… don’t hate me, it’s 6 o’clock in the morning and I haven’t had my coffee, I seriously can’t think of a title more appropriate than this. Everything else will get me booted from dA or shunned due to horrible punnery.
This is the ‘SAFE’ version. Due to certain dA restrictions I had to crop a third of this painting off to post here.
The uncensored, uncut (HAHAHA) version is on my Tumblr (NSFW version, for reals, do not click unless you like a little ding ding).
Commissioned by crossing-point.
COPYRIGHT NOTICE © DragonReine 2014
This is my art, drawn by my own hand. I do not own the characters or any symbols unique to Mass Effect; those belong to BioWare.
Do not use the pictures in my gallery for layouts, blogs, videos, web graphics, posters, CD covers, books etc. without my express written permission. Thank you.
These are four variations of the song “Vigil” composed by Jack Wall and Sam Hulick for the video game “Mass Effect”.
The first two and the last one are not on the soundtrack and are only heard in the game itself. The third one is on the soundtrack and can be heard on the main menu as well as in the game itself.
I saw this floating around the extranet. Anything you want to tell us James?
(ooc: Hey erm… I dunno what I’ve done here… I’m kind of a tumblr virgin… This is my first like post thing… Are they even called posts? xxx)
[OOC: Don’t worry, you’re doing it right. :D]
Steve: Oooh. Damn, that’s hot.
James: I… huh?
Steve: I said it’s hot. I mean, come on. The look on Kaidan’s face. The way he’s got you backed against the punching bag. The placement of his hand…. (ahem) So? Answer the question, Mr. Vega. Anything you think we’d like to know?
James: (confused, scratching his head) But… that’s… never happened.
Steve: (disappointed) Oh. It must be ‘shopped, then.
James: Ahhh, I see. So I’ve got fans, and Kaidan’s got fans, and some of my fans are also some of his fans, and those fans like it when the two of us get all close and hot like that, and also they have skills with digital photo manipulation. Sound about right?
Steve: Yes. We’ve talked about this before, in fact.
James: Oh, yeah. Well, I won’t lie, the Major’s a sexy dude. I knew that even when I was straighter than I am now. He’s got the whole quiet-intensity thing going on. And the stubbly jaw’s not bad. And of course his famously fantastic ass.
Steve: Indeed. And then there’s you, Mr. Vega. Built, as they said in the old days, like a brick shithouse. Together the two of you could easily overload the ship’s thermal sinks. I would be entirely unsurprised to learn that Kaidan thinks you’re as hot as the rest of us do.
James: (snarky) Well, why don’t you go ask him then?
Steve: (uncertain) Eh… I’m not sure I know him well enough to be quite that informal. You know he’s technically our superior officer.
James: (laughing) Technically, yeah! And you know what else? Technically, so is Loco!
Steve: …Still. That reminds me, though. Shepard and Kaidan have known each other for several years, and they’re good friends. I bet Shepard would ask him if he thinks you’re hot for us.
James: Why is it so important to know if Kaidan thinks I’m hot?
Steve: (rolling his eyes) Because if he does, then he might be up for some extra-curricular morale-boosting, obviously.
James: (eyes widening) Oooooooooooh.
[OOC: This is definitely the longest answer I’ve ever done – it’s pretty much a short fic – so I’m putting it under a cut. Thanks to the anonymous asker for this excellent question, which inspired me to write so much.]
James: Why yes, yes I can. (approaching Steve, who is working at his console)
Steve: (absorbed) Hmm? What? (James bear hugs him.) Oooh, I see. Let me guess, the followers asked again?
James: (nuzzling his shoulder) Yep. And that’s not all they asked for. Hey, Major!
(Kaidan appears nearby with his omni-tool ready to record. Shepard is with him.)
Shepard: Does this happen a lot? I feel like I’m missing out.
Steve: (while being dragged around into position for the camera by James) I’ve told you where to – oof – find the recordings, haven’t I?
Shepard: Oooh, yeah. I forgot about that.
(James hoists Steve into the air and winks. Steve is not really in a comfortable position but smiles anyway. Kaidan takes the picture moments before Steve falls against James’s shoulder.)
James: (lewdly) Gettin’ a bit fresh there, Esteban. (to Kaidan) Did you get it?
Kaidan: Yes. Remind me again how this is supposed to help the war effort?
(James blinks, confused. Steve, trying to stand upright and failing because James hasn’t let him go yet, stifles a giggle.)
Shepard: I’ll explain it to him.
James: What the unholy hell kind of question is this?!
Steve: I have to admit, I’m a bit… discomposed, myself.
James: That’s completely… no. That’s not an acceptable choice. I can’t pick any of those. There must be another way. To do whatever the hell it is that we’re trying to accomplish here, which I can’t possibly imagine what that is.
Steve: (shudder) Agreed. Would you care to explain your reasoning for the followers’ benefit, Mr. Vega? For posterity.
