Reyes patiently waited for Leo and the others to align the pieces necessary to get Lola out of here.
To nail Tann to the wall.
He spent the night beside her, sitting uncomfortably in a tiny plastic chair by her bedside. The constant drone of the ship’s powerful air conditioning, and the steady beep of the heart monitor lulling him into a fitful sleep, the noises performing his own personal medical themed lullaby.
Throughout his shallow sleep, he’d hear the soft swish of the room’s door sliding open. Her crew members would slinked in to peer at him from the doorway. He’d feel their eyes on him, assessing him, deciding his worth, his sincerity, and it would seem that to each inquiring member of her team, he came up lacking, as they’d leave almost as quickly as they had entered.
Except for Peebee and Gil.
Gil brought him a cup of coffee, black. Exactly how Reyes preferred it.
“Lola mentioned it once,” Gil explained, as he handed Reyes the styrofoam cup.
While Peebee popped in with a donut, leaving just as quickly as she had arrived.
The small gestures enough for them to relay to him that they didn’t scorn him the way others did.
Eventually, he fell into a deeper sleep that lasted him until morning.
When he awoke, he knew his time was up.
“You don’t look so well.” A lightly accented voice called out to him, pulling him from sleep.
Reyes opened his eyes to see a small redhead standing before him. Suvi. She was studying him as though he was an unknown specimen. Eyes squinted with her face nearer to his than necessary.
“I suppose I must look as well as I feel,” he replied, his voice hoarse, gravel on pavement. And, indeed, he felt like shit. His muscles had begun to seize and cramp, his head was splitting in pain, his vision blurred, and the nausea had returned with a vengeance.
The Medi-shot, as predicted, had finally nearly worn completely off. It was time for him to leave. “Has Leo-”
“Yes,” Suvi said, straightening herself. “Leo has everything in place. Tann has a lot to answer for.”
Reyes nodded. He had wanted to remain to see the whole thing through, to see her awakened with his own eyes, and to personally deal with Tann, but his body had decided otherwise.
For once the success of an operation depended on his lack of presence, and as difficult as it was, Reyes now needed to trust that Leo would handle it, handle Tann, in a way that would best benefit Lola.
“Good,” Reyes said, forcing his body to a standing position. He blinked away his double vision.
“Sure you don’t wanna be here when she wakes?” Leo asked, entering the room. His eye tattoo making him look more the villain than the hero. “Or at the very least when we confront Tann?”
“I’m confident you have things under control,” Reyes replied, having no desire to explain to Leo that he had spent the last two weeks on a sex, drugs and alcohol binge that his body was overdue paying up for.
Leo smirked, and rubbed at his chin. A smirk that said he knew more than he was letting on.
Throwing a final look back at Lola, Reyes gathered himself and headed for the door.
“I’ll be sure to let Lola know you’re the reason we were able to wake her,” Leo said, as Reyes passed him. Reyes stopped in his tracks, they stood nearly shoulder to shoulder, facing opposite directions.
He side glanced at Leo, their eyes locking. “That won’t be necessary.”
“You mean to tell me she wouldn’t be pleased to know her husband came to her rescue?” Leo paused, his sarcasm evident. He snapped his fingers, “That’s right. It’s complicated. ”
Reyes opened his mouth, ready to deliver measured threats of his own -
“We won’t tell her, Reyes. If that’s what you wish,” Suvi said, speaking up, stopping Reyes before he responded. Her soft, lyrical voice cutting through the tension.
Reyes nodded, his head throbbing with every movement, and left with a silent prayer to whichever god still listened, that he’d make it back to Kadara before he completely blacked out.
Lola’s vision swam before her eyes, double of everything attempting to re-align itself into one.
“Where am I?” She croaked, her throat dry, her voice weak. She looked around the small brightly lit room, nothing looked familiar.
“Hey,” A soft voice responded. “How are you feeling?”
It was Suvi, sitting beside her.
“I don’t - I don’t know,” Lola said. She looked down at her own body, she was covered by a thin blanket, and dressed in a wrinkled, blue hospital gown. Why were there so many tubes coming in and out of her? She went to sit up only to feel several pairs of hands on her.
