Snootchies Bootchies

Thanks to all of you who took time to review. Well, then! It's the next crew-member's turn to pick out movies. Read the title and guess who and what they'll choose.

I know I enjoyed writing Chapter Three; I felt that in the game, the alien characters were sorely overlooked compared to Ashley and Kaiden in terms of backstory. If there are any other characters whose past you want me to write about, let me know. I also know that some concepts, primarily chess and video rental stores, might seem out of place 200 years in the future. I honestly tried to think of a believable way that Netflix could conceivably send movies to hundreds-maybe thousands-of ships across the galaxy; I couldn't. I am going to stick with a tangible chess board to keep things simple.

Hey, sorry about the delay; I've been writing a big-ass paper for school on Salman Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories. It's good; you should definitely check it out (the book, not my paper ;)). Also, I've been writing a review of The Dark Knight for my school newsletter, a paper supporting capital punishment, and an analysis of Creon (from Antigone). So yeah, busy busy busy! Thanks to Mr. Roberts, Kernel Access, TheNumberKnownAs7, MeSoCutie, and AccidentalSuicideBomber for their support and reviews.

Without further ado...

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"So, how does this work?" inquired Tali as Garrus laid out the intricate board on the table.

He had procured a set from a antique dealer in the Wards a mere three weeks ago, and he had already burned through four strategy e-books since then. He had seen the game played by two humans in the markets, and was immediately enthralled. It seemed so accessible, yet rife with layers of tactical consideration. He had decided there to learn more, so he bought the first nice set he set eyes on.

"Well, each player-that's you and me-gets sixteen pieces. The most important one is the king; the objective is to protect him, and check-mate your opponent's king."

"Check-mate, is that what you said?"

"Uh, yes-it's like...er, capturing it, you know?"

Tali nodded. "I think so. Please go on," she said pleasantly.

Garrus then proceeded to explain the rules in great detail, while absent-mindedly placing the pieces on the embossed board. Tali leaned forward on the table with her arms folded, listening intently. After twenty minutes of going over every movement and strategy name, Garrus thought he was talking too much, and just set the rest of the pieces. He accidentally switched the bishops and rooks around; Tali reached out and put them back. Garrus glanced over to Tali; who simply shrugged her shoulders.

"I think those two were switched around."

Garrus stared at the corner of the board. "So they were." He looked up to grin at Tali. "You're a quick learner."

"Glad to hear it," said Tali chipperly.

So, ready to play their first game, Garrus swiveled the board around, giving Tali the white pieces. Tali cocked her head to the side in puzzlement.

Wait a minute, you're giving me the white?"

Garrus nodded.

"I'll have the first turn."

Garrus simply answered, "I know."

"You don't mind..."

"Not at all. You're new to the game. I want to give a head-start." Tali nodded.

"Okay then," she chuckled behind her mask. "I just hope you're not going to help me win."

Garrus leaned forward. "I wouldn't dare entertain the thought of you needing help, Tali."

Garrus couldn't tell, but Tali had smiled behind her mask.

She moved her pawn forward two spaces. Garrus instantly deployed his knight out. Tali eyed the knight and took out another pawn, this time only moving it one space forward. Garrus immediately brought out a pawn on the far left of his side.

After a few minutes of quiet competition, Garrus figured to strike up a conversation.

"So Tali, Tell me about the Flotilla."

Tali shrugged. "What is there to say? It was my home."

"'Was?'" Garrus raised an eyebrow.

She looked up from the board to face Garrus. "What? Oh no, it's not like that, I will go back...someday."

"Not too soon, though? Right?" inquired Garrus just a little too eagerly.

"I really don't know-the most important thing right now is Saren, obviously, but..." She looked down again.

"But what?" asked Garrus concernedly.

"During our Pilgrimages, we are expected to find something of value and bring it back to our people,you know?"

"Right." He nodded slowly.

Tali sighed. "Well, some of us never return from their journeys. I'd always expected something bad had happened to them-but maybe they just wanted a different life from the one on the fleet."

"Why's that?"

Tali chuckled lightly. "Are you kidding? The living there is no luxury, let me tell you that right now. It's like those Pilgrims found something better than the Fleet could ever give them." She leaned back into her seat, and stared out at nothing in particular. ""I mean, sure, I have a whole life back there and so many are counting on me. If you can believe it, it's more, heh, stressful than anything we have to deal with now. For example, I haven't spoken to my father in two whole years. And now I'm not sure how I would if I could, right this moment." She leaned forward, resting her arms on the table. Garrus, who had been listening intently, found himself momentarily distracted by Tali's vaguely sensual stretches, accentuating her nice curves. He shook himself out of it.

"It doesn't sound easy. At all." He replied, not sure if what he said was at all comforting.

"I shouldn't complain, really. Not when I've had such luck as this."

"What do you mean?"

"What I mean is that I never thought I would feel so...at home out here! For once in my life, I have friends-people that I care about, and care about me. It feels great. You, Shepard, Joker, Ashley, Liara, and Wrex, I guess."

