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Harry was in the middle of what had become his now hourly ritual of massaging his temples with the tips of his fingers. Every time anything was bothering him -- a recurring occurrence these days -- he’d place his fingers gently towards the side of his head and start massaging. Whether or not it beat taking a pill for his headache was irrelevant, because it was a calming ritual more than anything. The headache of tying up and reconstructing the hospital wing of the Hyperion was a long project, and Harry was deep in thought as to how to train his colleagues in Angaran physiology when a sound of someone  sprinting down the hallway snapped him out of his thoughts. The new hospital would have to wait -- something was wrong, whether it be a medical emergency or another attack. A surge of adrenalin hit him as memories of having to seal off the medical bay to try and protect the sleepers as well as firing after Kett again. 

Harry acted fast; He opened a drawer to take out his sidearm. He removed the safety before he got up to check for the source of the noise.

 

But before he could even set a foot outside of his office, his question was answered as none other than Sara Ryder hurled herself inside and hid under his office window, putting a finger to her lips.

"What the-" Harry started before Sara interrupted him in as loud a whisper could get.

“SHHHHH!!!”

“Why?” Harry gestured.

"Later!" She mouthed.

This was fucking peculiar , Harry thought, before continuing in a very harsh whisper: 

“This is a hospital!”

“I’m not the one making sounds right now, you are!” Sara replied in an even more annoyed, gritted whisper.

He was about to get her to elaborate before the voice of Foster Addison boomed in the hallway, providing at least a tentative answer for his question.

“WHERE IS SHE?” One of these days, DNA scan will reveal her to be a direct descendant of a harpy, Harry thought. This was no coincidence, of that he was sure.

 

“You brought her here?” he whispered in a groan.

“I’ll explain later, just cover for me, please Harry!”

Addison was making too much noise anyway, and Harry had been waiting to tell her off ever since she refused to sanction additional funding into his Genophage project. 

Fine. Fucking fine. Harry to the rescue. Again. 

“Fine, but you owe me!” Harry mouthed before leaving his office and turning towards the ruckus. Regardless of why Sara was hiding from her, and why she had chosen to do so in his office -- creating mayhem in his medbay was not going to fly with him.

“Foster Addison!” Harry boomed as he turned the corner and entered the main med-area Addison had decided to use as a base for her chaos. His voice seemed to scatter the poor med tech trying to block her from venturing further into his hospital. He could sense Addison flinch at his voice.

 Good .

Harry paused to take in his surroundings and saw two nurses scouring behind a divider. Another lab tech who appeared to be heading in through the door stopped to take in the scene only to turn abruptly on his heel and take a sharp left towards the lab area he came from.

Harry's head cryo-researcher watched from her office, apparently struggling with the choice of either scrupulously staring or pretending not to notice the ongoing scene. She chose the latter, as Harry figured she would.

“This is a hospital! What THE HELL do you think you are doing?” he approached Addison to take her by the elbow, firmly turning her towards the exit.

“I followed the Pathfinder in here! Where is she?”

Livid Addison with a mission. Great.

Addison struggled against his grip and tried to turn around. Seemingly realising she was not going to succeed she stopped as they were approaching the exit and lowering her voice enough for Harry to let go of her.

“And which Pathfinder might that be?” Harry crossed his arms.

“You know damned well which Pathfinder I’m looking for, there’s only one of them that would pull something so heinous-”

“What, Sara? I think I’d know if she was in here. Have you tried her quarters? Or the pub? Her crew’s there a lot. I’m sure she’s with them!” Harry exclaimed.

“I saw her coming in here!”

“This is literally the last place she would come voluntarily, Addison. She’s been in here enough to last a lifetime!”

“I know what I saw!” It was obvious from her demeanor that Addison was not backing down, but she would be wrong if she thought that would accomplish anything but Harry growing even more annoyed.

“Then you need a thorough examination of your head,” Harry said icily. “Might I go and fetch a colleague to assist you with that? I’d offer to help you myself, but I’m afraid I have little time to entertain the antics of Foster Addison,” Harry said sarcastically. He heard one of his nurses snicker behind the divider. 

 Internally he was laughing; it was a little funny.

“I guess I will try her quarters again,” she mumbled in a gritted whisper which Harry figured was the closest Addison would ever get to admitting defeat. Her eyes gave away how hard that must have been for her- they were shooting daggers towards him.

“You do that. And don’t let me catch you yelling and making noise in here again. This is a place of healing! Do try to keep that in mind!” Harry said trying to mask how annoyed he was as Addison exited the medical bay. As the door closed behind her, Harry turned on his heel, nodded to his head of cryo and turned back towards his own office.

