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FEEDBACK: To JayTheGreenling[at]yahoo.com
Written in the Stars
She had called her up. She had called her up! She had to hurry. But she didn't want to hurry! Of course she wanted to go, but... Now that Shepard had heeded her mail, she felt different. Writing that note had been so easy. Just a few clicks, cause she hadn't even dared to approach her in person. Now, with the inevitable only a few decks above her, she felt queasy.
She paced her quarters, fully aware that though she had been on the Normandy for quite some time already, Shepard and her still hadn't really talked. There had been the occasional banter and a few moments when they had actually been alone. But there hadn't been time to just talk; to just sit down, take a breath and really talk. They were scarcely sleeping as it was, touring from one planet to the next, scouring the galaxy for allies and resources. Relationship "problems" were hardly worth their time these last few weeks.
But still, with waking hours being this precious, she had somehow managed to create the capsule... And now she wanted Shepard's opinion. She needed her opinion. It shouldn't make her nervous or anxious. It should fill her with joy to finally see Shepard alone. In her quarters. The quarters she hadn't set a foot in since... since after killing the Shadow Broker. The quarters in which one thing had led to another. The quarters which Liara had left afterwards, knowing it had been a mistake.
Oh it had been wonderful. Well, it had been rough and wanting and surprisingly desperate, there was no way one could call what they had done "making love". It had been "sex". Plain and simple. But it had been good sex, and it had also been a relief in some way. The shock of losing Shepard, the agonizing pain of losing the one person she trusted, the one person she loved... it had been too much, and she had changed drastically. Spending two years without Shepard by her side had been hard, to say the least. It had been hell. And it had changed her.
And then Shepard had come back. Her Shepard. Alive. With the pain of losing her still fresh in her Asari mind, she had been overwhelmed. Her pain had come crawling to the surface, pain she had painstakingly buried in the depths of her being, so she could at least pretend that she had moved on. But the love, oh, the love had been there, too. And then she had done an utterly stupid thing. She had kissed her. And kissed her again. And... and had "one glass of wine" with her. In her quarters. Which led to a lot more than just drinks. It had been so easy. Shepard had lifted the mood with her flirting and deadpan humor and she had fell for it! She had smiled and tried to keep the conversation simple. Simple and safe! And how well that had worked... Suddenly they had talked of the future, of children, of... of them. Being together. And then she had cried. The kind of crying you do when you're too weak to cry for real. It hadn't been freeing, it had been confining. So she had lost herself in something else. Sex.
How foolish she had been. The thought of hurting Shepard had never even crossed her mind. Shepard was so strong, confident, even funny. That there was a vulnerable woman underneath it all had never even occured to her. Not at that moment. When she had ripped off Shepard's clothes, when she had pulled her hair and held her tight. So tight. When she...
Liara shook her head. She didn't want to think about that anymore. She leaned heavily against the door of her quarters. Shepard would have to wait. Her whole body felt weird and weak. Facing Shepard like this would be a mistake. Another mistake to add to her ever growing pile of fuck-ups. She inadvertently smiled. Shepard's vulgar language had been a nuisance in the beginning, a non-issue in the middle, and something she sorely missed in the end. So much so, that she even began using it herself. At least when no one was around. Now that Shepard was back, she felt a little strange using "her" phrases, even when only in her head.
She didn't want to talk. A year ago they had kind of brushed the topic when they had been on the Shadow Broker base, but in all honesty, all it had been was an obligatory conversation about their relationship status, so they could meet up on the Normandy and f... Oh how she despised that kind of language. But making love was so different. The one time she had made love with Shepard had been so fundamentally different. Tender, yet passionate, innocent and exploring...
Thinking about that day did not help one bit. She could feel her flushed cheeks, the longing creeping up inside of her. Want. Lust. She shook her head. She shouldn't be thinking about sex right now. She had an agenda. She would go up there, show Shepard the capsule, get her opinion, and leave. Nothing more. She would just leave.
Nodding to herself, Liara straightened up and left her quarters.
The elevator ride felt longer than ever. It was only two decks, but it felt like a lifetime. Grasping the capsule tightly, Liara tried to free her mind of the images that were haunting her...
She had tried. She had tried to make her see how utterly mortal they all were. Back on Mars, she had tried to make Shepard understand that for all they tried to save lives, they might still lose their own. She had tried. And Shepard hadn't noticed the underlying fear and desperation she had felt. So when Shepard had called her name in an attempt to console her, she had just brushed it off. Had told her that, of course, she shouldn't be thinking like that. But she did think like that. She was afraid, she was desperate. She didn't care for her own life, but she was nearing a panic when even thinking about the possibility of Shepard dying again.
But when Shepard had touched her cheek it had felt so loving, so... concerned. She knew that it was all just wishful thinking on her part. She knew she had hurt Shepard deeply when she had refused to come with her, when she had declined the offer of coming onto the Normandy again. Of being with Shepard. Oh yeah, Shepard had seemingly taken it well, accepted it for what Liara had told her it was. But in her heart she felt that no matter how strong Shepard seemed to be, no matter how much she smiled or how much she teased her, she was still a vulnerable woman underneath. And losing Liara after seeing her again must have hurt like hell. Liara knew all that, but in that moment in time, she hadn't been able to behave differently. She had known that she was letting Shepard down and that the promises of being together could do nothing to heal the wound she had inflicted when she had left the Commander's quarters after their roll in the sack.
