Author's Note: written for livejournal community "me_challenge"; prompt #9 "parenthood". Not quite what I had originally planned, but I've created a monster. Sequel is "From Here".

Disclaimer: Bioware owns all.

She had no idea what made Miranda give her the information. There was nothing good that could come from this. Miranda stood to gain nothing – if it was one more stab at proving her loyalty, her true separation from Cerberus, Shepard could have thought of approximately nine hundred and forty-seven other options. And that was just off the top of her head.

She stared at the datapad. If she'd been a little more science-oriented, maybe she could have figured it out herself, and no one would have witnessed her reaction. But no, she had to be a smartass and turn everything into a fucking joke.

This one was so funny she wasn't sure if she wanted to laugh or cry.

"I don't speak biologist, Miranda. What the heck is this all about? And why won't you look me in the eye?" She waved the datapad at the former Cerberus operative, who still didn't have it in her to remove the logos from all her clothing.

"I was hoping I wouldn't have to explain it, actually."

"Merry Christmas. Explain."

"Hormone levels when we were bringing you back. They're indicative of something…we did. I know I promised to be on the level with you, and frankly this is the last little bit I kept back, despite my promises. I didn't see any reason you had to know," Miranda still wasn't looking at her, and now she twisted her hands together in a way that reminded her of Tali. Miranda was never nervous.

"Okay, see, now I'm a little pissed and a lot curious. I think you still need to do some studying on this human interaction thing. If it was something I didn't need to know, then why tell me? I'm not some last bastion of your conscience, Miranda. There are things that are better left unsaid sometimes."

"Yeah, I'm getting that," she replied softly.

"But now you've opened the door. Tell me what's behind it."

"I think I made a mistake telling you."

"Too late for that now."

"It wasn't…I don't…" Miranda couldn't even finish her sentence and that had Shepard worried. It was clearly something to do with her…coming back from the dead. There was really no good way to think about it.

To be honest, the nitty gritty details of that were something Shepard liked to ignore. It was bad enough that she remembered what it felt like to suffocate to death. She didn't need to picture herself as "meat and tubes" as Jacob so eloquently put it. That was the stuff of nightmares.

Her voice was flat when she spoke again. "Spit it out Miranda. This isn't doing either of us any favors."

"Your hormone levels when we started to reanimate tissue suggested…pregnancy." Miranda finally looked her in the eye, and she didn't let any of her emotion play across her face. She was firm, she was ice, she was blank. "We…I rebalanced your hormones with simple drugs – it was early enough in the process that you would not have been conscious for the child's birth, even if we…well. I was a Cerberus company man, through and through, but I can hear just as well as anyone else. Better. And I had no idea what they would do to a child of yours. Maybe I'm assigning introspection to the moment belatedly. I don't even know if I thought of that. I only knew…that it would interfere with my…project. So I gave you some drugs and…made it go away."

"I think you need to leave."

Miranda had just nodded, and left her cabin; leaving her alone with the datapad full of scientific gobbledegook she didn't understand, and the knowledge that, had her life been different…

She stomped on that train of thought. Her life wasn't different. It was what it was, and, okay, so maybe in the rush and tumble of the last few weeks before her…death, she had been remiss with her medication. It couldn't be fucking easier, and somehow she'd forgotten. Take one pill every morning when she woke up. She used that same glass of water to rinse the sleepy fuzz of her teeth before she brushed them. And it took weeks for that stuff to wear off, didn't it?

No, Miranda was wrong. She hadn't been pregnant. She hadn't been pregnant because she always did exactly what she was supposed to do…despite the ritual having been meaningless for years. She had still followed it, every morning without fail.

Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck.

She poured herself a hefty three fingers of some raw liquor that was guaranteed to make her go blind. She downed it in one, timed it just perfectly.

This way, if anyone managed to catch her, it was the booze that made twin tears run down her face.