Scott tried to suppress a sigh as he leaned on the railing over the Nexus’s docking bay, his gaze trailing over the sleek lines of the Tempest. It really was a beautiful ship. Or, at least it looked beautiful from the outside. He’d had yet to see the inside of it for himself. From what Sara—and Liam and Cora to a lesser extent on the few times they’d visited him in the Hyperion’s med bay—had told him, it was even more impressive on the inside.
That sigh he’d tried to keep down escaped of its own volition. He was doing his best to not be jealous of his sister and her crew, but he couldn’t help it. So far, his new life in Andromeda was shaping up to look a lot like the life he’d hoped to leave behind in the Milky Way—watching other people go off to explore while he was left behind.
But that was unreasonable, he knew. It was no one’s fault that the Hyperion had crashed into the phenomenon he’d later find out was called the scourge, and it was no one’s fault that the power surge it caused had nearly killed him while he was in the process of waking up from cryo, which meant he’d had to be put into an induced coma to save his life. And there was no one to blame but the kett Archon for his kidnapping and torture that led to so many injuries to his brain that he’d slept for another two weeks, and even more recovery time that Harry still hadn’t medically cleared him for duty from.
He supposed what had him in such a bad mood, then, was the fact that he was missing everything. Sure, Sara shared everything that had happened to her team with him. Some of them had even come to visit him in Hyperion’s med bay after he’d woken up from his coma, and had expanded on some of Sara’s stories.
(Scott had the distinct feeling that a lot of the things Sara told him about were supposed to remain classified. He was grateful that she chose to tell him anyway, since it made him feel somewhat included.)
Still, he didn’t come all this way to sit around and do nothing. And the reason for his visit to the Nexus had especially touched a nerve.
He’d been excited to hear that he’d be leaving the Hyperion—no, it was Port Meridian now—for the first time since the battle with the Archon had happened. Initiative Director Jarun Tann had wanted to see him on the Nexus, and Harry had cleared him to travel as long as SAM kept him updated on Scott’s condition. He’d had no idea what Director Tann could possibly want with him, but he wasn’t terribly worried about it. More than anything, he was looking forward to seeing something other than the inside of the Hyperion. Sara had even been happy for him when he sent her the message telling her about it.
However, that excitement waned the moment he sat down with Tann in Pathfinder HQ. He’d met Tann once, and very briefly, after he awakened from his long post-battle sleep. He didn’t quite know what to think of him at the time. By the end of that meeting, however, he had a more decisive opinion.
Tann was an absolute prick.
Scott actually felt a pang of pity for his sister, since she was the one who had to deal with the guy on a regular basis. But he couldn’t bring himself to feel much more than a pang at that moment. Tann had told him that he wanted to officially remove Scott from the human Pathfinder’s team and take him into protective custody. For his own safety, he tried to claim, given the fact that he also had a SAM implant and what the kett tried to do to him because of it already.
When Scott had walked into the room, the salarian, asari, and turian Pathfinders—Hayjer, Sarissa, and Avitus, he thought their names were—had all been at the meeting table in the center of the room, conferring over something. But when Tann had dropped his bomb, Scott could see all three of their heads snap up at the edge of his vision. All three of their gazes turned towards Tann, and they looked outraged. Then the three of them exchanged a glance, and Sarissa immediately strode out of the room, tapping at her omni-tool. But Scott didn’t spare her or the other two Pathfinders another thought after that as the shock of Tann’s announcement wore off enough for him to launch in to a very heated argument to the contrary.
By the time the meeting had ended, Tann was standing firm on his decision and Scott was in the mood to break something. Sarissa had returned, and all three of them shot him sympathetic looks. As he walked out of Pathfinder HQ, though, he’d realized someone had fallen into step beside him.
“I realize you’re upset right now,” Hayjer had said as soon as the doors slid shut behind them and they headed for the tram, “but if I can give you any kind of advice when it comes to Tann, it’s to not let him get to you.”
“Where the fuck does he get off just making decisions like that?” Scott ranted. “It’s not even up to him!”
“If it makes you feel any better, I don’t think Addison, Kandros, or Kesh are going to agree with him,” Hayjer said. “I know your sister certainly won’t.”
Scott considered this for a moment. “That sort of does, actually,” he said. “So how does he think he can suddenly say something like that? Did he even talk to Sara about it first?”
“I don’t know, but if Ryder didn’t know about this meeting before, she certainly does now,” Hayjer said, a mischievous smile pulling at his lips.
“What do you mean by that?” They’d reached the waiting area for the trams, and were now waiting for one to arrive.
“Only that if I know your sister at all, she’s going to completely ignore whatever Tann’s wishes are and take you with her anyway,” Hayjer said just before he clapped Scott on the back and left him to board the tram alone.
Scott sighed again. He was supposed to meet Sara at Vortex later, and then he was getting on a shuttle back to Meridian in the morning. Sara might have been the Pathfinder, and she might have been the one to punch the kett in their collective throats, but he just didn’t see how she’d be able to override the guy who was essentially her boss.
His gaze shifted down to the dock and the steady stream of workers hurrying up and down the ship’s loading ramp with crates of supplies. They were being directed by a turian woman—Vetra, he was pretty sure that’s who it was, though he’d never actually met her. Drack and PeeBee stood nearby. He had met the two of them a couple of times after he had awakened from his coma when they accompanied either Sara, Liam, or Cora on a visit. Neither of them stayed terribly long, however. Drack, who had adopted the entire Pathfinder team as his grandchildren, was more interested in visiting the bar. PeeBee simply couldn’t seem to sit still, and while she always seemed to be itching to tell him about the remnant and the latest thing she’d learned about them, Scott had the feeling she’d rather put it all in a hastily-worded email.
