Across the Universe

Post Eden Prime

The mission on Eden Prime was a disaster.

I'd flown the shuttle down to the surface to pick the ground crew up, only to see Kaidan and some other girl (what happened to Jenkins?) carrying an unconscious Sabrina over their shoulders. Kaidan had told me what happened; he'd gotten too close to the beacon, Sabrina threw him out of the way and then it just... did something to her. All I knew by looking at her, broken and pale, almost lifeless... was that I had to haul ass back to the Normandy. A few crew members lingered around the shuttle bay, awaiting news on the Commander only to be roughly pushed aside by Kaidan and the pink armored soldier that joined us.

"Out of the way!" I bellowed, leaping from my controls and shoving past a few overly curious marines. One glance at the commander was all it took for them to step back and make room. Kaidan and the female soldier lugged Sabrina's unconscious form to the elevator

"Quick, we have to get her to Chakwas!" Kaidan barked, slamming his fist against the call button. A few crew-mates shoved by me to help with Sabrina, forcing me to the back just as the elevator arrived.

"Wait, let me through! Let me stay with Shepard!" I cried, ignored. Finally the sea of people subsided, revealing that the elevator had already left. My heart thudded almost painfully. Engineer Adams placed a comforting hand on my shoulder, grey-green eyes flickering with understanding.

"I'm sure the Commander is fine, Kogan," He voiced. "You should, ah, probably return to your station," Adams finished awkwardly. I nodded, tense and unhappy. I wasn't acting professionally, most people in the Alliance knew better than to let their emotions get the best of them. But Sabrina was my only family now, so seeing her like that... God, what happened on Eden Prime?

"Thanks Adams," I forced a grin onto my face. "I'll head back to the bridge."

The wait for the elevator to come back was excruciating. It felt like the others were staring, and I could vaguely hear their whispers as they gossiped about Sabrina and what was going on. Sabrina was unconscious. Jenkins was dead. Nihlus was dead.

Shit.

Nihlus was dead.

I stepped into the elevator alone, nobody wanting to go up with me. It made sense, I supposed. I was new, I was likely the youngest one on the ship. Not only that, but most knew that I was close with the Commander. Information spread across this ship like wildfire, obviously. Now on the second deck, I took a wary peek towards the med-bay. Kaidan was talking to the Captain. Anger was written across Anderson's face as the lieutenant spoke to him. The female soldier from before was standing nearby, blood dripping from her arm and to the floor. Sabrina was already in the med-bay, Chakwas working hurriedly...

Anderson glanced at me and instantly I scurried to where I was supposed to be. Even if Sabrina was family, I had to be professional. Adams said she was going to be fine. Sure, he wasn't a doctor, but Adams was smart. And I didn't want to get in trouble this soon on a new ship for not doing what I was supposed to do.

...Even if Joker didn't really let me do much.

My stomach clenched uncomfortably as I returned to the bridge. Joker turned to glance at me for a second before returning his attention to the control panel. I sat down in the co-pilot's seat. Stood up. Sat down. Stood up again. Sat down again. Checked my omni-tool

Fuck, I didn't have any focus.

I opened my mouth. "Is there anything I can-"

"No," Joker shot. I winced. Glanced over my shoulder to the dimly lit CIC. Captain Anderson was there now, talking to Pressly. What were they talking about? I hoped Sabrina was okay. I looked over at Joker.

"So... if there's nothing I can do..."

"Well, you can always be quiet."

I flinched, shrinking back. That's when the anger began to bubble in my belly. "I'm sorry, I'm just a bit anxious. Sabrina's family, and she's in the med-bay," I snapped. "So I'm a bit anxious."

Joker's green orbs met my brown ones with the tiniest bit of amusement shining in them. "You said that you were anxious already."

I scoffed. "Sorry," I spat sarcastically.

"You apologize a lot more than I remember, Kogan," Joker noted. He returned his gaze to the console in front of him.

"You're talking more than I remember," I shot back. The silence sank in after that. Joker didn't respond. The anger I previously felt simmered down to nothing. Then the worry came back. Slowly, clenching around my heart. Was Sabrina okay? What was wrong? What happened?

I stood up. Sat down. Stood up again. Sat down again. Checked my omni-tool.

An hour later and only after my tenth check of my omni-tool did Joker finally snap.

"Go check on her already, will you?! You're worrying so loud that it's beginning to make me worried." He told me "You can barely do your job as it is. So go and help Chakwas or something. I won't file a complaint or anything if you do."

