Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

This is a Desert Sunrise and Old Gamer co-authored orphan, in the Chronicles of Samantha Shepard universe... which will eventually fall into 'The Promise of After.' We are including most of the characters... can't give you any hints as to who Desert Sunrise plans to kill off, now, can we?

A/N: It may seem redundant for each of us to publish the same story; as authors, we each have a different group of followers, so thought this would be a good way to broaden our fan base.

AI - Artificial Intelligence

Hooley - Party or celebration (Gaelic)


PART 1

SSV Normandy, Milky Way Galaxy (at large)

Exhausted, Shepard threw herself down on the couch in frustration. She was so tired of hopping colony to colony; every single stop was the same... a big fanfare welcome for the savior of the galaxy and the miracle-working Normandy crew. So many systems, so many planets... and so much destruction. Sure, folks were rebuilding and it was great to see, but it wasn't the parades, the speeches, the trailing camera crews or the dinners that bothered her all that much... it was the memorial observances. They hadn't hit a single colony yet that hadn't asked her to speak at some massive graveyard or in front of some commemorative monument they had erected. She felt horribly guilty for not wanting to speak at the ceremonies... people were still looking for closure, but Shepard was tired of speaking of the deceased.

The war was over. They had won, yet the dead still haunted her. The first night after each stop was normally the worst. Just that morning, she had tossed both herself and Liara out of bed at some wee hour with her frantic thrashing in her unsuccessful attempts to escape that damned dark, ash-filled forest. It was the worst episode yet and Liara had scrambled off the floor, fearing Shepard was going to accidentally injure herself and, even with the link, still almost had to do a forced-meld to break the hold the nightmare had on her. When she finally penetrated Shepard's thoughts, Samantha had wept in her arms like a lost child and Liara felt helpless in her apparent inability to give Shepard the comfort she required. Her mere presence used to be enough to keep the nightmare at bay, but no longer. With the number of dead being driven home so frequently and seeing much of the galaxy laid to waste, even the mightiest of barriers eventually fell.

With all the stop and go, the trip thus far had been grueling and there was still a lot of time remaining of the horrible 'Victory Tour.' Liara had sent a note to Tevos, asking her to speak to the Council about a short break, but it wasn't looking promising. Seeing Shepard like this was breaking Liara's heart and one way or another, she was determined to find a solution. When Samantha finally settled down enough to speak, she didn't say much; she didn't need to. Liara knew of the nightmares and had seen the visions Shepard had shared, but this particular morning had been exceedingly difficult, and when she finally spoke, Samantha only said one thing to Liara before her eyes closed again in fatigue. "I see their faces. I hear their voices. They whisper to me in the darkness of my dreams."

Later that morning, Liara had received an initial response from Tevos; so far her petitions to the Council on Shepard's behalf had been met with deaf ears. Tevos was alone in the matter... a new Human councilor had yet to be appointed, so no Human advocate existed. Quentius was a typical Turian and demanded personal sacrifice above all else; for a Turian, duty always came first. The Salarians, of course, viewed seven months time as forever and they had long since mourned their dead and moved on. They found it difficult to understand why it should even be a problem any longer, so there was little sympathy from Valern... not to mention that Shepard was not a favorite of the Dalatrasses, so even if Valern had understood, the Dalatrasses wanted to make Shepard continue the tour anyway, as punishment for their loss of face over the Genophage cure. Tevos was fighting a losing battle and the tour would continue for the foreseeable future.

With the mostly Human crew, Christmas and New Years had been a nice change of pace but it was still hard to celebrate a holiday with so many recently dead. The thoughts of family that should have brought joy often ushered in sadness instead. Shepard and Liara, at least, had no such regrets... not from the Reaper War anyway. Both Aethyta and Hannah had come through relatively unscathed, so the Normandy duo had much to be thankful for on that account.

