Author's notes: This is a silly one-shot I was inspired by after overhearing a certain conversation between Ken and Gabby down in Engineering one day. It's been a while since I have submitted anything, so it'll take me a while to get back into the swing of writing fanfics, but I hope you guys have fun reading it. I certainly had fun writing it. Has femslash, so for those of you who are uncomfortable with it or dislike it, the back button's up on your left there.
Disclaimer: All characters in this story are officially owned by Bioware and EA. I do not claim them as my own, however much I'd like to.
"I can't believe this is happening. I mean, it's like a dream come true!"
Kenneth Donnelly is running around the card table, checking to make sure every chair is in its place and every bottle of alcohol is on hand.
Gabby rolls her eyes. She has no interest in playing the game itself, but she stations herself beside her engineering partner to keep an eye on him and maybe check out the outcome herself. Out of concern, of course. She sips her drink and ignores Donelly's dreamy gabble about how he plans to steal the pants right off Dr. T'Soni.
"What about EDI?" she asks.
Donnelly looks at her incredulously. "She can't play strip poker! I may be open-minded, but even I'm not turned on by a robotic woman removing her chassis."
"No, I mean, won't EDI be recording this?"
"Oh, don't you worry about that." He leans in and whispers. "She'll be busy with Joker, courtesy of some videos I got them if ya know what I mean."
Gabby pours herself another drink. She rapidly chugs it down, not noticing her partner is still talking until she finishes.
"…and to think I even got the commander into this!"
The hissing of the doors is followed by the appearance of Commander Shepard in her civilian clothes, the hood of her jacket pulled lazily over her head.
"I hear there's a strip poker game happening here tonight? You two know that's against regulations, right?"
The Scotsman looks as if Shepard had not only cancelled his birthday and all following holidays but had personally stomped on them, spat on them, and served them up to Kalross to be turned into a shining example of thresher maw excrement.
"Will… will you be cancelling this fine, innocent game of cards, Commander?"
Shepard appears to think about it. "No, but as long as you guys know this is a violation..." The Normandy captains plops down and begins to eat the snacks the engineers had laid out.
"Commander, that is the worst job of upholding regulations I have ever seen," laughs Gabby.
"I promise you it won't be the last." Shepard somehow managed to look awe-inspiring and solemn, despite the ring of orange crumbs around her mouth.
A few minutes later, Dr. T'Soni and Specialist Traynor arrive, the asari looking a bit cross while Traynor is amused.
"Shepard, this is what you pulled me away for? I have work to do, contacts with whom I need to get in touch with-"
"Relax, Liara. Those contacts aren't supposed to report in for another three hours, and as far as I know, you're still stuck on converting the notes for mathematics to the power of 12 or something like that, so you might as well take a break and watch me wipe the floor with these beginners."
The asari sighs and produces a handkerchief from her pocket. "I'd rather you wipe your mouth first."
Gabby watches in amusement as the first human Spectre sheepishly brushes the crumbs off her face.
"Is this it? I'd expected there'd be more people." Traynor looked around the lounge. "Maybe we should invite some of the others?"
"Good idea. We can get Vega and Kaidan up here and strip their sorry asses."
"I didn't know you were so eager to see the major with his pants off, Shepard," Liara still looks annoyed and now sounds it too.
"If you don't mind, I'd prefer that I don't show my soft, fleshy bits to any more men than I need to."
Shepard sighs when Traynor gazes at her beseechingly. "Whom do you want to show your soft, fleshy bits to?"
Traynor grins mischievously. "You first."
Shepard smiles her famous half-smile. "So eager to know, are you?" She leans back and crosses her arms, still looking at the specialist.
Traynor blushes and seems at a loss for words. T'Soni seems even more irritated.
Gabby is amused at the specialist's embarrassment. Although she is not into women as a rule, even she would blush if the commander were to hit on her.
Liara clears her throat, getting everyone's attention. "Are we inviting the lieutenant and the major or not?"
"No, no, no," Donnelly waves his hands, "it's a ladies' night thing, and it should stay a ladies' night thing."
"Plus you," the asari adds.
"Plus me. Ah, well, I did organize it and all…"
Shepard rolls her eyes. "And a fine job you did at that, Donnelly."
