Author's Note: So pretend like you saved before landing on Horizon just to see what would happen with different squadmates. I mean you know...who does that?


Cupid: Kasumi

Kasumi let out a breath when Shepard finally put her shotgun down...or at least lowered it. This was not usually how she did business. She found ways to get in and get out with the least amount of attention because attention usually meant trouble. Besides, what kind of thief wantedattention, besides bad ones, that is. Shepard seemed to feel differently about that, if the mangled bodies of Geth and Collectors behind them was any indication.

However, unlike their other outings, Kasumi was surprised at Shepard's recklessness this time around. There was a desperation in the way she was running them through this, and Kasumi had half a mind to question her about it. For instance, the positioning of their defeated enemies vis à vis Shepard's winding path to where they finally stopped would tell any astute observer that she walked right through the middle of this firefight. From what she'd experienced, Kasumi assumed Shepard was more of a strategist, using both her biotics and weapons to her advantage, and was not ashamed of using cover. Maybe Shepard just didn't feel like using her tried and true methods today, but Kasumi wished she'd brought Garrus or Jacob instead. A delicate Asian thief was not built for this.

Kasumi glanced at Grunt. The Krogan seemed to be...grinning. Well, he probably enjoyed the battle and it was with visible reluctance did he holster his weapon. Wincing, Kasumi tried to shake out the strain in her hands. She made a mental note to gently remind Shepard that she was a Master Thief and as such, her hands were her livelihood. She thought she was being brought on to pick locks and safes, not provide cover fire for a soldier hell-bent on visiting places most likely to be attacked.

Suddenly, she became aware of Shepard moving and putting her arms around another marine, and they held each other for a beat longer than what one would expect from a friendship. Kasumi's mouth fell open as Grunt reached for his weapon, but she waved him back and took a step closer. When she got a better look at the man Shepard let even come that close, she couldn't fault Shepard's taste. Despite a feeling that Shepard wouldn't appreciate her eavesdropping, she started to creep closer...

"Back off, Kasumi," Shepard said without looking behind her.

Pouting, Kasumi stepped back to where Grunt stayed, rooted to the spot.

"What's happening? Who is that?" he asked.

"Shepard's boyfriend, it looks like."

"Boyfriend? Her mate?"

"If I were to guess, I'd say they're mated alright," Kasumi replied with a grin.

Grunt threw her a strange look, but refrained from comment. She was sure the first thing he was going to do when they return to the ship was look up human mating rituals on the extranet and probably set off a few alarms doing it, but that was his problem. She was more interested in the mating rituals going on in front of her. The conversation Shepard was having with her friendwas winding down to an interesting close. From the bits and pieces Kasumi could hear, he was not particularly impressed with the company she was keeping. Her eyebrows rose when she heard the word 'love'. Or was it 'loved'? Since they weren't embracing again, she would have to guess 'loved'.

Too quickly, he walked away and Shepard turned on her heel, her expression as dark as Kasumi had ever seen it, and that was saying plenty. She pushed past them and called Joker for a pickup. Kasumi, not one to tread lightly when her curiosity was in charge, moved to stand next to the Commander.

"So, who was that?" she asked lightly.

Shepard looked at her, looked down really, with narrowed eyes. Kasumi had to will herself to stay put under the glare of those red corneas.

"We served together on the last Normandy," Shepard said curtly.

"He was pretty cute, Shep. What's his name?" Kasumi pushed on.

"Alenko. And keep your eyes in your head Kasumi."

"Well, well. Guess servedtogetheris an understatement, hm?"

If it was possible for Shepard to look more fierce, she certainly accomplished it, and Kasumi clamped her mouth shut, mimicking turning a key. Shepard glared at her before turning away.

The ride back to the Normandy was tense, but Kasumi did her best to feign relaxation. She lounged in her seat, her legs crossed casually, as she watched Shepard without watching her. Fortunately, the only thing Shepard was focused on were her own thoughts and she ignored the other two like a pro. Kasumi's first impression of Shepard was that she was a hard-nosed soldier who didn't take crap from anyone. Her impression certainly didn't change after their little visit to Bekenstein though Shepard did manage to wear a little black dress with the same flare she did her armor-that is, with a utilitarian air and nothing more. It was a shame, because she could have gotten more out of it.

It was only now did Kasumi see that the Commander was indeed more than a two dimensional war machine because underneath it all, she was a woman with a broken heart...or maybe it was worse. Maybe she was a woman who'd lost her heart. Kasumi certainly knew something about that.

Shepard's rather wicked looking shotgun sat on her lap and she gripped it tightly as she stared out the window. The corners of her mouth were curved down and her breathing was rapid, shallow. If Kasumi didn't know any better, their fearless leader was close to breaking down. She was relieved that Grunt was not aware enough to realize what was happening because she was sure the last thing Shepard needed were questions about her eyes leaking.

When the shuttle docked, Shepard was out the doors like a shot, but Kasumi ran behind her, squeezing into the elevator before Shepard could close the doors on her.

"Kasumi, don't think I won't blow your brains out if you don't leave me alone," Shepard said through clenched teeth.

"I just want to make sure you won't blow yours out first," Kasumi replied simply.

Shepard punched the emergency stop button and whirled on the other woman, keeping her balance as the elevator screeched to halt.

"Do I look like someone who wants to have a chat right now?" she demanded. "I am your commanding officer..."

"Actually, you're not," Kasumi pointed out. "I'm not a commissioned anything. You could say, I'm here voluntarily."

"Well then you better understand who I am and why you need to follow my orders..."

"I was angry, too, Shep, when Keiji died," Kasumi interrupted quietly.

Shepard pressed her lips tightly together and looked away. "No one died."

"You did."

The look she threw Kasumi was sharp and Kasumi knew she hit the mark.

"He's just angry because you left him," Kasumi said reasonably. "It doesn't make sense, but that's probably why he wasn't that excited to see you. When Keiji died, I wanted to crawl into a black hole and shoot everyone in sight at the same time."

"You're different," Shepard mumbled.

"How?"

"He's pragmatic. He's a marine. He doesn't think like that. You...you're like a big beating heart."

Kasumi decided to ignore that last bit, but only because she needed Shepard to focus on what she was saying. Ignore didn't mean forget.

"Thinking has nothing to do with it and even soldiers go with their hearts sometimes or else you wouldn't be this...prickly," she said. "Give him a break. Yourself, too. Did you really think everything would be okay? I'm going to guess you probably didn't call him the second you woke up."

Then, Kasumi realized that she knew why Shepard seemed so bent on blowing through everything in their path. She'd known Alenko was at the end of it.

"When we were on Horizon, all you wanted to do was find him, didn't you?" Kasumi asked. "Were you really thinking when you walked up to that Harbinger Collector to punch him in the face? Well, thinking of anything else besides Alenko. Sometimes, even the first human Spectre has to acknowledge her feelings."

Shepard sighed and rubbed a hand down her face, but her shoulders loosened and her expression cleared.

"Thanks for reducing all my fine work into a desperate quest for love, Kasumi," she said smoothly. "Is that all?"

"You tell me, Shep."

"Don't call me that."

Smiling, Kasumi hit the emergency stop button and the elevator hummed to life.

"See, isn't it better when we share?" she asked.

"No," Shepard retorted, but she smirked. "If you tell anyone about this..."

"You'll blow my brains out, I know."

Shepard nodded. "Glad we understand each other."

"Yeah...me, too."