Disclaimer: EA/Bioware owns Mass Effect.
AN: This one-shot is based in the 'Verse created by Ms Morpheus with her stories, From the Ashes and Metamorphosis. They are femShep/Garrus stories, one of my favorite pairings. Anyway, this one-shot takes a look at Kaiden's thoughts on when he first met Tali on the original Normandy to her now being Tali'Zorah vas Normandy on the Cerberus-built Normandy SR-2. It's how he first sees her, from a somewhat naïve quarian on her Pilgrimage, to the confident young woman she had become in ME2.
I See You
It was late, or early, depending on one's point of view. It was around 0200 and I was not able to sleep. How could I sleep when I have the most beautiful, the most wonderful woman sleeping in the bed next to me? I gently caressed her cheek, her skin soft against the rough skin of my hands. Tali'Zorah vas Normandy was an amazing young woman and I'm so very lucky to have her in my life.
I remember the first time I really took notice of our new crewmember. I was tinkering with that damned panel on the crew deck. It just wouldn't work properly and I was the only one who had the tech skills to at least try to make it work. God, this is a brand new ship and already something is breaking down! I was mumbling to myself when I heard someone come down from the CIC. I turned my head to see who it was and I smiled. It was the commander showing that quarian, I think her name was Tali, around the various parts of the Normandy.
It was amusing to hear the girl's delight, and I wished that I could see what her face looked like at that moment. Unfortunately, I heard that quarians were stuck in those environment suits their entire lives. I don't think that I would be able to handle that; then again, I'm a human and we still have our homeworld. Not to mention our immune systems are much stronger than that of a quarian.
I turned my attention back to the panel. The thing was sparking a bit and I nearly hit it with a wrench. "This ship, brand new…so why won't this stupid panel work?" I growled out at the inanimate thing. I smacked it with my hand, causing it to hiss and spark a little more.
"Is this something humans do?" someone asked from behind me. It startled me to the point where I dropped the wrench onto the floor, causing a large clang.
"Oh…uh…what?" I was still a little startled as I turned around and came face to face with the quarian.
"Hit a piece of machinery with a hand," she explained, a slight giggle in her voice. "Is that something humans do when something doesn't work?"
I sighed and slapped my forehead with my hand. I chuckled a moment later; I guess that it could be humorous. "I've been working on this panel since the Normandy left the dry-dock orbiting Earth. It just doesn't want to be fixed…well, not for long, anyway," I replied dryly.
Tali's giggle was her response and I found the sound to be quite adorable. I gave her a gentle smile as she turned around to talk to Shepard. I sigh slightly as I stared at the Commander.
"Carry on, Alenko," Shepard remarked, a slight smirk on her face. "I'm sure that making that panel actually work is a high priority." That made Tali laugh softly again as the pair headed to the elevator.
Lord…Shepard is so beautiful, but somehow, I don't think that I have a chance with her…
Crap…I was such an idiot. I spilled my feelings towards Shepard…and she turned me down. I should have expected that, though. She explained to me that she felt that I was more of a brother than anything else to her. That does make sense, I suppose, but it still hurts a bit.
I groaned a bit as I rubbed my temples. This migraine came on suddenly, but at least it isn't bad this time. Doctor Chakwas gave me something for the pain; I just wish that it didn't take so long to take effect. I heard the door to the med-bay open and I opened my eyes just a bit, the light of the room made my head hurt a little more. I saw a figure standing there, placing something on the table close to me.
"I…I thought that you might need some food," the person said, the voice female and sounded it came through a helmet. "The doctor said that you missed dinner."
Despite the pain I was feeling, I smiled softly. Tali was certainly a sweet girl and I appreciate this kindness and I told her so. I opened my eyes a little more and saw that she was wringing her hands nervously. She seemed a little embarrassed. I wonder why.
"Is something the matter, Tali?" I asked, keeping the sound of my voice low. I think she took the hint because her response was just as quiet.