"So, ladies," Kenneth rubs his hands together, ignoring the commander, "shall we get started? I must warn you, I'm the best poker player this side of the galaxy."
Liara shakes her head while Shepard raises her eyebrows questioningly at the statement. "This is a bad idea."
"I'm up for a bit of mischief… if the commander is interested," Traynor's brown eyes glance over at the soldier and stay there just a little too long.
"I'm interested." Shepards smiles at her specialist, who returns the expression. "If you don't want to play, Liara, you can go. I'm sure playing with Specialist Traynor will keep me entertained all night."
"I'll gladly do that anytime, commander."
Their exchange is received differently among the other players. Kenneth looks like his secret fantasy is coming true right in front of him while Gabby keeps her clever eyes on T'Soni, who frowns deeply and uncrosses her arms, a flicker of biotic energy sparking around her wrist.
So, how do we play?" Shepard wrinkles her nose in thought.
"Well, it's like regular poker, but there's no folding and the person with lowest hand loses one item of clothing. Bracelets, gloves, and boots count. Hairpins do not." He looks at Traynor, who merely pouts. "And to make it really interesting. No one gets their clothes back until the morning." His eyes gleam excitedly while the others sit in silence.
"This is stupid."
Both Traynor and T'Soni stand to leave but are stopped by Shepard's sudden question.
"What happens to the clothes?"
Donnelly shrugs. "They stay here till morning. If anyone leaves before morning, they can get their stuff later in engineering under special care of Miss Daniels here."
Gabby sheepishly shows them the box she had prepared for such an eventuality.
The commander leans back in her chair and considers the matter.
"Make it to the end of the game, and I'm set."
Liara looks aghast. "Shepard, you can't be serious."
"Why not? Seems like a good way to blow off steam, and besides," she smiles darkly at Donnelly, "I think someone here needs to be taught a lesson on unrealistic boasting, right?"
"What was that, commander? Couldn't hear anything from all this hot air blowing in my face."
The soldier merely grins and turns to Traynor. "You'll play, won't you, Samantha? After all, it gets rather lonely with just two people, and I could use the company."
Shepard pats Traynor's hands affectionately while the specialist blushes at the contact and meekly sits down. Neither of them notices the scowling asari behind them.
"Of course, Commander. Whatever you want." She squeezes Shepard's hand and doesn't let go until she's startled by T'Soni's sudden reappearance in her field of vision.
"Liara, I thought you said this was stupid." The commander's eyebrows rise in surprise when the doctor sits down beside her.
"Shepard, you thrive on unwise decisions. You need someone beside you to ensure you don't make any further ones." She shoots Traynor a look that has the specialist gulp while the not-so-subtle glance seems to escape the commander's notice altogether.
"Shall we get started then?" Traynor avoids meeting the hardened eyes of the woman across from her.
"Yeah!" Kenneth is hardly subtle in his excitement. "Ladies, you are about to witness the legend of Kenneth Donnelly, the poker champion extraordinaire. Hope you've all bought enough to cover the game, cause I'm gonna be the only one left clothed at the end."
Liara smiles as she picks up her first hand of cards. "We'll see."
Shepard loses the first round, looking incredulous as her three of kind is beaten by just about everybody. Traynor crows and claps her hand in delight while Donnelly smirks, his expression looking very close to a leer; Gabby smothers her laugh behind her hand.
"Oooh, is the tough N7 marine going to back out after one round?" teases Traynor.
Shepard snaps her head up and smirks. Unzipping her hoodie, she pulls her jacket from her, accidentally tugging up her shirt to expose the flat, toned muscles of her abdomen. Everyone except Daniels is distracted while Shepard starts the clothing pile.
"Deal. I'm going to take the shirt off of your back next round," she informs the engineer opposite her, taking a shot of whiskey and grinning.
"I'd like to see you try. Like I said, I'm poker champion extraordinaire."
A few rounds later, Kenneth is swearing rather creatively as he bends down to unstrap his second boot and toss it to the middle of the table. T'Soni has lost her gloves, and her forearms are exposed to the chill of the lounge air. Shepard is frowning, her own boots already long gone while Traynor hides a wide grin behind her hands. No one had expected the Oxford graduate to be so devastatingly good at stripping both Shepard and Donnelly of their pride and their clothes.
