A/N: This was my response to a request from Owelpost, the awesome author of 'Glacial Fire' - which will probably need no introduction to readers of Liara-centric fics. Their riposte is called 'Brokering in Shadows', and it is an incredibly visceral read. They should definitely be read together, so do check it out.

Warning: this story is mature and will really not be up everybody's street. If you do not like a darker version of Liara, and if you don't like BDSM, please move right along. Read some of my other stuff. Or, actually, anything else. Just don't read this. DO NOT. Anyone else left after that warning - welcome! Hope you enjoy it.


STILL GAME

for Owelpost

2186

Liara's last night of unbroken sleep was before Feron was captured. Insomnia is productive, if solitary. To begin with she spent dark spans of forever moored to her bed with eyes squeezed shut. Her mind froths. Now, she inhabits islands of time adrift in the deep night, fixated on problem solving. Research. Anything to occupy her mind.

Archaeology is a gentle science. Intelligence trafficking is not. The patience learned in one is useful in the other. The Shadow Broker cannot be above bloodying their own hands; naturally, she is an experienced interrogator. Life and death sit in the palm of her hand. In her sleep her victims moan and beg as they are bound. Gagged. Tortured.

Initially, Liara evades sleep to elude her tormentors. She wakes slicked in cold sweat. Later, she is disgusted by the twisted ache she begins to wake with between her legs.

She is a monster.

After that, Liara rarely permits herself rest.

Little changes on rejoining the Normandy. The crew's initial curiosity quickly recedes; Liara retreats. Work is constant. There is scant reason to leave her quarters between missions; she locks herself into the dark. Dream visits continue. Other visits dwindle. Samantha is different. An ingénue.

Worse, she inexplicably favours the graveyard shift.

Her nocturnal visits begin when they dock at the Citadel. They continue. Like clockwork.

Liara grows accustomed to the shy buzz at her door, Samantha shambling in with a board tucked under her arm. She's bright. Innocent. Funny. Liara's past is a closed book, and she's too polite to pry. She reminds Liara of a forgotten self.

She makes her laugh.

In no time, Liara begins to count down the hours until their nights together.

Finally, Liara craves them.

Their first kiss is like sunlight.

Sam is her port in the storm. Memory fades. Sleep comes more easily, wrapped around her. Here, at the end of all things.

But still, the dreams.


2188

Sam had never thought of herself as lucky. A wise person makes their own luck; Sam was used to making hers. Every move was planned in advance: which college she would attend, what subject; how long she would serve; when she would settle down; where, and who with. Her plans were not inflexible. Minor course corrections were permitted, like staying on with the Alliance. Girlfriends changed, sometimes. She kept her bargain with herself; follow the plan and the rules and be rewarded.

The glittering career. The white picket fence. The perfect girl.

Then the Reapers arrived. Every job, fence and girl Sam thought she ever wanted went up in smoke.

In the darkest hour of the war, living one moment to the next, she decided - if she escaped the Normandy with her life, she wouldn't plan.

That, Sam decided as she ran late down the path to the landing pad, breeze flicking her jet-black hair about her face, was the best decision she ever made.

Two years ago she wouldn't have believed the life that seemed to materialise around her as soon as she threw all her plans out of the airlock. It began with Liara's kiss. It ended with this – the plush R&D job. The cliff-side house on Ilium. The incredible sky-blue asari.

She loved everything about it. Especially the last part. She had landed, cat-like, on her feet.

Liara leaned against their shuttle, arms and legs crossed, foot tapping. She wore tan leathers, covered with toggles and flaps. She looked adventurous, like an old-school explorer. Just needed a pair of goggles. Ilium's best antiquities dealer had to look the part. She was pouting at Sam.

Serious Liara is seriously sexy.

Sam could see the smile lurking underneath the impatient expression. Liara could never stay cross for long. She smirked and bounded past, shot a cheeky look back over her shoulder as she clambered in. Liara was the nimbler of the two; she followed silently and with greater grace.

Sam peeled her leather jacket off and hung it over the back of the seat in the cockpit. She watched as Liara bent at the waist to the nav console, brow furrowed in concentration. Her curves were gorgeous. Mouth-watering. Sam itched to run her hands down Liara's hourglass waist and over her full behind.

"Liara. I programmed it from the house." A beat. "Liara?"