"I…I was just…well, I was just wondering how you're doing," she rushed. It was cute the way she kept wringing her hands.
I smiled again at her, watching her nervous actions. Once again, I wished that the faceplate on her helmet was clear, not obscured from an outsider's point of view. At least I can see her eyes, sort of. I like how they seem to glow a little.
I reached out and put my hand on her hands, just to calm her down a bit. "I'm going to be fine, Tali. Chakwas gave me some painkillers that should take effect soon."
I thought I heard a sigh come from her when she answered me. "No, that's not what I was talking about, Lieutenant Alenko." Mentally, I shook my head in amusement as I watched this young quarian fidget. What she said next made me stop and stare at her.
"I…overheard your conversation with Shepard. I'm sorry that she doesn't share your affections, but you…you are a good person. I hope you find someone that will make you happy someday. Maybe…find someone who you can trust to be able to lose control. Just…to be yourself, I guess."
Her words…she really means those words. I look at her, at her eyes that seem to glow through her faceplate. Her voice was so soothing; it almost seemed like it was helping my migraine to being to slowly disappear.
"Thank you, Tali." I smiled once again at her.
"I see you, Alenko," she answered, her voice sounding so innocent, so happy. "You are my friend and I see you."
I'm sure that Tali was smiling from behind that faceplate of hers. Her voice sounded like it was smiling. At least it did to me, so I smiled back at her.
I went through the doors to Engineering, wanting to talk to Tali for a little bit. We're so close to the Mu Relay and I wanted to spend some of the time with a friend. It's amazing in such a short amount of time that I have made such a good confidant in the quarian. I wanted to tell her about the ensign I had been chatting up. Tali is a pretty good judge of character…
"Hey Tali," I said out loud, getting the quarian's attention. It looked like she was calibrating something on her console with Engineer Adams.
Tali turned around and said something to Adams and walk over to me. "You need something?" she asked in that sweet voice of hers. "Engineer Adams and I are making sure that the stealth systems are at one hundred percent for when we go through the Mu relay. And then-"
I held up a hand and chuckled. "Some of that is way beyond my understanding, Tali." There's that small laugh again. "Anyway, I just wanted to talk to you for a moment. Hard to believe that Shepard stole the Normandy…but it needs to be done in order to stop Saren."
"I agree," Tali replied. She then tilted her head at me. "But I don't think that's what you want to talk about."
I shook my head and smiled. "There's this one ensign I've been talking to. She's a real sweetheart…"
Tali laughed; I can tell that she's beaming happily at me. "That's wonderful…tell me all about her…"
We spent the next few hours just talking about that ensign, about her life on the Flotilla. I told her a little more about 'brain camp' and about the girl there, Rahna. While Tali was talking a little about the history of her people, I let my mind wander about her. When I first met her, I thought that she was just a sweet, but naïve girl, out in the galaxy on her own for the first time in her life. Now…I have seen her grow into a confident young woman. It was amusing to see her, one time, threaten the krogan with her shotgun.
At that moment…I just realized something. I wished that Tali were human…
Two years…I can't believe that's how long it's been since Shepard died. She was the one who held us together, damn it! I feel so…so guilty for surviving, for not being able to do more to help her. I don't think that it helped when Tali had to go back to the Migrant Fleet. I know that she had been homesick and missed her people; she also wanted to go back because of that geth data Shepard let her copy.
And then Horizon, my god…I was such an ASS to Shepard! But I just couldn't let go of the fact that she was with Cerberus now. And Garrus too. Now that I think about it, I didn't really listen to anything they said after I heard her even say Cerberus. Those sick experiments were still stuck in my mind and Admiral Kahoku and that Corporal Toombs…No, no…Cerberus is still an evil monster…
Hmm? What's that? I glanced at my console and a light was blinking, signaling an incoming vid-call. Interesting, I wonder who it…
"Tali!" I exclaimed, seeing the familiar quarian faceplate on the screen. "I'm surprised to hear from you. Last I heard, you joined Shepard's new team."
