"Normandy, come in. This is shore party requesting extraction."
It was Tali’s voice and Kaidan felt his blood drain from his veins. Joker exchanged a sober look with the sentinel before answering, “Shore party, this is the Normandy. Heading to the rendez-vouz point. ETA three minutes. Is the commander with you?”
"She is, but I’m afraid she’s unconscious. Ask the doctor to clear two beds in the medbay, please." […]
"Who’s the other bed for?" Joker asked while aligning the ship for docking.
"Vakarian. The Thorian was taking control of him, so Wrex headbutted him."
"I thought we’d save on sedatives," Wrex said, and Kaidan and Joker shook their heads as they heard the krogan’s deep laugh in the background. […]
When the airlock opened, Tali came in first and ran off to clean her suit from that stinky creeper goo. Wrex had Shepard thrown over his shoulder, his arm looped around her ass to keep her in place. With his other arm, he was dragging an unconscious Garrus behind him by the ankles.
I feel so much for the poor Garrus, but hey this scene was so EPIC, I couldn’t help myself.
Jack, we need to talk, he’d said, and now she’s looking at him, her eyes wide, uncomprehending. The eyes of the little girl who had only a table to hug; the girl who has been abused and betrayed each and every time when she came to trust, and now it’s happening to her again, all over.
And it’s him who is doing it to her, he who has made such a spectacle of being there for her and not wanting her hurt.
It’s not like that, he tries to tell her, I do love you and I will be back, I promise, but she cannot hear him, lost in that dark, angry and lonely place where not even that table exists any more.
When he comes to, there is not a trace of her, and Chakwas is fussing over him with her ‘tool and a tube of medigel. His nose is a swollen, bloody mess, and there is also a bloody lump at the back of his head as he has hit the locker.
Neither hurts half as much as he feels he deserves.
"Where is she?" he asks, his voice sounding weird because of the nose.
“Jack has left the Normandy, EDI informs him when Chakwas doesn’t say a word.
"Where to? How long has it been?"
As he tries to get up, Chakwas holds him down, unexpectedly firmly. “Don’t, Commander. Just don’t. It’s bad enough as it is.”
You’re wrong, doctor, he thinks. It’s worse than that. She is out there, without protection, angry and hurt and alone. And it’s all my fault.
A/N: So this is the end of the ME2 storyline. Thanks and hugs to everyone who has been along for the ride, the favs and alerts and reviews in my mailbox were a steady flow of encouragement for both writing and RL, and they are much appreciated.
The events after the ending of ME2 and the continuation into ME3 will be a separate story, starting off in a couple of weeks, under the title Moments In Time, Moments In Space, unless I figure out something shorter :-)
Wrapping up a dangerous mission has always been like that: bringing about light-headedness and increased libido. It’s natural, he supposes, the system needs to get rid of all the tension and to savour the victory, the survival against the impossible odds.
Yes, the Reapers are still there somewhere and the odds are impossible again, but hell, they’ve just done it, against impossible odds, no less, and came back to tell the tale through the Omega-Four relay.
Yes, the Normandy is battered, practically no-one escaped without a scratch and Thane’s sacrifice is grieved, but still, they did it, it’s time to recuperate, repair, catch their breath…
…except one more challenge ahead.
The sex is awesome, a mixture of tender and wild, and intense when nothing is held back, nothing. In between, nothing is held back, either: Jack finds every little moment, every opportunity, to be with him, to touch him, to talk to him. When they talk, she doesn’t just sit next to him, she curls on his lap: that young kitty again. He loves to hold her, to touch her back, but each and every time, the euphoria of the victory is being washed away, bit by bit, and the dark pit in his stomach grows deeper and deeper.
He has to tell her, finally, what he has promised Hackett, and there is no fooling himself: she’s not going to take that well.
No matter which scenario he ponders, he can tell a screw-up even beforehands.
You’ve shattered my armour and shield
and left me crawling in mud,
for the shards to reassemble.
Yet, no blood could glue them together,
no matter how much I tried,
till a realization dawned on me:
I’m not in need of a shield, but blade.
I take you to be my wife
and servant for my wellbeing
to have and to hold from this day forward
to take care of the household while I relax
for better or for worse
unless it becomes too tedious for me
for richer, for poorer
as long as there is enough for my whims and hobbies
in sickness and in health
unless your issues bother me too much
to love and to cherish
as long as you do as you are told and I get sex as often as I want
from this day forward until death do us part
or I become tired of you and get myself a hotter chick.
Pity that through the wedding march, I never heard the sotto voce.
Her vision blackening, her breath rasp, she chokes on her blood and cannot find the strength to wriggle from under the debris that is pinning her down.
Then, Shepard is there, setting her free and pressing a can of energy drink into the duct of her helm. She gulps eagerly, washing away the taste of blood while Shepard injects medigel into the hardsuit system. “Hell, I love you,” she mutters among the pieces of the dead proto-Reaper. “We did it…”
He pulls her to her feet and holds her in his arms. “I love you, too, but we need to get out of here. Can you walk, or shall I carry you?”
"Walk. Just give me a hand."
Still a bit dizzy, the race through the base to the Normandy is a set if disconnected images. Garrus, covering their retreat, Shepard cleaning the way ahead. The cover team, still holding the path clear for them, Samara’s blue corona, and Grunt firing the Collector particle rifle, laughing like mad.
And then, the violently shaking platform, and the Normandy hovering just above, and suddenly, Shepard is not there, it’s the Cerberus boy Jacob helping her on board, and the team are jumping on, except Garrus and Grunt and Thane and –
The mass of Collectors is pushing on while the station is tearing apart, and the Normandy is flailing in turbulences. The turian and the krogan make it while the drell assassin runs in the opposite direction, his biotic field providing a temporary obstacle, and Shepard –
The edge of the platform crumbles away, and even before he jumps, Jack knows that he cannot make it.
She didn’t know she had the strength for that last pull before she does it, and then the hatch is closed and the Normandy flees madly through the debris field, away from the centre of the explosion obliterating the base and all within.
Breathless as he hit the floor hard because she overdid it again, Shepard’s hand only finds hers.
"Always, dumbass," she mutters before she passes out of exertion, "always."