"...Really?" I asked, uncertain. Telling me to check on Sabrina was probably the nicest thing Joker had done since I'd arrived.

"Well, yeah," Joker grumbled. "You're distracting me with all your anxious habits."

It felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. "Thanks so much," I hurriedly told him; shooting out from my seat and dashing towards the staircase by the CIC. Kaidan was walking up the stairs just as I was rushing down.

"Kim coming through! I'm sorry! Gotta check on Sabrina!" I told him, almost knocking him over in the process. The lieutenant simply smiled and shook his head at my childish antics before continuing on his way. Barrelling through the Med-Bay doors, I looked back and forth between Chakwas and the Commander "Dr. Chakwas! Is she okay?!"

The older woman looked me over with amusement in her pale green eyes, nodding. "She's stable. She'll be making a full recovery," Chakwas confirmed, slaying all of my worries.

Instantly a wave of relief came over me, and I felt myself begin to calm down.

"Is it okay if I stay here until she wakes up?" I asked her. "Joker said I could help you out since I was worrying so much-"

"Oh of course Kim, of course," Dr. Chakwas laughed. "Could you give this medi-gel to the female soldier outside though? It'll only take a second, but I need to keep an eye on the Commander just in case."

Taking the medi-gel from the doctor, I nodded. "Sure thing Doc," I replied. It was amazing how much better I felt now, knowing for sure that Sabrina would be fine. Stepping out into the Mess Hall, I looked around to see if I could spot anyone new. The woman from Eden Prime was talking to Captain Anderson not too far away from the Med-Bay, so I walked towards them carefully, hoping not to interrupt "Um, hello?" I held out the medi-gel "Dr. Chakwas asked me to give this to you. Hello Captain," I greeted. The woman took the medicine and moved to shake my hand.

"Thank you. I'm Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams, nice to meet you," Ashley greeted. She seemed like a hard worker.

"Williams is going to be working on the Normandy from now on," Anderson told me with a smile, before becoming serious. "So, Flight Officer... Mind telling me why you aren't with Joker in the cockpit?"

I gulped, nervous. "I was so worried about Sabri- I mean, Commander Shepard, that I was practically tearing the cockpit apart," I responded honestly. "So Joker told me to help Dr. Chakwas in the Med-Bay. I apologize for my actions, Captain," I finished, saluting.

The Captain nodded at me in understanding. He knew how close I was to Sabrina, and he had read my psych profile. Anderson had likely guessed that I wouldn't react very well to Sabrina getting hurt. "At ease, Officer Kogan," Anderson ordered. I lowered my hand. "Well, alright then. Be sure to let me know as soon as the Commander is awake."

"Yes Sir!" Ashley and I saluted. Anderson headed towards his quarters, leaving Ashley and I in the mess hall. The captain now gone, I grinned at the dark haired soldier.

"I'm Kim, by the way. Flight Officer Kimberly Kogan," I told her, scratching the back of my head. "Or just the Co-Pilot, I guess. So… It's nice to meet you Williams."

Ashley smiled at me and shrugged "It's nice to feel welcomed. Please, you can call me Ashley if you want. At least when our CO's aren't around."

Nodding enthusiastically, I agreed. "Sure! And you can call me Kim, then," I glanced in the direction of the Med-Bay. "I'll be in the Med-Bay for now if you need anything, but most of the time you'll be able to find me in the cockpit if you just want to hang out or… something," I shrugged. "Sorry if I'm speaking a bit too informally," I apologized. "A lot of the people I worked with before, on the Tereshkova... well, they didn't mind it."

"I don't mind it, and I'm getting the feeling that I'm not the only new member in the crew…" Ashley noted, a small smile gracing her lips.

I snickered. "Yeah. I've only recently been transferred to this ship," I told Ashley. "The pilot, Jeff Moreau... but everyone calls him Joker. He doesn't really like me that much," A sigh escaped my lips. "I think he's upset that the Alliance thinks he needs help piloting the Normandy."

"Can't see why he doesn't like you. Maybe he just doesn't want to admit to needing the help," Ashley grinned at me and I grinned back. A few other marines entered the mess hall, causing Ashley to check her omni-tool. "I'll see you later, Kim. You should probably get back to the Med-Bay."

"Oh, right!" I exclaimed, rushing away. "See you later Ash!"

Chakwas looked up at me as I returned. "Ah, welcome back. I won't need much help honestly, Officer Kogan," the doctor told me. "But you're welcome to stay here until the Commander wakes up."

