I'm feeling a little anxious today.
The thing is… I've never really been on a date before. I know that Liara and I being together is the most natural thing in the world, but the idea of a date… well it scares the living hell out of me. And to make matters worse, it's not just a date but a double date. Ugh! I could just rip Kasumi's head off!
I think I finally decided on an outfit for the date. It's a sparkly blue dress I got the last time we were on Illium. Then again, that green one might work better. Damnit, now I've got to figure it out again!
Ok, moving on to food. That one shouldn't be too hard. What do people eat on a date? Wait, is this a food date? 1600 seems a little early for dinner. Should we do something first and then eat? God I am freaking out. I've got to talk to someone about this. Oh god, who do I talk to about this?
It's alright Leanna, calm down. I'll talk to Kasumi. She's the one who got me in to this, she can help me out. Not to mention she and Jacob are the only ones on the ship with a successful dating life.
I think Gardner's about to open up the kitchen. I guess I should go down for breakfast. Maybe playing a bit more "Crazy Pyjaks" wouldn't hurt though. I think I'm about to finish it and I heard there's some big boss fight at the end. Could be fun.
It was breakfast in the Mess Hall. Gardner was busy cooking. He'd managed to get one glove on this morning, though it wasn't the one that was touching the food unfortunately.
A few of the crew members were sitting at the larger table, either reading reports or talking between bites of food. The atmosphere on the Normandy had gotten a bit more relaxed since the Shadow Broker incident as there was very little anyone had to do.
Meanwhile, at the smaller table, Garrus and Tali sat, each apparently lost in their own thoughts.
Garrus finally broke through the silence. "Don't you ever get tired of it?"
Tali focused her attention on him. "Get tired of what?"
Garrus held up the tube he was eating out of; an identical one was attached to Tali's suit. "This. Day in, day out, eating the same paste for every meal, doesn't it get boring after a while?"
"I've… never really thought about it. Every meal I've eaten has been some sort of vegetable or protein paste."
"You've never even been curious? Never wanted to try some meat?"
"Of course I've been curious, but that's a major indulgence. For one, it's almost impossible to find someone willing to prepare meat in a way that a quarian could eat it. And even if you do, they make it so expensive that most quarians have to save up for years to afford it."
Garrus leaned forward slightly. "What if I told you that I know of a restaurant, no more than a few hours away by shuttle, that specializes in quarian and turian cooking?"
"That would be great, but there's no way I could afford to eat at a place like that."
"Then let me take you there, my treat."
Tali shook her head. "No way, that's too much money for anyone to be spending on my behalf."
Garrus held up a hand. "It's no big deal. The chef is a friend of mine. He owes me a favor. I'm sure I could get him to give us a discount. Besides, I'd really like to go to this place, but people always look at you funny if you show up alone."
Tali cocked her head to the side. "And they won't look at you funny if you show up with a Quarian?"
Garrus smiled. "Only the close-minded ones."
Tali thought for a moment. "Well…"
Out of nowhere, a fist hit Garrus on the side of the head, followed by someone yelling out, "You ass!"
Garrus grabbed the side of his head that had been struck and turned to face his attacker. "What the hell Shepard? That's my injured side!"
Leanna was standing there, her fists at her side, shaking with what looked like a combination of fear and rage. Tali took one look and began to leave, the tube of past still attached to her suit. Garrus reached out towards her with his free hand, but he was too late to stop her.
Leanna finally stopped seething enough to speak. "Why didn't you tell me there were Thresher Maws in that game?"
Garrus rubbed the spot where she'd hit him. The bandage had come off a week ago, but his exoskeleton hadn't entirely healed yet. It was still soft, which was probably why Shepard had targeted it in the first place. "Thresher Maws… You mean you beat the game?"
"No." The anger seemed to quickly subside as Shepard slumped down in the chair next to Garrus. "I made it all the way to the boss fight, and then that Thresher Maw burst out of the ground and then… I froze up. I just sat there, staring at the display until the time ran out. And when it did, I turned off my Omni-tool and was overcome with the strong desire to come down here… and hit you."
"Did it make you feel better?"
She looked at Garrus. "No. If anything, I feel worse. I shouldn't have gotten mad at you. It's not like you would've known what kind of reaction I would've had to that. Hell, I didn't even know I'd freak out like that."
Garrus continued to rub the side of his head. The pain was subsiding, but not gone. "No, I'm sorry. I should've known better. I knew what happened at Akuze, but I just forgot. It's just that I've never seen you be anything but level-headed when facing down a Thresher Maw."
"Trust me; I'm terrified whenever we have to fight one of them. It's just that, usually when I'm terrified, my instinct is to shoot. Most of the time when we've faced down Maws, we've been in a tank, and the one time we had to fight one on foot, I happened to have a mini-nuke-launcher strapped to my back. But here I was, alone, unarmed and half-naked in my quarters. What was I supposed to do?"
"To be fair, the point of the game was to throw pyjaks at it."
Leanna gave Garrus a punch on the arm, much lighter this time. She smiled. "I'm sorry Garrus. I over reacted and I think I scared Tali off. Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?"
