#RedrockAgency – October 13, 2021

December 25th. Christmas Day. Evening. It's been a good day for Redrock's founding pair. The kind of day that's been all too rare in their life together. The kind that will make for fond memories. A warm, lazy start, was followed by the unveiling of Vasquez' surprise. The next step in building their future. Upon returning to base, the day was spent in the rec room. It is where the bulk of the decorations are after all, not to mention the leftovers. And it's not like anyone is coming into work on Christmas anyway. Silly Christmas vids have filled the TV all afternoon, and yesterday's celebrations have been talked about. Presents gone over. Vasquez has been in a positively great mood, all excited energy now that the nerves of the holidays have passed, and she's spent no small deal of time spitballing ideas for the house with Jason while they lounge on the couch. Cynthia hung around for a while, making sure to eat her share of the leftovers, and planning out some of the details of the trip with Vasquez.

Jason 's mood has reflected Vasquez' throughout the day, excitement lingering after their visit to what will soon, likely, be the site of their new home. The mood is helped by plentiful leftovers and goofy Christmas movies that fade into background noise as talks of their future takes center stage. It doesn't hurt that the holidays have left the building- which is usually a revolving door of activity- mostly empty. Peace and quiet. Time to themselves without people coming in and out. Just another reason to be excited about a future that doesn't have them living in a building where, at any given time, Jasper might come down the hallway, wielding the broom like a dance partner as he obliviously sings along to a song from the 60s that's blaring through his headphones. While they both agreed to put off work- something that comes much easier for Jason than it does Vasquez- eventually it catches up to Jason. Sure, he might not be the most reliable when it comes to filing paperwork or making business calls. And it's certainly not unlike him to get bored half way through reading a report. But there's one element of the day-to-day that he takes very seriously: His daily workout. And, given the reduced routine of the previous day and a rather sizeable increase in his caloric intake during the festivities, it's at around 7:30 when he decides to reluctantly acknowledge the guilt that has accompanied his lazy, holiday gorging. "Just a quick run." he promised Vasquez, assuring her that he'll be back before she even knows he's gone and heading to the gym.

Vasquez has opted to give herself a break today, forgoing her own workout. Between the holiday madness and the fact that a lot of her energy is being spent on a soon-to-be-someone other than herself, fatigue is setting in pretty hard as the excited energy that's fueled her over the day fades. It's probably going to be an early night for once. Halisi would be proud. She's still in the couch, lounging against one of the armrests while scrolling through a furniture catalogue. Planning for the house definitely makes it easier to not slip into doing work-work. It doesn't count if it's not Redrock-related, right? She's left her hair down since they went outside, and is dressed in her Christmas clothes.

Jason stays true to his word, keeping his run short and sweet. It's slightly under a half hour later he makes his return dressed in a pair of running shoes, gym shorts and a white t-shirt, his workout towel strewn over his shoulder and a bottle of water in-hand. It doesn't look like he even had a chance to work up a sweat, making the workout largely pointless. Just an attempt at alleviating a bit of guilt by telling himself he didn't skip it. Some time alone has his mind occupied as he steps back into the room, stutter stepping as he picks Vasquez out right where he left her, replacing the somewhat distant, serious look on his face with a softer smile. As he starts towards the couch his attention shifts to what's in her hand. "That better not be work." he warns playfully, unable to muster up much severity in his tone.

Vasquez looks up from the datapad when she hears the door open, planting her elbow against the backrest and using her knuckles to prop up her head as she watches Jason while he approaches. His warning makes her grin slightly. "Not work." she assures, turning the datapad around and holding it up to corroborate her claim. The display shows a selection of various dinner tables.

Jason gives a raise of his brow as he studies the datapad briefly, followed by a few small nods. Dinner tables aren't exactly at the top of his list of interests, but the smirk that slips out is still sincere. It's not like they really put much effort into decorating this place. It was never really a 'home'. Just a place to lay their heads. The furnishings get the job done. Functional and easy. But it was far from a reflection

of them. "Didn't realize we were picking out furniture already." he teases as he approaches the couch, leaning down and planting his palms on the backrest behind her to better study the datapad.

