Title: Last Night of the World
Summary: "I told you that it had once been customary to allow soldiers about to go into battle to spend the night with whoever they wished." Miranda prepares to face the Collectors. Liara provides the only comfort she can.
Suicide missions made people insane. That was the only explanation for the report in front of her, Miranda decided. Tali—their chief engineer, the best tech expert they had—was taking herbal supplements and receiving immunoboosters in preparation for consummating her relationship with Shepard. Miranda shook her head in exasperation. The IFF was a mere two or three days away from being ready for shakedown. And then, the relay. They'd need everyone at their best if they hoped to survive, but Tali and Shepard were risking her life for the sake of sex.
Is it any stupider than you getting shot at or hit by debris while Liara took on the Shadow Broker? Miranda rubbed her shoulder absently. Medigel and her own accelerated healing abilities had ensured she recovered quickly, but she still had several bruises courtesy of the Shadow Broker's desk. It had been worth it. Liara had been guilt-ridden on Lazarus Station, even though Feron had known the risks. She'd believed Shepard would despise her for handing him over to Cerberus. A silly worry. How could anyone hate Liara for the courage and devotion she'd shown for Shepard's sake? Miranda would have done anything for it. Perhaps now Liara could find some peace. As much as the Shadow Broker could ever have peace.
Liara was on the Normandy now, having accepted Shepard's offer of a tour. Miranda considered her office the safest place to be. Seeing Liara always made her feel too much at once. She'd lusted after the asari almost from the moment they met on Omega, and their brief meeting on Illium had proven that time had done nothing to dull her foolish infatuation. There were those who called unrequited lust an exquisite torture. For Miranda, it was mostly just torture.
The door hissed softly as it opened. Miranda looked up and felt a familiar tightness in her chest. Liara. She was looking better than Miranda had ever seen her. Her flesh was a rich, healthy blue, and Miranda could see no sign of the fatigue that had seemed to be Liara's constant companion for two years. Her eyes hadn't changed. They were still the same brilliant shade of blue Miranda had found so terribly distracting during their first metti
She smiled when she saw Miranda. "It's good to see you again."
"I—good to see you too." She was aware she was speaking rapidly. Not quite babbling, but clearly caught off guard more than she should have been by a simple greeting. She indicated the chair nearest her desk. "Would you like something? I have some cognac somewhere around here."
"No, thank you." Liara's voice was soft and quiet, an echo of the archaeologist she had once been. "How are you? We haven't really had a chance to talk since, well, everything."
I'm probably going to be dead this time next week. The Illusive Man sent us into a trap on a Collector ship. Your mere presence apparently dooms me to act like a teenager. Miranda said none of that. Instead, she said, "Shepard and Tali are acting like a pair of bloody idiots."
Liara's smile was small and more than a little wistful. "We spoke a little about that. I've never seen him happier. She's been in love with him for as long as I've known her. I'm glad they're happy."
"And planning to risk her health right when we can least afford it."
"I've been told sex and romance are natural reactions to high stress situations. Centuries ago, it was customary for asari soldiers going into a battle where death seemed certain to be able to sleep with whoever they wished." She shifted slightly in her seat and her expression grew serious. "I admit I didn't come here to discuss Shepard or Tali. Shepard told me that you were very close to taking on the Collectors. Is that true?"
Miranda couldn't see any reason to lie. "Yes."
Liara bit her lower lip. Miranda was suddenly reminded how very young a hundred and eight was for an asari. "And what do you think the odds are that... that you'll come back alive?"
"Why are you asking me? Shepard's the one in charge of this mission."
Liara's gaze was steady and unblinking. Miranda felt a heat in her cheeks that had nothing to do with desire. This must've been how Liara looked when she was analyzing Prothean artifacts. "Because you would tell me the truth," she said slowly. "I was a little frightened of you at first before I could tell the difference between coldness and dedication. Now I think you may be the only person on this ship who will give me an honest answer."