“ Don’t touch me! ” She nearly shrieked, the hands immediately releasing her. She watched as her crew exchanged concerned looks.
“I- I’m sorry,” Lola said. She felt her cheeks burn as she carefully scooted herself up into sitting position. Her response had been more intense than the situation called for.
“I just don’t remember…” She ran her hands over her face. “Why am I here?”
She looked at her crew mate’s faces. Vetra, Suvi, Peebee. Gil, Drack, Kallo and Cora. Liam...they were all there. All staring at her. She watched as they turned to look at one another, uncertainty on all of their faces.
“She doesn’t remember,” Suvi whispered to Peebee.
“How could she not remember?” Peebee whispered back.
“I told you Lexi should have stood here,” Gil hissed.
“She’s with Leo. They should be back any minute now,” Vetra responded.
Wrex grunted from a corner. “All they had to do was send me in there to deal with Tann. It would’ve been over by now.”
“They have a plan. Leo has a plan. We need to trust that he knows what he’s doing,” Cora replied, defensively.
Leo? Her Leo? Her brother, Leo?
Her crew mates continued to bicker amongst themselves through tight lips and hiss like whispers, as though she couldn’t hear them. Thin smiles were glued to their faces which only served to further unnerve her.
Something was wrong. Lola’s heart sped up.
“Leo?” She asked. “Leo’s in a coma. Why are you talking about Leo like he isn’t in a coma?”
They all went silent at once.
“ No! Did something happen to Leo?!”
“No,” Cora said, approaching her bedside. “Leo is fine. In fact, he is better than fine. He’s better than he’s been in some time. You’ll see.” Lola calmed down. Cora wouldn’t lie about Leo’s condition. If Cora said he was fine, he was fine.
“Lola, how much do you remember? About why you’re here?” Suvi asked from the small chair beside her. Suvi always had a calming energy about her, Lola always appreciated that. She felt that steady energy, even now.
“I…” Lola trailed off, racking her brain. What was the last thing she remembered?
It hit her.
“ Tann ,” she said, her eyes growing wide. “Tann. I remember Tann. His men, they grabbed me. They- they had injected me with something. I couldn’t use my biotics. It was punishment. He was upset I let Raekka die and chose the Krogan…” She remembered, she remembered it all. She grabbed Suvi’s arm. “We have to leave! Tann has lost his mind. He’s on a warpath. We have to go. We have to-,” She stopped. She heard herself, she sounded panicked, hysterical, but she was the only one. Her team looked calm. She had missed something. There was something she wasn’t getting. Something they haven’t told her.
“What?” She asked, once more searching their faces.
Liam sighed, heavily from the corner of the room. “Not telling her isn’t doing her any favors.” He looked disgruntled, like he wanted to be anywhere but there. “Lola, You royally pissed Tann off. He placed you in a coma. Woke your brother up to replace you and was, basically, just making a huge play for power.”
“SAM?” She asked.
“I am afraid, Mr. Kosta is telling you the truth,” SAM spoke from her Omni-Tool.
Lola inhaled a shaky breath. “How- how long has it been, SAM? How long have I been out?”
“ Sixteen days, exactly ,” SAM replied.
Lola took a sharp inhale, her world tilting off its axis.
Everyone’s face confirmed that it was true. All of it. Nothing but grim looks filled the room.
“And, Leo?” Lola asked. “You said Tann woke him?”
“Yea,” Liam responded. “He should be-”
“Hey lil’ sis,” Leo called, from the doorway, a huge smile on his face. “It’s about time you joined the party.”
Seeing Leo up and about was a confusing mixture of joy and surrealism. After living close to a year without him, little details such as how he walked, like he was never in a rush, or how he tugged on his ears when he was nervous, were almost forgotten. But for however odd it was for her, it must’ve been doubly odd for him, to awake and find she had taken his place in the medical unit.
“So, the coma wasn’t medically necessary for you either?” Lola asked, from beneath the Nomad. Once Lexi had assured Leo that Lola was stable enough to move, and Leo had assured everyone that matters with Tann had been handled, they had all retreated back to the safety of The Tempest and departed from The Nexus. She was supposed to be taking it easy but she couldn’t stay still. She felt incredibly anxious and unsettled.
