It's good to see you? Is that all you can say?!

"I've missed you, Liara," Shepard finally said, trying to keep her voice even. Jane was emotionally confused about seeing Liara in front of her. She felt absolutely ecstatic to see her again but torn and confounded towards the Normandy's disappearance. She decided restraining her emotions would be the best move forward.

Liara briefly averted her eyes before placing the covered box on the counter next to Shepard. It made a faint rattling sound when it touched the desktop. "I...I've missed you too, Jane," she said.

Shepard moved half a pace away from Liara, picking up the glass from the counter and taking a sip. "Would you like something to drink?" she asked.

"I'd like that. Tracking you down carrying this cage has worn me out," she said, a tinge of relief apparent in the tone of her voice.

Shepard poured Liara a glass of the asari herbal tea and handed it to her. "Cage?" she asked. She lifted the cover from the box on the table and let out a small smile when she saw the contents. "My space hamster!"

She opened the top of the cage and scooped the small animal into the palm of her hand. It let out a small squeak and Shepard gently pet it. "Though I guess he's a regular hamster now, isn't that right, Carl?" She gingerly placed him back into his cage and he scampered around it a few times before settling down.

"You named him 'Carl?' I'm surprised I didn't know that," said Liara, bringing the glass to her lips. "Then again, I assumed it was a female. I'm not too familiar with the types of animals humans like to have as pets," she added

"Finally! Something your intelligence network doesn't know!" Jane said, sounding more triumphant than she had intended. She wondered why Liara was behaving uncharacteristically nervous around her. There was an air of tension in the area but she couldn't quite figure out way.

Liara simply smiled before taking a sip. She was relieved that Shepard was open to making small jokes with her. "Goddess, where did you get this? I never thought I would taste this again!"

Shepard took a seat across from Liara. "Aria provided it. I can't say I know how, but she's always had her ways. If you're hungry, the fridge is stocked."

Liara looked past Shepard towards the refrigerator. "I'm fine for now. Thanks, though."

Shepard looked at Liara, studying her face. "Liara, I have to know...where did you go? I won't lie, it's been tough for me...not knowing a thing." She took Liara's hand in her's, hoping to show the asari that she was not angry at the Normandy's disappearance, at her, or the rest of the ship's crew. There must have been a good reason for whatever happened.

Liara took her hand back and fidgeted with the now empty glass in front of her. "I'm so sorry Jane. We didn't...I didn't...have enough faith in you," she said, her voice breaking up.

"What do you mean?" Shepard took a seat next to Liara and put an arm over her shoulders.

"Please, understand," she said, a tear running down here face. "We were desperately afraid. We had heard reports the attacking party was routed. You ran so far ahead that Ashley and Garrus lost sight of you. Jeff was able to bring the Normandy close enough to get to them to relative safety, but that wasn't saying much considering the circumstances at the time.

"The beam to the Citadel was still surrounded by reaper forces. We had assumed you and the team were…" Liara trailed off.

"You thought I was killed," Jane said, her voice deepening. She ran her fingers through her hair and walked towards the window, staring out at the sky.

"Yes, I did. We all did….but us leaving Earth. It was my idea," she said, her hands clenched into fists, her body trembling slightly. Every part of Liara wished she could have turned back time and resisted the urge to leave. In her mind, she abandoned the person she had fallen in love with.

Jane looked at Liara quizzically. "What do you mean *your* idea?" she asked, trying to keep the tone of her voice in-check. She leaned against the glass and crossed her arms I almost went mad wondering where you were!

"Do you remember the black box I showed you? It had the schematics to the crucible in addition to the story of this cycle...and...your story," she said, looking up at Shepard, almost imploringly.

"Of course I remember," Jane answered.

"I had made multiple black boxes and scattered them across planets we've landed on or scoured for resources. There was one planet I had been eyeing. It was perfectly suited to sustain carbon based life-forms and my studies have shown evidence of primitive forms of beings with the capacity of higher order thinking on the planet. The Reapers left it alone, considering there were no colonies on it. The planet was a perfect candidate to place my final time capsule.

