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"Worthless being, you don't deserve anybody's affection."
"...I already know."


He was holding his heavy head
Full of shame and lies instead
Tears wanted to flee but were stuck
His body motionless as a trunk


"You hurt her terribly this time, you silly moron."
"...Oh shut your mouth."
"She was kind and blind enough to love you, and yet..."


Slowly realizing what he has done
This petty mind was torn
From any sane mental state he flew
Painfully raising the head anew


"...You're pissing me off."
"And yet, you screwed everything she has brought you."
"...Stop talking, you piece of trash."


The gaze abnormally empty
Darkness surrounding him as a krone
World has become hostile so quickly
In his dreary room, alone




"...I should really stop talking to myself."
Life is full of surprises, you were one of them.
I'm not sure I deserve anybody.
(Enjoy btw)
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She is what some call an ideal.

Why did the roads of our destiny cross? No one knows. Hell is waiting for me, since the Gods made me taste paradise. There is no weak words to describe her ; pejorative becomes meliorative, this embittered perfection of her face reminds me those delightful paintings of Goddesses.
If Beauty and Charm melt into a being, this very abject being would suffer of her heavenly presence.

This infinity of sensations in her gaze, make feel and shudder of everything best this world offers.
Alike a luminary with a human face: only needing to be to shine brightly, no one can touch her, inaccessible.
Faint men would fight ; I would fight, slay, die, just to feel her breath.

Such misfortune for the inept man who, goofy, dullard, can only think about one thing.
Such fortune yet that the only thing I think about is Her.
Love is like poison : silent and deadly. But at least it gave me some inspiration.
Just enjoy the text, feel free to leave a comment !
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Sitting amid the silky sand grains
that glisten under the silver moonlight;
contemplating the forth worlds above,
I yearn to comprehend the eerie language -
of those forever-glittering gazing eyes.

The bittersweet northern wind rustles
blowing to me the spray of the mild sea;
            I shiver, and then,
breathe in the most exquisite smell;
and along their melody my heart merrily leaps

Among so poetic atmosphere, a comet shines:
             lighting up the horizon,
enthralling my soul, and mesmerising my mind,
as it sweeps the sky with its luminous tail -
of magical golden dust, and sparkling water drips.

To my feet I shift my weight to bid
my farewells to the transient guest as
            it exists the scene;
drooping my eyelids, drowning in a trance,
            I make my wish:


'May all the years' nights be as -
fabulous as this summer's splendid one'
This is dedicated for dear :iconsammur-amat:'s birthday :dance: :party:

Wish all your dreams will come true :tighthug:
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Plunged into gloomy darkness
Snared there for eternity
Without an ounce of light inside me.
Farewell, all my former friends.

It wrecked and tore me inside,
I can't even walk anymore
I can't live no more
My fate is awfully decided.




My heart is pounding.
My hands are shaking.

Still, why is it so hard?

To end my life.
Suicide is a tough decision. Some are calling it selfish, others find it can be an escape.
Let's just keep in mind that it's tough for everyone, the one who is commiting it, and those who have to mourn.

Just enjoy the text (and life as well).
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Tan squirrels hunt nuts before purple dawn.
Violin notes whistle through dried branches,
Puddles - eager redbreasts moisten their throat.
Vast painting of the poet's dreams!


I hear; siren's melody baits lost souls from the wood,
The misty air is loaded by scents of dews,
Tremendous land of dead leaves, out of sight! Swimming peacefully,
White waterlily feels the dragonfly scratching its back.


Trees' woody eyes are pointing at the sapphire surface,
I stare at polychromatic clouds, leaving the heavenly throne.
And from her very breath, she blows them off. Lady of the Lake.


Condescending Nature! Your cruelty is matched your greatness.
Natural, hazy shivers flow through my bloodstream,
There, there she looked at me! Lady of the Lake!
Lena version 2.0
Back to basics.
I've never been that serious about trying to create a decent piece of writing.
I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
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Are you serious? All of you
Laughing out loud
What's wrong with this hysterical crowd?
Looks like I was left out, threw

My heart's petals have faded
No souls by my side
Deeper and deeper into agony
Loneliness has become heavy

This blade I hold
Will shed my blood instead
Do I target the proper enemy?
Why should I use it against ME?



Are you serious? All of YOU
Laughing at ME? Miserable amused faces
You should reconsider it anew
Before I tear you to pieces

You'll know the meaning of pain
It'll become your best mate
My tears wouldn't have been vain
I'll destroy all of you without any regret


"Hey, guess who it is.
...
Do you hear it?
My laughter.
...
Nop, seems like you fainted.
Listen vermin,
while you still breath,
The silent sound of my steel...
Drilling the shell
You used to call
Your sweetheart."
Have you ever felt all alone against the world? Angry of being left, of being mocked.
Why shouldn't all these bastards feel the pain they made you feel?
Nobody should make fun of you. who are THEY? Do they feel superior or something?
You're better off dead.
Tu as brisť ma vie.
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Thessia was a disaster. Kai Leng stole Vendetta from Shepard, Cerberus now had the information on the Catalyst, and the homeworld of the Asari was now completely abandoned, as all life on it was expunged by the Reapers. Although many Asaris succeeded in leaving the planet before the Reaper fleets finished it off, it was still a hefty blow to their race, and even more so for Liara.

Shepard felt awful about that, this was even worse than his mission to the Bahak System, at least there he could've took comfort in the fact that he stalled the Reaper invasion for several more months. But here, there was no upside, no sense of victory, just complete, and utter, failure. For the first time in Jack Shepard's life, he failed in a mission, no matter what sacrifice he took, or promises he made to the Asari on the battleground, he failed.

Tali could see the distraught looks on both the faces of Shepard and Liara. As Cortez took them back to the Normandy in the Kodiak, she honestly could not tell who looked, or felt, worse after today. Liara lost her home, just as soon as Tali got hers back, the terrible irony in that alone was incredible. Everything and everyone she knew down there was now reduced to ashes. Not only that but she lost a piece of valuable information that could possibly save everybody from the Reapers. But then there was Shepard, the man who was responsible for making this mission succeed in the first place. The Paragon of Humanity they were calling him now. But not today, as he not only failed in succeeding in his mission, but also failed in protecting the home of one of his closest friends, and Tali knew how much she and the crew meant to him.

The Quarian could not think of anything to say to make this better. This only made the silent ride back to the Normandy all the more uncomfortable. So uncomfortable that Cortez felt it from the driver's seat.

They finally made it back to the hangar, and got off the Kodiak. The rest of the squad mates were waiting outside, hearing what had happened. Before any of them could even confront them about the mission, Liara and Shepard quickly nudged past them. With Tali following right behind them, still feeling like she should say something.

"If anyone needs me, I'll be in my quarters," Liara said to the crew, barely keeping herself together.

"I think I might join you," Shepard agreed with a slight scowl.

"Shepard," Tali, grabbed onto his arm, "a-are you okay?"

"I'm fine," he gritted his teeth.

"Shepard, I-"

"I said I'm FINE!" he yelled and glared at her angrily. Tali jumped and let go of his arm in fear, it was the first time she ever seen Shepard in this state. She watched helplessly as Shepard walked into the elevator with Liara, and ascended to the upper floors. Vega, Garrus, Ashley, Cortez, and Javik didn't know what to say, as Tali just let her head hang low. Garrus came up to her, placed his hand on her shoulder and said sympathetically,

"Tali, I know this is tough, but don't worry. It'll be okay, we'll give that Leng bastard what's-" Tali struggled to take a deep breath as she interrupted,

"No, it won't be okay. Nothing ever will," she sniffed. "If anyone needs me, I'll be at the bar." She walked towards the now empty elevator, and aimed for Deck 3.

Shepard didn't bother to take off his armor once he got into the War Room. He knew the Asari Councilor would want to know what happened on Thessia. But for the life of him, Shepard couldn't bring himself to answer the call. For he already knew what she was going to say. What happened down there? Where is the info? What IS the Catalyst? Why didn't you stop Cerberus? Why didn't you save them? Why did you let Thessia DIE? Shepard hesitated in calling the Councilor, he wasn't sure he could deal with answering those questions, he wasn't sure he could take the disappointment and grief. He was too infuriated about what happened to even bother. So, he left the room, and decided to try and take Liara's example, and cool off in his personal quarters.

Shepard knew he had to deal with this anger somehow, the Reaper War was already stressful enough before this disaster of a mission. But he had to find a way to stay calm, after all, he was the Commander, everyone was depending on him. Or at least, he thought they could depend on him. He knew that the War Room guards weren't gossiping about it once he exited the room, but he could already feel their hopelessness. As much as he wanted to punch both of them in the face, Shepard knew that he had to remain calm. But by the looks of his shaking hand, he wasn't doing a good job at it.

He was walking onto the bridge, ready to go to his cabin until Samantha came up to him and said,

"Commander, Joker wants to speak to you."

"Why?" Shepard demanded, glaring at her intensely.

"He didn't give me a reason. He just w-wanted you're presence."

"…Fine," he groaned with frustration. What the hell does he want?

What quickly followed was Joker trying to give Shepard a little pep talk, trying to make him calm down after what happened. Shepard understood the pilot's reasons, but didn't have time for it,

"and the last time I had a briefing with Anderson," said Joker, "he told me to take care of you. The guy, leading the resistance, on EARTH, is worried about you. And I'm supposed to help."

"I appreciate the thought Joker, but I'm fine," he replied, struggling to hide his stress.

"The hell you are. You're like half robot at this point, no offense EDI. And it's my fault. When the Collectors blew up the first Normandy you died beca-"

"Once again," Shepard said with a higher tone. "I appreciate it, but I don't need my pilot to be my therapist. You just do your job, and I'll do mine!" he exhaled heavily, and was already removing chunks of the N7 and Kassa armor pieces off his body, tossing them to the ground as he headed towards the elevator. Then he called back, "EDI, I'll be in my cabin for a while, and I don't want anyone to disturb me until I say otherwise. Clear?"

