#RedrockAgency – March 7, 2022

It's late afternoon at Redrock and Vasquez has left her office empty after growing frustrated with her slipping focus and wandering thoughts, work left behind for the time being. She grabbed her jacket and made her way to the base's roof, and that's where she is now, standing on the west edge, where there was once a makeshift altar. The same spot where Jason proposed. Her hands are buried in the pockets of her jackets to shield against the

cold wind as she looks out at the towering mountains, backlit by a setting sun that colors the sky pale pink and fiery orange - and casts Freedom Falls in shadow. To her back, in the east, the sunlight makes Aite's rings cut a bright path across dimming blue.

Jason's head eventually pokes out of the roof's hatch, the sound of it opening announcing his presence beforehand. When a stop by Vasquez' office was met with no answer, an inquiry into her whereabouts with Fergus led him up here. As he spots her at the edge of the rooftop, he brings one hand up to the floor of the roof, pulling himself up the last couple of rungs with a grunt. He zips up his brown winter jacket and gives a quick

glance about before looking to Vasquez. "Fergus said you were up here." he muses, sounding a bit surprised that it turned out to be true as he tugs at the collar of his jacket to try and stave off the cold he's instantly hit by. "Thought he might finally be going all-... 'serial killer AI' on us, ya know? Was about to jam a screwdriver in his core but-..." he shrugs, briefly glancing off into the distance to take in

the view as he starts in her direction, "...figured I should check up here first." He's joking. Probably.............. Possibly.

Vasquez tenses a little at the sound of the hatch opening, but doesn't turn around. Once she hears Jason's voice the tension lifts and she lets out a faint sigh, buried under the wind. His musings about Fergus' loyalties go without reply as she continues to look out at the landscape, gaze distant.

Jason shrugs his shoulders when he gets no response. "Not really sure where his core is, to be honest." he continues to muse aloud, hands slipping into his pockets. It's more a force of habit than a requirement at this point. It's not like his hands get cold anymore. Lowering his voice to a stage whisper as he nears Vasquez' side, he adds: "Don't let him know that, though." The heating systems integrated into the roof keep

snow from piling up. Unfortunately it doesn't do much for the railings, so he gives it a light swipe with his hand to dust some of the snow away. "Figure I can always just-..." he continues with a shrug, cautious smile on the edge of his lips as he leans against the railing and looks to Vasquez, quietly trying to get a read on her. To make sure nothing's wrong, "...start breaking shit in Renala's office and the mainframe

until he shuts up if worst comes to worst."

Vasquez ' thoughts seem far away, staring out at something unseen among the trees and hills. The corner of her mouth twitches a little, a quiet hum that's almost a snicker sounding in answer to Jason's plan. No smile ever comes though, and the look on her face is a troubled one as her brown eyes turn to him. "...what are we doing, Jason?"

Jason gives a lift of his brows to the question. Yep. Something is definitely wrong. He draws in a deep breath, casting a glance back over his shoulder to look out at the vista surrounding them. "I'm gonna go out on a limb here and assume that question wasn't supposed to end with, 'for dinner'...?" he says, annunciating the final two words with a gesture of his hand- and unintentionally explaining why he had sought her out

in the first place- as his eyes return to Vasquez. He scoots across the rail a little to put himself in her field of view more, a hint of concern replacing his smile as he studies her, "You-... uhh-... gonna tell me what's wrong..?"

Vasquez lets out a frustrated breath, shifting a little on the spot. "What are we doing? Playing house? Pretending that-... that we're normal? That we can have a normal life? Here?" she asks sharply, the last part accompanied by one hand leaving her pocket to gesture around them. She sounds annoyed. With herself. With him. And she looks at him like she's accusing him of screwing up during a job. Expecting an explanation.

Jason's brows furrow briefly, but whatever frustration he's experiencing quickly slips away and only the confusion that accompanied it remains. "What in the hell is-... where is this coming from?" he asks, his confusion clear in his voice as well.

Vasquez opens her mouth to speak, and then closes it again, Jason's sheer confusion making her catch herself. She deflates a little and brings her hand up to rub her face before looking out at the foothills of the Dactyls again. "I... spoke to Leah about this morning's attack..." she says quietly.