"I thought you were dead and... I lost all hope of getting through this war. All of us on the Normandy were crushed," she said.

"So you fled? You decided to jump to this new system to plant this last time capsule?" Shepard asked, still keeping her voice even.

"You didn't see what we saw! So many ships in Earth's orbit were being swatted like small insects. It was a massacre, Shepard," she said, her voice wavering.

"But I did see. I made it to the Crucible...and...it did look hopeless," Shepard responded. She rubbed her temples and closed her eyes, in deep thought.

Liara felt absolutely miserable. She had thought about how Shepard would respond and feared the reprocussions of her actions. "We didn't know you made it through, Jane. Had I known, I never would have left the system. I just..." she paused.

Jane Shepard stared at her, not quite angry, but not pleased at this new turn of events. She stood over Liara, squeezed her shoulder and waited for her to complete her thought.

Liara jerked at the unexpected physical contact. "I thought this was the only way we could save the last of this cycle...for the future generations," she finally said, before slamming a fist on the table. "I feel so foolish."

"Is that all that happened?" Shepard asked, reclaiming the seat next to the asari.

"No, of course not..." She looked at Jane, turning her torso to face her. "There's much you need to see," she said.

Liara took Jane's hand in hers. "Will you let me show you?" she asked.

Shepard stood up from the stool, pulled Liara close to her, and held her in an embrace. "If that's what you want, my mind is all yours," she answered softly.

Liara let out a small smile and pulled away, closing her eyes. She opened them again, revealing two dark, glassy pools. She rested her hands on Shepard's shoulders and stared directly into the human's eyes.

Shepard closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Her mind was immediately filled with images of the Normandy narrowly escaping the Crucible's energy beam. Shepard was briefly taken aback, given the amount of time that passed since an asari shared thoughts with her.

She then saw images of the Normandy landing in what looked like a tropical jungle, and the crew scrambling to make repairs. Liara, disembarking with Joker and Garrus, proceeded to bury the black box. The Normandy had been through so much. Shepard was relieved to see the damage was minor and was repaired in a short amount of time.

The scene shifted to Liara working in her quarters on the Normandy, attempting to repair several damaged computer terminals. Specialist Samantha Traynor stood by the doorway, offering assistance.

"It took some time for me to figure out, but I know who you are, doctor. I know I can be of great assistance to you, if you'll let me," she said.

Liara agreed under the condition that Traynor be discreet about her work and the two started work on repairing what little resources the Shadow Broker had left.

The scene shifted again to the mess hall, where Liara sat, eating by herself. A member of the Normandy crew, Private Westmoreland, approached Liara from behind with her weapon raised. Westmoreland fire three quick shots, all of which were stopped by Liara's biotic barrier. The bullets hung in mid-air as Liara stood up to face her.

"Please lower your weapon," Liara said calmly.

Private Westmoreland took two steps back. "It's your fault we're all here! Stranded!"

"We are not stranded. It will just take a little longer to get back to Earth," answered Liara.

Ashley Williams and Garrus Vakarian stormed into the mess hall after hearing the gunfire. The other War Room guard, Private Campbell entered from the elevators and looked on nervously.

"What the hell is going on here? Put the gun down, private," Ashley said sternly.

"Lieutenant Commander...if we hadn't listened to this damned asari, we'd still be on Earth!" She said, her arms shaking.

Ashley slowly approached her from the front as Garrus quietly walked around to sneak up on Westmoreland from behind. Ashley gave Garrus a quick approving look, then focused her gaze on Westmoreland

"I know you're upset. We all are, but attack a member of the crew? What will that get you? We're still on this ship, and the only way out is the airlock."

"'A member of the crew?' You're calling the Commander's asari whore a member of the crew?!" exclaimed Westmoreland, the anger in her voice rising. Her face became a slight shade of red. Ashley took a quick glance at Liara, who was unfazed by the slur. She was well-aware of the view many humans had of asari.

"Hey, Beth...calm down. Lieutenant Commander Williams is right. Think about it for a minute," said Campbell in calm, yet slightly worried voice.

