Well, I'm back. I had this really big desire to write Tali/Shepard after I accidentally clicked on Last Rites by Pepoluan. if you haven't read it. Don't. Not because Pepoluan is a bad writer, he's goddamn great writer, I'm not even kidding. But the ending is absolutely the worst damn thing I've ever seen as a Talimancer. I wanted to cut my eyes out it was so bad. Here's to not being able to wait til it gets moved to the next pairing... :p

Edit: Pepoluan, I'll cut you a tiny bit of slack. After washing my eyes with industrial strength degreaser and bleach. You definitely did catch me off guard. Though, considering your history with Shep/Miri, I should not have been surprised. :/

Okay, so on with it eh?


First Christmas

...

"I get what you're trying to tell me. But I just don't think you understand."

"So I'm ignorant now about my own daughter?"

Commander John Shepard, galactic war hero, first human Spectre, all around respected badass felt an aneurysm coming on. Disagreeing with his wife about how to raise their girls always gave him a stomach ache and a massive migraine. That coupled with her pulling sex out of the bedroom and keeping him on ice for day after day usually meant John was incline to agree with Tali'Shepard more times than he'd care to admit.

This time was different. Shepard couldn't care less about what he'd lose. He was fighting for his little girl. It was more important than sex in his eyes. At least that was what his mother, Hannah seemed to drill that it was into his head last night when he spoke to her. she took her duties as grandmother to his children very seriously. It didn't matter if her son was getting any, only that her granddaughter was happy.

He inwardly groaned. Tali'Shepard was a nightmare to get angry. She stood there; Arms crossed, her bright eyes were slits as she scowled at her human husband. Teeth were showing, a sign of her more primitive instincts kicking in. Fierce devotion to her family. Any sort of criticism of her child rearing and there was going to be hell to pay. Husband's included.

It wasn't like he was asking for a lot either. He had just felt that perhaps it was time for their girl, Marissa to go to school amongst her own people was something that everyone had a right to understand who they were.

Shepard groaned inwardly. This had to be the worst first attempt at a Christmas with quarians ever.

"Tali, you know if the situation was reversed and we were on Earth, I would want Narja amongst her own people, learning about her culture, her heritage and most importantly her place in the galaxy." John started up again, taking a step closer to Tali, his eyes never leaving hers, "Well Marissa isn't quarian, no matter how much you want her to be."

"I don't WANT her to be a quarian!" Tali snapped back furiously, "I just don't to send her off to a planet thousands of light years away from her mother, you bosh'tet! What about Narja? she's going to be heartbroken to think her big sister wants to leave her for such a long time!"

Shepard snorted and chuckled, not noticing how dangerously rigid Tali had become from his mocking outburst.

"Jesus, you'd think I was getting Garrus to sign her up to join the Turian foreign legion or something! Send her off to fight batarian's and free slaves by age 8!" Shepard exclaimed with humor etched in his voice "She's 6, she goes to school and you know what? She's expressed an interest in being with people like her to me."

Tali's anger vanished as quickly as it came. She would be pacified, for now. John had a small timeframe to work his magic.

"Tali, she's in a super minority here on Rannoch." Shepard continued seeing now that after an hour of arguing finally he managed to pull a punch on Tali's argument could never recover from. "Do you want to know how many humans there are here? Dozens. She's maybe seen humans other then myself and her grandparent about ten times. She's probably feeling different now. Quarian child are reserve like their parents. Right?"

Tali nodded so John pressed his advance.

"Human children are hellraisers the moment they can walk and form complex thought. They fight, run, scream and play violent games that always ends in tears." Shepard shrugged mildly, "It's how they become well adjusted humans, apparently."

"Narja is just like Marissa, John, shes just as wild." Tali interjected, walking over to him, her hands reached out and took Shepard by the smiled, his hands rubbing her side, attempting to comfort the pouting quarian

"Narja has a mom and dad who kills Reapers and a human sister, of course she's going to be strong willed." Shepard gently pointed out, annihilating Tali's weaker argument. "But at least she has similarities with the other children, at least she's not called out for having different hands and feet or finds speaking Khellish without a translator difficult."

