|Summary: Healing Care visits Louise. A friendship is borne out of misery..?|
Louise Halevy is no longer quite sure what to feel. Increasingly, she just feels like the best thing to do would be to 'check out' a little bit -- to just become a particularly effective cog in the A-LAWS machine, to try to ignore the fact that the once-tight GNX team has more or less collapsed like a Jenga tower.
Then again, she thinks, that might not be honoring the commitment that Louise has made -- to Ribbons, to Revive... to Leo, as much as she isn't sure she wants to think about that right now. It's a difficult balance to strike, between 'being what she needs to be' and 'having any room to exist on her own.'
Right now she is just trying not to think about it. She is /also/ trying to eat whatever wretched processed food is currently dragging the Federation through its food crisis.
"Ah ah ah~"
From...somewhere in Louise Halevy's general vicinity does an oddly feminine voice chime up, a melodic lilt in her tone as she--presumably, anyway--approaches. It comes from behind rather, perhaps startling due to the fact it seems OUT OF NOWHERE and quite sudden. Still, the tone seems pleasant, almost friendly.
...and would be, were it from anyone else.
"I don't think you and I have every really /met/ before."
Healing Care stands in A-LAWS issue fatigues, looking quite androgynous with her short-cropped green hair and eerie resemblance to Louise's pusherman, Ribbons Almark. The girl(?) grins brightly before violet eyes blink once. She snaps her gloved fingers as smoothly as one can actually SNAP fingers through gloves.
"I remember you!" she chimes. "You were First Lieutenant Peries' date!" A cheerful laugh follows.
Folding her arms behind her, the young androgynous figure moves around Louise very much like a shark circles its prey. "Huuuuh, I can see why he likes you," she notes, giving Louise a looking-over from head to toe--then pointedly at her chest. "He really /does/ like 'em big."
Pausing briefly, the young woman exhales with a seemingly sincere pout.
"Oh, that's right, you're not really his favorite any more, are you?"
That frame, that short-cropped pastel hair -- for a minute, Louise actually thinks that Ribbons has come to see her, once she gets over the initial startle of 'being ambushed.' Something's off about the whole situation, of course -- and it's not until Healing speaks for more than a few seconds that she fully processes that Healing Care is who she is.
Rather than get indignant about the comments about her being Lieutenant Peries' date (arguably she was) or the comments about 'him' (presumably Leo) liking them big, the Warrant Officer does what she does best, and what she's been doing with almost anyone who isn't Leo lately.
"I don't know what you're talking about," Louise says. Unfortunately for her, to Healing, someone who can not only sense quantum brainwaves but is paired with Ribbons, is likely on the same wavelength that he and Louise so often share, the Warrant might as well be wearing a giant neon sign that says "I'M LYING."
She drags her fork through the horrible Velveeta-and-rice concoction, shaking her head. "You must have some other girl confused with me," she adds, as if that makes her lie any less obvious. "
She doesn't know what Healing is talking about, says Louise Halevy.
The shark-like smile on the young "Cyber Newtype" girl's face grows just a bit further.
"Oh, that's too bad, because it's the news /all over/ the Shirogane and, why even the Blanc Rival! Goodness, I'd dare say it's news all through A-LAWS proper!" Lifting a hand to her pale cheek, the short young woman just peers at Louise as she pokes into her Velveeta-rice dish. Confused with another girl?
That's a big lie--it doesn't take her being an Innovade or being in-synch with Almark to know that.
Snaking her way around and behind Louise, the young Captain just stands, peering down at the back of her blonde head. "Hum, that's a shame, though. Why are you lying to me, Warrant Officer Halevy? You know lying is a terrible thing. You're almost as bad as Stenbuck!" Exhaling in mock-disappointment, the young woman just shakes her head. The sound of footfalls moving around behind Louise happen--then stop.
A set of gloved hands fall upon Louise's shoulders as the young "Cyber Newtype" leans in near her ear. The smile is all but palpable, felt in the air in such close proximity and in her tone. It reeks of ill intent as the young woman quietly murmurs, "So I hear he hit you. You know, he /never/ hit Ralla Traln Triald. Can you believe that? He'd hit a pretty girl like you, but some doll he'd just go off and covet and cherish and get all worked up over."