Shepard knew that even though they wouldn't be on Thessia, Liara and Riana would want to celebrate Janiris, this year especially. Once again, they could realistically look forward in time and ask for blessings on a future that would actually exist. The only problem was the beginning of May was still four months away and Shepard knew she wouldn't last that long without some diversion or a major change in the events she took part in at each landfall. Since she had little control over the latter, she focused on the former... something which could provide distraction for her and the crew from the lingering reminders of the war. Staying on the theme of holidays, she stepped through the months before them. After New Years, January and February both held nothing of note that could be cause for a ship-wide celebration. Her eyes suddenly lit with excitement and she eagerly sat up on the couch as a prospective solution came to mind. The month of March brought St Patty's day, and that definitely had potential.

The more Shepard thought about it, the more she realized she couldn't have asked for a more applicable holiday. While she held the English name of her father, all it took was one look at her hair and complexion to know she was her mother's daughter... and Hannah hailed from Wicklow; full-blooded Irish, through and through. As a plan started to come together in her mind, for the first time since their New Year's Eve celebration and falling asleep contentedly in Liara's arms, Captain Samantha Shepard started to honestly smile.


It was a travel day so Shepard had a break from the torments of making landfall and, having been thinking about the party much of the day, was actually in a fairly good mood when dinner time came around. Coordinating supply and technology deliveries required for galactic recovery, Liara had been extremely busy and hadn't seen the commander since their particularly difficult start to the day. She was concerned about how Shepard was doing... especially since Tevos was getting nowhere with her requests and Liara had yet to come up with a solution to the dilemma. Because of that, Liara was more than pleasantly surprised to see a smiling Shepard walk into the office to see if she was ready to take a dinner break. Shepard would tell her nothing... she simply wanted to grab their dinner and retire to the loft to eat, where they could discuss something in private. Liara was perfectly happy to agree, very curious as to what could possibly have caused Shepard's radical change in demeanor, wondering if perhaps Hackett had interceded on Shepard's behalf.

As it turned out, Hackett had absolutely nothing to do with Shepard's improvement and Liara's curiosity was only partially assuaged with Shepard's eager explanation of her party plan. It raised questions which Liara's inquisitive nature could not let go unanswered, the most obvious of which she asked first. "What exactly is this holiday in celebration of?"

Liara's heart almost burst with joy at the laughter that accompanied Shepard's response. "Life!"

Liara smiled and reached over to take Shepard's hand. "That is not a very complete answer, Samantha. What started it? What is the holiday for?"

"You are insatiable, Dr T'Soni. Does your quest for knowledge have no bounds?" Shepard grinned and squeezed her lover's hand. "Funny... but St Patrick wasn't even Irish. Before he was declared a saint, he was a wealthy Roman Brit... at age sixteen, he was kidnapped and taken by slavers and ended up tending sheep in the hills of Ireland. He supposedly wrote a Declaration later, in which he claimed that God told him to flee to the coast, where a ship was waiting to take him home. Apparently he did so and once he got back home he entered the priesthood."

Shepard let out a little chuckle. "He later returned to Ireland and spent many years converting the pagans of Northern Ireland to Christianity. Obviously he didn't have much influence in the rest of Ireland, but he did enough to earn sainthood. He died on March 17th and was buried at Dún Pádraig in Northern Ireland."

Liara was confused. "So the date of his death is celebrated with music, dancing and alcohol?"

"He died almost 2000 years ago, the date became a Christian feast day around 500 years ago and it gradually evolved into an official public holiday in Ireland about 300 years ago. Once that happened, the church pretty much lost control of it and the non-Christians... and a lot of non-devout Christians as well, celebrate it however they please... and drinking and dancing is a hell of a lot more fun than sitting in Church!"

Shepard let out a laugh at the scowl that crossed Liara's face. "That seems very... disrespectful... to me. How can you laugh?"

