Uncomfortable Truths

Disclaimer: I do not own Mass Effect.

Dear datapad that I'm writing in because I don't feel like talking about it but apparently must still obsess,

I saw Jacob today and he broke my heart.

That really doesn't happen to me a lot.

I don't love Jacob. I'm not even attracted to him. There's just something so very odd-looking about his face that kind of freaks me out, actually, though I've never been able to pinpoint it. At least I understood that Miranda's absolute perfection was what disturbed me about her looks. Jacob also didn't give me any bad news about anyone that I did love or about anything at all.

I haven't seen him since the day that Earth called for me to face judgment for that solar system that I might have sort of blown up. I had thought that he and Miranda would be going back to Cerberus but it appears that both of them had a change of heart.

Not surprising, really, since the Illusive Man seems to have slipped off the slippery slope into insanity. Too bad, really. I rather liked him. And even now it's hard not to be grateful to the man who literally brought you back from the dead and who was the only one who seemed interested in ignoring the political bullshit and stopping the Collectors.

I've decided that he must be indoctrinated or something. There's no real reason for me to think that but since I am still fond of him and I don't want to think that I missed the frightening level of insanity that makes him think that starting a war with the rest of the galaxy while the Reapers are trying to kill us all because he wants to control the Reapers was a good idea, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

But anyway: Jacob.

Jacob had helped Cerberus scientists – and their families – who had realized that their services would soon no longer be required and terrorist organizations have a crap retirement plan to escape but at some point they had been discovered.

I think he said that there were 43 scientists and 17 children as well as spouses, parents, and whoever else they had decided to bring along with them.

One of them was Gavin Archer. Yes that Gavin Archer, the dick that had looked at "A Clockwork Orange" and decided to see if he could recreate it. Fortunately, we managed to get David some help. When I ran into him recently at Grissom Academy he seemed much better and, I'm not going to lie, I absolutely melted when he told me that lately he'd been counting the days that I'd lengthened his life.

How the hell could Gavin have done that to him? I mean, sure, it must be much more difficult to have to take care of someone autistic like David instead of just rescuing him a few times but there were better options! No reason Gavin couldn't have taken him to Grissom himself if he really wanted to be done with it.

At least he seems to have finally realized that he was being a monster and has fled Cerberus. I still don't like him, though, even with his thanks for saving David twice.

Jacob, right. I don't want to think about what he said but I can't stop.

He explained why he had left and how he had ended up here and, because I am perhaps the nosiest person in the galaxy, I asked him if he was involved with Brynn Cole.

To my surprise – and jealousy if I'm being perfectly honest – he admitted it freely and immediately.

Now, I'm not jealous because I want to be with Jacob because, seriously, I had my chance. Jacob used to have a definite thing for me and there were several moments where I could tell he was thinking about going for it. Of course, that was usually when I fled the room so it's not surprising that he never did.

No, I'm jealous that, whatever other complications there might be being on the run from Cerberus, he can know exactly where he stands and be openly together with her. Of course, I asked her about it later and she said the same thing.

Kaidan and I…It's not so simple. Well, part of it is. We're in love. We both know that and bring it up fairly regularly. We're not exactly together, though, and we've never really had an opportunity to be.

We met when we were both serving on the Normandy under Captain Anderson and there are some pretty clear rules against fraternization. Well, there were. There might still be now but I'm pretty far past the point of caring and I think Kaidan is, too. That's not what's holding us back anymore. It wasn't what was holding us back then when Anderson was still in charge because I could barley match a face with a name.

Once I was put in charge of the Normandy, Kaidan and I grew closer as he was usually with me on my various do-gooding missions but it was never a question of not being professional so I honestly don't know when I realized that I had a…no, not a crush. I'm not fifteen. When I had feelings for him. I was in no hurry to realize it since there was nothing to be done.