 

Someone had a lot of explaining to do. As he entered, he locked the door and pressed the omnitool to close the blinds before going back to his chair. At the sound of the blinds completely shutting themselves, he heard Sara shifting from under his examination bench. 

“Is she gone?” she asked as she slowly came out from her place of hiding.

“I believe she went towards your quarters.”

“Damn. Can I hide here for a while?”

Harry gestured for her to sit in one of the chairs in front of his desk.

“Be my guest. But don’t you have that fancy AI to tell you where she’s at?”

“SAM just informed me she has guards placed outside in case you were covering for me, you know how she trusts no one.”

“Okay. Now I have to know what you’ve done,” Harry said as he opened his desk drawer and took out two tumblers and a bottle.

“Why are you mad at her? And what’s with the sidearm?” Sara smirked, obviously relieved she was not the only one in the room who had a problem with Addison. Harry slowly uncapped the whiskey bottle, not wanting to miss a thing.

 “After how we got to Meridian in the first place, can you blame me? And who says I’m mad at Addison?”

 “Your shouting. There’s obviously something more to the story if you of all people are willing to shout at someone.”

“Quid pro quo, I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.” Harry said as he slid a filled glass over the desk towards Sara, who took a sip before elaborating.

“I- umm. I kind of sort of named-Morda-for-ambassador.”

“What?”

“You heard me.”

“Yeah, but that was weeks ago. Why is she angry now? I mean, she can be a bit on the slow side sometimes, but weeks would be a record. Even for her.”

“I suspect the first Council meeting has just concluded if Kesh’s warning message is to be believed anyway.”

 Harry’s left hand made its familiar way back to his temples as he poured himself a drink.

“Oh, how I wish I could have seen that.”

“SAM tells me it was glorious. So... Drinking on the job, now, Harry?” 

“I’m not really working, I’m just pretending to.”

 “That’s interesting,” Sara said as she leaned a bit forward in her chair, “Who are you avoiding?” 

“Breka’s been on my case to wake people up faster for weeks. I know for a fact he is hunting me on the habitation deck.”

“Haha,” she said triumphantly as she pointed at him, “it seems I’m not the only one in trouble.”

“Says the one being hunted by Breka’s boss.”

Sara gave a laugh resembling more of a bark, before taking another swig of her tumbler and putting it down. Harry couldn’t help but notice Sara’s voice had gone a bit hoarser over the past few months.  

“I’d rather have ten Addisons than a single Breka hunting me. The bastard never sleeps, apparently -- and I’m warning you now, that one is not above breaking into your quarters and looming over your bed like a serial killer or something. ”

 

Harry refilled her glass and tapped his omnitool to dim the lights. 

“Well, now it at least looks like I’ve gone home for the evening.”

“You know all of this is your own fault. You could have just pawned this all off on Lexi and came with us.”

“Oh come on, have some sympathy for an old man, won’t you?”

“Ha. Old man my ass. Funny one you are. You are forty-five years old; I’d hardly call that ancient. What is more interesting to know is why are you trying to make yourself seem so much older than you really are.”

“I didn’t say ancient, I said old. And I haven’t made myself seem that much older.”

“You have. All that complaining about arthritis? Or needing to spend your ‘golden years’ in peace?” 

“Says the one about to turn thirty and thinks that is a bad thing.” 

“How-?”

“Scott. Twins. I don't need a doctorate to do the math to figure out what sister he is referring to when he tells me of the sister who does not want a party or make a fuzz.”

“Oh, you’d be surprised...” Sara mumbled as she took a sip of her whiskey. Harry raised an eyebrow at this rather cryptic statement before speaking again. 

“It’s not a bad thing, by the way -- the thirties. And how  did  you check my age? I know for a fact you don’t have access to those records by default.”

“I live in close quarters with your oldest friend. I heard her congratulating you the other day. Happy birthday by the way!”

Harry smiled at her as she toasted him with his own whiskey.

“Thanks,” he toasted back and emptied his glass before refilling.

“I do it out of habit, you know. I skipped a grade as a kid and finished my degree faster than most. Therefore, I also figured I’d gain a lot more respect in my field if I added a few years on my ass. Or at least if I made it seem like I was a little older. Knowing my whiskey, watching old tv shows to get the references, the works. Joke's on me though, turns out premature arthritis and a speciality in neurosurgery isn't a good fit.”

“Damn, why didn’t I think of that. Would have made it all so much easier. Do you colour your hair grey too, or is that all natural?” Sara teased.

“All natural. And lying about your age wouldn’t have worked for you with having a twin and all.”

They clinked their glasses again and smiled at each other before emptying them.

“Did you celebrate? Get yourself something nice?” She asked as he refilled both hers and his own glass.

