Don't Forget Your Toothbrush

GCV Normandy, Caleston Rift Approach Vector, Terminus Systems

"Shepard to Traynor."

"Go ahead, ma'am."

"Can you join us in the war room, please, Sam?"

"On my way, Commander," Sam acknowledged. She placed a call to one of her team to take over her bridge shift, then hurried through to the war room. Having cover for her shifts was certainly a novelty she had taken to; during the war there had been too few crew aboard to rotate duties much, and Sam vividly remembered wondering if she'd ever sleep again. The perks of peacetime.

Shepard nodded a greeting as she stepped into the war room. "Hey, Sam. All right," she called the meeting to order, "Liara, do you want to recap for Sam's benefit, please?"

The asari nodded. "Dr. Chakwas believes she has isolated a protein marker that reliably identifies Reaper indoctrination victims. It's consistent across a number of known victims of varied species. We believe we've also isolated a marker for indoctrination by Leviathan."

"Bloody hell." Sam frowned as she thought. "So if you can identify it, can you cure it?"

"The sixty-four-million credit question," Chakwas chuckled. "I don't know yet."

"The quarians we dealt with on Rannoch were indoctrinated by Leviathan rather than the Reapers," Shepard continued where Liara had left off. "They were the crew of a scout vessel that until recently had been on patrol in the Perseus Veil. When they returned home, they set up their own shelter away from the other settlements, and we're pretty much unremarked upon until some of their nearest neighbours got a little too close."

"So you think Leviathan's hiding in the Perseus Veil?"

"We don't know," Liara admitted. "They may just have found an indoctrination orb. They may have found something more. Either way, the inference is disturbing."

"Tali's sent us the scout ship's log, nav data, and communications records," Shepard picked up. "I'd like an analysis done, to see if we can learn anything."

"I'll get right on it," Sam promised.

"Great, thanks. Before you go, can you see if you can get in touch with Ann Bryson, please?" Shepard looked around the group. "If Leviathan is making its presence felt, then Ann's vulnerable. We need to warn her. And also, no one knows more about it than she does, and we could probably do with the help."

Sam fired up the long-range comm command board, punching in the archaeologist's contact details, but there was no response. "She's not answering her private comms or her lab extension," she offered, running an activity trace against the communications ID. "Hasn't checked her comm traffic in... oh." She looked up, worried. "Nearly two days."

"That's unusual for an active researcher, right, Li?" Shepard asked.

"It's unusual for anyone," Liara replied after a moment. "Service blackouts notwithstanding, most people do not go more than about eight hours at a maximum - twelve if they're Elcor - without checking their comms."

"While they're sleeping." Traynor nodded agreement. "So something's not right."

Shepard frowned thoughtfully. "I don't like this. Liara, see what you can dig up in a general search - if we can't get in touch with Ann we'll need all the secondary data we can piece together. EDI, pool your data from our previous investigation with Liara's - see if the two of you can come up with some theories we can chase down. What's our ETA to Caleston?"

"Fifteen minutes."
"Right. Joker?" Shepard raised her voice to catch the intercom trigger.

"Yeah, what's up?" the pilot replied.

"Set a course to the Citadel, please. See if you can get us a berth close to the Alliance diplomatic quarter."

"You got it."

The commander looked over at Sam with a weighing look in her eyes, one that the signals office recognized all too well. "Say, Traynor?" she said in a speculative tone.

"Yes, ma'am?"
"What's your feeling about a little field trip?"

Sam blinked. "Ummm... dubious anticipation?"

Shepard laughed. "Relax, Sam, I'm not proposing you join an assault team. We're just going to pay a visit to Ann Bryson's lab, see if we can pinpoint her whereabouts from there. Also, there's a shedload of data on Leviathan that Ann has on file - if we're right about what happened on Rannoch, I want to know as much as possible about what we're dealing with."

"Oh, you mean a techie field trip? Well, that's totally different. Love to. Absolutely."

"Mind if I tag along, Shep?" Miranda asked.

"Be my guest."

"How tooled up should we be?"

"Sidearms and shield emitters only," Shepard decided. "I don't think we'll need hardsuits for a house call."

"Don't tempt fate, ma'am," Traynor requested plaintively. "Would I be out of line in asking you to go outside, turn around three times and spit?"

Shepard considered it. "Depends on what you mean by outside, I suppose." Smiling, she checked her chronometer. "OK, thank you, all. Karin, good catch - keep yourself available for comm traffic while we check this out, please. Miranda, Sam, meet me in the docking bay in thirty minutes."


