Author's Notes

Thank you to everyone who read and reviewed the last chapter! It's been years since I last wrote anything so I'm a little rusty. This chapter focuses mainly on Miranda and Jack and it has some harsh language and innuendo because it's, well, Jack. Anyway, hope you guys enjoy!

Chapter setting: While Shepard heads off to help Thane find his son, everyone takes the time to enjoy some shore leave.


Chapter 2 – Girl Talk

"I don't need a fucking babysitter, Cheerleader. Get lost!"

Miranda sighed for what felt like the hundredth time in the last hour. The Normandy was currently docked at Citadel for a chance to refuel and restock supplies.

The main reason they were here, however, was because Thane had informed the commander about some important business he had to settle regarding family. Shepard immediately ordered Joker to plot a course to the Citadel. Miranda couldn't really protest about his decision since he too went out of his way to help her with her sister, Oriana.

Once they've docked, the commander had announced a few days shore leave for the crew, much to their delight, although a couple of them, including Joker, had opted to remain on the Normandy. As for the ground team, majority were off doing their own things. Miranda made sure that they kept either her or Shepard informed of their locations in case of any emergencies.

Garrus and Tali had left for the marketplace, looking to stock up on some replacement parts for the Kodiak shuttle and the Hammerhead tank as well as pick up a few weapon mods. Kasumi vanished the moment she stepped out of the airlock and Miranda can only hope she doesn't get a call from C-Sec any time soon. Jacob, to her surprise, chose to stay on the Normandy. His reasoning was that he needed to clean their weapons since their last mission on Tuchanka had caused a sand build-up in some parts. Samara was also back on the ship, saying that she had no business on the Citadel and that her "presence will only invite unwanted attention from the asari denizens". Shepard joked that them arriving in a vessel flying Cerberus colors and with the huge Cerberus logo painted on the hull had already garnered all the attention they could ask for. Mordin had rushed off to various medical centers to stock up on some chemicals, despite Miranda's reasoning that he could just request them through her. But the salarian had politely refused, saying that he'd rather procure them himself and she didn't press the issue anymore.

As for Grunt and Zaaed, the grizzled old mercenary promptly dragged the young krogan off to a bar to "celebrate him becoming a man". Jack wanted to tag along but Zaaed told her it was guys-only event and they left without her. The convict promptly let out a storm of curses and stalked off on her own.

Despite her time on the Normandy, Jack was still an unstable element, and neither Miranda nor Shepard trusted her enough yet to go off on her own. And with Shepard off assisting Thane, Miranda was the only one left to go after her. Which brought them so where they are currently.

Jack gulped down her fifth glass of alcohol, letting out a belch that'll make a krogan name their first-born after, before ordering yet another round.

Miranda frowned apprehensively at the glowing green liquid the turian bartender slid in front of the convict. Shaking her head disgustingly, she turned around to take in her surroundings. They were at the Dark Star, one of the more fancy bars on Zakera Ward. It's not the place she'd associate Jack with but tattooed woman had snapped, "Since Cerberus is footing the bill I'll drink wherever I damn well choose too!"

The Normandy's XO closed her eyes and counted to ten before opening them again, watching Jack toss back a shot of something blue.

"Seriously Jack, slow down," Miranda shook her head. "I'm not carrying you back no matter what."

"Fuck you, Cheerleader," Jack spat, slamming the glass back down and shooting her a venomous look. "I didn't ask you along!"

"The commander ordered me to keep an eye on you," Miranda shot back, crossing her arms and raising her chin.

"I don't need a fucking babysitter, Cheerleader. Get lost!"

Miranda knows there's no point antagonizing Jack any further. The psychotic biotic had been in a horrid mood recently. She had informed Shepard about her desire to return to the Teltin facility and while the commander had agreed to help her, he had yet to set a course for Pragia. Firstly, they had to make an emergency detour to the ass end of nowhere to find the Quarian Migrant Fleet and contest some charges against Zorah, then a trip to Tuchanka before Grunt punched a hole in hull and to rescue Mordin's assistant. And now he's decided to stop at the Citadel for Thane. To say Jack was pissed was an understatement.

