Vasquez bites down on gritted teeth in an attempt at holding back the smile that's on the verge of slipping out. It's a limited success, and she lets out a soft breath, scrunching up the blanket in her lap and lowering her head in a futile attempt to hide the tugging at the corner of her mouth. Her reaction feels like a betrayal of both herself and Jason, and a quiet, exhaled "...fuck..." follows.
#RedrockAgency – March 24, 2021
Jason doesn't seem to have the same reservations about his own smile that's on display. And, if he sees her reaction as some sort of betrayal, then he's certainly doing a good job of hiding it. No, he gets it. As much as he wishes he didn't, he does. Amel is her mother. Using the arm around her waist, he gives her a playful little jostle. Just something to remind her that he's right here with her.
Vasquez lets out a sound somewhere halfway between a snort of laughter and a frustrated sigh as she's jostled, casting a hesitant glance Jason's way, hair falling in her face as her head turns a little. The look on his face helps soothe her conflicted feelings, and for a moment she stops holding back her smile. It's soft, and a more than a little sad, expressive brown eyes shining a little with unshed tears. She lets out a long,
uneven breath, heavy enough to make her shoulders move before she leans against Jason, eyes once more on the old blanket in her lap, resting atop the torn-open plastic wrapping.
Jason allows his arm to slip a little further around Vasquez as she leans against him. It's not hard to imagine what sort of complicated thoughts must be going through her head right now. He certainly has his own fair share regarding Amel... She's also a terrorist. The things they were doing at the Barn-... the things that she did to Vasquez... Unforgiveable. She's the reason for the dull ache in his shoulder that keeps him up
most nights, a constant reminder of that dark sky against a canopy of jagged, sharp, thorned trees as rain beat down on his bloodied face. But the blanket in Vasquez' lap is a reminder that she's more than that. She's the mother of his wife. The soon-to-be grandmother of his child. She played a part in stopping the Collectors and allowing them a peace that he wasn't sure they'd ever find again. He pushes that conflict out of
Vasquez remains silent for a time, watching her own thumb idly stroke the fabric of the blanket as she tries to make sense of her own feelings. Reconcile the wistful smile that crossed her lips with the anger. The betrayal. The... fear. The defeat of the Collectors just makes everything more complicated. Is she furious, terrified or grateful that Cerberus succeeded? It's exhausting, and feels a little hopeless to even try to
untangle, so eventually she lets out a quiet sigh. "Today was good." she says softly, trying to leave the topic behind. Maybe Jason is right. Maybe it can just be a gift. A good memory. Something to pass on. It doesn't have to mean anything else.
Jason doesn't break the silence. He remains as he is, leaned slightly up against Vasquez as she fiddles with an item that holds such obvious sentimental value to her. "Yeah..." he says softly in response. But the thought helps to fortify his smile, propping it up a little more. "It was, wasn't it?" he agrees, almost sounding a little surprised that days like today were still in the cards for them. Maybe the past year took more of
a toll on what little hope he has held onto that they'd ever have a normal life than he'd like to admit. "Even managed to snap a few shots of you in that sweater when you weren't looking." he continues, his smile turning lopsided as he pulls back enough to shoot her a little wink.
Vasquez lets out a quiet, affirmative hum in response as Jason's answer helps reinforce the undeniable truth of that. She had a good time. And she genuinely thinks the others did too. Even after all her preparations it takes her a little off-guard how much that means to her. It's hard to imagine herself caring about something like this as recently as a year ago. But here she is, and... it's a relief. It makes it all feel a little
less impossible. It quiets the voice that insists the future she dreams of, a future that's more than just the job, isn't for someone like her. That she's not allowed to be happy after the things she's been through, and the things she's done. That she'll fuck it all up, because she's no good at any of this. Because she doesn't belong in a sweater, hosting Christmas dinner, smiling, laughing, being soft. Relaxed. Sure, it
might not come easy to her, but a day like today makes her want to keep trying. It makes her hopeful. Because she's not doing this alone. She's smiling as she lifts her head to look at Jason, undercutting her already half-hearted scoff. "You're keeping those to yourself." she mutters, still too sentimental to demand a deletion.
Jason's thoughts aren't far off from Vasquez' despite the goofy grin on his face. Maybe he's just better at hiding it. He's had plenty of practice pulling that mask of his up to hide his insecurities. His worries and fears. Locking them away behind that confident veneer. "Of course." he assures her, brows furrowing as he gives a sharp nod. "I'm just gonna, you know-..." he lets out a pleased sigh as he gets a bit more comfortable,
giving Vasquez a little squeeze, "...hide 'em away for a rainy day. A rainy day when a good ol' dose of blackmail is needed."
