#RedrockAgency – March 26, 2016

Jason taps the panel to open the door to the living space. After handling things at the ship, he would have sent a message to Vasquez to let her know he was going to have a few drinks at the Respite before coming home. A few hours have passed since then. "Heyyyy beautiful~" he sings as he steps through the door, one hand behind his back. It's obvious he's had a few drinks, but he's

not sloshed, just mildly intoxicated.

Vasquez is sitting on the floor of their room, back against the wall. She's wearing a pair of generic panties and her favorite Eezo Credits concert t-shirt, and she's showered not too long ago judging by her hair, which is still a little wet, and not in a ponytail. Her gaze is distant, focused on the ring on her finger, hand held up a little away from her face. Her expression is almost blank, but the look in her brown eyes is one Jason no doubt knows well. It is not a good one. Her right hand is pressed against the floor, index finger twitching. She doesn't seem to register that Jason has entered the room, at least not right away.

Jason pauses near the door as he finally spots Vasquez and her distant expression. "Linda?" he says, using his free hand to close the door. His own expression goes from jovial to worried as he studies her from across the room. He swings his other hand around, revealing the object he was hiding behind his back. Just a small take-out container. "...I wasn't sure if you had dinner, so

brought you some food." he says softly as he starts towards her. "Varren kebabs... Is everything alright?"

Vasquez is so deep into her thoughts that she it takes her a moment to realize she's not alone anymore. "Janet?" She exclaims suddenly, her gaze darting around until it finds Jason and focuses on him, a bewildered look on her face. She blinks. "Jason." Her left hand drops and with her right she makes a poor attempt at hiding the machine pistol on the floor next to her.

Jason lowers his gaze to the floor at the mention of Janet and nods to himself a few times as he moves to Vasquez' side. Seeing her like this again is a sobering experience. Even through the slight haze of alcohol his stomach drops at the sight of the pistol beside her. "Are you-..." he starts, crouching down next to her but words fail him for a moment. He leans forward and places his

free hand against the side of her head as he kisses the top of her head. "What's going on in that beautiful head of yours? Hm?" he asks, trying to sound less concerned than he actually is to keep from upsetting or embarrassing her. His hand moves from her head to the pistol and he slowly attempts to get a grip on it. "How about I just hold onto this for now?" he asks non-chalantly, giving

a slight tug at the weapon and placing the food container down.

Vasquez first tightens her grip of the pistol, but then lets go with a heavy sigh, leaning her head back against the wall and closing her eyes. "Jason, I wasn't-... I'm fine. I was just-..." She trails off, her posture slumping and eyes remaining closed. Embarrassment briefly replaces the troubled look on her face.

Jason slides the pistol away, followed by more nodding at Vasquez' words. "I know you are." he says softly, letting out a grunt as he turns and falls onto his bottom to sit against the wall beside her. "These things can just-..." he stares down at his boots and weaves his arm under hers, allowing his hand to rest against the inside of her arm, "...sneak up on you." He manages a quick

glance over at her as he shrugs, "I'm right here. You can talk to me, Linda..." He gently strokes her arm with his thumb as he sits shoulder-to-shoulder with her.

Vasquez is unable to hide a small wince at the touch of Jason's arm in her current state, but she soon squeezes his hand. Her eyes open, and she stares at the far end of the ceiling. She seems like she's going to say something but instead she just puts her head on his shoulder, a drained expression on her face, as if her brain has been in overdrive the last few hours. She continues to sit there in silence, just looking out into the dark room for a couple of minutes, looking calmer for each one that passes.

Jason gives Vasquez her silence as they sit against the wall beside one another. A barrage of questions race through his mind, but he staves them off for the moment. After a little more time passes, he finally manages to speak. "What brought it on...?" he asks, "I understand if you don't want to talk about it. I just-... It's not something to be ashamed of. This is why I'm here. For

you to lean on when you need me." He jostles her slightly with his shoulder for emphasis, forcing a slight smile as he cocks his head to look over at her.

Vasquez lets out a small sigh as the silence is broken. "I can't come on the mission." She says in a quiet tone, seemingly out nowhere, and without clarifying on how this relates to his question at all.

Jason gives a slight nod as he fails to make any connection between the two, but this was what he wanted, so he can't help but feel somewhat relieved. "Okay..." he says, assuming this is her way of telling him she doesn't want to talk about what she's going through. A few moments pass before he follows up. "Where is this coming from?" he asks.

Vasquez continues to lean against Jason as she speaks, her voice remaining soft, and perhaps tired. "I'm going to Elysium." Her grip of his hand has tightened, and any signs of discomfort at the synthetic limb are gone.

Jason shifts slightly at the mention of Elysium. He gives her hand a slight squeeze as he returns to staring down at his boots. He suddenly feels a bit self conscious and instantly feels guilty because of it. A quick internal struggle ensues as he debates whether or not to press her further. "...Why?" he finally asks softly, slight concern in his voice.

