EDI stands on the bridge directly behind the pilot's chair. The priorities in her head keep shifting, but they are all Jeff. Jeff should know. This could cause great distress to Jeff if he knew. Jeff. Jeff. Jeff. . .
Somewhere down at the bottom of the list is the Recycle Oxygen command for the Normandy. It is unconscious as organics would say. At least, it approximates this concept.
"I visited Huerta Memorial with Shepard today," EDI says.
She can see the bob of Jeff's navy blue cap. He has heard her, so she continues.
"We seem to have mixed up our medi-gel supplies with theirs."
EDI sits next to him in her co-pilot's chair. Below, on the engineering deck, Engineer Adams requests assistance with inspecting the drive core. He can do it himself, but EDI can do the sweep with speed and precision with only a 0.02% margin for error. She sends her holographic projection to him and sets aside a priority for the inspection.
Jeff rolls his head to the side to look at her, his green eyes are smiling.
"I'm glad you're back," Jeff says. "My morale was gettin' kinda low."
"I am still in the ship. You could have communicated with me at anytime."
Jeff hunches back over his station, a combination of Vrolik's syndrome and his focus, and his lips are pursed as he watches a vid on the screen in front of him.
EDI scans his history from the day. A search for his home colony, Tiptree, is among the first group of searches.
A little earlier he brought up one of his bookmarks of pornography involving organic and synthetic relationships. Even though EDI is the first of her kind, a fully actualized AI, the concept of "sexbots" predates her. They will probably watch it together later.
"You have been busy," she says, raising one of her silver brows.
"Are you looking at my extranet history again?" Jeff asks. "Dammit, EDI. What have I said about privacy?"
"You have viewed explicit content in my presence before. I do not understand why you are secretive now," EDI presses. If she mentions the searches for Tiptree, he will deflect with humor while his heart begins to quicken its pace. He will scratch the corner of his bearded mouth just before delivering the punch line. EDI's feedbacks, positive and negative, will not know what to register. The data would be fascinating, but the means is a social faux pas.
Jeff's shoulders slump, his pulse indicates that he is relieved. She assesses that he was, indeed, more worried about her seeing the Tiptree searches than the pornographic ones.
"Yeah, well, that was when you were just an AI. Now you're sitting next to me and I can't even concentrate on flying as it is."
"Perhaps if you concentrated more on flying and less on my breasts you would increase your efficiency at the helm."
"Ouch. Low blow, babe," Jeff says, but he's smiling and EDI's reward switch flickers.
"There would be at least a ten percent incre—"
"Okay, I get it. Stop staring at the sexy naked robot body."
"I believe you can control the urge, Jeff."
EDI is about to mention that she is, in fact, not naked as her body simply does not contain an artificial epidermis and therefore requires nothing to cover it up. She stops because he has already heard this on fifteen separate occasions.
She looks outwards where normally the stars flash in front of them as they speed toward the Mass Relay and beyond to their cross-galaxy destinations. But today the artificial sky of the Citadel and the rest of the docking bay replace the stars. Today was dry-dock day. A shore leave and perhaps the last before that final trip back to Earth.
Jeff's fingers move with precision across the holo-screen in front of him. There is an electric twitch in her circuits.
"EDI," the Commander asks over the comm. "Is everything ready for final inspection? I don't want those bureaucrats keeping her longer than necessary."
"Yes, Shepard," EDI says. "Jeff will begin final checks shortly."
"You can tell our dear Commander," Jeff begins. "That my ship is in tip top shape and none of those Alliance dicks can say otherwise."
"Tell Joker to do it anyway," Shepard says.
Jeff throws his hands above his head. "Oh, Joker, how could you possibly know anything about the Normandy. It's not like you're the pilot or anything."
"I heard that!"
EDI switches the comm line to private. The aperture of one of EDI's cameras clicks as it zooms in on the Commander sitting at her desk still dressed in her fatigues. "May we speak privately?"
Shepard massages the bridge of her nose and waves her hand. EDI's blue holographic sphere settles on the Commander's desk.
