Something went wrong. I fixed her, I fixed the Commander, but something went wrong, something didn't work. I don't know how I could fail her like this, how I could mess something so simple up, I'm supposed to be perfect. I don't make mistakes, I can't. But I did. I didn't bring back Shepard the way she was, and I've hurt three women in the process of failing.
I hurt Victory herself by bringing her back almost right, by ensuring that her memories of Tali and the time they spent together were there and flawless. Somewhere in there though, I crossed the wires or something, because all she could do when faced with the woman was squirm and look at everything but her. Afterwards, Shepard came to me and confessed that she remembered loving Tali, but that she just doesn't feel the emotions anymore. She doesn't feel the connection and she doesn't understand why. Neither do I, I was sure that I did everything right, but it still wasn't enough. I failed my commander.
I hurt Tali by giving her back the ghost of her past. When I brought back Shepard, I brought back everything that she had lost in the Collector attack, the most important person in her life. I had brought hope back into her world, only to watch the life be crushed out of her eyes as the Commander tried to act like they had never done anything. I saw what was left of Tali fade away as the woman she fell in love with pretended that they were only friends, that they had not shared the most intimate of rituals among the quarian people. I saw all of her hope for a future crash and burn, and I saw a resentment start to grow. I fear where that will lead as it matures.
Last of all, I hurt myself in ways that I can't even fathom right now. I failed in my objective, ruining a track record of flawless achievements, I failed almost immediately as the second-in-command of Cerberus when I let Victory make the decisions on our mission, and I failed as her XO when she came to me to confess and all I could do was stare at the lips I'd fixed, marvel at how soft they looked, how fluidly they moved. I blatantly stared at her and admired my work, and then I forgot that I was admiring my achievements and just started to admire her. I admired her bearing, the dancing light in her eyes, the strength of her voice, the assured motions she had when she walked or moved anywhere. I stared hungrily at her lips even as heat started to crawl up my neck, my hands itched to explore her body in ways that had nothing to do with appreciating the perfection of my project and everything to do with appreciation of her physical conditioning. I realized what I was doing, and... I don't know. I just don't know anymore.
Somewhere in all of my work on her I think... I think I may have started to desire what she had been. I worked so hard to make her exactly as she was because I wanted to.. I don't even know anymore. Did I want her perfect so that she'd be who she was? Did I want her perfect so that the Illusive Man would be pleased with the project's success? Or was it something else? Did I want her perfect because I was slowly filling up with unwholesome thoughts and desires, all pertaining to her? Did I want her to be physically perfect because I wanted her? I just don't know anymore.
Something is wrong here, I just know it. Miranda is never like this, or at least... I know she shouldn't be. She shouldn't doubt herself, she shouldn't be eaten up with her thoughts. The Miranda Lawson I know is someone so much stronger than this, and she always has been. She told me so much about herself when she was working on me, and I remember bits here and there. She told me how she was engineered by her father to be perfect, how she's always resented that meddling, and how she's always worked to be the best because that's all she had. She hates that she was made from one man's ego, and she constantly says that the only thing she can own is her own mistakes, but that's not true. I try to tell her that she can own the best thing in the galaxy: she brought someone back from the dead, made a person live again with all of their memories intact. The fact that it's me doesn't mean anything...
Except it does. She brought me back. She brought me back, not someone else. Miranda, the perfect woman, the woman engineered to be better than you, is the one that brought me back, and she is the first person I saw when I woke up. I don't mean when she yelled at me through the speakers, I mean when Wilson fucked up and the sedatives didn't keep me under. I saw her face and she was... angelic. All the connections to Tali were there, but... all the things that my memories of her elicited? When I saw Miranda's face, those squigglies that I had felt for the quarian roared to life just under my breastbone, my heart fluttering and beating against my ribs. I reached for her, trying to touch her face, and when she held my hand I felt more alive than I have since I woke up. There hasn't been another touch since that day, I don't know how to initiate it.
She'll barely talk to me, she looks away most of the time, and when she looks at me she turns red. She feels this too, I know that in my heart, but she won't let me stick around long enough for her to confirm it. Every time she kicks me out, I can see her self-loathing grow just a little bit more. I have to put a stop to that now, tonight. I can't let her hate herself anymore when there is just so much that we could do, so much we could become, if she'd just let me in...
There is a tapping on my door and from the rhythm(tap tap tap-tap tap), I know that it's Victory. I know that it's the beautiful woman who runs this ship, who has spent the time since we escaped the Lazarus facility trying to get to know me, who has not given up on getting close to me yet. No matter how many times I deny myself, she always comes back. It is becoming so difficult to turn Victory away that I'm not sure I can do it for much longer. However, this time she doesn't wait for me to acknowledge her and steps through the door with her usual greeting dripping from her lips, "Do you have a minute, Miranda?"
For you Commander, I have all the time in the universe. "I really should finish these reports, Commander." I reply, keeping my eyes on the screen in front of me. When the door closes again, I sigh with relief. She's gone away again. Gods I don't think I can do this dance much longer. "Your reports don't seem to be that important, Miranda. From what I can see, you haven't done anything with them for the last forty-eight hours."
