#RedrockAgency – April 4, 2018

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Jason is awake bright and early. Not due to any sort of new drive to be productive, unfortunately, just another night of interrupted sleep and tossing and turning that has him staying awake just to avoid the nightmares. Unlike the previous day, however, he remains right where he is: in bed beside his wife, slowly shifting his pillow around to sit up against the headboard without waking Vasquez.

Vasquez has had her fair share of equally restless nights over the years, but the comfort of having Jason back after an exhausting week consumed by worries has afforded her a more restful night. Several times in the night she's sought him out in her sleep, perhaps because she's felt his stirring, or perhaps just to assure herself that he's really there. She's still asleep as early morning comes, facing Jason with half her

face-buried against her pillow, and the other covered by strands of black hair. It's a clear morning, fairly bright despite the early hour as Litae reflects the glow of the sun that is close to rising, basking the town in an almost eerie pale that contrasts the pink of the eastern sky. The ring is sharp in this light, a bright band cutting across the sky.

Jason glances down at Vasquez and a slight smirk tugs at his lips. Despite the restlessness, being home again comes with a certain comfort. It causes his mind to drift back to his Alliance days. After a deployment it would take months for him to get reacclimated to planetside life. Things would settle down and begin to feel 'right' just in time for his next deployment. Life on a ship was his 'normal'. But sometime during the past

few years things changed. Maybe he had to lose everything to figure out who he really was. Who he wanted to be. Or maybe he's just getting old and years of fighting are beginning to take their toll. Whatever the case may be, he spent the last week wanting nothing more than to be off of that ship and back in his own bed with his wife only to come home and do everything in his power to avoid her. To keep from looking her in

the eye and telling her that things aren't alright. To keep from having to remind her that this is their lives, even when they don't choose it, it chooses them. Over and over. Their wedding had been so perfect. The happiest day of his miserable life by a longshot. The whiplash from going from that to such an uncertain future was jarring. But she was right. 'We're in this together.' So as strong as the Respite's call is,

he remains right where he is. His gaze moves to the omni-tool on the nightstand beside him and, with a sigh, reaches out for it. Doing his best to keep from rattling the bed, he sets the device on his chest and activates it to begin typing out a message.

Vasquez twitches in her sleep, an uneasy mumble escaping her as her hand balls up against the sheets. A few mumbled words follow but it's hard to make anything out. Soon enough she's back to silence, and she hasn't shown any sign of waking up.

Jason's attention turns to Vasquez, watching her for a moment to ensure she doesn't awaken before continuing with his message. After his behavior the previous night at the Respite, an apology is certainly in order. He stares at the holographic interface for a number of moments, fingers hovering over the haptic keyboard. His expression shifts into a frown as nothing comes to him and he finds his gaze turning back to Vasquez,

studying her while she sleeps. With another sigh, he turns back to his omni-tool and bites the bullet. 'I'm sry. Yu were rihgt and I was out f line.' Send. It's unlikely the recipient is awake yet, but it's probably better that way. Less chance for a return message that he'll need to respond to. A number of moments pass while he simply stares blankly through the semi-transparent glow before he finally shuts it down. As the

interface dissipates, he reaches out to set his omni-tool back on the nightstand when a sharp BEEP sounds out from his device signifying a message has been recieved, causing Jason to wince.

Vasquez 's eyes snap open as her tenses up, gaze darting around for a moment under her hair until she notices Jason, immediately starting to relax as a faint smile replaces bewilderment. She brushes the hair from her face and lazily shuffles closer, her hand moving to his abdomen as she takes a moment to both wake up and calm down. She mumbles a "Hey...", followed by a tired grunt as she looks up at him, not seeming all

that interested in moving her head from the pillow after affirming that things are as they should be.

Jason's gaze turns back to Vasquez as she starts to shuffle. As her hand comes to a rest on his midsection, he brings his own hand overtop of hers. "Hey." he responds softly, tired smirk returning to his face. He passes a brief glance back to his omni-tool but decides it can wait. He shifts slightly closer to her as he strokes the back of her hand. "Sleep alright?" he asks idly as he looks to their hands.

Vasquez lets out a sigh, her gaze moving to their hands much like Jason's as she shifts her thumb to give the synthetic fingers a squeeze. "Better now." she says quietly. She moves a little to look up at him more comfortably, studying his face in silence for a moment. "What time is it...?" she asks in a half-mumble as she briefly looks past him to the light coming in from the window.

Jason follows her gaze to the window. "Just about six." he says. "Figured maybe we could get an early start today." he says, trying to pull attention away from the fact that he's up so early and the 6AM omni-tool message, "Shit will be opening soon. Maybe we could go pick up some breakfast or something...?" he offers through a tired smirk.

