Hope you enjoy the final chapter in my tale. This chapter includes most of the one shot, Memories, I did. Thanks so much for reading and for the reviews; they were a great confidence boost.

Everything belongs to Bioware.

Beginnings- Chapter 19

Back at the Mako, much to Tali and Liara's dismay, Shepard put herself behind the wheel and refused to hear any complaints. Shepard was like a woman possessed as she plowed over the geth and anything else in their way. Both Tali and Liara were not only terrified but feeling sick after they almost flipped over the third time. Finally, they saw the conduit ahead of them. There was an army of geth ready to stop them from reaching it. Shepard didn't flinch. She pushed the Mako as hard as she could. She ran through the geth and made it to the conduit without firing a shot. When they hit the conduit, the Mako shot straight into the sky and deposited them on the Citadel in the middle of the Presidium. The Mako flipped over several times and came to a stop upside down.

"Everyone okay?"

"Yes," replied Tali through gritted teeth. "But I will never condone allowing you to drive again. Ever."

"Liara?"

"I am fine, Shepard. And, for the record, I agree with Tali."

"We're all alive and we made it to the Citadel. I call that a successful drive."

They exited the Mako and were immediately in a firefight with geth. A quick chat with the Citadel VI and they were on their way through the Citadel maintenance tunnels. From there they made their way through the Citadel Tower's exhaust plain fighting what seemed like a never ending line of geth and Krogan. When they reached the Citadel Tower, Saren was waiting for them. He was changed, implanted by Sovereign. He tried to convince Shepard to join Sovereign. In the end, Shepard changed Saren's mind, made him understand that there was still time to stop Sovereign, stop the Reapers. He killed himself rather than allow Sovereign to continue controlling him. He fell through the glass floor to the ground level of the tower. Shepard immediately uploaded Vigil's data file and gained control of the Citadel's systems. She opened the Citadel's arms and ordered Joker to do everything he could to save the council. She then sent Tali and Liara down to make sure Saren was dead which they confirmed. Before they could get back to Shepard, Sovereign sent beams of light into Saren, re-animating him. The explosion sent Shepard sliding down the crumbling tower to the ground level with Tali and Liara who were both slowly standing after being blown backwards from the force of the explosion. The three of them managed to kill Saren just as Sovereign was destroyed. The Reaper blew apart, pieces flying into the Citadel Tower making it unstable.

"GO! We have to get out of her now."

TTTTTTTTT

Shepard was climbing to get clear of the tower before it collapsed completely. She kept looking over her shoulder at Liara who was holding a biotic shield around them as she struggled to climb over the rubble. While it wouldn't deflect the larger pieces of the structure, it kept them from being hit by the debris that was falling all around them. Shepard didn't like Liara being behind her. She couldn't keep an eye on her but Liara had insisted that she needed to be able to see Tali and Shepard to maintain the shield effectively. Tali was just ahead of Shepard, picking a path through the rubble. As they stumbled along, Shepard could hear the creaks and moans above her as the building shuddered and tilted to one side.

"We need to pick up the pace." yelled Shepard. "This thing is coming down."

Shepard saw a large piece of metal break loose above them. Before she could react, it impacted the shield above Tali's head, bouncing off and landing in front of them. They had made it to another level of the tower but had to slow down to pick their way across the mounting layers of debris. Shepard knew they were moving too slowly to make it. She glanced back at Liara who was weakening and now struggling to keep the shield in place. Why did I bring her? She should have stayed on the Normandy.

When Shepard turned and Liara met her eyes, she knew that Shepard didn't think they would make it. She could see the regret and longing as Shepard held her gaze. Without thinking, Liara enclosed Tali and Shepard in a biotic bubble to protect them. With every bit of energy she had left, she picked them up and pushed them out of the collapsing area hoping the shield would keep them safe. She could hear Shepard scream her name as she directed a throw at the bubble to send it racing away from her. The explosion of energy she released drained her of any remaining strength. Liara fell to her knees but quickly pushed herself back to her feet. She was determined to get to safety and get back to Shepard even if it meant pulling herself through the rubble and out the other side.