Now she still felt like a monster. Yes, she hid it masterly, but deep down, she felt like she had used Shepard. There were no words to describe the feeling inside of her when she had found out that Shepard had died. No one could understand her pain, her desperation, when she had went as far as to team up with Cerberus. Her goal at that time, her only goal, had been to bring Shepard back. To bring her lover back. The woman who had so gently taken her virginity and so easily given her heart to the Asari. And Miranda had actually brought her back. Her Shepard had come back, and all Liara had felt was anger. Anger at her for leaving her alone in this empty universe, so devoid of emotion.
When she had looked into Shepard's eyes, all her anger had vanished. Longing and love had filled her again and longing had won. So she had kissed her. Right there on Illium. It was wrong, she had known that. It had felt wrong when she had done it, but she couldn't help herself. So they had finished their mission and all she had been able to do was try to keep it together. But, of course, Shepard had to start talking "about us" again. So Liara had brushed her off. Somewhat gently, but still. She had still been shaken after seeing Shepard again, alive, and there had been no way that they could just pick up where they had left off. There had been too much pain and crying on her part for everything to just be okay.
But then they had hunted the Shadow Broker, had killed him together, and Liara had felt something inside her that she hadn't felt in a long time. Lust. So she had kissed Shepard, had said yes to drinks and that had let to the one thing that made her feel monstrous now. Her taking advantage of a similarly broken Shepard made her feel like crap. It made her lean against the elevator wall, holding the capsule too tightly, while trying not to cry. Oh, how easy it all could've been, if she hadn't slept with Shepard. If she had talked to her sooner, if she hadn't pretended everything was alright when they had been on Mars a few weeks back. If...
There. So many, many mistakes. She had made tons of mistakes. And now she couldn't change a thing. All she could do was to try and make Shepard see that she wasn't a monster, that she cared about her more than she herself had known. So that's what she would do. She'd try to make it right. To make everything right.
When she stepped out of the elevator, a shiver ran over her body. Being close to Shepard was always hard. Just last week she had become weak and kissed her again. Just slightly, but it had been enough to send her whole body aflame. Shepard had felt so good beneath her, when she had sat there, in Liara's quarters. And the smell... Shepard always smelled so good, so alluring, so...
Liara pinched her arm. She had to stop thinking about that. Shepard was in no condition to be in a relationship. She knew that. She had known it from the moment on when Ashley had been wounded. Shepard had behaved strangely, she just hadn't felt like the Shepard Liara once had known. Her eyes had gone blank, her whole expression had been so different from what she had been used to. And she had been cold. Loving and caring on Mars, but back on the Normandy she had been all business. She had pulled her defenses back up, and Liara could understand why. Ashley's injuries had shown Shepard exactly what she was afraid of. Death. So when Ashley had gotten hurt, she had fled back to what she knew: Military. No time to show fear, no time to be kind. Business. And that's when Liara had gone into her quarters and cried.
And now she was standing in front of these doors. The doors that might be her salvation ...or... her undoing.
Goddess, what am I doing here... Why am I so nervous? Why does Shepard always make me feel like a teenager?! Liara inhaled deeply, trying to calm herself down. Her hands held the capsule in front of her. Tightly. She knew she couldn't go in like that. Shepard might not be as attuned to people's behaviours as other humans were, but she certainly was very adept at reading Liara. The Asari knew that. But she was so nervous, how would she ever be able to hide that?! Every single time it felt like a burden she would not be able to carry. Like last week... When Shepard had come to her quarters again. She did that a lot. Oh yes, she knew Shepard loved her. Loved her deeply. Why else would she come to Liara's quarters over and over again, making up excuses to talk?
For once Liara had to smile at that fact. Normally she would brush Shepard off. Be all business. But last week she had gotten weak, had told the Commander that she had a few minutes of time to spare, that... that they could talk. Ha, talk. Yeah, right. War. War was all they ever talked about. All Shepard cared about. Wait, no, that wasn't true. Shepard cared about more than war. But... it was so hard seeing that sometimes.
Liara shook her head. Now was not the time to let her wait. She shouldn't do that. She knew Shepard was not the most patient of people, and having to cope with the Asari's businesslike behaviour wasn't exactly helping, either. Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes. So many mistakes she could never undo. But it had been for the best. Keeping Shepard at bay was the healthiest thing she could do for her. Entering into a relationship with anyone would just distract the Commander on the battlefield. And Liara did not want to be the reason for that. She herself was already having trouble concentrating.
When she stepped into the quarters, Shepard was already standing there, waiting. She dared not show her fear and so she put on her business face and pretended everything was alright. Shepard invited her in, and for a second she forgot to be strong. She could feel her knees tremble, and without even thinking about it she asked the Commander to sit. Mainly because she didn't know how to start, because sitting was not an option at this point. At least not sitting close to Shepard. Nooooo that would be... unwise. Goddess, why was she so nervous?! This was not a time to be nervous, though. She needed to get right to the point. No introduction, no rambling, no distractions. That proved harder than she had imagined. Shepard's presence made her long for a touch. A single, gentle, loving touch. Callused fingers stroking her neck, her face, her back... No distractions!
"I've been thinking about the knowledge we gathered on the Reapers, and how easily it could be lost again."
Woah now, that hadn't been too hard. But looking at Shepard when she sat down proved to be a major mistake. Liara could feel her skin flushing, could feel the heat she was starting to radiate. Yes, definitely. It had definitely been a mistake to come to Shepard's quarters. Mind and heart and tongue and hands, they all seemed to betray her. Alarms were going off in her head, while she could hear her voice talking like everything was alright.
