It is a big day. Captain Elly Shepard is officially retiring from the Alliance military. After saving the galaxy three times, defeating Saren and the Collectors and the Reapers, Shepard has earned her retirement. Working with the asari on Thessia Arelia T'Jala has been fantastic. They developed a training program where military units from different species receive training for one month, each unit visiting the species' home world for their rotation. The program has received awards for its creation and those involved have liked the results thus far.
Dr. Liara T'Soni along with their daughters Raina, who is two years old now and Mia who is one are waiting in a room with Captain Shepard. They are on Earth at the Alliance headquarters in New York. Admiral Hackett insisted on a formal retirement celebration which includes a recap of Shepard's service and lots of speeches from different people of authority. Shepard herself is expected to give a speech.
For the last month Shepard has been trying to write a speech with Liara's help of course. Every night after work she would work on it while pacing the family room. Raina and Mia turned it into a game and would follow their father back and forth and back and forth. Sometimes Shepard would allow them to sit on her feet and hold onto her calf while she slowly walked with them both hanging on. It helped her to feel more relaxed and it was a blast for the kids, their laughter was infectious. She doesn't want to give a speech, she would have much preferred to retire in silence but she knew better. The galaxy wants to see their hero.
"Sit down Elly you need to relax," says Liara. The constant pacing is giving her a headache.
"Sorry Liara, I just hate this."
Shepard sits down next to Liara and gives her a kiss on her lips. Their kids start climbing over Liara and grabbing at their father. They love interrupting intimate moments such as this. Shepard pulls Mia Benezia T'Soni into her arms and gives her a big kiss on the cheek and then does the same to Raina. The family is in a small room off the main stage of the auditorium. They said they would be notified when it is time to take the stage. Liara and the children will be lead to the front row while Shepard will sit on stage while various speeches are given.
They hear a knock at the door and without hearing come in, a human man pops his head in, "It's time."
Shepard stands with Mia on her hip she checks herself in the mirror. She wants to look good in her dress blues. Liara takes Mia from Shepard so Shepard can put on her uniform jacket. She looks in the mirror once more with the jacket on. Shepard has allowed her red hair to grow a little since the Reaper war. It is shoulder length now, but not too long, it just graces her shoulders. She turns to see her family, Liara holding Mia on her hip with one arm and the other hand is holding Raina's hand.
"I love you so much," says Shepard. She walks toward Liara and kisses her fully on her lips. Little Mia swats at her father's face and giggles. Shepard holds her little hand while she finishes kissing Liara.
"I love you too Elly good luck," says Liara. She turns to walk out of the room when Raina pulls on Liara's hand to make her stop.
Shepard kneels down wondering what she needs.
Raina gives her father a big hug around the neck, "Luck Daddy."
Shepard holds Raina tightly then gives her a peck on her cheek, "Thanks my little blue beauty."
Liara returns and presents her hand to Raina who quickly takes it. The asari leave the small room to follow the man who will direct them to their seat. Shepard walks behind her family and waits at the side of the stage as directed. She gives a smile and nod to Liara before she is guided out of sight.
The program is about to begin, Shepard stands erect waiting to be told what to do as she watches the hustle and bustle behind the stage.
"Captain Shepard," says Hackett.
"Admiral," Shepard salutes.
Hackett returns the salute with a sad smile. "It is good to see you Shepard."
"You too Sir."
"So I have to admit Shepard I didn't think I would be alive when you retired."
Shepard is not sure how to respond to the statement so she remains silent.
"I didn't expect a Reaper war either that's for sure. I always thought of you as a career woman."
He looks at her to the point where the silence is starting to get uncomfortable.
"Without you Shepard none of us would be here right now and for that I am eternally grateful. You deserve this and I am very happy for you. You have a beautiful family."
Fighting the heat behind her eyes Shepard says, "Thank you Sir." She wants to say more but she needs to stop so she doesn't start to cry.
"You ready for this?"
Nodding and standing up straighter Shepard sets her shoulders, "Yes Sir."
Hackett pats her on the shoulder and leads her to her chair, his is next to it.