Tali nodded and sighed. "I did and we managed to survive another suicide mission. But that's not why I called. I need your help. Shepard pretty much told the Illusive Man to go to hell and now he's after us…"
I thought it over for a moment and then nodded. "I'll help…but why are you working for Cerberus? I heard what they did to the Migrant Fleet."
All of a sudden, I felt like I was only one inch tall. I could tell that Tali was giving me a murderous glare. Don't ask how I know, I just do.
"You…you bosh'tet! I don't work for Cerberus, Kaidan, I work for Shepard!"
Suddenly, Tali started telling me that Shepard really did die and how Cerberus rebuilt her body into some sort of cyborg monstrosity. I felt lower than I already did. I really didn't pay any attention to what Shepard was saying back on Horizon. I then made my decision.
"Okay, Tali…What do you need me to do for you?"
I can't believe that I did it…I left my Alliance post on the Citadel and joined Shepard's crew on the new Normandy. I needed to be not only a good friend to Shepard, but I needed to remain friends with Tali. She's grown so much in the past two years. I remember back to Ilos and the time I spent just talking to her the night before. I had wished that she were human then.
Now…I wish that I was just with her. I don't care that she's not human. I don't care that she has to live in that environment suit all her life. I care for Tali deeply…but I don't want to ruin the friendship we share. Seeing her come into my office back on the Citadel with both Shepard and Garrus, it made my heart do some strange things. I think the last time it thudded hard within my chest was back during 'Brain Camp'. Sure, Rahna was beautiful, smart, and everyone loved her; but after I accidentally killed Commander Vyrnnus, she became afraid of me, she just couldn't trust me anymore. She had cut all ties to me and that hurt me…that was when I decided I couldn't lose control every again.
However, I feel I can trust Tali with everything that I am, with everything of who I am. She once said to me that she sees me, that she can see who I really am. I hope that one day, I can say the same phrase to her. Maybe soon…
Right now I was just sitting in the med-bay, again mind you, waiting for my latest migraine to go away. Some of my thoughts went to what I had seen in the cargo bay. I sometimes wished that I could gouge out my eyeballs, or soak my head in bleach to clear away seeing Garrus and Shepard…well, they were screwing each other so hard, so feral in their lovemaking. God, I needed a very cold shower. And damn that yeoman! Did she have to molest me? I think she was turned on by what we both watched.
I shuddered for a moment and sighed. At least the migraine was just about gone. I closed my eyes so I could relax a few more minutes when I heard someone come into the med-bay. I re-opened my eyes to see Tali standing next to me; she seemed to be nervous about something. I sat up from the medical bed and faced her.
"Is something wrong?" I asked kindly, indicating that she sit down on my bed and relax.
"I…I don't know how to begin," Tali explained as she sat next to me; she was wringing her hands again. I had come to see that as a sign of nervousness and embarrassment.
I smiled gently at her and placed a hand on her hands, effectively stopping her nervous movements. "Tali, you know you can tell me anything and everything. Please, tell me what's on your mind."
That was when this wonderful quarian woman started to explain so many things about her people and their culture. It was so adorable the way she was rambling about it. I smiled and nodded as she explained about quarian physiology and the cultural stigma of sexuality among her people.
"It's just not fair! A simple touch can be dangerous to us, possibly fatal. So much so that it's now taboo to talk about sexuality." I noticed that Tali was becoming fretful, her hand movements showing her emotional state. "But there is the tremendous pressure to be skillful! If you're going to risk septic shock, that other person had better be worthwhile! Keelah!"
I put my hand on her forearm, effectively calmly her down and bringing her back to the here and now. "Let me tell you about the first time I kissed a girl. It wasn't pretty, I'll tell you."
Tali looked up into my eyes. Good…that means I got her attention.
