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#RedrockAgency – February 27, 2018
It's a rather uneventful- and silent- trip back to Redrock HQ. Jasper does his part to allow Jason and Vasquez some quiet time. It's not until they're safely back in the Redrock hangar that he emerges from the pilot's compartment while the shuttle door opens.
Jasper adjusts his stained, dirty cap as he looks apologetically towards the pair for interrupting their relaxation. "Here we are." he says softly, the late hour and exhausted nature of everyone seemingly having him in a permanent state of whispering.
Jason opens his eyes as he hears Jasper's voice, unaware that they had even touched down as his mind drifted. "Thanks." he offers simply to the older man as he reaches for Vasquez' hand. He passes a glance towards his gear stowed away beneath the seat across from him before looking back to the mechanic. "If it's not gonna be in your way I'd rather just unload everything tomorrow."
Jasper gives a dismissive shake of his head. "Don't you worry 'bout it. Get yerself some rest. I'll handle all a' this." he offers through a kind smile.
Cynthia steps out after Jasper. "I can get it." she says, wasting no time in getting out of the shuttle and starting across the hangar. She turns around and walks backwards as she talks to the others. "I'm just gonna grab my stuff real quick, and you can drop me off at the Respite, yeah?" she says, pointing a thumb over her shoulder.
Vasquez frowns slightly, standing up as Cynthia exits. "Cyn, it's fine if you want to stay. The rec room has-..."
Jasper gives Cynthia a quick nod. "Can do. 'Preciate the help." he says simply, but falls silent as Cynthia and Vasquez begin to speak, merely standing in place with his hands tucked into the pockets of his coveralls.
Jason climbs to his feet with a tired grunt just after Vasquez. "It's no big deal, Cyn." he chimes in, having gotten the jist of what the conversation is about. "Really. It's late and we've always got people crashing in the rec room anyway." he offers.
Cynthia has already turned around by now, continuing toward the door. "I'm leaving, Jace!" she insists. Her tone is friendly. Just wanting to give them space.
Vasquez steps out of the shuttle, looking back to Jasper. "Goodnight, Sullivan. Thank you." she offers with a quick nod before starting to follow after Cynthia at a slower pace, assuming Jason comes with her.
Jason gives a small shrug of his shoulders, tired smile on his face. "I see how it is. Our couch isn't good enough for you?" he jokes as he steps out of the shuttle alongside Vasquez to follow, planting a hand against the shuttle doorway to ensure he doesn't topple over with all of the aches, pains, and sore muscles screaming throughout his body.
Jasper gives a polite little tip of his cap. "Night, Chief. And don't mention it. We'll jus' take care a' this an' then I'll be outta yer way fer the night." he offers, already turning towards the shuttle to begin pulling the nearby luggage within arm's reach towards the door for easy unloading.
Vasquez frowns slightly, Jason's pain not going unnoticed. She waits for him to exit, slipping an arm around his back once they start to walk, hand rubbing gently up and down his far side. "You good...?"
Cynthia snorts, offering no further response. She soon disappears out of view, keeping a quicker pace.
Jason gives a dismissive nod of his head. "Walking on sunshine." he says through a forced lopsided smirk. "Just-... Long week." he sighs. Understatement of the year.
Vasquez nods faintly, turning her gaze back forward as she decides not to push the issue right now. A quiet: "Yeah..." follows eventually, a hint of discomfort bleeding through as they walk alone through the corridors of the base.
Jason wraps an arm over Vasquez' shoulder and gives her a slight squeeze as he slowly starts up the stairs by her side, in no hurry to be anywhere. "How about you...?" he asks, casting a brief sidelong glance to her. "Everything been good here? Vicky hasn't sparked some interplanetary war or some shit while I've been gone, has she?" he asks with a tired snicker, doing his damndest to avoid talking about the mission for as long as
Vasquez gives a half-hearted shake of her head, forcing a faint smile into place. "No interplanetary incidents." she confirms as they head down the upstairs corridor towards their room.
