Ask James and Steve
The strongest bonds are forged in the harshest conditions

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James: Heh. Yeah, well. She’d just lost her dad, and the thing that killed him was inside her own head. I think I sort of get why she did it – let the Leviathan in, that is. Whatever that thing was, it had killed someone she loved. And it was sudden, and she wasn’t able to be there when it happened. She wanted answers – I would have too. I figured, if I could do anything to help her get what she needed, let alone what we needed, then I’d have to do it. So I checked it out.

Steve: Shepard told me he was lucky you made that decision, Mr. Vega. He said if you hadn’t been there, things might have gone very differently.

James: He thanked me for it, yeah. So did Ann. But I dunno, man. I feel like Loco could have handled whatever the Leviathan made Ann do… but who knows? Maybe the monsters on the other end have cards they still haven’t played. Something they can do through their slaves that they didn’t want us to know about then, and still don’t. And if they thought they could take out Loco and EDI without anyone else finding out how… if I hadn’t, I guess, been there keeping Ann still… (frowning, rubbing his forehead)

Steve: (reassuringly) You were, though. That’s what counts.

James: Uh huh. Honestly, I’m more scared of what could have happened to her if I hadn’t been there. Loco must have told you about Garneau, what he was like when we found him. Or – the guy who pretended to be Garneau, I guess, because we actually found the real one later on. It was like he was… hollowed out from inside. There was no light left in his eyes. Nothing human. He was just… empty, and so cold. I can’t even tell you how relieved I am that didn’t happen to Ann.

Steve: (nodding sombrely) I feel you, man. When Shepard came back up from the depths… for a few minutes I thought… He was so lost, it was like his mind hadn’t yet fully returned to his body. It scared the hell out of me.

James: Oh, man, yeah. Must have been tough, seeing him like that. Things were freaky enough already. But your guy’s Commander Badass of the Milky Way, Esteban. The guy’s determined like an asteroid impact. I don’t think there’s anything that could take him down, even if it was just his mind and not his body. Although maybe his implants made it harder for the Leviathan to control him?

Steve: Hmmm… perhaps. I hadn’t thought about that.

James: Ann, though. She’s just… I mean, I wouldn’t call her ordinary but she’s not… she’s not Loco, you know? Not a cyborg supersoldier. She’d already lost her dad… to lose herself to the same thing? The idea gives me nightmares and it’s not even me.

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Steve: Have you kept in touch with her?

James: Actually… yeah. She’s went to work under Hackett, on the Crucible. I couldn’t convince her to take a break, not even a short one.

Steve: Do you think she needs one?

James: Well… yeah, I guess so. It’s not like she’s let herself be crushed by grief or anything. She’s too strong a person for that. But everyone should take some time off when they lose someone important. Even if it’s just a little time, and even at time like this.

Steve: You’re worried about her.

James: Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad her talents aren’t going to waste, and our chances are that much better with her helping out. But her dad just died, and now she’s sitting in some cold lab station in deep dark space, working on an ancient alien superweapon with nobody to keep her company but engineers and rachni workers? Hell yeah I’m worried about her.

Steve: Surely it’s not that bad. The Alliance Engineers are a decent bunch. And she’ll be working with the brightest minds and the best equipment anywhere in the galaxy.

James: That’s true. I just hope it’s enough to keep her mind off… everything she’s lost, and everything she still might lose.

Steve: Well, if not, she does have you, James.

James: (small smile) Yeah… she does.

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(contented purring)

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James: A cat person? Me? Who told you that?

Steve: Oh, come on, Mr. Vega. Everyone likes cats. I hear they’re very popular with asari and turians as well as humans.

James: Not all humans are popular with cats, though! Me, I’m a dog person, always have been. I do like cats – they’re fuzzy and cute and stuff, who doesn’t? Everyone knows the extranet is at least 20% cats. But it’s just… cats never seem to like me. Over the years I’ve learned to stay away from them, because I never get anything but scratched for my trouble. I dunno, maybe they think I’m going to fight them for territory or something?

