Title: Nous Deux (two of us)
fandom: mass effect
warnings: violence & smut
Jake died ten days later, John wasn’t sure what killed him, but there was no shortage of theories and gossip. John didn’t really buy most of them, because he knew that all Jake cared about was staying clear of the Conatix people and getting the hell out of there. But worrying about why Jake was dead was a luxury he didn’t really have, he was busy worrying about himself for once. When most of the kids recruited on earth had fallen sick, the company had finally handed out some warmer clothes, but nothing withstood the cold of this place for long. John was just glad he had gotten a new pair of boots and a warm hat. Today he worked inside though, he was to mop all of compound 2, it was a sweet gig really, he was left alone, and inside. He was humming to himself, only stopping to wipe his nose, cough or flex his fingers which got ice-cold from holding on the mop handle.
”Hi again.” A soft voice behind him said.
John turned around and looked straight at the slim olive skinned girl. ”Oh Hi.” He said with an awkward wave. ”Am I in your way? Hang on a second.”
”No you’re not in my way.” The girl said, ”But..” She brushed off imaginary dust off her sleeves, she looked up at his chest where a patch with his workers number was attached. It said C2:13, meaning that he was the thirteenth worker in compound two. ”I was told that you were the one to go to, if.. I mean.. that you can get anything. Is that true?”
Art by Maxxie
He couldn’t have been more surprised if he tried. ”I suppose I can, yeah.” He said with a superior smile, he wasn’t even aware he had gotten a reputation around here, reputations was a dual edged sword, on one hand they were good if you wanted something, but on the other hand, they were dangerous if the wrong people learned of them. But right now he was too flattered to ask where she knew that from.
”So, I need you to get something extra nice, there is this guy.. and his birthday is coming up, and I wanted to give him something special.” The girl said.
”Alright.” John answered nodding, ”Like what?”
”A pair of gloves to be exact.” She said.
”I can do that.” John nodded again.
”A nice pair, not like.. ehm.. you know, the plain ones.” The girl said, squirming a little, knowing she sounded terrible.
”Of course.” John smiled wide, ”When do you need them?”
”In two days?” She said with a little sweet smile, meant to persuade him to hurry.
”Alright.” John nodded. ”We’ll meet here in two days then.” He tapped the floor with a boot, ”Right here, around the same time -okay?”
”Okay.” She said. ”I don’t have any money or -”
”It’s fine.” John said, ”You’ll just owe me a favor instead.”
”Great! Deal!” The girl said holding out her hand, John hesitated because of what Jane had told him, but finally took her hand. ”I’m Rahna, what’s your name?”
”John.” he said letting go of her hand.
”What’s going on out here?” A large greyish Turian turned the corner, he pushed Rahna away and grabbed John’s shoulder hard. His knees buckled under the pressure and he had to let go of the mop. ”Were he harassing you?” The Turian asked Rahna.
”No not at all, he was just asking me if he was in the way. That’s all.” She said as calmly as she could.
The Turian looked down at the squirming boy at his claw. ”Okay, I’ll let you off this time 2:13 but it won’t happen again, understood?”
”Sir, yes sir.” John squeaked, relieved as the Turian let go of his shoulder. Quickly John grabbed his mop and continued mopping the floor like nothing had happened.
It had been no problem getting the gloves, because even if he had grown a lot the last six months, he was still slim and agile, which meant he could get in most places. The problem had been hiding them, because both Jane and Luke knew he didn’t have a pair of gloves. You have to earn those, boy, had been the reply when he had asked. He had managed though, and hid them inside his cheap cargo pant leg. He didn’t have any indoor chores today, so he had to be careful, he was supposed to be down at the cargo hangar, there were provisions flown in today.
He was shifting from foot to foot waiting, and when he was just about to leave he saw her turning the corner. ”Took your time.” He said annoyed, but really he was just slightly freaked out, knowing it would be noticed that he had been gone for this long.
”Hey John.” She said with that sweet smile of hers. ”Sorry about that.”
”It’s okay.” He said, not wanting to bore her with the details. He loosened his pants leg, letting the gloves fall out, it was a pair of nice, black leather gloves. ”Will these do? I don’t know your friend’s size, so I just took a wild guess.”
