AN: Yay, who's hungry 'cause it's time for dinner! So, this is a follow up to "Elevator". There are a few references to that story, but there's no need to read it to understand what's going on. Also, I've been trying to keep the description of Shepard very vague, but I did mention a couple of things pertaining to her appearance. Oh, and I'm going to pretend that the SR-1 has bathrooms/showers off to the sides of the sleeper pods. I hope you all enjoy this little bit of fluff!
Bioware owns all.
Shepard shot a quick glance in the mirror to make sure her bun was still in place before walking out into her room. She sat down on the edge of the bed and pulled on her boots. As she was working the laces, the door chimed. She looked up in time to see Ashley and Tali make their way into her room, arms laden with bags. She raised an eyebrow at them. What the hell…
"Here," Ashley said, throwing her a bag of cookies. "It's from Joker's stash."
"Um…okay…" Shepard said, catching the bag deftly in her hands. She watched curiously as they both sat down on the floor and began rummaging through the bags. "Uh…not that I don't want you guys in my room right now, but what the hell are you doing here?"
They both stopped long enough to look up at her. Ashley stood up and slowly made her way to the bed, making sure to sit as far away from Shepard as possible.
"Now, don't get mad," Ashley began, holding her hands up in defense.
"That's never a good way to start an explanation, Chief," Shepard said, crossing her arms over her chest.
"I know, it's just…well, you see…"
"We're here to give you a make-over," Tali interrupted. Ashley shot her a glare, and Tali just shrugged. "What? She was going to figure it out sooner or later."
Shepard let out a frustrated sigh. She had been afraid of this. Why did everybody on the freakin' ship feel like they needed to "help" her?
"I see," she said, grabbing the bottle of painkillers Dr. Chakwas had given her and popping back two pills. "And the cookies?"
"They're for you to eat right now," Ashley said, still staring cautiously at her.
Shepard knitted her brows together in confusion. "You do know I'm going to dinner, right?"
"That's…why…I – I mean…"
"Keelah! Ashley, just spit it out!" Tali said, throwing her arms up in exasperation. She stood up and made her way over to Shepard. "Look, Shepard, I don't want to be mean, but you need some serious help."
Shepard snorted back a laugh. She got up to take a peek inside the bags and noticed that they were filled with various articles of clothing.
"Oh, hell, no," she said, reaching in to pull out a garment that couldn't possibly be considered a dress – or anything, really. "I'm not wearing any of that," she pointed vaguely to the clothes-filled bags, "I'm perfectly comfortable with what I have on, thank you very much."
This time, it was Ashley's turn to snort. "Fatigues and combat boots? You can't be serious, skipper."
"Deadly serious," Shepard stated, grabbing her pistol and tucking it behind her back into the waistband of her pants.
The door to her room chimed again, and Dr. Chakwas walked in carrying a bottle of brandy.
Shepard gaped at her. "What is it with everybody on the ship just waltzing into my room? Why even bother ringing damn doorbell?"
"I see you two told her about the make-over," Dr. Chakwas said, unfazed at Shepard's ire.
"Help me out here, doc," Shepard pleaded. "Please tell them that I look perfectly fine with what I'm wearing."
Chakwas squinted her eyes at her. "Do you want the truth?"
"Jesus, guys! It's not that bad, is it?" She stole another glance at the mirror. Surely they were exaggerating. Her shirt and pants were ironed perfectly, her hair pulled back into her usual 'do. Hell, she had even shined her boots. She looked damn good. So just why in the world were Chakwas, Tali and Ashley looking at her like she was crazy?
Ashley cleared her throat as Dr. Chakwas poured herself some brandy. "You're not going on duty, skipper, you're going on a date."
Shepard rolled her eyes not bothering to remind them, for the millionth time, that this was not a date. "Where the hell did you guys get all this stuff anyway?"
"Ashley contacted several stores on the station. Let's just say they were eager to service the 'Great Commander Shepard' and sent over a few samples," Tali answered before squealing in delight. "Oooh, this is nice! You should wear this."
She held up a thin strip of fabric that Shepard could not, for the life of her, figure out what it was. She frowned, cocking her head to the side as Tali held it out in front of her. Well, whatever it was, it was not going on her body.
Shepard grabbed the brandy from Chakwas and took a swig before placing it back in the doctor's hands and plopping herself on the bed with a loud groan. She rubbed her hands over her face. This was ridiculous! She admitted to herself that it had been a while – a long while – since she had gone out. And, okay, maybe she did need a little bit of makeup to cover the huge bruise that still covered her face from when Kaidan had elbowed her. And she did see a nice top when she had peeked into the bags. Maybe she could do with a change of shirt. But, what was up with eating cookies before going out to dinner? Was it some kind of secret rule or something that all women did?
She sat up and resigned herself to let her friends help her. Ashley and Tali sat cross-legged on the floor amidst the piles of clothing.