Steve: (laughing) Somehow I don’t think that’s it. I remember us answering a question about our respective pet preferences some time ago… Here it is. When this is all over, I still plan on finding a cat that likes you. My buddy Cervantes, he loved everybody. He used to rub up against the service mechs when there were no people around – I know because I’d find cat hair in their servos. I swear, if I can find another one like him, he will steal your heart. If I have to go to humane societies on a dozen worlds, I’m making this happen, damn it.

James: What’s the big deal? Can’t you just take my word for it that most cats would rather use me as a scratching post?

Steve: Well, sure. It’d be hilarious seeing you try to fight off a disgruntled cat. Or a bunch of disgruntled cats at once. But I’m more interested in seeing you get all snuggly with a purring feline. That would be adorable. Instant extranet meme! “Nyan Marine,” maybe. Or “Why can’t I hold all these kittens?” In fact, I suspect that same desire motivated our anonymous asker here.

James: (dryly) Of course… guess I shoulda known. Well, if you ever find a cat that doesn’t freak out at the sight of me and try to murder me, then I’ll snuggle it all you want. Shirtless, even.

Steve: Oho… that settles it, then. Oh, man. I’m picturing you shirtless, covered in kittens…

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James: Yeah, yeah. Keep on picturing, Esteban. I’m telling you, cats just inherently hate me.

Steve: (smile) We’ll see.

In a pinch, James could probably just bench press Steve

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James: Eh? You wanted those back? Shit.

Steve: Miscommunication, Mr. Vega?

James: Apparently. I had no idea the guy was just lending them out. I thought he was looking to get rid of them.

Steve: Well, we now have evidence to the contrary.

James: That we do. Sorry about that, man. My bad. If you got time, come down to the armory and pick ‘em up before we hit the relay. If not I’ll bring ‘em up to the crew deck tomorrow.

Steve: In the meantime… why not use them while you have them?

James: You know what – that’s a good idea. (flexing, rolling his shoulders) Spot me, Esteban?

Steve: (smirk) Do you even have to ask?

Too little, too late

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Steve: (touched) Really? Thanks! I’m not surprised your classmates hadn’t heard of me. I’m not exactly famous like the Commander is. But I’d be honoured to fly you safely to your destination, should we ever meet.

James: Are there any schools even still open? I thought they’d all be closed, because of the war.

Steve: As I understand it, there are a few still open, but most are closed. (pause) Anyways, this is an old message… I only found it today.

James: (looking at him closely) You okay, Esteban?

Steve: I…

James: (moving over to stand next to him) What’s up?

Steve: This is an old message.

James: Yeah, you mentioned that. So?

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Steve: It’s from… well. It doesn’t matter. I guess I just wish I’d found it sooner. I’m proud to represent the Alliance.

James: (reading over the message’s header) Says it was sent from – São Paulo. (softly) Shit.

Steve: It was caught in the filter for months before I got around to looking through it. So much has happened… (short, bitter laugh) And isn’t that an understatement.

James: Don’t beat yourself up, man. There was no way you could have known. I’m sure they’re…

Steve: Yeah.

giant-sequoia:

“Gravity” (Steve/Shepard/James) Chapter 2… finally

[FF.net][AO3]

Contained herein: tequila, boxer shorts, fun with biotics, nuzzling, blowjobs, sex, and a Jimmy Vega sandwich.

Also, warning which is probably pointless but just in case: this is way pornier than part 1. It also jumps right in where part 1 left off, which you can read at the links provided.

One more thing: please forgive me if I made any silly errors with James’s Spanish. I’m not a speaker, so I had to rely on Google translate. If you notice an error, let me know and I’ll fix it.

And it only took me six months!

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Top of the galactic food chain?

[Spoilers for the Leviathan DLC. See also the boys’ previous response to the mission on Despoina.]