Jason draws in a breath, gaze dropping a bit as the dots instantly connect. He gives a few small nods, confusion replaced by a certain understanding. Still, he doesn't answer her questions, rhetorical as they may be. "...Everyone is alright? Her father? Tara?" he asks as he seeks Vasquez' gaze through his browline, the previous energy leaving his tone. It's a mostly pointless question, well aware that Vasquez would've updated him

if anything had changed since this morning, but he obviously feels the need to ask regardless.

Vasquez nods. "No one's hurt." she confirms, gaze falling to look down at the snowy ground outside the base. "There was a bit of damage to the house, and Tara ended up at gunpoint. But they're okay." She doesn't sound all that reassured by that fact. It's not hard to see how easily things could have been different. "It was a personal vendetta. They tracked Leah down from Omega."

Jason nods along as Vasquez hits mostly the same talking points as before, his own gaze turning back out beyond the railing. "...Do we think it's over?" he asks plainly. Judging by the tone of his voice, it's pretty obvious that he's assuming the worst. That it's what's getting under Vasquez' skin. That same cycle they always seem to find themselves in. Getting drawn into other people's fights.

Vasquez ' other hand leaves her pocket, and her arms come to rest against the railing as she leans forward, considering the question for a moment before nodding. "Leah is confident it's dealt with. I went over it with her and... I think she's right on this one. The people with a grudge are in the ground."

Jason gives a couple more nods, resisting the urge to call that theory into question. If Vasquez believes it, that's good enough for him despite whatever concerns may be lingering. But it's enough to tell him that her worries are bigger picture than that. It's not about this one instance. It's about all of them. Something he can certainly understand. It has a way of wearing on you if you let it. He sniffs at the cold, letting the

moments pass as he looks out over the view, half-sitting against the rail. "So is that what you think we're doing?" he finally asks, hazarding a quick look Vasquez' way before nodding back out towards the landscape and circling around to her previous question. "Just... playing house?" His tone is hard to read. Somewhere between amusement and disappointment.

Vasquez glances Jason's way, immediately looking like she regrets her words, judging by the little wince as her eyes close. She lets out a sigh, turning her attention back to the hills, looking out at them as if she can see the plot of land she bought for them out there. "I-... I didn't mean-..." An uncomfortable noise, and she hangs her head, looking down at her hands, one thumb rubbing at a scar. Her ponytail slips over her

shoulder, black hair dangling along the line of her jaw. "I just... are we being reckless? Selfish?" The words are quiet, and as she turns her head to look past a few loose strands of hair at Jason the uncertainty - the fear- that has her up on the roof shines through. What if they're doing the wrong thing?

Jason looks back to Vasquez as she begins to speak. He remains silent, merely studying her face even once she finishes. They're not unfamiliar concerns. Settling down? Bringing a child into this shitshow they call a life? It's terrifying for so many reasons. "Probably." he finally admits plainly, a small snort slipping out as a lopsided smirk tugs at the corner of his mouth, but he gives a small shrug of his shoulders.

Vasquez 's lips twitch when Jason speaks, and there's a pained look in her eyes for the brief moment before she closes them, head turning away from him. When they open again she's looking down at the snow accumulated at the base of the reinforced concrete wall. Her hands have balled into fists, and she's leaning heavier against the railing. She doesn't say anything, the only sounds the faint buzz of the town and the blowing wind

that catches her hair.

Jason opens his mouth to say more when he sees the look on his wife's face, but all that comes out is a flustered noise, the smile slipping from his face. His gaze falls to the roof and he pokes at his back teeth with his tongue in frustration. "I didn't mean-..." he finally speaks up again, cutting himself off with a shake of his head. "What do you want me to say, Linda?" he asks through a sigh, though he doesn't wait for an

answer. "You think you're the only one shitting your pants over this?" No deflection. No humor. No dismissiveness over just how big of a change their lives are about to go through. Just a flat admission of his own fear. His own worries that keep him up most nights these days. It's not something that comes easily, but they're in this together. And that's something that took him far longer to internalize- to truly

internalize- than he'd like to admit. "But-... there is nothing I want more-..." the words are clumsy, struggling with how desperately honest the statement is, "...than to spend the rest of my life with you, Linda. To-... to raise a family with you. So-..." he nods, drawing a breath in through his nose, "...selfish? Yeah. Maybe. But, fuck it, right? I'd say we've earned the right to be a little selfish. The right to be

happy."