Vasquez doesn't seem to realize just what it was that woke her up, and mirrors Jason's smirk for a moment before scooting closer with a quiet groan, sitting up partly and leaning against his shoulder as she slides her arm further around him, giving him a sidehug. "I'm pretty comfortable right here..." she mumbles, tiredness only seeming to grow as her initial startled confusion fades. As her stomach grumbles, calling to

mind that it's been quite a while since she ate, she almost reluctantly adds: "...breakfast does sound good though."

Jason's smirk widens as he wraps an arm around her in turn. It gets a brief, pained groan from him as his still-aching battered and bruised body continues to throb, but a small snicker escapes him when Vasquez adds her final statement. "...Yeah." he agrees. Between Vasquez' constant workflow and her reluctancy to get out of the office too often, it means most of their 'going out' consists of Jason going down to the Respite by

himself. He falls silent for a few moments, merely enjoying the closeness and comfort provided by Vasquez before giving a short sigh. "...Unfortunately it does mean getting out of bed." he finally adds with a hoarse chuckle. "You want the shower first?"

Vasquez grunts in acknowledgement of his words before mumbling a quiet "Sure..." and slowly sitting up, slipping away from Jason. She lets out a drawn-out yawn as she stretches her arms for a moment before crawling over to the edge, flinching slightly as her feet press against the cold floor. She lingers there for a moment, regretting her rather common neglect of Halisi's advice on regular food intake during busy workdays

as she finds herself faced with nausea and a headache both. She sits hunched over on the edge of the bed, leaning heavily on her knees as she stares at the floor, remaining still as a long groan sounds.

Jason remains in place as Vasquez moves to the edge of the bed. It's not until her groan sounds out that he begins to scoot across the bed to join her. One synthetic hand comes to rest on her lower back and slides beneath her shirt as he begins to gently draw small circles against her skin with his palm. It's undoubtedly less comforting than flesh and bone, but it's all he has. "You good?" he asks, assuming morning sickness to be

the culprit again. "Need the bucket?"

Vasquez eventually gives a shake of her head, face obscured by hair that's fallen from her shoulders. "I'm good. Just need a sec." she grunts, waving him off. After remaining for a moment longer, collecting herself, she stands up, heading off towards the bathroom.

Jason remains at the edge of the bed once she stands up, following her with his eyes. A loud grunt escapes him as he leans back, arching his back to stretch. "Got word back from Captain Riley..." he begins as he climbs to his feet when Vasquez disappears into the bathroom, "Sounds like she managed to convince those eggheads in charge that it's worth the trip out here. Supposed to meet with her and her team in a couple days." He

meanders his way around the bed as he speaks, making his way back to his side of the bed to scoop his omni-tool back up off the nightstand and check in on his message. A small, simple smile returns to his face as he reads over the response. He lets out a deep breath as he deactivates the device and sets it back down. "Guessing you're gonna want in on that...?" he calls out.

Vasquez starts to brush her teeth as she listens to Jason, pausing to reply with a somewhat surprised-sounding "They're actually coming?".

Jason makes his way to the bathroom doorway, leaning against the frame as he folds his arms across his chest. He gives a nod of his head as he looks to Vasquez' reflection in the mirror. "Guess all it takes for a little Alliance intervention is to survive being abducted onto a Collector ship. If only I had known sooner." he says dryly, his words dripping with sarcasm.

Vasquez continues to brush her teeth, but Jason's comment elicits a heavy sigh. Not of frustration or disagreement. Just... uncomfortable disappointment. That an institution that they've both given years of their life to seems to sit in inaction as people are taken. People like them. Burying their heads in the sand and ignoring the threat. That wasn't the Alliance either of them had known. The Alliance that came charging

to the defense of the colonies when the batarians attacked. Her gaze falls as she leans against the sink, rinsing her toothbrush. "I want to be there." she says, offering no direct reply to his remark. "We'll need to prepare what we can, sort out the useful intel, scrub personal details. And... get the people you rescued ready to relocate." She nods a few times, glancing up at him through the mirror. "If-... if

this gets them to act, I mean-... it could make a difference. I've-... I've already started going through the field recordings. That, the colonists... it's solid intel. Maybe this could be the push they need." she says, although she doesn't really sound like she believes it herself, her tone weary. It's hard to give up hope that they're not alone in this fight. That there's wheels turning behind the curtains. That

the sleeping giant will wake up eventually.