When she didn't respond, Sam slapped one cheek lightly. Liara snapped upright, nettled. She ran one hand over her crests, eyes still pinned to the autopilot. Awkwardness made her even more endearing. Sam moved behind her, curled her arms around her waist.

"Come back here, fusspot."

Liara twisted in her arms, smiled. Her freckles and lips were indigo. They looked cold, but Sam shivered anticipating their warmth.

"You have nothing to worry about. It's just a bunch of spoddy nerds. Nothing you can't handle."

Liara was wry. "I shall let them know that's what you think of them. You are not a spoddy nerd."

"I am, actually."

Liara pressed her lips close to her ear, sending a streak of liquid heat down Sam's spine. Her voice was almost a purr.

"Then I must be, too. So there cannot be anything to worry about, can there?"

Her lips grazed Sam's cheek as she pulled away.

"Your logic is flawless, as always. But you – Doctor - are allergic to social occasions. Especially birthday parties. So - thank you. For coming out."

"My pleasure."

Her voice was husky; it made Sam want to melt.

"If I didn't know better, I would say you're flirting with me."

"Would that be a problem?"

"Well, my girlfriend's the jealous type."

Liara pulled her into a kiss; light at first, then deep, slow. Gentle. Sam opened to her, clung to Liara, moaned at first contact with her skin, tracing circles with her fingertips up the firm muscles of her back.

Commando leathers were too tight for undergarments.

Sam broke the kiss. Liara had positioned her against the bulkhead and now bent to her neck. Her lips were firm and hot. Behind her, Sam spied a blanket spread between Liara's stacked cargo crates in the back. An image popped, pin-sharp, into her mind – Liara on her back, jacket open, eyes black like she'd seen in the vids, Sam's mouth working at the apex of her thighs. Inside each other, for real, for the first time . Her body surged with want.

She wanted to take the initiative for once. She wanted to feel Liara's mind mingled with her own. She had to try.

She wrapped one arm around Liara's neck, caressing the smooth skin along the undersides of her crests. She snaked the other up the front of her leathers. Liara removed the hand immediately, replaced it around her waist. She pinned Sam firmly against the wall with her hips without stopping her insistent rhythm of pecks and nips along her neck. Just the way she knew Sam liked it. She moaned despite herself. She tried again, dipping her hand into Liara's pants, cupping her cheek, rolling her own thigh into Liara's centre.

Liara growled, tugged at the hem of her top.

Sam held the image of them on the surface of her mind, colours bright with her longing, hoping Liara could see what she wanted to do. No change. No suggestion Liara was even looking. She tried to wriggle out of Liara's hold, couldn't. Sam stopped her, raised her chin with her fingers.

Liara blinked. Her eyes were still the cold blue of sea ice. Focused. Abruptly, Sam knew what she had suspected all along.

Oh god. She's faking it.

Then: She's always faked it.

Sam glared at the blanket as if it were to blame. Her eyes felt hot. Wishful thinking. Stupid. Foolish. Liara's lips and hands on her felt horrible, as if Sam were the unwitting butt of a cruel joke.

She put a hand to Liara's lips.

"Let's just sit. Moment's gone. Sorry," she mumbled.

Liara stroked one palm along her cheek. Sam kissed it tenderly. When Liara turned away Sam saw relief flash across her features.

Then it was gone.


Liara stumbled out of the shuttle, caught up in the heavy fabric of her gown.

Damned dress.

Her breath was hot and dry, laced with elasa. The Kodiak's chrono had tipped past midnight long ago. She was back later than she'd intended, than she had promised. No matter. Of necessity she was leaving early and working late at the moment. Business was booming. Samantha would understand. She was always understanding.

She teetered away from the landing pad, head-dress askew, heels clacking drunkenly along the flags. Most of her current clients were turian and volus. They appreciated a little pomp, a veneer of asari mystique, and she was content to oblige so long as they parted with their credits. The wine flowed, and Liara was limitless. Her eyes struggled to pick out the path to the house. Clouds hid the moons. But she was careful to keep the roar of the ocean - therefore the cliff - at her back.

Once she passed through the copse of eris trees, Liara saw the mellow glow of the house pouring out onto the garden. She snorted. No need for a lighthouse on this stretch of coast. The tightness in her chest vanished.

