The elevator opened.
Leanna did her best to seem as calm as possible. There were bound to be plenty of crew members on this deck, and if they saw their CO running to the XO's office… I'd rather not think about it.
Walking into the Mess, she saw Tali sitting at the main table, a tube of Protein Paste attached to her helmet. She was engrossed in a Datapad.
"Morning Tali," she called as she passed by.
"What?" Tali looked up from the Datapad. "Oh, Shepard! Um… Good morning to you too."
She quickly turned off the Datapad and straightened up before giving Leanna a quizzical look, "What's with the outfit?"
Leanna looked down at the black dress she was wearing. "Oh, this thing?" she replied. "It was the only thing I had that was clean." In reality, she'd jettisoned all her clothes with a Cerberus logo, which meant this or armor. She hadn't put it on since Kasumi made her wear it for that Greybox heist. Well, she'd worn it one other time, but that had been in the privacy of her own Quarters.
Privacy! Leanna suddenly remembered she needed Tali's help.
"Tali, there's something important I need to talk to you about. Not here though. Someplace more private."
"That's good," Tali's mouthpiece flashed. "There's something I want to talk to you about. Meet me in the engine room in about an hour. I've disabled all the listening devices, and the only cameras there are focused on the core."
"Thanks. I'll see you then."
"Shepard," said a voice from behind her.
Leanna barely managed to contain a squeak. She turned around and faced Miranda.
"Miranda!" Leanna tried to suppress her nervousness, but it just sounded like excitement instead. "I need to see you in your Quarters… I mean office."
"Of course Commander, come with me."
I'm her CO, Leanna though. Why does it sound like she's giving me orders?
"You know", Tali said as Shepard followed Miranda. "They're basically the same thing."
"So," Miranda said once she'd sat down. "What did you want to see me about?"
Leanna felt more exposed than ever before, and not just because she was wearing a dress. Miranda had seen something of hers. Something private. Something personal. And now she was just toying with her.
"Don't worry Commander, there's no surveillance in this room. You can talk freely."
"EDI said you watched it. Twice."
"To be fair," Miranda smirked. "I only watched part of it a second time. I just had to be sure."
"Sure of what?"
"That you were quoting Vaenia."
"I was… What!"
"This isn't the Alliance Shepard. There are no rules against Fraternization. What you and Miss Chambers do in the privacy of your quarters is entirely up to you."
"But it wasn't private! I was being recorded!"
"True, but the only persons on this ship with access to that are you and I."
"What about outside the ship?"
"Technically, the Illusive Man could access it, but I've given EDI explicit instructions to block him and any other Cerberus agents."
"Well fine, but I've locked down the files and I'm having Tali take down the camera. I'll sleep easier if I know I'm not being watched as I do it."
"That is, of course, your prerogative Commander."
"And this stays between us, ok? Word gets out, and I shove you out of that… thing… where space is."
Leanna stood to walk out, but Miranda stopped her. "If I may ask Commander, what is it that you're afraid of? There's nothing wrong with anything you did. Kelly was sober and willing."
"It's not… "
"Is it the gender thing?"
"No, of course not. I… It's complicated ok? I just… I need to… leave."
With that, Shepard whirled around and out Miranda's door, not looking back.