Rahna lit up in a brilliant smile, ”They are perfect! Thank you!” She took a step forward and opened her arms to hug him, but John took a step back, just mumbling ”you’re welcome.”
The awkward moment stretched out till John pocketed his hands and nodded at Rahna, ”Tell your friend happy birthday.” He smiled a little boyish smile, and turned on his heels.
He tried to sneak back into the cargo hangar, but failed miserably as a Turian saw him sneak back in. ”Where have you been, kid?” He asked with a deep rumbling voice.
”Out to piss. Sir.” John said with a casual shrug which was interrupted as the Turian smacked him backhanded across the face.
”I was!” John said instinctively covering his face with his arms.
That night he came back to Jane and Luke’s room to find his pillow and blanket in the hall again. He was too sore everywhere to care, and if he poked one of his teeth with his tongue it would rock. John just rolled himself into his blanket and laid down in the hall, he was so fucking tired and his head hurt. It was a small comfort that he had made Rahna smile, possibly made her friend happy. He didn’t really know what to think about those test lab kids, he was sure it couldn’t be fun to be tested day in and day out. But they weren’t hungry or cold, they were invaluable assets, human biotics, pretty rare indeed. John sometimes wished that he was a biotic, just so he too could get his own room, and cake. He knew they got cake cause he had seen it in the kitchen. Lucky bastards. He was almost 16, almost, so damn close – if he could just hang in there for two more years.
John was sure that Luke was punishing him, he had been put on field detail that day. Luke worked in the kitchen, he John figured that he wanted him close or something. ”So what you do.” Luke said, ”Is you take this backpack out to the group in the field, they’re out by the old air strip.”
He didn’t dare to object or sigh, but he would have if he could. ”Yes Sir.” He just said, taking the heavy backpack, swinging it up on his back.
”I know what’s in there, boy.” Luke then said grabbing John’s ear tugging it a little. ”And don’t you dare as much as breathe on it.”
”Ow.. No Sir.”
”Good.” Luke let go and looked John up and down, ”I need you to bring the left overs and the backpack back, so you have to stay there till they finish.”
John nodded, ”Got it.”
”Good, get going!” Luke said turning his back to John.
John didn’t dare to sigh before he was out of the kitchen, a walk to the old air strip that would take him at least two hours in the howling, ice-cold wind. ”Bollocks.” He mumbled, but none the less he just hooked his fingers in the straps around his shoulders and started walking.
His fingers were so cold they ached by the time he could see the airstrip. He shielded his eyes from the sun and the stark wind. He could see a group down on the strip, he could see the blue lightning stuff, but couldn’t smell the odd Freon smell from here. At least he had found them. He had a weak hope that they’d finish quickly, and someone would give him a ride home. He stopped in his tracks for a second when he noticed who the Officer in command was, Vyrnus fucking scared him, but then again he was a scary motherfucker, and if he didn’t freak you out the slightest, something was definitely wrong in your head. He took a deep breath of the crisp cold air before he walked over to the group. He just stood still, shivering in the cold, waiting for Vyrnus to address him.
”Looks like lunch is here.” Vyrnus said. ”Take a break.” He said to the students and officers alike. John just handed him the backpack and stood back. The Turian officers retreated to the truck to eat their dinner, leaving the students and John out on the strip. He tried his hardest not to look like he was cold, and wouldn’t get caught looking, but he couldn’t help but to look at the students who divided the lunch between them, laughing softly and shifting food boxes between them, until everyone was happy. He noticed a boy with black leather gloves on, and couldn’t help but to smile. He had to be Rahna’s friend. John sorta wished she was here, and wondered why she wasn’t. It seemed like all the other biotic kids from C2 was here. John shifted and rubbed his arms a little, turning to walk over to a rock to sit and wait so he didn’t seem so eager for them to finish. Last thing he needed was Luke getting more upset with him for stressing the students.
”Hey!” The boy with the gloves said. ”Come sit.”
John shook his head mortified, and continued towards his chosen stone. Moments later someone stuck the lid of a food box in his face, it had bread and beans. John looked up to see where the gift came from, even if he sorta knew cause he recognized the gloves. ”Here.. You looked hungry, eh.. it’s for you.” The boy smiled, ”No one will know. I swear.” he urged the lid into John’s hands.
