Jack sighed, massaging her temples. What she wouldn't give for a good fight right now, or at least a strong drink. Maybe a nice fuck too. She looked at the screen in front of her, trying to find a way for the comms to finally fucking work , but damn if she wasn't out of her depth. What she wouldn't give for Tali to be there, or even Liara. Hell, even one of her kids would do a better job handling these short range comms than she was doing right now.
She sighed again, willing herself to call the last person she thought that could help. Oh, how she hates talking to him. Well, at least her high ranking clearance would be worth something.
As soon as the screen flicked, Jack got up and saluted.
“Jack.” Said the figure of Admiral Hackett, saluting back. “What can I do for you?”
“Admiral Hackett.” She greeted back. “I assume you’ve heard the news about Shepard?”
“Yes.” He said, with a relieved sigh. “Took a huge weight out of all of our shoulders. I’ve been trying to contact the Normandy, but her comm systems went down after they left Terra Nova.”
“Aw, shit.” She mumbled. “That explains a lot. You have news about them, then?”
“Talked to them hours before you found the commander. They are currently making their way to earth.”
“Damn. Any chances we might be able to contact them soon? Shepard asked for it before going under.”
He stopped for a second.
“I will speak plain and simple, Jack.” Said Hackett. “This is a situation where you can help me and I can help you. I’ll give you access to our emergency long range comms and you take this out of my hands. God knows they are full enough already. I only ask for reports after contact.”
Jack smirked a bit.
“No red tape?”
“I think that, in times like these, red tape is the last thing we need.” He answered. “I'm sending you the codes. Report back as soon as you have news.”
“Thank you, Admiral. And, for what's worth, I think you're exactly the type of person we need to get us out of this mess.”
He nodded, thanking her, before cutting the call. “Hackett out.”
Jack sighed and looked at her omni tool, which pinged at that exact second. She opened the file and, suddenly, her life became much more easy. There, alongside the comms code, was the code for all surviving Normandy crew and where they were stationed at the end of the war. She grinned - no red tapes indeed.
In the end, talking to Hackett might not be so bad after all.
She turned on the codes and started working, trying to get a good estimate of where the Normandy was, when the urge hit again. Jack groaned - well, at least now she could get a glass of hard liquor.
… Or a bottle.
Miranda rubbed her eyes, trying to understand the paperwork in front of her. It was the third time she was reading over the same paragraph on the report, but somehow her brain refused to absorb any more information. The constant beeps of the machines behind her didn't help either.
She sighed, and leaned back on her chair for a bit. At least they meant Shepard was still alive, albeit in a coma. She rubbed her eyes again, getting ready to get back to the same paragraph for the fourth time when the door opened.
“Hey.” Miranda turned towards the familiar voice, looking at the newcomer. There was Jack, with her usual leather jacket, and crossed arms. Miranda got up, trying to not let the dizziness she suddenly felt consume her.
“Jack. What are you doing here at this time?”
The teacher looked at Miranda like she had grown a second head.
“It’s midday, cheerleader. My break. I was supposed to be here and get news on her before calling Wrex.”
Miranda blinked, trying to process the information. Midday? Already?
“Oh. Of course.”
There was a brief moment of silence, with Jack staring intently at the other woman, while Miranda tried to hide her tiredness.
“When was the last time you ate? Or slept? Or bathed? Hell, cheerleader, you stink.”
Apparently, she failed.
“I don't need you insulting m-”
“That's not what I meant. You need to get out of here, Miranda, or you will burn out and won't do your job right. Fuck, you’re just like my kids sometimes, not knowing when to stop.” She stopped, looking over the scientist again. For a second, they gazes met, and Miranda really tried to win the battle of wills happening there. Doesn’t mean she succeeded. Jack smirked a bit, going to her. “Come on, get your coat and your things, I’m taking you home.”
She didn't even wait for Miranda to follow her orders, and started to pack Miranda's reports. Took a moment before Miranda could respond.
“What? Jack, no, I need…”
“You need to rest. Where you're staying? I can get that report later, Wrex needs to learn some patience anyway…” Jack had finished packing and was pushing the other biotic out of the room.
“Don't make me pull out the big guns, Miranda.”
Miranda sighed, giving in. “I don't... Have a place to stay. My things are on the next room over. I’ve been taking short naps when I can, and drinking lots of water. Eating something here and there, if I find the time.”
