Sept. 05, 2186
Docking Bay D72
"I'll write to you whenever I can..." Jack whispered into Shepard's ear. Her arms were wrapped around his neck, with her armored chest snuggled against his dress uniform. She really wished she hadn’t suit up, but Kahlee insisted that she ought to appear more combat-ready.
His arms slightly tightened around her waist, and he planted a small kiss on her jaw line, saying nothing.
Her eyes glanced briefly at the busy docking platform. Soldiers of different specialties and assignments marched towards their muster stations, waiting to board their respective shuttles. Everything was bathed in the white rays of artificial lighting. She made eye contact with a few of her students, and they quickly looked away. She noted their widening grins and the way their pace quickened towards the support teams.
“I promise..." she continued.
Her umber eyes found their way to his and they kissed each other, slow, and gentle. Her lashes fluttered shut, and her mouth savored his warm taste.
I'm going to miss this.
With a quick draw of breath, she dug deeper into his mouth, and gave him her all. A low moan rumbled through the back of her throat. She felt his hand grasping her ponytail, pulling her closer to him. His tongue danced around her own, which turned her on even more.
When she finally paused for breath, she came to stare into those pale blue eyes of his. She’d seen those eyes staring back at her so many times before. But somehow, instead of telling him to fuck off or calling him a perv for staring too much, she froze. The air that pumped back into her lungs only made his eyes clearer, like two gas giants in the night sky. She couldn’t stop staring.
And just like that, she was back onboard the SR2 again, right outside his cabin door. The rest of the crew were busy preparing for the final assault on the Collector base, and he had left his door unlocked.
That was over a year ago, but it only felt like moments had passed.
The thought of dying in combat didn’t bother her. She had accepted death, and every life she'd taken that was trying to take hers only convinced her that she was merely delaying the inevitable. Those Collectors were tough sons of bitches, and they had almost no clue how much more of those bugs were waiting at the other end of the Omega 4 Relay. Her gut told her that it’s going to be a one-way trip.
She had it all planned out in her head; how she would perish fighting hordes of Collectors. She always wanted to go out with a bang, and the Collectors were worthy adversaries.
Instead of death, it was feelings, her fucking feelings that brought her to his door. She couldn’t stop thinking about what he told her over a week before the mission.
“I said I can't fix what happened to you…” he admitted.
“Damn right, you can’t. And unless you want to end up needing fixing yourself, you better leave me the fuck alone!” she growled.
“Alright...but I didn’t say you weren’t worth staying around with anyway.” he said as he slowly backed off.
Her heart had skipped a beat after he said that, and he woke an intense hunger in her. She wanted nothing to do with him for some time, hoping that this strange ache would stop menacing her.
Staying around with, around with…
Why would he want to stay around with someone like her?
She silently crept up behind him. He’s just like everyone; he’ll just toss you aside once he’s done with you. The damned Quarian is next, just you wait. A voice scolded her.
But a part of her, a small part of her wanted to believe that there’s something to get back to after the mission; something that would fill her hungry soul.
“Jack...” he turned slowly towards her.
Was he expecting me or is he that good at keeping an eye on his back?
“Shepard…” she said anxiously.
“I wasn’t expecting you...need something?” he calmly asked.
“I was thinking about you and…” she glanced up at his eyes and looked away again.
“Why do you keep pushing?” she asked, her voice was starting to crack. “There’s the Quarian, that bubble butt cheerleader. Heck, even that Justicar Samara if you’re desperate. Why would you want someone like me? I’m a lost cause, Shepard. I got no future with you.” she croaked.
“Jack…” Shepard took a step forward and gently caressed her cheek. It was probably a miracle that she didn’t decide to slap it away. Slowly, he guided her face to look him in the eye.
“You wanna know why? Because I think you’re worth the hurt. There's a fire in you that I can't help but try to get close to. Sure, it would suck to get burned, but I just can't help it. That's the part of your beauty I love the most, Jack. And um...” he paused, looking flustered.
"You have...very wonderful eyes. Drives me insane, to tell you the truth." he said almost breathlessly.
“And for as long as I live, I want to make this work. I want us, to work. So please, give me a chance.”
She was still staring at those eyes.
“Us?” she whispered to him. The first tear-drop marred her eyeliner, and left a wet black trail down her cheek.
He held both her hands.
“Yes…” he smiled weakly.
He kissed them both.
It wasn’t until later, as she and the crew charged the Collectors that she realized how much she wanted to live.
No longer did she listen to Subject Zero. Zero was bred to maim and kill without hesitation, or die trying. That part of her wanted nothing more than to strangle the life out of this other pretender named Jack.
