Quiet tinkering and altering resounded through the mess hall, into separate rooms and corridors.

Naomi Shepard pulled her assault rifle apart leaving it in blocks of metal and computer parts on one of the many mess tables under a dimly illuminated overhead light.

There was no sense of time, for space travel had that effect, thoroughly enveloping herself in her favorite pastime didn't help the lack of awareness.

A single bead of sweat traveled down from her hairline and over a greatly faded scar that cut through her left eyebrow. Almost mechanically, she wiped the moisture away, bit her bottom lip and continued upgrading her beloved weapons.

"Having fun?" 2nd lieutenant Kaiden Alenko's voice just barely broke through the barrier of concentration Commander Shepard had so finely put up for herself. It did, however, take a few moments for the intruding sound to reach her senses.

"Excuse me?" She just barely made eye contact with the 2nd lieutenant, her hands still busily working. The slight movement pulled a short dirty blonde strand of hair from the tiny little bushel of tresses sticking up on the back of her head that just barely passed for a ponytail and fell in front of her line of sight, her emerald eyes glared holes in the strand, and she pictured the hair bursting to flames.

"Heard you from the elevator, decided to investigate…" Alenko murmured, shoving his hands in his pockets.

You don't have to check up on me… Shepard imagined saying, but bit her lip and decided against it. They were friends…whatever that consisted of.

Another sweat drop rolled over her brow, Alenko's eyes narrowed on the path.

"Never told me about that scar…" He pressed, picking up a chunk of ammo-metal and almost immediately dropping it, yelping slightly as the potent poison seeped into his flesh and started to corrode his skin.

"Thresher venom," Shepard murmured, starting to re-build her A.R.

"The scar?"

"No, you idiot, the ammo." She picked up the block and rolled it over her fingers, not even bothered by the venom. She felt a gentle tug at the corner of her mouth but resisted.

There was a long pause as Alenko examined the degree of the burn and got to work on slathering the wound with Medi-Gel, There were a few finishing sounds of sliding metal and beeping computer parts as Shepard put her primary weapon back together.

"It was a gang thing…" She finally broke the silence.

"Gang thing?" Alenko echoed, his tone questioning.

"Recruiter ripped it out when I enlisted."

It was Alenko's turn to resist the tug of a smile.

"So, uh, Naomi," Alenko started, turning to face her. "Any other piercings?" Kaiden teased, answered by a quick click of the Thresher Maw ammo block got shoved into the butt of the rifle.

He shut up quick.

There was another long, drawn out and awkward silence between the two as Naomi shoved her weapons in her bag and threw them in her locker.

She grinned as she turned towards her subordinate and arched her scarred eyebrow.

"Yeah, wanna see?" Her fingers found the hem of her shirt and started tugging the cloth upward as she made her way towards the engineer she seemed to be falling for.

God, lets hope Joker isn't watching this…