Shades of Night

Chapter 1

Disclaimer: I don't own, nor do I claim to own, anything belonging to the Mass Effect universe. My only claim to fame is the plot and my original character whose name you will discover shortly.

Other notes: Executor Pallin is a minor character in Mass Effect. He's the turian sitting in one of the offices at the Embassy (and apparently the head of C-sec, which I just discovered...about 10 hours after I posted this...). I picked him for the lead role because I loved his voice in the game. Anyway, there's a lot more going on in this story than the summary can possibly cover. It's primarily a mystery with some romance involved and a little adventure as I get further into the story. All questions raised by the summary will be answered in due time. Enjoy!


Executor Pallin of the citadel Embassy had a simple task in his day to day routine. It involved sitting at a computer from sun up to sun down, keeping logs on all activity through out citadel space and directing his officers accordingly. Occasionally he would be defining foreign policies for hair brained idiots or sorting out interracial disputes, but on most days no one stepped into his office. It's what one earned when they made it to the top of C-Sec.

On his best day he won rachni solitaire ten times on the highest difficulty.

Today was not to be one of those days. It wasn't a fore-gone conclusion so much as it was an itch that he couldn't scratch, warning of mischief to follow. Pallin despised mischief in his office, especially when it was of the human kind. He wouldn't trust one with a potato gun, never mind that he had stooped to using their ridiculous idioms on a regular basis.

A few of them held some modicum of merit, admittedly – the idioms of course.

There were no humans in his office now. What had given him that idea in the first place he didn't know. Perhaps it was linked to the ominous "feeling" in his gut that today was doomed to leave him with a raging headache. They were a pesky race…dangerous.

It was high time for a vacation. How long had he been chained to this desk without even sick leave? Whatever it was, it numbered in the years.

The electronic swish of his office doors sliding open caused the turian executor to blink and lean his elbows on the desk, eyeing his newest visitor warily. She was tall with a dark complexion and amber colored eyes. This human he was familiar with, if only from reading her extensive file. Alliance personnel…

"Shepard. What can I do for you?" Pallin asked.

"Executor Pallin." The woman nodded respectfully. "I'd like to ask you about Saren."

Pallin's brow lowered in a scowl. Of course it would be that one. The only thing worse than a human was a rebellious, law-breaking turian. They made a bad name for the rest of the race. No wonder he wasn't feeling well this morning. Any day that began with a conversation about Saren was bound to be a bad one.

Little did he know, it was about to get worse.


Meanwhile, high above the embassy offices an old Alliance freighter had come into dock. A lone figure walked slowly across the quay, large eyes casting furtively at her surroundings. No one followed or seemed to notice her departure. She passed through the elevator doors, scanning the quay one last time and finding it empty of pursuit.

Her hands twitched restlessly at her sides as she breathed in deeply, eyes shutting in a rare moment of solitude as the elevator began its decent. She ran shaking fingers over her short, platinum braids, shifting from one foot to the other; it had been the longest three weeks of her life.

A voice erupted from the overhead speaker, eliciting a startled yelp from the girl as she levitated off the floor. As the harmless news flash continued to stream she relaxed again, cursing herself for good measure.

"—his intention to direct Hamlet with Elkor cast members…"

The girl lifted her head, listening. Maybe there was some hope for her yet, but she wasn't too optimistic on that point.

Circumstances had left her few options for adapting to the world she found herself in. She knew she would stand out horribly. The long sweeping dresses of the human women here were far too expensive for her to blend in and she didn't like them besides, but neither was she military. People would notice her.

The elevator came to an easy halt as the light landed on floor ten. Her eyes flashed nervously towards the doors as they began to slide open and she bristled, hiding her face. She peeked surreptitiously through the veil of her lashes as the stranger entered the elevator.

And then the girl stared, forgetting herself, a perfect expression of awe and admiration written across her face.

A turian – in the flesh. She'd never seen one before. Their metallic skin and raptor-like features were far more intimidating in person than they were in pictures. He was two heads taller than her too and decked out in a purple and black battle space suit. He lacked the face paint, but it did nothing to diminish his powerful demeanor.

Inquisitive silver-blue eyes met hers and she looked away quickly. He had a bizarre purple screen over his left eye.

Was he a C-sec officer? She had heard of C-sec. They were the last people she wanted to be involved with at the moment.