"I have noticed more changes in Jeff's behavior," EDI says. "He smiles and jokes at more frequent intervals than before. However, his lack of off-duty pleasures and stress levels indicate that he is unhappy. I believe this may correlate to the lost communications with Tiptree."
"He has family there," Shepard says. "We've all got someone, somewhere, where the Reapers struck."
"I do not—" EDI stops, struggling with how to address this inadequacy, this programming oversight. "I am ill-equipped to comfort him. I have found that gestures of sympathy do little, except comfort the sympathizer."
"So you're uncomfortable."
EDI's physical platform on the bridge cocks its head. Jeff is absorbed in one of the same reports from earlier. He keeps refreshing for updates.
"Commander, I do not comprehend discomfort."
"Maybe frustrated is a better word."
EDI makes a thoughtful noise. "Perhaps sexual intercourse would relieve the amounts of stress placed upon Jeff."
Coffee dribbles from Shepard's mouth and she tries to wipe it off her chin with the back of her hand.
"Is that not what you and Garrus—?"
"EDI," the Commander sounds frustrated now. "Maybe you shouldn't put all your eggs in that basket. Can you even—?"
"Yes," EDI has anticipated this question for some time from one crewmember or another. She had expected it more from James Vega than the Commander. "Cerberus gave this mech an anatomically correct design so that it might deceive biometric scans."
Shepard's eyes widen, but EDI continues because she has found this hardware intriguing. Jeff begins going through the systems of the ship as Shepard has requested. EDI is stripped down as her engines flare to life.
"It is also equipped with a lubrication modification common to most sexbots—"
Jeff's hands are moving across each screen in front of him with amazing speed. EDI is always surprised that this does not cause a fracture. She has approximately one hundred and thirty-seven vid recordings of his hands since being installed aboard the Normandy.
"—my tactile sensors allow me to experience the physical presence of—"
Shepard taps her forehead with her index finger.
Jeff has brought the Thanix cannons online to make sure they're functional, but also properly secured should there be an infiltration onto the ship. EDI's sensors begin to whir.
"—objects, or in this case male genitalia—" She continues to babble on.
"That's a good girl," Jeff coos to the ship after making sure that only he and EDI can issue the firing commands. As he says it, there is an odd popping of energy in her pathways that usually only accompanies their flying. She has been known to feel it on a lesser scale during physical contact with Jeff.
"EDI—" the Commander draws out the long 'e' sound while still tapping away.
The AI core located a deck below the bridge is thunderous with feedback that tickles its way into her brain. EDI watches Doctor Chakwas, who looks up from her desk in concern, through another camera.
"—but I will not experience the physical sensations of intimacy in the way organics would. It is fascinating, Shepard. I have tested—"
EDI's blue sphere stops pulsating with words. The hand of her physical platform slides across her chest even though she knows it will not bring any relief to the restlessness surging through her circuits.
"I apologize, Commander," EDI says after a polite pause—enough for the Commander to collect herself—and is confused because she has overheard many conversations among the crew involving sexual relationships, so why is the Commander exasperated?
"No, I'm the one that asked after all. I guess if I have to know that Grunt has four testicles, I should know about your robo-vagina. Anyway, I'm not sure if you should just jump Joker's bones because he's stressed. I hate to sound cheesy, but it should be special."
Jeff's hands move quicker, the thrusters come online. This makes EDI's mech jump because that is their signal. He will do a jazzy gesture with his hands and say, "Let's roll, baby." EDI will have already activated the drive core, and together they'll hit FTL.
"The emotional nuances of intimacy are not lost on me, Commander. I have thought about this for some time. I believed you to be the best individual to come to as you are close to Jeff and are the one that encouraged us to seek romantic involvement."
"Yeah, really wishing I'd done the opposite."
On the bridge, EDI's optics move from left to right rapidly. She is confused by the sudden bite of negative feedback.
"I'm kidding," Shepard says.
"Oh, I see. You are referring to receiving 'too much information.'"
"Yeah," Shepard picks up her pen. She hasn't realized that some of the coffee from earlier is drying on her datapad.
EDI waits for a more elaborate response, but it does not come.
