Into the Night
Shepard's arms were snuggly wrapped around Tali's gentle body as he ascended the stairs. Yellow lights were tucked under the lips of each stair illuminating the stairwell with a honeyed glow. Shepard's bare feet clapped against the hard wood finally reaching the last step.
"Tali, I can't open the door without my hands." Tali looked away from his eyes and stared at the door.
"What do you want me to do Shepard," she joked caressing the back of his head. He smiled back at her in the dimly lit staircase with the yellow light splashing over his friendly face.
"Open the door please or I think I am going to drop you." He peeked over his shoulder at the stairs. "That is a long way down." Tali leapt out of his arms, clasped the metallic door handle and exhaled a breath of air. She twisted the knob and cool air rushed past her helmet as Shepard put his hands on her waist pushing her into the room. The walls changed to an eggplant shade setting the mood for the evening. The ceiling was translucent letting the subtle blue light of the evening pour into the room. Tali's eye flickered around the room like an insect soaking up all of its features. She loved it all, the rich deep purple colored walls, the crisp white leather furniture, and the light airy white bed sheets that matched the curtains which rippled in the affable ocean breeze. Tali walked through the open French doors leading outside She could hear the breath of the ocean rush past her mask as she carefully walked onto the second story patio that was bathing under the evening light. The gray slate tiles on the patio were blued from the evening sky along with the white fabric of the patio furniture.
"Shepard, come out her with me," Tali whispered holding out her hand for him to grab. His hand slipped into hers and they both walked out on the patio. "It is beautiful Shepard." She spun around and gabbed his other hand walking backwards pulling him to the balcony that peered at the ocean. The small of her back pressed up against the brushed aluminum railing as Shepard pressed his form against hers. Tali slipped a hand against the side of his face and her thumb touched with his ear while her heart raced staring into his eyes.
"Turn around Tali. Enjoy the ocean and the sunset," Shepard told her. "It is beautiful." Tali smiled and turned off Shepard omni-tool deactivating his translator. Her fingers ran up the side of his arm like a spider. They reached his shoulder and her arm went around the back of his head pulling his forehead against hers.
"Not as beautiful as you," Tali spoke in English to Shepard. "Shepard, I love you with all my heart." Shepard grinned and let out a bulb of laughter as his eyes glazed over slightly. He put a hand on her chest and opened his mouth trying to speak.
"The flame that I know is flickering in there is what kept me going. Without that flame, I…I would have never hurdled the many obstacles I have. Tali, I would be a broken man right now if it weren't for you. I have something to fight for… I fight for you, Tali." Tali grinned being able to understand what he told her. Her hands made their way up to her face towards the seals of her mask. "Tali wait," Shepard timidly said, but she shook off his hands. The mask hissed and she pulled it away from her head showing Shepard her grinning face. Her gentle lips were curled into a friendly smile, her eyes warm and benevolent, and her features placid. One of her fingers crawled their way to his lips; being able to see his face with no obstructions was wonderful.
"Shepard," she started, her eyes darting over his features. "You are the bwest ting dawt ever happened to me," she spoke to him from the bottom of her heart that raced like pistons from an engine through her thick quarian accent. Her face slowly came closer to his and she closed her eyes. His facial hair crackled against her chin as their lips met, his nose rubbing against her soft cheek, the taste of his lips…the rush was just the same as the first time. They slowed and she pulled her face away from his, her eyes still closed. She could feel his hands grab her thin shoulders and squeeze. Slowly, she opened her eyes and her smile went from ear to ear. Tali placed her two arms on his shoulders and Tali's six fingers locked together on the back of his head. They stared into each other's eyes for what seemed like hours enjoying the pleasure of looking at each other. Tali slowly blinked and twirled around staring off into the distance. Lighting silently shot through the clouds illuminating the massive peaceful pillows of water vapor. Briny oceanic breeze enveloped Tali's bare face caressing her neck like a warm kiss. Her eyelashes tickled as the warm air pecked away at them channeling through the curves on her face. "I now know what you were tawlking about Shepard. It fweels…amazing. I can smell the ocean."
"I know Tali, it is a great sensation." His powerful arms folded around her waist and he set his head on her shoulder. Tali looked to her left and her eyes locked onto his. She smiled and pecked him on the lips. They both grinned and Shepard finally pulled the mask away from her hands. He glared at her mask, but brought his gaze back to her face. He raised the purple visor but Tali batted it away still smiling, her diamond like eyes sparkling.
"One more," she asked still in English. Shepard chuckled and gave her one last kiss.
"I don't want you to get sick Tali," he told her placing the mask back on her face.
"Tali, your English isn't that bad. I like hearing the actual you, it is nice. I guess I should learn some quarian." Tali laughed and hugged him.
"You do not hawf to Shepard."
Tali glanced back at the ocean and shut her eyes trying to remember every detail of the ocean breeze so she could revisit it anytime she wanted to. The sound of the waves thundering against the beach, the salty smell, and the liberating feel of the wind… was all wonderful.
"Tali, lets head inside and see what this surprise is Kelly mentioned." Tali opened her eyes and grabbed Shepard hand walking into the bedroom. It was roughly the size of Shepard's personal quarters but felt more open due to the clear ceiling. Tali looked to her feet at the odd soft fabric lining the floor.
"Shepard, why is the floor squishy." Shepard looked at Tali cocking an eyebrow. He powered on his omni-tool and pressed a few buttons.
"Sorry, you just spoke Khelish and I didn't understand a word you said." Tali laughed and repeated her question. "Oh, it is carpet. It is a type of flooring. I haven't seen this stuff in ages!" Tali watched his bare feet dig into the soft fabric wishing she could do the same. Her eyes locked onto a familiar box on a table surrounded by two chairs.
"Look, Kelly brought us the Mako model. How thoughtful," Tali commented picking up the box.
"Hey Tali, come over here."
Tali twirled around looking at Shepard who was standing in a doorway that led into a small room. Tali skipped over to him and peeked into the room Shepard called a bathroom. The floor was tiled with slate that had pink beads embedded in the rock. The room had hidden lights giving it a friendly homey atmosphere. There was a porcelain bowl, two sinks, and a shower.
"Shepard, what is that?" Shepard walked over the glass door and opened it.
"A shower." Tali stepped inside scrutinizing it.
"Why is it so big? I could live inside of this!" Shepard laughed and pulled her away.
"No, I won't allow you to live in a shower Tali." Shepard flicked off the bathroom lights and something appeared that wasn't there before. The pink speckles in the tiles illuminated like small fires in a dark pit. Everything clicked together. Vintiva said to stay for the night. Tali shut her eyes remembering everything she saw. These pink pebbles in the sand is chewed up coral. Her heart raced as everything fell into place. The whole beach is filled with these pellets of coral and the ocean floor is covered with choral. She remembers The Dome and how the choral was bioluminescent along with the fish. Vintiva said wait until it gets dark, that means…
"Shepard, we need to go outside right now!"
"Why?" Shepard's face then revealed that he placed all the pieces of the puzzle together. Tali walked out of the bathroom and headed towards the stairs. The walls changed color to a baby blue as it sensed the incline of heart beats trying to calm down Tali and Shepard using colors. The lights dimmed as Tali pulled open the door and raced down the stairs. She landed on the first floor with a thump and spun around checking on Shepard. He jumped over four stairs and purposely stumbled into Tali.