"I think I'll be having a discussion with a couple of parents about that." Tali muttered, her voice angry with the thoughts of children teasing her daughter about things she couldn't ever change.

Shepard smiled as he noticed Tali working herself into an angry rant over the issue. He allowed the anger to course through her for a minute or so. Most people thought anger made people angry. When it came to Tali, it only served to make her look even more gorgeous. It exemplified the pure passion she was made of.

Yes, this was the Shepard family. A family born from the burning ashes of the Reaper War. Shortly after the galactic victory over the seemingly indomitable killing force. Shepard saw to it that Tali would be his wife. Something that only took Tali a fraction of a second to accept.

It had been a simple wedding. Few, if any were invited. It did not bother either of them. Tali and John were people simple desire, they hadn't the desire for anything extravagant. All they wanted was just two people exchanging vows. As much as Shepard wanted to provide Tali a quarian ceremony. there weren't exactly any quarian religious figures or ship captains that could provide a marriage.

Instead they got John's mother, Hannah over to preform the ceremony. Much to Tali's shock and dismay, Zaeed Massani of all people was his best man (John nearly having to pay the mercenary to do it) He knew the mercenary well enough to know that no one would ever find out about the marriage until John and Tali were settled down into a simple life and ready to talk about it. Call Zaeed what you want, one thing he did know was how to follow Shepard's orders.

With one obstacle down, it was time to book passage on the nearest quarian vessel to Rannoch. But before they could get to one they had stumbled across a heartbreaking sight.

An orphanage for those who's parents, who's family died in the war. It was in that moment that Tali and Shepard decided they would start a family. If they could rescue one life from the pain of being without family, then they would do their part.

The choice had been difficult. At least, it had been until Marissa Rachel Doyle. A six month old baby girl, orphaned when the Reapers attempted to destroy New Canton. Both her birth parents were navy, both her parents died repelling the attack, one of the first major victories against the machine threat.

With some smooth talking on Shepard's part and a flash of his Spectre credentials, John and Tali walked out of the orphanage with baby Marissa wrapped firmly in a blanket and securely in their arms, nether one of them willing to give the other more time with the infant.

When Shepard and Tali reached Rannoch. John decided that he would build a house for them, just as Tali's misguided but loving father had secretly promised her from birth. After staking out and purchasing a dozen acres of land by one of Rannoch's seas, he went to work laying the frame of their new lives. With Tali by his side as they built together.

It did not take long. the task taking only Months until finally the home was built. The architecture was a cross been traditional quarian ground design and human customary second floor. Finesse and sophistication, coupled with practicality. It bridged both cultures that the interspecies family had now.

But it wasn't enough. Tali and John longed for another child. As much as they both would kill to have a child together. It just was not an option. Not at that time at least. So, together they put in a request for an adoption of a quarian child. And, a year later, Narja'Osora was introduced to her big sister.

John looked up, meeting Tali's eyes. He smiled. For finally being at peace. For finally not waking up everyday knowing someone would die by his hand. The wars he waged were over. He knew that his fellow N7's, Spectres and his teams were probably laughing at Shepard's evolution into a family man.

He didn't care. This was exactly what he wanted.

He felt soft hands move up ad graze his cheek. Tali snapped his attention back to her. She leaned in close, allowing her lips to graze and travel up his neck. John moaned, his fingers touching the front of her neck as well, his hands falling and grazing the top of her cleavage, hidden half way with the night robe she was wearing. This was going to be good. Christmas sex sounded like a good new tradition to hi-

"Daddy!" Narja suddenly screamed loudly blowing the mood set between the adults, running towards her father, jumping on his back and pulling herself up. With a single move, he placed his arms around Narja and swung her around sat her in his arms. Narja looked up at John, her grin bright.

"'Rissa says there's presents but nothings down there... where are they?" She asked, her voice innocent but the message was clear. She wanted Christmas presents. Now. Tali's lips were formed into a frown but Shepard couldn't help it, he chuckled. The first spoiled little quarian, he loved it.

