Location: Quarantine (Conference Room)
"Twenty-two... twenty-three... twenty-four..."
The numbers rattled off in Ash's mind. The rigors of the road behind him and the understanding that meals would be significantly more regular, at least for a while, gave way to the thought that he didn't want to get soft. Neglect of personal upkeep was not something that Ash wanted to make habit. With the regular calories, a thing to which he was not fully acclimated yet, he had regained reserves of energy that begged to be utilized. In this case, pushups. Hence, the counting. Sometimes spoken and sometimes not, sporadically. Maybe he was vocalizing to distract himself from the thoughts that kept pinging around inside of his head. Thoughts of the day that Newnan fell and almost all of the days since then. "Thirty... thirty-one... thirty-two..."
He still had it. Hell, the last chunk of time living in pure survival mode, hunting, foraging, and traveling almost non-stop had made him leaner and tougher. Now that he had the caloric means to support it, he might as well take the opportunity to hone himself. Also, it gave him something to do to keep him mind busy. He was feeling pretty dark right then. Having been down that path, it was not a thing he wished to repeat. He was given a daily task, though to be honest it didn't take very long for him to do. Gather dirty clothes and distribute fresh ones. Not a difficult nor time-consuming task. When he was done, all he had was himself and the others in Quarantine. His partner in this was a lady from another group - the group with the highly irregular older men in it. Sadly, Ash was not the best of conversation during his work. Or at any time, really. Ash felt that it was a shame that he couldn't help out someone else with their jobs, but the rules about this were pretty straightforward. More time to think. More time to dwell. "Forty-four... forty-five... forty-six..."
The only person he was really opening up to was Tatiana. The face was knitting back together quite nicely, thanks for asking, from where she had decked him four days earlier. As far as he was concerned, it was over and forgotten. Not the first time he'd taken a hit, wouldn't be the last either. His people were fairly rural, Irish and English stock, mostly, from the foothills of Appalachia. Drinking and fighting was part of that, or it used to be. A well-meant love tap from his adoptive sis was just par for the course. "Fifty."
First set was down. Time to switch to crunches for a while. Every time he flexed his abdominals and brought himself up fully, he accented the rep with two fast, articulated punches. It was an exercise first shown to him by his boxing trainer, a particularly vulgar woman who stood a few inches taller than himself and was a complete taskmaster. It was a shame about her. Taken from the world a while ago. "One (one-two)... two (one-two)... three (one-two)..."
The only person who sought him out for conversation, aside from Tati, was the curious young woman with one hand. She wanted answers about four people who were close to her. When the realization as to why
finally clicked, Ash didn't know whether to pull away from the woman or open up. But opening up might lead to him sharing more than he wanted to, and publicly. Those eyes, though. Ash finally knew why her eyes looked so familiar. They belonged to a grizzled old Mexican who gave his life to help someone else. It was turning into a very small apocalypse. Ash skipped a lot of the part were he and her cousin had a relationship, by either refusing to answer or just referring her elsewhere. "You should ask Tati,"
is really all he would comment. One could tell he might want to say more, but something stopped him. "Seventeen (one-two)... eighteen (one-two)... nineteen (one-two)..."
One breath of fresh air came in the form of a haircut. It was amazing how something that was considered utterly mundane, even a chore at times, was amazingly centering. Ash got something that was more regulation, or what used to be regulation for the Army. He wasn't the buzzcut kind of soldier, ever. Though getting the extra trimmed away was a blessing. Ash thanked Shears and went back to his routine. "Thirty-seven (one-two)... thirty-eight (one-two) thirty-nine (one-two)..."
His morning workouts were beginning to feel less like drudgery. Maybe he was healthier, more relaxed. Or perhaps there was a lot
of emotion he was hurling into physical activity. He could see the ballet instruction going on with Tati at the helm. She was, like the Scandinavian lady from Illinois, a taskmaster. But artists seemed to be that way. Offhandedly, Ash wondered what his excuse was. Well, Tatiana was making some new friends and could take good care of herself. As for himself and his workouts, Ash knew the extent to which he could push his body before damage. Oh, he pushed, but not hard enough to make it impossible to maintain on the longer term.
Day Four arrived. Breakfast, coffee, and his very simple task of ferrying clothes from Point A to Point B and back again. Everything looked like it was settling into the routine until the tall guy who talked to something invisible in the air around him slid in a VHS and hit PLAY
. Even then, it just looked like a normal home video to start. That is, until he began to pick out specific voices from the recording. Ash's heart sank.
