The dark haired and tall Miranda Lawson gazed with her blue eyes through the window in her quarters at the busy spaceport outside the Normandy's hull. Nos Astra, the modern and majestic capital of the asari planet Illium, was a sprawling megacity. Illium served as entrepot between the Terminus Systems and the Asari Republics, a Mecca for businesses that wished to avoid the stringent custom laws of Council Space yet have the comforts of Council Space. But underneath it was a seedy world some said was just as harsh as Omega if you went off the grid or made a wrong deal.

Humanity had a very similar world, Bekenstein, on the doorstep to the Citadel although as it was in Council Space the laws weren't as lax as on Illium. The Boltzmann System had been a backwater system before humanity had given rights to the system and the planets as reparations after the First Contact War. Bekenstein had been terraformed and turned into a thriving planet. Bekenstein was a cut throat business world where Miranda had grown up during her adolescence with her harsh and unloving father when they didn't spend time at the family mansion in Sydney, Australia on Earth.

She had been given everything she wished for as a child, but with a lot of strings attached. Henry Lawson wanted a dynasty, a bloodline of superior children and descendants. Miranda was the first success in making the perfect daughter. She still shivered with disgust at the thought of how many possible 'failures' there had been before she had been...created. And what happened to them? Miranda wasn't sure she wanted to know but suspected the babies had been disposed off. Henry Lawson was a coldhearted egomaniac.

It hadn't been much of a childhood as she had been pushed by her father to meet unreasonable demands for a child. Pushed to behave in a certain way, pushed to learn things and thrive to be best at it and thus whenever she didn't accomplish something she was scolded by her father. Not in a screaming or berating way, but in a calm yet cold way. Mere words could do a lot of damage to a child. He had loved her for being his 'first success' and not as a daughter despite her futile attempts to win his affection.

It was a lonely upbringing, but she did have one very good friend. One confidant she could trust. At least that was what she thought until recently.

Niket Sarkar – the son of Miranda's governess who travelled with Miranda and her father between Milgrom and Sydney – had been the only bright spot in her childhood, her best friend. Niket had been a good child who never shunned her and genuinely liked her. Why her father let her play with someone he considered 'beneath' them was still something that puzzled Miranda. He likely allowed it so he could use Niket as leverage or as a pawn in the future. And that's exactly what Henry Lawson had done. He had manipulated Niket because he knew she had been too weak to let him go. Henry Lawson had been biding his time since her escape.

The thought of the childhood years with Niket wracked her because hours earlier she had learned of his betrayal - just before that mercenary bitch killed him.

A harrowing mix of hate, sadness and anger boiled up in Miranda.

When Miranda was sixteen she had learned about Oriana, Henry Lawson's new daughter that would replace her because Miranda wasn't as perfect as he wanted her to be and he was going to start anew to mold a new daughter. Miranda had planned to flee for years even before she learned about Oriana, and after that she knew her father would dispose of her and had to accelerate her plans. But she couldn't let an innocent child be exposed to the same upbringing as she had endured. What followed was intricate planning on how to rescue infant Oriana and flee as far away as possible. Miranda was good with computers and had learned a thing or two from attending all those parties her father hosted with his rich associates. It was at a party a couple years before the actual escape she overheard about the connection between Cerberus and one of their shell companies - Cord Hislop Aerospace - and she figured Cerberus would be able to protect them if she offered them her services, she was young and bright and willing to do whatever it took to flee her father. Plus she didn't have a proper education and wouldn't be able to stay hidden for long with an infant on her own. With a fake identity as a Cord-Hislop employee and other falsified information she fled her father - shots were even fired.

And now she was on a Cerberus built frigate almost twenty years later. A efficient career operative which took her orders directly from the Illusive Man who had been very impressed by the teenage Miranda's escape - fooling Cord-Hislop but not the Illusive Man as Cerberus secretly screened Cord-Hislop personnel. The Illusive Man had agreed to take her in and sever all contacts with Henry Lawson to protect Miranda and infant Oriana - who was adopted by a normal family.

