#RedrockAgency – October 20, 2021

December 26th. Late morning. Hot on the heels of Christmas is a gloomy and overcast morning. The Redrock building is rather quiet today, those without a strong reason to be there seemingly having opted to remain home after their holiday celebrations. It's unclear if Jasper is even around. Being in no hurry to take them down, the Christmas decorations still color the halls.

Nathan is one such individual with a reason to be there. And that's to escape his sister for a few hours and lose himself in the intensity of his work. He had arrived naught but a few moments, trying to quietly creep his way to his beloved armory and set up with the tools of his trade. Spanners, screwdrivers, parts, polish, all was neatly organised within his toolkit, ready to be unleashed upon the lethal occupants of

the room. Despite his desire to escape his sibling for a while, the grenadier and armorer spots a persistent smile on his face that he can't escape from. Can't, or won't.

Jason is stood in the armory when the door slides open. He's dressed in his usual attire: Black fatigues, boots, and a long-sleeved white shirt. Freshly showered after his morning workout, he's leaned over the workbench with a mug of coffee in one hand as he looks over his disassembled Phalanx that's splayed out across the bench. The sound of the door causes him to glance Nathan's way, a brief look of surprise hitting his face

over the unexpected company as he takes a quick sip from his mug and sets it aside. "Ten." he offers with a small dip of his head, reaching for a thick metal file.

Nathan jolts in shock, the bag containing his toolkit clattering as it smacks into the doorframe. "Bwah! Oh, Jase." He breathes out, running a hand through his hair with a small chuckle. Having only just walked in, he's sporting his riding gear. The new jacket that Leah got him, armoured trousers, gloves and boots. His helmet is poking out from the top of his partially zipped bag, the only item removed. "Good morning.

Had a good Christmas?" He asks as he walks over, setting the bag on a clear spot on the table.

Jason casts another glance in Nathan's direction at the loud sound that clangs out, brows briefly furrowing before a lopsided smirk comes to his face as he refocuses on his task. "Uhh-... Yeah." he confirms with a nod as he splits his attention between Nathan and his disassembled weapon. Once he scoops up the item he's looking for- the trigger to his Phalanx- he seems to reassess the question, smile growing a bit more firm. "Real

good, actually." he admits. It seems to take a moment for that to actually sink in. These past few years, things have rarely been 'good'. "Just spent the day with Linda, Linda's friend, Cynthia-... uhh-... she was at the wedding." he explains with another look Nathan's way, as if to help him place the named woman, "...Ilyna, Halisi, and Li." He sucks in his lips for a moment before nodding, smile slipping back out as his

attention turns back to the workbench. "It was... nice."

Nathan merely braces himself against the table with folded arms, looking across it to Jason. He leaves his gear where it is for now. He's not in any rush to get to work, after all, merely using it as an excuse to escape the apartment for a bit. "A full house, huh?" He says, a nod accompanying as a quiet thanks for the reminder. "


Nathan merely braces himself against the table with folded arms, looking across it to Jason. He leaves his gear where it is for now. He's not in any rush to get to work, after all, merely using it as an excuse to escape the apartment for a bit. "A full house, huh?" He says, a nod accompanying as a quiet thanks for the reminder. Not that he needed it, mind. "Glad to hear it. Think we all deserve a little bit of 'nice'

for... hmm let's say the rest of our careers?" He breathes a quiet laugh, eyes flicking down to the hand cannon.

Jason gives a small nod to Nathan's initial statement as he looks over the trigger for a moment through furrowed brows, turning it this way and that. A snort slips out of him as the man beside him finishes speaking. "You'll get no argument out of me there." he sighs. But whatever heaviness might be beneath it doesn't linger. He doesn't allow it to. Things are finally starting to look up, after all. With the Collectors gone and a

future in sight, now isn't the time to drown in the past. "It was Li's first Christmas." he says, that lopsided smile of his briefly widening as he gives a small shake of his head. Gripping the metal file, he begins to shave a bit of material off of the trigger. They're slow, meticulous strokes, careful not to take off too much. "Think she just about lost her mind over all the presents." he snickers.

Nathan grins at that. A similar story in two different households, the joys of experiencing Christmas for the first time. It's an infectious feeling too, the elation spreading to everyone else around. "Hah, I can imagine that," he muses, turning his focus back to Jason. "Pretty sure it was Tara's first one too. Never seen that girl smile so much, I tell you." Mendez too, he adds in his own inner dialogue. For some

reason, he feels that if he says that aloud, the giant of a man would suddenly materialise out of nowhere.