Garrus and Tali had a short laugh over that. They had completely forgotten the game, instead enjoying each others' company.

"I'm so glad you feel that way. And concerning the Flotilla, whatever you decide to do..." Garrus took in a deep breath. "I just wanted to let you know that I-"

"Hey, you two!" A gruff voice erupted from behind them.

Tali looked across from Garrus. "Hi, Wrex! What's up?" Garrus had no idea what he was about to say, but, for once, he was glad Wrex had interrupted.

"Joker wants us all upstairs to pick movie rights. Shrimp says he's got a new idea." He continued walking to the elevator. Garrus looked back at Tali.

"Joker? Again?" He squinted his eyes humorously.

Tali laughed. "This should be interesting."

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"'Truth or Dare!'" exclaimed Joker, looking unabashedly smug with himself.

Ashley threw her hands up. "Okay, how about we don't take Joker's suggestion this time!"

Shepard rolled his eyes playfully. "C'mon, Ash. Be a sport. Nobody's got any other suggestions, right?"

Liara jumped in. "Well, how exactly does this "Truth or Dare work?"

Joker, still smiling leaned back in his chair. "We go around the table, like last time. We ask each other to pick 'Truth' or "Dare." You pick 'Truth,' you hafta answer the question truthfully. 'Dare,' you do what you're dared to do. And you take a swig of the booze if you decline to do it. Simple as that."

The crew looked around the table at each other. Garrus shrugged noncommittally, Wrex glowered at whomever happened to be staring at him. Ashley sat back, arms crossed. Joker continued nodding energetically. Shepard glanced back at Ashley.

"Well, Chief? How about it."

She let out an audible sigh. "Fine. Whatever."

Kaidan spoke up. "Okay! Who's going first? I'll be staying this time."

"Hope the baby's all right with that?"

"Baby? What ba-goddammit Wrex!" Wrex couldn't help it, he chortled long and hard.

"Shepard! Tell him to stop making fun of me!" Shepard had to stifle a grin.

"All right, guys. Let's all behave like serious, responsible adults and start this drinking game."

They laid out the drinks. Joker set the Normandy on auto-pilot before he forgot. All seated, they decided to start with the captain, in a well-guided attempt to appease her and her distrust of the pilot. She licked the outside of her mouth in contemplation, then nodded at Joker.

"Truth or Dare?"

Joker, ever the self-assured man, answered, "Dare, my good woman."

"All right, then. Get up and dance for us."

Joker stared at her, dumbfounded, then took a drink from his bottle. He sighed. "New rule, nobody can do that again. Agreed!?"

"Fine, Joker," said Ash, with a playful grin on her face.

Shepard twirled his mustache affectionately. "Liara, it's your turn."

Joker piped up again, eyes wild. "Another thing! She-Liara-she's not allowed read minds!"

"Um..."

"I cannot read minds, Joker. Whatever gave you that idea?"

Joker rolled his eyes. "C'mon man, what else do you call that thing you do with the commander-"

"We were merging consciences!"

"Well, if that means you look into each other's minds, shouldn't that mean..."

"I can't look into Liara's mind, just putting that out there."

"You aren't even there to see it, what are you basing this on?" argued Tali.

"It's quite boring actually, don't bother." Wrex tried to stifle toothy yawn, to no avail.

"Okay fine fine fine! I was mistaken. You can't read minds, apparently."

Liara scoffed. "Kaiden, this is for you. Truth or Dare?"

"Truth."

"Let me think about this..okay, what is the most bizarre thing anyone has ever said to you?"

Kaiden leaned back in thought. "That would have to be when I was still training on BAaT, one of the instructors-Vyrnnus-I think. He called me a 'meatbag,' of all things."

"'Meatbag,' you said?" inquired Garrus.

"Vyrnnus...isn't that that the Turian? The one you killed?"

"Well, yeah but I don't wanna..." Kaiden chuckled nervously at Ashley's comment.

"Well, from what you said it sounded like he had it coming." Garrus eyed Ashley inquisitively.

"Hmm?" Ash caught Garrus' look. "Oh no no no. It's not like that, it's that Kaiden was telling me about-" Garrus raised his hands to wave her down.

"Yeah, I know. Don't worry about it."

"Your turn Joker," voiced Shepard, who was engrossed in stroking his soft mustache.

"Ashley, Truth or Dare?"

Ashley sighed. She knew what was coming. "Truth. Hit me."

"Have you ever made out with a chick?" Joker grinned like an idiot.

Ashley slammed her hands down on the table. "See what I mean? That sex-crazed little man can't shut up about sex!" A sly look entered her eyes. "Because he can't have any himself, HA!"

"Take it back back! Take it back!" Joker hopped up and down in his chair until an audible crack emanated the air. "Ah! My ass."

"You alright?" inquired Liara.

"It's okay, it's just the surface I think."

"Great." muttered Ash. "We have a horny cripple rubbing his behind. It doesn't get better than this." She smirked.