Shepard tried to contain her joviality as she explained. "It's all about perspective, Li. As Druids, we celebrate our Gods with feasts and offerings. They are called 'festive'-als for a reason. We believe in nature and the cycles of life and death... and prefer to celebrate the living and renewal portions of that. It's not really that different from Janiris."

The wrinkle in Liara's brow smoothed out and her lips turned to a light smile. "I can accept that explanation... especially now. I certainly believe we need to be celebrating life and our future. What can I do to help with the planning of this festival?"

Shepard didn't have to think long on the prospect. "Next time Traynor pops in to see Riana, ask her if she'd be willing to tend bar. I'm sure she'll say yes. We'll need to get a list from her on what she remembers people drinking during the party at the apartment." Shepard planted a mischievous smirk on her face. "You can add the Asari drinks to the list... and then we may have to utilize the Broker ships to make a few discrete requisition runs and figure out how to rendezvous with them to get the supplies aboard."

Liara grinned. "That will be easy; simply have them arrive with it... because you do realize we'll have to invite them all to the party?"

Shepard's eyebrows shot up at the thought of gathering the whole crew for the party. "Wouldn't have it any other way, Love!" As Shepard beamed at her, Liara couldn't believe the change that came over Samantha, caused by something as simple as a Saint Patrick's Day celebration. Liara hoped fervently that it sustained her through the next few colonial stop-overs; they could both use a break from the nightmares.


It had been a long nine months since the destruction of the biggest threat to mankind's… hell, to every species'… continued existence in the galaxy. Engineer Ken Donnelly was lounging in his berth as he thought about this while idly glancing through a technical journal he'd acquired during their last shore leave. Having just come off duty, he was getting ready to go take a shower so he could get in a bit of rack time before his next shift.

It wasn't actually a paper magazine; Gabby had downloaded it to his datapad as a gift during their Christmas break. She had surprised him with it, but the real surprise had been the sudden hug and passionately delivered kiss when she caught him standing under a bulkhead in engineering that had been previously decorated (by a person or persons unknown) with an actual sprig of mistletoe. She had thrown her arms around him and kissed him before he knew what was happening.

Just before setting the datapad down, he spotted an advertisement at the bottom of the page - it was for one of his favorite beverages – a fine Islay single malt Scotch whiskey from a distillery on Lagavulin Bay. Their 'Distillers Edition' whisky was rich and smoky in flavor, a real taste of heaven, unlike anything consumed in the 'colonies'. Few people outside of Scotland and Ireland had any appreciation for Scotch…their taste buds had been permanently ruined from drinking bourbon!

Donnelly sighed as he closed the datapad and set it aside. The likelihood of him getting back to Earth… especially to the Isles, anytime soon was not looking good. They had a number of months left on their tour, and the monotony of traveling from place to place without a military purpose was starting to wear on him. The taste of a fine Scotch was as far away as it had ever been during the war, and there'd been no time to acquire any during the Normandy's refit time on Earth before the invasion.

The Citadel Council, having appointed Shepard the first human Spectre in 2183, had then proceeded to disbelieve and dispute everything she told them in her hunt for their rogue Spectre Saren Arterius. They had as much as branded her a traitor upon her return from a two-year absence, only grudgingly reinstating her status as Spectre on the condition she stay in the Terminus during her campaign against the Collectors. Yet here they were, greedily abusing her as a Council tool, forcing her to complete a victory tour of the major Citadel colonies… a tour longer than the damn war itself. I already got myself in a pickle with Alliance brass when I spoke my mind after the SR-1 was destroyed. No sense in pissing off the Council as well! Sighing again, Donnelly gathered up his bathing supplies and a change of underclothes. Time for a shower and a shave.


Engineer Gabriella Daniels glanced longingly at the small chronometer displayed in the upper corner of her haptic interface and wished, not for the first time since the start of her shift, that she could somehow speedup the passage of time on a selective basis. She wanted her shift to end, but needed to get her assigned duties completed as well.

