She turned on her side and readjusted her pillows for what was probably the hundredth that night. As weary as she was, sleep should have been an easy task. Unfortunately her mind did not want to cooperate with what her body was demanding. Her mind wanted to think about Earth and all the horrors taking place there, about Kaiden and the angry bruises on his face, about Palaven and about Garrus. She hoped her turian friend was alive and well. Shepard uttered a dejected sigh and pulled herself off the mattress. She arched her back, stretching the sore muscles on her lithe frame that protested against the notion of having to do more work. Perhaps a stroll around the Normandy would ease her mind. Shepard stepped into her slippers and made for the elevator.
The CIC had been eerily quit even if the hour was late. The silence reminded of when the Collector's had abducted her crew. Shepard chased away the memories of the Collector base. She did not need another horrible thing to dwell on. The elevator opened to the crew deck. Shepard realized she had been hoping to find someone milling about but this space was just as quiet. Not surprising considering how little crew they had. At least she had been able to recruit Dr. Chakwas, the women had beamed when she invited her back to the ship. Shepard sat down at one of dinning tables and stared blankly at the door that lead to what should be the executive officer's quarters. Instead it was Shadow Broker headquarters, Liara had claimed the spacious cabin for her work as soon as should could. A smile crept across the commander's face, at least she did not need to worry about Liara. Shepard had been strung as tight as a piano wire when she knew Cerberus had attacked the research facility and her love was in there somewhere. As she thought about their reunion, she realized something else had been bothering her too. Liara had asked her if she wanted to continue being together after their forced separation of six months. The question had unnerved her, why would Liara believe a sixth month hiatus, which was not entirely of her choosing, could cause her to reconsider? It seemed Liara had regretted the question as soon as she had uttered it, but that could have been her reacting to the scowl plastered on Shepard's face. She quickly reassured Liara that she wanted, needed really, to continue their relationship. She had held her breath waiting for the asari to reply, perhaps it was Liara who wanted out? Her anxiety had been quickly replaced with comfort as her love stepped in closer, placing a gentle hand on her cheek and wrapping the other around her waist. She had returned the gesture and started to relax but then Liara said she had been getting worried. What had she done or not done to make Liara worry about their relationship? She wanted to tell Liara everything she meant to her and had said as much, but the asari deflected her advance. She was hiding behind her work, again. Liara offered to hear Shepard out later but that had done little to dispel a growing worry. Shepard had left feeling shunned.
Like a bolt of lightning the realization suddenly hit Shepard, she had not left her cabin to wander aimlessly around the Normandy. No, subconsciously her mind had been pushing her to seek Liara and settle this incongruity. It was later wasn't it? Liara needed to know how much she meant to her and Shepard needed to know that Liara knew it too. It was her and only her that could quell the restless storm within. Their bond would be the source of her strength, the reason to endure all the pain, to make the hard choices and to press on when all seemed lost. She was longing for that connection, the fuel for her fire. Shepard rose from her seat and made for Liara's cabin. The doors opened and closed quickly as Shepard stepped inside. The space was pitch black indicating Liara had finally decided to rest. She had been running just as ragged as her. Shepard suddenly felt uneasy. Should she wake Liara? Was she even asleep? She stood there for several beats, letting her eyes adjust to the darkness and weighing her options. She took a few steps forward without really knowing it, apparently her body had decided what she needed to do. Shepard blushed as that thought led to others. Well, it had been a long time since they'd been intimate. She crept forward, remembering from her earlier visit that thick cables crisscrossed the floor and could trip her up if she wasn't careful.
She made her way across without incident, feeling the fabric that served as a door to the living area. Quietly she pushed it aside, and was greeted with a soft glow from the small fish tank that occupied the night stand. Her heart tugged at her when her gazed shifted from the fish tank to the curled up asari peacefully asleep on the bed in front of her. Shepard stood there admiring Liara, the flattering curves of her body, which were bathed in the soft glow gave her an angelic appearance. The light danced across Liara's body when she breathed, rippling various hues of blue, even shades of purples along her body. Shepard never knew her scaly skin had a translucent quality. It was mesmerizing and just...beautiful. An overwhelming urge to snuggling up next to that body and feel the tantalizing textures of her skin plagued Shepard. She had hoped to talk to Liara but maybe just being close to her was enough. Shepard glanced at the overstuffed chair near the bed and considered it for a moment, she could sit there, maybe fall asleep watching her love. She wouldn't risk waking her then. No, it wouldn't do, she needed to connect with Liara, feel something outside of herself, touch something so beautiful and perfect, something worth fighting for.
Shepard stepped out her slippers and eased herself onto the bed. As lightly as she could, she maneuvered herself so that she was tightly snuggled up against Liara. Gingerly she draped her arm over the asari's and then weaseled the other arm under her sleeping frame around her waist. Her bare skin was cool, inviting and felt like the finest silk. Shepard touched her forehead to base of Liara's neck and breathed in her scent, then pressed her cheek against her back. She smelled like lavender and vanilla. She smelled like comfort and peace. Contentment settled over Shepard, she closed her eyes and took a deep, relaxing breath. Liara sighed and murmured something unintelligible in response. She waited for the thoughts that had been assaulting her earlier to return, but they didn't. All she could think of was Liara, her angel, her shelter from the storm, and that she was truly calm for the first time in her life.