"Liara!" Shepard immediately understood what Liara had done and knew she was powerless to stop it. They were almost floating away from Liara. She had used enough force to get them out of harm's way but not enough to seriously injure them when they impacted. Shepard could see that Liara was back on her feet and picking her way through the rubble. She kept her eyes pinned on the lone figure as she was helplessly carried away from the only person she had ever entrusted with everything inside her: the pain, fear, shame, loneliness, doubts; all of it given to Liara who, in return, gave her unconditional love and support. As Shepard watched, the remaining structure started to sway and the ground started to crumble beneath Liara's feet. In the blink of an eye, Liara was gone, swallowed by the gaping chasm that was now being filled with the remains of the tower as it finally came crashing down.

"No! Liara!" Shepard was pushing at the bubble, trying to force her way out. It was useless. She screamed Liara's name until they hit a wall and the strands of biotic energy that formed the bubble pulled apart sending Shepard and Tali tumbling head over heels to the ground.

TTTTTTTTTT

When the ground under Liara collapsed, she somehow found the strength to summon a small amount of biotic energy to slow her descent and keep her from a high velocity impact. She hit the ground and immediately rolled to her feet. Nearby, there was a small protected space underneath one of the support structures. She dodged falling debris and managed to curl herself into a ball small enough to fit in the space just as the top of the support structure collapsed dropping twisted chunks of metal on top of her and trapping her underneath tons of unrecognizable, misshapen piles of what was once the seat of power for the Citadel and the galaxy. As more of the structure collapsed around her, Liara closed her eyes and focused on Shepard. If she was going to die, she would do so with her heart and mind filled with the woman that had so completely stolen both. The metal around Liara was still smoldering from the hits it took during the battle with Sovereign. The small space where she had taken refuge was quickly filling with dust and smoke, making it nearly impossible to breathe. After what seemed like an eternity, it was over. There was no more falling debris and the smoke was starting to clear. Liara took a ragged breath, her throat and lungs burning from the smoke. She opened her stinging eyes to complete darkness and a rising fear that she would slowly die all alone in this cramped, dark space. She tried to move her aching body to a more comfortable position but there was no space. She was pinned in place with no more than an inch of space anywhere around her. She was trapped with no way to even try to dig her way out. Remembering her comm unit but knowing that it likely wouldn't be able to transmit, she tried to move her arm up to activate it. She managed to rotate her arm to a better position to reach the comm unit but she couldn't get close enough to actually activate it. Starting to feel panicked, Liara closed her eyes, consciously slowed her breathing and turned her thoughts to Shepard and their first meeting.

She felt fear. Fear like she had never felt in her life. When the geth arrived, she did the only thing she could do to protect herself. Unfortunately, she had also trapped herself. She wasn't sure how long she had been trapped or how many times the geth and that Krogan had attempted to break through the barrier when she heard the elevator rumbling down the shaft. After what seemed like an eternity, she heard voices moving in her direction. She called out for help hoping they would hear her and come for her. When she saw the three approaching the barrier, she was surprised to see that two of them were human. The third was a Quarian. All were armored and carrying multiple weapons. Liara let her eyes look over her three would be saviors as she continued to call for help. She felt her breath catch when she made eye contact with one of the humans. She seemed to be the leader of the small group and moved with grace and confidence. Liara's pleas for help died in her throat as she fought to understand the pull she was feeling toward this human. The woman, who introduced herself as Commander Shepard, seemed to believe Liara when she told her that she hadn't seen her mother in years and knew nothing of her involvement with Saren. The relief that this complete stranger believed her was almost as much as the relief she felt at her imminent release from the barrier. Liara felt even more alone after the three left to find a way inside the barrier. Her thoughts were taunting her, "What if they can't find a way inside? What if they are killed by the geth?" At the thought of Commander Shepard dying, Liara actually felt a pain in her chest. Before she could even begin to think about that, there was a loud noise and her three rescuers appeared inside the barrier. Liara told the Quarian how to release her. When the field holding her was released, Liara fell painfully to the ground, her body numb from lack of movement for so long. Immediately, Commander Shepard was at her side offering her a hand to pull her to her feet. As Liara took the woman's hand, she felt a shock of electricity where they touched and a shiver ran down her spine. When she turned to thank the commander, their eyes met and she couldn't make her mouth move. Her heart pounding, Liara stared into the soul of this woman she had just met. She didn't want to release her hand or turn away from those depthless green eyes. The other human called to Shepard who reluctantly released Liara's hand. The commander moved away leaving Liara feeling an aching emptiness inside.