Leaning her head close to Louise's, Healing's warm breath can be felt on her bare neck.
"If /I/ were you, I would never forgive that man for being so /inconsiderate/. You're better than some doll, aren't you? You're /special/, because Ribbons /likes you/. He knows you have potential. You're not like that unstable /jerk/ who hits people and then tries to apologize and 'make things better.' You...you're /definitely/ Ribbons' favorite. You know that, right?"
In spite of herself, Louise begins to turn bright red, first at the mention that the gossip is making the rounds, then again as the Captain plants her hands on Louise's shoulders. She recoils, but not nearly enough to actually get out of Healing "Sexual Harassment" Care's TERRIFYING GRASP.
There's that distinction between herself and Ralla again -- Revive brought it up, too. Leo hit her. Sweet, wounded-but-none-the-worse-for-wear Louise gets hit, and Ralla, scarred-up and practically mindless, takes up all of Leo's attention. Still is, even after being gone for -- weeks, now. She wants to believe in him -- after all, they're a pair -- but everyone around her except for Leo thinks better of it.
It's not until Healing begins buttering Louise up, begins telling her the /real/ reason she shouldn't forgive him, that the conversation starts to become palatable. Maybe even comfortable. As awful as it is to think that her relationship with Leo -- Leo, who'd been so kind once, who'd offered to fight the fight that at the time she couldn't -- is damaged beyond repair... her relationship with Ribbons is different, and in some ways, more important. Leo is ultimately human -- a human poised to take that next step, to lead humanity into a better tomorrow -- but a human nonetheless, with all the flaws that entails. If he stumbles, he was never really worth it. Ribbons /is/ that next step. Ribbons is incapable of being anything /but/ worth it.
"We've been trying to move forward," Louise says, quietly. "But... maybe you're right. Maybe I can't forgive him until he proves he can help make that new world -- the world Ribbons wants." Healing, for all that she's a creepy predator, for all that she's invading Louise's personal space, for all that that warm breath is a little disconcerting, hits all the right notes -- notes that Ribbons and even Revive have already done such a good job of making sure she hears and responds to, at that.
She does not respond to the comment on whether she's the favorite of their pair; to her, that'd almost be presumptuous. She does give a vague nod, but gives no firm answer.
The recoil, however slight, is noted--and only serves to further fuel the girl's whims.
Certainly, Healing Care is more than aware of what both Ribbons and Revive have been up to with this young woman. While Ribbons Almark reminds the ever-considerate and 'caring' sort, Revive Revival's work has been far more sinister--which only makes all of this that much more exciting to Healing Care. Putting humans against one another, taking advantage of their strife, both physical and emotional?
It's too delicious to just let pass by.
"That's right," notes Healing softly, so near the young woman's neck. "You shouldn't waste your time with him. He's too hung up on the past, on material things like some /doll/ to be capable enough for Ribbons." Drumming her fingers lightly against Louise's shoulders through her uniform, the young predator continues quietly. "You, on the other hand...maybe that's why he hit you? Because he knows that, unlike /him/, /you/ are the one who is progressing. He privately resents you for your advances while he continues to lag behind, sure to drown."
Still grinning, Healing continues quietly. "I dare say that someone like Stenbuck is incapable of proving himself capable of making the world Ribbons hopes for.
"Don't forget that, either." Leaning back a touch from Louise's throat, Healing seems to offer the blonde woman /some/ comfortable distance. "You're /better/ than some little doll. You're vastly superior to some silly soulless Cyber Newtype. You're on the path to human evolution- -steps and bounds ahead of Stenbuck. Next time he hits you--"
Healing Care's fingers tense a bit, an almost painful gesture against Louise's waif shoulders, her tone suddenly laced with what sounds like venom and spite--and what could very well pass as eagerness.
"Hit 'em in the teeth."
Even if not all of Healing's words quite ring true for Louise -- part of her need to feel close to Leo deals with something deeper than the sort of teenage desires that fuel Leo's need to be close with... every woman he comes in contact with -- some of them do, which may be more dangerous than having the Warrant take everything Healing says at face value.
"I think that he has the potential... and I'd like to bring that out," Louise admits to Healing, finally dropping her fork; it slides off the rim of her bowl, settling into the rice. She doesn't notice; she'll have to dig it out later. "But you're right -- as he is, he needs more guidance. He's not heading in the right direction."