"Anyway, this happened a long time ago back at BAaT. There was this girl…she was pretty enough and I think she thought I was nice enough looking. Anyway, I was so nervous about the kiss that I was shaking so very badly that I bumped her forehead when we leaned in at the same time!"
She giggled, the sound soothing to my ears. That's good, I wanted her to feel at ease around me. "So, how did it go after that?" she asked.
I chuckled and gave her a slight shake of my head. "Terrible, but I don't think the kiss had much to do with it. She was a vanguard, I'm an adept… like biotic oil and water."
"I take it your later experiences went more smoothly?" Her tone sounded like she was smiling. I hope she was.
I chuckled again. I remembered the awkward moment I had with Shepard back when the original Normandy was grounded.
"For the most part. It just takes a little practice." I noticed that Tali was staring at me and I realized that I still had my hand on her forearm. I recognized that this might be a chance to get closer to her. I decided to go for it, to follow my instincts for a change…
"I don't suppose you'd like me to show you?"
"What?" Tali blurted out, surprise coloring her voice.
"Oh…forget I said anything." I turned away. I felt so uncomfortable now…I just hoped that I did not mess up our friendship.
She made me look at her again. "No, wait. You'd really do that for me?"
I nodded and smiled when she picked up the portable ionic sterilizer. She ran it over my skin, the light tingle was electrifying but pleasant. I held my breath when she put it down and began to loosen the clasps on her mask; a hiss escaping as her suit was depressurizing. She then took off her helmet slowly…Oh…my…god…
Tali was beautiful. No, she was more than beautiful…she was a goddess who deigned to show me, a mere mortal, her exotic looks, her exquisite features. I felt my heart leap into my throat and I swallowed. Her outer beauty matched her inner self, the woman I had fallen for.
I leaned in, cradling the back of her neck and an arm around her waist. I pulled her in close, letting her feel my body, my breath close on her skin as my lips came so close to hers. My heart was thundering, beating rapidly. I could smell the sweetness of Tali's skin. It was intoxicating, but I still waited. I wanted her to savor the anticipation that leads up to a first kiss. I just hope she enjoys it when it…
Lord, she kissed me so suddenly…but so sweet. Her enthusiasm was making up for her lack of experience, experience I was more than happy to give her. I tenderly kissed her lips as my hands began to roam over her body. Despite the fact that Tali's suit was in the way of more adventurous explorations, I tried my best to touch places I hoped felt wonderful for her. Tentatively, I gently bit her lower lip and when she opened her mouth in surprise, I slipped my tongue in. When she didn't respond to that, I was about to let go.
That was when she held me even closer and mimicked my movements with her own tongue. My god…she's a fast learner! Her own three fingered hands began to explore my body, shyly at first. But now…oh, that felt nice…her hands rubbed my stomach. I've always liked that. I let her know that she did a good thing by brushing one of my hands just on the underside of her breasts.
Tali gasped as I did that and soon she was mewling softly into the kiss. I was starting to feel like my control was slipping. This young girl…no, this young woman was driving my senses wild. No…no! I needed to stop or I won't be able to stop! Reluctantly, I broke off the breathtaking kiss and looked deeply into those eyes of hers…they were like liquid mercury to me and absolutely beautiful in my own opinion.
This woman means so much to me, so much so that I was afraid to tell her of my true feelings towards her. If I told her, I don't know if I could handle it if she rejected me. Maybe we should be just friends? I just don't know…I feel as if something happened. Her touch was amazing; it was like a jolt of electricity shot through my body.
"Not bad," I teased, grinning at her. I really hoped that I did not mess up our friendship.
"Are you saying I need more practice?" Tali asked. I think she had a teasing tone in her lovely voice.
I chuckled a little and gently squeezed her arm. "I might be. If you're up for it, that is." I really wanted her to be up for more…practice…
"We'll see." She just smiled mischievously me. Her smiles truly show how beautiful she was on the inside. Her outer beauty just can't compare to who she was on the inside. I lamented inwardly when she put her helmet and facemask back on. She got up and headed for the door to leave; I was still sitting on the medical bed. When the door opened, she turned to look at me over her shoulder.