“As a matter a fact, I did!" Harry said, and pointed to his arm. At Sara’s confused look he elaborated.

“I had new joints set in my left hand. The arthritis is almost gone for now.”

“Didn’t know we could even do that. Is that a new procedure, or…” Sara trailed off, her eyes meeting his.

“No, no. It’s quite old, actually.”

“And why, uhm,” Sara was evidently having a hard time formulating her question: “Why now? Why the wait?” she asked tentatively.

“Too few doctors here. Didn’t want to take resources away from patients who needed it more.”

“No other reason?”

“Nope.”

“You sure?” 

“I’m not sure I understand where you’re heading with this, Sara.” 

“Because... Well, back when dad died. When you didn’t come with us. Just wondering if arthritis was the real reason or...” 

Harry nearly choked at her candour. She was of course correct -- arthritis had been a convenient excuse at the time, but not the reason as to why he had chosen to stay behind with Scott.

 

“Fine. I froze.” He said finally after some hesitation. Telling the naked truth seemed the best option in this rather intimate setting of theirs.

“You froze? I’m not sure I follow.” 

“When I shot a Kett. I got one, then I saw it die.”

“Yes, they’re Kett. Enemies. They tried to kill us first, remember?”

“Yes, but still. I don’t take lives, I save them.”

“Even Kett lives?” Sara looked into his eyes with her brilliant light blue as if she was asking if he was really serious. 

“Well, no. But look -- at that time, we had just shown up, armed to the teeth. We didn’t know exactly why they were shooting at us. Knowing what we now know it seems they would have done that anyway, but back then I just... froze.

It just occurred to me after I took one down that it might just be doing what we would have done had this happened on Earth. From what I gathered in the aftermath is that it was probably my hesitation that got Hayes shot.” 

It was Sara’s turn to freeze at his statement. It was clear from her demeanor that she hadn’t even considered entertaining the possibility that Harry would have felt guilty for that at the time. 

“Shit, Harry. I didn’t know. I’m--”

“Don’t be sorry,” he cut her off sharply. “You can imagine how stupid I felt when I heard about exaltation and that fucking Archon. But that’s just it- my indecision got someone shot. Gave y’all one less man on that monolith... one less to see what was happening…” 

“Harry, no. Just ... no.” Sara had apparently seen where he was headed and had decided to nip it in the bud. Like Lexi had done back in the day, it seemed Sara too was set on there being no way in hell she was going to let Harry take the blame for that. 

“He died, Sara,” he reminded her gently. 

“He was an ASS, Harry. And a trained N7 who should have known to check for abnormalities after having tampered with unfamiliar alien technology. It was his fault and none other, you read me?”

“You’re right, he could be a giant ass sometimes. Doesn’t mean he deserved to be presented with such a choice. You or him? Doesn’t sit right with me.” 

“No...” Sara seemed to contemplate something for a second before taking a deep breath and continuing.

“He really didn't have a choice,” she said more to herself. “She would have killed him!” Sara said before she burst out laughing.

 

Harry studied her for a second. What on earth did she mean by that? 

“I’m sorry, who would have killed him?” 

“Mom!” Sara's face was growing redder by the second. She was laughing so hard she seemed to be having a hard time catching her breath.

Harry stopped. It was obvious he was missing something crucial in this analogy, or perhaps Sara had already lost it, and somehow convinced Lexi she was all right mentally. As Harry knew the latter was not an option-- nothing ever got past Lexi, he figured he was obviously missing something.

“Your mom?” he prompted.

“She's alive, Harry!” Sara wiped the tears of laughter from the corners of her eyes. “He snuck her in the freezer when no one was looking, and she's here! Very much in stasis! Isn't it hilarious?” 

She could barely catch her breath for laughing- or, Harry thought- it wasn’t really laughing. It was one of those exhausted laughs one makes when there is no other logical way to deal with one’s emotions. Usually a sign of exhaustion, and not really an expression of something funny.

“Are you high or something?” Harry asked. Not that he suspected Sara of using any kind of drug, but he wanted to exclude that option first anyway.

“Nope. You can go check her for yourself if you don’t believe me! Elizabeth Reilly, cryo-pod #h-9008-p0. The patient is in her late 50's and very much in the end stages of AEND. It's... He…” 

Harry was deep in denial. He knew Ellen’s death had hit Alec Ryder hard, but this was too crazy, even for him. “No- nonono. He couldn’t have! He did not!” He still refused to believe it. 

“Indeed he did.” It was clear there was no room for discussion here, she was simply presenting a fact, even  if her voice had gone a bit more high pitched. 

Alec Ryder: everyone else 1:0.