Lost in the memories of that first meeting coupled with her body's exhaustion and shock, Liara let herself drift into unconsciousness.

TTTTTTTTTT

Shepard was trapped in a nightmare. Liara was dead. She kept appearing to Shepard asking why she let her die, why she didn't save her. She taunted Shepard, blamed her. All Shepard could do was stare at this ghost of the woman she loved, feel the pain of losing her and the guilt of letting her die. It was ripping her heart to shreds. She squeezed her eyes closed, covered her ears and willed herself to wake up. She couldn't stand to hear the loathing in Liara's voice.

"Shepard, can you hear me? I need you, Shepard. I am not dead. Please, listen to me." Liara wasn't sure how but somehow she had melded with Shepard. She could feel Shepard's feelings, knew that Shepard was riddled with guilt because she thought Liara was dead. "Shepard, I love you and I don't want to leave you but I need your help. Stop torturing yourself with guilt and open your eyes. Look at me Shepard."

Shepard could hear the love in Liara's voice. It was no longer the accusing, angry voice that had driven Shepard to withdraw into herself. She slowly opened her eyes to see Liara, her Liara, standing in front of her. "Liara…? I don't understand."

"Shepard, listen to me. I do not have much time left. I need you to find me."

"You're dead, Liara"

"Shepard, I am alive but I am running out of time. Let me show you. Close your eyes."

Shepard closed her eyes as Liara took her hand. She was suddenly seeing their race to escape the tower before it collapsed but from Liara's perspective. She could feel Liara's desperation to keep her safe when she enclosed the bubble and sent it away from the danger. She did it without a thought for her own safety. She could feel the terror Liara felt when the ground swallowed her. She saw it all and knew the general area where Liara was trapped. Shepard opened her eyes, tears streaming down her face. Liara was fading away, becoming transparent. "Wake up, Shepard. Find me."

TTTTTTTTTT

Tali woke to find Shepard still unconscious beside her, a deep gash in her head and dried blood all over her face. Using her comm unit, she sent out a call for help and was relieved to hear Joker's voice respond. He was sending a team to pick them up. She busied herself with cleaning and treating Shepard's wound, interspersed with attempts to contact Liara. Tali looked over the ruin that was once a centerpiece of the Citadel and found it unlikely that Liara could have survived such devastation. Tali wanted to start searching for her but her fear of leaving Shepard alone kept her from it. She could feel the grief building if she thought too much about losing Liara who in a few short months had not only won Shepard's heart but had become like a sister to her. Tali positioned herself against the wall and put Shepard's head in her lap. Looking down at the commander, Tali's heart clenched at the thought of Shepard waking to find that Liara was gone. She placed her arm protectively around Shepard and pulled her closer to her.

"Oh, Shepard. She did it to save us. How will you survive without her now that you've let yourself be vulnerable? You won't be alone, my friend. I promise."

Tali kept trying to reach Liara on her comm unit as she waited for the shuttle to arrive. She could hear geth moving through the area though none had spotted them yet. They were too exposed and it was only a matter of time until they would be discovered. Deciding to risk moving Shepard behind a nearby monument, Tali started to stand when she heard more geth approaching. At the same time, Shepard was starting to thrash and call Liara's name. Tali immediately moved protectively in front of Shepard, pulling her gun as she did so. Within seconds, two geth hunters spotted them and started firing as they slowly moved toward them. Tali managed to drag Shepard behind the monument. She then deployed a combat drone to occupy one of the geth while she dealt with the other. Just as she finished off the two in front of her, a third appeared to her right and managed to pierce her shields before she could finish him. She was hit in the leg and a huge hole was ripped in her suit which sealed itself immediately. Shepard was still thrashing and mumbling incoherently. Tali moved her so that she was more sheltered behind the monument then tried to reach the shuttle but the signal was still jammed. The medi-gel was helping the pain but her leg was throbbing and she could feel blood pooling in her suit.

