Samantha held her breath as she knocked on Shepard's door. "Permission to enter ma'am?"
"Permission granted," called Shepard.
A couple days had passed since the commander's meltdown. Ashley was still temporarily running the ship. The crew didn't seem to mind but they kept asking questions about Shepard's mental state. Her quarters were in order. The bed was made, the fish were alive, and the air smelled clean. Undoubtedly due to Liara's help. Shepard sat at her desk hunched over an unfinished model ship.
"How are you feeling?" asked Samantha. Stepping closer, her nose picked up a hint of super glue and cheap plastic.
"Fan-fucking-tastic," said Shepard without looking away from her model.
"What are you building there?"
"Turian cruiser, Liara picked it up for me. Building model ships helps me to take my mind off of... things," explained Shepard. Using a small knife, she scraped away excess plastic flakes from the body of the ship.
"I see," said Samantha eyeing the large glass case full of completed ships. "That's a nice model of the Citadel, oh and it rotates too."
"Yeah, Tali put that one together and added a little motor. I guess quarians feel obligated to make everything electrical," said Shepard. While sawing off a stubborn piece of plastic, her hand slipped. The knife cut her finger drawing a single droplet of blood. Shepard winced and licked the blood off.
"Gross, why do people do that?" asked Samantha at the thought of tasting blood.
"Lick their wounds."
"I don't know, better than getting it on your clothes," said Shepard reaching for a tissue to wrap her finger in. Letting out an annoyed huff, she asked, "Why are you here Traynor?"
"I just had a question," said Samantha growing nervous.
"You're Ashley's best friend aren't you commander?"
"Yeah. We've been through a lot together, from Eden Prime to the final battle on the Citadel. She's like a sister to me. Why? Is something wrong with the ship?" Shepard stood from her chair looking tense.
"No, nothing's wrong," said Samantha quickly. Letting out a nervous laugh she continued, "Since you know her so well, you wouldn't happen to know if she's... bi?"
A big smile grew across the commander's face. "Interested in the lieutenant eh?"
"Yes, actually," said Samantha.
"Well, I've never asked her and she's never approached me so it's hard to say. I've never seen her date anyone in all the time I've known her. You should just ask her," said Shepard going back to her model.
Samantha walked closer to the model case leaning against it. Staring at the floor she contemplated the idea. "I couldn't, everytime I'm around her I get flustered like a teenager. It's embarrassing really."
"You had no problem approaching me," said Shepard while dabbing two connecting joints with glue.
"You're more approachable. Ashley tends to keep to herself on the observation deck. Usually she doesn't have a lot to say either," said Samantha. She rubbed her shoulder uncomfortably while watching Shepard pick up the small knife.
"Then I'll ask her for you," said Shepard.
"No, don't do that," Samantha blurted. "She'll think I'm a coward, even if she's not interested."
Shepard put down the knife looking annoyed again. "Well, you've got to ask her somehow."
"We never get time to talk. I know romance is a silly thing to think about at a time like this but I can't help it. We are still human after all," said Samantha feeling frustrated with herself.
A minute passed by as Shepard stayed concentrated on the model. During that time she came up with a plan. Leaning back in her chair she stretched her arms out then put them behind her head. Looking up at Samantha she said, "Tell you what, ask Ashley to teach you how to fire an assault rifle. I'll have her take you to the spectre shooting range on the Citadel. It's fairly private, and most likely no one else will be there."
"I'm not a spectre though," said Samantha.
"But Ashley is, as long as you're with her it shouldn't be a big deal," said Shepard.
"Okay, the thing is, I already know how to fire a rifle. I learned in bootcamp," said Samantha. Shepard's plan left her feeling uneasy. Surely Ashley would see right through this ploy.
"Ashley doesn't need to know that. Just act clueless, this way she'll have to take you multiple times," said Shepard with an evil smile.
"I don't know..." Samantha bit her bottem lip staring at her feet.
Shepard stood up and took the specialist by the shoulders saying, "Where's your sense of adventure Traynor? We all might be dead at the end of this war so there's no point in holding back."
For moment Samantha felt too nervous to say anything. What Shepard said was true though. "Alright, I'll do it. I've got nothing to lose right?"
"That's right, now go get her!" said Shepard then slapped Samantha on the ass as she went to leave.
The specialist's face turned bright red as she hurried to the elevator. Shepard stood there for a moment when she was alone. Putting her hands on her hips she looked around speaking out loud. "Now what the hell was I doing... oh yeah, ship building!"
A few hours later Shepard moved on to another activity, dancing. The radio by the bed blared techno as she danced around by herself. Whenever she went to the club with Liara, she had only been able to do the 'Shepard shuffle'. With the end of all life in the galaxy looming in the future, Shepard decided to work on her dance skills.
The sudden appearance of Ashley standing on the landing startled Shepard. Quickly she shut the music off and acted as though nothing had happened. "Hey Ash, what's up?"
Ashley crossed her arms looking down at Shepard. "Traynor asked me to give her some extra training. She said it was your idea. What's this about?"
"Uh, yeah, it was," said Shepard having nearly forgotten already. "I think every crew member should learn how to fire an assault rifle."
"Shouldn't I be teaching a group instead of one person?" asked Ashley cocking an eyebrow at Shepard.
Shepard paused for a moment trying to think of an excuse. "Well... Traynor needs a lot of help. Just do it as a favor to me Ash. You've been spending too much time on the observation deck."
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
"Lately you've been acting a little... glitchy. You tend to repeat yourself and sometimes you give me a blank stare and your mouth hangs open."
"I've been acting glitchy?!" Ashley walked up to Shepard putting a finger in her face. "What about you? A couple days ago you almost sent the crew into a panic. Now I find you here dancing around like a maniac."
"You're absolutely right Ash," said Shepard with an odd smirk.
"Uh, what?" asked Ashley off guard.
"You train Samantha for me and I'll go back to commanding the ship," said Shepard.
"O-kay," said Ashley nearly cracking a smile. Being in charge of the whole ship had been harder than she thought. Two days of command were already wearing on her. "Are you sure you're up that?"
"Yeah, I think I'm alright now," said Shepard as she threw on her N7 jacket. "To be honest with you; I've been halucinating lately. Sometimes when I talk to people their heads do a one-eighty."
"That's disturbing Shepard," said Ashley, she pulled Shepard in for a hug then whispered, "We're all worried about you."
"I know, and I appreciate your concern. When we go to the Citadel I'll stop by the hospital. I probably just have a bad case of post-traumatic-stress," said Shepard.
When they broke the hug Ashley added, "That wouldn't suprise me considering all of the shit we've been through."
"C'mon, let's go harass the crew," said Shepard leading Ashley back to the elevator.