Leo passed her a wrench. She had no idea what she was doing, but tinkering underneath the huge vehicle somehow made her feel better.
“It was, at first,” Leo responded. He began pacing the cargo bay. “But Tann kept me under much longer than needed. Apparently, your medical records weren’t the first he had ever forged. Seemed having one Ryder twin wreaking havoc was more than enough for him.”
“I didn’t wreak havoc,” Lola mumbled from her spot beneath the Nomad. She had been screwing and unscrewing the same bolt for the last twenty minutes.
“That’s not what those reports I read said.”
Great. So he’s read the reports.
“So, Tann gets pissed,” Lola continued, eager to stay on subject. “-puts me under, wakes you up to take my place as The Human Pathfinder but-”
“But finds that SAM won’t transfer from you to me,” Leo said. She heard some crashing, Leo’s face then popped up beside her as he slid underneath the Nomad to join her. A ridiculous grin on his face.
“Ryder had not perished. I had no reason to transfer, ” SAM said, speaking from the ship’s speakers.
Leo’s grin turned into a frown. “Does he do that often?”
“You’ll get used to it,” she said, waving her hand dismissively.
“Yea, nah, I’d rather not,” he said, staring at the underbelly of The Nomad.
“So, SAM is stuck with me…” she prompted.
“Right. And Tann can’t kill you. That would’ve raised too much suspicion, but more importantly it’d mean losing your unique SAM.”
“Yea, my SAM and I are stuck together..indefinitely.”
Leo hummed, his eyes studying her. He clicked his tongue. “Right, so, Tann is stuck. I’m stuck. Can’t be the Human Pathfinder without a SAM.”
“So, you sense something is wrong, and dig around and find out that I was forced into a coma?”
“No, no. Not exactly,” Leo tugged at his ear, a nervous tick of his. “I mean I couldn’t dig around, I couldn’t access anything without SAM. I had no credentials, no authority over SAM…”
“So how did you find out, Leo?” Lola asked, placing the wrench down. She sensed that this was the key information they had been avoiding telling her all along. The thing that would tie this altogether for her. “Leo. How did you find out there was foul play?”
“I didn’t. Someone else did.” Leo said, sliding out from beneath the Nomad.
“Shit. Fucking Suvi made me promise not to say anything,” he said, he had begun pacing again. Lola’s eyes following his frantic movements. “Fuck it. It was Reyes.” Leo said, throwing his hands up in the air.
Lola felt her heart stop. She got to her feet. There was fresh anger blazing in Leo’s eyes.
“But what, were we all supposed to pretend like we don’t know you eloped with a shady exile? As though, it’s something you wouldn’t do?” He scoffed, and shook his head. “Though, I suppose in the end it saved your life.”
Lola stood silent. Her mind working out the information Leo had just given her.
“What? You’ve got nothing to say for yourself?”
“You think I married Reyes Vidal?” Lola asked, confusion enveloping her.
“I don’t think, we know-”
“-This doesn’t make sense”
“- your official records show it, Lola! Don’t deny it. He confirmed it himself, when he showed up in the medical unit.”
“The marriage gave him access to me…” She said, finally understanding.
“As your husband, he has your credentials, Lola. He’s able to easily access SAM.”
Of course. Realization dawned on her, it was never about her.
She felt like she was going to be sick.
“Do you know how dangerous that is, Lola?” He asked.
She did. She absolutely did.
“Upon marrying him, you immediately gave him full access to everything you have access to. Once that marital status was updated on The Nexus system-” Leo clapped his hands, rubbing them together dramatically as though washing them clean, “- it was over. The power you’ve handed to him.” Leo shook his head. “He’s a damn smuggler! Did you even think it through, or did you just get so damn drunk that the safety of everyone on The Nexus just completely ceased to matter?”
That wasn’t fair. “You know I barely drink.”
He grunted. “I know that the few times you have drank in the past, you ended up making shitty decisions.” He paused. “ Like the time you snuck away while on duty to meet him.”