Vasquez lets out a quiet grunt that sounds almost embarrassed as she lowers the datapad a little and turns her attention back to it, keeping it in easy view of Jason still. "We're not. I know it's too early for that. But..." a shrug. "...doesn't hurt to get an idea of what we want. Could affect the layout of the house."

Jason gives a dip of his head in agreement, the kind of gesture that's more for the sake of humoring Vasquez rather than any heavy investment in furniture choices himself. "Fair enough." he says. For the moment, he stays where he is. Head slightly tilted as he peers overtop Vasquez to continue studying the datapad. "...Anything jump out at you yet?"

Vasquez ' closed hand unfurls, resting her chin on her palm instead as she studies the pad. "Something adjustable-size, maybe? For guests?" Her gaze shifts from the pad to the the cheap extra-sized table they had to buy for the Christmas dinner. "Getting the impression that might be a recurring thing in the future..." she muses thoughtfully.

Jason follows Vasquez' gaze over towards the table, smirk widening slightly at the implication for future holidays. "Might be a good idea." he agrees. For a few moments, he focuses back on the device in Vasquez' hand, seeming content to just watch from above. But eventually his attention settles back onto the woman below him, an odd look of discomfort briefly washing over him as his smile tempers back into something a bit more

restrained. "Uh-... hey-..." he begins, a bit of awkwardness finding its way into his tone.

Vasquez ' eyebrows furrow a little at the change in tone, and lets the datapad rest in her lap as she looks over her shoulder at Jason, her arm shifting to hook over the backrest to facilitate her turn. "Yeah...?" she asks as she studies him in an attempt to get a read on what kind of discomfort this is.

Jason offers a small, quick shake of his head to urge away her obvious, immediate concern. "No, it's-... uhh-..." he stammers, brow furrowing briefly as his gaze flicks down to the backrest momentarily in a quick attempt at collecting his thoughts. "...I just-... wanted to, you know, say I'm sorry about dropping all of that shit in your lap last night." he manages, though it doesn't come without some unease and something of an

apologetic shrug to accompany it. The sort that implies he feels more compelled to bring it up rather than actually wanting to. Probably not hard to imagine what thoughts were occupying his mind during his jog. "With the holidays and-... everything going on with your mother. Not to mention-..." the uneasy smirk on his face briefly widens as his gaze briefly flicks down to Vasquez' belly with a small dip of his head, "I

don't know. I guess the old man has been in my thoughts a bit more than I'd like to admit lately."

Vasquez ' expression turns soft as she listens, but the furrowed eyebrows remain. She reaches up to brush her hand up Jason's side. "Jason..." she sighs, eyes full of emotion as she watches him. "You don't have to apologize for that. This is supposed to be a two-way thing, you know..." Her hand pulls back briefly to motion between the two of them as she speaks. Once the hand is back where it was she leans closer, face buried

against his shirt for a moment before nodding towards the couch in a 'take a seat' gesture.

Jason draws in a deep breath that ends in a soft sigh. "No, I-... I know, Linda..." he's quick to clarify in an attempt at alleviating Vasquez' worries, tilting his head downward to press a kiss against the top of her head when she leans against him. And it's true. After everything they've been through, it's not as if she hasn't proven time and time again that she's there for him. No, the problem is with him. Opening up like that

isn't something that comes easy to him. Never has. A bit of a family resemblance, as unfortunate of a thought as that might be. He gives a small nod as she gestures, passing an arbitrary glance towards the TV as he rounds the backside of the couch to join her.

Vasquez ' feet return to the floor as her legs shift, sitting up a bit more. "Then... talk to me." she requests, her hand on the backrest seeking out Jason's neck once he's seated. A gentle touch meant to comfort. The sort that his arms barely register anymore.

Jason gives a snort, lopsided smirk briefly slipping out to mask his embarrassment as he offers a small shake of his head. "Nah. I appreciate it, but there's nothing to talk about." he lies, shooting a glance her way. "Just-... umm-..." he sucks in his lips briefly, gaze turning towards the coffee table as he gives a small, dismissive shrug of his shoulders. "...Like I said. He's just been on my mind a lot lately..." For a moment

it seems as if he might leave it at that, thoughts churning in his head as he scans arbitrarily across the edge of the coffee table. "For a while I thought I had... put it behind me." he finally says, brows furrowed as he glances back to Vasquez. The words come out as if they were just teetering precariously on the edge of his tongue. It wasn't a choice to say them. They just sorta... 'happened'. "Guess I-... uhh-..." a

humorless snort and a sigh, "...was too busy worrying about trying to survive to give it much thought. Was one thing after another, you know?" Of course she knows. They lived it together.