"So... I put a plan in motion to preserve things for the future."
She pushed a few buttons and there it appeared. The work of so many a sleepless night expanded in the Commander's quarters. A map of the galaxy. Star after star after star. If she hadn't felt so nervous she might be overjoyed at the look of interest on Shepard's face. And when the tall woman actually leaned in to take a closer look, she was lost.
She could smell her. If she were human, she might have been getting goosebumps right about now. But instead, her skin started to tingle, and her tentacles felt rather hot. And all she wanted to say was: Oh Shepard, what are you doing to me? I shouldn't love you... I can't hurt you again. But what she actually said was more along the lines of...
"A record of the galaxy. Information on the Reapers, relays, different cultures... and blueprints of the Crucible."
She got up when she said that. She had to. Her legs were... trembling. Crouching down there, being able to look up at the Commander's face... proved too hard a challenge for her. Oh, this was hard. And the hardest part was still to come... What if Shepard said no? Or... what if she said something cold and calculated, like she often did? Liara had seldom been this afraid of a simple conversation. But now was the time to get it all out, now or... never, like the humans liked to say.
"But there's one entry I wanted your opinion on."
Goddess, how she loved the strong, melodic timbre of Shepard's voice. The strength she conveyed solely through talking. But she did not just love it. It made her squirm. Liara, what are you doing?! She could feel herself getting hotter by the minute, but she knew she couldn't act on it. Could never act on it as long as all this chaos was outside of this ship. As long as she couldn't forgive herself for her mistakes, for her huge mistakes... No. No, she wouldn't act on it, no matter how hot or horny or desperate she got. She couldn't. Shepard loved her. She wouldn't betray that trust and most of all, that love, again.
Liara crouched down to activate it, and there she appeared. Miniature Shepard, in Liara's favourite clothing. Sexy, but comfortable, casual, but military. How many nights had she been sitting in her cabin and simply been watching the holographic projection of Shepard stand in the middle of her room? It had made her feel lonely and loved all at once. Silly, silly Asari. How desperate and crazy did you have to be to do such a thing? But all she wanted was for Shepard to hold her... AND IT COULD NOT BE! No, it couldn't be like that again. Empty sex... She... Oh. Her head was rambling again.
"I'd be honored to have your input. How would you like history to remember you?"
That elicited a smirk on Shepard's face. Of course it did. And Liara knew exactly what was coming next.
"Fifty-thousand years is a long time for a computer to sit around."
The Asari wished she could sigh right about now. Instead she rose again, somehow defiantly. Yes, she knew she was being defensive, but she couldn't help herself. The Commander always made her feel... exactly 109 years old. Young and inexperienced...
"Please, I was an archeologist. I know what I'm doing."
There you go Shepard, now you're getting your payback. Scientist-babble.
"I'm encasing these records in time capsules and seeding copies on multiple planets. And while it's not foolproof, the VI I'm installing has every translation and linguistics program I could find."
Laughing would help right about now. Anything that would make her think of something else would help right now. Shepard's scent had only gotten stronger... or at least that's what Liara kept telling herself. The tall woman's voice made Liara's ears beg for more and her hands desperately wanted to cling to the Commander. But that was all for naught. How many times would she have to tell her body and her heart that she could not let it happen again? She just couldn't. Thankfully Shepard interrupted her thoughts.
"So it's an information guide, like Vigil on Ilos?"
"Yes. I've been preparing it for some time."
Her mouth was starting to feel dry. She really shouldn't talk so much. Think so much around Shepard. She should just let Glyph do the talking, right?
"And it will be a privilege to guide the future discoverers of these records. Have you decided what you would like Dr. T'Soni to write in your entry, Commander?"
"You know me well enough to fill in the blanks, Liara."
I love you. I love you Shepard.
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah. I'd like it to be your call."
Nobody had ever told her that something this simple could make her smile like that. Talking about Shepard was easy. Praising her was even easier.
"Let's begin with the fact that Earth's most famous officer was born and raised in space. Shepard could handle any weapon in the galaxy. The Alliance never saw a deadlier soldier. While I didn't always agree with her decisions, I still respected them."
That was the understatement of the century, Liara knew that. But she couldn't stand here, sing Shepard's praise and not give away her feelings. She simply had to downplay it a bit. A little bit. Well, okay, a lot, but... It was all for the best. Keeping her feelings and longings in check was a hard thing to do. Even for her. So of course it had to slip out!
"And it was a privilege to know her."
"Careful this doesn't sound like a diary."
Shepard sounded almost sincere. What if... what if she didn't love her anymore? What then? No... She loved her. Right? Liara forced herself to smile. Every... "friend" would smile at that. Right? Oh, I don't know. What do humans do in situations like these? When you want to undress the person in front of you, make mad passionate love to them, drown in their extasy and profess your love a hundred times? Oh, right, they put you in lockup.
"I can't help myself. You're a good... friend, Shepard."
That hurt. It hurt so much. And she wanted to scream "I'm not your FRIEND!" But of course she didn't say anything. She just sat down and shut up. Because what she really wanted to say didn't belong here. Not right now. Not today. Maybe...
"You've been there for me, too, Liara."
"No, I haven't. I wish I could have joined you back on Illium."
The Asari couldn't help but think of what had happened after Illium. Shadow Broker... Sex... Shepard leaving... For a second her eyes started twitching, like she would cry any second. But it stopped, so she put on her business-happy-face and pretended everything was fine. Like she did so often lately.
