Author's Note: thanks to cyanb for the beta read.
I woke to a cool afternoon. Dressing in civilian clothes, I left the cabin and walked down to the lake. Through the glass wall of the living room, I had seen her there, seated on the stone bench that looked over the water.
She glanced back over her shoulder. She smiled at me; that odd, shy little half-smile I got to see, sometimes. She turned back to what she was doing. "We're alone, Garrus," she said. Her voice was softer than usual, too. For a moment, I was struck by how fortunate I was, to see a side of Jane Shepard that no one else ever did.
"Sorry." I sat down on the bench next to her and looked out over the lake. It was beautiful. Serene, the water stretched out blue and crisp. We'd gone swimming in that lake, the two of us, in nothing but our skins. Well, she had… I waded in the water with it no higher than my shins. Even that made me nervous. Turians and swimming, not so much. Still, I grinned as I thought of what led up to it, and what it led to.
She glanced at me out of the corner of her eye. "You're thinking about last night," she said.
"Is it that obvious?" I asked her.
"Only to me," she said.
I laughed. I realized that I laughed about as little as she showed that smile. "I needed this," I said, then.
"Yeah. We did."
"We did," I agreed. I leaned closer to her and slid an arm around her shoulders. "I need you," I told her. She laid her head against my shoulder for a moment and sighed. Her red hair smelled warm in the sunlight. "What are you writing?" I asked her.
She straightened and looked down at the pad she held in her lap. "My sorrows."
She gave me the shy look again. "When I was a little girl on… Mindoir… my mother taught me to do this. It was something we did. All of us, I mean. I don't know where it came from." She continued to write, a neat and precise cursive. "It's how you get rid of it all," she said. "Your sorrows, your hates, your worries…" She gave me another look then, a defiant one, but it was the defiance of a child when caught out at something silly. "You write them down on a sheet of paper."
I gave her my blandest look. Even I don't piss off Jane Shepard, lightly. "And then what?" I asked her.
She continued to write. "And when you're done, you give them a sail."
"You what?" I could feel my mandibles twitch. She always managed to surprise me, in the oddest ways.
She finished writing and set down her pen on the stone bench. With care, she pulled the sheet loose from the pad. "You give them a sail," she said, matter-of-fact. She went to work on the sheet of paper and I watched her fold it into a little boat.
"Origami," I said, when she was done. "Kasumi showed me that, once."
"I guess so." She stood. With the boat in one hand she led me with the other, down to the edge of the water. She knelt there on the bank and I dropped down beside her. She let go of my hand and lifted the boat to her lips in both palms. "Go, sorrows," she whispered, "upon the wind of my breath, and do not return."
She lowered the boat to the water, then, and gave it a gentle push and leaned down to blow on it. It drifted off and away from the shore. We watched it go, a little paper boat, weak and at the mercy of fate.
Aren't we all, though, in the end?
I looked past it as it sailed; farther, I could see a fleet of them, scattered across the water. All of Jane's sorrows, on their way from her to their ends. I helped her to her feet.
"And…" I could feel something hard in my throat, and I swallowed it down. "And then what?" I asked her.
She smiled and wrapped her fingers around mine. "We fill the space they used to occupy, with happinesses."
And as her sorrows took sail, we gave wings to our joys.