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Long Way Together

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Year: 2160

"Do they have names?" The nurse asked, looking down at the two children. They were wrapped in plain grey blankets, clinging to each other desperately.

"They were the only survivors of the crash. No one in the aircar had papers on them," the cop replied

"Well, shit," the nurse said softly, walking out from behind the admitting desk to kneel in front of the two children. The boy - five, maybe six years old, was staring at her, trying to be brave, while the little girl – maybe four – had her face pressed into his chest, red hair dirty and matted with blood. "My name is Kerry. Can you tell me your names?"

The little boy scowled suspiciously. "John. And Jane."

"Do you know your last name?" Kerry asked.

"Singer," the little girl sobbed out into John's chest.

"John and Jane Singer, it's nice to meet you." Kerry turned to the cop. "Maybe they have family somewhere?"

"I'll open a report, but unless we can identify the parents, there's not much chance," the cop shrugged, looking guilty. "There are still a lot of refugees on Earth from the war, still. You'd best find a social worker for them. They're going to need to be placed somewhere."

"Come on, you two," Kerry held her hand out for the children. Slowly, John put one hand in hers, drawing Jane along with him, and followed the nurse deeper into the hospital.

Year: 2189

Hands clenched tightly, Jane stared at the floor beneath her feet.

John was in the mess. She could hear him, laughing and joking around with the crew. Back in basic, it'd really pissed her off, how he was so interested in everyone all the time.

Well. Interested in everyone else, at least.

The asshole still hadn't come to talk to her. She'd been aboard the Normandy for a day, had even taken the elevator to Deck 1 at least six times. Each time she'd approached the door the ship's AI had turned her away.

"I'm sorry, Lieutenant, but the Commander does not wish to be disturbed."

He'd done little more than give her a nod when he boarded, jaw clenched and eyes angry before storming away.

She let out a pent up breath.

"Lieutenant Singer? The commander has requested a meeting of all ground squad members in the conference room in five minutes."

Jane jumped, startled at the soft feminine voice. EDI. The ship's onboard AI. It would take her some time to get used to that.

"Thanks, EDI," she replied, pushing herself up off her hard cot in Life Support.

John was waiting for the elevator when she emerged from Life Support. She could see the exhaustion in how he held himself, in how his eyes were fixed too intently on the elevator's control panel.

"Hi."

He looked at her, clear blue eyes tired. "Jane," he greeted with a nod, stepping into the elevator when the doors opened.

"John-" Jane reached for his hand, and gasped quietly when he jerked away from her. "The hell, John?"

Wordlessly, her brother stormed out of the elevator, Jane following closely, frowning.

"Commander," Private Westmoreland greeted as the siblings waited tensely to be allowed into the conference room. "Lieutenant."

As they entered the conference room, Jane surveyed the current crew. James Vega and Kaidan Alenko were both present, as was Joker, and EDI's glowing blue eye. James grinned at her, while Kaidan sent her a cool glare.

"We're going to Mars," John began. "To locate Prothean data. I don't have to tell you how important it is that we extract this data before the reapers arrive on Mars. We need every bit of help we can get in this war." He paused, weighted gaze landing on each crewmember individually. "The data is top priority. Understand?"

"Aye aye, sir," James responded.

"James, Kaidan, you'll be with me," John turned to his sister. "Jane… I need you to do what you do best."

Jane raised an eyebrow. "You want me to get you to give me a disciplinary mark on my file? Sure thing. How can I piss you off today?"

The tiniest of grins cracked his stony façade before he looked at her disapprovingly. She laughed dryly. "Scout?"

"Find us the best path to the data," he nodded. "Dismissed. Jane, can I see you privately?"

As the rest of the crew dispersed, Jane hung back, hopping up to sit on the conference table, swinging her legs. Watching her brother as he spoke parting words to the three men, Jane realized how much of an outsider she was. The history between John and Kaidan was battling against Kaidan's distrust of her brother. An easy friendship existed between her brother and James, although it was bordering on idolatry on Jame's part. And Joker… Jane could see how fond her brother was of the brittle pilot, but she wasn't sure if John heard the concern in Joker's voice when he was talking to John.

It made her uncomfortable. She'd always felt uncomfortable, being part of a team. Having people rely on her. Having to rely on people.

She'd rather rely on herself. When she let herself down, it usually didn't result in the death of a friend. Or her entire squad. She closed her eyes, losing herself in memories.

"Jane?" John was speaking to her, an edge of concern to his voice.

"Sorry, Commander," she replied, not quite meeting his eyes. "What can I do for you?"

"Commander? Really?" John hopped up on the table beside her.

Slowly, Jane turned to face him. "Look, I'm kind of confused here," she said haltingly. "I'm not really sure why I'm on the Normandy." It wasn't what she'd intended to say, but she had to start somewhere. "I'm not much of a team player."

John shifted uncomfortably. "Yeah, I remember."

"Is it… John, am I here so you can protect me?"

He faced her directly, and she could see the truth of it in his eyes. "I've failed you so many times, Jane."

She took his hands, shook her head. "Never. Not even once."

He laughed, hollowly. "I shouldn't have ever given up on you."

"You thought I was dead, John," she leaned back slightly. "You didn't give up on me."

John didn't respond right away. "Look, Anderson also let me look at your service records. I know what you've done. And I knew that we could use someone with your skills on the ship. You can help keep us alive out there."

"Shit, John," Jane pushed her shoulder length red hair back impatiently. "I joined special ops specifically so that I wouldn't have a team relying on me."

"Yeah, but it's the end of the galaxy as we know it, so buck up and get over it, sis," John hopped off the table. "Suit up, ETA for Mars is… EDI? What's the ETA to Mars?"

"Twenty minutes, Commander."

"What she said. Go get ready, Jane.," John looked back over his shoulder, and grinned. "You're going in first."