Chapter twenty eight

Two weeks later sees Shepard holing up on the Normandy in her cabin. She refuses to see anyone, Liara included, for anything other than business related to duty. Her and Liara haven't spoken a word other than tense exchanges as needed in the halls.

The realization that dawned on her in the hospital still plagues her thoughts. Refusing to leave her be. Every idea she turns over in her head, every theory she tries, none make as much sense, as the tech.

Word came from Miranda two days ago that she found a way to repair the nanites. She'll be on the Citadel in another day or two. The Normandy is still tied up at dock to meet her. The news gave Shepard only a moment's comfort before the thoughts that Miranda's work is tainted by this unknown Reaper piece in her. To top off all the things going wrong, the dreams have returned. Her nights plagued by the whispers of the dead and Reapers in her head. Blissfully it's only voices. No sights, sounds, or smells. But they leave her restless and tired come morning. If she knew who she could talk to, it might help. But if Liara doesn't believe her. Who will?

Restlessness getting the best of her she chimes up Garrus. "Garrus, Shepard here."

"Garrus here. What's up Shepard?"

"Would you meet me in the cargo bay? I feel the need for some exercise."

"You sure you're up to it?"

"I'm fine. Will you meet me or not?"

"Sure Shepard. Garrus out."

She steps away from her private terminal and takes the lift down to the cargo hold. She is wearing simple loose pants and a tank and hoodie. Technically still on Limited Light Duty until Chakwas gives the ok. But the tension is killing her. Resting has never been her strong suit.

Garrus steps off the lift shortly after she has begun stretches in the middle of the bay.

He steps up to her and just flexes his back. "You ready?"

She settles into her fighting stance, "Ready as ever."

They dance through a variable of fighting sets. Each warming up and getting loosened up. No real fight going on. Just moving. It's all she wants. No all out combat like Vega and Cato. Just movement. Her, her opponent, and her thoughts.

After it's done, and they are both sweating heavily and slightly panting, she extends her hand to him, "Thanks. You dance as well as ever."

He grins shaking her hand. "Never as good as you." He rubs a towel over his face as he walks away.

Shepard wipes her own face, then as she flexes her back and rolls her neck, she sees Liara standing by the weapons bench, looking at her. Her expression impossible to read. Draping her towel over her shoulders she walks past Liara without a glance. Once in the lift EDI chimes her on the comm.

"Shepard, Miranda Lawson is at the airlock for you."

"That was fast." she mutters to herself. Then speaks to EDI, "Thank you. Let her in, and tell her I'm on my way." She selects the CIC and continues to dry her sweat as the lift stops and the doors slide open.

She sees Miranda talking to Traynor at the console. "Hello Miranda." The black haired woman turns. Kelly is once more slightly alarmed at the woman's beauty. She can't help it. It's always happened since she first laid eyes on the woman. She's learned to ignore it.

Miranda gives Shepard the once over with her eyes. "You've been busy Shepard. Damaging my product as usual."

The women clasp hands and pull into a hug. Shepard steps back and turns to the lift. "You know me. Always leaping first before checking the landing."

Miranda lifts the case she bought from the deck by Traynor and claps Shepard on the shoulder. As the lifts doors close she turns to the woman. "You've gotten yourself looking mighty hideous this time."

Shepard always like Miranda for her 'no-nonsense' ways. She never hides the truth and has a wicked sense of sarcastic humor. "Yeah well, I figured you needed a new challenge." They step off the lift and walk to the medbay. Shepard steps to the side, letting Miranda walk in first.

"You never disappoint Shepard."

Stepping into the medbay Shepard looks to the other woman in the room, Chakwas stands and shakes Miranda's hand, "Good to see you again, Miranda. How's Oriana?"

Miranda sets her case by one of the bio beds. "She's doing well, thanks." She begins laying out tools on a tray.

"How long is this going to take Miranda?" Shepard asks as she sits on the edge of the bio bed.

"The surgery will be a few hours long, I'm going to have to put you under."

Shepard nods, "Sure, makes sense. And recovery?"

"You won't be out of action. Should just be slight tenderness and discomfort. Like a really bad sunburn."

"Oh joy." She groans, laying back on the bed. "Get it over with. I"m tired of looking like I went through a broiler."

"Considering it was a Biotic explosion, I'm surprised you're even alive."

"Ha, yeah, I still wonder about that myself. Guess your improvements to me are pretty bad ass."

Miranda chuckles and puts the needle to Shepard's arm. "I'm fairly certain you're the bad ass."

Shepard grins as sleep takes over.

