A/N: O.o HOLY FRAK! Thank you for all the reviews, people! I don't think I've ever had such a positive response to a first chapter, and in the humor/romance genre, which I've never written in before, it means a lot! You guys rock!!! Either that, or you're all a bunch of xeno-loving pervs...
Nothing wrong with that... really...
Anyway, here's more r&f – reviews, as always, are pure joy.
Chapter 2 - The Lip Chew Incident
Commander Jane Shepard sat at her desk in her quarters with her private terminal open, and viciously chewed on her bottom lip. It wasn't a habit she was proud of, and one she'd developed as a result her association with Dr. Liara T'soni,
She could recall each and every time the asari worried her bottom lip in her head, along with the words accompanying the gesture.
Lip chew incident the first occurred soon after recruiting the asari doctor. She'd found her in the cargo hold, trying on some light armor she had specifically salvaged for herself.
"I'm sorry, Commander. The mantis armor looked small, so I didn't think it would possibly fit -- "
"It's fine, Liara. You can have it. Just... stop there. Please."
Lip chew incident the second occurred at 2:37 am on deck 2 of the first Normandy, soon after Liara joined the crew.
"I'm sorry about your pajamas, Commander. I was only trying to be considerate. I was told it was customary to --"
"For future reference, only human men leave the seat up."
And then there was the disastrous lip chew incident the third when both Alenko and Liara cornered her in the cargo area of the first Normandy, just before the confrontation with Saren.
"Make up your mind, Shepard," Alenko growled, while Liara sucked her bottom lip into her mouth. "You can't keep dancing around us like this, Shepard. Make a choice. Do you want her... or me?"
"Wait, where's my option for both? How come it's not on my conversation wheel? Is there a glitch? What the hell?"
And so with a brief thought to Liara, Commander Shepard sat at her desk and worried her lip until it was practically swollen. She was all dressed and ready for her next mission, and was simply waiting for Joker to inform her that the Normandy had successfully settled into orbit around Pragia.
Personal missions in general made her nervous; this one more so than most because it was for Jack, and the biotic didn't seem to like her much to begin with. Add the fact the facility they intended to destroy was owned by Cerberus, and it was more than enough to have Shepard sufficiently on edge. There were many, many ways this could go bad, all of which were weighing heavily on her mind.
"We will be within shuttle range within the next 10 minutes, Commander."
"Roger that, Joker. I'll be down in a bit."
Shepard flipped open her terminal, intending to send a quick message to both Garrus and Jack, and paused when she saw that her mailbox was almost filled to capacity.
It was unsettling to find her mailbox full, considering that she'd just checked it last night before retiring. Even more unsettling to find that nearly all of the messages originated from Dr. Solus.
Strange... the reclusive salaran wasn't very chatty at the best of times. What could be so important to the doctor as to flood her mailbox with it?
Curious, she began to read.
Commander Jane Shepard:
Received message from Officer Garrus Vakarian. Turians not prone to superstition. Could be risky to disregard. Suggest forwarding to others as instructed.
[SINCERE WARNING] URGENT RESPONSE REQUESTED
[APPREHENSION] IT IS OF UTMOST IMPORANCE THAT YOU READ THIS
MESSAGE IN ITS ENTIRETY. THIS MESSAGE ORIGINATED FROM THE PROTHEANS
AND HAS BEEN IN CIRCULATION FOR OVER –
Shepard frowned, clicked delete, and opened the next unread message in her inbox.
Commander Jane Shepard:
Salarians do not possess hair follicles. Conjecture: Officer Garrus Vakarian provided incorrect address when forwarding. However, have researched product suggested and could be of use based on personal observations of Commander's age and appearance. Suggest placing an order.
Did you know ????
Men are not the only ones who suffer from baldness. Female pattern baldness usually
begins at age of 30, becoming only more and more noticeable as the years go by --
Shepard's left eye began to twitch.
Increase the size of your..
You have won the...
Looking for love? For only 25000 credits, you too can own a...
No. Just.... no.
Frowning, she stepped away from her private terminal, took a swig of her coffee, and stepped over to the AI console in the corner of her quarters, coffee mug in hand.
"EDI, could you please provide the location of Dr. Mordin Solus?"
The AI flickered into visibility.
"Doctor Mordin Solus is in Airlock one."
Commander Shepard took another swig of her coffee.
"Airlock one? Why would..."
"Subject Zero is also in Airlock one."
The porcelain coffee mug slipped from her grasp and shattered on the floor as she considered the implications.
"Noted. On my way. EDI, please advise Jack not to airlock the good doctor until I get down there?"
"As you wish, Commander Shepard. Logging you off."
She made a beeline for the elevator, pressed the button for the CIC deck, and waited, pacing back and forth, as the elevator slowly kicked into gear.
"You'd think they would have improved the speed of these things, but no...." she muttered under her breath, as an illustration of the Normandy SR-2 appeared on the screen in front of her. A little orange box representing the elevator she was riding slowly descended onto the CIC deck and sat there for about thirty seven seconds before the door finally opened.
Shepard hit the ground running, almost knocking over a couple of crew members standing around idly in the CIC in her haste to reach the airlock.
"Good Morning, Commander. You have unread --"
"Not now, Kelly."
"I said, not now!"