"They ought to be down, did you check hard enough?" John asked his baby girl. Narja shrugged, her lips puffed out into a big pout.

"Yes Daddy." She whined, "Gramma Raan said we don't get any presents, we've been bad, is that true?"

"Yes Daddy," Tali said, crossing her arms and putting her weight on one hip, watching John for an appropriate answer,"Lets hear why there are no presents under the tree?"

John shrugged, shifting Narja's weight in his arms. "Well" He started, giving his girl a smile, "Santa Claus has to fly from Earth to Rannoch you know. He'll be here soon enough, do you understand?"

With a long dramatic sigh. She nodded and placed her chin over her father's shoulder. John turned his head and offered his hand out to her. With a smile Tali took it and led her husband and daughter out of the bedroom and down to the family room. Both parents listening to the babbling of the four year old with mild interest. At the moment the married couple were making eyes at each other. It was a form of mental sex the two had whenever one of their girls decided to interrupt them.

Tali smiled, and turned her head as they entered the family sitting there on the couch, with her adopted granddaughter, Marissa on her knee was none other than Admiral Shala'Raan vas Tonbay. She looked up briefly, her weathered face looking at the family proudly before turning her attention back to the human on her lap.

"Hello, Grandmother Raan. I'm glad you could make it." Tali spoke softly, her lips in a smile. Marissa turned her head and smiled hugely at her Daddy. Quickly she climbed off her "Grandmother's" knee and ran to her dad, latching on tightly to his legs.

Tali rolled her eyes. Such a daddy girl as John had once called it. A big suck up was more like it. How John got tricked by his girls into doing anything they wanted she'd never know for sure. Whatever it was it most have been some sort of reaper like indoctrination power those two possessed.

"Dad, where are the presents?" She said, letting go of John's legs and wrapping her hands behind her back. Her bright blue eyes looking into her father's and captivating him instantly.

Tali sighed and snatched Narja from John. This was always how it begun. a simple question turned into a massive demand that John was too weak willed to resist. Honestly, Tali was surprised John hadn't choked on his tongue yet, he got that stupefied. Slowly, Tali sat down on the couch next to Auntie Raan, giving her a one armed hug.

"Tali," Shala begun,"I see you have your hands full. Is this Christmas thing going to become standard?"

Tali shrugged, kissing the top Narja's head.

"Perhaps," She spoke plainly, resting her head against Raan's arm, "it seems so wasteful, Cutting down a tree, importing decorations from Earth and waiting on this one called 'Santa Claus' to bring us highly expensive presents."

Tali glanced back to her humans, both engaged in excited chatter about Christmas traditions as if it had been her birthday all over again. Tali turned her head back, sighing slightly.

"But I think it may be worth it." Tali continued softly as Narja buried her face into her chest, "It was so rare for us to do anything fun like on the Flotilla as you know. Partaking in this sort of extravagance is a change, too be honest, I kind of like it."

"Besides, John is right." She finished, idly watching Marissa smile.

Shala tilted her head.

"Right about what?" she questioned from the girl she considered to be her own daughter. Tali shrugged again, her expression melancholy.

"Marissa lives on Rannoch, Shala," Tali explained, distantly, "we have nearly isolated ourselves from outside species while we build. Because of that sheltering, Marissa barely gets to appreciate or actively participate in human cultural activities. She rarely has access to humans other then her father."

"You're worried that she may be lonely?" Shala whispered gently, "Feeling different perhaps?"

Tali nodded softly.

"She's been teased before." Tali spoke darkly to the admiral, "John has seen it. She takes it and dishes it back, like she ought to. But, it's not right. She deserves... She deserves so much more then what I... we can just provide her, here on Rannoch." The mother sighed, her eyes, downcast in thought, "She needs to spend some time with her own people as well."

"Well, Tali, it appear as if you already know the answer then." Shala sagely responded, "When she is old enough, an education amongst humans may be your best bet."

Raan smiled and leaned in closer to Tali.

"Now," She begun, "off of these discussions, I would like an explanation to what this 'Christmas' is exactly."

There was knock on the door, which made Tali smile knowingly at her looked down to the small quarian on her lap.

