A/N: This is a series of one-shots set post-ME2 but before ME3 and the ME2 add-on The Arrival. Just some fluff with Shepard and one of his/her romances. Each chapter will have a different Shepard (i.e. different backgrounds and paragon/renegade attitude). I will do female Shepard's with male romances. I'm gonna put an extra emphasis on completing this series since Mass Effect 3 is close to releasing. Enjoy.

Disclaimer: Mass Effect owned by BioWare & EA (Electronic Arts) International

Mass Effect: A Single Moment

Samara

He's late. He's never late

Samara, Justicar of the asari, Matriarch, sat in the Normandy's observation bay, trying to focus. Trying to stay calm. Trying to make the hurt go away.

It hurt so much sometimes. Before Shepard, there was no pain, just the code. And her personal crusade. Her daughter. The Ardat Yakshi. Morinth. Dead. Now there was no crusade. No grand objective. Nothing to replace the new emptiness but pain. Nothingness.

Loneliness.

Live long enough to become a Matriarch and you find ways to deal with the feelings. You also come across new feelings, new experiences, and new loves.

He was interested.

He approached. In human society, the male usually is the instigator in mating rituals. Asari are far more flexible, but humans were varied and rigorous in such things. In fact, human courtship could not be narrowed down to a conclusive definition, according to several asari sociologists. When humanity was discovered, and after the Citadel Council managed to pull the turians away from them, many asari flocked to Earth, eager to crack open the new mysteries it and its inhabitants held. And for the first time in a long time, the asari found themselves in over their heads. It was said that no species was as varied and confusing as humans. So many different cultures and sub-cultures. It took the asari ten years just to get the basic categories done. The humans had broken themselves up on some of the most fundamental levels. Religion, politics, even their skin color. Whites and blacks and everything in between, it was ridiculous. On Thessia asari were asari whether their skin was blue or purple or what else.

But that was beside the point. She rejected him. Her code did not forbid it but…she could not bear it. Another love. Another life. Something she could not bring herself to take.

She could deal with it, handle the frustrations. Until she saw her.

Liara T'Soni. An asari. A younger asari. Barely over a hundred. Barely considered an adult. It was like the Goddess enjoyed her sense of irony. At first glance, she thought that the commander had an asari fetish. Not that it was something new to aliens. But she discovered their history, fighting side by side against geth, krogan, rachni, and even Saren himself.

And pain. The asari that became the Shadow Broker, she lost her mother. To Saren. To Sovereign.

And Shepard lost so much too, when the batarians came to the human colony on Mindoir. Batarian slavers were always a brutal people. And again on Akuze. How he did not break by then was perplexing. She found it admirable for someone, anyone, to keep going after all that. She also could not help but pity him, to shoulder that much burden.

Loss. Yes they shared that too. And herself. So much sacrificed just to take one more thing…no, to take one daughter away.

It was hard not to find someone on the Normandy who did not experience the sting of losing someone close. But it could bind those together strongly.

And that's what changed. She was alone for so long. Always moving, never looking back. Shedding nearly a millennia of memories, possessions, and family for a higher purpose. And he came, and turned it all upside down.

She was no longer alone and she had a very…difficult time adjusting to it.

The doors clicked and slid open as Shepard strolled in. Ever since his excursion with Kasumi he had become accustomed to wearing the evening wear 'gift' instead of his Cerberus uniform. A welcomed change.

"Samara." He said with a relaxed swagger. "Still up?"

It was true that it was considered 'night time' onboard, although on a vessel sailing through the infinite black, night and day were but words.

"I am aware of the time." She said with her trained politeness. "And I am used to spending long nights awake."

He sat next to her, relaxed, like he hadn't a care in the world. The way he smiled. He had just been with her. Liara. He had invited her aboard after they dealt with the yargh. It was supposed to be a quick tour of the ship and reminiscing. Much reminiscing from the looks of it.

"Doing what? Meditating? Isn't that a fancy way of sleeping?"