"Oh, god. My migraines are coming back." He ignored the snickering from Wrex. "Just ask someone else, will you?"

"Fine, y'all are party-poopers, anyway. So, Wrex. Truth or Dare."

"Truth." he growled.

"Is it true you have four balls?" Garrus was petrified-he couldn't believe what he had just heard.

"Balls?" Joler nodded eagerly.

"You know-nuts." Wrex stared at Joker looking as confused as he ever had. Garrus felt a lump rise in his throat. "Testicles."

Wrex glowered at Joker. "Where the hell did you hear that?" Garrus tried to avoid any sort of eye contact with the towering Krogan.

"Well, Shepard and Ga-Ow! My foot!"

"Say Shepard, would you like to switch seats?" asked Garrus loudly over Joker's whining.

"Oh my god. Relax everybody. Me and Garrus were talking a while back, and Krogan testicles found its way into the conversation."

"Garrus was actually the one who brought it up," said Joker evilly. Garrus put his head in his hands embarrassedly.

"This is...so stupid," said Wrex grumpily.

"Why would you be conversing about Krogan genitalia?" inquired Liara.

"We weren't! It was about something else entirely. Joker, you were eavesdropping. We were talking about Doctor Saleon, you tell him!"

"Hmm, yeah i was listening in, but I kinda lost interest by the time you were commenting on the Krogan's virility-that made my day."

Garrus' mouth open in horror; Wrex banged his head on the table in frustration; Tali had fallen asleep somewhere in the middle of this altercation and Ashley had proceeded to drink down the entire bottle of booze in one go. Liara was thoroughly confused by now, and Shepard tried to hush Joker up, who was cackling wickedly.

"I am sorely tempted to throttle the life out of you." Joker simply laughed harder. and harder. Shepard tried desperately to get everyone's attention, with no results. Liara was still edging away from the fueled altercation between Garrus and Joker. Ashley had snatched away Kaiden's bottle in a desperate attempt to get drunk, all he while shouting at Garrus and Joker. Tali seemed completely unaware of the ensuing chaos, as she was still sound. asleep, and Kaiden moaned loudly as his headache was exacerbated. Finally, in the midst of the fighting, Wrex drew his pistol and, before Shepard could react, he fired it into the air (or, more specifically, the ceiling). Tali was awakened in the worst possible way, jumping three feet in the air, and landing on the floor. Kaiden fainted promptly; Liara let out a high-pitched scream, stumbling backwards in her chair. Garrus, out of shock, swallowed suddenly and involuntarily, causing him to choke. Joker cried out dramatically; Shepard dove under the table.

"What the hell was that?!" exclaimed Joker.

Wrex holstered his pistol. He glared at Joker.

"Well? You're quiet now, ain't ya?"

Shepard interjected, emerging from under the table. "Let's just continue before someone gets hurt. Garrus, you're next."

Garrus massaged his cranium in thought, quite certainly lost in thinking of a good question to ask anybody. He figured he just wasn't any good at these. Then, he had an idea-something that had been lingering in the back of his head for a while. He had to ask it subtly.

"Tali, this is for you. Truth or Dare?"

"Hmm, Truth, it would have to be."

"How come nobody's picked 'Dare' yet? Lame!"

Garrus rolled his eyes. "When were you born, exactly?" Joker scoffed.

"Why don't you ever ask sex questions, this isn't how the game is-" Garrus gritted his teeth and grimaced, causing the pilot to flinch.

"Well, to translate to your date measurements...February 15, 2162." She shrugged her her shoulders in modest affirmation.

Garrus nodded, and sat back. He realized that her birthday was a little less than a month away-he had to think of something soon.

It was Wrex's turn now, and he turned to Liara. "Truth or Dare?" he asked bluntly.

"Truth," she said assuredly.

"Very well. Who's the first person you ever slept?" Wrex smiled a horrible smile.

To Wrex's surprise, she answered. "That would be Ashley."

Everybody stared at Liara, then Ashley stirred slightly from her drunken stupor.

"Really," said Tali.

"Really."

"Liara, what'd yew tell 'em," slurred Ashley.

"Wrex asked me who I had 'slept' with."

"Shit, Liara. That was supposed to be private," she said somewhat noncommittally.

"Oh dear, I'm sorry. I suppose I'm not as adept at reading human relationships as I had thought."

"Wow." Kaiden was pretty much speechless.

"I kinda wish you hadn't answered that now," grumbled Wrex.

"Wait a minute, here." Shepard held up his hands, not without raising his eyebrows. "You all have sleeping pods-there's only one place you could've done it and that's..." He looked back over his shoulder.

"Omigod!" He jumped up to run to the med-lab. He emerged rubbing sanitizer all over his body, muttering "Ew!" repeatedly. Ashley threw her head back drunkenly and laughed.

"C'mon, Commander! What, you shtill believe in cooties or shumthin'?"

