Part II Epilogue

Chapter 1 : Meanings

Hannah sat on the couch enjoying the view as she eaves dropped on John and Tali's conversation. "Your sure it looks okay John? I've never worn something like this before." "Tali your beautiful in it, stop worrying. mother, who I'm sure is listen to us right now, will love it." "Oh keelah, she can hear us. I can't do it." "Yes you can Tali."

Laughing about their conversation Hannah decides that's about enough spying. Turning the audio pickups back to normal she just relaxed on the couch. Well she relaxed as much as you can in a full command combat suit in full gravity she thinks. She still can't believe it's the same woman. 3 hours ago she was ready to rip my head off and now she is scared to death to show herself to me. John, she is truly a keeper.

After Shala and Kal had left she herself had thought about leaving. Tali had then asked her back to their hotel for a less stressful conversation. When she had asked if, since they were bonded, she could see her face Tali had started the cutest little fidgeting with her hands that Hannah had ever seen.

Tali had been hesitant but she said her lifemates mother should know what she looked like. Only she had to be careful, not get too close. When John then asked if I had my combat armor in the gig and explained why it had been an easy choice. On the trip down from the Normandy she changed while Tali and John waited in the passenger compartment and now we were here. The decon at the door was surprising but John was taking no chances with Tali and I honestly didn't blame him.

"Sorry about the delay mom but Tali was making sure I was dressed properly for this." John says smiling. "I know that suit isn't comfortable, thank you for doing this for her."

"Uh-huh, did you tell her your never presentable in public? As for this" indicating her armor "it's a small inconvenience to allow me to actually see your wife." Hannah continues "Really John, if Tali is too nervous I can understand. Also it is your Bonding day and I'm sure you two..." Hannah stops speaking as inside her helmet her jaw just dropped.

Walking slowly into the room, her eyes looking down and a slight blush on her face was Tali. She was wearing a modestly cut purple dress with silver lacing, high neck and the hem ended below her knees. The fact that she was shoeless only made her look more adorable. She noticed that Tali was also wearing her medallion as a necklace the way it was originally intended by her people.

"Ah, here she is now. Mother, I would like to present to you Tali'Shepard." John said as he took Tali's hand to comfort her.

Seeing that she is very shy outside her suit Hannah decides a compliment will ease her mind and says "Tali, you look beautiful and that dress looks lovely on you."

Tali's head pops up looking at her asking "Really? I didn't bel..well John can.. Stop!" she says then after a deep breath she continues slowly "I'm sorry Hannah. I babble when nervous though John has been helping me overcome that. Thank you for the compliment. This is the first dress I have ever owned or worn."

"If I may say Tali, you wear it well." Hannah says "and now that I can see your face all I can say is that it's a crime to need to hide behind a mask. Your beautiful, John does not deserve you."

"Thanks mom, Tali, please sit. I'll get some more wine for you as you and mother chat." John says heading for the kitchen.

"Please John, no more wine. Some water would be nice though. I've had enough wine today." Sitting on the couch she tells Hannah "I am very sorry you need to wear that armor in here. By rights it is you who should be able to relax. I'm used to my suit."

"Tali, If we were in my quarters on the Orizaba you would be correct. This is your place, you have that right and if John had to be in his armor to allow you to be free of that suit you can damn well believe he would be as I am now." Hannah said with emotion "Neither John or myself are more important than you. John knows that and you need to understand that as well."

"I know what your saying and John always treats me like I'm more important than himself but I'm not used to others being so nice to me. But please, let's talk about something else" Tali says.

Smiling in her helmet Hannah says "Of course dear, what would you like to discuss?"

Looking towards the kitchen door she asks "Hannah, do you think John would like a human wedding? I know it would be wasteful..um..redundant.. Keelah, what I mean is it's..."

Entering the living area John states "What she means is that she's quarian and anything that duplicates an action for no reason is unneeded and wasteful." Placing the glass of water in front of her he sits down in one of the chairs. "However, in this it is necessary. Need to show all those women out there that THE Shepard is off the market."