"Yes, Commander," EDI responded, almost sounding a bit concerned after seeing the N7 greaves and one of the Kassa shoulder plates were littered on the bridge. She decided to see what the rest of the squad was doing through linking her interface with the Normandy's cameras as she usually did. What she saw, did not make her feel comfortable to any extent.

On Deck 3, the rest of the squad just stood by the memorial wall, with the exception of Javik who just leaned against the kitchen, trying not to get involved. Vega glanced at the lounge, at Liara's office, and then at the elevator, he put his hand at the back of his head and said,

"Damn, I honestly don't know who has it worse. Liara for losing her home, Shepard for letting it happen, or Sparks taking the guilt for both."

"He didn't let it happen," Ashley pointed out, and said angrily, "Cerberus just got there first."

"Yeah, those damn bastards. You think the Illusive Man would be smarter enough to know when he's being played by the Reapers," he sighed heavily. "But seriously, who needs the most help?"

"Well I could talk to Tali," Garrus suggested. "I mean, she and I have been with Shepard the longest. Then Ashley, could help Liara, and you will get Shepard."

"Good strategy, but it still has flaws," Javik pointed out from afar. "The soldier has the least experience with Shepard, and with the exception of N7 program candidacy, they don't have much in common on an emotional standpoint. The Human female and the Asari hold the most animosity considering their formal rivalry for the Commander's affection three years ago, that would mostly get in the way from their conversation. Lastly, the Turian and the Quarian do have the most experience with each other, and the Commander himself. But the Turian would not be of much help considering he spends more time calibrating than socializing."

"Well I certainly socialize more than you," said an annoyed Garrus.

"Yeah Four-Eyes," Vega glared, "we don't hear you coming up with any bright ideas."

"I haven't made any because this problem is menial at best," the Prothean scoffed. "The Commander made a mistake, and he'll get over it. It's in his nature. All we have to do is wait for the Commander to pull himself together, and then he'll handle the other weak wills of the ship."

"You expect him to get better after witnessing all that?" Ashley proclaimed. "This wasn't a mission where he left his car keys on the battlefield after he left, he lost a whole planet."

"And how is that any different from losing his own? He got over that planet, he'll get over this one as well. Trust me, we've lost a lot more than this during my cycle. The Commander should consider himself fortunate knowing that the Asari commandos died quickly during the invasion, unlike the Ardat-Yakshi."

"So we're just going to leave him like this? That sounds too cold."

"Said the woman who abandoned him after hearing he was with Cerberus. In my time, mourning over the dead and our failures did nothing but waste time, and the three of them are making the exact same mistake. The strength of a commanding officer comes from his own will, crews are expendable, commanders are not. The sooner he gets over this, the sooner he'll put the Quarian and Asari in their place, and the mission will be better for it."

"Shepard isn't a Prothean. He's Human," she looked down on the ground depressingly. "And I admit it, I made mistakes. Terrible mistakes. But, Shepard still needs support. Not just the support of his crew, but the support of a loved one," she glanced at the closed lounge door. "And since that loved one is in the process of drinking herself to death, I suppose it's up to me, to make amends."

"Are you sure, Ash?" asked Garrus. "I mean, you and Shepard may be on good terms now, but it wasn't all that long ago that both of you were ready to shoot each other. What if Shepard brings that up? Uses it against you?" Ashley sighed,

"I'm an Alliance soldier, so is Shepard. I just need to remind him of wear his duty lies. After all," she fired a cold stare at Javik, "someone has to do something." She then marched into the elevator and headed for Deck 1, with Garrus and Vega waiting outside the door.

In the captain's cabin, Shepard was back in his casual attire, with the exception of the leather jacket. He didn't need it now, he had to concentrate on keeping his impulses under control. The usual way he blew off steam was through exercising. Keeping himself in tip-top shape before the next mission, and at that moment, he was up to almost sixty push-ups as he tried to stay cool underneath the pressure. Every time he tried to rationalize the Fall of Thessia, and comfort himself in saying that there was nothing he could've done to change it, he would immediately remember all the other people he had lost under his command, or even on other missions.

Kaidan being the first, which was sad for Shepard because he didn't even know Kaidan all that well, except he was L2 and was brave enough to sacrifice himself for the sake of the team. He also left the old Council to die under his command, because he was afraid of not letting Sovereign get any chances at bringing forth the rest of the Reapers. Look at all the good that did now, the Reapers were slaughtering everyone regardless of their handy shortcut. Then there was Pressley, who died when the Collectors attacked the old Normandy, he couldn't even remember the last conversation they had. After he was resurrected by Cerberus, he lost even more. He couldn't save Tali's father, he could not save the Bahak system, and could not save any of the missing colonies the Collectors took, including half of Horizon. And everyone else he had saved, Kal'Reegar, Aresh, and that delightful Krogan he met on Illium, were now nothing more than names on the casualty lists. Not to mention, Mordin's death, Thane's sacrifice, and Legion's very soul getting ripped apart once he spread the Reaper code to all Geth. Not to mention Anderson and the resistance are probably on their last legs, all of them probably thinking, Where is Shepard? He always thought he could find a way to save them, but with these stacked odds, and the loss of Vendetta, Shepard had wondered,

Can I achieve one good thing and let it stay, good? Everything I've been doing just seems to be, fighting the inevitable, then he realized what he just thought. Wait, Harbinger said that. Could he…really be right? Just then, a loud banging came from the door, along with Ashley's voice,

"Shepard, we need to talk."

Great, Shepard thought annoyingly, just what I need. Then as Ashley opened the door and walked in, Shepard called, "EDI, I thought I didn't want to be disturbed by anyone?"

"EDI's not going to help you with this, skipper," Ashley said as she strolled in. "Don't forget, I'm a Spectre too, so there's no such thing as locked for me." Shepard groaned. "Now, I know you've been under a lot of stress, especially today-"

"Oh great, now you're lecturing me? Well that's just tan-tucking-fastic!" he took a chug of serrice brandy that was on his table. "But, Ash, I don't you to worry. As I told Joker, I'm fine. I just need to get over this, so we can go back to focusing on the mission."

"Fine my ass. Shepard, you're sweating all over the place. Look, I know you feel terrible right now, and I don't blame you. Thessia was a huge loss to the Council. But, we have to get through this. The Asari Councilor is still waiting for you. Remember, you're the first Human Spectre, you can achieve anything. You will achieve it. After all, there are a lot of lives riding on this."

"You think I don't know that?!" he yelled at Ashley, his patience at his breaking point. "Goddammit Williams, how thick headed do you think I am to forget about what's at stake!? Believe me, I've been trying my best to win this thing. But every time I take one step forward, the Reapers and Cerberus take three more ahead of us! I have struggled, every single day for what is now two lifetimes, and no matter what I do, it always ends up being undone! I killed the Thorian, but now the people of Feros are mutated, I saved the Rachni queen, only for her to get captured again once the Reapers returned. I reduced the Collector Base to ashes, and Cerberus STILL found a way to get indoctrinated, and not only that, but are even MORE informed than we are!"

"Shepard," Ashley tried to calm him down, "I didn't mean to say you were careless, I was just-"

"What? "Trying to help?"" he laughed sarcastically. "If you wanted to help, you would've trusted me like you should've on Horizon, and helped me save the colonists from the Collectors! Maybe some of them would still be alive today if it weren't for your SELFISHNESS!"

"I just-"

"And despite ALL THE CRAP I had to deal with the Illusive Man, when I was forced to kill an entire system worth of innocent Batarians, got convicted for it thanks to the oh so powerful wisdom of Hackett, and was paying for my crimes, (that you KNEW I would feel bad about already), you STILL didn't trust me!" after that, Ashley had enough of Shepard's yelling and said,

"Well excuse me for not believing that the corpse of my ex-boyfriend was still alive, and wanted my help saving the galaxy. Shepard, what if Kaidan came up to you, looking exactly like he was three years ago, telling you that he was rebuilt by the Shadow Broker, to help him take down the Rachni, or something? Would you have believed him?"

"Of course I wouldn't believe him. But I'd still TRUST him, because Kaidan always had a good sense of judgment!" he was now even angrier than before, and Ashley was unintentionally making it worse.

"Good Lord. You know, its days like this I wish you weren't so goddamn annoying!" That was the real straw that broke Shepard's back.

"You, annoyed by, me? You, annoyed by, me?! Ash, if there's one thing that I had regretted in trying to pursue. The one thing in the whole universe that I have felt a heaping pile of shame in committing, was meeting, and trying to get along with, YOU, Ashley, Madeline, WILLIAMS! Seriously, you have got to be the most, bigoted, arrogant, smug, stubborn, close-minded, uncompromising, and all round, irritating bitch, of a woman I have ever met! With you, it's Alliance this and Alliance that, why don't you marry the Alliance if you love it so goddamn much?! Every day I was with you on the Normandy, on every single mission, it's always: 'Are you sure that's right Shepard? I don't trust those aliens Shepard. We got to think of the needs of the Alliance first Shepard. Are you sure we can trust these aliens, Shepard, I'm still not sure. What about the Humans, Shepard? I'm ready to kill these damn aliens if you wanted, SHEPARD!' You're like a broken record of racism! And I understand, your father fought against the Turians in the war, whoopdy f&*#en DO! You can't put aside your inner hatred for like, FIVE SECONDS?! Honestly, I think the only reason that Cerberus brought me back to life in the first place, was because they couldn't find your damn PHONE NUMBER!

"And do you know what, the only reason I ever bothered to tried to pursue a relationship with you, was because you had an adequate body, a good knowledge of poetry, and I was hoping I could show you a better understanding of alien life, so you wouldn't judge it so negatively! Also, I never told anyone this, but I thought it be right if you were the first to know! But I was frickin' GLAD that you decided to dump me on Horizon. Because honestly, after being dead for two years and knowing that your disdained views on the other races haven't changed one single bit, I felt very glad that you decided not to come with me. Since now I didn't had to worry about a certain, stuck-up, G.I. JANE, threatening the lives of the alien squad members I was recruiting for the suicide mission. All of whom, had more bravery and respect, than you have in your ENTIRE BODY!"
  