Miranda had recently learned that her father was about to kidnap Oriana from her true family who lived in Nos Astra. She wouldn't let that happen. But she couldn't do anything alone. She had contacted Niket to help her secure her family, but that wasn't enough. She needed a door kicker because her father used asari mercenaries for his kidnapping operation.

John Shepard, former Lieutenant Commander in the Systems Alliance Navy. He was her door kicker. He started his career as a Marine that happened to be on leave with his platoon on Elysium when the pirates attacked in 2176 and he successfully led forces against the pirates. Then he was selected to join the elite - the Alliance's Marine Forces Special Operations Command – where he enjoyed a successful career as a Marine Special Operator. In 2183, in an elaborate scheme by the Alliance, he was transferred to the Navy before the Citadel Council appointed him as humanity's first Spectre. He defeated the rogue turian spectre Saren Arterius and stopped an invasion of sentient machines - the Reapers. Later Shepard was killed by the Collectors and later successfully resurrected by Miranda Lawson.

For a while Miranda and Shepard had a tenuous working relationship since his resurrection. She had dismissed him in an analysis to the Illusive Man right after the Skyllian Blitz. His actions on Elysium sounded too great to be true battling the pirates, saving civilians and finally bringing back communications with the outside galaxy. It all sounded like propaganda from the Alliance to cover up how they failed to protect Elysium and its citizens. What infuriated her personally was that he had accomplished so many things in his career because of his natural abilities. Herself? She had accomplished many things to...but all due to the genetic manipulations made by her father 36 years earlier. Shepard had been a delinquent from Vancouver in the Canadian province of the United North American States that had joined the Marine Forces because he had no other options. He excelled because he pushed himself.

So the two of them didn't get a long, and then he infuriated her more when he didn't outright dismiss her and even listened to her tactical knowledge for missions. He didn't conform to her expectations. He was very much an enigma.

Obviously this strife between them wasn't good for her mission. After the Battle of the Citadel she was supposed to establish contact and manipulate him. It had been direct orders from the Illusive Man as he saw an opportunity to recruit him because the Alliance and the Council wanted to hide the raw details from the attack on the Citadel while Shepard on the other hand wanted to pursue the Reapers properly. Instead everything was swiped under the rug and blamed on the geth. But the Reapers were still out there, and their pawns - the Collectors - were snatching up human colonists and Cerberus needed Shepard to stop them. They needed to protect humanity. Then he died and those orders changed quickly to instead find and resurrect Shepard.

Contact and manipulation. A tradecraft she excelled at, she had done that early on in her career. But she didn't like being a honeypot for people she wasn't attracted to and had believed that part of her career was long gone. But John Shepard was an attractive man and might even prove to be a good fuck. So the strife between them was deterrent to her mission to seduce Shepard which had been revived by the Illusive Man on the onset of the Collector mission.

And he sought her out - he sought contact with everyone on the ship even the unstable psychopath Jack down in the ship's bowels. He tried to help those that asked him, which was understandable as the team and crew would charge in to certain death. The team he had assembled so far gave him their lives, and in return he would be there for them if needed. A bloody natural leader that handled the many diverging personalities with ease regardless of what he personally felt for anyone of them.

And then Shepard had handed over sensitive material to Jack. Miranda couldn't fathom why. And what puzzled her even more was that the Illusive Man had mostly just shrugged when she had reported his transgression. It had been something her boss had definitely expected. Miranda couldn't understand why the Illusive Man wanted such a vile person as Jack to be part of the mission to begin with. Let alone aboard a Cerberus vessel. The crazed biotic hated Cerberus and everyone associated with the organization and she could put the entire mission in danger. But to Shepard's credit he had actually kept her under control since they had rescued her from the fiery inferno of the Purgatory prison. Strange what effects Shepard could have on people.

