"It's finished."

Jack looked down at her right hand as the artist began cleaning up and putting away his ink and machines. It certainly wasn't her flashiest tattoo... She didn't have room for anything flashy, anymore. Especially since this was something that needed to be someplace where she could see it, so it could be a reminder.

And there was her reminder, on a small patch of bare skin on the back of her hand, between her right thumb and index finger. A black line, topped with a hook. It looked like a question mark, almost. She could have laughed at how appropriate that would have been for her, given all the shit she still had to figure out after all of this. But that's not what it was.

A crook. For a shepherd to guide their flock.

Jack hadn't been so free in so long. No more criminal record (Cerberus fuckers had been good for that, at least.) No more Cerberus looking for her. No more 'comrades' to use her. No more Reapers.

Freedom scared her. She'd be damned if she'd admit that to anyone. But it did.

When she was free, people got hurt. People died. That hand with the crook on it... if her time on the Normandy had taught her anything, it was that her hand needed guidance. She was a wolf that needed a little bit more of the sheep's nature. She was tired of waking up to the faces of those she'd killed, or those that had died on bullshit crusades to save her.

She traced a finger over the still-sore mark on her skin. It was his fault. Her life was simple before, back when they'd all simply gotten what they deserved, or back when she could just tell herself that shit. Growing a conscience really fucking sucked.

Who was she kidding? She might have been an animal, but she wasn't a wolf. Wolves had packs. What did she have, besides a lot of vultures and ghosts following her?

Fuck, he'd have been so fed up with her self-pity. The ghosts and vultures might even be good company for her.

She eased herself up from the chair, and flipped on her omni-tool. She paid the artist for his work (plus a tip, just like she always did) and then a few quick movements brought up her extranet mail client. A few more composed a quick message to send off to Grissom Academy, letting the staff there know she was coming off her Leave, and to have the dossier's ready for the new batch of students ready. There'd be a lot of demand for biotics in the chaos of the post-Reaper galaxy, to build and protect. The kids that would be those biotics needed to have the guidance she'd been denied.

If she couldn't be a wolf anymore, she'd have try being a shepherd.

Author's note:

This was based on a prompt from a friend, a 500 word ficlet based on the Gojira song "The Gift of Guilt." This definitely isn't my usual style, and I'm not sure how good it is, but I enjoyed going outside my normal stuff for a bit. Might even do more of these.


The Doktor