A/N This fanfic was done prior to the ME2 release. So there will be some odd bits here and there, hope you guys don't mind.
Light Surrounding You
" TRAVERSE POSITIONING SYSTEM UPDATING COMPLETED."
"SELF DIAGNOSTING PRECEDURE COMPLETED."
"AUTO PILOT MODE ACTIVATED."
"APPROACHING PI-105 IN 3 STANDARD DAYS."
"SYSTEM STAND BY."
"There you go." The quarian croaked behind the pilot: "Finest cuisine from Flux, authentic Kobe beef steak, freshly freeze shipped from Earth, not from one of those capsules, as per your request. Oh, and the LSD copy of their music."
"Cheers, buddy." Joker winked: "Really appreciated. Been getting sick of this space junk food, good to have something decent for a change. Say, this LSD thingy. It's not your pilgrimage, is it?"
"No, it's not" Tali came to a halt on her way back to the engine room downstairs. She frowned, felt slightly offended: "No ship will take me if I take that thing back."
"Okay." Joker raised two hands surrendering: "Thanks."
Tali gave him an evil before headed back engine room downstairs.
Joker opened the lid and inhaled deeply. The corner of his mouth curled up slightly.
"Been a while since I last taste this." He sighed and murmured to himself.
"It sure looks nice." A soft voice suddenly raised behind him, made him almost jump from his seat. He quickly sprung his head around. A shimmering pearl blue asari silhouetted not very far from him, smiling.
"Arh…it is!…" It's her! Joker suddenly felt himself went pink: "One of my mother's specialty was Kobe steak. My grandfather used to own a little diner in Kobe, Japan back on Earth. According to my mother, the steak was the diner's main dish. I know those—" He pointed at the container on his lap:"—aren't the same as mama's made. But it is from our homeworld all the same."
Liara grinned. She swiftly moved forward to inspect the meal, her outline, illuminating the starlight and the Navigator, shimmered in a luminous glow: "Hmm…it smell a bit similar to one of the cuisine in Thessia, our homeworld. 'Salaii', that's what we called it. It's some kind of fish stew. Because fish can only been found around Serrice, it was the only place on Thessia we can eat them. My mother used to make them when I was little….armm…apparently it was the only thing I would eat when I was sick…."
Her voice trailed off. Her smile suddenly seemed sadden a bit. Sorrows started clouding from the corner of her sapphire eyes. She looked away and pretended to examine the navigation chart next to her for a few seconds. Suddenly, Joker felt as if his heart was squeezed tightly by an invisible hand. He had an urge to stretch out his hand and pat on her willowy shoulders. As the matter of fact, he almost did, but managed to suppress it in the last minute.
How long had this been going on? Perhaps from the moment when he first saw her coming out of decontamination chamber after being picked up by Commander Shepard. Funny that, as he had seen so many asari in his life, she certainly wasn't the most beautiful one. But none of them had made him feel like this. It was like being thrown into the space out of the blue, unable to breath, unable to feel something solid on his feet and floating in the vacuum. The feeling intensified when he first heard her spoke. Though not directly addressed to him, the soft, gentle and yet firm voice nearly drove him to the state of insane happiness.
Of course he had to hide it. How could he not? Not only he would be the entire crew's laughing stock before he could finished saying Normandy, but also who would want to fancy a cripple geek like him? Besides, he heard from other crewmate that she and Commander….
He frowned slightly and shot a few little looks at the asari scientist. Is she really? From the way she's looking at the Commander recently, it didn't look like it had been worked towards her favour.
"Arm…I'm sorry for your lose…"He mumbled something, and immediately wanted to slap himself. How could he? Oh, you unthoughtful wanker! He cursed inwardly.
Liara, for the first time since she was onboard, looked up, straight at him and smirked: "It's all right. Urh…you are Joker, right? I believe this is the first time we've actually spoken. My name is Liara T'Soni. I've heard so much about you from the others."
"I hope they are good." Joker arched his eyebrow; secretly thanked the awkward situation had eased.
Liara's face cracked into a beaming grin: " Course they are. Now, this is the first time I am at the helm area of the Normandy, most of the time I was hiding in the lab downstairs…. I noticed there are a few interesting features. I must admit other than my mother's flagship and several other asari commando's ships; my flight experience is pretty limited. But even that I can see there are things here that are unique only on this ship." She glanced around the area: "No wonder Tali found this ship fascinating."
"Yeah, she does all right. It was like walking into a candy store to her. You won't believe the amount of question she asked every time she's near me!" Joker chuckled.
Joker's heart nearly tilted over with joy. Goodness, she sure looked good when she laughed!
"Something interesting?" Another voice came from behind. Immediately Laira's eyes darken, twinkles in her eyes instantly wiped out. Joker jerked his head up, saw Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko stood behind him, leaning against one of the co-pilot seat.
