::ll:: All these toys belong to Bioware; I just smush them together and make kissy noises. ::ll::
AN - Right, new fic, new day. I'm working on ME1, I swear. Just, stuff keeps getting in the way. Instead, I bring you this! As the summary says, this'll be my dumping ground for inconsequential post ME3/AITM fluffy one shots.
- May or may not end up in chronological order depending on how and when I write them. Also, since this isn't a story story, there's not going to be any official end. Which means I'll be updating sporadically as the ideas come to me.
- Also, since said one shots are fluff of the highest degree, I recommend you bring along your insulin and toothbrush, 'cause it's going to be a cavity inducing ride! Y'all been warned.
PS - For the life of me, I can't think up a good name for this fic. The one I'm using is pure Wensleydale and I hate it, so any help in that department would be much appreciated.
- Chapter title is a reference to the Sound of Music, not the Utah Saints, meaning there will be no Shepard doing the running man, unfortunately.
2192 CE - Athena Nebula/Parnitha System/Thessia/Armali
Reclining in her chair, Liara nursed her temples, exasperated, as she bathed in the glow of her vast array of monitors. For once, however, it was not the Shadow Broker Network that was the source of the Asari's frustration. At least, not directly. Despite having the closest approximation of the sum of all sentient knowledge at her finger tips, the only information Liara truly wanted remained as tantalisingly elusive as ever. Normally she would revel in the challenge of discovering this nugget of unknown, allowing herself to think up ingenious methods of discovering the truth. This time however, the path to discovery was painfully obvious but she refused to take it. All she needed to do was ask Shepard and she would save herself several days of trawling the extranet for answers. And Shepard would not hesitate to provide the answer she was so desperate for. But she couldn't ask. Not this time.
Steepling her fingers and slouching slightly, Liara narrowed her eyes slightly as she recalled the events that led up to this current predicament.
Going by the human calendar, next week would be the sixth anniversary of the end of the Reaper war. But more importantly- well, perhaps equally importantly, she corrected herself mentally, it would be the seventh anniversary of Shepard's 'reawakening', as well as the ninth of the Asari's fateful rescue from Therum, in addition to the twenty third of her first expedition on Earth with her little flame haired tour guide. It was a busy week for history. Not that she was counting. A wry smile spread across Liara's lips at the memories.
She could recall with utmost clarity stepping out into the Earthen sun, taking in a lungful of alien air and relishing the fresh scent of adventure. Even without the lure of the Mars Archives, Liara was thrilled to be setting foot on the Human home world. As the latest addition to intergalactic society, little was known about the odd species outside their lust for fighting shown during the Relay 314 incident.
However, for those willing to dig a little deeper, one would uncover a veritable treasure trove of civilisations. Upon discovery, the young Asari was enamoured by the sheer quantity of religions, philosophies and lifestyles. While the lack of a unified, single doctrine slowed down Humanity's extraterrestrial expansion, the anthropologist within the Doctor couldn't help but swoon over the swathes of rich culture belonging to the sapient apes.
Today, however, the species' variety proved her undoing. From their time together, Liara had struggled to pinpoint one overriding culture in her Bondmate. Instead, Shepard, as well as many of the humans she had encountered, lived by a mish mash of various ideals from all corners of the globe. Another quirk the Asari had come to discover was that, while many human philosophies and customs were easily malleable, other aspects most certainly were not. Where religion and symbolism were involved, for example, strongly held beliefs could bring about points of contention among otherwise amicable people. Even if there was no vitriolic clash of cultures, some signals and rituals that were paramount to one person could quite easily be completely lost on another.
This, much to Liara's chagrin, carried over to methods of betrothal. She gave a heavy sigh, slinking further down in her chair. She would never forget her first night aboard the SR-2, when Shepard pledged the Asari her heart, solidifying the relationship once and for all. The Commander had promised her marriage, old age and a veritable army of little blue children. As it stood, the couple had decided to make sure they could raise a single child before multiplying further and with Shepard's implants and upgrades; the prospect of sharing their twilight years was firmly in the realm of possibility. Marriage, however? That was something which had rarely been discussed. Arguably, Liara mused, they were already married in all but name, so the whole process of confirming it with a piece of paper seemed oddly trivial. Not that either of them were afraid, of course, or at least, she hoped. It was simply that something or someone always got in the way or interrupted their talks.