And Miranda had started to learn how Shepard could affect people. Their relationship had defrosted as of late, they had started to get to know each other. They had debated about Cerberus and the state of the galaxy, they had shared meals together and they were even teasing and flirting with each other frequently. She had even shared a bit about her father and her own upbringing. Shepard was surprisingly smart and eloquent for a Marine. A stereotype of hers he had crushed, even if she had dealt with thick headed military personnel in the past.

And sometimes he was even funny. Even if childishly so.

He was an enigma.

So they had thawed and she had planned to enact her mission to seduce him, but she had started the mortal sin of manipulation.

She liked John Shepard and she wanted to learn to know the real man. They were both attracted to each other, and there was sexual tension between them. And the fact that he was intrigued by her, and she knew she was a very neurotic and complicated person, was a compelling aspect of whatever was happening between them. He wasn't intrigued by the fantasy of a mysterious femme fatale operative, he was interested in her as a person. It was something she hadn't experienced before.

And he had helped her with something extremely personal. She couldn't betray that.

That was not how emotional manipulation of a target worked. She was a master of seduction and could play any sort of role for a clandestine mission. She could lure targets in with the guise of friendship, romance and sex, but she had done so emotionally detached. She wasn't emotionally detached now.

Miranda breathed out annoyed. It was like a bloody teenage video. She didn't know what to do and couldn't understand how he could affect her like that. But she could see her own faults, and she wasn't enthused to acknowledge it but she yearned for human contact and somebody she could trust. She was unexpectedly relaxed in Shepard's company.

He was confident. Smart. Friendly. And despite everything he had experienced he was a laid back and kind man, definitely not as jaded as he should have been yet not totally naive to the realities of the galaxy.

And very easy on the eyes. He was thickly muscled, athletic and had a well defined body. Shepard spent quite a lot of time in the cargo bay with the portable gym equipment alongside Jacob. It was quite the sight because she to used the gym equipment, after all she had to work on her own body as well.

It had not happen over a day, but she had slowly warmed up to him. She always thought that action spoke louder than words and Shepard had done amazing things so far. Miranda respected his moral convictions, but he never shunned from making difficult decisions, he did the job. During the hunt for Saren, Shepard had decided to leave a man behind on Virmire; Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko died in the nuclear blast. Miranda suspected that Shepard had likely taken the death of a comrade hard, but she knew he would make such a call again if necessary.

So she trusted him with securing Oriana and her family's trip away from Nos Astra and away from Henry Lawson. A new life and new job elsewhere for the family.

He had helped her save Oriana from the grasps of their crazed father. Without hesitation he had agreed to help her after she had explained the predicament that her sister was in danger. The mercenaries never knew what hit them as the unstoppable force of Shepard cut through their lines. He even convinced her to go and talk to Oriana, Miranda did not want to complicate Oriana's life but Shepard's reasoning had convinced her to tell Oriana that she had a sister, a sister that cared and loved her. Neither of this would have happened without Shepard's help. Her sister was much younger, but so beautiful, filled with joy and had a happy life full with love. This had an impact on Miranda and their meeting made her happy, they had promised to stay in touch, and it was worth it, all of it. She had a reason to fight the Collectors and the Reapers, more so than the objectives of Cerberus. She had to protect Oriana, and she wanted to see her again.

But the death of Niket at the hands of the asari mercenary leader made her blood boil. The entire ordeal with Niket pained her. Despite his betrayal due to her father's manipulations, Niket had been her best friend. But he had stabbed her in the back and hadn't allowed her to fully explain everything regarding Oriana.

The conflicting emotions tore at Miranda, and she needed somebody to talk to. Or at least some company.

Miranda called out, "EDI, where's the Commander?"

The synthetic female voice was heard in her room. "He is resting in the Captain's Cabin, Operative Lawson."



"Thank you, EDI."

Miranda turned from the window and headed for the door.

"Logging you out, Operative Lawson."