The turian watched from the corners of his eyes as the girl examined her shoes with false intensity, as if wishing to be elsewhere. There was dirt smeared on her cheeks and across her forehead, and though her hair looked newly done, it still held traces of oil in it.

The elevator resumed its descent, its rhythmic hum the only sound within. Everyone knew that there was no love lost between the turians and humans since the war. There was no telling how either felt about the other. Neither would press the matter.

He was still watching her when she lifted her head to sneak a glance his way. She visibly stiffened, her face flushed with further embarrassment at being caught, before averting her gaze to the door.

To the turian, she appeared strange and out of place. She wore a lavender and navy blue uniform of some kind, cut short just above the knees with short sleeves and leather flight wing caps on each shoulder. A piloting suit maybe? But she bore no military insignias. Her knee high leather boots were clunky and oversized too, certainly not cultural norm for a young woman.

It was in that moment that the elevator reached the first level and parted its doors. The girl glanced at the turian uncertainly and waited. The turian looked back at her, debating. He shrugged and stepped out.

She followed slowly, mesmerized by an intense culture shock as she entered a whole new world from her own. There were races of every kind lounging throughout the foyer. Two turian guards stood on either side of a second elevator across the room, a Krogan was off to the side speaking with a human, and an asari was walking beside a salarian.

There was no comfort in the familiarity of human kind. If anything they were more unsettling because she didn't fit in with them either and it was too obvious. Her gaze roamed as her feet automatically started walking. The attention of the room was slowly gravitating towards her.

A trickle of apprehension glided down her back as she felt the weight of their gazes bearing down on her. She looked after the turian who had been in the elevator with her only moments before. He had just reached the second elevator across the room. Her eyes drifted indecisively about the room, her knees twitching, before settling back on the turian.

It was now or never.

She dashed for the elevator, hoping fervently that she hadn't waited too long. With one fierce leap she cleared four steps and came to a sliding halt as the elevator doors began to close in front of her. An armored hand, two fingers and a thumb, reached out just in time to block the closing door and allow her to pass through.

With a sigh of relief the girl darted inside, smiling uncertainly in acknowledgment of the turian's kindness. "Thank you." She murmured.

The turian looked at her quizzically, choosing this time to speak, "This is your first time at the citadel?"

She glanced up at him, her expression wary. "Yes." She replied.

His metallic skin shimmered and his stony brow lifted slightly. "Where from do you hail?" He asked, genuinely curious. She had remarkably large, dark brown eyes. Or maybe it was their stark contrast against her pale skin and light colored hair that made them appear huge and bottomless.

She tried to hide it, but he caught the flicker of pain across her face as she hesitated. Her head shifted away from him, obscuring her face from his view as she rubbed her cheek self-consciously. "Just a ship." She replied softly. "I've been in space…for a while."

The turian paused, clearly unsure of how to proceed. He sensed foul play. There was no denying the harried state of her appearance or the hint of strain in her voice.

Then the elevator stopped. This time the turian stepped back, motioning for her to exit first. The girl blinked in surprise before passing through. Her eyes widened with a gasp at what lay beyond the shadows of the overhang; the towering, majestic buildings of the citadel and a great expanse of clear, glistening water.

"Amazing, isn't it?" The turian queried, gauging her reaction as he stepped beside her.

"I never imagined I'd be here." The girl remarked wistfully. Her gaze was downcast for a moment as she struggled with something. Then she spoke again, lifting her head resolutely, "I was born and raised on earth. Galactic space travel has never been very cheap."

A turian's facial structure was ill suited for expressing emotions as aptly as a human did, but when one tried a smile was sometimes achieved. Unfortunately, it gave the impression of the devil's grin more often than not. The girl didn't seem to notice though and even returned the gesture, albeit awkwardly.

"I would suggest that you visit the embassies." The turian said at last, for lack of something better. "There's an artificial intelligence stationed up there." He indicated above the building they had just exited. "She can help you find your way around. Just follow this path around to the left."

The girl nodded, understanding. "Alright."

He hesitated for a moment and decided to throw caution to the wind, "My name is Garrus, by the way. I work in C-Sec – that's this building we just came from. If you need anything, just ask for me at the front desk."

"Thank you, Garrus." She replied warmly.

The turian paused, a twinkle of mischief in his eyes. "While you're in the area, you might pay a visit to Executor Pallin in the Embassies too. He could use some company…and he might be able to answer any questions you might have. Tell him Garrus sends his regards."

She tilted her head inquisitively, "I see. Maybe I will." She agreed slowly.