"Oh, I've thought about it, Sarah! The airlock isn't the only way out of this ship," she said, her arms shaking. Her armed hand moved to her head.

As she did this, Ashley dove towards her and they fought. Ashley disarmed her and moved the fight towards where Garrus stood ready. Garrus held Westmoreland firmly. Westmoreland struggled against his grip to no avail. "My great uncle fought in the first contact war! He hasn't been the same since." Garrus merely grunted in response.

"Private Campbell, get Dr Chakwas. We need her sedated," ordered Ashley.

Campbell rushed to the infirmary & quickly emerged with Dr Chakwas in tow. She held a syringe in hand and carefully approached Westmoreland.

"Stay away from me!" she exclaimed as she struggled in Garrus' firm grasp.

"This will only take a moment," said Chakwas calmly, as she pressed the syringe into Westmoreland's arm. The War Room guard fell limp in Garrus' arms. With one deft move, he slung her over his shoulders and took her to the infirmary.

A small crowd had gathered in the mess and Ashley had to command them to leave. Private Campbell followed Garrus into the infirmary to look after her friend. Once the crowd dispersed, Garrus emerged from the infirmary.

"If I had five credits for every human that's brought up the First Contact War to me...well, let's just say I'd probably have enough money to get a brand new, fully upgraded Black Widow. Not that I've ever been given credits for such comments...which is a damn shame," he said, in an attempt to lighten the mood.

Liara leaned against the mess table and dropped her biotic field. The bullets fell to the floor with a sound that echoed throughout the hall. "Well, I suppose I can say the same about humans and their ideas on alleged asari promiscuity."

"I hate to break up this bonding moment for the two of you, but we need to talk about what just happened," said Ashley, crossing her arms. Her hair was tied in a bun. She believed with running the rest of the Normandy in Shepard's absence, the last thing she should worry about is how her hair looked.

"Of course, Ms Williams," said Liara.

"It would be best if you stayed in your quarters, Doctor. If we're to believe your estimations, it'll take at least two months until we make it back to the Sol system. We're rationing out supplies and salvaging whatever space junk we find floating around. The crew is already high-strung. I think they'll be better off if you're out of sight," Ashley said calmly.

"With all due respect, Ms Williams-" started Liara.

Ashley let out an audible sigh and made an effort to make her eyeroll extra dramatic.

"-although I spend a large amount of time in my quarters as it is, I doubt staying out of sight will have any effect on morale."

"You do spend a lot of time in your quarters. As a result, you *don't* realize how much the support staff resents being here. We're getting some information about what's happening on Earth from Specialist Traynor, but it's barely enough to keep the crew going," Ashley responded.

Ashley's words stung. Liara crossed her arms. "All right, Ashley. If you think it will help things, I'll have no problem keeping to myself. I should add that should a situation like this arise, I will not hesitate to defend myself."

Ashley simply nodded in response and left the mess. Once she was out of earshot Garrus walked closer to Liara.

"Just between the both of us, if you ever want to talk you know I'm right down the hall," he said in his soft gravelly voice.

"Thanks, Garrus, but I'm fine."

"Or you know, we can talk through secure channel. As the humans say, whatever floats your boat."

The scene shifted yet again, back to Liara in her quarters, working steadily on her computer terminals. Her reach in communicating as the Shadow Broker was not as good as before the Reapers attacked. She only had a few direct links to some assets and only a fraction of assets were able to consistently communicate back to her. The entrance to her chambers beeped, in response to someone standing near the doorway. She looked over to her personal surveillance feed, saw it was Samantha Traynor, and opened the door.

As the scene unfolded in Shepard's mind, she felt an intense feeling of loneliness and isolation.

"Here to collect any updates from Earth?" asked Liara.

"Earth, or any other colony that's broadcasting. Visiting you literally is the only highlight of my schedule," answered Traynor.

"I've forgotten how much space there is in space, which sounds ridiculous, I suppose. We really are alone out here…" she added, trailing off.