Garrus thought for a minute. "Maybe you could talk to Tali for me. I was trying to invite her out to this restaurant that serves dishes made exclusively with dextro-proteins. Maybe you could get her to say yes?"
"Really? I thought you were going to wait a while before you asked her out."
"It's not a date; not a real one anyway. I just figure she could use some time to blow off some steam. I'm worried about her. I… know what it's like to have family problems."
"Yeah, about that… don't mention what I said to here, about her not being over the loss of her father. I don't want her to know I was talking about this to anyone."
"So you mean you'll do it?"
Leanna gave a smile. "I'll do my best. I'll talk to her first thing after breakfast." She stood and turned to the kitchen, only to see Gardner scratching himself with his ungloved hand. "And now I've lost my appetite."
A few minutes later, Shepard entered the Engineering room. Ken and Gabby were having a hushed conversation while casting occasional glances at Tali. Leanna cleared her throat behind them.
"Guys, give us a minute?"
Gabby spoke first, "I'm gonna go check on the Cargo."
Ken chimed in as well. "Aye, I'll help ya with that."
Without another word, the pair left the room.
Leanna walked over to Tali. She was slumped against the console in front of her and her head was in her hands. She saw the empty protein-past tube on the ground a few feet away. "Tali?" she asked tentatively.
Tali turned her head towards Shepard. "What do you want from me?" She sounded as though she'd been crying, though Leanna was unsure if quarians cried.
Leanna took a single step forward. "I… just wanted to apologize. I didn't mean to scare you off like that."
Tali straightened herself up and turned back to the console. "Fine, you apologized. Is that all?"
"Is everything alright?"
"Everything's fine Shepard."
Leanna took another step. "Ok, I may not act like it sometimes, but I am a woman, and I know that when another woman says that everything's fine, it means that something is decidedly not fine, so spill."
"Fine, you want to know what it is?" Tali turned to face her, placing her hand on her left hip. "It's you."
"Look Shepard, I have deep, strong feelings for you. I told you how I felt, and you said you had to talk to Liara first, and that was fine because I wasn't out of the running yet. Then Liara comes and she won't talk about it, so I encourage her to. Why, because I wanted you to be happy. Sure, part of me wanted her to decide it wouldn't work out and then we could be together, but I just kept telling myself it didn't matter as long as you were happy. But then, when it comes down to it, you two don't even talk it out do you? You just decided to get back together like the last two-and-a-half years never happened. And now, I'm still trying to say it's ok, just as long as you're happy, but it's not! It hurts! And I feel so alone!
"I know that if this were about anyone else, you'd be the first person I went to. You were there for me so many times, when Fist's goons attacked me, when I lost my squad on Haestrom, when my father died… but now it feels like there's no one I can talk to about this. The only person on this ship that I've known as long as you is Garrus, and I don't feel comfortable enough to talk about it with him.
"And then, once I finally get the courage to leave the lower decks and talk to someone, you burst in and punch Garrus as soon as he gets the courage to ask me out! That took a lot of courage, and you have to go all 'jealous girlfriend' on him over someone you already rejected!"
Leanna stood there in stunned silence for a few moments before speaking. "Ok Tali, first of all, I wasn't jealous of you and Garrus. I was upset at him for something he did that I thought he did for different reasons but he just forgot. Anyway, it had nothing to do with you and I'm sorry if I made it seem like that."
"Oh," Tali said in a mixture of relief, embarrassment and a slight bit of disappointment.
"And second, I'm sorry for not being there for you. You're my best friend and you've been there for me just as much as I've been for you. I don't think I could've gotten through the past few months since I was brought back without your help."
Tali quickly closed the distance between them and wrapped her arms around her. "No Leanna, I'm sorry." She pulled back. "I shouldn't have exploded like that. It's not your fault I've been so distant. I guess… I just needed to vent. Look, I'll be ok. You should go; you have that date with Liara tonight."
"You know about that? Oh god, who else knows?"
"The Normandy's a small ship Shepard. Gossip spreads fast."
Leanna shook her head. "I really wish we were busy; then people would have something better to talk about than my personal life." Suddenly, inspiration struck. "You know what? I think I'm going to start instituting some mandatory shore leave, starting with you and Garrus."
"Yep, as the only two on board who require dextro-proteins, I'm grouping you two together. Take the shuttle, go to that restaurant, have some fun together and don't come back for 24 hours. And here, take this." She reached into the pocket on her right leg and pulled out a credit chit. "It's got about 15,000 credits on it. Use as much as you need."
"I… I don't know what to say. Thank you, Leanna."
"Well don't just stand there! Tell Garrus and then start packing!"
"Right!" Tali headed for the door.
"And remember," Leanna called after her, "24 hours. Then I want you back here to tell me everything."
Tali made a gesture resembling a salute as she walked backwards through the door. "Yes Captain!" As she turned, Leanna could see a bit of a spring in her step.
Leanna exited through the other doors, only to run into Ken and Gabby, kissing each other in the space between the doors.
Leanna looked at them and said, "Get a room you two."
A voice cried from below, "And stay out of mine!"