"You made up for it."
Did I? No, really, Shepard. Did I? Because I don't see how. I hurt you. I hurt you so, so much. I practically ripped your heart out. Liara smiled. The bigger the pain, the brighter the smile. Lying to the Commander felt terrible, but she wasn't ready to tell the truth yet. To maybe hurt the strong woman yet again. She didn't dare hurt her again. Yes, she had died, yes, she had been hurt badly on the battlefield, but... Liara always knew that she held a special place in Shepard's heart. That she was the first person who ever truly breached the walls that Shepard had so painstakingly built around her heart. And she had let her down. She wouldn't ever let her down again. No, she wouldn't. And so she smiled.
"Well, I suppose I did just write your name in the stars."
No no no no no, don't be quiet! Say something, Shepard. Say anything!
Liara couldn't stand the quiet. Silence only always led to the Asari saying stupid things. Like how many days it had been since they encountered a Reaper. Or how many clients she had gained since working as the Shadow Broker. Or how Glyph was the only one she talked to... sometimes for days. Or how long it had been since Shepard had last visited her cabin. Or how she felt when she was near her. Her scent. Her eyes. Her hands, roaming through the air, trying to make people understand. Or...
No. Silence was definitely not helping. Shepard simply had to say something. Silence just wouldn't do.
Thank the Goddess.
Maybe the silence hadn't been that bad after all?
"You seem... off."
Definitely. The silence hadn't been that bad...
"Talk to me."
What was there to talk about? Liara didn't even really know what exactly was wrong with her. Or maybe she did. It was all just too much. The pain when Shepard died, the anger when she came back, the love that replaced the anger and the pain, the unspeakable pain when she realised just how much she had hurt the one person she had loved more than anything. She still loved more than anything. Love. Did she want to talk about love? Or maybe... Maybe she should just ask forgiveness for her behaviour?
Warm hands grasped hers, and a soft voice made her look into gentle eyes. Tears were threatening to enter her own eyes, she could feel them, just at the brink of her conscious mind. But crying would only make matters worse. A part of her consciousness tried to keep them at bay, but they were persistent, and she could feel her eyes watering up. She couldn't let Shepard know. She just couldn't. That would only make matters worse. Shepard. Oh Shepard.
I love you, Shepard. That's what the Asari had wanted to say. But how could she? How could her tongue betray her like that? Love was a terrible, beautiful thing. And terrifying.! It made her act like a fool, made her thoughts go into directions she didn't want them to go, made her legs unsteady and her voice crack. It made her skin flush and her tentacles twitch, her body long for strong arms to comfort her, and her ears anticipate the voice she knew so well. Love made her crazy. Liara had no right to be crazy. She had to work. They all had to work. They needed to save the galaxy, after all! She had to...
"I... I can't."
Her heart was pounding so strongly, she could almost feel her ribs crack more and more with each and every single beat. Her breathing was ragged, her palms sweaty and her eyes were full of unshed tears. Her lips were twitching in effort to explain herself. To explain her behaviour. But there was no one who would listen. She was alone. Alone in an elevator that seemed to take forever to get to the crewdeck. Liara seemed to spend ages trapped in the small room, contemplating what to do. Regretting yet another mistake she had made just moments ago. Why, why had she lost her composure? Why had she been able to hold it together until the silence had entered the room and filled it up?
Shepard... Her gentle voice and caring touch had been way too much for the confused Asari. How was she supposed to approach the Human now? Now Shepard knew that something was amiss. That Liara did in fact have some trouble with their current situation. But how could she explain to her what she felt? How? Confronting Shepard with her own pain and her own demons might not be the best solution for this whole fucked up version of hell. Thank you, Shepard, for your continuous insertion of human "phrases"...
Liara's head started hurting again. The emotional rollercoaster of the last few weeks had weakened her more than she had dared to admit. Missions had started to become a real danger for her and for her comrades, but as of yet, the Commander hadn't let her stay behind on the Normandy. But she would have to. Missing minor opponents with her biotics was simply embarrassing, but missing stronger foes might lead to getting one of them killed. And she was not about to let that happen. Going on missions in this state of mind might lead to an awful lot of bad situations she wasn't prepared to face. The next stop they made would be yet another rescue... less than 30 hours from now. She would stay behind. She had to. At least the Commander wouldn't be endangered because of her. And she wouldn't have to worry about Shepard's safety, surely Shepard would take EDI instead. EDI could keep Shepard safe. She had proven it a dozen times over. Yes. EDI would go.
The Asari straightened up, tried brushing her wet hands off on her suit, which was of course futile, and gulped audibly. A weak Shadow Broker was not something the galaxy could handle right now. She needed to forget about her private problems and her love for... for her. She needed to concentrate. Deals had to be made, information had to be gathered... Work was a simple distracion, a means to an end. And it was comforting. Comforting to know that she could make a difference. That she could help so many lives with just a few clicks. If only she could rearrange her life the way she rearranged the lives of so many other people out there. If only it were that easy.
When the elevator doors opened, Liara stepped out, all business.
"Don't look so startled, did you think I'd just let you walk out on me?"
Liara had worked on her station for almost an hour. She hadn't expected Shepard to follow her. Well... follow her after such a long time, at least. When she had heard her doors swish open, she hadn't expected the Commander to enter, and when she saw... her eyes went wide and her posture became defensive, arms crossed in front of her.
"...are you doing here? I could ask you the same thing. What the heck happened up there? Liara, what's going on?"