Music starts to play by an orchestra that must be near since it is pretty loud. The curtain opens and the audience starts to applaud.
"I had no idea how much desk work was involved with this job," says Valya.
Arelia smiles at her asari counterpart. Valya is filling in for Shepard while they search for a human candidate to take over the position. One has been identified but Shepard is still trying to convince her to move to Thessia. In the meantime until the Alliance finds someone to fill the position Valya is assisting Arelia.
They have two weeks to prepare of another round of human troops.
"You don't like it?" asks Arelia.
"It's not that I mean, well I prefer something more physical."
"I know what you mean. We do get to train with the other commandos today, so that should help."
"How are Dara and Dava?"
Valya smiles. They had the hardest time trying to decide on a name so they went with a combination of both of their names. "They are great. Dava is almost one now."
"That's right; she is just a few months behind Mia."
"Yes," says Valya.
"Are you going to have a party?" asks Arelia.
"I'm sure we are. Dara usually takes care of that kind of thing."
"I know what you mean. I think when Miranda and I decide to start our family I think she may want to be in charge of planning everything."
"Well I think so. She does like the control aspect I think," Arelia smiles.
Valya looks at her with a smile. She wants to ask but is not sure she should. Arelia looks at her.
"Soon," says Arelia.
Arelia smiles. "We are going to start our family soon."
"That's great Arelia that is just great."
"I mean we have been married for six months now. We are still figuring out if we want to live at the estate with Oriana or get our own place."
"The estate is so big though doesn't it feel like you have it to yourself?"
"It does. Which is why we are still discussing it. I have no problem staying there; it is a wonderful home and location. But I think Miranda has reservations. She and Oriana are discussing it."
"I guess I don't understand it. The place is big enough for all of you even with kids."
"It may be a human thing wanting to live alone with your bondmate. I think just the knowledge that Oriana is under the same roof is disconcerting to Miranda, but I am not sure. We have not discussed it in detail yet."
Valya nods. "Well I think you two make a great couple and I am so happy things worked out."
Valya is referring to the kidnapping of Arelia by Nala, an asari commando that used to be in her unit many years ago. She was very obsessed with Arelia and wanted her to be hers alone. She was brought to a small home in the middle of nowhere and Arelia ended up killing Nala. It took awhile for Arelia's nightmares to stop. She still has them from time to time, but since marrying Miranda they have all but disappeared. Valya was wounded on the day they found Arelia; thankfully she made a full recovery.
Arelia touches Valya's shoulder "I am glad too. Now let's get going and leave this for tomorrow."
"But I thought we didn't train for another few hours?"
"I think a two hour warm up is just what we need." Arelia smiles, she is not fond of all of the detailed work either, she too prefers to train.
The asari lock up their offices and head for the commando training center.
The ceremony for Shepard's retirement is finally over. Liara and the kids had to return to their hotel suite before Shepard. She needed to stay and talk to the brass and other marines at the reception. She is finally returning and it is well past midnight. She is exhausted, she hates having to make small talk.
She enters the suite. Most of the lights are out only one is on and that is the bedroom shared by her and Liara. Shepard takes off her uniform jacket and slings it over her shoulder as she walks into the bedroom. Liara is sitting up reading a data pad. She sets it down and gets out of bed.
"Elly how are you?" Liara knows how much these events tire Shepard.
Letting out a big sigh, "I never thought it would end."
Liara takes her uniform jacket and hangs it up. She is wearing a beautiful silk sleeveless nightgown that flows down to her ankles. Shepard starts to undo her shirt buttons. Liara crosses to her.
Shepard smiles and leans her forehead onto Liara's. Liara slowly unbuttons each button. She moves the shirt off of Shepard's shoulders. Shepard just smells Liara, she loves her scent. Liara moves her hands to Shepard's pants and unbuckles and unzips them and pulls them down.
"Do you want a shower or a bath?" asks Liara.
"Shower, it's faster." Shepard pulls Liara close and kisses her fully. Her hands trail up and down Liara's back.