She punched her keycode into the front door, and it flashed red. After three attempts it locked her out. Unfazed, she lurched around the side of the house and broke the security on the glass double doors opening out from the kitchen. They were heavier than they looked; she had to summon biotics to help crash them shut manually behind her.

She shushed herself and the door, loudly.

Repairs would wait until tomorrow.

Liara pulled her heels off, one then the other, as she crossed the kitchen. She left them where they dropped. The slate was cool. A salve to aching feet. A meal sat wilted in a skillet on the countertop. Samantha had not cleaned up.

Liara scowled.

Ignoring the mess, she passed into the sitting room. Told herself again to organise stasis shipping from the Thessia vaults - her mother's sundial, the hanar bronzes, the Efesian frescoes. They could keep Samantha's pre-war Earth pictures hanging in the hall but Liara could not live much longer amongst the childish cult movie posters, the salvaged Kepesh Yakshi console, or the license plate (C3RUL38NST8R) that had reappeared over the door to their en-suite.

All reminders the human was a quarter her age.

Little more than a girl.

She paused in front of the print at the foot of the stairs. Stubby human skyscrapers rose in the foreground, framing Alliance headquarters next to the harbour; mountains loomed darkly behind. Samantha had taken this. Liara's head swam.

This place is foreign but she is rebuilding her life with me. There's no other reason for her to be here, yet here I am, criticising.

Guilt churned in her gut.

Blaming her isn't fair. If anyone is failing, it is not her.

Samantha had done nothing wrong but blamed herself. Liara had let her. That was wrong. Neither acknowledged the rot eating away at the core of them.

Liara set her jaw, looked up the stairs. Until now.

Her crests prickled as she climbed. Dread filled her chest and limbs like lead. She would do anything to make this unnecessary; there was no denying matters were too far advanced. But the prospect of honesty was intoxicating. The compulsion to share, explain, justify, was brimming just beneath skin that now felt too tight.

Samantha has the right to know why.

She was lying naked on Liara's side of the bed when she entered, hot blankets kicked away, datapad on chest. She had fallen asleep with her reading light on. Waiting up. Glossy black hair spilled across the pillow. Liara sat at her side, breathed the sight and smell and simple presence of her.

Last chance to back out. It would be easy to pull her dress off and slip in next to Samantha's warm, mocha body.

Easy – but cowardly.

When she spoke, Liara's voice was heavy and too loud.

"I have to tell you something." Her hands trailed over her hip. Silence.

"I am not a good person, Samantha."

The human stirred, grumbled. "Rubbish. Bed."

"I am not good for you."

Samantha sighed, content. One hand drifted up to touch Liara's chin; her eyes never opened. Liara shook her, lightly.

"Wake up."

"Shush. You're drunk. Talk tomorrow."

"No. Samantha, I -" But she had already tipped onto her side, and was breathing peacefully.

Now or never. You deserve the truth, dear one.

Liara's eyes snapped black and glassy ; she reached out, grabbed Samantha's mind with her own. She bucked forward violently, clamped her eyes shut; threw her arms out to stop herself from falling.

Then she was standing with Samantha in an empty space, forever and nowhere at once. There was no light but she could see her perfectly, looking curiously about herself in the tee and pants she always wore. Liara was relieved; here, Samantha was wide awake. And she at least felt sober.

That was probably illusory.

Is it bad that I've been secretly hoping to dream about you in that armour?

Samantha's grin gleamed white. It broadened when Liara looked down at herself, astonished.

Tonight must be my lucky night. I'll never understand why you left it on the Normandy. Suits you. She started to circle Liara, admiring from every angle.

I'm glad you're awake. I am sorry to do this. But we need to talk.

I'd rather start peeling it off. No? Pity. Still remember how.

She raised one eyebrow, looked into Liara's face. Her face registered concern.

Actually, are you alright? Have you taken something? Your eyes are downright bizarre.

Please. Listen.

What are we doing here? Where is here? Are we – Her eyes widened, started to dart erratically. Your eyes. We're melding right now, aren't we? Is this a meld? We're not speaking! Incredible.

Please focus. There are things I need to tell you. I am not a good person.

Samantha's consciousness shrank back. Is there someone else?

No. Of course not.

Then nothing you can say can will change the way I feel.

Liara shook her head. Don't say that.