"Got you Shepard!"
"I know you do; now it is time for me to get you!" Tali pushed him away and sprinted through the villa trying to escape her pursuer.
"No Shepard, stop it," she screamed playfully yanking open the door to the terracing porch. Tali ran behind the large table and grasped it looking at Shepard who was standing on the opposite side like a predatory animal waiting for her to make a mistake.
"I am gunna get you Tali!"
"No you aren't!" She spun around and jumped off the porch sprinting towards the ocean. Tali could hear Shepard's footsteps from behind, which made her run faster. "No Shepard, get away from me!" Her legs got tangled by something and she landed in the sand, but was cradled by Shepard before impacting.
"Got you!" Tali squealed hiding her face in his chest. "Tali look around." She let go of Shepard's shirt with her fists and her jaw dropped.
"Keelah." The sand had millions of glowing pink particles scattered about. It looked like millions of fiber optic cables sticking their heads up from the ground as the coral glowed. Shepard grabbed a handful of sand and playfully sprinkled it on her face. She watched glowing grains tumble off her mask back onto the beach. While on her back in Shepard's arms, she gazed up at the stone edifice eyeing the massive mushroom shaped mountain. Tendrils of icy colored vines were glowing, aimlessly making their way through eroded crevasses on the surface of the rock.
"Look Shep. The vines are magnificent." Shepard looked up at the rock examining the thousands of glowing veins. It appeared that they were pulsating, shooting light through each tendrils giving the rock animation. Shepard grabbed Tali from under her legs and braced his arm around her back carrying her towards the shore.
"I think I see something more magnificent Tali. Look out over the horizon." Tali tore her adoring gaze away from Shepard and peered out over the ocean. The clouds were a sapphire blue with traces of pink ribbons sprawled out on the bottom of the clouds as the sun disappeared behind the planet. A surge of lighting rippled through the cloud silently. But this wasn't the amazing thing Tali saw. The ocean had an attenuate glow to it that seemed to get more tenacious as the sun dipped behind Illium.
"Is that the coral reef glowing Shep," Tali asked jumping out of his arms.
"Yeah, that is them."
Tali could see schools of fish swimming through the water like a flame getting caught in a breeze. They reached the water's edge and Tali sat down on the fringe of the shore where the sand was dry. She tucked her knees under her chin and wrapped her thin arms around her shins. Shepard Sat down next to her with a sigh and put his left arm around her shoulder. Tali leaned into him resting her head into the crook on his neck staring out over the massive body of water. It didn't seem so big and scary to Tali at night. It was still intimidating, but she found it to be comforting, like a blanket. Through the nightmares she has been having the past several nights, she found Shepard's sheets the most comforting object to calm her nerves. They smelled of the sweet detergent and had Shepard's scent to them. Tali looked to her right at Shepard's face through the fading light. He gazed over the ocean smiling.
"Shep, what are you thinking about?" He slowly turned his head and looked at Tali. A wave raced up the beach and spilled its warm arms over Shepard's feet. He looked away from Tali for a moment and watched the frothy water race back into the ocean.
"What do you think I am thinking about Tali," he whispered back staring deep into her eyes. Surprisingly, she didn't blush, but her stomach churned and bubbled with the same sensation she has been feeling for the past several years. She didn't answer his question as she already knew what was running through his thoughts. "I never thought I would be spending time like this with you when I first met you." He grabbed her hand looking it over using the pale light from the several moons above their heads that shined like white disks.
"I know what you mean Shepard." Tali stood up looking down at Shepard with her two hands extended wanting him to grab them. His fingers laced with hers and she pulled him towards the water. The bellies of the clouds were as flat as a pane of glass and the pink changed to a maroon as the sun got lower. Stars pierced the crepuscular sky like jewels resting against black fabric. Tepid water crashed against Tali's shins as she wadded into the ocean clasping onto Shepard's hands. Fiery tangerine fish swirled between her legs igniting the colorless water to a blazing glow. Senile waves lapped against her thighs as they went deeper into the ocean finally stopping when the water reached waist level. Shepard trudged next to Tali and looked out at the expansive ocean unraveled before them.
"I feel so small Shepard," Tali commented. She baptized her hand in the briny ocean wishing she could feel its warm embrace. Speckles of pink dotted the ocean floor shining their light through the crystal water. Tali smiled back at the comforting lights and walked back to the beach sitting back down on the dry sand. Shepard set his hands behind his head and lay on his back looking up at the stars. Tali set her head on his chest and gazed up at the sky. Pin pricks of light twinkled back at her like they were greeting the two.
"Keelah, it is beautiful tonight. I can remember looking out the window on the Rayya before going to bed. I loved the night aboard the flotilla, it was so special." Tali's feet dug into the sand, her two toes curling up grabbing the sandy beads. She could hear Shepard's heart beating, his subtle stomach grumbles, and his slow breathing. I am in the perfect place. Tali looked away from the sky and stared up at Shepard's face. Her stomach swirled with emotion as his thumb stroked her face. Tali's eyes followed his thumb's every move. The sound of the diminutive waves splashing against the sand calmed her down. The Reapers, Harbinger…nothing was important to her at the moment except for Shepard. Everything for just that short moment seemed to be right. Tali sighed running her hands over his arms feeling his strength and muscles. This is real. She fought back the lump in her throat and rifled her hand in her pockets pulling out a small seashell Shepard gave her earlier. She set it on his chest and poked it with her finger. The shell glowed, even though it wasn't living. Her eyes narrowed blurring her vision of the shell so it looked like a purple cloud of light. The two of them lay in the sand enjoying each other's company. Never in Tali's life did she think a dream she had two years ago would come true.
"Shepard," she purred.
"Yes," he whispered back.
"Thank you." Shepard stirred from the two words that came out of her mouth.
"Thank you for what Tali?"
She didn't know where to start and where to end. Everything Shepard has done for her…she was not able to express though words, emotion, or touch. They went on the greatest adventure together though space that rivals the stories she heard when she was a child. He saved her life many times and gave her a purpose to exist. He was always there for her when no one else was. Most importantly, Shepard gave her love. Shepard grabbed the seashell from his chest, grabbed both of Tali's gentle hands, and sat up with a concerned look on his face.
"Never mind," she quietly told him looking away. Shepard's finger slipped under her chin. She looked up at Shepard's face through the tears welling in the corners of her eyes. She sniffled and rubbed the back of his head, his short hair feeling like velvet. Emotions overwhelmed her as he smiled at her respecting what she said. Tali threw her leg over his thighs and sat in his lap. "You have given me so much Shepard. You have done so much for me… I don't know how to thank you."
"Tali, you don't have to thank me for anything." She threw herself at him embracing his large frame. Tears tumbled down her cheek slipping into her mouth.
"I…I know, it just…never mind. Let's get back to the villa." Tali let go of him and stood up grabbing his hand affectionately. Tali pulled on his arm, but he didn't budge. Confused, she pulled him harder and he only moved a little bit. "You fat bosh'tet Shepard, stop playing with me!" Shepard laughed and helped her out using his legs.