We did hesitantly broach the subject but it wasn't until we broke out of the Citadel, knowing very well that we would probably be court-martialed for our actions, that we actually acted on our feelings. Once we were pretty much out of a job there was little point in worrying about professionalism. And we were worried about it. We didn't even really do anything when I chose to save him over Ashley. Not that that was the only reason I did it, though. I never had a family and she had, what, five younger sisters? That pretty much counteracted any bias I might have had in Kaidan's favor.

Once we proved beyond a doubt that we were right (at least about Saren being corrupt and having an insanely powerful ship hell-bent on killing us all because the Council never does like to believe any more than is strictly necessary), our places in the Alliance were secure. Just the same, we figured that being the heroes that saved the Council and earned humanity a spot on the Council after a mere thirty years or so meant that we were entitled a little leeway. I knew that Anderson wouldn't blame us any.

And of course I picked Anderson, even if Udina did get his hands on the title in the end and eventually lost it. I don't blame him as much as I probably should because the rest of the universe is refusing to unite to save us all from being horribly murdered until I personally solve every single damn problem they have. I had to cure the genophage and now need to bring peace to the geth and the quarian for crying out loud! It's the kind of thing that drives one to Cerberus, it really is. But at least when I joined up they weren't quite so quick to turn all of their employees into husk-human hybrids.

I was always going to pick Anderson for the Council. Giving me my chance forced Anderson into an early retirement and if Udina had had his way then we never would have been able to save the Citadel. Plus Udina was kind of a dick. And even though Udina would probably make the better Councilor (until he quite understandably said 'Screw it' and plotted to murder them all), I knew that Anderson would listen to his advice so it all amounted to the same thing in the end except that I got a Councilor who actually liked me.

I said earlier that Kaidan and I hadn't had any time together and that's technically not true. We had one month. One glorious, blissful month after we'd beaten Sovereign and Saren and were looking for proof that there was more out there even as the Council slowly began voicing their doubts. They never doubted that I believed but they always thought I was too gullible no matter how many times I've been right.

You have no idea how gratifying it was to hear the asari Councilor finally admit that after I pulled a gun on Udina and accused him of treason. I always hate killing people that I know so I'm secretly glad that Kaidan did it for me. Only secretly, mind you, because he's going through hell because of it and I'm not happy about that. Not that I think that it would stop him from judging me if I had been the one to do that. But he did promise he'd stop doing that – judging me, not shooting Councilors but I trust him to use his discretion on that – and so here's hoping.

Hearing that from the asari Councilor as well as the turian Councilor acknowledging that I saved his life twice as well as probably saved his planet almost made up for the fact that, due to the fact I'm to play diplomat, I haven't gotten to make those infuriatingly little air quotes that he once did when talking about the Reapers he only now acknowledges. The salarian Councilor also acknowledged that I saved his life but since that came with a veiled threat that if I hadn't he'd take action because I saved the krogan from extinction for a crime they committed around the time of Christ, I'm not feeling too good about that one. Quite the opposite, really. But I need him so I can't say anything. Again.

Oh, it does turn out that despite the fact that everyone in the galaxy has been convinced that I just used the nonexistent threat of the Reapers as my excuse to do whatever I damn well pleased and that he batarians recently accused me of doing just that with regards to their destroyed colony, there are actually people in the galaxy who don't share this view. Notably that batarian I met who accused me of using the very real threat of the Reapers as an excuse for destroying the colony now that they're invading. Apparently he missed the part where I haven't changed my story. But whatever, some people will find any reason to hate me. I would have thought that just killing 300,000 of them was enough but apparently my reasoning had to be bad, too.

But that's not the point. At the end of that month where we just enjoyed each other's company and finally getting to be with each other and so we didn't ask any of the hard questions about the future, I died.

No, seriously, I died.

Our ship was destroyed and I was thrown out into space. There was no way anyone could reach me and I didn't fancy slowly freezing to death or suffocating and spending hours just waiting to die so I took a moment to steady myself and unplugged my oxygen. It was pretty quick.