"Ha, of course not, but...I don't know if I'm ever going to be able to sleep there again."

I just KNEW that something was going on between them, I knew it!" proclaimed Joker excitedly. "I could see it a mile away!" Wrex stared at him.

"I have an eye for these things, you know."

"That's wonderful, now please shut up," growled Wrex.

"Well! It's your turn, Commander."

Shepard drew his breath through his teeth in contemplation. "Alright, Joker-this one's for you. Truth or Dare?"

"Why 'Dare,' of course," he said confidently, clearly forgetting the last time he had been dared.

"Sweet, I dare you to kiss Wrex. On the cheek."

"What?! You're kidding me-I'm not doing that!"

"You do want to win, don't you?" Joker's hand stopped midway in grabbing his bottle.

"Otherwise, you're just going to have to take drink, and it'll be harder to accept the next time."

Joker was obviously contemplating this seriously. Of course, it didn't help that Tali, Kaiden, Garrus and even Ashley had started to chant: "Pucker up," much to Wrex's annoyance. Finally Joker gave in and turned timidly to Wrex.

"Uh, Wrex? Is it okay...if I, um...?"

Wrex sighed deeply. "I don't even give a crap at this point." Joker figured that this non-confrontational enough and got up on his crutches over to Wrex. For a moment, it looked like he was going to bail out, but Shepard kept on egging him on. He leaned in, trying to distinguish cheek from neck and settled on one of the jutting ridges of his face. He puckered up and kissed Wrex right on the cheek, at which point the entire table erupted in whoops of laughter. The reaction was sudden and relentless, with Shepard, who was wiping tears of mirth from his eyes, spoke up.

"I...I cannot believe you just did that! That was the best thing I had ever seen." Joker grew red in the face.

"Ah, take a picture, why don't you," he retorted grumpily as he lurched over back to his seat.

"Done and done."

The color drained from Joker's face. "What did you say, Tali?"

Tali looked up at Joker. "What, you think I was gonna pass up a chance to immortalize that image?"

"Oh, crap-you took a picture!" Joker's face contorted in horror.

"On my omni-tool's camera function. Came out rather nice...wanna see?" She held out her arm for Joker to see.

"No!"

Shepard was shaking with hysterics, he could barely get the words out. "If anyone wants to-to blackmail Joker, just ask Tali." He then went back to his incessant giggling.

"Gay," was his only response.

Ashley reciprocated, "I agree, that was very gay. Flamin', in fact." She chortled mercilessly. Joker sat back and rolled his eyes. Wrex leaned over to Joker and whispered.

"You know, if it makes you feel any better, I didn't like it either."

"Uh, thanks. I guess?"

"No problem. Was very gay, though."

"Oh, shut up!"

The evening continued as expected, with a few mishaps, naturally. Kaiden asked Garrus if he was a vegetarian, to which he begrudgingly admitted (though not without mentioning it was hard to digest Earth-grown meat, to which Kaiden smugly patronized his claim). After only one round, Joker had regained his impervious deviance and dared Ashley to make out with Liara. Her only response was to fling a half-empty bottle at him. However, her intoxication caused her to aim more to the left, effectively knocking Garrus out cold.

"Damn!" said Wrex. "That's the second time in a row he's gotten out first." He dragged Garrus to the infirmary.

The rest of the game went on little incident, from there on out. The order of people who passed out were Ashley, Shepard, Kaiden, Liara and Wrex. Tali succumbed to Joker's insistence on daring Tali to dance to "Hot Hot Hot." The remaining crew-member, against all reasoning, was Joker. He stood up with excitement over his victory, only to fall back down when his knees started hurting.

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Since Joker could not walk around the Citadel himself, he wrote down for Ashley and Garrus what to rent and sent it to his omni-tool. Garrus looked it over.

"'South Park: The Movie,' and 'Clerks,' did I read that right?"

"Yep. Stellar cinema that is!"

"I'm quite sure it it," muttered Ashley as they closed the airlock behind them with the Commander. Shepard left the two for lunch with Anderson and Udina. Garrus and Ashley took for the commercial plaza, taking the first elevator they could find and descending straight the Wards. It was five minutes in, and the lift was still only halfway down. Garrus figured now was as good a time as any to ask Ashley something that had been on his mind.

"Ash, do mind if I ask you something?"

"Depends on what you're asking." Garrus simply smiled.

"You've had...you know, how do you call them? Boyfriends, right?"

Ashley eyed Garrus suspiciously. "This isn't a 'Joker' question, is it?" Garrus chuckled nervously, scratching his brow.

"Most assuredly not."

"Well sure, I've had a couple guys in my time. Why are you asking?"

"Well I'm just curious, as I always am. What sort of things do humans do to impress another one?"

"How do you mean?"

"Well just suppose one of those boyfriends wanted to win you affections somehow. How would they go about doing that?"

Despite herself, she burst out laughing.

"What is so amusing?"

"I'm sorry, but it's just...you're talking like some commentator on the Nature Channel! 'Impress?' 'Affections?' I've never heard anybody use those words except in the movies. Tell me what' really on your mind."