"Sorry, I had to."
"What, you like watching me struggle?"
Shepard grinned and threw his arm around her shoulder.
"No…okay, maybe sometimes."
Tali poked him in the rib and looked up at the villa. Light was thrown up on the walls of the villa from stowed away bulbs hidden in the sand. It looks like home. Their footsteps echoed off the wooden porch; the bleached boards creaking, rubbing against the nails. Shepard opened the door and they both walked inside and up the stairs to the bedroom. The walls were back to its normal eggplant shade with the lights dim hidden in the interesting molding on the ceiling. The roof was clear and Tali gazed up at the three moons in the black sky.
"Tali, I am going to take a shower really fast, I am filthy from today." Tali looked at Shepard and nodded her head letting go of his hand. He shut the bathroom door behind him and she could hear water drumming against the hard surface. Tali's eyes caught a holographic data display on the wall. She walked over to it and pressed a button. The display lit up blue and asked her if she wanted music.
"Oh, this is going to be fun." She tapped several more buttons and slow music began to play. Her foot started tapping against the ground and she carefully looked around the room. "Hum, what's this?" Tali walked over to a mini bar that was hidden in an alcove in the wall. The frosted glass counter top was lit from the inside and glowed white. I don't really get this, there is a kitchen downstairs. Her attention turned to the French doors that were open letting Illium's cool night breeze into the villa. Tali walked outside and spun around opening her omni-tool. 1 New Message. Curious, Tali opened it and saw it was from Kelly.
"What could this be?" Her finger tapped the green tab and a picture slid into view. She snickered at the picture. It was an image of Tali on top of Shepard in the surf right after their soccer victory.
Just thought you would like this image to keep. I heard Shepard say something about you two keeping an album. Hope you like this one.
Tali grinned, saved the image, and sent a quick thank you message.
"Hey Tali, you are tracking sand all over the place." Tali jumped at the voice which was so familiar that sounded from behind.
"Oh Keelah, you are right." Tali looked at the feet and noticed a trail of glowing pink spherules from everywhere she walked. She brushed the sand off her body and dusted the slate tiles with illuminated beads.
"If you hop in the shower really fast, you can wash off."
"Really? Okay, I will be right out." Tali skipped towards the bathroom door and entered. Shepard winked at her and Tali closed the door. Wow, this is huge! She looked around at the bathroom. The mirror and glass shower door was fogged up from the scolding water that Shepard used moments ago. Tali pulled open the door and shut it behind her. The shower was larger than her room on the Neema. The whole room was covered in small tiles with beads of pink coral embedded in the surface. Dim lights were again hiding in the crown molding swabbing the room with dull yellow light that went well with the tile. Tali looked at the brushed aluminum shower heads that were flat against the wall. There were several that surrounded her including some hanging on the ceiling. She tapped a red button and the water spilled out of the heads. Surprised, Tali took a step back.
"Just like the ones on both Normandy's." Tali stepped in the spouting water rinsing off the salty film on her mask and the sand stuck in her suits creases. The pink beads swirled around the drain and the water swept them away. Tali heard knocking on the door and Shepard's voice.
"Hey Tali, make sure to use a towel to dry off. I noticed the floor was slick in my cabin last time you cleaned your suit.
"Okay Shepard." Tali turned off the shower and peeked her head out of the shower looking for a towel. Trying not to get the floor wet, her arm darted from the shower and grabbed Shepard's damp towel. "You idiot Tali, you forgot to dry yourself off last time." The water rolled off her purple cloths and dripped to the floor as she ran the towel over her body drying off. She pushed open the door and looked around the room. Shepard was at the mini bar filling up a cup of water from the sink.
"Why is there a bar up here?"
Shepard spun around and looked at Tali who approached him.
"Just a luxury item," he said back circling his finger around the ring of the cup. "I don't see any sand or water on your suit."
"Did I do a good job," she asked spinning around.
"Yeah and look at what I found." Shepard grabbed Tali and led her to the bed. "Lay down." Tali grinned and her back was enveloped by the soft mattress. Nervous, her hands laced together on her lap. "Close your eyes."
"Tali. Close your eyes." She followed his order and noticed the lights dim through her eyelids. What is he doing? She felt him lay down next to her.
"Okay, open your eyes." Tali opened her eyes and what she saw was baffling.
"What in the…Shepard?" The ceiling had white threads shooting in all direction. The ceiling was clear and the threads were shooting towards stars and thin white circles formed around every star that was visible in the night sky while small text appeared next to each sun.
"So, which one do you want to visit," Shepard asked. Tali was speechless as she stared up at the holographic text and threads.
"I…I don't know," she stuttered. "Go to Haestrom's sun, right there!" Shepard pointed a small remote at the ceiling and clicked on Haestrom. The ceiling zooming in on the star like a telescope and the star was slowly spinning casting its red rays throughout the room. "Wow. What I would give to have this as a kid!" They listened to the cool female voice describe the star and its planets along with some quarian history.
"They didn't say anything about the star dying!" Shepard laughed at her frustration. "Well it is understandable since it was top secret and all."
"Tali, did they get the quarian history right?" Tali looked at Shepard through the dim light.
"Yeah they did." She looked back at the star on the ceiling and the thought of losing her team swirled into her head.
"You okay Tali," Shepard asked sitting up gingerly patting her thigh.
"Yeah I am fine." She blocked out the bad memories and sat up on the bed grabbing his hand.
"Do you think human feet are really that bad looking?"
Tali was startled at his question.
"Oh no, I um…it was just a shtupid joke I pulled on Ken, I didn't mean it to hurt your feelings! I love your feet," she almost yelled shaking her head.
"Tali, it was a joke," Shepard informed her laughing.
"I am sorry, wait… you bosh'tet!" Tali ginned and grabbed a pillow smacking him in the face with it.
"Oh, are you trying to start something Tali?"
"No," she purred deviously. Shepard grabbed a pillow and pushed it into her face forcing her back into the mattress. "Gah!" Shepard laughed and jumped on Tali pinning her to the bed. Tali blindly flailed her pillow around trying to make contact.
"You missed me Tali! Oh, missed me again." Shepard taunted her yelling over her playful giggles when her pillow smashed into his head. Tali seized this opportunity pushing him off her stomach with a fist. She went to her knees holding the pillow in front of her like a shield.
"You know Shepard, I am good at hand to hand combat," she added playfully with her sparkling eyes peeking over her large pillow.
"Tali, I am a Spectre, you really think you are going to beat me?"
"Yes." Her arm snapped out with the pillow, but Shepard dodged it. He slipped off the bed and tried to flank Tali. She screamed leaping off the bed. She spun around and saw Shepard crawl over the bed lunging for her, but he got hit in the face by Tali's pillow. He crumpled to the ground laughing. "Don't be so aggressive Shepard."
"Aggressive, who said I was aggressive!" His pillow flung at Tali's legs trying to get a hit off her. It slapped off her shins making her almost stumble. Noticing he was open for another shot, Tali slapped the top of his head with her pillow. Shepard stood up lighting fast and got into a low stance.
"Shepard, I am winning," she said taunting him. A smirk slid across his lips and he threw his pillow at Tali. Taking her off guard, it contacted her face with a thud.
