Simple Human Contact


megan_icon.gif ryans3_icon.gif

Scene Title Simple Human Contact
Synopsis Sometimes you just need a hug and maybe a morality check, too.
Date December 10, 2011

Pollepel Island, Bannerman's Castle

The room being used as medbay has people sick with Evo flu in it. Megan is keeping the Evo helpers who usually lend their hands OUT of the medbay as much as possible. Better to not even chance any of them getting sick. There are enough non-Evos on the island that she’s currently okay for help… although if the illness spreads too far, she’ll be overwhelmed by the numbers.

For now, though, she is just overworked. Which seems to be the normal state of affairs for the redhead. Coming out of the medbay through the plastic she’s hung over the door as a makeshift iso ward, she strips off her gloves and dumps them in a plastic bin. Then she makes her way into the hall where none of the patients can see her and leans back against it, her head tipped up. Ibuprofen isn’t touching the headache she is now sporting. And God knows, for all that she’s only an occasional smoker now, she’s wishing for a spare moment to go outside and indulge that vice. She’s given up on the idea of kicking the habit completely.

When there is a murderer on the lose it is probably not a good idea to sneak up on someone, especially, someone who is proficient with a scalpel. So there is weight to the footsteps of Benjamin Ryans, booted heels thumping softly against the stone flooring. He doesn’t exactly look like a man who does dangerous things for a living. His hair has gotten a little shaggy again, his jaw stubbled with some greying hairs. Not that he really cares mind you.

His ability to really care what people think of him or his looks left even before they ended up trap in Malcolm’s shield. Even the sleeves of his maroon flannel button up are rolled to his elbows, leaving his bandaged arm out for the world to see.

“Council was wondering if you have a report for them?” His words are gentle, softly spoken in the hall… possibly tinged with concern. When she looks at him, she finds Ben watching her – blue-eyes studying her face in the lowlights of the space. “Though, I think right now, the more important question would be… how are you holding up?”

Her head is already turning in the direction of the booted feet. She knows the gait well by now, so when he rounds the corner near her and walks closer, Megan’s already working on composing her features to not show the headache. If she hoped that the semi-darkness would be enough to hide anything from the sharp-eyed man who co-runs Special Activities… she should have known better.

“Well enough,” is the reply he gets to her own well-being. Blue eyes are shadowed as she takes in the look of the man. Hard to believe what’s going on around them. “You need another haircut,” she observes, apropos of nothing. It’s just a random thought that popped into her head and she’s fuzzy enough with headache to not censor herself as well as usual.

The comment catches him off-guard, there is a brief moment where he kind of just stares at her. Of all the things… But then the fingers of his good hand move to comb back the few locks that have fallen to brush his forehead. It is a futile effort, but hey he tried. “Well, maybe when this is all over you can help me out with that.” Maybe. It hangs there between them.

Instead of dwelling on himself and his looks, Ryans steps to the side, snagging the plastic across the door. “What is the count up to?” He hates asking it, but it was after all what he was here to do. The plastic is moved aside just enough to get a look at the makeshift infirmary. His features seem to darken when he notes the increase of bodies.
That wasn’t good.

She gives him the number in a flat tone. They’ve seen it before, and they were warned they might see it again. She leans her head back against the wall again, eyes mostly closed. “It’s … going to be bad, Ben.” She’s not going to be able to save all of them. Maybe not even some of them.

She’s quiet for a long moment while he looks over the infirmary, and then she says, “You should let me do it now. When you’re shooting things, shoving your hair back is the last thing you need to be doing.” It’s a stupid thing to worry about. But … it’s something she can fix. She doesn’t push off the wall to maneuver him into doing what she suggested, though, which is probably also a giveaway that she’s more than just physically tired. Heartsore is perhaps a better word.

When he looks back at her, though, she tilts her head just a little to avoid meeting his eyes. Maybe, for a second, uncomfortable that she’s taken liberties today like swatting his hand off the scratching or even observing aloud that he needs another haircut. Or maybe just that she doesn’t want him to read pain in her expression, because it’s not like he can fix it. Maybe it’s just better to change the subject altogether. “Those of us who survive the bombardment when the field comes down… I wonder if they’ll rebuild a new Ferry. Or if we’ve crossed the line and become what we are fighting.”

He might have comment on the offer of a haircut, but the mention of lines crossed… Ben falls silent as he lets the plastic curtain fall into place again. “I wish I had an answer to that.” In the current situation, all the old man could do is focus on each minute and not think too far beyond the walls of the dome.
Had they crossed a line?

