Poker Night on the Normandy doesn't turn out so!
Normally, the gentle hum of the Normandy's engines soothed Lisa Shepard. Even though the SR-2 was quieter than the original Normandy, just the mere presence of engine noise was better than none. The sound was her only anchor with a glaring nightmare inducing window of silence.
Normally, was not quite normal at the moment, especially with the Reaper War in full spring. The comforting noise now only served to assault her senses, to thrum in time with her headache.
The dozens upon dozens of data pads littered about the Loft, each bearing a stark reminder of the War and her heavy burden, echoed her nightmares, past and future. I cannot fail. I WILL NOT fail. A pinging sound startled her out of her depressed stupor, glancing up from her desk-covered datapad-storm, she noted a message from Vega.
Don't forget about tonight's poker game! Major's bringing snacks! Doc's letting us into the booze!
Crap! She groaned, and rubbed the temples of her head in feeble effort to combat the ever-increasing headache. She contemplated cancelling. Too much work, not enough time, but I did promise Kaidan I would try Vancouver's finger foods, and Vega would crow that I forfeited. No way in hell.
With a sigh, she stumbled out of her chair and glazed into the bathroom. The mirror revealed the tale of a red-haired woman fighting sleep.
Crouching low, she gingerly pulled out from under the sink cabinet a secret stash of pain meds, all excess meds from previous "adventures", just for the "bypass-Chakwas" occasion.
Only EDI knew and Joker knew, she preferred that Joker didn't know but Joker has his ways with EDI, at least he had the decency to be bribed with ignoring his extranet bookmarks.
A sweet voice cut through her thoughts of revenge. Lisa?
She took a dose and stashed the rest, like a burglar caught.
She leapt into a standing position and hastily exited the bathroom and into Kaidan.
For a split second, her mind filled with panic, but soon faded when she saw Kaidan in fatigues doing the cute smirk of his.
"Hope you didn't forget tonight?" He chided.
"Hope you didn't forget who's going to take you to the cleaners!" She mocked, standing a head shorter than him; she reached up to kiss him on the cheek.
Grinning, he wrapped his arms around her, and returned the favour with a deeper kiss.
The sound of their omnitools beeping broke the intimate moment. Checking the sender, Shepard rolled her eyes. Way to ruin the mood Vega.
"So shall we go, mi'lady?" Remarked Kaidan, as he bowed and led Shepard with his hand to the elevator.
"You've been playing, that fantasy game too much." Smirking she took his hand and followed him into the elevator, sticking close.
"I like it."
The elevator beeped its way down to the Crew deck ever so slowly. This was the one time she was glad for the lack of speed, savouring the precious closeness with Kaidan. Curled into him, leaning on him, I don't know what I would do without him.
The elevator stopped and when the door opened, Kaidan and Shepard were once again the prime examples of two human Sprectres.
The Crew Deck on the other hand was partial chaos.
Cortez and Vega were doing an arm wrestle on the mess table, Vega winning of course; Traynor was checking out EDI's modules in the corner; Hawthorne, Joker, Westmoreland, Adams, Ken and Gabby and several other crewmembers seemed to be cracking into Chakwas's stash of liquor and judging by Gabby's face, leud jokes.
Chakwas stood watching with gleam in her eye and medical equipment. Ken should probably shut up.
Garrus and Tali were poking the mystery food Kaidan had brought aboard, wondering if it was edible.
The Deck looked ready to burst if no one tempered the fire that was heating.
Their arrival though, was just that, the bucket of water; it blissfully for Shepard's now dimmed headache, silenced the deck, the crew as if on cue made a beeline for a chair.
Noting the evil grins on several player's faces, "I hope we are playing Citadel Rules, people!" she scolded her "children".
There were faint cries of "not fair", "but but!", and "now what do I do with a marked deck?".
Above the noise, Vega motioned to two chairs next to him, reserved.
Noticing the close proximity, she decided to tease him and Kaidan. "Are you suggesting something there James?"
"Hmm? Ah! Uh, no Lola!" Blushed Vega as he noticed Kaidan's faint biotic hue and rising of an eyebrow from behind Shepard.
"HA! James you are such a liar! I see all and I see excessive flirting!" Cried Joker, implicating Vega further into the rabbit hole.
"You don't see me hugging the ship now do you?" Shot back Vega.
"Oh, I'm sure he didn't mean it. Right Vega?" Shepard blinked innocently before patting him on the shoulder.
"That would mean changing his nature, like that will ever happen." Offered Kaidan as he deployed the snack foods on the mess table and joined Shepard, sitting closely, very closely, a hand on Shepard's thigh.
Seeing the joke unfold, Vega visibly looked relieved.
"The Major's right! No one can resist these guns! I am too good looking to stop now!" Grinning from ear to ear, as he dealt out the cards.
"Before or after they punch you in the face?" Added Garrus.
Vega returned fire, "Scars, you got nothing in that department, what with a rocket to the face?"
Sensing the newfound escalation of drunken crewmembers, Shepard put a stop to it.
"Soooo, cards?" She drawled, getting everyone's attention. Especially one Kaidan Alenko.
The game was an aggressive one, what with Tali probably counting cards, and with a grumbled she thought no, Vega, she swears has got to be cheating.
Getting cleaned out was no fun, but at least it's with someone you love. Several times she would inch ever so closely to Kaidan and sometimes let him win her hand.
The first game was drawing to a end, when Shepard was prompted by Kaidan.
"Hey Shepard! Try one of Vancouver's best selling chips, of course not so much now, but still I love these!" He beamed handing Shepard one of the many bowls on the table.
The entire table, even Joker looked expectantly at her.
Eying the solid golden colored stick chips, about the size of her nail, she nimbly took one and ate it.
The Crew and especially Kaidan kept quiet for her Verdict.
"Hmm, not bad, guess Canadians do something right, eh?" She smiled appreciatively at Kaidan.
With whoops and cheers, crewmembers dug in and found themselves agreeying with their Commander's assessment. Even Javik thought it was "decent for primatives".
She caught herself, woozy all of a sudden. Woah… Suddenly unable to breathe. Like getting spaced all over again. She dimly could hear voices as her vision got cloudier, she tried grasping at her pocket, but floundered and she slumped into Kaidan's arms.
Next Chapter Alenko's POV.