With that, Garrus bid her farewell and turned to leave.

"Garrus?" Her voice stopped the turian mid stride and he twisted 90 degrees, his head turning back at her expectantly. The smile reached her eyes this time, "I'm Pilar."

"Well met, Pilar." He said smoothly. Then he was on his way.

The girl stared after him wistfully until he was out of sight, and turned away with a dejected sigh. She stood there for a while, solemnly resolute – a solitary figure in a sea of unknown with a single bag slung over her shoulder. Her gaze followed the path that Garrus had shown her.

Pilar would pay a visit to the Embassy first.


Executor Pallin drummed his fingers against the edge of his desk rhythmically. How much information could an Alliance Officer hope to drill from an Embassy executor? His knowledge of Spectres was limited and her time was not free. Word was she had a date with the council this afternoon – not something to be taken lightly.

He was deep into a game of rachni solitaire that had been showing promise before she arrived too.

"Is there anything else, Shepard?" He asked. He was not here to discuss his personal feelings towards humans and the Alliance Military, and he had a feeling neither was she. Not that it was entirely out of line for her to ask, considering his obvious attitude regarding them. Perhaps he should tone it down a bit in the future.

"That's all for now. I'd better go." She responded curtly.

"Goodbye Commander." Pallin said cordially and breathed a sigh of relief as Shepard departed from his office.

The moment of silence was short lived however, for no sooner had the woman left before another one peeked through his still gaping doorway. That had to be a record. Even more unnerving, she appeared lost and fully intending to interrupt him to gain her bearings.

Pallin was inclined to send the little chit on her way. Then he thought better of it when it occurred to him that perhaps "little chit" was an inaccurate assessment of the woman hovering in the hall outside his door. She was shorter than Shepard by a head and almost a decade younger, if he were to guess, but a full grown woman nonetheless.

She was also unusual. Not military, but certainly not a native citadel civilian either. Her clothes and rugged appearance suggested she'd been abroad. Her eyes appeared troubled as she stepped inside the room cautiously, avoiding his appraising glare.

A pretty little thing, despite the grime, he allowed himself.

Pallin scowled deeply at the bizarre train of thought his mind had suddenly taken. He didn't have time for this. Where in galactic space had she come from and what was she doing outside his office anyway? Why hadn't he shooed her away yet? And why was she looking at him like that?!

The girl's shoulders rose and fell as she took a deep breath, and then she began her approach, much to Pallin's dismay. Obviously she was lost. There was no reason in man's hell for her to be here, unless she had something of relevance to report.

Good Gods he hoped not. Something about her was unnerving him.

"Can I help you?" Pallin inquired with a forced calm.

The girl paused in mid-step, her expression a mixture of surprise and…was that intrigue? She quickly resumed course, coming to a halt at the edge of his desk. Her eyes skimmed across it, searching –a gesture Pallin was suspiciously aware of. Her fingers worried the seams of her suit and she cleared her throat, "Excuse me. You wouldn't happen to be, ah…" her brow furrowed thoughtfully, "—executor Pallin, would you?"

"Guilty as charged." He replied, sitting back in his chair with interest. "How can I help you?"

"The human ambassador is out today." She explained with hesitance, "I was re-directed here…and Garrus from C-Sec suggested that I pay you a visit. He wishes to send his regards."

Pallin made a mental note to kill Garrus at the earliest possible moment before returning his attention to the girl before him. He clasped his hands beneath his chin, choosing his words carefully, "How…thoughtful of him." He drawled, and stole a longing glance at his solitaire game.

"Should I come at another time?" She spoke before he could continue, her expression apologetic. "I'm going to venture a guess that what he really meant by that is I'm the last person you would want to see."

Executor Pallin was rarely rendered speechless and never by humans. He always had something to say when humans were concerned as a general rule, but this one wasn't behaving within the established norm. There was nothing false or strained in her courtesy. The only strain he could see was that of exhaustion.

Her shoulders fell and she bit her lip, "I can ask someone else."

"Wait." Pallin didn't know exactly what was going through his mind when his traitorous mouth uttered the word, but he held up his hand for her to stop anyway. "What is it that you need?"

It was dramatic how the entire room suddenly filled with the ethereal brightness of her relief, but it was gone an instant later. Pallin had made an art of reading faces over the years and he knew a shadow of despair when he saw one; hers went deep. He didn't know why, but it bothered him.