James: “Intense” sounds about right, eh Esteban?

Steve: No kidding. I would also select “terrifying” and “nerve-wracking” as adequate descriptors.

James: (sympathetically) I don’t blame you, man. Watching Loco getting into that mech was giving me some serious bad vibes. But you’re his boyfriend. That must have been tough. (pause) Although…

Steve: (suspiciously) What?

James: (smirking) I bet you were thinking at the same time something like “Looks like a tight fit. I bet I could squeeze in there with him though.” Eh? Eh? (waggling his eyebrow suggestively)

Steve: (affecting offense) I was absolutely not thinking any such things at the time, Mr. Vega. …That was only in retrospect.

James: Ha!

Steve: But regarding the Leviathans… Coming into this war, I can’t even imagine having expected ever to find out what the Reapers truly were and where they’d come from. They’re so far beyond us technologically, they’re much more like an unstoppable force of nature on a galactic scale than an enemy army. And yet that’s exactly what they are – a massive, devastating army, frighteningly intelligent, devoid of pity or empathy or fear or any reason whatsoever to show us mercy.

James: Yeah. They don’t follow the Citadel Conventions, that’s for sure. If a planet’s causing them trouble and there’s not enough people there to bother with their harvesting… well, they can just bomb it to hell and move on. And the scariest part is – from what I’ve heard about harvesting – is that it’s better to die. From a husk’s claws or a cannibal’s gun or from orbital bombardment, it’s still a better fate than… than whatever the Reapers want to do to the rest of us.

Steve: Yeah. And knowing that they were built… I mean, it’s always been obvious that they were built, because they’re synthetic lifeforms, but built by whom? It’s never seemed like a meaningful question. Who else could have possibly built Reapers but the Reapers? And I guess, ultimately, the only organic race that could have birthed such… apical synthetics would have been equally apical organics. Insofar as they built the controller, which turned them into the Reapers. The idea that such a race not only existed, but still exists is…

James: Batshit terrifying?

Steve: Yeah.

James: I know that feel. What if, against all odds, the Crucible works and we beat the Reapers and survive? Now those things know we know they’re down there. Are they going to come up from their ocean and start enthralling us by the planet-load and trying to recreate their civilization from millions of years ago? Where we’re just their slaves who exist to build their cities and worship their glory? Fuck that shit. That’s a whole other war-we-can’t-possibly-win-but-are-trying-to-anyway, right after the first one!

Steve: Shepard and I have actually talked about that possibility, and while there is reason to believe the Leviathans will move to reclaim their past dominion, there’s also reason to believe they won’t. Whether or not they do, however, Shepard has said he’s already started using his rank in both the Alliance and the Council hierarchies to disseminate what little information we have about the Leviathans. So the galaxy will be prepared for their coming if it happens, at least as much as we can be.

James: Well that’s good. Fighting former people is bad enough when they’re twisted and mutated into monsters by the Reapers. I don’t think I could do if it they were still human, turian, asari, whatever they’d been – just mind-controlled. That might be too much for me.

Steve: For all of us, probably. After the trauma we’ve all endured and are still enduring… let’s just hope it never comes to that.

Face it, Jimmy

James: Whoa. For serious?

Steve: (frowning) Do the people on this ship really have nothing better to do than spy on their crewmates?

James: Yeah, yeah. But come on! Tali’s face! Her actual face, man. What did it look like? Was it really alien or more human like? Scaly? Oh, shit, man, I bet she has scales! Or – no, feathers! And fuckin’ eyes on stalks or something… eyes that glow. Or (suddenly growing pale, lowering his voice to a whisper) what if her face is just spiders? Like the whole thing. Spiders.

Steve: Do you have any idea how racist you’re being right now?

James: (stifling snickers, growing sombre) I… yeah. I’m sorry. Most of that was-

Steve: (ahem)

Jamesall of that was pretty inappropriate. I’m really sorry. And especially to any quarians reading this. I can’t help being curious, though. Nobody ever sees what they look like! There literally could be anything under those masks!