Shepard took a few steps forward, arms in front of her, as if to take the Asari in her arms. But she stopped. Of course, Shepard doesn't love me anymore. Not after everything I've done...
A whisper. So soft...
"Don't Shepard me."
It wasn't that Shepard was cold. Or demanding. It was... Liara didn't know what it was. But in that instant, everything happened at once. Her eyes, previously filled with tears, grew hard and distant. Her lips tightened, her fingers curled into fists and her nostrils flared. Her biotics started building up, her breaths came in deep gasps and in between two gasps her tongue betrayed her.
"I'm sick and tired of pretending, that's what's wrong! I don't want to pretend that I'm fine anymore! I try, Shepard, I really try, but... I can't. I can't anymore. So stop asking your questions and leave me be!"
That struck a nerve, she could see it. And she regretted it the moment she said it. But you can't take words back, once they're out. You just can't. Shepard's hands balled into fists. Liara could see she was hurt and angry, but she couldn't help that now. It was better to push her away than to lay it all out in the open, right? It was better to make her think that she didn't want Shepard budding in her business. Pushing her away now might keep her from getting hurt again in the future.
At first she didn't understand. "No". "No" what?
"No. No, I won't just leave you be, goddammit."
Liara stumbled back when Shepard came closer and closer, their faces almost touching. She could smell the booze on her breath, could smell a faint touch of sweat and oil. Maybe she had visited Garrus before coming here? Shepard's eyes almost frightened her. She was angry, yes, but Liara could see the pain, too. Not just because of what she had said earlier. But pain that had been there for a long time. She wanted to say something, anything, but then her calves bumped against the bed. No, Shepard, no, you don't. You don't do that now. It's not a solution. Please...
"You make me so mad sometimes!"
With that, the Commander pushed the Asari back onto the bed and... just stood there, right at the end of it, guarding the only exit.
"I know this thing between us is fucked up. I know that. But you either tell me what's going on or we're done. Because I don't get it, Liara."
Liara crawled back towards the headboard and sat down. Her thoughts were running wild, her mind was in scrambles. What was she supposed to tell Shepard now?
"I'm sorry for my outburst, Shepard."
She couldn't look at her. Her eyes were darting through the room, her hands trying to make sense of her words... Somehow. And then something took over. Made her speak without thinking, without trying to conceal the truth of it. And it felt... good?
"I just feel so lost. It all happened so fast, you were there, you were gone, then you came back and suddenly you were gone again. And..."
Long legs entered her vision, when the Commander sat down on the bed, legs crossed.
"And it was all my fault. My fault, and I can't deal with it. I can't deal with what I've done."
"What you've done? Liara... What..."
"I hurt you, Shepard..."
"...I hurt you so much."
She was crying now. No way to hide that fact anymore. Tears were falling onto the bed and Liara watched them disappear in the soft fabric. It was easy to get lost in the little things. Ignore the real issues. Like the woman right there in front of her. Looking at her. The woman who was obviously desperately trying to remain calm.
"No, Shepard, I resented you for dying. I... I was so angry at you for leaving me alone! Alone in this galaxy, not knowing what to do with myself now that you've been gone. I had nightmares for years! Of you, being blown to pieces along with the Normandy..."
Liara pulled her knees up to her chest. It was all starting to come back. For real. She had never talked about it. Not like this. The pain was unbearable. It hurt and hurt and hurt and it didn't stop.
"You were ripped out of my life. Just like that! And... Maybe I could've saved you, you know? If I hadn't followed your order to evacuate, I might've... I might have saved you, Shepard."
Sobbing. Even breathing proved to be hard when you were crying like that.
"Yes, you might have. Or you might have been killed as well, did you ever think about that? Do you know how glad I am every single day of my life that you followed my order? That you didn't die? You were safe. That's the first thing I made sure of when I came back to life."
"Yes, you. ... Come here."
And Shepard crawled over, taking her in strong, muscular arms. Warm arms. Comforting. It was all she ever wanted after Mars.
"I hurt you."
She nuzzled deep into the neck of the warm Human, tentatively hugging her torso, holding her close.
"I made so many mistakes, hurt you so many times. How could you ever forgive me?"
A sigh escaped full lips. She could feel a soft touch on her head, like a kiss, maybe? Callused hands pulled her closer, stroked her head and back...
"Don't you get it, Liara? ... I... You are important to me."
She didn't dare say anthing in return. So they lay there for a time, until she couldn't stand it any longer. The warm embrace she felt just didn't feel right, as long as she beat herself up over the past.
"But I made so many mistakes, Shepard. I did."
Another sigh. Shepard did that a lot.
Talking about sex had never been Liara's strong suit. Talking about emotions had never been Liara's strong suit. And talking about it with Shepard... No. Not her strong suit.
"You know... After the Shadow Broker, when we..."
"Yeah. That wasn't a mistake, Liara. Not in my book."
It was hard to concentrate. Shepard smelled and felt so good that Liara would've liked to fall asleep more than anything. But she had to explain. Ignoring the issues at hand would make it all worse. Or so she thought, at least. But before she could say anything, Shepard went on...
"Was it a mistake for you, Liara? Was it?"
"Then why say it?"
"I just felt that because of it you hurt even more when I didn't join you back then."
A ragged breath escaped the Human's lips.
"Yeah. Yeah, I guess I was. But listen, that doesn't make it a mistake, alright?"
"I hurt you."
"You said that already. Let it go, Liara. You had your reasons for not joining me."
