the empty cage
Posted originally on the Archive of Our Own at

General Audiences
Archive Warning:
No Archive Warnings Apply
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Female Ryder | Sara & Male Ryder | Scott
Male Ryder | Scott, Female Ryder | Sara
Additional Tags:
Sibling Bonding, Post-Canon, Pets, MERweek2021, heavy-handed metaphores for self care
Part 4 of MERweek2021
Published: 2021-09-27 Words: 660 Chapters: 1/1

the empty cage


After defeating Meridian and Sara's recovery, Ryder brings his sister on the Tempest. He did not expect her to call him out about his pet, of all things.


Entry for Day 6 of the 5th annual Mass Effect Relationships week

Prompt: Describe or draw a special moment with your beloved pet/s. Could be special time spent together or shared time with friends/family. Let’s have fun with our furry (or not so furry) friends :)

the empty cage

Ryder is not sure what he expected when he brought Sara on board the Tempest. Not … this.

“What is this!” is the first thing Sara shouts when she enters the Pathfinder’s Quarters on the Tempest. Really, there’s his whole room to explore. There is music, there is the sofa, there are the model ships. There are even physical books. But the little animal they found on the ship is what interests her.

“We found it eating our supplies,” he says. “Decided to keep it until I know where it came from.” He smiles at her. “I’ve heard enough of your talks to know about invasive species and I wanted to be safe.”

“Glad I managed to get something into that thick head of yours.” She pokes him in the side and grins.

Ah, Sara. It’s good to see that even all the events of the previous few months and her bumpy road to recovery can’t shake her attitude. But sometimes her cheekiness just goes to show Ryder how tired he is. He winces and sighs. “Anyway,” he says, “I have Suvi looking for where it came from.”

Sara eyes the little animal critically, then crouches down to look at it from the side. “That’s not a happy little space hamster, dear brother mine.”

“I wouldn’t know.”

She looks around in his quarters and then fixes her gaze on him. He’s very aware of how unimpressed she looks with him in his boring standard Andromeda Initiative clothes and the bags he probably has under his eyes. She’s always been different in that regard.
“You can’t keep it in an empty box and expect it to thrive!” is what she says.

“I can’t let it run free on the ship, Sara.”

The exasperation is clear in her eyes. “You could at least decorate.”

Ryder is not sure if Sara is talking about the little rodent or about him.

The thing is. His quarters are not empty. They’re way to big for him, way to big for even several people. His whole crew could live there more comfortably than they do now and their shared quarters would still be too big for him. He just doesn’t know what to do with that much space. It feels wrong not to share it. Perhaps he really should transform it into a living room for the team. Perhaps this is why he didn’t bother changing the decoration.

Because Sara is right. This room says Pathfinder, it says Initiative, but it doesn’t say Ryder. Even the ships are something he only collects because there was already space for it in the room. The books are technically his own, but he’s inherited them from his father, and they’re for the job, so they probably don’t count. He can’t remember when he has last owned anything that wasn’t for the job.

“Hey,” Sara says. “You with me?”

Ryder shakes his head. “I wouldn’t know how,” he says.

Her eyes soften. “Come here, little brother,” she says and pats down on the floor beside her.

“I’m taller than-”

“I know, I know.”

Usually she would have rolled her eyes, Ryder knows, but this time she just waits patiently, so he crouches down beside her. “So,” he says.

She points to the little rodent in its cage. Ryder isn’t even sure if it is a rodent. Are earthly taxonomic classifications relevant in Andromeda? This is a very Sara thought to have, Ryder notices. “First,” his sister says, “I’ll show you how to find out what this one needs.”

The little animal just sits in its cage, doesn’t even react to him and Sara. She’s probably right, he hasn’t cared for it like he should.

“And then,” Sara continues. She puts her hand on Ryder’s shoulder, but he doesn’t look at her. He looks at the little animal. It doesn’t even have a name yet. “Then we’ll do the same for you.”

He nods. “I’m glad you’re back,” is what he says.


End Notes

So. This started because that tiny little cage in Ryder’s quarters made me sad, and then it turned into something else.

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