The next thing I know, I'm in a strange facility that's under attack and this bossy voice over the intercom was ordering me to get out of there. Well, that I could do.

It was only after we'd managed to escape that place that I learned that I had been dead, two years had passed, and that I had been brought back to work for Cerberus of all people. Yes, that's Cerberus that terrorist organization who couldn't stop turning their people into husks that we had encountered while trying to stop Saren.

Miranda didn't exactly help matters but telling me that she had wanted me to come with some sort of control chip but at least the Illusive Man vetoed that idea. Who would have thought Miranda would end up one of my closest friends and the Illusive Man would try to kill Kaidan?

One of my very first goals upon learning the situation was rejoining the Alliance but since I had been officially declared dead and brought back by Cerberus and the Alliance was ignoring the threat of the Reapers and the Collectors, I couldn't really do that. Cerberus, on the other hand, not only was willing to let me investigate but outright expected it and were willing to give me everything I needed to save the day.

Not that that mattered to Kaidan. I showed up on Horizon (no one told me he was there and I asked everyone. I know for a fact that a few of them knew damn well where he was because I called them on it later) and saved half of the colony from the Collectors and what does he do?

Well…first he hugged me. And then he yelled at me for not calling even though you'd think that being dead was a pretty good excuse as far as these things go. Apparently not. And then he really let me have it for working with Cerberus to save the galaxy even though nobody else was willing to save the galaxy or to let me save it and the galaxy was in dire need of some saving, especially the human colonies. It was pretty brutal. I might have even cried about it when I was safely alone in my quarters. If anyone asks, though, I'll deny it to the death. Thankfully Garrus stood up for me so I didn't have to just take that. I really didn't have anything to say in response which is a rarity, let me tell you.

I think part of the problem was that we were approaching it from such different places. I remembered three months ago the Normandy was destroyed and I had sent him to safety while I went to go save Joker (I never told him that his decision to go down with the ship and mine to stop it was what got me into this mess in the first place even though it's absolutely true). Kaidan remembered two years ago he watched me die. He had been grieving and trying to move on and I had been trying to find him.

After the disaster that was Horizon, I admit I got a big clingy with those that knew me before. Dr. Chakwas and Joker and Tali and Garrus. I spent a lot of time with Garrus. In fact, he and I almost, well…that was when I got Kaidan's email. It was an apology and not even a promise of one day but…I don't know. I just couldn't. I wanted to and if he had indicated he was interested back before I had my heart set on Kaidan then who knows what would have happened? Since he wasn't off-limits like Kaidan was, I think the story would have played out very differently. Even now I like him more than I probably should.

And to think that I was wary of turians before I met him. It's always this way. Turians, krogan, asari, salarians, quarians, even geth and AI…Then I meet Garrus, Wrex, Liara, Mordin, Tali, Legion, and EDI and suddenly I'm a fan. It doesn't even matter when they're clearly anomalies like in the case of Wrex.

I never wanted to be the kind of girl who waits for a boy but it wasn't about that. It was about the fact that it hadn't been nearly enough time for me to even begin to stop loving Kaidan and so I still wanted my chance with him.

I didn't see him after Horizon until I was called upon to testify about my actions with the destroyed batarian colony. Certain people hadn't thought to let me know that they had been promoted. Or, indeed, to contact me beyond that email. An auspicious start, it was not. So maybe I snubbed him a little going in but once my hearing was interrupted by the Reapers totally vindicating me (not that I could even enjoy it all things considered), there was no time for that.

There was, however, time to talk on Mars while dodging Cerberus troops and trying to retrieve crucial data. And then there was time while he was in the hospital. And after that silly little misunderstanding involving me pulling a gun on Udina, there was time to talk on the Normandy when he asked me if he could come back.

It was just a formality, really. I let everyone on the Normandy and even if I didn't I had already asked him the last time I'd seen him.

