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Nuts and Bolts

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“How did you do this again?”

“Misjudged the number of steps on the ladder leading down to engineering.”

“You do realize there’s an elevator, yes?” Chakwas asked.

“Not a fan of elevators. They take too long. Ladders are quicker.”

“Commander I don’t know how to break this to you, but taking shortcuts that put you in med bay does not save time. Captain Anderson will be less than amused if his XO is out of commission before the first mission even starts.”

“Still getting the hang of the Normandy’s unique gravity fields.”

Dr Chakwas raised an eyebrow at that. Lena shrugged. “It’s different from the last ship I served on. You work on enough of these ships you can tell the difference.”

“If that was the case one would think you would be able to compensate.”

Lena shrugged again, flinching slightly as Chakwas applied the medi-gel. She hated this. Not Chakwas, of course not, she hated med bays period. They brought back too many memories. Too many memories of times that she would rather forget. Of all the times that she escaped death when she shouldn’t have.

“I’m not supposed to be here.”

“I assure you that Captain Anderson wouldn’t have you here if you didn’t deserve it.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“Then what did you mean?”

“I mean this,” Lena made a vague waving gesture with her free hand. “All this, it wasn’t part of the plan. I was headed for engineering school when the Batarians attacked. I wanted to build ships not blow them up. This was not part of the plan.”

“And having a plan is important to you.”

Lena glared at Chakwas. “You’re supposed to patch up my arm not my brain.”

“You brought it up, Commander, I’m simply following your line of thought.”

A sigh ran through her. “It just feels like my life has been out of control since Mindoir. I have no control over it and it pisses me off.”

“You know what they say, God laughs while you make plans.”

“That just makes God an asshole.”

Chakwas laughed as she continued patching up Lena’s arm. “Maybe, maybe not, it’s hard to say. I have to admit, I didn’t think I’d stay with the Alliance as long as I have. I quickly lost my romanticized idea of being in the military; I thought I’d have my own practice by now.”

Lena looked at her curiously. “What stopped you?”

“People like you, all the soldiers I’ve treated over the years. I just can’t leave them for some cushy medical center job. Out here I can make a difference. And whether or not you believe it, so are you.”

Lena frowned looking down at her hands, her fingers twisted together. Was she though? In her mind Lena had failed more than she had succeeded. She’d survived Mindoir but lost her family; she’d lost her entire squad on Akuze and still suffered nightmares from it. She never wanted to be in charge but fate and circumstance had put her in the position she was now. Her father’s voice echoed in her mind, “ Don’t take life so seriously, Lena, it’ll only drag you down. Go after your passions, sate that curious mind of yours. The trick of it all is learning how to deal with life while living it.

She tried to live by that advice but hell if it wasn’t difficult at times.

“There, you’re all done. Go tinker with something. It will calm your mind.”

It was on the tip of her tongue to say “yes Mom” but she managed to refrain, not knowing how Chakwas would take it as they hadn’t known each other all that long. She shrugged on her shirt, careful to mind the bandage on her arm.

“That’s not a bad idea. We’ve got a good three hours until we reach Eden Prime. Plenty of time to get my hands dirty before I have to put my XO hat on again. I’m sure that the Mako’s weapon system could use some calibrations.”