Epilogue

Shepard and Miranda went into the room Liara had designated as the location of the Shadow Broker's dossiers on Shepard and his team. Shepard opened it up and came to Miranda's. He turned to her:

"Are you sure you want me to look at this? I don't want to-"

Miranda nodded and cut Shepard off: "I'm sure Shepard. Honestly your probably the only person I would ever want to read what's on there"

"And if this secret of yours isn't there?"

"It is. I'm sure of it. And if its not…" she shrugged. "Then I'll just tell you myself."

Shepard nodded and looked at the file…

Miranda Lawson.

Cerberus Officer. Efficient, ruthless, obsessed with human dominance. Possible recruitment candidate after Illusive Man's assassination and destruction of Cerberus

Shepard nodded to everything he read. All of it accurate up until very recently. Miranda was still efficient, that was for sure, and still believed that humans deserved a solid place in the galaxy instead of just kowtowing to the Council, but as Liara had just pointed out to him, she had grown warmer and friendlier since their first meetings, at least to him, no longer the cold-blooded human supremacist and Cerberus loyalist she had been. Apparently this file was somewhat outdated.

Shadow Broker must have been getting sloppy in his old age Shepard joked to himself before continuing reading. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Miranda doing her best to remain calm and stoic as normal but he was reasonably good at reading people, especially those close to him, and he could tell that anxiety was setting in, as whatever secret she had been struggling to tell him came closer and closer to being revealed.

The next few things in the file were some Extranet activity followed by Personal Correspondences with iPartner Connections, and Inter-Relay Text Chat. As Shepard read through these, he couldn't help but find Miranda's choice of username amusing. It didn't take Shepard long to see that these where Miranda's attempts at finding a partner. They were painful to read so Shepard skimmed through them, wondering if that was what Miranda had been hesitating to tell him, in which case he would tell her to ease up a little. But rather then jump to conclusions he kept reading.

Finally, after skimming through the iPartner Connections discussions, he next came to a conversation between Miranda and Oriana. Shepard found himself slightly angered that the Shadow Broker would intrude on something so personal, especially when Miranda stated in the message how she had secured it all. Still, he couldn't help but smile at Miranda's interactions with her sister, even if Miranda did come off as more than a little overprotective. Finally, Shepard came to the last file, titled "Medical Correspondence". Curious, Shepard examined it.

From: Illium Medical Center, Prenatal Care Department

RE: TEST RESULTS, PATIENT 12-66AD-1

Miss Lawson,

As per your request for privacy, this message will be removed from our database upon confirmation of send integrity.

While we cannot firmly attribute the cause of the benign neoplasm to the irregularity in your genetic makeup, we can confirm that the progressive damage renders you unable to conceive a child.

About 12 percent of human women ages 18–54 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant according to data obtained from the Institute of Species Research (ISR). There are many support groups if you wish to discuss your condition and several options available should you wish to consider the adoption of a child.

If you require further consultation, please contact our communication officer.

Sincerely,

Dr. Banner Grenway

Department Medical Director

Illium Medical Center

So that's what it was. This was the terrible secret that Miranda had wanted to tell him but had been unable to. Now he could see why, and it also made why she had brought it up the way she did so much more clear: she had tried desperately to tell him that they could not have children together. That if they were to remain together, it would be alone and without kids.

Needless to say, Shepard could see what the source of Miranda's angst was and how she had rightly worried how it would impact their relationship. He also suspected that it was just one more reason why she had developed such a cold exterior before. No woman wanted to be told that she couldn't have children.

Shepard turned to see Miranda looking away in shame, and he could see her struggling to fight back some tears.

"Shepard I'm sorry, I should have told you sooner…"

"Its okay Miranda, I understand…"

"But its not!" Miranda exclaimed, pain in her voice. "I mean you and I…we've become so close, and…"

Shepard could see Miranda's desperate attempts to fight back tears were failing. He had never seen her so emotional and vulnerable before. Every layer of haughtiness, confidence, and superiority, every aspect of her Ice Queen persona had all been peeled away.

Catching herself shedding tears, Miranda angrily wiped them away. "Damn it, why am I doing this? I shouldn't be doing this…"

Shepard didn't know just what this next question would yield, but he asked anyway: "You wanted to become a mother didn't you?"

Miranda sniffed and nodded as more tears escaped her eyes. "Yes…yes I suppose I did"

It made sense. All those attempts at finding a partner…Shepard realized to his mild horror and disgust that Miranda could have very well only been doing that to get herself pregnant. She was that desperate to have a child. And as he thought about it, he understood why: she had always, always had trouble trusting others. He of all people knew this as fact. He had had to earn her trust when they first met, getting nothing but a mostly cold and arrogant persona until he had, and she had also been betrayed by her oldest and dearest friend when she felt she could rely on him. And of course, after all of her grievances with her father, who if he was half the bastard Miranda made him out to be, was not someone Shepard ever wanted to deal with, love was also hard for her.

