A/N: I'm in the process of getting the feel of the dialogue correct, and once that is done I'll probably add a bit more detail. Right now I'm mostly trying to figure out how to link all the pieces of what you hear in game into a meaningful conversation. Probably once I'm done, I'll do a couple of chapters on how they follow things up. Thank you to those who have taken time to review :)
Liara sat back at the table overlooking the open arc of the Presidium Ring, her mind only half on the datapad in front of her. A glass of water, half empty, sat to her left, and Liara paused to take another sip as she sat lost in thought, pondering on how to best to use the forces available to her, while taking in the almost overwhelming opulence of the ring itself.
It's all so beautiful, she thought, and yet so .. momentary. I wonder if the Protheans would approve of how we have set ourselves up. I wonder if there will ever be a moment to just... relax again.
She gave a small, tired sigh, then the asari's lips quirked into a faint, self-satirical grin as her nimble blue fingers tapped indices of agents on the datapad. I can relax with Shepard later, I suppose. She paused, making a notation here, a reminder to touch base with an agent there, with part of her mind, while the rest again thought about how bizarre the universe was where a silly girl with a fancy for ancient Prothean history could end up sitting in the Citadel determining if hardened mercenaries would live or die.
Liara looked out again over the ring, taking in the computer generated "sky", the tiers of ranked, gleaming bone-white offices and plazas, emblazoned with the blazing green and yellows of Earth vegetation. She was never quite used to the bizzarity of how the Presidium changed up what plantlife was utilized, the calm grey-green grasses and black-flowering vine trees of Sur'kesh having given way to the armored behemoths of Terran plantlife.
As she approved orders for agents to assassinate a Cerberus agent running a smuggling ring on Illum to see if he had contacts worth pursuing, she pondered what kind of world needed trees with armored skin. Even as she did so, she heard a voice in the distance, smoky and hard yet infinitely patient. Liara set down her pad and arched her back , stretching a bit as she leaned back to take in the form of the woman stepping down the little terrace and onto the patio. Again her lips curled into a helpless smile, as they always did when the woman she loved came into view.
Sara Shepard was not a big woman, whipcord thin and yet firm with taut muscle. She moved like a stalking tiger even when at ease on the Citadel, her severely pressed Alliance dress blues in perfect shape, creased edges and gleaming gold-work glinting briefly as she moved to sit next to Liara at the table. Her hair was a mass of long black silk, cut into bangs that framed her stern, icy features. Slightly slanted eyes took in Liara's own, their blue like ancient ice under a storm-blackened sky, her skin a dark tanned brown that only enhanced her angular features...
With a small, embarrassed cough, Liara straightened. She had gotten caught up in just ... falling into Shepard's eyes again. "I'm .. fine, Shepard. Just a little tired. I've been reviewing my assets to see if we can't catch Cerberus off guard before they do something else .. appalling." Liara's eyes shut as she remembered the shrieks of a poor human boy on Grissom Academy being dragged off to some grisly doom, and being unable to save him. Shepard nodded, a strange smile on her lips. "I'm sure you are tired, Liara. You push yourself too hard...but if you have a moment..." The sentence ended in a hesitant question, unusual for Sara who was so direct and blunt most times. Liara smiled.
"Of course, Shepard."
With an almost grim inhalation, Shepard casually nodded her head over her shoulder to her left, indicating the nearby bar. It was lightly trafficked, only the proprietor and an older asari woman tending it. Liara suppressed a sigh, knowing what was coming. "That .. bartender over there?"
Liara lifted her chin slightly. "You mean, the matriarch hired by the asari government to .. track my movements?" Her eyes did not flicker as she stared at Shepard for a moment, as if daring her to her part, Shepard merely tightened her lips and said, bluntly, "She's your father." Liara gave a small movement with her hands, setting them before her and looked away, and then spoke, calmly. "I know".
With a small, grumpy sounding huff , Shepard sat back, eyes cool yet amused. "Of course you do. What was I thinking? It's just no fun being around you sometimes, Doctor T'soni." She smiles a bit, then the smile slips from her face like a falling veil, revealing concern and worry.
"But if you knew..." Shepard's voice trailed off, memories stirring unbidden. Never having known her own parents in the wreckage that passed for her youth on Earth, she wondered what it must be like to lose one and ignore the other. What kind of ... mind, of society, would allow such a thing. And what kind of "father" would let her own child go a century without trying to get back into her life? Shaking her head, she fixed her gaze on Liara, who merely looked away yet again.
"I haven't confronted her because I fear if I do , the matriarchs will simply replace her with someone less...sympathetic". Liara's voice trailed off almost weakly at the end, but her mouth formed a firm line as she directed her eyes back to the datapad.
Shepard frowned. "Liara..." Her voice was almost cajoling, almost grumpy, almost...Liara could not place the tone. Humans had so much emotional nuance sometimes. Liara glanced up at her lover and saw the downward set of her eyebrows, and huffed. "All right!" Laying the pad down on the table, she walked across the plaza towards the bar.
Almost immediately, her mouth went dry, and she nervously bit her lip as she got closer. There were many reasons why Liara had never approached this figure. It had not taken long for her to figure out that the matriarch was her father...and in every situation, Liara supposed the reason that Aethyta never contacted, her never reached out to her is that she never wanted Liara in her life.
Only a few feet left. Liara tightened her jaw. I took down the Shadow Broker and Saren. I am the Shadow Broker now. I have seen Reapers die, and crossed the galaxy. I am not a silly little girl playing at archeology any more.
She exhaled, and stepped up to the bar.