Actions

Work Header

Mystery Pods

Chapter Text

A smile teased Leah's mouth as she watched Kesh find her light. The theatrics of politics was something the Krogan Councilor had ignored until she had offered a wager. One hundred letters of fan mail and fifty credits later, Kesh admitted that Leah might know something after all. She knew Kesh didn't care about having a "luminous head plate," but any politician worth their salt knew the value of publicity.

A short mousy-haired human had the floor. "Morgan Decker of the Prodromos Times. Councilor Nakmor, you stated before that the splitting of the Nakmor clan was inevitable, but what does this fracture mean for the Initiative, and colony security?"

"The restructuring of the clan is a family matter. This does not change anyone's obligation to follow the laws of the Initiative or their respective colonies," came Kesh's gruff reply.

Leah spared a glance at the Salarian Councilor. Una Eshel looked ill under the harsh press lights. The Dalatrass wouldn't contradict Kesh, or any of them, in public. A united front was the only thing all six Councilors agreed on. The real fun would begin during their meeting after the press conference.

A blinking light caught Leah's attention. She glanced at her forearm, not wanting it to appear like she wasn't giving her fellow Councilors her full attention. She dismissed the message and prayed she was discreet enough or tomorrow's headlines would read: “Councilor Llewellyn Has Better Things To Do Than Care About You.” Michael should have known better. When it blinked again, an image of her hands around his neck sprang to mind. She placed her hands on her lap to hide her forearms beneath the conference table. It was like she was in high school again trying to hide her smartphone from the teacher. The fact she had once owned a smartphone made her feel old.

Leah forced herself to focus on the Asari reporter who now had the floor. Movement caught her eye as a dozen heads turned in sync to her left. A hush fell over the press corps, and that's when Leah saw him. Michael was making a beeline for her and a hundred different reasons why filled her mind. None of them good.

He leaned in to whisper, but his loss of breath made whispering impossible. "Your children are alive!"

The gasps of the crowd confirmed that the discreet mic she wore had picked up his voice. For a moment, she stared at him; the meaning of his words lost in their impossibility. Then, by pure reflex, she stood and left the stage.

The walk to her hovercar was a blur. Leah sat in the back seat and stared at Michael. He was speaking, but she couldn't make out the words. She snapped out of it when he tapped her knee. "Leah! Are you with me?"

That was the first time he had ever used her first name, she realized. His face came into focus, and she cleared her throat. "Their condition?" Her voice sounded far away from her as if it wasn't her who had spoken.

"Lael and Leander have mild waking sickness and are in recovery. Lorelei is in serious condition, but they couldn't tell me more,” said Michael.

She stared out the window with her heart in her throat. There must have been a mystery pod opening today, she thought. Leah scolded herself for using the slang for the pods that were damaged so severely that identification of the people inside them was impossible save for what species they were. She had stopped keeping track of them over half a year ago. She had given up on her babies.

She focused on Michael, examining him as she would an insect in a jar. "You made it look like I used my children for publicity." Her voice was even, but her stare eviscerated him.

"Councilor, I didn't I..." He tapped his omni-tool. "I've arranged a car for Lamont, and your mother will arrive from Advent in five hours."

He should have known better than to think he could divert her. She had eaten staffers alive for less. "Yes. You did."

"But-"

"It's my fault for trying to avoid nepotism." Leah laughed without humor. "In a galaxy of the blind, my only choice was the one-eyed man." Michael didn't say anything more, and Leah was glad until the silence forced her to think about what she had said. She'd fix it. After.

"I'll resign immediately."

Or now. Leah looked at him. His near-constant smile was gone, disappointment dulled his blue eyes, and he looked small despite being strapping. His tone sounded as regretful as he looked. "I'll consider it...after you spin what happened into gold."

Michael's eyes reignited with purpose; she hoped she had made the right decision. "Yes Councilor, of course!”

She nodded as his fingers began to dance upon his omni-tool. Satisfied, she returned her attention to the window and watched the traffic without seeing any of it.

~oOo~

Leah stood outside the door of the recovery room. Inside, her sons, who would always be her little boys, laid in their beds as they tapped away on their omni-tools. Lael and Leander were men now, but they were also so much more. The present and past melded together allowing Leah to see them both as they are, and as they once were. Lael slipped his long auburn hair behind his ears, and then he was ten again complaining about the barber smelling like rubber bands. Leander scratched his face, and then he was seventeen again freaking out about a pimple because he had a shot at homecoming king. The present released Leah entirely as the memories of her sons flashed unbiddenly. Lael was five and hugging Lorelei because he loved his sister more than his mom. Leander was nineteen and hefting the rookie of the year trophy for professional bioticball. Lael was twenty and handing her his pistol's thermal clip as he despaired over Shepard's promotion. Leander was four and furious that he wasn't blue like Lorelei. The memories faded, allowing Leah to focus on her sons as they were once more.

