I'm not even going to bother warning you about spoilers.
Tali'Zorah vas Neema wanted to kill something. Anyone who knew even the most superficial facts about Tali'Zorah would tell you this was unusual for her. She was not one who took to violence with ease. But something about this entire situation and the utter incompetence of the men she was being forced to deal with set her blood boiling.
Shepard must have rubbed off on her more than she'd thought…
She had told Prazza to take them down out of range of the colony's defenses so not to scare Veetor, but as usual he had ignored her and now they were stuck in this abandoned home trying to figure out a route to get to him that didn't involved blasting their way through a small army of mechs. Not only that but a Cerberus shuttle had landed not far from the main docking area and he wanted to fight them before getting Veetor.
"Prazza we are here for Veetor, not to start a fight with Cerberus! If you have a problem with that, wait on the god damn ship!" She got up in Prazza's face, an intimidation tactic she'd often observed Shepard use. "I'm leading this mission not you, your job is to find us a way to Veetor and keep us safe. If Cerberus comes I will deal with them. Is that clear?"
Prazza held his ground and she could see his glare behind the visor, his fist clenched and he sighed. "Yes Ma'am." He turned away from her and returned to his team.
She shook her head and left the trio of solders to look out at the stars through a window. Idiots. Keelah, why was she always surrounded by idiots nowadays? She wouldn't have had to put up with bosh'tets like them on his crew. A small sigh escaped her and she crossed her arms. She really missed those days. Traveling about the galaxy on a state of the art vessel, the long pleasant talks she'd had with the crew…But most of all she missed the man who'd made it possible.
Commander Dante Shepard. He was unlike anyone she'd ever encountered before or since. He didn't make judgments about people based on general reputation. He treated people equally; Race, sex, politics, none of that had ever mattered to him, or factored into his choices. If you were a good person, he would treat you as such. In the same manner, if you hurt innocent people he could be nothing short of a mortal terror.
Mortal. She heaved another sigh. In the end that was what he was, despite his combat ability, despite all that he was capable of doing, he'd been only human. And like every human he was capable of dieing…She jerked at the memory; she could still see his form as he was punched from the Normandy's exploding hull. She could only watch in horror as his suit was breached and the life giving air rushed to escape his flailing body. He didn't deserve to die like that; he had deserved a full life with someone he loved.
And who loved him like she did.
It had been a fool's wish from the beginning. He could have never seen what lay beyond her mask, and even if he had the complete impractability of the entire relationship would make sure that it didn't last. Still, what harm was it to dwell on impossible dreams? She turned from the window and pressed her back to it. Her mind began recalling moments they'd spent as a question formed in her mind. When? What was the exact moment things changed between them? When was it that she began to see him as more than a kind and generous man and as someone she loved?
Was it in that first meeting in the alleyway when he'd saved her life? The turian assassin had the pistol on her head and was in the middle of what he must have thought was very clever banter when a rifle fired a round clean through his skull. She had turned instinctively to stare and saw him; Adorned in dark grey Alliance armor with a single crimson line on his right arm, wearing no protective helmet. His eye, a single long scar running down it, was in the scope of the sniper in his hands, another round unloaded into the turian's chest knocking his down.
On his right was a krogan, scars running down the side of his face. He was charging at the twin salarians who had flanked the turian, a mighty bellow erupting from his powerful lungs. His shotgun released a burst of shrapnel, shredding one salarian's armor like a meat grinder. Before the other had a chance to return fire he had bouldered over him like a landslide on a small village, laughing as he did it. And further back behind the human, scoping out the area for other hostiles was another turian, his armor revealing him to be a member of C-sec. In seconds the battle was over, in seconds he'd left nothing but a pile of bodies in his wake.
"Fist set me up!" She had shouted, explaining herself as he came up to her. To this day she didn't understand why she had felt the need to explain herself to him. She didn't know him yet, much less answer to him. "I knew I couldn't trust him!"
"Were you hurt in the fight?" She'd stared at him in surprise. He'd been the first, beyond the human doctor to ask her if she was okay. She met his eyes, bloody crimson and yet not unkind. Was that the moment? When he was more concerned with her well-being than in the data he knew she held. Such kindness wasn't uncommon for him, she came to discover. He'd continued to show her such in the way he treated her aboard the Normandy. He'd known only the most abstract things about her; her name, the mission she was on, and yet he'd trusted her enough to not only allow her on his ship but to give her complete and unrestricted access to it.
Was it when he gave her that data? Even though they disagreed morally on the history between her people and the geth, he'd given her the data asking nothing in return but her friendship, not even to try and find a peaceful way to deal with the geth. Keelah, what she would have given to have been able to say goodbye…To let him know the way she felt…
She jumped at the hiss and sound of the door opening. She glanced back and saw the silhouettes of three humans entering the room about ready to meet Prazza's men head on in a firefight. "Stop right there!" The overeager idiot shouted, not even taking into account that fact that the middle one was carrying what looked like a grenade launcher in his hands.
"Prazza wait!" She moved between the two parties hoping that neither side would be stupid enough to try and shoot the other. "You said you'd let me handle this!" She turned her head to size up the three humans. The one furthest to the right was a young woman in a Cerberus uniform; she looked more like a scientist than a soldier. Her stance, upright and not bothering to lower her center of gravity, only strengthened this assumption. Tali could feel the subtle shift in the air signaling a biotic. This same shift was present in the dark skinned man who flanked their leader on the left. He was armed with a shotgun and was wearing black Cerberus commando armor. The leader himself…
"Shepard?!" She couldn't have kept the shock from her voice if she tried. She'd watched him die aboard the Normandy, how in-
"I'm not taking any chances with Cerberus Operatives!" Prazza argued, shifting his position to get a clear shot at Shepard. He didn't move himself and stared at her allowing the black man to aim his weapon at the quarian.
"Put those weapons down!" She shouted turning back to glare at the idiot. He held her gaze for a moment before loosening his grip on the assault rifle in his hands. She turned back once more staring at him, the scar over his eye was gone and was replaced but a new set of nasty red scars on the left side of his face. His crimson eyes were the exact same as she remembered and brightened in recognition as he lowered his own weapon. "Shepard…Is that-You're alive?" No, it couldn't be him. The Dante Shepard she knew would never work with Cerberus. Not after all the evil he'd witnessed from them years ago. Whoever this was it couldn't possibly be-
"Remember when I gave you that geth data Tali?" He grinned the same way he had when he'd given her that data; that mischievous little smirk of his that warned people when he was about to do something crazy. "Did it help you complete your pilgrimage?"
"Yes…It did." She felt numb. How in-None of this made sense. She'd seen his suit breach and watched as he suffocated from her escape pod. She remembered the sick feeling in her stomach, the tears running down her face. She'd had nightmares of that moment for days… How was it that he was standing before her? His once crimson eyes were now an enrapturing hazel, the way he held his weapon out of combat, over his shoulder like some sort of blade. All of it was just as she remembered…
Somehow in that moment she got the innate sense that she was about to be dragged along on yet another galaxy saving mission. The thought put a smile on her face.
Just like old times…
This series will be a bunch of Tali/Shepard one-shots in no particular order and of various length and content. If you have time to read this than you can make time to review, those who don't are full of much fail. I'll allow the scenes found here to be used by other authors if you wish so long as you give me my credit due in the chapter in question.
Thank you for your readership,