Liara was always used to working alone and spending time by herself. This situation felt different; being out of contact with a support team or a homebase in a different planetary system was downright terrifying. "There's been little to no broadcast coming in from any major colony, Alliance or otherwise. Any messages I'm receiving is static. I've been listening in on communications feeds from the handful of contacts I have left. I've already uploaded pertinent information on Earth's relief effort onto you PDA."

"Great, I'll look through it right away," she said, turning on her tablet.

"I also have another thing I want to tell you. I've already put it on your PDA, but its also something that I need to say face to face with another person," said Liara.

"Oh? And what is it?"

"Shepard's alive. Up until now, I've heard nothing but unconfirmed rumors, but I have a reliable source that tells me she's in a medically induced coma due to the injuries she sustained on the Crucible. Only a few people are allowed direct access to her," she said somberly.

"That's fantastic! I'd assume you'd be a lot more happy considering the news," said Traynor.

"I am relieved, more than you can imagine...but also frustrated. I shouldn't dwell too much on the past, but knowing this just proves I was wrong all along. I should have believed she would come back..." A tear ran down her face, which she quickly wiped away.

"No use crying over spilled milk, as my parents used to say," said Traynor reassuringly.

The phrase did not comfort Liara in the least bit, but she appreciated the sentiment. She turned her back to Traynor and faced the series of terminal monitors. "You humans have very interesting sayings. There's always something new," she said.

Traynor raised an eyebrow. "Don't the asari have their own idiomatic expressions?"

"...they don't translate well. Either way, you're right. I have to move on. I intend to help Shepard in any way I can," said Liara, rubbing her eyes from staring at computer screens all day.

Traynor gave Liara's shoulder a quick squeeze before heading out. She turned and looked over to Liara with a warm smile

"If you have the time in the near future, Doctor, I'd like to play a game of chess with you. I've played with most of the navigation and engineering crews & they want nothing to do with me," she said.

Liara looked to her series of computer screens, then back at Traynor. "Am I last resort in your chess opponents pool?"

"Of course not. You strike me as a challenge," she responded.

The scene shifted yet again, this time to the engineering deck of the Normandy. Liara and Traynor sat across each other. Between them, a storage crate-turned-table held a holo-vid chess set. Engineer Adams, Tali, Javik, and Garrus surrounded the pair, watching the game in rapt attention.

"A stalemate. I can't believe this. Are you sure this is your first time playing?" Traynor asked, a look of genuine shock on her face.

"Well, I took some time studying the rules prior to this game, and I practiced by playing a few games with a computer program...but this was my first time with an actual person," Liara answered.

"Good game, Doctor! I didn't hear the end of it from Gabrielle and Kenneth when I lost," said Engineer Adams.

"We still love you anyway!" yelled Kenneth from across the room.

"Best two out of three, T'soni?" Asked Traynor.

"Sure. If you wish to endure the same psychological trauma again, I'm open to playing once more," she responded, with a hint of playfulness in her expression.

Traynor raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms. "Is that a taunt doctor?" she asked sarcastically.

"Of course it was a taunt, *Specialist* Samantha Traynor. It was so apparent; I see no reason as to why that was asked in the first place," said Javik harshly. Everyone stared at the prothean intently. Javik cleared his throat and added, "I enjoy watching this game and prefer it if you two were to start immediately."

"All right then," said Liara. "Best two out of three."

The scene shifted yet again. This time Shepard saw Liara, Tali, Samantha, and Ashley in the dimly lit war room. Tali and Samantha were tinkering with the comm terminal, as Liara worked on her omni-tool and Ashley looked on.

"Are you sure this will work, Specialist?" asked Ashley.

"Actually, I'll have to share credit with Doctor T'soni. We're basing this work on her calculations," answered Traynor.

Ashley turned to the asari. "Well, is this going to work, Liara?"

"I'm confident that it will. It is only now we're actually in the range of the Alliance's short-range communications systems. We're days away from the Charon relay. It would have taken too much of the Normandy's resources if we were constantly broadcasting, but we're close enough now. This would best time to see if we can get any actual chatter," she answered.