"Shepard," Ashley was shocked by how much contempt he was holding back. "I never-"

"Don't lie to yourself, Williams. You still hate them. The fact that you made Sprectre at all surprises me to this very day! You never trusted Garrus when he first came aboard, you never trusted Liara once she got on board, and you never trusted Wrex, whom I'm pretty sure, if that incident on Virmire went any differently, you would've SHOT the bastard if given the chance!! And then there's Tali, who you claim is like a sister to you, but honestly I haven't seen YOU do a single thing for her, "big sis". And all that crap I mentioned just now, I'm sure you would've done that TEN-FOLD if I succeeded in bringing you along to stop the Collectors, because then Thane's life would've been in MORE peril. You know what, that's being too mean, I should be grateful that our heartfelt reunion after the past two years was you spitting in my face. If you didn't do the job of breaking my heart and trampling all over it like a space cow, I probably would've had some trouble figuring out a nice way to break things off between us three weeks later, once I realized that you were still the same bigoted Alliance Barbie doll, that I saved from Eden Prime all those years ago. Which is why, I'm F*&KEN GLAD, that you broke up with ME, and not the other way around!!"

Ashley didn't know what to say. She was hurt in more ways than one. Learning that Shepard never really loved her, taunting her beliefs, calling her a liar and a racist, and to succumb to such hateful verbal abuse, that it made her feel ill. Ashley could feel tears start to form at the corners of her eyes, she never felt so hurt. It didn't take long until Ashley's anger quickly boiled over, and yelled,

"You BASTARD!" and was about to punch him, but Shepard's killer instinct kicked in. By dodging the punch, and quickly taking ahold of her head, and smashing it into the face of his fish tank so hard that the glass cracked once the Spectre tumbled to the ground in pain. Only after this did Shepard realize what he did, and with a horrible sense of fright he said,

"Oh my god, Ash. I-I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to-" Ashley didn't say another word, all she did was groan in pain, and slowly got up. She looked at Shepard and he saw that he accidentally caused some actual damage, for there was blood bleeding down from her forehead, along with tears rolling down her cheeks in a mix of physical and emotional pain. Ashley then shoved Shepard aside as she exited the room and back into the elevator, no doubt to get some medical attention from Chakwas.

Commander Shepard was dumbstruck with what he just said. He felt even worse than before. Sure he may have not liked Ashley all that much, but did she really deserve all of that ridicule he gave her, and what's worse, he actually hurt her in almost the exact same way that the Eva drone did back on Mars. Shepard looked down at his hands in horror, a couple tears already dropped into his palms. Was this what Cerberus had reduced him to, a killing machine with Shepard's personality? Is causing destruction the only thing he can depend on to actually stay as it is, unlike peace which breaks down every two years, or less?

His breathing became heavier, his anger starting to boil again. If destruction was what Cerberus wanted out of Shepard, then by hell, he'll give them some. He roared in fury over his previous action and started tearing the room apart. Smashed all of his model ships to the ground, even broke a few in half with his bare hands. Casted all documents to the floor, flipped the table that was holding his drink not so long ago, and immediately afterwards, threw the bottle down with a quick crash of glass. He threw any object he could find, computers, pillows, blankets, ammo crates, but then he got to his aquarium. Only then did he actually see his reflection. See the broken, violent, pathetic man, staring back at him through the glass. Shepard's anger boiled even further, and said through his clenched teeth,

"Why did you do that to her?" and then wailed against the surface, punching at the crack with all of his might, asking his reflection questions he already knew. With each question making the crack grow bigger, "Why can't you do anything right? Why did you have to doom every single species in the galaxy? Why couldn't you stop Kai Leng on the Citadel? Why, do you have to be, SO, DAMN, WEAK?!" it was with that punch that shattered the glass, and dousing the Spectre in cold water, knocking him to the ground.

Once he got his composure, he only saw that he caused even more damage. Not only that, this time his damage cost lives. His fish, once majestic, beautiful, and innocent, even the eel, despite its frightening face it wasn't doing anything wrong. But here they lay, gasping for air, probably wondering why their kind master would attack them so recklessly. Did they do anything wrong to deserved this fate?

No, Shepard thought, already starting to cry, they don't deserve this. NO ONE deserves this. He took one of the suffocating koi into his hands, and tried to put it back into what was left of his aquarium, but sadly, he unleashed too much water. There was barely a puddle left for the poor animal. I killed them, he thought miserably as the rest of the alien fish were flopping and wriggling around on the floor, gasping desperately. Is this what's going to happen to all of my assets once we get back to Earth? Is this what I'm making them fight for? To die painfully against an enemy they can't possibly win against? The koi then stopped wriggling in his hands, to which the Commander fell to his knees and started sobbing. Why is this MY decision? Why do so many people have to die because of it? I never deserved this rank! I already GAVE my life for the galaxy when the Collectors attacked. Then he shouted at the ceiling,

"WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!" then, he noticed a large shard of glass to the side of him, probably a fragment from the fish tank he destroyed with his now bloodied knuckles. The shard was perfectly shaped like a knife. Shepard slowly took the piece into his hand, past the squirming eel next to it, studied the fragment, and thought, Maybe there's nothing more I can do…



Chakwas was already patching the now weeping Ashley Williams, her head injury wasn't as bad as it seemed, no brain damage, and certainly not the most severe wound it took since Mars. It should be gone with some properly placed medi-gel, but Garrus, and Vega just looked on from outside Chakwas' office. Both of them glancing at the elevator, Vega shrugged with a heavy sigh,

"Well that didn't work. Scars, did you know Loco can be that violent?"

"No," Garrus shook his head astonished. "He was always impulsive, but I never thought he would actually take it out on one of us," he sighed. "Jimmy, I honestly don't know what to do. Ashley tries to help Shepard, she gets beaten for her trouble, Liara isn't answering our transmissions, EDI included, and whenever I try to talk to Tali I almost got a bottle thrown at my face."

"This must be tough for you," Vega sympathized.

"Yeah, well to be perfectly honest, I never been all that good with team building exercises. Used to lead my own team on Omega before Shepard came to pick me up, but…one of them ended up betraying us, and the rest became cannon fodder. I don't want this to happen again on the Normandy."

"Don't worry Garrus. We'll fix this. Shepard is the glue that's always been holding this little superstar tag-team together. I think if we fix him, then everyone else will be right as rain."

"I don't understand why you two are feeling sorry for the soldier?" asked Javik who was leaning against the elevator's side. "She knew exactly what she was getting into once she reached the captain's cabin. Her injury may be minor, but this is exactly the reason WHY we should've left the Commander alone."

"Okay, Javik," Garrus said irritated. "What is your problem?"

"My problem, is you trying to order everyone around as if we were Shepard's personal psychiatrists. I'm just telling the truth when I say that we aren't. Shepard needs to face his own problems himself, we are his soldiers, NOT his therapists."

"I'm only ordering everyone around, because no one else can think of a good plan!"

"You calling me dumb Garrus?" asked an offended Vega.

"What? No it's not that-"

"Oh I see what it is. Big ol' beefy Vega can't handle delicate situations like this."

"Hey it was Javik who insulted you with that, not me," groaned Garrus.

"It's not an insult if it's the truth," Javik huffed.

"Alright, that is IT!" Vega marched right in front of the Prothean. "You know, I am sick and TIRED of you always looking down on us. Ever since you got on board, things have been going from bad, to WORSE!"

"That was the Reapers fault, not my own. It's not MY fault that none of you primitives were prepared for war."

"There it is again, the big mighty Prothean. Yep, you Protheans are definitely too "advanced" and "evolved" for any of us to understand that they were a blood thirsty, slave-driven, war race."

"As if Humans are all complete saints. Last time I checked, you've been fighting as many wars as the Krogans and Turians have! And for the last time, they were not slaves, in my cycle they were servants who were given the name Prothean once they accepted us."

"Oh yeah, because God help them if they kept their old names! Seriously, day one since you got here, it's been my cycle this, and my people that. You, just boasting about how great your empire was, despite the fact that the Reapers kicked your ass so badly that they transformed your remains into the Collectors. Face it Javik, your cycle, SUCKED!"

"Well at least we were able to put up a decent fight. Our war lasted years, while yours is barely surviving months. My people were idiots to think that primitive whelps such as you could have any chance of defeating the Reapers.  I might as well have stayed in my pod for all the good you did."

"Excuse us for not having been born with special powers that allow us to read your warnings without our heads exploding! Also, last time I checked, you've been doing jack SQUAT since you've entered this "new cycle". All you ever do, is join Shepard on occasional missions, and wash hands. You're not doing anything important! Meanwhile Garrus is calibrating, Tali is monitoring the core, Liara's been studying the Crucible, I've been keeping the guns in check, Ashley brings us the Council's favor, while you do nothing. Honestly, if your race was still alive, I think they'd be more disappointed in YOU than with us, because we are at least trying to win, without depending on the next generation to do it FOR US!"  that point, Javik was enraged, he started emitting green biotic energy,

"Do you want to be thrown out of the airlock in one piece, or several!"

"Bring it on, Prothy," Vega put up his fists. The two were just about to enter combat, with Garrus attempting to stop them, until EDI's voice came onto the intercom, and announced,

"That's enough!" and the elevator opened to reveal EDI's body, looking very cross at the three of them.

"This does not concern you synthetic!" Javik argued. "This conflict is between me and the-" his sentence was interrupted by EDI punching the Prothean clear in the jaw. Javik rubbed his face painfully from the unexpected metal fist.

"Yeah, thanks EDI," gloated Vega, "show that prick who's-" only for her to punch him in the face shortly afterwards. "Ow, damn!" and not shortly after that, kicked Garrus in the shin,

"Dammit, what the hell did I do?"

"What all three of you are doing," said EDI, "is making the squad work inefficiently as possible. Shepard is at the peak of an emotional and mental collapse, and all of you seem to do nothing but argue with each other. Lieutenant Commander Williams has at least shown she was capable enough to try and talk to Shepard. Although it was a failure, she still deserves merit for trying. I understand that all of you are under just as much stress as Shepard is now.

