"That's it?" Katya asked.
"What do you mean?"
"You got in trouble for lying, not for breaking the handmade pot?"
"Vase," Rose corrected.
"Whatever," Katya shook her head. "My mom would have killed me."
"Lying is taken very seriously in this house," Rose said seriously. They were both seated in the living room while Benezia and Claire were cooking dinner. Liara and Inna were sitting on the porch talking. Claire and Liara had been acting strangely around Inna, asking her opinion on things, trying to determine how and who she was as a person. Inna had resorted to following them both around, learning about the Shepard family and telling them about herself.
"Mine as well," Katya agreed. "At least you didn't really get punished. I would have lost all my shit for a week or three."
"It was a punishment," Rose shrugged. "I didn't get to see my true love for two weeks."
"Lydia wasn't your true love back then."
"She was too," Rose smiled. "I just didn't know it yet." Katya gave her a dry look but shrugged.
"Whatever, man," Katya sighed. "Whatever..."
"Any other stories you want to hear?"
"Not right now," Katya promised. "But I gotta say. Your life is like a good book."
How? How could Lydia choose that monster over her? That scarlet bitch. Stealing what is hers. Lydia was her property. What she wouldn't give to get some Halex right now. She would have to go home later, get her pills.
Jaris watched from afar as Lydia went around apologizing to students and staff. Suspicious glares became small smiles as the hottest asari complimented them on how they look and how they acted. Lydia had something good to say for everyone, and she was slowly being accepted again.
Word had spread quickly that Lydia had falcon punched Jaris, and the shiner on the victim's face was all too visible. Jaris could hear the snickers and outright laughs behind her back. 'The bitch finally got it!' Someone would say. Fuck them. All of them. Jaris wrenched her eyes away from her former friend and stomped off.
Lydia knocked on the door to the principal's office, choking down her guilt. So far, everyone had been pretty accepting of her apologies, and Lydia felt like she owed Madam T'ney an apology. Besides, she had been called up there for punching Jaris anyway. Lydia fidgeted with her hands, looking down at her feet and the floor. She had never expected to be in a position like this when she first came here.
"Come in," said a voice. Lydia entered the office and took in the Matriarch. She looked just like an older version of Katya, with more evident curves. She had a slightly darker nose, a side effect from the cold that she was suffering from.
"Miss Warren," T'ney said, almost in surprise.
"You were expecting me."
"Yes, but I did not expect you to come," T'ney replied. "I usually have to send someone to force you here." Lydia looked back down and sat in one of the chairs.
"I see," Lydia nodded. "How are you feeling, Matriarch? Your cold I mean?"
"It is nothing, but thank you for asking," T'ney replied. "You look quite well. I hear you have been going around school apologizing to everyone."
"Thank you for giving me the time to do so, before giving me punishment," Lydia replied respectfully.
"You say it as if I was going to beat you," T'ney said dryly.
"I am sorry if I sound that way," Lydia sighed. "I am very tired. It will take me at least a few more days to apologize to everyone."
"Have you apologized to Miss Sharp?" T'ney asked.
"I will when she returns," Lydia replied firmly. "As well as your daughter." T'ney stiffened but slowly nodded.
"Would you like to tell me what compelled you to punch Miss Oswald?" the Matriarch asked.
"She tried to corrupt me," Lydia said darkly, "which she succeeded in. Then she tried to tear me away from the most important person in my life. Which she did not succeed in."
"Yes," Lydia replied, almost dreamily. "My new girlfriend." T'ney nodded, and tapped her desk.
"Well, three days after school detention should suffice, along with extra homework," T'ney said tiredly. She sneezed and shook her head. "You graduate in a year, universities will not accept B students. I will give you special permission to complete your homework in detention."
"Thank you, Matriarch," Lydia replied.
"Go," T'ney ordered. "You apologize to Miss Sharp."
