her, her words sounding somewhat choked. "Casualties all around, but… we won. We got our people back, and we won." She cracks a small smile, letting a soft, halted laugh escape. "The morpha any good?" She asks, moisture collecting in her eyes.

Her green eyes are trying really hard to keep a focus on Khloe's face. To pay attention and stay with what's being said. This is important. Somewhere in there she knows it. Her lips twitch at the question of the morpha. She probably doesn't feel much but its probably too much for her to keep a solid focus. The Marine's eyes drop to the pilot's leg and then slowly climb back to her face. Through labored breathing, she tries to pop her brow as if to ask if Khloe is okay.

Khloe glances down at her leg. "This? This is nothing. A high voltage discharge, and a little bit of decompression when my Viper fell apart around me," she explains. She could go into detail about how Bunny was the one who pulled her in during SAR, and everything else that happened, but it'd probably be lost on her in her current state. "Natalie," she says quietly. "You have to get better. That's -" She swallows back the emotion. "That's an order. Okay? You don't know when you've got something good right in front of you and then when it's almost gone…" Khloe is failing at being stoic, and with her other hand wipes underneath her eyes.

Natalie keeps her eyes up on Khloe's face, her own eyes watering with seeing Khloe like this. The littlist gesture from her head that she can manage is a nod. Her arm closest to Khloe stirs beneath the sheets but she doesn't have the strength yet to free it from the blankets. She swallows once more and finally musters up the energy to say a few words past the mask, breathing hard to make them happen: "Semper Fidelis." She takes a few more hard breaths, eyes closing as a tear falls away from her eye towards the scars on her face.

Khloe lets out another halting, breathy laugh, nodding. A sniffle, and then she does something that would be unexpected by anyone aboard: she leans down and places a gentle kiss on her forehead. Before pulling back, she whispers just for her benefit, "You have no idea how hard this is for me to do." And then she straightens up again, hand resuming its gentle stroking of her hair.

Van makes a sound as the lips touch her forehead. Its a happy sound - a sign that tries to impart more feeling by being vocalized just a touch. Those lips of her own do turn up a little more in a ghost of a smile. She's trying really hard, fighting to stay with it. The last bit of her energy seems to go to getting that arm freed from beneath the sheets and extending her hand out towards Khloe, the IV lines in her arm dangling with the heavy bandages on the upper and lower arm. That hand is extended toward the pilot as if reaching out for help. Or maybe its to offer help. Her eyes open once more to look up at the Captain beside her, Natalie struggling and fighting to stay awake just one more minute.

Khloe catches the struggling hand, upper lip curling as she desperately tries not to cry. She holds the calloused hand against her face, eyes clamping shut. Just this amount of physical closeness is more than she has allowed herself in years, and it takes a fleet mutiny and the near-death of her colleague… friend? fellow Caneceran? would-be lover? to finally allow those thick titanium walls to briefly part.

Van looks up to her hand being held like that and her own voice trembles, eyes giving way to tears. She's too drugged to fight much at all. Her hand clamps as much as it can in its weakened state around the Viper pilot's. Its not terribly tight. Like a small toddler trying to hold on to a hand. Her head turns to face the other woman more, her whole face trembling and then slowing.. and then her grip softens. Natalie can't fight it anymore. Its all spent. She's used every last bit of what she'd stored for those few moments before once again slipping away to the grip of the drugs and her injuries.

Sniffling, Khloe tucks that hand and arm beneath the covers, back where it was. She smooths out the covers, and then forces herself to put her hand at her side. She gives Vandenberg another glance, face a mixture of a thousand different emotiosn that are usually contained behind hard stoicism, and then makes for the exit. Let her rest. Maybe she won't remember.

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