The girl hesitated, a myriad of emotions flitting across her face. Something made her ease up though, for she spoke rather freely. "I have no money, no friends or family on the citadel, and no idea of where I should go or what I should do."

Pallin regarded her in stunned silence for a second time. Then he reached for his console. Within an instant he had brought up all records of the latest passenger bound Alliance ships to enter Citadel space. His eyes narrowed slightly. According to his computer there had been no Alliance passenger ships in the last two days and the next was not due for another three.

His gaze lifted casually to meet hers, inwardly calculating. This was an unanticipated disaster of a kind he was not used to dealing with. Surely she was too young, too sweet to have gotten herself in this kind of trouble? He looked again at the screen, bringing up more information that might explain the girl's presence here.

"There were no Alliance passenger ships coming in today." He reported bluntly, gauging her reaction. "How do you come to be here?"

The girl shook her head easily, almost relaxed, but the shadow in her eyes intensified. "I came by a private ship."

His hand hovered over the control panel, ready to call security if it became necessary. "Which private ship?" He interrogated sharply.

This time she flinched. "The Dauntless." She answered softly and dropped her gaze to the floor in subdued silence.

Pallin felt a twist of guilt in his stomach and folded his hands in his lap, brooding. The Dauntless had passed through cargo bay this morning. However, it did not carry passengers. "Are you a stowaway?"

She shook her head again. "No." She added clearly.

There was no lie there, but something wasn't right. Pallin sighed inwardly. He didn't have time for this. "Very well. I will see what I can do for you. In the meantime, if you take a left down the hall outside my office you'll find a café. Speak to the manager, tell him that I sent you and that you're looking for work."

The girl nodded firmly, "Thank you." She was turning to leave once again when he called her back.

"I don't believe I have your name." Pallin inquired.

"Pilar." She replied.

He reached for his console again. "Alright then, Pilar. Come back to my office this evening at 8 and I will speak with you further. Goodbye."

"Goodbye." She replied and made a swift retreat. When she stepped out into the hall she stopped and started to turn around as if to speak, but seemed to think better of it. She was gone a moment later.

Pallin pondered the girl long after she had left. Practically speaking, this was the human Ambassador's problem, not his, but seeing as the bastard was conveniently preoccupied with something else, the turian had been ambushed with it instead. He could always hold off until the Ambassador's returned.

Only Pallin didn't trust the Ambassador and was reluctant to leave the girl to human authorities. Perhaps he would have one of his own look into it. He chuckled suddenly and reached for the calling terminal, muttering to himself as he dialed, "Garrus, my boy, revenge is sweet."


A long day's work had finally come to an uneventful end and Pallin stood up from his chair with a long, drawn out sigh. For the second time that day he wondered about a vacation. He needed to get out from under the cramped space of his desk for a while. It was doing his limbs a world of pain with so little opportunity to move aside from pacing his office.

Work had kept him especially busy today without the added bonus of dealing with an orphaned human girl. Perhaps she was too old to be considered such, but he had no better description for her. She was already late for their meeting and Pallin wanted nothing more than to go home and relax for a few hours.

He was about to call it a day anyway when the girl came dashing into his office out of breath. She had cleaned up since their last meeting, though her clothes were the same. Her hair appeared to be slightly damp.

"I see you deemed to arrive after all." He mentioned idly, sitting back down in his chair with an air of impatience.

"I'm so sorry." She blurted out, still flushed from exertion. "I had to run all the way from the theater to get here."

He arched a sardonic brow, "And did you find what you were looking for there?" Pallin had never caught on to the performing arts as the humans were so fond of.

Judging by the crestfallen expression, he guessed she had not found what she wanted. "Not yet." She admitted.

"And until you do?" Pallin asked, stretching the kinks from his neck.

Pilar shrugged wearily, "I don't really know."

"Did you speak with Jacob?" He continued. He was coming to the end of his resources, or at least the ones he was willing to expend on her. If nothing else, he could find her a job in Chora's den. The image that came to him made his throat convulse. Or perhaps not…

"There was one place…" Pilar trailed off uncomfortably.

Pallin's eyes narrowed, "Chora's?"

Her gazed flashed indignantly for an instant and then she had retreated back within her shield. "I didn't accept." For the first time her voice held a strain of anger.

"Good." Pallin stood, rubbing his forehead in exasperation. "I have a list of all the current vacancies in this section. Come back tomorrow when you have decided and we will continue from there."