"John, don't tease her like that." Hannah says "and Tali I think it's a wonderful idea but there's plenty of time for that. Right now just enjoy the moment."

"Well if you say so mother" John says still smiling about his comment. Looking at Tali he asks "So, what's the topic now?"

Looking at Hannah with a grin on her face Tali asks "What was John like growing up?"

"Yes Han, I know it's unusual, highly unusual but this is not the first time it's happened" Shala said over the comms unit.

"I know Shala, but I just cannot see how it happened. She only joined his crew less than a month ago. I know she spent most of her pilgrimage with him but that was over two years ago." Han replied. "Yes, yes. I know she had feeling for him before but surely your not suggesting she was nearing the bond then are you? She was just a child."

Shala thinks to herself, I can't believe I encouraged this after the trial, I made absolutely no difference. Had I known a real bond could be made with humans I would have convinced Rael to keep her in the fleet. A simple infatuation would have cleared itself up but this! She must have just started the bonding and I failed to notice! Stupid of me.

The way he defended her, so very like the emotions she herself showed after the slaps. That was the trigger, the moment her soul connected to his and her mind began accepting the bond. She would have been confused by the feeling the bonding makes, to sense she was no longer complete but not know why yet. That is what I picked up, she didn't even know it herself at the time.

Best answer Han before he blows a seal. "She very well may have been, her reaction to his death now makes more sense. Remember, it was not a normal pilgrimage. Constant danger from geth and Saren would have forced deeper feelings on her and you saw how Shepard protects his people. I did not believe it at first as well. I fully expected to find her infatuated by him, just childish idol-worship" Shala stated.

"That must be the case Shala" Han says "She was confused and you bonded them by mistake. Since he is not quarian maybe we can rescind the entry and erase it."

Shala answers "It is real Han, as real as any bonding I have ever seen. I have seen her protectiveness, I have felt her undertones. It manifested itself so strongly that there can be no doubt. Kal'Reegar can corroborate this as well. And you saw the moment yourself. That stupid trial forced the bonding!"

"What do you mean? Saw it myself? I saw nothing but Shepard doing his best to protect her from the trial. It forced nothing Shala." Han said.

"If Shepard had shown the evidence it would have torn the fleet apart and destroyed Rael and Tali. She would have told him this on the way back from the Alerai. He knew the trial was just a means for a argument for war and Tali's family was being used as a weapon. He was forced into protecting her from attack instead of simply defending her in a trial. The raw emotions he had to use drew her in and solidified the bond."

"Damn it Shala he is human! I cannot accept this as anything other than him trying to force his views on us." Han says "Shepard keeps getting in our way. First the trial and now this. They are conspiring against me and the fleet!"

"If there was any conspiracy here it was by the Ancestors themselves Han. Even Shepard was caught in the bonding and is fully committed as her lifemate." Shala says.

Han says "She is still quarian, she is still a member of this fleet and as such we can recall her to duty here."

Outraged Shala says "NO, I would not do that to anyone, it is too cruel a command. She is bonded as strongly to him and any quarian may be bonded. Ask your own lifemate how she would feel before you decide to do it to another." Not to mention John would take on the entire flotilla to be by Tali's side she thinks to herself.

"Cruel? Look at the fleet. What we endure is more cruel than anything imagined. How is one life's happiness, even hers, more important than that?" Han asks "And Malra would accept the need."

Calm down! Don't let this fool get to you she thinks to herself. "Han can you believe that of Malra? We will settle nothing today. Let us reflect on our words for awhile and let our hearts choose what is best for Tali and all quarian's" Shala says.

"You are correct, I am sorry for my outburst but time is drawing short. Candidates for the Admiralty board are due within the month. We will continue this on your return. Out" Han says cutting the line.

