It was late morning, and he'd skipped breakfast in favor of a ration bar, and yeah, maybe he shouldn't have had that third fruity drink last night in Purgatory, but Joker knew that those weren't the only reasons for his stomach's sudden decision to take up aerial acrobatics. He hadn't seen EDI since their return from the Citadel the previous day. His queries of "you ever coming back?" and "EDI? you there?" to the room at large were met with lengthy radio silence. It was like she was ignoring him. And on top of that, the mid-morning sun over whatever godawful planet they'd landed on was glaring right into the cockpit and grating on his slightly-hungover nerves.
Huffing with boredom, Joker pushed the console lightly with one foot, letting the pilot's chair swivel to a stop before he pushed off again. Round and round. God, he was bored. Why had he come up here again, instead of taking up Vega's offer of joining a poker game down at the bar? Oh right, because the big lug had invited Garrus and EDI too, and there was no hope of playing against those two. Their poker faces gave them way too much of an advantage for Joker's liking. He had no desire to repeat the humiliating defeat he'd suffered last time. Man, he used to be good at poker.
And what was up with EDI, anyway? She'd started asking him these randomly awkward questions, but then just suddenly shut up and now she wasn't talking to him. For some reason. He was tempted to write it off as another instance of women behaving in baffling ways, but...
Joker skidded his boot along the floor to stop his chair. He frowned at the console as his inner ear righted itself. The hell? When exactly had that part of his brain started thinking of EDI as a woman? Alright, so he was a little hungover, but not that hungover. EDI was a freaking AI, for chrissake. She was the Normandy. The ship. Yeah, he acknowledged that she was female, and her new body was gorgeous, and she'd adopted some funny little feminine mannerisms, like pretending to tuck her hair behind her ear when she was nervous or pursing her lips when she was thinking. She'd even started mimicking that little gesture Gabby and Shepard always seemed to turn his way, that raised eyebrow that said, seriously, Joker? and made him feel about five years old. And yeah, okay, any warm-blooded guy—well, human guy anyway—would call her a woman after just one glance, if he could see past the steel plating. But still. She wasn't...well, it just wasn't the same. Was it?
Wait. Something about that last image triggered another, more disturbing, thought. He mentally replayed their conversation, just before leaving Purgatory. EDI had asked about attraction. About what he, specifically, found pleasing. And then she'd asked him if he thought that she—aw shit. Joker smacked himself lightly in the forehead. Jesus, had he really had that much to drink last night? Or worse, was he really just that stupid? His stomach sank a little lower. The answer to that, at least, was obvious.
He'd hurt her feelings. God. He hadn't fucked up this badly with a girl since he was a teenager. (Well, not counting that one time he and that cute trainee at the academy had—never mind. That wasn't the point.) The point was that he'd been an ass, and he needed to make it up to her. Apologize or something.
Leaning back in his chair, Joker pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and index finger. He was so lost in thought that he almost missed the blinking red light on his console. An unread message. He absentmindedly pressed "play," mostly to get the stupid light to shut off.
"Hey Joker," came Shepard's tinny voice through the speaker. Joker sat up in surprise. Shepard had left him a message? Why not just come up? The recording continued, "Thought you might want to hear this. Just listen, okay?" Joker shut his mouth and, wryly, obeyed. By force of habit, he also plugged in his headphones, though there was no one to overhear. Maybe he was just paranoid. He didn't care.
"Hello, Shepard," EDI began, her voice sounding even more artificial than usual through Joker's earpiece.
"You look like you're gathering data," said Shepard. That dry tone made Joker imagine quotation marks around the word "data."
"That is a safe assumption," EDI replied matter-of-factly.
Joker sat and listened to the rest of the recording, laughing out loud at a few of EDI's more outlandish suggestions. He'd never heard her joke so much. Then again, he'd never known her to use phrases like "romantically invested" or "emotional commitment," either.
Something dark and unnervingly like jealousy flashed through him at the thought that EDI was going to Shepard with all these questions. The person who headbutted krogans, for God's sake. What, was the lowly pilot suddenly not good enough to come to with the deep stuff? Even though he knew the Normandy—knew her—better than practically anyone?
He swallowed as another thought occurred to him. Could EDI have actually tried to approach him with her questions, only to have him brush her off? He couldn't remember any specific times, but...aw, shit. This wouldn't be the first time he'd pushed someone away with his trademark sarcasm. Any others who'd tried to get close to him were long since gone, though. Except for Shepard. And, now, EDI.
Okay, that was it. He had to apologize now, before he forgot. Levering himself up out of his chair, he stretched a little and made a call down to Engineering. Maybe they'd know where EDI had gotten to.