Mass Effect belongs to Bioware. What belongs to Bioware, render unto bioware.
Johannes Shepard abruptly looked up from the meal he was eating. He and most of the crew was on lunch break while a skeleton shift temporarily kept the Normandy running. The commander had been letting his mind wander over the past few days while chasing down Saren all across the galaxy, if not a few other things that Admiral Hackett and his own crew members threw at him. For Garrus, the dedicated if overzealous officer, it was the criminal that got away. For Wrex, the morbidly bloodthirsty Krogan, it was his family's old armor. For Tali, the bubbly Quarian far from the Flotilla, a rather important piece of Geth technology that really should have been Alliance classified material, but oh well. All in all, Commander Johannes Shepard with his enduring respect for all sentient beings and policy of giving anything one more chance, had been a upstanding and outstanding example of the best humanity had to offer. However, there was something nagging at the back of his mind over a small undercurrent in his crew that he had not been able to place. Letting his mind wander over lunch suddenly let the equation work itself out.
It started back on Eden Prime. After he had been knocked cold from the exploding beacon, Ashley Williams had hovered around his bed waiting for him to wake. Anyone who was willing to spend that much time waiting for a stranger to wake up obviously had a sensitive side, and the commander decided to express his gratitude by telling her not to worry about it. After all, how could she have known? She had also made sure he got medical attention, and he was grateful for that, so he naturally expressed his thanks. After all, if she had not done so, there probably would have been bad complications. He just didn't understand why she gave those odd looks after his kind words.
Things got even more bizarre on Therum. He was sent there to pick up the Asari, Liara T'Soni, an intelligent if slightly naive and mostly innocent archaeologist. It struck him odd that while the poor Asari, clearly traumatized over the attack which her own mother may have had something to do with, was put down by Ashley, something about how Liara failed to grasp why she would be a target in the first place. Come to think of it, those two always seemed to get into a subtly veiled spat in the communications center of the ship whenever they were all together for a meeting. This was all lost on the commander who couldn't understand why those two could not get along. What were they fighting over?
Come to think of it, those two just did not seem to get along together, period. When they were on Noveria, those two had bickered over the Rachni queen. Being a true paragon, Shepard decided to let the queen go, much to Liara's admiration. Ashley silently sulked the whole way back on the tram line. Later on the ship, when he had gone down to chat with her, Ashley gave him a rather hard time on if he was interested in Liara, though why that was was lost on him.
"I'm surprised you're not chatting up what's-her-name." Ashley said.
"You mean, Liara?" That name did not seem hard to remember
"Scuttlebutt says you may have a thing for her." Ashley stated, suddenly becoming very interested in the rifles she was cleaning.
"Wait, just because she's not official crew, therefore I'm interested in her?" Shepard asked, clearly the logic did not work.
"So you are interested in her." Ashley grumbled. What? How did she draw that conclusion? Clearly my previous statement was to show how the logic did not work, so why did she keep going that direction? Williams, Williams, Williams..."
Regardless, Ashley did sincerely suggested that he talk to Liara since she was probably grieving her mother's death. A very practical and heartfelt idea. So perhaps Ashley and Liara could get along, after all, everyone on staff were all friends with each other, right?
"I am fine, Shepard, but could we please talk about something else? You intrigue me Shepard, but I did not know if it was appropriate to act on my feelings." the Asari scientist told him when he checked up on her. What feelings were she talking about? I would gladly listen, but its not like I need to know everything that went on in her private life. Those were none of my business.
"I did not know if there was already a relationship between you and Williams." Liara informed.
Why would there be? That would be against military regulations.
"We're just friends, Liara." Shepard answered. Liara suddenly seemed to smile, why was that cause for celebration?
"Oh...well...what about us, Shepard? Is there something mutual between us?" Liara asked.
"I have to go." Shepard suddenly stated, duty calls anytime it wants, and there was Saren to chase after after all. Unknown to him, Liara was left holding the bag, if a rather badly unanswered question.
After that was Feros, which was even more strange. After the freed Asari commando gave him the Cipher, he had felt quite nauseous and dizzy. This was only to be expected after an Asari joins consciousness with a person, and overall, this was tolerable, but nonetheless, it did have its after effects.
"Commander, are you all right? You look queasy..." Ashley stated, a bit concerned.
"I'll...I'll be fine..." Shepard lied, trying to put her at ease. No reason to get her alarmed.
"Perhaps we should take you back to the ship where you can be looked after." Liara offered.
"No, that'll be unnecessary. After all, the Asari did say it may take time..." Shepard answered weakly, feeling like he was about to lose his lunch.
"That is all right, doctor. If the commander says he is fine, he is fine." Ashley grumbled to Liara.
"It wouldn't hurt to make sure there were no unnoticeable complications from the procedure." Liara defended.
"Well then I will take him back. I have the rescue and battlefield medical training to carry the Commander back." Ashley stated through clenched teeth.
"I would suggest against that. I am, after all, the doctor here." Liara answered unhappily.
"Yes, in dusty extinct races, miss Prothean expert." Ashley stated slightly below a growl. Unnoticed to the two of them, Shepard had passed out on the ground earlier in their argument.
Every time Liara would state her admiration on Shepard being able to handle the stress of understanding a Prothean vision, Ashley would interrupt, grumbling that it was not bringing them closer to Saren. When Shepard was talking to Ashley and explaining to her why she should not try to martyr herself over her old family history after the death of Kaiden on Virmire, Liara suddenly decided to interrupt about the new Prothean beacon Shepard found.