He knew that Thana and Gavin had a relationship a while back; he had made that abundantly clear when they met. So when he heard the Texan's voice and saw him on screen where another Martin was, he knew what was coming next. Or he thought that he did. Ash's eyes misted over and a sad smile tugged at his face. It was bittersweet for the man. He was sure that he would never see or hear her again, but there she was. The image of her, anyway. Ash was glad to see her happy, even if it was just a memory. He was still standing there watching the video when he heard a voice to his side with a masculine, Massachusetts accent ask how he was.
The answer would have been self-explanatory. He wasn't doing well. Instead of addressing it directly, Ash looked to Jack and responded, "She could sing. I didn't know that. She could sing."
It was at this moment that Ash felt a series of eyes on him from around the room. Hastily, he wiped his eyes. "Sorry Jack. Excuse me."
Stepping up to Wayne, who had made a comment about buying her a drink, Ash commented, "She liked peach moonshine,"
and then took his leave. He found a quiet corner outside of the direct view of the television, leaned against a wall and forced himself to breathe. Just breathe. This was going to take more than a couple of days to work through.
Quarantine (Conference Room)Skills:
Thalia was another person who was keeping pretty much to herself. In defense of her actions, it wasn't like she was giving herself a whole lot of free time to socialize. That was likely for the best. In her previous life, she was a lot more willing to go out and engage other people in conversation, or go dancing, or get absolutely hammered in a pub and do what people did in Boston during their extensive and highly inclusive Drinking Season. She even dated. Well the recent years had brought about many changes in people, Thalia being no exception. If anything, she could be listed among the people who had exhibited some massive changes, even becoming the polar opposite in some ways.
Her work, or her assigned task, was to clean the Conference Room in the evening. She shared this job with the French guy. Latest addition to Club Quarantine. He seemed like an okay guy and Tatiana was close to him, but she didn't know the guy and wouldn't until she could observe him for a while. Tidying up in the evenings would be an acceptable way to start.
Otherwise, she trained with Tati. Ballet. Stretching. Getting her girlish figure pounded into a new form of deadly. Thalia used to be all about stealth, speed, and manual dexterity in a pinch. Well, in addition to her company training and college, but those hadn't been big topics lately. If the Russian ballerina could give her a leg up, so to speak, on her flexibility and footwork, all the better. Her workouts were definitely welcome. The little lady knew how to make her sweat, that was for damn sure. And Wayne? That guy was a trip. Still, she wasn't feeling all buddy-buddy yet.
feeling damn good so far as her stomach went, though. Looking at how much stuff she piled on her plate that first night, one might expect for her to be laid-up for a good long while. The superior metabolism and brutal survival instincts of Miss Thalia Angelica Carmichael would not be silenced by a small mountain of mashed potatoes and gravy, fishcakes, and various nuggets of yummy (including chowdah!
) that she attacked with such vigor. Thalia hit the ground running
Now, one thing that did give her an honest smile was getting a shiny new haircut. She was almost giddy about that. Her hair had gotten a little unruly as of late, and decent stylists were damn hard to come by recently. It had been a while since someone perfectly crafted her once-ubiquitous bobbed pixie hairstyle. It felt really good. A little of her old self. Not to be mistaken for a woman who had fallen onto something that mihgt make her soft, that new haircut got plastered down with sweat very shortly after getting it. Keeping at her physical best and staying mentally alert was more important than anything else.
Thalia had even gotten a chance to speak with Ash about the four people she they knew in common; her cousin Alicia, uncle Caesar, and friends Astrid and Bridgette, the latter two being part of the reason she was the way she was today. He was forthcoming with hard facts and dates, how they died, what they did for him, etc., but the big questions - the ones that would have required an essay answer if it was on a test - Ash tended to avoid. Especially about Alicia Gonzalez. Those were the ones that she had the most curiosity about. Hell, she saw the man's eyes glaze over and him shut down, talking about her. Referred her to Tatiana about it. Something had to have happened.
Thalia even asked Tatiana about it finally, sick of the the runaround. It was right after Tati asked her whether she wanted to train or play cards. "Nah girl. Cards aren't my thing."
She had nothing against a hand or five of cards, and had been known to on occasion herself. Not then, however. There was sweat that needed to drip and muscles to tone, yet. No matter how much they were willing to exercise or drill, Thalia was the girl that was up for it. As soon as that prosthetic got fitted to her, the young woman was giving serious consideration toward adding Ash's exercise routine in with Tatiana's. Now if she could only get some weapons to practice with, that and her shield, life would be such bliss. "Hey, tell me something..."
