a/n: chapter just concentrates on this couple.

I: Joker/T'Soni; the bonds we weave together.

He wondered why she was sitting there. That asari they picked up awhile back. The one where the ship nearly took a dive into the massive hellish cavernous bloody mouth of Therum. He was glad that that was over. And he had heard over the intercom how she complained about his snide joke. He thought, what an incredibly annoying woman. He turned, glancing over to peek at her, where she was sitting. Her hands were folded and she fidgeted a little, wriggling her bottom on the chair on the Gunnery station.

Still, he had to admit, even though she was from another species, the asari were nice to look at. He really didnt have time for this, so he turned his head, "Do you need anything? Is there anything I can do for you?"

"Oh...oh dear." Liara breathed nervously, "I thought you were the one that needed assistance."

He was now very curious, his brows drawing to a close, his hand moved up to touch his beard in a display of unconscious manly gesture, "I do? Last I checked, I hardly ever needed assistance. But, if you're here to check up on my background, I'm not good, I'm not even better."

"Goddess, I- I- …" Liara stammered, "I'm so sorry, Joker. I thought…"

"I'm the best damned helmsman this side of the alliance. I made it to the top of my class, the best! All those commendations on my file? I've earned every single one! Those weren't handed to me as a donation for my crippling disease."

Liara's eyes widened so much it looked like she was about to pop them out of her sockets, "Oh! You are the best then…I see. I wasn't aware…well, yes, I was. I was very aware. You've managed to save our lives from that dreadful incident I was in. Back on Therum. I should be thanking you, instead."

Joker was now a little agitated, so he drew himself back to the controls and leaned back, making sure the Normandy was further enough away so that they didn't need to rely so much on the energy of masking their whereabouts. He watched the screens, looking out for the commander and for any sign of geth activity. The last ones were taken care of, as few deemed to have taken interest in their ship once the mako was dropped.

"Naw, don't worry about it. Save it for the commander. Wasn't she the one who found you on Therum? I just hauled your asses out of there."

"Yes, but, if it weren't for you," she gasped, so awed at his abilities, "I would not be here, I would be swimming in hot lava, my body a sacrifice to the deep dwellers, mixed in with the rest of the disappearing protheans; I would be a living sacrifice even to my people; your timing was impeccable if not, a little too close. Plus, I was told that you were in need of some company." she tried a fake laugh, "and here I am, since the commander did not decide to take me, I'm all yours."

"You are?" He raised a brow at that, his hand mid-way to touching the thrusters, and paused, "I don't know how to take that, doctor. But, how is it exactly that you're all mine?" He had to turn back to her again, because this should be good.

She took a moment, it seemed to have registered in her mind that what the meaning meant might have been a little on the extranet side, in which she was so familiar with these days, "Oh dear! Oh no!" Liara frantically drew a hand over her breast, clutching at her material as if she were trying to find some words, but blushed an incredible shade of dark blue, "I merely meant that, I am here to help you, and my presence will be here for you, thereby releasing any freedom I have at the current moment to give to you. All to you." She paused, looking at him, trying to see his expression beneath the shadow of his cap, "Joker, that is your name, right?"

He moved his head from side to side slowly, sliding his eyes back to the consoles, "Yes, it's so I can make you and little children laugh."

Liara attempted fake laughter which was lost on his ears, "oh, hah ahahaha." Then she stopped, her arms dropped by her sides, "I'm hopeless. I cannot for the life of me understand your human ways; I'm so ignorant of your species; I need to lie down," She raised a hand over her forehead, and looked about to faint.

"Hey, hey, not on the floor, I'll get the doctor for you up here. Try not to hit anything on your way down."

She managed to hold on to a nearby chair, and dropped heavily down on the same gunnery station, and she looked out, where there was a tiny portal showing a little space outside. She sighed, "I must look like an utter fool to you, Joker, You must forgive me."

He was further confused, "What's to forgive? You're always apologizing for nothing. You don't have to do that, that's overdoing it."

"Yes, yes, you're right, I'm sorry," She realized what she said and placed a hand over her mouth, "oh dear, oh dear goddess, I'm so sorry, " then she smacked herself with her hand on her forehead, "stupid, stupid, stupid…."

"Hey hey, stop that now!" Joker was getting worried, "Uh….you all right doc? Because you're scaring me." He really wasn't, but it was weirding him out, and he didn't really want to be distracted further. He did something he normally didn't do. After releasing a noisy sigh, he smirked at her, adjusting his hat before facing her, offering out to the newcomer, " My name's Jeff, if you want. That's my first name. If you want to know more..." He looked over to see her expression, relieved that she wasn't hitting her forehead against the consoles or the back of the chair, "you're the first one who hasn't really asked about my disease. I thought you'd be curious."