Lola’s eyes shot to Leo’s. His single grey eye seemed to be burning with more fury than his black one. “So, you really did it, huh. You really went and wedded a criminal?” His eyes roamed her face as though answers laid just beneath her skin. “Lola, did he do something? Did he force you or ..I don’t know access records without your consent. Because if he did, we could lock him away, Lola. And I mean, for good. He’d rot behind bars. Exile or not. The Initiative still holds some authority over him. They’re itching to get their hands on him. Just say the word, we’ll go right now and get him. Make him answer for everything. Everything he’s ever smuggled. Stole. Accessed without the proper consent. You’ll never have to see him again.”
Fear gripped her. The meds he stole from The Nexus was enough for them to seek to execute him. They’d make an example out of him. Images of Reyes’s body hanging like the Kett’s outside of Kadara Port flooded her mind. No. That was too cruel. They wouldn’t do that, would they? Did she want to take the chance of finding out?
Reyes’s smug smile, his firm touch, his honeyed voice...it flashed in her mind. She had fallen for him, a long time ago she had fallen for him. She couldn’t implicate him.
Lola tore her eyes away from her brother. “No, Leo. I - you’re right,” she looked back at him. Her gaze even. “I eloped. It was quick and I was sober. It was spontaneous and I wasn’t thinking of what it meant as far as SAM was concerned. I just- I just wanted to be with him. Nothing else mattered.”
Leo’s face changed, disgust. He was looking at her with utter disgust. “I guarantee you, Vidal was absolutely thinking of what it meant as far as SAM was concerned. You just handed a smuggler access to all the information SAM has to offer and constant access to you, The Human Pathfinder. The only Pathfinder. Should’ve just fucked him and called it a day,” Leo finished, and headed for the doors. “ You know,” he called over his shoulder. “He didn’t even stay to ensure you were ok when we woke you. A real winner you chose there.”
Leo was trying to hurt her. He wanted to, her punishment for the poor decisions he believed she had made.
Lola blinked, quickly wiping the tears as they fell. “Wait, Leo. I want to talk to Tann,” she said, stopping him.
He turned, and walked back to her. “ No . You don’t get to talk to Tann. I already handled it.”
“Why not? You handled it? Handled it how?” She sniffled, willing the tears to stop, to at least wait until she retreated to her quarters before they fell.
He looked down at her. “I got you your freedom. You’re no longer obligated to answer to Tann or The Initiative for the decisions you make.”
“I’m not The Pathfinder?”
“Oh, you’re still The Pathfinder. You have SAM, you have no choice but to be The Pathfinder. I just forced Tann to climb out of your ass, meaning your actions will no longer face any punishments or negative repercussions from The Initiative. The public, however still holds their own opinions on your actions, we can’t control that, but other than nasty news reports-” He shrugged. “You’re free.”
No. She didn’t care about that. Tann abused his power, he assaulted her. He needs to answer for that. Why hadn’t Leo asked her what she wanted? “I want to talk to Tann.” She repeated,her voice firm. “I need to talk to him. I deserve the chance to say what I need to say after what he’s done.”
“Maybe, but you don’t get to have it. Part of the deal was that he doesn’t want to see you. “
“Why does he get any say after what he did?!” Lola asked, she was practically yelling now.
“Because the man’s not an idiot, Lola. The same way we had shit on him, he had shit on you.”
Lola took a step back, away from her brother, as though needing more room to breathe. “Shit on me? What shit could he possibly have on me that would be half as bad -“
Leo rubbed at is temples, his eyes straying to the door. He was done with this conversation. “I’m tired, Lola. I don’t have time to explain your own fuck ups to you.”
Lola recoiled like she had been slapped.
“We had the upper hand, but not by much. I worked with what we had.” He sighed, looking at her. “Look, if I was you. I’d be more worried about my crew than Tann.”
“Yea, they don’t trust you. You are now the leader of a crew that questions your honesty and loyalty. Congrats, Mrs.Vidal .”
News spread across Andromeda like wildfire of the second Ryder twin’s awakening:
Leo Ryder Joins His Twin Lola Ryder OnThe Tempest.
Ryder Twins: Re-united.
Leo Ryder Awakes After A Near Year Long Sleep.
Together, they began carving out human settlements and activating vaults quicker than ever. To the world, they were one solid, functioning team but on The Tempest, they were anything but.