Ever since the Normandy had been on this 'victory' tour of the surviving colonies in inner and outer council space, she and Ken Donnelly had been on different shifts. Lieutenant Adams had made it clear he was splitting their shifts in order to better utilize their skills, feeling that both positions being unmanned for ten hours at a time was a poor use of staff resources. As Adams had explained, the Normandy's systems were not being stressed nearly as much as when they had taken on either the Collectors or the Reapers. He no longer needed them both on-duty at the same time to operate the ship at its combat pace; there was a practical side to the schedule as well, as each engineer's skills were being broadened, with Donnelly covering for Gabby while she was off-duty and, conversely, Gabby covering for Ken. With another five hours to go, she turned and looked at Greg Adams and asked, "Lieutenant, I'm at a good stopping point… permission to go get some lunch?"

Adams smiled at her. "Gabby, you know you don't have to ask for permission to eat lunch. Just tell me you're going up for lunch, lock your terminal and go.

"Never felt right doing that, Sir."

Greg shook his head as he replied, "How many times have we had this conversation, Ms Daniels? Who did you ask when you worked for Cerberus? I wasn't here then…"

"We simply told Edi we were going. She monitored our panels for us until we returned."

Adams smiled. "She still monitors your panels, whether you're there or not. Now get going. I can certainly take care of this over-automated engineering marvel until you return." He looked at her a bit more firmly as she hesitated. "Ms Daniels…go eat lunch."

"Yes, Sir."


Gabby was midway through her meal when Samantha Traynor sat across from her and asked, "Where's Donnelly?"

"Probably asleep." She took a sip of iced tea as she elaborated, "We're on different shifts. I only see 'im briefly twice a day when we overlap. Truth be known, I get more accomplished without 'im distracting me with comments and observations about all the women on the ship." Taking note of the datapad Traynor kept referring to, Gabby asked, "What're you studying there? Looks rather involved."

Sam looked up at her friend as she replied, "Shopping list. Dr T'Soni is involved in planning some kind of party for the crew, and since I served as a bartender at Shepard's party on the Citadel, she asked me to put together a list of everything we used for mixed drinks or straight shots… things people were drinking back then. We'll buy the stuff next time we provision the ship, or procure it through a few clandestine rendezvous with the other broker ships. Mostly standard stuff…some bottled beers, gin, vodka, tequila, bourbon…"

At the last item, Gabby held up her hand. "Wait; did you just say 'bourbon'? Samantha, how much time do you have…that is, how long before you're able to go ashore to buy all this stuff?"

"Not sure. Soon. Why do you ask?"

"Samantha, I have to talk to Ken. Give me a shift before you close out your list. If I know Ken, bourbon will be the last thing he'll want to see on the bar. I'll get back to you."

"Keep it quiet, Gabby. The only people involved are Shepard, Liara and myself. We don't want the entire ship's compliment knowing about this until we're certain we can pull it off, okay?"

"My lips are sealed, Traynor. Talk to you soon."


Gabby was going over shift change protocol with Ken when she took him into the main engine compartment so they could talk privately. "Kenneth, I need some information, but I need you to swear you'll keep this to yourself."

Ken responded, "Whatever ya need, Gabby. I kinna say no ta you. Wha's on yer mind?"

"There's a move afoot to have a party, involve the entire crew. I have some good intel from Samantha Traynor. Likeliest date is…" she lowered her voice and placed her cheek next to his as she whispered in his ear, "…St Patty's day."

Donnelly nearly blew all hopes of secrecy right there. "St Pa…" he started to say as he pulled abruptly back from Gabby, only to have her firmly clamp a hand over his mouth. She looked at him sternly as she placed the back of her index finger vertically across her lips with the other fingers on her hand splayed out wide in a signal to stop talking. He nodded in agreement, to which she responded by removing her hand from his mouth. In a whisper, he said, "St Patty's day? Will there be pretty girls?" She looked at him with an even harder expression. "Booze? Tell me there 'ill at leas' be booze."