"What was that," she yelled at him anticipating another attack which came in the form of another pillow hurdling through the air. Tali ducked and ran towards the two chairs around the small table using it as cover. "You missed!"
"Oh yeah, I won't miss you with this!" Tali's eyes went wide when she was Shepard pull off the blanket from the bed.
"What in Keelah are you doing?" She cowered behind the chair as Shepard sprinted towards her with the blanket out like a net.
"Catching you!" Tali curled up in a ball and felt the blanket envelope her form. Squealing, Shepard grabbed her through the blanket tucking it under her bottom tying her up in a sack.
"No Shepard!" He pulled the gap close and dragged her across the floor laughing.
"You…you are a bagged," he panted through laughter.
"Where are you taking me," she yelled.
"No, don't you dare!" Tali punched her fist through the opening where Shepard had his hands clamped. She brandished her pillow and smacked Shepard in the face with it. He let go of the bag and she crawled out of it frantically looking around trying to find him, but she was too late. Two powerful arms were snug around her stomach lifting her in the air. "Not the stairs Shepard, not the stairs!" He cradled her tightly dragging her out on the second floor patio.
"Not the stairs Tali, I am going to throw you over the edge of the porch!" She tried to speak through her laughter, but couldn't as she fought against him. She broke his grip and she melted into the white rippling curtains hiding from view.
"Sto…stop it please," she panted through laughing. A familiar face came into view as Shepard drifted into the thick asari made curtains.
"I won Tali. You surrendered," he quipped pulling her forehead against his. She could smell his refreshing minty breath as he spoke. Tali grabbed his hand leading him over towards a lounge chair.
"Shepard, give me another back rub. Just like the one you gave me at The Dome," she asked through a seductive purr. Shepard straddled the lounge chair and patted his lap. Tali jumped into it and pushed her shoulder blades out like a cat would. She could feel his fist press into the small of her back and work its way up. "You are seriously good at this Shepard, oh yeah." Through her squinting eyes she observed the tranquil ocean. The moons white reflections skipped off the calm water as it gave off an ambrosial glow from the coral. The waves cooed off in the distance like a mother singing a child to sleep. The clouds would light up with lightning off in the distance transforming the sentinel black pillows into white mountains.
"Shepard, can we stay here forever?"
His hands rubbed her shoulders and she closed her eyes waiting or an answer.
"I would love to, but you know…we have mission to finish first," he whispered in her ear.
"Oh yeah, I forgot about that," she joked.
"After all of this is done, I would love to."
Through squinting eyes, Tali watched over the glass like ocean thinking to herself… about the future, about the Reapers, about Shepard. This was a fine evening…
Into the Night and Beyond
Calm music cooed in the background as Shepard held Tali tight against his body. Waves thundered against the glowing sand off in the distance followed by a hiss as the water retreated back into the ocean. Tali shifted in Shepard's lap slipping her hands into his sighing.
"What are you laughing about," whispered Tali looking up into his face grinning. He shook his head.
"Nothing." Tali patted his chest with an open hand.
"Come on, tell me."
"That brain freeze you got earlier how did that feel?"
"That hurt," she purred, "Garrus is always trying to get on my nerves." Shepard laughed and squeezed Tali. "He is like a brother I have never had."
"Same here Tali, we have been through a lot together."
Lightning flashed illuminating the clouds shortly followed by a crack of thunder. Tali jumped slightly, but Shepard's arm came around her back pulling her closer.
"It's going to rain soon, I can smell it in the air," Shepard commented then released a sigh of regret.
"Shepard, it is fine," Tali whispered squeezing his hand peering off into the distanced. "If you don't mind me asking, what does it smell like?"
"It smells," he began inhaling, "Sweet and comforting… like a," Shepard tried to finish, but was cut off by a sudden down pour of rain. "Gah, run Tali!" Startled, Tali jumped off his lap standing beside the chair staring up into the sky.
"I think I am going to stand right here," she said closing her eyes listening to the rain patter off the hard patio floor and off her visor like fingers drumming against fabric. She slowly opened her eyes looking at Shepard who was standing in the safety of the villa. Tali held out her two hands wanting him to come grab them, wanting to feel his touch.
"I don't want to get wet Tali," he mumbled from the safety of the villa.
"Oh come on Shepard, for me." Tali little hands opened and closed wanting him to grab them. "I bet the rain feels good on your skin." Thunder clapped again, louder this time causing Tali to jump as she is not used to this planetary phenomenon. She sprinted towards Shepard slipping her hands around his waist hugging him.
"No Tali I told you I didn't feel like getting wet!"
"Shepard, for such a though guy," she started burrowing her head into his neck and chest, "you can be a little wimp."
"Me a wimp Tali, I am a badass," he joked returning the embrace.
"Well come outside with me." Shepard looked over her head outside.
"You see the lighting Tali? If that hits you, it can kill you." Tali spun around in his arms peering outside. The rain was coming down fierce, like the sky was purging itself from its watery burden. The exterior lights had yellowed halos around them as the light caught the plummeting spheres of water. Tali let her legs go limp wanting to sit down on the soft carpet. Shepard followed and had Tali lean against his chest as they stared out over the ocean. The warm rain drummed against the glass windows playfully. Tali's eyes traced the droplets race each other to the wooden edge of the French doors. Their paths were erratic, arbitrary as they ran down the smooth glass. Shepard whispered something into her ear, so quiet she couldn't make it out. She didn't care for she knew that was the point. Grabbing Shepard's hands and cupping them together with hers on her waist, she closed her eyes and leaned her head back against his shoulder. The two listened to the rain patter against the hard floor like hundreds of bare feet dancing away in the night.
"Tali… you know the sound of rain is supposed to be romantic amongst humans," Shepard whispered into her ear squeezing her hands.
"I can see why," she cooed back relaxing all her muscles. "Let's just sit here for a little bit." She felt Shepard's warm embrace tighten answering her request. Lighting blitzed through the clouds giving them an alluring effulgence. Tali blinked at its brilliance and nervously grabbed at Shepard's hands waiting for the thundering boom which never came. Light just rippled through the vaporous mountains harmlessly.
"Why was there no boom," Tali asked curiously looking around.
"The storm is passing by," he whispered rocking her gentle form. The rain slowed to a drizzle trickling off the patio's slight inclined surface.
"I was enjoying it," Tali whispered slightly depressed.
"Do you want to start on the Mako model," Shepard asked peering over his shoulder at the box. Tali's spirits lifted and jumped out of his lap.
"Definitely!" She grabbed his hands hoisting him up to his feet, the floor creaking slightly. The ceiling was back to its normal translucent state and the walls a bituminous gray. Tali sat in one of the radically ergonomic chairs scooting it closer to the table.
"I hate these damn packages," Shepard cursed under his breath clawing at the vacuum packaged plastic. Grinning, Tali plucked open her leather pouch and brandished her multi-tool. Shepard looked up and smiled warmly handing her the package. "Looks like you finally get to use that."
"Yep, I memorized where all the blades and tools are." Tali flicked open a four inch blade and ran it down the seam of the package. Anxiously, she threw off the plastic package and set the box on the table. "Do you want to open it Shepard," she asked, her eyes sparkling like rubies. Shepard grabbed her hands and placed them on the box.