Ryans didn’t really know how to answer that either, but he has experience in these sorts of things. Turning slow, fingers reach out to gently touch her arm, curling around it to give comfort. “Sometimes, Megan… Good men, must sometimes cross lines to do what is right.” He did and that was why he was standing there now, but he doesn’t add that. “The difference between us and them? We don’t want to have to do it and we find no joy in the tasks.” — Okay, maybe there was a touch of satisfaction when he put that final bullet in Harper’s brain – “That poor telepath, she knows what needs to be done, but I guarantee you… she isn’t enjoying any of it. But… she’ll do it though, cause it is the right thing to do. “

Ben holds up a hand to forestall her speaking up, just yet. He started down this road, he was going to complete his thoughts.

“I had been a part of an organization that was viewed as something evil by people like them.” The Company. “Even headed it for a time.” Though he might have told her about his ties to the organization, he never dropped that last bomb. “It started out with good intentions, help those who had the gene, but also contain those who would cause pain to the world. It was even founded by individuals with those same genes. However, it cracked under the strain, I believe.” And he does. The Institute just finished the job. “Stopped being about helping and more about power over those we once protected.”

Ryans looks away when he admits all that. He hadn’t like it, but he was a part of it.

“I walked away, stepped back over the line, and into the Ferry.” There is a small quirk of a smile, “I guess having Bennet here helped that decision.”

“Luckily,” He starts, head nodding slowly at his own thoughts, “we haven’t hit that point yet. What we are doing here and now, isn’t about power, it is about protecting these people.”

Megan is quiet as he talks, absorbing what he says and the way he says it. Quietly, her eyes level on his face, the redhead tells him simply, “I know.” Those two simple words hold a wealth of understanding. Making the hard decisions, the right decisions, is something they’ve all had to face, to agonize over, to hope that they’re going to come out all right in the end — she has to decide at times who can be saved when medicines are low. It’s perhaps not the same at all, but she still has to do it. “The choices no one wants to make still have to be made. I just… wonder how many compromises we can make before it’s too many,” she admits softly.

The hand wrapped around her arm was registered even as he did it, and then he held it up to keep her from interrupting. Megan hesitates and then asks, “Would you mind if I overstepped a more personal line for just a minute?”

Though she knows, sometimes even former soldiers need a reminder. He has needed it a time or two himself. “I can only hope that we will know the signs when that does happen.” It is the only comfort that Ryans can offer in that regard. Neither of them are in a position that offers any type of easy choices.

Then it is on to personal… personal makes the former Company agent uncomfortable. Shoulders tightening a little, he stands still… Curious about why she wants to go there. This means he hesitates, tempted to say yes, but… “Go ahead,” is said softly instead, Ben’s hand gesturing for her to proceed.

It’s not nearly as bad as he might fear. The step she takes is tentative, uncertain of his reaction, and then she simply wraps her arms around his waist and rests her ear on his chest. It might occur to him that in all the time they’ve known one another, she’s generally either alone or working. And she’s good at what she does. But everyone needs a little human contact once in a while, and Huruma’s kindness earlier when she was being scanned broke a small chink in the wall that the redhead keeps around herself. She doesn’t seem to be looking for anything specifically from him, though there’s a tension about her that indicates she expects momentarily he’ll step away and reject the contact. She’s prepared for that — she just takes whatever time he might grant her to listen to the firm, reassuring sound of a heartbeat next to her ear.

He is a little stunned, he can admit it. Arms lift away a little as her arms slide around his waist, and seems hesitant as her head rests on his chest; staring down at that mop of red curls. It brings back some memories for the older man. That is not Megan’s fault though and he recognizes what she needs from him, that simple human contact.
The fact that he needed it too, surprises him a little, since he has been so focused on the tragedies around them. Benjamin’s arms fold around her smaller form, gently, holding her there and offering her the comfort she needs. With her ear pressed against his chest, Megan will hear him draw in a breath before it is let out in a soft sigh, before she feels his chin resting lightly on the top of her head.

She almost pulls away, but there’s a sense of relief when he wraps both arms around her. Just standing in a corridor, hugging someone is not something she’s ever been seen doing around here. The subtle tremor that runs through her form when he lets her remain there is palpable, but Megan doesn’t say anything. She holds him back just as much as he’s holding her, and it seems like it might be a long time though she’s not sure she could say how long they stood there.

Finally, though, she turns her face so her forehead rests in that space between his collarbones — she’s only just barely a head shorter than he, a fact that neither of them may have noticed before. It lets her comfortably rest there beneath his chin and perhaps subtly wipe a couple of tears she doesn’t want anyone to notice. “Thank you,” she murmurs, reluctant to step back from the embrace. Still, she doesn’t want to make him more uncomfortable than he probably already is. And so she moves to step back, to give him his personal space, clearing her throat a little.

He doesn’t stop her from pulling back, arms sliding away, though fingers and… well, his wrist… rest on her shoulders. Fingers giving a gentle squeeze. He doesn’t comment on the wiping of tears, just offers a small smile, when she finally looks at him. “No need for thanks, Megan.” He means it. “We are all human, even you, no matter what the rumors say of you.” His attempt at lightening the mood a little.