"James, Garrus, you've heard that Thessia is lost, and both of you have worlds under siege by Reaper forces as we speak. It's understandable for why you feel so distressed. You don't know when your world may fall, and you don't know how to cope with it without Shepard, for he was always the one with a clear mind. So you're trying to help him, despite the ever present fear that either of your worlds could be next.

"Javik, your planet is long gone, and your species has been dead for even longer. You expected many things from this new cycle, but all have led to disappointment. I apologize if our societies don't fit your tastes, but like the soldier you are, you are required to adapt to any new situation. Like it or not, this galaxy is ruled by us, the sooner you can process and accept that information, the more likely your species' sacrifice won't in vain."

All three of them were silent as the AI walked past them.

"Hey where are you going?" asked Garrus.

"I am going to talk to the one person who can help Shepard in his state," EDI replied as she turned towards the lounge.

"Don't bother EDI, she's way too intoxicated to help."

"That would be a problem if she actually was drunk."  Before Garrus could ask by what she meant, EDI already entered the room, leaving the three of them struck in awe. Until Vega asked,

"Did we just get bitch slapped by our own ship?"

"Unfortunately," Javik lamented.

When EDI entered the room, she saw Tali, lying on the couch, with a bottle of Turian brandy in her hand. Her body language looked tipsy, and once she saw her, Tali groaned,

"Go away," and threw the bottle which smashed harmlessly across the synthetic's face.

"I will do as you ask," she answered casually. "If you would plan on talking to Commander Shepard."

"Shepard doesn't want my help."

"We all know that's not true, and we also know that you're not really drunk." Tali sat up right away, and asked,

"How did you know?"

"I have access to all visual links on the ship, and I have seen that ever since you entered this room, you haven't opened any bottles of alcohol," she explained as she neatly sat next to the Quarian.  "Why did you pretend to be intoxicated? Why are you refusing to help Shepard?" after a short pause, Tali made a heavy sigh and said,

"I needed an excuse for everyone to leave me alone. I knew Garrus would try and convince me to help Shepard, but there's no way I can help. Since there was so much alcohol here, and I was acting sad enough as it was, he just assumed that I was drunk at the time. Although to be honest, I probably would be drinking the stuff right now if it weren't for the fact that I need a specific tool to drink it. Which I left in the engineering deck."

"If you feel this equally sad when you're sober, why do you still prefer not to talk to Shepard? You have heard what has been occurring outside, correct?"

"Yes. But, EDI, I don't prefer this," she answered sadly. "I just feel that if I try to talk to Shepard, I can only make things worse. When I tried to comfort him after we got off the ship, he glared at me with such anger, it was like he was an entirely different person. I never saw him in that state before. I don't think anyone ever has. I thought it would be better for Ashley to try and talk to him, you know, considering she was Shepard's first. But that only ended up with her getting hurt. By Shepard of all people. I mean, I was never good when it came to talking. I'm good at explaining, but that's totally different when there's someone's feelings in the process, I still have no idea how to deal with Liara, let alone Shepard. He was the one who always picked me up at my darkest hour, because he already knew the perfect thing to say. But me, I can never think of such inspirational words like he always does. EDI, it's not like I don't want to help, it's just that," breathed loudly, "if I do, I'm afraid I wouldn't make a difference. Am I scared of Shepard? Oh, Keelah," she started sobbing, "I must be the worst girlfriend in the history of space."

"No," EDI hugged Tali, which was something the Quarian was not expecting. "Listen, you are not a terrible person, and you are certainly not afraid of Shepard. As you said, Shepard is now revealing something that he hasn't been showing since his acceptance into the Alliance. I'm certain what's happening now is just the result of him letting out all the stress and emotional discomfort that he has been holding back not since the Reaper War, but since his Spectre career began. Tali, Ashley tried to treat Shepard like a Spectre, but I chose you because you treat Shepard like a person. He needs to be talked to like a person. I cannot do that, no matter how much I learn, or how Human like I become. I'm still a machine, and Shepard needs to talk to someone more familiar than myself to save him from this distress."

"B-but, what can I say?" Tali asked nervously. " 'Sorry about Thessia, maybe Earth can be better?' That wouldn't fix everything."

"Tali, there's no such sentence that can fix all problems instantaneously. It's always better to say something rather than not saying anything at all, whether it's the right word, or the right sentence, it does not matter. All that matters is Shepard's well-being. You said you love him, now make sure he feels like he still has it." Tali was captivated by EDI's words, it was odd enough that she was getting relationship advice from an AI, but odd or not, it was exactly what she needed to hear. She stood up and said,

"Thank you EDI."

"It is not any trouble. You just have to make sure he apologizes to Jeff, and we're even," she joked as Tali exited the lounge.



Tali was riding the elevator up, and she still had no idea what to say. She knew EDI said that it was better to talk regardless, but her nervousness has caused her mind to blank out completely.

Crap, why now of all times? She still remembered the face he gave her in the hangar. Was she ready to face that in the same way Ashley did? Tali may have been an Admiral, but Ashley was a Spectre, and she still got hurt anyway. As Tali by comparison, barely knew any kind of self-defense training. Before she knew it, she got up to the door of the cabin, she took a deep breath and thought, Well, here goes nothing. It can't be that bad, right? I mean, he's Shepard. He can do anything. Can he?

She then started to hear Shepard's voice behind the door, it was mumbling names,

"Kaidan. Mordin. Thane. Legion." Tali knew those names well. She did hear that Mordin and Thane died before she got on the ship again, she always felt sad that she couldn't at least say goodbye to any of them, like Kaidan.  But she opened the door regardless, and was shocked to see the room was in total disarray. Broken model ships, files, water, and dead fish were littered all over the floor, the bed was a mess, and the aquarium was shattered. But to her horror, Tali saw a distressed Shepard on his knees, knuckles red with blood, face red of exhaustion, and a shard of glass pressed against his neck. He was breathing heavily, and apparently didn't hear the door open when he was saying, with tears streaming down his face, twitching a smile, as if he were struggling to see this appalling scene as a positive event,

"Don't worry guys, I'm coming back soon. I've done what I could for this galaxy. Cerberus can't use me anymore," he noticeably closed his eyes and prepared for the pain of driving the glass into his neck. Without a second thought, Tali screamed,

"JACK!" and ran straight towards him, tripping over one of the ships and landing right on the Commander, knocking the glass out of his hands. She embraced him as hard as she could and cried, "Dammit Jack! If I knew it was this bad, I should've come sooner. I don't blame you for hating me, I deserve it. But, Shepard, please, just don't do that again." As she cried into his wet white t-shirt, Shepard just realized something that made him lost for words.

She called me, Jack, thought an amazed Shepard. My first name. Not John, not Shepard, or Commander, just Jack. She really cares.

"You can be such a bosh'tet!" she yelled in-between her tears. "I already lost WAY too much in my life. My mother, my father, my team on Haestrom, Legion, and recently Kal, and now you too? I hate to sound selfish, but…PLEASE don't do this to me! I don't want to mourn over you a second time!" Shepard's feelings of anxiety started to melt away, his grief being replaced by remorse. But not the same remorse of failure, but the remorse of making the one he loved, so miserable. How much would he have hurt her if he decided to end it all right there?

"….I'm sorry," Shepard said with a noticeable sniff, and placed his arms around Tali. "It's been…so hard. Tali, I'm starting to get the feeling that," took a deep breath, and looked down at his lover's eyes, "what if Harbinger is right? What if I can't stop the Reapers? Hell, I'm putting all of the galaxy's resources into a Prothean super weapon, and I don't even know what it does. Every single species is counting on me, they need me to succeed. But, I'm not sure if I can actually do it this time."

"No, you will," Tali wiped some tears off his face. "Listen, Shepard, if there is one thing I have always regretted in my life, it was never to see you sooner. After all, when we first met, I was the second to last person you took into your squad before you met Liara. When you died two years ago, I always regretted not coming with you once I saw you on Freedom's Progress, I mean," he laughed sadly, "let's face it, I'm a terrible leader. Now, in this war, where my people should've been fighting alongside you since day one, decided to fight the Geth instead, and hold me back even more. And I've always hated that Shepard, because so many terrible things have happened to you, and I could not stop them. I wasn't there when Mordin died for the genophage cure, and I wasn't there when Thane was killed, and I certainly wasn't there when Earth fell to the Reapers. But when Legion died, I was there, but I needed you to comfort me, like you always did. I feel awful, but I always thought that, you were always so strong, you could conquer anything, so maybe, y-you never needed my help. But now," she started crying again, "if I knew you were this hurt I should've gotten here faster! I'm never there when you need me! And I'm sorry, I really, really, am sorry."

"Tali," Shepard was surprised she even felt like this, "this isn't your fault. I would never blame you. You are probably-no, you ARE, the greatest thing that ever happened to me. If there's anyone who should be sorry, it's me. This is my burden, I should've kept a more clear head an-"

"No, don't say that," Tali talked back, struggling to keep her composure, "you shouldn't be burdened with this. You don't know this, but to me, you're the greatest thing that ever happened to this galaxy. I've seen you fight for so long, against so many odds, with so little allies, you actually give me the inspiration to move forward. But, I want to do more for you, than just carry a shotgun or hack mechs. You don't have to carry this burden by yourself, give me some of the weight, or Garrus, or even Ashley. I heard what you did to her."

"I already regret it. But I didn't mean to, it was just," Shepard tried to think of the word, but his mind went blank, "I don't know. I just got out of control. It's like the universe is doing everything in its power to say that it hates me. What if I die again, but I won't come back? How many more sacrifices do I have to give until it's enough?"
"I don't know. But, I can tell you that we won't let that happen. We are all on your side, Jack. Remember, I've failed in many of my missions too before I met you again. I know what it's like to lose friends to enemy fire, I've seen my people die needlessly for the homeworld, I've seen the best and the worst of my kind. Days like that make me want to tear something, or even someone, apart. I never thought you could ever feel that way, until I saw you in the hangar today.