"You go ahead and open it Tali."
"Thank you." Tali's hands opened the orange and white paper lid. She peeked inside of the mysterious box looking over all the plastic pieces, paint brushes, and paint bottles. "You know Shepard, I have only put together a new model from a box once before. It was a special occasion."
"What was the occasion," Shepard asked taking the trays of plastic out from the box.
"It was my thirteenth birthday; my mom gave it to me. She bought it from a ship that came in from someone's Pilgrimage and they had a huge box full of model ships stored in the back. It was one the best gifts I have ever received."
"Tali, when is your birthday exactly," Shepard asked raising an eyebrow.
"Oh um, it is…sorry Shepard," she said chuckling looking into his eyes blushing fiercely, "Notice how I said the model was one of the best gifts I received? Well my birthday was the day before Fist's thugs attacked me, or well…I attacked them. I thought it was a miserable birthday because I had been shot, but all that changed when you came for me. I guess that is what you call a late birthday present," she said chuckling holding a small glass paint vial with her two fingers. Her mind raced with the thoughts she had when she first saw Shepard. I was young and hot headed. I was angrier at him for killing the bosh'tets and not letting me take care of them. Tali watched Shepard take out the instructions and unfold them. "What are you doing," Tali asked looking at the paper.
"We are going to build this model aren't we?" Tali snickered at her quarian ignorance.
"Yes, this is true." Shepard cocked his head moving his chair next to hers. Tali put a hand up to her face plate hiding her heated cheeks. "Sorry Shepard… you know how I am quarian and everything, I don't use the instructions… well you know, for an extra challenge." Shepard's eye widened looking at the hundreds of pieces.
"Uh… is that possible?"
"Come on, we will do this together," Tali reassuringly told him grabbing both his hands. "I was the one to repair the Mako after the missions, so I have a good idea of where everything goes."
"If you say so Tali."
Tali chuckled suddenly remembering a funny moment back on the SR1.
"I remember after Noveria, I had to change the transmission," Tali started, and then looked at Shepard's face noticing it get red, "Yeah, you remember. You stripped the clutch Shepard."
"Be quiet Tali," he quipped embarrassed. Tali shook her head and started telling the story again.
"Well I had Wrex under the Mako with me. He was putting some jacks under the transmission when I made a mistake by taking out the last bolt. I had the transmission fall on Wrex by accident."
"Oh, I bet he wasn't happy about that!"
"No he wasn't, but I made up some excuse for my mistake… which he bought." Tali pulled her hand away from the face plate grinning with her cheeks cooling off. "Now, let's get to work." Tali let go of his hand and they began assembling the model. Shepard finally stopped asking, "Where does this go," and just became the official painter.
"You have a steady hand Shepard," Tali commented arching her back cracking it. Shepard's face was fully concentrated on what he was doing. She couldn't help but grin looking into his face while he painted. His mouth was partially open and he was gnawing on his tongue. He looked so innocent and frivolous while painting the Mako. His brush strokes were methodical, almost machine like as he ran the silver paint down the sides of the Mako. The rain drizzled outside as the clouds were beginning to empty. It went in harmony with the slow music Tali picked out that played in the villa.
"Going to get some water for my brush, be right back." Tali looked up at Shepard as he walked downstairs to get a cup from the kitchen. Tali glued one last piece together finally getting the turret preparing for its paint job. She carefully set the turret in Shepard's "paint shop" and stood up to stretch. Tali went behind the chair and leaned her bottom on the back of the seat. Her arms were thrown into the air with her hands curled into tight fists.
"Oh Shepard!" Tali caught her captain from the corner of her eye leaning against the door frame staring at her. "I was just stretching," she whispered pushing her arms out in front of her twisting them. She turned to face him as he just stood in the shadows looking at her. "Shepard?" Tali put her hand up to her forehead confused. "You are staring." Shepard slowly walked over to her setting the cup down on the table. He slowly stood up straight staring at Tali who stood in front of him. The whole world stopped spinning as she watching him smile, his skin looking darker in the dim light. Life sparkled in his eyes. It was a look Tali hasn't seen in years from the captain she has grown to love.
"Tali, you really want to go outside in the rain, don't you," he asked tying his arms around her waist like ribbons. She turned around and gazed outside at the weather that was so esoteric to her.
"I would like that," she hummed back pulling Shepard towards the second floor patio. The storm calmed down to a whisper, but still the clouds released water. "I thought you said if the lightning hit us we could die?" Shepard stuck a hand outside and looked up in the air with his mouth open.
"I think the lightning has passed. Come on." Tali could hear the rain tap against her hood playfully. Beads of water slipped off her mask, each spherule racing each other to the bottom of her mask.
"I thought you didn't want to get wet Shepard?"
"I can get wet for you Tali," he croaked pushing her towards the balcony while thunder rolled off in the distance. Tali peered out over the expansive body of water. She could see where the moons were trying to penetrate the thick blanket of clouds by several dim white halos. The water was particularly calm, but the falling rain made it appear to be alive.
"Don't you dare take off your mask Tali, I know you want to," Shepard whispered over the falling rain and roaring waves.
"I know. I think I have something from the past several nights," she whispered back through a sniffle. They both laughed at the irony. Tali's hands slipped through the wet railing scraping the droplets of water off the metal pole. She looked at the water on her open palm wanting to taste it without getting sick. She wanted to taste the unpurified, ocean tainted water that fell from the clouds. She spun around looking at Shepard. Dark spots dotted blue shirt as the rain saturated the cloth on his torso.
"I never really got to appreciate rain," Shepard told her. "Being aboard starships all my life and whenever it rained when I was in the Alliance, it just made things miserable. I can remember being stuck in muddy fox holes and you had to keep yourself awake to make sure you don't drown in all that-." Shepard was cut off by Tali's finger pressing against his lips.
"Don't think about that here Shepard. We are supposed to be creating good memories, not reflecting on bad ones."
"I know, it is just my whole life is full of bad ones Tali." Tali closed her eyes put her head into his chest and muttered,"Same with me."
"Why don't we make more good memories Shepard?"
"And what are you suggesting Tali," he asked seductively. His grin disappeared when he noticed Tali slowly shaking her hips. "Tali no, I am not dancing." His tone was serious.
"Come on Shepard." She began to grind her backside into his waist.
"That worked before Tali…it won't work this time." Tali groaned and grabbed his hands. It felt like she was holding two dead fish instead of his usual warm embrace. She chuckled and started shaking his arms. "Tali, really."
"You really are persistent Tali, you know that?" She nodded her head wildly as his grip came to life. "Okay, it is time for me to teach you some human moves. The quarian dance is too much. I learned this way back in the day. We have been using this dance since you still lived on Rannoch." Shepard put his hands on her waist. Tali watched him try to remember where to place his feet and where Tali needed to put her hands. She just grinned and put both of her hands the back of his head caressing his short hair.