Steve: (longsuffering sigh) Mr. Vega… sometimes I worry about you, I really do.

James: Eh?

Steve: Have you ever taken a history course? Or used the extranet?

James: Well, yeah. Of course.

Steve: Are you sure? Do you even know how to use the extranet?

James: I feel like this is one of those times where you criticise me for something without telling me what it is.

Steve: James. The quarians haven’t always been forced to wear exosuits to protect themselves. Hundreds of years ago, before the Migration, they lived on Rannoch. They walked under the sun and breathed unfiltered air in the billions.

James: Oh. (dawning realization) Ohhhh, yeah. That’s right. You’re right, they did! Damn, Esteban, you’re brilliant!

Steve: (dryly) Certified genius. If you would just open a history text, or an anatomy text for that matter, or even just do a simple extranet search, you could easily find images of what quarians look like under their suits.

James: (growing excited) Holy shit, you’re right! I could, couldn’t I?! Oh damn, maybe this is why nobody else seems to be curious about this at all! I’ve always wondered why people were just like “Oh, quarians. Sure.” And acted like they’re not even slightly interested about what was going on under those masks.

Steve: Yeah. It’s because it’s not a mystery.

James: Oh, man, I can’t even wait. You gotta tell me. What do they look like?

Steve: (slyly) Are you sure you want me to tell you? It would ruin the fun of finding out for yourself.

James: Yes, yes damnit! Tell me!

Steve: Alright. They look like humans.

James: Who do?

Steve: Quarians.

James: What about them?

Steve: (shaking his head) Honestly, Mr. Vega. Quarians look like humans.

James:

Steve: Different skin tone, and their eyes are sort of milkier. The pupil is very hard to make out. But other than that, they don’t look much different than we do. They even have hair.

(Pause.)

James: Huh.

Steve: Are you satisfied?

James: I’m… kinda disappointed, actually.

Steve: (muttering) You’re not the only one.

James: Really, though?

Steve: It’s true. Look it up.

James: But they’re dextro. Their DNA is chirally opposite ours.

Steve: Yes, that’s true. Apparently it didn’t make a difference. (beat) Where did you learn the word “chiral”?

James: It just seems so… unlikely.

Steve: I know. And yet it is.

James: Almost lazy. Like… evolutionarily lazy, I guess.

Steve: Uh huh. It’s all been said before, buddy. We’re right there with you.

James: Weird.

(Pause.)

James: So… Sparks and Spikes, huh?

Steve: Oh, just stop it.

That one ass that inspires all the other asses to be assier

Steve: We did answer a question about the Major quite a while ago. I’m running a search of the archive right now… here it is.

James: Yeah. He’s a good guy. Dedicated, capable… though sometimes I really feel like sneaking up behind him and yelling “BOO!” just to see if he’d react at all.

Steve: (snickering) I’d like to see that. The force of your “boo” would probably bounce right off his arched eyebrow and knock you flat on your ass.

James: Aw, come on. I bet I could at least make him flinch.

Steve: (challenging) What would you bet, Mr. Vega?

James: Oh, you… okay. This is going to happen. We can talk about it later.

Steve: (smirk) I’m holding you to that.

James: As for the other thing… I don’t really get the all the hype about his ass. I mean, I’m mostly straight, so I guess I just can’t really make a hotness judgement. But like… what about my ass, damn it? Or Loco’s ass, or your ass, Esteban? I kind of think all three of us have really fantastic asses. Mostly me, though.

Steve: Uh huh. “Mostly straight,” indeed. Surely if you can conclude that Shepard and I have fantastic asses, you have to admit that Kaidan’s ass is also… now what is the proper word here? Butt-tastic? Ass-tacular? Rassplendant?

James: (laughing)

Steve: (deadpan) Majasstic? Marvellass? Bunderful?

