A/N: Howdy do, folks! I'm baaaaack! I know this is earlier than I told you guys and gals at the end of WttF, but…well…I just couldn't help it. Over the months of writing WttF, it became part of my routine, and you'd be amazed at how bored I got without it. Even Task Force Hydra (which all of you should read) didn't totally satisfy my writing crave.
So yeah, this story is a sequel, so if you haven't read Welcome to the Family, please do so now. Go ahead, I'll wait. But seriously, if you want to read this, you really should read the first one. There's some rather important stuff in it. Chapter four is where it comes into its own.
I'm gonna try to keep to my ten day update schedule, but with summer coming up, I might be able to get chapters out quicker. Or maybe slower because of work. I'm still not sure. Either way, I'm pretty sure you readers are just happy to see me back :) And honestly, I'm happy to be back. I hope y'all like the shenanigans I have in store for you.
Disclaimer time! Mass Effect and its characters and plot are the property of Bioware and EA. Death and the Auditors are the property of Terry Pratchett. All else belongs to me unless stated otherwise.
Anywho, I suppose I should start this story where every good sequel starts: three months after the previous one ended. Enjoy!
Life In Between
Beep! Beep! Beep!
I groggily slap down on my alarm clock's snooze button, eyeing the offending piece of technology with some distaste. Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm getting up, you damn thing. Though I do close my eyes and just lie in my bed for a while. I may be awake, but that doesn't mean I have to get up yet. Eventually, I open my eyes again and look around the room I've been living in for the past few months. There's nothing really special about it: a square room with metal walls, a desk, extranet terminal, chair, and the bed I'm lying in. But hey, I'm really only in here to sleep, so it doesn't really matter. I'm usually out wandering the Citadel or hanging out with Ian and Garrus when they're not on shift.
Finally, I manage to drag myself out of bed and into the small bathroom that connects to my room. Even if it's tiny, I'm glad I have my own. Anything is better than the communal showers on the Normandy.
The Normandy. I think it shows just how far I've come in the past few months that I can think about it without feeling depressed. Granted, if I start brooding about it, nothing will stop the memories from washing over me, but I can at least give passing thought to it without getting sad.
Anywho, I step in the shower, hoping that the hot water will wake me up some. Once the soothing water starts washing over my body, my mind wanders back to the events since the Collector attack. After Death's little talk with Ian and I—which I still have a hard time believing—we were pretty much stuck in the escape pod. I finally remembered to turn on the distress beacon after an hour or so, but that didn't really hasten our rescue. We were sitting on Alchera for around a day before the Alliance found us.
We were eventually found by the SSV Perugia, and it took us back to the Citadel. The trip was a…quiet one. All of the ground team survived—and Jenny managed to save Joker—but some canon just doesn't change. Everyone took Jenny's death hard, but I think Joker took it the worst. I don't remember him saying more than two words while the Perugia brought us back. Ian and I even tried bantering with him, but he just kinda brushed us off. I know he'll be ok, but seeing him like that was awful.
About the only non-depressing thing about that trip was meeting Ken and Gabby. I didn't really talk to them that much, but on the few occasions that I went down to engineering, they were always very friendly and answered any questions I had. I wonder if they'll remember me in two years.
The weeks following our return to the Citadel also sucked. Everyone on the Normandy, especially the ground team, had to sit through hours of hearings about the Normandy's destruction. Again, Joker took the brunt of the attack. The Alliance admiralty grilled him on why he didn't evacuate sooner or why he couldn't save the ship, and none of Joker's answers seemed to satisfy them. In the end, the Alliance grounded him. Something changed in Joker after that. I haven't heard from him since, but according to Kaidan, he quit about a week later. The Alliance also decided that they didn't need my services anymore, so I'm no longer their "general contractor." Whatever, I wasn't planning on staying anyway.
And then came Jenny's funeral. Even though I know for a fact that she'll be back in two years, it was still a depressing event. Just like Ash, she was given a grave at Arlington, even without a body to actually bury. Unlike Ash's funeral, though, Jenny's was a major event. Half of the Alliance brass, seemingly the entire galactic media, and even the freaking Council were there. Speeches were restricted to crew of the Normandy, the Council, and Jenny's family. Her father and brother looked…well, I don't think I've ever seen such despair. They had just buried Jenny's mother a month or so earlier, and Jenny's death just came completely out of the blue. Knowing that she'd be back, I tried giving the two depressed men words of encouragement, but they sounded hollow even to me. In the end, I simply gave them my condolences and let them grieve alone.