Jason gives a couple of small nods, his gaze falling to the sink. It's been a difficult road for him, accepting that the organization that he devoted such a large portion of his life to would just sit in inaction for so long while the Collectors sowed havoc. But he had seen it with his own two eyes. Been on the receiving end of the Alliance's lack of interest. Jason sat across the table from Agent Lessard himself with years of

Collector experience ready to spill his guts- practically begging for help- and all the man could do was try and shift blame and make a show of power. Lessard was a man who cared more about showcasing the authority he held than maintaining the safety of the galaxy. Still, even after years of hell, a small part of Jason holds onto the hope that there's people behind the scenes - People like Captain Riley. People like his

uncle. Like Markus, for better or worse. People like all of the brave soldiers he fought alongside in the Traverse. People who can make a difference lobbying to take the fight to the Collectors. And that's more than enough to make it worth the effort of reaching out. Especially after he's seen the enemy up close. Seen what they're capable of. "With Renala out of touch for a while, Ten volunteered to touch up the footage.

Remove anything that might come back to us. There's a lot of footage to sort through, though. Hopefully he'll have something presentable for us soon, then we can decide what's worth handing over." He shifts against the doorframe a bit, letting out a deep sigh. "...But I'm not willing to put all of our eggs in one basket." One unreliable basket. "With or without the Alliance, there's a fight coming our way, Linda." he

continues, confident that the Collectors aren't going to let them merely get away with their daring rescue, "And we need to be ready."

Vasquez puts her toothbrush back, offering a faint nod. "I know." she says quietly, pushing away from the sink and turning to face him. "And we will be." she assures, forcing a faint smile into place as she lets one hand briefly come to rest on his side. "Okay?" she says softly, studying him as she waits for a response. An uncomfortable grimace crosses her face, a strained grunt following as she looks off to the side, her

hand shifting to push lightly against him as if urging him out of the doorway with a shake of her head. It's a sudden shift as biological realities override the conversation.

Jason draws in a deep breath, allowing his body to relax slightly as he nods in response to her assurance. There's still plenty of doubt and worry nagging at the back of his mind, but none of that matters. They're in this together. One way or another, they'll figure it out together. Or die trying. He pushes that thought out of his head for now, assisted by her sudden change in demeanor. He furrows his brow, studying her for a

moment before he realizes what's going on. "Bucket?!" he asks in a panic, stumbling backwards out of the bathroom. "Bucket!" he decides with a nod, frantically spinning to look about their living quarters. "I-... One second! Buckets on the way!" he assures as he stomps off in hunt of the bucket. But he only manages a couple of steps before he makes a small circle, facing the bathroom door once again. "No bucket! Toilet!" he

announces, as if he's just solved some great puzzle and he's relaying the answer to her.

The only response to Jason's revelation is a closed bathroom door.

Jason winces, nodding a few times to the bathroom door. "Toilet." he repeats softly. "You-... uhh... take your time." he calls out as he settles against the wall beside the bathroom door. "I'll be right here. You know... Emotional support and shit." 'We're in this together, too' he reminds himself. Thankfully, his end consists of far less morning sickness.

Vasquez remains in the bathroom for some time, not a word spoken. Some unpleasant noises and a lot of waiting later she announces that she's going to take a shower, leaving the door unlocked so as to not deprive Jason of access to the bathroom as the shower starts to sound.

Jason remains outside leaning against the wall, wincing each time a sound makes its way past the door. "Mmhmm... Just-... uhh... let it all out." he cheerleads from the sidelines. He doesn't respond as she announces her shift over to the shower, merely remaining in place, arms folded across his chest as he considers the strange life he leads and the crazy, winding path that has led him here. Try as he might, he's unable to keep

his mind from drifting to the Collectors. To the Revelator, shrouded in the form that once was Li's mother. To James and Lucy. To the day that he wasted at the bar when he could have been spending it with the woman he loves. His wife. The woman carrying his child. A day that Lucy would almost certainly kill for. His mind settles on his conversations with both Vasquez and Gage from the previous night. No matter what's coming,

he can't just allow himself to give up. To ignore the things that matter to him. To stop enjoying life. He shifts in place a bit, leaning his head against the door and listening to the running water beyond it. Taking in a deep breath, he pushes away from the wall and opens the bathroom door. "Alright, move aside." he says playfully, propping up his lopsided smirk, "You're taking too damn long. I'm coming in."

Vasquez lets out a long sigh as she steps into the shower, letting the hot water envelop her. Her shoulders drop as she starts to relax, dispelling the cold and soothing the headache that accompanies her morning sickness. She doesn't linger long before starting to wash up, eager to feel clean. She's in the middle of rinsing her hair when she feels the temperature drop as the door opens, causing her to pause. As she hears

Jason's voice a small smirk crosses her lips and she looks back over her shoulder, although her view is blocked by the frosted plastic of the shower door.

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