Shepard lied newly showered in the bed with Cerberus Battle Dress Uniform on – a black and white t-shirt and dark trousers. It felt a bit odd being in Cerberus colors. He and looked at the night sky through the ceiling window above. Combat was an excruciating experience on your body and psyche, regardless of years training and fighting. Fighting through the warehouses had been a long and grueling battle, and in hindsight he was glad he had managed to convince Miranda to bring along one extra shooter for the mission – Shepard had grabbed Garrus as he trusted the turian like a brother. Miranda had balked at it because the matter was so personal to her, but Shepard insisted on it and promised that Garrus wouldn't tell anyone despite whatever he felt about Cerberus or Miranda.

His psyche and body was finely tuned to excel during battle, but it was when the adrenaline rush eased off that he felt the toll on him and he could feel his muscles being tired and sore. Having showered and rested for a couple of hours now had mended most of the exhaustion so now he was just contemplating things. Like the food he was going to eat.

That was how he had made it through the Interplanetary Combatives Training program – the selection and assessment program for entry into MARSOC. It didn't matter if he couldn't feel his muscles after the instructors had made him and the other push through grueling physical training or if he was soaking wet and cold after water competency training in the cold ocean, it was making it to the next meal because pain was only temporary.

And he now was in an odd place. Shunned by the Alliance and the Council and stuck with Cerberus of all groups. They were branded terrorists and xenophobes by the galaxy and a threat to the Alliance's stability. The Illusive Man played it close to the chest. As did Miranda Lawson to a certain extent, but even she was subject to compartmentalization.

Shepard was kept in the dark and fed bullshit, and only when it suited the Illusive Man was he given the truth and proper details. And it was obvious that the Illusive Man had placed sympathetic Cerberus people on the Normandy so Shepard would feel comfortable. They were not hardcore xenophobes. Everything felt engineered to keep him happy.

Cerberus was everywhere in human society, and the Citadel Council knew it. And the Alliance knew it. It was a known secret by decision makers everywhere, but nobody grasped the full details. Was it a creation by the Alliance Intelligence Service or a rogue organization? Had they, or did they, act with the consent of the AIS? What he could deduce from getting entangled with them on Rear Admiral Kahoku's behest years earlier was that Cerberus had been a rogue element with some sort of behind the scenes support from military and political leaders in the Alliance. So…basically what was known to everyone. There was no real evidence, hence why the Citadel Council didn't censure the Alliance, but if they had evidence they would love to tear down humanity. Or maybe the asari wanted to watch as humanity slowly tore itself apart due to infighting? Shepard was sure the aliens enjoyed the Alliance fighting human insurgents in the Outer Colonies and how insurrectionist terrorist attacks against the Inner Colonies further fanned the flames when the public screamed for revenge.

Yeah, the aliens didn't need to do anything but to watch if the trend continued.

And then on top of everything there were the Collectors and the Reapers and the indecisiveness of the Council and the Alliance. He concluded exasperated that maybe internal strives wouldn't end everything after all.

Shepard shook away those thoughts with defiance.

No, he had made strange bedfellows to try and do something about that. He couldn't sit around like the rest and wait for the impending destruction.

Shepard wondered how Miranda felt now, what seemed to have been her only childhood friend had betrayed her after being manipulated by Miranda's father, and then he was murdered by the mercenary leader. It must have hurt Miranda considerably. Shepard was glad he had managed to convince Miranda to talk to her younger sister, and she seemed to have relished that after everything they had gone through to secure Oriana and her family, because he believed Miranda would have regretted not talking to her.

The business with Miranda's sociopathic and cruel father angered Shepard, he understood why she played things close to the vest, and he understood why she turned her back to all the wealth and fled with her infant sister and turned to Cerberus for help and why she was loyal to them despite having hinted at her serious misgivings about the xenophobes and unethical actions. Miranda hadn't given him a lot of details but he wanted to know more. He wanted to know her as well, she was interesting but he wasn't sure what to make of Miranda. She had been so stoic and closed off, and they hadn't got along because she had been belligerent and suspicious towards him from the get go. Despite her standoffish attitude he recognized that she was very alluring – and with that outfit she sure drew attention. And she was obviously more than just attractive, she had a intellect to match her looks. She very much intrigued him.