Pilar accepted the list readily and gave it a quick glancing over. He watched her gaze halt midway down the page and waited. She seemed to consider it for a moment before continuing on down the list.

"If nothing is to your liking, you will have to choose the next best thing." Pallin informed her. "Now, if you will excuse me I am locking my office for the night."

The girl nodded absently, her mind clearly sidetracked as she wandered out into the hall. At least she was interested. "Thank you for helping me." She said suddenly in earnest. "Goodnight."

Pallin grunted in response. He paused, glancing back at her thoughtfully as she disappeared down the hall. Shaking his head of foolish thoughts, he finished organizing his works space, shut off the console, and locked the office. When he reached the reception desk, Pilar was sitting on one of the benches out front, staring up at the sky forlornly.

The turian executor proceeded to walk by her without as much as a glance in her vicinity. He made it five steps further and came to a reluctant stop, fists clenched at his sides as reason fought with conscience. He turned around, biting back a groan of irritation, and pinned her with an intrepid stare, "Have you a place to stay tonight?"

Pilar glanced up in surprise, "No. I was going to stay here, if it's alright."

"This is not a public sleeping area." He retorted. "I will pay for your room if I must."

"Oh no, please don't!" She pleaded, bolting to her feet. "I won't accept your money. I'll find somewhere else to go."

The turian's scowl deepened. "Then accept my hospitality."

At that she hesitated, her brow furrowing in consternation. "That's…very kind of you, sir. I'd rather not be a burden though. Are you sure?"

Except for the part where you already are, he thought moodily. The turian returned her gaze, "I would not have offered otherwise. Let's go."

Pilar picked up her bag in silent resignation and followed him to the quick transit. "How am I going to repay you for this?" She asked pointedly.

"Leave that discussion for a later date." Pallin replied gruffly. "I suspect we are both quite tired. I certainly am."

She did not bring the subject up again and was asleep before the transit had arrived in the residential area where Pallin lived. He studied her broodingly as he stood above her, concerned and unsure. He thought about just leaving her there, knowing in his gut that he couldn't and wouldn't, but it was a nice thought anyway.

How had his life become so complicated?

For the third time that day he found himself seriously considering vacation…an extended one. Retirement would be better.


Pilar awoke the next morning to the pleasant surprise of a soft mattress underneath her. She couldn't remember the last time she had had the privilege of a soft bed to sleep on. The Dauntless had never been comfortable. But this felt almost like home again…almost.

She rubbed her eyes of sleep and yawned, gathering the pillows to her as she rolled over and buried her face in them. Last night was hazy in her mind as she tried to recall the events that had landed her in a soft bed. The last thing she remembered was getting on the quick transit. Sometime between then and now she had ended up here, which she assumed –if memory served her right—was a room in Executor Pallin's home.

Her eyes widened in alarm, but she couldn't muster the energy to get up. The warmth and comfort begged that she savor it at least a while longer, until Palin came to roust her up. She could think on the mystery while enjoying the soft bed.

He hadn't likely brought her here himself while she was sleeping. She must have walked here of her own accord. It would be exceedingly awkward for a turian to be carrying a human woman into his home after all. And she was a stranger.

Yet, the idea made her stop and wonder. It was almost romantic, in a ridiculously bizarre sort of way.

Within the confines of her thoughts Pilar didn't hear or notice the figure in the doorway. Her eyes were peacefully closed in a daydream, oblivious to her benefactor's presence. Had she known, she would have gone red to the tips of her ears.

It was a good thing turians couldn't read minds.


Pallin was an early riser from years of habit and a job that demanded he check in at seven sharp. Now, for the first time in perhaps his entire career working at C-Sec and the Embassy, he was in danger of arriving late.

What should he do with her?

Of course he had intended to wake her much earlier, but when he knocked on the door and there had been no answer, he had taken a peek inside and couldn't muster the courage to do it. She was obviously quite ensconced. Heavens knew how long it had been since she last had slept in a real bed, but he could imagine it had been a long wait.

Should he trust leaving her alone in his home? There was little of any value for her to steal and nothing that he thought she would take notice of or that he would particularly miss. All files and information pertaining to his work were carefully stored away in his office or locked in his room. Yes, perhaps he would go and let her sleep instead. It looked as though she needed it and he was not about to turn down an opportunity to be free of her for the morning.