Sam tucked a lock of hair behind her ear, cocked her head. Reds and blues and greens began to dance around them. Suddenly, Liara's mouth was dry.

I used to be an information broker before the War. One of thousands. Here, on Ilium.

Sam nodded.

You knew?

You looked like you had a lot of experience doing the job when I met you. Not exactly hard to work out.

Perhaps this would not be so difficult. Do you know what a broker does?

Trades intelligence to the highest bidder. Plum desk job for data hounds like you and me. Think I'd get bored after a while, though. I can't shut myself away for half as long as you can.

Hope crumbled away. There's more. Much more. Analyzing. Securing. Taking.

Stealing?

That was part of it.

But the war kept you honest.

Yes. Around them, the swirling colours began to coalesce into shapes, forms.

But there's more. I have to show you more.

They stood together in a small, windowless room. Clinical light bounced off the brushed steel walls and floor. Samantha was staring at the kit hanging from the walls, eyes drawn to the different colours, lengths, thicknesses of rope. Blades. Chains. Other implements.

Her interrogation room.

An identical Liara stood on the opposite side of a hospital gurney, filled with the panicked form of a man. His wrists and ankles were lashed down. He wore yolk-yellow Eclipse armour, but his helmet was gone, and sweat clung in great wet drops to his mottled face and the tips of his hair. His chest rose and fell rapidly under his breastplate.

Please - please no – don't – no – please! – I'll help you! – just let me -

Other-Liara raised one hand to allow the man to see its contents. He jerked his hips, tried to fight free, but the knots binding him only tightened. They were digging into his wrists so deeply Liara could already smell the copper tang of human blood. Other-Liara stuffed his mouth and sealed it with the gag. The begging stopped.

Her smile was cold but her eyes were live, wide with vicious glee as she clamped his nostrils shut. His eyes bulged with terror; fat corded ropes twisted in his neck.

Other-Liara slapped him so hard she left her handprint stinging white across his face. Tears dripped onto the gurney.

Total control. Liara was wet.

Liara? Sam's voice was timid beside her. This place was real?

She couldn't stop; Liara showed her more. Other-Liara tethered a screaming asari from the ceiling and flogged her until blood sluiced down the insides of her thighs and she fell silent; bound a woman to the gurney and burned her; beat another with the butt of her pistol. She trussed a drell tight enough to dislocate him, just to soak the ropes in his sweat. The hallucinations terrorized others. The air rang with cries, screams.

But in most cases the threat of violence was enough. The power was sufficient to thrill.

She gagged, bound, dominated: until Liara's own breaths came fast and ragged and her centre was slick and pulsing with need.

This is what I want. How I need it. Why I protect you from myself.

But Samantha was quiet. Her eyes burned with Liara's own reflected lust. Fascination. She was spellbound, experiencing it through the meld. Her cheeks and neck were flushed; nipples were hard beneath her top.

Liara seized her, kissed her, guided Samantha's hands to her armour and the human threw her against the wall, forced her tongue deep into Liara's mouth, fumbled urgently for the clasps she knew gave instant access to Liara's azure -

- Until she stopped. Returned to herself. Samantha's expression was stricken. Mortified.

The scene vanished, and they were back on their bed, Samantha pulling her hands from beneath Liara's rucked up gown. She scrambled off the bed and away from Liara as though fleeing a nightmare.

"You – you did – and you." Her voice was choked; Samantha was fighting back tears. She yanked her clothes on, movements clouded with sleep and anger.

"You're sick."

I know, Liara thought as she heard the front door slam.


The evening sweltered. Sweat stuck Sam's shirt to her back. Steve had been gone a while; she was thirsty. She was used to air-conditioning; here the ground radiated heat in waves. They were sat at the edge of a terrace a short walk from the Stock Exchange, flanked by bankers and sharp suited financial workers unwinding after work, competing to buy the flashiest wines and liquor money could buy. Braying chatter melted into background noise.

She spotted him threading his way back to their table, new beers in each hand. There were great views here over the Nos Astra skyline, but no shade. He settled back into the seat beside her and set the bottles down. Cold condensation beaded down the side of the glass. Sam swigged, wiped her mouth with the back of her hand; the suds tasted heavenly.

Steve was still enlisted, still spent months at a time in deep space, locked into the dark of a shuttle bay. He was docked for four days. From the angry shine reflecting off his forehead and nose, he had soaked up too much sun already. He was reassuringly the same; gentle, with calm cobalt eyes. Wise.

