#RedrockAgency – August 17, 2019

December 19th. It's around 6PM when Ilyna recieves a message from Jason that he's up in the gym and for her to stop by whenever she's wrapped up whatever she's doing at the office.

Ilyna has spent most of the day in her office after seeing Sioria and Jasper off, eagerly awaiting their report while performing the day to day paperwork so that the other two could focus on dealing with the unauthorized mission and settling in. It's still a few hours until she's going to hear from Sioria, she knows that, but there is still the hope that they can give an early report. However, when she gets the

message from Jason, she decides to leave that be. Ilyna exits her office and makes her way upstairs, and briefly stops outside the rec room to see if Li's there.

Li is, as is usually the case, in the rec room. The TV is playing cartoons in the background while she sits in the couch, interacting with the educational VI.

Ilyna smiles as she sees her with the VI, and continues on her way to the gym with quiet steps in hopes of not distrubing her. She has changed into her usual dark casual dress after returning from the Respite, and is wearing that right now. Ilyna opens the door and looks around the room from the doorway.

Jason is seated on the bench in front of the memorial wall. A bottle of that promised Thessian wine is on the bench beside him along with a pair of glasses. It looks like he already poured himself a glass. Looks like he already emptied half of said glass, too. He's had an early start today, what with his meeting with Nathan earlier, but he's not quite drunk. Just enough booze in him to have that sparkle in his eye. He's still

dressed as he was when they met earlier in the day. When Ilyna opens the door, he's mid swig, gaze fixed to the set of four plaques that are situated in two rows on the wall in front of him. Justus Tacitus. Maria Penttilä. Sur’Kesh Delaros Dunb Abimuno Nummol Noran Vaden. Damien Monroe. The two empty plaques near the top of the columns have been removed. The sliding door is enough to give her away, causing him to swivel his

attention her way. That familiar lopsided grin crosses his features when he spots the asari. "Hey." he offers softly, sitting up a bit straighter.

Ilyna frowns as she sees where's he's sitting, and nods in greeting. "You started without me," she points out as she crosses the room to sit down on the bench beside him. "How did your meeting with Tennhausen go?" She then looks up at the memorial before them, a bit of guilt showing up as she sees names she's only read in reports, like Maria.

Jason's grin widens at the mention of his meeting with Ten and he gives a little tilt of his head in response as he sets his own drink aside and gets to work on pouring one for Ilyna. "It went about as well as it could, I guess." he nods. Drawing in a breath, he gives a few more nods. Firmer nods. "Yeah..." he says, almost as an assurance to himself as he gently sets the glass down beside Ilyna. "Think I might've laid into him a

little more than I needed to, but-..." he shrugs, wincing slightly to play it up for effect, "...had to get the point across, right? Just-... always tough to see a grown man cry, you know?"

Ilyna looks away from the memorial to take the offered glass with a nod of thanks. She raises her brows at Jason's explanation of what happened. "Oh," she says, appearing to believe him. "He... deserved it, I know, but will he continue to work for us?" She looks down at the glass in front of her, studying the wine for a moment before taking a tentative sip of it.

Jason gives a few slow nods, brows furrowed as if considering the question. "I think so." he decides, collecting his glass to take a small sip. He licks at the roof of his mouth as he lifts the glass, looking at the dark liquid inside. "Kind of hard to tell with all the waterworks and the-... the-..." he trails off with another nod as he purses his lips and lowers his glass, "...But yeah. I think he knows they fucked up." His gaze

turns back to the wall of plaques in front of him, silence overtaking him. "I just don't want them ending up on that wall..." he says quietly, prompting him to take another sip of his drink. "...We've already got enough up there."

Ilyna gives a small smile at the taste, and opts for another sip of it while listeing to him speak. If Jason was angry enough to bring him to tears, then Ilyna can't imagine what Mercier underwent. She keeps that to herself as the conversation goes to the memorial in front of them, and she gives an unsure hum. The guilt returns in her expression as well as she scans over them. "I...," she begins. "We've lost too

many." She takes another sip as she picks her words. "I hope they've truly covered their tracks," she says, "but even if they have, we still have a powerful enemy in Cerberus. If they fought the Collectors, and won...."

Jason gives a small nod at Ilyna's initial sentiment. Sometimes it feels like that's all they've done is lose. Lose people. Lose time. The statement that follows is met with silence at first. If what Amel said was true, then Cerberus is no threat to them anymore. And if he actually believes a word that woman says, then he really is an idiot. He trusts her about as far as he can throw her. The thought causes his gaze to flick

briefly to the synthetic hand curled around the glass of wine. Okay, less than he can throw her in all likelyhood. Of course that's not exactly information he can share with Ilyna. They're not his secrets to tell. So he doesn't. "Then they're a whole helluva lot bigger than we thought." he says softly, finishing her thought and allowing silence taking hold.