Only to further add to his growing list of information, he often paired those two together to work with him whenever he had to land on a planet. Ashley was a tough fighter and Liara was the strongest biotic on the ship. The three of them were nearly unstoppable together. However, there always seemed to be a tense atmosphere in the cramped quarters of the Mako. It almost seemed like there was an elephant in the room. A very big elephant. Shepard could have sworn he heard Ashley mutter about three being a crowd one time when they all piled in.
And so, there in the middle of lunch break, it became quite clear to the absent minded commander, that the Asari doctor and Alliance marine, were fighting over him. While they were on this topic, Tali seemed to have had a soft spot for him, always telling him about her people and was especially thankful on how he treated her like an equal even though Quarians got such a bad rap, and that he had helped her find the material she needed to complete her Pilgrimage. Shepard, being the paragon he was, suddenly analyzed it in his extremely ethical mind.
Williams is a nice girl, sincere in her beliefs and faith, and she does have a sensitive side, even if she doesn't get along completely with Liara. However, it is against military regulations and it would not be right for me, her commanding officer, to take advantage of her feelings since I am in a position of greater power. Besides, she probably deserves more than a one time thing and once again, it's against military regulations and I must uphold the law. If I break this, even over my personal feelings, which are none really, it would be a bad example to the rest of the crew.
Liara is also a nice person but she is also an Asari, not of my own species. Granted, Asari are very much into intermingling with other races, it seems to be part of their culture. However, only a short while ago, humans doing things to anything other than human was considered "bestiality." Wouldn't that be the same case here since we're not the same species? Would that be...I don't know...xeno-iality? Wait, that doesn't work, not in the grammatical sense. I don't know, anyway, no, it wouldn't be right. I'd be dead and she'd have another eight to nine hundred years more to go. Besides, when I am old in gray, she'll still be a young Asari and I'd be slowing her down.
And, although Tali is clearly not as aggressive as these two, and highly unlikely to have a thing for me, hypothetically, that would not be right. In some ways, she's much younger than me. That, and Quarians have poor immune systems which is why they must stay in those environmental suits. That would be like messing with an underage immuno-compromised adolescent.
Come to think of it, this crew is extremely obsessed with sex. But...why!? We're chasing down the biggest threat to the existence of the galaxy and all they can think about is doing it?!
And at that point, the fragile mind of Commander Shepard, already badly throttled on the incidents at Mindoir and Akuze, snapped.
Everyone looked up in shock at the audible bang of Shepard's fist slamming onto the table.
"I've had enough!" Shepard shouted. The ship's cook was very offended on what seemed to be a negative evaluation on the food.
"I am not interested in that way with either of you!" Shepard announced, pointing at Liara and Ashley. Not a single mouth continued to chew the food inside of it.
"We're chasing down a rogue Spectre agent with an army of Geth at his command, along with an extremely powerful Reaper! I do not have the time, interest, or energy to spare, to woo either of you to bed! That being said, you both can be friends and stop fighting over me like a bunch of school girls!" Shepard yelled. It was starting to get very awkward. Tali's electronic mouthpiece broke the silence.
"Shepard, are you all right?" Tali asked.
"Yes, I am fine! And I am not interested in you either! Do not get any ideas! You and my chief engineer probably already have something going anyway! Even if you Quarians weren't so fragile to the exposed environment, I would not have any intentions either!" Shepard continued in his rant. No one could see Tali's mouth hanging in horrified shock behind her darkened face visor.
"Commander, perhaps you should take some time off. This outburst clearly shows you are under too much stress." Garrus prescribed.
"Haha, I think this is actually good for the Commander, actually." Wrex guffawed. Shepard continued to turn red with anger.
"And you two aren't innocent either! You both make awkward comments on each other's testicles!" Shepard snapped. The Turian and Krogan were also mortified, considering that statement sounded so wrong on so many levels.
"This is why we shouldn't have so many aliens onboard." XO Presley grumbled.
"And you! Stop being such a flaring racist! Gosh, I can't believe there's more of your kind this late in human history. Don't you think we should have learned that lesson a long time ago, what's wrong with you!?" Shepard snarled. Presley was dumbfounded. Joker spoke up.
"Whoa there commander, don't you think that was a little harsh?" the young navigator asked. Shepard stormed out of the room to take a long ride on the ship's only elevator.
"Shut up or I'll order you to dance." Shepard snapped. Joker was not amused.
No one really could eat after that massive blowup. Each were lost in their own thoughts after the commander's very out of character charade. The offended cook was the least of those devastated by the verbal abuse. Wrex grumped and muttered something about how he should have shot him back at Virmire. Garrus decided he would especially profile harshly against humans when he got back to C-Sec. Liara looked over at her Quarian friend who was still sitting still at the table.
"Tali, why are your goggles fogging up?" Liara asked.
"Um, n-nothing." Tali sputtered. She may have tried to hide it, but her voice was clearly on the verge of breaking despite the electronic distortion. The very upset Quarian left her place at the table and walked off quickly. Only a few moments later did they hear the awkward sound of electronic sobs. Joker pulled his hat low over his head and sulked. Meanwhile, Ashley and Liara, although very upset at being shouted at, suddenly realized that deep down inside, they found the commander's anger very exciting.
Meanwhile, on the slowest moving elevator in the Alliance navy, Commander Shepard started to regret his actions. He had insulted most of his crew and made Tali cry. It didn't help that he had racked up a truckload of renegade points. So much for being the upstanding paragon.