"Let's hope so," Ashley responded.

The War Room then brightened up as more comm terminals went back to life.

"We should restrict out outgoing broadcasts to Alliance channels only," said Ashley.

"And why is that?" Asked Tali with a tinge of anger in her voice.

"We don't know who or what is wandering around. The Normandy has a damn good stealth system, but a big enough mercenary ship can out gun us, especially with the limited resources we have left," answered Ashley.

"How about we broaden our broadcast scope to include quarian ships as well? Our fleet can easily give the Normandy what she needs," said Tali.

Ashley rubbed her temples. "I don't want to. We're an Alliance ship approaching Alliance space. If we're going to have contact with another vessel for the first time in months, you damn well bet I want it to be Alliance."

Tali cursed in her language and began to make her way out of the War Room. Before going, Ashley grasped her arm.

"Look, Tali. I'm sorry. That came out harsher than I wanted. Here's what we'll do: if we reach the Charon relay and still hear nothing on Alliance channels, I'll broaden our scope," she said.

Tali took her arm back. "Fine. Whatever. I'll be in the main battery," she said.

"Long range comm systems are now online. I'm not receiving anything quite yet," said Traynor.

"It will take time. Before we jumped out of the Sol system, we saw how poorly our side was faring against the reapers. It's safe to assume the Alliance fleet isn't what it once was. Still, I'm sure we'll find something meaningful soon enough," answered Liara.

"All right. I'll leave the pair of you to it. In the meantime, contact me on my omni-tool if anything comes up, patch it through directly to me. Chances are all be in my quarters or shooting the bull with Joker," said Ashley.

"Understood," answered Traynor.

Liara simply nodded towards Ashley before working on a computer terminal several feet away from Traynor. "'Shooting the bull.' I don't believe I've heard that phrase before," she said.

"It means carrying on idle conversation. Talking for the sake of wasting time, I suppose," answered Traynor.

"Hm. I can't say I can infer that meaning to the image I have in my mind of 'shooting bulls,' and this is assuming the bulls on Earth look anything like bulls found on Thessia," answered Liara as she adjusted the sending and receiving frequencies the Normandy was producing. That ship has to be out there somewhere...

Samantha let out a chuckle. "And how do bulls on Thessia look?"

"They fly at high speeds," answered Liara, still not looking up from her computer terminal.

Samantha lost her train of thought for a moment, trying to imagine a flying high-speed bull, when she noticed an odd display appear on her screen. "Doctor, did you do something? I'm seeing the Normandy broadcasting in signals I'm not familiar with." She attempted to revert the outgoing transmissions back to the way it was originally set, but saw that she was locked out. She looked suspisciously at Liara.

"I did, but for good reason," answered Liara.

"I'd like an explanation, or I'll have to redirect this all to Lieutenant-Commander Williams," she said.

"Threats aren't necessary, Specialist. If anything, Ashley should know about this once the time is right," said Liara, shifting her stance to face Traynor. "Besides, I know you wouldn't do such a thing. If you really wanted to harm me, you'd have exposed my whole intelligence operation when you first discovered it."

"You…have a point. I still believe I have a right to know. I stood up for you when many of the other Alliance soldiers did not," said Samantha

"All right then. I discovered several encrypted Alliance transmissions. As you know, the council races along with the quarian are attempting to retro-fit their remaining ships with reaper technology. I have it on good information that the Alliance has successfully incorporated reaper tech into an Alliance ship, although they want to keep it secret" answered Liara.

"Why didn't you say this before? Knowing would have boosted the ship's morale!"

"Because I didn't know this before. My contact in the alliance's R&D department recently leaked this information. You humans managed to beat the asari in pushing forward inter-stellar space flight as we know it." For now...

"The alliance decided to test the SSV London in deep space. I convinced my contact to use her influence within the Alliance military to test the ship's performance several hundred light years away from the Charon relay. That would put them within range of our signals," said Liara.

"The SSV London? I'm impressed. That ship is almost 20 years old," said Samantha, clearly in awe of humanity's ingenuity.