"Be a big girl and answer it?" She asked her little girl.

Narja nodded and climbed off her mommas lap. Slowly she walked over to the her mother a curious look she turned back around and reached up high to pull the knob, opening the door up for the person waiting. Narja stepped back and looked up.

"HO HO HO, MERRRY CHRISTMAS!" The figure in the doorway roared out loudly. Narja's luminescent eyes widened at the sight.

Narja slowly looked the man over. Big black boots. A red and white jumper, a massive belly, a red stocking hat with a white puffball hanging off the tip, a pair of glasses and a massive white beard covering his mandibles. he looked back down at Narja curiously.

"Who are you?" Narja asked shyly, taking a step back from the man.

The figure in doorway the took a step forward, his mandibles spread into a smile.

John Shepard looked up, is face completely bulged out at the sight. This had to be the most ridiculous yet completely endearing things he had ever seen in his entire life, he did not know it, but right now he was turning the same shade of light purple that Tali was from suppressing the urge to scream in utter hilarity.

It was a Turian Santa Claus.

More importantly. It was a Garrus Vakarian, Turian Santa Claus.

John was shaking now. Sure, he asked for Garrus to do it, but this was unfathomable to anything he ever imagined. Tali's eyes widened at the sight of the scarred turian. She thought that Shepard and her agreed to ask Kaidan Alenko to be the one who'd be doing it. Joker even! But Garrus?

"Well," Garrus explained slowly, using his mitten covered talons to gesture the human girl over to him, who stood there in utter shock. "I am Santa Claus, and from what I understand this will be your first Christmas, young ladies."

Narja and Marissa nodded mutely. Garrus just smiled from behind his beard yet again. Tali's eyes were wide at the sight. She looked over and saw her husband standing there, purple and shaking like a lunatic.

"I thought Santa was a fat human?" Marissa questioned, earning a chuckle from Santa Garrus.

"You must be little Marissa Shepard, correct?" He asked with false curiosity. Marissa nodded hard, blue eyes wide still.

"Yes, sir." She whispered respectfully.

Santa Garrus smiled and trudged to the couch. Much to her dismay, Admiral Raan was now sitting next to the turian. Garrus reached out and pulled little Narja into his arms and sat her square on his hard lap, a hand around her shoulder. Marissa followed, taking a seat on his other leg.

"Well, that's just it Miss Shepard," Garrus started in a jolly tone, "long ago turian's stumbled across humanity, they had heard of the story of Christmas but it was getting harder and harder for old Saint Nick to deliver the boys and girls of Earth their presents, expanding birth rate being how it was."

Shepard inhaled, this certainly wasn't what they had planned, just a simple in and out was what Garrus was looking for, something Shepard was willing to obliged. It had seemed, however, that Garrus perhaps was more into his role then neither had anticipated.

So John took a seat on the floor next to Tali, this he had to hear.

"So In their infinite kindness, the turian people approached Saint Nick and offered to take over for him." Garrus continued, eying Tali and John knowingly . "You see, their brightest minds had determined that in order for all the presents to be delivered, The human Santa Claus would have to travel at over the speed of light, something humans could not master until over forty years ago. Plus it would be hard task to do and pretty cruel to those poor reindeer, right?"

Marissa thought about the statement and then looked back up and nodded in agreement. Tali glanced down to her husband and slid off the seat, taking a seat next to him. Slowly, she leaned against him and whispered into his ear.

"You have an interesting choice for Santa, John."

Shepard smirked and leaned against her, whispering right back.

"Well," He said lowly, "it could have been Wrex, but he opted out at the last moment. Something about his people needing him."

Tali's hand formed a ball which she bite hard to in order to suppress the giggling she wanted to do at the thought of thousand year old Clan leader decked out in this horrid human fashion statement.

"So, the turian's decided to elect a man to assist poor Santa for this task, as well as for all the colony and shipborn children out in human space. Dear Marissa, Sweet Narja." He finished, his mandibles spreading widely, "I am Saint Niccrus of the north pole of Palaven, here to deliver all of you...YOUR PRESENTS!"