I think it was my imagination…she almost seemed hesitant to leave. Oh lord I wish that was true. Now, I needed to get back to my duties…that is if I can't get the thought of how Tali felt good in my arms…how sweet her scent was. It felt so…right…
The Migrant Fleet was impressive! I had never seen so many ships in one place before. Shepard brought us here in order to work on getting EDI back online and figure out how to get rid of the Illusive Man. One of the admirals, Admiral Shala'Raan, sent over a team of quarian engineers in order to dismantle and analyze the AI systems.
It was amazing! Tali was able to take charge and lead those engineers around the systems, showing where things were. My estimation of her rose sharply. She was definitely no longer the shy and naïve girl two years ago. In her place was a strong, confident woman…and unmistakably grown up. I still replay the kiss back in the med-bay in my mind.
However, my quarian…yes, that was how I started to think of Tali…was so busy nowadays. I just couldn't get any time alone with her, but that's okay. What she was doing right now was very important. Every now and then, I would bring her food so she wouldn't forget to eat. She's like me, in a way. Whenever I got a project I needed to do, I tend to forget to eat. Maybe…maybe she'll take me up on the offer to 'practice' kissing again.
I couldn't believe it…Shepard is dead! I failed again! I rubbed my temples in order to keep a migraine from coming back once again. I rested my head on my desk and closed my eyes. Shepard was my friend and I felt as if I failed her again. I heard the door to my office open and looked up. I wonder why Legion was here.
"Alenko-Commander. I require your assistance. We are unable to make a consensus with the recent expiration of Shepard-Commander and what we are to do next. We believe consulting Creator Tali'Zorah may be able to help us achieve consensus."
I sighed for a moment and stood up. "No one else wants to leave the Normandy, am I right?" Well, I had been interested in the quarian culture for a while now and exploring the Flotilla might give me a chance to do that.
"Affirmative, Alenko-Commander. The Creators have been hostile towards this platform and we cannot enter without an escort." It was so strange talking to a friendly geth. Until Tali and Shepard told me that there were other geth factions, I would have kept thinking that all geth wanted to kill organics.
Also, helping Legion would enable me to see Tali again…maybe talk to her, explain my feelings…
At least the guards allowed me on the Rayya as an escort for Legion. This ship was amazing and the both of us wandered around the labyrinthine passageways and corridors. I studied some of the caricatures on the walls. They were elegant and beautiful, much like the woman I had fallen in love with. We rounded a corner and I stopped, putting an arm out to stop Legion from continuing on. My eyes went wide for a second…There was Tali, in a shadow, standing rather close to another quarian.
"Kal'Reegar!" Legion called out, trying to get that male's attention.
"Quiet!" I hushed the geth and pulled it to an area that wasn't so visible.
Kal'Reegar…that male quarian wearing an enviro-suit in red which showed off the other's physique rather well. He…he was stroking Tali's mask and she pulled him into a hug, a tight embrace.
So…so this was the reason why she had been avoiding me. Damn. I was such a fool! So Kal'Reegar was the reason Tali wanted to learn how to touch and kiss another. I noticed that Legion's appearance was attracting some attention from other quarians walking by.
I felt hurt and used; I needed to get out of here, to get away from seeing Tali with another man. I gripped the geth's metal arm and dragged it again. I had every intention of returning to the Normandy and try to forget about everything I had seen today. I felt anger and bitterness well up deep inside my soul. I had truly thought that I might have had a chance with my quarian. I felt my eyes begin to burn with sadness and I hurried even faster to return to the ship and back to the safe confines of my office.
I did not want people to see me break down…I needed to be alone…
I went into my quarters and sat down on the edge of my bed. I put my head in my hands, trying to will away the coming of a migraine. Lord, I had truly fallen in love with Tali and it felt like my heart was breaking into millions of tiny pieces, pieces so small that my heart would never be able to be put back together again. Was that my door opening? It was…Tali stepped through. I glared at her, willing her to just go away and leave me alone. Haven't I suffered enough today?