Maybe I should talk to Ribbons himself about this, Louise thinks. Maybe it'd be presumptuous... but if he needs to be put back on track, Ribbons will know how, and if he's truly too damaged to walk that path...
... Louise doesn't think about that right now. Louise doesn't think about lots of inconvenient things.
Healing's words prompt the Warrant to show a little more spine against those tense fingers. Hit him back, huh...? She could almost certainly do it; most of her comrades, except for the increasingly incomprehensible Leo, would probably say it'd be the right thing.
"... maybe I will," she says to Healing, with a nod. She appends, perhaps realizing what she just said, "But only if I have to."
"It's sweet of you--really," the Captain notes with a Cheshire's grin. "Perhaps you're right...maybe that silly boy has potential and /maybe/ it can be brought out. But if he keeps travelling this destructive path, well." Shrugging her thin shoulders casually, Healing's once-taut fingers relax.
"I'd say he's quite /expendable/." The tone implies the obvious.
Letting Louise's shoulders go (finally), Healing Care takes a step back and crosses her arms over her chest, one gloved hand gently cupping at her cheek. "Hmm, well," she notes, eyes hooded as she smiles. "Maybe it'd be in your best interests to voice your concerns to Ribbons? You know he's /always/ there for you." Lifting her hand off her face, she waves it casually about.
"And, I think, that's Stenbuck's problem: he doesn't /talk/. He's too stubborn and /too/ proud to actually speak up when something's wrong. So he bottles it all up, then--" Letting her arms shoot forward off her chest, Healing exclaims, "BLAM!"
A short pause follows, and Healing's hands fall to her hips.
"He lashes out at everyone who does /not/ deserve it.
"Don't wind up like /that/ loser."
Grinning at the thought of Louise actually /hitting/ Leo, Healing Care's violet eyes shift toward the ceiling above her head. "Just because you're a /girl/ doesn't mean you have to take being slapped around like some pitiful doll." Smirking, she notes. "You're better than some manufactured girl. /You're/ actually /human/. For /now/."
Stepping back a few paces, Healing's hands remain akimbo on her tiny hips. "Speaking of the doll, I'm sure you're aware that I'm field commander in charge of tracking her down, dead or alive." If she has her way, it'd ideally be 'dead.'
"/I/ think you should help me out, because I think it's the only way you're going to find any sort of resolution with that jerk Stenbuck. And, who knows?" Grinning a toothy grin, she notes, "If she's turned traitor to the Crusaders or something, maybe /you/ can be the one to shoot her treacherous ass down and finally get the respect you deserve..?"
Human now -- and someday, perhaps, something better. Stronger. Less fragile, less pliant to the coercive forces of fate.
Though what Louise seeks isn't the respect of her fellow soldiers, there's something seductive about Healing's words. If Ralla defected -- that'd almost be perfect, wouldn't it? She doubts it; she imagines the girl is dead by this point, of course. Still, after all of Leo's carrying on, there's something seductive about the idea of her returning under the mantle of the Divine Crusaders, being shot down, and neatly taken care of.
It'd certainly make Leo's little outburst look a whole lot worse.
"He really is very withdrawn," Louise agrees with Healing, not talking about the elaborate and curious pseudo-revenge interlude Healing led her to. "He seemed very bothered by the necklace that Commander Revival gave me, but he didn't say a thing; he just told me to leave." Maybe someday he'll hit her for /that/, too?
Locking not just her eyes but the sum of her body language onto Captain Care, she affirms, "If you want me as a wingmate for tracking her down, Captain Care, I will look forward to it."
Studying Louise's responses carefully, the predatory-like Healing Care just continues to grin as Louise ponders the could-be's and potential outcomes that lay in store. In her mind she knows well that the idea of shooting Ralla down is a tempting offer; after all, she obviously /cares/ for Leo, and being second best--maybe even third, or forth--is not a glamorous feeling. It doesn't take being human to know that much.
So, Healing Care just continues to smile to herself.
"Of course he would be," notes the young, green-haired girl with a point of her finger into the air. "He sees it like some 'other man's' mark on what /he/ thinks is /his/ property. You're a woman, not some toy for his whims." Moving her hand to her hip once more, the girl just shifts her weight from one foot to the other.