"Urh…no…I'm just commenting on Joker's meal and the similarities between that and a renown dish from our homeworld…" Liara seemed slightly uncomfortable, there area around her ears went pink.
Kaidan bent forward to investigate the container on Joker's lap: "Kobe steak? Wow, I haven't seen that in years. You certainly know how to enjoy life here, Joker. Where did you get that from?"
"Flux." Joker smiled: "Well, they boasted about having the wide varieties of food from every corner of this Traverse. Thought I might give it a shot. Got Tali to order it for me."
"Should have asked Doran myself" Kaidan took another look at the still sizzling meat: "…Hmm…it sure looks yummy. Well, better off to the boardroom. The briefing will be started soon. Coming, Doctor?" He rose his eyebrow and glance at Liara enquiringly.
"Urh…you go ahead, I will meet you at the boardroom." The asari waved her hand, indicating Alenko to go first.
"Right, see ya." He lift, joined Commander Shepherd who stood in front of galaxy map. They exchanged an intimate looks only themselves seemed to understand, and walked towards the boardroom together.
Joker watched Dr. T'Soni staring at the back of the marine, her eyes mixed with envy, jealousy, heartache, and sadness. Her lips began to tremble unconsciously before she realising it and bit them to make it stop.
"Doctor? " He blurted out before noticing what he was doing.
"……….Human emotions are such a complicated things." Liara whispered in an almost non audible tone, her eyes still fixed on Commander Shepherd and Lieutenant Alenko: "……..How could I ever distinguish the difference between a pure friendship and…"
She didn't finished, but Joker knew exactly what she was refereeing to at once. It seemed like the rumor that goes around the crew were true. There is something going on between Commander Shepard and her.
Joker's heart once again sank and began to ache. He only understood that feeling too well. There was nothing more painful than loving someone wholeheartedly and not being able to be loved in return. Experienced or not, it had always been painful.
"You can't. Most of the time we are just blind shooting, follow only by our heart." Said Joker gently.
Seemed suddenly realise she had uttered her thought out loud, Liara startled and looked at him in panic. Her emotion revealed blatantly in front of him: the affection, the admiration, the struggle to get close, the bittersweet pain, the urge of trying to hide it from others but yet wanted the whole Traverse to know… Before Joker could decided what he was suppose to do, Lirara blinked her eyes, and again, trying hard to hold back her tears. After a few minutes, she sighed.
"…I think I still prefer dealing with Prothean artefacts…. Perhaps when this is all over, I will go back to them." Said Dr., T'Soni quietly.
For a few moments they were staring at each other in silence. The air around them felt absolutely still, none of them seemed able to think of something to break the stillness.
Suddenly Joker had an idea. He scrambled his bag at the foot of his chair for a minute, and pulled out a small, roundish and battered looking disk-like toys with a string attached.
"Hey……..you've seen one of this?" He showed the asari the toy.
Liara puzzled, having no idea why the sudden display on this little toy of his, shook her head
In front of bewildered eyes, Joker began to play the little round disk. It rolled along the string attached to his long, slightly rough looking fingers, as if suddenly came to life. Awestruck, Liara watched the pilot demonstrated several tricks before wrapping the string around the round disc again.
"Fascinating." Liara exclaimed quietly.
"Yeah, we called it yo-yo. It's been one of the many interesting toys on Earth for more than hundreds of years. I got this from a junk dealer when I was very little. These days they don't even sell it in any decent souvenir shop on Arcturus Station anymore." Joker started playing around the yo-yo again: "Isn't that amazing something with such a basic mechanic feature can be this entertaining?"
"It sure is." Doctor T'Soni smiled as Joker showed her another particular tricks.
"…..There, you can have it." Joker handed over the toy.
"No, I can't." The asari scientist shook her head: "This is one of your precious childhood collections, I can't just have it."
"No, you have it. If—" Joker hesitated for a moment. He looked straight into her eyes, felt himself had gone all red tomato: "—If that can cheer you up a little."
Liara stared back at him, seemed not able to understand what he meant.
Joker breathed gently: "You look prettiest when you are happy."
He had this funny feeling his ears must had melted by now.
Liara continued to look at him for a while, but now with thankfulness and touchiness: "…Thank you."
The pilot turned his head and stared at the navigator: "No problem."
"………I think I better head to the boardroom, the briefing might had been started by now." Liara stood up.
Joker nodded, watched the asari stood up and left. He let out a long sigh, and staring at the container on his lap. The steak had gone cold after all these chatting.
He put the lid back on and pressed a button along the edge of the box. The box made a few beeping sound and started reheating.
"INCOMING MESSAGE FROM CITADEL."
Joker rubbed his face.
"Accepting the incoming message." He replied.