Jason studies the trigger for a moment as Nathan speaks and, seemingly deeming the minimal modification enough, sets it back down on the workbench. It goes right back where he picked it up from. Just beneath the receiver. Each piece organized perfectly, causing his workspace to resemble a diagram of an exploded Phalanx. No doubt trained behavior from a career in the Alliance. While he may not need it these days, back during basic

it helped to remember where everything went. He gives a sharp nod at the mention of Tara, as if suddenly recalling something, though he doesn't voice his thoughts right away, instead moving on to his receiver as Nathan continues. He shifts a bit to better face the man, half-sitting on the edge of the workbench as he works, careful to keep his hands over the table to catch any shavings. "That's right. Leah mentioned you guys

were spending Christmas together." he recalls, peering up at Nathan from his work, something else that's hard to place coloring his smirk. "But that's-..." he nods, running the file along the edge of the receiver where the trigger would enter it if it wasn't removed, "...good to hear." After a short pause he peers over at Nathan, "How is she holding up after everything..?" It's a cautious question, careful not to overstep,

but it's sincere.

Nathan scratches the stubble on his jaw as Jason mentions Leah, a very slight tinge colouring his cheeks. He pointedly looks down at the Phalanx, making a show of examining it with his gaze. Mhmm, yes, that is a disassembled gun indeed. But the smile persists on his face, unable to wipe it away. Giving up, he looks back at Jason and gives him a slight half-shrug with one shoulder before the follow up question hits. It

causes his smile to flicker briefly, thoughts drifting back to the past events. The slavers, the gunshot, the grave. He blinks hard, focusing back to the now. "I think... I think she's doing well," he says. Although she has never opened up to him, the way she acted on Christmas, the tears of joy, the laughter... it was enough to convince him that she was healing. "It's not going to be something she can just move

on from overnight, of course, but... she's on the right path for it." He nods firmly.

Jason's gaze remains fixed to Nathan as he pointedly looks away, his smirk only widening. But it tempers back into something a bit softer as Nathan answers his question. He gives a stern nod, readjusting his position on the edge of the table before he gives a few more short, careful swipes of the file along the edge of his receiver. "Glad to hear it." he says, deciding to leave it at that. Despite a vested interest, it's not his

place to pry. He takes a moment to look over his work, setting down the file and running a synthetic thumb along the area he removed material from. It's clean work, but it'll need buffed and polished to give it it's finish back. "Still..." he says after a moment, grin growing once more. "You and Leah? Spending Christmas together?" That's something he seemingly doesn't mind prying into. He lets out an impressed whistle as

he stands from the table in order to turn and set the receiver back down. "That's a big step, right?" he continues, his tone implying that he's probably assuming Nathan isn't particularly comfortable talking about it. "I mean, as far as dates go? It sure as hell trumps oh, I don't know, running off to the middle of nowhere together on an unsanctioned mission to ambush a house of batarian slavers?" he shrugs. While there

might still be a bit of lingering bitterness buried somewhere beneath that statement, it doesn't make its way into his tone.

Nathan gives Jason a respectful incline of his head, his avoidance of prying deeper appreciated. Right up until he swings back to the topic of Nathan and Leah. Nate's colouration only goes darker and there's a moment where he looks like a pyjack caught in a truck's headlights. Seems Jason hit the nail on the head. Nathan flounders for a moment, mouth opening and closing as he prepares a rebuke, quickly changes it,

prepares and repeats. It's only the last comment that strikes him from this loop. Jason's tone certainly brought about a different response, causing Nathan to look to the side and rub the back of his neck awkwardly. "Yeah, it's... uh... tonally different," he mutters, rather not continuing on the topic of their skirmish with the slavers. He instead clutches onto the precursor to that and asks in a hushed tone,

"You think it's a big step? Is it too big? You think it's going too fast? Fuck, I didn't even ask her if it was a big step. But she did invite me, so she can't think it's that big of a step, right? Or is she just being polite and kind?" Nathan's brow furrows as he snaps his gaze down at the table, his mind now racing. A massive overreaction to the topic...

Jason blinks a few times, blank expression on his face as his prodding gets a much bigger and far more neurotic response than he had expected. As if the clouds had cleared and a ray of insight shined down, it suddenly becomes clear how Nathan and Leah ended up together. He puffs his cheeks up, gaze turning back to his disassembled weapon as he pushes the breath out loudly. "Look, if there's one thing I know? It's women." he begins

with an oh-so-humble shrug as he starts to reassemble his weapon. It's an assertion that few would probably agree with, but it's somehow still said in earnestness. "And, let me tell you..." there's a period of silence. Presumably for dramatic effect. Just a few clinks and clanks as he slots his sidearm back together with practiced efficiency. His expression turns dead serious as he levels a severe look on Nathan. "It's

big." He lets that stew for a moment before adding, "Hell, me and Linda were together for, I don't know? Half a year before we ever even thought of spending Christmas together." Somehow, the fact that this is simply the way calendars work eludes him in this moment. "You're in deep, brother."