The two girls cried out in excitement, bouncing off the turian, who stood back up and walked back over to the front door. The children watched eagerly as the turian turned around, a massive sack of presents over his shoulder. As he reached them, he stopped and gave the elder girl an appraising look.

"But, I must ask you Marissa." Garrus Clause spoke, "How come you made my naughty list this year?" Marissa looked ready to protest but Garrus cut across her. "I know what you did. While I'm impressed, My human employer needs to know why and to make sure you are indeed worthy of these gifts."

Marissa shifted uncomfortably. Between Garrus Claus, Grandma Raan, her parents and little Narja staring at her. She felt like she was in the hot seat.

"I kinda blew up Quala'San nar Vernais's doll." She whispered, not noticing her daddy looking at her proudly, "She was being mean and I had firecrackers."

Garrus' small eyes widened, He did his best not to break character by telling her just how proud Uncle Garrus was of her actions. After giving himself a moment to control himself, he spoke. "Well...That sounds...kind of reasonable." He admitted, but quickly added, "Perhaps next time use your words, however. Violence gets you into trouble more often then not."

Garrus turned his attention over to the small quarian, looking at him brightly. "As for you Narja," He told her, patting her shoulder, "you've been an angel as humans say, So, you may open your gifts!"

With that Santa Garrus opened the sack and carefully allowed it's contents put onto the floor next to the Christmas girls cheered again and hugged the turian, thankful for the gifts giving to them and their family.

"So long children!" Garrus Clause exclaimed as he stepped back from the girls, "I shall see you next year!"

Garrus backed up towards the door, watching in wonder at the sight. Of Marissa hugging her mother, Narja tugging the Admiral down to sit with her on the floor. Shepard was the only one looking at him a small smile on his face for the turian, His eyes were watered up with tears of happiness. It was obvious to Garrus that an unspoken Thank You was on his lips.

Garrus smiled back. With a final step, he back himself outside and closed the door. He only stood there for a moment before he turned around and trudged back up to his Hovercar, pulling off his hat as the house faded in the distance.

For years, he had watched friends and loved ones die around him. The only constant in Shepard's life had been war. For six years, from his initiation as a Spectre, until the Reaper threat was destroyed. He had a family. a family who fought by his side and stayed there when times got time got tough. He watched his friends die. Miranda, Thane, Jacob, Williams and countless others.

But it wasn't what Shepard needed. Not really. War was no stability. As nasty and as powerful as Shepard was, he was no Krogan, lusting solely in making war on people, enemy or not. No. He wanted something visceral, he wanted a life away from the chaos and horror of what he did for his entire adult life. This family had was a family that asked him to compromise who he was for people who was always questioning him.

No, Shepard needed a family that did not ask to kill for him. He wanted a family where the only thing expected of him was love whether it be romantic love between him and Tali or the family love he shared unconditionally with the children he was raising. Where the only compromise was over bedtime and the amount of sweets the children got.

Garrus brought up his omni-tool. Deciding to message John.

Shepard,

I'll see you in a few hours. I'll bring some drinks. You soooo owe me for this.

-Garrus

He sent it along and sighed as he stepped into his vehicle. He gave the home one last look before firing up the engines and pulling out of neutral. He was happy for Shepard. John had finally found what he was looking for after such a long time.

A true family.


Well I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it. You may be asking yourself why in the hell I wrote this. Well Hear are three reasons

A/ I needed to take all the fluff in my system and compress it into one giant overload of teeth rotting, diabetes inducing story. Right now in everyone of my more serious stories, I'm at point where I need to be very serious while writing, so accidentally slipping up and pouring fluff in the stories will wreck the plot. plus I wrote sic thousand words of intensity. I needed something to refresh myself.

B/ Christmas is dope

C/ It's Garrus dressed as Santa Clause. There's been cowboy Garrus, why not Santa Garrus. I was seriously considering Wrex as Santa but, alas, it would have probably ended very nasty, scarring Narja and Marissa forever.

I am thinking about continuing this, but like I always say, I have priority stories to write

Read and review!

Thanks

DarkDanny

Edit: After much debate, I revised Jack's death