Writer and computery person. Occasional bastard.
Thirty Days of Writing 12/30:
beginning, accusation, restless, snowflake, haze, flame, formal, companion, move, silver, prepared, KNOWLEDGE. denial. wind. order. thanks. look. summer. transformation. tremble. sunset. mad. thousand. outside. winter. diamond. letters. promise. simple. future.
He’s sitting in the lounge at Huerta Memorial when he first knows, when he hears the billboard pole barking at him from a distance.
“Lieutenant Moreau: our records show that you’ve lost someone close recently. Are you having trouble meeting funeral costs? Do you need a helping hand in dealing with the paperwork? For an affordable, rapid, and dignified service, come to Kandorus & Son’s award-winning funeral parlour. Zakeera Ward, level nineteen.”
A salarian technician bustles past with an omni-tool and a toolbox, and opens a panel on the pole. “Don’t worry about that,” he says, “it’s been shouting that at everyone. Sorry.”
He goes back to waiting, for a while, watching the cars, and the buses, and the shuttles go by through the window. Jeff has always hated hospitals: he spent most of his childhood in one, and the smell of disinfectant and medi-gel is enough to remind him of all the times the doctors told him that this next procedure ‘won’t hurt a bit.’ Today’s check-up didn’t hurt, it just consisted of a lot of prodding from Dr Chakwas—seeing her again made up for the nastiness of going into a medical facility.
He wishes Michel would just hurry up and collect the supplies she’s ordered.
“You don’t understand. I killed her.”
Jeff tries to ignore the conversation happening behind him, but there’s not a sound as a truck glides past outside.
“You had no choice. Think of it this way, Hilary died so that you could live.”
“I still killed her. Smothered her. She screamed so loudly… should have shot her. Should have shot myself.”
And that’s when Jeff knows.
“What colour are my eyes?”
Jeff takes a deep breath, and thinks for a moment of turning to face the woman who killed Hilary. But he can’t. What will he do? Punch her in the face, not caring how many of his own bones he shatters? Hug her? How do you even introduce yourself to someone like that?
He looks up for a moment.
“Is everything alright?” Michel asks, probably noticing the stony face and the glimmer at the corner of his eye.
“It’s fine,” he says.
“I have my supplies here,” she says, tugging at the drawstring of the bag, “are you ready to go?”
“Yeah.” Jeff pulls himself up when she offers her hand. “I wanna get out of here. Now.”
He has an enormous lump in his throat, but he doesn’t cry until he gets back to the privacy of the cockpit. When he does, he cries like a soldier. No histrionics. No sobbing. Just sorrow.
He sucks in a deep breath when EDI holds him and asks him what’s wrong, and Jeff explains as much as he can, quietly, quickly. She understands—he supposes he can draw strength from that.
For Joker remembers, with vivid clarity, what his dad told him, all those years ago, when he first said he wanted to be a Navy helmsman: “Jeffrey, you will always be stronger than your bones.”