Nathan draws his focus back to Jason and his oh so humble comment causes a single brow to perk. There is a part of him, a sensible, rational part that wants to point out that Jason is clearly just poking fun at Nathan, trying to draw out another response from him. Unfortunately, the unreasonable part of him is louder and is currently holding the keys to Nathan's mind. So right now, Jason might as well be some prophetic

sage sharing the wisdom of the known universe. "Ooooh... oh... I can already see the white picket fences," he says, hanging his head. But, shortly after, he raises his face and props himself up with one hand on the table. "...I like her. A lot. But, I'm uh... not great at this whole... relationship thing, y'know. Scheisse, my last one blew up right in my face." That still stings to this day.

Jason lets out an exasperated sigh on Nathan's behalf, offering a shake of his head in solidarity as Nathan continues. Weapon assembled- sans ammo block, thermal clip, and sights- he tests out the trigger a few times to ensure it's getting the clearance he desired, careful to keep the weapon aimed away from anyone or anything. Satisfied, he sets the pistol back down on the table just in time for Nathan to finish his babbling and

turns to better face him once more. "I mean, if you like her, you like her, right?" he shrugs, mirroring Nathan's posture as he brings a hand to the workbench and shifts his weight against it. "If there's one thing I've learned in this line of work? It's that shit happens fast. So, yeah... Christmas? Meeting her old man?" he lists, well aware of Leah's living situation, "If you're asking me? That's a big step." he nods,

leaning a little heavier against his hand. "But there's nothing wrong with big, right?"

Nathan taps his index finger against the table in rapid succession, an anxious movement as unreasonable Nate slams on the accelerator and starts doing doughnuts in his mind. But, surprisingly, Jason's words shifts his focus and careening mind into a more sensible direction. At least for the moment. He... hadn't really considered that, oddly. That their lifestyle on this planet is always going at max speed down the

track. Hell, they just kept leaping from danger to danger it felt like for a while. It's only now that it's all slowed down and allowed him to even consider these things. "Well... yeah, I suppose not," he admits, the tapping coming to a stop. "Huh. You almost sound sensible. It's quite frightening." He smirks a little at the man opposite him. "But it's... appreciated."

Jason gives a nod in agreement as Nathan begins, but the statement that follows curls his lopsided smirk into an unamused glare. "The fuck is that supposed to mean?" he asks overtop Nathan. "I'll have you know I am full of-... sensible-..." he stammers, "...uhh-... wisdom. Okay?! Filled to the fucking brim!"

Nathan breathes a laugh, head shaking as he gestures idly to the spluttering man. "Oh yeah, you absolutely are oozing sage wisdom right now. Really, you're the picture of it." He gives Jason a shit-eating grin. "So much so, that you completely missed the part where I thanked you. Tsk, shame that." He places his hand on his bag and draws it fully open, revealing the toolkit in all it's engineering glory.

Jason gives a roll of his eyes, though his smirk manages to make a reappearance regardless. "You're welcome, asshole. Now, rather than standing there being about as useful as a-... a-..." he tries to recall the ridiculous idiom as he turns back towards the workbench, "...chocolate teacup..." Nope. Close, though. Points for trying. "...how about you hand me that buffing pad?" he asks, gesturing towards some tools at the end of

the table closest to Nathan.

Nathan tisks and rolls his eyes. "Chocolate teapot," he corrects. "And sure, here." He reaches across and grabs the pad, passing it over to Jason. "...though teacup technically works too," he admits with a huff, granting Jason a few brownie points for his attempt. "Anyway, not important." He sets his own toolkit now on the side and flips it open, humming in slight annoyance as some of his tools got rattled around when

he bumped it against the doorframe.

Jason seems unbothered about being corrected, merely offering a shrug of his shoulders and a non-chalant, "I don't drink tea." as if that should explain the mixup as he collects the pad from Nate. He takes a moment to look at the splayed out parts, as if trying to decide where to start, the recollection of the goofy idiom drums up a question that's been lingering for a while. Seemingly having decided to start with the trigger, he

slides it closer to him and reaches for one of the rotary devices mounted above the workbench. "Speaking of teacups-..." he says, shooting a quick glance Nathan's way, "...you-... uhh-... hear anything about our creepy armored friend yet?"

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