The fallout with her crew had been swift. They had iced her out. Communication was limited to talks that pertained to the Initiative, Kett, or missions. Overnight she had become the enemy, and Leo had become her liaison.
“Can you ask the others if they plan on eating tonight?”She asked Leo when she found him in the hallway. She rubbed at her eyes, she hadn’t been sleeping well. She had been plagued by insomnia, only to have horrible nightmares when she actually did manage to fall asleep. She was tired, and despondent. She felt ragged.
Leo gave her a blank stare.
“It’s my turn to cook, Leo.”
“Oh, yea, about that…” He tugged at his ear,
“Are you shitting me? They won’t even eat my food anymore? What am I going to do, poison them?”
“They just need more time, sis.”
“It’s been two months! How long? How long are they going to ostracize me?!” She felt like she was going mad, whatever it was they believed she deserved, she didn’t deserve this.
Leo shook his head. He couldn’t answer that, though right now he was infinitely closer to her team than she was. During the past two months he had made a place for himself within her team. They had begun looking to him as the unofficial second in command. It was more than clear to Lola that they’d wished him to be leading, rather than her.
Leo had even begun dating Cora, much to Lola’s chagrin.
“You said you’d talk to them for me. They respect you, they’ll listen to you if you tell them I’m not the enemy.”
“I heard you made some changes while we were in Elaaden.”
Lola looked at him blankly. “Leo, focus.”
“Cut your hair. Got new ink.”
She shrugged, not wanting to discuss it. After successfully activating the vaults on Elaaden, her team had went to a bar to celebrate; Uninvited, Lola had went off on her own.
“You could’ve came.”
“I wasn’t invited.”
“I’m here, Lola. Wherever I’m welcomed, so are you.” Leo peered down the hall before grabbing her arm, and leading her into the galley. “More importantly, why haven’t you spoken to Reyes?”
“I don’t- I don’t understand the question,” She replied, fidgeting with the ends of hair.
“You risked everything to be with a man you’re not even talking to?” He shook his head. “It makes no sense. We can all see that it makes no sense. You want me to tell them they can trust you? I don’t even know what the hell is going on with you.”
Lola looked at him in disbelief. “You don’t trust me either.”
“Look, I don’t think you’re selling Initiative information to an information broker or anything like that-“
“- is that what they think?” Lola asked, eyes wide. “That I’m selling information to Reyes?”
“- but. I do think you’re hiding something. And I do think that whatever it is you’re hiding is in his best interest, and not yours.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said, shifting her gaze back to a split end.
“Then why haven’t you spoken to him?”
“What are you watching me?” She asked, looking up at him. “How would you know if I spoke to him or not?”
“You haven’t stopped to visit him on Kadara.”
“Yea, because stopping to visit a man no one approves of will certainly win me points.”
Leo narrowed his eyes at her. He bent down to look her directly in her eyes. “Why are you lying to me?”
Lola turned to leave the galley. She had suddenly lost her appetite.
“You want my opinion?” He asked, after she had walked past him. “I think visiting Kadara would help.”
“Could it get any worse, Lola? At least show them you risked it all for someone you actually care about. Unless, of course, you didn’t…”
Lola looked him in the eye, meeting his challenge. “Fine,” she said.
“And talk to Liam.”
Liam? Liam hated her. At least the others would make eye contact with her, Liam wouldn’t even look at her. He didn’t want to talk to her. She didn’t want to make him.
“I don’t want to talk to Liam-”
“Good,” Liam said, walking into the galley. He walked past her to grab an apple. “‘Cuz I don’t really feel like talking to you either.” He tossed the apple up into the air, caught it, and left.
Lola could’ve died. Zapped herself into oblivion if her own biotics could actually damage her.
Her brother shook his head. “You and your mouth.” Leo followed Liam out.
Lola slammed a cabinet door close. “Fuck!” She cried.
“Bad day, Mrs. Vidal?” Cora asked, walking in. A smug grin on her face.
Lola was not in the mood.
“Oh, go fuck yourself, Cora. Or better yet, go fuck Leo. Maybe you two humping will dislodge that stick you have stuck up your ass.”
With that Lola left.
Lola walked into her room, exhausted, flustered, and ready to be alone, only to find Liam sitting on her couch. She stopped, surprised by his presence.
