#RedrockAgency – August 25, 2019

Ilyna struggles to keep her gaze on Vasquez as she explains. She briefly looks away after she points at the implant before forcing herself to look at her. Ilyna knows the potential of her curse. "It... scares me too," she admits, her voice lowered. "For two-hunderd-and-fifty years, I just kept everyone at an arms' length, but... even as I redraw the old boundaries, I don't want to... ruin what everyone has done

for me, because..." She takes a deep, uneven breath. "I... I wouldn't be here if people didn't give me a chance," she says. "My mother fought hard to keep me after the diagnosis, even if it broke her bond with dad." Ilyna lifts her head a little to glance over at the man across from them. "And Jason knew, he could have cut ties with me as soon as our common enemy was dealt with, but he didn't." She sighs,

and reaches out a hand towards the other woman before stopping halfway; that's a bad idea. She carefully withdraws it, hoping Vasquez wouldn't notice. "But, you're different. You are the first...," she goes quiet for a moment as she thinks of a way to say it, "that I know to be hurt by someone with this condition, so... the thought of having that conversation with you terrified me, and even when it was

necessary,... Jason still had to convince me." She can't hold eye contact anymore and looks away at the memorial, but she's not silent long enough to give her a chance to interject. "I understand, though," she says, her voice starting to break up as she holds back tears. "With everything going on, I couldn't have chosen a worse time, and for that I am sorry, and... and it means a lot to me that I'm still

welcome here." Her breathing trembles more, and she opens her mouth a few times to continue keeping the silence at bay, but no more words come. It's with some caution that she opens her eyes again and looks up at Vasquez.

Vasquez goes silent as Ilyna speaks, discomfort written all over her face, but it's softened by the asari's words. There's none of the anger that was there the night she found out. She just listens, hands clasped together and fidgeting slightly, elbows resting on her legs, studying Ilyna. The mention of her parents causes her gaze to fall away, and Jason's name causes her to glance his way briefly. Of course he was understanding

from the start. Her attention soon returns to Ilyna. "I-..." she goes quiet, swallowing the lump in her throat. Her cheeks are still wet. "I get it." she says, her voice quiet, accompanied by the faintest of nods. "I wish you'd told me sooner, but... I get it." It sounds sincere. There's no malice there. "I know I'm not-..." she trails off, letting out a sigh as she searches for the words, gaze falling away briefly. "It's

not like you were wrong about the way I-... I shouldn't have reacted like that. I-..." Her voice has gotten quiet again, every word laced with discomfort. She's not used to this. "You've been around since Omega. I have problems. I know that. And you didn't deserve what I said. You're a friend. Of Jason's. Of... me too. I hope." She swallows, sucking in her lips slightly. Too dry. "I don't have enough of those to be pushing

them away." she finishes with a half-hearted attempt at a smirk that falters before it even has a chance to form and an awkward gesture of her hands, as if she's not entirely sure what to do with them. She searches Ilyna's face for a reaction, looking more than a little out of her depth.

Jason finds himself staring into what little remains of the drink that hangs from his hand as he listens. If there's one thing their years together have taught him, it's that apologies don't come easy to Vasquez. It's usually guilt and self-loathing that fill that spot for her. As the pair speak, his gaze shifts between them. He adds a small nod of his own here or there, but bites his tongue for now in favor of letting them talk

things out. The mention of Omega causes a small smile to tug at the corner of his mouth. So much has happened since then... The thought causes him to toss back what's left of his drink and lean forward, silently reaching out to grab the bottle of wine without interrupting.

Ilyna listens in silence at her speaking, letting out a breath she didn't realize she was holding when she's spoken to with understanding instead of anger. Ilyna doesn't think she's been acting in a way that should instill confience in her claims of control, especially not now. "I can't say I've been a good friend, either," she says, barely above a whisper. Her breathing has calmed, though, but there's still

sadness in her voice. "I put you in the crossfire between me and my sister, I've been... distant towards you, and...." She gives a tiny shake of her head as she trails off. She shifts a tiny bit closer holds out her arms slightly, too uncomfortable right now to commit to more than the vaguest suggestion of a hug. "Let's be... better, okay?" she says, tentatively. "Now that... I'm not hiding that from you

anymore, I think-.... I-... I-....." She sighs, giving up on trying to put words to her thoughts.

