Disclaimer: I own nothing, I make no money.
Author's Note: My first attempt at Shaynor. Hope I did them justice! Done as a Secret Santa gift fic for forgotmyline.
"'Oh, shove it,' Traynor answers between firing on incoming troopers. 'I did not sign up for this. I'm tapping out. I'm tapping out right now.' Shepard chuckles over the line." - Shepard and Traynor. Love (or something like it) in a firefight.
"You said it would be like a date!" Traynor shouts accusingly through the comm. link, her hands flying over her head as she ducks behind the cover of the Kodiak. Several feet away, Shepard lets loose another round from her shotgun, the Cerberus Centurion in her sights blasting back instantly. Her bout of responding laughter makes Traynor's lip curl in frustration.
"Yeah?" Shepard answers, dropping down behind a rail for cover. "Your point, babe?"
Traynor huffs and peeks out from her cover to watch even more Cerberus troops flooding onto the landing pad. "Well, this is mostly definitely not a date."
She glances left and catches sight of Shepard's brilliant smile behind her visor – just a moment, a split second – and then the Commander is rushing out from behind the rail and sprinting under Garrus' cover fire to a crate on the far end of the landing pad. Traynor swallows her panicked yelp of protest behind bared teeth, resisting the urge to sprint after her.
Damn these outlying data relay hubs, and the bloody Cerberus tossers trying to overtake them and cut off Alliance communications in the sector. And damn her bloody specialist certifications and communications clearance. Because who was the best suited operative to accompany their recapture mission then? And who was the best suited operative to break the encrypted locking codes on the piggybacking Cerberus signal jamming the Alliance data relay? And who had the vastest knowledge on data compilation and send procedures per Alliance standard?
Samantha bloody Traynor.
Normandy's resident Comm. Specialist and point-of-contact for Alliance inter-relay signal protocols. The best hack-and-crack Alliance suit this side of the Citadel.
Samantha bloody Traynor.
A bullet ricochets off the Kodiak's thruster just inches from her face and she growls her rattling fear through clenched teeth. She rolls her eyes skyward, bracing back against the Kodiak.
"What did I volunteer for?" she asks herself beneath her breath.
Steve clambers beside her, his pistol clenched between both hands. His breathing is hard, but there's a gleam to his eye that screams excitement.
And how – in all that was right and holy – could any of this be considered exciting?
Traynor groans and doesn't even know how to begin feeling about this.
"Any more of a beating and this ol' girl might have some trouble getting us off-rock," Steve pants beside her.
She narrows her eyes at him and deadpans, "You're enjoying this."
His answering grin is explanation enough, and she barely manages to curb the urge to roll her eyes skyward again when a break in fire catches her attention.
"Move up! Move up!" Shepard's command comes through clear and sure through the comm. link, and then they are moving. Steve sends her off with a short two finger salute and a wink before climbing back into the Kodiak and checking for any damage.
Garrus waves Traynor over and she takes only a moment to breathe deep, grasp the handle of her own pistol, and then whip around the Kodiak to follow him. Shepard is taking point several feet up, and they all follow her crouching run across the landing pad to the open courtyard before the stations' entrance. Liara moves closely behind Shepard, with Garrus bringing up the rear of the line, Traynor sticking close to his side. Her eyes flit about the courtyard, her pistol in low-ready position. They drop down behind more cover and there is only a handful of seconds to breathe, to get their bearings, before more Cerberus troopers are rushing toward them.
Shepard sends a rippling wave of blue energy slamming into the nearest trooper and then the game is on. Traynor peeks out of cover and fires her pistol into the fray, her fingers trembling slightly over the grip, her breaths panting loudly in the space of her helmet. The sharp crack of Garrus' sniper rifle sounds loudly beside her, and a sense of reassurance floods her in reaction. Liara's biotics are undulating and brilliant in the air, hurtling toward the Cerberus troopers with a grace and power that leaves her in awe. The three of them work in such seamless unison that Traynor is suddenly reminded how new, how unfamiliar, how separate she is from this crew, this family really.
One of Liara's Warps smashes into a Centurion with staggering force, but just off-center, knocking him in the shoulder instead of the chest, and his finger squeezes his rifle's trigger in a bodily reaction, his aim arcing wide as he whips back from the attack. The spray of bullets grazes close by Garrus' position and he ducks sharply, throwing a cocked brow plate Liara's way as a disbelieving chortle leaves him. "Getting a bit sloppy there, Liara?"
Liara's huff of exasperation can be heard over the line before she answers, though tinged with amusement. "Biotics have never been an exact art, Garrus." Another blue surge of power hurtles toward the line from Liara's outstretched hand. From her position not far off, Traynor can see the hint of a smirk pulling at Liara's lips. "Learn to appreciate the unpredictability of it," the asari teases.
Garrus barks a laugh, followed by another crack of his sniper rifle through the air. "I guess that's why I'm the sharpshooter here."