Ilyna nods. "And I doubt they're going to leave us alone after what we did to get Vasquez back," she says. "How can we even hope to prepare for that?" She looks down to her glass with a sigh, but she doesn't say anything else for now.

Jason shifts in place and takes another swig of his drink, sucking it down more like a beer than wine. Wine never really has been his thing. But special occasions call for special drinks. It leaves him looking down into the empty glass which he quickly turns to rectify. "We hope it doesn't come to that." he says simply with a small, almost apologetic shrug as he begins to refill his glass. "And if it does? We'll worry about that

when it's time to worry about it." he offers, deciding it sounds a whole lot better than the truth. I have no fucking idea. "But we'll figure it out. We always do..." he says, suddenly finding his attention right back on those plaques looming over them. And hope that no more names end up on this wall.

Ilyna frowns as she does not think the chances of Cerberus just dropping them is good. The only way she figures is that they consider Redrock too unimportant to deal with. "We always come out on top, that is true," she says. Ilyna knows that luck – if it can be called that – won't last forever, and some sadness creep into her face. For the same reason she won't utter it anywhere with even the remote chance

little ears could be listening in. "But you invited me here to celebrate," she says. "That the Collectors aren't going to harm anyone else."

Jason gives a small snort at Ilyna's final statement. Certainly hasn't felt much like a celebration so far. But it prompts him to take the opportunity to reach out and ding his glass against hers gently with a stern nod. "To a few less bugs in the galaxy." he toasts playfully as he takes a long swig. And one less thing trying to kill us. He props his lopsided smirk back up as he looks back to Ilyna. "Just a shame

someone else kicked their teeth down their throat before we had the chance to, right?" he adds with a bit of false bravado before furrowing his brow. "I guess they didn't-... did they have teeth?" he asks in a mutter.

Ilyna raises her glass in turn and takes a long sip of it. Her drinking pace so far has been modest compared to his, and she still has half of her wine left in the glass. "I was too busy focusing on my barrier to check," she replies in another mutter. She didn't like the thought of fighting them head on, as it would have been a costly battle that very well could have destroyed Redrock Agency even if they won.

"We have more pressing matters, though," she says with a forced smile as the weight of the previous topic still persist. "Raising our children, and we can't forget Creest-mess which is in... how many days now?"

Jason gives a snicker at Ilyna's muttered response. His smile grows a little more sincere at the mention of their children. The thought of being a father still catches him a bit off guard. It's an exciting thought. It's a terrifying thought. It's the lifeline that both he and Vasquez have needed. A kick in the ass, urging them to turn their lives around while they still have a chance. "Creest-mess is in six days." he confirms

through his smirk, copying her pronunciation for his own amusement. "Me and Linda got Li a few things-..." he continues with a small, apologetic tilt of his head, as if worried that maybe they should've consulted her first, "...hopefully you don't mind. Figured-... you know, with it being her first Christmas and all... Just want it to be-..." he gives a few small nods of his head, "...nice." After everything that poor girl

has been through she sure as hell deserves a little joy.

Ilyna raises her brows. "Va'ynna did mention presents," she says, "but she was more fascinated by the hats, decorations and food, so I don't know what the etiquette is for presents." She offers a small smile as she adds, "I don't mind, though." She looks down at her glass in thought. "I'm worried that I should be getting her something too now, because I haven't thought about that."

Jason rests his glass against his leg as he listens. "Oh, shit..." he exclaims when it becomes clear that Ilyna hasn't picked something up for Li yet. "You gotta get on that, Ilyna. Don't get me wrong, hats, decorations, food, time with family, holiday cheer, blah blah blah-..." he lists flatly, "...it's all well and good. But presents? That's where Christmas is won and lost." he explains. Then, as if to hammer the point home,

he leans forward a bit as he continues. "December 25th. 2165. I'm nine years old." he begins. "I'm tearing through the wrapping of my presents like a maniac. Socks. Socks. T-shirt. Oh, great, a watch." he rattles off through a bored tone, puntuating the list with a sharp: "TRASH. Just shoot me in the head, dad." he narrates. "And then? He puts it down in front of me. My final present. The box is big. A little too big to

be a new sweater. But-... ehhh, I don't know. Dad's a little clueless. Maybe he just packed four sweaters in a box. So I hold my breath. Peel back the wrapping paper, and-..." he sucks in his lips, pausing dramatically for a moment. "BAM! Decimator 5000! Eat shit, Gary! With your pussy-ass Decimator 4000! Go back to 2164! 100 darts a minute! Laser sight! Working flashlight! Quick-release magazine!" he lifts his free hand

up into the air in victory. "You better bet your ass I cleaned my room every week for the next six months." Settling back he pokes an index finger into Ilyna's shoulder, "You gotta get on that." he repeats, his tone of grave importance.

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Ilyna T'Rea
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