After that, I came back to the Citadel. Ian was true to his word and let me stay with him and Garrus. For two months, I've been living here with them, and it's been pretty good. They went back to C-Sec, and I've been trying to find a decent job to no avail. I don't really need it for the money; I still have plenty in my account from the Alliance, but I want something to pass the time. I know damn well that I'm not gonna spend two years just sitting around. I also know that Garrus and Ian won't be around forever. Eventually they're gonna go off to Omega to become space Batman and space Robin. But that'll probably be a few months still. I've got time to think about the future.
I shake my head, deciding that I've been in here long enough. Shutting off the water, I grab a towel and start to dry myself off. Wrapping the towel around my waist, I step out of the shower and stand in front of the mirror.
God, is this really me? Is this the same kid that suddenly appeared on Eden Prime seven months ago? I rub a hand across my cheek, feeling the beard I've started to grow, and the reflection does the same. Yeah, this is me, all right. I look down at the six horizontal scars across my chest from Sovereign and think about all the shit I've been through since coming here. Those scars are just the most visible changes. When I first got here, the only thing I had ever killed was some wildlife. It only took a few days for me to kill my first man in the name of stopping Saren. I remember hesitating those first few times…but that went away. How long did it take for me to become desensitized?
I sigh, closing my eyes. I guess there's nothing I can do about it now. What's done is done, and it's not like I take enjoyment in killing someone. I'm still the same person…on the inside, at least. I only have to look in the mirror again to see that my time here has changed my appearance. Gone are the days of being a twig. I'm not jacked, mind you, but my muscles have been toned by combat and trips to the gym now that I'm not in combat anymore. And hey, I can't deny that the scars look badass. The beard also helps make me look older than my 19 years. I snort as I realize that I'll be 21 by the time Jenny comes back. We should share a drink when she does.
Well, no sense in standing here anymore. Besides, Ian, Garrus, and I were planning to see a movie today. I forget what it's called, but it sounded interesting. Something about the fall of Earth, I think. I step out of the bathroom and find a pair of jeans and a t-shirt to put on. Just like Ian, I prefer the styles we had back in the 2000's. All the men's styles now look kinda stupid, but I'm also glad that I'm not the only one wearing a "vintage" style. Now fully clothed, I exit my room to see Ian and Garrus already eating breakfast. They both look up when they hear my door open.
"There you are," Ian says in between bites of cereal. "I was about to come searching for you."
"Well, unless you wanted to see me fresh out of the shower, it's probably good you didn't," I say with a grin. "Besides, I don't think Garrus would appreciate you sneaking a peak at another man."
"I've told you before, mate. You're just not my type," he says, returning my grin. "Besides, I'm a one-turian kind of guy."
"You're damn right you are," Garrus says, covering Ian's hand with his own and giving him a warm smile. I stand off to the side, watching the two of them with a smile of my own.
"You two done yet?" I ask after a bit.
"Just get your food," Ian says, not looking away from Garrus. "We might be done when you sit down." I just chuckle and grab a bowl of cereal. I'm glad that Ian and Garrus have already worked out a system to keep the dextro and levo foods separate. Otherwise this could get a little tricky…or dangerous.
With cereal in hand, I take a seat across from Ian and Garrus and just start eating. They'll let me know when their little moment is done.
"Dylan. Our little moment is done." Well damn...he just read my mind.
"Cool. So you two ready to see that movie?"
"Yes," Ian says, voice dripping with sarcasm. "So fucking hyped."
"I've heard it has lots of hot turians," I say with a grin at Garrus.
"One turian kind of guy, remember?" He looks over and winks at Garrus. "Unless one of them is better looking than you."
"Ian, I'm hurt," Garrus says with mock seriousness. "But I guess I'm just lucky Pallin doesn't respond to your advances, aren't I?"
"He's just playing hard to get."
"Well unless he starts responding, you're all mine."
"As cute as this is, don't forget that someone else is at the table," I say.
"You've had two months of this," Ian says with a shrug. "And you've only started caring now?"
"Just don't want you two making out right in front of me." I realize my mistake as soon as I say it.
Ian looks over at Garrus with a wicked smile on his face. "That's not a bad idea."
"Let's save that for the movie," Garrus says, mandibles widening.
"Just make sure you aren't in-between us in the cinema then, Dylan," Ian says. "Unless you want your view spoiled."
"I may be stupid, but I'm not dumb. Like you said, I've had two months of this."
"Hey, don't be ungrateful. Or we'll start making you pay rent."
"Not being ungrateful...just having a laugh at your expense. It's not like you don't do it to me, too."
"Yeah, but I help pay for the apartment."