"It's not as if the alliance had any starship-building factories available to them," responded Liara. "This test-run isn't known by anyone outside of Alliance military so they're broadcasting on channels unknown to the rest of council space, aside from a select few on Earth...and now, us."

"Samantha, once we start receiving broadcasts from the SSV London, I want you to take all the credit for discovering the ship. As far as the London's captain is concerned, this is all a happy coincidence. As for Ashley and the Normandy, you're just doing your job," said Liara sternly.

Traynor immediately understood. "It doesn't feel right, though. You've worked so hard," she said.

Liara let out a small sigh. "At this point, it doesn't matter. If you need me, I'll be in my quarters." She activated her omni-tool. "I've allowed you access to the terminal again. I wouldn't change any settings, though you're more than welcome to study the signals," she added.

Liara turned to leave the war room, but felt a hand reach out to grasp her wrist. She looked carefully at Traynor, not expecting this physical contact.

"Dr T'soni..."

"Is there anything else you need from me?" asked Liara.

Samantha let go of Liara's wrist. "I just want to say...had circumstances been different, I believe we would have made a great team."

Liara paused for a moment, choosing her words carefully. "I greatly respect you, Specialist, and I'm inclined to agree with you. That being said, I think our relationship works best on a friendly, professional level," answered Liara

Samantha let out a wry grin. "I suppose a part of me expected as much. I don't think I could have lived with myself if I didn't at least say something to you."

Liara reciprocated the grin. "Well, this won't be the last you'll hear from me."

"I'd imagine so, Shadow Broker."

The scene shifted again - this time, Shepard saw Liara in an observation deck of a ship that wasn't the Normandy. Liara stood alone, her forehead leaning against the glass of the observation deck's window. Within her field of vision was the Normandy, docked. The sound of a door opening could be heard. Liara turned around to see Garrus. He held two different drinks in his hand, one blue and one golden brown.

"So here you are, Liara. Figured I'd bring you a drink," said Garrus, handing her the golden brown drink.

"That's nice of you, Garrus. This really wasn't necessary," said Liara, staring absentmindedly at the glass in her hands.

"The whole Normandy and London is celebrating and Samantha Traynor is at the center of it all. She's a hero. Without a doubt it'll be her living off the royalties off the vids based on her life...remind me to befriend her before the celebration's through," he said with a chuckle.

Liara let out a small smile. "Well, she is a very intelligent woman and is well-deserving of any accolades."

"Be as coy as you want, but I'm here to have a drink with you and thank you for getting us out of this mess," said Garrus, raising his glass. "...Even if it was you who got us into this mess in the first place. A weaker person could have taken the easy way out," he added.

"You're a good friend, Garrus. I'll drink to you...maybe some film maker will want to make a movie out of your life. You, Shepard, and explosions. Sounds like a potential hit." answered Liara, raising her glass to meet his.

Garrus downed his drink in two consecutive gulps while half still remained in Liara's glass. Her face turned a slightly deeper shade of blue and let out a smile. "Shepard loves her whisky, though I'm still learning to acquire the taste. If she were here, she'd probably say something about oak, hints of smoke, or some such nonsense," she said between chuckles. She then downed the rest of her drink and looked pensively at the Normandy.

"I miss her too, Liara. We'll make it back to Earth soon enough, and spirits willing, we'll find ourselves where we should rightfully be," he said.

"I hope you're right, Garrus"

The scene faded away and Shepard felt as if she was being pulled off balance, as if yanked by the collar of her clothing. She opened her eyes to see Liara staring at her apprehensively. Shepard took two tentative steps backward, feeling a little dizzy. For safety, she unholstered her weapon and placed it on the counter and looked over to the asari.

"You were armed the whole time?" Liara asked nervously.

"I was, but only because I wasn't sure who you were. A 'messenger' from Aria T'Loak could have been anyone….and it's unfortunate I don't have a view of the entrance from up here…." Shepard answered. She twirled her index finger in the air, referring to the apartment. "It would also be pretty ironic if I shot you with the weapon you gave me," she added.

