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Angst (set during Halo 3)

He wondered again how he could have left her behind.

John wasn't one to second-guess himself, but now, after seeing how corrupted she had become after spending so long with that thing, that Gravemind, on High Charity, he couldn't help but to wonder if he should have insisted that she go with him back to earth.

Footsteps coming from behind him caused him to look away from the motionless image of Cortana. "She'll be alright," Johnson said, cigar in mouth. "She's too damn stubborn to be beaten by some overgrown fungus."

The two of them looked at her avatar, her face frozen in pain and worry. "I hope you're right, Johnson. This war has enough dead heroes."

AU (set during Halo 3)

This was not happening.

Instead of activating the Index, Cortana transferred herself to the yet-to-be-finished Halo control system. "Cortana, we need to light this ring."

"You don't get it, John. The Flood cannot be beaten. They destroyed the Forerunners. They killed the Prophets. Humans…Covenant…we're next," she said, her sickly green avatar testifying to her rampancy.

"Cortana, activate the Index," he insisted. "Then we can go home."

"Sorry, Chief, but this Installation is mine!" Cortana shouted.

Suddenly, Sentinels appeared around him. "Cortana, don't do this."

"I'm sorry," she whispered softly. "But soon there will be no more sadness, no more anger, no more envy. We will exist together, John. Two corpses in one grave."

Then there was darkness.

Crack!Fic (set during Halo 2)

There was a secret about Cortana that John could not, would not, reveal to anyone.

Cortana played elevator music through his speakers during their missions.

At first, it had been a joke, a stress reliever, she had called it. But now, after over a dozen missions together, John had to admit he had become accustomed to the often tacky styles on music she played.

"I think the music scares the Covenant more than that assault rifle you carry," Cortana noted wryly as a Grunt started running in the opposite direction.

"It has nothing to do with the fact that I'm the demon?" he asked.

"Hmmm, no, I'm going to stick with the cheesy centuries-old music," she teased.

Crossover (pre Halo 2)

"You're going to have to give me a second before I can disable the defense grid," Cortana said through the private comm.

John leaned against the wall, waiting for any unexpected Elites. After nearly two minutes of silence, John prompted, "You almost done?"

"I'd like to see you try to crack a 16 billion character override in less than five minutes," she complained, sighing. "Just do your job looking for any Covenant and I'll do mine."

"Cortana, can't you just use the Force?" John asked as he scanned the empty hall.

Despite her not being in his armor, he could almost feel her frowning. "That's it. Johnson's not allowed to play any movies right before a mission."

Friendship (pre Halo 2)

Cortana couldn't understand, despite how many times they had been surrounded by Covenant troops, how John could remain so calm.

"I'm detecting six Elites in the corridor ahead," she said. "Plus nearly two dozen Grunts."

"Understood," he said evenly. He turned the corner, aiming his assault rifle for the first Covenant he saw. Several shots were fired and the Elite closest to them fell to the ground.

The Grunts squealed while the Elites roared. Suddenly, Cortana saw the unmistakable blue smoke of a plasma grenade come hurling towards them. "Chief!" she cried.

He effortlessly kicked away the grenade.

"Show off," Cortana grumbled as she watched the explosion take care of the remaining surviving Covenant in the room.

Fluff (set after Halo: CE)

John stood quietly as he watched Cortana work out of the corner of his eye.

"I missed you too," she said suddenly, smiling.

"What?" he asked, facing her.

"Chief, you've been watching me-not that covertly, I might add-for nearly ten minutes now. That's pretty much a dead giveaway of what you're thinking. "

She was right, of course. He had missed her. The last three days had been spent at various debriefings, keeping them apart. It wasn't until his last debriefing, John realized how much he missed Cortana. As he sat there, he wondered when she became more important than vengeance.

"Fine," he said, slightly uncomfortable. "I missed you."

"See, admitting your feelings isn't that hard, Chief."

Humor (set during Halo 2)

This day was not going as planned, Cortana thought as John unsuccessfully dodged a volley of shots from a Brute's needler. Normally he was a blur of motion, effortlessly dodging any attack the Covenant launched against him.

But, not today.

"Tell me, John. Do you like the feeling of getting shot?" she asked.

"Yes, Cortana," he replied, gritting his teeth. "It helps me focus."

Cortana internally winced. When John was sarcastic, it meant he was not in the mood for her sarcasm. But she couldn't stay quiet. "You do know I 'feel' your pain every time you get hurt, right?"

"I'll try to more careful. I wouldn't want you to suffer."

"Har har, John. You're a riot."

Hurt/Comfort (set between Halo: CE and Halo 2)

Most of the time Cortana considered being an AI an advantage. She could infiltrate Covenant ships, Forerunner Installations, and UNSC classified data. But now, as she helplessly watched John bleed, Cortana wished she was more than an AI attached to a holographic avatar.

"Stick with me, Chief. We're gonna get out of here," she said.

Violently, he coughed several times, blood dripping from his mouth. "No you're not."

Cortana frowned. John was not one to easily give up. If he thought he wouldn't make it…No, Cortana stopped that line of thinking, he would be fine.

"You've defied the odds so many times, don't disappoint me now, Chief."

He turned his glassy stare towards her avatar. "I'll try."

Romance (set during Halo 3)

John made his way determinedly through High Charity. He knew Johnson and the Arbiter thought he had come to retrieve the Index, but the Chief knew the truth. He was there to save Cortana and nothing, not even a Gravemind, could keep him away.

It was strange. When he was first introduced to Cortana, he was worried how her civilian-type attitude would affect his ability to complete his mission. Now, he found himself distracted by the lack of her unique personality.

It was more than that though, a feeling that John wasn't quite ready to explore. For now, he needed to find Cortana and make sure she was safe.

He had a promise he needed to keep.

UST (set after Halo: First Strike)

"I see you're finally taking my advice to get some rest," Cortana greeted from the holoprojector as he entered the make-shift barracks.

Wordlessly, he popped off his helmet, setting it next to the AI. "Guess so."

"You doing ok?"

"I'm fine."

"John," she said, "you do remember I'm the AI who has practically heard every thought in your head since Reach."

He turned towards her, noticing she appeared to be leaning against his helmet, which, much to John's dismay, he found oddly seductive. Suddenly the idea of her knowing his every thought was not a good thing.

"I've got to go," he said, taking his helmet.

There was no way, after that, he was getting any rest.