Thane Thursday: Losing, Chapter 13

Thane was as slow and thoughtful in kissing me as he was in so much else. I luxuriated in the feel of his mouth on mine. But when my hands began to wander too far afield he stopped me. "Siha, are you sure?" he asked. I glanced up at him, prepared to laugh, but his face stopped me. He looked concerned, tentative. I ran my finger across his lower lip, giving myself a moment to seriously consider the question. The hell of it was that I couldn't, as much as I wanted to, say yes.

I heaved a massive sigh. "No." Thane knew me too well. I may have decided to put Kaidan on the back burner, if not in the fridge entirely, but that didn't mean that I had gotten over him. They say the best way to do that was to get under someone else but it was still too soon. I wrapped my arms around Thane again and snuggled in close. As badly as I wanted to be with him I simply wasn't ready. "I seem to spend half my time thanking you, Thane," I said, "right after I apologize."

He held me close and I lay still, listening to his heartbeat and his not-quite-right breathing. "We need not rush," he said calmly. "This will suffice for now."

My body disagreed but my heart knew that he was right. We didn't have to vault straight from platonic to intimate. It might be fun in the short term but building a relationship meant more than a mere fling. "Besides," I said, "just think how delicious the anticipation will be." Thane smiled and kissed me again. "Delicious, indeed," he answered. "But now that you have rested we must return to our duties."

I playfully punched his shoulder. "Spoilsport." But I climbed out of bed anyway.

I straightened my clothes, brushed my hair and teeth, and got one more lingering hug before we took the elevator back down to the crew quarters. Thane headed back to his room to clean and fine-tune both of our sniper rifles, a task he enjoyed far more than I.

I grabbed a snack in the mess hall and went to discuss with Miranda any other surprises her boss might have in store for us. The Illusive Man's track record had shown me that I could take nothing he offered at face value. Miranda and I interacted in a frosty, narrow-eyed way that had thawed little over the months we'd worked together. Her blind loyalty to TIM, as I called him when I wanted to irritate her, would not allow me to trust her any more than I did him. Most of my crew had never even met the man and had made it clear that their faith lay in the mission and in me rather than the rogues and murderers of Cerberus. With all of that tension in the room with us I didn't see how Miranda and I could be anything but uneasy co-workers despite our early moments of camaraderie after we’d helped her clone sister.

"Another day, another TIM trap," I said as Miranda's door slid shut behind me. "We're all lucky the three of us weren't killed on that ship."

"Perhaps we have more faith in your abilities than you do, Shepard."

"You certainly believe in my talent for getting into the heart of a deadly situation to extract the data you want. I do detect a note of surprise when my team manages to get back out of some of them, though."

We glared at each other and I decided that I was wasting my time on unproductive bickering. "At any rate, did he send you anything about the geth?" I asked. "His message to me just left it to my discretion, again, and I was hoping for once we could be open enough to prevent a crazed sentient robot from shooting up my ship. Where is it, anyway?"

"It's in the AI Core room," she answered, "and The Illusive Man doesn't know any more than we do why it was on that derelict Reaper."

"You put it in a room where, should it be able to reactivate itself, it would have access to the ship computer's controls?" I asked with a mix of fury and incredulity. "Have you been hitting the doctor's brandy?"

"I'm not a complete moron, Shepard," she replied hotly. "It's under guard and Mordin and EDI checked it out to make certain that couldn't happen." I'd have put the thing in a closet in the armory, with lots of weapons handy just in case. I wondered if she'd chosen the AI core because it was so near her office but decided it was a moot point. I had to activate and interrogate the thing regardless of where it lay. With a dismissive gesture I turned on my heel to leave. "Fine," I said. "I'll take care of it."

I walked across the mess hall and through the med bay. The door of the AI Core room had been sealed for our entire journey thus far, and with good reason. Anyone wanting to sabotage the ship would find us easy prey if they could simply take down the computers that allowed us to navigate and breathe, among other things. I shook my head as the door slid open before me. Idiot, I thought.

A lone, armed man stood inside, his wide eyes fixed on the ichor-splashed metal form. I could smell it from the doorway and couldn't imagine being sealed in the room with it alone. I left the door open and ordered the poor guy to stand off to the side so that he could cover the geth but wouldn't accidentally shoot me. I saw out of the corner of my eye that Miranda had stepped into the med bay but I couldn't bother with her just then. At least she'd thought to have the thing disarmed.

I drew my pistol and stood ready. "EDI, I'm going to boot it up," I said, hoping I sounded more confident than I felt. I restored power to the geth and it climbed to its feet. It stood before us, making no threatening moves. Then it spoke.

"Shepard. Commander. Human."

As far as I knew no one had ever heard a geth speak in Galactic Standard. Once I'd recovered from the surprise I started to question it. It knew my name, where it was, and what had happened to it on the Reaper ship. It also told me that it had been looking for me and that the piece of armor on its chest was, in fact, part of the armor in which I had died.

My mind reeled as EDI and the geth chatted about naming it Legion. I didn't care what it was called; I wanted to know why the hell I had a creepy robo-stalker. The idea that it had been following me around the galaxy made me want to shut it down again, posthaste, but I realized how important a race of interconnected sentient robots could be to fighting the Reapers, if most of the geth weren't actually working for them as this one claimed.

Not at all to my surprise, Legion needed a favor from me. I was ready to decline when it explained that the favor involved destroying what it called heretic geth. I didn't understand how I now had a robot with a Biblical name and was agreeing to hunt down heretical mechanical creatures, but it certainly sounded interesting. I just needed to keep the Quarians from declaring war on them while I worked out whether Legion was telling the truth. I wasn't looking forward to explaining this to Tali.

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