“The hell, cheerleader?!?” Jack said, stopping on her tracks. “ If you find the time? You gotta make the time for stuff like that, damnit! Why you're not taking care of yourself right?”
Miranda raised an eyebrow. “Is that care I hear in your voice, Jack?”
Jack was quick to retract. “Fuck off! But if you're that fucked up, she might come back all wrong or something. No one wants a clone episode repeat.”
Miranda chuckled. “Of course not.”
“In any case, I'm taking you to my place. You're only leaving once you're rested, clean and fed. Everything else can wait, or be dealt with by someone else. Hell, I hate being the responsible and reasonable one.”
Miranda chuckled again, finally accepting her fate and giving in. “Lead the way.”
Jack stared at the screen, the red letters blinking at her like a big fuck you. At every blink, she got angrier - why wouldn’t the fucking thing just work? She was using all the right codes, cracking every bypass she could, even trying to use the shadowbroker’s comms. Nothing was working. She gave the desk a swift kick before getting up and shouting.
“Well, fuck you too!” Her biotics flared up, and she was about to hit something when she heard a ruffle coming from the couch nearby.
She sighed, counted to ten and dissipated her biotics.
“Aw shit. It’s nothing, cheerleader, go back to sleep.” Jack turned around, expecting an angry Miranda, but instead all she got was a sleepy one. And, well, she wasn’t gonna lie, when Miranda let her guard down she was kinda cute. And hot. Holy fuck, so damn hot. She shook her head, and thanked whatever was out there that Miranda was too damn tired to notice her staring.
“Are you sure?” She ended the sentence with a yawn, and Jack’s stomach did a flip the biotic tried her best to ignore.
“Yeah, it’s just the fucking comms not working. Nothing new. Now go back to fucking sleep.”
Miranda huffed a bit, but sleep was overcoming her senses again.
“Charming…” She managed to slip before going under again, the word lacking it’s usual sarcasm due to the tiredness.
And Jack stood there, not exactly knowing what to do. Or worse, not knowing what to feel . So she just gave up with a huff and went to bed. She would deal with all this shit in the morning.
Jack didn’t deal with this shit in the morning. Like, at all. She woke up wishing she had a bottle of fucking rincol to use as a toothbrush, the comms to the Normandy were still down last time she checked and there was someone doing a fucking mess in her apartment.
“Eezoo, go the fuck back to bed!” She yelled. The noise stopped for a bit, so Jack closed her eyes again thanking the heavens for a bit of silence. Although, a few seconds later, a voice startled her out of her sleepiness.
“Eezoo is asleep. I’m... Sorry I woke you up.” Said Miranda, from the entrance of the bedroom. “I was just trying to… Well. I should be going.”
Miranda turned around and picked up her things, getting out before Jack could react. The teacher took a bit longer to get out of bed, cursing internally, before she stopped in her tracks at the sight her kitchen was.
Not that it was dirty - no, it was spotless, more clean than Jack has ever seen. And also, had a goddamn full feast for breakfast ready, waiting. She sighed, looking at the door that she heard close a couple of seconds before, and used her omni tool to call Miranda.
She answered, and Jack could see the surprise in her face. Before Miranda could turn it off, Jack spoke.
“Listen, cheerleader, you made a fucking feast. I can't eat all this by myself. So come back and help me with this, will you? Don't make me drag you back here.”
“You already did more than enough for me, Jack, and I can assure you…”
“That's it, I'm dragging you back here.” Jack went to the window and opened it, looking at the almost desert streets at dawn. “Bet I can get to the street faster than those damn elevators you’re taking.”
“What? Jack, are you doing ?”
Jack jumped out of the window with a grin, cutting the call and using her biotics to soften the fall. When she turned around, there was Miranda, exiting the building with a somewhat surprised, albeit worried, look in her face. Her grin got larger.
“Are you fucking insane? Nevermind, don't answer that, I already know the answer.”
Jack actually laughed at that, and fuck this shit, she decided she outta give this fucking feelings a shot for once. Never hurt Shepard, might lead her to a good place too.
“So, you having breakfast with me or what?”
It suddenly turned into a thing - the workers at the hospital soon were used to seeing the tattooed woman stride towards Miranda's office and Shepard’s room, usually holding take out. Sometimes, when it wasn't her, it was one of her kids. And other times, she came out dragging the doctor, telling the other staff to cover Miranda for a while.
They learned quickly to let it happen, and got on with their daily routine.
