AN: Basically, it recently occurred to me that after Liara gives Shepard's body to Cerberus, she tells absolutely no one about it. This seemed odd, especially if Shepard romanced Kaidan or Ashley instead of Liara, as they would be the ones most interested in seeing Shepard alive again. This is how I think a conversation between Liara and a romanced Kaidan would go down if Kaidan learned about Liara's actions. It's my first ever fan fiction, but this was just niggling at my brain and I had to write it out.
Kaidan paused before the door to Liara's cabin, the conversation he had just had with Shepard still replaying in his mind. Their date at Apollo's had turned into a marathon session of catching up. He filled her in on everything he had done in the two years she had been gone, and she gave him the full run down of her mission to destroy the Collector base. He had fixated on one little tidbit of information she had let slip during her recount of taking down the Shadow Broker:
Liara was the one who had given Shepard to Cerberus.
He was finally coming around to the idea that he had been wrong about Shepard working with the group to stop the Collectors. He still hated them of course, but if it weren't for Cerberus and the Lazarus Project, Kaidan would never have gotten Shepard back, and who knows what would have happened to the colonies. On a logical level, he could rationalize Liara's decision. He hadn't forgotten how lost he had been when the SR-1 was destroyed, and he wasn't selfish enough to think that Liara hadn't felt it just as deeply. What Kaidan couldn't wrap his head around, however, was how Liara could've kept it to herself for two whole years.
Kaidan set his jaw and knocked loudly on the door. After a few short moments, it opened to reveal the asari busily typing away at her desk. The drone VI assistant was the one to greet him.
"Greetings, Major Alenko."
At the mention of his name, Liara looked up.
"Kaidan? What can I do for you?" she asked, surprised at his unexpected visit. Liara didn't actively try to avoid her shipmates, but Shepard was usually the only one who came to see her in person.
"I'm hoping you can explain something to me."
Kaidan paused, taking a deep breath and slowly letting it out to keep his building anger in check. Liara looked at him apprehensively, but waited silently for him to continue.
"You gave Shepard's body to Cerberus," he stated bluntly. Liara's eyes widened in realization.
"Ah," she said. "Shepard told you."
"Yeah. She did." Kaidan crossed his arms in front of his chest and looked Liara straight in the eyes. "Funny thing is, I find myself wondering why I learned this information from Shepard just now and not from you two years ago." Liara was only able to hold his gaze for a few moments before looking away, instead opting to begin an intense scrutiny of the floor.
"I wanted to tell you," she began, fidgeting uncomfortably under Kaidan's gaze. "Getting Shepard's body from the Shadow Broker's agents wasn't easy. I wanted to do it, though. For her. To make sure her remains got the same respect the woman herself had earned. Did you know the Broker was actually going to hand Shepard over to the Collectors? Goddess only knows what they would have used her for." Kaidan was actually a bit shocked at that. Shepard had elected to leave that part out of her version apparently. Knowing what the Collectors had ended up doing with countless human colonists, he inwardly shuddered at the implications.
"After it was over and I was getting set up on Illium, and the shock of it all was wearing off, I thought you would be the one person I could tell it all to. I think I actually drafted at least a dozen messages, trying to find the right words that would let you know there was hope Shepard could come back to us, that she was in good hands." Kaidan couldn't help but let out a derisive snort at that. Liara's head snapped up at the sound.
"I don't know if 'good hands' is exactly what I'd call Cerberus."
"And there's one reason I always hesitated to send any of my messages." She arched an eyebrow, finally meeting Kaidan's gaze again. "The Alliance and the Council would never trust Cerberus with Shepard's body. You wouldn't have trusted them."
Kaidan's eyes narrowed as he considered her words. She was right. To say that Cerberus hadn't had the greatest track record with Kaidan would be a colossal understatement. He'd seen their experiments on Chasca where a whole colony had been turned into husks, on Binthu where they'd left Admiral Kahoku's body to rot in a cell full of rachni, and on Depot-Sigma 23 where their incompetency had lead to a whole supply chain being infested with rachni. If he had known Cerberus had Shepard's body and was doing the sorts of things they were known for doing with it, he probably would have alerted Alliance command and volunteered to personally lead the mission to recover her.
"Why did you trust them?"
"Honestly? I didn't." Liara stood up and started to pace back and forth, Kaidan's steady gaze following her. "Cerberus first contacted me on Omega. They offered to help in exchange for Shepard, so they could rebuild her. I didn't even think it was possible. But I was quickly realizing I was out of my depth. The mission to take down Saren was my first experience with real combat; I was hardly equipped to take down the Shadow Broker. I didn't want to let them have Shepard's body to poke around with, but I knew I wasn't going to get very far on my own." Kaidan's gaze softened at her admission. He hadn't spent much time with her since rejoining the Normandy, but he could tell she was different. He'd almost forgotten the shy, sort of awkward maiden he had first met back on the original Normandy. She had toughened up, become more guarded. Losing Shepard seemed to have that effect on people.
"I would've helped you," Kaidan said. Liara sighed and stopped pacing.
"I'm sorry," she said. "I know you would have. But you were grieving. We all were. The chances of successfully getting Shepard back from the Shadow Broker were slim. If we'd failed, I never would have forgiven myself for not leaving you to mourn in peace."
Kaidan finally looked away. He knew he would have agreed to help Liara without hesitation. With an Alliance marine helping out, their chances of retrieving Shepard's remains would have been vastly improved. He probably could have even gotten Anderson and Hackett to commit some resources. But nothing would have changed the fact that at the end of their hunt was the broken, lifeless body of the woman he loved. He was begrudgingly grateful to Liara for having spared him that. But she wasn't off the hook yet.