Miranda stood and crossed over to the window. Stars shone for as far as the eye could see. The sight made her feel strangely calm. Whatever happened, something in this galaxy would outlast even the Reapers. "We've tried to get the crew as focused on the mission as we can, but we still have no real idea of what will be facing on the other side of the relay. I expect that there will be substantial casualties." It felt strange to say that out loud. She'd never confided her doubts to the crew. It was her job as XO to be strong and certain at all times. Doubt made you look weak. She might have confided in Shepard, but they had never been truly close. Liara wasn't part of the mission, technically. And she had trusted Miranda to give her an honest answer.
"I—I see." Miranda heard Liara stand in the sound of her shoes as she came closer. "It's not fair. After everything Feron and I did, it turns out that it was just so Shepard could go on another suicide mission."
The bark of laughter escaped before Miranda could stop it. "I would think after all you've been through that you would know that life isn't fair."
"And that makes it right? You gave up two years of your life so Shepard could come back. You performed a medical procedure that until now would have been classed as either impossible or a miracle. And Cerberus sends you to die!" Liara's voice was hoarse, almost broken.
Miranda couldn't quite bear to look at her. She'd seen Liara angry, even petulant, on Omega. She never thought she would hear Liara expressing righteous anger on her behalf. She spent two years of her life searching for someone who betrayed her more than once. She can afford a little compassion for you. "If the old Broker's files on me are half as extensive as I think they are, you must know that I have a sister. If this mission gets her a better chance to survive when the Reapers come, then it's worth it. If my life is the price to save dozens of colonies, so be it." What good were her father's gifts if she didn't use them for the sake of humanity?
"But you deserve better. Surely you must want something for yourself before you..." She could hear Liara fumbling for the right word. "... before you go into battle?"
There were more footsteps. Liara placed a hand on her shoulder. Miranda could feel the warmth and the weight of it even through her uniform. She could remember doing the same for Liara once on Lazarus Station, a lifetime ago. "Just tell me if there's anything I can do for you, and I will."
There were two things. One of them was selfish and impossible besides. "Promise me that you'll never reveal Oriana's location to anyone, no matter how much they pay you." Her throat felt as if it had been scraped raw. She wondered if Liara realized the enormity of her request. The Shadow Broker had always sold to the highest bidder, and Miranda was asking her to compromise that neutrality for the sake of one person.
"Of course," Liara said, as if it were the simplest thing in the world.
"Thank you." Miranda didn't even bother to hide the relief in her voice.
"Is that all? I thought..." Liara trailed off. If Miranda hadn't known better, she would have said the asari was disappointed. Liara's hand left her shoulder and trailed up the side of her neck. Miranda shivered. Liara's fingers were rough and slightly calloused, another reminder of her former life excavating ruins. The sensation was exhilarating. The caresses—and there was no other word for these gentle, smooth strokes—continued.
"What are you doing?" The words came out more shakily that Miranda intended.
Liara didn't answer out loud. Instead, she gently turned Miranda to face her. Her breathing sounded very loud in the sudden silence. Her eyes darkened slightly. "Now or never," she whispered and covered Miranda's lips with her own. The kiss was gentle, almost hesitant. Chaste, really. It was still enough to undo Miranda. She made a small, pleased, noise in the back of her throat. I must be dreaming.
And, if she were dreaming, she might as well enjoy herself before she woke up. Miranda snaked one arm around Liara's waist and used it to pull her close. The asari was as soft and warm as Miranda had always imagined. She deepened the kiss, and soon Liara was making pleased noises of her own. She tasted of citrus and fine asari wines. She threaded her fingers through Miranda's hair. Miranda's nibbled gently on Liara's lower lip, tugging gently. This was, well, fantastic.
The sudden need for air was the first clue that Miranda might not be dreaming. The second was the way the Liara's eyes glittered with a smug amusement. Liara was never amused in these particular fantasies. "I was right," she said, more to herself than to Miranda. "You are attracted to me. I was afraid I'd misread you."
Miranda's head was still spinning. She felt as if she had been dropped into a bizarre parallel universe where nothing made sense. Liara had suspected her attraction, despite Miranda's best efforts to hide it. Miranda's smile had more than a hint of self-deprecation. Of course she suspected. You don't get to be a good information broker without learning how to read people. And she had enjoyed the kiss. "More than attracted," she whispered.