Jokes. His shield against the world. Not surprising, considering what he had been through.

"Mediating is a way to collect one's thoughts. Center her mind and soul." She kept her eyes forward. She could not look him in his eyes. "Perhaps you should try it sometime."

That was not how she wanted it to come out. She was having a harder time keeping the fire quenched.

"I like to think I'm in a good place." Shepard's smile held only a bare amount of his usual jovialness. "Even with everything going on."

"You are troubled?" The calm focus of her mission came back.

"This whole thing with the Reapers is…trying." He leaned forward, looking out into the stars with her. "Beating the Collectors was one thing. But taking down an armada of living Dreadnaught-sized starships?" He almost shivered. He never shivered. Not since they met.

"Did Liara tell you something about the Reapers?"

"She…put everything in perspective." He pursed his lips. "Getting the galaxy together to fight them seems far more difficult than I thought. Even with Liara's resources, it's going to be an uphill battle."

"You knew this from the beginning. Why does it bother you now?"

"I never really had to think of it until now. First Saren. Then the Collectors. Always the here and now to take your mind off the distant and later."

Samara could only nod.

"But all of that won't mean shit if I get slapped in irons and sent to the brig for what happened with the batarians."

A moment passed before she spoke. "You made the correct choice."

"I made the only choice." He whispered back.

"You warned the batarian colony." Even after all they did to you. "You did everything you could."

"And they want my head for it." He chuckled lightly.

"We do not do our duty for glory or gratitude."

"I know." He said grimly.

Silence followed. The unbearable silence. She noticed his body language. He was not telling her something.

"I got the call." He finally said. "I have to go back to Earth."

"Now?"

"Yeah." Shepard sounded defeated. "We'll be stopping at the Citadel so everyone can-"

"Abandon you?" She finished.

That was a mistake. Interrupting him was not her way.

"None of you were there. This is my burden." He sounded distant, like he wasn't even talking to her anymore.

There was so much she wanted to say that she could not start. Yet nothing came to her that could trump his statement.

"This…might be goodbye for a while." Shepard said carefully. "I figured might as well get it done with now so there won't be any teary good byes and whatever. Garrus was always a sob-er."

His joke failed to amuse him, despite his smile.

"You act as though this is the end, even though you know it is not."

"This is the end. The end of renegade Shepard and his crew of misfits." He tried to laugh. "But what comes after…hell they might not do anything until the damn robo-squids land right on top of them and then…."

He fell onto his back. The tension was gone, replaced with hopelessness. Then it came to her, his demeanor, his tying up loose ends after the incident, and his decision for a quick departure for everyone.

He had ended his relationship with Liara.

To some it was a stretch to put it together but for her…the look he had in his eyes was the same she saw in the mirror just before she decided to take the pledge. Became a Justicar.

And leave everything she knew behind.

She was on him, suddenly, her palms on his chest. In what seemed like a flash of biotics. She knew what it was like to suddenly have nothing but one thing. She had centuries of experience, he had but a few decades. It would be neigh impossible for him to withstand the anguish…without comfort.

She had never mated with a male or even an alien. Her act caught him by surprise, along with herself. The whats and the whys did not even come to her mind. Clothing seemed to move itself around and she saw the human male…appendage for the first time.

The info-vids on humanity gave her enough knowledge on what to do. She lowered herself upon him. The feeling was…different. Very different. Mating with her asari mate involved a melding of minds and more. Less physical and more emotional if she had to describe it in the most bare-bones way. Like this, with a male, it was…was it supposed to hurt like this? How did human female put up with…?

She gasped when he went all the way in. Now she knew why. Shepard's hands slid up her legs and grasped the top of her hips.

When it was over, she collapsed on him. Their hearts racing erratically. Breathing labored. She pondered as she found a comfortable place to rest her head on his shoulder.

He survived, endured. That's what he did. Whatever would happen, they would find each other and after that…perhaps. The future is not set in stone.