"Hurry up then," says Liara as she walks away from Shepard.
Shepard finishes undressing and quickly takes a shower. After brushing her teeth she doesn't bother putting on pajamas. She slips into the bed next to Liara. She is happy to find her asari bondmate naked. They hug each other as they lie chest to chest.
"I love you so much Dr. T'Soni."
"And I love you Elly."
"How were the kids, they give you any trouble?"
Between kisses Liara answers "No, they are very good."
Shepard flashes her sly grin. "I think you are the good one." She moves on top of Liara as she kisses her deeply, her tongue exploring the asari's mouth. "I love you so much."
Liara replies, "You already said that."
Shepard looks at her, "Let me show you."
The next morning Shepard and Liara are woken up by crying they are not sure which baby it is.
"I got it," says Shepard. She quickly puts on her shorts and tank top and goes to the bedroom where the kids sleep. Liara is not far behind in her nightgown.
Mia is crying so loud Shepard calls it her screaming cry. It is a cry that indicates the baby had a nightmare. Shepard quickly scoops her up.
"Shh it's okay honey." Shepard starts to bounce her a little. "It's okay, you're okay." Mia has the same ocean blue eye color as Liara. Mia starts to settle down as she clings to her father's neck.
Liara sees Raina standing in her portable crib handing onto the edge. Liara picks her up and gives her a hug and kiss.
"Nightmare," says Raina as she points to Mia.
Liara and Shepard exchange glances. Raina has always been perceptive but this is a little eerie.
"That's right Raina," says Liara.
"She okay?" ask Raina.
Shepard moves closer to Liara so Riana can see Mia. Raina places her hand on Mia's back. Mia and her lock eyes and they both smile. Mia hugs her father once more. Shepard holds her close.
"Let's have breakfast," says Liara.
"Yum!" says Raina.
Liara sets Raina down. They make their way to the main room of the suite to look through the menu.
"Eggs and Pancakes for me please," says Shepard. She changes Mia's diaper and dresses her.
"What do you want little one?" asks Liara.
"Eggs," says Raina.
Liara calls room service to place their order.
Arelia returns to the estate needing a shower. She along with Valya and a commando unit worked out hard. It has been awhile for such a work out but Arelia thoroughly enjoyed it.
"Miranda?" she asks as she enters the front door.
There is no reply.
Arelia quickly takes a shower and puts on more comfortable clothes. She walks down the wing which houses Miranda's lab. The door is locked so Arelia has to touch the pad on the wall by the door to request entrance.
"Miranda, it's Arelia."
The door swooshes open.
Arelia steps in to see Miranda hunched over an instrument.
"Hi." Miranda does not look up.
Arelia steps behind the human and places her hands on her shoulders and starts to rub.
"Are you trying to distract me?" Miranda still does not look up.
"You could say that." Arelia digs her thumbs harder into Miranda's shoulder.
"I just need a minute."
Arelia continues her ministrations.
"There. Look at this," says Miranda. She moves her chair away so Arelia can see.
"What am I looking at?" asks Arelia. She is looking at a display with what she does not know.
"Those are my nanites after my serum I have been developing."
Arelia looks at her with furrowed brow.
"The work I have been doing with Shepard. Her nanites are almost completely new based on my improved nanites. I have been adjusting the serum for my nanites. And this test worked. They are replacing my old nanites just like I want."
"I am not sure I understand. What does this mean?"
"It means I can start taking injections. Which means…"
"….which means your lifespan just got longer?" asks Arelia.
Arelia opens her arms and Miranda stands to embrace her bondmate.
"That is fantastic Miranda. When are you going to start?"
"No time like the present. Can you help?"
"Just show me what to do."
Miranda prepares a syringe after documenting a few notes. "Here."
Arelia takes the syringe from Miranda, "Will this hurt you?"
"Not really no." Miranda rubs alcohol on her upper arm. "Place the needle here."
Arelia hesitates, "Are you going to have a reaction like Shepard did?" Arelia is referring to the night Shepard slept in their guest bedroom and collapsed. Her nanites were misfiring.