“I thought you didn’t want to speak to me,” she said, shoving her hair behind her ears.
“I don’t,” he replied. “But Leo insisted.”
“Ok,” she said, choosing her words carefully. She sat down on the couch with him, leaving plenty of room between them. If he didn’t want to talk to her, he certainly didn’t want to be near her.
“Look, Lola. I didn’t come here for empty apologies or weak explanations -“
“Ok...,” Lola said, feeling a little taken aback.
“I just want to know one thing.”
“Alright.” She sat up, steeling herself.
He looked her in the eye. His normally open brown eyes, hard and distant.
“Did you, or did you not, sleep with me while being married to Vidal?”
Lola swallowed. “I-” Lola quickly did the math.
“Cuz,” he continued. “I’m having a difficult time believing you’d do that. I know I had been the one that had insisted, but if I had known...Why would you keep that to yourself? I mean, I know why. No one would have approved, no one does approve. But in that situation, that specific moment when we were together, alone, why you’d allow me to believe I had a chance…” He trailed off, shaking his head. He looked to his hands. “You knew how I felt about you, yea?”
Felt. Past tense.
“I made that clear, yea?” Liam continued.
Lola looked at the ground. She nodded. She did know how he felt. He had made it clear.
“I’m sorry,” she said, her voice a near whisper.
“Lola, if he did something..” Lola looked at Liam. He sounded so much like her brother. “If he in someway forced you or altered information without your consent ... we can fix it. We can make him answer for it.”
“Why does everyone think the worst of him?”” She said, suddenly feeling defensive over Reyes.
Liam stared at her. “Maybe because he has consistently shown us nothing but the worst of himself?”
“And if you’re wrong? If there’s more to him than that?”
“I don’t understand the question, Lola. If you’re married to him shouldn’t you know for a fact whether or not we are wrong? Shouldn’t you be able to argue it? Defend him?” Liam shook his head. “You really are hopeless when it comes to him.”
“He saved me.”
“His access to SAM saved you. And that’s not really it, is it? Because he bounced before you were even awakened. Leo did the work, Leo did the bartering, Leo had you woken up. All Reyes did was deliver information. Which is pretty much all he ever does.”
Liam looked at her exasperated. “We all know why he did it, why don’t you?”
“Because access to a Pathfinder in a coma is useless. You’re useless to him if you’re not up and around collecting data, Lola.”
“You’re saying all he sees in me is a human data collector. Someone to use and throw away.”
Liam looked down at her. “I’ll tell you what, I doubt he sees you as I did.”
Lola swallowed, refusing to cry. “And now?”
“Now, I don’t even know who you are. But hey, maybe I never did. Maybe I was just always seeing what I wanted to see. I certainly didn’t see a woman that would use me for a quick lay just because ...what? She was mad at her husband?”
Lola winced. “I didn’t-“
“But you did, Lola. You did.” He waved a hand at her dismissively. “Whatever. I’m done.”
Lola spent the majority of their journey back to Kadara holed up in her quarters. Occasionally, Gil or Peebee would pop in, but they never stood long, lest they got caught fraternizing with the enemy.
“For what it’s worth, I don’t think he did for information,” Peebee said, during a late night visit. She sat beside Lola on her bed, stroking her hair.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Peebee.”
“Lola, if you had eloped, I would have been the first person you told. Me. Non-judgemental, accepting, open minded Peebee.”
It’s true. She would’ve. Getting married is not information Lola would have been able to successfully keep to herself.
“I don’t tell you everything, Peebee.”
Peebee rolled her eyes. “ Sure you don’t.” She climbed off the bed. “Fine, play it that way. But I mean it, I don’t think he was seeking access to SAM, and I don’t think he’s using you. He’s shady, yea, but he isn’t the devil. I, personally, think he cares about you.” Peebee shrugged, traipsing out. “Talk to him when you get there, Lola. You gave up everything to protect him. You obviously care about him, you might as well talk to him.”
“ETA to Kadara: thirty minutes, Pathfinder,” SAM said.
“Alright thanks, SAM.”
Lola had no plans to visit Reyes, but she did plan on getting very, very drunk. After all, Umi owed her a drink or two.