Author's Note: This story was supposed to be 100 words. You see how well that went.
After spending about two years of my life on Star Wars drabbles, I decided to do the same for the odds and ends of my Mass Effect ideas. These will range in length from 100 to 1000 words and cover nearly any character, genre, time, and pairing. Requests are always open.
This first one was requested by Jericho-Is-Falling over on DeviantArt, who wanted some Kali. Morose!FShep got in there too. I didn't want to specify who she's paired with, since part of the appeal of ME fanfic is being able to imagine it's your own PC they're talking about, but if you know me at all you know what I was thinking when I wrote it.
Enjoy, and please review!
A quarian toddler wasn't the easiest creature to keep track of, not when she had an over-sized helmet and an even more over sized sense of curiosity, the combination of which made walking an adventure and stairs a disaster. Kal heard Misa'Reegar nar Normandy waddling down the stairs toward Engineering and panicked.
But his wife was at a computer station somewhere, and she'd asked him to watch the kid while she worked, so he headed down the stairs as determined as if he'd been given an order. Misa would be okay. She hadn't fallen—he would have heard that, and her balance was too good anyway, even at this age—she'd inherited that from her momma—
She wasn't on the stairs. Kal cursed under his breath as he followed the flight down, the miasma of his mask's atmosphere floating in front of him and tainting the Normandy red. Even with the war over, there were so many dangers to a kid. He'd never thought about how many things had sharp corners before.
But it was worth all the worry, all the chasing. Keelah it was worth it.
Where was that grub?
"Don't worry, Kal," said a woman's voice from the room at the bottom of the stairs. "I've got her."
Tension seemed to bleed out of him. He turned the last corner to see Shepard sitting on the makeshift bunk strung between the ship's struts, Misa giggling on her lap. The little quarian's bootied feet swung gently against Shepard's legs as the human shifted her in her arms.
Kal approached, smiling. "Don't mean to bother you, commander. She's been walking everywhere lately, like she just wants to explore the whole galaxy from this ship." Misa raised her arms toward him as he came closer, and he searched for the happiness hidden behind the orange fog in her mask. Shepard let her go almost reluctantly, and Kal settled his child against his shoulder.
"It's a great place to explore." Shepard smiled.
"That it is, ma'am."
Kal rubbed Misa's back, comforting her at the same time as he checked the seams and tubes of her suit for any damage. Usually quarian women wore decorated veils over their air tubes, but Misa was too young to care how she looked, so the all-important tubes had been ordered into a neat braid behind her head like behind his. She whined as she tried to rest her head comfortably against his shoulder, and he patted her back, wishing she could breathe freely but also simply so glad that she existed. Fatherhood was a confusing thing, amazing and worrying all at the same time, like a concoction that made the head spin. He was determined to do right by Misa, by Tali.
He looked down at Shepard. He'd gotten much closer to her since the Normandy began the tradition of seasonally joining the Fleet. She was still an officer, still a hero, but they'd shared enough drinks that he was comfortable talking to her. "Do you ever think of having kids?"
She looked down at her legs, and he thought suddenly that he'd stepped into women's territory and shouldn't have asked. Her voice was confident and level as she changed the subject. "I always liked how quarians named themselves after ships." Her musing was too important to her for him to interrupt; he could see that in her green eyes. "It gives you a home, and a home that moves…can't ever really be left. I should be Shepard nar Normandy…no, vas Normandy?"
He did not know what her wistful expression meant, and liked that she was heading for conversation that would bring her emotions back onto solid ground. "'Nar' indicates the place you were born."
She smiled a little, grew a little sadder at the same time. "Nar Arcturus."
She stood up, one hand curled around a nub of wall as if to claim it, the palm paling. Kal knew that she was usually curious about other species, and he wished that he could explain to her quarian expressions that would actually be useful, visible. All the small beautiful things—the quarian blush, the shading of irises as emotions changed, the thin gills at the back of Tali's neck—were hidden by their pressure suits. Both humans and quarians had lost these nuances of beauty.
"There would be complications," Shepard said calmly as he followed her up the stairs, "if we tried for children."
Misa's warmth glowed gradually from her suit to Kal's she draped her neck over his shoulder. He kept walking, silent like a good soldier.
"Don't worry," Shepard said. "It's why I come to the Fleet sometimes; to be reminded that even people who don't have a home can create one."
In the upper level of Engineering, Kal called out to Tali again and she appeared. "Oh, you've got her!"
Misa reached out to put her stubby arms around her mother's neck, her reach not long enough to have to worry about the thick cords of tube beneath Tali's cowl.
"She's fine," Kal reassured, close enough to his wife that Misa leaned to make a bridge between them. "She's fine."