So we both know where we stand, sort of. We love each other and we're not seeing other people but we're not together, not really. I don't know why and I don't even know how to bring it up. He hasn't said anything, either, and I know if I ask he'll probably say something about the war.

Damn the war.

It may seem petty to be concerned about personal problems when we're fighting to stop our regular 50,000 year genocide, but no matter what Diana Allers might report, I can't be all Reapers all the time.

And here's Jacob who is just as busy and in danger as any of us and who wasn't content with accidentally rubbing my face in his happy relationship.

No, he had to go further. Much, much further.

He explained to me that what he liked about protecting the scientists and being with Dr. Cole specifically was that it offered some stability and he realized that what he really wanted was to settle down and have some kids one day.

I told him I got that because, really, I do. Who wouldn't?

He told me I was wrong.

"The Normandy's your real love."

That's what he told me.

I tried to deny it and say that I thought about giving it all up sometimes and he insisted that it didn't matter because I'd never do it.

What an asshole.

I mean, fine, I'm sure he didn't mean to be but he was.

And it's not even really true anyway.

I mean, sure, I went down with the Normandy but it wasn't on purpose. And maybe I was thrilled beyond belief when Cerberus built practically an exact replica and also called her the Normandy but since so much had changed why wouldn't I be thrilled? And sure, I was near tears when the Alliance took her away from me but that was more about what it represented and what was going to happen to me because of my saving the galaxy once again. And maybe I was feeling a little homicidal once I found out that if the Reapers hadn't attacked then Anderson was totally going to take my ship but…okay, fine, maybe he has a point.

There's no point in any of us speculating or making plans about a future beyond the Reaper threat because more than likely none of us will have any. That's the one tolerable bit about everyone in the galaxy obsessing over things that will only matter if we win: they seem to think that we will win.

But I can't help wondering about the future, too, even though I never talk about it. I'm with the Alliance until this war is over but then what? I can't just quietly step aside. I love the feeling that I get from showing up in some dire situation and watching everyone's face light up because they know that they're saved. I love being the deciding factor between a horrible loss and a touching victory. I love mattering and I love the Normandy and it's more of a home to me than anywhere else I've ever been.

It's not like if Kaidan and I ever get our act together that he'll expect me to retire but what about children someday? I think I might want them. Unfortunately, being female means that I'd need to be off of active duty for at least a year for each child. It's times like this that I actually wish I were a male.

And once you have children, can you really justify going on suicide missions every day? With both parents in the military, who will watch the kids? I know that I can't do a normal life. I just don't have it in me to be quiet and anonymous and plod along like everyone else.

I guess that's arrogant but I know myself. I don't need to be on the front lines, I don't think, but I need to be doing something important. I know that's arrogant but it's true.

Kaidan and I aren't together and we weren't together long enough to discuss children so I don't even know if he wants them. I think if I were to have them I'd want them to be with him (that's the benefit of dating in your species. One of the reasons I could never seriously consider dating Liara is because I want human children).

But what would it require me to sacrifice in order to have that? And would I be able to leave the Normandy behind? Sure, I can't stay in action forever. Assuming I'm not tragically killed, one day I'll have to leave it behind due to age if nothing else. Of course, by then my child-bearing years will be long over and so if I want a family I'll have to cut my time a lot shorter than I wanted to.

I don't know if I can do that. I don't know if I want to.

And yet I do want a family. I wish I could have both but given what I do I really don't think that I can.

I'd need something, though.

I don't want to think about this anymore because I'm getting no closer to an answer than I was before but now that Jacob's put the idea in my head I find that I can't get it out.

Damn Jacob. I never liked him.

He's not right about me except in a way he is and there's no point planning for a future I'm never going to have but there's no chasing the thought away.

Kaidan just sent me an email. He wants to do dinner.

This is promising.

And suddenly my dilemma just got a lot more pressing.

Not that I'm going to say anything to him, of course.

If I'm lucky then this will be a first date and I don't want to come off as one of those people.

You know, the crazy ones.

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