Vasquez rolls her eyes, a snort of laughter slipping out. "You're lucky I love you." she warns while leaning in for slow kiss, grin pressing against Jason's lips and her left hand shifting to find it's way up to his neck.
Jason's grin turns into a full fledged smile as laughter spills out of him, as well. "Mmhmm." he agrees through his smile as Vasquez leans in. His eyes fall closed as he meets her part way, pressing into the kiss. He uses the arm that's draped around her waist to pull her in a little closer, his smirk slipping out even amidst the kiss. "I am..." he finishes his thought, an unnecessary amount of sincerity slipping into his tone as
he pulls away slightly, smirk tempering into something softer as he opens his eyes to seek hers out.
Vasquez ' smile is already back on her lips as the kiss comes to an end, but Jason's addition draws an almost flustered sound from her, gaze falling away from his. She draws in a breath, and when her eyes meet his again her own expression has softened too. "You were great with Li today." she says quietly, lingering close, fingertips of her left hand idly brushing across the short hair on his neck. "Pretty sure you're her
Jason also seems to be in no hurry to distance himself from Vasquez. "Yeah, well-..." he gives a dismissive tilt of his head, "I'm not sure if you've noticed but I'm kind of amazing." he teases, smirk slipping back out. He offers a small shrug of his shoulders, as if to say, 'What can ya do?'
Vasquez ' smirk grows with Jason's words, a soft snicker slipping out. Her gaze shifts out across the room for just a moment as she nods to herself before looking back to him. "I have." she assures, the words sincere despite the grin on her lips. Her hand slips down to the front of his shirt, using it to tug him in for another kiss, quicker this time. "Now go get your ass ready for bed." she says, pulling back and giving him a
light shove to get him moving. "I'm..." she shakes her head. "...fucking exhausted." she admits with a laugh, finding amusement in the fact that something like this has managed to tire her out so much.
Jason chuckles as his ego is stroked. The sudden whiplash of being pulled in for a kiss before being nudged away causes him to teeter in place on the bed, big dumb grin spread across his face. "Yeah... It's been a long-ass-day." he agrees, though the fondness in his voice is clear. For a moment, his gaze falls to the blanket in her lap, his grin softening briefly before he reaches up to rub at the back of his head. "Actually,
I-... uhh-..." he swallows, brow furrowing as he shoots a glance towards the door, then back to Vasquez, "...should probably make sure I locked up Ilyna's office." He winces slightly, "Guessing she wouldn't be too happy with me if she showed up tomorrow and someone cleaned out her office. Be right back...?" he offers with an almost apologetic tilt of his head, as if aware that he's about to be judged thusly for potentially
Vasquez ' eyebrows furrow slightly, studying Jason for a moment before letting out a quiet snort and shaking her head. "...alright. Get going." she says, giving him another nudge as her smirk returns.
Jason gives the bed a quick pat as he rises to his feet with a tired grunt. "Be back before you even know I'm gone." he assures her as he takes a few quick steps towards the door before swiveling around to face her, continuing his journey in a backpedal. "And, when I am? You're gonna spill the beans on this mysterious 'present' of yours!" he continues, pointing at her threateningly with an outstretched arm. The threat is a little
Vasquez shifts a little as Jason gets up, one hand pressed against the matress to steady her. She raises a skeptical eyebrow at his claim, looking unconcerned. "No I'm not." she replies matter-of-factly before Jason leaves the room, a shake of her head accompanying the words.
Jason frowns. "Oh. We'll see about that." he continues to threaten, giving a small shrug as if she should be worried. His pointed threat is punctuated by a thud as he misjudges his distance to the door and backs right into it. In an attempt to play it off, he doesn't even bother turning around. Gaze still fixed on Vasquez, he merely reaches out behind him with one hand and blindly feels about for the interface. It takes another
moment before he seems to realize the interface is on the opposite side- as tends to be the case when you attempt something backwards- and switches hands, the confidence never leaving his expression. The door whooshes open and he takes a step out into the hallway. "We will see. About. That." he assures as if nothing is amiss before the door slides close and separates them.
Vasquez just watches as Jason backs into the door, a muffled snort of laughter sounding as both her eyebrows rise, casually studying him with maximum judgement as he fumbles for the controls. She just nods diplomatically as he repeats his 'threat', biting back her grin. She lets it slip out once the door closes, her gaze lingering for a moment, expression warm, before she shakes her head and lets out a sigh. Her attention shifts
to the opened package in her lap, expression sobering a little, but it's not enough to bring down her mood. After studying it for a while she lets out a sigh and nods to herself, reaching over to stow it away in the bottom drawer of her nightstand. She gets up to throw away the plastic, and then discards socks, pants and sweater on the couch. The bra is the last to join the rest, extracted from beneath her undershirt. It's
a relief to slip beneath the covers and feel cool sheets against her skin after a long day of decorating, cooking and socializing.