"Shepard, you can calm down," she snorted, "It is just me you are dancing with. There is no need to be nervous around Tali." Shepard shoulders hung lower and he loosened up staring at his feet. "Shepard," she started placing her finger under his chin lifting his gaze to eye level, "Look here." The creases on his eyebrows melted away as he stared into Tali's face. "You told me that there is nothing to be nervous about, so you shouldn't be nervous about anything around me," she sincerely whispered in a loving tone.
"I know Tali. It is just dancing is a weakness of mine." Tali gathered courage from deep down.
"Shepard, you know dancing isn't what I am talking about." Her feet were swimming in between Shepard's as they slowly danced. Shepard smiled warmly and nodded his head agreeing with what she said to him. Tali ran her leg up the outside of his and stared sensually into his eyes.
"I don't remember ever being taught that move," remarked Shepard lightly touching her shoulder.
"That is a quarian move Shep." The rain kept its steady beat as it continuously poured from the heavy clouds above romantically setting the mood. Lighting ignited the clouds immediately following a boom.
"Okay, it is getting dangerous out here and I doubt The Illusive Man would want to rebuild me again, or you in that fact," Shepard yelled above the roar of the thunder. He led Tali back inside and towards the bathroom. He flicked on the light with his free hand and grabbed a towel. "I don't have any clothes to wear."
"Oh, you are right." Shepard tossed the towel over her thin shoulders and began toweling off her voluptuous body off. Tali grabbed his wrist and brought his hand up to her face running the towel over her veil. The rain water streaked, his features becoming undulated in the amber light of the bathroom. Tali had become exponentially comfortable around him and could hold a dreamy gaze without blushing. Her three fingers played with his five as he moved closer to her with his breath fogging the outside of her mask. Shepard pulled the towel tight around her body pressing hers against his. Her hands lay on his chest feeling his slow yet powerful breaths.
"Tali, you haven't blinked in like a minute," Shepard informed her through a whisper.
"Why would I want to blink, I don't want to miss anything," she shot back rubbing his chest. Shepard just smiled and traced a finger up her back from underneath the towel sending shivers shooting through her body. Tali shuddered and went on her toes from the feeling of his touch.
"You like that?"
"Oh yes…I did." He let go of the towel releasing Tali from its grip. He pulled off his drenched t-shirt and slapped it towards the corner of the bathroom. Tali handed him her towel as her eyes scrutinized his back. He had scars that looked like craters on a moon, jagged ones that resembled the ones from Wrex's face, and a familiar one under his arm that was unmistakable. "Shepard…I didn't realize you had so many wounds. I thought the Lazarus Project would have taken care of all those." Her fingers lightly ran down his bare back. "I see the one you received from the krogan while going after Skave." Her lanky finger touched a two inch white strip under his arm from where the krogan stabbed him while going after the elite team led by the psychopath Skave.
"They wanted me to be the same person apparently. Each one has a different story Tali." Shepard spun around looking at her clasping her two curious quarian hands. "Come on, you want to hear about them?"
"Well…if it is okay with you. I don't want to bring back bad memories," she whispered concerned.
"I don't mind sharing my war stories at all." He pulled Tali towards the bed. She hopped on it anxiously followed by Shepard shifting the mattress. He pointed his bare back towards Tali pulling her legs around his waist. "Pick one." There were so many; she didn't know where to start. Her glimmering eyes scanned his powerful back not paying any attention to the scars. Frustration swelled in her chest as she couldn't touch his bare skin with her hands.
"Shepard, don't get mad at me." Tali quietly pulled off the glove on her right arm then on her left setting them under the blankets.
"Why," he asked, his muscles tightening up slightly. "Tali, seriously, you need to-," he started, but Tali put a bare finger up to his lips.
"Shhhhh." Her soft skin brushed against his lips and ran down his spine. Small bumps appeared on his skin from her touch. "Shepard, I have taken the necessary precautions. There is no need to be worried," she purred. "Now tell me about his one?" Her fingers tapped against eight small nicks on his shoulder blade. His skin was smooth against her fingers, like silk slipping through her hands. "Shepard," she asked again.
"Oh sorry, those are wounds from shell fragmentation. Batarian terrorist took over an asari embassy on oh what was the planet called… well it doesn't matter. They were using some old fashion explosives and I caught some in the shoulder when we breached the room they were held up in."
"N7 did counter-terrorist operations," Tali asked curiously.
"Yes we did. That is where we really got to practice our precision and timing." Impressed, Tali moved down to a wicked scar that looked like beads from a welding line.
"Is this a burn mark?"
"Thorian vomit. Some of it slipped into my suit on Feros."
"Oh Keelah, I didn't know you got hurt that day! You should have said something to me!" Tali lifted her hands away from the burn mark nervous to touch it.
"Look at this one." Shepard pivoted his body showing Tali his chest. A scar ran several inches above his right nipple. Tali's delicate hands curiously traced the white streak, her soft skin inducing more goose bumps on Shepard skin. "I got this one in a bar fight on my first shore leave."
"Oh, this sounds interesting."
"An idiot from the platoon I graduated with was picking on an old turian who was minding his own business. He pushed the old man out of his chair and began stomping on his face, so I stuck up for him."
"What happened next," Tali anxiously asked patting his chest with an open palm.
"You punched him?"
"Correct. I was one of the few humans who was not racist in my platoon, so when they found out I was sticking up for a turian, I got jumped by five others."
"Oh Keelah, did you fight all of them?"
"I tried to. I can remember breaking several arms and almost killing another."
"Wait, you almost killed another human?"
"He came at me with a broken bottle and that is how got the scar on my chest and right here on my head." Tali's eyes went up to his forehead looking at the scar on his hair line. Her hands touched it and Shepard closed his eyes.
"What happened next?"
"Well after I noticed this drunken bastard was trying to kill me, I used some of the new quarian martial arts they taught us in basic."
"Wait, they taught you quarian martial arts?"
"Yes they did. The camp I went to taught us asari martial arts, turian, human, and quarian. You guys know how to do one hit take downs, same with the turians. I favored the quarian style though. Nothing flashy, just use to kill. Blunt, brutal, and effective." Tali felt butterflies swell in her stomach from excitement.
"We created those moves to combat the geth. Killing a machine with your bare hands isn't easy to do," she informed Shepard as a matter of fact.
"Exactly. Anyways, I got my ass kicked though, but I sent almost everyone to the hospital or the emergence room." Shepard laid down in Tali's lap looking at her hands with a look of pleasure. "You are so beautiful," he whispered more to himself. Tali's hands raced down his torso feeling everything she could. Her finger tips traveled through the many crevasse of muscle; she admired his physic and loved it.
"Shepard, what are these from, they look new?" Shepard tilted his head up looking at three red marks on his rib cage. He smiled and set his head back into her lap and resumed caressing her hands. He grabbed Tali's three fingers and put them up to her face.
"Those are your finger nail markings from last night Tali." Tali blushed fiercely from her ignorance and embarrassment.
"Oh…I am, um…sorry. Oh Keelah, why do I ask the worst questions, that is embarrassing."
"Tali," he began looking up into her shrouded face, "It is okay. Nothing should be embarrassing to you or me." His voice was overwhelmingly sincere and positive. "That is a normal occurrence." Tali took her hand away from her face and made eye contact with Shepard. She chuckled and shook her head.