"Oh, yes, I believe I am. I'm not familiar with human's diseases. I noticed that you don't go anywhere but remain here on that chair. It must get dreadfully tiring and may hurt your butt quite a bit."

He nearly chuckled out loud, shaking his head, "I have what us humans call, rolex syndrome."

"Oh goddess, it doesn't sound very good."

"Diseases are never good, doctor. You're not a medical doctor right?" He said, plainly realizing that he'd never get any work done with her around. Damn, he was working and on duty! But this asari scientist, no matter how annoying she was and how much she dissed his jokes, he couldn't help but be curious and incredibly intrigued. He didnt think he was all that lonely either...

"No, I'm a prothean expert, a doctor for archaeological dig sites, and I promised myself I would go see more prothean dig sites if need be."

"That's nice. But according to Commander Shepard, you know less than her."

She shook her head, eyes downcast, "Yes, I'm afraid so, and I was so hoping she would have chosen me over…..the lieutenant.."

"Bridge under the water, Dr. T'soni, grit your teeth and go on, that's what I do."

"Yes, yes, you're right, I'm sorry," and she paused, "I'm sorry I said that, I mean, Oh goddess, I'm so hopeless, Joker."

"Forget it," he groaned, "hey I did give you permission to call me Jeff, so chin up, doctor and relax."

"Jeff then. I hope you don't mind." She half smiled, and stood up, taking a step closer, hoping to distract him further, and away from her repeated mistakes, "But the commander said that you needed some company and perhaps some meditative help, which I could assure you with...it might relieve much of the unwanted tension that may have crept up to your shoulders and head; thereby perhaps, participating in a rather coiled fashion, and if I can assist in any way, you may be able to perform better than your usual."

He was really confused, "I don't understand, doctor. Are you saying you want to give me a massage?"

She fumbled for words, "Oh goddess, dear goddess, if...that is what you want? I am willing to help you. I also brought something..." Reaching into her pocket she produced a small asari bottle, and there was very little left. "It's not much, but there's enough here to smooth over your neck and beard...that is a beard right? It looks very...interesting. If...I may?"

Liara moved closer, her blue hand gently coming close to his face, and he just stared at her, dumbfounded.

"Uh..." He moved his mouth, while his eyes slowly watched her descending hand reach for his beard..."Uh..." he swallowed, feeling her hand, when sudden jolts of electricity flowed through them.

She jumped back, "Oh goddess. That was...incredible."

He moved his mouth a little, furrowing his brows, "That's static."

"I thought maybe..." she flustered again, "Goddess, I think perhaps I should start my meditative procedures then.."

"Whatever." He shrugged, "but I gotta work." Joker went back to his consoles, but realized she hadn't moved, "If it makes you feel good about it, go ahead and slather that stuff on me. Just...not too much k?"

"Of course, yes," Liara sounded quite eager, and she shook the bottle and dripped the last remnants into the palm of her hand. He could hear her going on, slapping her hands together and rubbing them hard enough so she got enough lathery gel smothered.

He decided to go back to work, tried to ignore the way her hands suddenly felt cool and then hot when the fingers slid back and forth along his neck; the cords of his neck were being pushed gently, by blue and so much blue; along the slick feel of the translucent gel working its strange magic. He no longer felt like he could work, or think, but feel. The way her hands just worked its way along the exposure of his upper shoulders, while her fingers pushed the dark navy blue material aside. He no longer cared that his beard was being jeopardized, being molested by this hot and cool gel like feeling, gliding back and forth while so much blue just slid and slid along the trimmed hair along his jaw.

Soon, he was moaning.

Joker realized that was him, uttering weird and unforgivable noises in his own cockpit; in his own private place where no one dared to come and do this to him...no one...and he was steadily dozing off.

"Oh goddess, no, you can't sleep, Jeff. Not now." Liara urged him, gently prodding his beard, as if she couldn't get her fingers away; so she pulled a little at them, "wake up, Jeff, you can't sleep! Should I take you to the med bay?"

"Huh?" Joker smacked his lips, as if from waking and adjusted himself on the chair, "doctor, I don't think this is a good idea after all. Your meditative skills, if that were this...eh, it's too good. I can't afford to sleep on duty."

"Perhaps I should go, then." she said, too guiltily for his own ears.

"Ahhhh, geez," he whined, placing his fingers between the bridge of his nose, as if to ward away a headache, "why do you sound like you're making me feel like the biggest heel? Are you always like this?"

She flustered, offended, "I do not. And I am not. I only offered to go." yet her head was turning away, and her blue eyes were downcast, as if in a private grief.

"Well you can do something for me."