Tali gently shook Shepard's shoulder to wake her. "Shepard, wake up. Please, Shepard. If they find us, I don't know if I can hold them off again."

Slowly, Shepard was pulled back to consciousness. Her eyes fluttered open as Liara's name spilled from her lips. She turned her head and focused on Tali's face looming above her.

"Tali, we have to find Liara."

"Shepard, she's gone. I'm sorry. The entire building collapsed on top of her."

Shepard tried to sit up but was forced back down when the pain in her head nearly blinded her.

"Shepard, you need to stay still. You have a bad wound on your head. There are still pockets of geth in the area. You've already slept through one firefight with them. Joker has sent the shuttle to pick us up."

Shepard could hear the pain in Tali's voice. "Tali, are you injured?"

"My leg. That last damn trooper caught me by surprise. My suit sealed cleanly but I can already feel a fever from infection. I should be fine if we can get to the Normandy soon."

"Liara is still alive, Tali."

"Shepard, I know you want to believe that. So do I but the chance Liara could have survived is almost zero. We need to keep an eye out for the shuttle. Communications are jammed. They won't know where to find us."

"She melded with me Tali. When I was unconscious, she was with me. She showed me where she's located. We just have to get to her." Shepard tried to stand again but could only make it to her knees when a wave of nausea gripped her. She took deep breaths to steady herself then pulled herself to her feet.

"Shepard, you're in no condition to…." Before Tali could finish, Ash, Wrex and Garrus found them.

Ash immediately went to Shepard's side and helped support her. "Commander, you don't look so good. We need to get out of here."

Garrus was helping Tali to her feet and Wrex was looking back and forth between Shepard and Tali. "Where's Liara?"

Tali pointed to the ruins and said, "She didn't make it out of there in time."

"She's alive!" Shepard pulled away from Ash and started walking toward the last place she saw Liara, Wrex on her heels.

Tali told Garrus and Ash what Shepard said about Liara melding with her when she was unconscious as they followed behind.

"Is that even possible, Garrus?"

"I don't know but when it comes to those two, I've learned that anything is possible."

Tali was leaning more heavily on Ash by the time they reached Shepard and Wrex. "Shepard, Tali needs medical attention now."

Shepard turned her attention to Ash, pushed aside the pounding pain in her head and tried to put aside her emotions. "Where's the shuttle?"

"It's just on the other side of that building. We couldn't risk putting it down here with the geth and the instability after the collapse."

A look of confusion passed across Shepard's face. "How did you find us?"

"Well, apparently, uh, Liara put a tracking device in your armor."

Wrex smiled at the look on Shepard's face. "She put them in all of your armor."

"Anyway, they're synched to this and can't be picked up by other devices. She gave it to Joker and told him that by keeping it safe, he was helping keep you safe."

Shepard was left speechless. No one had ever been so concerned about her well-being, no one had ever put her safety above their own and no one had ever accepted her, faults and all, without judging her until she met Liara.

She activated her comm unit but it was still jammed. "Ash, get to the shuttle and get it over here. I want you to go back to the Normandy with Tali, make sure she gets everything she needs. Get in touch with Anderson and ask for help to get Liara out of there. When you come back, bring anyone who can be spared from the Normandy to help us."

"Aye Aye, Commander."

TTTTTTTTTT

Liara had been drifting in and out of consciousness. Every breath was a labor that sapped her strength and left her feeling dizzy. She knew there was fresh air reaching her or she would have been dead already. But, it wasn't much…just enough to keep her alive. Her body was screaming in agony but she couldn't move…couldn't do anything about it. She ignored the pain and, instead, focused on Shepard. She was amazed that she had subconsciously reached for Shepard and melded with her. It was not something she would have thought possible. She could sense that Shepard was injured but not how badly. What if she is still unconscious or worse…maybe she was injured worse than I could sense? At times, she would be overcome with a hopeless feeling that almost made her wish for a quick death…not this slow, lingering uncertainty of whether or not she would be found in time. During those times, she whispered Shepard's name, pictured her face and let herself get lost in memories. She believed that Shepard was looking for her and she believed that Shepard would find her if she could just hold on long enough.