Scott found himself actually considering whether or not he could sneak past all of them and stow away on the Tempest before it left when another body leaned into his arm and stayed there.
“A little bird told me about what happened with Tann earlier,” Sara said, settling in next to him on the railing. “And judging by the look on your face, it didn’t go well.”
Scott suddenly couldn’t muster the energy for sarcasm. “No,” he said instead.
“I thought so,” Sara muttered with a note of irritation. “I’m about ninety-three percent positive Tann isn’t so much worried about your safety as he is trying to get back at me for backing Morda for ambassador.”
“Are you serious?” Scott blinked at her in astonishment. “I mean, I heard he had some prejudice against the krogan, but I didn’t think it was that deep.”
“Oh, yeah,” Sara confirmed. “I think that if it were up to him, all the krogan would be confined to Elaaden where he wouldn’t have to see them. But no one else agrees with him, and that really gets on his nerves. Besides, if he tried to throw Kesh off the station, he’d probably have another uprising on his hands. Not to mention we’re all pretty sure he’s terrified of Drack, and Drack would literally rip him to pieces if he tried to do anything to her.”
Scott chuckled at that image. “It’d definitely serve him right,” he said. His gaze turned back to the dock. More people had joined the group clustered around Vetra. Cora was now there with an asari he recognized as Dr. T’Perro and a human woman with red hair that he had to guess was Suvi.
“It would,” Sara agreed, returning to watching the dock as well. “But my point is to not take what he said personally. He’s a jerk, but he also knows his position is tenuous at best, and if he tries to throw his weight around too much, he’ll find himself out of a job. Not to mention he has no jurisdiction over who a Pathfinder picks for their team.”
“That’s all well and good, but it still leaves me grounded,” Scott said, failing to keep the annoyed growl out of his voice.
As he’d been speaking, the group at the Tempest was joined by Liam and the tall and very broad-shouldered Jaal. He met Jaal when he accompanied Sara on one of her trips to visit him after his coma, and instantly liked him. Besides the fact that he was drop-dead gorgeous, he was honest to a fault and spoke so earnestly about everything (which Scott had thought at first was an angaran thing, until everyone else assured him that it wasn’t so much of an angaran thing as it was a Jaal thing.) And the best part, as far as Scott was concerned, was how deeply in love with Sara he was. A blind person could see how the two of them felt about one another. Even now, Jaal glanced up to where he and Sara were standing, and as he waved a greeting to them both, the captivation on his face was displayed so openly when he looked at Sara. The last time Scott could remember seeing that look was on their father’s face any time he looked at their mother.
What Scott would never admit, not even under threat of death, was the slight envy he also felt. When Jaal looked at Sara, he looked at her like there was no one else in the universe. That was only because no one had ever looked at him like that, and he was starting to wonder if it would ever happen.
“Well, about that…”Sara said, her voice lowering noticeably, which prompted Scott to pull his eyes away from the dock and look back down at her. She watched him with a conspiratorial glint in her eye.
“After Sarissa put in her call to me, I may or may not have mentioned something to the rest of the team. And then Vetra may or may not have had a word with your shuttle pilot, and your seat may or may not have been given to someone else,” she explained. Scott could only stare at her in shock, his jaw dropping.
“So, being the awesome big sister I am, I can’t very well leave my baby brother stranded alone on the Nexus, now can I?” she continued.
“Sara, you devious little shit!” Scott said, his lips spreading in a broad grin.
“You’re welcome,” Sara said smugly. “Oh, and by the way, I hope you didn’t have anything important you needed to do on Meridian, because as soon as we leave the Nexus, we’re headed straight to H-047c, and then there are several unexplored systems we’re going to be surveying, so it’ll be at least several weeks before we make it back there.” Scott couldn’t help but laugh, and he turned back towards the dock.
Sara had started speaking again, but he suddenly couldn’t hear her anymore. As he watched, two more figures strode down the Tempest’s loading ramp. One was a salarian that Scott guessed had to be Kallo, who Sara had once described as the best damn pilot she’d ever met.
The other, and the one all of Scott’s attention was now arrested on, was the tall red-head with golden skin and hazel eyes, who looked to be in a heated debate with Kallo. Gil, his memory whispered to him as the man rolled his eyes at Kallo and turned to Vetra, who handed him a datapad. The ship’s engineer, his mind further supplied as he watched Gil tap at the datapad a couple of times before handing it back to Vetra.
During the hand-off, something must have caught Gil’s attention, because suddenly their eyes met across the dock, and Gil looked just as enthralled as Scott felt. Then he smiled, and holy shit but he had a beautiful smile…
A hand waving across his vision jerked him back into reality. Scott glanced back down at Sara, who was now smiling for a brand new reason.
“I saw that,” she said.
“What?! I—I don’t—what are you—“ Scott sputtered.
“What am I, what?” Sara prompted innocently.
“I—you—shut up!” Scott could feel his face burning now, and he tore his eyes away from both her and her crew on the dock.
“Anyway,” Sara laughed, wrapping both of her arms around one of his and steering him away from the railing, “I was saying that if you’re in the mood to leave before anyone finds out about you getting on the Tempest with me, then we should go by your room and get your things.”
“Yeah, good idea,” Scott agreed as he and Sara turned back towards the apartments. He couldn’t believe his sudden turn of luck. He was even slightly dazed by it.
He cast one more gaze at Sara’s crew on the dock, where he found Gil watching the two of them walk away. Maybe his new life in Andromeda would turn out to be nothing like his life in the Milky Way, after all.