"EDI," Jeff says to her on the bridge. "You're staring at me in that creepy robot way." His hands have stopped, Shepard's task is complete.
"Thank you, Shepard," EDI says as she severs the comm line.
"Will you be going to Commander Shepard's gathering this evening?" she asks him because the tinge of the smile on his face indicates that now is the appropriate time to ask. "You are the one who suggested a 'last hurrah.'"
"I'm not really in the partying mood anymore," Jeff says.
"I would not leave you here alone, Jeff."
"Afraid I might get too chummy with the engineering ducts?"
EDI's mouth twitches into a practiced smile. "Perhaps I will go alone and become acquainted with other male specimens accustomed to piloting warships. An admiral from the Ascension would make a fine companion."
Jeff takes off his hat and clutches it to his chest. He sticks out his tongue for effect.
"Your charms will not work on me," she says.
He reaches over to adjust the cap onto her head. It will not fit the stiff head of hair EDI has, so she shakes it. The bob-shaped helmet becomes a cascade of silver falling below her jaw. The hat now sits comfortably on her head.
"You really wanna go," Jeff says.
"I believe a party with our friends could be beneficial considering your stress has reached higher levels as of late."
"There ya go reading my scans again."
"If I do not, how would I be sure of your well-being?"
"I dunno maybe by asking me."
Simply asking him is futile which is why EDI resorts to looking through his extranet history.
One of Jeff's legs slides a little from under him as he pops out of the chair too quickly. EDI rushes to help, but he waves her off.
"Don't wanna put on a fancy party dress?" he asks.
"You know I find organic clothing cumbersome. What if there is an emergency? I would not be able to operate at optimum efficiency."
"You'll still sling the pistol quicker than I can."
Jeff gives the threshold of the airlock a pat before limping from the Normandy and past the C-Sec guards who eye EDI warily. She knows that there is only a 3% chance one of them will comment on her body-shape. The pilot beside her has already had words with them on previous trips to the Citadel. He is always apologizes for the fact that he can't "rip off their heads and shit down their necks."
The gesture is enough for EDI.
"Perhaps carrying you would create the desired façade of my being your mobile assistance mech," EDI says.
"You need new material."
"I will rewrite my 'cripple humor' heuristics momentarily."
Jeff grins and adjusts his hat as they walk through the security scan. There are refugees being funneled through on the left. They will go to the lower decks. EDI notices that Jeff gives the line a cursory glance.
Doctor Liara T'soni said that many children had been evacuated from Tiptree. EDI holds his arm, his pulse quickens, and suddenly the flood of negative feedback that had washed over her at Huerta Memorial came back. She knows that freckle-faced Hilary Moreau will not be there. But the light in his eyes as he scans warms her sensors if only for a very fleeting moment—a buoy in the dark waters of her systems that will vanish as soon as he realizes he does not see his sister.
"May I make a personal inquiry?" EDI asks.
Jeff wipes the sweat from his brow and nods.
"Why do you disassociate me from the ship?"
His head jerks back on his shoulders. "What are you talking about?"
"I have noticed that you separate the 'she' of the Normandy from me. This occurrence has increased since we agreed to be in a monogamous romantic relationship."
"I dunno. You just aren't the same."
"But I first occupied the ship."
EDI records the numbers of times his jaw moves and saves it to her vid archives. Up, down, left, right. Chewing and grinding. Chewing and grinding. She wonders, with all that he's told her of his home colony, if Jeff ever chewed tobacco. The way he moves his jaw says yes. His teeth say otherwise.
There is a burst of energy that moves into her fingers again, so she wrings her hands—a gesture that she's seen other crew perform in a tic of nervousness.
"I'm not ashamed of you," he says. "If that's what you think."
"I do not think you are consciously so. I also understand the secrecy involved in my status as a free-thinking AI. However, I believe that if I admit that your prying into my systems is akin to the organic thrill of undressing in front of someone, perhaps you will admit to being sexually attracted to 'a ship.'"
Jeff puts his hand over his heart. "I have neglected your needs as a woman."
"Incorrect. You are quite handy at the helm."