Yes. She had reasons. She had been afraid, afraid of the feelings Shepard had awakened in her, afraid of losing her again, afraid of the pain she might feel again, should such a thing happen to Shepard. Pain. She had been afraid of pain. Her pain. Not a single thought had she spent on thinking about Shepard's pain. Not one.
"I was afraid."
Warm breath tickled her tentacles, brushing over her flushing skin. It felt so good to be close to Shepard again. So good. So... right. Why had she tried to run from that? Why...
"Of losing you again. Of us. Of this. I was so afraid of this. It makes me feel weak and unprepared and I can't concentrate when you're near, I can't concentrate when we're on missions, and I feel so lost..."
"I can't promise you I'll not leave again, Liara. I can't. I'm only human. The only thing I can promise you is that I won't leave willingly. That's all I can give you."
All she can give me. I know. And still, I'm afraid. Afraid I might hurt her again. She deserves better.
Unbeknownst to her, Shepard could feel Liara pull back, even though only slightly.
"You stay right here and listen to me: I won't let you go. You hurt me, do you think I don't know that? But if I can forgive you, so should you! You can't beat yourself up over the past, Liara. Yes, I was hurt when you declined, and yes, things have been... weird after that. But don't you ever think it was all your fault. I knew you weren't coming along, and I still went ahead and... had sex... with you. I knew it would hurt all the more, but still, I did it. Because I couldn't resist, okay? Because I didn't know whether I would survive or not, and I wanted to have you one more time..."
Liara pressed into Shepard, holding her closer still. Somehow, being held made everything alright. She could feel herself drifting off to sleep, and in the distance, she could hear...
"...Because I love you."
When she awoke, it was the middle of the night and she was alone. Of course she was. Why would Shepard stay after all that arguing and bringing up all those memories? But she hugged me. She took me in her arms and... It was wonderful. Somewhere in the back of her mind she was aware of the fact that Shepard had said something just when she had been drifting off, but her conscious self just couldn't remember. She was tired and groggy, but she got up anyway, trying to take her suit off. It was much harder to get out of it when she was sleepy like this. Her hands were trembling and her stance was unsteady. Certainly it wasn't all thanks to her being tired, but also because of the Commander. Because of the Commander who had left her alone. Again. The Asari tried her hardest not to cry, her eyes were already swollen enough, and frankly, she knew that it wouldn't improve her mood.
Her hand brushed the tears from her eyes and came to rest on her forehead. It felt good to be touched. Even if it was her own hand. She covered her face with both hands and just stayed there for a while, breathing in the darkness, calming herself down. When she started to feel light-headed, she let her hands drop and sat down on the edge of the bed.
Where had Shepard gone? Why had she just left her alone? Was it because of something Liara had said, or... was it even worse? Maybe Shepard regretted last night? Maybe she hadn't forgiven her, after all? If only those thoughts had any meaning. But Liara knew that pondering over it wouldn't help. She would just have to wait for morning and find out then. Going up to the Commander's quarters was not an option, after all. That would take too much courage on her part. Courage she didn't have at the moment.
Surprisingly enough, Liara felt herself getting frustrated. Not because of Shepard, but because of herself. The last few weeks had been hard, but the last day had been even worse. And not because of the strong Soldier, but because of her. She had made a mess of it all with her emotional turmoil and desperation and Shepard had just been her usual, mostly calm self. Maybe the Human just needed some time alone, after all that chaos. That would be understandable, right?
Liara rubbed her face and arms, still trying to comfort herself. She didn't exactly look forward to sleeping in the big, empty bed all by herself, but her sleepiness would sooner or later get the better of her, anyway. So she pushed herself off the bed and slipped out of her tight suit. It was good to feel the chilly air on her body, it was good to feel the crumbled, cold sheets beneath her skin. The Asari spread out on the bed, covering it with her blue body, brushing over the smooth surface. It amazed her, that such small things could lighten her mood. But it worked. She felt better in an instant. And... Oh. The sheets smelled of oil and sweat. Shepard's sweat. A tiny smile spread over Liara's lips, just a tiny little smile. Her fingers grasped the sheets and then she rolled over, effectively covering herself with them. Trapping herself. She was tightly tucked in now, and the bed was starting to become warm. Her mind started wandering when she inhaled the scent Shepard had left in her bed. Pictures entered her mind. Memories, fantasies, wishes... Liara smiled.
And fell asleep.
"Mh, you're naked?"
A yawn escaped the Asari's lips. Was it morning already? No, that couldn't be, right? And who was... Mh, warm hands. Warm hands on her. Liara sleepily grasped for the owner of the limbs, trying to pull them closer. But the hands disappeared and she could hear herself groaning disappointedly. Then callused fingers brushed over her forehead, a soft voice encouraged her to sleep.
"It's okay. Just sleep, Liara."
Sleep? She couldn't sleep now. But opening her eyes was harder than she had anticipated. So she just lay there, listening. The rustle of clothes filled her ears, a faint whisper, boots dropping to the floor... And then the sheets were forced open and a warm body climbed in and embraced her from behind. A moan escaped her lips. That felt so good. When a hand brushed over her sensitive side, a giggle escaped her full lips.
"I know, sweetie."
Her sleep-deprived mind could still hear Shepard's smile when she spoke. So she wasn't mad at her. Maybe she had really forgiven her all her past discrepancies. She sighed. It felt good to know that everything would be alright one day. And maybe one day would be tomorrow...?
"Are you awake?"
