"Miranda, it's been a while."
"It's good to see you again, Shepard." There was a tiny pause – an isolated blip on the radar before Miranda spoke her former CO's name. No doubt exchanging small pleasantries for big favors.
Not that Shepard minded. "Anything for a friend."
The Spectre listened as her friend talked of her missing sister and of Cerberus hot on her tail.
"Nothing like an old-fashioned game of cat and mouse – or in this case, hawk, snake, and mouse," said Shepard. She knew how these things could chain endlessly until you ran out of levels on the food chain to use as metaphor.
"Precisely," Miranda agreed, adding a note of amusement to her tone that fell just a beat short of a smile. "Except I wouldn't exactly consider my sister prey. But I didn't call you here about Oriana. There was something else I needed your help with."
She shifted her weight to the other leg, eyes flicking briefly to a man on his phone in the corner.
"Is it Cerberus?" Shepard leaned in close.
Miranda backed away slightly. This time her gaze was lost to a billboard advertising the film adaption of Elcor Hamlet – now with illustrative subtitles!
"Sort of," she replied slowly.
Shepard twisted around, trying to see what the former Cerberus operative was seeing. Were they being watched?
"Hey, if you left Cerberus, how come you're still wearing the uniform? Don't tell me it's actually spray-painted on?" Her eyes were alight with poorly suppressed mirth. To Miranda's quirked brow, Shepard didn't particularly feel like disclosing the running joke she'd had with Jacob.
"No, I – Of course not." Miranda's brown suddenly knit with uncharacteristic anxiety. She masked a deep breath under a shallow one, and continued unflinchingly in the way Shepard had always admired, "I apologize in advance. Please know that I normally wouldn't make such a request, but I don't know who else to turn to. This uniform – I haven't been able to get it off since the day I put it on.
"Don't look at me like that, Shepard. I've still been showering. You know I don't smell.
"I mean it: I need your help. I've tried everything to cut through the fabric. No luck. I need a second pair of hands."
To Miranda's credit, she didn't come off as pleading. She was all business.
Shepard, on the other hand, kept starting to speak then stopping, her mind struggling to piece together something that resembled a coherent verbal response. She'd be on the edge of a breakthrough, her mouth moving to form the words, but nothing came out.
When Shepard's brain finally processed the request, she replied in a slow and surprisingly even voice, "So what you're saying is you want me to help you fish a wedgie out of your crack?"
...Big favors indeed.
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