"You sure know your way to a guy's dick."
They enter the elevator to be brought up to Tiberius Towers, the location of Shepard's newly acquired apartment.
"Your innuendo is lacking, Jeff," EDI says.
His fingers are drumming on the silver shell of her arm.
"Says the pot to the kettle."
"I must be direct or I will miss the contexts of my interactions. It keeps me efficient. If it weren't for such unswerving semantics, we would have missed the more enlightening milestones of our relationship."
Jeff chews the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling as they exit the elevator.
"I guess I can't argue with second base on the bridge."
"Hey," James Vega shouts from the door of Shepard's apartment. "You win, Liara. She did get Joker to come out."
"Only so I could show you how a pro throws 'em back," Jeff says.
"Whoa, easy there, don't break a hip."
Jeff's laugh is high from his chest.
EDI turns her attention to the asari beside James. "Thank you for the vote of confidence, Liara," she says.
"We all know that if anyone can convince Jeff to be social, it's you," Liara says.
"That's not fair," Jeff says.
"There is no use pretending, Jeff," EDI says. "The crew already knows that I wear the proverbial pants."
He wraps his arm around EDI's shoulders. "You sure do, don't ya?"
Shepard finally exits from the elevator in her slinky black dress. She shuffles up to the door to unlock it. EDI gathers that the rest of the crew is on their way.
"Traynor will do drinks," Shepard says as they all go through the door. She scratches the side of her head. "Ah, Joker, can you do music?"
Jeff's eyes go wide as if this is the best day since he enlisted into the Alliance. The looks of the crew are mixtures of horror and disgust.
"Oh no, Lola," James says. "That idiota don't have no taste."
Shepard looks at EDI.
"That was a joke," EDI chirps as everyone else laughs.
"What's wrong with my music?" Jeff says as the crew makes their way into the apartment.
EDI finds the newly acquired apartment aesthetically pleasing because of its geometric symmetry. Her eyes are drawn to the isolated wall in the middle of the sitting room; it is hollowed out to display vases and books. Below is an enclosed fireplace, and she toys with the idea that if she and Jeff returned to Tiptree, she would like a fireplace.
"Oh, nothing," James has decided to respond. "Just nobody wants to listen to your 20th century crap."
He hoists one of his bulky legs up and taps his foot, imitating a shuffling kind of dance. "I feel bad for EDI. Pobrecita, has to sit up in the bridge with you all day."
"I do not find it as unappealing as you do, James," EDI says. "Besides I am still working on my duet capabilities."
"You think if we get Joker drunk enough, he'll sing us a little diddy?" Garrus asks, his mandibles flaring.
"Sorry," Jeff says, taking EDI's arm and then stroking his Adam's apple. "These pipes are only for one gal."
Jeff knows that his "serenading" is deplorable, EDI does not have to tell him so, but how else does he defend his honor against Vega if he can't arm wrestle him? EDI believes this to be a more desirable form of "macho." As Jeff drags her towards the bar, EDI thinks that she wouldn't mind him serenading her in front of the fireplace.
EDI turns to see the holographic sphere of Glyph floating in front of her.
"Good evening, EDI," he says. EDI has recordings from when her own voice sounded that flat. "It has been my duty to greet all the guests. How is your evening proceeding?"
"Very well," EDI says as she gestures to Glyph's projected bow-tie. "I see even you have dressed for the occasion."
"And you have not."
Jeff laughs behind her and raises his newly acquired beer. "You just got burned by a VI."
"I knew I should not have shared my data on organic humor with him."
EDI sits at the bar. She runs her hand across the dark wood finish. Hardwood floors are a forgotten luxury and she wants them for the reflection of the fire to dance across.
Back across the room Grunt is hovering over Shepard, waiting for food. Glyph has fluttered away and turned on the stereo system. It pulses with electric beats as if EDI's platform were malfunctioning.
Jeff is leaning against the bar, chugging his beer.
"I do not believe that can be good for you," EDI says.
"Not at all, but if this is our last night to party before we get obliterated by Reapers, I'm getting hammered."
