A/N: What is this? This is rated Teen for now. This all began with 'if I ever slashed anyone other than Shepard with Liara, it'd be Traynor' and similarly of Shep with Traynor. And thus, this was born. This is renegade Shep. Be warned! (Because she's not as nice as paragon Shep). I wish I could tag all three women in this.
Private Campbell and Private Westmoreland are scrutinizing her. Traynor thinks they're bored, having little more to do than guard the entrance to the War Room.
"You've been spending a great deal of time primping yourself since Commander Shepard came aboard," Private Campbell tells her. Traynor pauses in the middle of uncapping the lipgloss, her eyes flicking to them shortly.
"I think she's dressing up for Dr. T'soni," Private Westmoreland says, crossing her arms and leaning into the doorway of the women's restroom. "Some of us need the mirror too, Traynor."
"You're both ridiculous," she tells them. Her cheeks heat despite her rejection of their declaration. She is not putting lipgloss on because of Commander Shepard or Liara T'Soni. Not at all. She's a yeoman. She's expected to look presentable. Furthermore, she's new onboard the Normandy. It's best to make a good impression. Yes. That's all. No matter if she didn't take as much time prior to their arrival.
"The Commander is a hard ass," Westmoreland volunteers. "I overheard her talking to one of those turian councilors on the vidcomm. I don't know if he had a bony ass left after she was done with him."
"She's just doing her job," Traynor says. What is her hair doing? She peers into the mirror, cocking her head, running her fingers through it, trying to get it to lay down flat. What are the chances that either woman will know she exists? "You can't get anything done by being a pushover."
"I hear Dr. T'soni and the Commander used to be an item," Campbell says. "Back when they used to be on the first Normandy. Before it got blown to hell." She gives Westmoreland a look before she can pipe up with a question.
"Who said that?" Traynor asks. Is it true? Dr. T'Soni is reserved and keeps to herself. Traynor has thought about beginning a conversation with her but has not known where to begin.
"Ooh, jealous?" Westmoreland nudges Campbell, who grins.
Traynor frowns. They're obnoxious. She reminds herself that she's there to do a job, not get a new girlfriend. But what would the harm be if she could kill two birds with one stone? One girlfriend, not the two. Oh, three birds with one stone. No, just one.
Get a hold of your hormones, Samantha. You're not a teenage girl. In case you've forgotten, the Reapers are here.
There is that; the whole reason she's stuck on the Normandy to begin with. She takes a breath and smoothes out the lines of her Alliance uniform. It's important to look professional. "You two continue to gossip. I've got a job to do. Apparently the Alliance doesn't just let you get away with being pretty." She gives herself one more lookover and is out the door, happy to leave the two gossiping soldiers behind her.
She does not have a crush on Dr. T'soni or Commander Shepard. Anyway, so what if she does? She can look. Just because she may be dead soon doesn't mean she's dead yet.
The yeoman has a nice ass.
Shepard remembers her more by her face than by any name. EDI's reminded Shepard several times of the yeoman's name, her voice taking on a bit of irritation by the sixth time. Shepard knows she'll get it eventually.
Shepard pulls the helmet from her head and runs her fingers through her damp hair. Her face gleams with sweat from the last furious battle she was in. She wipes at her forehead with the back of her hand and turns in Traynor's direction. The yeoman quickly looks away. Shepard smiles inwardly.
She browses her messages and finds one from EDI telling her about some of the modifications Specialist Samantha Traynor made when retrofitting the Normandy-SR2. Ah. This time Shepard smiles outwardly and goes to the yeoman. Traynor's head shifts slightly, following her movements. She focuses on her monitor but her fingers, over the keys, don't move.
"Specialist Traynor. Tell me about what you do here."
Traynor takes one step back from the terminal. The solitary step brings her too close to Shepard but Shepard doesn't budge. Traynor, no doubt following her lead, makes no attempt to create distance.
The yeoman tells her about what she does. She talks more quickly than she should and though she meets Shepard's eyes while she speaks, they cannot stay on hers, dropping to the side from time to time. "I know I'm not out in the field with you, Commander but I hope to contribute in my own way to the mission."
"I'm sure you will." Truthfully Shepard has paid more attention to the light in her eyes and the shape of her lips, the richness of her voice, than anything she's said. Traynor fills out the Alliance uniform nicely. "So, what do you do for fun?"
"Fun?" She smiles. "Nothing someone like you would find interesting. But…since you've asked, I love games."
Shepard smirks. So does she. "What kind of games?"
"Mostly strategy games. Chess! Ma'am. And… I have a few old board games… collector's pieces, really. There's one called 'Monopoly' where your goal is to purchase as much property as possible."
"Huh." Shepard crosses her arms. "That's what you do for fun? Sounds boring." Traynor laughs, noticeably embarrassed. She touches the back of her neck and looks at Shepard without looking at her. Shepard thinks that Traynor's gaze is on her shoulder or her neck. "If that's all the fun a pretty girl like you can think of someone seriously needs to have their ass kicked."
Traynor waffles in place. "It's not nice to make fun of others hobbies, Commander."
"It's not nice to kick peoples asses, but someone has to do it." Shepard catches a hint of a smile on Traynor's lips. The woman protests too much. Despite what she may think of her attitude, Shepard thinks she's intrigued. "Next time we go to the Citadel, you owe me a dance."
"I owe you a dance?" Traynor arches her eyebrow and crosses her arms, the beginnings of a delicious smirk on her lips. "And what exactly have I done to incur this debt?"
"The galaxy isn't going to save itself, Traynor. I think I'm owed a little payback."
"Are you now?"
"I haven't heard a 'no' in all of this."