That motherfucker.

 

“Fuck,” Harry murmured, defeated.

“Yeah. Fuck indeed.” Sara calmed down and was now looking at her empty tumbler.

They stared at each other. The question seemed inevitable and hung heavily in the air.

“How are you doing, Sara?”

“I’m fine, thanks- how are you?” They both smiled at that. She was probably used to answering that question so many times that it was a sort of an automatic response by now.

“No, really. How are you?” They were looking at each other and Harry realized how tired must she really be.

“Off the record?”

“We’re having whiskey and hiding from Nexus leadership. Everything is off the record.”

“I’m tired, Harry,” she said slowly.

“I know.”

“I’m not sure I know how to… go on. Sort of.”

“I know.”

“I just wish somehow everything will be okay, you know?”

 “I know.” 

“And... okay, is it weird to just want dad to be alive? Just so he could be the one to deal with all of this,” she vaguely gestured around herself. I just want to do something else for a change. I’ve seen too much shit for a lifetime.”

“No. Not weird. You are, despite the rumours of being part Krogan-  still human.”

 “I’m sorry, krogan?”

“Part krogan, but yeah, after everything you have done? How could there not be any rumors?”

“True. But even the krogan get tired.”

 “They do.”

“And everywhere I go it is ‘Pathfinder this’ and ‘Pathfinder that’, you know?”

He just nodded. Harry was intimately familiar with the concept of which she spoke. 

“And I just want a moment of peace, yeah? No one to bother me, no one to want me to go here, scan that, bring this.”

“Some privacy.”

“I just want to sleep.” She dragged her palms over her face as if trying to shake the fatigue, a gesture Harry knew all too well would not do anything as to soothe her-- it never worked on him anyway.

“I know.”

She stared at him for a second, as if she had expected him to reprimand her for her brief show of vulnerability. When no such reaction came, she visibly relaxed. It saddened him to think she actually waited to see if someone besides herself would validate her feelings. 

 

“I’m so sorry, Sara.”

“For what?” 

“Ruth Bekker. Th314. That whole debacle.”

“Ha!” Her laugh was more like a bark. She relaxed and leaned a bit back on her chair before continuing: “That mission was a hoot compared to some of the shit I’ve been told to do recently. At least she didn’t go to Havarl. Roekaar foothold’s much stronger there and the wildlife makes tracking anything hell. But enough about that- how are you holding up, Harry?”

“Tired.”

She raised her glass. “Tell me about it.”

 

They toasted in silence as Sara’s gaze suddenly went blank and murmured a thanks, probably to SAM. Was he always on? Always present in her mind? No wonder she was so stressed if she could never find a moment to herself -- SAM must be present even in her sleep. Always watching, always vigilant; Always reporting her surroundings. Harry was convinced that it would have driven him mad, had it been him. Before he could ask her about it, her eyes quickly found his and she started speaking again.

“Do you want to sneak out of here? SAM tells me Breka left the guest quarters and is heading here.”

“And Addison?”

“Outside my quarters, aaand--” had Harry not known better he would have said she appeared to have spaced out for a second, but he knew she was being fed information. He didn’t have much time to ponder this before she returned to their impromptu recon report: “-two guards at the Tempest.”

“Well, where will you go then?”

No one left behind.

“I’ll be fine, I can't avoid her forever, not matter how much I want to. I’ll go to the pub or something, have her find me there. It’ll give her the satisfaction that she actually did something right today, which will leave her more open for negotiations should there be any,” Sara said grimly. Always plans within plans , Harry thought grimly.

“Would you like to come with me instead?” Harry asked.

“To your place?”

“Yes.”

She did not hesitate. “Sure. But how will we get there undetected? My tactical cloak is connected to my shield, which I left in my quarters.”

“Leave that to me.”

Harry stood up and walked out of his office. He returned a few minutes later with a medical tunic, two masks and hats.  

“Put this on,” he said as he tossed the tunic at her. 

Harry turned away to give Sara some privacy as she took off her hoodie and trousers and got into the white and red tunic and black pair of pants offered to her. As he heard the sound of her shoving her own clothing down her backpack, he figured it would be safe to turn around again, only to see Sara admiring herself in a mirror in his office.

“My oh my these are comfy.”

“Tell me about it. Mask and hat on, please. We’re going to make it look like we are going on a house call.”

“Harry, this is fucking brilliant,” Sara flashed him a mischievous smile before putting her mask on.

“I have been known to possess a brain from time to time,” he smirked as he put on his own mask. “Besides- it’s not the first time I’ve had to disguise myself to avoid people.”

“Are you sure we’re not related?”