She was completely out of breath when she reached the airlock, but her arrival couldn't have been more timely. She burst into the room to find the salarian doctor held upside down by a biotic field.
"Get the fuck out, Commander. Froggy here is getting air locked, I don't care what you have to say."
"Don't you 'Jack' me. This fucker seems to think I need breast implants, and hair replacement therapy!"
"Useful advice --" Mordin choked out.
"Shut up, Mordin, you're not helping your case at all," Shepard growled at the salarian before turning to the biotic. "Put him down, Jack."
"What? No way; he's going out the --"
"Put him down, and go get yourself ready. We're in orbit around Pragia, and I need you at 100 percent. You don't want to waste your energy on the doctor, do you?"
Jack attempted to stare her down, all the while maintaining her biotic hold on the upside down salarian. Shepard narrowed her eyes and crossed her arms in response. They stood, locked in a staring contest for what seemed like several minutes before Jack finally broke eye contact with Shepard, unceremoniously releasing her biotic hold on the salarian.
Shepard winced in sympathy as the doctor hit the ground head first with a loud 'thump'.
"Fine. But there better be some things to kill down there, Shepard, or I'm taking it out on you," Jack grumbled, storming out of the airlock.
Shepard waited until she was gone before reaching down and assisting the salarian back onto his feet.
"Thank you, Shepard. Was concerned for approximately 22.6 seconds that human biotic would make good on her threat," Mordin said, rubbing the back of his head.
The two of them started walking towards the lab.
"Yeah, about that... it's probably not a good idea to make any suggestions to Jack about... well about anything."
"Noted, Commander Shepard. Was trying to filter messages from Officer Vakarian. Believe they were addressed incorrectly. Have several dozen more still to go through."
"Uh-huh. I don't know what his game is, but he's playing you, Mordin. Those messages are all spam; just delete them."
Mordin's eyes widened in realization.
"Garrus isn't one for games, unless provoked. Do you have any idea what could have provoked him, Mordin?"
The lab door closed behind them with a swish. Mordin met her eyes nervously before looking away.
"May have taken offense to advice offered. Only trying to help."
"Wait... advice? What advice?"
"Human-Turian mating positions, safety precautions. Concerned for your well-being, Shepard. Always."
Shepard found that the back of her neck was beginning to burn, and her bottom lip was back in between her teeth before she could finish processing what Mordin said.
"Human-Turian... wait, what?"
Mordin shrugged, and started keying in a sequence on his private terminal.
"Informed by EDI of mutual attraction. Take role as doctor very seriously. Need to ensure continued survival and well being of ship's captain and gunnery officer."
Shepard coughed into her fist, and had a brief, but beautiful vision of uploading a virus into EDI's main processor.
"Mordin, not that it's any of your business, but Garrus is important to me, and anyway I'm not going to die from... GAH!"
Shepard stopped, mid-sentence, as the salarian finished his input sequence, resulting in a hologram of a naked and very erect turian male appearing above his desk. Shepard couldn't help but notice how endowed the turian seemed to be... and were those ridges? Absently, she reached out towards the hologram, disrupting the light sequence and causing the hologram to flicker.
Shepard's voice was meek and tiny when she continued.
"On second thought, I understand your concern."
Shepard poked at the hologram once more, her eyes as wide as saucers. She turned her head to the side as the hologram rotated.
"So that's what happens with the plating..." she mumbled, half under her breath.
Mordin just blinked.
"Recommend caution. Warn of chafing."
Shepard cleared her throat.
"Umm... I can see why. Any other recommendations, as my doctor?"
"Matter of fact...yes. Take a seat, Shepard. Will be here a while."
This was getting ridiculous, Jack thought as she casually observed Shepard and Vakarian, sitting as far apart from each other on the other side of the shuttle as they could without falling out the door. Assholes never shut their damned mouths, and yet they hadn't said a word to each other the entire time they were on Pragia. Not that she was complaining; it was nice to just kill things without Shepard's running commentary or the turian's "One less to worry about" outburst every time he had a lucky shot. Jack was all for the quiet.
Still... it was out of character, and that bothered her. Something was up, and she wasn't in the know. She flipped the detonator from one hand to the other as she considered, and gave Shepard a look. And when she was sure she had the woman's attention, she pushed the button.
The results did not disappoint.
Shepard's eyes widened in disbelief. She banged on the door to the cockpit, a not so subtle message for the pilot to haul ass.
They barely cleared the blast radius when the shockwave hit, sending the shuttle on its side and Commander Shepard right into Vakarian's lap.
Shepard looked at Vakarian and bit her lip. Vakarian abruptly went rigid, his eyes narrowed and honed in on Shepard's mouth. He gave Shepard a look that was almost predatory.
Jack didn't have a thing for turians, but if such a look was directed her way she'd probably consider it.
Shepard paled, cleared her throat and shifted uncomfortably in his lap... which resulted in a low, but still audible growl from Vakarian.
The two of them stayed like that far longer than necessary before hastily resuming their previous positions.
Shepard coughed into her hand and shot Jack a desperate, almost pleading look.
No fucking way.
Jack's mouth fell open in disbelief. Shepard and Vakarian?
She turned away and looked out the window, wishing that the shuttle would hurry the hell up and get back to the Normandy. Things in her little corner of space on the engineering deck were a lot less complicated and made a helluva lot more sense.