And for the first time in her life, Jack felt what it meant to watch each other’s backs. Every time she felt her barriers go weak from the onslaught of Seeker swarms, she glanced to see Shepard picking off drone after drone trying to target her. His face was rippling with sweat, and when their eyes graced each other, she focused in holding on a little longer.
She would go through that hellhole alive, she promised herself. And she’d be damned if she lets anything else happen to herself and Shepard.
Now, with those same blue orbs staring back at her once again, she’s now sure that it’s her favorite pair in the universe.
And that was my best mistake. She thought serenely.
There was one more mistake she was willing to make, one that she whispered to him when he wasn't listening. She thought her actions alone would scream loud enough, but the words stabbed and twisted inside of her. The more she whispered, the louder it rang inside her head. And she couldn't take it anymore.
"Love you..." she mumbled clumsily.
The words gushed out of her mouth like water. She could see his eyes starting to widen. It felt so wrong, and yet...
"I...love you..." she tries again. She found her voice this time.
Saying those three words, three words that would've disgusted Subject Zero to no end, made her head woozy. But saying it right here, with him, while the galaxy is in peril, somehow felt right. And she meant every word like it was a prayer.
"Dumbass..." she couldn't help but add. But she delivered it not with her usual swagger, but with all the anxiety a lover would feel knowing that they might never see their partner again.
Shepard blinked twice, shocked. His mouth twitched to say something but his voice was snagged in his throat. Instead, his eyes suddenly became moist. He nods twice and bows his head for another hug.
He holds her tight in his arms again.
“I…love you too, Jack…I…” he whispered into her ear. She could hear him sniff and clear his throat. And she closes her eyes as she felt his body shiver in her arms.
“I…wasn’t planning to break down right here. So…” he draws sharp breath. “So excuse me if I hold onto you for a little bit longer, because that was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard. And I’m afraid if I let go now, I just might cry like baby.”
And just like that, her anxiety popped like a balloon.
Then came the little waves of giggles. She was confused if she should really be reacting like that or not but she couldn't help it. She was more than happy to hold onto him for just a little longer. She caressed his firm back, and wished that this moment would last forever.
“Okay. Duty calls.” he patted her on the back before letting go. He glanced towards her students, his eyes linger at them for a moment.
“Thanks again for not sending them straight to meat grinder.” she nods towards them.
“Yeah, I know they mean a lot to you. And if you think they’re more useful in providing barrier support, of course I’ll trust your call.” he turns towards her.
“These kids wanna see some action, I doubt that they’ll stay in support teams if they don’t do too well. Or they could request for a transfer. That’s what I’m afraid of.” she said.
“Hmmm.” Shepard ponders about that. “If they do, don’t try to stop them. You’re the teacher, just show them what they need to know so that they won’t get themselves killed out there. Got it?”
“Yes, Commander.” she said without a hint of sarcasm. She can be very serious if she wanted to.
“Well, take care, my boy scout.” she says affectionately, patting him on the shoulder, and lightly kissing him again. “You’ll write to me.” she said matter-of-factly. Her bravado had come back.
“You know I will, babe, you know I will.” Shepard said with a chuckle, and a hand caressing her cheek.
“Good, kick your ass if you don’t.” she said with a wink.
“This is goodbye, then…” he says with a sigh. The commander in him had taken over, and he gave her a confident nod of a soldier.
“Yeah…goodbye for now, Commander.” she said.
Since she’s Alliance now, she’s technically obliged to salute him, so she snapped him one. It was clumsily done but he returned one to her anyway.
“Maybe I’d make a good girl-scout after all, huh?”
He kisses her on the nose, which irritated her immensely, and she was sure her students were watching closely.
“Keep practicing, Corporal.” He said with a smug look.
She takes a slow step backwards, then two. Her eyes not leaving Shepard, then she turns rather quickly to walk towards her students.
This is it. Both of them thought.
He’s not done, he not done, he’s not done. She repeats to herself.
“And Jackie?” she hears him calling out behind her.
I knew it!
She rolls her eyes and swings her head with a slight smirk. She immediately spots the camera icon on his Omni tool turned on.
“I’m gonna be missing you a lot…” he began.
“So...you want me as a souvenir?” she finished for him, already giving him a nod of approval.
“I’ll treasure it forever…” he smiled while tapping to activate live view.
“Hope this helps with ‘morale’ support.” she chuckled.
She decided to wear an expression she knew he’d drool over later on, nothing fancy. Her makeup should do the trick for her.
The camera chimed once and the picture is saved.
A few shuttles approached overhead, the hum of their thrusters wound down to signal their descent.
They both looked at each other one last time and gave one another a knowing nod.
Her Omni-tool chimed later in the shuttle. It was an image attachment from Shepard.
She was glad that no one was looking at her corner, so she decided to catch a glimpse.
She couldn't help but grin like an idiot.