"I am honestly just wondering."

"Riiiight. First, you gotta tell me who the lucky gal is." Garrus avoided eye contact, wondering if he should have brought it up in the first place. Ashley wasn't to be deterred.

"Okay, fine. I can probably guess. But how come you're asking me? You're, like, twenty-three years old-haven't you ever gone on a date?"

"There was a girl-an Asari- in Basic Training; I thought we serious-turns out I was just one of a couple dozen of her interests," he said softly.

"Oh. That always sucks."

"Forget about her." Ashley seemed somewhat taken aback by this trite, bitter side of Garrus. She figured that whoever he was interested, she was important.

"Okay, to my question then. There's lots of ways to 'woo' a lady."

"Like what?" inquired Garrus, suddenly perking up.

"You could get a box of chocolates-I don't know how it works on you aliens, our own dogs can't even digest it, but it is very good. If you want something a little more symbolic, I would suggest flowers-the real pretty ones. You know thing or two about botany, don't you?"

"Correct."

"Well, again I can't speak for your species, but roses, the red and white ones are the best combo..."

"I like roses, they're pretty."

"Of course, if you're serious, you might want to give her a heart-"

"A what?!"

"Not, not a real heart, but shaped like a heart. Could be a box of chocolates, or the way you lay out your flowers for her."

"What is even remotely romantic about a heart? I don't think there's even a market for things shaped like hearts."

"Yeah, but, you're misunderstanding-it's a symbolic shape used to represent love." She cupped her fingers and put her hands together to form the shape of a heart. Garrus inspected it closely, before drawing back.

"I'm sorry, but that looks nothing like a heart, Ashley."

"No it doesn't, but...never mind. Some other good ideas might be to make a tribute CD, dedicate a song to her that sort of thing." Garrus was listening intently.

"But for starters, I would recommend you take her out."

"Out of where?"

"Out to. Like, a movie, a play or dance. Something fun and social, they always like that. It's easy to go from there." Garrus nodded appreciatively.

"Thanks."

"Oh, don't mention it. Like you said, it's all hypothetical, right?" she said facetiously as she nudged him playfully. Garrus couldn't hide a small smile.

"Don't worry a smidge-your secret's safe with moi...how long does the frickin' elevator take?"

Garrus took a glance out of the glass for a view.

"Well?"

"Err..."

"How much farther, man?"

Garrus grasped his throat nervously. "Ash. We don't actually appear to be moving. At all."

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After two emergency calls and ten minutes of repairing the elevator breakdown, the duo had finally made it down to the bustling commercial plaza. After losing Garrus four times on the way, they had made their way through the crowds into the video rental. They split up to acquire each of Joker's requests. Ashley disappeared into the vast aisles to locate 'South Park' and Garrus went to find 'Clerks.'

Five minutes already, and Garrus was nowhere near finding the movie. He had to secure the assistance of a malodorous human employee who suggested (after a couple failed attempts to recruit Garrus into a membership) that he look in the Cult Classics section. Thanking the smelly man for his time, he went on his way to the far end of the emporium. As he got there, his eye caught something outside the window in the open plaza. An holographic ad for an all-Elcor production of Hamlet. Garrus' interest was piqued. It had started when Ashley had been quoting Tennyson and Aquinas. Garrus had inquired on the two people she had quoted; one thing led to another, and soon Ashley was telling an intrigued Garrus all about human literature, eventually getting around to Shakespeare. Ashley lent Garrus an anthology of English drama; he had tried to read through Much Ado About Nothing, but found the language to be indecipherable. Luckily, Ashley had taken time to help him through the text. Bless her heart.

Now, Shakespeare was one of his favorite writers, and here was Hamlet playing on the Citadel itself. No doubt excited, he momentarily lost track of what he was doing. He would look into it later, but now he had to procure Joker's movie. Finally, when he had laid his hands on the the case, he thought back to what Ashley had said in the elevator; would going with Tali to this play qualify as "taking her out?" He knew Tali would be interested, but what would she think if he just aked out of the blue. Did he in fact, want her to think something specific?

He was shaken out of his pondering by Ashley, who had attained South Park.

"Hey, Garrus? You all there?"

"I, uh..yes. You found the movie?"

"Unfortunately. This thing had better be worth it. I see you've found the other one."

Yes. Clerks." She scoffed.

"I've been having to put up with those idiots for the past ten minutes. I can't imagine for the life of me what the appeal of these are. Anyways, let's blow this joint." She tilted her head to the door.

Garrus looked at her confusedly. "Why would you want to be smoking hallucinogens at this time?" Ashley just laughed and shook her head, turning to exit the emporium; Garrus followed after her.

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"You're such a pig fucker, Philip!" (gasps)

"What did he say?"

"Terrance, why would you call me a pig fucker?"

"Well, let's see, first of all, you fuck pigs."