Even though Shepard had retired from the Alliance and stepped down from active Spectre duties, she was still a sought after woman. The sheer volume of correspondence the Commander received was staggering and going through it could easily eat up her morning schedule. That wasn't to say Liara's line of work wasn't an equally large time sink, however, being one's own boss did have its advantages. Faking server upgrades or a stealth mission and the Asari could quite easily give herself a small vacation, leaving the trivial minutia of day to day Brokering down to Glyph.
Plus, Shepard had already given up so much for her. Ignoring the whole repeated saving of the galaxy, which were lovely, Liara had to admit; the anthropologist within her was surprised at the ease with which Shepard gave up parts of her life to fit around her new Asari family. It was the Human herself who had suggested settling on Thessia, proudly proclaimed herself Liara's Bondmate, made sure to correct anyone who identified her as 'mother' and the Asari could have swore that on a few occasions, she had heard The Commander muttering expletives in the name of the Goddess. Furthermore, one thing Liara's Terrestrian studies did confirm was that, regardless of background, marriage was a big deal in nearly all human cultures, equalled only by deaths and childbirth, more so for the females of the species. At the very least, she wanted this to be special for Shepard.
Thus Liara was left with a dilemma. Either she could straight up ask The Commander about her preferred bonding ritual, ruining the surprise and risking the Human stubbornly insisting on a more native ceremony. The Asari shook her head, smiling at the thought. Leaning forward on her elbows, Liara rested her head in her hands and sighed. She couldn't ask Shepard. Wouldn't. The Commander wasn't the only pig headed one in this relationship.
Slowly, Liara's head lifted as she began staring blindly at the streaming screens. She couldn't ask Shepard. A coy smirk curled itself around her lips.
The Spectre ducked as lasers flew over head, coming perilously close to singeing her crest. Launching herself behind a conveniently placed waist high crate, her eyes darted back, searching for her two associates.
"Blasto! Take the right, Tigger, left! Flank now, move, move!"
Her associates bounced from cover, gunning down enemy agents as they progressed. Leaving her own cover, she stood, glaring and pointing up at the shaded figure on the balcony at the far side of the warehouse.
"You won't get away with this, Shadow Broker!"
A synthesised rattle shuddered through overhead speakers.
"Oh I beg to differ, Spectre! You think you can control me with your 'justice'? That pathetic thing you call 'law'?"
"I AM THE LAW! I see through your lies and deception, Shadow Broker; the death and destruction you've wrought throughout the Galaxy. I see the truth of you. And I decree; No. More."
The metallic rasp chuckled.
"If you say so, Spectre T'Soni." The shaded figure turned on his heel, leaving the room and moving deeper into the compound. "Oh, by the way." He turned around, adding as if an afterthought, "I'd watch my footing, if I were you. It'd be awful for you to lose the spring in your step?" The figure gave a satisfied hum, before turning back. "Commence wave two."
T'Soni stared after him, a puzzled expression flirting across her face. Spring? Glancing across, she watched as her associates continued their advance. Understanding dawned as her features contorted in horror.
On his next hop, the tiger was engulfed in an explosion which stumbled the Spectre and left a ringing in her ears. Not waiting for her vision to readjust, she ran over to her comrade and dropped to her knees. Cradling the tiger in her arms, she tried in vain to stem the flow of stuffing rapidly escaping his body. A shaky paw drifted up, cupping T'Soni's cheek as his voice cracked, struggling to form coherent sound. The Spectre gently admonished him.
"Shh Shh Shh. No words. Everything'll be alright. Relax and find comfort in the embrace of the Goddess."
Slowly, the figure in her grasp went limp and the Spectre bowed her head bitterly. He was one day away from retirement. I promised Christopher Robin I'd keep you safe, dammit. A reassuring tentacle gripped her shoulder lightly. Laying the body gently on the floor, T'Soni rose, stony faced as her biotics crackled. Surveying the advancing foes, she gave a snort. Asari Commandos? I could use a challenge. Feeling the tentacle's grip tighten, the Spectre turned around, facing her remaining companion. Blasto turned a worried shade as he regarded the girl.
"This one queries whether you are going to be alright?"