The door closed behind her and I was only peripherally away that Tali had locked it. Why would she lock the door?
"I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to see you right now." I felt anger start to emerge and my hands balled into fists.
She kept on walking closer to me, slowly. "So that was you." Why won't she just go away?
"I get it. You were using me. I can't deal with this right now!" I punched my fist into the mattress; my anger and helplessness of the situation getting to me and making me start to lose control.
Tali seemed almost indignant. "Let me guess, you saw me with Kal."
Of course I did…I wanted to tell her that but I kept my mouth shut and nodded at her. She huffed petulantly, crossing her arms across her chest.
"He's a friend of mine and he wanted to be more. I was letting him down as gently as I could. I told him that I'd already fallen for some bosh'tet of a human. I think I broke his heart, Kaidan, don't make me regret it."
Wha…what? My mouth opened wide and I stared at her in disbelief. I rubbed my eyes…was Tali taking off her suit? Isn't she taking a big risk in doing that? But…I cannot deny that it was a very enticing sight. When she had her suit and helmet off, I kept on staring.
"You…you're beautiful, Tali," I whispered, my eyes wandering over her nude form. A slight blush appeared on her cheeks. And I felt my pants get a little tight…
"I…I am?…I am not ugly?" There she went again…wringing her hands, her silvery eyes looking down at the floor.
"No…never," I managed to say, my eyes still worshipping the goddess in front of me. Suddenly, she flung herself into my arms, the momentum causing me to fall down on my back, onto the bed and Tali on top of me. I was now very thankful that Miranda had a bedroom in her office.
I gathered her into my arms and rolled over. I was now hovering above Tali, one hand caressing her soft cheek, my other hand keeping me above her. I leaned down and started kissing her every, starting with the tip of her nose and then down to her lips. She immediately opened her mouth, allowing my tongue entry. Her own tongue entwined around my own, causing me to make a few pleasured moans.
Her long legs wrapped around my hips, squeezing me tight…that made me lose whatever control I had and I began to show Tali how much I loved her with my lips, my hands, my tongue and my hips…
Sometime later, I had Tali snuggled up against my bare chest, both of us sated for the time being. What we just did was not just sex…this was making love in the purest form. I lightly traced a finger on her arm; I was still amazed that this incredible woman gave herself to me. I placed a kiss on her cheek and saw her smile happily at me. I then ran my thumb gently across the bridge her nose.
"I see you, Tali'Zorah vas Normandy," I whispered delicately, and I smiled when she realized what I had said. "You are my friend, my confidant, my heart…I see you and I love you."
A lone tear escaped those lovely liquid mercury pools of Tali's. She reached up with her own hand and traced my jaw line. "And I see you, Kaidan Alenko, and I love you too."
I glance up at the time again. It was now 0230 and Tali was still asleep. It had been an interesting few weeks since Shepard's rebirth. Garrus now shared command of the Normandy SR-2 with the Commander and that asari justicar became the ship's new XO. That's fine with me; it gives me more time to be with Tali.
Shepard and Garrus were planning on getting married…it should be a nice ceremony and I can't wait to see Udina's face when that happens. I really dislike that weasel of a human being…
I have plans for Tali…for after the wedding and the reception…
I'm going to ask her to marry me.
…I hope she says yes…
AN: Wow…This one-shot turned out longer than I had anticipated. If anyone is interested, please go read From the Ashes and Metamorphosis by the great author, Ms Morpheus. This one-shot is set the universe that she created. I really hope that she likes this…^_^
On a side-note, the title of this story came from the song I See You by Leona Lewis and was in the end credits of James Cameron's Avatar. A very romantic song for a romantic story…^_^
This is also the first story that will have a Kaiden/Tali listing. I do hope to read more of this pairing in the future…^_^