I feel like being a nerd tonight so I’m gonna gush about Commander Shepard and two men done very wrong by BioWare, Jacob Taylor and James Vega. Here’s how both James and Jacob meet and become friends with Shepard. I’m still working on how the three of them end up together, but they definitely do
There was instant attraction between Esperanza & Jacob in the beginning. She was still reeling from being reanimated & still caught up thinking about Ashley though so she didn’t put too much thought into it. Jacob on the other hand is a soldier through and through and even though he’s no longer with the Alliance he still follows the regs like he is. They’d flirt back & forth every now and then but they never crossed that invisible line. They did become fast friends but that attraction was always bubbling beneath the surface.
Their attraction for each other was no secret. Everybody on the ship could see it and knew it was only a matter of time before something happened. (Jack made a habit of teasing Esperanza about it every single time all three were in the room together.)
Jacob was on the ground team for Horizon and saw how torn up she was after the fact. He pulled her to the side after dinner and she told him about her past with Ashley and how her words hurt. Jacob seemed to understand that the only thing Esperanza needed right then was someone to listen to her without judgment and that’s what he did.
She seemed to go back to her normal self but it didn’t last long. A little while after Horizon, Jacob noticed that she started withdrawing from everyone again. In order to get her talking, he invited her down to the cargo bay after lights out for a workout session.
While they worked out, Shepard talked and (once again) Jacob listened. She told him about the letter and how confused it made her feel. Instead of just listening this time, Jacob offered her a bit of advice. He asked her why should she put her life on hold for a relationship that might not be there when they see each other again. After a while, a few things became crystal clear to Esperanza. 1) She was no longer in a relationship, 2) She never had anyone willing to just listen to her like Jacob did, and 3) She really, really wanted him in the worst way. That night, the tension snapped.
Jacob, ever the gentleman, offered to escort Esperanza back to her room. They made it to the elevator before they kissed for the first time. Before things got too heavy, they took the time to sit down and discuss what they both really wanted. They’d both been burned by relationships before & didn’t feel like they were ready for a serious commitment so they both agreed to keep it casual, and they did.
The night before the suicide mission was a bit different though. They took things a bit slower than usual. Afterwards, they sat together in bed and just talked. Esperanza talked about her life on Alliance ships and posts, her parents, and even her father’s death. Jacob talked about his childhood, his days at the Alliance, and his time with Cerberus. Once it was time to suit up and leave, they were both more determined than ever to come back alive.
During their six months apart, they both did a lot of thinking. Esperanza found herself really missing Jacob. Not just the sex (even though it was amazing) but him. He was one of the only people she was really able to open up to. She really missed talking with him, joking with him, and even the little fitness contests they would have. (She still owed him 20 credits for losing their last push-up battle.)
Jacob’s time on the Normandy allowed him to see the true face of Cerberus and he was not happy. He immediately left the organization and decided to spend a little time getting to know himself again. His thoughts always seem to drift back to Shepard in some way though. He missed the little things about her. Her laugh, her smile, the look she would get when she got really wrapped up in whatever story she was telling. (He also remembered that she still owed him 20 credits from losing that last push-up contest.)
He came back from his mind clearing vacation determined to do some good in the world and hopefully find his way back to Shepard.
While Esperanza really missed Jacob, she couldn’t keep her eyes off of the wonderful piece of eye-candy Anderson picked to be her bodyguard. James Vega proved to be a perfect distraction on days where she normally would’ve retreated into herself. She could tell from the look in his eye when they first meet that he had been through some truly trying times. After a few conversations with him, she also realized that he liked to play the “dumb jock” role as a way to stop people from digging deeper. Too bad for him, that didn’t work on her.
