On rotation 3732 Cage wakes up and stands straight into a handcuffed version of parade rest.
As he's standing there detached in the face of his screaming fate, he thinks amusedly that despite it all he truly has become combat ready. He's died and been injured so many times that he doesn't know what he'd do when confronted with calm.
Confronted. Jesus even his inner monologue is battle ready.
The screaming trails off sooner than normal and he zones back in to see the lieutenant staring at him strangely.
Farrell arrives before he says anything else.
Cage stands detached in front of J Squad; it hadn't taken more than 6 months to see their insults for the scared little kids they are.
He decides to skip Rita today, he doesn't have any new information for her and he honestly cannot handle her grim optimism.
Nah, today he thinks that he'll have a quiet day. Workout a little. He's damn proud of his body now; turns out the Alpha blood retains any improvements he makes to it. Some sort of freaky time healing bullshit that he doesn't think too hard about today.
He breezes through PT as usual and in the following break time strips down to his khakis and turns his hat backwards. He laughs internally at how much he feels like a frat boy, and muscles his way through as many chin ups as his body can take until his mind is quiet.
When he drops to the ground he becomes aware of the hush that's fallen over the barracks. He turns around to find everyone in the vicinity watching him.
He preens a little on the inside and then moves into his next workout which is basically yoga on steroids. Rita had dragged a marine buddy of hers (Cage refuses to think about the fact that she refuses to teach him herself) who had taught him the brutal routine that was designed to use your strength in a way that meant each workout was just as demanding as the next even as your body improved.
He sinks back into himself and forgets that everyone is watching him.
When he finishes (two hours later) J Squad are standing right in front of him.
He starts a little, not that they would see.
"You're not just some guy that ran away from your assignment are you." Griff says.
Cage is a little taken aback, he's not going to lie.
"Sure am." he says easily, because he still remembers with some disdain how much of a cowardly asshole he used to be.
"Nah mate, I'd wager you've seen more combat than all of us. Why are they trying to get you in trouble?"
Cage has gone through very many variations of today and he's never had this happen. He's kind of eager.
"I told them tomorrow was going to be a slaughter, that the Mimics know we're coming and I got demoted and shoved in with the first on the ground." he says because it's been sort of true a few times. They suck in a breath as one and there is trepidation on all of their faces but they look like they believe him.
For the first time in years, Cage is startled to feel something like hope.