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Never too far from you

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“How’s my cat?” Jane asked, her grey eyes bright as she stared at Garrus through the vid screen. “Are you taking good care of Garry while I’m gone?”

Garrus rolled his eyes, but he crossed the room and grabbed the stuffed white kitten, shaking it in front of the camera. “Your stuffed cat is fine, Jane. What exactly did you think was going to happen to it?” 

Jane shrugged, letting the blue and black strands flutter around her face. “JC,” she said simply. “You can’t tell me Sol has let that baby out of her sight, so I know he’s been at the house.”

“Spirits, she treats that kitten as if it were her chick,” Garrus said with a huff. “If this is how she intends to be, I’m sort of glad she and John can’t reproduce.” 

“That’s horrible!” Jane replied, struggling to stifle her laughter. “I think Sol’s going to be a great mom!”  She gave him a mischievous smile, and Garrus felt his heart twist at how much he missed her. “If you feel like that, how are you gonna feel when we have our kids one day?” 

He twitched his mandibles at her, knowing his mate was having fun goading him. “I think we’ll be great parents, considering our kids won’t be furry and obstinate.”

“I don’t know… I’m pretty obstinate and so are you- funny how you seem to think our kids are going to miss that trait.” 

“For biology to cooperate, they’d have to be,” Garrus replied, laughing. “But I’d have them no other way.”

“I miss you,” Jane blurted out, twisting her ring around her finger. “Kinda lonely in the room up here without you.”

“I miss you more than words can say,” Garrus replied, instinctively bringing his hand to the ring around his neck. “But, you’re the one who said Nihlus should nominate me for the Spectres,” he reminded her, glancing at the datapad sitting on the table. “To be honest, I’d thought he’d go with John over me.”

“He asked,” Jane admitted. “John was a hard and fast no, though- said he wanted to spend time with his wife and not ‘traipse all over the ass-end of the galaxy’ for a little while.” Garrus laughed and she smiled, her eyes shining brightly at him. “But I gotta admit, it’s rough out here without you guys- it’s too quiet.” 

“You have Jenkins and Liara,” he replied, rumbling with amusement. “Plus I’m sure Joker is giving you all the color commentary for each planet you swing past.” Jane sniffed derisively and he chuckled, shaking his head. “I never thought I’d see the day where you’d wish Kryik and Williams were on your ship.” 

“Yeah, well, stranger things have happened,” Jane grumbled, ignoring his teasing tone. “Speaking of, what’s going on with the lovebirds?” 

“Still holed up in that apartment you got him,” Garrus replied, remembering just how irritated John was when he realized that was where they intended to stay. “I think they’re being loud on purpose every time he walks out that door.”

“Wouldn’t surprise me in the least,” Jane said with a smile. “Nih is a spiteful bastard when he wants to be.” 

“No, they’re just newlyweds and humping like pyjacks every chance they get,” Garrus shot back, thinking about how many times he’d heard the noises coming from their apartment when he’d gone over to have dinner with Sol and John. “For once, I have to agree with John- they’re excessive, Jane.” 

“They have a right to be,” Jane said mildly, ignoring his huff. “I seem to recall a certain turian taking me every chance he got when we first bonded.” 

“And I’m doing it again as soon as you come back,” he replied, wishing she was coming through that door soon. “How long before you guys are done out there?”

“A few more days,” she said, letting out a deep sigh. “I can’t wait to get home and sleep in a real bed again.”

“Who said anything about sleeping?” Garrus teased, noting the slight shiver as she stared at him. “I have plans for you, Mrs. Shepard-Vakarian.” 

“Oh really?” Jane asked, cocking an eyebrow at him. “Feel like letting your wife in on those plans of yours?”

“Not really,” he teased, glancing over at the wrapped present on her side of the bed. “It’s a surprise.”

“But I hate surprises,” she pouted, crossing her arms and glaring at him. “You’re being a mean old armor cat today- remind me why I put up with you?”

“Because you love me,” he said smugly, puffing up with pride when he saw her blush. “So hurry up and come home so I can show you why.”

“Flatterer,” Jane retorted, laughing for a moment before frowning at something off-screen. “Looks like I’m being hailed,” she said with a sigh. “Call you back later?” 

“Of course,” he replied. “Love you, Janey.” 

She smiled, and the look on her face made him so happy it hurt to have her away from him this long. “I love you too, big guy.” 

  


As John pushed open the door, he saw Jane sitting on the couch in front of him, curled up in her Blasto blanket and watching a movie. “Hey,” she said casually, craning her neck to look at him. “I’ve been waiting for you, Johnny.” 

“Why?” John asked, walking over to her. The room felt like ice, and he shivered, making a move to grab the blanket from her. “Move over, Jane Brain- this room feels like a freezer.”

Before he could touch it, Jane shook her head. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” she said quietly. “I... I don’t think I want to share right now.” 

Looking closer, John could see tiny frost crystals clinging to the edges of her blue hair- something was odd about her, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. “Fine, be that way- I didn’t want your stupid blanket anyway.” 