Vasquez seems to find a bit of comfort in the fact that this obviously isn't easy for Ilyna either. She brings up a hand to wipe the wetness from under her eyes, and nods in response to what Ilyna has to say. "Let's." she agrees with what actually looks like the faintest hint of a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth. When she brings her hand down and notices Ilyna seemingly going for a hug there's a flash of discomfort and

uncertainty, but she forces herself to push it down, along with the brief, instinctual spike of fear in the back of her mind. Instead she nods slightly in silent confirmation that Ilyna isn't going to end up with a broken nose if she goes for it, and shifts her stance to be less closed, back straighter and arms getting out of the way as she turns a bit more towards her.

Ilyna flinches slightly as a tear starts rolling down from the moisture under her eyes. She is just short of trembling from discomfort for a moment as she observes Vasquez. Even if all signs points to her accepting her offer of a hug, she hesitates. A few seconds pass before she realizes that she is commited, and fearing that she might offend by backing off now, she wraps her arms around her in a loose hug.

"I...- It...- Thank you," she whispers, and that's all she has to say for the moment.

Jason pours himself a fresh drink and sets the bottle down on the ground beside him. As the pair embrace in a hug a smalls smile tugs at the corner of his mouth and a bit of the tension he hadn't realized that he had been holding in is expelled in a soft sigh. It goes without saying that the people before him are two of the most important people in his life so it's been more than a little stressful to watch them erect a wall

between them over the past weeks. But a lot has changed over the past few days. The Collectors are gone. Seems like it was only recently that they were able to finally give a name to the horrors that have haunted their nightmares for so long and now, with little fanfare, they're gone. If that's not a chance for new beginnings then what is? "Fortune's Den feels like a long time ago, doesn't it?" he muses aloud, lopsided smirk

growing slightly, gaze distantly settling back on the drink balanced on his knee. "Since we just-... spent some time together. Had a drink. Talked."

Vasquez tenses up a little despite being ready for it, but then returns the hug, albeit a little awkwardly. She's not exactly a hugger. Her left hand goes to Ilyna's back and her right reaches over her far shoulder, giving her a light squeeze in turn before pulling back as she hears Jason speak up. Some awkwardness definitely lingers, but there's quite a bit of relief in her face too, and that almost-smile tugs at the corner of

her mouth again before she turns her attention to Jason. His words cause it to manifest fully for moment, accompanied by a faint snort. "Feels like a whole other life." she agrees.

Ilyna smiles as the hug is returned, but her part in it remain loose until letting go. Ilyna sits back up straight and turns her attention towards Jason as he speaks to them. The mention of their early days does do its part to ease her discomfort, but she still picks up her glass to have something in her hand. "Even for me," she says in agreement. After decades of being underappreciated in the military, the two

years of extreme peaks and troughs do have a disproportionate presence in her memory. She glances off to a window in thought. "I don't know if it'll ever be the same as that if we found time to go out, but it would still be nice, I think."

Jason gives a few small, distant nods before looking to the pair once more. Ilyna's statement prompts a deep breath and a quick sip of his drink. "Well... a lot has changed since then. We've changed since then..." he offers in response to the asari before turning his focus to Vasquez, smile growing slightly. "I remember back when you'd sit in that booth with that look on your face. Staring down any-and-everyone that came through

the front door like it was a piece of meat and you were a hungry dog, just one bad day away from biting it's head off." he muses to Vasquez through a snicker. It may not have been the most pleasant of times, but it's still a fond memory. Because it serves as an anchor- a reminder of just how far they've come. How much they've grown. Together. "Oh, and you and Garr?" he snaps, attention shooting to Ilyna. His smile widens

briefly before a snort slips out, eyes briefly snapping shut in laughter as the image comes to him. Even after regaining his composure it takes him another few seconds and another chuckle threatens to escape but he manages to keep it under control. "Hey, Blue." he deadpans, deepening his voice in a poor attempt at a krogan voice that just results in more laughter slipping out. "I swear he-..." he trails off, leaning

forward and tilting a glance towards the door as if struck by the possibility that the menacing krogan might be out in the hallway. When his attention shifts back to Ilyna he lowers his voice to a stage whisper before speaking again, "...He might be the scariest motherfucker I've ever met. Could probably tear all three of us in half-..." he gestures amongst them with his glass, "...before any of us could even bat an

eyelash. But-..." he sucks in his lips, brow furrowing as he looks between the two then, as if wondering if anyone else had even noticed what's been bothering him all these years, "...he can't tell the difference between blue and purple?!" It results in more laughter and he gives himself a tap against his chest with his free hand, "I sure as hell wasn't about to correct him!"

