Samantha Traynor performed her job well on the Normandy. She kept Shepard up to date with the latest intelligence from the Alliance brass and the council. Between major missions, there was plenty of downtime as they retrieved random artifacts for perfect strangers. Lately, Samantha heard whispers around the CIC that the commander could be losing her mind.

"Do you really think this obilisk will help the volus fight better?" asked Ashley as she walked out of the elevator with Shepard.

"Of course Ash. I heard someone say it would," said Shepard before approaching the star map.


"This guy on the Citadel. He said it was around here!"

Ashley shook her head and drew a heavy sigh. "Every time we go pinging around a star system the reapers come after us."

"Pshaw, not like they ever catch us," said Shepard staring into the map.

"Liara is worried about you," said Ashley taking a step toward Shepard. The commander was gripping the star map's railing so hard her knuckles turned white. "Maybe you should lay down..."

"NO! I don't need any sleep. Every time I go to sleep, I see that little shit-head kid. He runs in slow motion but I can never keep up. Then he catches on fire! And the whispers! They're always whispering to me but I don't understand what they're saying!" Shepard looked insane. Her red hair was a tangled mess and her green eyes brightened as they darted around the room.

Samantha quietly radioed Liara's room, "Hey Liara, you might want to get up to the CIC, Shepard's becoming unstable again."

"Just calm down skipper," said Ashley backing away slowly. By now, everyone in the CIC was staring at Shepard.

Shepard slammed her fists down on the railing. "Don't you people get it?! Everyone has to be at one hundred percent readiness. We have to build the crucible to defeat the reapers. It's going to... to... Alright I'll say it! I don't know what it does! NOBODY knows what it does! The Alliance's ace in the hole is an ancient untested machine! We're all screwed! We're all FUCKED!"

Liara came flying out of the elevator shouting, "Shepard, Shepard, take it easy!"

The sight of Liara made Shepard stop yelling and transition into a crazed giggle. "Hey Liara, the blue light of my life."

"You're scaring the crew," said Liara, her eyes pleading for Shepard to return to normal.

Taking a good look at all of the wide-eyed faces around her, Shepard became sheepish. "I'm sorry everyone. I'm, just tired."

"Let's go up to your quarters," said Liara offering her hand. "Ashley can handle the planet scanning."

"That's right skipper. I'll look after the Normandy," said Ashley placing a hand on the commander's shoulder.

Shepard mumbled something as Liara led her back into the elevator. The CIC remained silent for an awkward moment. Ashley went to the star map and cleared her throat. "Attention everyone, obviously the commander isn't feeling well so I'll be the XO until futher notice. Let's just carry on with our task."

The crew did as they were told but an uneasy feeling hung in the air like nerve gas. Everyone still felt the sting of the commander's insanity as it wore on their own confidence in the mission. Samantha felt unnerved by the whole ordeal and unable to speak. If the commander was losing it; what chance did the rest of them have?

"Any messages specialist?" asked Ashley.

"Oh, um yes, this one is addressed to you actually," said Samantha fumbling with her console. "Looks like it's from your sister."

"Good, forward it to my omni-tool," said Ashley.

"Done," replied Samantha. Their eyes met for moment causing her to blush. Ashley didn't seem to notice. She was the specialist's third crush on the Normandy. The first was EDI, which ended when EDI turned out to be an AI. Then came Shepard who was already with Liara. Now Samantha had her eyes fixed on the lovely lieutenant commander.

"Was there anything else?" asked Ashley when she realized Samantha was still looking at her.

"Uh, no, sorry," said Samantha turning her head quickly to stare at the console.

"I'm going to read this in my room. Notify me if anything happens," said Ashley before heading to the elevator.

"Aye-aye." Samantha shamelessly watched Ashley's backside as she walked away. Say something to her damn it. In truth, Ashley intimidated her. She was afraid of being turned down or disappointed a third time. Still, she needed to try at least. Walking after her, Samantha caught Ashley in the elevator.

"What is it specialist?"

"I uh, really like your hair," said Samantha with a cheesy smile.

"Oh, thanks," said Ashley looking embarrassed by the compliment.

The doors closed cutting the conversation awkwardly short. Samantha bumped her forehead on the double door saying, "Idiot." I was less flakey in high school. It was better than staying silent at least but not by much. There had to be someway she could get close to Ashley.

A/N: Why this pair? Well, why not? As of today there's only one other fanfic with this pair. Even though it's an unlikely pair, I want to write this fic for that one person out there who might be a fan of this pairing.