That damned fool! He would tear them apart for his self destructive war. He knows of Tali's hatred of geth and intends to use it to further his goals once she is named Admiral. I must find a way to prevent that, Shala says to herself.

Discrediting her would be the easiest way to ensure no one would accept her but even here John has interceded on her behalf. After his speech at the trial no one would believe an Admiral that Tali was incapable of assuming that role. But...there may be a way. Yes.

"Kal, can I speak with you?" Shala calls on the comm unit.

"Okay, that's enough you two. I have quietly sat here as my own loving mother dragged my childhood through the mud stomping on it a few times. The only thing left to discuss is my toilet training and we are not going to talk about that!" John stated firmly.

Tali and Hannah just looked at each and started laughing. Tali, finally getting her laughing under control says "Thank you John, I'm glad I'm not the only one here that blushes like that."

"I love you too Tali" he says then looking at Hannah says "Mom, it's getting late. Can I call and get you a room here for the night?"

Glancing at the chrono in her HUD Hannah responds "Oh dear, I didn't realize how long we have been talking. No John, I really should be getting back to the Orizaba." Standing she gives Tali a gentle hug saying "Congratulations on your bonding, take care of John because I know he will do the same for you." Hugging John as well she departs for her gig calling Andy on her commlink.

As the inner door closed Tali activated the security seal. Looking at him she says "John, please stay in here for a few minutes, I'll call you when you can come into the bedroom okay?"

"Okay Tali, um why did you seal the door?" he asks with a surprised look on his face.

"Well, it's customary for a newly bonded couple to enter a cleanroom on the ship and stay there, together, for a week as their bodies adapt to each other and they complete the bonding." she says with a smile.

"A full week of having you in my arms?" he says with a smile. "I guess some customs are just too important to break. Go ahead Tali, call me when your ready."

Passing him on the way to the bedroom she lightly draws her hand across his cheek while giving him a look that says it would not be a boring week. Once out of his sight she quickly moves down the hall to the bedroom and opens the drawer with the hidden package.

Three days ago she bought it more due to pressure from Miranda than of any need she felt herself. To her, putting something on after removing her suit just sounded odd but these last couple of days had changed her views. Outside of her suit for long periods, she was finally seeing the fun in changing her appearance especially for John. She wanted to make sure this memory was one he would never forget.

Removing the pal'tec vis surden she once more looked at it, at the promise it held and knew somehow he would find a way. Taking the light chain off she carefully put it where it would remain for most likely the rest of her life, in the small pocket in her suit just above her heart. Once done she quickly removes her dress and grabs the pink bag.

Trying to remember the pose she saw in an ancient vid she calls to John. "You can come in now John."

Walking in with a grin it quickly changes to astonishment as well as desire as he sees her. Standing by the bed, one arm raised and holding onto the beds column she just smiled back at him. All he could do was stare at her for a moment. She had changed into an almost sheer negligee, black with lacing of purple. Her luscious body peeking out through the material but never allowing a clear view.

She smiles demurely saying "Now John'Shepard, any ideas on how we should spend our first night as legally bonded lifemates?"

Looking at Tali as she stands there he has to say "God you look beautiful." Then walking up to her and wrapping her in his arms he adds "And yes Tali'Shepard I do have a few ideas."

"Oh, I see. What should we do first John'Shepard" she asks smiling coyly wrapping her arms around him.

"Well first Tali'Shepard we should kiss" and with that prevented any possibility of coherent conversation from either of them using more than single words.

"Look at this news feed from Illium."

"Which one?"

"Here, read. It's the one about the restaurant and before you comment, read it."

"In local news today the Alliciat Restaurant above the Trillanna Tower's was closed temporarily this evening. Health and Safely officials would only disclose that a rash of complaints about the quality of the food prompted the inspection.

This reporter was however able to find more on this case. An eye witness reports that there was a celebrity at the restaurant during the time of the reports. Commander John Shepard, yes the hero of the Citadel and an unknown quarian woman were accosted at the front door. Commander Shepard and friend were unharmed and were last seen boarding a cab leaving a trail of dead or unconscious bodies behind them.

