Chapter 18: My Health, My Business
A big shoutout to Pip_n_Flinx for betaing.
When Jaal and Ryder came back to the Tempest Lexi was waiting for them in the Cargo Bay no less. Ryder's hair was still wet from swimming with really had been nice to spend a day there. After their talk, she felt so relieved. Ryder hadn't truly realized how much she needed to tell him.
"Lexi?" Ryder frowned. From experience it wasn't good if Lexi was waiting for her. The asari's expression was unreadable and it made Ryder feel even more nervous. "What's going on?"
Lexi looked up from her omni tool, there was no sign of what was going on. "I have some good news for you." With that Ryder couldn't help to let out a breath she didn't know she was holding. "The implant will work."
She couldn't believe it. Was it possible that her ears didn't deceive her?
"Are you sure?" Her voice was weak and she cleared her throat in an attempt to sound stronger. "You and SAM ran all the tests?"
"Yes," Lexi confirmed. "You might not like the next part though."
Ryder frowned and blinked her eyes a couple of times in confusion. She couldn't think of what that could be. The hardest part was over, right? "It couldn't be that bad."
"You'll need to talk with Tann."
It wasn't that big of a deal but Tann was the last person in Heleus she wanted to discuss her health with. If she needed to she would, but she hoped there was a way she could avoid it somehow.
"Do I have to?"
"Did something happen between you and the Director?" Lexi crossed her arms across her chest. Of course, she would ask that. Where Ryder didn't particularly want to share her health aspects with the leadership, she would if she needed to. She would be stupid to let something this simple stop her from getting the implant.
Ryder had told Jaal what had happened and, of course, Cora too. No one else on the crew knew though.
"No," she lied and Ryder knew Lexi could see right through her. "Is there a reason why I should tell him?"
Ryder wanted to move on with the conversation. And she hoped this would do it.
"You need to get permission from the leadership."
Ryder didn't need to know the rest. She could fill in the blanks. The implant wasn't something she had to go for right now, but it would make things easier.
"Okay, I'll talk to him."
"I received Dr T'Perro's report." Tann didn't seem impressed and if Ryder was honest with herself she couldn't exactly blame him. "Do you think now is the best time for this?"
"No," she decided to try the honest card. It seemed like the best approach. "But there will never be such a thing as the best time for this."
Tann's expression grew sterner.
"Director," Ryder continued, "After Meridian, there will be something else. There will always be something."
"I'm still not convinced this is the best option." He pulled his hands behind his back. "Why can't you keep using the old method?"
Tann had a point, but it was the reason Ryder was sure her reason would be good enough.
She smiled as if she won this conversation already. "Because it will make things easier for me. And in the long run for you as well."
Tann wasn't seeing it yet. "And how will this help me? This is selfish, Pathfinder. The people of the Andromeda Galaxy need you. Now is not the time to do this." It sounded like the salarian's mind was already made up.
Ryder took a deep breath and counted to three mentally before continuing. The conversation was getting frustrating. "No, because with this thing," she looked down at her broken, useless pancreas as if the implant was already there. If she had to guess the implant wouldn't be far from her pancreas. The thought of the possibility made her smile," it will be easier to control my sugar. It's not a cure." Ryder said the last part quickly. "But it can improve my lifestyle which means there will be fewer sick days. And fewer times Cora has to take over." Or at least that's what she hoped.
The Director thought Ryder's words over. He nodded slowly as the information sunk in. "I see. Alright," he said quickly as his mind made the decision. "I'll talk to the rest of the leadership and we'll get back to you. How far is your SAM and Dr T'Perro with this device?"
That was as close to a yes as she would get, but Ryder was thankful. "They did all the necessary tests."
"Thank you, Director."
Tann's image flickered away. She hoped the leadership would agree. She saw no reason why they wouldn't. But Ryder knew her judgement was influenced. Tann was right, this was selfish. But Reyes was right too, this was something she needed to do for herself.
When she walked off the ramp she saw Jaal was waiting for her.
"Was that the Director?"
"Yes, he didn't say yes but he didn't say no either so hopefully…"
"This will work out," Jaal picked up where she trailed off.
"Yes." Ryder had the biggest smile her face could muster. "Did I make all the arrangements I could?" The last question was more for herself than Jaal. This felt so unreal. It felt like she needed to do something. But she didn't know what.
"Everything will be fine." And Ryder hoped he was right. Now all that she has to do is wait, and that wasn't one of her special skills.
The next few days felt like the longest days of Ryder's life. She tried to keep herself busy with work and all of her free time she chose to either spend with Jaal or her crew.
But… her father's reason for making her Pathfinder was eating slowly away at her. It was bothering her.
She started to sleep poorly. She didn't have nightmares or anything like that, but she replayed that memory over and over in her head. She also saw her dad's last moments.