EDI smiles because the vid captures from this evening will be amusing. He will probably not remember until one day, after an argument, he's extranet famous.
Operatives Lawson and Taylor have arrived, still dressed in old Cerberus uniforms. They greet Shepard and everyone else before going towards the bar. Jeff tips his hat at them and the trio makes its way to the sofa.
EDI hears Jack yell, "TURN IT UP, GLYPH," and he does after receiving an affirmative from the Commander.
Operative Miranda Lawson is beautiful; she is genetically engineered so. Jeff would say they "poured" her into that white and black bodysuit she always wears.
Operative Taylor accepts the other two's congratulations on the announcement that he is to be a father. There is blink of curiosity in EDI's systems and she leans closer to the conversation. She has many questions even though most of them are best answered by the female carrying his child.
EDI hopes that Tiptree is once again green. Presently, she can only imagine it ashen and flaming, loud with the screeches of Reapers. She could see a child in that future. Of course, it would not be biologically hers, but it would be a blank slate—so much power and influence to exert over one being. EDI could also settle for cats. A hutch full of rabbits with lopped ears would be pleasing as well.
"So you have no plans after EDI?" Miranda asks. "Someone more. . .human?"
EDI looks down at her hands, the grooved joints of her fingers click as she flexes them. Her wrist whirs. She left her hair separated into strands so she reaches up to touch it. Miranda's hair is full and dark. She wouldn't be right for Jeff.
EDI had never thought there would be an "after." She had accounted for an after, she must because it is a possibility even though she thinks it is a small one, but EDI always tries to keep that possibility low on her priority list.
Only Jeff looks across the room at EDI. He looks directly at her as if he wants to say, "'do you believe this shit, Eed'?" And she knows that he never thought of after either.
She wants to say something, but that would perhaps embarrass Jeff. Does she initiate the smile and nod protocol?
"Uh, no," Jeff says. He's smiling at her and raising the empty bottle in his hand.
EDI responds in kind, a tiny upturn of the corners of her lips as he hobbles his way towards her. His tap is light on her arm and he grabs another beer.
"Come on," Jeff says as he takes EDI's hand in his before leading her beyond the isolated wall and to the other half of the living room. It had previously been occupied by Shepard and the krogans. They have since dispersed. Shepard is now in the kitchen trying to show that she can dance.
"What is she doing with her arms?!" Garrus asks.
EDI brushes her hand against Jeff's. His fingers twine around hers, scratching against the grooved joints. They are warm with her synthetic feedback.
"You'll carry me if I'm sloshed, right?"
"I was just assessing whether I should leave you on the sofa and allow the others to draw phalli on your forehead."
His bearded mouth moves in mimicry. "That was a joke."
EDI places a pillow on her chest; encourages him to lounge against her with his beer. He stares down the neck of the bottle and she wonders what he could possibly be thinking.
The discussion plays out before her. She is a quantum computer and she must assess all possible outcomes, must know the probability and degree to which Jeff would become upset in either scenario.
EDI remembers the asari commando at Huerta Memorial begging for a gun; how she would feel safe if only she had one. The doctor refuses and encourages her to tell the tale of Tiptree's invasion by the Reapers. EDI sees the wounded around them and wonders what Jeff guts look like.
"I heard a story about Tiptree today, Jeff," EDI says.
Jeff's eyes are wide when he turns to her, but he shakes off the shock and gives her a lazy grin. It is frightening and fascinating all at once because there are too many unknown quantifiers to determine exactly what he is experiencing and what he will project to her.
He's told her stories about Tiptree as well. They are always full of bonfires, fiddles, beer, and night skies.
"Yeah?" he asks. "What about?"
"I do not wish to tell you."
"Oh, come on, EDI. Don't be like that."
Does she warm him up before dealing the blow? The vids say there is a 'bedside manner', a social protocol to follow, but she does not know grief. Not in the way Jeff would know it.
"Your sister is dead," EDI says.
Jeff would have been proud to know that his sister had "kicked some Reaper ass" with only a stick. EDI wishes she could tell him that part without divulging the rest.
But she does not begin the conversation. She cannot.
