Mass Effect: Milieu

Loco Birds

Shepard cracked her neck to the side eyeing up her much larger and stronger opponent. Vega stretched his right arm across his massive chest.

"You ready, Lola?" James asked her. She rolled her shoulders and raised her fists, placing them in front of her in a defensive position.

"I'm always ready, James." She purred and sidestepped as his fist shot out aiming for her face.

"Huh, almost had you there," he grunted as she stepped forward blocking another punch and swinging out with one of her own. Vega blocked the blow and stepped back. "So, last time we danced you drilled me about my past, guess what?"

"You really want to travel down this road." She gritted out stepping forward her fist leading the way. Vega blocked and danced to the side.

"Yep, seems only fair." She swung again and he blocked moving out of her reach.

Shepard didn't answer. Instead she fainted to the right and jabbed with the left. James groaned as she connected with his side. "Okay, fine, Lieutenant, but just remember you might like my responses." She smiled, a little too knowingly.

"Fine, by me, Lola." He recovered from the hit and put up his fists again. "So, what's with you and the Major?" A fist snaked out trying to catch her off guard. Shepard lips lost their smile. She sidestepped the blow.

"We're friends." She responded blocking one more of his fists with her forearm and then ducking as his other fist swooshed toward her face again.

James rolled his eyes. "Friends? Is that what they are calling it now? Huh, no wonder I can't get a date."

"I could think of a few other reasons for you not getting a date, Vega."

"Ouch, low blow, Lola." Shepard straightened up. Her eyes glittered darkly.

"What do you want me to say, Vega? That we're lovers? Friends with benefits? Married? Divorced? What?" Shepard commented.

"How about the truth?" Vega jumped to the side as she lashed out going in low toward his stomach.

"Truth?" She laughed and shook her head, little slivers of her dark hair coming undone from its bindings. "Truth is…I don't know what we are anymore." She exhaled, pivoting as he bought up his arm to elbow her. She spun away from his attack.

"But, you use to be more?" When Shepard didn't answer he halted his advance. "Lola?" James lowered his arms and watched his CO. She was pretty and attractive, but she was living breathing legend, a true honest to goodness hero…he was lucky enough to know her, little alone tease her. The look that crossed her face though was…pensive. It bothered him. Commander Shepard was human. He knew that, but it was hard getting out a child's mindset about the savior of the galaxy.

"Commander?" James pressed her. She blinked and visibly shook herself.

"I'm fine." She stated. She wiped at her brow. But she didn't put her hands back up.

An awkward silence fell between them. Vega wasn't certain what to do. "I'm sorry, Lola." He shouldn't have brought it up. His curiosity had gotten the better of him. He wanted to know. The looks the two had been exchanging since the Major had come back on board the Normandy, the way she had reacted to him being hurt on Mars, and then there was the whole Citadel coup attempt. He had trusted her, and she him. At first Vega wasn't certain if Major Alenko would have lowered his weapon. But something in his eyes had flickered, something more than friends, or old comrades. He had trusted Shepard because they had been more…or were.

Shepard turned and walked toward his work bench. "Eh, Commander?"

She rolled her shoulders, leaning up against the bench she looked severely at him. "Look, James, it's nothing personal, but the Major and I…well…we've been friends for a while."

James approached her and leaned on the bench next to her. He crossed his arms, staring out across the hangar. "You don't have to explain, Lola." She sighed and he glanced at her from the corner of his eye. She bit her bottom lip. He felt like she wanted to talk about this. In fact, he probably guaranteed she had never mentioned this is anyone else before. He suspected Garrus knew, and Joker…Joker was something else altogether. If the pilot knew he kept it as quiet as Joker could, which meant he made small sidebar jokes and comments directed at both the Major and Commander.

She rubbed the back of her neck letting out a frustrated breath. "It's not that, James, it's just complicated. Back then we were under a lot of pressure and…"

"And you're not now?" He quipped.

"It's not the same. I was his CO at the time. What we had was …" she shook her head, "It's different now. We're both Spectres. He's not even officially under my command. He's here as a favor, nothing more." She said shrugging. "Sure, he gave up his command temporarily, and we may flirt, but…" He had never seen Shepard so…unsure. The way she chewed her lower lip, it was almost endearing, but in a kid sister or older sister kinda way.

"But, what, Lola, the guy's loco for you." James stated simply. "Any guy willing to walk away from his command and technically his duty, just to be a part of your crew has to have it bad for you or hell, at least be certifiably insane. It should be easier this time. No Regs, right? "Shepard laughed at his remark. She turned to face him. Then playfully punched him in the shoulder. "Hey, now I charge for that."

"But the advice is free?" She inquired.

He shrugged. "If you want it." Shepard laughed again and shook her head.

"James, you're a good friend."

"Oh, so friend, or do you mean 'friend'?" Before she can retort the doors slide open. Both Shepard and Vega stood up and looked toward the entrance. Steven walked over to his work station.

Shepard relaxed, but she couldn't hide the disappointment, though Major Alenko very rarely found his way down here. She still wanted to see him. What is it with these loco birds? Can't they see their perfect for each other?

"Hey, you want my advice, Commander?"

She grinned slightly. "What is it Vega?"

"Go talk to the Major." Shepard groaned and thumped back against the work bench. "Come on, Lola, you aren't scared of anything, how can you be scared of this?"

"I'm not scared, James, it's just…" she bit her lip again and looked toward the doors.

"You want to see him and talk to him…go to it, Lola."

"But I…"

"No, buts, Commander, go speak to him. See how he's settling in. Trust me. He'll want to see you too." James spun around to look at the mess on the workbench. He had taken apart his assault rifle and his shotgun. The guns were in two separate piles waiting patiently to be cleaned and reassembled.

Shepard pushed away from the bench. "Alright, fine." She snapped clearly not liking the idea that he had dismissed her. He smiled, she was like that though…she would never truly allow him to dismiss her, but she got the hint: what are you talking to me for when you should be speaking with him.

The doors to the hangar opened and closed with a barely audible swish. Vega's smile grew in size and he started humming as he reached for the disassembled shotgun.

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