"Did I forget to mention that I was a poker champion back in my college days? In fact, it was how I managed to get by when I had free time." Traynor smiles charmingly as she lays out another four of a kind while Liara shows her hand of a straight, Donnelly two pairs, and Shepard a bunch of highly randomized cards that have the value of exactly nothing.
The commander frowns. "You're cheating."
"Nope! Just good ol' fashioned skill and luck. Now, I believe that you need to add another article of clothing to the pile."
The pile is about two feet high, and consists mostly of Donnelly's and Shepard's clothes with various other items added by the other players. Traynor has lost a bracelet she wore specifically for this game night but, otherwise, remains fully dressed.
Shepard growls. "I don't have much more to give, do I?"
"That's not true, commander. The way, I see it, you've got two options: lose your shirt or your pants. Either is fine with me," Donnelly adds, earning a blistering look from his commanding officer that causes him to yelp and shrink away.
Gabby rolls her eyes and watches Shepard think, the fearless soldier chewing on her lip in contemplation at her choices. At length, she reaches behind herself, her arms staying there for only a second before one of them snake under her shirt sleeve and pulls out the strap of a black garment that catches everyone's attention.
Donnelly, Traynor, and T'Soni all gape at the bra rather comically as Shepard tosses it carelessly on the pile. The black lace stands out in stark contrast to dull Alliance uniforms beneath it. The commander is just wearing a sheer white T-shirt.
Shepard leans back and lifts her chin in defiance, arms crossed over her chest as if that could block the other players' stares.
The female engineer is impressed by the quality of the undergarment. "That's a expensive-looking bra, commander."
Shepard shrugs. "I like nice things."
"You wouldn't be wearing that especially for this night, would you, commander?" Donnelly's eyes are big and hopeful, an expression of disbelieving happiness on his face.
"Maybe. Maybe not." Her mouth quirks into her sexy half-smile that has the Scottish man melting in seconds.
"Commander, it's not nice to tease. I'm only a man, for God's sake."
"A fully grown man capable of self control like any other," Liara states emotionlessly, watching Daniels deal, since Donnelly is currently incapacitated. Her expression is unreadable but her fingers tremble as she picks up her cards. Traynor simply seem unable to take her gaze off the commander. She stares at Shepard's chest as if in realization that a large obstacle to a wishful goal has suddenly been removed.
Gabby waits a full minute before clearing her throat. Three of the players closest to her look down in shock as if they just realize there was still a poker game going on.
Eyes are darting back and forth among the players. Traynor's seem to gravitate to Shepard more often than before. T'Soni glares at Traynor from the top of her cards, which causes the specialist to break her gaze and look away.
The commander notices none of this as she's too busy scowling at her cards, looking puzzled at how shockingly bad a poker player she is, considering she bluffs and bullshits her way past mercenaries, civilians, and rather obtuse council members all the time. Gabby considers that the commander simply doesn't have enough time to develop skills for the game, but then she looks at T'Soni and wonders how someone with even less human interaction could have learned to play the game so skillfully. Maybe the crew of the first Normandy had a serious poker ring that the commander was not aware of, and T'Soni had been a secret long-standing member. The thought makes the edges of Daniel's lips quirk upwards.
A twitch in Shepard's left eyebrow catches Gabby's attention. The engineer looks over to Kenneth's cards to see he's got a good hand, but considering his luck so far…she tries to signal him to quit while he's ahead. He notices her warning, but shakes his head almost imperceptibly, smiling. He thinks he's won.
"Ha! Full house." Shepard lays out her hand proudly, displaying three asari matriarchs and two krogan warlords in a neat arch across the table. Somehow, everyone else had a better hand than him. "Bite me, Donnelly!"
"Dammit!" The engineer throws down his hand. "Shepard beat me."
Shepard waves off his comment, leaning back with her hands behind her head and a grin. Donnelly sighs and yank off his pants while the spectre sniggers when it is shown that the engineer is wearing boxers with a red heart print on them.
"Are those regulation, engineer?"