Coming back awake, the first thing she notices is the white fog is gone from her left eye. She reaches a hand up to feel it and sees the skin on her hand is soft and slightly red. Touching her eye, the skin feels puffy. But not dry and leathery as it has been.

Miranda steps over to look at her. "How are you feeling?"

"Pretty good. Got a mirror?" Miranda hands her one, a smug smile on her face. "You take entirely too much pride in me." Shepard says turning the mirror around to face her. She smooths her hand over the pink, slightly puffy skin. It looks close to what she got used to after she woke up from Lazarus. Her eyes no longer have the red glow, the corneas are back to their normal white. A slight glimmer of the nanites' spider webs shimmer just under the skin on her left side. She hands the mirror back. "Impressive. Thanks."

"Glad to help. Can't have my masterpiece staying damaged. The nanites will fade on your left side in a day or two. The damage there was the worst."

Kelly stands up, shaking the last of the drugs from her mind. She shakes Miranda's hand. "Thanks again. Don't be a stranger, alright?"

"No problem Shepard. See you again soon." She leaves the medbay with her case.

"Shepard?" Chakwas asks from her desk, "Liara stopped by to see you."

"I figured." She says coolly.

"I don't know what's come between you two, and I don't even want to begin to guess. But you need to make it right."

Shepard glares at her, "It's nothing. A conflict of interests."

Chakwas actually snorts and returns Shepard's glare. "You two have gone through hell more times than I care to count. Quit being stubborn and go talk to her."

Shepard starts to argue, then closes her mouth and walks out. Walking to the mess, she sits at a table. Absently rubbing at her healed face. Sometime later she sees Liara come out from her quarters.

Liara doesn't look toward the tables, she just goes to the kitchen and gets a cup of tea. Turning away she catches Shepard's eyes. Stopping, both women look silently at each other for a few moments before Liara walks over and sits down.

Both women start talking at the same time.

"Look Li-"

"Kelly I'm-"

"I'm sorry." they echo of each other. They both blush and look down. When Kelly looks up at Liara, she opens her mouth to speak.

Liara holds up her hand, "I'll go first. I'm sorry, for not listening to you, for not believing you. I know you are not irrational and don't jump to conclusions. I should never have doubted you."

Kelly sighs, "Thanks, I'm sorry for being obstinate and avoiding you. I shouldn't have let you go out of that room."

"I shouldn't have let you throw me out." Liara smiles wryly at her.

"I wouldn't say I threw you so much as I didn't give you a choice." Kelly extends her hand across the empty space between them. "You forgive me?" She raises one eyebrow at her.

Liara grasps her hand then pulls Kelly close. She whispers in her ear, "There's nothing to forgive." She turns her head and kisses Kelly's cheek.

Kelly leans back, surprised. Then dips in to capture Liara's lips with hers. They share a kiss so full of passion that when they pull away both women are short of breath. "Well, I forgive you too."

Liara, still holding Kelly's hand, draws her to her feet. They walk together to the lift.

Liara's turns toward Kelly in the lift. Face serious. "How are you doing?"

"You mean, the dreams?"

"Yeah. Are they,"

Kelly interrupts, "The Reapers? Yes, they're still there. Only voices, indistinct." She steps off the lift as it stops. Releasing Liara's hand she walks to the door to the head. Leaning against it, arms crossed over her chest.

"How are you holding up?" Liara sits down in the desk chair. Looking up at Kelly.

She shrugs her shoulders, "I dunno. I'm not sleeping well, but I'm not feeling overwhelmed like before. It's more like just very vague, ghosts of a whisper." She shrugs again, pushing off the wall, she walks over to stand by the steps. Pacing slightly.

Liara stands and stops her mid pace. Her back to the fish tank, the blue glow plays over Kelly's face. "We'll find something. Surely with the Prothean war going so long, maybe out there somewhere is another Ilos. A place where they worked on Indoctrination."

Kelly pulls Liara's forehead to her own, a wicked gleam in her eye, her lopsided grin making Liara's heart skip a beat. She pulls Liara down the few steps to the bedside. "Any ideas for any relief in the meantime?" Kelly asks, her voice a husky murmur in Liara's ear.

Liara gasps as Kelly strokes her crest. "Perhaps some positive reinforcement? Something to keep your mind occupied?"

"Have any good ideas?" She whispers, kissing Liara at the base of her neck.

Liara can hardly think. "Well maybe a couple. Physical therapy is always good."

Shepard smiles as she lays Liara on to her back, pressing her back into the covers as she removes her tank. "Then we had best get started." She leans down and kisses Liara, rewarded for her efforts with a deep moan from her bondmate.

"Life and love go on." Liara whispers as they tumble, mind and body, into ecstasy.

END