Vasquez doesn't respond right away, and when she does it's not much of an answer. "I... have to." she states, trying and failing to explain herself better. Realizing that it's not enough she lifts her head, sitting straight again. She glances at Jason, and then looks down at her feet as well. "I haven't been back, Jason. Ever."

Jason gives her hand another squeeze once she finishes speaking. He lets out a slight sigh as he nods. Not out of disappointment or frustration. Maybe just acceptance. Understanding. Their pasts were so similar, and he recalled it being, at least in part, one of the things that brought them together early on. He settles his head back against the wall after recalling how poorly he

handled things when Mina died. Seems like a lifetime ago now. He nods, just a faint movement. "I get it." he finally manages. "If this is something you need to do, then I get it. But you don't have to do this alone if you don't want to..."

Vasquez turns her head slightly to the side, looking at Jason as a tiny, sad smile manifests for a brief moment. "I appreciate it... but... I do." She turns her head forward again, letting out another sigh, drawn-out and weary. "I thought-... it's been so long, I thought maybe I was..." She shakes her head. "I'm going in a week. Would've been our anniversary." She glances back at him, a hint of worry in her eyes as she searches for hints of discomfort.

Jason nods slowly, still staring distantly at his boots. "That sort of pain doesn't go away. Ever." he says, doing his best to stay even-toned, but despite his best efforts his words are still just a whisper. More guilt comes over him as he suddenly wishes she was coming along with him on the expedition, regardless of the potential danger, and he swallows hard. "But if this is what

you have to do in order to move forward..." He pauses, blinking hard as he finally looks back over at Vasquez with another small movement of his head, the faintest of nods, "Then I want you to do this. Just... promise me you'll take care of yourself, okay?"

Vasquez frowns as she studies him uneasily. "I will. I-..." she glances over at the pistol. "Jason, I wasn't-... I just... felt safer..." She closes her eyes, frustrated by her struggle to explain herself properly. "God, that sounds stupid..."

Jason shakes his head as he lifts his hand up, bringing Vasquez' with it, and presses his lips against the back of her hand. "I just need you to know that you have someone here that loves you very, very much. Whatever you're going through, I'm right here going through it with you, okay?" He gives her hand a second kiss before lowering it back down and looking at her with glassy eyes,

"Just... remember that when you're out there." he says, his concern showing through again.

Vasquez looks almost offended for a moment, but it melts away quickly, and she lowers her head, looking down at their intertwined hands, and her ring. "Jason, I'd never-..." She glances back at his face, and has to blink to hold back tears. "I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to worry you. I swear it wasn't like it-... I'm here. I'm going to be here. You and me." She untangles her hand a bit from Jason's, rubbing her thumb against the ring. It's clear this is very hard for her to talk about. "I know I've..." She lets out a frustrated grunt as she fails to find a good way of phrasing it. "...I've been a fucking mess sometimes." She lets out a half-sniffle, half-chuckle. "Still am, but... not like that. Never like that again. I love you, Jason... and... I plan on being here, with you, for the absolute longest that I can."

Jason seems to ease up slightly as a deep breath escapes him. Hearing her talk alleviates some of his worry. Some of his self consciousness. His hand moves from Vasquez' and slides behind her, pulling her into a tight, if somewhat uncomfortable for both of them, hug. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-..." he begins to apologize, but quickly trails off deciding not to even bother finishing

his sentence. "So much has happened, I just-... I can't help but worry sometimes..."

Vasquez looks at Jason, a sad smile crossing her lips. "I'm not going to say I'm fine... we both know that's not true. And I'm not a very good fiancée..." she says, voice tinged with guilt. "...but I'm here. I'm trying. And I'm gonna keep trying for as long as you'll let me..."

Jason tightens his awkward hold on Vasquez, pressing his head against hers. He gives a slight shake of his head. "You're a great fiancée." he assures her with a slight chuckle, "Perfect. Absolutely perfect, Linda. I'm the luckiest guy in the galaxy." He loosens his hug but keeps his head against hers. "I'm not going anywhere. You're not going anywhere. We're stuck with each other, so

get used to it." A lopsided grin crosses his lips. A genuine smile.

Vasquez sobs and chuckles both at once, and then immediately presses her lips against Jason's in a brief, soft kiss. "You're so full of bullshit." she says with a small grin, which slowly turns into a faint smile of her own. "I love you, Jason..." she repeats.

Jason releases his hug entirely and returns back to his original position, seated against the wall right beside Vasquez, feeling far more at ease with everything out in the open. "Love you, too." he says, casting a glance down at her bare legs, his grin growing slightly. "You-... uhh... might want to put some pants on if you decide to go running around the building. Drunk turian sleeping

in the rec room. Don't want to give him a heart attack." He puts a hand up and shakes his head, "It's a long story, don't worry about it..."

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Linda Vasquez
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