Though unconfirmed it is this reporters belief the closing was in fact due to the cleanup of bodies and not any food issue."

"Holy shit! We found them."

"Well we found where they were but where's the Normandy. He was very clear that all he wants to know right now is where it's at."

"This report is 2 days old. If they were traveling they may be anywhere. Check the flights for him."

"Sure as hell ain't Illium. That's high priced there, Ole Illusive up there kept Shepard barely above broke to help keep him inline."

We've cleared Omega's docks but those Blue Suns have a number of hidden ones as well."

"Tell me about it, hidden and well protected. Only found 2 so far and there are indications of at least 5 more in the terminus."

"So we keep looking and get an agent on them. If they are staying on Illium they have a room."

"Well if push comes to shove we can grab that toy he keeps around him and find out but let's not tip our hand that we found them just yet. Make sure that agent knows to keep clear."

"Just what is your problem with the quarian? All our reports say nothing bad, they indicate she goes out of her way to support Shepard."

"Yes, way out of her way."

"Oh, this is rich. Your jealous of that quarian!"

"Shut up!" she says.

Waking up he notices the weight on him and smiles, she still lays upon him from last night. Remembering Tali's last words "No John, please let us stay joined for alittle while longer" as she laid her body down upon his. We both must have fallen asleep soon after.

Trapped beneath, held in a prison of arms and legs he is unable to move without disturbing her so he lets his mind move about. He tries to think of the ship and its repairs, tries to think how to present the reaper data to the council, tries not to think about the body that lays upon his and fails. Stuck in so pleasurable a cage, her soft warm breath on his neck keeps forcing his thoughts back to her, and wakes another part of his body.

He is actually a little ashamed of his body, or at least in its desires. Is he taking more than giving? They have never really spoken of their love making other than the smiles and her generic 'it was wonderful'. Is he really pleasing her, actually making her feel what a quarian would feel with another of her race.

Thoughts of pleasing her only heighten his desire. He feels himself now, resting against her and feels embarrassed of his needs. He tries once more to control himself, to lessen the desire his body is feeling but every attempt ends with each warm breath on his neck.

With a start he feels her move slightly, down his body pressing herself against him as a soft "mmmm" drifts dreamily from her lips. Now pressed firmly against her, her bodies heat only adding to his, he knows the battle within himself is lost and a sigh escapes his lips. She must just be dreaming he thinks to himself.

She gently drifts awake feeling John's body beneath her, warming her. She also feels him resting against her and a smile slowly forms on her lips. She carefully moves backwards alittle to increase the pressure she feels there as a soft sigh escapes her lips. Laying there, letting her body wake slowly she lets his scent fill her lungs increasing her bodies pleasure as the heat below begins to build. A sigh from him lets her know that he too is awake but still she remains quiet for a bit longer. Letting their passions build.

He is like a drug she thinks A wonderfully, intoxicating drug that satisfies my body and fills my soul with joy. Nothing in my life prepared me for the completeness I feel when he is near, his touch still draws the burning desires within my breast as if each time is the first. Oh ancestors, thank you for guiding me to him.

He has asked many times if he pleases me in our joinings but how can I describe what I feel? How can I put into simple words the feelings of a soul rejoicing? Without the true bond he cannot experience the completeness of our unions. Am I being selfish in this? Am I receiving more than I should? I know he achieves completion but is that enough? We need to talk of this but not now, now I feel him calling me and I must answer.

Giving in to his desire he lets his hands lightly trace down her body, shoulder to hip and lets them rest there. Tali feels his hands, loves the sensations they stir in her as they move across her. As his hands come to rest fully on her hips she moves them in a way that he cannot ignore.

"Tali?" he asks softly. "Yes John" is her simple quiet reply. A reply with two meanings as she moves to look into his loving eyes she also moves to once more join with her lifemate.