"Oh!" her eyes were wide again, obviously happy to assist , a little too eager to place her fingers along his beard, "If you want, I can.."

"No, not the beard, maybe if you can hand me something very important. And I'm just about out of it."

"What is it?"

"Come here," He motioned her over with his finger, "It's private and I don't want anyone to eavesdrop."

She turned towards the end of the hall and anyone of hearing distance would have to be in the same room, but she gave Joker an equally confused look and leaned in, her ear to his mouth. And when he whispered what he wanted, she had even widened her blue eyes wider than ever.

"Oh goddess!"

Within minutes, Liara had rushed down to the med bay and got exactly what Jeff needed, turning away when he needed some private time.

"Uh doctor, you don't need to be in the same room." He was clearly embarrassed, hurriedly adjusting the thick plastic package over his groin, positioning his privates into an area where a tubing went. But damn did he need to go badly.

"I'm all right, Joker, I'm not fearful of such human foulness." She placed a hand over the side of her face, but could hear him taking a leak.

It took a long time before Joker was done, and indeed to Dr. T'soni's eyes, it would have not been enough if she hadn't taken the extra large bag from the freezer containment cell.

"Here, let me take it away, Jeff," She offered.

"Uh that's all right."

"No, I insist. You can't have that lying around." She forcedly could not let it go and won't.

"Doctor, I don't think you can take no for an answer," Joker frowned.

"Let me have it. Jeff, " she looked about to get angry, but wrapped her fingers around the closed package and left, coming back minutes later.

"Jeff." She said, approaching him stealthily, "I would like very much to massage you again, and touch your beard, if you would allow me."

"I don't know…" Joker mumbled, going down into his seat as if he couldn't get away, and was whimpering that it was probably not possible if she was here.

"If you would like, I could also, help you with your disease, touch your mind with mine, and understand…"

"I don't know…" he nearly whimpered now, his body halfway down the seat, his hands still keying in status reports from every angle of the Ilos ruins below, and screens still popped up showing no signs of activity so far.

"Allow me," Liara faced him now, her hand, her blue hand reaching for his, "we may not get another chance. The commander is down there with Kaidan and Tali and they're going up against Saren, and the geth. We may die here, on the Normandy…and we wouldn't ….we wouldn't have anything but our need to be close…to understand. And that is what I must do, Jeff. To understand your species."

He straightened up in his chair, a little pissed off that he had to be subjected to this, and grumbled irritatedly, "doctor, you do what you want to do, but I'm going to be the best damn helmsman this –"

Embrace Eternity!

And he was bombarded with images. Strange images of when he was a child, running along a grassy field, with springtime flowers popping up and the sun beaming down on his brown coloured head; where his house used to stand, where he used to…where he-- he looked down, watching his legs run and run, feet forward, right and left, knees bent, and unbending, straightened, and strong….

Then he was back.

"How was it, Jeff?" She said, exhausted from the mind melding, "I could go further, but I thought I should only give you a glimpse, and I still have a drop or two from my asari lotion."

"That was….cruel." He grimly said, and looked at her, "How could you do that to me? How could you, showing me, and I could actually feel them! I felt them!" His words were so accusing that he saw her stumble back.

"Oh goddess. I thought…I'm sorry! I thought.." She placed her hand over her mouth, "I thought you would be happy. To know, to feel what it is like..I'm such an idiot!" Liara covered her face with her hands.

"Doctor," Joker said, a half grin on his face, shaking his head, "I'm just joking."

"Huh? What? You….you're joking?" Liara gasped, "You mean…I do not understand!"

"I'm teasing you. They don't call me Joker for nothing." He rolled his eyes, and shook his head.

"That was….a dreadfully awful thing to say to me." She whined, lips tightened in anger, and her hands were curled at her sides.

"No, it's not. You need to relax, doctor." He chuckled, "I liked the mind…whatever it is you're melding…it was interesting."

"You did? Then…we shall do it again?" She beamed at him, her body going down on one knee, holding his hand in both hers, "Oh Jeff…." Her voice was breathless, "I've enjoyed the mind melding and it didn't really take so much of my energy as it did when I mind melded with Commander Shepard."

"Oh yeah?" he raised a brow, "how'd you like mine? Was mine bigger?"

"Well," Liara felt his hand cover hers gently, and there was a fizzle of electricity surrounding them, and she couldn't help but feel instantly close to him, "she has a bigger….problem with her prothean link…but yours.."

"Heh," he grinned, "Size isn't everything. You need firepower too."

"Oh goddess, yes. You have plenty of that…"

And the two stared into each others eyes for long moments. They realized, it was a start of something very wonderful...

next, part II: Kaidan/Jane Shepard