"After the remark about 'pretty girls', of which I should be the only pretty girl you're interested in, I may ask her to bring in American Bourbon." At the look of pure panic on his face, she relented and asked, "What kind of Scotch should Traynor order - two brands, in case one or the other ain't readily available."

Ken didn't even have to think. He hugged her as he whispered back into her ear, "'Distillers Edition' from the Lagavulin Bay distillery. Very rich. Then there's the 'Caol Ila' distillery that produces a Scotch under their name. It's a li'l lighter, but ever' bit as smoky. Several bottles o' each, if ya kinn. Any leftovers will go a long ways to makin' the rest o' the trip a lot more pleasant, at least fer me."

"Great. I'll get Traynor to put these on her list." Gabby gave Ken another unsympathetic look. "Just don't forget this. You were this close," she held a thumb and forefinger close together, as if pinching a piece of cloth and hissed, "this close!… to having to drink whiskey or bourbon." She smiled as she turned and left for the crew deck.


Edi was always 'awake'. During the times when Flight Lieutenant Jeff Moreau was off duty, Edi stayed on the bridge, monitoring ship's systems as the Normandy traveled through the void towards its next destination. Admittedly, there really wasn't much for her to do, as she was also in the computer servers ahead of the Med Bay. She could have saved the energy needed to operate her mobile platform and piloted the ship from within the server, but Edi had grown used to being… seen, on the bridge, sitting in the co-pilot's seat.

Edi sensed that the crew felt a certain comfort in simply having a physical presence on the bridge when Joker was absent. However, being on the bridge did not mean she was unaware of everything else happening on the ship. Having a quantum computing core based in the Normandy's servers, receiving, sorting, analyzing and storing data from every sensor within and outside of the ship was something she easily did, even as she piloted the ship.

She had heard things. Liara T'Soni and Captain Shepard were planning a party that would eventually involve everyone on the ship, and… the personnel aboard the Broker's other three ships, if the comm traffic was to be believed. She had monitored clandestine conversations between Gabby Daniels and Ken Donnelly, between Gabby and Samantha Traynor, and Liara and Captain Shepard; there had even been comm traffic between Liara and Matriarch Aethyta.

With everything that was going on, Edi's curiosity was piqued. The purpose of the party, as best she could interpret, was to celebrate the death of a Christian saint – a certain Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Captain Shepard's mother was Irish – Samantha Shepard was a virtual copy of her mother in appearance, possibly even in temperament. Edi performed an extranet search for everything that was known about Saint Patrick and the celebrations of his life… and death.

She discovered the day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, as well as celebrating the heritage and culture of the Irish in general. Celebrations generally involve public parades, festivals, céilí (traditional Irish Gaelic social gatherings), and the wearing of green attire or shamrocks. There had been a bit of discussion between Liara and Shepard about something called 'green beer'. Edi discovered the traditional meaning was beer not considered ready for consumption. In the mid to late 20th century, people began adding green food coloring to pale beers, thus creating beer that in every other way was the same as the original except for color. She decided to approach the Shadow Broker in her office to ask her what was to be done.


Liara was checking data feeds when Edi unobtrusively entered the compartment, walked up beside her and quietly waited.

Liara paused the program she was running, straightened and turned to face her visitor. "What can I do for you, Edi?"

Speaking in a voice approaching a whisper, Edi responded, "I have a question, Dr T'Soni."

Liara waited for a couple of seconds before prompting, "Okay… what do you need to ask me?"

A visual inspection of the front of the compartment confirmed Riana was not at her usual post; even so, she responded in a soft voice, "I have been monitoring conversations around the ship; I even know about your trouble sleeping due to Shepard's ongoing nightmares."