Project Aurora Task Force HQ, Citadel, Sol System

The garden area outside the lab was an even tighter landing space than Shepard remembered, with new stacks of cargo crates and equipment massed around the perimeter walls. "Looks like Dr. Bryson's been expanding operations," she remarked as they climbed out of the cab. "I wonder what she's researching?"

"Looks like something that requires planetary expeditions," Traynor suggested, waving a hand at a pile of flat-pack prefabs. Shepard grunted agreement. She looked hopefully around the lab as they stepped inside, but there was no movement, no sound to greet them. "Huh. Doesn't look like she's home."

"Doesn't look like she's been home for a while," Miranda corrected. A thin layer of dust coated most of the desks and terminals, evidence that they'd lain undisturbed for at least a couple of days.

"Right." Shepard led them over to the main data display, and a shiver ran through her. "This is where I was standing when Leviathan took control of Ann's father's assistant and blew him away. And where I saw Ann being taken over, lose her mind and will to an alien billions of miles away." She shook her head. "It's still one of the creepiest things I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of creepy."

"With all due respect, ma'am, you're freaking me out," Traynor complained. "Especially with that chunk of Reaper just sitting back there."

"Just count your blessings the husk head isn't here anymore," Shepard chuckled. "Damn thing screamed if you got anywhere near it. Vega wanted to take it home."

Sam shuddered. "Did you let him?"

"Hell, no. D'you think I'm stupid enough to give James ammo like that for his practical jokes?"

"Of course not, ma'am," Sam mugged, tone dripping with exaggerated sincerity, and Shepard chuckled, pleased that Traynor was loosening up a bit.

"It's an impressive setup," Miranda noted. "Someone spared no expense in setting up this lab - I can easily see Mordin being at home here."

"Project Aurora was being bankrolled by Hackett to discover tech and potential weapons for use against the Reapers. He didn't skimp on the budget." Shepard nodded at the display. "There's got to be information here we can use." She tapped the activate button, and the screen resolved into a passcode lock. "Huh. Sam, can you do anything with that?"

Traynor rocked her hand uncertainly. "I don't know, Commander. If it's military-grade security, I might need something with a little more processing power than my omni-tool." She bent over the keyboard for a moment, entering a few commands, then stepped back with a shake of her head. "It's eyes-only ultraviolet. I could try it, but I'd be flying blind, and one wrong attempt will wipe the system. Without a VI to process the variables, I'd almost be pushing buttons at random. I'm sorry."

"Well, let's avail ourselves of our resident criminal mastermind, shall we? Shore party to Normandy. EDI, I need to speak to Liara on vid."

"Standby, Commander."

Shepard's omni-vid screen popped up and resolved into Liara's image. "Shepard, what do you need?"

Shepard swung around so that the screen would be in Liara's field of vision. "Liara, are you seeing this?"

"Yes," Liara confirmed, leaning forward to peer at it. "Sam can't hack it?"

"I'm not sure I should," the lieutenant replied dubiously. "It's a mil-grade security protocol. If I try cracking it bareback we might lose everything on the servers."

Liara nodded. "You're right to be cautious. Wait a moment, let me just... there. Shepard, I'm transmitting Glyph to your omni-tool. If you download it, it will be able to interface Ann's database directly to my network. It should be able to override the security."

"You made that little pervert supportable via the extranet?" Shepard enquired incredulously as she activated the download.

"Yes, I did. Transmission complete. In time, you might find that with Glyph more mobile, I'm surplus to requirement."

"Bite your tongue," Shepard chided. "It'll be a cold day in hell that I think I need Glyph more than you. But why would you want to let it loose on an unsuspecting public?"

"I like to be prepared," Liara replied primly. "You never know when you might need an analysis drone. Or a high-security server hacked."

"Or incriminating photos of notable people engaging in dubious liaisons?"

"Well," Liara chuckled, "since you're the most notable person in the vicinity, should I be worried?"

"I'll let you find out from Glyph. All right, I'm downloading it now, but you can't hold me responsible if I end up shooting it a few times."

"Please try to resist that temptation. I've invested quite a lot of effort in it, and it is actually useful. Besides which, I seem to recall an incident in an archive where it actually saved our lives, so your negativity rather smacks of ingratitude." The asari grinned as Shepard stuck out her tongue in retort. "I love you too. Call me when you have something?"

