Still sat on the briefing room floor, Shepard reasoned that she would have to leave at some point. Unfortunately. She had gotten quite comfortable. And may have fallen asleep for a few moments.
Ah well, she thought, I guess I'll go get ready then. She had mixed feelings. On the one hand, she didn't want to see Thane, let alone spend time pretending to be his girlfriend. Not right now, it was too embarrassing. She didn't want to make a fool of herself. But, on the other hand, she couldn't wait. Hell, if she couldn't be his real girlfriend, why not just enjoy playing pretend?
But what should I wear? She thought as she dawdled towards the lift. What do clubbers wear? Could I get away with combat boots? Probably not.
I have nothing sexy. Should I be considering something sexy? As she trudged out of the lift, into her cabin, she was surprised to see Tali and Kasumi were already there, and her bed was covered in clothes.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I thought I was in my quarters," Shepard said sarcastically, looking around in mock confusion. "I should go."
"No, no, no you don't," said Kasumi, circling behind her, ushering her into the room. "You have to get ready for your date."
Shepard groaned. "It's not a date. It's a sham. It's a shmate. Can't you go for me?" She whined.
"No, Shepard. No way. I would absolutely hate to be on the arm of the most feared and gorgeous assassin in the universe for the whole evening. Gosh. How tedious," said Tali, feigning disgust.
"Ghastly evening you have ahead, I should say." Kasumi said with her nose in the air.
Tali and Kasumi chuckled. Shepard laughed despite herself as Tali began to wheeze under her helmet.
"Okay, stop it. Fine. I know it's silly and I should be jumping for bloody joy right now but..." Shepard stopped, embarrassed and unsure how to continue.
"...Yes Shep?" Kasumi encouraged.
"Well..." She bit her lip. She was going to sound weird however this came out.
"Come on!" Tali urged, obviously becoming impatient.
"Okay! Okay..." Shepard sighed. "I held him."
There was a silence. Kasumi and Tali looked at Shepard and then at each other, looking puzzled.
"Excuse me?" Kasumi said, angling her head as if she hadn't heard quite right.
"I held him. And a calm washed over me..." She said in an uncertain voice. Like she didn't really know how to describe the experience. Which was completely true.
Another pause. And then more laughter.
Shepard stood looking at her 'friends' stony-faced as they continued to laugh at her. She would laugh too if it weren't her in this situation. As it stood, she could see nothing in the slightest bit funny about her dilemma.
Once the laughter had eventually subsided, Kasumi nodded thoughtfully.
"You know, this actually makes sense, Shep." She said in her most wizened tone of voice. "He is the most dangerous male on this ship. Deadly and eerily calm. I suppose it's only natural that the deadliest woman abroad should find comfort in him."
"You are strange enough for that theory to work, Shepard." Tali agreed seriously. "Nobody can go through all that you have been through and not come out of it unscathed... mentally."
"Excuse me? Are you calling me crazy?" Shepard asked, incredulously. "I may be your friend Tali Zorah but I can still kick your quarian butt out of the closest air-lock."
Kasumi laughed, "Of course you find an assassin calming, Shep, you're crazy!"
"You'll go too if you're not careful," Shepard said in what she hoped was her scariest voice. She crossed her arms and gave them her stern face. I am Commander Shepard, fear me!
It didn't work. They still laughed at the fearsome Commander Shepard whilst they were getting her ready for Afterlife.
Shepard felt funny. She took the good natured banter as well as she always did. Banter was something she encouraged among her crew, it forced people to forge bonds amongst friendly jibes, mostly. It was a great way to spend any downtime her team had earned. It also separated the strong from the weak, and a suicide mission required the former.
It wasn't the teasing that had her on edge, far from it. She was undeniably and unashamedly nervous. A fake date this may be, she thought, but it's the closest thing I've come to in a very long time.
Looking over the clothes that currently garnered her bed, she didn't recognize a single garment.
"What's with all the crap?" She asked, pointing at the bed. It wasn't just clothes strewn across the bed. There was make-up and an assortment of bottles and cans. She recognized one as Ultra Glossy Space Spray. Hmm, I hope that ones for my hair.
Kasumi moved to the bed while Tali pushed Shepard's desk chair underneath her. "This 'crap' is what we are going to use to transform you from comfortable soldier into-"
"Uncomfortable whore?" Shepard asked.
"Chic and stylish lady, actually," Kasumi corrected, disapprovingly.
"What's wrong with my clothes?" Shepard asked, already sure she knew the answer. Her clothes were 'comfortable'.
"Would you like me to dignify that with an answer?" Kasumi said with her hands on her hips. "Now look, while you were sleeping in the briefing room," Damn. "Tali and I raided Miss Chambers extraordinarily extensive, and may I say grossly erotic, wardrobe."