Fingers were trailing over her body, just delicate touches here and there. She could feel her skin starting to tingle where the fingers had touched her. It felt wonderful waking up to the warm body spooning her from behind. Her skin was aching for even more of the sensual touches and the muscles in her abdomen contracted when hard nails scraped over them.
Her voice was weak and drowsy, but her hand felt steady enough when she grasped the bigger hand of the human woman. Pulling it up to her face, she started kissing the soft palm, concentrating on the unique scent that was all Shepard. She rubbed the hand across her face, revelling in the feeling of the rough fingers against the soft skin of her face.
"Are you, now?"
The Asari still wasn't able to open her eyes, but it didn't matter. She could hear the chuckle in Shepard's voice, could feel the muscular body pulling her closer. Could feel the warm breath of the Commander tickling her neck. Then she felt Shepard's left hand sneaking around and stroking her crests.
"You like that, huh?"
Liara couldn't help but laugh. It just felt so good to have Shepard close to her, to have her touch her and be... Shepard. She tightened her grip on the Human's hand, pulled it to her chest and just held it there, pressing it to her lithe body.
"I missed you."
The response the Asari got was different than she had expected, but very much appreciated nonetheless. The hand escaped her grasp, settled down just beneath her breasts and pulled her flush against a muscled abdomen and soft mounds. Lips touched her shoulder and neck, kissing their way up her tentacles, when another hand started massaging her scalp. Liara felt like a pet, loved and taken care of, stroked and talked to... And she felt safe. Being hurt was not an option this time. This time it all felt different. This time it wouldn't be just sex. They wouldn't make love just because they might die tomorrow. Or because neither one of them had thought it would ever happen again. This time it would be love. Just love.
Her right hand trailed down her own body, stroking the leg that was so pleasurably pressed against her own. Soft skin greeted her, slightly warmer than her own. Liara drew circles on it, until she could feel the goosebumps underneath her fingertips. She had never really paid much attention to the little details of human anatomy, but now she found it fascinatingly beautiful. The small bumps felt just right the way they were. Becoming bolder, the Asari trailed further, caressing a firm butt for a while, then slid higher, crossing scars and ribs on her way to the other woman's breasts. It was a strange postition she was putting herself into, with her arm twisted awkwardly, but she just couldn't stop touching the Commander. It just felt too good. When she felt a small nipple pressing against her palm, Liara stopped moving. Now she could finally fall asleep again. Like this. A nude Shepard pressing into her, her palm cupping a small breast, her butt pressing delicately into the Commander's lower region... That's what perfection felt like, surely. This was even better than meeting a real live Prothean, she was quite sure of that.
"We don't have the time."
Liara flushed when she realised what Shepard was saying.
"I didn't... I mean... I wasn't trying to... I... Shepard, I..."
Strong hands turned her around, so she came to rest on her back. When she opened her eyes, bright orbs were looking down at her, and a firm hand was cupping her cheek, exploring her face...
"Shhhhhh. Just... do what you did just now. I just want to..."
"What? You want what, Shepard?"
A blush crept over the human's face, and the eyes left her's, staring onto the blankets next to her. Liara tried to hide her smile. Strong Shepard. Strong in the face of adversaries, strong in front of her crew, in front of everyone, really. But soft and insecure... here, in Liara's bed? That woman never ceases to amaze me.
"We can just stay here for a little longer. Is that okay?"
Jackpot. The Human's eyes darted back to her's, a smile spread over the face hovering abover her, and then soft lips came to rest on her neck again, when the woman nestled her body against her's. Hair tickled her tentacles and nails were leaving marks on her front, but Liara didn't care. This was what she hadn't even dared to dream of. Shepard being... Forgiving. Patient. Loving.
Her right arm pulled the Commander closer, so she could stroke the strong back, explore scars, spine, ribs, muscles... Exploring it all and memorising every single bump in the Human's skin. To remember it forever.
They just lay there for a time and Liara could feel the body next to her becoming heavier by the minute. Shepard was drifting off to sleep again, of that she was sure. But before the breathing on her neck became steady, a sleepy voice entered her ears.
"I... I love... your skin. It's... very soft."
I love you, too.
She turned her head and planted a kiss on a closed eye, revelling in the warmth of the skin that greeted her. A moan escaped the soft lips that were pressed to her neck, and the previously regular breathing that was grazing it missed a beat. Then her hand left Shepard's back and tentatively dived into the softness that was human hair. Amazing, really. The softness, the abundance of it, and the smell. That wonderful, magical smell of... something. Something Shepard.
Liara didn't want to leave. Ever. To hell with the galaxy and fuck the Reapers. Shepard would be proud of her determination, for sure. Well... Of her language, at least.
"I could stay like this forever."
Watching Shepard getting dressed was intriguing. And a pity. Covering that body with fabric was... it was a pity. She could see strong muscles flexing, large hands gliding over exposed skin, bringing clothes into place. Her fingers wanted to reach out, touch the tanned skin and press herself flush against it.
"What are you looking at?"
Hands on her hips, naked from the pants up, the Commander just stood there, smiling. She was obviously enjoying herself. Liara wanted nothing more than to pull her back into bed and spend the rest of her life exploring that perfect body. Exploring... every... single... spot.
"You are SO having naughty thoughts at the moment!"
"I am not!" But her laughter gave her away, and she couldn't help but hide her blush beneath the covers.
"Oh yeah, you are!" She could hear Shepard dropping the boots she had been holding and then she was suddenly pressed into the bed by the Soldier's tough body.