Her voice dropped to something far quieter, as the answer to the question might not be something she wanted broadcasted across the room, "What happened between your Captain and my Prima? He ain't talking about it himself. Says ask you. Something go down that shouldn't?"
Her tone implied a suggestion of possible violence or impropriety.
Before that could be answered, Thalia finally noticed what was on the television. She noted the reaction of the Captain, and saw a lot of eyes looking in his direction. It looked like she wasn't getting her answer right then and there, that was for damn sure. She even found herself getting a little choked up over the video. Thana had been a good friend to her for about a year. They bonded over the death of a man who really, really deserved it, and up until a few months ago they were all a pretty kickass group of apocalypse survivors. Then things fell apart. Thalia kept her eyes on the screen, watching a younger version of Thana with her mouth slightly open.
Quarantine (Conference Room)Skills:
The life of Hank was a fairly uncomplicated affair. Especially at this juncture in the Apocalypse. Personal connections could be counted on one hand and all of them were under the roof with him. Okay, so that was just Wayne, but still - keep things simple and life goes so much smoother. It's just how things worked out. Take for instance his work assignment. Very straightforward. The bedrooms needed to be tended to each day. Not all
of them, either. Well yes, they all needed to be cleaned, but his responsibility was to only handle the men's ones. And he had help. It was the kid, Hunter. So long as no difficulty existed between the two of them, Hank had zero issues taking an hour out of his busy day of napping and regular meals to clean a couple of rooms with the guy.
It wasn't all fun and games, though. The variable diet to which he had become accustomed (read: whatever he could scavenge and/or hunt over the past few years) had left him with a bit of a reaction after sampling the cuisine of the region, that being anything prepared in a sophisticated manner with out the benefit of either buckshot or a crapton of preserving agents. It was still well, well worth the cost of camping out in his bedroom's crapper, making the occasional exclamation like, "Ah jeez, canya find another bathroom there, Sportacus? I'm making my own gravy in here! ...lumps and all, buddy. Lumps and all."
The issue was knocked out the next day, when Doc showed up. One pill and down. Hell of a guy, that Doc. Still a more pleasant experience than waking up in the middle of the night after Wayne fired off salvo from his own personal ass-cannon. Just because he
had an iron stomach it didn't make it fair that everyone else had to suffer. Or did it? "Cross we all must bear,"
he supposed, shrugging with an noncommittal "Eh."
When Shears showed up, asking after people about haircuts, Hank ran his hand across the stubble that uniformly covered the top of his head and his face. "Nah, I'm all good for a while here."
Always an unnecessary bit of sarcasm from the man.
As Hank looked back over the first few days in Mexico Beach, he could honestly say that the only thing that bothered him was a lack of industrious work to keep himself occupied. He was the kind of guy to liked to accomplish something for the sake of getting a job done. Now, cleaning rooms was okay and all, but it did lack a sort of "job well done" sort of satisfaction that one might get in having a hobby or an occupation. Fishing might be nice. Maybe flipping out an alternator on a car. That'd be something he could get his hands around. Well, quarantine wasn't supposed to be a picnic, he supposed. He checked - no checkered tablecloth or anything.
He had noticed that Wayne had taken up with the Russian girl. Learning ballet
. Okay, that was worth a laugh or two at first, but it quickly became tiresome. Hell, if he wanted to learn ballet and call himself a princess, then more power to him. It was probably good exercise. Now that Army Captain was doing more of an actual exercise regimen that he could get behind, if he were of the opinion to do so. His philosophy on the matter, if anyone asked him was simple: "I don't want to work out. I want to work."
Something about being productive, even if it was as repetitive as chopping wood or digging a hole. Otherwise he was just wasting his time.
Then again, all of this lack of doing something to keep himself occupied was beginning to grow boring, too. Taking it easy was awesome and all, but out there in the world he had a lot
to do just surviving that took his time and kept him busy. While he enjoyed relaxing (and he really did), maybe he should find something else to do as well. Perhaps that was why, when Panama materialized a deck of cards, Hank was all about it. "Hey, hey! Deal me in there, Mutton Chops,"
he said, making a beeline for the small group gathering to play.
Now, he did
notice the video being played, and he also was able to pick out what else was going on in the room. Being as he had no dog in this particular fight, he decided to stay far away from the building situation. Well, except to mention to his fellow card players, "Yeah, I feel like I walked into a movie that's already halfway over. I'll wait for a commercial to ask questions, thanks. So! How do we bet? I left my 'walking around cash' back in New Hampshire."