"What, you wanna take this too? My pride?" Kenneth tugs at the hem of his shorts, and all the women rush to reassure him that he, at no point, is required to be completely naked in the game.
Donnelly frowns at the onslaught of requests for him to keep his boxers on. "Damn, you ladies really know how to grind down a man's esteem." He drops in his chair, officially out of the game with nothing else that people wanted him to lose.
"Shall we call it a night then?" Traynor suggests, looking astonished at the blossoming relief on T'Soni's face.
"Yes, let's." She eagerly turns to Shepard and instantly groans, recognizing the stubborn expression on the commander's face.
"You can go ahead and crash. I intend to strip Traynor of all her pretty clothes like she has mine."
The dark-skinned woman giggles. "We didn't have to do this if you just wanted my clothes off, commander."
A drinking glass smashes into the wall behind her, causing her to yelp and duck her head.
"Sorry," Liara unclenches her hand, and the biotic bubble winks out of existence. "It's hard to control my powers under exhaustion."
Traynor looks at her, but the expression on her face isn't of fear. There's an upwards tilt of her chin while the asari's look suggest a sort of tension beneath her unreadable demeanour. A thousand words, expressions, and threats are being exchanged between the two women in that single glance, and even Donnelly seems to comprehend this was not something that should be interrupted if he wanted to keep his tender bits intact. Shepard, as usual, completely misses the subtlety of the exchange.
"Are we going to play or are you two going to make eyes at each other all night?"
Traynor smiles but not kindly, her eyes never leaving the asari's. "Let's."
The tension in the room has rocketed, and Gabby's instincts tell her to flee the room without looking back. Donnelly, however, whispers that he's curious to see who would win, and Daniels, against her better judgment, decides to stay with her partner.
This time, Liara wins, her cool eyes surveying Traynor with just a hint of smugness. Too bad it was Shepard who lost the hand, letting loose a stream of standard and non-standard marine swear words that has Kenneth giggling at their vulgarity and the asari raising her eyebrow markings in surprise.
Pausing only briefly to consider her limited options, the commander's hands go to the hem of her pants and pulls them off of her slender legs in a single motion. She tosses her cargos onto the tall pile and crosses one leg over the other, the slight indent in the skin showing years of training and exercise that have toned the muscles attractively.
Traynor and T'Soni have difficulty maintaining concentration over the next few hands. Shepard actually wins several rounds while the specialist seemed aghast that her hands and bluffs have become noticeably worse than before. She blames it on Shepard and her damn sexual magnetism and those long, wonderful legs that go on forever… Traynor would have been surprised to know that Liara was cursing Shepard along the same lines.
T'Soni's jacket had joined the pile in the centre of the table, with much grumbling from the asari as she loosened all the straps, while Traynor was down to her bra and pants. The dark-skinned woman is surprisingly fit-looking and stretches several times, arching her back in an attempt to catch Shepard's attention.
In retaliation, T'Soni brushes her arms against Shepard's with just the right amount of teasing that has the commander's constantly caught between looking at her asari teammate and specialist Traynor with a confused expression on her face. She looks like she's not sure whether she should be aroused or concerned. She settles for both.
Gabby is surprised at Kenneth's poker night but is intrigued by the interactions between all three ladies. Donnelly has passed out from a rather fast and enthusiastic consumption of some expensive whiskey at the bar and is currently sleeping face-down on a couch. It's unfortunate as she knows he would have paid money to see the sheer amount of sexual tension that has accumulated between Shepard, Traynor, and T'Soni over the last hour, a giddy array of smoldering looks and teasing touches. The engineer contemplates turning in for the night but decides to sticks around to see if the rumours about the asari doctor and Shepard are true. They seems to have a pretty strong basis in fact if the commander's blush is proof of anything.
Shepard has been drinking the more she loses. She looks at her cards for a long time before realizes she's lost yet another hand and laughs, startling the other two players with her wild cackle.
"I'm out." The soldier tosses her cards down haphazardly, not even bothering to check the others' hands.
"What happened to stripping off all my pretty clothes, commander?" Traynor says with a teasing tone in her voice. Her eyes seemed unable to stay on Shepard's face for long and instead rove all the slightly gangly body in front of her. "Is the great Commander Shepard, saviour of the galaxy, conqueror of the Collectors, going to admit defeat at the hands of one simple colony-born comm specialist? How will the media react to this?" She covers her mouth in mock-shock. She really can't tear her eyes away from the commander's well-sculpted legs.