TTTTTTTTTT

"Commander? You need to take a break."

Shepard had never been so exhausted in her life. "Not until I find her, Ash."

"Shepard, look at all these people. They will keep looking if you take a couple of hours to sleep. I'll keep looking until we find her."

Shepard looked around at the mass of people who were working to find Liara. The entire Normandy crew had volunteered to help. They had been rotating in shifts. Even Dr. Chakwas was moving rubble and had practically brought the Normandy's med bay with her on the shuttle, not trusting anyone else to care for Liara when they found her. Wrex hadn't stopped the entire time for more than a few minutes and threatened anyone who looked like they were slowing down. There was heavy equipment and powerful biotics to move the larger pieces while engineers constantly assessed the rubble and installed supports where needed. It had been almost a full day since they started. They had made a lot of progress but Shepard was afraid that it was too late. She could sense that many of the others felt the same way but were careful not to mention it in front of her after one unlucky Alliance soldier had expressed his doubts about Liara's odds of survival. He was the first patient at Dr. Chakwas' mobile med bay.

"Ash, I appreciate your concern but I need to keep working. I can't just do nothing while Liara is in there…alone, scared, wondering if we'll find her in time. Ash, if we don't find her, I don't know…I need her back, Ash."

"Okay, Skipper. That one looks pretty heavy. Let's move it together."

"Thanks Ash."

TTTTTTTTTT

Liara was startled from sleep when she heard voices. They were so close. She tried to call to them but her throat was so dry that she couldn't make a sound. Then she heard Shepard and nothing else mattered. Liara had tried unsuccessfully to shift the rubble with her biotics several times but it was just too heavy. Now that some the weight was gone and she knew that Shepard was so close, she wasn't about to let anything stop her. She summoned energy reserves that she thought were long since depleted and sent a biotic blast at the rubble which exploded outward. Liara sucked in a breath of fresh air and closed her eyes to wait for Shepard.

TTTTTTTTTT

Shepard felt renewed energy after that last large piece of the support structure was moved. After three days of constant moving and digging, she knew they were close. She could feel Liara. Looking around to get her bearings, Shepard pictured the image Liara had shown her about her location. When she saw the partially intact support, she knew they had finally found her. She scrambled over the debris and had just reached the area when pieces of metal whipped past her head. She threw herself to the ground and waited for it to pass then rushed to the now clear opening under the support. When she saw Liara curled up in that tiny space, her heart stopped. She stumbled to the opening, calling back for Dr. Chakwas as she finally reached Liara. Shepard gently pulled Liara into her arms and was relieved to realize that she was breathing. She thought it was too late when she first saw her. She pressed her lips to Liara's forehead as tears streamed down her face.

"Shepard, let me take her."

Shepard looked up to see her team surrounding her and Liara, shielding them from the eyes of everyone else. She didn't deserve what she had been given since taking command of the Normandy but she was grateful for all of it…grateful for these people that felt more like a family to her now. She looked at Wrex and nodded. The big Krogan bent down and easily picked Liara up in his arms, holding her against his body as he rushed to the shuttle, the rest of the team following behind.

TTTTTTTTTT

Shepard was dead on her feet and felt like she would drop at any minute but she couldn't stop pacing. She hated waiting and found it more than intolerable where Liara was concerned. She looked around the med bay at the faces of Liara's friends, her friends. They were all here with her… standing around Tali's bed while they waited for news about Liara.

"Feeling better, Tali?"

"Shepard, yes, I feel much better…even more so now that Liara has been found. I'm sorry I didn't believe you, Shepard."

Shepard took Tali's hand and gave it a squeeze. "It's okay Tali. I had my doubts too. I just couldn't risk giving in to them when there was even a small chance that she was still alive."

Tali laughed and said, "You never had doubts, Shepard. You're just saying that to make me feel better. Thank you."

Shepard continued her pacing, thinking about the first time she saw Liara on Therum.