”Thanks.” John smiled, and heard his stomach rumble in agreement. A part of him wanted to savor it, another just wanting to wolf it down. His fingers were stiff and cold so he could only eat at the pace his hands would let him. Heat enveloped his shoulders which made him look up in alarm.
”It’s okay,” the boy said. ”My mother bought me a thermos before I came here.” He smiled a little embarrassed. ”You look like you are freezing your ass off. Don’t – eh, don’t you have a jacket?”
John threw caution at the wind and used one hand to pull the jacket closer around him, closing his eyes at the warm softness. ”No.” He just said
”That’s crazy, they made you walk out here without a jacket?” The boy said, his brown friendly eyes full with worry.
”Don’t worry about it.” John said, resisting the urge to lick the lid of the box to get the rest of the food off. He handed it to the boy. ”Oh and your jacket,” He didn’t want to lose the warmth, but they would both get in trouble if Vyrnus or any of the officers saw it.
John had been so focused on his food that he hadn’t seen Patrobus getting out of the truck. ”Hey Alenko, making friends?” The Turian called out. John paled ghostly white. ”Go! Go!” He whispered urgently.
Kaidan turned around and looked at Patrobus, ”He was shivering from the cold, and hungry. I just wanted to help.”
”Did he ask for your help?” Patrobus asked walking towards them.
”No Sir.” Kaidan said, shifting a little not sure what to make of the situation. And John wanting nothing more than to hide behind him.
”Then what makes you think he was in need of it?” Patrobus asked stopping in front of Kaidan and John.
”I was eyeing his food, Sir. He must have noticed.” John stepped in front of Kaidan, pushing the baffled boy back.
Now Vyrnus was on his way to see what the ruckus was about, and instinctively Kaidan grabbed John’s wrist, not sure if it was to calm him or John. ”What’s all this about?” Vyrnus asked bored.
”Alenko is playing good Samaritan with the worker.” Patrobus shrugged.
”Alenko.” Vyrnus sighed, ”You know you’re not supposed to talk to the workers.”
”Yes, Sir.” Kaidan mumbled from behind John.
”It was totally my fault.” John cut in. ”Sir…” He ducked his head and said, ”I was making him uncomfortable so he -”
”Blah, blah..” Vyrnus sighed even deeper. ”I don’t care kid. Do yourself a favor and shut up.”
John opened his mouth only to shut it again, nodding.
”So, Alenko. If you like slummin’ it so much. I think you should help that worker clean up, and walk home.” Vyrnus said with a little cruel chuckle. ”Patrobus, get everyone else into the truck, we’re leaving. And from the looks of it, Alenko is gonna miss out on nap time” He turned around laughing to himself at his own joke. And left for the truck. John and Kaidan both stood completely still and waited for them to finish loading the students into the truck and drive off.
”Sorry.” John said.
”It’s okay.” Kaidan said. ”I’m Kaidan.”
”John.” John said nodding.
”Oh You’re Rahna’s contact, huh?” He smiled and flexed his gloved fingers.
”Yeah.” John said looking anywhere than at Kaidan. For an insane moment, all he wanted to do was to lean into the other boy, suck up his body heat like he had done with Jake. And he wondered if Kaidan smelled this good all the time, as good as his jacket had for the short time it had been around his shoulders. ”I take it you liked them.” He should be walking over to start collect the stuff from the strip, he was rooted to the spot like was he frozen through a spell.
”I love them.” Kaidan said. ”I uhm, I wasn’t trying to get you in trouble, you just looked so – sad.”
John finally looked up at Kaidan and smiled a little awkwardly, cause his lip still stung. ”No trouble I can’t handle. Come on, wanna help me collect all this trash?”
”Sure.” Kaidan said. Placing his jacket on John’s shoulders again. ”Just till you get warm, okay?”
”Thanks, man.” John said, looking away feeling his cheeks flush. If Rahna had a pretty smile, it was nothing compared to Kaidan’s, when Kaidan smiled that soft, uncomplicated smile at him, it did funny things to his spine and he absolutely fucking loved it. Actually he wished that Kaidan would smile to him all the time.