James: (leaning against his console, wiping tears from his eyes) Bunderful. Bunderful is the word.

Steve: (expressionlessly) Are you sure? Not surpassing? Gloriass? Splendiferass? Wondrass?

James: (choking) Stop, stop goddamnit. You’re going to fucking kill me.

Steve: Oh, very well. The point is, surely you can see the appeal. I, certainly, can see the appeal.

James: I guess so. Yeah. His ass is definitely… (giggling) definitely… bunderful.

The extranet is really really great

James: Whaaat?!

Steve: (sly smile) Sure, if it’s just for fun… though I have to say, it’s not nearly so thrilling when you’ve got the real guy right next to you, perfectly willing to show off whenever you want him to.

James: Oh, that is such a… I mean that’s really… egh… (trailing off feebly)

Steve: Come on, Mr. Vega. Are you really surprised that your nude glory is on the extranet?

James: Well – yeah! What’s that supposed to mean?!

Steve: Okay… okay, that was uncalled for. I’m sorry. (beat) But really, though?

James: Nah, not really. What surprises me is how long it’s taken. I mean, (flexing) just look at these guns. And this is with my clothes on.

Steve: (dryly) Indeed, you are positively stunning.

James: Right?! But I’ve been fighting Reapers and Collectors for the past year at least, no time to pose for random nude pics, so they must be at least that old. And they’re just hitting the extranet now? For shame.

Steve: Unless someone took them without you noticing.

James: Oh…yeah, I guess that could have happened. But my squad died on Fehl, I had private quarters on Earth and I’ve been on the Normandy since the invasion so…

Steve: (cough) It shall forever remain a mystery. Now! Shall we have a look-see?

James: Awww, come on… right in front of me? With your pervy eyes and your judgey stares?

Steve: You love my pervy eyes and my judgey stares, Mr. Vega. Yes, right in front of you. Besides, don’t you want to look at nude pictures of yourself and compliment yourself on your raw sex appeal?

James: (scoff) I can just look in a mirror if I want to do that, Esteban. Let’s be real.

Steve: That’s true. Well, alright then, I suppose I shall just have to wait until I’m off duty to warm myself with your delicious Latin heat. …Unless you want to provide me with the same entertainment on your own terms.

James: Not now, Esteban, sheesh. We’re blogging. …Later, though. If you’re good.

Steve: (silent smirk)

It’s not the size of the ship that matters, it’s your pace in deep space.

James: We already answered this.

Steve: If you’ll recall, you never actually let me-

James: Already. Answered. It.

Steve: Oh, come on. It’s not that big a deal, Mr. Vega.

James: (agitated) It’s big enough, okay! You even said so!

Steve: …What? I didn’t mean-

James: (backpedaling) Shit. Shit. Uh, forget I said anything.

Steve: (huge grin gradually creeping up on him) Did you think I was talking about-

James: Shut up! We already answered the question. Okay! Case closed. Move on. Next!

Steve: (covering his mouth with one hand in an effort to stifle his snickers) Alright, then. If it means that much to you, I won’t bring it up again.

James: It doesn’t mean anything to me! It’s absolutely not important!

Steve: (still smirking) Uh huh.

James: Goddamnit! I’m not insecure!

Steve: I never said you were.

James: This is… you’re such a… Dios! (throwing up his hands and walking away) I’m going to clean my gun.

Steve: (bursts out laughing)

James: NO! I meant my – fuck. Fuck! Just stop! Aagggghhh!

Steve: (softly, so that only the readers can hear him) Let’s just leave him alone for a little while. For the record… I can attest to the fact that Mr. Vega’s endowment is fairly impressive. Though to be honest, in proportion to his bulk – particularly his thighs – on casual inspection it seems only slightly above average. As for my own measurements, if you really must know, they’re-

James: (appears suddenly behind Steve and grabs him, covers his mouth, and drags him, protesting, out of sight)