"And for that, I am eternally grateful," I say, giving yet another grin.
"Leave him alone, Ian," Garrus says, smiling back. "If you take the piss out of him now, you'll have nothing left to do it later."
"Good point," Ian says with a nod. "And I love it when you use my expressions."
"I can't believe he's corrupted you that much, Garrus," I say.
"Boyfriend, remember?" Ian says. "I'm allowed."
I sigh, shaking my head with a smile. "You've got me there. Now if you two are done laughing at me, we should probably get going. Don't want to miss this amazing movie."
"I don't even know how you afforded tickets for this," he says with a grin.
"You forget that the Alliance was paying me during my time on the Normandy."
"And you've been living off that for all this time? Why didn't I sign up?"
"Why are you asking me that? Not my fault you didn't think of that."
"Alright, you two," Garrus says, interrupting our wonderful banter. "If we want to get to the movie, we should get going." Ian and I share a look, silently agreeing that this one was a draw. There will be others.
"Then what are we waiting for?" Ian asks, getting up from the table. "Let's get going."
Twenty minutes later, we're sitting in the movie theater, and half an hour after that, the movie actually starts. I honestly have no clue what this movie is about, but I've heard that it has an amazing soundtrack. Since the score even gets mentioned, it must be pretty freaking good.
The lights finally go down to their lowest levels, and the movie starts. Cue an amazing shot of Palaven floating in space with an occasional ship drifting through the scene. Suddenly, something enormous starts to eclipse the planet. The camera pans out to reveal a ship of epic proportions: easily over three kilometers long. The camera keeps panning out to reveal a few more, then a dozen more, then thousands. Minutes later, Palaven is burning. The entire time, music filled with such oppressive foreboding plays through the speakers. It's honestly quite chilling.
Three hours later, the final scene fades away, replaced by the title of the movie: The Last Days of the Earth. Everyone just stays in their seats, not moving. I think we're all trying to process what we just watched. I'll admit, I wasn't expecting much from this movie. I was expecting nice effects, some decent action, and a good score. Well it had all of that except for a good score. It had a great score. I don't know how they did it, but every single song managed to pull on whatever emotion you were feeling during a scene. It also got surprisingly deep at points, dipping into ponderings about the nature of death and the indomitable nature of the human spirit.
As the credits start to roll, people still haven't left their seats. Personally, I don't care about the actors. They were alright and would probably be up for some awards. No, I want to know who wrote that amazing score. Finally, the names of the composers scroll across the screen: Mangdalar, Yelena, and Art. Well you three, you have a new fan.
Well, skipping ahead about a month, I'm still living with Ian and Garrus. They haven't run off to Omega yet, but I can tell C-Sec is starting to get on their nerves. They're on shift right now, and I'm out wandering the wards because I don't feel like sitting in the apartment alone. About all I do in there is watch the news, and that's been pissing me off lately.
In the past few weeks, the Council has started pulling the bullshit moves you hear about in ME2. At first, they started downplaying the significance of Sovereign's attack, writing it off as an isolated incident. They didn't deny the existence of the Reapers, but they claimed that Sovereign was the last of its kind. That alone is enough to piss me off, and I know it's just gonna get worse.
So yeah, I don't really like watching the news anymore, meaning that I spend as much time out of the apartment as I can. At the moment, I'm walking through one of the numerous parks in the Presidium, just enjoying the view. As I'm walking by a small café, something catches my eye. Is…is that Kaidan? I stop and take a closer look. He's facing away from me, meaning that I can only see the back of his head, but that hair…Unless Elvis is still alive, that has to be Kaidan. Next to him is an attractive woman with shoulder length brown hair. If I had to guess, this is Kassandra.
I haven't talked to Kaidan in…three months or so. I should go say hi. As I get closer, I start to hear snippets of their conversation.
"I'm glad we could do this," Kaidan says, and I can practically hear the smile in his voice.
"Me too," Kassandra says, reaching over to take hold of Kaidan's hand. Her voice is higher than I thought it would be, making her seem younger than her appearance suggests. "Thanks for bringing me here. It's beautiful."
"It really is. Good sanity check." He leans back in his chair, looking completely at ease. That elicits a small chuckle from Kassandra.
"We definitely need to do this more often." For some reason, that makes Kaidan rub the back of his neck. Looks like he's nervous about something…
"That's actually something..."
"Hey, Kaidan!" I say, finally reaching them. He really did seem nervous, so I figured I'd give him a distraction. "I didn't expect to see you around here."