She gave a slight sniff and stared at him.
"Are you sure? It is not a sign of weakness to feel hurt by his passing."
She averted her gaze, eyeballing the troops that surrounded them, encasing her hands in sapphire flames and gave a small nod.
"I'll cry when I'm done killing."
The subsequent beat down was interrupted by a crackling in her ear.
"Abort mission, Agent V. Return to the Normandy immediately. I repeat, abort mission..."
The Spectre's shoulders slumped as gave a petulant pout. Picking up her ruined toy, she retreated back to base.
Liara heard the stomping before she saw her daughter. Spinning round in the seat, she watched as the child trudged in the room, stood at her full height, shooting off a tight salute. Running her eyes up and down the little Asari, Liara gave a small sigh.
"Vari, sweetie, you could have just asked your father for one of her N7 shirts instead of painting that red stripe down your arm. Now we're going to have to scrub it off in the shower tonight and you know how hard it is to try and get that off your skin. You're going to be all purple and raw. And is that- did you reave this?" she plucked the shredded toy from the child's hand and quirked an eyebrow, waiting for an explanation. Vari found a sudden fascination in her feet, as colour bloomed in her cheeks.
"I might'a got a bit... overexcited."
Looking down at her daughter, Liara gave a small smile. She could never feign annoyance for long with the young Asari. While she was the spitting image of her mother in all but eyes, her personality and behaviour was distinctly Shepard. For better or worse. Turning the tattered remains in her hand, Liara decided to take pity on the child.
"I suppose it is about time we start training your biotics. Tell you what; do a little favour for me and I'll fix Tigger and we can forget this ever happened, deal?"
Her head snapping up, Vari couldn't control the lopsided grin as she realised she was no longer in trouble. Ever the professional, she stood rigid once more, raising a hand to her brow once more.
"Very well." Liara reclined slightly in her chair as she crossed her legs. "Your mission, should choose to accept it..."
Vari Shepard-T'Soni was a good Spectre. Or she would be, when the Council eventually asked her. That was a still a hundred years away, but that didn't mean she couldn't train while she waited for the call. Papa was a good Spectre too and though she probably didn't know it, everything Vari knew about Spectring came from the Human. Despite her parents trying to shield her from news reports regarding their past life, the young Asari still saw snippets here and there. Plus she had the extranet and while she was careful with what she searched, she trusted her parents had good reasons for their sheltering after all, the old news reports and interviews with the first human Spectre amazed Vari.
As she quickly learned, to be a good Spectre meant more than just being a good fighter. You had to be smart and calculating and charismatic. And Vari Shepard-T'Soni had the sharpest of wits and the most silvery of tongues. Relishing in any chance to hone her cunning, Vari was eager to set off on this assignment, her most difficult to date. The student would be going up against the master. Mama couldn't stress the importance of the covert reconnaissance mission, meaning Vari would have to pull out all the stops.
Padding down the hallway, the young Asari prepared herself, getting in the correct mind sight. The inquisitive child was pretending to be a Spectre pretending to be an inquisitive child. It made her brain hurt thinking about it too hard. She couldn't get distracted now, couldn't let Mama down. Standing on the spot she gave herself a little shake, adopting the shy, curious expression that for some reason always left a far away glint in her father's eye. Rapping gently on the door, Vari blinked, attempting to appear as doe-eyed as physically possible. Hearing a muffled noise of approval, she poked her head around the door.
Hitting the send button with a final flourish, Shepard span around in her chair, flashing a warm grin at the small Asari.
"Hey sweetie, c'mon in."
Stepping further into the office, Vari closed the door behind her. Pointing to the stripe running down her right arm, Shepard gave a small grimace, affecting a slight sing-song voice.
"Mama's gonna be ma-ad."
Vari scratched the ridges at the back of her neck almost apologetically, looking up at her father. One thing she liked about her Papa was that the human was pretty lax about most stuff, only really getting cross when Vari messed up big time. She had seen the vids and how scary Papa could be and was quietly pleased she had never incurred such wrath from her father. Giving a small shake of her head, Vari banished the mild musings, again centring on the task at hand. With a furrow of her brow and narrowing of her eyes, she shot her father a searching look before beginning to speak, making sure her tone was inquisitive, edged with a slight hesitancy.