"Will do."

The vid window snapped shut, and Shepard's omni-tool beeped. She sighed, then hit the flashing tab. Glyph materialised before them, spinning madly. "Good afternoon, Commander. How may I be of service?"

"I need you to hack into the servers in the lab. Everything is of interest, but place priority on Dr. Bryson's communications, most recent projects, and anything that might give us a clue as to her whereabouts."

"Understood, Commander." Glyph spun for a few moments, then spoke again. "Security bypassed."

"Damn. I feel rather inadequate," Traynor quipped.

"Don't feel bad. Glyph may be quicker at hacking, but it can't wield a toothbrush the way you can," Shepard chuckled.

Traynor blushed, and Miranda looked intrigued. "Is there a story here that I'm missing?"

"No, not at all," Traynor said, too quickly. Miranda cocked a skeptical eyebrow.

"Come on, Traynor, you..."

"Commander, if I may," Glyph cut in, "you should know that, according to my sensors, we are not..."

Gunfire erupted from the upper balcony.

The window behind them shattered with a deafening crack, showering the three women and the floor around them in shards of glass. Throwing an arm up to protect her eyes, Shepard dived for cover as her shields collapsed, her enhanced reflexes getting her moving before she thought. As she hit the floor behind the desk, she was already looking for her target and her comrades. Miranda, similarly blessed with reaction speed by the gene therapy that defined her physical being, had got herself quickly behind a cabinet. Traynor hadn't been so lucky, lying flat out in the middle of the floor, hands clutching at her abdomen as she screamed in pain. Shit, Shepard cursed as she pulled her sidearm, forcing herself to concentrate on the threat. Risking a glance round the edge of the desk, she spotted their assailant, a turian with a submachine gun on the balcony above them. Thanking whatever random deities were watching that the enemy had chosen his weapon poorly, she exchanged a quick nod with Miranda. As her shields flared blue, she popped out of cover, bringing her pistol to bear as she charged forward.

The turian, focused on her advance, neglected to watch for Miranda as he sprayed the air with shots. Consequently, the warp that smacked into him caught him completely off guard, and as he staggered forward to try and recover his balance, he tumbled over the balcony to the floor below, his skull impacting on the hard deck with a sickening, wet crunch. The opportunity to question him had gone begging, but Shepard had more pressing concerns as she scrambled over the broken glass to where Traynor lay, Miranda hard on her heels. "Sam!"

A dazed groan answered her as she skidded to a halt by the lieutenant. Sam lay with one hand clamped to her abdomen, blood seeping slowly from between her fingers. Shepard hastily ran a scan with her omni-tool, sagging with relief as the medical diagnostic showed Traynor's wound to be relatively minor, a through-and-through that had thankfully missed anything vital. "Sam, can you hear me? You're going to be fine."

"Fine?" Sam wheezed. "I've been shot! I'm dying, aren't I?"

"You're not dying, Sam."

"You're just saying that to make me feel better. I've seen the movies."

Keep her talking, Miranda mouthed at Shepard as she pulled a tube of medigel from Shepard's utility belt.

"Yeah, right, OK, Traynor, you win," Shepard continued as Miranda applied the gel and checked her omni-tool. "Given your extensive experience with combat and gunshot trauma, of course you know better than me. You're dying. Any last requests?"

"I knew it," Sam groaned. "You can't fool me. Ooh, that's cold, Miranda! Damn, I never thought... kiss me, Shepard."

"Excuse me?"

"My last request, Commander. I want you to kiss me. Just once."

"Nuh-uh. Not happening." Shepard pulled a frantic face at Miranda.

"It's painkillers," Miranda muttered, voice pitched for Shepard's ears alone. "She's self-administered a double dose. She's going to be in orbit for the next hour, unless she passes out first. I can't do anything with it until some of it flushes out of her system." Miranda chewed her lip, trying desperately to restrain her amusement. "She might get hysterical if you can't placate her."

Shepard glared at her XO through narrowed, suspicious eyes. "You're yanking my chain. You seriously think I should indulge this?"

Miri shrugged, no longer even trying to hide her mirth. "Sorry, Shep. Denial might just make her more determined."

"Oh for crying out loud," Shepard growled, exasperated. "Liara's gonna kill me if she finds out."

"When she finds out," Miranda corrects mischievously. "That's what you get for marrying the Shadow Broker."

"You're not helping, Miri," Shepard groused as she knelt beside the sky-high Lieutenant. "Traynor, how're you doing?"