They were alive.

Her breath hitched. Her eyes closed as hot tears ran down her face. Her strangled cry was cut short by her hand. She felt strong arms embrace her and she collapsed into them, wrapping her own around the lanky body they belonged to. She smelled the clean scent of a body released from stasis as she buried her face into a shoulder.

They were alive.

She could hear the gentle lilt of Leander's voice and Lael's bass that rumbled against her as they spoke – what they said held no bearing on her; the sound of their voices alone held all the meaning she needed.

They were alive.

She felt the embrace tighten as she broke down. Their soothing tones turned to concern and Leah knew she was worrying them. She had cried in front of them before, but they had been proud tears, not this helpless convulsive crying that she struggled to control. The urge not to frighten her sons gave her the strength she needed to pull back and steady herself. She managed a small smile as she looked into two sets of watery green eyes.

Lael wrapped his arm around her back. "Mom, let's sit on the bed okay?"

"Say-" She cleared a throat that was thick with joy. "Say it again."

"Let's...sit on the bed?"

"Not that."

"Mom?"

“Again.”

“Mom.”

She turned to Leander who obliged her. "Mom."

She let her sons lead her to the bed where they sat on the edge flanking her. “I let you go..." Her breath shuddered as she fought to speak. "God forgive me."

Leander slipped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close resting his cheek on the top of her head. “There's nothing to forgive!”

Lael's entire face contorted in concern. "How could you have known?"

"I should have known."

A soft knock on the door drew their attention to the Asari doctor who stood in the doorway. "May I?"

"Of course," said Lael before the doctor sat on the bed across from them.

Leah watched the doctor who sat straight with her hands in her lap and hoped she looked as professional despite having fallen to pieces moments before. She lifted her chin and pinned the doctor's eyes with her own. To her credit, the doctor didn't seem phased to be addressing one of the Initiatives six Councilors.

"I'm Doctor T'Perro and I'm the head of the team that's treating your daughter. What have you been told thus far?"

"That she is in serious condition," said Leah.

"I am sorry to say that her condition hasn't changed. In truth, we are unsure about how to proceed and I was hoping that you could offer some insight into her unique brain chemistry."

"I know that she has ma'ianaka syndrome.” Leah swallowed her emotions as dozens of hospital visits and a little blue toddler crying “No pricks!” sprang to mind. “ It presents in Asari whose mothers' died during childbirth but is rare. Some of her doctors thought being fathered by a Human may have played a role. They were never sure since there are so few Asari with Human fathers." Were, Leah mentally corrected herself. By now, the Milky Way was either full of Asari like her daughter or had none at all. Then she realized why Lorelei had been among the last batches of pods. "You don't have her records."

"Nothing survived I'm afraid."

Unlike the Initiative, Leah had been prepared for disaster. It was something she should thank her mother for, should being the operative word. "Then this will help you more than I can." She activated her omni-tool in a flash of orange as the holographic interface materialized above her left forearm. "I am transferring her records now."

T'Perro's hairless brow raised as she activated her omni-tool. "Thank you Councilor." Leah noticed the doctor's perfect posture relax. Dare she hope it could be so easy? "I have transferred this to my team. It will be of great help." The doctor deactivated her omni-tool. "I had come to get your permission to add a specialist to the team who has experience in treating ma'ianaka. After having seen Lorelei's records, I am even more convinced that she can help."

Now it was Leah's turn to raise a ginger brow. "Why do you need my permission?"

"The doctor has a traditional medical degree but specializes in alternative methods that are influenced by her religious beliefs. Her methodology can be...unorthodox. Have you ever heard of the T'Asari?"

It became clear to Leah that the doctor didn't indulge in celebrity gossip. "No." Lael's arm was still around her shoulders and she felt his brief squeeze of admonishment. She ignored it and hoped the doctor thought nothing of it if she had caught it at all.

T'Perro's tone remained as even as her expression. "They are a religious sect who have interesting views on Asari physiology. Some think that is an excuse for prejudice and may be offended that a T'Asari was allowed to treat a council member’s family member. It is my professional opinion that she can help your daughter and I urge you to allow it."

Leah searched the doctor’s face for any hint of insincerity, and once she was satisfied, she allowed herself to relax. "I owe you an apology doctor. Lorelei's mother was T'Asari. I know well how prejudiced the Asari can be."

Doctor T'Perro raised her hand. "Say no more, and thank you for telling me. That is not something we can legally document so I wouldn't have known otherwise and it will help." She stood and adjusted her white coat. "Is it safe to assume I have your permission?"

"Yes. Do you require security?" T'Perro looked alarmed, and Leah knew the prospect of violence had never crossed the doctor's mind. It must be nice, she thought.

The doctor began to speak then paused. "No." Leah nodded, and the doctor left.

Lael removed his arm from around Leah's shoulders and gestured to where T'Perro had sat. "Was all that necessary?"