“Oh, I know all about how Scott stole a C-SEC uniform and omnitool to get you out of custody on the Citadel, if that’s what you’re referring to. And the time you used your omnitool to hack Scott out whilst posing as his lawyer. Apparently you’re better at hacking, but he still one-ups you at bullshitting,”

That gave Sara a pause. “Who told you that?”

“Your dad mentioned it when we were training back on Luna. He thought it was the best display of adaptive thinking he'd ever seen teenagers do.”

“Yeah, well, he was not happy about it at the time.” Sara’s voice was a bit muffled by her mask, but the smile could be still heard in her voice.

“I can believe that!” Harry snickered and gestured for her to follow him in a side corridor.  

 

They quickly made their way to an elevator, which they took to cross an empty foyer. Not before long  they entered a spacious apartment with sparse furnishings and a few boxes stashed next to the kitchen.

As soon as they were inside, Sara left out a short whistle.“Nice digs!”

“Thanks. Won’t be mine for long though!” Harry said, nodding towards the boxes. “No offence, but Meridian’s structure freaks me out.”

“You mean the inverted thing, right?”

“Yeah. Never liked Citadel for that same reason either,” he admitted.

“Me too. I prefer Eos to be honest,” Sara surprised him. The desert planet?

“Not Havarl or Aya?”

“Havarl’s fucking insane. Wildlife, Roekaar- everything’s basically trying to kill you. And Aya Belongs to the Angara. I won’t impose on that.”

“How about Voeld?”

“The cold and I don’t do well together. Too dry for my complection,” she sarcastically observed.

“Doesn’t Eos have enough radiation to boil your eyeballs in a matter of seconds? That cannot be good for the skin either,” Harry mused.

“Had radiation,” she corrected him. “And that is mostly gone now, thanks to yours truly.”

“True. Drink?” Harry said as he went for a shelf on the side of his sofa, dragging out yet another bottle of whiskey.

“Yes please.” Sara said, as Harry poured it into two glasses, offering her one.

“So.” 

“So.”

They toasted and stared at each other in silence.

 

“This is your home, eh?”

“It is.”

“Want me to leave?”

“No. I did invite you.”

“To hide from Addison.” 

“Well, we might as well be comfortable when hiding.”

“True. So where to next? Seeing as you won’t keep this place for long.” Sara was not so subtly poking around. Harry was watching her, half amused, half expecting her to open her AI-enhanced scanner to aid her.

“Nexus. The same position I’ve held since we docked, it’s just my living situation that’s changing.”

“Mine too, might I add.”

“Oh? I thought you were supposed to be answering to Dunn?”

“Tempest is one of a kind. Multi-specied crew. Three humans, two asari, one salarian and a krogan. And our angaran liaison. Makes more sense to be stationed out of the Nexus and answer to the Council.” 

Harry did a quick headcount. “Three humans? I thought Scott would be joining you?”

“Hell no. He’s been offered a post as Kandros’ 2nd in command which he accepted.”

“What happened to Sajax?”

“She was offered Chief of security on the Initiative base on New Tuchanka, so Kandros needed someone who knew security.” She said, a little too quickly. Harry realized instantly what she was trying to do, and he wasn't having it.

“Lies.” Harry raised an eyebrow. 

“Excuse me?” She asked, clearly having told said lie far too many times and gotten away with it.

“That was a lie. Real reason?” Harry pushed. He knew he was entering dangerous waters -- if she felt the need to hide why she didn't want Scott on the team, it was probably a biggie.

“It’s a better fit this way. He’s been fraternizing.” 

More lies? Really?  He raised an eyebrow.

“You know… Fraternizing? Him and Gil?” 

“Really? Because you of all people have such strict rules against it?”

“It was different with Liam,” Sara defended herself weakly.

“I'm not denying that. Now, will you please give me the real reason you don’t want Scott on the team?”

Sara scowled at him. She was cornered and knew it.:

“I don’t want him in harm’s way.”

 

She looked a bit relieved, admitting the truth about Scott’s placement for once. Perhaps this was the first time she had even admitted that to anyone, herself included.

“And there we are.”

“After mom... after dad... it’s just...” Sara was struggling to find the right words for her thoughts and failing.

Harry tried to gently help her out her misery. “I know. Is that the reason you and Liam broke up?” 

“No. We broke it off long before I learned about mom. We just weren’t a good fit.”

“How so?”

“Are you usually this prying?”

“No.” 

“Why now?”

“I’m bored,” Harry shrugged.

“In the vicinity of yours truly?" she was looking amused. Had he not known better, he’d even say she looked little bit offended.

“In general. I’m living vicariously through you, remember?”

“Didn’t know that applied to relationships?”