"Before, you said me not trusting Cerberus was one reason you didn't tell me. What else?"
"Oh." Liara sat down at her desk again, but turned the chair outward to face Kaidan. "The Shadow Broker was a formidable enemy. Even if with the best encryption protocols, no information is really safe. I knew it was impossible, but if Cerberus really could bring Shepard back, I had to do whatever I could to protect her." Kaidan's eyes snapped back to Liara's.
"I don't believe that." Liara looked offended, which confused Kaidan until he realized how he sounded. "Oh, not that you wouldn't do anything to protect her," he quickly stammered out. "I just think you're definitely smart enough to figure a way to securely exchange information." Liara's expression relaxed and she gave a little half smile at his compliment of her abilities.
"I'm guessing Shepard told you about Feron, yes?"
"The drell you rescued from the Shadow Broker's base?"
"Yes. He was originally an agent of the Shadow Broker, but he offered his services to Cerberus when he learned the Broker was doing business with the Collectors. He actually gave himself up, holding off a particularly nasty salarian Broker agent to give me time to get Shepard and escape." Liara had resumed her study of the floor and Kaidan got the sense that Liara didn't talk about this often, if at all.
"My first order of business in setting up on Illium was to establish an information network and collect any intel I could on the Shadow Broker. I was so angry at having to leave Feron behind. I knew the Shadow Broker had to be taken down. " Though he couldn't see her face, Kaidan recognized in her tone something he never thought he'd hear from Liara. She had wanted vengeance. Even watching Benezia die, trapped in her own mind by Sovereign's indoctrination hadn't elicited that hard edge in her voice.
"Were you and he close?" Kaidan asked hesitantly. He hadn't actually given much thought to Liara's personal life. He couldn't get over Shepard in two years, but Liara might have been able to. Given the right person, of course. Liara looked up and gave him a wry smile.
"Feron was a double agent. He was almost never straight with me and actually hindered the mission as much as he helped. But he didn't deserve to go out like that." Her smile faded. "I knew anyone who would stoop to working with the Collectors wouldn't let an agent who had betrayed him die quickly. To be honest, I was terrified of going toe to toe with the Broker again, and all the information I could get indicated that he managed to have eyes and ears everywhere. It took two whole years to bring him down, and even then it was only possible with Shepard's help and intel from the Illusive Man himself."
It occurred to Kaidan that he might have been overestimating Liara. She seemed a capable information broker, and her biotics would give pause to anyone looking to go one-on-one with her in a fight. But for all her achievements, he could see she might still be that shy archaeologist they had found on Therum, forced by circumstance to become something she was never really suited for. He thought of the person he could have turned in to if he hadn't gone to Brain Camp. He had spent a lot of time in his younger days wishing he could forget about Vyrnnus, Rahna, and all of it. But now he knew deep down those things had lead to him joining the Alliance, to becoming a marine, to finding a place he belonged, and most importantly to Shepard. He wouldn't trade that for what could have been. But given the chance, he wondered if Liara ever wished she could forget about everything after Therum and go back to being a quiet academic, exploring dig sites and publishing in journals. Probably not, he decided, remembering watching her in action on Mars and realizing how much more self-assured and confident she had become.
"All right," he said, his focus back on the conversation at hand. "So you didn't know how I'd react to Cerberus having Shepard and the Shadow Broker was enough of a threat that contacting me would have been difficult. But you didn't think it was worth the risk? You didn't think a quick 'Hey just wanted to let you know, Shepard might not be dead after all!' message might have helped me through it a little bit? You wouldn't have had to give me details. I didn't need to know it was Cerberus who had her, or where she was, but losing Shepard is the single worst thing I've had to get over. I know it was hard for you too. Out of everyone, you were the one who cared about her as much as I did." Liara's posture stiffened. He hated to bring up that confrontation in the comm. room. He hadn't ever felt jealous of Liara. He couldn't blame for falling as head over heels for Shepard as he had, but he knew if Shepard had chosen Liara instead of him, he wouldn't have been able to completely rid himself of his feelings for her.
"Exactly. I know exactly what you were going through." Liara crossed her arms in front of her chest defensively. "I barely allowed myself to hope that Cerberus would be successful. It was one hell of a long shot. If they failed, it would have been cruel to give you that false hope. Would you not have felt the same, were you in my position?"
That actually caught Kaidan off guard. Suddenly, studying the floor seemed liked a brilliant idea. Her reasons were logical. They made perfect sense. In her position, he probably would have reached the same conclusion. But then he thought if he might not have ever been in her position.
"I don't know," he said. "I honestly don't think I would have given Cerberus the chance in the first place. I wouldn't have trusted them. I would have done everything in my power to get Shepard back without using them."
"You can't know-"
"However—" he looked up at her, "It would have been the wrong choice. All I would have accomplished was getting a body to put under her tombstone. You did what I wouldn't have been able to. She's back now-in my life, in your life, leading all of us in this fight-because of you." He felt a small tinge of shame over this fact. Liara had had hope and faith in a situation where he would have only felt despair. "I'm still kind of pissed at you for not being straight with me. I was really angry at Shepard the first time I saw her again. That anger could have been avoided if I hadn't been completely blindsided by her being alive again. But I get your reasons. And I can't help but be really grateful to you that I had the chance to be angry with her again at all."
"Thank you for giving me the chance to explain myself."
"Of course, Liara." Kaidan smiled at her." It was actually really good talking this out."
"Yeah," She smiled back, "It was."