Traynor laughs as if the situation were ridiculous. "I suppose I can't disobey an order from my commanding officer." She turns back to the computer, "You'll have to take a shower first. If I can make time, maybe I'll see you on the Purgatory dance floor."
"I'm counting on it," Shepard walks to the elevator and jabs the button. When it opens she steps inside and waits. As expected, Traynor turns around to look at her as the doors are sliding shut. Shepard smirks at her, victorious.
She no longer drowns in information; the trick is knowing how to navigate the riptides. Liara believes she has been successful. She stands before the sea of monitors; information pours in constantly like a broken dam. Though she has learned to keep afloat and learn the patterns to follow, the task is still difficult.
"Info drone," Glyph, she says the name inwardly like a curse, "continue to monitor all communication from Thessia and Eden Prime. I'll want everything from Earth as well." She's told him once and she likely doesn't need to tell him again. Unlike organic species, AIs are not prone to forgetting and mistakes.
The live feeds on the monitors bounce a colorful array of lights over her. The room is dark and cold. She exits.
It's strange to be on the Normandy again. The last time she stayed onboard she was a Prothean archaeologist, awkward and shy. It's hard to believe that she's become even more reclusive since then. Her new role as Shadow Broker doesn't allow much time for interaction with anything more than data. She doesn't have time for loneliness.
Her intent is to get a glass of water from the mess hall but her steps slow when she sees a faint light from the mess hall table. She stops and examines further. Samantha Traynor is seated with a with a holoboard chess set in front of her. She has a data pad in front of her, brow burrowed quizzically as her fingers glide over the pad. A pawn moves forward. When she notices Liara watching, she knocks over the glass of water sitting next to her.
Liara glances at the glass of water and moves it effortlessly back into place without lifting a hand. Liara pauses, smiles and sits opposite of her.
"Nice trick," Traynor says. "I'd nearly forgotten you're something of a biotic powerhouse. Bold enough to stop Saren and prevent the follies of my clumsiness."
She hasn't met many of the crew and while she knows a good deal about them, she's unsure how much they know about her. "What do you know about me?"
"Only a little. I've read some of your papers on the Protheans. People say you're an expert in the field." She leans forward, hand raised, poised to tell a secret. Liara smiles, happy to play along. "I've also heard you're the Shadow Broker."
Liara doesn't pull back; she keeps her voice quiet. "Really? Who told you that?" It isn't exactly a secret aboard the Normandy, but she suspects a big-mouthed AI to be responsible for any leaks. She reminds herself not to share anything with EDI.
"No one officially. But your room draws a considerable amount of the Normandy's power resources, considering the space. I'm no Shadow Broker but I'm a bit of a whiz with comm channels and I closely monitor data flow. I've made a few assumptions."
"I see." Liara smiles faintly and leans back into her seat, studying the chessboard in front of them. "I didn't think the Alliance placed much stock in brain power."
"Are you saying I'm right?"
"I'm saying you're more than a pretty face." She reaches out and grabs the data pad from Traynor, noticing more cognitively than physically that their fingers have brushed. "You're playing against a VI." She looks up at Traynor. "How many moves will it take for you to win?"
"It depends on how long I feel like teasing it out. What's the fun in victory if there's no chase?" Traynor says. Liara studies the diagram of the chessboard on the datapad and then at the holographic representation on the table. Traynor straightens where she sits. "Do you play?"
"I'm no grandmaster like you." She ducks her chin briefly. "You must have difficulty encountering a real challenge. If I were your opponent, I could take your queen." She looks at the board. "It would take two moves. Three, if you were particularly clever."
Traynor narrows her eyes on the board, crossing her arms, bringing a thumb to her lower lip thoughtfully. "But then it'd be endgame. Before you know it, checkmate; I'd have your king."
"The king doesn't matter." Liara hands the datapad back to Traynor.
"It does if you're playing chess," she points out.
"Maybe it's the game that's irrelevant." Who has time for chess in times like these? All the strategy in the world doesn't matter with a force like the Reapers. "I'm… usually busy but you seem bored."
"I'm caught. I couldn't sleep and I didn't want to keep the others in the barracks up."
"We both keep irregular schedules, then. You've got a talent for decrypting and I could always use an extra pair of hands. Maybe we can help each other out." She sets a hand down gently beside Traynor's. She smiles sardonically. "Have I ever given you a tour of my office?"
"You're being coy, Dr. T'soni. You and I both know that you've never given me a tour of your room." Traynor stands and shuts the chess game off. "I'm…pretty sure both of us would remember that."
"Would we?" Liara analyzes Traynor. There is no missing the devilish glint in her eye but Liara is unsure if it's there at the idea of seeing the lair of the Shadow Broker or other more intimate reasons. The blush on the woman's cheeks is impossible to miss. How charming. Liara remembers when Shepard could similarly summon flustered feelings of confusion, excitement and lust to the surface. "You're so sure."
"This is our first conversation, Dr. T'soni."
"Is it?" She catches sight of the time. "It is late, however, so…however interested in the tour we may be, I'm afraid it will have to wait." She remembers the initial reason for exiting her office: the drink. She's suddenly parched. She thoughtlessly picks up Traynor's glass of water and downs it in one long drink. She wipes delicately at her lips. "This late night conversation of ours, Samantha… let's make sure it's not the last."
Liara doesn't want to get trapped in more conversation and returns to her room moments later. She still has work to do. She works for several more hours still until she can scarcely keep her eyes open. It takes all her energy to strip free of her clothing and drop onto the bed.
She doesn't know who thought to procure the piece of furniture. The extravagance of it is more in the style of Cerberus than the Alliance. Her arms stretch out wide and there is plenty of room to spare.
The bed fits three.