"I can't feel my legs... my body. I'm slipping away. Please, Commander..."

"You're going to be mortified when you wake up later and everything's fine, you know," Shepard muttered. "In fact, I, mmph…" She cut off with a muffled yelp as Traynor threw her arms around her neck with surprising strength and glued her lips to the Commander's.

Astonished, Shepard froze.

It was...weird. Shepard's total life experience with kissing women was limited to Liara, and Traynor's attempts to deepen the kiss met with total and abject failure as Shepard's brain tried and failed to process the differences. Eventually, the lieutenant dropped back to the floor, breaking the contact. "Well... what an anti-climax," she mumbled as the drugs finally swept her into unconsciousness.

Miranda, unable to contain her glee any longer, let out a guffaw of laughter. "Bloody hell, Shep," she wheezed, tears streaming down her face, "it's a good thing Traynor isn't dying. I'd hate to think she'd gone out with such a disappointment."

"Bite me, Miri," Shepard grumbled as she carefully laid Traynor on the ground and scanned the younger officer's vitals with her omni-tool. "She's gonna be out for a while, I think."

"Good. At least that way we can make sure you get back to your bondmate with your virtue intact."

Shepard groaned. "Ok, how long is this going to be a thing?"

"Oh, I should think at least the rest of your life, or my life, whichever is shorter," Miranda grinned.

"You have a spiteful sense of humour," Shepard accused.

"Mmm, and you've no idea how much I enjoy it." The raven-haired Spectre stalked around the prone signals officer and looked out over the Presidium. "Seems like the coast is clear. Should we clear off for now?"

"I think we'd better." Shepard decided. "We need to get Traynor to Chakwas, for the overdose if nothing else, and if Ann's been abducted I want this location secured. The quicker we can get to her, the better. Glyph?"

"Yes, Commander?"

"Carry on with your analysis. Can you lock the lab out, stop anyone else from getting in?"

"Certainly, Commander."

"Good. We're going to want to find out more about our hitman, at the very least."

Stooping, she slid her hands under Traynor's arms. "Get her legs, Miri, and let's get out of here."

Miranda grinned, and Shepard grimaced as they manhandled the unconscious comms officer into the skycar. She had a bad feeling about this.


GCV Normandy, Allliance Docks, Citadel

Six hours later, with Traynor safely in the care of Dr. Chakwas, the crew had finished their intelligence gathering, and Liara was taking a little time to check over her feeds for any other intel on the missing scientist. They'd stripped Ann's lab of as much information as they could lay their hands on and transmitted it back to the broker network's servers, and EDI and Glyph were already working on analysing the data for leads. The dead turian had yielded surprisingly little information, but Shepard had ordered the body quarantined for Karin to perform a post-mortem. "I want to know if he's indoctrinated," she'd stated. "If he is, then it's another link in the chain connecting all of this to Leviathan."

Liara smiled to herself as she heard Shepard enter their cabin. The simple fact of their shared living space was still enough to spark a little thrill in her stomach, and she tensed slightly in anticipation of the caress she knew was coming. Sure enough, Shepard walked up behind her and placed warm, gentle hands on her shoulders. "Hey, Li."

"Good evening, Rachel."

"Listen, I'm sorry about earlier, with the crashing joke. I didn't mean to upset you."

Liara tipped her head back against Shepard's shoulder with a sigh. "I know. But it's something I still find hard to joke about. Maybe in a decade or two."

Shepard pressed a whisper of a kiss at the spot where her neck and shoulder met. "It's something I find hard not to joke about," Shepard murmured. "It seems so unreal... ridiculous."

"To you," Liara reminded her. "Not to me, and sometimes you forget that."

"I do. Forgive me?" Shepard's lips ghosted around to the back of her neck, touched the central fold beneath her crests, and Liara shuddered involuntarily under the caress. Shepard's arms slid around her waist to hold her steady.

"Yes," Liara breathed, cocking her head to one side. "Although I do have another query you need to clear up for me." You're not getting off that easily, my love.

"Oh?" Shepard tensed, immediately giving herself away. "About what?"

"Oh, I think you can guess." Liara stepped back a little and turned to face her blushing bondmate. "What's this I hear about you kissing Traynor?"

"Oh God," Shepard groaned, rolling her eyes. "That data was way too fast in transmission. OK, first, I'd like it on record that Traynor kissed me. I did not kiss her. It was strictly a one way thing. And she was bitterly disappointed."