"I thought you were just angry at me. But you were really angry at yourself," she removed her mask, and Shepard saw the concerned and beautiful face of Tali'Zorah, with her silver eyes sparkling worriedly. "I WANT to make you better. You are probably the only person left that I care for more than anything, you are mine, and I don't want you to leave me again," she hugged him tighter. "We will fix this, somehow, someway, we will fix this. You will defeat the Reapers, and that Kai Leng bastard will pay for both Thessia, and Thane. All of us, Ashley, Garrus, Javik, James, EDI, Joker, Cortez, Traynor, and you, you will send the Reapers back into the void they once came, and not just because you killed Sovereign, or the Collectors, but because you have us," she held Shepard's bloodied right hand. "Because you have, me."

Shepard's grief and remorse were gone. Knowing that the once quirky Quarian pilgrim he met on the Citadel all those years ago, would actually be saving his life for the third time since he's known her. Once in the Collector Base, second on the Geth dreadnought, and the third time, here. Only this time, she wasn't saving him from deadly drops of ten-thousand feet, but saving him from the depths of his own depression. He gave a warm smile, wiped the tears from his eyes and said,

"Thank you Tali," and kissed the Admiral softly on her lips, "I needed that," he looked around him. Then sighed, "Damn this place is a mess. And out of all the things that could be fixed in this place, you chose me," he joked lightly. Tali smiled, feeling good to see Shepard back to his old self again,

"Shepard, I'm not trying to be rude, but I didn't exactly come up here just to save the fish," she looked at them empathetically.

"Yeah," Shepard regretted. "Made me wish I actually bothered naming any of them," took another heavy sigh. "But I suppose this hasn't been the first time I've killed them."

"Maybe next time when we're on the Citadel, when we replace them, I can buy you an aquarium VI, I've heard they can do wonders for fish care." Shepard smiled warmly,

"I'll keep that in mind." But then, Shepard heard EDI say over the com,

"Commander, the Asari Councilor is still demanding to talk to you." Shepard looked a bit sad, turned to Tali and asked,

"What should I tell her?"

"The truth," she shrugged, "it may not be the best news, but it's the only thing we've got," she put her hand on his cheek, with a sentimental smile. "But I'm sure we'll get better news for her soon." Shepard nodded thankfully and said,

"EDI, tell the Councilor I'm on my way. And tell the squad to meet me in the War Room, Liara included. We need to figure out how to get Vendetta back, hell bring Traynor too, we need all the brainpower we can get."

"Understood Commander," the coms spoke. "And I suspect that you'll be apologizing to Mr. Moreau once this is over with?" Shepard looking back regretfully,

"Yeah, I guess I got a lot of apologizing to do."

"I'll meet you in the War Room Commander," and the com links went off. Shepard then stood up, dried himself off as good as possible, put on his leather jacket, and was about to go to the elevator until he noticed Tali wasn't joining him. He turned around, and asked,

"Aren't you coming?"

"You go on ahead," Tali insisted. "I don't think a Geth Engineer like myself would be of much use in hunting down Cerberus operatives anyway. Plus, someone has to clean this place up, and it might as well be me. I've definitely been here more than a few times to remember where certain things were placed," she joked alluringly as she refastened her mask.  

"That you do," Shepard smirked. "I'll see you downstairs later?"

"Yes, definitely," she tranquilly sighed. Shepard smiled and before exiting he said,

"Thank you Tali. For everything. Keelah se'lai," and the door closed behind him. Tali went to pick up all the dead fish, broken models, and glass off the floor, smiling happily knowing that she actually helped Shepard in more ways than she ever hoped. She spoke under her breath,

"I love you too, Jack Shepard."
Thought I give all of you this little Mass Effect 3-related short story while it layed fresh inside my head. I plan to immediately start writing chapter 4 as soon as I post this! :icongrin--plz:

So yeah, it's a bit dark. ^^; And yeah, I censor myself, what of it? :iconimthinkingplz: For those of you who don't know me, this is ecentially how I would've written the Tali romance into the aftermath of the Thessia mission. Don't get me wrong, the spooky dream forest of indoctrination is certainly a good metaphor for post-traumatic stress syndrome. :nod: But I like to show Shepard as a bit more human. I mean, I know I would certainly break under the pressure if THAT happened to me. :shrug: But then again, I'm not a soldier, so what do I know? :iconwhatisthisplz:

Oh well, I STILL LIKE IT! :iconimhappyplz:

I know some events may be slightly out of order. But again, I don't plan on making a sequel to this:roll:, so I don't think it should matter that much.

As always, PLEASE COMMENT, and I hope you like it. :D

Also ME is owned by Bioware......(grrr...:shakefist:)
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Title: Thereafter
Author: Tavia-chan
Game: Mass Effect
Characters/Pairings: FemShep / Garrus
Disclaimer: Everything belongs to Bioware, I'm merely attempting to expand upon it.

This takes place a few weeks, possibly a month, after the destruction of Sovereign.




Exiting out of the CIC, Garrus Vakarian strolled down the stairwell toward the living quarters of the SSV Normandy.  The celebration that had followed the defeat of Sovereign was going on all throughout the Citadel—throughout the parts that remained relatively intact, that is.  He was all for revelry after the hell he and his commanding officer had gone through, but it had turned out to be livelier than he preferred.  He noticed how empty the ship felt, especially with the looming silence in the air.  His mind began to wander to the faces he had seen at the celebration.  All the crew from this ship, the people he knew from C-Sec, high ranking officials he had investigated, even his fath-

He abruptly shook his head to stop his thoughts from drifting too far off.  As he turned the corner at the foot of the stairs, he began to wonder where…

His steps gradually came to a halt as he noticed a female individual sitting atop a platform set far to the side of the mess where the lighting was dim.  She was leaning forward with her head bowed low, making it difficult to distinguish her face.  Even without seeing all her features clearly, Garrus knew who she was—the person who had stopped an army of Geth and Sovereign himself, Commander Shepard.  Remembering how she had almost acted embarrassed from all the praise being thrown toward her, he had to admit it wasn't surprising to see her here.

He glanced over to the mess hall table.  Numerous bottles and containers of alcoholic beverages suitable for every type of alien that had been on board were strewn about the surface.  From what he could gather, it apparently had taken the Commander a while to find an appropriate drink for herself.  Garrus could see a few empty bottles resting beside her feet, and she held an additional one in her hand.  If he recalled correctly, humans called it "beer."  Being the Turian that he was, his stomach lacked the curiosity and courage to ever attempt trying it.

"Figures I'd find you here, Commander."

The woman looked up with her brow raised and a smirk on face.  Lifting the bottle in the air, she said, "Yeah, I thought I'd like to be surrounded by the ship that carried us through hell for my celebration."  She motioned to the clutter on the table with a jerk of her head, and she slid to the side of the platform, giving the Turian enough room to sit.  "You can join me if you want…"

Garrus shifted his weight to his right side, staring from the corner of his eye down at the clear cylindrical container filled with the pungent red liquid fit for his race.  "Drinking with the commanding officer…?" he murmured with intrigue.  Shrugging, he grabbed the drink, ambled over beside her, and took a seat.  He unscrewed the lid of the container, which caused the air-tight seal to pop.  He sipped the stinging fluid gingerly.  The moment it touched the inside of his mouth it shocked his senses, but in a way that was enjoyable.

As they both got situated and the silence began to close in around them once again, Garrus felt as if he should say something.  He had observed how she had been acting strangely ever since the end of the chaos.  It was almost like she was distancing herself from everyone, especially the crew.  On an average Turian vessel soldiers usually didn't question authority's actions no matter what.  Concerns, personal or otherwise, be damned.  However, she wasn't a Turian, and this was far from any Turian ship.  "Why is it that you're down here, Commander?"

"No reason, really," she lifted her shoulders in a shrug.  "Thought I'd get away from the crowds for a bit, that's all."

"But, you seem down…"

She regarded the Turian with an interested glance.  "Do I?  Didn't know it was that noticeable."

"It is with you, Commander."

"I'll have to learn to conceal it better then."

"That's-"

"I should hide in my quarters more often.  Yeah… that would work."

"Don't avoid the issue."

"Alright."  A heavy sigh passed through her lips as she rested her back against the wall.  "It's just something I've come to spot after certain operations.  Kind of silly."  Her eyelids lowered, and she slightly chuckled.  "The high profile mission ends, and… everyone heads home as if they didn't even know each other."  She began to rattle off the list of the human crew of the Normandy that were either retiring or being moved to other assignments.  She eventually rambled her way to the aliens, "Tali'Zorah is leaving in a few days to finish up her Pilgrimage.  Wrex says he needs to take care of some business on the Krogan homeworld Tuchanka.  Says I'll be surprised when I see him next.  Then, Liara – mmhh, I'm not sure what she's going to do…"

"What about Alenko?"

"Rumors say the higher-ups want to reassign him."

"Are you sure?"

"Well… they'll have to go through me first."

Garrus stared at her with bewilderment.  It seemed odd to him that the splitting of a squad would affect her so much.  "I thought you would be used to that kind of thing by now, Commander."

"I am," she was quick to say.  "…in a way.  Being part of the N7 program, there were numerous times I would be placed into a random company with people that didn't even know each other to be sent out into a hellhole.  You get close under those conditions, whether you like it or not."  She paused to shift to a more comfortable position.  "They either died during the mission, or they survived.  The end was always the same, though.  Separate ways…"

In all honesty, he had never felt the way she did.  When he had left C-Sec, he hadn't exactly left anyone behind that he particularly enjoyed the company of.  Always red-tape or regulations getting in the way of things.  He had never bothered to know a person deeply—usually nothing besides their name and rank.

"What about you?" she suddenly asked, snapping his gaze straight to her.  "What are you going to do?"

The Turian blinked a few times, contemplating his answer.  He turned his head away from the woman and looked to the floor.  "I received a message from my… father…"

"Oh…?"

"He wants me back at C-Sec."

"Hm."

