Commander Shepard may not have been a beautiful woman, but that didn't mean she didn't know how to make the best of what she had. On Kasumi's mission she'd proven that she could strut around in heels and a short dress with the best of them. It would be impossible too, to deny that there wasn't something attractive in her eternal confidence.
She wasn't the type of woman to let an army of sentient space machines destroy her galaxy, and she wasn't the type of woman to let someone tell her that no, she actually couldn't wear makeup onto the battlefield either. If she felt like wearing Popping-Citadel-Cherry-Red Chapstick™ while kicking geth ass, then she was bloody going to do it.
When Shepard wanted something, you did not fuck with her. And if she wanted to wear Justicode Blue with shimmering action eyeshadow™, then you'd better damn well get used to it. Besides, it brought out her eyes quite nicely she thought, and Kelly had agreed, saying as much.
Shepard was just now coming back from a mission dealing with more slavers. It was therefore understandable why she was currently covered in various pieces of batarian and her lipstick was smudged something awful. After ditching the armour and taking a quick shower in her thankfully private quarters, she realised she couldn't find her powder brush.
Going through her drawers, cabinets and all the Cerberus bug-lined crannies, she remembered that Kelly had been one-short yesterday. The yeoman may have asked to borrow her's. That meant that the brush was either in the woman's washroom downstairs or it was going to have to be chalked up to yet another one of Legion's trinkets she'd find added to that creepy-yet-kind-of-flattering shrine he had going on.
She decided to check the washroom first, maybe grab a few of those little soaps that were always stocked up down there too. The embedded Cerberus logo was kind of cute actually, especially if she was using it to clean her ass.
The bathroom wasn't empty and that was no surprise; the Normandy wasn't exactly the largest ship, and Cerberus had been pretty good about the whole equal opportunity hiring – at least where humans were concerned – so long as they were experts in their field.
What was surprising though, was the single occupant in the room.
The salarian was supporting himself with one hand, leaning over the counter and staring intently into the mirror. He was also using a very small ruler and an even smaller pencil to redraw what Shepard had previously though were facial tattoos.
"Shepard," he said , not looking up, "How can I help?"
There was a flurry of very immediate and pressing questions the commander suddenly needed to ask the good doctor. The one that won the race to verbalization first was, "Is that Jack's mascara?"
"Wrong," Mordin replied, as he made a tiny adjustment to his ruler. " Eyeliner, and not Subject Zero's. Uses it yes, but 'borrowed' from Miranda. Suspect without permission."
Distantly Shepard wondered if this was all some undisclosed side effect from her new Drell-stung Maximum Pucker Lip Plumper™ with advanced space collagen and minute dextro-essence extract formula.
Carefully she walked further into the small tiled room. When Mordin didn't dissolve into a cloud of dragonflies the commander felt a bit more confident in her reality. She made her way over to the basket that held all the little individually wrapped soaps and palmed a few.
When Mordin didn't say anything, she took the entire basket.
"You know," she said conversationally, as she filled her pockets and then bra with the ones left over, "I always figured you'd be the kind of guy to berate me for wearing makeup."
"No no," the doctor scoffed, "Understand woman's desire to feel beautiful. Aids confidence; helps assure mission completed to maximum efficiency." He put down the ruler and pulled out a small protractor from a tiny makeup bag Shepard was only now noticing. No, scratch that, little Gucci geometry case.
"Would never dream of interrupting human ritualistic behaviour," he said, going back to work on his design. "Experiments show negative results when superstitious routines disrupted."
Shepard gave one last adjustment to her bust-line – now three sizes larger. Her breasts crackled with any movement, but all it all it didn't look too bad. "You really know how to talk to a woman don't you, Mordin?" she joked, preoccupied with her own reflection now.
"Not just women. Men too. Turian clan markings good example. Image very important to culture even when historical significance less..." he trailed off as he finished the pointed edge of one artful curve, "...significant. Self-decoration important to drell too. Vital in securing attention of possible mate."
The ruler was brought out again, and he made another careful measurement. "Note Sere Krios' penchant to dress in teenage son's clothing. Recent dramatic escalations include multiple frill piercings and more constricted garments." Mordin took a deep breath. "Will need to remind him importance of uncovered chest."
That... that had been a lot more information that she'd bargained for, but it certainly explained the uncanny similarity between Thane and his son's clothing. What had been the kid's name again? Oh well, it didn't really matter. Still, the idea that Thane was in the midst of some ridiculous drell mating ritual was kind of cute. She wondered who the lucky lady might be, and made a note to visit Kasumi. Shepard figured she should probably ask if the thief knew anything about Mordin's propensity towards helping himself to things in the woman's washroom as well.
"So, is that why you're drawing big squiggles on your head then?" the commander asked, not without a trace of amusement. "You trying to catch the eye of some sweet little dame?"
Mordin exhaled sharply, and looked offended for a second. Being an especially high-strung salarian, he must have processed the resentment quickly though, because within the next half-second he was back to fixing his makeup.
"No, no, no. Reason much simpler! Nothing so complicated. Not military bravado, hormonal based mating attempts, nor routine for placating unfounded beliefs."
