A/N: So I'm finally putting up what I've been sitting on for the past few months. Other writing (fiction, original) has been taking up my time, along with real life. Etc. Etc.

I would like to say, the inspiration to write a bunch of crack!pairings came from callalili's excellent Flotilla piece and the mass kink archive.

Some of the stories are smutty, some are dark, some are chaste and maybe even sweet. Shepard varies from story to story.

I welcome suggestions, but this is not going to update nearly as fast as A Matter of Perspective.

Disclaimer: Mass Effect does not belong to me, etc.

Short and pretty inoffensive: Kasumi/Thane

She wasn't lying when she told Shepard that Thane was not her type. She likes humans; she loves Keji, thank you very much. She isn't looking for a new future dead boyfriend.

But after hearing about his performance in the Dantius Towers, Kasumi can't resist the challenge. This is why she is crawling through one of the Normandy's surprisingly large ventilation shaft, the one between Port Observation and Life Support.

Oh God, she is a nosy neighbor. How suburban. How vulgar. How plebian. She is becoming her mother. But for the first time in years, Kasumi feels normal. It is disconcerting. Especially since she is wedged in a half-meter wide tunnel, peering through a grate at her alien assassin neighbor. He wears skintight black very well, she has to admit as she watches him meditate. The jewel-tone greens and pinks of his skin mark him as exotic, and while Kasumi has always been adventurous in her career, she prefers something a little closer to home when it comes to lovers.

She can probably slip down that tunnel over by the medbay and end up in the armory. And if she is really lucky, Jacob will be working shirtless. Because it gets so hot on these climate-controlled ships, right?

Gah. Kasumi watches him, waiting for him to do something exciting. It is exactly like Samara really, sit there and do nothing. He is probably sleeping, which leaves her feeling vaguely stalker-ish as she hovers overhead, watching him.

It isn't like she is thinking about his well-defined muscles that can be seen right through his skintight suit, or that too-throaty but somehow sexy way his voice rumbles, or even just how strong and flexible he is…

Baka, she exhales sharply.

One big inky black eye shot open, and then the other. Kasumi curses inwardly and begins backing up, even as his gaze turns to the grating.


She tumbles backward out of her end, into her room and hastily replaces the painting over the vent. Clumsy. Amateur. Juvenile. She rushes to the bar, intent on looking busy, or mysterious. She even pours two drinks, just in case.

And she waits. And waits. For hours.

But nothing happens, except those two drinks and their numerous successors are gone.

Kasumi is master enough to know he knows it was her. Anyone else would have made a lot more noise. She tries to picture Garrus, all plates and claws, trying not to clank against the metal shaft. It makes her giggle.

He knows. But it seems he doesn't care. It isn't like she came in on him with his pants down or anything. And if she had, she would only have looked out of purely scientific curiosity. Nothing more. Truly.

A cycle passes, then three. Nothing has happened. No mention of voyeurism, or funny looks in the mess hall, or even visits from Shepard explaining the importance of privacy. But Kasumi isn't some shrinking violet or shy schoolgirl. She is a master thief and she enjoys, no, savors challenges.

Thane caught her last time. This time, he won't, she tells herself as she climbs into the vent, taking the long way around.

Kasumi is used to awkward contortions. Long ago she appropriated the schematics of the Normandy SR-2 and she has studied them religiously, to keep her mind sharp. She knows there is another shaft she can access, one that goes all the way down to engineering and comes up at the foot of his desk. He might expect her to reuse the old entry, but that will not do. Kasumi will get the drop on him and then she'll let go of this foolish obsession because that is all it is. Professional rivalry. A test of skills. A competition so stealthy, there has been no formal announcement to go along with it. You're either in and you know it, or you're left eating dust.

Maneuvering past air exchanges, massive fans, and evaporators is tricky. Not all of them are marked since other crewmates have made some of their own upgrades. It takes her four hours to get there.

She is almost detected by the krogan – Grunt's sense of smell is keener than most. But she moves fast and he isn't nearly interested enough in pursuing a lone out of place human scent on a human vessel. And suddenly she's there, at the base of his desk, with a spectacular view of the baseboards. No Thane in sight. Craning her neck, she does a visual check. Nothing. And then she uses her omni-tool. Nada, he's not there, which is weird because she knows the shuttle hasn't left on any missions and Shepard hasn't summoned any of them for a debriefing.

And then she sees movement.

The grating, the one she had been in last time, moves. And slick like an oiled shadow, Thane slides out with grace she envies, and carefully replaces the metal cover.

His face is very expressive and he looks puzzled, almost frustrated. She suppresses a smirk. And then he drops to his knees by the door, checking that vent, and her heart stops.

That's where he was. He was checking her room. And she wasn't there.

Busted again. Almost.

She backpedals again, taking dark turns around the third floor, even as the sound of metal plates being moved echoes tinny in the distance.

The shaft vibrates slightly. He's following her in.

Adrenaline begins to pound in her chest. Kasumi smiles as she makes a u-turn over Miranda's office, pausing to listen to the Cerberus loyalist's comments. There's a fan off to the right, it will disguise her presence while she decides her next move.

"…Shepard uncooperative…Understood - with all due respect…should have let me input that control chip…I don't have that kind of relationship with her….Understood…"

Miranda Lawson is always stuffed to the brim with secrets. It's amazing that skintight suit will hold them all. And speaking of skintight suits…

She drops to the engineering deck, taking a detour to check the surveillance cameras. She could activate her cloak, but in such close quarters he would sense her. She'll do it later. It's not cheating, it's playing to win.

Zaeed is not in the cargo bay. Curious. It seems she has set a trend of exploration. She'll find out what he is up to later. The walls are humming. Thane is on this deck. Time to move, and be careful to avoid the cooling coils this time – they burn like frostbite.