Cynthia emerges from their room as they approach the door, a full duffel bag slung over her shoulder. She shoots the two of them a smile, shifting her weight a little from side to side. "Chief. Been fun." she lies. "Jace. Good to have you back, man." She lightly punches one of her hands against the other with a slight bounce of her feet, a hint of awkwardness lingering. "Gonna give you two some space, yeah? You know
Vasquez turns as Cynthia passes them, hesitating briefly. "Cyn... thanks." she says quietly, her tone sincere, if a little uncomfortable.
Jason gives another snicker to Vasquez' response, nodding his head softly. "Well, that's something at least." he says before Cynthia emerges from their room. "Uhh-... Yeah. Good to be back." he says, a bit of his own discomfort suddenly shining through. As she passes them by, he cocks an eyebrow, looking to Vasquez expectantly.
Cynthia gives a nod in response to Vasquez before continuing on her way. She soon disappears down the stairs.
Vasquez lets out a tired sigh after Cynthia leaves, stepping through the door to their room. She notices Jason's look, stopping once she's inside the room. "Cynthia... she... kept me company the last few days." she explains as she starts to remove her coat, facing the hooks on the wall. The room itself is rather messy. Styrofoam containers and soda cans on the coffee table. Tissues, miscellaneous junk. Vasquez' sweatpants
and concert tee are still on the floor after a quick change as they left for the spaceport. Judging by the pillow and blanket on the couch, Cynthia has been sleeping there. There's obvious discomfort as Vasquez voices the explanation, and she doesn't seem very eager to elaborate.
Jason gives a couple of slow nods as he follows Vasquez into the room. As he spots the pillow and blanket on the couch a bit of guilt settles in and he draws in a deep breath, falling silent for the moment. He never saw her as the type to need someone to 'keep her company'. She was worried. Sure, they were always 'worried' about one another when they were out on jobs, but this was different. This was
'lock-yourself-in-your-room-and-eat-take-out-every-night' worried. It explains the uncharacteristic affection she showed at the spaceport. "...I see you decided to redecorate." he finally says, gaze scanning across the mess in their room. "You do know this means you can't yell at me about leaving my clothes laying around anymore, right...?"
Vasquez lets out a half-snicker, half-sigh without much energy to it. She offers no comeback, just nodding slightly. "Yeah, it's-.... was gonna clean up before you got back but-... yeah." she says, shooting a glance towards the mess by the couch. She heads further into the room, taking a seat on the edge of the bed and starting to remove her boots. She's wearing one of her usual tanktops under the now-removed coat.
Jason moves to sit across from her, using the backrest of the couch as a makeshift stool, one boot still flat against the ground, rather than sitting beside her on the bed. At first he remains silent, simply watching Vasquez as she works at her boots. But, eventually, a deep sigh escapes him. "...I'm sorry I took off like that, Linda." he offers, both hands flat against the top of the couch's backrest. "I know it wasn't-..." he
trails off, shaking his head instead. Truth is, he isn't sorry for going. Not really. Li's life was on the line. Vasquez had to know he had no choice. "I'm sorry you had to be here." he corrects with a glance back at the mess once more, "Waiting. Worrying. I just couldn't-... Li needed us..."
Vasquez nods a few times while pulling off the second boot, her bangs obscuring parts of her face. After finishing she looks up at him. Another nod, rather stilted, and a brief glance off to the side before she responds. "Yeah. You had to go. I know." she says, her tone low. She tries to smile, but it doesn't manifest, and she sucks in her lips instead, discomfort lingering as she nods once more.
Jason continues to study her, a few nods and a soft, sighed: "Yeah" his only response. It's clear he has more to say, but he doesn't voice it. Instead he simply scoots to the edge of the backrest so both boots are firmly on the ground and leans over to begin removing them.
Vasquez studies Jason in silence for a while as he starts to remove his boots. Eventually she lets out a heavy sigh. She can't wait any longer. She needs to know. "Jason... what happened out there?" She continues to look at him, a slight frown on her face, conflicting emotions mixing under the surface of her expression.