He still took no nonsense from anyone.

"You must have known she was an information broker," he said, folding his arms over his chest. "Everybody knew. For a long time we thought you must be helping her in that big stateroom of hers."

"Of course I did. That part, anyway. I didn't realise there was more to it than prioritising and cataloguing datafeeds. Like I did in the CIC – writ large."

He turned a close-lipped smile on her. "Liara T'Soni - unassuming archaeologist and gentle dataminer."

"Exactly. Yes." Sam started to peel the label off the beer bottle in wide strips. She couldn't meet his eyes. "No. I suppose not."

"Course you didn't."

She drank again. Her throat was sore from crying and the cold soothed it, before spreading across her belly.

All of us did what needed to be done back then. I thought she would be happy to put all that aside, like I was. Seems she can't. Or won't.

"God, Steve, what she'd done to those people. How it made her feel. It felt like I'd never known her."

This time his expression was more sympathetic. "That's rough."

She squeezed the bottle until her knuckles paled. "It was a shock. I had no inkling. At all. It's like she lied about herself all along."

Was our whole life a lie?

Steve's throat bobbed as he gulped back another mouthful. "She was a sight to see in the shuttle bay before a mission. Shepard took her everywhere."

"I never thought she was harmless. I just never knew she enjoyed inflicting pain. The power."

"Guess they're called huntresses for a reason. Some must like playing with their prey. So she's bloodthirsty?"

"Also guilty, I think. And afraid."

"Of what?"

Sam considered the answer, eyes glued to broken curls of beer label in front. "Losing control."

"Losing you?"

She watched a waitress serving a nearby table. Avoided his eyes. "Yes."

Steve kept his tone light, almost casual. He wanted to spare her embarrassment; but his question was serious.

"Do you still feel the same way about what you experienced?"

Not…exactly. Excitement now rippled through her ribcage when she replayed scenes from the meld. She was infected with whatever disease Liara had . She was curious.

Worse - she wanted to be the one to make Liara feel that way.

She knew what that would have to mean. The prospect terrified her. It terrified her that it thrilled her, too.

Steve was studying the skyline intently, swirling the neck of the bottle lazily in one hand. Of course he knew.

"The body wants what it wants, Sam. No point trying to fight it. You might as well try to stop the world spinning. Don't beat on yourself."

"I'm not a child." Sam faltered. "But it doesn't change the fact I can't trust her."

"Why not?"

Sam put her head in her hands. Steve leaned in, murmured quietly into her ear.

"Look at this another way. Has she ever intentionally hurt you? Forced you?"

He rubbed her back in a figure eight for a long time.

"Or does she put you on a pedestal? Take care of you?"

Sam said nothing. Her throat contracted. She'd always loved being Liara's treasure; but Liara handled her like one of her ancient relics. Not a woman. Tears pricked at her eyes. Steve reached out and grasped her nearest hand in his two large, calloused ones.

"It's your life. But secrets are poison, Sam. What she did was foolish, but she did try to come clean. Now you know what she needs."

She looked at him. He raised his eyebrows.

"She loves you. Can't you simply think of this as a different kind of game?"


Liara sat amongst the eris trees, looking out at the sea over the cliff, one klick down, dark and flat as a mirror. Full night would arrive in minutes.

Samantha left three days ago and the world had split in two. Since then she'd had no word but she had kept track of her whereabouts. She may have renounced her old ways, but some skills were like muscle memory; you never seemed to lose them. No matter how keenly you wanted to.

She sipped her tea. It was juvenile to expect Samantha to come bounding back in through the door. She had made a fatal mistake. Liara caught her scent in the house, in their linens. She fancied she could glimpse her from time to time, as if Samantha were still here and Liara were a ghost, mute and living in parallel, occupying the same space. The house was empty and cold.

Samantha deserved better than she could give. She had tried to share only the dazzling, pristine surface that lay above the waterline, conceal her submerged, jagged edges. Withholding the truth was tantamount to a lie.

She lost control.

Some part of Liara had always known she was destined to fail. That it would end like this.