Liara arched her eyebrow markings, trying desperately not to smile. "I find that hard to believe. After all," she brushed her thumb against Shepard's lips, "I find you quite adept in that department."

"Maybe that's just your naiveté talking," Shepard shot back, her lips twitching with the beginnings of a grin. "I could be a terrible kisser and you just don't have any way to benchmark."

"Oh, please," Liara did smile now, trying her best for sultry. "You might be my first and only lover, Rachel Shepard, but you weren't my first kiss."

Shepard gawped at her. "Wait, what?"

"I was sheltered, but not that sheltered," Liara half-explained, enjoying seeing her bondmate so totally off-balance. "I did go to university, remember? I have been on dates without you, been drunk—well, tipsy—without you, been kissed without you, stayed up all night talking about my foolish dreams without you." Liara closed in and planted a quick kiss on Shepard's lips. "However, I will say that I enjoy the kissing far more with you than I ever did with anyone else, so you can't be that bad at it. Besides, it's not as if you don't get plenty of practice."

"I was so shocked I froze," Shepard admitted, blushing.

Liara gaped at her. "You were shocked?"

"Yes!" Shepard threw an exasperated glance at the ceiling. "It may surprise you to learn that throughout my relatively short existence, women throwing themselves at me hasn't really been a regular happenstance. Men either, come to think of it. Traynor caught me totally by surprise, and I... froze."

"I will never understand humans," Liara chuckled, drawing Shepard into an embrace. "So many fools in a single species, to let you slip through their fingers and into my arms." She nipped lightly at her human's earlobe with her teeth. "You're adorable when you blush." Shepard shivered at the contact, and Liara tightened her hold, running her mouth lightly down the warm, sensitive skin of Shepard's neck. "You're adorable when that badass soldier armour opens up and there's just you inside." She popped the top button of Shepard's BDU shirt. "Literally and figuratively."

Shepard let out a soft, vulnerable whimper as Liara pushed her shirt open and placed an open-mouthed kiss just above her collarbone. "Ahhh... Don't you...ohhh... like my badass?"

"I like your badass very much." Liara lowered her hands to squeeze the body part in question, pulling Shepard's hips tightly against her own. "In fact, I might go so far as to say..."

"Chakwas to Shepard."

"Goddammit," Shepard muttered, giving Liara a rueful smile as she broke the asari's hold. "Hold that thought, Li. Doc, this had better be overwhelmingly important."

"I thought you'd like to know that your signals officer has regained consciousness. I'm choosing to view her request that she be stuffed in an escape pod and fired into the nearest star as indicative of full memory retention prior to her overdose-induced loss of consciousness." The doctor paused for a beat. "I must say, Commander, I've never seen anyone blush quite so hard for quite so long. It's making me very curious. As is the fact that Miranda doesn't seem to be able to stop laughing every time she comes in to check on the Lieutenant's condition. Which is rather more often than I would consider normal."

"Oh merciful God," Shepard groaned. "All right, Karin, I'll come down and talk to Traynor, and then perhaps we can all get on with our lives."

"Thank you, Commander."

Shepard sighed. "This shouldn't take long," she offered apologetically as Liara smoothed her rumpled shirt back into place.

"See that it doesn't," she ordered. "You're off duty, and I want you all to myself for a few hours." So saying, Liara reached for the seal on her tunic and began to unfasten it, ever so slowly, enjoying the way Shepard's gaze zeroed in on her fingers, the way her tongue darted out unconsciously to wet her lips. "Get moving, Rachel," she encouraged. "You wouldn't want me to get bored and start without you, now would you?"

Shepard threw her a helpless glance of protest, sighed, and with what looked to be a titanic effort, turned and walked up the stairs and out of the cabin. Smiling, Liara stripped her tunic, boots and trousers in quick succession, and got comfortable on the bed. Something told her she wouldn't be waiting long.


Shepard stalked into the medbay, any residual awkwardness she might have felt regarding the situation with Traynor completely submerged by the hunger Liara's teasing had aroused. Chakwas was waiting for her just inside the door, and drew her quickly over to the doctor's desk. "Whatever happened down there," the medic began, "just... be gentle, OK?"

"I'm not the one she has to be worried about," Shepard noted. "I'm just fine about it. The jealous, immune-from-prosecution biotic goddess upstairs, on the other hand..."

