Alive and Aware


kayla_icon.gif veronica_icon.gif

Scene Title Alive and Aware
Synopsis Veronica continues to do what she's done ever since day one — scratch at Kayla in search of the quick. Sometimes more figuratively than others.
Date June 27, 2009

Fort Hero: Mess Hall

After paintballing and Len's announcement, Veronica disappeared for some time for a shower and a nap. Now it's evening and she's ready to blow this taco stand and head back to civilization. And a travel agent. She's gathered up the few items she brought with her and heads out of the facility to search out a few people to say goodbye to. She peeks her head into the "mess hall," and peers about, searching for Len or Curt or any of the agents she knows well enough to call friends, but none are in sight. She does, however, see Kayla and heads her way.

Paintballing isn't Kayla's thing even on a good day; today even less so. So while a number of agents have settled themselves into groups for bickering over the outcome of the exercise — or much gloating, in some cases — the aide has staked out a small table against one wall and has it all to herself, picking her way through dinner with only halfhearted attention. The rest of her attention is obviously not on her surroundings, as she doesn't seem to notice Veronica's approach.

Veronica grabs a water bottle from a nearby stand of beverages on her way over and slides into the seat across from the aide. "Hey, kid," she tells the woman who is only a year or two younger than her. "Don't worry, I won't harass you for long, if you're not feeling like talking or even if you're not feeling like sitting there and ignoring me," the brunette agent says in mock cheerful tones as she unscrews the cap of her water bottle. She lifts the bottle to her lips and drinks for a long moment. She's a bit dehydrated but a little less sleep-deprived after a couple of hours of a nap. "I'm probably heading out, go book myself a trip, and get the hell outta dodge, so I wanted to say goodbye in case I don't see you for a few weeks."

Kayla looks up as Veronica gets close, nodding once in greeting. She sets her fork down on her plate and regards the agent as the woman speaks. Vee might be less sleep-deprived now; Kayla, if anything, seems more so, gray eyes dark and the rings under them darker still. "You did the paintball thing today?" she asks, bypassing both potential conversation points Vee raised.

"I'm not sure I had a choice," Veronica points out. "If I had, I'd have been sleeping. Or trying to." She re-caps her water, her fingers then fiddling with the label which is soggy from being in ice. She begins to tear the paper away, clearly a bit restless. "It was a pain in the butt. Literally," Veronica adds, before nodding toward Kayla. "How are you feeling today?"

"So I gather," Kayla replies, her tone dry. Her gaze falls to Vee's water bottle, watching the agent fidget away the label. How is she feeling. How is she feeling? "Tired, I guess." Her reply is, as though it takes too much energy to summon the usual offense. The healer looks away, at the wall, down to her plate, falling quiet for a bit. "Where are you going?" she finally asks.

"Anywhere but here?" Veronica offers back, with raised brows. "I made a joke to Minea, before she left us… about Costa Rica. Now it's sounding really good. Go surfing… lay on a beach… have some guy named Raul bring me pina coladas… that sort of thing." Like she's the sunbathing in a cabana type. "Somewhere that doesn't have smog and radiation poisoning and Triad thugs and time travelers, you know?" She gives a weak smile to Kayla.

Regarding Veronica as she speaks, Kayla nods once, not managing to echo the smile. "I guess that would be anywhere else." She doesn't know Veronica well enough to comment on how the premise doesn't fit with Sawyer — and prefers it that way. At least mostly. "Have fun, then." Since she came here to say goodbye.

"Right. Thanks," Veronica says, having neatly torn off the label in little strips she now shuffles together into a pile. "What about you? Staying here?" she asks curiously. She said she wouldn't stay long, but for some reason there's something about Kayla that Veronica wants to get at — like an itch you can't scratch.

Kayla looks sidelong at Veronica, then nods once. "Yeah," she replies. Picking her fork back up, she pushes pieces of carrot around on the plate for a bit, then shrugs. "Even with most of the agents going on vacation, there's enough to be done." Which is only half an answer, and the poorer one at that.

"You don't have to stay and work. If you don't have somewhere to go… come with me. Get away from this and the memories and all for a bit," Veronica says. Maybe it's the mask that bothers her — it's too much like the one that Veronica wears all the time. Never letting anyone in. We tend to dislike the flaws in others that we know we have in ourselves, after all. "I'll teach you how to surf."

Kayla looks over the table at Veronica, gaze hooded as she considers the offer. Studies it, an array of subtle changes parading across her expression accordingly. Ultimately, though, the answer is inevitable. "No… I don't think so," the woman replies. A beat of silence follows. "Not this time."

She hadn't meant to add that.

That's more than Veronica expected. She tilts her head at the other woman and watches her quietly for about as long as Kayla waited to answer. It's an awkward moment, and that's what Veronica intends. Finally she nods. "Well. I'll be checking my voice mail from time to time. So… if you need to chat or decide you want to get away, the offer will stand." She stands, too, at that, and glances down at Kayla. "I don't usually try, you know. Most people… if they don't care, I care even less."

It is awkward, and Kayla doesn't quite look at Veronica while she endures the other woman's silence. Unfortunately, there are no takebacks. She nods as the agent stands, and the woman's further words earn her a sharp glance, one with a bit more ire than Kayla has summoned at any point thus far. Making up for her moment of weakness, no doubt. "What? Is that supposed to make me feel special?" Perhaps the better question is why me, then.

"Does it? Make you feel special?" Veronica asks, a little smirk curving her lips up at the corners. "I don't know what it's supposed to do, Kayla, besides get some sort of sign from you whether I should try or not. I mean… I can handle it if you dislike me. Go ahead and hate me. You won't be the first. And I get that you're holding stuff back and that you have walls up. I'm the queen of walls myself. But I can't figure out if you really want me to act like I don't give a shit about you and just ignore you like everyone else does, or if I should keep trying and keep offering to be here if you decide you want to talk to someone."

Kayla looks sidelong at Veronica's smirk, unsurprisingly not amused. She lets Vee say her piece, and then it's Kayla's turn to stand up. "No. It doesn't." And although she was the first one at the table, it's Kayla who is the first to leave, striding towards the door without a single glance back. She doesn't, right now, care if Veronica concludes that means Kayla hates her — now seems to be the time to beat a retreat.

Veronica follows — not to chase Kayla down, but because she's the only one in the room Veronica wanted to talk to, and well, the other door is way on the other side of the mess hall. "Offer still stands, Kid," she tosses to Kayla as Kayla makes it to the hallway and Vee turns to head the other way. "I'll show you how to surf or rock climb or scuba dive or sky dive. Take your pick of a dangerous activity to remind you that you're alive and celebrate that fact."

Is she following me? Of course not, but that doesn't stop the thought from flashing through Kayla's mind. In the hall, she pivots around on one foot, and the briefly visible expression is neither masked nor fatigued; what it is isn't easily categorized. Ire, perhaps, and incredulity; deep beneath those, something more akin to despair. "I'm well aware that I'm alive," the woman snaps, before turning again and continuing away. Celebration, apparently, is out of the question.

Aha. Emotion. Maybe it's because Veronica's own stoic nature has been rocked by the events of the past months, but it seems that is what she's trying to get at — the emotions underneath Kayla's mask. Veronica nods once. "Being aware isn't enough," she calls down the hall. A couple of people in the mess hall peer out curiously at the strange interaction between the quiet receptionist and Agent Sawyer. The brunette agent shrugs and heads the opposite direction.

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