Liara stretched and was surprised when her elbow connected with something solid. The "oomph" that followed sounded a lot like Shepard, but that couldn't be, she hadn't been there when Liara had crawled into bed last night. "Shepard?", she ventured. A human hand began caressing her forearm in answer to her query. Liara noticed the faint scar that ran down the back of the hand, which confirmed the interloper was indeed Shepard. Maybe the commander had gotten drunk and didn't know she had passed out in Liara's bed? The women did a have a tendency to hid her hurts in alcohol.
"Morning, angel," the commander murmured into her ear.
Angel? Since when did the Shepard use pet names for her? The term wasn't familiar to her anyway. She'd ask about it later. "Shepard, are you hung over?" The question sounded harsher then she meant. She was just horribly confused at the moment.
"What? No!", Shepard shot back. "I just," now she was just feeling childish, like a toddler looking for her security blanket, "I wanted to be near you. I can leave if you prefer." Some tough marine she was!
The sorrow that dripped from the last statement tore at Liara's heart. She felt the warmth Shepard radiated leave her back indicating the human had move away. Liara rolled to her back to find the commander sitting up in the bed, on top of the sheets. She reached up and grasped the human's shoulder, encouraging Shepard to look at her. When their eyes finally met, she replied, "You are always welcome here. Is there something bothering you?"
Well, she supposed there was no use in dodging the question. Liara would have it from her one way or another. "I couldn't sleep last night. I kept thinking about all the things I'm powerless to do anything about right now, like Earth and Kaiden. I'm worried about Garrus, too, but that isn't the worst of what is bothering me." She paused, letting her words settle in for Liara. The asari looked at her with genuine concern.
"That is quite a list. What could possibly top that?", Liara asked, truly baffled a what could possibly be worse then what had already been named.
Shepard just sat there a few beats. Are they that out of synch that Liara can't fathom that she is most important thing to her? Shepard wistfully remembered a time when they would finish each others sentences. That had been before the Normandy had been destroyed. Ever since then, she's had to fight for this relationship. She had fought the Illusive Man, the Collectors, the Shadow Broker, even Liara's guilt and doubts to bring them back together and now...now Liara thinks she may have changed her mind? She bristled at the thought.
"You are very tense, what's wrong?" Shepard realizes Liara is sitting up now, staring her in the face, concerned sapphire eyes locked with her distraught emerald ones. She feels a comforting hand on her cheek, a gentle touch encouraging trust.
"What did I ever do to make you think I didn't want us anymore?" The commander is surprised by her own tears. She hardly ever cries. Why is she crying now? Liara isn't going anywhere, right? The tension that had built up in her muscles moments ago begins to flow away with the tears that streak her face.
The asari held Shepard's trembling frame close. "Goddess, Shepard...please, don't cry. I just wanted to make sure. I mean, there was silence for six months. I considered how it was back when we were pursuing Saren, you were concerned that being together would affect the mission. I thought that with me back here on the Normandy again...well, I had to be certain of what you wanted. Do not let this trouble you any more, I want to be together." She eased them back against the mattress, snuggling her love in a comforting embrace. The commander's sorrow and apprehension melting away in response.
"They wouldn't let me contact anyone, Liara. I wasn't silent by choice. I certainly thought about you," an embarrassed chuckle escaped Shepard's lips, "Even wrote you letters I knew I could not send. I thought, maybe, once I was released." She wasn't sure how to convey what she felt. So much time had been stolen from them. Fate was indeed a cruel mistress, bringing them together only to deny them what they both longed after. But when had she ever been one to accept what fate had given her?
"I would love to read them," Liara soothed. Shepard shifted herself around so Liara could see her face. The asari's hand instinctively went to Shepard's fiery red hair. She thoroughly enjoyed playing with the human's hair, the feel of it so different and foreign to her.
"Then we will have to go to Earth and search the destroyed Alliance base. I had them on a datapad, which I foolishly left on a table in my quarters when the defense committee summoned me," regret filled Shepard's somber voice.
"Well, you could just tell me about them instead," Liara encouraged, a knowing smile lighting up her face. "I believe I am owed a list of reasons as to why you were happy to see me again." At this, Shepard grinned, just as she had hoped. The asari always felt a tinge of pride whenever she was able to bring a smile to her commander's face or cause a relaxed laugh. She gloried in her role of being Shepard's safe place, where facades and appearances were unnecessary. In a galaxy that demanded so much from her love, Liara made sure she asked nothing from her and was simply present, waiting with her unshakable faith and trust. It was her expression of love to Shepard, to be whatever the commander needed her to be at any moment.
"I was relieved to see you unharmed, and to know you were coming back to the Normandy. I can't face this without you, Liara. What we share gives me the strength to press on and the audacity to hope for a future despite what we face. Having you by my side again," Shepard paused as she struggled for the right words, but it seemed those words did not exist. "Let's just say you should expect to wake up next to me a lot. We've already lost so much time together, Liara. I intend to seize every moment I can with you."
"I am glad the feeling is mutual." Liara responded and then placed a soft kiss on the human's lips. Shepard's body responded immediately as months of pent up longing came flooding through their kiss. Liara knew Shepard was right, despite everything, they needed to steal whatever moments they could together. However small or trivial those moments might be. Their passion increased, feeding of each other as their kisses became deeper and more fervent. The desire to join was growing stronger with each passing second. Before she lost herself completely in their union, Liara silently promised they would share every night snuggled up in each others arms. Much to her delight, the growing presence in her mind couldn't be happier about her promise.