"Hey kid!" he says, looking over his shoulder at me. Then he looks back at Kass. "Have you met Kassy?" Now that I'm closer, I can get a better look at the woman in question. Lemme just say…Kaidan's a lucky man. Her tan skin and dark hair highlight a pair of piercing blue eyes.
"I can't say I've had the pleasure," I say, extending a hand towards her. "Dylan Owens."
She shakes my hand while giving me a warm smile. "Nice to meet you. Kaidan's told me about you." Huh, really? Probably just mentioned me along with the rest of the squad.
"And your name came up in our conversations on the Normandy."
"Is that so?" she asks, raising a teasing eyebrow at Kaidan. He grins back at her with a small blush.
"So what brings you to this area of the Presidium?" he asks me, apparently wanting to move on with the conversation. I'll let him off the hook…for now.
"Oh, nothing special. Just needed to get out of the apartment," I say. Then I give him a small grin. "I don't have to guess what brought you out here." That earns a chuckle from him.
"Oh you know, cool omni mods, new tech displays..." He looks over at Kass. "And a pretty nice view." Aww, how cute. Kass reaches over lightly punches Kaidan's arm, shaking her head. I can see the smile she has, though.
"Only pretty nice?" Oh snap… I grin to myself, eager to see how Kaidan gets out of that one.
"Uhh... what I meant was..." He trails off. Aw, come on, Kaidan. I was expecting at least something. Well…seeing as I kinda put him in this mess, I should help get him out.
"He meant to say that all the trees were spoiling the perfection," I say, giving Kass a smile.
"Exactly," Kaidan says, nodding as if that was what he was actually gonna say. Of course, that doesn't fool her, so she laughs.
"Good save," she says, looking at me with a big grin. "I like you already...kid." Why am I not surprised she picked up on Kaidan's nickname for me? Oh well. She seems like a nice person, so I'll let her call me that.
"One does one's best," I say, giving a playful bow.
"Care to join us?" Kass asks.
"I don't want to intrude on anything."
"You wouldn't be intruding," Kaidan assures me. "Come on, sit down and have some coffee." He gestures to a nearby waiter.
"Fine, fine," I say, giving them a smile as I sit down. "But I'm fine without coffee." I wave the waiter away. For some reason, Kaidan smells his cup.
"Yeah, this stuff just isn't the same," he says after a moment.
"Better than the coffee on the ship, at least?" Kassy asks.
"Definitely. Alliance standard coffee is crap."
"Probably a good thing I'm not a coffee person, then," I say.
"Grew up in Vancouver, surrounded by the good stuff," Kaidan explains. Huh, I didn't know he was from Vancouver. Learn something new every day. "I never stood a chance." Kassy laughs at that. Then she looks over at me.
"So Dylan...what's your story? How'd you end up on the Normandy?" Geez, I'm surprised she would ask that. Good thing I have my story firmly established.
"Do you want the boring truthful version, or the made-up one that makes me look better?" I ask, giving her a sly grin. I figure I can have some fun with this no matter what she says. Kaidan just rolls his eyes.
"Oh, come on. I'm sure getting onto a ship like the Normandy is anything but boring. Let's start with the truth, and if I don't like it, you can make something up." Haha, good answer. I can really have some fun with this.
"Alrighty then," I say, preparing to delve into my story that everyone else knows as "the truth". "I lived on Eden Prime. I was out hunting the day that the geth attacked, meaning I was already armed, thank god. I managed to wander through the wilderness and got lucky enough to meet up with Kaidan and Jenny while also saving Ash. After that, I stuck around, and they decided to keep me."
Kaidan nods, offering confirmation to my story. "That sounds about right... except you asked to come along," he says, smirking as he finishes. I grin back at him.
"Hey, those geth scared the shit out of me. I wanted to be safe. What better place than with the illustrious Kaidan Alenko?"
"Biotics do come in handy."
Kassy looks over at Kaidan, giving a sly look. One corner of her mouth quirks up in a small smile. "Yes, they do," she says in kind of a sultry voice. I'm suddenly feeling less comfortable. I probably didn't need to hear that. Luckily, that only last a moment before she looks back at me. "Okay, now I'm curious. How can you possibly come up with something better than that?"
"I was brought here by the anthropomorphic personification of Death to stop the evil plans of cosmic bureaucrats." I manage to say that in a completely level tone and totally straight faced. Kassy narrows her eyes at me and seems to study my face for a few seconds. Suddenly, she bursts out laughing, and I know my ploy worked. Even if they thought it was a joke, it felt good to say that to someone besides Ian or Garrus.