Garrus took another sip of his drink, using it as an excuse to let the silence fall between them once again.  He trusted her enough to pick up on the subtle signs that it was a tentative subject.  He didn't know what he wanted to do.  He didn't feel like trying to come up with an answer for her or anyone just yet.  Before he was even thinking of what else to discuss with the woman, for Turians were never the greatest for small-talk, she had finished the beer in her hand and had gotten another from the table.

He waited for her to be fully seated before finally saying, "May I ask you something, Commander?"

"Of course."  She took a few gulps of the beverage.

"How is it being one of the most important people in the galaxy right now?"

"Honestly?  I don't like it much…"

"But, you definitely deserve it."

"Nah," she said, waving her hand in the air.  "Any other person as… tenacious as me could have done what I did."  She began to smirk again.  "And I didn't even do it alone either."  Before he could respond, she began to take a long swig.

His mandibles began to instinctively twitch in frustration, and he could sense his grip around the container in his talons becoming tighter.  He felt the sudden urge to stand and pace in front of the woman.  He resisted it.  "Permission to speak freely, Commander?"

She chortled with amusement.  "We're not on duty right now, Vakarian.  Go ahead."

"I think you're wrong when you say anyone could have done what you did," he began more flatly then he had intended.  "No one I've met would have been able to go through a Relay with a simple Mako cruiser to land into the Citadel to stop one of the most threatening entities of the galaxy.  With all the regulations and hostilities between the different races, no one would have dared assembled a crew like yours.  You persisted even when you were bogged down by the political antics of the damn Council.  When Williams died on Virmire…" he paused as he thought about the incident, "it affected you, but you still continued on, knowing that her sacrifice would be meaningful.  You were determined to make it worthwhile.

"And… hell, you've taught me more than my father or being with C-Sec ever could have about how this screwed up galaxy works.  You have an… undying commitment that seems to flare up whenever it's needed most.  I think that's what makes you unique, Commander," he ended, turning his head to suddenly meet her unwavering gaze.

She stared at him intently, her eyes appearing thoughtful as she digested his words.  The direction of the light reflected off her green orbs, making them lightly glisten.  Her intense scrutiny made him shift uncomfortably in his place.  He wondered what she was trying to glean from him.  He didn't think he had said anything surprising enough to the woman to garner such a stare—certainly it wasn't anything that she hadn't heard before from the rest of the crew.

He was compelled to look down to his drink, clearing his throat.  "Well, uh… I was thinking that…" he searched for something proper to say.  He was beginning to miss the simplicity of command that came with Turian vessels.  As he attempted to begin a different part of their conversation anew, it shortly dawned on him that he hadn't answered the Commander's previous question.  "I was thinking that I'd… stay aboard the Normandy for a while longer… ma'am," he blurted awkwardly.

She turned away, and he observed from the corner of his eye her thumb fiddling with the rim of the bottle in her hand.  She brought her trim limbs up onto the platform to sit cross-legged.  The bangs of her chin-length dark auburn hair fell from behind her ear to partly cover her eyes.  "Thanks, Garrus…" was all she said in not much more than a whisper.

With his tension lowering, the Turian lifted his drink to his mouth.  However, before he took a sip, he softly responded, "Any time, Shepard."
Character: Enora Shepard - Soldier - Sole Survivor - Colonist
Alignment: Paragon


I aplogize for any spelling or grammar errors beforehand.

Credit for the beautiful and inspiring preview image goes to :iconarmesan:, which the full-view can be seen here: [link] Thanks for your permission to use!


This is another installment of me trying to portray Shepard as more 'human' than as an elite soldier. I wanted to flesh out the beginning of the strong bond that Garrus and her would have in the coming situations of ME2 as well. It's the budding stage of their true friendship and future relationship. I hope the effort I put into how they were addressing each other in the beginning compared to the ending is noticed by you awesome readers. Also, I'm hopeful that I was successful in portraying the characters and their personalities appropriately.

Again, I tried to envision each voice actor saying these particular lines. I struggled with Garrus' lines when it came to him speaking of the Commander's accomplishments - it was difficult to make it sound natural.

However, I can't help but admit that I'm thoroughtly pleased with how this came out, espcially the start of it. I wrote this in the middle of the night, probably around 3AM last night, and I finished it up now, which is 2AM currently. I think tiredness assists in my overall writing.

I pray that you enjoy, and thank you for reading.

-Other work-
Fidelity: [link]
Needless: [link]
Thereafter: VIEWING
The Lost: [link]
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Title: Under Better Circumstances - Chapter 2: After Hours Visitor
Author: xRebel666x
Game: Mass Effect
Characters/Pairing: Commander Nevada Shepard (femShep) and James Vega

*****SPOILERS ARE IN THIS CHAPTER!!!!*****

Chapter 2 - After Hours Visitor

  The lights in the Detention Center were dimmed and the halls were quiet. Apart from a couple of Alliance soldiers doing their rounds around the building, Nevada Shepard was alone. Locked in her room night after night, she had nothing to do but patiently wait for morning to break over the horizon. Every night the silence haunted her, tugging on the verge of her sanity. The longer she waited for her trial, the more her isolation crept into the depths of her mind. She was a prisoner restricted to an empty cell where her only company was her memories.

  Lying down on the bed, her eyes welled up. She wanted nothing more than to spend another night on the hard mattress in her quarters aboard the Normandy. It may have been unpleasant to sleep in but it was where she belonged. She was a Commander stranded without a mission, without a team, without a ship. Even with her title being revoked, the protocol was so ingrained in her lifestyle that she was having difficulties adjusting. Not even the soft pillows or the warm sheets made this confinement comfortable.

  Knowing no one would hear, she openly confessed, "I miss my bed… I miss my crew… I miss the Normandy… I miss the battles… I miss being… me."

  Rolling onto her side, she peered around the dim room. Snow lightly shimmered outside her window, reflecting off the soft glow from the halogens of Alliance HQ. Blanketing the grounds in a sea of white and camouflaging the surrounding buildings to blend together. The silhouette of a pine tree sat in the corner near the window, its dark branches dressed in various ornaments and tinsel. Nevada avoided celebrating holidays but the higher ups insisted she have a tree… saying it would be good for morale. Even though it was nothing more than a lifeless piece of plastic, she could swear it was begging her to plug in the lights. Maybe it was the mysticism of the season growing on her.

  Shepard shifted onto her back and stared at the ceiling, counting the holes scattered across the panels. She sighed, "Another restless night, another…"

  She got interrupted by a faint knock at the door. Immediately sitting up on the bed, she locked her concentration on the doorway. Another knock vibrated from it, followed by the clicking noises of the door being unlatched. Her heart pounded rapidly against her chest cavity, anticipating the worst. She had many enemies who would jump at the chance to take her out… especially with her being unarmed and the center being manned at minimal capacity for the holidays.

  In the flick of a switch, the light near the door came on and revealed a burly man standing with a large bottle of tequila in his hand. Lieutenant James Vega quietly closed the door and directed his attention to the woman groggily staring at him. "Feliz Navidad, Commander… Thought you could use some company," he smiled, wholeheartedly.

  "You know you shouldn't be here, James. Especially with that bottle," Nevada grumbled, stirring away from her sheets and bringing her legs to dangle at the edge of her mattress.

  "I shouldn't be calling you Commander either but I still do."

  "You'll be in a world of trouble if anyone finds out."

  "No one will. I have some compadres working the rounds tonight. We're in the clear until sunrise," he added, walking over to her holiday tree and plugging in the lights. The multicolored bulbs presented a comforting glow to the room, their ambient hues dressing the walls with a cheerful shine. He grabbed two glasses from the counter and placed them alongside the tequila bottle on her nightstand. Pulling away the chair from her nearby desk, he placed it next to her bed and took a seat, "Plus, no one should spend Christmas alone."

  Trying to make sense of his after hours intrusion, she asked, "What if I wanted to be alone?"

  "No one likes being alone… including you, Shepard… and especially on the holidays."

  "How would you know?"

  "I think I know you well enough by now," he smiled, recollecting their time spent since they first encountered each other on Omega.

  Her eyes shied away, "Fine, but what if I don't like to celebrate Christmas?"

  "Why wouldn't you?"

  "Too much of a distraction, duty always comes first," she commanded, her authoritative disposition still reverberating in her voice.  

  Pouring a good portion of tequila into each glass, James added a splash more into his before mentioning, "But you're not on duty right now."

  "Thanks for reminding me about my 'voluntary' decommission," she sneered. Hunched over her knees, the mental impression of the heavy military-grade cuffs plagued her thoughts. Even with her shackles gone, she could feel their haunting presence.

  "How about this… we set everything aside and just drink for the sake of it?" he asked, handing her a filled glass.

  "I can handle that," she took the glass and held it up, "Cheers."

  "Salud," Vega purred, letting his Spanish accent rumble.

  The burn from the tequila awakened every one of her senses. This was her first time drinking since she had been detained. Shepard stared at the empty glass, feeling the warmth work its way through her veins. Letting the sensation begin to engulf her, she curiously wondered "What makes you think that I'm lonely?"

  "You carry yourself well around others but I can see right through that tough skin of yours. I know what you are really hiding, you can't fool me."

  "Maybe you do, Lieutenant. Or maybe I have you fooled as well," Shepard scoffed, "But consider me intrigued, so continue…"

  "Well you have nothing to do when I'm not here, I can see how much you crave attention every time I enter and your eyes lock onto me… Plain and simply, you're miserable here."

  "Of course I'm miserable. I'm in a holding cell," she snarled, her fingers tensely gripping onto the bottle of tequila as she poured another round, "They are testing my patience… and my sanity… I'm under constant scrutiny and it feels like they want me to go insane, they want me to snap. Then they can have a valid reason for their actions."

  "At least you have me around to keep you company."

  "I don't need y-" her voice pierced, stopping mid-sentence to further evaluate her statement. Nevada eyed the Lieutenant patiently waiting for her response. She changed her tone to emphasize the next series of words, "I don't need you but… I do appreciate you spending all this time with me. It does help."

  James promptly sat up, smiling, "You know what else helps?"

  Curious, she raised her eyebrow and asked, "What?"

  "Another drink," he pushed the bottle towards her, "And take a real shot… not one of those senorita sips."