Jason pauses in the middle of unlacing his combat boots, eyes fixed to the floor for a moment before sitting back up. He had hoped to put this off until the following day, but he couldn't blame her for wanting to know. "It was Li's mother." he says simply, giving a small shrug of his shoulders. "I mean she was-... uhh-..." he trails off, swallowing hard as he brings a hand up to rub at the back of his neck. He's told her about
what he experienced down in the caverns beneath Di Yu, but it was never easy to talk about and that hasn't changed. "It was that-... thing." he corrects, "Again. Same one we ran into on-... on Di Yu." His tone turns almost apologetic at having brought it up. Like the planet's name carries some kind of power. "The Revelator. It was-... Yeah..." he nods a couple of times to himself, still trying to work through the details
himself, "...It was using her. Controlling her." He pauses once again, suddenly finding himself wondering just how much her was left in that broken and altered body when they killed her. But he snaps out of it after a moment and pulls in a breath to regain his composure. "If the Horizon footage wasn't enough to confirm the Collector connection, I think we can put all doubt to rest at this point. As soon as we put down
Min-... Li's mother, we were swarmed. Woke up hours later in a fucking Collector ship." he snorts humorlessly. "As far as I can tell, this 'Revelator' is some sort of-... of-..." he gives a shake of his head as he tries best to give his theory, "...Collector general. A leader or something. I don't really know, but it obviously has some method of controlling other people-... other things..." He falls silent again, gaze
lowering to the floor in front of Vasquez as he considers his own words. The whole thing is still just a jumbled, fucked mess in his mind that he hasn't even quite gotten around to unfucking yet despite being there.
Vasquez just looks at Jason as he speaks, her hands on the edge of the bed and a deep frown etched into her face. The mention of Di Yu and the Revelator causes her body to tense, and 'Horizon' elicits a small nod. But as Jason mentions that they were captured by the Collectors she looks outright shocked. "What...?" She stands up from the edge of the bed, quickly moving over to the couch and leaning against the backrest
just next to him, angled partially his way. She places a hand on his far shoulder, squeezing it as she studies him with a mix of worry and confusion, leaning forward a bit to get a look at his face. "Wh-... Collectors? They-... they took you? Jason, I-..." she shakes her head slightly, swallowing hard as she looks at him, searching for words.
Jason forces a tired, hollow smirk as she joins him and her concern becomes obvious. "Guess they bit off more than they could chew with us." he says with a bit of false bravado in hope of easing her concerns and downplaying the unimaginable scenario. "We walked out with more people than we walked in with." he adds, hopefully explaining away the additional civillians they arrived with. But as the events continue to play out in his
mind, he finds himself unable to muster up the energy to keep that defensive shield of a smirk in place and his gaze lowers once again. He reaches out, giving her leg an affectionate squeeze. "We're fine, Linda." he assures without meeting her gaze, "I'm fine... I just-... I think I need a few days, you know? To process everything..."
Vasquez is obviously struggling to absorb this new information, a jumble of thoughts running through her head. Jason's first comments cause a faint smirk to briefly cross her lips, but it doesn't last, and as he speaks again her gaze falls. She brings her free hand up to his far cheek, gently guiding him to meet her gaze. She presses a soft kiss against his lips, lingering close afterwards. "I know what that means..." she
says quietly, the concerned frown on her face making it obvious that she sees through his assurance. 'I'm fine.' She'd spoken those words to Jason many times, and knew all too well what they meant. She sucks in her lips slightly, thumb brushing across his cheek as she studies him.
Jason reluctantly allows himself to meet Vasquez' gaze. The kiss causes a brief moment of sincerity to find its way out in the form of a small smile, but her comment causes him to give another empty, quiet, unamused snicker that doesn't fully manifest. "I don't-... What do you want me to say, Linda?" he asks. Frustration, confusion, but above all else: fear shows through behind his blue eyes. "Colonies are going missing left,
right, and center, but here we are. Might be the only people in the fucking galaxy to walk off a Collector ship." His shoulders rise and fall dismissively, as if he's still trying to work out what that means. The 'how' and 'why' of it all. "Yeah. But we did it." he swallows hard as he recalls his conversation with Nathan. As he considers what's to come. That sharp ringing the creature implanted in his mind. The helplessness
as his limbs stopped obeying him. His gaze drops slightly once again, this time to her lips as he gives a nod so small, blink and you might miss it. "I'm fine, Linda." he lies again, "I-... Given the circumstances...? I'm fine..."