“Nah. That’s just me prying,” Harry grinned. “Though we can drop the topic if you like and just get pissed on old whiskey,” he said, offering her a way out, even though he suspected this is the first time she has spoken about this since … since arriving in Andromeda. Has she and Lexi not talked about it? Lexi’s the trained therapist, not me. Harry thought it a bit wasteful -- Sara had the best therapist in Andromeda at her disposal, yet she had chosen to open up to him. Although he supposed there would be a difference between working on issues in therapy and really talking about them.

“Well... We just weren’t a good fit, to be honest. A lot of arguing. He wants… a wife bot to cook, clean and look after children. I don’t…” Sara’s voice drifted off.

“I get that. I do.”

“I just… I’m not at the place in my life where I think I can make those kinds of decisions,” Sara started to talk hastily, wild hand gestures accompanying her speech. “I want to live as me, you know? Or maybe just… maybe it just wasn’t a good fit. You know? Maybe it was just one of those ‘everything’s so messed up and we need something stable’ kind of things? You know?” Her blue gaze once again found his eyes.

“Been there done that,” Harry nodded. He too was guilty of having been through his fair shares of just-need-something-stable-for-now-kind of relationships since arriving in Andromeda.

“Right. It’s been a while now. We’re better suited as friends anyway,” she shrugged.

 

They sat and drank in silence before Sara suddenly squealed and clapped her hands to her thighs.

“Are you ok?” Harry looked at her. 

“Oh! I almost forgot! Addison and hiding and one thing led to another, I forgot to tell you why I was in the med bay area in the first place!”

“Consider me intrigued,” Harry said as he watched her pull something out of her rucksack.

“Two things, actually. First up -- I have some papers for you from Aya, something about the rhinovirus? Whatever that is...” she said as she pulled out a datapad and gave it to him

Harry gaped at her. 

“Sara, that is potentially the cure for the common cold! How come you have it?”

“Vaeesh wanted me to give it to you personally.” 

Harry was looking at her in disbelief. Sara was clearly not fully aware of the importance of the research material, not it’s potential impact it could have on patient care. 

 

“Now, the second reason for me coming to see you,” Sara said, and promptly removed her surgical tunic and her tank top, revealing a black lace bra. 

Harry lifted an eyebrow.

“Why are you undressing in my living room?”

“Why? Don't like the view, Carlyle?” she teased with a hand resting on her hip.

“Inquiry does not equal complaint.” Harry leaned back with his tumbler and took another drink. 

“I needed you to look at something for me,” she said as she stood in front of him him. He set his tumbler down on the end table near his couch.

“I’ve been drinking.” 

“Relax, I doubt the nature of what I am about to ask you is grounds for a suit of malpractice.“

She turned around to reveal a long, infected wound along her back. Harry instantly put his tumbler down and got up from his sofa to take a closer look.

“What in the actual fuck, Sara?”

“Shields short-circuited on me.”

“And you didn’t see Lexi?" 

“I did. She gave me a cream. I need you to apply it.”

“Why me?” 

“Let’s see: Liam’s avoiding me still -- not that I blame him really, Scott’s my brother and he’s sick. Can’t stand another one of Cora’s ‘you-should-be-more-careful-with-yourself’-lectures. Peebee grabs my ass too much… Drack’s a krogan and thus applies it with way too much pressure, something that might do more harm. Jaal might take it wrong, you know with the angara and their weird customs that’s a marriage proposal or something. Vetra’s allergic to the stuff and Lexi left to have a drink as soon as we docked, soo-” 

“Nice to be 7th in line,” Harry muttered as he opened his medical case and brought out a pair of gloves. 

“No, you weren’t seventh in line. You asked why you, and I told you why the others can’t do it. You are my second choice. Biiiiig difference.”

“Hmf. Whatever,  Pathfinder.”  Harry scanned her wound.

“Thanks,  doctor.”

“How did your shields short circuit anyway? Hold still, I need to clean this up.” Harry said as he went for his field case containing medical supplies, and pulled out some gloves and anaesthetics. 

“I… might have tinkered with them.”

“and I take it you think that was terribly clever?” Harry said as he applied the local anaesthetic to her shoulder. “Hold still.”

“As a matter a fact, I did.” Sara smirked.

Harry huffed. He knew there wasn’t much of a point to berate her at this stage, the damage had already been done.

“When did this happen, anyway?”

“Almost a week ago,” Sara gritted through her teeth, the anaesthetics had not yet taken full effect.

“Should you even be drinking?”

“Probably not. But when you think about it, I should probably never be drinking. So…”

“Shouldn’t we all. Shit happens” Harry said as he applied the ointment on her back. 

“- this might leave a scar, though,” he said and changed his gloves.