Stopping in front of the barrier, Shepard stared at the Asari trapped inside. She had seen countless Asari but never one as beautiful as the woman in front of her. She felt a gentle pull at her heart when she looked at this woman and lost herself in trying to make sense of it. A distraught voice suddenly pulled her back to herself as the Asari pleaded with them to release her from her prison. Shaking her head, Shepard looked around the area before approaching the barrier. When she turned her attention toward the woman, she thought she saw a look of confusion pass across the Asari's face. A quick conversation and she learned that Dr. T'Soni had locked herself inside the Prothean security device in an attempt to protect herself from the geth. She also learned that the doctor had not seen or spoken to her mother in years and had no idea where to find her. Shepard believed her and was surprised that she should feel such a huge sense of relief that Dr. T'Soni was not involved with Saren. Shepard assured the Asari that they would find a way to release her. Soon after, Shepard and her team used a mining laser to blast through the barrier. Once inside, Tali moved to the control panel and released the doctor who hit the ground hard, crying out in pain. Shepard moved quickly to Dr. T'Soni's side and offered her a hand up. As the doctor took her proffered hand, Shepard pulled her up and found herself face to face with Dr. Liara T'Soni. As their eyes met, everything around Shepard stopped including her breathing. She felt lost in those eyes and knew that her soul was laid bare to this woman standing in front of her. Shepard told herself to release the woman's hand, to pull her eyes away, to breathe… but she was frozen and unable to make her body comply with her mind's commands. Ash's voice calling her broke the spell and Shepard reluctantly and with a sense of regret released Dr. T'Soni's hand. Shepard knew, in that one moment, her life had changed forever.

Finally, Dr. Chakwas emerged to tell Shepard that Liara would be fine. She was conscious and asking for Shepard.

TTTTTTTTTT

Shepard entered what was once Liara's quarters and stopped just inside the doorway. Liara's eyes were closed and her chest was rising and falling steadily now. She looked so vulnerable. She had lost weight after three days trapped with no food or water. How did she even survive? She had come so close to losing Liara and here she was standing in the doorway afraid to get near her. She shuffled her feet and sighed heavily trying to make herself move. Closing her eyes, she shook her head and examined this fear she was feeling.

"Shepard? Why are you standing there?"

"I'm afraid." Shepard's eyes were burning at the tears she was trying to hold back.

"Why are you afraid?"

"I don't know, Liara. Maybe I'm just tired. Or maybe I've been hit in the head too many times."

Liara felt a shiver slide down her back when she heard Shepard say her name. "Shepard?"

"Yeah."

"Get over her before I can no longer control myself and have to get out of this bed to get my hands on you."

Shepard looked at Liara and saw that, despite trying to lighten the mood, there was worry and fear in her eyes. Can't have that. Shepard closed the distance between them, sat in a chair by the bed and took Liara's hands in hers. The tears she had been holding finally broke free and she let them. She didn't try to hold anything back…not from Liara. She buried her face in Liara's neck and let the days of worry and guilt spill out of her. Liara draped her arms over Shepard's shaking shoulders, a steady presence to comfort her and support her…something she had never had until finding Liara. Later, she didn't know how long, Shepard woke up in bed with Liara. She didn't remember how she got there, just remembered sitting in the chair by the bed crying as Liara held her.

Arms tightened around her. "You can sleep more if you need to, baby."

Shepard turned her head to see Liara gazing down at her. "Did you just call me baby?"

"I did. How do you feel? You've been out for a while."

"How Long?"

"About 15 hours. You didn't even stir when Wrex lifted you to the bed."

Liara smiled at the look of outrage on Shepard's face. "Please don't tell me Wrex put me to bed."

"He even tucked you in."

"I will never live this down. Wait a minute, you just spent three days trapped under a pile of rubble with no food or water, unable to move and I've made you my pillow for the past 15 hours." Shepard tried to sit up but Liara tightened her arms around her.

"You are not leaving, Commander. Ash told me that you did not stop to rest and barely ate anything the entire three days I was trapped. And that was after getting very little sleep for several days. And don't forget all the fighting with the geth, Krogan and Saren. I have been sleeping too. Holding you is the best medicine for me and I am not letting you go."

Shepard settled back down, resting her head on Liara's shoulder, and sighed in contentment.