James: Sure! Let’s consider our options. Eat sushi… okay. I like sushi as much as the next guy. Sushi’s okay when it’s done right. But live hanar?! That’s… that’s just… I mean, no! I might – might – eat a live-something, if I knew it would be tasty, and if I was reasonably convinced that whatever it was wouldn’t feel pain or fear, and if I was pretty drunk. Or maybe if I was on one of those goofy-ass shows where people eat bugs and go bungee jumping over gas giants for money, or if I was captured by Cerberus and drugged and, and made to eat live space beetles under duress or some fuckin’ shit, like they’d kill someone if I didn’t. But hanar? Hanar? (voice rising slightly in pitch) They’re sapient. That’s basically cannibalism!
Steve: (amused despite himself) Not precisely… cannibalism is the act of eating a member of one’s own species.
James: Yeah, when it’s lobsters and mantises and spiders. Animals eat each other all the time, and some of them eat their own species. So? Nature is nature. But it’s… there’s two different levels to things like this. On one level, we have way more in common with lobsters than we do with hanar, because humans and lobsters are from the same world and hanar evolved somewhere else. But on the other level, which is the more important level, we’re way more like hanar than we’re like lobsters. Aren’t we? It has to do with intelligence and language and, you know… tool use and stuff. The Reapers are here to harvest us, not lobsters. In fact I’m pretty sure the Reapers don’t give a shit about lobsters. (pause) Although they do kind of look like cuttlefish.
Steve: I understand what you mean, yes. At this point I’m mostly just amusing myself watching you spell it out.
James: Now… Russian roulette with a geth – that’s actually the least insane suggestion here, but it’s still goofy as hell. Russian roulette is idiotic and I’m pretty sure it’s been illegal everywhere for hundreds of years. With geth it’s actually kind of less idiotic, I suppose, because if a geth gets shot in the head they can just get another head. That could almost even be amusing. But it’s a dumbass waste of perfectly serviceable geth heads.
Steve: (chuckling) Never thought I’d hear an Alliance marine talking about the “waste of perfectly serviceable geth heads.”
James: Well, they’re on our side now, aren’t they? Only a dumbass keeps fighting after the war is over. Where we’re going’s likely to get pretty dark, we’re going to need flashlights.
James: And then there’s this… sex with a Reaper. No. Just no.
Steve: You never know, Jimmy. Somebody might be into it.
James: If they are, it’s because they’re indoctrinated.
Steve: (pause) That’s actually a really good point.
James: I do sometimes make good points.
Steve: (patting him on the shoulder) You absolutely do, my friend, and I thank you for that. I value your input.
James: Thanks, man. I think we all agree that we’d rather the Reapers would just… you know… not. But things are what they are, and Esteban and I are proud to be out here, fighting for everyone alive – not just humans. It’s an honour to… to have the power to save lives, and the huge responsibility that comes with. And it’s also scary as balls. (pouring tequila into two shot glasses)
Steve: (sombrely) Indeed. We appreciate every iota of support we get, because all of it is needed. I suspect there will come a time when everyone, not just us, will have to fight. When that time comes, people will be looking to us for guidance and direction. And for more than that – for morale, for spirit. Like it or not, it’s fallen to people like us, and Shepard, to spearhead this war. I believe that with him leading us, anything is possible. But the task remains to make this victory happen. And we will make it through.
James: I’ll drink to that.
Steve: To victory.
Steve: (chuckling) A date? No, I can’t say he’s ever… taken me on anything I’d call a date.
James: That’s right you can’t, because I don’t take people on dates. I take them on the adventure of their lives!
Steve: Uh huh. What’s that like?
James: Ridiculous. Awesome. Ridiculously awesome. Stupendous. Magnificent. …Amazing. …Really amazing.
Steve: Running out of synonyms?
James: I’m not a damn thesaurus, okay?
Steve: In any case, I’m not sure dating is something Jimmy-wordsmith here and I would tend to get up to, even were the entire galaxy not under siege. We’re too… hmmm…
James: What? What were you going to say? We’re too awesome to date? It makes sense. Think of it… you and me in a restaurant or something together, or at a simstim? The public couldn’t handle it. People would be falling over each other in randy hordes trying to get a piece of us. We’re too hot to be together in the same room for very long, unless it’s on a starship which spends most of its time surrounded by light-years of hard vacuum. For containment. To contain the hot.
Steve: We’re too close.
James: Exactly. …Huh?
Steve: We’re best friends. We’re buddies. Butt buddies, too, but also best buddies. It’s a deep and powerful bond, more than platonic – obviously – but not quite qualitatively the same thing as romantic.
James: (pause) Yeah. I think I know what you mean. That sounds about right. Going on a date with you… What would we even do?
Steve: What people normally do on dates, I imagine. But… we’d just be doing what we always do together. We’d be unable to take ourselves seriously enough to make it a legitimate date.
James: Maybe. Maybe not, though. We’ve never actually tried a legitimate date, have we?
Steve: No, we haven’t. To be honest… I haven’t even been on a real date with Shepard yet, circumstances being what they are.
James: (awkwardly) Ah, yeah. That’s true, isn’t it? I get it if you’d rather-
Steve: That’s not what I meant, Mr. Vega. I’d be delighted to go on a legitimate date with you, when such a time comes that it’s an achievable and reasonable endeavour.
James: You… really?
Steve: Of course.