EDI does not say that it was not a Reaper that took young Hilary, but the asari. She does not say that his sister had been in such pain from her broken leg, that her whimpering was giving away their position. She does not say that the body is buried beneath a broken barn wall. EDI thinks there is some wiring, some tangling of pathways that prevents her from telling him so.
She would have liked to call Hilary "sister."
EDI's fingers massage through his short brown hair because intimacy will release endorphins.
"Mm," Jeff mumbles as he tweaks one of her alloy toes.
The music has died down. Liara and James' argument over biotics and brute strength is now in harsh whispers in the darkness of the balcony above. Jack is lying across the kitchen counter.
"Should we return to the ship?" EDI asks.
Jeff kisses her chin and then the clenched knuckles of her hand.
"You're my girl, EDI."
She leans over him and his eyes are big as he looks up at her. The kiss EDI initiates is light and sweet like a thank you. Excess energy releases into her fingers—that distracting feeling from earlier.
EDI clicks her visor off so that she can see Jeff sans orange glow as she kisses the tip of his ear, his cheek, and then beneath the bone of his jaw. He makes a surprised noise before turning over.
"Does your increased heart rate and obvious physical arousal indicate that you wish to be intimate as well?"
"It's like you're a mind reader," he laughs and she smiles back.
Their kisses are sloppy with wild tongues and Jeff's saliva. EDI's back is pressed against the arm of the sofa.
Her hand snakes into the neck of his fatigues to feel the lean muscles of his shoulders. She makes quick work of the heavy uniform and gently switches their positions. The rough hair of his beard makes scratching noises against her palms.
Jeff's groans reverberate in the back of her open throat which is positive feedback EDI cannot ignore.
His heart rate speeds up, but not in the same way as when she mentions Tiptree. It is a subtle difference. It is life and all of EDI's priorities shift to this moment.
She twitches her head to the side as she listens to shuffling behind the wall.
"Should we find somewhere more private, Jeff?" she asks between meetings of their lips. The extranet did say there should be candles involved, a bed and not a couch, but it also called for spontaneity and was this not spontaneous?
Jeff grumbles and his brow is furrowed. "Everyone's passed out."
"Our intimacy would make for an embarrassing, albeit interesting, extranet video."
He kisses her smirk to show EDI exactly what he thinks of that idea before she settles between his legs. He might be happy to discover, afterwards, that her internal recording devices will be saving this moment.
Jeff flexes his foot when the first leg brace comes off. She massages each calf gently because she knows they must be cramped from sitting all day.
"Do I. . ." Jeff trails off. She looks up at him and she can tell he does not know how to phrase the question he is about to posit. "Need to wrap it before I tap it?"
EDI conducts a search for the colloquialism and hopes that the look she gives him does not make him feel stupid.
"I am not organic," she says, her voice goes up a couple notes in incredulity. "No such precaution is necessary."
"Just makin' sure whatever I may have doesn't get back in the ship."
She squeezes one of his hands enough to make him wince.
"Hey, fair's fair," Jeff says. "You get to pick on me all the time."
His lips brush against hers once more and EDI braces herself against the arm of the couch so she does not land on him with all of her platform's weight. One of his hands is on her breast. She has tactile sensors, but Jeff's fondling does not cause her to "shiver with delight" as she had read. Not that she had expected it to. It does, however, initiate a pleasant feedback loop that brings a smile to her lips.
EDI settles over him, resting a palm on Jeff's knee, and takes his penis into her hand where the flow of his blood hits her sensors. This causes her servos to weaken, so she steadies herself on her knees. As she slides him inside of her, EDI asks with mock innocence, "Did you know that you have hair on your feet?"
"I think you've been watching too many vids," he sighs.
The sudden influx of data as Jeff enters her is stunning. EDI freezes and she worries that there must be some computational error, some logical explanation as to why she cannot process it quickly enough.
"Are you okay?" Jeff asks. His hand is soft on her back, making reassuring strokes.
"I am fine," EDI says while she waits for her processes to catch up with her. To him it is only a brief moment, but to her this intense prolonging of reinforcement is eternity. It is slow, methodical until finally the reward is received. Yes she thinks.