((the two of them*))

Vasquez shoots Jason an unamused scowl, but she can't keep it up for long - his snicker brings out a snort and a small smile, shaking her head slightly to herself. As his attention turns to Ilyna she listens in silence, and her smile grows, a bit of amusement crossing her face as she divides her attention between the two of them. It's odd to think about those days. So much has changed since then. So much. A lot of what happened

back then she's not proud of. And there's a lot she'd like to forget. But it was also one of the most important times in her life. It was when she met Jason. Ilyna and her hadn't exactly been close back then, but she'd stuck by them. They'd share the nightmare that was the Evening Star. And when that nightmare came back to haunt them, they fought it off, again and again. And in the end... they'd won. It's over, and they're

still standing. Still living.

Ilyna tries to hide a look of embarrassement as he brings up her and Garr, as she thought he was going in a whole another direction after what he just gave to Vasquez. She even follows his glance to the door, raising her eyebrows. The punchline makes her sigh before breaking into laughter herself. "Garr was... well, he was something else," she says as she thinks back to the early days of their time together. It

was uncomforable then, but with time and no further consequences she can laugh at the weird conversations they had. "But...," she holds up her free hand in demonstration as she adds with a smile, "I'm closer to blue than purple, though."

Jason's laughter trails off as he gets it under control, lopsided smirk painted across his face as he recalls Omega. The toilet bowl of the galaxy. The backdrop to a chapter of his life that was mired in loss, and pain, and night after night of getting blackout-drunk. A place where so many people have lost themselves. But, somehow, he came out the other side with a family. With lifelong friends that would stand by him through

adversity time and time again. Lifelong friends who would call his knowledge of colors into question. Ilyna's comment causes him to furrow his brow. "No way! You're not-..." he looks to Vasquez, as if hoping that she'll back him up, "...She's not-... That is definitely purple! ...Right?" he asks as if Ilyna may have just shattered his whole world, gaze settling back on the blue/purple asari, studying her skin tone.

Tyranniac | Vasquez rolls her eyes at Jason, deciding to indulge him by studying Ilyna for a moment. "In this light? Bluer." she decides, seeming a little amused by the ridiculous argument. And maybe relieved to be talking about something other than her apology.

Ilyna gives a small smile at Vasquez' agreement. She was mostly arguing this for her own amusement, as her good faith assumption was that humans didn't have that much nuance in that color range as asari does in informal conversation. And it is a fun distraction to take the weight off after their earlier talk, and the newfound parental stress of the one before that. "Va'ynna is purple," she says. "You must agree

that I'm closer to blue than her color, right?"

Jason scoffs loudly at Vasquez, giving her that 'Whose side are you on' look. Ilyna's question causes his scowl to deepen and he clamps down like an iron trap, well aware that answering that question honestly is one step closer to an admission of being wrong. After a few moments he gives a snobby little half-nod of his head. "Of course V is purple!" he agrees like it's some sort of confession. He studies Ilyna for a moment then

shoots Vasquez another quick, playful glare. "Alright, beside the point!" he says rather than answering Ilyna directly, trying to wave off the discourse that puts him on the wrong end of the argument. "The point is-..." he stammers, having lost his train of thought amongst the talk of shades of violet. "The point is!" he repeats, looking between Vasquez and Ilyna and giving a small nod of his head. "Things have

changed these past few years. For all of us." he continues, voice softening as the smirk returns to his face. "I don't think any of us are the same people that walked into that dirty, run down bar full of assholes years ago." he snickers, "But-... we're still here. Still together. That's-..." he gives a few nods, "...That's-... I'm lucky to have you both in my life." he settles on. He swallows, gaze briefly flicking down in

embarassment at saying it aloud.

Vasquez looks Jason way, a smirk tugging at the corner of her mouth. It softens into a faint smile as Jason continues. The final few words prompt her to lean forward a bit and place a hand on his knee, thumb stroking back and forth as she shoots him a soft smile. She doesn't quite have it in her to echo the sentiment with words it seems - too much naked emotion and softness in too short a time - so she settles for a nod of

agreement as her gaze turns to Ilyna.

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Linda Vasquez
Jason Wolfe
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Jason Wolfe
Ilyna T'Rea
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