"Can I ask you a question?"
"Always, Vee, you know that." Shepard responded softly as she gave a light frown, worried by the child's unusually withdrawn behaviour. Patting her lap, she invited the child to climb up. Giving a shy smile, Vari smirked internally. Right where I want you, Papa. Snuggling in, Vari got comfy, revelling in the Commander's tight embrace. She was warm and gentle but masked a firm strength, similar, but subtly different to Mama. Vari couldn't control the contented sigh that escaped her.
"What's eatin' you, baby blue?"
"I was just wondering; what happens when humans get bonded?"
"What?" Shepard looked down at the child, her voice a few octaves higher than usual. Good. Yes. Take her by surprise. Crack her open. Keeping up her visage, Vari continued, nonchalant.
"It's just; Sarah at my school came in yesterday saying to everyone her parents were getting marriaged. I don't know what that means for humans."
"It's Married, sweetie, and, well," Shepard looked around the room for inspiration, slightly blindsided by the odd question. "It depends on where there from. There are lots of different ceremonies on Earth and the colonies."
Mama said it might be difficult trying to draw out the right answer. Quick, Spectre, think! Where's Papa from?
"Um. They're from- The United States of East London...shire?"
Snorting at her daughter, Shepard thought of how to word her answer while Vari breathed a small sigh of relief. She bought it. Heh, even when I'm bad, I'm good. She glanced up at her father, mask still in place.
"Traditionally, there's a man and a woman, because human's have two genders, remember?" Vari nodded, urging her father to continue. "Well, when a man and woman love each other very much..."
"...And then, everyone throws boxes of rice at each other before getting drunk and eating cake."
Liara narrowed frowned, digesting the information.
"And these are your father's exact words?"
Vari sat in the seat, fidgeting with the brown fedora in her hand and gave what she hoped was a convincing nod. In truth, she couldn't quite remember Papa's exact words, as genuine curiosity overcame the child, making her momentarily forget her mission in the first place.
"So do you definitely need a human male and female to carry out the ceremony?"
"Well, Papa said that was tradition but when Humans got given a seat on the Council, they made it so anyone could marry as long as they could sign their name in human speak."
Vari watched, pleased as her mother paced, nodding fervently, apparently satisfied with the answer. With a warm smile, Liara bent down, placing a kiss on the child's crest, provoking an embarrassed grunt and deep blush from the young Asari.
"Thank you, Little Wing. You have no idea how much this means to me. And as promised," she proffered the orange tiger, which, save for a few stitches, looked no worse for wear and as plump as before. Letting out a yelp of surprise, Vari pounced on the toy before wrapping her arms around her mother in a tight hug. Holding the child at arm's length, Liara gave the child a quick brushing down.
"So, will you be jumping back into duty, Spectre T'Soni?"
"Nah. It's Dr. Shepard, now." Vari said, placing the Fedora on her head before placing a small blue and white baseball cap on the tiger. "I think I'm going to go uncover some ancient artefacts or lost civilisations or something." With a polite nod, the child trotted out the door. Satisfied, Liara turned to her work station, ready to initiate the next stage of planning. Before she could get very far, she heard a light stomping coming back down the corridor, Vari popping her head back in the room again.
"You haven't seen my whip anywhere, have you?"
2192 CE - Athena Nebula/Parnitha System/Thessia/Armali
Alexandra Memorial Park
Walking down the quiet street hand in hand, Liara gave a contented sigh. The evening had been perfect. After a week's rigorous planning, everything was falling into place. With Matriarch Aethyta on babysitting duties, The Doctor and Commander had been given the night off. Liara had reserved seats at the one of the most prodigious restaurants on all of Thessia. Better yet, she didn't have to make any veiled threats to do so. Even after several years, the Asari still found it strange dealing with the Galaxy's new found reverence for her. Not that she was complaining, of course. While the hero worship of the Normandy Crew did drag at times, being Saviours of the known universe did have its perks.
However, the gnawing sense of worried trepidation was beginning to rear its ugly head for the first time in four years, bubbling away in the pit of her stomach as she began unconsciously chewing her lip. Everything up to now had gone so smoothly. It would be just her luck for her plan to crumble and collapse now. For what must have been the millionth time that evening, the Asari ran a mental spot check, slyly checking for the box located in her otherwise empty purse. Luckily, before she could bite her lip into oblivion, her companion spoke, tilting her head to lean gently against Liara's as they continued at the leisurely pace.
