Disclaimer: Mass Effect is the property of Bioware an Electronic Arts.oO0Oo
As the small band of castaways sat around the camp-fire, their nightly tradition after the toils of surviving another day, the topic—as it frequently did—turned to Commander Shepard. Garrus was in the middle of regaling them with the tale of the time he was on Omega playing the role of Archangel, when Joker's softly spoken voice cut across his story.
“She was in love with you, you know.”
Ashley Williams glanced up from cleaning her dismantled assault rifle to see who was the recipient of this confirmation of Shepard's affections, only to see everyone else looking at her. Ash felt her jaw drop as the others voiced their agreement.
“Damn straight.” Garrus agreed.
“You're the reason I never had a Chance with Shepard.” Liara's voice held a note of wistful regret.
The former Lieutenant Commander was stunned. “What? Since when?”
Joker's eyes grew distant as his mouth settled into a soft smile. “She was attracted to you pretty much from Eden Prime. The love? Well I'd guess she
realized after Virmire, but I could see it was there before that.”
“I'd believed that she had an interest in Lieutenant Alenko and he, well he believed the attraction was for me. When we confronted her about it we were both
proven mistaken.” Liara admitted, shaking her head sadly, as her cheeks flushed a darker shade of blue in remembered embarrassment.
“But… but.” Ashley stammered as she tried to wrap her head around what they were telling her.
“You don't think that she subjected herself to those interminable elevator rides just for a status report. A report that she could have just asked for by comm, do you? No, it was pretty obvious to me as I was running my calibrations, that she was there to spend time with you.” Garrus' comment drew a chuckle from the rest at the mention of his favorite—shipboard—pastime.
“She was pretty broken up after your confrontation on Horizon, locked herself in her cabin for a couple of days. It had Lawson worried that she was going to abandon the mission for awhile.”
Ashley flinched at the memory of how she'd torn into the commander for working with Cerberus.
“After you were injured on Mars and we got to the Citadel, did she report to the Council first? No, she was at your
bedside, praying that you wouldn't die.” Liara's gaze was sympathetic as the depth of Shepard's feeling for her began to sink in.
“And every time we returned from a mission you were her first stop, book of poetry in hand.” Garrus added.
Ashley tried to speak, but the words stuck in her throat.
Joker's tired eyes bore into her own. “Shepard almost fell apart after you nearly killed each other, and then, after you joined us on the ship. You barely said two words to her
.” His harshly whispered last words slammed into her like point-blank shots.
” Liara admonished, though her eyes were understanding. “She loved you Ash. Loved you with every fibre
of her being.” The Asari's voice cracked as she tried to say what Shepard never could. “And she knew. Knew
, that you didn't… couldn't, return that love… and, and she was at peace with that. She… she made…” Liara broke off with a sob, pearlescent tears streaming down her cheeks.
“She made us promise to tell you, if we… if you
… survived.” Garrus continued for her, his voice thick with emotion. “That one of us would tell you what she
was unable to say.”
With tears running tracing the contours of he face, Ashley finally managed to hoarsely whisper. “I… I never knew.”