For months she didn't know what precisely happened. And it bothered her. How could she not remember her dad's last few moments? She used to ask herself over and over: What happened? Why did he give his helmet to me? Ryder still hadn't gotten the last question's answer.
Yes, SAM said he did that so all of them could be united. But it wasn't enough.
Dad did that because he loved you, Asher's words rang in her head. But that wasn't enough for her. Alec Ryder loved his children, he just had a funny way of showing, but he loved his work more.
But Ryder needed to learn from her father's mistakes.
"Is it done?" she asked Lexi as she came into the med bay.
"Yes," Lexi gave her the good news. "You can set a course for the Nexus and we'll do the operation there."
The next day Tann called Ryder to give her the good news: the leadership had agreed.
"I have some questions-"
But Lexi interrupted, "Before that, we should talk."
"About?" she stretched the word out.
"Did something happen?"
Lexi would need to be more specific. Ryder had no idea what she was referring to. A lot has happened in a short amount of time. Was it Meridian or something else? Lexi always wanted to make sure Ryder's headset was right. That was something she didn't always appreciate.
"What do you mean? You'll need to be more specific than that."
"I would've if I've known what is bothering you."
Ryder wasn't planning on telling Lexi about the memory she saw. About her dad's last words to her. She avoided Cora. And she had asked Ryder more than once if she did something.
No, you didn't do anything. It's me. That's what she wanted to say, but words failed her, so she didn't say anything back.
But… maybe she should tell Lexi. Not because it was bothering her but because she might be able to help her. Maybe she could help her find a cure for her mother. Maybe not now. She was a realist. She knew Lexi and the others – Harry and the Nexus Scientists – had other things on their plate. Other important things.
So Ryder told her. She told her everything. Starting from why her dad joined the Initiative but leaving everything out that had to do with the Benefactor and the reapers. That meant her story had some holes so she had to get a bit creative.
Ryder told her that he thought there was a possibility of a cure, with SAM's help. After all, that was the truth. She just didn't say who said there might be one developed or who recruited him. She stopped before saying her mother is alive. Even though it has been weeks she still couldn't believe it. Even Lexi seemed shocked by that news.
…And then she told her about his last words. She didn't mean to say it, the words just slipped. She didn't use her brakes. Ryder went on and on telling her the story of how her dad didn't just betray her family but also Cora Harper. The woman that should've been the Pathfinder.
"Well that's quite something," Lexi said once Ryder finished her story. "There seems to be a lot of anger there."
Ryder didn't need anybody to tell her she was angry. No, she wasn't angry. She was furious.
"I'm not telling you this so that we can talk about it, Lexi." Her anger overflowed her words and she immediately felt guilty. "Sorry," she said softly, feeling ashamed. Lexi didn't do anything. She had been a great friend, and didn't deserve it. "I told you because I need to find a cure."
"Ryder," she was looking for a way to put it mildly. "Nobody is looking for a cure right now."
"I know, and that's okay. But once we all have a chance to catch up... Will you help me?"
Lexi smiled at her, "It would be my pleasure."
Lexi and Ryder were waiting for Harry and the specialist in his office.
"Why do we need this doctor?" Ryder asked when Lexi told her about seeing an Internist.
"Because she specializes in this. Internists are one of the types of doctors you would've seen if you were back in the Milky Way."
"So why didn't I go to her with my diabetes?"
"Because she's the only Internist who's awake so she's quite busy. No Endocrinologists are currently awake." That made sense. Ryder was sure she was lucky they found one. But she was still unsure why she would need one.
"But she won't do the surgery?" Internists didn't do surgeries. This made Ryder confused.
"No, but we need to discuss everything with her and work with her."
It wasn't long until Harry and the Internist walked in. They needed to discuss all the extra things.
She shouldn't even be awake. It was a result of the Scourge hitting the Nexus. Ryder was lucky at least.
Harry would do the surgery and Lexi would assist him. It was the final details that needed to be discussed.
Harry started to explain and the Internist was at his side. Speaking when it was her turn.
The incision wouldn't be far from where her pancreas are. The surgery would last a couple of hours and the recovery period wouldn't be long.
Afterwards she would need to take it easy for a couple of days before going back to work. Her sugar would need to be monitored closely by the Internist and Lexi.
A few tests would need to be done to confirm the implant works as it should and it will be programmed to make a certain amount of insulin each day.
This all excited her and she couldn't wait to get her implant.
"Pathfinder a moment." Ryder would recognize that voice anywhere. It was Kerri. At first, Ryder wasn't sure why until it hit her.
I'm going to kill Tann.
"Sure," Ryder shot her the best fake smile trying her best to hide away her anger. "What can I help you with?"