Liara averted her eyes. "I suppose I deserve it."

Shepard took two steps forward, took Liara by the waist and held her firmly in an embrace. "Stop beating yourself up, T'soni," she said, leaning close. "I forgive you," she added softly, whispering it into Liara's ear.

Shepard then tilted her head and leaned in for a kiss. She took the asari's hand and gave it a quick squeeze. She then felt Liara smile against her lips before pulling away. Liara rested her free hand on Shepard's shoulder.

"I'm relieved. I almost couldn't bring myself to face you," said Liara, her free hand moving to dust off the spectre's shoulders, smoothing out any wrinkles on the uniform. "...but you have a right to know," she added.

"I appreciate you opening up to me. I imagine it couldn't have been easy," said Shepard, a smile slowly forming on her lips. "What with all moves Samantha Traynor was putting on you," she added.

Liara let out a small chuckle. "Though I do believe she and I could have made a formidable team, there is no way she could ever compete with you," she said, pulling Shepard's face to hers for another kiss, this one more passionate than the first. Shepard felt hands attempt to unhook the clasps on her uniform's jacket. Shepard took a step back and undid the clasps herself.

"In a rush, are we?" she asked playfully, tossing the jacket off to the side. She then moved forward and traced her fingertips around Liara's jawline.

"Can you blame me?" she answered, taking Jane's hand and kissing it. She quickly snaked an arm around Shepard's waist, pulling the human closer to her. Even through her layers of clothing, Liara could feel Shepard's body heat. She slowly leaned in and paused for a moment, staring into Shepard's eyes.

"Shall we make ourselves comfortable? Preferably on your bed?" asked Liara, running her fingers through Shepard's hair, still staring at the human's dark green eyes. She enjoyed the feeling it gave the palms of her hands.

Shepard pressed her body closer to the asari's, her eyes staring back at the blue orbs that looked at her suggestively. "Do you really need to ask?" she replied with a smirk, leading the way.

# # #

Shepard opened her eyes, feeling energized. She knew she had been dreaming, but couldn't exactly remember what. She turned over to her side and saw the other side of the bed was unoccupied.

"Liara?" she called out, putting on a shirt and a pair of shorts that lay on the bedside table.

"I'm here, Jane," answered a voice that sounded as if it originated from across the room.

Shepard walked over to the living room and saw Liara, sitting cross-legged on the floor, working on the information drone with her omni-tool. Cables and wires hung from the ceilings and walls, all leading to the computer terminal on the far side of the room.

"What are you doing?" Shepard asked, staring at the scene that stood before her.

"I've spent the last few hours upgrading this ancient security system. How are you feeling?" she answered, not looking up.

Shepard sat down next to Liara, activating her omni-tool to scan the state of things in her apartment. "I'm feeling good, actually," she said as she straightened her posture. She saw that Liara had connected surveillance feeds from the entrance and roof to the information drone and computer terminal. At least Shepard would finally be aware of her building's surroundings.

"I'm glad. I know things haven't been easy on you. I only wish that I was here to support you better," said Liara, shifting her gaze to Shepard.

Shepard let out a small smile and said, "Well, you're here now. That's more than a good start."

Liara continued her work on the information drone. "I tried to help you as best as I could from the Normandy."

"Yeah, I nearly had a heart attack when Barla Von handed gave the sidearm to me. You know me too well," Shepard said lightheartedly, giving Liara a quick peck on the cheek.

Liara's face brightened and she let out a smile. She activated the information drone and watched as it floated benignly around the room. "The hand canon was the least I could do. I also…" she trailed off, as if in thought.

"You also 'what?'" Shepard asked, standing up to get a glass of water. Liara followed her to the kitchen area.

"You're an exceptional soldier, and a brilliant engineer. You've done many great things. Goddess, Jane, you've saved us all," she said.

Shepard crossed her arms and leaned against the kitchen counter. "Yeah, but I couldn't have done any of those things alone."

