Lawson met Hannah at the door, with her arms folded over her chest and her expression just as icy as Hannah expected.
"Where is —" Hannah began, ready to shove the woman out of the way if she tried to delay any longer, but Lawson reached out and laid a cool, ungloved hand on Hannah’s shoulder.
"I understand that you want to see her, Admiral Shepard," said Lawson, in a voice to match her expression. Cold, so very cold and professional, as if the only hope Hannah had left wasn’t just beyond the medbay scans. "And I understand how hard this has been for you."
"Don’t give me that I understand shit, Lawson.” Hannah stepped away, and watched with bitter satisfaction as Lawson’s hand fell slowly back to her side. “I know about your work, and I know what you did to her.”
"I saved her life," Lawson replied, utterly flat. "Twice. I have nothing but the utmost respect for you and your work, but it is vital that you respect mine. Her condition is still precarious, and you must comprehend the systems keeping her alive.”
"Liara’s message told me that she was healing, that she was — that — what the hell have you done?" Hannah covered her mouth, reeling, every muscle aching. I will not cry. I won’t.
"Liara’s message was optimistically premature," said Lawson. "I planned to wait until Shepard was able to communicate verbally once more, as it would be a great deal easier to assess her progress."
"Communicate — oh my god, is it that bad? Will she…" Hannah choked on her words, her throat full of the sticky panic that she’d spent the past year holding at arms’-length. "Did you call me here to say goodbye?"
"Admiral, I don’t know how much your daughter told you about me, but I am very good at my job." Lawson smiled, the first faint crack in her polished veneer. "Walk with me. I’ll tell you all that you need to know."
Twenty minutes later, Hannah stepped into a dark, warm room with Lawson right behind her. The only lights came from the muted displays along one wall, and the only furniture was a bed — a bed that held a still, frail figure.
"We’re keeping her sedated for now," whispered Lawson. "The trauma to her system was — well, I don’t need to tell you. But she is healing, and faster than we hoped. I am consistently amazed at her tenacity."
"Don’t sprain yourself," murmured Hannah. She bent over the bed, and listened in the dark for Shepard’s breathing. When she heard the faint, shallow rush of air, her legs threatened to give out, and only by gripping the bedrail did she manage to stay upright.
"Hi sweetie," she whispered, and kissed her daughter’s forehead. "I’ll be here when you wake up."
"He’s asleep," Mierin whispered, her mouth inches from his cheek. "No one’s going to know."
"Weaver will know," Vortash whispered back. "She knows everything.”
Mierin laughed, startling them both, and pressed her mouth to the side of his neck to muffle her laugher. “Weaver knows everything because she’s a nosy little shit, but she’s not going to interrupt. She doesn’t have a death wish.”
Vortash blinked at her, frowning, and Mierin knew he was trying not to point out that everyone in the base had a death wish, spoken or otherwise. It came with the territory, with being part of Archangel’s squad. Mierin couldn’t think of a convincing counter-argument, so she kissed him, with a quick bite to his lower lip to distract him.
"You did that on purpose," he growled at her when she pulled away, but she could tell his heart wasn’t in the protest.
She shrugged, tugging him toward the practice range. “The boss won’t come down for watch for another two hours. If we’re quiet —”
"Like that’s going to happen," said Vortash, with a hungry grin. He squeezed her ass, grinning wider when she yelped and jumped away. "Quiet, right."
"You asshole,” she snarled, rubbing her ass and glaring at him — and fighting the indigo blush building in her cheeks. “Forget it, offer’s off the table, I’m going to bed.”
"Of course you are," he replied, still smiling, and grabbed her arm. "Come on, Mie."
"Get yourself off, I said I’m going to bed."
"Can you two fuckheads please just make up your minds?” hissed Monteague’s voice from over their heads. “Some of us are trying to sleep.”
"Sorry," Mierin called back, as Vortash pulled her toward the range.
The next morning, Weaver kept waggling her eyebrows at them during the morning meeting, and Erash and Sensat made pointed comments about overcoming base urges, but Mierin just smiled and thought of the dark lovemarks under her armor. Let them joke — everything was working out for her, for once.
My lovelies! We have reached the end of our endurance for the evening (beer + food comas + less than four hours of sleep + ALL THE YARN = sleepy Hippee!), so we shall be continuing the Hippee Drabbles tomorrow, after sleep and an enormous greasy brunch!
Thank you to everyone who sent in a prompt! I’ve done my first five, and will finish the rest tomorrow!
(I had no idea Donnie doing his Mordin impression would be so popular!)
Perhaps the bedside table was not the best place to store their supplies of KY-Jelly and Sriracha. And perhaps Raph should have checked the label before he decided to move things along.
But when they got home drunk, already half-hard and yanking off their clothes, Raph knew he had less than thirty seconds to either distract Casey or get prepped.
So he grabbed the wrong bottle. It was dark, and Casey’s mouth was everywhere, and —
Casey’s stopped screaming, at least, and Donnie’s cackling has faded to a faint snigger every few seconds, which is better than him not being able to catch his breath or stand up because he’s laughing too hard.
Leo has absented himself completely, and Mikey is asking wide-eyed questions that are just this side of innocent, and Raph hates them all. Every single one of them.
Then April walks in, takes one look at Casey, and yells “Again, Casey?” before clapping a hand over her mouth — and at least now she has to deal with the awkward questions, not Raph.
So the evening’s not a total loss.
These three things he cannot forget, even when all else is gone: the smell of smoke, the cries of their daughter as her lungs filled with air for the first time, and Tang Shen’s scent.
Peaches and steel, the blossom and the katana. She was both those things, the hidden blade and the eternal spring, and now she is nothing but ash, carried far from him by the wind.
My love, she whispers, as he lays his aching bones down in his cold bed. You have done so well. Our beautiful children. Oh, Yoshi, look at them. They are so strong, so brave. Our sons. Our daughter.
"I failed so often," he whispers, since none of their children can hear. "I did not lead them as I should. I did not guide them. And I lost —"
It is all forgiven, Yoshi, says Tang Shen. She sounds so close this night, like he would brush her cheek if he reached out.
He does not reach out.
They live because of you, she says, and he so clearly sees her smile and smells her scent that he closes his eyes. He is old and weary, the winter of his life growing ever more bitter, and his mind is no longer to be trusted. His dreams have fooled him before.
But this is a special night, for his wife is almost real to him once more.
"Husband," she says. "Open your eyes."
Splinter obeys, and there she is, smiling, her head crowned by blossoms, and a katana in her hand.
"Come away with me," she says, and his heart is light, for she is returned to him, and their path is the same once more.
Brian said, “She’s too young,” and Shepard’s temper rose up, snarling.
"I’m twelve, not a baby,” she snapped. “I can keep up with you guys.”
"Dude, she’s not gonna let it go until we let her play," said Jake. "Just let her play. Once she gets knocked out, she’ll go cry and not come back."
“Fine,” snotted Brian. “The kid can play.”
Shepard did her best not to smile, and to look like an angry little kid. The angry part wasn’t wrong.
And being angry let her snap off a Singularity without a mnemonic — always tricky, and it skidded out of her to land three feet to the left of where she wanted it to — that snatched Jake off the floor and left him swearing while she shot past him to slam the ball into the goal.
None of the fourth year kids wanted to play with her after that, but she didn’t care. The fifth years, on the other hand, were ripe for the picking.