She accessed Samantha's messages again. She had not yet left Ilium; she was staying at the Scamander. Drawing her own funds, not Liara's. She was out with Steve Cortez. He was kind. She pulled a public security feed, soon picked them up in line for some club she knew catered to military types. Cortez was wearing his alliance BDUs, talking to a man though his arm was linked with Samantha's. She was having a great time; tipsy, chatty, talking animatedly to an asari in leathers. She didn't need sound to hear the way Samantha was laughing.

She had fractured their relationship, but Sam was already mending. The fact gladdened and broke her at the same time.

Later – long after Cortez had dropped her back at the hotel and Samantha had staggered beyond the sight of security feeds into her room – Liara's omni pinged.

Two words.


Liara's apartment is different to their house. Bijou. Sitting area, kitchen, study tucked beneath the stairs, winding steps up to a bed on the mezzanine. Must be well past the hundredth floor. The views are panoramic; tips of fuschia- striped towers taper to their summits out the window, hovercar traffic winding slowly in between.

Sam stares at the view without seeing, electric anticipation coursing through every sinew. Her tight black tee and combats are already clinging, oppressive. The moon hangs low. The night is hot. Everything is washed in silver.

Sam moved in weeks ago. Before that it had been empty nearly three years, since Vasir broke in.

Liara is still the same person: kind, caring and intelligent. Rational. Restrained. A perfectionist, always too careful. Secretive, bottling her feelings for too long.

Sam loves and trusts her for exactly those reasons.

She is getting acquainted with another Liara. Not new, but new to her. Strong and cunning, vengeful and dominant. Craving control. As different to the asari Sam grew to love as night is to day.

Sam fears this person even as she is drawn to her. She lies in bed at night, dreaming of harsh hands and lips on hers that are not like the Liara's she knows, and it makes her wet. Her fascination is edged with guilt. Sam feels disloyal. She wants two people. They are so different it is a struggle to accept they are one and the same.

She will rely on the Liara she knows to keep her alter ego in check.

To keep her safe.

The door chirps; Liara is on the other side. She's here. Sam's heart slams against her ribcage. She wants to look at the door but keeps her back to it, as instructed.

Seconds pass; they feel like hours before she hears it slide open. Boots clap on the floor, approaching. She trembles. She balls her fists at her sides to keep her hands from shaking.

The steps toward her stop. Sam can't see but she senses Liara, feet away. A mix of terror and want surge through her body, clench around her throat.

The voice commands.

"Turn around. No sudden movements."

Sam complies. She blinks into the dark. Gradually Sam sees hints of her, on the edge of shadow. The old blue and white scale armour is back.

She's beautiful.

"Why are you here?"

Sam gulps visibly, finds her voice. "I – I'm sorry. No reason. I'll just-"

"You won't just anything. You were looking for something. You will tell me."

"N- nothing."

The look in Liara's eyes is murderous. This doesn't feel like a shrugs. "I- I don't know -"

Liara's doesn't move, but Sam feels her mind ease forward to grasp her consciousness, reassure. She catches a tremor in Liara's hands before she snaps them both behind her back. Her heart swells.

Sam straightens, relaxes. She's no coward.

" - I mean - I don't know what you're talking about. I wasn't looking for anything."

"Am I to believe that you stole into my apartment merely to take in the view?" Liara's voice is silken. Lethal.

"No."

"It would be best for you to tell me the truth, human." She flares, electric violet sparking around her, charging the air. "I have killed for less."

Sam sinks further into role. Liara's tremor means she's no longer scared for herself but the trespasser is terrified. Sam wants her.

"I – I- I'm sorry. So sorry. I'll just go. Or I - I can make it up to you. I'll do anything. Please."

She begs.

Something new lights Liara's eyes. Sam can feel it warming Liara's mind. Joining was a pre-condition of this scene, and Liara lets Sam in as deep as she wants. Liara moves closer, cocks her head to one side. She strokes one finger up from Sam's waist, over the swell of her breast, and up her neck.

Sam quivers.

"Will you, little human?"

Liara runs her other hand through Sam's hair, pulls it. Appraising. Sam swallows, hard. Her voice is almost a whisper.

"Yes."

Liara responds by running her gloved thumb across her lips. Sam darts her tongue out, licks the pad, closes her mouth around it. Sucks tentatively. All the while she looks straight into Liara's darkening eyes.

Her face is expressionless but Sam feels Liara's jolt of desire, sparking her own. She forms the word please in her mind. Whether it is the meld or the look in her eyes – doesn't matter. Liara understands.