Jason steps inside, closing the door behind him before seeking out Vasquez with a glance about the room.
Vasquez is sitting back against the headboard on her side of the bed as Jason enters, reading idly on her omni-tool. She looks up as she hears the door, raising a questioning eyebrow over the holographic display. "Took you a while." she comments.
Jason gives a small shrug of his shoulders. "You timing me?" he teases, leaning down to remove his boots at the door and stow them out of the way.
Vasquez lets out a quiet snort, but doesn't smile, her eyebrows furrowing a little as she continues to watch Jason. "No, just wondering if you got sidetracked." she says, sounding a little suspicious.
Jason gives a shake of his head as he starts towards the bathroom. "Just-... stopped by the rec room real quick. Figured I should make sure Cyn wasn't choking on her tongue." he jokes, the tail end of his words muffled after he disappears into the bathroom. The sound of the sink begins to spill through the open bathroom door before he adds in something of an afterthought, "By the way, Ilyna's office? Locked." as if he should be
Vasquez offers a quiet hum that doesn't sound entirely convinced, but as Jason disappears into the bathroom her attention returns to her omni-tool. The unexpected addition gets an amused glance towards the bathroom out of her. "Well done." she calls out in response, a small smirk lingering for a moment before fading.
Jason gives a prideful sound of affirmation, muffled by the toothbrush in his mouth. After a few minutes, he emerges from the bathroom, his button-up overshirt slung over his shoulder. "What are you reading?" he asks with a nod Vasquez' way, just making some casual smalltalk as he prods along his teeth with his tongue, enjoying that freshly brushed minty smoothness.
Vasquez looks up again as Jason reappears. "Just reviewing a couple of things." she says, although the almost sly smile that tugs a little at the corner of her mouth hints at more. She lets the interface fade, leaning back against the headboard as she watches Jason.
Jason narrows his eyes on Vasquez, tilting his head upwards a bit as he studies her. "This have something to do with that 'present'...?" he asks, his tone heavy with suspicion as he makes his way over to his side of the bed.
Vasquez ' smile manifests fully for a moment, wide and smug, before dials it back in favor of false innocence. "Might be." she says with a shrug, still watching him. The grin doesn't stay away for long.
Jason raises a brow at Vasquez, a small snort slipping out as he shakes his head. His routine is a little less neat than Vasquez'. Rather than leaving his clothes on the couch, his are often left in something of a pile on the floor next to the bed. And it seems that tonight is no different. Hey, with the lives they live, ya just never know when you might be awoken at three in the morning to a security alert. Why waste those
precious seconds finding clothes? In his defense, the button-up is hung on the headboard rather than being crumpled up on the floor. "...Doesn't really fit in the rec room..." he muses aloud as he turns his back to her, seemingly trying to suss out what it could be as he slips his white t-shirt off. It's a careful process, not wanting it to succumb to a fate that so many shirts before it fell to in the days
immediately following his surgery. He seems to have a system now, though, and soon enough the shirt is discarded onto the floor.
Vasquez ' smile softens as she watches Jason undress, still comfortably leaned back. His out-loud pondering prompts a quiet snicker, a bit of the nervous energy from the conversation in the kitchen reappearing. "You'll-... you'll see tomorrow." she reminds, perhaps wary of letting him run wild with speculation. She reaches over to put her omni-tool on the nightstand.
Jason relents with an exaggerated sigh as he does away with his jeans and socks, dropping them amongst his shirt on the floor and leaving him in a pair of grey boxer-briefs. "If you take me outside tomorrow and Garr is just waiting for me in the parking lot, I'm gonna be really unhappy." he warns as he turns to face Vasquez and climb into bed, lopsided grin plastered across his face.
Vasquez lets out a surprised snort, a grin of her own crossing her lips as she shakes her head. "I can promise you it's not a krogan." she assures, shuffling closer as Jason join her in the bed.
Jason shifts once he's under the covers so he can sit up against the headboard and lifts the arm closest to Vasquez to accomidate her moving closer. "I'll take it." he nods as if that's enough of a victory for him. He drapes his arm around her, urging her in closer.
Vasquez is quick to settle in against Jason, a yawn slipping out as she gets comfortable, arm wrapping around his midsection. Familiar. Comforting.