Shepard rolls her eyes. "Better than the specialist once she finds out what I'm writing on her yearly performance reports."
"Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm heading to bed." She gets up to leave.
"But Commander, what about your clothes?" Gabby motions at the pile on the table. "You can take them. I think Kenneth's rules are bullshit."
The drunken soldier smiles but shakes her head.
"I said I wouldn't touch them until the end, and I tend to keep my promises. Just send them up to me later."
"Shepard, I believe you still owe us an article of clothing, as per the game's agreements."
Liara was surprised with her insistence as everyone else, but her curiosity at how the commander would resolve this issue won out over her scorn at the actual game. The asari's eyes track down the length of the commander's body, noting that Shepard's shirt barely covers the top of her thighs. Her desire to see the soldier adhere to the game's conventions is purely professional and scientifically based. She tells this to herself several times.
Shepard ponders for a moment then bends down and slides something from her legs. The women are shocked to see a pair of black panties tossed casually their way while Shepard pads towards the exit.
"Something to remember me by." She winks at them as she passes through the door.
Liara is confounded, her mind looping continuously on the fact that Commander Shepard no longer has any sort of underwear on, that said underwear was less than a foot from her, and that glimpses of the commander's shapely behind were seen rather easily. She shakes her head to rid herself of the thought that Shepard has nothing on under her shirt and that without taking any of her clothing back, Shepard has nothing on under her shirt.
Her hands are shaking, and her mouth suddenly feels dry. Liara finds herself leaning slightly out of her chair to catch a glimpse and she pulls back, struggling hard not to gaze after the departing human.
T'Soni looks at Traynor, who appears rather dumbfounded and stares after the commander. When the specialist turns back to look at her cards, the gaze is unfocused. She doesn't even see her cards.
At length, she purses her lips before conceding the match to Liara.
"It's just… I need to turn in too, and I think it's best if I bring the Commander's clothes to her before anyone sees her walking around like that…"
"I agree. Shepard is showing far too much skin…"
"So, you've won?"
"Technically, it was a tie..."
"Oh yes, I concur. We best…we best get the commander's things to her ASAP."
"Indeed. I'll help you carry them up and check up on Shepard while I'm there. To make sure she's-she's comfortable."
"Comfort is good. Comfort is great. I better help too."
Traynor scrabbles to grab as many of Shepard's things as possible.
"You seem to be missing a shirt." Liara points out while Traynor looks down and blushes.
"You're missing some gear yourself." The dark-skinned woman carelessly pulls on her shirt while T'Soni merely gathers her jacket and gloves in her arms.
The doctor turns to the woman in the corner. "Thank you for setting up the refreshments and the game. Traynor and I really need to get these things back to Shepard, so she'll have them in the morning since her current attire is not acceptable for a starship captain-"
Gabby cut them off with a wave of her hand. They're not really paying attention to her, and she can hardly blame them in their situation. The pair are out the door in no time, and the last female in the room sighs as she contemplates what to do with Donnelly's clothes on the poker table. After a while, she smirks and puts his things in the box she'd prepared.
"Shepard is a fine woman," she says to his sleeping form, "you should follow her example more often…"
Donnelly wakes up with a massive headache and turns to find Vakarian staring at him along with a good portion of the crew who had been eating breakfast. He looks down to realize his underwear is gone and his shirt is on his crotch. He doesn't know how to explain this.
Garrus clears his throat. "So… good night?"
Donnelly scowls as he thought about how his plans last night were a major bust. "I think everyone else had a better one."
"I can see that." The turian's mandibles twitches in amusement. "Poker game? Who won the jackpot?"
In her cabin, Shepard wakes up and wonders why she's in bed naked with two beautiful women draped over her. She thinks about it, decides not to question what happened, and goes back to sleep as Samantha and Liara snuggle in closer.
At the very least from last night, she's learned not to complain when she's got a high hand.
Author's endnotes: Shepard x Liara x Samantha... because all strip poker games end up in threesomes... apparently.