"Not right now Kerri."
"Please, I insist."
This interview was going to happen whether Ryder wanted it to or not. It was better to do it now.
Kerri began setting up her equipment and it wasn't long until everything was ready.
"News out there is you're going to have an important surgery tomorrow, is that true?" The question sounded innocent enough but clearly, it wasn't.
I'm going to kill him. Deep breaths. Deep breaths.
"Yes, that's true."
"Tell us about the implant you're going to get." Kerri wanted to know. As far as everyone knew there were no implants. So a lot of people might have questions about where she got one. And that was exactly why Ryder didn't want the public to know. But it was too late for that now.
"It's an implant that will make the necessary insulin that I need to function. So I won't need to inject myself." That was something to think about. She has been injecting herself 5 times a day, every day. Right now it was like a basic need. It didn't bother her per se. She never had a fear of needles. But she didn't particularly enjoy it either.
Kerri looked confused and she had to applaud her because she must've known where this line of questioning is going. "But I thought all those implants were destroyed."
"Yes, that's true," Ryder confirmed and she couldn't help but feel guilty. "This implant was sent as a gift."
"If you say so, Pathfinder."
She could hear the disbelief in her voice. Ryder couldn't blame her. It looked very was going to cause her a lot of problems.
Yes, she had her own questions and she even asked SAM's help to track down the source but there was no way she was going to let this opportunity slip through her fingers.
After the interview, Ryder stormed into Tann's office.
"I'll see if the Director-" but as the secretary saw Ryder's angry expression she stopped. "Just go right in."
Ryder stomped off, to the stairs. Tann was sitting at his desk.
"Pathfinder you can't just-"
"Who the hell do you think you are for giving the public information about my health?" She was angry. She breathed rapidly not because she ran, but she was furious.
"Now calm down." He seemed taken aback by her anger.
"You don't see me talking about your health to people who have no business with it. You have no right! That's private." Too late Ryder realized not only does she know nothing about his health but his life as well.
"You are the human Pathfinder. People need to know that they can depend on you," Tann explained. But to Ryder, it wasn't good enough. His explanation fell weak on her ears.
"My health doesn't have to do with anyone. Not. Even. You," she spit out each word in anger. His actions were unacceptable.
"It has everything to do with me. I'm the Director," he reminded her. "I made the final decision. Whether you agree or not. The evidence is there, your diabetics are interfering and the public needs to know when that is the case."
Her nostrils were flaring, "I'm handling it."
"That's not good enough. Besides, that's not what your actions say. You have been reckless." His tone began to meet Ryder's.
She couldn't believe what she heard. Reckless? Ryder didn't know what to make of this. Sure, some of her actions might seem reckless if you would look at everything that went down after she was diagnosed, but that was never her intention. She tried to get it under control but she hasn't been able to succeed with that yet.
"You-" she shouted in anger but something that felt suspiciously like a hand was touching her shoulder. When she turned around she looked straight into Raeka's dark eyes. Her eyes went to her hands and when Ryder looked upon them she saw they were glowing blue. She was so angry that she activated her biotics. She took a deep breath and it disappeared.
"I think you should go Ryder."
It was impossible to say what Reaka's thoughts were. She and Tann must've shouted so hard, that poor secretary. She couldn't help but wonder if Raeka thought she was the bad guy.
"He-" she began to point fingers at Tann.
"You need to cool off." The other Pathfinder's eyes met Tann's, "Both of you. Before someone says something they'll regret or can't take back."
Raeka just wanted there to be peace. While that wasn't what Ryder wanted, she needed to let this go. At least for now.
She shook her head, took one last look at Tann before storming off, "This isn't over."
Tann just gave her a coy smile and it just made her even madder.
"Are you ready?" an excited Asher asked. He looked as excited as she felt.
"Yes, but this isn't a cure."
"I know. I know. You don't need to keep reminding me."
"There's someone who wants to see you," his brother looked at the door. She had to turn her neck skew to see who it was.
"I'll leave you," Asher excused himself.
They both waited until her brother left.
Reaka was the first to talk. "I wanted to see you off."
"Thanks. Look, about yesterday…"
She lifted a hand, "No need. I don't need to know what that was about. And right now you shouldn't worry about it either. Focus on yourself. The rest can wait." There was kindness in her words.
"You know," Ryder snorted. "Sometimes I wonder what my dad would've made out of all this." She moved her head, presenting the room.
"Alec was a hard and complicated man. But," she looked at Ryder as if she searched something on Ryder's face. What, she couldn't be sure. Maybe she recognized something? "I'm sure you know that. It's hard to say what he would've said. I admit that I don't know a lot about diabetes, but good luck in there."
She said goodbye with the squeeze of her shoulder. "You'll be just fine."