"You've been spying on me!? Edi, I would have never thought…"

Edi held her hands up, palms outward, to head off the condemnation from her friend. "I did not monitor the aftermath, Liara. I said I know of it, not what you and Shepard talked about." Seeing Liara's face relax, she continued, "The conversations within the ship were what intrigued me. Apparently, you are planning some sort of ship-wide party, which includes plans to smuggle a large quantity of alcohol infused drinks aboard. If that is the case, I wish to know what I can do to assist."

Liara placed a hand on a hip and cocked an eye at the inquisitive AI, "Edi, we have everything well in hand. I need you to swear to me you won't divulge what you know to the other crew members."

"Oh, I will not tell anyone, Dr T'Soni. But I would like to know how you intend to have the dispensers in the crew lounge generate green beer."

Liara rubbed her crest as she contemplated the question. "I don't believe we've thought that far ahead, Edi. Successfully getting everything and everyone together will be an accomplishment all by itself. Green beer is probably the least of our worries."

"I see." Edi crossed her arms in front of her as she asked, "Would you like me to take care of this for you? It will be relatively easy for me to program the dispensers to add a few drops of green food coloring at the beginning of each 'pour' cycle. The beer will enter the glass as a bright green foamy liquid."

Liara brightened as she thought about Edi's proposal. "That would be perfect, Edi. This… food coloring. It will not affect the flavor of the beer?"

"No. Color will be the only difference. The program will add the correct amount of color for each type of beer, taking into account the differing shades of amber to yellow, so that all of them will appear the exact same shade of green. It will be… fun."


T'Soni House Armali, Thessia, Athena Nebula

Aethyta was thrilled when she was notified of a call from her girl; she excused herself from her meeting with Mozia and jogged down the hall to the communications center, moving quickly to the vid screen. "Hey kiddo! Good to hear from you!"

"Hey, Dad." Liara looked incredibly tired; her shoulders were slumped, her voice was thready and she acted like she had just gotten her ass whipped in some fight.

"Liara. What's wrong?" Aethyta's voice carried a protective growl. "Shepard better be treating you right or I'm gonna kick her ass!"

"No, Dad. You're not." Liara gave a light smile. "But thanks. Somehow, knowing you've always watched out for me, even when I wasn't aware of it, brings a certain level of comfort."

Liara's brow furrowed with concern. "But I am calling about Samantha."

Liara went on to tell Aethyta about the nightmares and how they continued to get worse with every stop they made, no matter what she and Shepard tried to do to allay them. "We've asked the council for a break but poor Tevos might as well be beating her head against a wall for all the good it's done." Tears started to leak down her cheeks and she was glad the fidelity of the vid wasn't good enough for her father to see. "I don't know what else to do, Dad. I need your help."

Aethyta was stunned; Liara had never asked her for help. Admittedly Liara had known about her for less than two years, but Li was a Goddess-be-damned hero and the most powerful information broker in the galaxy. What by the grace of the Goddess does she expect me to be able to do? "Uh... what exactly do you need from me, kid?"

Liara's hand went up to wipe across her crests in frustration and, without thinking, she brushed away the tears on her face, which Aethyta immediately recognized for what it was. "Oh, damn it, kiddo! Don't cry... not when I'm a fucking half-galaxy away from you and unable to do a single damn thing to help you from here!"

Liara let out a light laugh through her tears. "Sorry, Dad. Here I am, all pleased the vid quality isn't good enough for you to notice. Wiping my face was kind of a dead give-away, wasn't it?"

"Yeah. It was. So what? You need some ideas on what to try next?" With a nod from Liara, Aethyta continued, "I assume you've already tried melding... and sex... and sex with melding."

Liara blushed heavily and even though the vid quality wouldn't show it, she knew her father realized when Aethyta broke out in laughter. "Still such a prude. You've spent way too much time with those Humans. You need to come home and spend time with the commandos at Janiris. You are still a maiden..."

"Dad! Not helping! And you know I'm promised to Shepard and... and I am not talking to you about my love life! Goddess, you almost got me that time." Liara shook her head. "No fair taking advantage of me when I'm so worried about Samantha."

