Author's note: Here are the two deleted scenes I mentioned at the last chapter. These are very un-beta'd, so you are forewarned. Both of the scenes take place after Shepard confronts Miranda in the second chapter.
Shepard stopped at the door to Life Support, staring at the glowing console. No, she couldn't burden him with this. Turning on her heel, Shepard felt the whoosh of the door open behind her.
"Siha?" Thane's inner eyelids blinked rapidly in surprise when he saw her standing there. "Is something…?" Shepard turned around and the misery on her face must have been evident, because he took her by the hand and drew her back into life support. She was stiff, but unresisting as he sat down on his cot and pulled her down beside him. They sat in silence for a few seconds, Thane gently stroking her cold hands between his warm, dry ones, a soothing thrum in his throat the only sound in the room.
"What's that... noise?" Shepard asked, laying a hand against his chest, feeling the vibrations and the warm beat of his heart against her skin.
"A sound my people make to soothe fretful children or distraught loved ones," Thane said, smiling.
Shepard let her hand drop.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
"No... not right now."
Wordlessly, he pulled her to him and she leaned against him, feeling his warmth seep into the coldness that seemed to inhabit her bones and hearing the murmuring hum in his chest soothe, at least for a moment, the troubled wrinkle on her brow.
"I take it Shepard chewed you out too?"
Miranda's hands on her pistol didn't waver, aiming at the holographic targets. There were only blanks in the pistol, of course; decompression on a space ship was no laughing matter, but the gun still gave a satisfying kick in her palm.
"What makes you say that?" she asked calmly, squeezing the trigger three times. The holographic targets lit up across the board green: perfect.
Jacob came up and leaned against the wall. "Cause I just got an earful from Miss Lazarus about that quarian from Freedom's Progress. Plus, you never target practice unless something's bugging you."
Miranda lowered her pistol, considering ordering up another half-dozen targets, but she'd already beaten her own record today.
"Miranda," Jacob's gaze was serious. "I told her I wasn't involved with the quarian's questioning—that you'd taken care of the details when we left the colony. She got real quiet—the dangerous kind. What happened?"
She almost told him to leave her alone, let her tongue say petty, cruel things that she didn't really mean. It would have been easier, certainly, and he was no stranger to angry words from her. But for once the memories of all the times they'd hurt each other seemed far away, and she remembered the good times: Jacob coaxing a smile from her after a difficult day with a joke and a flower; Jacob getting up early to make breakfast; Jacob's mouth warm on hers and his hands strong and sure on her body.
Miranda bit her lip. "I… made a misjudgment with the 'questioning' of Veetor." She looked away, not wanting to see the condemnation there. "Against my orders, he was tortured."
Silence. Miranda dared to look up at him, but his face was unreadable.
"And Shepard found out?"
"Did you tell her that it was against your orders?"
Miranda huffed a brittle laugh. "Think about it, Jacob, who is she likely to believe? The Cerberus agent who represents everything she hates about humanity, or the evidence staring her through the mask of an environmental suit?" With vicious motions, she loaded a new clip of blanks into her pistol and punched in the order for a new target on the console in front of her.
She raised the gun to aim, but something was off: the targets seemed to swim in front of her eyes and her arms weren't steady. Jacob laid a warm hand on her arm.
"Let it go, Miranda."
She wanted to cry; she wanted to turn to Jacob, bury her head on his shoulders; let someone else carry the load. But there was too much unsaid between them—an outpouring of emotion right now would only be awkward and increase the gulf between them.
After a moment, she controlled herself and said in a reasonably calm voice: "Jacob, I'm… you know that I'm loyal to Cerberus, right?"
"Never questioned it a moment in my life."
Miranda looked up at him. "What if… what if there was something—or someone—else that had my loyalty? Someone whose morals aren't always suspect, whom I don't have to make excuses for?"
Jacob searched her face for a moment.
"I'd say that sounds like a friend worth fighting for."
And that's it. Thanks again for reading!