Liara colored slightly. "Then... Goddess, this is embarrassing." She cleared her throat. "I told you that it had once been customary to allow soldiers about to go into battle to spend the night with whoever they wished. I thought...maybe...you might want to..."
It took several seconds for Miranda to process Liara's words. "Are you offering to have sex with me?"
Liara smiled again. "If you want me."
Miranda kissed Liara again, a short brutal kiss with none of the earlier gentleness. She didn't want gentleness tonight. She wanted to take the tension, stress, and anxiety thrumming through her and pour it out onto Liara until they were both spent. Her nails dug into Liara's shoulder, eliciting short, breathy gasps. Miranda broke the kiss and stepped back, curious about the effect she'd had. Liara's eyes were half way glazed over and her lips faintly bruised. Pride and lust made for a heady cocktail. Got you now, Miranda thought with a predatory smile. She could see her own lust mirrored in Liara's expression. Perhaps this was a bit more than charity for the soon-to-be dead woman?
"Tell me what you want me to do." Miranda bit back a laugh. She was fairly certain Liara was attempting seductive, but it sounded like she'd stolen the tone from a cheap vid somewhere. But Miranda appreciated the sentiment.
"Take off your dress," Miranda ordered. "Your underwear, too." Liara obeyed. And now Miranda was absolutely certain she wasn't dreaming. Her fantasies of a naked Liara had been hopelessly generic compared to the real thing. Her freckles went all the way down her body. Miranda fought the urge to count them. Her nipples were a soft shade of lavender. Miranda licked her lips, imagining her mouth there. And just above Liara's tailbone was a small and inviting lump of flesh. Miranda knew exactly what she wanted to do with that. Oh, yes, this was going to be fun.
"Door: seal." The control pad on the door turned red. Nothing short of a shipwide emergency would interrupt them now. Miranda circled around to stand behind Liara, inspecting and considering what she wanted to do next. She shivered with anticipation. How many times had she dreamed of this before berating herself for fantasizing about something she would never have? Well, she hadn't now. She had to make this count. Make it good for both of them. This wasn't some quick fuck in an apartment with a man whose name she didn't know. This was Liara. She only had one night; but, dear God, she had all night. Miranda intended to savor it.
She pulled Liara flush against her and angled her head to kiss along her neck and shoulder. "You... like... that?" she murmured against Liara's skin. Liara made a noise of assent. Emboldened, Miranda covered every inch of skin she could reach with her lips. She reached around and cupped Liara's left breast with her palm. For a long moment, she simply held it, getting used to feel. Liara was very still and quiet. Miranda began circling and pinching the nipple. Liara shook, and her breath came in hoarse, ragged gasps. Miranda felt smug.
Until she realized that Liara wasn't shaking with arousal, but laughter. "That tickles."
Miranda stepped back and dropped her hand away. Her cheeks burned. Ticklish? She wasn't precisely experienced with asari—a few brief encounters during her university days—but none of her former lovers, human or asari, had ever complained when she did that. She hated these kinds of misjudgments. She was supposed to be the one who was experienced and in control, who could make Liara putty in her hands. She wasn't supposed to accidentally tickle her! She barely resisted the urge to bury her face in her hands.
Liara turned around. Her expression was halfway between amused and tender. "It's all right. This is about you, anyway, not me." She reached for the zipper on Miranda's uniform. "I think it's high time we took off your clothes."
Miranda shook her head. "Let me." She could be in control of this much, at least. She tugged the zipper down centimeter by centimeter. Liara's hungry expression was a sop to her bruised ego. Really, it had been stupid to assume Liara would like everything a human would. Come to think of it, the asari hadn't been all that enthusiastic during that part. Dear God, they'd been humoring the sheltered girl who had still been figuring what she liked. Wild hilarity bubbled up inside her. She didn't know which was better: wanting to laugh or finding that she could in spite of what awaited her through the relay.