Chakwas slapped her lightly on the arm in rebuke, eyes glittering with mirth. "Oh, you must fill me in on this later. It sounds like one for the Normandy Hall of Fame."

"Yeah. Not gonna happen." Shepard tipped her head toward Traynor. "Can you give us a little privacy, please, Karin?"

"Of course," Chakwas said, winking as she walked toward the door.

Shepard watched her leave, then turned to approach the figure lying very still on the bed furthest from the door. "Traynor, I know for a fact that you're not unconscious," she remarked as she reached the bedside, folding her arms across her chest.

Traynor cracked open one eye to regard Shepard warily. "I'd really like to be," she parried.

"Yeah well, that's as may be," Shepard smirked, "but, since you, surprisingly enough, didn't die, you're going to have to face this sooner or later. We can do it now and get it over with, or..." she grinned, "you can have this conversation tomorrow. With Liara. Your choice."

"Oh that's low, Commander," Traynor protested weakly. "Kick a girl while she's down. All right. Are you going to throw me off the ship?"

"Hell, no." Shepard tried to modify her burgeoning grin to a more reassuring expression. "It was only a kiss, Sam. And apparently, not a very good one."

"Oh, good God," Sam groaned. "I can't apologise enough, Commander. I honestly don't recall the last time I made such a complete arse of myself."

"It's a new high—or low—in my experience of you, that's for sure," Shepard chuckled, "but seriously, don't worry about it. Apology accepted."

"It's not going to bother you?" Traynor pressed, as though expecting something more.

"What, knowing you have a crush on me?" Shepard smiled at the riot of emotions that washed across Traynor's face. Guilt, surprise, affection, longing, and disappointment all rolled into the vid playing across the younger woman's face. "No, Sam, it's not going to bother me, since I've known about it for the better part of a year. It's not new information, y'know?"

"When did you realise?" Traynor prodded.

"Remember that time we talked about playing chess in the mess, just after Liara was injured on Tuchanka?"

"Yes." Traynor blushed. "All that time, and you never said anything?"

"What was I going to say? I let you down gently, I think, and there was no need to embarrass you by calling you out on it."

Traynor groaned again. "Christ, it's not fair. You're absolutely bloody perfect, aren't you?"

"Far from it, Sam," Shepard reached down and ruffled the younger woman's hair affectionately. "For one thing I can't kiss worth a damn." Leaning in, she laid a brief, chaste kiss on Traynor's forehead. "Although Liara's promised to let me practice."

"Then you shouldn't keep her waiting," Traynor said softly. "Thank you, Commander... for being you."

"Ah hell, think nothing of it. It's not like it's an effort for me." Shepard winked and patted Traynor on the head. "Get some sleep, LT, and I'll see you in the morning."

Stepping out of the medbay, Shepard nodded her thanks to the loitering doctor, and was just about to head to the elevator, when Miranda hailed her from the door of the XO's office. "Hey, Shep." The Australian grinned as she advanced out into the mess. "So, did Traynor ask for a repeat performance?"

Shepard was about to walk away to demonstrate her disdain when inspiration struck. She pivoted smoothly and met Miranda's amused gaze with a suggestive smirk. "I have three words for you, Miss Lawson. The Darkest Embrace."

Miranda's mouth fell open, her mirth evaporating. "How the hell did you..." she snapped her jaw shut with visible effort, eyes darting quickly around the mess for witnesses before directing a piercing glare at Shepard.

"That's what I get for marrying the Shadow Broker," Shepard threw Miranda's earlier words back in her face with satisfied glee. "So, do we have a mutually assured destruction pact, you and I?"

Miranda glowered for a moment longer, then nodded tightly. "We do," she bit out.

"Excellent. Always nice talking to you, Miri."

"Screw you, Shep."

"Oooh, there must be something in the water supply today, all these women throwing themselves at me," Shepard sniggered, enjoying herself properly now. "You getting all hot for me there, Miss Lawson?"

"You're not nearly kinky enough for me," Miranda shot back acerbically. "Sorry to burst your bubble."

"Well, I knew that. I hear that page ninety-four had a bookmark." Shepard sucked in a breath through her teeth. "Smokin'... though a little too convoluted for my taste." Leaning in close, she blew in Miranda's ear, then danced back out of range as the other Spectre swung for her. "Hah! Too slow, Lawson. Better luck next time. Now if you'll excuse me... duty calls." And with that, she legged it for the elevator, aware that Liara was waiting, and keen to revisit their earlier discussion.