Liara looked down at Leanna, her mouth open in shock. Not a sound came out of it.
"Liara? Anytime you want to jump in her with an answer would be good. My knee's starting to hurt."
Liara closed her mouth, then opened it. Still no words came. It took a second closing and opening before her mouth was able to make words again. "Shepard… Leanna, this is… lovely, but…"
Leanna started to rise, slowly. "There's always a 'but'," she sighed.
"No! I mean, I do not mean I am not saying 'no'. It is just… a big decision. I was not prepared for this at all."
Leanna sat on the bed. "Really? I mean, from what you said, I thought this was exactly what you wanted."
Liara sat next to her on the bed. "I just wanted a promise. I wanted you to promise me that you would never leave me like that. That you would never… make me leave you like that again."
"Isn't that what I was doing? I mean, isn't a proposal one of the biggest promises I could make to you? This ring," she held it up, "means that I will always come back for you. If there's an ounce of strength left in my body, I will come back and I will spend the rest of my life with you."
"And what happens when that strength runs out? What happens if you face the Reapers, and they manage to kill you? I do not think I could do it again. I do not think I could manage to get that close to you, only to feel you die again."
Leanna furrowed her brow. "What do you mean by feel me die?"
"I felt you die!" Liara sobbed. "I felt everything. I felt your panic as your air began to leak. I felt you suffocate as it ran out. I could feel the blackness overtake you. Every moment of your death, I felt."
Leanna placed her arm around Liara. "I… I'm so sorry. I didn't know that was even possible."
Liara began to wipe away her tears. "It is not unheard of among the Asari. If two that have bonded have a strong enough connection, they can share thoughts and feelings with each other, even when at a distance." She looked Leanna in the eyes. "So that is why I cannot have you, only to lose you again. I know that it may sound selfish, but losing you again would be worse than letting the Reapers take everything."
"Liara, you know that you're going to lose me no matter what. When this mess is over, and you and I are together, I'll have about one-hundred years left, maybe one-fifty if technology keeps up, but you'll have close to nine-hundred years left."
"I have thought of that. It would still be painful if you were to die like that, but at least I would have the comfort of all the time we spent together. I… I think I could live with that."
"Well, how about this then. The next time I go into a dangerous situation where it's likely I'll die, I'll bring you along. That way, if I die, you'll be right alongside me to die too." Leanna gave a small grin. "Or save my life, whichever one's easier."
Liara smiled gently. "You say that in jest but… I think that is what I would like."
"Alright," Leann grabbed her hands. "Liara, I promise, no matter what happens I won't send you away. If there's a chance I may die, I'll take you along with me. And I won't leave you until the day I absolutely have to."
"Then my answer," Liara squeezed her hands, "is yes."
Liara nodded, smiling widely. "I will marry you."
Leanna placed the ring on Liara's finger. The two drew close and kissed.
"Commander, Kasumi has requested that you meet her in the Mess Hall in thirty minutes."
Leanna popped her head out from under the covers. "Thanks EDI. Let her know I'll be there." The blue orb disappeared. "Guess that's about all the time we've got."
Liara pulled back the covers a bit. "That is quite all right. I think I need a little rest after that."
"Really?" Leanna propped herself up on her elbows and gave a coy smile. "I was just getting warmed up."
Liara gave her a playful bop with a pillow. "It may be easy for you, but I am the one who has to enter your mind."
"Well, maybe if you taught me how to do it I'd be able help."
Liara bopped her again. "You know that it does not work like that."
"You never know? I'm a fast learner." Liara swung the pillow again. Leanna caught it this time. "Hit me with that pillow one more time and I'll hold you down and make you 'embrace eternity'."
Leanna smirked. "Don't tempt me." She threw off the covers and sat up. "Come on, we've got to get dressed for this dinner."
"Can we not just stay in bed like this for the rest of the night?"
Leanna stood and began gathering up her clothes from the floor. "I wish we could, but I promised Kasumi we'd meet her for dinner."
Leanna turned to see that Liara had opened her eyes wide and pouted her lips. "You do not get to use that face on me. I invented that face."
"But I do not even know Kasumi," Liara pleaded.
"You know that she's my friend."
"Exactly, she is your friend. I do not know her or this Jacob she's with."
"I'd've asked you to invite your friend, but I didn't want Feron to feel like a fifth wheel."
"I thought that the appropriate term was 'third wheel'?"
"Not when you're talking about a double date." Leanna began putting on her clothes.
"What about Tali and Garrus? We both know them."
"Two problems with that: one, they're not officially a couple; and two, they're not on the ship right now."
"What about Dr. Chakwas and—"
"You finish that sentence Liara, and I swear I will never let you back in my mind."
Liara drew her fingers across her lips in a zipping motion.
Leanna zipped up her dress. "Come on Liara! I'm already dressed and you're just lying there like a fish! A very attractive, sexy fish that I… Just get dressed!"
"Fine," Liara sighed, resigned. She stood and began to put her outfit back on.
Leanna softened her tone. "Tell you what; give it to the end of the meal. If you're bored, give me a signal and I'll get us out of there."
"What kind of signal should I give you?"
"You're psychic honey, I'm sure you can figure it out."
Liara finished getting dressed while Leanna fumbled with getting her heels on. Soon, the two were ready.
"Are you going out like that?"
Leanna turned. "What's wrong?"
"It is just, your hair. I have never seen you go out in public with it down before."
"Liara, for fifteen years, I've kept my hair up by threading it through a ring. Now, that ring is on your finger."
Liara looked at it. "It is a beautiful ring."
"It was my mother's."
"Your mother's," Liara repeated.
"My father gave it to her when he proposed. The night before the fire… I found it. She told me about it: what it meant, its history. She let me hold on to it while I slept. It's… the only thing I have left of her."
"You miss her, don't you?"
"Don't be silly. How can you miss someone you barely remember?"
"You forget that I have been inside your head. Silly or not, you do miss her. You miss everyone that you have lost, on a level that I have only felt when I lost you."
Leanna turned away. "Could we not get into this right now?"
"I am sorry. I did not mean to upset."
"No, it's just…" she turned back. "I'm sorry. I'm trying to deal with these things, but it's hard. I don't want to drag the evening down letting this all out."
Liara embraced her. "We are together, nothing could bring us down."
Leanna smiled. "Come on. We've got a dinner to go to, and I want to show off my new Fiancée."