"Thanks so much Dr. Chakwas," I voiced sincerely. "Would you happen to know what happened to Sabrina?" I asked her, stumbling over my words almost instantly. "I mean Shepard, the Commander... uh..." my face burned with embarrassment, Chakwas smiling.

"It's quite alright Officer Kogan. The Commander mentioned that the two of you grew up together," Chakwas told me. "And according to Dr. Cameron Weiss, you were absolutely horrid with formalities on the Tereshkova. He sent me a note, saying that you'd start calling me Karen by the end of your first week."

I grinned awkwardly. "Yeah, I was still pretty young when I started working on the Tereshkova... None of them really tried too hard to get me to follow protocol. At least with the way I talk."

Dr. Chakwas shrugged. "Personally, I don't mind it at all. It's nice to have someone around that'll talk to us like we're regular people and not Alliance personnel."

"That's what Cam said!" I exclaimed. "But is there anything that I can do while I'm here though? I don't want to just sit around doing nothing."

Chakwas looked up thoughtfully. "Well, you could always do inventory."

I shrugged, getting to work. Hours passed, Karin giving me odd jobs to do. Occasionally she'd send Joker and Anderson an update on what I was doing so that they would know I was actually doing work. Fifteen hours after Sabrina had entered the Med-Bay did she start to wake up.

"I'll go tell Anderson," I told Karin. I passed Kaidan on my way to the Captain's quarters, the biotic lieutenant heading towards the Med-Bay to check on Sabrina himself. My fist knocked on Anderson's door, the Captain opening it to grant me access. I saluted. "Captain, Sabrina's..." I paused. "Shepard's waking up," I corrected. The Captain nodding at me.

"Kogan, I'm going to talk to you off the record here for a moment," the Captain stood up. I nodded, lowering my hand to my side. "Kim, now... I know that you're close with Shepard. She's told me about your past, I've read your personnel file and your psych evaluations. Damian spoke to me about you on a few occasions and I have reports from your old crew and old instructors," Anderson told me.

My throat tightened. "So... What's up, Captain? Off the record."

Anderson shook his head. "People like you, Kim. And you like people. You genuinely care for the people you work with, sometimes too much. And that's not a bad thing, it's far from it in fact," he sighed. "Joker is the opposite. He pushes people away. Apparently you were the only one in the Academy that worked well with him. Why do you think this is?"

I looked down. "Because I wouldn't let him push me around...?"

The Captain chuckled. "According to your instructors, you were determined to be his friend."

"I was young and naive, sir," I told him, rolling my eyes. "But what exactly are you trying to tell me?"

"Regardless of what he wants to believe, he does have to work with you. He might say he's the best damn helmsman in the Alliance, but you were right behind him on those scoreboards. Even though Sabrina's family to you, your work with Joker comes first," Anderson explained. "But it won't work if you let your emotions get the best of you, it won't work if you let him push you away. Focus on the job, Officer Kogan," he finished firmly. I shrank a bit, discouraged. I shouldn't have let myself get so worried about Sabrina.

"Yes, Sir," I nodded, trying to keep the hurt out of my voice. At that, Anderson placed a comforting hand on my shoulder.

"I know, Kim. I know. And I'm not mad at you for worrying about Sabrina, but I want this crew to be the best. I could care less about how you speak with others, or if you call them by name instead of rank. But I need you to prove to Joker that he needs you, ok?"

"Ok," I agreed. "Should I return to the bridge?"

Anderson nodded. "Set a course for the Citadel, Flight Officer."

"Sure thing," I replied. Leaving his quarters, I stepped towards the staircase that led to the CIC. My boots clacked against the metal floor, voices echoing behind me as I walked to the cockpit. I allowed my eyes to linger on the galaxy map for a moment before speeding up to return to work. Joker didn't look at me when I took my seat next to him, setting a course for the Citadel.

"Anderson wants us to go to the Citadel," I explained. "FTL jump from the Lowas Relay to the Serpent Nebula."

"I could've done that," Joker told me, shooting me an annoyed look.

"Yeah, but I did it. So what?" I retorted. "It's not like I'm unable to help out here. I am your co-pilot, after all."

Joker let out a grunt of acknowledgement, glaring out the window to the vast expanse of space.

"Hey, Joker?" I spoke up once more, awkward and shy.

"What?" he snapped, cold and uncaring.

"Thanks... for letting me check on Sabrina. It meant a lot," I told him earnestly.

He didn't respond.


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