Claire wiped her hands with a towel and leaned against the counter. She watched as her youngest daughter chopped vegetables and hummed to some asari tune. Claire couldn't help but stare at her. She was such a perfect representation of her mother that it was almost shocking. Claire crossed over to her daughter and gave her a peck on the cheek before leaning against the counter next to her.
"Hey kiddo," Claire grinned. "So... making friends?"
"I like Inna," Benezia smiled, "And Katya. They are both very nice, I see why Rose likes them."
"What specifically do you think of Inna?"
"She is shy but has a big heart," Benezia replied. Her smile faltered a bit, but continued, "a heart that has been broken in a terrible way."
"Losing your parents is hard," Claire agreed. "I remember when your grandma died. I was never really close with her, but it still hit hard. It's gotta be worse for Inna, being so young and the incident being so fresh."
"She needs love," Benezia answered, as she resumed cutting food. "She needs out of the foster care system."
"That she does," Claire grinned. "That she does..."
"Hm," Benezia smiled.
"What do you think of Miss T'ney?" Claire asked. "You think she's...?"
"Alright," Benezia shrugged. "She reminds me of you, actually. She was pretty shy at first but she seems to have warmed up a bit."
"Yes, but what do you think of her?"
"She is nice, straight forward, sarcastic, but comical," Benezia sighed. "She makes me laugh like you do, and she even shares my... height."
"Yeah, you guys are pretty tiny."
"Aren't you considered short by human standards as well?"
"Well, your mom likes to tell me I'm more asari now anyways," Claire shrugged.
"Is it a strange feeling?" Benezia asked, "to not feel like your own species?"
"Not really," Claire replied, "It's not a strange feeling if you do not remember how to be your own race. I breathe your air, walk your walk, talk your talk. When I first met your mom, I never walked around without a gun on my hip or my knife in my boot. Hell, there's no way I ever thought I would settle down or live to be a thousand years old."
"You never wanted children?"
"Not at that point in time," Claire answered, "but I am glad I did, eventually. I have two beautiful, smart daughters. More so than I ever will be." Benezia nudged her.
"You just say these things," Benezia blushed.
"Nah," Claire smiled. "I mean it."
"Thank you, father-"
"Please don't call me that," Claire grimaced, "I feel old when you call me father."
"You are though... Daddy."
"There you go. And watch it. I might do this-" Claire began to tickle Benezia and the aspiring scientist began to laugh. She set the knife down and hugged her dad.
"You're not old," Benezia said.
"Thanks. You're growing up too fast," Claire frowned. "When did I give you permission to grow up, kiddo?"
"I am not an adult yet," Benezia replied.
"Mm..." Claire hummed disapprovingly. "You talk and look like one." Benezia gave a coy look.
"Buh, no daddy! I's a little girl!" Benezia cried. Claire laughed and kissed Nezzy's cheek.
"Alright, Nezzy," Claire sighed, "Don't embarrass yourself in front of Katya."
"You guys like each other right?"
"I met her this morning."
"Well, yeah but you think she's attractive?"
"She has certain qualities that I may find so, but I do not want something like that. I have to focus on studying."
"You don't want it, or is this an excuse?"
"I do not know what you mean?"
"You are growing up, kiddo. As much as it pains me, you are. It's about time you met someone or some people and make friends."
"Which I did."
"Yes, but you two seem to get along really well. Maybe friendship is good for now, but what about later?"
"I have something else in mind," Benezia said carefully.
"Uh... well I was... thinking of enrolling in school along with Rose," Benezia shrugged.
"That's great, sweetie!" Claire grinned. "Get out there and meet some people!"
"You approve?" Benezia asked with a small smile.
"Sure I do," Claire nodded. "Well, it will be weird without kids in the house, but this is a good idea. You're a maiden. You shouldn't be staying around the house so much."
"Thank you, F... Daddy!" Benezia laughed. Claire hugged her tightly.
"Let's finish dinner, then later we'll get your mom and get you enrolled!"
"So, Inna," Liara smiled, leaning back in the swing chair. Inna sat stiffly beside her, dying of shyness. "Tell me about yourself."