"Get out from under there." The sheets were carefully pulled back, and the Asari started blushing profusely when a face appeared only inches away from her own. Her breathing became erratic when she realised what Shepard was about to do. Why was she becoming so nervous? It wasn't like the Human had never kissed her before. They had done so much more than kiss, so why didn't her eyes know where to look, and why did her nostrils flare like that? Why was she becoming so nervous? The thought of Shepard's lips on her own made her shudder in anticipation and an unsteady hand went up to hold a well-defined shoulder.
Full lips parted slightly and at the sight of it Liara gulped audibly. Her eyes trailed over the face hovering above her, mesmerized by the simple beauty, fascinated by the look of utter trust and love in those bright eyes. A hand started exploring her face, featherlight touches that made her skin tingle. She put a little more pressure on the shoulder she was holding, effectively forcing the other body to drop onto her. A sigh went through the warm body on top of her, and red lips rained tender kisses over her forehead.
Her eyes closed of their own accord, and when they did, warm breath teased her lips before finally descending and meeting her own lips. She wanted to die. Right now. Feeling the Commander's breath quicken and her hand grasp her face was all it took for Liara to start moaning into her mouth. It was all so much, the taste, the scent, the affectionate touches... And then Shepard pushed herself up, rubbing her face and blinking rapidly.
As much as she regretted the loss of the wonderful weight on top of her, Liara very much enjoyed looking at the other woman's hard nipples, right there in front of her, begging to be touched. When she lifted her hand, to do exactly that, Shepard caught it in midair, bringing it to her lips instead.
"Don't. We're really late."
She sounded serious, but Liara could see the smirk tugging at the corners of her lips. A mischievous smile spread over the Asari's face when she reversed their positions, trapping Shepard beneath her own body.
"Fine, then. Let's go."
She threw the sheets at the Human, jumped out of bed and started laughing wickedly when Shepard's grasping hands missed her by mere inches.
Watching Shepard doing mundane things was soon becoming a serious distraction and addiction. But she just couldn't help herself. The woman seemed to ooze power and strength and Liara was mesmerized. Standing there in the middle of the CIC, talking to Samantha Traynor was the most captivating creature she had ever seen. She had donned her armor already, ready to get going. The Asari couldn't hear what the two of them were talking about, but she could see the sparkle in Traynor's eyes, an then the specialist laughed out loud. The Commander punched her into the shoulder, just lightly, but the smaller woman still stumbled back, grimacing and faking major pain. When a concerned Shepard came closer to take a look, Traynor flicked her ear with a finger, eliciting an honest "ouch" from her commanding officer.
Liara snickered gleefully before trying to hide her amusement... without success. An annoyed glare made her put her hand in front of her face and snicker even louder. Poor Shepard. She wasn't used to that kind of treatment. The Commander was obviously pondering whether to come over to Liara and teach her a lesson about laughing about your superiors, but her focus switched to the person closest to her. Next to the Commander stood a smirking Traynor who acted ever the innocent, before an armored fist grabbed her by the suit.
Shepard was holding her up in the air, just inches away from the ground.
"You like it up there?"
"Speak up, Specialist Traynor!"
Even though she was standing on the other side of the CIC, Liara could see that Shepard was trying hard not to reveal her amusement at the current situation. Traynor on the other hand didn't seem to notice, so focused was she on trying not to choke herself on her own suit. Liara tried hard not to give the Commander away by laughing out loud, so she bit her fingers, trying to stifle the sounds that were coming out of her.
"I... Yes, Ma'am!"
Shepard let the specialist drop to the ground, only to throw an arm around her shoulder in a comforting way. The Asari couldn't hear what the two of them were talking about now, but she could see that Traynor's usually tanned cheeks were beating red all of a sudden. Now she desperately wanted to hear what the two of them were talking about! But when the Commander let the younger woman off the hook, turned around and winked at Liara, all previous thoughts were suddenly forgotten. Who cared what they were talking about?
The devious smile that spread over Shepard's face reddened her face more than she wanted to admit. The Asari tried hiding her blush by turning around, but when she felt a familiar tingle creeping up her spine, she stopped moving, knowing Shepard was close.
An armored hand touched her lower back and Liara had to resist hard not to throw herself into those strong arms which were perfect for making her feel safe and protected. Instead, she grasped Shepard's hand and held it, all the while looking into the knowing eyes of her... her love? Her fingers started stroking the armor, knowing the Commander couldn't feel it, but she desperately wanted the other woman to know that she cared, that... Wait, no. No public displays of affection. Not yet.
"I... Good luck on your rescue mission. Please don't crash the Kodiak again this time..."
"Hey, at least you won't be in it when we crash."
Liara glared at the Commander. She never got the Human's need to make stupid jokes. Shepard had obviously spent way too much time with Joker!
"Just take care of yourself and the others, will you?"
"You know, if you're that concerned about my welfare, you should've stayed on the team."
"I... You know I woul..."
"Yeah, I know. It's fine. You stay here and brush up on human sarcasm."
With that, the armored woman turned around and headed for the elevator to meet the others in the Shuttle Bay. Liara stayed behind, not knowing what to do with herself. The Asari rarely visited the CIC, and now that she was alone with people she barely knew, she felt more out of place than ever. For a moment she considered talking to Traynor, monitoring the mission, even though she knew Shepard would be safe with EDI on the mission... But that would only make it worse for herself, and surely Samantha had better things to do than reassure a nervous Asari. So Liara made up her mind and headed for her quarters.
Shadow Broker time.
To Be Continued
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