"He's like some dog in heat. He's content to wander around and mark what he thinks is his, and if you give him an inch he'll slap you a mile." Shaking her head, the young Captain folds her arms across her chest, withdrawing slightly.
"I-I'm not speaking entirely without experience," notes the young woman.
"I've been there before too, you know." Frowning, her expression seems sincere, honest.
"That /doll/, he always saw her as better than me, too. Those two...I know those two have slept together in the past. Don't let him lie to you. I'm sure of it--several times in his office, even!"
Dropping her arms, she seems to plead, "I mean it, you're not alone. He's hit me too!"
Pausing briefly, the girl seems to struggle in holding back her tears. But then, with a sharp exhale, she sags her shoulders and looks to her gloved hands. "I feel like we're kindred spirits. That's why I want you to be my wingmate in this, Warrant Officer Halevy."
On the one hand, Healing's claims seem -- ridiculous, at first blush. Why would Leo even hit her? How would she know that he'd slept with her? After all those predatory looks and all that careful studying... why would Healing suddenly open up?
Then again -- Louise isn't really that critical, at heart. Right now, her faith in Leo is shaken, where her faith in Ribbons -- and by extension, Healing, Ribbons's twin and enforcer -- is and always has been almost eerily stalwart. When Healing tells her of all these horrible things... she believes them.
Louise finds her appetite slipping away in what might best be described as revulsion. She turns to Healing, saying, "... Then I'll do it," a little more firmly than before. "As long as Leo isn't on the missions, I'll work right alongside you, Captain. I mean... if he's that worked up, I don't know if we can really trust him to deal with anything that might happen on those missions." He was already relieved of command -- Revived of command, one might say -- because of this situation; /surely/ he can't handle missions involving it.
"I'm sorry," she adds, after a few moments of awkward silence. "If I'd known he had hurt you like that, Captain, I wouldn't have let him off so easily the last time I spoke with him." She can't exactly... /un/-let him off, /again/, but Healing's words are something she'll definitely take into consideration the next time she deals with Stenbuck.
Well, as odd as it may seem, Healing Care is at least convincing, what with her small and less-than imposing stature. Why WOULD she open up? Well, it could be argued that her behaviors are a coping mechanism or some other convenient excuse. Either way, it appears Captain Care is being sincere and candid with Ms. Halevy.
When Louise agrees to help, Healing's once-sad and distraught features seem to shift. Smiling sincerely now, she looks to the blonde woman with bright eyes. "R-really? You will? Oh, thank you," the Captain notes, hands coming together at her chest. "Thank you very much. I'll do what I can to see to it that we operate in these missions without Stenbuck; after all, him being there would be a liability to all available forces."
Which is true.
At the addendum, Healing offers a lopsided grin. "It's okay. Stuff like that...you know, you don't really come out with." Shrugging her shoulders gingerly, the green-haired girl just casts her glance aside before she adds, "It's the thought that means the most. Really."
Looking back to Louise, Healing Care offers what appears a genuine smile. "Hey, I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings. I...just wasn't sure if I could really trust you, you know? But now..." The girl nods once. "Yes, I think I can trust you. I just hope you can trust me, Warrant Officer Halevy."
Stepping back, she offers the other woman a crisp salute.
"Thank you for your time, miss Halevy. I will get in touch with you soon...ah..."
Offering another sincere and seemingly sheepish smile, she adds,
"S-sorry if your dinner got cold. I owe you one."
Bowing her head politely, she will excuse herself, unless the Warrant Officer stops her. The moment her back turns, however, the look on her face is incredibly disgusted. Humans.
Nodding to Captain Care, Louise says, "Maybe we can eat together some time." Definitely better to call in any future meal favors with Revive or Captain Healing than /Leo/, at this rate. "Let me know if we manage to line up a search for Ensign Triald, Captain." She /was/ an ensign, right? Louise honestly can't force herself to care enough to remember, at this point.
As Healing makes her exit, Louise turns her attention back to her meal at long last. She still doesn't feel like she has much of an appetite -- but it's getting near the end of the day, she realizes, and she /does/ need to eat.
Fishing her fork out of the bowl, she finds herself reflecting on Captain Care's words -- and wondering if Leo tried to use /her/, too. The look on her face is incredibly disgusted.