She climbs to the second floor. The CIC shafts are less convoluted, and it's a bad place to hide, but she has an idea. She finds the appropriate tunnel and braces her arms and legs against the sides and pushes, going up up up.

Sweat beads on her neck. It is a long climb, one she has not yet attempted. One she would have preferred to take her time planning. As it stands, it's a gambit she thinks will throw Thane off. She presses on, knowing the area might be occupied, that her hard work and effort will be for nothing. If she is caught, she will have a lot of trouble explaining herself. It is such a gamble.

She feels alive.

She doesn't hear him any more. She might have lost him back on the CIC. It doesn't matter. Her thighs cramp a little, and her muscles are tight from being confined for so long. Still she pushes onward, still going up, knowing that if she falls, well, there might be a bad smell in the system that the air exchange will never get rid of.

And her reputation will never live any of this down.

But she reaches it, because she's Kasumi Goto and she's the best. Scanning the room, she finds it empty. She activates her cloak and unscrews the vent lid. With flourish, she silently rolls out onto Shepard's carpet, taking a moment to admire the Spectre's ship collection and fish. Then she replaces the cover, slips into the private restroom, and deactivates the cloak.

Her veil is crooked. Her makeup is smudged. Her hair is frizzy.

She does what repairs she can, and activates the cloak, sliding out of the restroom – surveillance cameras will reveal Shepard's room is haunted… But only if she doesn't steal the footage first. Another problem for another time.

Kasumi pushes the elevator button and waits.

It comes quickly to Shepard's room, and Kasumi is a little impressed. Once in the elevator, she deactivates her cloak.

Heh. She exhales in relief and not a little triumph.

And then the ceiling of the elevator starts to move. A large tile is pushed aside and a blur of green and black drops through the hole. She backs up against the wall as Thane rises from his knees. He crosses his arms and leans against the other wall, regarding her carefully.

Kasumi is glad the hood covers most of her face. Her lips are pressed firmly together, but her eyes are wide and round. He is good.

"That was…invigorating," Thane says after a moment, reaching up to replace the tile.

"Yes, yes it was," Kasumi doesn't bother to deny it. Even if she wants to.

"Was there…a reason? Was this just for the challenge?"

Kasumi stares at him. "I thought it would be fun."

He angles his head to the side, blinking very slowly as he studies her carefully. "You were right."

The elevator dings and they step off at the third floor.

"Come in for a drink?" She invites on an impulse. Professional courtesy of course, and he must be thirsty. She is.

"That would be…most welcome," he says hesitantly, but follows her in.

They are very similar, Kasumi is surprised to realize as Thane talks about Irikah. He has one of those moments where he slips into perfect recall. Kasumi is envious. Keji's gray box is wonderful and the mingling of both their memories is a experience she can't quite describe. But it does not capture the moment the same way, she does not experience it like she did the first time.

She almost wishes he had a little gray box she could steal. It would be vivid and wild and intimate. The thought is very wrong, because she has Keji and she doesn't need anyone else right now. She will fall in love again, but he will be human, and she will never love him as much as she loved Keji.

"Your paramour, you keep him close," Thane doesn't look at the spot where she keeps the box, but Kasumi suspects he already knows.

"Humans don't have eidetic memory. But I have the next best thing." She smiles, not for him, but for Keji, and sips her liquor.

"I'm dying," he says, sounding unsure.

"I know." Because she is Kasumi and she knows all of what goes on around the ship. She doesn't need the mechanical aids Miranda uses. All her intel is HUMINT. "I'm sorry," she adds a moment later. "You seem nice."

His laugh is not a nice one. "My son would say otherwise."

Her ears perk up. So the rumors are true. She'd heard about two drell assassins on the Citadel. What were the odds they were related? Shepard thrives on coincidences, or maybe the Spectre is just that good. Kasumi isn't sure.

"I can only tell you what I've observed. You loved her very much. I know how that feels." Her secrecy is pathological, but Kasumi cannot bring herself to lie to this man. Like Shepard, he has earned her respect.

The admission surprises her.

"I had heard…well, I never asked for the details. But I had heard that your trip with Shepard was more than a simple heist. But it is not my place to pry."

So she tells him about Keji, that age-old ballad of love and revenge. They'd been partners, in everything. And when she lost him, she'd lost half of soul. Parts of you don't always grow back, Kasumi knows this. The gray box is her prosthetic, her crutch.

And they sit there, graceful in their awkwardness. They both know how useless words are when it comes to comfort, so they talk about meaningless things, like Chambers' infatuation with anything that moves, and Shepard's pet varren.

Social niceties are…pleasant sometimes, Kasumi reflects as she sits beside him.

Too soon he is rising, a little less coordinated than usual, but it is a slip up only someone like her would notice, and she is too professional to mention it.

She almost asks him to stay.

She likes him, she realizes, as he bids her goodbye, staring at her for a fraction too long, committing her to his memory. She likes him a lot. He is like her, but different enough to be intriguing. He is kind, and resourceful, and leaves her feeling calm. Except when they are alone in the dark, he makes her blood rush, her heart pound. He hunts and she plays.

A troubling epiphany rises to the surface. She really could love him.

That is why Kasumi will not visit him again. She has that much self-control. He is dying and she cannot love a dying man. She cannot meld so fully with another only to lose him again. Kasumi is broken enough on Keji, and she knows it. Thane would shatter her.

Biting her lip, Kasumi clutches the gray box, hooking it into her omni-tool. The comfort Keji brings is hollow compared to the presence of a real living body. But it is better than letting another man tear another jagged hole in her heart.

A/N: I still don't know if I like this one. It's short and kind of depressing. I sort of want to write a sequel to it, but I don't know. I don't see them working out.