AWD #267: Enforced Vacation
Enforced Vacation
Summary: With Holtz on the mend, Atalanta checks on him in the recovery ward.
Date: 30/09/13
Related Logs: Picon invasion log, Viper side
Holtz Atalanta 
Recovery Ward
About half the size of the Medical Center, the Recovery Ward has fewer beds to allow space for those who are going through recovery. Rather than the drab gray of most of the center, the walls in here have been done in a neutral creme color. The beds are a little thicker and the blankets are actually present. There are a few clocks and the only other decoration are a couple of flatscreens that show muted movies from the ship's library. A couple stacks of old magazines are available near the door for nurses to pass around, too.
AWD #267

The recovery ward is unusually busy; not surprising considering the events of the past several days. Most of the beds are occupied, and orderlies bustle from one to the other, checking on each patient in turn. There's enough noise from the various machines and footsteps that individual conversations can't be made out; the privacy curtains pulled around each bed probably have something to do with that as well. Major Holtz has one of these little impromptu alcoves to himself; still recovering from his wounds suffered over Caprica, he lays silently, curtains closed except for a small gap near the foot of his bed. Scars from recent surgery are all too evident on his bare chest, and several IV lines are running into his arm. His eyes are shut, his pale form unmoving — but according to the machine next to his bed, his vitals are stable, if a little weak.

Three days. They've spent three days over Picon so far, and those three days have been a hell that most of the crew of the Orion hasn't seen since War Day. Dogfights, one after the other. Medevacs running almost nonstop. CSAR — gods, they don't even have half a CSAR unit anymore. Almost every pilot on the ship flying two, three, four missions a day. And Atalanta, in charge of all of them. Many have been in and out, these last twenty-four hours — the vitally wounded, of course, but others getting bandaged up and being sent right back out. People coming in for stims, just to have some hope of keeping their eyes open for a few hours more. It's almost easy for her to blend in, given the circumstances. Almost, though not entirely. Which may explain why she's subtly slinking along the rows of beds, looking for the one she pulled aside some overworked nurse to ask after — some overworked nurse who likely won't even remember being asked, once the obligatory blunt and point and half-remembered 'sir' is often. Once she finds the one that she's looking for, dirty fingers curl against the white curtain, drawing the gap open further — just far enough to slip through, and become nothing but a pair of boots peeking out from under it to anyone passing by.

Well, Holtz is in, but he's still at least a couple days from being out. The advantage? Once he does get out, that'll be at least one pilot in Orion's crew who's fully rested, or close to it. His surgery went by the numbers, but it's still going to take a bit longer for him to fully recover to the point of going back on duty… not to mention flush all the drugs out of his system that the doctors spent much of his first day or two in sickbay pumping in. His eyelids flutter every few seconds, yet remain closed. The steady, rhythmic beep, beep, beep of the electronic display by his head continues to sound.

She doesn't say anything. Why would she? The man is sleeping, after all, and given his current state, he could probably use the sleep even more than she could. Atalanta, at least, doesn't have a gaping hole in the middle of her chest where things like her sternum and her skin are supposed to be. She simply turns towards the bed, watching him for a few seconds. There's a lump that rises in her throat as she stands there, one that she has to swallow twice to force all the way down. Gods, how she's always hated these places. She looks like hell to begin with — dark circles under her eyes, a greasy sheen to her skin that suggests she hasn't showered since at least the day before despite all the time she's spent in the cockpit, her hair tumbling down out of its confines, to the point that, really, she might as well pull the pins out. (Honestly, she's probably look better if she did.) But somehow, in spite of all of that? Standing there seems to lessen her somehow. Maybe it's the dark cast that her normally pale, pristine features take on. Maybe it's the way her perfect posture gives way to something… well, not quite a slouch. The woman probably doesn't know how. But… something. Something more like every other exhausted soldier stalking through the halls today, which she normally couldn't manage, even if she tried.

The readouts flicker, and shift slightly. Not enough to bring an orderly running, however; pulse and vitals all remain within norms. Just a minor fluctuation. As for his state of unconsciousness, however, that does seem to be changing. His fluttering eyelids crack open, and there's a sudden intake of breath louder than the shallow rhythmic in-and-out from before. For the moment, his eyes are glassy and unfocused; after who-knows-how-many hours of (likely drug-induced) sleep, there's no telling how long it'd take him to move from mere consciousness to actual awareness. Slitted eyes slide over Atalanta and past her without truly seeming to register her presence, and his cracked lips twitch as he slowly begins to shake off his lingering torpor.

The woman freezes. Surely, he's been awake since his surgery, hasn't he? They must've woken him up after, if only to confirm that…. well, she doesn't really know. Her eyes flick to the gap in the curtains, or at least the spot that it had been before she pulled it closed behind her. She shouldn't be here. She knows it. It's written all over her face. It's a doctor that he needs; a doctor, or at the very least, a nurse. To… to check his vitals. Or something. Her grip on her helmet tightens, tucking it back up under her arm again to be sure it doesn't slip from her grasp as she turns away, fingering the fabric panels of the curtain to find the gap in them again.