"What happened to you?" Liara's voice was abruptly all tenderness and concern.
Miranda looked down. Damn it. Small, faded bruises dotted her chest. They would've been gone within a day or two. But they were here now for Liara to see. She extended a tentative hand to hover over a particularly nasty-looking yellowish contusion. "The yahg?" she asked.
"Oh," she said in a small voice. She looked from the bruises to Miranda's face and back again. "You didn't have to fight that day. No one would have said anything if you stayed behind to take command of the ship. Some would have said it was your duty."
"Of course I had to fight." Miranda could hear the low throb in her voice and cursed herself for her weakness. She didn't want to endure any platitudes about how brave and noble she'd been or what a sacrifice she'd made.
There were no platitudes. Suddenly Liara was in her arms and kissing her again. Miranda had no energy for cursing herself or for anything other than keeping up with the asari. Liara hands roamed freely, though she was mindful of the bruises. Miranda's skin tingled. She fell younger, more truly alive then she had in years him and. Liara trailed a series of hot, quick kisses from Miranda's mouth, across her cheek, and down her throat. She pushed the uniform down over Miranda's arms. Her hands trembled. Miranda could feel the lust spiraling through her, pooling in her gut like molten lava before radiating outward until it filled every inch of her. They stumbled toward the couch. Miranda didn't think she could make it to the bed. Her bra joined the rest of the discarded clothing on the floor. Miranda collapsed onto the couch and pulled Liara down on top of her. Skin slid against skin. Liara didn't let up. She seemed content to kiss and stroke her way down Miranda's body. Her nipples hardened under Liara's touch. She arched her back, offering herself up to Liara' like some ancient sacrifice. The still-rational part of her mind wondered exactly where Liara had learned to do all this and then promptly decided she didn't bloody care as long as Liara kept doing it.
It took some doing, but they managed to remove Miranda's panties and boots. Liara slid a hand gently, almost lazily, up her inner thigh, tracing intricate patterns as she did so. Miranda spread her legs slightly, granting Liara better access. She closed her eyes. The world narrowed to the feeling of Liara above her and the sound of her own labored breathing. Her skin felt too tight. She needed this. The thought was exhilarating and a little terrifying.
Liara stopped suddenly. A whimper escaped Miranda before she could stop it. You can't stop. Not now. Please. She looked up. Liara was gazing at her with a solemnity that would have been unnerving if it hadn't been so damn funny. "What?" Miranda asked, stupidly proud of herself for being capable of coherent speech under the circumstances.
"I, ah, I've never done this with a human female before. I mean, I know what goes where and we are sort of similar and I've done this before with another species and... and I'm afraid I'll screw it up."
Oh. Miranda felt strangely touched, impatience aside. She took Liara's hand and pressed it against her opening. Liara tried a few tentative swipes. The sensation of Liara's roughened fingers against her clit send a jolt of electricity through Miranda. Slowly, they established a rhythm. Liara was as quick a learner in this as she was in everything else. Miranda writhed under her. There was nothing left to do except us surrender and happily drown in the rising tide that was overtaking her The last thing she heard before orgasm completely overtook her was Liara laughing in relief and exultation.
Afterwards, they clung to each other. Miranda traced patterns of her own on Liara's back. She was warm and content for the first time since the Lazarus Project began. Whatever happened in the coming days, she was grateful for this particular moment. "Thank you," she whispered and brushed her lips against the top of Liara's forehead. "How long until Feron needs you again?"
"Not for a few hours yet. Why?"
A fiendish grin spread across Miranda face. "Then I have a chance to repay you." She was certain Liara would enjoy this. That hotel hadn't been named Azure for no reason. Her fingers moved down over the lump at the base of Liara's spine. The flesh was hot and almost satiny. Liara's eyes went black as she shuddered. "Feels...good."
The grin widened as Miranda summoned a flicker of biotic power. One could do quite a lot in a few hours, and Liara had promised her the night. "Oh, I'm just getting started."
Scraps of Parchment
You Watch While I Revise the World...
- Last Night of the World (Miranda/Liara, R) 1/1