"Oh really now. So what's your excuse then? I hardly imagine you'd do something without a good reason."
"Astute observation," he replied, still focused on the mirror and finishing off the details of his work. "Don't need to explain myself, but rational simple enough," he said. "Feel pretty."
Shepard bit the inside of her cheek to keep from laughing. On the bright side it didn't seem the doctor noticed, and if he did, he didn't care. Holding out his hand in the vague direction of the women's lockers, he said, "Cotton ball please."
There was just something about the authority in which he demanded his tools – or rather, someone else's since the washrooms only stocked soaps – that Shepard couldn't resist. Off she went to a door at random.
Being a sentinel meant that she had advanced tech abilities and since she was already breaking into other lockers, weapon stores and safes all over the galaxy, her experience in the arena was considerable. Shepard pulled out her omnitool and then realized that she was trying to hack an old-fashioned combination lock. She paused.
Then she ripped it off with her biotic space magic. Piece of cake. No one's privacy could ever hope to stand against her!
Opening the locker door, Shepard was greeted with a picture of Ken's smiling face. This must have meant it was Gabby's then. Shepard liked what the engineer had done with the doodled-on moustache; the monocle and top hat were nice touches too.
Riffling through the the woman's belongings, the commander eventually found a bag of cotton balls. These were handed to Mordin.
"Thank you," he said, immediately going to work on professionally blending in the edges of his design. He was doing a really good job of replicating this year's fashionable 'smoky-soft' look.
In fact, now that she thought about it, when it came to looks, Mordin wasn't half bad in that department. Sure he was by far the pruniest member of her crew, but there was just something about the way his skin hung. Those natural folds were actually kind of flattering.
She was just about to say so, when the doctor brought up his omnitool, inputted a few instructions and someone else's much more advanced lock deactivated. Mordin reached inside the now unbarred locker and pulled out a canister of hairspray that she recognized as also belonging to Miranda. Who else but her needed that much volumizing mist to tame their lustrous midnight mane?
A better question yet may have been, what did Mordin need it for?
The answer came soon enough. Closing his bulbous eyes, the doctor depressed the nozzle and sprayed the contents all over his head.
"No! Mordin! That's not how that works!" Shepard cried, appalled at the cosmetic abuse.
The doctor opened his eyes and gave her an unimpressed look as he replaced the container to its rightful spot and reactivated the security device.
"Please Shepard," he said indignantly. "Know what I'm doing. Main chemical agent in aerosol spray reacts with salarian skin. Bonds pigment."
Oh. Well then.
"Do you use any other cosmetics?" she asked curiously. "Like lipgloss?" Shepard paused just a beat before blurting out, "And can I do your makeup?"
Mordin sniffed. "Don't recommend sharing lips paints. Unsanitary. Bacterial cross contamination very real possibility."
"Sounds like a no then?"
Mordin ignored her and picked up a familiar jar of powder instead, continuing with, "also recommend discontinuing use of this product."
"Hey now!" Shepard said, the indignant one this time. "What's wrong with my Blood Rage rouge™ ? It's my favourite kind, and it exfoliates like a dream!"
Mordin frowned, jabbing his finger at the packaging. "Made with 'blood of your enemies.' Thresher maw known longtime krogan enemy. Shepard, contains thresher acid. Not exfoliating, burning off top layer of epidermis!"
"You may be overreacting a bit, Doctor," she said defensively.
"Face falling apart, Commander," he replied, pointing his finger at where her Cerberus implants were beginning to show through.
Suddenly Mordin's face – and his perfectly applied tread marks – were all too close. She fell silent, looking up at him as he grabbed her chin. Turning her face further upward, he gazed deeply into her eyes, and she felt her cheeks reddening without the help of Tuchanka's leading cosmetic brand.
"Come see me later," he said in that educated, slightly nasal voice of his. "Can provide antihistamine for bad case of red eye. Contagious. Recommend treatment as soon as possible."
He let her go, turning away and starting to pack up his supplies.
"Hey, Mordin?" She asked, feeling a little light headed.
"Hmm?" he answered noncommittally as he carefully folded up his compass.
"Why don't you whip up those eye-drops and bring 'em up to my cabin?"
The doctor looked back at her with a bemused expression.
"Bring your little algebra set too. I want you to apply one of your designs to my..." she ran a hand down her side and the soaps made loud, plastic crinkling noises, "...body." She smiled a wicked, coy little smile. "Consider it an exploration of inter-species xenoscience."
The salarian considered it, tapping his chin for all of one whole minute before announcing with a little smile of his own, "Yes. Will be there. Quite enjoy cultural pursuits."
Shepard's smile widened as she turned on her heel and sashayed out of the room. She was interrupted mid-strut when Mordin called out, "Oh, and Shepard?"
"Yes?" She asked, turning around and batting thick eyelashes.
"Inter-species xenoscience: a redundancy. Regardless, see you soon."
They both nodded to each other, and Shepard left to tidy up her suite.
She was just in the middle of dusting off her toy ships for the twelfth time today when she realised she'd forgotten all about the powder brush. Damnit.
Any further thoughts were interrupted when there was a knock at the door.