Vasquez ' gaze remains fixed on Jason, studying him silently as words tumble out, until the final words make her gaze shift away with a nod. "Yeah..." she sighs quietly. It's surprising sometimes, which old traumas claw their way back up when things get quiet for a while. When life stops piling new ones on top for once. Maybe this particular one isn't all that surprising, however... "It's... not the strangest thing to be thinking

about right now..." she suggests with a brief tilt of her head.

Jason lets out a heavy sigh as he shifts in place, leaning back against the couch. "...I guess not." he agrees quietly. There's a short silence before he speaks again, the sound of the TV filling the void for a moment. "It used to keep me up at night. Back when I first joined the Alliance?" he says, tilting his head to look back Vasquez' way, though he avoids her eyes, gaze turning down to her knee. A small snort slips out and he

gives a roll of his eyes at his inability to be honest even with himself. "Hell, even long after that." he admits. "I used to worry that I was gonna spend my whole life living in the shadow of a man that was-... so much better than me. That-... umm-..." his brows furrow for a moment, "...nothing I could accomplish would ever live up to his expectations. Would ever make him proud." The final words come out quieter than

intended, but he doesn't let it linger for too long, a heavy snicker quickly following it, "I mean, how could I possibly live up to him when I've spent so much of my life getting knocked down, ya know? I've probably spent more time on my ass than on my feet at this point." The smirk that accompanies his words is weighed down by the truth of the statement. It's visible in his smile, tired and worn down. And then, it slips

away. "But I-... umm-..." he nods, "...think I've come to realize that maybe that's what matters." He finally hazards to meet Vasquez' gaze. "Maybe I'm not the best soldier to ever pick up a rifle. Definitely not the smartest. And maybe-... I'm not the best husband. Or friend. Sure as hell won't be the best father. And-..." he nods once more, a look of stern resolve entering his features. The sort of look that makes him

look so much like his father that it would probably piss him off if he could see it. "...yeah, I've been put on my ass more times than I can count. But you know what I've got that the old man doesn't?" He shrugs, just a hint of bitterness entering his features behind glassy eyes. "I get back up. And-... I just-... I want you to know that, Linda." He swallows at the lump in his throat as he gets to what's been on his mind

since last night. The worry gnawing at him "I don't give up. I won't, okay? Not on you. Not on our family." A bit of emotion creeps into his voice, forcing him to pause to clear his throat as he fights to keep it back, "...Not ever. I'm not him."

Vasquez listens silently, just letting Jason talk. No interruptions. Her thumb brushes slowly back and forth, a repetitive touch. Growing emotion brings a sheen to her eyes as she watches him, and the point he gets to make her swallow hard, a succession of small, rapid nods following. She sets the datapad down on the coffee table, and her newly freed left hand seeks out Jason's, giving it a firm squeeze. An instinctive gesture. "I

know." she says softly, her right hand curling around the far side of Jason's neck, guiding him closer to press her lips against his forehead.

Jason blinks against the lingering wetness behind his eyes, attempting to stave it off before it can take hold. Vasquez' words draw a few small nods out of him, his gaze dipping low once more as he shifts closer to her. He tilts his head upwards to meet Vasquez' lips with a short, soft kiss, lingering close for a moment longer, hand-in-hand, forehead pressed against hers, before shifting back. "...Okay." he says softly, studying

her features.

Vasquez remains silent for a moment, studying the restrained emotions written over Jason's face. "You're not your father." she affirms. "No more than I'm-..." She swallows, not quite able to get the words out. Her gaze flicks away for a second before returning to his eyes. "We're not them."

Jason holds Vasquez' gaze, shifting from her left eye to her right as she speaks. A few small, silent nods is all he can immediately offer in return once she finishes. His gaze lowers to the space between them briefly, looking over her hand in his and giving it a soft squeeze before releasing it, his own shifting to her waist and slipping a bit further around her. His other hand rests atop her leg. "I know..." he agrees softly as

he meets her eyes once more before pulling her in for a tight hug.

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