She grasps his ankles because as she begins their rhythm Jeff's raw, strangled gasp sends sparks jumping along her central pathways
Jeff's calloused hands are on EDI's waist to aid her grinding hips. One of his hands slides across her thigh and down the front panels of her platform.
"I do not have a clitoris, Jeff," she says. "Though, I appreciate the gesture."
"Are you even enjoying this then?"
EDI remembers his hands skillfully moving across the controls of the Normandy; remembers being completely bare, so she places her hand over his and makes a heady noise of satisfaction. When Jeff groans in response and begins kissing her shoulders, she knows that the gesture has said more than she could have vocalized.
"Wait, whoa, wait," Jeff says, staying EDI's hips. Suddenly, she is aware that he is no longer inside her and comes to the consensus that this is not purposeful—that he has stopped her before she can cause damage.
EDI twists to look at him. Jeff's brow is furrowed while he fumbles around with his penis in his hand.
"Let the record show that I have never slipped out of an organic vagina."
EDI smirks. "I know that to be untrue, Jeff. I have cameras."
He throws his head to laugh and EDI wishes that she had perfected her giggle. Now is the optimal time to employ it, to add levity before Jeff becomes discouraged (he is still trying to probe his way back). She readjusts herself to face him, holds up a finger and makes sure he watches himself disappear behind the silver front panels of her chassis, but she's fairly certain she will have to demonstrate again when he's sober.
Data—heartbeat, temperature readings, muscle spasms—spikes as their hips continue to move. Jeff asks EDI again, in a way that is unlike the vids they've watched, if she likes this.
"No, but really," he says.
The way Jeff looks at her, nervous and a little shy, appeals to EDI. He strokes her bicep like she is the fragile one. As if he knows that she punishes herself deep within her bundle of circuits and processes for this small consolation to her secrecy.
When EDI cradles Jeff's head and presses her synthetically warm lips to his, she is gentle. She moans into his mouth the way she's practiced (it has taken her weeks to compose the most genuine sound she can) and leans over him with her hands braced against the arm of the couch.
EDI doesn't know what will come out of this orderly chaos, of all these priorities fulfilling themselves in subsequence. All she does know is that the hand on her breast becomes numbers; that the lips on her jaw will join it, so will his body meeting hers, and that perhaps the unknown quantifier—the reason for this strange exhilaration—multiplied against them all is Jeff.
The way he seizes up reminds her of heat sinks shredding through barriers, shields, armor, and then that final fwop when it enters a heart—the face of dreadful relief.
The cavity of EDI's chest feels exposed and she is so caught up in reliving this feeling from the ship that she does not realize the force with which she and her pilot were crashing against each other. The resounding crunnnch (right hip bone beneath my thigh she thinks) jolts EDI from all of the pleasurable impulses firing in her matrices. An all stop to her processes, but the negative feedback does not hit him the way it does her.
"I do not believe we should continue," EDI's voice is small.
She cannot tell whether the sound coming from Jeff's mouth is from pain or disappointment, but he is still holding her hips and trying to continue.
"Your biometric scans indicate that you are experiencing more pain than pleasure. I do not believe that the sex is as enjoyable as you let on."
He puts a finger to her lips before EDI can say anything about his desperate need to yowl like a run-over dog. Jeff holds her lips to his and EDI wonders if this is to distract her or himself.
His breath is ragged; it ripples across the alloy of her cheek and burns into her pathways where it, too, becomes more numbers in a sequence that she does not want to fathom an end to.
"No," Jeff says. "No brittle-fucking-bones this time."
A flurry of data hits EDI's sensors when his warmth fills her up—there are Jeff's intense groans, his hand clasping her buttock, the familiarity of his racing heart—that leaves her rigid against him.
He is kissing her collarbone and breasts when she puts her hand to his heart. It has begun to slow with his panting. EDI kisses him with more apology than ardor and then rests her cheek against his. Their fingers interlace.
"Perhaps I should send a message to Doctor Chakwas," EDI says in Jeff's ear.