"That's certainly imaginative," Kaidan says, giving me a smile. Oh if only you knew. But I've got to keep up appearances, so I smile back.
"I've always been a creative fellow."
"That's a great story," Kassy says, still laughing lightly. "Ever thought of becoming a writer? You really do have the imagination for it." Me? A writer? I mean, I guess I've written a few poems, but I've never written any thirty-seven chapter epic sci-fi story.
"I do write from time to time. Nothing special, though. Just some poems and short stories."
"Poems, huh?" Kassy asks, arching an eyebrow. Kaidan also gives me a smirk.
"So is this how you've been spending your time, kid?" he asks, giving Kassy a wink. I just smirk back at him, deciding to play along.
"Quite so, Kaidan," I say, trying to sound fancy. "All I've done here on the Citadel is create verses about the infinite beauty of flowers and shit. Seriously, though, no. I've been living with Ian and Garrus for the past few months."
"How are they doing? Haven't talked to them much since... well, since the funeral." The funeral. That was the last time I saw a lot of the crew, and I'm sure that holds true for the others.
"They're doing fine. C-Sec is starting to piss them off a bit, but they're still going strong. How 'bout you? What have you been up to since then?"
"Actually…" He rubs the back of his neck just like he did when I walked up. I wonder what's got him so nervous. "I just got my new post earlier today. Good thing you showed up, saves me from having to say it twice. I leave for Horizon in a week. Details are classified, unfortunately. But it looks like I'll be stationed there for quite a while." Horizon. Damn… That's one part of ME2 that I'm really not looking forward to. I've grown to think of Kaidan as an older brother, but if push comes to shove, I know who I'm siding with. I really hope it doesn't come to that.
"Wait, what? You leave in a week?" Kassy asks, sounding shocked at the news.
"Yeah, I just found out this morning," Kaidan says, obviously not happy that this is the case. "Go where the brass tells you, right?" Kass obviously doesn't like the news very much. She casts her eyes down to the table, but I catch a crestfallen look before she does so.
"But it seems like we only just got reunited."
"I know, Kass," he says, sounding crushed that he has to break this news to her. "And it sucks, it really does. But I'll be able to talk with you every day. If you still want to. I'll understand if you don't." He looks down at the table. I can only imagine how much it took for him to say that.
In an instant, Kassy looks up from the table and grabs Kaidan's hands. "Of course I still want to. I..." She lets out a small sigh. "...I understand that you have to go. I just wish it wasn't so soon."
A look of intense relief crosses Kaidan's face. "That makes me so happy," he says, cupping her hand with both of his. "And I'll get one week paid leave every 6 months." Ok, I'm finally starting to feel like I'm intruding. I can tell they want to spend as much time as possible together, and who am I to interfere with that time? I start to get up from the table.
"Well if you've only got a week left, I would feel bad taking up any more of your time," I say, giving them both a warm smile. "Have fun, you two. And stay safe, Kaidan."
Kaidan also gets up and extends a hand towards me. "You too, kid," he says returning my smile. "Good to see you again."
Kassy also stands up and gives me a smile. "It was nice meeting you!"
I give Kaidan's hand a shake then look over to Kassy. "It was a pleasure meeting you, as well. I wish you both all the happiness you can handle." With a final smile and wave, I walk away, leaving the two lovebirds alone.
It's been about six months after Jenny's death, meaning I've been in this universe for around ten months. In the two months since running into Kaidan and meeting his girlfriend, not much has happened. About the only major event was me getting a job. My account was finally starting to run out, so I needed some kind of income to support me. Believe it or not, I actually got a job at "Miller & McCarthy's". So I work there as a technician: making sure all the weapons and armor are in top condition. So I'm there from 9-5 every weekday, making enough money to keep up with my expenses. I also finally met the other half of the store's name: Barrett Miller. He's in charge of weapons, and Joel handles the armor. He's a pretty chill dude, and a decent boss, so I can't complain.
Anywho, it's currently a Saturday afternoon, and I'm just chilling in the apartment, watching TV. Ian and Garrus are on shift, and I have no clue when they'll get back. Knowing them, probably late at night. I've started to hear them complain about C-Sec more lately, mostly about the increased red tape since Sovereign's attack. I pretty much just let them bitch. Give them an opportunity to vent a bit.
Suddenly the door slams open, catching me by surprise. Thinking that someone's trying to break in, I quickly look over at the door to see Ian and Garrus walk in. They look…angry. Actually, no, not angry. Furious.
"Shit guys, what the hell happened?" I ask, sort of fearing the answer.
"Turn on the news," Ian says tersely.