"No matter what you say Jack I have my orders," Miranda tried to reason. "Shepard's worried about you, you know?"

"Oh really?" Jack sneered. "Well, tell him to go fuck himself. Or is he too busy trying to get inside Princess Buckethead's suit?"

She tossed back another shot and Miranda resisted the urge to rub that spot between her eyes.

"Jack," she tried to keep her voice steady. "Please show some respect for you fellow crewmates."

The tattooed woman merely grinned menacingly back at her.

"What's the matter, Cerberus?" she leaned closer to her. "Jealous?"

Miranda tried not to gape at the accusation.

"Whay I be jealous of?" she snapped.

"Come one, Cheerleader," Jack rolled her eyes. "Aren't you supposed to be some perfect bitch? That every guy in the world lusts for and desires? And yet, our resident boyscout has eyes only for the suitrat. That has to sting doesn't it?"

Miranda couldn't help but winch slightly. There's no doubt that Commander Shepard is an extremely attractive man. But she can safely say that what she felt for him was platonic instead of romantic. Still, the fact that he may have passed over her, the "perfect woman", for a quarian hurts a bit.

"Geez," Jack snorted, bringing Miranda back from her thoughts. "You need to get laid."

Miranda could only sit silently, dumbfounded at the convict's crude bluntness.

"You know I wouldn't mind banging the boyscout," Jack said, almost as though it's an after thought. "The nice ones are always the wildest in the sack."

"Oh for the love of.." Miranda's palm met her face as she sank into the barstool.

"You what I'll do," the convict smiled predatorily. "I'll take him right there below the engine room. Make enough noise for the quarian to hear. It'll be fun watching her blow a gasket."

"Enough, Jack!" Miranda jumped up and slammed a fist into the bar, denting the metal surface slightly. "I won't have you talk about the commander in this manner!"

People all around were starting to stare at them. Miranda huffed and sat back down, eying the drink shelves in front of her before shaking her head.

"Fine fine," Jack shrugged, chugging down a new drink. "Don't need to get your panties twisted. If you're even wearing any…"

They sat quietly for a few minutes, Miranda breathing slowly to calm herself down and Jack pounding back more drinks.

"So," Jack spoke up suddenly. "What's your type then?"

"Jack, please just stop," Miranda sighed, rubbing her temples.

"Relax, Cheerleader," the convict drawled. "I'm just trying to have a heart-to-heart good old fashioned girl talk here."

"Well, I'm not interested in 'girl talk'," the XO snapped. "Just finished off your drink so we can leave."

"So Jacob then?" Jack said, ignoring her. "You like some hot chocolate?"

Miranda almost fell off her barstool.

"Ok, seriously?"

"Hmmm, Zaaed? Bet that old geezer's got experience under his belt. Heh, 'under his belt'."

The Cerberus officer buried her face in her hands.

"How about Vakarian? He's all goody goody two-shoes but what did I say about nice guys. And turians with the fangs and claws, definitely a different experience. Trust me."

"Jack, please," Miranda groaned, her head hitting the bar.

"Oh I know!" Jack exclaimed, swallowing the drink and turning to give the XO a wicked smirk. "Isn't Grunt a 'man' now? Why don't you break him in?"

"Excuse me, give me the strongest thing you have behind the bar. Right now! Thank you!"


"Ugh…"

She opened her eyes and was immediately assaulted by a massive headache. Groaning, she threw her arms over her eyes.

"Well, it's good to see you're finally awake," a voice piped up with a slight hint of laughter.

Carefully, Miranda lifted her arm to peek, allowing her eyes to adjust to lighting. She was back in her room/office on the Normandy, the holo clock on the nightstand showed that it was early morning. Slowly, she raised her head to see who the voice belonged it.

