She finds Jack tucked away in a corner, canteen in one hand, and, somehow, a cigarette in the other. She takes a drag, smoke pouring from her lips when she chuckles. Her eyes are trained on the center of the room, Miranda follows her gaze and sees the the Grissom kids there, dancing to the beat of the music, all awkward limbs and ecstatic to be alive. She spots Oriana, laughing with some other students-turned-volunteers.
The song isn’t one Miranda recognizes, the melody mellow and smooth. That warm feeling, quickly becoming familiar, bubbles in her stomach again as she looks back to Jack. Miranda makes for the turian whose seated behind a few crates, watching over a collection of alcohol- bottles, a few cans, whatever could be salvaged. She strides to him.
His mandibles twitch, one broken at the end. “What’ll it be?”
Miranda glances over her shoulder at Jack, blue eyes roving over her frame. She’s out of her armor, wearing shorts, of all things, that end at her mid-thigh. Her shirt looks relatively new, surprisingly, and she’s left the top few buttons open, revealing her tattooed collarbones. It strikes Miranda in that short moment, an old epiphany- Jack is beautiful; more in the way a Renaissance-era masterpiece is beautiful, and less the traditional. She’s all sharp angles and crisp lines, her brown eyes catching the light and becoming a honeyed gold. Handsome, too, Miranda thinks.
She tells the turian, “Whiskey, if you have it,” presenting her empty canteen. He fills her up sparingly, leaving some for the others at the party. She doesn’t need much, already drunk on achievement and a little too much pride. She gives him a smile. “Thank you.”
She’s gone before he can give a response, knocking her drink back and striding towards the object of her musings. Jack must have caught the movement, an old habit to always be watching. Their eyes meet, whiskey brown on ice blue, and that feeling in Miranda’s stomach burns hotter. She sidles up to Jack, leaning against the wall. Jack takes another drag, the ashes burning bright, and blows the smoke, glancing at Miranda out of the corner of her eye.
She can’t hide the quirk of her lips, though, and Miranda can’t help but smile back.
“Didn’t expect you to be out of the operating room so early,” Jack says, turning her body to face Miranda.
“Neither did I.” Miranda moves forward, hooking her fingers into the waistband of Jack’s shorts, pulling her closer. Her voice is light as she shakes her head in as much marvel as disbelief. “It’s a bloody miracle, Jack…”
Jack perks up and flicks her cigarette to the floor, crushing the butt under her heel. She moves closer, a warm hand coming to rest on Miranda’s hip. “Tell me.”
Miranda presses their foreheads together, closing her eyes as the last of the stress melts off her shoulders. “She’s in a coma, stable. We’re letting her rest, now.”
“No fuckin’ way.” Jack pulls back a bit, searching for Miranda’s gaze. She finds her, a grin on her lips. “You tell the others?”
“I let Liara know already. I’m sure she’s spread the news. She’s on her way to see Shepard, now.”
Jack nods, satisfied. “Good.”
Another song starts, faster and upbeat, in time with the pounding in Miranda’s chest. She bounces on her toes, mirth bubbling in her chest as she tugs on Jack’s shorts, pulling her along, out to the dance floor that’s formed in the rubble of what used to be a plaza. Jack laughs, taking their canteens and setting them aside before following Miranda’s lead. “You’re fucking crazy, cheerleader.”
Never in her life had Miranda ever imagined she’d be here, done the things she had. The bass rattling in her bones and the scent of tobacco on Jack has put her in a strange, reflective place. Not necessarily bad. She leans into her lover and relishes in the way Jack’s hands stutter at her hips for a moment. She’s never danced with anyone, not like this at least, twined together and making it up as they go. Neither has she, really, now that Miranda thinks about it. They have all the time in the galaxy, now, to figure it out. Miranda trails her fingers up to Jack’s neck, thumbing at the line where inked skin slips under the collar of her shirt. “Where did you get this? Or when?”
Jack shrugs in that undignified way, her eyes roaming the crowd. It’s a bit difficult in the lighting, but Miranda catches the way her cheeks flush. “Back when I first went to Grissom, Sanders wouldn’t shut up about professionalism, so I went and bought the damn thing.”
It’s almost comical to imagine Jack, of all people, in a clothing store, trying shirts and trousers on. Even more so that she paid for it.
Jack hunches her shoulders at the silence, feeling the way Miranda dissects her. “It’s not really my thing, I--”
“No, no,” Miranda kneads at the woman’s shoulders, coaxing her back into relaxation. “It looks good on you.”
Jack, in an uncharacteristically shy moment, buries her face in the crook of Miranda’s neck. She can’t help but laugh, high on the way Jack’s flushed skin warms her neck. The beginnings of a remark die in her throat as Jack sinks her teeth into Miranda's shoulder, not hard enough to draw blood, but just enough to send a hot stab of desire through her belly, soothing with her tongue.
“You think I look good in this shirt, imagine how much better I’m gonna look out of it.”
Miranda nips her back, and pulls her along, back in the direction of her office. It's pretty good, Miranda thinks, to have won and to get to enjoy the spoils of victory.
She could definitely get used to this.