Giving him a curious look, I do as he says. I switch over to Citadel News Net, trying to think of something that could get them looking this angry. They're in the middle of the story when I switch over.
"…dead, with no survivors. The man, a deranged L2 biotic, walked into a medical supply store and immediately locked the shop down. After taking hostages, he threatened to detonate the element zero nodules inside his body unless reparations were given to all L2 biotics because of the damage done by the implants. Negotiations fell through and the man fulfilled his threat, detonating himself and killing all twenty hostages."
"There's what happened," Ian says in that calm tone that people only use when they're beyond pissed off. "So yeah, pretty shit day in the office, before you ask."
"God, I can believe it," I say. There's one question that springs to mind…but I don't know if I should ask it. They might take it the wrong way. Unfortunately, I think I need to ask it so I can understand the situation. "How did C-Sec let that happen?"
"Pallin fucked up, that's what happened!" Garrus yells, scaring the crap out of me.
"Council held him back more than anything else," Ian says obviously trying to be the calm one. I can see the fury hidden under the surface, though. "Garrus had a shot on the guy responsible, but Pallin held him back while he tried to run through the political ramifications."
"Well now twenty innocent people are dead!" Garrus says, still quite angry. "How's that for 'political ramifications'?"
"Hey, I didn't say I agreed with it!" Ian yells, finally snapping. Shit, this could get ugly fast.
"Guys, guys, calm down!" I say over their argument. "I know you two must be pissed off beyond belief, but yelling at each other won't help anything." They both stop yelling, but Ian starts to pace up and down the room for a few seconds while Garrus just stands there by the door. Finally, Ian stops and tries to breathe normally.
"You would not believe all the shit in C-Sec that's caused this," he says, not really sounding any calmer. "Ever since Sovereign, this has just been waiting to happen. Too many people worrying more about their ass than anyone else's."
"I don't think I can take any more of this red tape s'kak," Garrus says. "C-Sec was getting on my nerves before we joined Shepard, but they're going too far now." That…is starting to sound like ME2 Garrus. Is this what pushes him over the edge?
"I feel like I know what's coming next..." I say, trailing off and letting them fill in the rest. Ian stares at me for a few seconds before speaking.
"Five letters? Starts with O?" he asks.
"Sounds like I was getting warm."
"We can't do our jobs here. Not anymore. Garrus is right, this s'kak is too much."
"You two told me that something would get me to Omega...if this doesn't do it, nothing will," Garrus says, finally starting to calm down. "I've wasted my last nerves on C-Sec."
"As a third party, it's my job to ask this: Are you two sure?"
Ian nods. "I'm sure if he is."
"I don't have a place here anymore," Garrus says with a note of finality. "I'm sure."
"Then yeah." Ian looks over at me. "We're going."
"Then there's really nothing I can say to stop you...not that I would anyway. You two stay safe out there."
"We'll look after each other," he says, also starting to calm down a bit.
"I know you will," I say with a smile. Then I pause as another thought enters my mind. "So would you two mind if I stuck around here while you're gone?" Ian just shrugs.
"It's fine by me," he says. "If you find a way to pay rent."
"And don't wreck the place too bad," Garrus adds. "It's still my apartment."
"Ian, I've already got a job, so I should be fine. Garrus, I won't…too much."
"Alright. Good. And...stay safe for two years, mate. Normandy's not gonna be as fun without someone else from our time."
"If anything, I should be telling you that," I say, thinking of all the shit that can happen on Omega. "I'm not the one going to fight baddies on Omega."
"I'm with this guy," he says, patting Garrus on the arm. "Plot armor."
"That's still so odd to hear, but it does make me feel better," Garrus says. I can only imagine what he feels when we start talking about future events, but so far he's been pretty good about it. We haven't told him about his squad yet, though. Ian and I agreed that he didn't need to know that till later.
"You've got a point, bud," I say. "But still, come back in one piece. Wouldn't want that face of yours all scarred to shit." I wink at him.
"You think you don't?" he says. Garrus looks slightly confused about that little trade. We haven't told him about that part, either.
"I think I missed something there," he says.
"Don't worry about it, amatrus."
"Fine, but I want to hear about this eventually."
"You will, big guy," I say, smiling. "I'm sure Ian won't keep it from you long."
"He can be pretty persuasive," Ian says, giving Garrus a grin.
"Alright you two, save it for the trip to Omega," I say, not wanting to get caught in the middle of another goo-goo eye session. "But seriously, good luck out there. You need anything, just send me a message and I'll do what I can."
"Likewise. Keep in touch," Ian says. I give him a reassuring smile.