"Hey, kids, up top!" Shepard interrupts, just before an airship comes into view, pulling sharp around the station's roof as its side hatch slides open and troops start dropping like Traynor's humorous appreciation of the situation.
"Oh God," she whispers, "Oh God oh God oh God." She gets a trooper in the calf with a shot, and he drops to one knee, before she hits him three more times in the chest, his shields blinking out with a crackle and the bullets tearing through his chestplate. She allows herself a soft whoop of satisfaction as he goes down, only to scramble back behind a crate when an Incinerate blasts the corner of her cover off.
"Having fun yet, Traynor?" Shepard laughs between her shotgun bursts.
"Absolutely not! This is the exact opposite of fun, okay? We have entered a no fun zone. We are at negative fun levels, Shepard, do you hear me?"
Garrus' snicker can be heard in the background, muffled slightly by her internal screaming.
"But you're doing great, babe!" Shepard throws out exaggeratedly, coming out of a biotic charge that leaves an Engineer sprawled at an unhealthy angle against the station's wall. His turret sputters and sparks beside his prone body, Shepard having destroyed it before it could even raise level.
"Oh, shove it," Traynor answers between firing on incoming troopers. "I did not sign up for this. I'm tapping out. I'm tapping out right now."
Shepard chuckles over the line, bracing back against the outer wall of the station. Their target lies just through a couple rooms, in the main chamber. "Uh, you can't really tap out of a firefight, hon."
"Don't 'hon' me, Shepard. You lied to me,"
Shepard sputters a moment in response, waving Liara forward through the station's entrance. The two clear the main hallway quickly, and Garrus follows shortly thereafter, Traynor practically hanging off his elbow. The fight continues inside, the air churning with the blue light of Shepard and Liara's biotics, and the faint orange glow of Garrus' omni-tool helping to light the smoke-clouded room. They brace behind communications consoles and push forward.
"When did I ever lie to you?"
Traynor frowns, eyeing a Centurion creeping along the far wall toward Shepard's position. "It'll be just like we practiced, Sam'," she mocks. "Just imagine it's the AA Arena."
"Well," Garrus interrupts. "She's not wrong. I mean, I'm pretty upset myself there's no kill-counter here."
"Not really the point, Garrus," Liara says behind a smile.
Shepard dispatches the Centurion along the wall fairly easily. "Aw, come on. This is exactly like the Armax. Shitty opponents, an Alliance outpost setting, smartass squadmates – "
"I take issue with the 'ass' part of that, you know," Garrus retorts, cocking the reload on his rifle. Another trooper down.
Traynor rolls her eyes for the millionth time that day but can't help the hint of a smile peeking through.
"Now all we need is a lovely VI voiceover alerting us every time 'Vakarian is down' and this stage is set," Shepard quips, grabbing a fresh heatsink from her belt in the bare second of downtime between shredding her targets. She flashes a brilliant smile back at the three that can be seen even behind the glare off her helmet's visor.
"Oh har har, Shepard."
"Didn't you notice us all overstocking on medi-gel before launching this mission?" Liara teases.
"You all are terrible and I love it," Traynor jumps in, unable to stop the giggle from spilling forth, even as she sends four more bullets into a trooper across the console.
"Come on, Liara," Shepard starts, changing the focus of her mocking. "You can be the friendly neighborhood Armax announcer."
Liara's smile wilts instantly, her submachine gun rattling off from behind her cover. "I'd rather not."
"Oh please oh please oh please."
Traynor smiles inwardly at Shepard's exaggerated pleading.
"You've got to say 'Round Two' just once," Shepard urges. "Just once." She blasts a hole through a troopers' torso and doesn't stop moving. One more hall and they're at the main chamber. "Liara," she prods.
"Li-aaaara," Shepard whines.
Silence pervades the comm. as everyone waits expectantly for Liara. Gunfire peppers the room. Waves of blue energy sail through the air. Bodies drop and drop and drop.
And then there is a sigh over Liara's line, and Traynor busts into a wide grin before anything can even be said.
"Round Two," the asari deadpans, followed by a not-so-maidenly curse beneath her breath, and then Shepard's cackle of laughter is filtering through the radio.
Garrus has the decency to try to swallow his own chuckle.
"That's it!" Traynor yells excited, pointing toward the center console of the main chamber as they file through, guns raised at the ready. The room is cleared easily.
"Okay, let me take a look," she says, holstering her pistol and moving to the terminal.
"Garrus take point. Liara, eyes on the cams," Shepard directs, motioning to the main door and the security console.
The two nod and take their stations. Garrus sets up at an angle behind a terminal to pick off any strangling Cerberus troops coming through the center hall they just cleared, while Liara pulls up the interface on the security console across the room, vid windows coming to life across the holo-screen before her. "We've got a dropship coming in from the south. I'd say three minutes before they make contact." She switches focus to the landing pad. "Steve has already taken off." A graceful slide of her hand across the screen and the video pans out. "He's circling low on the east side, ready for extraction on your command." She puts a hand to her radio to call him.