She laughed, and for some reason, the sound didn’t make him happy like it usually did- instead, it made him tense up, looking around for what was really going on here. “You always were the best,” Jane said sadly. “No matter what was going on, you could always make me smile, Johnny.” 

John felt his heart start to race and he stared at his sister, squinting as her face started to glow blue from the light on the screen. “What’s going on?” 

“What are you most proud of?” Jane asked, ignoring his question. Her strands of blue and black hair floated slowly around her face as she turned away from him and stared at the screen. “When all is said and done, what do you hope people remember about you?” 

He started to protest, but the answer to his question came out anyway. “I’m proud of you, Jane Brain,” he replied. “I’m proud of the people we grew up to be… because no one thought we’d ever amount to shit. I’m proud of the people we saved and the lives they get to have because we chose to help.” John thought about it for a moment, trying to focus- he was so cold that his teeth were chattering, but he couldn’t see his breath. “And I hope they remember…” he paused, swallowing the lump in his throat, “that when it counted I never gave up… ever.” John felt like he was trying to move through water as he turned his head to look at her, his eyes welling up with tears. “Are you giving up, Jane Brain?” 

Jane sighed, letting the blue of the screen wash over her, the dim light of the room reflecting in her eyes. From here, the lights of the tv looked like tiny stars. “Not giving up,” she replied. “Just accepting.” 

“I don’t want you to accept it,” he replied. He tried to reach for her but he wasn’t able to make his hand move. “I want you to fight, Janey… like you always do. A Shepard doesn’t give up, remember?”

“I tried to call him back but he didn’t answer,” Jane said, ignoring him again, the light in the room starting to fade. “I love you, Johnny.”  

“Don’t do this,” he croaked, the room so dark he could barely make out her form in the darkness. “Don’t you dare do this to me, Janey!” 

“Hold my hand,” she replied, her teeth starting to chatter. “Stay with me until it’s done, Johnny?” 

He wanted to protest, but he couldn’t- all he could do was nod as she reached for him, her icy hand pressed into his. Instantly, it was like all the air was being sucked out of his lungs and he was struggling to breathe. “Janey,” he croaked, gasping for breath, “what the hell is going on!” 

“Till the end,” she said, giving him a sad little smile as everything went black.

  


Sol woke up to John shooting straight up in bed, coughing and grabbing at his throat. His eyes were wild and his biotics were surging around him. “Johnny, I need you to breathe,” Sol urged, rubbing his back and trying to get him to calm down. “Focus on my voice, ok… it was just a dream.” 

“No,” he wheezed, shaking his head. “It wasn’t… it was too real. It… It-”

“You were asleep,” Sol said calmly, letting a soothing hum wash over him. “You’re awake now… calm down, ok?” 

“But…” John was shaking at this point, his eyes still frantically searching the room. “I… I have to call Janey,” he said, throwing off the covers and leaping out of the bed, only to immediately fall to the ground. “I have to… I need to call her right now,” he yelled. “Tiny, it’s important!”

Sol started to protest, but the look on his face made her reconsider. He’s not going to settle until he talks to her, Sol thought sadly, moving over to help him to his feet. “Do what you have to,” she replied, letting out a soft yawn. “I’m going to go get you some water.”

He nodded and she left the room, heading for the kitchen. She remembered Garrus saying something about how Jane used to have nightmares, dreams so vivid that she would swear her skin was still on fire. That must be what happened, she thought as she filled a cup with water and walked back to the room. I’ve had bad dreams before… but I never hope to have one like that.

Sol walked back into the bedroom, watching as John sat on the edge of the bed. His face was twisted with confusion and worry, barely registering her presence as she sat down next to him. “Here,” she said, handing him a cup of water and rubbing his back, “drink this.” 

John blinked a few times, then slowly, he reached for the glass. “I can’t reach her, Tiny,” he replied, his voice stilted. “She’s not answering me.” 

Sol started to get a bad feeling in her gut, but she smiled anyway, helping him guide the glass to his lips. “Maybe she’s just busy,” she offered helpfully, running her hand over his hair. “They are working, you know- maybe she’s on a mission and she just had to go radio silent.” 

“Yeah, that… that’s probably it,” John said shakily. “Maybe… maybe I’ll just call Joker… he’ll be able to tell me what’s going on.” 

“You do that,” Sol replied, even though every cell in her body was screaming at her to not let him do it. Something is wrong, she thought to herself as she watched him try to contact the pilot. Something is very, very, wrong here

Before she could stop him, Joker’s face appeared on the screen, clad in a flight suit. He’s never gone on a mission...why is he in gear? Sol nervously looked over at John- her mate was obviously thinking the same thing she was. “Joker,” John said carefully, “what’s going on?” 

The man didn’t speak for a moment, and Sol immediately noticed tears streaming down his cheeks- the color drained from her face and she wanted to start keening, but she just wrapped her arms around her mate, knowing she had to be strong for him. “The Normandy got hit,” Joker whispered, no longer looking at the screen. “Janey got me out, but…”

His voice trailed off, but it didn’t matter anyway- the only sounds left were John’s muffled sobs. Sol didn’t say a word- instead, she just held him close as he cried, feeling numb with shock and trying to figure out just how they were all supposed to survive in a world without their Jane.