Miranda holds Arelia's hand. "It is a small dose Arelia. We take it slow. It shouldn't happen."
"But I need to know what to do if it does Miranda. You have to promise me you will show me."
"Of course I will. I will show you after you inject me okay?"
Happy with the response, "Okay." Arelia pushes the needle in then pushes on the syringe plunger. She pulls out the needle and Miranda rubs at it again.
"Thank you," Miranda says. She stands and kisses Arelia passionately. Though Arelia wants this to continue she insists Miranda shows her what to do if Miranda has a bad reaction.
"Really right now?" asks Miranda.
"Don't you pout Miranda this is serious. You show me and then we can ravage each other."
After spending the day at the museum Shepard and family are making their way back to the hotel.
"You sure you are okay with going home tomorrow?" asks Shepard.
"Yes Elly I have told you many times," says Liara.
"I know but I just want to make sure."
Liara grabs her hand and they stop on the sidewalk out of the way of other pedestrians. "Elly I want to go home, I miss it. Besides I need to prepare for my class."
Liara is a new professor at Thessia University. After a couple of speeches on the Protheans there was tremendous interest from the community and students to make the subject a class. Liara starts her new career in just one short week. She also has speaking engagements on and off planet scheduled throughout the year.
"I just didn't know if you wanted to see anything else," says Shepard.
"We will have the chance to come back. I really do want to be home for a few days before my class starts."
"Okay then. We leave tomorrow," says Shepard. She has Raina in her arms who is asleep while Liara is holding a sleeping Mia. The museum wore them out.
Upon reaching the hotel the kids are put down to continue sleeping, while Shepard and Liara start to pack to leave for Thessia in the morning. They soon get in bed and take their own nap before dinner.
Now that Arelia knows what to do in case Miranda has a bad reaction to her nanite injections the couple are in bed together. "You truly are wonderful you know that Miranda?"
Miranda pulls Arelia closer and kisses her on her temple. "You are too."
"So I was thinking."
"Oh?" says Miranda. She is trailing her fingers up and down Arelia's bare arm.
"When do you want to get pregnant?"
Miranda is silent for a moment. Arelia wonders if perhaps she has changed her mind. When she doesn't hear anything from the human she props herself up on her elbows to look at her. Miranda seems to be fighting back tears.
"What is it, what is the matter Miranda?"
A tear trickles down her cheek, Arelia wipes it away.
"It doesn't look like nothing. Have you changed your mind?"
"No its' not that."
"Then what is it?"
"I'm…Damn it I'm scared," says Miranda.
"Being a good parent I guess, I don't know. This is new to me and I feel like an idiot."
"Nonsense. That is completely normal Miranda."
"What do you mean?"
"I felt the same way with Shelby. Even after deciding to get pregnant I went weeks with second guessing my decision because I was not sure how to be a good mother."
Arelia gives her a hug, "Yes really."
Miranda looks Arelia in the eyes, "I want this I really do. I just never thought it would happen for me. I was used to the idea that it would never happen for me. And now that we can happen I feel like a coward, I hate this feeling."
"We can wait Miranda there is no rush."
"No." Miranda settles down closer to Arelia so they are chest to chest in each other's arms. "I want this. I have always wanted this. I know we will be good parents I just know it."
"We will of course we will. You are going to be a wonderful father Miranda."
Miranda smiles. "Maybe we can call me the other mother. I am not sure I can get used to being called father."
Arelia kisses Miranda along her neck, "I don't know it may confuse her."
Miranda takes Arelia's face between her hands to look at her, "Are you being serious?"
Arelia starts to laugh. "No not really. Miranda if you want to be called mom or mother then that is fine with me. We will figure it out."
"If you are sure," says Miranda.
"Less talking and more kissing please," says Arelia.
Arelia slowly moves down Miranda's body trailing kisses along the way. She feels Miranda's hand stopping her. She looks up.
"I want to."
"I don't want to pressure..."
Miranda interrupts Arelia with her lips.
"I want this Arelia. I want a baby with you."