And they had warmed up to each other more and more over the course of the mission and he enjoyed the conversations with her, and she had become a bit more open with him having talked about her past with her sociopathic father and as of late trusting him with her sister. Shepard was attracted to Miranda, the sexual tension had grown these past days, and it was palpable whenever they were alone. They got along much easier now; finding time to chat and debate everything and anything, there had been a remarkable personal change between the two of them. But it also made Shepard wary of her intentions as her behavior confused him, going from snarky professional to flirtatious. Her looks drew him in and her intelligence and wit captivated him, and she was good at flirting and that set of warning signals as his training kicked in.

The Illusive Man had made no secrets that he wanted to secure Shepard's loyalty and Miranda probably had standing orders to seduce him and lure him into Cerberus or keep him in check by having sex and emotionally trick him into a relationship. And being attracted to her he almost always gave into the sexual tension when they flirted. If he went over the edge and fucked her he would compromise himself to Cerberus, and maybe she would compromise herself to him with all the conflicting interests.

And on top of everything Ashley had severed ties with him after berating him on Horizon. Shepard felt Ashley had treated him unfairly. Yes, she had mourned him and obviously it was a shock for her seeing him again, he understood that, but nothing of that was his fault. Nor was it his fault that he was gang pressed into Cerberus. But he did what he had to do because he realized that nobody cared for the kidnapped colonists, nor did the Alliance or the Citadel Council prepare for the Reapers. He did what he had to because nobody else did. And Ashley had berated him for that. She had made things clear on Horizon, she had moved on to a better place now. They were done, but Shepard still felt like shit because he had loved Ashley and had enjoyed the time they had spent together, he had even met her sisters and mother.

Definitely simpler times.

Shepard was lonely, angry and quite frankly sexually frustrated. But sleeping with Miranda Lawson would play right into the Illusive Man's plans.

The ringing door bell ended Shepard's musings and he sat up on the bed and headed to the steps leading up, forgoing to put on his boots. He wondered who it was as he crossed the hall to the door, maybe it was Garrus. Or perhaps even Miranda. Shepard pressed a button on the green interface and the door slid open with a hiss and outside Miranda waited in her black and white suit.

Miranda Lawson had and a defined jaw, piercing and alluring blue eyes, and plump lips which gave her a perfect smile – something she often didn't do, but Shepard had managed to coax her to smile and even laugh. A very charming laughter and smile that was almost impossible to resist. She was finely sculpted with a pale complexion and stunning eyebrows and eyelashes. Shepard had no problem confessing to that as she was a beautiful woman. She had a very toned and slim body but with some astonishing curves and bountiful breasts. Her custom genetics was in full swing.


The Australian considered Shepard for a moment and finally said, "Evening, Shepard. Can I come in? Are you busy?"

"Just resting," Shepard said casually and gestured for her to enter.

Miranda gave him a nod and walked inside and gave the aquarium and the fishes a glance.

"The new ones I see," Miranda mused. She stopped and gave Shepard an annoyed look, "That money was for the mission."

Shepard had neglected to feed the first batch of fishes supplied by Cerberus. He had to clean out the tank and eject the carcasses into space, and as they arrived at Nos Astra he had put down an order for several new aquatic life forms. Exotic and beautiful ones at that, and with little love for Cerberus he went for the most expensive ones and a VI-controlled feeding system. Total sum landed at 57 892 credits. To say that Miranda had been angry at him the day before was an understatement.

"Well, I thought it was necessary for the ambiance," Shepard assured confident. "The feeding system was the most expensive purchase, but prudent." He deadpanned, "I really didn't want to kill the new fishes so I'm amending that." He shrugged smug, "Chambers offered to feed the fish, but even I would have tired of a pretty woman coming and going so often."

Miranda huffed sardonically, "I'm sure."