And Sam understands Liara. Her Liara, lithe and strong and powerful.

Sam yearns to please.

She unties her boots and kicks them away. Her eyes don't drop from Liara's face; she watches her cheek twitch, lick her lips. Liara stares, feline, as Sam unbuckles her leather belt and unbuttons her fly. She has stripped for Liara many, many times but this is different. She pulls her pants over her hips, slides them down and away until Sam is left wearing only her tee and a pair of black panties.

Liara's breath catches.

Finally, she breaks away, sashays the short distance to her study, retrieves an item from a desk drawer.

"You broke into my apartment. I should call security. But I think I will enjoy enforcing my own justice even more."

Sam squirms. "What? I- no-"

Liara wants her to, and true enough, when Liara digs her fingers into her upper arms to pacify her Sam feels her thrill.

"I can have security here in seconds. You're going to do exactly as I say."

Sam glimpses what Liara has in her hands. A surge of blood rushes to the base of her spine. She protests.

"No. Please no, not that, no –"

Liara grazes her palm over the front of Sam's panties, then away; she exhales, squeezes her eyes shut. Liara holds her up.

"Yes?"

Sam's short of breath. "Yes. Please."

Something rubbery presses through Sam's closed lips into her mouth. It is attached to a strip of thick fabric running around her face. Liara ties it tight at the back. A suppressor gag. Mild panic shoots through her until she realises she can compensate by breathing through her nose.

By the time it subsides, she has been walked over to the study. Liara strokes her fingers over the gag, eyes heavy lidded with pleasure. Her eyes swirl black and Sam hears Liara's voice in her mind.

Flash red and I will stop. Do you understand?

Sam nods. She's shoved face-down onto her desk.

"Reach forward. Further. Further. Yes, on tiptoe. Good. Place both hands on the desk. Legs apart."

Sam lies with her face to the side, breathes deep. Goosebumps rise up from her calves, her exposed thighs, start a snarl of pleasure in her centre. She wants to be filled.

Sam begins to follow Liara's commands silently, one by one. Allows herself to be used and guided.

"Whatever you do, do not reach back. Do not move your hands."

As soon the words leave Liara's mouth Sam needs to move. She needs to brush her hair out of her face. Her arms itch. But her hands are tied in place by Liara's words.

She fights the impulse until she feels Liara's hands slip under the waistband of her panties. She peels them down, slow. The gloves are gone; her skin is soft, warm against Sam's cheeks. Her hips grind into the desk. She get a sharp pinch as reward, jerks still. A warning.

Liara leaves her panties bunched where Sam's cheeks meet the top of her thighs. A reminder and a restraint. Sam flexes slightly, experimentally, and they still tease maddeningly against her lips.

Sam knows Liara has gagged her for a reason. She is expecting what happens next but the sharp sting still makes her eyes widen. She whimpers in time as Liara delivers twelve smart smacks – enough to burn but not hard enough to leave marks, not yet – on alternating cheeks. When she pauses, Sam lifts her smarting haunches into Liara's hands.

"You want more? Good girl."

Thwack-thwack-thwack. Another twelve smacks, harder and faster this time. Another dozen, harder still, all over her ass. Another, fast, until Sam bites down on the rubber in her mouth, centre gorged with blood. Her whimpers become full-throated moans. It is sharp, smouldering, almost unbearable; her legs buckle.

Her skin is alive and screaming.

When she is on the brink of flashing red Liara pauses, caresses her bottom with silky hands. Sam feels Liara's mind nudge up against her own, close; cool, like a balm.

Such a good girl.

Liara senses when Sam is ready for more. She steps away from Sam's throbbing ass, quivering and exposed in open air. Then Liara's nails rake down her swollen, tenderised cheeks. Her cry is muffled; but sensations no longer register as pain. Instead, Sam bucks and groans, again and again, as Liara rains blows across her cheeks with the strap of her own belt, until she's collapsing into the desk.

There is nothing but the belt, the crack, and the slap on her agonised ass.

Time disappears until Liara stops.

Her ass burns, red-hot. Liara drapes her body over her, holds cold metal scales on Sam's cheeks. She's heavy in her armour, her breathing quick. Sam hears her whispers in her mind, grinds back into her, needing her close. Liara reaches up and releases the gag. She's bitten down on it hard; Sam's jaw complains as Liara tugs it from her lips. Sam murmurs with pleasure. She can't help herself.