"Uh... I... well, to be honest I am not that interesting," Inna laughed nervously.
"I said the same thing to someone a long time ago," Liara said, her eyes staring into far off places. "A few years later... we were bonded. Don't be afraid to open up. I used to be so shy, but once I opened up I found that so many doors opened for me."
"I dunno," Inna shrugged, "I opened up to Rose... but she doesn't love me in that way."
"You have a crush on her?"
"I did," Inna smiled, "or... I do and I don't. I have a bit of a crush on her, but I respect her decision. Lydia is the only one for her."
"They've known each other for most of the century, trying to get into a bond like that..."
"I know," Inna nodded. "I had a friend when I was young. I knew her since we were infants. But then... something happened and I can't talk to her anymore."
"Tell me about her," Liara said sweetly.
"Her name was Xandi," Inna sighed. "She was born just a day after me, our parents were good friends. She was asari and her father was a turian woman. Xandi and I were best friends. We never, ever left each other's side... which is why I am still alive."
"What?" Liara asked.
"I... It's..." Inna stammered.
"It is alright if you do not want to tell me," Liara nodded, "but I am sure I could help. If you are afraid you will scare me, do not worry. I have heard and seen so many gruesome things, nothing scares me anymore."
"Did Miss Shepard tell you what happened to my mom and dad?" Inna asked quietly.
"Well, I didn't tell her I was in the car, and I didn't tell her that Xandi and her family were as well."
"You were in the crash too..."
"I was," Inna choked. "Xandi and I were playing with our, heh, commando dolls. Our parents were talking, having a great ol time. Then all of a sudden, I heard a noise that I will never forget. It was the most violent sound I have ever heard, indescribable. It was the sound of a truck hitting us dead on. I think the doctors said he was drunk. Some... turian guy hauling metal pipes for some construction work..."
"Then Xandi was thrown from her seat, and she landed right on me. Her body shielded mine as a metal pipe sailed right through our front window and speared her. Her rib cage stopped it. That, and she had a backpack on with a bunch of books inside. It was just enough. Just enough... my parents... and her parents... they died almost instantly. Not one of them were wearing seatbelts."
"Inna stop," Liara soothed. Inna blinked when she saw that she had her hands balled into fists, her nails digging into her palms so hard that they drew blood. Liara took Inna's hands and slowly opened them. She kissed Inna's hands tenderly and helped her stand. Inna was in a bit of a shock. Liara hugged her gently and gestured inside.
"Let's get your hands cleaned up, Inna," Liara murmured, "thank you for sharing with me."
"What is it with people in your family?" Inna asked seriously. "You are all so disarming. It took me months to open up to Katya and just as long to the therapist... err, I mean..."
"I already know about the therapist," Liara replied with a small smile. "Just push it out of your mind, little one. Shepard and I instilled empathy in our daughters. We are always looking out for others, it is how we have always been. Shepard, Rose, Benezia... me. We all really like you Inna. Really like you." Inna blushed and looked down, but Liara placed a hand under her chin.
"You will be alright, Inna," Liara promised. She gave Inna a reassuring nod and led her inside.
Shepard climbed into bed, gave her wife a kiss, and wrapped her arms around her. Liara snuggled into her embrace, never tiring of the strong arms that held her. She was so accustomed to it, she could not sleep without her human. Liara flipped the light off and rested her head on her pillow.
"How was your talk with Inna?" Claire asked. "I saw that her hands were bleeding."
"She was telling me about her car crash," Liara explained, "and she gripped her hands so tightly, her fingernails drew blood. She needs people in her life, Claire. She is only fifty. The crash was only thirty years ago, and she remembers the crash with vivid detail. Goddess, can you imagine?"
"So is that a yes then?"
"It is," Liara nodded. "I'll figure the whole process out. Let's spend as much time with Inna as possible, I think she trusts us."
"I'll be sure to have Rose bring Inna every weekend," Claire smiled in the darkness.