So it was with that in mind that Pallin departed the premises, hoping fervently that he wasn't the fool that he was beginning to think he might be. If word got out that he was keeping a human in his house –a young, female human to be precise—he would have more than just a few things to answer for. He could very well lose his job.

Pallin immediately squelched the surge of joy at the prospect. When and if he left, it would be in style, not handcuffs.


It wasn't until an hour after Pallin had left that Pilar finally got up. The silence of the place felt suddenly eerie to her and the closed shutters didn't help. She was not sure what to expect after she'd woken up here, but this was odd; surely he hadn't left her there?

Pilar stifled a groan as she climbed out from under the covers and crossed the room quietly to the single window. She turned off the shades, shielding her eyes from the onslaught of morning. They were on the ground floor, she noted. There was a pond out back with a stone walkway and various tropical plants growing along it.

Her lips formed a faint smile. There were even oriental lilies, her favorite flowers. Flowers were so rare now days.

She surveyed the pretty ensemble sadly, sunlight playing off her hair in silvery shades of gold. It was not home she realized. There were no trees, no mountains – no animals. But then, there were few of those things anywhere anymore. Everything was so…barren.

With a sigh she turned away and retrieved her boots. She would have to make do for as long as it took, and she would have to repay Pallin in some way. He had already gone well beyond the call of duty for her sake and she had nothing to give in return.

The door of her room slid open into a hall with bare white walls and a gray carpet floor. A light switched on as soon as she entered the hall. No sound emitted from any part of the apartment.

There was a living room at the end of the hall with a single chair and reading table beside it. A glass coffee table sat at the foot of it and there were two book cases lined up against the left wall as well as three more along the hall to her right. A door midway down the hall was probably the bathroom and the one at the end Pallin's room.

It was so solemn. There were no pictures on the walls, no possessions, no personal expression of any kind –except for the books. Of books there were plenty, including one on the coffee table beside the chair.

Out of curiosity Pilar picked up the leather bound text in question and examined it. Her head slanted to one side, intrigued. It was a book of human poetry. She returned it gently and continued around to the kitchen counter where two pieces of paper sat, a plain glass holding them in place.

The first was a note from Pallin.

Pilar,

Lock the door when you leave if you would. I will be in my office all day whenever you are ready to discuss your employment.

Signed,

Pallin

So he had left her here to her own devices. Pilar couldn't suppress a swelling of pride along with a trace of trepidation. She would have to think of something truly grand to repay the kindness of his trust.

The second paper was the list of vacancies he had given her the previous night. She had her choice narrowed down to two already. Now the question was between what she should do and what was easy.

If she took the Spaceship engineering job, she risked discovery, but it also gave her access to classified information. With a little care she could avoid getting caught. She needed time though – time that she might not have to spare.

Pilar sagged into the only seat in the room, her legs draped across the arm of the chair as she leaned against the opposite one. She regarded the paper sadly. Somehow, it seemed to remind her of everything she had hoped to leave behind, but fate pursued her relentlessly.

She hoped that she might see mountains and green meadows again. Here in this cold, lifeless place full of strangers, she felt a prisoner. For the first time in longer than she knew, Pilar felt tears trickle down her face. A few dripped onto the paper, smearing the print.

There was no question what choice she would make.


Pallin was becoming increasingly irritated this morning, the girl being the least of his problems. The day got off to a bad start with a hysterical woman storming up to his desk and demanding her money back for a faulty biotic amp sold to her by a turian vendor who refused to reimburse her.

Then, as if his mood was not foul enough already, news had reached him that Garrus was going off world with none other than the Alliance's new poster girl, Commander Shepard, thus foiling his plot of revenge. It was exactly the kind of thing he imagined the sentimental Garrus would do too. Pallin grudgingly wished his fellow turian well, if only because it would get him out of his business for a while.

Pallin had assigned another one of his officers to investigate the girl, never mind that he was in the best position to do so - his days of grunt work were over. If there was anything worthy of interest they would undoubtedly find it anyway, which meant that all Pallin had left to do in dealing with her was getting her employed. Technically speaking, that wasn't in his job description, but he had been feeling generous yesterday…and bored.

Perhaps Garrus was beginning to rub off on him.

The rest of the afternoon seemed to pass at a mind numbing crawl. Off world disputes seemed to be becoming more frequent as of late, which was a cause for concern. Pallin guessed that it was geth related, but that was out of his hands.

He was beginning to wonder by the time 4 o'clock came around if he should have checked the girl for a pulse that morning. Surely she had not been sleeping this entire time? She was probably off doing whatever it was young people did, although without money that might be difficult.