Only after he brushes a callused thumb across her damp cheek does he let her go and take a few steps back himself. Had he meant to do that, it is hard to say, as he has slipped back into the his role.

“You need rest,” Ryans rumbles out as more of an order then a request. “Let the others take it for a little bit. Give yourself a break.” He glances above them as if he could see beyond the floors above to the dome overhead. “It’s only going to get worse before it gets better.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Megan retorts. “Tell you what, Mighty Leader of Men. You get some rest and let the others take it for a bit, and I will too.” She peers at him, an amused smile quirking one corner of her mouth despite the clouded blue eyes. It’s easier to see the lines of strain that are still present now when she’s trying to be lighter-hearted. “And if you lie to me, I’ll shave you bald when I trim your hair this time,” she teases.

Pulling in a deep breath, she winces slightly, though, a hand coming up to rub her temple. “I will get some rest… I need to see if I can get rid of these halos before I retch,” she admits. “I wish a good masseuse had decided to come live on this godforsaken rock.”

There is a soft chuckle with the mention of a masseuse, “There are probably others that feel the same way.” Ben shakes his head, looking at least somewhat amused — probably at the idea of someone on the island doing that. No doubt there would be a line.

There is no promise made that he will rest, but he will. Instead, Ryans inclines his head to her, hand lifting to give her a mock salute, two fingers touching his forehead and flicked away. “I’ll see you in the morning, Ms. Young.”

There’s a brief nod, and Megan seems to weigh her words. It’s not something she often does — either keeping her thoughts to herself most of the time or simply letting loose with either orders or invective (when necessary), so the caution here might draw his attention. “Benjamin… have you put a guard on Kaylee?” Her blue eyes, wary and, now that he knows what he’s seeing, rather pained from the headache, meet his. Whether some of the others on the island understand it, Megan’s very clear on the fact that Kaylee is now a threat to whoever is the murderer.

His retreated is halted by the question.

Turning back, looks cast over his shoulder, Benjamin actually looks surprised that she would have to ask that at all. His own blue-eyes meet hers, though they seem more like a storm grey in the low light of the hallway.

“Of course.” Ryans doesn’t supply any more of an answer then that, not trusting that he won’t say something he’ll regret later.

She notes the surprise and smiles faintly. “I would have been surprised by any other answer, but…” Megan trails off and then shakes her head slightly. She had to ask it, almost a compulsion to be certain of it for Kaylee’s sake. “I … don’t know how many more betrayals of this magnitude we can withstand,” she admits quietly. “Our faith in one another is being eroded, little by little.” She sighs heavily, biting her lip a moment. “Are we going to kill them?” she finally asks him, uncertain whether she wants this answer but needing it. Her tone holds no judgement, she’ll clearly back him either way. But her eyes are troubled.

There is a moral dilemma in that question, or at least on his part. Their world is so much different than it was before the explosion in midtown. There are no Level – 5 detention blocks anymore. A place to safely put a person with abilities…. If the killer had them. “That is not for me to decide.” What he is saying is the council will decide the fate of the killer. His tone might give an idea of where he thinks the direction of their choice might go. “My job is to bring them the accused.”

However…. “If they ask for my council.” Ryans sighs heavily, fingers bracketing his nose briefly. He has been thinking this over. “I would have to vote in favor of it.” Fingers drop away so he can look at Megan again, somewhat apologetic. “We are playing with too many lives. Sacrifice the one for the good of the whole.” The words feel like ash on his tongue, he doesn’t like saying them.

He might find it interesting that her reaction is neither positive nor negative… it is merely acceptance and some level of relief. “Thank you for telling me,” Megan says quietly. “I don’t deal well with waiting for the other shoe to drop in that regard. I needed to know what to expect to see, if possible.” And perhaps… whether to shoot to kill if she has to. If there is a sense of resignation to her tone? It’s probably exactly the response she’d expected from him — and she isn’t going to argue his decision. Perhaps, if rumors ever made it to his ears, a similar argument with Scott Harkness made her have to evaluate where she was going to stand in all of this.

She pulls in a breath, straightens her shoulders, and then nods. “Go get some sleep yourself, please. And I’ll see you in the morning to rewrap your arm and cut your hair, if you like.” The redhead’s calm is firmly in place.

Though he doesn’t show it, Ryans is relieved that he doesn’t have to argue with her, particularly, about the decision that the council will have to make or his stance on the matter. He can only give a slow nod of his head in acknowledgement to her orders. “As you wish, Ms. Young.”

He offers her a small smile as he turns away and heads back down the hall, off on this next task. Whether, Benjamin follows her advice. Well, that is for him to know.

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