A/n: And now for something completely different… kinda… it's still Kaidan-centric. I find him to be most fascinating, perhaps because I am an emotionally detached (and occasionally sarcastic) migraine sufferer as well. This oneshot series is going to be comedy based, much like all of my Mass Effect stuff seems to be going. I plan to explore the often overlooked platonic, heterosexual relationship between Mshep and Kaidan. The game doesn't explore the potential of this relationship to my full satisfaction, probably because the romance plot trumps all the other relationships. ME2 is going to have friendships though! I'm excited! In the meantime, enjoy the insanity, plz :P


1. A non-sexual relationship between two men that are unusually close.

-verb -manc-ing
1. The act of wooing a fellow male friend for the purpose of becoming closer.
2. Going to unusual lengths in an attempt to become closer with another male friend.

"There isn't a rule against being friends with your commanding officer," the Spectre said, nonchalantly inspecting the stubs of fingernails on his hands. He looked up at Alenko and tried to discern what the man was thinking. In his years of serving in the Alliance, John Shepard had learned to expertly read people and aliens alike. There was, however, something different about the man in front of him. Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko was an undefined variable that needed to be filed away in the Commander's organized brain. John Shepard never left loose ends.

Little did the Commander know that the studier was being studied.

As soon as Shepard played the 'buddy card', Kaidan knew what was going on. Shepard was fishing for information of some sort. Superior officers usually did this when they wanted to put a subordinate at ease to speak freely to get direct answers or to test their loyalty.

"Anyway, I just wanted to know where the crew's at," Shepard stopped examining his nails to look at the Lieutenant, "thoughts?"

Kaidan peered into the eyes of the man in front of him as he tried to figure out the subtext behind his question. If he wanted to know how the crew felt, then why was he asking him? A lower-ranked crew member would be a much better bet. Was he that insecure about his new position?

No way. There had to be another reason.

"The crew is behind you one-hundred percent," the Lieutenant hesitated for a second, "Is something bothering you?"

"Nah," the Commander replied, "just askin'." He shrugged.

Their eyes met again, and in that instant, both knew what was taking place. It was the ancient ritual of one man sizing up the other man to quantify the other man's manliness and compare it to their own measure of manliness. Ultimately, this skirmish would categorize them according to the other's standard. For Shepard, it would determine if Kaidan was 'cool' or a 'boot-licking, whiny puss'. For Kaidan, it would determine if Shepard was mentally filed as a 'douchey superior officer with a tiny dick' or 'superior officer in name and decision only'.

The game was set, though neither knew the exact rules.

Kaidan closed his eyes and exhaled slowly; his head was killing him. Didn't Shepard have something better to be doing than having an off the record conversation with him? Kaidan's migraine persona was about to rear its sarcastic, hateful head. He looked down at the slightly shorter man then back to the mildly irritating orange glow of the console and continued his work.

"So…" Shepard trailed off for a second, unsure of whether to continue or not. After a moment's hesitation, he continued.

"Williams has a fine ass," he commented and looked pointedly at Kaidan. Would he take the bait?

"Eh," Kaidan shrugged and made no further report. His head hurt too much to formulate an appropriate response and quite frankly, he wasn't in the mood for small talk.

Shepard blinked a few times, backed up, and held his hands up in defense. He silently mouthed 'oh' as his face turned red; the Commander glanced around and found out that they were out of hearing range of the crewmembers nearby.

"Hey man," Shepard clapped the Lieutenant on the back at arm's length, "if that's your thing, then… ah… that's your business." So this was why he was silent when they went to Chora's Den. Now Shepard felt terrible. He didn't want to out the man and make things awkward. This turn of events would require extra mental processing time.

Kaidan paused, realizing what Shepard had assumed. His migraine addled mind wasn't functioning properly, and for a moment, he forgot his protocol.

"Thank you for being considerate," Kaidan replied and pulled Shepard into a tight hug, "it's good to have a commanding officer that accepts people for whatever orientation they choose. But you should know that I am..."

The Lieutenant lowered his voice to a conspiratorial tone.

"Flamingly… heterosexual," he finished and let Shepard go.

The two men stared at each other for a moment with narrowed eyes then broke into laughter.

"Alenko," Shepard's commanding voice killed the mood, "do you always do this kind of thing to your commanding officers?" He had to know what he was in for.

"Only during off the record conversations, sir," the Lieutenant replied, reverting to semi-business mode to suit Shepard's change of mood. He still wasn't quite sure what he was dealing with, but the Commander seemed amiable enough. Based on his earlier comment about Chief Williams' ass, Kaidan figured that Shepard was fine with breach of protocol.

"Oh, I'll just bet," Shepard replied, chuckling once again "Shall we forget this conversation?"

"With all due respect sir," Kaidan's hand migrated to the back of his neck in embarrassment, "I'd prefer that we remember this conversation, namely the part about me not being gay."

"A fair point, Lieutenant," he leaned on the nearby wall and glanced around before continuing, "but Williams does have a fine ass."

Kaidan looked up at the ceiling and pondered for a second; a lazy grin spread itself across his face.

"Yes, sir," the Lieutenant replied, glancing over at his superior officer.

They laughed again, drawing the attention of the nearby crewmembers.

"Alenko," Shepard clapped the Lieutenant on the back, "you're alright."

"You too, sir," he replied, genuinely pleased that the Commander's fame and status hadn't turned him into a pompous asshole without a sense of humor.

"We'll talk another time Lieutenant," Shepard said with a nod.

"Commander," Kaidan nodded back and turned to his console to continue his work.

For a moment, he reflected on his conversation with the Commander, immensely pleased that his sick sense of humor wasn't lost on Shepard. In fact, he seemed to enjoy it, even if the joke was on him.

Yes, Commander Shepard was alright.