"Okay, it is just weird talking about it. That is all, well be cause, you know… I am new to it," she said rambling.
"Tali, it's okay, really. Remember that talk we had? Nothing should be weird or embarrassing to talk about."
"I know," she said with her tongue rubbing against her teeth thinking back to last night. She let out a long sigh. "I know Shepard." Tali looked down watching him adjust his head on her thick thigh. His eyes squinted and his mouth opened to a yawn. She watching his tongue go flat against the bottom of his mouth and his nostrils flair. She suddenly got a constricting feeling in her throat as she could feel his yawn contagiously spread to her.
"Yaaaahaaw," she squeaked from the satisfying sensation. She opened her eyes to meet Shepard's smiling face. His usually stoic look was completely gone and it was molded into a look of utmost love and satisfaction. She pulled her gaze away from Shepard and looked outside at the rain. The air glowed with pink and blue from the bioluminescent features of the planet. Off in the distant, she could see the monstrous rock pillars standing sentinel in the ocean like guards. White veins ran down the sides giving them a celestial presence, like they could stop the Reapers. Her gaze went down to her bare hands that her tangled with Shepard. His soft skin was something of a rush; it was like a drug.
"Shepard," Tali began in her sweetest voice possible.
"I just want to take my helmet off for a little bit." Shepard stopped playing with her hands and squeezed them defensively.
"Tali, I don't want you to get-"
"Shepard, I know. It is just…I," she started but didn't know how to get it out.
"Tali, you can say anything you want to me no matter what it is," he told her kissing her hands. She took a deep breath and formed the sentence in her head.
"I just don't think we can beat the Reapers. I want to enjoy life while it lasts." Shepard stood up from Tali's lap with a serious look on his face.
"What makes you say that?" Tali's heart was surprisingly steady and not racing.
"I don't know. I mean look at what Sovereign did. That was one Reaper Shepard. I just can't see us killing all of them."
"Tali, do you know what fate is?"
"Yes I do. It is that mysterious predetermined course." Shepard pulled her close.
"Our fate is to stop the Reapers. We are going to stop them."
"Looking at the stats, we just-"
"Tali, what does your heart tell you?" Her eyes flickered up into Shepard's. His sheer determination was overwhelming; his eyes were teeming with it.
"I…I don't know Shepard. I just want it to be over with so we can live normal lives in peace." Her throat began to constrict. "I want to live with you Shepard, grow old with you, and share good memories with you. I want a normal life and I want to spend it with you." Tears rolled down her face and slipped in her mouth.
"Tali…come here." Shepard held her tight against his frame tenderly hugging her. "We will do all that stuff together, I promise."
"Good." Tali's hands crept up Shepard's back towards her hood. She pulled it away and her hands went to the back of her helmet unclipping a safety hatch. She pulled away a seal and lifted the helmet off her head setting it on the bed. "You were right, the rain does smell sweet." Her hands pressed against Shepard shoulders forcing his back into the mattress. His hands went up to her face touching the most beautiful thing he has ever seen in his life. Her forehead touched his and she stared deep into his eyes. His breath tickled her face as she gazed into his eyes sensually. Her legs straddled his waits pinning him to the mattress.
"Tali'Zorah vas Normandy," he mouthed. She grinned watching his lips move. She closed her eyes and slipped her lips into Shepard's. They both shared an intimate kiss without any obstructions.
"Tali," Shepard said as they pulled apart.
"Yeah," she purred.
"You are the best thing to ever happen to me." Tali kissed him again with more lust this time grinding her body into his.
"That is like the third time you said that to me today," she said back pulling away.
"Well I mean it."
"I know," she whispered looking him over with angst.
"You know how I promised you that rematch Tali," he asked grabbing her trembling hands.
"Oh, so you want round two right now," Tali asked anxiously grinning.
"I will give you a run for your money Tali," he shot back. Tali looked up at his face pulling her lips away from his neck.
"Oh, but I am not fighting for money Shepard…"
A warm breeze swam over Tali's bare face. Her eyelashes tickled her face as bird from outside cooed to the rising sun. She opened her eyes looking out at the unobstructed view of the morning. Waves roared against the sand harmlessly and hissed as they retreated. The sky was a magnificent pink and the sun was bright orange peeking from behind the clouds like a curious animal. Warm rays of light washed over her bare body from where blankets were not covering. It does feel like Shepard's skin. Her three fingered hand opened up and she raised it into the beams of light. The warm rays kissed her hands as she twirled it in the warm light. Tali head was resting on Shepard's chest pressing her ear against his warm skin listening to his body. Their legs were intertwined under the blankets as Tali's toes gently played with his feet. She ran her bare leg up his, her silky smooth skin rubbing against his. Another breeze glided in through the room rippling the white curtains and brushing against Tali's face. She could smell the briny ocean, wet sand, and the heat.
"Oh Keelah, I don't feel too good."
Her eyes flickered back to Shepard's blank face that was sunk into the white pillows. She put her face inches away from his face soaking in his features like parched sponge. Her soft body lightly brushed against his as she leaned over him and lightly kissed his lips. Quietly, Tali slipped off the bed trying not to wake Shepard and grabbed the pieces of her suit that were tossed around the bed. Oh Keelah. She quietly sniffled and put her bare hand up to her warm forehead. Damn it. Clutching the pieces of her suit against her naked body, she walked towards the bathroom, but stopped to enjoy one last breeze that cascaded into the room brushing against her skin. I am going to miss that. She assembled her suit in the bathroom and walked out back into the bedroom. Shepard was still sprawled out on the bed, his chest slowly rising and falling as he quietly slept. Tali smiled and quietly walked downstairs meandering into the kitchen. The sensor caught her movement and the walls went transparent. The frosted glass counter tops glowed a seraphic white, like it was welcoming Tali.
"Okay, I remember Kelly teaching me how to do this." Tali glanced at the coffee machine and closed her eyes remembering how to make the bitter morning beverage. Her hand grabbed the brushed aluminum handle of the coffee pot and placed it under the faucet filling it with scolding water. Tali hummed to herself putting the vessel back into the coffee machine. "Now where is the, oh, there is already coffee in here!" She pressed start as a thread like stream of brown liquid tumbled into the pot. Grinning, she hopped on the counter and watched the coffee machine do its job. Her hands viciously played with themselves as she looked around the villa. It was quiet in there and had the perfect amount of white noise from the outside to keep it not too quiet. Tali jumped at the high pitched beep expelled from the coffee machine. She chuckled at herself and jumped off the counter top. "Where are to cups at?" She began tearing open cabinet doors searching for a mug or cup when she finally found what she was looking for. Her two fingers grabbed the ceramic handle of a pearly white glass. She carefully poured the black elixir into the cup. "I think he likes it black." Her eyes scanned the counter top and spotted a ramekin of sugar with an acrylic spoon sunk into the white granules. "Hmmm." Tali spooned in three heaping servings of sugar into the steamy liquid and quietly walked towards the stairs. Her head peeked around the corner of the door and noticed the bed empty.
"Tali, over here." Tali looked towards the distant voice. She saw Shepard leaning over the railing on the patio looking out over the azure ocean. She skipped towards him and handed him his cup of coffee.