"Yes," Liara agreed.
"Benezia seems to like her too."
"What about Katya?"
"Benezia seemed to enjoy Katya's company," Liara replied.
"I thought so too," Claire shrugged. "She does but... Benezia says that that is not what she wants right now, a girlfriend, and... she doesn't seem to like Katya on a romantic level anyway. I think she prefers being friends at the moment."
"I see," Liara thought out loud. "And our Little Wing is finally admitted her love for Lydia."
"I know!" Claire said excitedly. "It's about time! Isn't it great?!"
"It is," Liara said quietly. Claire frowned in the dark.
"What's wrong?" Claire asked. "Isn't this a good thing?"
"Of course it is," Liara answered quickly. She sighed. "You... you don't think that Rose will... forget about me?"
"I mean, she has a girlfriend now-"
"I can safely say that there is nothing in the universe that could tear the red asari from her mom," Claire assured. "She loves Lydia romantically. She loves you in a different way, but her love for you both is equal. Even if Rose were to bond with Lydia and go start her own family in a gazillion years, she would still come running to your open arms every chance she got. You would still be Mamma, and she would still be Little Wing." Liara smiled, and nodded.
"I guess you're right," Liara chuckled. "Besides... she doesn't get to move out until her mother says so." She abruptly sat up. Claire frowned again and sat up as well.
"What's up now?"
"I almost forgot!" Liara cursed. "I-I... hold on." Liara raced to the hamper and dug in her pants pockets. She drew out a long skinny box and closed her eyes. She took a deep breath and Claire heard someone move down the hall. Claire wondered what was going on as Rose slipped into the room and whispered to Liara.
"I wanted you here, Little Wing," Liara whispered. Rose was in her underwear and she was rubbing sleep from her eyes, but she nodded immediately. When amma needs Little Wing, Little Wing comes ASAP. Liara sat on the bed next to Claire and Rose sat next to her as well.
"What's going on you two?" Claire asked suspiciously.
"I found this in our mail," Liara whispered, opening the box and taking out a long syringe. "It's from Rangala. A note said that this syringe will perfect the cure that we gave you all those years ago." Claire didn't say anything while taking the needle from Liara and holding it carefully.
"When did you find this?"
"A week ago," Liara replied, holding Rose's hand. The red asari said nothing, her red eyes examining Claire for reactions and thoughts.
"Why, after all these years, did she send this?" Claire asked.
"She also said it was for our great care of Little Wing," Liara answered. Rose delicately kissed her mother and rubbed Claire's arm.
"She is right about that," Rose whispered. Claire shrugged.
"Eh, there's room for improvement there..."
"Daddy!" Rose laughed. Claire smiled dryly and nudged her.
"What do you think, Claire?" Liara asked anxiously. Claire gulped.
"I am not sure," Claire admitted. "I've already got all that I could ever ask for... more than that! What do I need with this?"
"Yes," Liara sighed with relief. "You don't need it. We don't know what it does, let's throw it out-"
"But if it perfects the perfect cure," Claire thought out loud, raising the syringe, "What if this thing doesn't harm me? You said that Rangala loved Rose, why would she harm the parents she gave Rose to?" Liara's and Rose's eyes widened with fear.
"Rangala gave me time with you," Claire choked. "She let me see my family grow up, to spend a thousand years with my true love."
Claire whispered an apology and plunged the syringe into her neck. Liara and Rose cried out, and Claire pushed the hammer down. She gasped as the medicion entered her veins. Claire collapsed onto the bed and began to convulse violently, actual foam forming in her mouth.
"Claire!" Liara screamed. She cupped her human's cheeks, and Rose stared at her in shock. The sound of sprinting could be heard as Benezia raced into the bedroom. "CLAIRE!" Benezia began to scream as Shepard snapped straight, and laid still.
A/N: Sorry it took me so long to upload. I've been real busy this week... Should upload more soon, so bare with me. Please R and R!