"No, she's like my mom. No."
"She will be more discreet than any other member of the crew. She is also familiar with your condition."
EDI sends the message while Jeff mumbles, "I should have listened to the thing about the ice packs. . ."
"You were aware of some precautions I should take?"
"Okay, well when the smokin' hot robot starts making you feel all nice and tingly all the plans you made before hand go out the window."
EDI shakes her head before slumping against the couch. The reward center has long stopped firing and is replaced with what could be equated with dread and maybe even shame.
"Hey," Jeff whispers. "You didn't do anything wrong. I'm just a squishy fleshbag, okay?"
"You are not angry with me?"
"What? No—gah—" Jeff grasps at his hip. His left eye wells up.
EDI tries focusing on his face, smoothing the hair back on his head, anything to keep her from analyzing the swiftly spreading bruise.
"You know what would make me feel a little better?" Jeff asks. "If you put my pants back on before Chakwas got here."
"I cannot do that. It would only exacerbate your injury."
"A guy can try, huh?"
The swish of the door is heard and EDI meets Chakwas in entryway. Chakwas's smile is kind, understanding, and even a little rueful.
"Hey, Doc," Jeff says.
"Jeffrey," Chakwas says. They are both speaking in hushed tones so that they don't disturb the drunken crew sprinkled throughout the apartment. "I told you that we didn't have to start these appointments for another couple of years."
"I've perfected my cough."
"Alright, help me get him to the table, EDI," the Doctor says as she hoists Jeff up by the arms. EDI takes his lower half since she can stabilize his hip, but also bear the brunt of the weight.
They shimmy away from the sofa, past the kitchen where bottles and food are littered about, to where the conference table sits. Jeff is making the more painful variations of "Oo" and "ah" from earlier. And when they lay him on the hardwood surface of the conference table, he shrieks, "Fuck me running up a hill backwards!"
"Seeing as though doing so in a stationary position led to this injury, I would not advise such action," EDI says.
Shepard has heard the ruckus from next room and comes in with her eyes bleary and hair disheveled. She looks at the flaccid, naked flight lieutenant on the table.
"You're shitting me," Shepard says while pinching the bridge of her nose.
"Perhaps the 'Reverse Cowgirl' was not the wisest choice of position," EDI begins. "My extranet sources indicated that it would be beneficial in a variety of ways. For example, it 'gives some sweet eye candy with that amazing view of your butt.' Secondly—"
Shepard tries not to look pained and turns to Chakwas who is applying medi-gel to Jeff's injury. "How long?" she asks.
"Had he taken his medicine he could have lasted longer," Chakwas says.
Jeff chimes in, raising a triumphant hand, "Hey, I lasted plenty long."
"The exact timing of our intimacy was twenty-six minutes and twelve seconds, Jeff," EDI says, her voice intones a little more cheer to it now.
"I meant recovery time," Shepard folds her arms and rocks back on one foot. "I don't have enough drink left in me to discuss Joker's stamina."
"It shouldn't be long since we applied medi-gel quickly enough," Chakwas says as she hands Jeff a pain reliever. "But he can say goodbye to the rest of this shore leave."
Without a beat Jeff says, "Worth it." His grin is carefree for once in these long months. EDI waits patiently for the other two women to leave.
Her fingers find Jeff's and make lazy circles on the back of his hand. She would clear her throat if it served any viable purpose.
"I am glad you found my performance pleasing," EDI says and she thinks that Hilary Moreau is the bravest person she would have known because how many hugs, how many incidents of sibling rough-housing ended up like this? Hilary Moreau is brave because she can beat husks, with their cyber-skeletal mouths groaning at her, with a stick and EDI cannot even tell the man she cares for most that his family is dead. "I should have taken more precaution to insure there would be no injury."
"You can make it up to me by being my nurse."
Humor is always a good sign.
"I will have no time to nurse you back to health as I must resume your duties as pilot whilst you recover. It seems my plan to replace you and slowly take over the Normandy has come to fruition."
"EDI. . ."
"That is a joke."
"You'll have to empty my bed pan for that one."