She turned around and crossed the hallway and down the steps to the lounge area with Shepard trailing. Miranda sat down in the armchair while Shepard passed her and sat down in the couch in front of her.

"A lot of thoughts racing around in my head," Miranda confessed as she crossed one leg over the other and leaned back in the chair and made herself comfortable.

"Understandable," Shepard replied. "There was a lot that happened today."

Miranda nodded and assured friendly, "I want to thank you again, Shepard, for taking the time to help with my sister." She confessed, "I wouldn't have reached Oriana in time without your help. Or Vakarian's for that matter." She sighed, "I don't want to think about what the result would have been if you had not been there."

"Glad I could help," Shepard replied sincere. "I aim to help the crew considering the stakes we're facing."

Miranda nodded, "Very admirable." She smiled sincere and their eyes met, "I won't forget what you did for me, Shepard. Oriana and her family are safe. She will still have a normal life."

"Will Cerberus help them when they arrive at their new home?"

Miranda shook her head, "No, I wanted as few people as possible to be involved in this. Only myself and…" Miranda trailed off for a moment and she continued quietly, "Niket knew the final destination."

"Really?" Shepard asked surprised.

"Really." Miranda smiled and assured, "I've learned a thing or two about clandestine operations in my days, Shepard. Their itineraries and anything else is cleverly hidden behind subterfuge and fake information as good as I can so father can't track them. Hopefully Nobody can. After all, the galaxy is huge."

"Clever," Shepard praised.

Miranda smiled for a moment but then she frowned and sighed, "But it almost went straight to hell."

"You said you had a lot of thoughts racing in your mind?"

Miranda nodded, "Yes. Mostly concerning Niket, but a lot about my father to and where I am at life." She pursed her lips and said softly, "I'm glad Niket tried to redeem himself." She mumbled quietly, "For whatever good it did." She gave Shepard a faint smile, "Thank you for stopping me, Shepard."

In a fit of rage Miranda had raised her weapon at Niket but Shepard pushed the weapon aside and urged for a different outcome. He understood she was heartbroken from the betrayal but from what he had been told by Miranda about Henry Lawson, and knew about him, Shepard suspected there had been manipulation on his part. Plus Shepard's main concern was the armed mercenaries, not Niket.

Shepard nodded, "Of course." He considered the woman, "One gets the impression you're all about business and focuses on the task ahead. It's relieving seeing there's a person underneath."

Shepard had learned as of late as they had become friendlier that Miranda wasn't really a bitch, although very snarky, but she did a fantastic job of playing a bitch because was forced to play that role. Her stunted upbringing obviously didn't do wonders either.

Miranda dismissed the thought, "This mission is too important to let personal feelings interfere. That's why the Illusive Man gives me important assignments and the resources to complete them. He trusts me and allows me to accomplish the goals I see fit."

"Yes, you've said that before," Shepard pondered.

Miranda moved a bit in the chair and considered Shepard, choosing her words carefully but sincere, "I wish to apologize, Shepard. I never really thought you were up to the task. I was wrong. Frankly we – Cerberus – should have recruited you earlier."

Shepard grimaced a bit, "I'm still not enthusiastic about Cerberus. I saw your bases years ago."

"I understand that, I don't much approve of everything Cerberus does, but the fact is we aim to shield humanity from numerous threats." She confessed, "Sadly we attract the wrong people, with xenophobes and psychopaths running wild, we need people to join for the right reasons. On the Illusive Man's orders I've shut down more than a few cells that had gone too far. And sure, black operations are nasty, but no more that what governments sanction." She gave him a knowing look, "Special operations is a nasty business, Commander."

Shepard conceded, "Well, you have a point there."

Miranda continued but her voice hinted at envy, "And Cerberus has given you a new life, a new ship, the Illusive Man's personal attention and the resources to win this campaign against the Collectors. He trusts and allows you to accomplish the mission your way, just as he trusts me with my assignments."