Miranda, on the other hand…
Both Jack and Miranda were eating, and both were working. Sometimes Jack said a thing or two, and Miranda answered, but mainly, the beep of Shepard’s machinery was the only sound in the room.
“So, gonna crash at my place today or I'll have to drag you again?”
That was what made Miranda crack. She put her datapad and her fork down with more force than needed, turning to Jack, frustrated. Jack only rose an eyebrow.
“Why are you doing this, Jack? You hate my guts! What do you want from all of this? Influence? Security for your students? What?”
“If I wanted something from you, Miranda, I'd have asked the moment you left my place.” She said, continuing to eat her food.
“It’s not like you do just do this! You don't care, you never did. So why start now? Is it sex you want?” Miranda said, getting up. Jack didn't miss a beat in answering.
“Yes.” Miranda stopped, like she had taken a punch to the guts. Jack was looking at her like this was the most normal thing in the world. “Listen I won’t lie, I’ve thought about fucking you several times, in several places. Hell, you’ve got amazing tits, and fuck me if that ass is not a wonder. But fucking you, make you scream my name is not the reason why I come here everyday and fucking babysit you till ya get back on the right track.” Jack put her fork down, and in that moment, Miranda could see the adult, the person Jack was staring right at her soul. Miranda wanted to laugh, to scream in her face that of course it was, everyone wanted something, but the sheer intensity of Jack's eyes held her back. They gave her a sense of urgency and certainty she had never seen in the other woman's eyes. “No, I come here every single day because I fucking care. Don't know why or when this happened, and if everything, I blame Shepard, but yeah. I care, cheerleader. Big fucking surprise, huh? Never thought the psychotic biotic would care about anything, right?”
“I know you obviously care.” Miranda said, cutting Jack off. “You have your students, and you obviously care about the Normandy crew, and about Shepard. It's just…”
“I didn't care about you? Yeah, maybe. But the more I think about it, the more I guess that this shit was just me being scared. And since I had to step up and be the fucking responsible one since Shepard decided to get blown to bits while saving our asses, I figured I needed to deal with my own shit too. So here I am, owning my own shit and telling you that I am doing this cause I don't want you to fucking die, or even get exhausted to the point of no return. So there you go. Do with that what you will - if you tell me to stop coming, I will. But you can bet your pretty ass that Rodriguez, or Prangley, or any of my students will be here every fucking day to at least bring you food and see how you doing. Whatever you decide. But let me tell you this. Schmidt lost his arm. Anand lost her whole family. Every single one of my kids lost something. This war took enough out of us as it is. Don't let the fucking aftermatch take you too.”
There was a few moments of silence. Miranda just stared at Jack, who got somewhat uncomfortable under that stare and got back to work.
“I’m not incompetent.”
“Hell, if you were I doubt any of us would be alive today.”
“And I don't need help.”
“Course you don't.”
“So you don't need to stay here. You can go.”
Once more, Jack put her things down to stare at Miranda.
“Do you want me to?”
There were a few seconds that Miranda battled with herself, and Jack could probably see it in her eyes.
Everything she did was calculated. Her whole life was a big pile of certainty. She knew who she was and what she had to do. What was her next assignment. And yet, Shepard did have an effect on her, encouraging her to live more, to stop controlling and just… Be.
To hell with it. If this was the most risk she would take her whole life, then so be it. She just survived a goddamn war - she earned a bit of respite.
It all happened in a split second. Miranda lunged for Jack, and the teacher met her halfway, their mouths crushing against each other. Their meals slid over to the side, hitting the wall, while they used the table for support. The kiss wasn't pretty, or passionate or romantic, but it was full of hunger. Desperation. But most of all, it was freeing. For a moment, they were free of expectations, free of obligations, free of masks and facades. And finally the desire could shine thorough, could make Jack pull Miranda over, make her sit on the table, gripping her tightly. Could make Miranda take off Jack’s jacket, and tangle her fingers on Jack’s hair.
It could take them far beyond just a kiss, if Jack’s omni tool didn't ping right at that fucking moment. She ignored for a bit, until Miranda broke them apart and looked pointedly at her. She sighed.
“Fine. But we're getting back to this later. You don't get to leave me all hot and bothered and walk away like nothing happened.”
Miranda snorted before replying, dryly. “Wouldn't dream of it.”
Jack smirked before looking at the onmi tool.
“Holy shit! If kissing you was all it took, I would have done it fucking sonner!”
“The Normandy comms, cheerleader!” She said, typing frantically on the screen. “They're fucking functional again!”