Shepard raised her eyebrows but wasn't entirely surprised. "Don't worry, Shepard." Tali offered. "We left the most risqué pieces in her closet."
Shepard smiled. She was grateful that, not only had they saved her from what she imagined was a lot of red PVC, but also that they had gone to the trouble of helping her get ready for her... evening.
She exhaled dramatically. "I think this is the first mission I have been remotely nervous about since waking up on that table in the Cerberus base."
"That's natural, Shepard. Everyone gets nervous on dates," Tali chuckled. "Go try this on." She instructed, shoving something green and shiny towards her commander.
Shepard obeyed and went to the bathroom to try on Kelly's dress. Sliding it over her curves, the dress seemed to fit quite well. The neckline draped low, giving her the impression of a good cleavage, and the waistline accentuated her slim figure. The dress was emerald green, which seemed suitable. She looked good. But her legs were hairy. She gave them a once over with the razor while she was still in the bathroom, not wanting to overwhelm a hair virgin like Thane. I wonder if he likes my hair? She thought as she removed as much as she could from her lower body.
"Maybe it's not because this mission resembles a date, maybe you're just nervous about going out unarmed again," Kasumi suggested from the bedroom. "I know Morinth shook you up."
"Maybe." Shepard called through as she rinsed the razor. "So, what do you think?" She asked as she presented herself with a twirl. "Am I girlie yet?"
"Nearly," Tali said holding brushes of varied sizes.
Shepard smiled. If she wasn't Commander Shepard the saviour, she would probably be doing this kind of thing all the time. Getting ready with the girls, putting on make-up and fancy clothes. She had know idea how much fun it could be! I should definitely organize some shore leave before we hit that collector base. Goddess knows these guys deserve it before the final mission... She waved the thought away with a dismissive hand, she would not think about it now. Deal with missions as missions come. She thought, defiantly.
"Viola," Kasumi said with a flourish of her brushes. "Hair and make-up done."
Tali urged Shepard out of the chair and back into the bathroom where she could see the masterpiece they had created.
"Wow," Shepard said, incredulously, turning back to her friends. "You... are miracle workers."
"Yeah," Kasumi sighed. "I still can't believe you hadn't heard of concealer before."
"And now, thanks to you, I will never face a Reaper without it," Shepard said with feigned admiration.
And she did look good. For the first time, Commander Shepard was experiencing girl world. She was embracing make-up and shunning her combat gear. How very surreal.
"You know, as a soldier, I never expected I'd be doing this kind of thing," She said, twirling her dress.
"Yeah, yeah. You look pretty. Now get a move on, Thane will be waiting for you. You're twenty minutes late," Tali said, pointing to the clock on the wall.
Shepard gasped, delightedly, "I really am a girl!"
Thane had arrived exactly on time. Precision and efficiency were bullet points on his resume. Dating, was not. Courting bewildered him. Like most complexities in his life, he'd studied the extra-net ferociously, planning and scheduling like the perfect assassination. It was of the highest importance that tonight should resemble the real deal. A real date to assure the target of no threat. And if the butterflies in Thane stomach were anything to judge by, he was doing a pretty good job mimicking authentic pre-date nerves.
At exactly seven minutes past eleven, Thane Krios was unusually fidgety. This was something he was not accustomed to. He was often described as stoic, statuesque, emotionless... That last one was just Irikah.
Pushing the thought to the back of his mind, he swallowed the memory down, along with all the others into his bottomless pit of self-loathing. This is not the best mindset for a date, he thought, forlornly.
Checking his omni-tool clock for the umpteenth time, he heard a soft cough behind him. When he turned around, he wasn't prepared for the sight before him. It was his commander as he'd never seen her before. Obviously. It wasn't often she wandered around CIC in a beautiful dress that bared so much flesh. Stop looking at her legs, he thought. Thane shook his head and cursed himself for being so rude.
He cleared his throat. "Commander Shepard, you look..." He faltered and found it was easier to offer her his arm, rather than finish that sentence. At first she regarded his arm with uncertainty and, again, he cursed himself for seeming forward. He was grateful when she eventually slid her arm into his. They fit together like jigsaw pieces and he smiled down at her, perplexed at how she could still be smaller than him with heels on.
They were about to leave when Joker piped up. "Wow, Commander. Green really suits you." Joker laughed at his own joke and swiveled back to the console. "The dress looks good too," He called over his shoulder.
"Bye Joker," Shepard called, sugar sweet. "Enjoy your night in with the robot." Thane chuckled with Shepard as they left the Normandy together, arm in arm, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.