Sister Complex

Chapter 26

Jane approached the cockpit with some trepidation. She knew second hand that John had spent a good amount of time at her bed side, but that didn't mean things where square between them just yet. Sure, he had been a bit of an ass regarding the relationship issue, but she'd been necessarily rude, insubordinate, and immature as a result, and she felt a good deal of guilt and embarrassment still. Sure, they'd had spats before as kids, but they'd usually ended with making up and/or hugs eventually. The air of a raw dispute unresolved still floated between them, and it did more than make her uncomfortable. But she soldiered on, none the less.

As she neared, she spotted Garrus leaning in the door way, clearly listening to the events in the cockpit without appearing to pay attention. He nodded to her with a pleased flick of a mandible, and she stopped next to him to watch the three figures before her.

"-I am ready." Stated the cool voice of the Normandy's AI as she shifted slightly, her voice more even and calculated than usual. She almost seemed nervous, if that was even possible.

"Wait, wha- What?" Joker stuttered and he spun around to face her, "Are you crazy? You can't go to Cerberus Headquarters! They could have a virus, or a kill switch, or a-"

"I will be fine, Jeff." She snapped curtly, and Jane marveled at her evolving emotional array.

"Head to the shuttle, EDI." John dismissed the conversation, and the AI turned to leave after a single glance at the disgruntled pilot. Jane stopped listening to the cockpit's conversation as EDI passed her, making her way toward the elevator, and Jane turned a weary eye on Garrus. What with technical knowledge of Garrus, Tali, and herself, EDI hadn't been taken on that many critical ground missions, and Jane wasn't sure how she felt knowing that the relatively inexperienced AI was going to be the one watching Garrus' back. But if nothing else, her near brush with death had instilled how stupid this conflict with her brother was, and if she was intent on patching things up with him then she was going to stop doubting his command and decisions. She was a soldier, and she should act like one regardless of familial ties with the ship's CO. After a moment, she returned her attention to John's words floating in from the cockpit.

"I know it hurts, not being able to go with her."

"Yeah, it sucks. Thanks for bringing that up." Jokers pain and spit filled words struck something similar in her, but though she resented being left on the ship again, she'd made up her mind and she was going to be professional. Even if it rankled. John turned to leave, and nodded his welcome as he noticed her standing there. They stood there in awkward silence for a moment, and though it felt like an hour passed before he spoke, it must have been only seconds.

"Jane," He cleared his throat, coughing into a gloved fist, "Its good to see you up and about again."

"Thanks...I-" Her words were strangled as he pulled her into a tight hug, and she found herself painful pressed up against his armored torso. "Careful, careful! My side!" She felt a small chuckle bubble up, and he loosened his grip on her slightly, allowing her to wrap her arms around his neck. He pulled away, careful of her injury this time, and took a step back.

"I know you're going to be upset about having to stay behind, but-"

"I understand, John." His eyes shot open with surprise, as did Garrus' from where he standing to the side. "I don't like it, but I understand. Just make sure you get Kai Leng for me, and I'll focus on healing up before I'm needed next. Commander." She saluted him with a smile, albeit a somewhat tight and forced one. John composed himself rather quickly, and returned her salute before turning toward elevator.

"Hey, Shepard." They all turned toward Joker, who's attention was still on the ship's controls. "Keep her safe." They all knew who he was talking about.

"Same to you."

As John left, Garrus placed a single hand on Jane's shoulder, giving it a slight squeeze and he pressed his hard lips against her cheek briefly before following John.

"That was for Jane, you son of a bitch." John spat as the assassin's body crumpled to the floor, and Garrus returned his rifle to it's place on his back as he slowly approached. Blood pooled around the twitching soon-to-be corpse, and it seemed fitting to see him laying there, similarly wounded as his former victims. The blade wound in Kai Leng's side oozed oily black-red blood, and John's lips curled in an uncharacteristic sneer. "Good riddance."

Kai Leng's hand twitched toward his fallen, shattered sword hilt, and Garrus reacted instinctively. He whipped out his pistol and he couldn't stop the flood of satisfaction as he pulled the trigger just once, depositing an armor piercing round right between Kai Leng's eyes. He let out the breath he'd been holding, and noticed as John did the same. Not for the first time, Garrus' mind drifted back to the episode, months ago, on the Citadel, where he had stared down John and Sidonis through his scope. Even though Garrus knew why the situations were different, revenge for Jane's near death was sweet. He just had to remember that revenge was simply icing on the cake that was taking down a very dangerous enemy in the fight against the Reapers. Killing Sidonis would have been something akin to kicking a sick or crippled varren.

John turned and walked away from body as the prothean VI reappeared and began to give suggestions. Not that it really mattered at this point. They knew what they needed, and they knew where it was. It was now just a matter of getting there. As the ground team turned to leave, John opened a com channel with the Normandy.

"Joker, make sure the shuttle is prepped, we're ready for extraction." John barked as they left the destroyed remnants of the Illusive Man's control room.

"It's already on its way, John." As Jane's voice filtered through their com units, John glanced down at his omni-tool, most likely to insure he had contacted the right frequency.

"Jane? What are you doing in the cock pit?"

"She been sitting up here being a pain in my ass since you guys left." Joker snapped, Jane's clear laughter present in the background.

"Hey now, I've been plenty useful. John, did you really think I was going to sit on my hands or twiddle my thumbs when you guys were down there being goddamn heroes?" John sighed in defeat.

"No, I suppose not." Came his weary resignation as the ground team began their journey backtracking through the base toward the nearest shuttle hanger.

"I actually managed to hack into the Cerberus database while you guys were fighting your way through. I wasn't able to access any of the stolen data, it seemed to be in a separate, more secure system, but I was able to extract some interesting video feeds before they were scrubbed." Jane's voice continued, now laced with concentration.

"Anything important?"

"Not necessarily, but most of it is interesting at the very least. Want me to send a copy of them to your omni-tool?"

"What sort of files? What are they about?"

"Most of it is about the Illusive Man, Kai Leng, and EDI. But some of it is about the Lazarus Project..." There was an awkward pause, and Garrus wondered exactly how much Jane knew about her brother's resurrection. He had explained a small amount of it, but even he only knew so much.

"...Did you look through those files already, Jane?" John asked stiffly after a moment. They finally arrived in the shuttle hanger, and watched as Cortez quickly landed before them.

Another pause. "...Yes. John, I-"

"I see." They piled into the waiting shuttle, each finding a seat. "Send them to me, I'll look through them when I get a chance."

"Will do." With that, John closed the com channel and leaned back in his seat. Garrus could see the strain in the way the Commander sat, but there was a vast difference between how he had held himself before the mission. Regardless of the horrors that probably awaited them when they arrived at Earth, this had been a successful mission, done well. There was a small beep as the files arrived on John's omni-tool, but he made no move to open them as he stared down at the device on his wrist.

"Nervous about what you might find?" Garrus wondered allowed, and John glanced at him before returning to watching his unmoving omni-tool.

"Somewhat. I'm still me, I doubt I'd have been able to turn against Cerberus other wise... I don't remember anything. Maybe they really just fixed me, or maybe I'm just a high tech VI that thinks it's Commander Shepard. Almost think I'm better off not knowing." He looked down at this feet and closed his eyes, the lines of his face becoming pronounced as he clenched them shut. "But I dunno, I-"

"It'd be surprising if it didn't mess you up... a little. But I wouldn't worry about it. You're still the same John Shepard I've followed into hell numerous times, and I trust you, for what its worth, whether you're human or robot or something in between." That got a small smile out of him.

"Thanks, Garrus."

"Any time.