James: (disbelievingly) You’d rather go on a date with your best friend than with your boyfriend?
Steve: I didn’t say that. Of course I want to go on a date with Shepard. More than one, ideally. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t also like to go on a date or dates with you. And why couldn’t all three of us go on a date together?
James: I… huh. Well then. After this is over, I might just ask you on a date, Esteban. Or the two of you, even. But at least once I’d want you all to myself.
Steve: Oooh. In that case I suppose I should start preparing for the adventure of my life right now if I’m to be able to handle it when the time comes, eh?
James: That’s right, you should.
Anonymous question: “So those Seattle Sorcerers, Steeeeve. Still got the hot for any of ‘em?”
Steve: Well, sure. Have you seen Derek Rogers? More specifically, his lips? Daaamn. And his arms, and his legs too, for that matter. Those calves. And that one time he played shirtless, for charity…. I’m positive I’m not the only one who experienced a sudden increase in generosity directly because of that. For sure I’d let him charge my eezo core. Hell, I’d make him breakfast in bed if he asked.
James: (snickering) You should invite him over, Esteban. See if he’s into dudes.
Steve: He’s bisexual, and he’s also married, you tool. And – excuse me, but “invite him over”? Invite him over to where, exactly? The Normandy?
James: Sure, why not?
Steve: “Say, Mr. Rogers. I watch you play b-ball with the Sorcerers and I think you’re hot. I know I’m a random guy you’ve never met before but, why not pop over to the warship in between space battles for a drink? Mind the Reapers. Don’t stare at the Prothean and don’t worry, the AI’s only joking about playing Solitaire on the fusion interface. You can sit on my procurement console, and afterwards we’ll get nice and cozy in a sleeper pod.”
James: You have this sarcastic expression on your face like that wouldn’t actually work.
Yeah, yeah, okay fine. So maybe don’t invite him to the ship. Loco’s got a pretty sweet pad on the Citadel, though. And I know for a fact that you two are, shall we say, not at all opposed to inviting extras into the sack. Who knows? Our boy Derek might just have a thing for Shepard. A sweet spot. Lots of people do… big damn hero, savior of the galaxy, powerful biotic but not arrogant about it, quiet and sexy, smoldering good looks? (elbowing Steve) Eh? Eh? Am I wrong?
Steve: (rolling his eyes) Keep dreaming, Mr. Vega. Though… two biotics in bed, at the same time… that certainly would be an interesting experience.
James: Interesting, sure. I’d be careful though, Esteban. You wouldn’t want one of them accidentally… detonating the other’s warp with a misplaced throw, wouldn’t you? Hey? (laughing)
Steve: (dryly) Right. While I’m sure there’s a euphemism buried in there somewhere, I can’t bring myself to suss it out. Having my personal topology violently reconfigured isn’t high on my list of turn-ons.
James: Are you sure? How would you know if you’ve never tried it?
Steve: Do you remember what Shepard did to those brutes on Tuchanka?
James: You mean the ones he dissolved into a pile of- oh.
Steve: God. I’m so sorry. Losing a partner is one thing, but to the Collectors – you and I know that’s… it’s not… well, it’s different than losing someone to, say, a skycar accident.
James: (softly) I hear you there, buddy. When they attacked Fehl Prime… I was fighting them and I was scared. Lost all but one of my squad and… and almost everyone who lived there. They’re a nasty piece of work.
Steve: The best thing I can think of to tell you is essentially the same thing Shepard told me: don’t give up on life just because he’s gone. And believe me, I know how insane that can sound when your most important reason for living isn’t around anymore, and when galactic civilization as we know it is threatened. But moving on doesn’t mean forgetting. His body might be gone, but his warmth and his voice aren’t. He lives on in your memories, in the tangible influence he left on your personality and your beliefs, and in the love that binds you two together. That love is infinite and it makes both of you infinite. No sapient life empties pointlessly into death; instead, death is what cements the meaning and value of life.
James: (looking at his hands) This is why you’re better at answering questions like this, Esteban.
Steve: (placing a hand on his shoulder) I’m not saying it’s easy, of course. It’s the most difficult thing you can do, adapting to the absence of a loved one. But that’s the price and the responsibility that comes with love. If joy exists, sorrow must also. Holding on to love is how we keep sorrow from overwhelming us. Wouldn’t he want you to hang on? Wouldn’t he be devastated if he knew you’d tried to kill yourself? I know the pain must get unbearable at times. It did for me… sometimes it still does. But the core of it, your love for him and his for you, that will never die. That’s how you endure, until the pain is dulled by time, and you keep fighting to protect those who are still alive, to prevent what happened to him from happening to anyone else – wherever you have the power to do so.
James: I’m not nearly as good at this as Esteban here is, but I know from personal experience that talking about it helps, too. Messaging us with your grief and asking for help is the first step. Tell people who will listen about what you had with him, and what you lost. Listen to other peoples’ stories. Help them and they’ll help you. Sharing the pain with other people makes it easier to hold up.
Steve: The miracle of love – and solidarity, and compassion, and camaraderie – is that they increase the more they’re shared. That’s the only way any of us are going to get through this. We hold each other up.