"...Oh yeah!"(raucous laughter)

"Yeah, suck my ass and call me a bitch!" (heightened raucous laughter)

"Ahaha, you shit-faced cockmaster!" (even more raucous laughter)

"My brain is trying to kill itself."

Wrex came to Joker's defense. "Lighten up, Ashley. This is funny shit." Joker was laughing so hard in his seat he was in danger of throwing up.

This shit is SO funny!" concurred Joker. Even Shepard seemed to be enjoying it.

Garrus however, was profoundly confused at what was happening on-screen; it seemed to switch from two crudely animated humans exchanging the most creative obscenities he had ever had the privilege of hearing to four kids ecstatic at what was happening in front of them. Then one of these proceeded to light himself on fire and perish.

"What the hell is happening? Is there a plot here?"

Joker turned to Garrus, trying desperately to steady his breath. "These four kids are seeing this movie, with their two favorite Canadian comedians from which their learn all their best phrases and words. Then they start swearing in class, and they get in trouble with their parents. Then the Jewish mother leads a vendetta against the comedians and Canada in general. Meanwhile, Kenny goes to Hell and finds that Satan is fucking Hussein and they plan to take over the world as soon as the Canadians are executed. But Satan is having a little relationship trouble with Saddam, who's abusive and wants to have sex all the time, but he starts singing and dancing and everything is all right, so they go up to Earth and savage everybody while the Americans and Canadians are killing each other and the kids are leading a freedom movement to rescue the comedians from being electrocuted, and Cartman calls Kyle's mom 'a big, fat bitch' and Satan kills Saddam, who's still being an asshole, and Kenny goes back to Heaven and everybody gets along."

Garrus was speechless. He tried to comment, but simply sat back in his seat without a word. Ashley spoke up.

"So, Garrus, to answer your question," she stared down Joker. "There is no plot." This inclined Joker to stick his tongue out at her.

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"Eric, did you just say the 'f-word?"

"Jew?"

"No, he's talking about 'f*ck,' you can't say 'f*ck' in school, you fucking fatass!"

"Kyle!"

"Why the f*ck not?"

"Cartman!"

"Dude, you just said 'f*ck' again."

'Stanley!"

"F*ck."

"Kenny!"

"Dude, what's the big deal, it doesn't hurt anyone; f*ck-f*ckitty-f*ck-f*ck!"

"How would you like to see the school counselor?!"

"How would you like to suck my balls!" (gasps)

"Is the whole movie going to be like this, Joker?" moaned Ashley.

"Oh hush, you-the rest of us are enjoying it. Wrex likes it, Shepard likes it, Kaiden's in the bathroom-I don't know what's up with him, Garrus likes it. Right, Garrus?"

"Hmm? Oh yeah, sure, absolutely," he answered uncertainly.

"See, Ashley? Everybody else likes it."

"You listen Joker. Firstly, Wrex likes it because he's quite possibly more crude than you," Ashley didn't notice Wrex mimicking a pistol shot to the back of Ashley's head; Joker did and tried his best to keep a straight face, with considerable success. "Secondly, Shepard, being your commander, feels sorry for and doesn't want to hurt your feelings."

"Thirdly, Garrus is just being polite 'cause that's all he knows!" Garrus took offense at that.

"I'll have you know that my knowledge extends far beyond simple mannerisms, thank you very much!" Joker stared at him, then back to Asley, who eyed him sarcastically.

"See?"

Visibly flustered, Joker now turned back to Garrus. "Hey man, you like this don'tcha?"

Garrus, not privy to criticize Joker's choices-because goodness knows that being a douche and watching movies was about all he could do, he found himself at a loss of words.

"It's...we-well, I, uh..." Catching the pilots' miffed expression, he continued to stumble. "It...it's an acquired taste, really."

"Then the question remains: "Are you acquired?" Wrex's comment earned him a subtly reproachful stare from the Turian.

"What I'm curious to know," said Tali, "Is what exactly is a 'Jew'?"

"Ahh..." murmured Ashley. "It's an ethnic group."

"Of Humans?"

"Yeah, that's right."

"Well, why would you have a division within your own race?"

Ashley pondered that for a second. "It's a...cultural thing, really. Like, a lot of stuff ha happened to a certain collection of people within time and space that warrants a 'distinction' of sorts."

"So are there a lot of groups within Humanity?" Tali was intrigued.

"Basically, yes."

"If you don't mind my saying so, that sounds almost unnecessary. I mean, you've only just recently come into contact with entirely new species. Was there any sort of unity on Earth?"

"Well it's complicated like that, but we don't think of it as differences so much as complete barriers to understanding, even though there's been plenty of collaboration in time, like the International Space Station."

Tali sat back, thinking. "Seems like the sort of thing that could lead to trouble."

Ashley chuckled sardonically. "Girl, you don't know the half of it."

