Afterlife was the best place on Omega to release all your inhibitions, and let yourself go to the pulsating music, lights, and dancers.
It was also the best place to get completely shitfaced.
Thane had ended up at Afterlife with the rest of the SR-2 crew, sitting alone at a table in the bottom room with his back to the wall. He was staring at the drink in front of him, the bluish concoction that he had ordered minutes before.
The silent wind echoes in the trees as he sits on the beach, leather jacket tossed carelessly into the sand. He has a bottle of wine in one hand, the other aimlessly sifting through the granules as he stares into the sea. Everything is blurry – it helps to not be so clear, to not remember everything. But of course he can never forget. He walks out to where the water is crashing in, pulling and receding at his feet. He wonders foggily what it would be like to join her there.
He was contemplating on whether to drown his sorrow in the drink when he heard an angry roar from the center of the club. Snapping his focus to it, he saw Grunt being dragged off by four bouncers, and a dazed turian lying on the floor. He had a metal chuckle at the inevitability of the situation – krogans were already an antagonistic species, and alcohol didn't help one bit.
And the drink before him wouldn't help Thane one bit, either. He was pushing it away from himself when he saw Shepard walking towards his table, her usual assertive gait.
"Krios." She greeted him and sat down at the table. For a moment, Thane felt trapped. He wasn't particularly in the mood to engage in conversation at the moment. He was cornered.
"Not much of a drinker, eh?"
Not anymore. "No. I like to stay aware at all times. Diminishing my capacity to defend myself, in my profession, is a deadly mistake."
She nodded. "That makes sense. But it must get tiring, having to watch your back all the time," said Shepard. "But, looks like you've already got your back covered," she said, alluding to the fact he had situated himself in a position to where he could not be taken by surprise. Observant woman, he thought.
She continued, with barely a pause between her last statement in the next. "However, you wouldn't have to if you weren't a killer for hire," she said, accusingly.
"You and me are not so different, Commander," Thane was slightly irritated, although he was an expert at hiding his expressions and Shepard failed to notice. Why had he been recruited for this mission, then, if everyone was going to criticize his area of expertise? "You are also a killer for hire, are you not? The only difference is," he said, leaning forward slightly, "is that what you do is legal."
"That's exactly the point. I do it for a cause. If it's for the greater good, and someone poses a threat, you're damn right I'll take them out. But you? You kill people that thugs want dead, for their own personal reasons." Shepard was testing him, he could tell. He was wise enough to know the difference between a simple goading and a test of character. Well, this was a game that two could play at.
"Force and fraud are in war the two cardinal virtues. You know the meaning of this well, yes? Torfan - a perfect example. You sent several to die while you disposed of those who had surrendered. Legal? Yes. Moral? Maybe not. This is the grey area in which you and I reside, Shepard."
Shepard felt her face grow hot at the mention of the incident at the small moon. She was playing a dangerous game of chicken with the assassin and realized that he wasn't going to back down.
"Those were darker days… but yes. I do what I need to do to get the job done. And I know you'll do the same," she said coolly, smothering her anger.
And with that, she turned and left, leaving the assassin still as unsure of what to make of the commander as he had been on Illium.
He looked down, and noted that his drink was gone.
Thane had continued to watch the antics of the crew, never bothering to get up and join them. He was much too deep in his own thoughts, as always. He did, however, notice some things every now and then that forcefully demanded his attention; Garrus had a few too many and was foolishly dancing while two asari snickered at his awful coordination. Mordin could be heard rapidly conversing with another salarian who was clearly bored with the conversation.
And, Shepard had just collapsed to the floor. Without thinking twice, Thane rushed to her, looking at the unconscious woman. He had hardly seen her drink, not enough to pass out stone cold like this. He saw the rest of the team rushing over as well, and they managed to get her to the nearest bathroom to figure out the problem.
Mordin began frantically talking. "Dehydration – no, couldn't possible make Shepard pass out so quickly. Humans, sometimes out from shock as well. Maybe – "
"Poison," said Thane and Garrus, simultaneously. They looked at each other.
"Her breathing is ragged and her skin is turning a peculiar color," he said, pulling a vial out of his jacket.
The hanar teacher waves a tentacle at many vials and bubbling concoctions, explaining each method of poison to the young drell. "This one believes one should always resort to stealthier methods, when a direct attack would not be feasible – like a much stronger target. One should know these different methods, and also know how to counteract them should they be used to one's disadvantage.
Just a small thirteen year old boy, he carefully slips the fatal liquid into the bottle of Ryncol. He watches silently from the vents as the krogan below collapses and writhes in pain before falling still.
"It's that damn batarian bartender," said Garrus. "Loves to poison humans."
"Don't you think Shepard should have been warned of this?" Thane said, tipping the vial into Shepard's mouth. The turian grimaced.
After what felt like an eternity later, Shepard finally awoke, finding herself staring into the blackness of Thane's eyes.
"Ugh… what happened?" she said, rubbing her temples and sitting up.
"Poisoned," said Mordin. "Thane had special variable antidote on hand. Fortunate. Almost died," he said.
Shepard turned to look at Thane, who regarded her back. "My training," he explained. "It's very useful at times."
Always with the smugness, Shepard thought, amused. But the man did save her life. "…Thank you, Thane."
"Anything to make sure the mission runs smoothly," Thane said, depersonalizing the benevolent act. Shepard frowned a little – it seemed Thane was always trying his best to not appear invested in anything.
"Where is the rest of the crew?" she said, standing up and addressing the three people in front of her.
"Out to look for that bastard batarian that poisoned you," Garrus said, his distinctive turian flange echoing in the bathroom. As soon as he said it, Jacob and Miranda burst through the door, carrying a shifty looking batarian by the arms. They threw him on the floor, at the feet of Shepard.
"This scum's all yours," Jacob said, looking down with distaste. Shepard was about to say something when Thane stepped in front of her and yanked the batarian up by the collar. He procured yet another vial from his pocket.
"Drink it," he said calmly, looking at the batarian's top two eyes.
"But – but – you can't –" he sputtered, flabbergasted.
"Drink it," he repeated. The batarian sadly took the vial and tipped it into his mouth. Seconds later, he fell on the floor.
"Did you just kill him?" Shepard asked, shocked.
"No. But he will we having some rather explosive vomiting, retinal bleeding, and crippling stomach pain for the next two days or so," said Thane, looking down at the crumpled batarian.
"The greater good," he said, walking out and leaving the stunned crew behind.