Vasquez does her best to hide how much it unsettles her to see that fear in Jason's eyes. It's not something he lets show often. Because of her. Because he always had to be her rock. She swallows hard, eyes starting to tear up. She's quick to slide her left hand down to his shoulder, the right relocating to the couch backrest for stability as she pulls him into a one-armed hug. Her breathing is hard and uneven as she
Jason leans forward and rests his cheek against Vasquez' hair as he's pulled into a hug, his gaze drilling holes through the wall behind her. His right hand moves to her side and he falls silent, seeming in no hurry to move. After a few moments, he tilts his head to the side to press a quick kiss against her temple. Taking another deep breath, he snakes his right arm around her waist and hugs her tightly.
Vasquez doesn't seem to be in any more of a rush than Jason is. She just holds him close for several moments, letting silence fill the room as she presses her lips against his neck, eyes closed. For a while her worries and her frustrations fall away as that sense of relief at having him back takes hold again. He came back. Of course he did. He always does. Eventually, reluctantly, she lets go, pulling back and letting her
hand go back to her side, her gaze remaining on Jason. Her mind too starts to make it's return to reality. Deep breath. Her gaze falls to Jason's left hand, and she reaches for it with her right, grasping it gently and brushing her thumb against the ring. "This goes both ways, you know? You can talk to me..." she says quietly, blinking back tears that threaten to escape, her gaze lingering on their hands.
Jason's gaze travels to their hands as well in an effort to avoid looking her in the eyes once again. He gives a small distant nod as she speaks. "Yeah..." he says softly, "...I know." He forces another hollow lopsided smile as he turns his attention back to her face. "I know." he repeats, "And-... And I will, Linda. I just need to-..." he shakes his head and sighs, not buying his own excuse to avoid 'talking about it' before
it even comes out of his mouth. "Time." he says, "I need time. Things don't work so well up here, you know that." he continues, reaching up with his free hand to tap at the side of his head with a small chuckle as he attempts to make light of the situation and drive that facade between them once again, "Just gonna take me a little while to sort through everything." His eyeline drops once again and he pokes at the inside of
his cheek with the tip of his tongue for a moment before giving as confident of a nod as he can muster. "But-... Yeah. I'm good."
Vasquez looks up to meet Jason's gaze when he looks her way, listening in silence. His joke, and the chuckle that follows causes little more than a faint, sad smile, but she nods in response to his request for time. No point in pushing. "Okay." she says quietly, nodding again and squeezing his hand. There's still a million thoughts running through her head. About Jason leaving. About the 'Revelator'. The Collectors. The
ship they came back in. Li. About everything that happened. But that can all be sorted out in the coming days. Right now the fact that Jason is back is the only thing that matters. "I'm-..." Another deep breath. "I'm just glad you're back." she says as her gaze falls to the floor. If she can't be sincere, how can she expect him to be?
Jason shifts his left hand so that he can grasp Vasquez' right with it and intertwines his fingers with hers. Her statement gets a set of nods out of him as he turns his attention right back to their hands. Flesh against cybernetics. Another reminder of what's been lost in a fight that might only be beginning. And it continues to chip away at him, piece by piece. But it's more than just physical. Damage has been done to both body
and mind, evident by his regular, sweat-covered, panicked jolts to life at three in the morning when the nightmares refuse to release him or he's unable to get his mind off of all of the people that have died who continue to weigh on him. It's only natural that his mind drifts to Lucy. To James. A scenario that could have just as likely been Vasquez and himself. Might one day be Vasquez and himself. He swallows at the
lump in his throat as that image of James, hands around Lucy's throat, haunts him. "I love you, Linda." he says, choking on the words as his eyes fill with tears that he has to fight to keep from escaping. He has to force himself to meet her gaze, but it doesn't last long. He brings her hand up, pressing a quick kiss against the back of it before letting go. Unable to allow himself break down in front of her, he steps away
from the couch. "I-... I need a shower." he explains with a deep breath without looking back as he starts towards the bathroom door.
Vasquez blinks. "I love you too, Jason..." she replies softly, trying to muster up a small smile, but Jason's struggle doesn't go unnoticed, and it never manifests. As he slips away her frown returns. She pushes off from the couch, fighting the urge to follow. Instead she remains with one hand on the back of the couch. "I-... yeah. I'm gonna... clean up a bit." she says with a gesture to the coffee table, a bit of that