"You disapprove of that?" Shepard asked curious to her tone. Because even Shepard had to confess the Illusive Man did give him operational freedom – although he knew everything that went on aboard the Normandy thanks to all the bugs. It was apparent that the Illusive Man wanted things done differently at times because he never shunned from giving his own opinion but allowed Shepard to do things his way. It was just that the Illusive Man didn't always share intelligence in a timely fashion, and Shepard didn't like being kept in the dark, although it didn't surprise Shepard considering who he was dealing with.

Miranda stiffened a bit and countered, "No. I'm impressed how you've risen here, or even in the Alliance. You take a stand and do things your way, Commander, maybe even the right way instead of what the leadership expects you to do." The envious tone seeped through her voice again, "A delinquent teenager from the dirty streets of Vancouver turns into a two-time Star of Terra recipient. You've done more than I could. Despite everything father did to make me perfect, you're…you're the best humanity has to offer. I don't have that fire that makes someone willing to follow you into hell itself."

"You always bring up the genetic tailoring. It bothers you that much?"

"This is who I am, Shepard, nothing can change that," Miranda simply explained. "My intelligence, my looks and abilities were all tailored and paid for by my father. Every one of your accomplishments is due to your skill. The only things I can take credit for are my mistakes."

Then it struck Shepard, "Wait a minute. Are you…jealous?"

Miranda's jaw tightened and she glowered, "Don't be absurd." She quickly rose from the chair and turned her back to Shepard and wandered over to the fish tank.

Shepard followed her and continued faux thoughtful with a teasing grin, "The Illusive Man put the genetic mutt in charge. That must sting."

Shepard stopped behind Miranda who turned around to assert, "First this isn't a competition. Second, based on your service record you're practically a bloody perfect male specimen."

"Perfect male specimen, huh?" Shepard asked playful and raised his eyebrows. He enjoyed teasing and pushing Miranda's buttons. He suspected not many dared that considering her persona, but he enjoyed the reactions he got, and she was always witty and bit back.

"Don't get cocky," Miranda warned. "I'm the one who put you back together, remember?" Her eyes glanced at Shepard from underneath her slender eyebrows with a saucy grin, clearly enjoying the sight of him in the tight t-shirt. Miranda continued playfully with a seductive tone, "And I do bloody good work."

"Now who is the cocky one?" Shepard taunted amused.

"I know my capabilities," Miranda countered and closed the distance between them.

"I'm sure you do," Shepard murmured and admired Miranda in her skintight catsuit and snaked an arm around her waist and pulled her close and before Miranda could protest Shepard pressed his lips to her plump lips.

Their lips and tongues melted and the kiss stifled a protest from Miranda who willingly let his tongue into her mouth with a welcoming soft moan. They kissed with closed eyes and were lost for the moment as their wet tongues intertwined and Miranda wrapped her slender arms around his neck and pressed her voluptuous body to his.

Shepard's heart started to beat faster. Her scent was intoxicating and he needed to taste more of her tongue, but she pulled back and removed her arms from his shoulders and Shepard loosened his embrace around her.

Miranda stepped back and asked flustered with a bit of a ragged breath, "What the hell was that?"

"Just a sample," Shepard assured playfully.

"You cocky bastard," Miranda retorted.

Shepard grinned amused and savored Miranda's lingering taste on his lips and tongue.

"Stop smiling damn it!" Miranda chastised flustered. "I don't know what that was! If it's stress or just blowing off steam…"

Shepard interjected calmly, "Why analyze everything? Why just not get caught in the moment?" Shepard pressed gently, "You know it's more than that, we've danced around this subject for some time now, we're both attracted to each other."

They were on a suicide mission, what harm was it to have sex if there was a risk he could die horribly? His life couldn't get any worse.

"This is not the time for emotional entanglement," Miranda countered. She breathed out exasperated, "What bunch of idiotic hormones thought that now was a great time for love?"

"Love? Who said anything about love, I'm just trying to fuck you," Shepard deadpanned.

Miranda laughed his retort, "Cheeky bastard."