"Aahhhh. You're right. Sorry." Aethyta paused as she contemplated the situation. "There's always alcohol... but I doubt you can carry enough on that ship of hers to keep her drunk; not with those damn nanites that pull it out of her system so fast. Is there anything that you can distract her with? There's got to be something she likes to do."

"We are planning a party, but the planning portion is done, so now it's back to the routine with nothing more to discuss about it. Rehashing the details is more frustrating than anything; we simply need the date to get here."

Party? Aethyta's interest was piqued and Liara was not at her best at the moment. In her most earnest voice, the matriarch queried, "What's the date? How much longer do you need to last before you get a break?"

Aethyta's eyes lit with glee when Liara answered without thinking of the consequences. "March 17th. It's still three weeks and six more of those damn memorial services away."

Aethyta smiled in triumph, even if she did take advantage of her daughter's preoccupation to get the information. "Why don't you use your info network to inform the colonies that Captain Shepard will be happy to partake in anything they want... except memorials. Tell the truth, Liara. Tell them she needs to focus on the future of the living. Get the word out, whether the Council wants it or not. You and Shepard, more than anyone, know what the Council's secrets and lies do to people. Don't you dare let them do that to her. Not one more day."

"I've tried, Dad." Liara sighed. "I asked Shepard and she said no. She feels it's her duty."

"Fuck duty." Aethyta growled. "Make it plain to her that it's killing her... and it's killing you to watch it happen. Look at you! You look like you just watched Thessia fall all over again... only this time, what you're watching is the fall of your bondmate! I can tell you're tired, Little Wing. Your whole damn body is screaming defeat. Don't let it beat you. You know what you need to do, so do it. Sometimes folks need a hand up, even if just for a second, so they can see the shit pile they've been lying in and take the steps to fix it."

Liara narrowed her eyes and stared at her father. "Are you talking about what I need to do with Shepard... or are you speaking to me?"

"There's the Dr Liara T'Soni we all know; the one who kicked the Reapers' asses!" Aethyta's face split with a relieved grin. "Fix it, Liara. I know you can... and Shepard's strong. You'll both come out of this with your bond even stronger. Goddess knows how that's even possible, but it will be."

"Goddess. You make it all sound so simple." Liara stood up a little taller. "Thanks, Dad. Truly. That's exactly what I needed... a refocus." Liara smiled softly. "I love you."

"Oh, well... fuck." Aethyta's eyes teared and she wiped them away quickly. "Now you went and did it. I... aaahhh, shit. I love you too, Liara." Aethyta paused for only a moment. "So, uhm. Where's the Normandy going to be for this party? Send me the coordinates for the rendezvous point and I'll bring alcohol, my bartending skills, and... fresh fruit and fish from Thessia?"

Thinking about her father's propensity to mix drinks purposely to put people under the table, Liara was preparing to deny Aethyta permission to attend, seeing as everyone on the Normandy had to be up and back at work the next day. The matriarch saw it on her face... so added that last part on impulse; there was no way Liara would turn down fresh stores from home. Her daughter's first words were aborted and she closed her mouth for a couple of seconds, contemplating. "Fine. You know I can't say no to that. You'll get the coordinates." Liara paused as a smirk spread across her face. "But since you're coming, I'll need you to pick up a few more people at the Citadel on your way through. I'll send you a list of names."

Aethyta smiled. "Thanks, Liara. Oh... and... good luck with Shepard, kiddo." Aethyta's smile turned back to a look of concern. "You let me know if that doesn't work. I'll raise hell at the Council chambers until someone changes their mind or I get arrested for disturbing the peace."

"That?" Liara laughed. "That I'd like to see! Got to go, Dad. Thanks again, and... you know."

Aethyta said nothing more; she simply nodded and terminated the link, happy that by the end of the conversation, Liara had formulated a plan and was actually able to laugh again. Aethyta grinned; she had plans of her own to make.