"I will. Oh, and kick some ass for me. I'll expect nothing less from Space Batman and Space Robin."
"Just so long as you mean that like the cool Robin. You know, the one with the hood. Not that 70s bullshit." My smile grows even wider. Leave it to Ian to totally run with a joke.
"Sure, why not."
Garrus is looking confused again. "I think I missed something…again." He looks over at Ian and grins. "But I'm sure you'll tell me about that, too."
"I will," Ian says, smiling back at Garrus. Then he turns back to me. "But don't say your goodbyes too early, Dylan; we're staying here tonight. Need to get everything together, tie up any loose ends here."
"Gotcha," I say. For some reason, I just thought they'd be leaving right away. "Then I suppose I'll let you two get on that." With that, they nod and walk off to start packing.
The next day, the three of us are standing in front of a docking bay. Garrus and Ian didn't waste any time booking a shuttle to Omega, so I'm here now to send them off. As much as I really don't want them to go…I know Garrus at least has to. And I know that if Garrus goes, Ian goes too. We just kinda stand there for a bit, none of us really sure what to say. Finally, Ian speaks up.
"Well. This is it."
"I guess it is," I say. Then the silence comes back for a bit before I decide that something else is needed. "Seriously, you two...stay safe. I've gotten enough bad news over the past few months." I put out my hand, and Ian shakes it, giving me a smile.
"We'll be fine," the little Brit says. Confident as always. "Worry about yourself for a change, okay?"
I can't help but give a small smile in return. "No promises." Then I look over at Garrus and offer him my hand. "Kick some ass out there, big guy."
He grasps my hand in a turian wrist clasp. "I plan on it. Take care of yourself, Dylan. See you again in a year and a half."
And with that, they walk onto the shuttle. See you later, guys. To whatever god may be listening…keep them safe.
Well…it's been two months since Ian and Garrus left for Omega. I'm still living in the apartment, but it's just not the same with those two gone. I miss our morning banter over breakfast and hearing them talk about C-Sec over dinner. I also miss being able to talk about my origins. I had gotten so used to having them as an outlet if I thought of something or just felt the need to talk about it. With them gone…well, it's getting kind of lonely. I mean, I'm living in an empty apartment, I eat alone most days, and my only real source of interaction with people is at work. I don't have any friends here. Ian and Garrus are doing their stuff, Kaidan's off on Horizon, Wrex is kicking ass on Tuchanka, Tali's back with the fleet, and Liara's off doing her thing as an information broker.
And here I am, stuck on the Citadel. And honestly, that kind of sucks. After eight months, the Council has started to go full force in destroying everything Jenny worked for. Now, any mention of the attack mentions a "geth dreadnaught" instead of a Reaper. As if that wasn't enough, they're starting to write off Jenny as crazy, claiming that she suffered a "traumatic experience" that "ruined her mental state".
It's fucking bullshit. I can't seem to watch the news at all without seeing some piece about the "crazy Spectre". So even more so than before, I stay out of the apartment as much as possible. Basically, I'm there to sleep. That's it. If I'm not working, I'm wandering the wards or the Presidium.
Right now, I'm walking along a random section of Zakera ward. I don't have anywhere to be…just wandering for the enjoyment. Suddenly, a painfully familiar voice grabs my attention.
"Mr. Owens? Mr. Owens, is that you?" With a small grimace, I stop walking and turn towards the voice. An Arab woman in a blue outfit is walking towards me. She finally reaches me and turns on that annoying fucking camera. "Mr. Owens, I'm Khalisah Bint Sinan al-Jilani, Westerlund News. I was wondering if I could take a moment of your time."
"And what is your interest with me, Ms. Al-Jilani?" I ask, knowing full well that she's probably gonna ask about Jenny. She gives me a simpering smile.
"You served with Commander Shepard, Mr. Owens," she says, confirming my suspicions. "That makes you a very interesting person to all my viewers." Well, this is gonna be wonderful. Let's try playing innocent.
"I fail to see how me serving with Commander Shepard would be of any interest to your viewers, Ms. al-Jilani," I tell her with a childlike expression.
"Well, isn't it true that Commander Shepard was responsible for the death of valued Alliance personnel on Virmire? I'm sure viewers want to know if her attitude was that relaxed with her entire squad."
Oh fuck naw. She did not just try to insinuate that Jenny didn't care about what happened on Virmire. I ball my hand into a tight fist, barely resisting the urge to punch her. Well, this bitch is about to get the full force of my wit. Taking a deep breath, I school my expression, but she continues before I can give a response.