"Y'know, not that I don't enjoy it or anything, but if you wanted to go for a walk, we could've at least brought some walking shoes with us. I don't think I've worn heels in, well, ever."
"Yes, but hiking boots would hardly go with your dress, love."
"The dress that you made me wear."
"Which you look stunning in, by the way." Smirking at the Commander's petulant pout, Liara continued. "It's your fault. You shouldn't have sent me that holo with the dress Kasumi gave you. And what's wrong with me wanting to show you off to the Galaxy, anyway? Show everyone what they're missing out on. What they can't have."
"Ooh, T'Soni's getting possessive." Shepard leaned in closer, her voice no more than a whisper as she enunciated every individual syllable in a sultry growl. "I love it."
Liara shivered at the small biting noise made by the Commander, using all of her remaining will power to push her away slightly. She couldn't afford distractions. Not yet. The night had almost been a bust several hours earlier, before the couple had even set foot out the door. The Commander could be very persuasive at the best of times and seeing her in her full regalia, Liara very nearly rescinded.
Retreating just out of reach, Shepard glanced up at her surroundings with a gentle frown. Everything looked familiar, but she couldn't fathom the last time she had ventured this far.
"Hey, Li, We ever been down this part of town before? 'Cause I kinda recognise everything but I don't, if that makes sense."
No you haven't. But you have seen it. Remember when I told you about how I liked to dig for ruins as a child? Well, it's changed a little with the rebuilding and the park has been renamed but for the most part, it remains the same.
"Oh yeah." Shepard mumbled, a nostalgic grin spreading across her face. "We'll need to bring Vee down here some day. Technically the first place we were together as a family, huh, Li? Li?"
Shepard spun around, frowning once more as her Bondmate vanished from her side.
Well, that's why I chose it.
Hearing the faint echo of her words within her mind and understanding dawned on her, Shepard let out a bemused sigh as she done another turn, scanning the area before replying likewise
Ha Ha, very funny, Blue. Now come on. You do know I'm still officially hunting the Shadow Broker, right? I can't be held accountable for what'll happen when I catch you.
Oh, Commander. Never make a promise you don't intend to keep. Now. Shepard felt a biotic bubble gently burst against the back of her head, prompting her towards the heart of the park. Come Find me.
Trudging through the archway, Shepard smiled as the familiar scent of apples filled her lungs, radiating from the soft grass. Glancing around, the Human looked puzzled as she tried to decide where to go next. Greeted by a familiar sight, Shepard strode off, her heels sinking ever so slightly into the soft soil with every step.
Marching toward the tree that dominated the park, Shepard couldn't help but marvel at the scale of the thing. The already formidable images she had seen of it would roughly have been a century ago now and it seems the tree hadn't stopped growing since. A small part of the Commander was oddly pleased to see it still standing. While the normally smooth bark looked painfully gnarled in some places, the thing was still standing, having held firm against insistent Reaper forces. A particularly nasty gouge halfway up the trunk spilled the plant's innards to the world, making its differences from its earthen counterparts all the more obvious. Deep violet skin gave way to a softer, navy blue network of pulsing veins and webbing, glowing gently in the dark night from the eezo laced throughout the planet.
After a full circuit of the tree, Shepard stood, hands on hips as she glanced to her left, looking for any sign of her companion. Hearing a slight rustling above, the Human's head shot up, only to be treated with the sight of her Bondmate skirting gracefully down from the branches and gently landing at her side. What grin the Commander would have had was quickly swallowed by a worried frown at the expression on the Asari's face.
"Liara, are you alright? Did you hurt yourself?"
"No, no I'm fine. Or, at least, I will be." She muttered with a small shake of her head, cheeks blushing profusely. With her head pointed firmly down, Shepard tried to tilt her own, anxious to make even the slightest eye contact with the nervous Asari. With another shake of her head, Liara squared her shoulders, finally fixing the Commander with a determined gaze.
