This will be an on-going story featuring a romantic triangle with Shep/Hackett & Shep/Massani. Also, this story series is ALL CelticGrace's fault.

This is AU-ish in a few ways, my stories always are. Rated M, mostly because I like to cuss like a sailor in life and in my stories.

Shepard in this is : Spacer, War Hero..Paragon(Mostly)

This chapter is more prologue than anything. I wanted to give a little flashback to how Shepard met Zaeed and Hackett.

Beta: None, sadly, all errors are my own. Anyone interested in the position?

Bioware owns all. Sadly.

Read. Enjoy. Review.

Shepard glanced down at her omni-tool to check the time. She was supposed to be up on the bridge with Alenko and Moreau. But she was trying to finish up a message to her mom. The trouble with being from an Alliance family was that everyone was spread across the galaxy. Her mom's most recent message had included a little post-script about Nathan, one of Shepard's old boyfriends. Her mother couldn't understand why she was still single.

It was…complicated.

And there was no way in hell to explain that to her mother.

It all started after the Skyllian Blitz on Elysium. The shiny medal and promotion were nice but all the damn attention had been a total pain in the ass. The Alliance wanted to turn her into a poster-girl for new recruits. And eventually, she'd received the new assignment to the Normandy as Captain Anderson's XO. She'd joined the crew after taking shore-leave. It had been a very interesting vacation, though not as exciting as the blitz.

The last time that she'd taken shore-leave, it had ended in a fight for her life. She decided to play it safe and head to a beach resort on Earth. She didn't even know the name of the town or resort anymore. She did remember the two men that she met while there. The men were polar opposites, though both strong, older men. She'd met one on the beach and the other at a local bar, sort of.

"You're Shepard, aren't you?" The bartender set a beer in front of her. "The hero of the blitz."

Shepard cringed inwardly, but nodded to the man. She took the beer and headed out of the bar. She leaned against the wall and sipped from the bottle. The attention was so fucking annoying.

"Having trouble blending in, are you?"

Shepard turned to find a man watching her from the shadow of a nearby alley. He stepped into the light and she recognized him almost immediately. She'd seen a file on him during her N-program training. Zaeed Massani was a notorious bounty hunter, who despite the scars, she found very attractive.

"Mr. Massani." Shepard tipped her beer bottle at him in a mock salute. "I didn't take you for a surfer."

"Mercs aren't too pleased with you." Massani gave her an assessing gaze. "Batarians aren't thrilled with you either."

"Batarians are never thrilled with humans." Shepard ignored the visceral reaction that his gravelly voice gave her and focused on the warning in her gut. "If you're going to try to kill me, can I finish the beer first?"

"I never try."

"That's what the batarians said." Shepard took another swig of the beer.

"You don't seem all that concerned about me." Massani seemed to find this amusing.

"You've been watching me for the last three days. If you wanted to kill me, you'd have already done it." Shepard tossed her empty beer bottle at him and calmly walked away. A gruff chuckle followed her all the way down the road and around the corner.

The next day, she found an interesting message on her extranet account.

From: Unknown Sender

To: Shepard

Subj: You've got balls…

turning your back on a man like me.

Stupid woman.

Shepard called in a favor from an engineer buddy who managed to track down Massani's contact info. She never liked to let someone else have the last word.

From: Shepard

To: Some ugly bastard.

Subj: re: balls.

Didn't they shoot yours off?


The beach was over-crowded the following morning, so she found herself hiking up the nearby cliff trails instead of sunbathing. It was worth it when she got to the top and watched the waves crashing on the rocks below.

"It's a beautiful view, isn't it?"

Shepard glanced over her shoulder to find a man that she'd crushed on for years standing behind her. "Admiral Hackett."

"Commander Shepard." Hackett stepped up beside her at the cliff's edge. "Enjoying your shore-leave?"

"I thought I'd see if I could have a normal one before I joined the Normandy." She watched him out of the corner of her eye.

He hadn't changed much in the years that she'd known him. They met first when she'd graduated as an N7 and then right after the Blitz. He'd been the one to award the Star of Terra to her. Crush probably wasn't the right word for what she felt.

She took in Hackett's dark jeans and short-sleeved shirt that had several buttons open at the collar. He wasn't wearing the damn hat that he always wore. His salt and pepper hair was barely bothered by the wind.


That was the right word.

"So how long are you here for?" Hackett breathed in deeply, enjoying the ocean breeze.

"I leave the day after tomorrow." Shepard watched a surfer down below trying to avoid meeting Hackett's intense gaze.

"Do you have plans for dinner?" Hackett turned from the view and focused his full attention on her.

"Hey Shepard, the Captain wants you up on the bridge." Alenko tapped his fingers against her bunk. "Joker said we're not far off from the jump to Eden Prime."

Shepard glanced up from the message that she was finishing up. "Thanks, L.T."

She fired off the message to her mom then paused to check her incoming mail. There was one from an unknown sender. She almost ignored it.

From: Unknown Sender

To: Shepard

Subj: Bounty

Someone's offering a lot of money to find you.

Not enough for me. You're too much bloody work.