As Holtz slowly shakes off the effects of unconsciousness, he doesn't seem surprised at all by his surroundings, or by the tubes sticking out of his arm. So it's very likely he's been awake at least once since being removed to the recovery ward. His vision finally begins to focus, and his still-glassy eyes squint in Atia's direction; there's a half-hearted attempt to prop himself up, but a sudden burst of vertigo quickly puts an end to that idea. With a slight wince and a guttural sigh, he allows himself to slump back against the pillows. When he speaks, his croaking voice is on the hoarse side, but his tone is relaxed, without the strain that would suggest any great amounts of lingering pain. "That you, Major?" He sounds almost surprised to see her. Or mostly see her, at least, as his eyes are still a little on the blurry side.

Remember that face she made, the time he caught her smoking in her own office? The one that was all too reminiscent of being caught smoking in the bathroom by the sisters at the Athenian Academy in Caprica Ciy? Yeah. Yeah, her expression is something like that — stunned, well aware that she's been caught, but unsure of what to do with the evidence. She may not let out any invectives, but she doesn't really need to. They're all, the entire span of them, from every Colony under the four suns, right there, scrawled like ghetto graffiti across her normally elegant face. "Yes," she eventually replies, that single syllable somehow containing three notes.

The squint slowly fades, and Holtz blinks a few times, as if clearing the last bit of sleep-fogginess from his eyes. Again he tries pushing his uncooperative body to a sitting position; moving more deliberately this time, he manages to at least partly succeed. His attention turns back to Atia — and the slightly stunned look on her face — a moment later. "Your enthusiasm is heartwarmin'," he croaks… but at the same time, his finger points weakly in the direction of a stool sitting across from the bed next to the curtain. "You wanna sit down?" Without waiting for an answer, he clears his throat. Afterwards, his voice sounds a little less hoarse. "You're the first person I've seen. Orderly said Dolly came by yesterday, but I was conked out at the time." A snort. "Morpha's a wonderful thing, yeah?"

"Well, considering the fact that you were apparently absent the day that they lectured us in flight school about 'not being shot', I thought that I ought to come by and make sure you hadn't gone and died or anything equally serious," Atalanta retorts. My, my. Doesn't she sound awfully defensive for no apparent reason? "There is still a war on and if one of my squadron leaders is out of commission, I really don't have the luxury of taking my time in finding another." Honestly, the woman's about as warm as a blizzard sometimes. Still, she nudges the stool a few inches from its place and, after considering it for a moment, sinks down to perch atop. She rests her helmet on her lap, and her hands on it, laced together.

"Oh, I was there," Holtz retorts airily, the beginnings of a smirk tugging at his lips. "I just thought it was a whole lot of nonsense." He must be feeling better, if he's cracking jokes like that. Even bad ones. "Besides, I'm too godsdamn mean to die, or ain't you noticed? Damn toasters wanna end me, they gotta start shootin' a bit better'n that." The smirk widens infinitesimally, and he even manages a bit of a throaty chuckle to go along with it. "Sorry to inconvenience you, Major. I should be outta here to plague your existence once more in a few days or so, they tell me."

"If you need more time, take it," she replies, without so much as a hint of a smile. Maybe his joke wasn't that funny. Maybe — gods forbid — she actually is concerned. The only sign of it is the wrinkle that's formed in bridge of her nose, right between twin brows. "This is the second time in a month you've been in here, but this time, the old man hasn't clipped my wings. We'll somehow manage to limp along without you, I'm sure." The words are dry; so is her voice. "We have so far." It's a rather impressive half-truth, at least in its boldness. They've managed so far. Atalanta also looks like death walking. She's completely full of it, if she's trying to convince him it's been easy.

Holtz snorts derisively. "Like frak I will. As much as I enjoy these little enforced vacations, Major — " the sarcasm in his voice at that is thick enough to cut with a knife — "I'll pass." He narrows his eyes at her, a shrewd glint forming in his gaze. No, he hasn't missed the worn expression on her face. Or the dull, dark circles under her eyes. "Like frak," he repeats. "Tell me true… you think you'll 'limp along' any better with me in here, or with me on the line?" There's a double meaning in his words, if she cares to look for it. Or even acknowledge it.

"If you aren't ready to return to duty, Major, you're a liability, not an asset. And you'd say the same to any one of your pilots that was in here," Atalanta replies cripsly, cutting him off before he can even begin the protest she's anticipating. "Don't try to tell me otherwise; I'll know that you're lying to begin with, so it will be a wasted effort from the start." And there it is — the expression he ought to know so well, especially now. Brows arched, chin lifted, jaw set. Haughty. Proud. Stubborn. Stubborn as hell. Stubborn as him, almost.