"Shepard, I-" she swallowed, trying her hardest to crush the waver in her voice. "Alex. In the past ten years, we have experienced far more than many others do in their lifetimes. On Therum, as I watched you approach, I swore I saw a ghost, never believing we would get the chance to meet again. When you allowed me aboard the Normandy, I could only stand idly by and watch as you began to dominate my every waking thought as well as an inordinate amount of my nightly musings. After Ilos, as I saw you shrug the rubble of the Citadel from your shoulders and make your way down Sovereign's ship, I knew that my place in this universe was by your side."
"When I-I lost you over Alchera, it was as if my very reason for being was torn asunder. I was lost without you. But you came back, just like you always do. And even though I was scared, Even though I pushed you away again and again, you remained; defiant, unwilling to let me complete my spiral of self destruction. You pulled me back from the dark places and together, we fought side by side, in spirit if not in body, against a universe determined to keep us apart. And by no short amount of miracles, we did it. As the last Reaper, Husk and Banshee fell, we were there, together. "
"And after all that, you still manage to astound and amaze me with your love and devotion every day. You managed to give me things I didn't even realise I desperately wanted. And with you by my side, I genuinely feel as if we could achieve anything. And to know you will remain there with me, I- it's more than I could ever dream for. I love you, Alex. More than I thought could ever be possible. And as such," Liara dropped to one knee as she opened the small velvet box, offering it to Shepard. "Would you do me the honour of becoming my wife?"
Shepard stared down, slack jawed. Her gaze flitted between Liara's opal eyes, betraying the mass of nerves and uncertainty hammering through the Asari's system, and the box in her hand, housing an intricately detailed silver ring adorned with a sapphire that rivalled the flair of her eyes along two intricately woven bracelets of matching patterns; one a mix of red, green and soft beige, the other a dark and light blue interspersed with a soft purple.
All Shepard could do was gawk as her brain failed to acquiesce with her body, leaving her a stuttering, gaping mess as flurries of thoughts and emotions crashed against one another in her mind. Liara watched from her bended knee as apprehension began clawing firmly at every fibre of her being. Inside she was cursing herself for managing to screw this up. She had even invested in the Bondmate bracelets in case this plan fell through. Fat lot of use they turned out to be. Slumping her shoulders slightly, Liara's arms slackened.
"I-I'm sorry. I knew I should've stuck with the goat dowry..."
Seeing the dejection in the Asari's face, Shepard immediately fell into damage control, wrenching the mish mash of emotions into one semi-coherent thought. Placing her hands on Liara's shoulders, she gently guided the Asari back to a standing position as her features struggled to form the appropriate expression.
"No, Liara, hold on. I-" She closed her eyes, centring herself, unable to control the grin that finally began dominating her lips. "Yes."
"...but then there was one about kidnapping but people who've tried that with you have a nasty habit of ending up dea- wait, what?" The Asari's head snapped up from her apologetic mumbling, fixing Shepard with a look of unabashed sincerity which only made the Commander's grin widen further.
"Yes. A thousand times yes. Everything, this, you- it's perfect."
Securing her hands on either side of her Bondmate's cheeks, Shepard pulled her in, gently pressing their lips together before deepening the kiss. She couldn't help he light quirk of her mouth as she felt Liara go limp slightly, before the Asari slid her own hands around the Commander's waist, bringing their bodies flush against one another as the pair revelled in the mere presence of each other.
Breaking the hold and moving apart ever so slightly, lightly gasping for breath, Liara brought the box back around again, pulling the ring from its home and gliding it over Shepard's knuckle. Placing the hand on the Asari's shoulder, Shepard couldn't help but be in awe at the design, something so inexplicably, enchantingly Liara. Reaching down to the box with her other hand, she extracted the two trinkets, slipping on her own before caressing its partner gently over the Asari's hand, again marvelling at the delicate contrast between thread and skin, as if the couple's very essences were distilled in the bracelets.
Bringing the Asari's newly adorned wrist to her mouth, Shepard gave the inside a delicate kiss whilst enraptured in Liara's gaze. Time began to lose meaning as they simply stood, lost in each other, content to stand in the blue glow of the tree, foreheads touching and fingers intertwined. Shepard frowned slightly as an odd smirk flirted across her face.
"One thing though, Li."
"Mhmm?" Liara looked up, her brow raised, giving a gentle smile of her own.