"Here we go," Ashley said. "This looks decent."
"Hmm, yes," Tali agreed. "The skirt will show off her legs. Please tell me you shaved your legs, Shepard."
Shepard shot Tali a glare. "Just because I'm not all girly doesn't mean I don't shave."
"Yeah, about that," Ashley began, "I think it would be a good idea to do that. Be girly I mean. I think Kaidan would like that."
"Are you fu-frickin' kidding me?"
"And you have to tone down on your swearing, too."
"So says the woman who knows every colorful word in the book," Shepard spat out.
"Don't forget to eat the cookies," Tali added.
"Okay, what is the deal with the cookies? Why are they so important that I have to eat them right now?"
"So you won't eat as much during dinner," Tali said simply.
"And what does that have to do with anything?"
"Shepard, have you ever noticed how much you eat?" Chakwas asked, pouring herself another good serving of brandy. "If it wasn't for the fact that I read your medical chart, I would have thought you were a biotic."
"I need the calories!" Shepard protested. "Between the combat and my high metabolism, I need food to give me energy."
Ashley opened up the bag of cookies and offered it to her. Shepard hesitated slightly and then reached into the bag.
"Ugh! Fine!" Shepard said between bites. "If it will get you guys to leave me alone, then just do what you have to do."
Even through the mask, Shepard could see the huge grin on Tali's face.
"Oh, and Shepard?" Chakwas drank back the last of the brandy that had been in her glass. "Contrary to what you believe, this is a date."
"And don't pull any of that 'I'm a nice guy, I'll let you choose everything' crap," Joker said, leaning back against the sink of the men's restroom. "Chicks hate that. They want for you to take charge. Take the bull by the horns sort-of-thing."
Kaidan took his eyes off of his reflection in the large mirror just long enough to send Joker a frowning glance. Well, that was going to be difficult considering Shepard was a take charge kind of woman.
"And for the love of everything holy, pretend that you're not interested in her," Joker continued.
"What?" Kaidan whipped around to face Joker. "I think, after that kiss, I showed her that I'm interested in her."
Joker held out his hands as if Kaidan had just made a valid point. "Exactly. Now she's going to walk all over you because she knows that you would do anything for her. You can't have her doing that to you, man. Not this early in the relationship."
Kaidan didn't really see how any of what Joker was saying made any sense. To him, it was simple. He was a gentleman, and he was definitely interested in Shepard. Why would he pretend otherwise?
"Joker, I don't see how – "
"Trust me, Kaidan. Just do what I tell you, and she'll be putty in your hands. It works every time."
At this, Kaidan raised his eyebrow. "And just how many times have you tried your own advice?"
"Not the point," Joker said with a glare. "Look, Kaidan, you saw what being yourself got you. Absolutely nothing. You think too much, that's your problem."
Kaidan opened his mouth to protest and then closed it. Well, Joker was right on that account. He was the kind of person to think carefully before he did anything.
"But what happened when you finally decided to take charge, huh?" Joker poked Kaidan's ribs with his elbow and wagged his eyebrows. "You finally got to kiss her, you dog, you."
Kaidan couldn't help but grin at that statement. Yes, that was true. It took him a while to work up the nerve to actually kiss her, but when he had finally done it, it had felt so good. Like he was free of any restraints…like he could do anything and get away with it.
"So, anyway, my point is that you have to act the complete opposite of how you really are so that she can like you."
"Okay, I can understand that, but how is my ignoring her going to get her to like me? Won't that just cause her to lose interest in me?"
Joker let out a melodramatic sigh. "Kaidan, Kaidan, Kaidan. Don't you know anything about women? If she thinks that you're not interested in her, she's only going to try harder to get you to like her." He paused for a moment and looked around them, making sure that there was no one in the bathroom with them. His voice dropped down to a whisper. "Look, I can help you out with that."
"But how – "
"Shhh!" Joker hissed. "These bathrooms are way too close to Shepard's cabin. I don't want her to overhear what I'm about to tell you."
Kaidan shook his head at Joker's statement. He highly doubted Shepard could hear their conversation no matter how close they were to her room. Still, he decided to play along for Joker's sake.
"Fine, what is it?"
"We're going to pretend you have another date."
"What?" Kaidan's voice echoed loudly in the room.
"Shhh! Look, halfway through your date I'm going to send a message to your omnitool. You're just going to have to pretend that there is another girl waiting for you after your dinner with Shepard. The thought of you having someone else will make her so jealous that she's going to do everything in her power to 'accommodate' you, if you know what I mean." Another wag of the eyebrows.
"No. Joker this isn't right. I can't do that to her. I can't just lie or pretend to be someone I'm not."
"Do you want Shepard or not?"
"Well, yeah, but – "
"Then you have to do what I tell you. Trust me, Kaidan. By the end of the night, Shepard will be so in love with you, you're going to have a hard time keeping her off you."