Unsurprisingly, the commander was comfortably lounging on her sofa, his legs kicked up on the coffee table and a smug grin plastered on his face. Normally, Miranda would have asked him to put his boots down, but her head was pounding too much for her to even care.

"Shepard," she mumbled, covering her eyes again.

"Miranda," Shepard nodded, still smirking.

"What… what happened last night?" she asked, pinching her nose bridge.

"I should be asking you that," the commander said, leaning forwards and placing the datapad he was reading on the table. "I vaguely recalled asking you to look after Jack. The next thing I know she was carrying you back on board. Care to fill in the gaps?"

Miranda blinked before inclining her head slightly to look at Shepard.

"Jack… brought me back?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Well, she did mentioned she was about to leave you all by yourself. That is until you paid for her drinks out of your own pocket."

Miranda shot up suddenly, instantly regretting it as a sharp pain shot straight through her head.

"I did what?!"

She fired up her omnitool, and with a few taps, she pulled up her account. Sure enough, the latest deduction was time-stamped the night before and credited to "Dark Star". The Cerberus officer groaned again, before collapsing back onto the bed.

"Miranda?"

"It wasn't my fault, Shepard!" she moaned. "I didn't know how it happened! I was just watching over her then she said a few things and I just lost it."

The commander didn't say anything but his expression hasn't changed yet.

"What, Shepard?!" the woman snapped. She was not in the mood for his mind games. "Fine, I promise it happen again, I'll be more careful. Now wiped that stupid smile off your face."

To her surprise, the commander chuckled loudly. Miranda narrowed her eyes.

"Relax, Lawson," he said. "I'm not going to give you a lecture or anything."

"Why?"

"Because," he added. "It's nice to see you relax and let loose every once in a while."

Miranda lay back down, deep in thought. Ever since Shepard's awakening, she can't remember when was the last time she truly relaxed. She had to run the Normandy from reporting back to the Illusive Man every once in while to fulfilling requisition orders from the crew. As well as finding out information about sister.

Then there were the ground missions she had to go to: Omega, Haestrom, Horizon, Illium and a few others. She did have a drink every once in a while like a glass of wine before bed, but she never really got a moment's rest or a chance to properly unwind.

"I really needed that didn't I?" she laughed quietly.

"As long as it's not a daily occurrence I'm sure it won't hurt," the commander shrugged.

"It'll be a while before I'll do something like that again, commander," Miranda rubbed her temples. "I'm guessing I'll need to go and thank Jack then?"

"If you want to," Shepard rubbed the back of his neck. "But I wouldn't do that right away, considering how she might be worst off than you."

Miranda nodded and silence fell over the both of them. It was broken by a quiet beep and Shepard raised his omnitool to check the message. He read it quickly but thoroughly before frowning.

"Garrus wants to meet me right away at the docks, he says it's urgent," Shepard explained, standing up then turning to his XO.

"You should go," Miranda waved him away. "I'll get some work done here."

As she tried to get up, Shepard grabbed her shoulders and gently pushed her back down.

"Get some rest, Miss Lawson," he smiled. "I'm sure you can afford to take a day off. Everyone is still on shore leave anyway."

Miranda considered it before nodded.

"That sounds like a great idea at the moment, Shepard," she said, failing to stifle a yawn.

"I'll have EDI lock the doors and make sure no one bothers you for the day."

"I appreciate it, commander. Thank you."

Shepard made his way to the doors but before stepping out, he turned back to her.

"By the way, you know you talk in your sleep right? Something about hot chocolate?"

Miranda literally leapt out of bed and grabbed her clock, almost tossing it at the commander as he sprinted from the room, laughing loudly. When the doors slammed shut again, she fell back down on the bed face first and cursed into her pillows.

"Damn you, Jack!"


Postscript:

Yes I know Jack doesn't get hangovers, but they don't know that ;) Also, while I ship Shepard/Tali, I do happen to like Miranda as a character. I've got a couple more ideas for new chapters in my head right now and I'll start writing them soon!