She is aching to be fucked now.

"Thank you," she breathes.

Liara smiles indulgently. Sam is still beneath her and she drops possessive kisses onto her neck, the side of her face.

Mine.

Yes.

Eventually, Liara rolls off. Sam waits for instructions. A hand presses into the folds between her legs, smears her wetness across her buttocks, where it cools onto her skin. Liara hisses into her ear.

"Get up."

Sam pushes herself upright on weak arms, sways. High on endorphins. Liara turns her around to face her, puts her arms around her waist. Grabs her sore, bare bottom with both hands and guides her in for a kiss. Liara's mouth is sweet. Her hands and her driving tongue are Sam's world.

When they break away Liara's fingertips stroke over her navel. She raises her arms, smiling crookedly, to let Liara pull her top over her head. She reaches behind to snap the clasps on her own bra. Now she's fully naked and Liara is fully dressed. Her head rushes; her heart skips. She's no longer sure who wants what – where Liara's need ends and hers begins.

Liara cups her breasts, rolls a nipple between her fingertips. She kisses Sam again, deep; deeper.

Sam twines her arms around Liara's neck as she's lifted into her strong arms. She lets her eyes flutter shut, just for a moment, as she's carried upstairs. She's dropped carefully on the bed, rolls onto her side, facing Liara. She's still severe, but their kiss has stung Liara's swollen lips . Sam can feel her desire coursing through her; Liara is taking care to keep their minds linked, to show her how much she wants this.

Sam is close, but she needs more.

Liara grabs her hands, pulls her up. Sam's guided to the straps holding her armour in place; she fumbles with the buckles. One by one, Sam eases the pieces from her body. The work is steady worship. She steals every chance to run her hands over Liara; she offers up kisses on the insides of her wrists, her ankles. Liara's taut like wire. Her breastplate comes away last, and Liara groans with pleasure. She pushes Sam back onto the bed, onto her side, wasting no time in removing her under-layers herself.

Liara poses her on her back, straddles her, azure body grinding down into Sam's hips. Biotics tickle deliciously over their joined bodies, and the ache in her buttocks is raw. Liara's slickness spreads across her belly as she rocks. When Liara leans over her Sam pushes up, takes a nipple into her mouth, feels Liara stiffen as she reaches under the pillow.

Liara pulls back with a length of purple rope. She twines it around Sam's bunched wrists, finishes quickly with a bowline knot.

Sam's learning.

She stretches Sam's arms back and leashes them to a loop behind the bed, then settles between her legs.

She crushes two fingers inside Sam to the hilt, spreads them. Sam gasps, bucks into Liara's hand, exquisitely full. Liara adds more fingers, pumps her fast and hard with their full length. She pauses occasionally to press deep into Sam's sweet spot. Sam thrusts her hips up to meet her hand.

Oh god – god – goddess – more -

Liara looks up at her, eyes twinkling mischievously. This time Sam melts into her palm.

Let me in. All of me.

Liara pushes, strong, insistent. Sam's opening, keeps opening, wider, until Sam screams with pleasure, about to be split open, and lets all of Liara inside.

Liara is inside her body and Sam is inside her mind, like she wanted, like she dreamed. Liara's utterly focused on her, bringing her pleasure, making her happy. Just like always.

Perfect.

Now Liara's flexing, pushing, drunk on Sam, eyes on Sam , hand working urgently between her own legs until Sam bursts -

Please – Liara – please -

and they climax, together; a long, slow roll uncoiling from her centre, passing between both of them, shaking their bodies and spreading through both their minds.

Sam's emptied quickly; Liara removes her hand before she can start to close up. Liara senses the loss Sam feels, moves up to tug the knots loose and gather her into her arms. Joy and satisfaction and love echoes, mingles. Sam rolls onto Liara's chest, kisses her in an exhausted daze. Both are covered with sweat.

Was I good?

My love, you were incredible. I have never felt that before. With anyone.

Good. Don't.

Amusement fluttered through Liara (or was it her?). Hands roam over skin, tender. I won't.

Will you share a memory with me? A good one?

Liara kisses her hair. Everything will be all right. Whatever you want to see.

THE END