But children would be different. A child would be the one only person she could love without reserve, regret, or hesitation. No fear of ever being betrayed, no need to worry about ulterior motives or manipulation. Children would be perfect for her. He should have known when he saw from a distance how Miranda looked at her sister's family that she was envious as well as happy for her.

He felt sorry for her. He really, truly did. And as he turned to look at her again, he could see that she had his back to him, her head lowered in shame. He walked over to her and put an arm over her.

"Hey…come on…"

He pulled her closer to him, wrapping his arms around her and pressing her tightly against his armored chest. She made no attempts at resistance and just rested her head against him, tears flowing freely from her face now. There was no point hiding it anymore. No point hiding the angst and the heartbreak behind a façade of arrogance and cold-blooded ruthlessness. So she just let it all out.

"Miranda…I'm sorry"

"So am I" she said simply. Her tone then became one of contempt and also, Shepard suspected, self-loathing.

"Support groups to discuss my condition" Miranda said ruefully, mimicking the doctor's words in the message with as much contempt as was humanly possible. Adoption."Miranda said the word like it was the most disgusting and abhorrent thing in the universe before her voice rose in anger: "Its not the same! It will never be the same! I'll never be able to hold a baby girl or boy in my arms! I will never know what its like to have that kind of love…a parent for her child…" she scoffed. "My own bastard of a father never bothered to show me what its like, and he couldn't have even if he tried"

"Miranda, I know this sounds insincere, but maybe there is a chance—"

Miranda cut him off, now absolutely furious, and Shepard found himself seriously regretting his choice of words: "I am completely barren Shepard!" Miranda snapped at him. "There is no hope for me!"

Shepard said nothing in response at first before saying: "Miranda…you know that you'll always have me right?"

"Will I?"

"Yes you will. I am never going to leave you Miranda. Even if you can't ever have children and we have to live out the rest of our lives alone, I will never leave you" Shepard said forcefully.

Miranda said nothing response, instead just staring at Shepard with her blue-gray eyes, still filled with tears. Shepard wiped them away as they slid down her face.

"I love you Miranda"

"I…I love you too Shepard" Miranda said, finally managing to fight back her tears successfully. The two then fell silent as Shepard continued to hug her tightly before they shared a light kiss.

"Now come on. Let's get out of here"

-X-

Shepard walked into the Tech Lab on the Normandy, a datapad with the downloaded Shadow Broker file of Miranda in hand. He knew that what he was doing was likely a fool's errand. A fantasy with no chance of being made into a reality. But he had to try it. For Miranda's sake. He wasn't going to give up if there was even a slight chance…

With a deep breath of preparation, Shepard walked in, seeing Mordin busy at work at what looked, quite truthfully, like a massive lump of dark gray wires and circuitry that he would have just as soon mistaken for a piece of debris or garbage.

Looking up from his work on the "Reaper Heart" Mordin turned to Shepard and smiled.

"Shepard, how can I help?"

"Uh, yeah, Mordin, have you got a minute? I have something important, and you're the only person I can trust to get it done"

"Hm. Curious. Response cryptic, suggests challenge, also mixed in subtle praise of my scientific ability…"

"Mordin will you help me or not?"

Mordin nodded. "Of course, of course. Work on Reaper Heart can wait. What is it you need Shepard?"

Shepard prepared himself and got ready to hand Mordin Solus the datapad he held. Before he did he told Mordin: "Nobody can know about this by the way"

"Ah. Secret then. Top secret project perhaps? No, no, only datapad. Schematics then? Hm, must take a look"

Mordin took the datapad and looked it over. "Hmm…curious, curious. Fascinating. Also somewhat depressing…what is it you would like me to do Shepard?"

"I…was wondering if you could take that to Doctor Chakwas and see if the two of you could…figure out if Miranda's infertility is reversible?"

"Hmm…interesting challenge. Unclear with facts given. Seems unlikely that infertility is irreversible but hard to say without additional data. See what I can do" He finished in his usual upbeat and assuring tone.

Shepard nodded. "That's all I can ask for"

As Shepard left, Mordin called out to him: "Wait, Shepard, one more thing: 100% accurate conclusion only possible if Executive Lawson studied in person. Will have to convince her to do so." Mordin shook his head before finishing. "Problematic"

"Maybe…you should leave that to me" Shepard suggested.

Mordin nodded rapidly. "Yes, yes of course. Will do that. In the meantime share what I have with Doctor Chakwas. Be there if you need anything else"

Shepard nodded. Now he had to go convince Miranda to go through with this.

What fun that will be… Shepard thought.

He took the elevator down to the Crew Quarters and went to the door to Miranda's office. Breathing in a deep sigh of preparation, Shepard opened the door and walked in.

"Commander, what can I do for you?" she asked pleasantly.

"Miranda…I need to ask you something"

Author's Note: And there we go! The conclusion to my novelization! So how did I do? And yes, I am keeping the stuff with Miranda and her infertility open-ended…at least for now. Be sure to check out my next Mass Effect fan-fics, including a Jack-Miranda one.