“I’m the Pathfinder. Scars legitimize my reign of terror,” she joked.

“You plan on walking around without clothes now?”

“You know what I mean.” 

“I think you’re doing just fine.”

“Thanks, Harry.”

He slowed his rubbing into her wound. She sighed, appeared more relaxed.

Harry finished his work with some gauze and surgical tape before announcing he was done.

 

“So…” she sighed as she put the top back on.

“So…” he said, looking at her, probably a bit too long.

She returned to face him. 

“Thank you” Sara said, her voice so hoarse from the whiskey it sounded more like a whisper.

“No worries. Another drink?” He waved it off, trying to lighten the mood a little.

“Should we even be drinking?”

“Should anyone?”

“Pour me one, then.”

They sat down in silence.

“Do me a favour though?” Sara said after a few seconds.

“Anything.”

“Don’t tell anyone about mom? I haven’t had a chance to tell Scott yet.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it, Sara. But do you want to talk about it?”

“I kind of do, but at the same time I kinda don’t?”

“Is that why you haven’t told Scott yet?”

“Well... kind of. But mostly because I’m still wrapping my head around the whole dad leaving his memory behind kind of thing. I found out mom was in stasis right after landing on Meridian, but I had a hunch there was something going on with dad that he wasn’t telling us. I remember he was acting so weird around the time mom died. Like -- at the time I thought it was because he couldn’t handle her being gone. But now, in retrospect, all of his weird behaviour just seemed to click with the fact that he was hiding her rather than grieving. I mean... everyone mourns differently, but now I see every single one of his actions as an act of desperation. Creating SAM, coming here, taking us-- it was all for her. He had us uproot our lives so that he could perhaps have another chance with her. And some other threat he seemed to believe in, the Reapers? He was buying into all that. I don’t know If you remember, but some people seemed to believe that the attack on the Citadel was-”

“-the work of the Reapers,” Harry finished.

“You’ve heard about them?”

“I was working at Huerta memorial hospital at the time. It was a shitstorm.”

“Do you believe the Reapers were real?”

“I have no doubt they were real. That was no ordinary geth ship. The geth had no incentive for such an attack on their own. What would an artificial intelligence do with the Citadel anyway -- store their hard-drives there? Nothing about that attack made sense. The injuries were geth induced, but that ship? Saren? No, it simply doesn’t add up.”

 

They sat in silence again. He poured them another drink and he was getting pleasantly buzzed. Does SAM monitor or control the alcohol levels in her blood? he idly thought. He decided not to give in to his professional curiosity.  

“Harry… I… I’m sorry. About unloading at you like that,” Sara whispered after a few moment, not meeting his gaze.

“Don’t apologize for being human. I’m sorry about everything too,” he gently said and lifted her chin for her to look at him.

She hugged him, still clutching her glass with her right hand, the left resting comfortably around his shoulders.

“I guess we’re just as fucked up,” she whispered into his ear, her hot breath making his heart speed up.

“Yup. Sorry to be the one to tell you.” He said as they pulled apart.

She didn't respond, instead she put her drink down on a nearby table and removed her tank top.

“What are you doing?” Another injury that needs medical attention? He couldn’t have missed it, could he?

“You still hold it together. After all of this shit, you still hold it together like a human being, when in reality you are just as effed up as I am.”

“And that is the reason you are undressing yourself?”

“Because… You’re just as messed up as I am, yet you still function. How? 

"Sorry?”

She removed her trousers, taking her shoes and socks with them standing in front of him in her black underwear.. 

“Sara, I-”

“You think too much.”

Harry stood still, so long she took it upon herself to continue her line of persuasion.

“Come on, how bad could it be?”

“That’s not what I worry about, Sara.”

“Then what?”

“We’ve been drinking.”

“Still, not enough for this to be a bad thing.” 

“We’re both emotional disasters,” he continued to list his objections, which were growing fewer by the second. 

“Agreed. That’s not a reason not to do this.”

“We’ll be bad together.”

“That remains to be seen.”

“I work all the time.”

“So do I.”

“And I’m not good at coping with stuff.” 

“Neither am I.”

She paused for a second, looking down at the floor before once again meeting his eyes.

“Come on; Am I really that bad?" 

 

The loneliness in her small voice shattered any arguments he might have left and he vowed to stop pretending he didn’t want her and removed his shirt before closing the distance between them.

“No. You’re not. I am,” he finally admitted.