  Without another word, she snatched the bottle and pursed the opening to her lips. Chugging down three solid gulps of tequila and pounding the bottle back on the table. She stared at the Lieutenant and didn't remove her gaze the entire time the liquor scorched down her throat, nearly regretting the spontaneous action.  

  "Now we're talking!" James exclaimed, sincerely shocked.

  Feeling the effects immediately taking their toll, she admitted, "It's been awhile since I felt that… Last time I drank, I ended up on the floor."

  "How many shots did that take?"

  "I don't remember. All I can recall was the bartender pouring me a glass of Ryncol."

  "Ryncol?" Vega snorted, the liquor in his mouth threatening to jump out his nose, "Really, Shepard? You expect me to believe that? You must be loca."

  "I wouldn't lie to you. If you want, we can settle this right now…" her lip curled to the side, she was determined to prove her ability to out-drink him.

  "Deal. I doubt you can even keep up with me. You seem to forget that I've been drinking a lot since the incident on Fehl."

  "And you seem to forget that I was dead."

  "You win in that aspect but I'm still going to drink you under the table."

  "Under the table, huh? Is that all you were planning to do there?" she taunted, seeing if she could get a rise out of him.

  The Lieutenant cocked his head at the unexpected statement, carefully evaluating Shepard's intentions, "You're going to have to work harder than that if you want me to blush."

  "We'll see about that, Mr. Vega," she smiled, "After all, you brought me a gift… now I owe you one."

  "You don't have to."

  "No, I need to repay you back, Lieutenant. I cannot have this hanging over my head. So what'll it be?"

  "What are my options?"

  "For the sake of curiosity… anything you could ever desire," she paused with the rim of her glass pursed against her lips, "as long as it's within regulations."

  Without any hesitation, James admitted, "I would love to see you in a dress."

  Shepard immediately gagged on the shot of tequila in her throat, "No way, I look horrendous in those things. I did it once… never again. I'm surprised I haven't burned it yet."

  "I don't know, Shepard, I think you would look good in a dress. Especially something short to show off those legs of yours."

  "Are you flirting with me, Lieutenant?"

  "For the sake of this argument, I'm going to say it's the tequila talking," he smiled right before taking another drink.

  "Good because it's against protocol."

  "But you're not a Commander at the moment," he included, anxiously waiting to see if she would notice his advances.

  "You still call me one."

  "That's because I have nothing but respect for you."

  "Well, as long as you don't become president of some fanclub, I'll let it pass. I have enough of that with Conrad."

  "Conrad? Is he an old beau?"

  "No, no, no, no… I would rather shoot myself. Actually," she chuckled, "I shot him. Conrad Verner is nothing more but an obsessed fan. It's one thing to take my example and use it to try and better the world, it's another to go around wearing the same armor and causing more trouble than good."

  "So you shot him?"

  "In the foot… nothing serious, just something to hopefully make him think twice."

  "Remind me to never get on your bad side."

  "Are you reconsidering your statement about me in the dress?"

  "No, I'll stand my ground on that issue."

  "Confidence… Determination… I like that in a man," she bit her lip.

  "Are you flirting with me, Commander?" he asked, turning the question around.

  "For the sake of this argument," she repeated his sentence, mocking him, "I'm going to blame the tequila."

  "Cheap shot, Shepard," the Lieutenant pouted, knowing he lost his chance at an honest answer, "What's next? You're going to shoot me in the foot for getting too close?"

  "No, you're no where close to Conrad, he's beyond irritating. I never want to see that man again. But knowing my luck, I will bump into him again… and he's gotten himself in even more trouble just from trying to be like me."

  "Maybe I should think of a nickname for him ahead of time," he joked, sliding the bottle towards Nevada suggesting she refill her glass.

  As she unscrewed the top, she was curious about his fascination with giving people nicknames. Whenever he encountered another Alliance soldier in the hallway, he was calling them by their newly acquired name. "What's with you and the nicknames?"

  "Some people just don't match their names, so, you know... I just give them a new one."

  "What about me? Do I get a nickname?"

  "I haven't thought of one for you yet."

  "Oh come on, James. You have nicknames for everyone but me… think of one."

  He quietly stared at Nevada, his drunken gaze concentrating on her every attribute, "You kind of look like a Lola."

  "Lola?"

  "Yeah, my best friend's sister growing up was Lola. She was hot… and tough."

  "Hot and tough, huh? You're cute... so I'll let you get away with it. For now," she

  "I can think of worse things to call you."

  "Oh? Like what?"

  "If I really wanted to get under your skin, I would call you Navidad… since you don't like to celebrate Christmas and Navidad is similar to Nevada. Navidad," he snickered, emphasizing the similarities in the two words.

  "Laugh it up, soldier," she glared at him.

  "You asked."

  "Then take a stab at me."

  "Your hair is stupid."

  "Is that the best you can come up with?"

  "I'm drunk, shut up," she pursed her lips, pouting.

   He laughed at his little victory, "So what'll it be?"

  "I'm fine with Lola."

  "You got it, Lola," James confirmed, "From now on, that's all I'm going to call you whenever I visit."

  "Come to think of it," she pondered, "Why are you always in here, James? I'm sure you have better places to be."

  "I can't tell you."

  Shepard gawked at him, the alcohol fueling her curiosity, "You know by saying you can't tell me that you have to tell me. You can't leave a damsel hanging."

  Trying to avoid the conversation, Vega attempted being direct, "It is classified Alliance information, Commander."

  "Come on, James. You expect me to believe that your reason for hanging around me is classified. Just tell me… I probably won't remember in an hour or two anyway…" she slurred, staring at the drops remaining in her glass, "make that about half an hour."

  "No."

  Nevada set her glass down and leaned forward, drunkenly batting her eyelashes at him. She began breathing heavily, her voice successfully concealing her inebriation, "You could just stand by the door, sticking to the code and leaving me alone while on guard…" She shifted towards him, closing in their distance. Skillfully using her beauty and sexual prowess to clench onto his heartstrings, "but you don't. You've been waltzing in here nearly every day, talking with me… playing chess with me… keeping me company."

  "I…" he gulped, "I made a promise to Admiral Anderson."

  "And," she bit her lip, waiting for him to continue.

  The closer Shepard became, the louder his heart pounded. She was devious in her ability to play with his emotions. Tugging on his attraction to her and pulling away with her unyielding devotion to her duty. This wasn't the first time she toyed with him but even with knowing her every move, he still couldn't resist her crafty advances. Her body was honed in, her heavy breathing brushing against his ear… sending tingles down his spine, exciting his senses. All he could wonder is know how far she'd go this time.

  "I'm waiting, Lieutenant," she whispered with her lips nearly an inch away from his lobe.

  He could no longer contain himself, "I promised I would protect the most valuable asset the Alliance could ever have."

  "Is that all?"

  "No. In time, I came to enjoy spending my time with you, Shepard. You are one hell of a solider. You are the best N7 operative I know."

  "Was that so difficult?" she purred, her mouth becoming dangerously close… her long hair dusting across his bare skin.

  "No, it's just…" he paused to breathe in her aroma, "I hold you so highly in my thoughts that spending time with you is priceless."

  "Are you trying to make me blush?"

  "That depends, are you going to slug me if I say yes? Or will I be luckier today?" he asked, a smirk happily planting itself on his face.

  Nevada stared directly into his deep brown eyes, weighing her options. In a split second, she pulled away, "Not today, Lieutenant."

  The blood pumping through his veins boiled, "You are such a tease, Commander!"

  "I know," she smiled, shifting back to her spot on the bed.

  "Why are you doing this to me?"

  "Because I can, you were holding information I wanted and I was going to do whatever I could to retrieve it."

  "If that was all then maybe I should be more hesitant to tell you."

  "Maybe you should…" she winked, grabbing the tequila. She tilted the bottle and noticed a lack of liquid coming out. She peered down the neck, confirming the contents were empty. "Looks like we already went through the whole bottle," the slur in her tone becoming more apparent, "I'm not even that drunk yet."

  "I'm not either," the Lieutenant added with his voice equally as inebriated.

  "I guess we'll have to settle our drinking duel another time."

  "Or… I could get the other bottle in my locker."

  "You have liquor in your Alliance locker?"

  James nodded.

  "As much as that is against regulations… I approve of it," she admitted, attracted to the idea of sharing a few more drinks with the Lieutenant, "Do you think you can retrieve it without drawing any attention?"

  "Oh course."

  "Then what are you waiting for?" she asked with the holiday tree lights twinkling in her eyes.

   James Vega stood up, the alcohol rushing to his head and causing him to wobble a bit. As he began stumbling towards the door, his thoughts were filled with the Commander's alluring nature. The way she used her body to entice him left him yearning for more. Knowing she would continue to choose duty over his devoted adoration, he could only remain hopeful in eventually breaking her barrier. When his hand was on the handle, he heard Shepard shout his name.

  "James," she called out, "I just wanted to let you know that this was a good idea. Gra-… gratzi-… oh how do you say thank you again?"

  "Gracias."

  "That's it! Gracias, Señor Vega."

  Hearing Shepard trying to use his native tongue warmed his heart. It didn't matter if the way she pronounced the words was horrible… all that mattered was how she was trying. He shook his head with a smile, "I like you, Lola."

  "I like you too. Now hurry up, that's an order."
*****SPOILERS ARE CONTAINED IN THIS STORY!!!!!!!!*****

I felt that Vega's and Nev's story needed some more loving... This story takes place in between Conviction and the beginning of ME3. This chapter is key to what will be revealed later. ^_^

Chapter 1: [link]
Chapter 2: VIEWING
Chapter 3: [link]

James Vega and all things Mass Effect belong to BioWare.
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Title: Under Better Circumstances - Chapter 5: Checkmate
Author: xRebel666x
Game: Mass Effect
Characters/Pairing: Commander Nevada Shepard (femShep) and James Vega

*****SPOILERS ARE IN THIS CHAPTER!!!!*****

Chapter 5 - Checkmate

  While traveling from one solar system to another, Lieutenant James Vega came to the conclusion that this would be the opportune moment to approach the Commander. He had questions brewing about the recent mission Nevada Shepard embarked on with her fellow Alliance officer. Although, it was hardly about the mission… it was about their interactions.