My eyes snap open to see Victory standing in my cabin, leaning on the wall with bare feet and a grin on her nearly flawless face. I did too well fixing her, she's... entrancing. When she speaks again, her voice hits a timbre that sends shivers down my spine. "I know what you're really doing, Lawson. You're pushing me away out of some misguided attempt at altruism, and I'm already tired of it." Oh Commander, you'd be so angry if you knew why I was doing it, what I'd rather be doing instead... She steps closer, her footfalls silent even to my genetically enhanced hearing, and leans against my desk. My eyes get stuck staring at her full lips, all thought derailing and spiraling down into a pit of musings about the way it might feel to kiss her, to have her warm and supple body pressed to me, to have those slender fingers caressing every inch of me, and when her lips move I almost miss the words themselves. "Well guess what princess? This time I'm not leaving until I get what I want, and I always get there in the end."
I struggle to make some reply, anything that might help get things back on track for me, but all I can manage is a strangled groan that manages to be a question. Victory leans closer still and I can feel the warmth of her breath on my face, smell the strange sweetness on her tongue as she whispers, "I've seen you staring when you thought I might not notice, and I couldn't miss the alarm in your voice when you woke me on the station. So tell me Lawson, what are you hiding from me and yourself?" I can't tell you that, you'll hate me. You have your quarian, and I... "I-I... umm... why are you asking, Commander? What relevance does this have to the mission?" She doesn't pull away, instead staying just where she is so that I can still smell her enticing and intoxicating breath as she replies, "I need everyone at their best, and that means I need to know what's really... on your mind." My eyes flick up to hers for a moment before they get stuck there, her stormy gaze transfixing me. The look I see there is naked and undisguised, lust and some emotion I can't place warring inside her and radiating off of her in equal parts.
I... oh shit, I'm buggered now aren't I? If she doesn't move right now, I'm going to leap over this desk and rip those clothes off of her. "Commander..." I begin weakly, knowing I should say something to stop this from happening, knowing that it's probably just her not having had sex in two years, knowing that she belongs to the quarian we ran into on Freedom's Progress, but then a look of frustration crosses over her features and she flares blue, reminding me of my little rebellion against the Illusive Man. He stopped me from putting in a control chip, but she had the potential for biotics so I put in the implants and made her into a vanguard instead of rebuilding her as the infiltrator she had been. The L5n implants are the most cutting edge tech we have for biotics and her amp is the strongest I could requisition, and I'm seeing the results now. Before I can react, a precise pull field tugs me closer and all I can think is, 'My she does learn fast.' Then her lips are on mine and all thought ceases as we battle for dominance.
When she pauses for a moment I pull away and stare uncertainly at her, a single thought on my mind. "But... Tali?" The anger that flashes in her eyes is obvious, and though I know I have succeeded in my goal, I cannot feel the rush that should come with that knowledge. I only feel an empty sort of loss, a longing that I know will never be answered because I'm not the woman she loves. The hiss of her whisper cuts deeper than any blade, pierces me more painfully than any bullet ever could. "She isn't here, and she's not the one I want now." Her emphasis on the present doesn't escape my notice, but it does take the will to resist away from me. Even if it's just for now, even if it's a mistake, she wants me in the here and now. I can't hold back anymore, instead lunging forward and taking her mouth with mine, steering her for the bed and struggling to rid us of the barriers we wear.
By the gods is it frustrating trying to get through to her. Miranda is the most stubborn and pig-headed woman I have ever met, and yet she is just so enticing and so incredible in spite of her genetic tailoring that I want to overlook all of it and just see the woman underneath. She does make that difficult, but in the end I think I'll get there. She just has to let me in a little more...
I flush as I walk away from her quarters, a smile on my lips as the memory of the last four hours replays in my head. She may have tried to resist at first, but once she gave in to what I knew she wanted, she was... perfect. Those lips, that tongue... those hands, umph... and that thing she did with her biotics? Unbelievable. Miranda is so much more than I'd hoped she would be, and that's just tonight. I want to force her to drop the walls she's putting up against me, I want her to let me in. I want her to know that I want this, that I want her and have no reservations about it. I mean, yes I had Tali and we were amazing and all, but I just don't have the investment in her that I did. Maybe that has something to do with dying, maybe that just has something to do with the fact that it wasn't Tali that rebuilt me but Miranda instead, or maybe it's both. I don't care about the reasons why, I just care about the fucking results, and those are more than enough to deal with for now.
I'm sure that I got my point through tonight, so this shouldn't be such an issue next time I want to talk. I'm glad that I managed to do this right, that I broke through and showed her what I want to be, what I want us to become. I know it's unprofessional and I know that it'll probably bother her for a bit, maybe even for a long time, but I want to make this choice together and I want her to know that I'll wait for it as long as I need to. In the meantime, I'm more than willing to be physical when she needs it and to listen when she talks. 'I'll even go so far as to consider her advice,' I think with a smirk. Maybe, just maybe, I'll get to keep Miranda.