Garrus knew that feeling quite well, sitting in the middle of the discussion. He had read The Merchant of Venice just a month ago, with the main antagonist (or anti-hero, through Garrus' eyes) a deeply loathed Jew by the name of Shylock. Even as he read throughout the entire play, he never once got an idea of what exactly the Jews had done that was so wrong. Nevertheless, he was relaxed, now that Joker wasn't badgering him about the film.

"Quiet guys, they're going to sing about Canada now."

"Cana-what?"

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By now, Garrus had given up on trying to follow the movie, now doing no more than hanging on for every instance somebody broke into song. Everyone else was either glued to the screen, or rolling her eyes at the humor. The movie continued in relative silence, until the end, when Kaiden contracted yet another massive migraine and went back to the bathroom. Never let it be said that, as racially diverse as the crew was, everybody got the gay jokes. With that, Joker ejected the disc and looked around at the crew with a smug smirk on his face.

"So. Did I deliver, or did I deliver?"

"Are those the only choices?" inquired Liara. Joker chose to ignore her. Ashley cleared her throat.

"You know, I've learned something today. This movie describes, in an hour and twenty minutes, everything that's wrong with Joker's sense of humor." The pilot nonchalantly gave her the finger. He turned to Wrex, who quickly gave his approval of the myriad humorous deaths in the feature. Garrus echoed his thinly veiled confusion, and Shepherd put in Clerks to watch.

"Okay, Ash. Maybe this will be more up your alley, you movie snob."

"Suck it, Joker."

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Clerks was different...somewhat. First of all, it was shot in black and white, though Joker had informed everybody that they had been using color long before then. Secondly, there were many more jokes concerning the fine art of blow-jobs. They watched the first ten minutes in silence, with only Joker's incessant chortles filling the air. Surprisingly, Ashley appeared to be visibly enjoying the the crass banter of the movie. Shepard decide to strike up some conversation.

"This Kevin Smith guy, didn't he do a bunch of movies about the same characters?

"Ayuh, he did. Another good one is Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back. That one kicks ass. You see, they are turned in for dealing and-"

"Hang on," Kaiden interrupted. "You're telling me that there's a whole movie about those two outside the shop?"

"You would be correct in that assessment," answered Joker complacently. Kaiden muttered "Crazy" under his breath.

"Well, now I happen to like them, Kaiden," contributed Tali.

"Hey Turian," said Wrex. Garrus hung his head upside-down over the chair to face the Krogan.

"Yes?"

"It's true, right? That they allow druggies in your ranks." Wrex asked with a straight face. Garrus gave a complimentary roll of the eyes.

"'Druggies is not quite the proper nomenclature-leisurely pharmaceuticals and stimulants are well within rights. Doesn't mean I approve of it."

"How do you mean," asked Ashley. "Don't tell me you've never had a taste, not with those sort of regulations." Garrus shook his head.

"That's what happened with the Russian military in the 90's. It's going to bite us in the ass, if our superiors don't do something about it."

"I wouldn't worry 'bout it, now that you're here-"

"Shh!" said Joker. "They're going to talk about the guy who broke his neck sucking himself off!" He left the back of his chair to lean forward.

"Oh, joy," mumbled Ashley.

"He broke his neck trying to suck his own dick."

"Shut the hell up!"

"I swear."

"Stop it."

"Bible truth."

"Oh, my god."

"C'mon, haven't you ever tried to suck your own dick?"

"No."

"(scoffs) Yeah right. You're so repressed."

"Because I never tried t suck my own dick?"

"No, because you won't admit to it! Thinks a guy's a fucking pervert because he tries to go down on himself. You're as curious as the rest of us, pal; you've tried it."

"Who found him?"

"My cousin? My aunt found him. On his bed, doubled over himself with his legs on top. Dick in his mouth. My aunt freaked out."

"I'm gonna have to kill a lot of Geth to get this out of my system."

"You're no fun, Ash."

***********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

With movie night finally drawing to a close, the crew members bade goodnight to each other, in light of the lateness. Joker was pushed around in his chair with Shepard's aid. As everyone left to rest, Garrus and Tali were left.

"Well, goodnight Garrus."

Garrus coughed. "Sleep tight," he said, as Tali walked away to her sleeping pod. As she came to the door, she stopped and turned around, grasping the frame.

"Aren't you coming?"

"Hmm? No, you go on; I need some quiet thinking time." Tali stood still for second or two.

"All right, then...see you." She slipped around the corner, not catching Garrus' smile. He lowered down onto a wheeled chair, leaned back, and floded his arms behin his neck in relaxation. It had been a long day, like even Wrex, he was itching for some action, some clues to lead them to Saren. Aside from being a matter of galactic safety, it was the chance to himself to all those who ever doubted him. If that didn't work, well, at least he would know that he had done what he could, and with the best group of people he had ever known. And if that wasn't worth something, why would he have even bothered to begin with twenty years ago?

Shepard was easily the most comfortable, cool-headed senior had had had the pleasure of working with; the key word being 'with'. Never did it feel like he was serving someone else's own interests or mission. What Shepard wanted, he wanted with Garrus. Whatever Sheparddid, he did with Garrus. From hereon out, every commander would be judged by Shepard's standards in Garrus' eyes.

