A/N: I haven't written ME stuff in ages! And I don't have much time these days... I randomly started playing ME the other day in order to gear up to ME3 and then felt compelled to write something/anything with Liara. I honestly don't know how long this story will be or what it's aim is but mostly I plan to have fun (initially) with Liara's awkwardness. If it spirals into my usual horribly dysfunctional m.o. well... don't be too surprised. I'll currently label it as comedy. I think my initial (perhaps terrible idea) is that this will span across all the games but knowing me...
Shepard is unlike any human she has ever known. It stands to reason that she hasn't known many. She can't imagine they're all like her. Liara T'Soni knows that despite the brief time they've spent together, Jane Shepard is exceptional: one of a kind. She is both elegant and brutal in combat. Liara has never seen such a force on the battlefield. She had thought, erroneously, that only Battlemaster Krogans could be so intimidating. She may be a scientist but since coming aboard the Normandy she's learned how little she knows, how much more there is to learn. She would not mind if Shepard were there to help teach her…
Ah, what are these thoughts? Shepard is interesting because of her link to the Prothean beacon. To have been touched by such technology! Having spent half of her life studying Prothean culture has never brought her close to a discovery of that magnitude. And the commander had seen that vision and survived it with her mind intact…! Yes. Shepard is exceptional.
"Focus, Liara," she says under her breath. Ashley Williams, seated across from her makes a small sound of irritation. Liara turns her attention back to the tray of food in front of her. The mess hall doesn't have the finest food but it's at least on par with most of what she ate while on dig sites throughout the many years.
"Do all Asari sit around talking to themselves?" Ashley asks.
Liara looks back at her. Kaidan, next to Ashley, gives her a wary look. Liara's cheeks burn. She sets down her fork delicately. "No, of course not. I'm only…distracted."
"Why?" Ashley asks. Liara bites her lower lip. She knows that the soldier doesn't trust her. She wishes she would not be so obvious about her dislike. "We can't afford distractions, Dr. T'soni."
"Cut it out, Ash." Kaidan shakes his head at her. "It's early. Let's just eat. We've got enough people eager to blow us to hell without jumping all over each other."
Liara tries not to look at him too gratefully. No doubt Ashley would misread her intention. Truthfully she hasn't mastered the small nuances of conversations with humans. She wonders if she ever can. She wonders again if it's their short lives that makes them so brash and volatile.
"Typical." Ashley gets to her feet, taking her tray huffily and marching away.
Liara is so embarrassed she can't speak. She picks up her fork again and dully stabs at the mess of food in front of her. Kaidan looks after Ashley and mirrors Liara's actions. "Sorry," Liara says to him. "It was not my intention to…" anger Ashley Williams? She suspects the woman dislikes her for more reasons than being Benezia's daughter. She has seen Kaidan look at her longer than is customary for any casual glance but not in any way that is inappropriate or typical for the human race. If he has any wild imaginings about her, he would sorely be disappointed. Spending so much time on dig sites has hindered her in other ways.
"Forget it." Kaidan takes a few bites of his food. "She'll come around."
"I imagine it's difficult for her to trust me. I assure you that I'm here for—"
"Hold on. You don't have to explain anything to me. If the commander trusts you, that's enough for me. I'm just a lieutenant. It's her word that matters."
"Glad you've finally come around, Lieutenant," Shepard says with a smirk. They both look up at her, no doubt wondering how it is that she sneaked up on them and how long she's been listening to their conversation. "Ah, this is what I like to see, my crew making nice with one another."
Kaidan laughs. "With all due respect, Commander, you weren't here just a moment ago." Shepard arches an eyebrow but Liara shakes her head desperately at Kaidan. He catches her drift and lets it go. Shepard doesn't, crossing her arms and waiting. "Well, you know how it is." He says. "Nothing like an exciting breakfast in the mess hall."
"Just make sure it doesn't get too exciting." Shepard warns. Kaidan nods as if used to this sort of directive from Shepard. Liara mimics the action moments later, too late and Shepard looks at her with a small degree of amusement. Shepard must think she's so foolish. Liara's face burns again. At this rate she'll turn Kaidan's color and not her usual blue. Blushing is not something she did much of while working on research. "Glad to see you out here, Dr. Tsoni. Too much time in the med bay isn't good for you."
"You can say that again, Commander," Kaidan gets to his feet and takes hold of his tray. Shepard gives him a minute nod, dismissing him and he goes on his way.
Liara debates whether she should eat in front of the commander, try to start a conversation with her (over what? The Prothean beacon again?) or… well. She doesn't know. She's mulling it over when Shepard speaks. "You're thinking again." She drops down on the seat opposite of her.
Liara tells herself she's excited for her presence for all the things she could learn and no other reason. "Oh. Yes. I am."
"I…ah." She brings a hand to her forehead as if that will help draw out any thought. Shepard folds her arms on the table and leans forward. Liara is convinced that the woman knows how awkward she is and takes a special delight in teasing her. "About—everything," she says. "Saren," she throws in, "and ah—the Protheans, of course."
"Hm." She says. What does that mean, 'hm'? She's still considering when Shepard continues. "How are you settling in? The Normandy is cleaner than what you're used to spending time with."
Liara doesn't know how to assess the statement. She isn't sure if it's meant to be insulting or if it's as direct as it appears. "Oh, yes. That's true. It's much louder than what I'm used to."
"Louder? Tali thinks it's too quiet."
"The Quarians are used to spending all of their time together on old, worn freighters. They're a lively, communal race. I've spent much of my time alone in abandoned ruins without any company for weeks, sometimes months on end. But… I told you that already." Shepard smiles and Liara can't read it. She clears her throat. "So…" Shepard waits. "Ah, do you think it's too quiet?" Goddess, why has she asked such a stupid thing?
"It's quieter than some of the other vessels I've served on," she shrugs. "But a little peace and quiet to break up the monotony of firefights and killing—I won't complain."
Are all humans so cavalier about killing? No, they can't be. If they were they wouldn't fret so much or try to bully the galaxy in the way that they do. "Oh. Yes. You're very formidable. In battle," Liara adds.
'Mh.' This is different from her previous 'Hm.' The letters are switched around but does it have any meaning? Not that it would help matters, she still hasn't figured out what the first 'hm' meant. "Forgive me—I don't quite know how to respond to your…small noises."
Shepard laughs and rests her chin in her hand. "My small noises?" and this time she allows another small smirk. "What are you thinking about?" Shepard looks at her. Liara stares back, perplexed, feeling her nervousness grow. "Why, Dr. Tsoni, are you blushing?"
Liara is near hyperventilating when Shepard spots Kaidan, gives Liara a sidelong smile and leaves. Liara waits for her heart to settle down. Who knew that eating in the mess hall could be such an exciting and confusing affair?