She felt too drained to argue, but her sons would need to be more observant in Andromeda than they ever had to be in the Milky Way. "I had to know if she was a bigot. The Sirists are not the majority they thought they'd be before leaving the Milky Way."

"And they're nervous."

Leah nodded. "And there isn't a way to keep Lorelei secluded here like we could on Earth."

"So much for the fresh start...Councilor."

Leander tapped his mother on the knee, drawing her attention away from Lael. He was always the peacemaker, and she adored him for it in that moment. "Catch us up on what we've missed. There was too much information on the extranet to make sense of anything,"

It felt surreal to be talking with them after she had wished for this moment for so long only to relinquish it, bit by bit, with every new batch of stasis pods that opened. A warmth spread through her body that didn't wane even as she told them about the frightening events that had almost destroyed the Initiative.

Lael laughed without humor. "And you decided to throw away the chance at a fresh start to run this circus?"

She decided to be as frank with him as he was with her. "You both were dead. Lamont agreed."

"Of course he did."

"And your Grandmother didn't care. I had to. There are no safety nets here, no cavalry to call, and the only way we are going to survive is if people care about more than just themselves."

Lael looked dissatisfied but didn't push it.

"We're here now." Leander looked at his brother poignantly. "And we're going to help in any way we can."

"We don't have to worry about that now," said Leah.

"So, what is up with all this Remnant stuff? It sounds a lot like Prothean stuff."

"What I can tell you is--"

"You ass-holes!" The barrel-chested Lamont boomed from the doorway. He stepped inside and pointed at his brothers. "You just wanted to sleep in while we did all the work!"

Leah watched as all her boys hugged and slapped each other's backs hard enough to make her wonder why it was considered an affectionate gesture. All that was missing was a tall and lanky blue body among the redheads threatening to throw them with her biotics if they slapped her one more time. Leah's chest tightened. Was Lorelei in pain? Would there be permanent damage? Would she live? Leah pushed her worries to the back of her mind. She needed to focus on what she could do and right now it was to hug all three of her sons at once. They settled in afterward and the hours passed quickly as she and Lamont did their best to answer as many questions as they could. The normalcy of it felt exquisite to Leah.

"So what happened when you told them who you were?" asked Leander.

"Director Tann's secretary laughed until I gave her the security codes to scan my sub-dermal chip. Then she kept looking back and forth between me and her omni-tool. After five times I took pity on her and called Tan myself."

Lamont crossed his hairy arms over his chest. "So it's up to five times now?"

Leah swatted him."Don't interrupt. Now, after that, I explained to Tann that I had come to Andromeda to enjoy civilian life in seclusion, but it would be in the Initiative's best interest if the Alliance's first Prime Minister were allowed to run for Council."

Lael chuckled. "What did he say?"

"Well, he permitted it obviously after stuttering for a few minutes. But the best reaction came from the Krogan Councilor, though she wasn't a Councilor yet."

"And?"

"She hugged me. As soon as people got wind that a real politician had survived, there was a formal petition for Tann to step down as temporary director. He had to save face for the election and did. My first Krogan hug." Leah rubbed her lower back. "And hopefully my last!"

"I'm just happy I don't have to dye my hair anymore," said Lamont.

Lael looked at Lamont as if he were crazy. "Only you would be happy to be ginger."

They looked up then as Doctor T'Perro reappeared in the doorway. "There's someone here who'd like to see you." The Asari stepped aside as nurses wheeled in a gurney.

Leah's breath caught. Lorelei was alive and looking at her with big hazel eyes. Not unlike the first time Leah had held her and knew, as she stared into her own eyes, that no matter what the doctors said about Asari reproduction, that this was her daughter. She felt lightheaded as the nurses transferred Lorelei to what had been Leander's bed. She wanted to fall apart as she had earlier but couldn't. Not when her athletic daughter was now a skeleton that looked as if it could fall apart at any moment. Leah sat on the edge of the bed and held Lorelei's hand. The weak squeeze Lorelei gave broke her heart. She did her best to smile but didn't try to contain the tears that flowed freely. "Hello, my darling." Lorelei made a soft sound and Leah shook her head. "Don't speak sweetheart. We'll have plenty of time to catch up now."

Doctor T'Perro stood at the foot of the bed. "I am happy to report that Lorelei will make a full recovery." She tapped Lorelei's foot through the covers. "She's a fighter. We'll need to keep her here for two weeks and if she is gaining weight, I see no reason why the rest of her recovery can't continue from home.”

"Thank you, doctor." Leah hoped the gratitude she felt reached her eyes.

T'Perro left and Lamont came over to stand next to the head of Lorelei's bed. "Couldn't resist a dramatic entrance could you?"

"Ass," croaked Lorelei.

Their laughter was much too loud to be free of worry. Leander sat on the other side of the bed holding Lorelei's other hand. "Oh yeah, she's gonna be just fine."