Vasquez eventually looks back to Jason, watching him as he speaks. His sincerity brings a soft smile to her lips, but it's weighed down by worries and guilty second-guessing. There's something to be said for seeing those feelings reflected in the man she married, though, and she shifts a little closer, her shoulder pressing against his as she looks out at the woods again. "It's what I want too." she says softly. "I want it so

much..." she chokes up a little with the admission, blinking as her eyes take on a faint shine, the white of the snowy landscape reflected in deep brown. "...and then something like this happens, and I-... I-I wonder if it's even possible. If we're just... kidding ourselves." The last words are bitter and tired. It's stupid to want to believe they can pull it off, isn't it? On Aite of all places. Where a group of gunmen

with a grudge could come knocking at any moment. What kind of life is that for a child? But then... why did their Christmas celebration feel so right? Why could she see the future taking shape when looking out over the lakeside plot of land that's now theirs?

Jason studies Vasquez as she speaks, a hint of his previous smile resurfacing at her admission, if a bit heavier and more distant than before. It slips and reflects the bitterness in Vasquez' words as she continues and his gaze returns to the roof, back to the countryside behind him and both hands now gripping the railing he's half-seated upon. He lets out a breath that turns into steam in the Aitian winter air as she practically

narrates his own thoughts. Fears that have scratched at the back of his mind for the past couple of months. Seconds pass but, eventually, he speaks up once more. "I believe it is." he says quietly, cocking his head to peer down at the woman beside him. "No-..." he shakes his head, brows furrowing, "I know it is." Another moment passes before his hand drifts to lay overtop Vasquez' arm and he clarifies with a small tilt of

his head: "...Possible, I mean." His tone is as if he's not pondering it. It's not just an empty musing. He's deciding it. Putting his foot down and making a choice. Fate, or luck, or random chance... whatever cosmic force that might dictate the flow of the galaxy? It doesn't get a say. Not in this. "I mean-..." he shrugs, a humorless snort slipping out, "...let's not kid ourselves. It's probably not gonna be easy. We

don't do easy. But if we have to fight for it?" Another shrug, this one dismissive. Dismissive towards whatever may come to disrupt the life they both want so badly. "Then we're gonna fight for it. Tooth and nail every step of the way if that's what it takes." He seeks out her eyes. "Right?" It's an unspoken promise. An assurance that he thinks it's worth the effort. They're worth the effort. No matter what that might

mean.

Vasquez looks down at Jason's synthetic hand when she feels his touch on her arm, the gesture what finally brings her gaze back to him. She listens in silence, his words slowly breaking down the troubled look on her face. A smile starts to take hold. Warm. Genuine. There's infinite fondness in her eyes when they meet the conviction in his, and she nods a couple of times, replying with a "Yeah." that turns into a chuckle. "Damn

right." she agrees, freeing her arm and lifting her hand to Jason's neck as she pulls him down for a kiss, her other hand shifting from the railing to rest on his arm instead.

Jason allows himself to be pulled down, his smile fully manifesting by the time it meets her lips. He lingers in the kiss, the warmth and closeness welcome. The familiar smirk is present even once he finally pulls away, his blue eyes holding her gaze. "Damn right." he repeats back to her as if correcting his own phrasing to match her conviction. He offers a playful, stern nod to accompany it, brows pinching together as the words

leave his mouth.

Vasquez ' eyes close as their lips meet, a couple of tears escaping and turning the kiss salty. The smile is back on her lips as soon as they part, a chuckle slipping out at the sight of Jason's smirk. She nods again, hers soft this time, and then she uses her grip on his arm to lift in and drape it around herself as she moves closer, leaning against him and looking out at the view again.

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