Traynor is already tapping furiously along the keys to the main console, sifting through data caches and lock codes, breaking through Cerberus' defenses. Shepard comes up beside her. "How's it looking?"
"There are dozens of communications lines being redirected in the sector. I have to sever the connection on our end if I want to lose the piggybacking Cerberus signal and then I have to manually re-establish the lines but I'll need EDI to patch into the orbital signal relay if I want to – what is that?" Traynor stills, her eyes fixed on Shepard's arm.
What, she says - as though a massively bleeding elbow wouldn't alarm her already excessively-stressed-out girlfriend.
Traynor turns fully to her and snaps her visor open to get a better look. "You're bleeding."
"I'm fine." Shepard shakes her arm out.
She shakes it out.
Traynor swallows her gasp of mingled distress and frustration, her hands moving toward the commander's wounded arm. "But it's – I mean, can you even shoot?"
Shepard allows a slight smirk at Traynor's concern, turning her arm over in the specialist's hands. "Medi-gel's kicked in alright. I'll need some stitching-up when we get back to the Normandy but there's been no nerve damage. I'm still good to go."
"Sure, Dr. Chakwas."
Shepard chuckles, and then taps at her helmet, Traynor's hands falling from her arm. The interface lights across her visor. "Medical read-out," she explains.
Traynor sags slightly with the relief, but it is short-lived.
"I don't suppose you two would be willing to put this conversation on hold for a minute?" Liara asks with a lace of humor beneath her pointed remark.
"I could be persuaded," Shepard laughs, shifting her shotgun in her grip. Her face turns determined as she looks to Traynor. "How much time do you need?"
Heaving a sigh, Traynor holds a hand in the air as she says, "Just give me five minutes."
Shepard raises an identically spread hand. "Five minutes?"
She nods. "Five minutes. I can do the rest on the Normandy."
"You got it, girl." Shepard slaps Traynor's visor back down over her face with a wink and then pivots around the console to join the rest of the team. "Work your magic," she calls back with a hint of pride.
Traynor has never worked faster in her life. Or quite so fearfully. Or even – and she would never admit this to Shepard, no how no way – so excitedly.
Because she gets it now. That sense of thrilling invincibility that always seemed to hang around the ground crew. That heightened sense of rushing adrenaline. That air of absolute and utter assurance in the face of Reapers and Cerberus and Collectors and every possible nightmare Traynor never thought would happen until it had. To them. To her.
And to Earth.
It had happened. Just as suddenly and overwhelmingly as Shepard had always said it would and really, she thinks maybe they should have known from the beginning that this would happen – that this fight, this war, this slaughter, really – would happen. Because when had Shepard ever been wrong?
Traynor used to think she was wrong about her at least.
Wrong that the Normandy would ever welcome her like it had the others, and wrong that she could ever be the kind of person that belonged there.
"How you doing there, Traynor?" Shepard calls out over the fray of bullets and smoke grenades.
Through the blue-tinged smoke and the haze of movement and the constant, prickling alarm that threads through her mind, Traynor can still see Shepard.
She can only ever see Shepard.
"Landing pad's getting swarmed, Commander!" Steve's voice comes in over the comm. as Traynor steps around the bodies littering the room toward the three other members of the ground crew, her pistol already in her hands. The wave of troopers has been suppressed.
"Alright, we're moving." Shepard motions for Liara to push out into the hall, and the asari nods in response, gliding swiftly out the room, Garrus following just after.
Traynor takes one last look around the room, at the crumpled and bloody bodies, all the torsos littered with shotgun blasts, all the limbs bent at broken angles.
Her girlfriend always did like a good Charge, that was for sure.
"What's wrong?" Shepard is at her side, her gloved hand slipping around her elbow. Her tone is firm but gentle. The way she's always been with her.
And suddenly Traynor's smile is instant and unstoppable and far, far wider than she thinks the situation warrants but then –
"Now I know why you like to get up close and personal."
Shepard raises a brow in question.
Traynor shakes her head then, her smile steadily put. "You've got bloody awful aim, babe."
Shepard blinks at her, her mouth tilting open. And then she barks a laugh – one good, resonant one – and she smacks a hand along the back of Traynor's neck playfully, pulling her along. She knocks her helmet once, lightly, with the subtle tenderness of approval.
Moving through the hallways leading out of the station, with the sound of gunfire reverberating off the walls, and the responding screams, and the steady rattle of a turret somewhere along their path, and the constant, heart-pounding, goosebump-raising, breath-hitching action that always accompanied anything having to do with Commander Shepard – Traynor finds that maybe she is the kind of person that belonged on the Normandy.
Shepard's hand reaches for hers as they break out into the sun.
Samantha Traynor belonged just fine.