Three hours of fighting through a merc base followed by a bullet in the shoulder and another hour in the medbay does not make for the easiest day ever which is probably why Shepard fails to notice the little change in her quarters at first.
After a quick shower and change of uniform she's finally feeling human again and ready to check her private terminal for the latest mission briefings and new messages. As she sits, Kaidan's picture flickers to life next to her and she can't help turning to study it for a moment or two. She'd coerced Joker into retrieving the image from an old holovid, threatening him with decaf for a month if he told anyone about his little favor.
As she turns back to her terminal something catches her eye. She glances up at the glass display case that holds her model ships and then stops, staring, her mouth open in surprise.
"What the hell?" There, in her case, sitting astride her model of the first Normandy is... well... it's a small stuffed doll that bears more than a passing resemblance to her former L-T.
She just sits there for a minute gaping at it before it hits her. "Joker," she mutters to herself. It couldn't be anyone else. He's the only one that knew about the picture, otherwise Garrus would be on her short list of suspects. But how did he get it up here?
"EDI," she says after a moment.
"Yes, Commander Shepard," EDI responds, her terminal flickering to life over Shepard's shoulder.
"Has anyone been up to the Captain's Quarters today?"
"No, Commander. Logs show no one entering or exiting your quarters other than you."
"Did anyone access the elevator to the Captain's Quarters?" Shepard asks.
"Records show that the elevator was accessed at 1300, but the internal feeds show no one on board."
"Bring up the feed from the corridor outside the Loft. I want the footage when the elevator was used."
"Yes, Commander Shepard."
Shepard peers at the monitor as the elevator doors open onto the corridor outside her quarters. Just as EDI said, no one was inside. However, moments after the elevator opened, the door to her quarters also opened then closed.
"EDI. I thought you said no one entered my quarters other than me."
"That is correct, Commander. There are no records in the log of anyone entering your quarters during your mission."
"EDI, where was Kasumi Goto at 1300?"
"There are no sensor records of Ms. Goto at that time."
"I'm going to KILL him," Shepard hisses. Out loud she says, "Where are Joker and Kasumi now?"
"They have been in the mess hall for the last hour, Commander."
Joker and Kasumi catch each other's eye across the mess when Shepard rounds the corner. She stops off in the medbay for a few minutes and Joker picks his fork up again trying not to smile too wide. She had to have noticed their little prank by now. When she leaves the medbay she heads over to the mess, speaking briefly with Gardner. Joker's watching her openly now, and he sees Gardner glance in his direction and grin before nodding at whatever Shepard's saying. She smiles briefly, grabs a tray, and heads back to the elevator nodding hello to a few crew members as she passes. Joker watches her all the way out of the room, waiting for her to show any acknowledgment of their little surprise, but she rounds the corner without looking in his direction.
Kasumi smirks at his disconcerted look. "Pay up," she says. "I told you she'd never give you the satisfaction."
He grimaces, but before he can pull out his credit chit Gardner strolls over chuckling to himself.
"Don't know what you did to piss off Shepard, but you're gonna have a hell of a month, flyboy," Gardner says.
"Commander's got the doc's orders and everything. You're off caffeine for the month, pal."
Up in her quarters, Shepard snickers as she watches Joker sputter on the video feed. "EDI, record that and put it on my omnitool," she orders, grinning to herself as she turns off her terminal and heads to bed.
She pulls back the covers and sits for a minute turning the plush figure over in her hands. He really is cute. Whoever Joker had gotten it from had even managed to get the eye color just right. The eyebrows on the plushie are cocked just so and the hairstyle is perfect right down to that ridiculous bump in the front that had always fascinated her. She holds it for a minute more, lost in thought, and then looking around as though she thought someone was going to jump out and snap a holo at any moment, she tucks it under her pillow before curling up under the sheets and closing her eyes.
"External camera's got a thumbprint on it. That is gonna bug me forever," Joker mutters to himself as he rotates through the external feeds.
"When did that happen?" Shepard asks from right behind him.
"Jeez, Shepard! Wear a bell or something!" Joker snaps. "You know jumping is bad for my health."
"Yeah, I hear caffeine can be a problem, too," she says in a complete deadpan.
He turns to glare at her and she shoots him 'the look.' He looks back toward the external feed rolling his eyes. "It probably happened during the refit on Omega, Commander."
Shepard suppresses a grin at the obvious annoyance in his voice. She can always tell he's ticked when he overemphasizes her rank that way. When he glances back again she turns toward the star map, calling over her shoulder. "I'm laying in a course for Illium. Tali has some ideas for a new kind of shielding."
"More refits... great," Joker mutters. "How long's it going to take this time, Commander?"
"Hopefully less than a week. I have some recruiting to do while we're there."
A week and a half later Joker is getting antsy. EDI and Tali are running final checks on the new install and he's more than ready to fly.
"Mr. Moreau. Final checks are completed. Commander Shepard has laid in a course for Tuchanka."
He flips on the external feeds and rotates through them as he clears Illium's docking ring. "Looking good. Power flow stable. What the-" He stops and then starts rotating through the external feeds again. "Is that-" He squints at the screen as he flips through the feeds more slowly. In the lower right hand corner of every single vid screen is a perfect thumbprint. Then, as if to make it very clear that it's deliberate, on the final screen there are five distinct prints that form a pattern. "The hell?"
"Is there a problem, Joker?" he hears Shepard ask from behind his chair.
"Is that a SMILEY FACE?!"
"I should go."