As far as Krogan were concerned, Wrex was one of the more surprising individuals he had come across; his father had told him all sorts of horror stories about the Krogan when he was young, but now that he was working with Wrex, he knew that not all of them were monsters. He knew Wrex was not quite as forgiving, and his brief episodes of conviviality were just that: brief. He knew that the merc had moderate disdain for him. And for the most part, Garrus couldn't really blame him. It was enough that they respected each other as warriors, but he hoped that someday, he would be able to reach out to him. Garrus couldn't help but feel sorry for him; it could be said that the Krogan had never met a fight he didn't like, but the Turian knew that he had run away from the biggest one of his life.

And say what you would about Joker, but the fact remained that he was indisputably one of the best pilots that the Alliance even other races, had to offer. No matter what situation the Normandy found itself in, the crew had learned to trust him with any solution. He was a quick thinker, a fact that, while not evident, was very important. Still, he never lacked for that oddly charming attitude that always succeeded in breaking any ice. And for that, Garrus could be grateful.

At first, Ashley and Garrus had been cold and uncommunicative, but through simple off-hand comments and exchanges, they had found a commonality betwixt the two of them. Ashley's intimate knowledge of Human culture, coupled with Garrus' insatiable curiosity, made them into the best of friends in no time. Pretty much everything he knew about Humans was due to the Chief's complete willingness to share with another race, everything about her own species. And he found that remarkable, given Ashley's prior distrust of other races, something that had irritated him to no end. But now, through many conversations and stories, she had evolved into something of the big sister the Turian never had. He wouldn't admit it, but he liked that the Chief had become a surrogate shield for him.

And then there was Tali. Who, or what was she? In Garrus' eyes, she was everything. She was beautiful, even with the suit. She was funny, in a sweet, yet droll way. She was pleasant and nice, always a complete joy to be around. She was independent, decisive without being a loner. She was incredibly interesting; his interest in her tales of the Flotilla had never once waned. As he was thinking about this, he came to ponder what his feelings were about the Quarian. What had had started out as a fairly regular friendship, seemed to have become something more. Had this happened spontaneously, or had these feelings culminated over the time spent with her? Whatever the answer was to that, it was becoming increasingly clear that his affections were being won by this intriguing young woman. He knew it was unheard of, for a Turian be interested in someone outside their own species (barring the Asari), much less the considerably disliked Quarians, but that was exactly what was happening with Garrus. He recalled the conversation in the elevator, and for some reason or other, found this whole idea of, to use Human vernacular, 'being in love,' to be irresistibly fond. He supposed that if he was to be physically mired in a tangible embodiment of love, which it would have to be like this. Comfortable, wonderful, and altogether intimidating. But he refused to be frightened by his own sentiments. This...'dating' thing could certainly be a way of asserting his feelings and sorting them out. He figured that he would to consult back with Ashley on the finer points of this social endeavor. Running at lightning-speed, his brain sped through all the possibilities and options, and picked out three, that would go together perfectly; and so, with a renewed sense of assignment, he rolled his chair over to the the desktop computer and logged onto the extranet. In the central search engine, he typed out the words: "elcor play Hamlet."

The search brought up a website: /. He clicked on this and found the approaching showtimes for the whole month. And much to Garrus' gratification, there was a showing of the production on the night of Tali's birthday. Ecstatic, he paused to consider how many tickets to purchase. He decided it was best to leave as only Tali and himself. With that in mind, as well as his confidence, he clicked "Order."

The End

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Phew! Glad that's done! I am sorry to say that I am largely unreliable, as I have failed in bringing you this installment before November, but I was close nevertheless, eh? I like how I'm developing the characters, especially Garrus, my favorite (whodathunkit?). But it is possible to have too much romance and talky-talky. Next chapter is going to move forward both the personal storyline, and the game's actual storyline, with an extended action-packed chapter on, most likely, Noveria. I love fleshing out shootouts and firefights, I can get them to be rather graphic.

Speaking of which, last weekend I saw the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Silence of the Lambs. Both were very good. Unfortunately, I also had the unenviable experience of watching The Strangers. An hour into the movie, it was still building up suspense even though we knew what the threat was, and what it intended. Plenty of jump-and-scare bits, complete with screeching music, and the stalkers constantly appearing and reappearing without doing a goddamn thing. And totally lame lines from the killers. Such a bad movie, don't see it.

So tonight was Halloween, and I celebrated by dressing up as the Joker, with face-paint, overcoat, leather gloves and a knife. I already have long, scraggly hair. My dad donned one of the clown masks from the Bank Heist. We drove to get some scary movies-I hung out the side of the car, like when the Joker escaped jail, all the while playing Hans Zimmer's theme for the Joker and generally freaking people out. Sweet.

I hope you enjoy this chapter! I guess I can't avoid an M rating any longer. There will be more to come. Read and review, if you please.