"Here, I made you some coffee." Tali slipped her hands around his waist handing him his coffee.
"Oh, thank you Tali!" He grabbed the cup making sure his hands brushed against hers. He slurped at the liquid and sighed with satisfaction. "You know what, that is a good cup of Joe."
"But…I thought it was called coffee?" Shepard snickered and spun around looking at her leaning his body against his.
"It's a nick name Tali."
"Do you want to take a walk on the beach?" Tali perked up at his suggestion.
"Yes, definitely!" Tali grabbed his hand and walked towards the stairs.
"How are you feeling after last night?" Tali blushed at the question.
"I am, um…feeling good," she lied trying not to sound congested.
"What, you don't believe me?"
"No I don't," he shot back grinning.
"Oh well…okay, you caught me," she responded smiling as they opened the sliding doors leading outside to the bleached wooden porch. The flat calm ocean was reflecting the pink light from the sunrise creating a mirror like effect. "Shepard, where is your shirt?"
"I threw it in the corner of the bathroom in a ball, it is still wet," he told her setting the coffee cup on the table. The two stepped off the porch and set off towards the shoreline. Tali's hand slipped into Shepard's as the waves walked up the beach rolling over their feet. Tali kicked the water spraying the frothy film in the air.
"Hey Shepard, I just want to say sorry about last night. The thing with the Reapers, I take it back." She felt his hand tighten around hers.
"Don't worry about it Tali, it never happened." She burrowed her head into his shoulder as they walked down the beach.
"Thanks Shepard." The pink sun rose above the clouds spilling its warm light on the beach painting the sand with an even coat of orange. "When we do finish our mission and when we meet our fate, I would love to live on a beach. There is always white noise from the soft roar of the waves. It reminds me of living on starships." They continued to walk down the beach following the twisting line of dark wet sand.
"Sounds like a plan Tali. Promise I will do that for us."
"Oh Keelah, I wasn't saying we have to I was, I was just suggesting the idea to you!"
"You don't have to be so selfless all the time Tali. Everyone wants things."
"No, no, no! I wasn't saying or um, I wasn't trying to…" Shepard's arm wrapped around her petite body trying to calm her flustered state. "Oh…well if you say so."
"Where did you get that nervousness from? You dad or mom," Shepard asked picking up a seashell and tossing it into the ocean.
"My mother would sometimes stutter when nervous, but I guess I revolutionized it into my own thing. I can't help it."
"I like it Tali. I wish I could have met your mother," he told her tightening his grip around her waist as they strolled down the beach.
"Yeah, I miss her."
"When this is all over, I need to bring you to meet my mom. She is a captain you know." Tali smirked under her veil as butterflies churned in her stomach.
"I would love to meet your mother. Does she know about, um…us," she asked biting her lower lip.
"I believe I mentioned meeting someone in one of my very short messages back to her. She does know your name, as I have told her about my crew from the SR1 and the SR2." He began to chuckle. "I think she is going to be pleasantly surprised."
"Will she like me you think," she asked nervously thinking about the future pulling Shepard towards the wave rushing up the beach.
"She would love you Tali."
"Well that is good news!"
Tali's face locked strait ahead of them as her sinuses started tingling. She stopped walking and tightened her two hands into fists.
"Tali are you oka..."
"Hawtchoo, hawtchoo, hawtchoo, ha…hawtchoo!" Through her teary gaze, she looked at Shepard and started laughing. "I think four times is my new record."
"Are you okay Tali?" She sniffled and nodded her head slightly embarrassed.
"I felt the sun on my skin this morning," she informed him changing the subject. "You were right; it does feel like your skin…warm and soft." Shepard smiled kicking a seashell into the water with his bare foot. Suddenly, Tali's omni-tool sprang to life. They stopped and looked at the message that was blinking red. Tali's heart sunk when she read who it came from. Miranda.
"Who is it," Shepard asked slightly nervous. Tali opened the com channel and Miranda's voice spilled through.
"Commander, I have news for you," she said coldly.
"Go ahead," Shepard asked curiously.
"I got a lead from Counselor Anderson," she shot back.
"Okay, fill me in," he told her with disappointment in his voice.
"He said something about the Keepers. They discovered something…" Miranda was cut off by Tali who waved the omni-tool away snaking her arms with Shepard's leaning into his shoulder.
"Uh Tali, I don't think Miranda is going to appreci-" Shepard was then cut off by Tali who rested her lanky finger against his lips.
"Kelly can come find us, my omni-tool hit some interference with the solar radiation," she whispered deviously pulling Shepard to the sandy ground. He just grinned back at her and followed her lead. He pulled her torso into his cradling her curvy body in his arm. Tali stretched her legs out in the sand relieving her sore muscles from the previous night. Small waves crashed against the shore gently touching the tips of their feet pulling sand from under the weight. Tali's feet dug themselves under the sand grabbing at the buried shells. The sun was getting higher in the sky, but the colors were becoming more and more scintillating. The pink changed to red coloring the horizon with its alluring glow. Yellow ribbons of light strained their tired arms out like someone stretching waking up from a deep slumber. A plane pomegranate light covered the rest of the open sky like a pane of stained glass that covered the entire planet.
"Look Shepard, the sun is waking up," she purred placing her head under his chin staring out at the truly beautiful ocean. Tali caught sight of a lone flower serenely fluttering through the air from the vegetation off the rock guardians that stood like watchmen guarding the beaches. It landed right between Shepard legs slightly rolling away from the wind. Tali's hand slowly went to pick it up, but her action was cut short by a thought. She let her hand go limp setting it in fine white sand. The ocean's warm breath blew caught the flower and brushed it into her cupped hand. Tali's heart raced as she pinched the white flower holding it up to her face. Blue veins were sprawling from the spine lightly pulsing white cells of light.
"Remember what I said on the Aleri…about not being able to smells flowers or have a kiss without getting sick Shepard?" Tali peered at the flower once more.
"Yes I remember that."
"Do you think this is fate?" She held the flower up to Shepard's face. "In the form of a small flower?" Shepard thought about it for a moment.
"But you said it was mysterious Tali." She twisted the flower in her finger tips observing it. Tali put her hands up to her mask and quickly took it off without warning. She pressed the flower against her nose and inhaled its sweet fragrance. She spun her head over to look into Shepard's face. Her lips met his as she gave him a tender kiss.
"Fate," she repeated pulling away chuckling. "The creation of good memories… that is our fate Shepard, that is why we are here."
I know I said this was going to be a short story when I wrote A Good Day, but it looks like I lied about that. I really hope you all enjoyed reading this story and I hope you liked the last chapter in this series. I want to thank everyone for showing your support through comments and through the Tali thread; it was you who made this possible. Thank you for the awesome support. BioWare, you guys/gals have created great characters for me to work with. Knight5923… you inspired me to try my hand at fanfiction, so thank you for your inspiration and your truly great comments. I hope you guys enjoyed this story, keep it classy my good friends.
I am currently planning a whole new fanfiction and going in a completely new direction with this new one, so you will see more writing from me, but it will be a long time until it comes out because I am going to present it in a completely different manner. More details will be released late…
Also, I am going to be redoing/revising Snake in the Mud.
Thanks for reading and comments are always nice.