James figured out soon after meeting Shepard that he wouldn’t be able to hide anything from her for long. He also learned most of the preconceived notions he had about her were completely wrong. Esperanza Shepard was his personal hero. She was a major reason he decided to join the Alliance in the first place. (His uncle Emilio and a desperate need to escape his living situation at the time also played a major part in the decision.) He followed Shepard’s career closely during his time in boot camp and throughout his career. He decided early in his career that he was going to be the best damn marine he possibly could. He felt that if Shepard, a woman who was only four years older than him, could do such amazing things in her career, it was possible for him to do the same and maybe one day work with her. James, along with every other marine in the Alliance, watched as Shepard became the very first human Spectre. He was there at the public memorial for her after her death.
Once the rumors start up that Shepard wasn’t as dead as everyone thought, he felt that maybe he didn’t miss his chance to work with her. When rumors started cropping up that she was working with Cerberus, he was one of the very few people who didn’t doubt her judgement on that for a second. He held firm to the belief that even if she was working with them, she was doing so for a damn good reason. When the Collectors hit Fehl Prime, he felt like he suddenly knew what her “damn good reason” might be. The decision he made on Fehl Prime ate him alive on the inside and had him falling into a deep pit of despair.
Guarding Shepard for those six months helped bring James out of that darkness. Upon their first two weeks together James tried his usual humor, flirting, more brawn than brains routine to deflect questions about himself. Esperanza saw through this immediately. She knew that pushing too hard would only make him shut down, so whenever he started to deflect she’d back off and change the topic. This surprised James a lot. Normally, people fell into one of two categories. They either tried to force him to speak about whatever it was that was bothering him or they just didn’t care enough to even ask. The fact that she obviously wanted to know but backed off and let him speak on his own terms was something he never really experienced before. He’d heard stories about Shepard’s ability to make anyone feel at ease, but to experience it first hand was something else entirely. Every time they talked and came close to the topics of his pre-Alliance life and Fehl Prime, he found himself giving her a little bit more info each time.
He knew he’d be able to trust her with the entire story when she did yet another thing to surprise him. After a particularly tiresome session with the Committee, Shepard told him about the mission Hackett sent her on and why she made the decision to destroy the relay and Aratoht. She didn’t go into too much detail because it was classified, but the mission details weren’t the important part. What he really payed attention to was her thought process while making the decision to destroy the relay. She knew she’d essentially be murdering thousands of Batarians (300,000 to be exact), but if she didn’t take out that relay the Reapers would kill every last organic being in the galaxy. She couldn’t let that happen. The loss of those lives would weigh on her for the rest of her natural life, but she would do it if it meant that she could at least try to save everyone else. She knew the trial was necessary, that she had to answer for her crime. She just hoped that everyone would use the extra time she got them to prepare for the Reaper’s arrival.
James realized at that moment that Shepard’s entire job consisted of making decisions similar to the one he had to make on Fehl Prime. The only difference was, her decisions had a much larger impact. The next time their conversation strayed into the realm of “why the hell was he on Omega in the first place”, he gave her an honest answer. He was trying to drink and gamble away the pain of killing an entire colony of people he had grown to love to get some information that turned out to be useless because Esperanza went and killed the Collectors herself. The talked for a long time after he was done. Shepard helped him begin to come to terms with his decision. He knew that he wouldn’t be totally healed in a day but he finally felt like he was on the right path again and Shepard helped him get there. What he didn’t know was he had helped her just as much, if not more than she helped him.
As the months passed and the galaxy went on with daily life, Shepard grew increasingly tense. Things were quiet. Too quiet. She knew she had delayed the Reapers arrival, not stopped them. She could feel time slipping away and the silence from the Reapers only made her more aware of how little time was left. James felt her growing more and more tense by the day and from the tone of the meetings he was having with Anderson, she was right to be worried. Anderson, Hackett, and Esperanza’s mother, Hanna, were all doing as much as they could behind the scenes to prepare for the Reapers. While things had been quiet before, things had now gone completely silent. There were reports and rumors that colonies and ships far out in the Traverse had gone completely silent; seemingly disappearing without a trace. The silence that hit them was growing closer by the day. James knew something extremely big was happening when the Defense Committee told him to bring in Commander Esperanza Shepard NOW. They had all but reinstated her with one sentence. He found out what the big deal was when the Committee room blew and the Reapers hit Earth with everything they had.