 

He wasn’t kissing her, he was devouring her. Her tongue was reaching out to meet his and she was holding on to him with an intensity of which he had never felt. They were staggering towards his bedroom, how she was able to walk backwards whilst still remaining so close to him was a mystery. His hands were everywhere, every curve- every bone, every part of her was being mapped by his hands. He felt her hand on his belt as it became unbuckled and he stepped out of his trousers, bringing his shoes and socks with it on his way towards the bed. Gently pushing her away, she landed on the bed with a laugh. She sat up to drag him on top of her by the seam of his boxers. He didn’t even have time to adjust himself before she kissed him passionately.

Freeing his mouth from her hungry lips, he moved his mouth to her neck. Exploring her upper torso, he planted kisses along her clavicle, as his left hand moved towards her bra strap. Unhooking it with one hand revealed two well shaped nipples and he moved his mouth to focus his attention on them.

“Not that,” Sara clenched up. Harry nodded and moved further south with his kisses and caresses. As he continued towards her navel, her hand left his shoulder and grabbed hold of his hair. He spotted a small scar to the left of her navel. His hand traced it for a second before he planted a small kiss on top of the pale line as his other hand slowly traced up her thigh towards her black set of lace panties.

He heard her exhale as he slowly started to remove it, dragging it slowly down her well-shaped legs. On his way up, he moved his kisses towards her inner thighs. When he heard her gasp, he looked up to see her smiling. The point of no return had perhaps somehow passed in regards to awkwardness- but this was it. There would be no going back. As he took both his thumbs to spread her lips for him, he heard her moan a low “fuck yes”, and his tongue went for her wetness, circling her nub.

The effects was instantaneous. She moaned with such a vigor he was contemplating if he needed to slow down already. Teasing, touching, his arm found its way up the inside of her thigh to allow a finger to enter her, only to increase the sweet little sounds she made.

Liam really was an idiot to let her get away . Not that Harry would be complaining about that.

Her thighs clenched as she reached her peak, and Harry gently sucked her nub as he waited for her to come off her high. Her hand which was still grasping his hair slowly dragged his head up towards her mouth, kissing every single drop of herself off his mouth. He felt her other hand grabbing hold of his boxers and slowly removing it off his hips, freeing his hard rock member.

As he positioned himself, she looked in his eyes- a contact of which he kept as he entered her tight core. Her legs locked around his waist before she moved to turn them around, leaving her on top to rock upon him back and forward. She took his wrists in her hands, placing one hand on her hip, the other on her breast.

Rocking back and forward, her moaning continued as she turned over, getting up on her knees and arched as he entered her from this new position. She used the added leverage of the bed to rise up- her back against his chest, his arm around her lower torso- one of her hands reaching back and touching his ass.

Speeding up, he felt her inner walls once again clench against his cock- which only furthered his own sensation. When she came for the second time that evening, he felt himself lost within her as he came with a moan. Staying upright for a second, feeling a now sweating Sara up against him- his arms clenching around her, kissing her neck.

Her hand lessened the clench around his cheek. They both fell down on the bed -- him on top of her -- the skin of her scarred and bandaged back against his torso. He rolled off her and she crept up with her back against him. He felt his arm curl around her waist as they both drifted off to a calm sleep.

 

Harry woke up to a bed shifting beside him. Sara was getting out of bed. When she realized he was awake as well, a look of guilt overtook her.

“Well, that was... lovely. Thanks...” She said as she hurriedly located her underwear, swiftly putting it on. Harry looked at the time- it seemed they had napped for a while, it was almost 5 am

“Yeah...” Harry said as he got up and recovered his boxers from his bedside. “that was... great.”

“I should...” Sara said, frantically looking for the remainder of her clothes. This was obviously just as awkward for her as it was for Harry. What was this anyway? Two friends suffering a lapse of judgement, or the start of something more? 

“Would you like some breakfast?” Harry said, at least trying to see if this was something she would like to discuss. Sara stopped in the middle of pulling her trousers up her thighs.

“I’m deploying in 4 hours... I need to shower... and change... but maybe next time?”

Harry couldn’t make sense of her. Was there really going to be a next time, or was this just a pleasantry to lighten the somewhat awkward mood? What was the standard protocol for spilling your guts to someone you aren’t really that close with and then sleeping together anyway? He was surprisingly okay with both options.

“Sure. Want me to walk you down?” he offered as Sara finished getting dressed.

“No, no. I’m good. SAM told me both Addison and Breka’s in their quarters. Thanks, though.” She seemed to hesitate for a second- probably as insecure as Harry was- before walking up to him and kissing him. A small, intimate peck on the lips, not necessarily representative of the night they had just spent together.

“I’ll give word when I’ve settled on the Nexus. Okay?”

Harry nodded. He wanted to ask her to stay- but he couldn’t. All he could do was watch her pick up her rucksack, fling it over her shoulders and giving a little wave before she closed the door.