Shepard wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her closer. He was tired of dancing around the subject, , his primal sexual instincts took over but he didn't care. Plus she didn't harbor a hero worship of him which was refreshing. Despite his issues with her intentions he wanted to learn to know her as a person. She was different from other women he had met. He would take a leap of faith and see where it took him, and he liked Miranda.

"Aren't you bold, Shepard?" Miranda asked amused and wrapped around his neck again.

"I know what I want," Shepard suggested seductively.

"Good boy, I appreciate a man who takes what he wants," she purred sexily.

"And it's only fair considering you've already seen me naked on the operating table."

Shepard leaned in and kissed her and their tongues curled around wetly, her full lips felt great against his. She pulled tighter to him as his hands slid down her back and groped her firm and bubbly butt, making her murmur invitingly through their kissing while her hands slid down to his chest and down to his waist where she began pulling at the cloth.

The two separated and both breathed raggedly as Miranda pulled off Shepard's shirt and made him momentarily release her fantastic body so she could remove the t-shirt. She swiftly pulled it over his arms and dropped it on the floor and delightfully took in Shepard's toned physique.

"Well, you appear to have put time in your body since you woke up," Miranda complimented his physique. "Doctor Lawson approves."

Shepard teased her, "In all fairness, you didn't put enough effort on the operating table, Doctor Lawson."

"Silence," Miranda ordered playfully and put a finger two his lips.

Shepard chuckled as his hand found the suit zipper and boldly pulled down on it to reveal her black and lacy bra holding her firm breasts while Miranda began working on Shepard's trousers, unbuttoning and unbuckling everything before the trousers came loose and dropped down his legs where he began kicking them away while pulling on the upper part of Miranda's catsuit and she helped him pull it down her shoulders and arms, further exposing her body.

Shepard's hands slid behind her gorgeous back where his hands found the bra strap and slipped the small hooks apart and allowed the bra to fall lose and the ample breasts broke free. Shepard was stunned how perfectly firm they were even after removing the bra.

Miranda burst out in a fit of giggle watching Shepard's amazed stare as she pulled down the bra down her arms and let the drop to the floor. She grabbed the waistline of her suit and pulled and let it fall down her legs as well and she stood in front of him in only a pricey sheer thong. One of her dainty hands brushed over the burgeoning bulge in Shepard's shorts while Shepard was busy cupping and caressing Miranda's breast, exploring and massaging the perfect breasts.

She kissed him again passionately and bit his bottom lip while she pulled down on his shorts and wrapped a hand around his erection and stroked and squeezed which made Shepard shiver satisfied and he grew harder immediately. Shepard reciprocated the kiss and both of them sucked and bit at each other's tongues playfully. Shepard hooked his fingers on the waistline of her thong and pulled down and let the thong slid down her legs.

Miranda broke the kiss and locked her smoldering eyes on Shepard's and murmured amused and horny while stroking him, "I did good work, you appear to function properly."

He kept one hand on one of Miranda's breast while the other slid around her and he groped her ass, keeping himself busy.

"You did," Shepard agreed mesmerized by her nudity, finally seeing her naked.

"Well, I'll have to test your capabilities now, for science of course," Miranda teased.

"Science, huh?" Shepard grinned amused.

"So I know everything works," Miranda snarked. "It's important to follow up on everything. Medically speaking."

Miranda stroked as she looked at him foxily and Shepard growled in pleasure.

There was no more talking as Shepard kissed her passionately and this time both his hands slid around her smooth back and down to her toned ass where Shepard took hold. He turned them around and walked her to the bed as they kissed and Miranda wrapped her arms around his neck while his hard erection pressed into her flat stomach.

Yes, Shepard concluded as Miranda's calves hit the side of the bed and both were kissing passionately with puffy lips, what harm would it be to have sex with a stunning woman while they both were on a suicide mission?

Warning: not a fan service story with minor plot twists for the end. Not everyone will get along, be it Shepard's team mates, governments or races, especially towards the end.

Edited (2017-02-08): major overhaul of the prologue.