"You're dependable when you're on your own, but with the right team, you're practically unstoppable," said Liara. She briefly rubbed her hands together. "I also was able to track down the rest of the original Normandy SR-2 crew… the ones that were most fit for duty, anyway. I tried to rally them to you, though not directly. I didn't want you to be alone."

Shepard raised an eyebrow, intrigued. "So, what did you do?"

"I planted a few suggestions here and there, though I assumed that most of your former crewmates would be either too busy, find my tips a little vague, or not find these 'suggestions' appealing enough. Not counting Miranda Lawson, who was already recruited by Admiral Hackett, I've sent anonymous tips to Justicar Samara, that mercenary Zaeed Massani, and the thief, Kasumi Goto.

"Through the information feeds, I realized that Jack was in distress and getting nowhere with the Alliance bureaucracy. Ms Lawson's personal contact information with the Alliance isn't well known, but a push in the right direction was more than enough for Jack to reach the pair of you. I hadn't realized Jack's problem was far more sinister than initially known until I read your mission reports and looked at the doctor's surveillance footage. I find myself having to apologize again…"

Shepard rubbed her temples. "I…appreciate all you've done, and I love you. I'm also afraid you've spent way too much time in front of a computer screen, analyzing data feeds." She took Liara's hand, "Let's get out of here; take a nice walk somewhere."

# # #

Shepard and Liara found themselves standing before the Unisphere, a stainless steel representation of the Earth, which stood several stories high. There were a few people scattered about, most sitting on park benches, many looking warily at the lone asari walking around with a hooded human.

"I always wondered what this was. An alliance soldier mentioned it to Miranda and me when we first arrived here. I guess I'm glad it's still around," said Shepard, kneeling down to read an old plaque. She wiped off excess grime from the plaque with her sweater sleeve. "Dedicated to man's aspirations toward Peace through mutual understanding and symbolizing his achievements in an expanding universe," she read, looking up to Liara, who stood over her.

"If I may be so bold as to suggest the Alliance modify this to include you somewhere in this structure…and alter the language so that half the population isn't left out in humanity's 'achievements,'" said Liara, squeezing Shepard's shoulder.

Shepard let out a loud laugh, pulling Liara down to her level and giving her a kiss. The laugh echoed throughout the park, which caused a few of the others lounging around to stare at the couple. "I'm not dead yet, darling. It would be too soon...also, this damn thing was built in 1964, over 220 years ago. Humanity didn't eve reach Luna at that time, and back then, people once referred to all of humanity as 'man,' which I guess is ridiculous..." said Shepard, trailing off to stare at the structure.

"In less than an asari lifetime, your people have mastered space flight. To call your kind ambitious would be an understatement," said Liara, wrapping an arm around Shepard. In return, Shepard rested her head on Liara's shoulders, silent.

They sat in silence for a few moments, enjoying each other's presence. Liara then felt Shepard's shoulders tremble. She moved her head to get a better look at Shepard's face and saw tears running down her face.

"Jane, what's wrong?" asked Liara.

Shepard wiped her eyes with her other sleeve, and leaned away from Liara. "Looking at this…how people back then must have looked up at the sky and wondered how things were like, or could have been like," she answered.

Liara stood up. "I don't understand."

Shepard looked up at her and let out a small smile, "I doubt anyone back then could have predicted aliens on Earth. Imagine what they'd think. An advanced race of beautiful blue aliens allying themselves with us. Standing here, in one of the two countries that first pioneered spaceflight. They wouldn't believe it unless they saw it with their own eyes."

"I'm doing a bad job of explaining, but I feel…I feel that sense of wonder is gone…and I miss it. I miss the hopeful feeling I had when I enlisted. I miss the freedom traveling around the galaxy gave me. I've fought non-stop for the past three years for the Alliance and the Council. I don't regret any of it, and I will continue to do what I must…but…I'm just so tired. I'm only 33 years old and I feel ancient."

"I remember when I was 33. I was still in school, wondering about what my concentration should be" said Liara, jokingly. "Still, if you miss it so much, I think I can help you. I can take you to the Normandy."