Pallin scowled. Assuming that finding her work proved successful, she would not be able to afford her own living quarters for at least another two weeks. What was he to do about that? She wouldn't accept money, but she'd sleep in his house?

Ridiculous, he scoffed. Whatever came over him to offer her lodging? It had to be the most hair brained, idiotic thing he'd ever done. He might never be rid of her now and it would be entirely his own fault, but she had no place left to go and his guest room was always empty. It was the logical thing to let her rent it out, if only so he could keep a close eye on her.

But Pallin hadn't endured the company of another living being in years. The very thought was horrifying to him. His personal space, while sparse, was important to him, sacred even. Yet he had openly admitted her inside it last night, or rather carried her – she had proven determinedly impervious to his attempts at waking her.

The doors swished open. Pallin looked up with beleaguered anticipation. Whatever remark he had prepared to blurt out upon her arrival abruptly sank back down his throat.

Her eyes were red and slightly puffy, despite obvious attempts to hide it. She pretended not to notice as she sat down opposite him and wordlessly handed him the paper. Pallin observed her shrewdly as he accepted it, before abruptly averting his attention away.

There was one pen marking on the entire page and two blurry splotches where something moist had leaked the ink before drying again. Circled in the black ink was the caption "Spacecraft engineering assistant/secretary". His brow furrowed in mystification. It was probably the best job on the list and the one she was least likely to qualify for. He'd really only put it there as an afterthought.

"Do you have a second choice?" Pallin asked.

"It won't be necessary." She assured him quietly.

Pallin sat back and regarded her coolly. A slip of a girl, barely 20 years of age, without a penny to her name and no credentials, and she was applying for a job in spacecraft engineering? Sure, it was the secretary job, but this was high end employment.

But they did need someone for the position, so far be it from him to pass judgment. She was welcome to try.

"Very well." He said. "I'll have a print out for you with directions to the research facility and the application papers."

Pilar nodded. The room was enveloped in silence punctured occasionally by the tapping of keys. Pallin did his best to ignore that she even existed and was succeeding only in being more aware of her presence in the room. That she didn't speak was unnerving. She clearly needed to.

"I want to thank you again, for giving me a place to stay." She said after a minute. Her voice seemed distant.

"The room is yours until you can afford your own apartment." Pallin replied automatically. He had debated it of course. It wasn't until that very moment in fact that he had come to his final decision, or rather his mouth had. Perhaps he should have it wired shut.

The girl looked up at him, speechless.

"When you have enough funds to cover your own place, you may pay me back for rent." Pallin deadpanned and handed her a small stack of papers. "Here you are."

Pilar took them, scanning over the front page quickly. She nodded in satisfaction and abruptly stood. "Thank you. You've been so kind." She paused, meeting his gaze tentatively, "'l'll see you this evening?"

"Yes," Pallin drawled reluctantly and reached into his desk to retrieve something. When he found what he was looking for he presented it to her. "This is my spare key card. It will unlock the door if I am not home when you return."

The girl took it slowly, her eyes glossing over somewhat. She smiled faintly as she turned away, "Good day, Pallin."

The turian shifted uncomfortably in his chair. He had barely squashed the urge to chase after her and demand to know what was going on. The girl had a maddening ability to turn him into an idiot. If any of his superiors found out this, he'd be the laughing stock of the entire idea was simply ludicrous.

But Pallin hadn't reached his position in foreign affairs by following foolish impulses. He had learned quickly how to smother them by remaining coolly detached to anyone and everything. He'd been viewing the universe objectively for so long it was a wonder he felt anything at all anymore, which was all the more reason to be wary of her. She threatened his calm.

And she was now sharing his home.


Author's Notes: I really wanted to write a Mass Effect fic, specifically one revolving around a human/turian relationship, but I couldn't use major characters for this particular storyline. I'm really excited about it though. I'm just not sure of how it will be received, considering that one of the characters is an original creation of mine. Hopefully that won't be too much of a turn off in this case.

Aaaand holy crap I just found out that Pallin is the head of C-Sec. Well, THAT'S interesting. Too bad I'd already posted the chapter when I found out. Well anyway, to those of you who have read it with the newest updates, I tried integrate that little piece of handy information into this as best I could on short notice. The good news is it really helps with the rest of the story.

Let me know what you think. Thanks,

Faerlyte