"So, Ash was in here while I was here, like this, in bed with you?"

"Yes. Tali and Garrus were with her. You slept through everything."

"Great."

"I made them promise not to tease you."

"Did you threaten them?"

"I think they know what will happen if they mess with you."

"I love you, Liara."

"I love you, too."

TTTTTTTTTT

The next day, Dr. Chakwas allowed Liara to leave the med bay. For two days, she was confined to bed per orders. Shepard was at her side the entire time, seeing to her every need and pleading with her to eat until she couldn't possibly have another bite. She even sent crew members out several times each day to get "real food" as opposed to the military fare served on the Normandy. She kept Liara wrapped in the quilt that had once belonged to her mother, read to her from mythology books she had hidden away in her footlocker and answered every question Liara had about her life. Shepard also took the opportunity to learn more about her lover, asking almost as many questions as Liara. It was the most uninterrupted time they had ever spent together and it left both of them wanting more. On the third day, Liara was allowed out of bed. Shepard was called away to meet with Anderson so she spent the day talking with the crew and thanking them for their part in freeing her. She was truly touched that all of them had volunteered to find her. It was a complete change from their initial reactions to her when she first joined them. She spent time with Ashley, Garrus, Wrex and Tali and for the first time in her life felt that she really belonged somewhere other than an abandoned Prothean ruin.

TTTTTTTTTT

Shepard returned to the Normandy feeling quite pleased with herself. She took all the packages she had procured to her cabin then asked Garrus to drop off something he had helped her with. She also talked to Engineer Adams to let him know that he would not be court martialed for the things he did while under the control of Saren and Sovereign. He would need to have regular sessions with an Alliance psychiatrist and work at rebuilding trust with the rest of the crew. Shepard had mixed feelings about Adams. She knew that he had no control over his actions but she couldn't forget what had happened to Liara. It was her recommendation to Anderson that spared Adams any charges and she hoped that she would not live to regret her decision.

After speaking with Adams, Shepard found Liara and practically dragged her through the Normandy's corridors back to their cabin.

"Shepard, why are you in such a rush to get back to the cabin. Did something happen with Anderson?"

"No, well, yes. I mean, he's sending the Normandy to look for any remaining geth and to just keep an eye on things. We'll be leaving in three days."

Shepard stopped dead in her tracks when she realized that she had just assumed Liara would go with her. What if she didn't want to stay on the Normandy? "Um, do you think that you would like to stick around the Normandy for a while longer? I never asked what you wanted to do now that Saren has been stopped. I mean, I would understand if you wanted to get back to…"

Liara could hardly keep her hands off Shepard when she was being so nervous and adorable. She stepped closer and kissed her. "Shepard, I go where you go, for as long as you let me."

The smile Liara received in return gave her tingles up and down her body. She decided that she would do anything to keep that smile on Shepard's face for as long as they lived.

"Forever sounds about right to me… what do you think?"

Liara took Shepard's hand as she continued walking to their cabin. "I think that sounds perfect."

TTTTTTTTTT

Several hours later, Liara had opened all the gifts Shepard had bought for her after her meeting with Anderson. She then presented Liara with the new armor Garrus had helped her upgrade. It had every possible upgrade and enhancement that could be purchased for armor and Shepard immediately made Liara put it on so she could show her everything it could do.

"Thank you, Shepard. You did not need to buy me all these things though."

"I wanted to do it. Liara, I've never had anyone in my life that…I just wanted to do it, okay. It makes me happy."

"Okay."

"There is one more thing. I thought that it might be nice for us to get away from the Normandy for a couple of days so I, uh, rented a suite at one of the hotels. I wish it could be longer but with Anderson sending the Normandy out so soon, this is the best I could do."

"That, Commander, is the best gift of all. I just need to pack a few clothes."

"Nah, you don't need clothes. I'm hoping to have a very naked you completely to myself while we're there. I don't want to leave the suite until we have to come back to the Normandy."

"Did you tell Joker not to bother us?"

"Life or death situations only."

"Did you threaten him?"

"I think he knows what will happen if he messes with us while were gone."

"I love you, Shepard."

"I love you, too."