Well, she's certainly starting to know him well. His mouth opens almost immediately to utter the very same protest she'd anticipated, but his jaw slams shut and his eyebrows knot in consternation when her crisply accented retort cuts him off. He glares at that implacable expression for a moment or two. "So," he says finally, trying a different tack, "have you had to start handing out stims yet?"

"Yes," she admits, knowing perfectly well that he's going to try and use it for the sake of making a stronger case. Fortunately, it seems he's only going to have so much time in which to do so, as she swiftly adds, "I'm due for my second dose shortly. I have another mission in," Atalanta cuts off, tilting her wrist to take a peek at time listed on her watch. "An hour, an hour and a half. Thereabouts. The supply of them has been holding steady, fortunately. As I understand it, they weren't being used regularly between now and War Day, so…," a shrug.

Holtz simply grunts at her answer to the question. That one word in and of itself is as strong a case as any argument he could make, and he knows it — and it seems she knows it, too. So he doesn't bother. "Not to worry, Major," he says finally, his head lolling back to face straight up, his eyes boring into the ceiling. "I won't push it. But I'm not stayin' cooped up in here a second longer'n I have to, neither." There's a brief pause, until finally he turns back to look at her, suddenly hesitant. "How're… you holdin' up?"

Her choice of answers to that question are many and varied. Ultimately, the one that she selects is somehow both incredibly impersonal and painfully telling, in a way that not many people would necessarily recognize. She drums her thumbs on her helmet — an impatient gesture, one she usually reserves for the launch tubes. Maybe it's the news. Maybe it's the drugs. (Maybe it's both… but mostly, the drugs.) "We've lost four thousand men so far, mostly over Aerilon and Caprica." Aerilon and Caprica, which were supposed to be feints while they assaulted and retook Picon. "Four ships in total, two over each planet. From the reports I've heard, Blackjack has lost sixty from the Raptor rosters alone."

That isn't what Holtz asked. Again, though, he doesn't push her… whether out of respect or, more likely, being just too damn tired. He sighs, eyes flicking to one side to the IV sticking out of his arm and the tube leading up to the bag of fluid hanging from a wheeled post. His attention turns back to her, though, as he hears the sound of her thumbs tapping against the helmet. "Well, at least they didn't die in vain, yeah?" It's the only consolation he can offer.

"They died fighting for Colonies that we knew we couldn't take — at least, not yet." Her lips purse into a pensive moue, one partially obscured by her slender hand when she reaches up to brush a few strands of hair back out of her eyes. Like the rest of Atalanta, they too are greasy, and could use a good scrub. A scrub she could probably be having now, if she were quick about it. If she weren't spending her time here, with him. "Not yet." The words, repeated, are both a lament and a vow. They're too thick, too heavy, to be anything else. "Believe me, Major, there will be plenty of fights left for you, even if you have to spend a few more days in here."

"No… they died giving us a better shot to take this one," Holtz corrects her mildly. He spreads his arms in a shrug. "And if they'd failed at doin' that, we wouldn't be sitting here talkin', yeah?" His own hand absently reaches up to rifle through his sleep-tousled hair, an unconscious almost-echo of her own movement. There's not much else he can think of to say to that, though, despite his efforts. Silence holds for a few seconds before he says, "Never doubted it. I'll be ready."

Atalanta stops for a moment. Even with all the uppers they've probably been pumping straight into her bloodstream, she stops, fidgeting and all. Her eyes, which had been wandering around the room at a speed t0o languid to really qualify as restless — whatever the underlying urge might be — stop dead on his face. She's tired — too tired to hide the look that's buried underneath her stare, slowly making its way to the surface. It's hard to quantify, really, likely because he's never seen it from her before. Something akin to… "I should go," she blurts out, shoving herself to her feet without warning or explanation.

Holtz's head snaps in her direction as she suddenly rises to her feet, and just as suddenly, an arm snaps out towards her, palm lifted as if to forestall her. His eyes flick to the upraised hand, as if surprised by his own movement, and his arm slumps, dangling over the side of the bed as he shifts his gaze back up to the ceiling and exhales, "Yeah, probably," he finally manages, his tone subdued.

"I'll be sure to let Lieutenant McBride know that you're awake; he's out over Picon right now, but…," she trails off, realizing that she's offering up more of an explanation than he really needs. More of an explanation than she really cares to give, honestly, when she'd rather be bolting straight for the door. So that's exactly what she does — she offers him a crips nod, quickly, so as to conceal the flicker of confusion on her face. And then she's gone, nothing but a retreating sliver glimpsed through the gap in the curtains.

Holtz doesn't reply; he simply waves that outstretched hand, as if to silently acknowledge what she's said. It's too late, though; when his head turns back in the direction of where she'd been standing, she's already gone, the only sign of her departure a slight wobble to the curtain where she'd brushed through the narrow opening. Sighing, he settles back into the thin cushion of the bed, eyes blinking a few times as he directs his stare back in the direction of the ceiling.

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