  The way Major Alenko idolized Shepard was becoming a nuisance and was causing the rivalry between them to brew. James didn't know how much longer he would be able to control his urges to settle things between them once and for all. The only thing holding him back was his devotion to the Commander. He wanted nothing more than to protect her but if she refused it… if she desired something else… then he would concede.

  Upon entering her private quarters, James caught glimpse of the heroic soldier. He wandered further inside and quietly watched as Shepard casually paced around her room. Even with her attention being detained by the datapad resting in her soft hands, each step she took perfectly navigated around the obstacles on the floor.

  "Commander," James saluted, breaking her concentration.

  Nevada peered over to her guest and a hint of excitement could be heard in her tone, "Lieutenant, are you here to play a round of chess with me?"

  "Not today, I'm sorry."

  "You're no fun," she pouted, tossing the datapad onto the table in front of her, barely missing the chess set inattentively waiting. She took a seat in front of the playing board and danced her fingertips over the tops of the pieces. Her gaze bounced between the seat across the table and the Lieutenant standing closeby, suggesting his invitation.

  "Fine," he ceded, grudgingly forcing himself into the empty chair, "I could never understand your fascination with chess."

  Feeling accomplished in convincing her fellow marine to play her favorite game, she moved her pawn forward, "And I could never understand how you like Cerveza."

  "And you and your brandy?"

  "What? Dr. Chakwas got me hooked on it."

  "You seem so well-reformed compared to me, Commander," he commented, moving his pawn to meet hers, "You need to come hang out with the grunts of the crew more often… play a few rounds of poker with us… so maybe I could finally win a game against you."

  "Maybe I will," she smiled as she directed her next piece, "But knowing my luck, I'll clean you out."

  Vega let a smirk creep onto his lips, "Only if I let you win."

  She paused, with her white bishop dangling in her fingers, contemplating her next move, "Will you let me?"

  "You'll have to play and find out," he teased, taking out one of her pieces, "But really, do you know how silly this makes me look?"

  "What? Is big Mr. Vega afraid of what the other crewmembers think?" Shepard taunted, "It never stopped you from playing against me in the Detention Center."

  "Things were different then."

  "Not that I recall. I seem to remember a certain someone coming in on their days off to keep me company."

  "Even so, you never explained to me why you love this game so much."

  "Well, the reason I like it so much is because of the similarities it shares with my position as a Commander. Every battle requires strategy and the ability to outthink your opponent. Take this war for example…" She grabbed the white queen from the board and while using it as a visual, explained, "I am the queen who can move as many spaces as she wants in any direction. My goal is to protect the king from checkmate, in other words protect Earth against the Reapers. I need to use my fellow army to place the Reapers into a position that will guarantee our win. Force them into a corner that they cannot escape… force them into checkmate."

  "And what if she fails?"

  "In this game… we lose the war and our world is lost," Shepard stared quietly at the queen before placing it back on the board.

  "Then someone needs to step up and protect the queen," he suggested as he made his next move.

  "What are you intending, Lieutenant?"

  "Nothing, Commander. Just looking out for the Alliance's best hope to win this."

  "And…" she started as she castled the rook and king, "There's something more in that sentence, Vega… I know there is."

  Shaking his head, he muttered under his breath, "Usted nunca deja de sorprenderme."

  Nevada stared at the man sitting across from her, curiously thinking about the possible inquiries he said in his foreign tongue, "No fair, you know I don't speak Spanish."

  "Maybe you should learn," he gloated.

  "Or I could take a stab at what you said… maybe you're wondering if there is someone already protecting the queen?"

  "Possibly," he grabbed the black knight and held it idly over the board, "What about Major Alenko?"

  "What about him?" she scoffed, holding back her laughter as she hunched over the playing board.

  "He talks about you quite a bit."

  "That's all he ever does, ever since the beginning… I guess some things never change," Nev shook her head causing some of her long brown hair to cover her face, "When I was detained at Alliance Headquarters, I welcomed anyone who visited me, especially you. Now that my title has been reinstated, it feels like I need to tighten my open door policy since the Major considers 'open door' as another word for 'available.' I have enough with trying to get everyone working together, the last thing I need is someone hounding me for intimacy."

  With one smooth movement, she ran her hand through her hair and placed every disobedient strand back into their picturesque position. The Lieutenant could no longer hide his hungry gaze feeding off of her flawless disposition. She was the ideal soldier… she had experience, intelligence, wits, and was easy on the eyes. If someone ever judged a person on looks alone, they would never imagine her to be one of the fiercest forces in the universe.

  Her sigh broke his devoted attention, "But I should expect this from Kaidan… he's been trying to break protocol for quite some time now."

  Afraid of the answer awaiting him, James hesitantly asked, "What's stopping you?"

  "I'm only following protocol," she leaned back in her seat and crossed her arms, "I'm a Commander. I have a title that demands discipline and determination. If I start bending and breaking the standards set for me, then what kind of expectations would I set for my crew?"

  "I see…" he leisurely commented but the beaten tone in his voice expressed his hidden desires.

  Studying his reactions carefully, Nevada continued, "Even if I did allow fraternization, it wouldn't be with Kaidan. Hell, he's not the only one to try either. There was also Armory Officer Jacob Taylor and a few others from my crew who attempted at least once to bunk the most eligible bachlorette in Citadel space… I shot them all down though."

  Hearing her talk about the others invoked his jealousy and piqued his curiosity, "If you don't mind me asking, why is that?"

  "Are you trying to get personal with me, Lieutenant?"

  "No, just having a conversation with you. Like how we used to back in Alliance Command."

  "I guess there's no harm in discussing this," she shifted forward, "You really want to know why I didn't give anyone the time of day?"

  "Yes. Apart from protocol, of course."

  "Well… plain and simply, I didn't find myself to be attracted to them enough to break regulations. Come to think of it, I didn't find anyone worthy. I was too busy fighting and I will be until the end of this war. I didn't have the time to find someone so I guess I will have to wait until this is all over…"

  "You'll always have me, Shepard."

  She stared at him, evaluating his physical attributes. Her sparkling eyes dazzled at his muscular definitions. Reminiscing on the days they spent together at Alliance Command, she recollected how the Lieutenant morphed in front of her eyes. Each time he guarded her, she noticed a visual progress from his extensive training and a change in his attitude. Still bitter from the events that happened prior to their first meeting on Omega, he began opening up to her and she noticed a special bond between them grow.

  Memories of a night they shared shortly before the Reaper invasion popped into her busy mind. Vega snuck in a bottle of tequila and shared it with the detained prisoner. She met him shot for shot, persistent to out-drink the tough marine. Unfortunately it came to a draw but she remembered him mentioning a promise he made to Admiral Anderson… to protect the most valuable asset the Alliance could ever had.

  The Commander placed another piece on the board forward and said, "Thank you, James. I appreciate it. Hopefully I can express my gratitude for all the things you've done for me one of these days."

  "Just join us for a round of poker one of these nights… And if you ever need me to, I would be more than happy to put the Major in his place."

  "You already are… just by sitting there."

  "You're making this difficult for me… having to choose Cervaza over you."

  "I know. I am a mean and horrible Commander."

  Eying the remaining pawns, Vega carefully selected his bishop and took one of them out, "Actually, Shepard, there is something I would like to ask you."

  "What is it?" she asked, quickly avenging her piece.

  "Do you remember our conversation before you met with the Defense Committee? After I wished you good luck, you mentioned there was something you wanted to tell me."

  "You have quite the memory," she smiled, judging his next move.

  "Only when it comes to y…" he stopped mid-sentence, catching his confession from jumping off his tongue. "I," clearing his throat and trying to reclaim the words that escaped, "I was curious to know what you wanted to say."

  Nevada directed her attention away from the static white army to observe the hulky man sitting across from her nervously try to keep his composure. It was amusing to see him finally show some signs of his tender heart around her, especially without the influence of alcohol. Even more entertaining was the piece of information he so dearly held onto.

  Using her freshly acquired knowledge of this weak spot, she leaned forward and rested her elbows delicately on the edge of the table. Her slight squirming and suggestive facial expressions encouraged the Lieutenant to ponder deeper about her answer. Every breath living her lips seduced him… every curl of her hair invoked his appetite. She was doing everything within her power to tantalize him, making the pawns beneath his fingers vibrate in anticipation. His heart pounded rapidly against his chest, eagerly waiting for her reply… wondering to see if she would finally say it…

  Her gentle voice slowly resonated, "I wanted to tell you how I was beginning to f…"

  "Commander, we're nearing Sur'Kesh," Joker's voice beaconed from the intercom.

  "Got it, Joker, on my way," she replied. Without a second thought, she stood up and left the table.

  As she began walking towards the elevator, Vega turned in his chair and called out to her, "Wait, Shepard… what were you going to say?"

  "Maybe next time," she winked, "The queen has been moved."

  Feeling his emotions racing wildly like adrenaline pumping through his veins, he didn't know how to react. He needed resolution… he yearned to know the answer to the question she was so successfully avoiding. Waiting for any bone to be thrown, his body tensed when he noticed Shepard stopped at the entrance of the elevator.

  "And James," she leaned against the doorway, staring back at the timid Lieutenant. Her vibrant brown eyes twinkled in the ambient lighting of the ship, piercing through his tough mortal coil. A wicked grin curled on the Commander's face, teasing the marine anxiously seated in her quarters. "Checkmate."
*****SPOILERS ARE CONTAINED IN THIS STORY!!!!!!!!*****

Still catching up on everything but I had to write something for Vega Week. <3 But this... this is my favorite chapter thus far. :3

Chapter 1: [link]
Chapter 4: [link]
Chapter 5: VIEWING
Chapter 6: [link]

James Vega and all things Mass Effect belong to BioWare. I'm just doing this for fun. ^_^


Thanks to *VelvetRue for making this wonderful drawing for me!
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