"Our viewers have a right to know the questionable actions of a questionable leader, Mr. Owens."
There are no words to describe the sudden hate I have for this woman.
"Ms. al-Jilani, I would ask that in the future you refrain from speaking ill of the dead," I say, my voice sounding completely hollow. "Both Commander Shepard and Gunnery Chief Williams gave their lives to defend Council space. Don't you dare insinuate that Shepard didn't grieve for Chief Williams, and don't you dare call into question the Commander's leadership. Not to me."
"I am simply offering public opinions, Mr. Owens. Commander Shepard's actions are being called to question by people demanding to know answers. Isn't it true that if Shepard hadn't mutinied and left the Citadel at a crucial moment, that Saren's invasion might have been stopped before it began? Human lives would not have been sacrificed in vain."
"Her actions were the only thing that kept the Council alive," I say, using the same dangerously calm voice that Ian used before he left. "Nothing was being done about Saren, meaning that Shepard's actions actually kept the damage to a minimum. I assume you enjoy living here on the Citadel, Ms. al-Jilani? If so, you have Commander Shepard to thank that the destruction wasn't complete. And yes, human lives were sacrificed, but no one knew that better than she. The bottom line is that you would be questioning her decisions no matter what she did because that's what you do. And I don't have time for that. Good day to you, ma'am."
And with that, I walk away, feeling sick that anyone could believe such pretentious shit. The worst part is that that's becoming the popular opinion. I just…fuck! I just can't take it anymore! It's bad enough that people are denying the Reapers, but now they're actively stepping on Jenny's memory.
In a few hours, I know that that interview will be all over the news. I'm pretty sure that Jenny supporters are a clear minority now, meaning that my opinions won't be well received. Honestly, I couldn't give two fucks about what the general public thinks. Most of the general public is fucking stupid. I get the feeling, though, that the Council might not like some of my comments.
I think I should leave. I honestly have nothing keeping me here on the Citadel, and my life could soon become a living hell if the Council wants it to be. I don't think I could have spent the next sixteen months here, anyway. I would have gone crazy, even without all the fallout I know I'm gonna get from this. Besides, I need to start thinking about how I'm gonna get on Jenny's team for the suicide mission.
A suicide mission…
I had never thought of it like that before. Till now, it was always "ME2 events". But there's a very real possibility that I could die on that mission. On the other hand, there was a possibility of dying on any of the missions while chasing Saren. On the other hand, none of them were considered suicide missions. On the other hand, what kind of friend would I be if I let Jenny go on that mission alone?
In an instant, the answer becomes clear. I'm going with her. Now I just need to figure out how to get on the team. I doubt I can make a big enough name for myself for the Illusive Man to give me my own dossier. I could join Cerberus, but there would be no guarantee of getting on Project Lazarus. So that means sticking close to one of the other recruits.
Garrus is out, seeing as I missed my chance there. Besides, Ian's already with him. I could go to Korlus and join the Blue Suns, hoping to meet up with her when she gets Grunt.
No, that just sounds stupid. No way am I joining at the same time as Jack. I ain't getting thrown in prison. That leaves Mordin because I sure as hell ain't waiting till after Horizon. Mordin has serious potential. All I would have to do is get a job at his clinic. He's also on Omega, which would put me closer to Ian and Garrus. Mordin's also one of—if not the—first ones recruited, meaning I would be with her almost from the beginning. Plus…Mordin's awesome. He was probably my favorite new squad member in ME2.
I think it's decided.
Never thought I'd willingly go to Omega.
Welcome to the New Family
A/N: So there we go! Welcome to the Family is officially back in action! I started out strong with my longest chapter yet. Rightfully so, seeing as there was a lot to cover in this chapter. I'll tell everyone right now that I'm taking a Mass Vexations route with the two year interim: I plan on spending two or three chapters on it.
And speaking of MV, I have to thank Herr Wozzeck for letting Dylan watch the wonderful movie he came up with.
I also need to thank iNf3ctioNZ for letting me continue to use Ian Shaw. Also thanks to Kassandra Black for letting me use Kassy. And last one: Thanks, quantumparadigm, for helping out with Kaidan's dialogue.
So yeah, there are the first eight months of the two year wait out of the way. The next sixteen or so will be covered in the next two chapters. I know a lot of people were curious as to how Dylan would spend the wait and how he would end up on the squad for the suicide mission. Well...now ya know both of those answers! He's gonna hang out with Mordin. Should be fun.
Anywho, it feels so good to be back up writing again. I can't wait to hear from all my old regulars, and I hope to hear from new fans as well. Till next time, folks, ta ta!