Talking With Loved Ones
Unfortunately for Buffy, the trip across the locker area to the medlab, then through the medlab to Liara's door was painfully short. Too painfully short, she hadn't even begun to think about what she'd tell Liara to get this started but she needed to do it, and standing outside a door feeling like an idiot wasn't helping matters.
Even knowing that wasn't helpful though and Buffy found herself staring at the door to Liara with no small amount of trepidation. Squaring her shoulders, and momentarily marvelling at how much taller she was, Buffy wrapped her fist on the door wishing she could feel the Slayer under her skin because a slayer's insane strength would go a long, long way to convincing Liara if the asari didn't believe Buffy.
Liara answered the door and brightened when she saw Buffy's face waiting for her. The depth of Liara's happiness at seeing her threw Buffy Shepard for a moment before she remembered that Elizabeth had told Liara she wasn't feeling well and had said she'd get Liara if she felt better during the night.
"Hey Liara," Buffy sighed, taking a step to close the gap between them, her tanned hand reaching up to cup her lover's cheek. The moment her hand touched Liara's cheek however the pale asari froze and backed away a couple steps.
"What did you do to Shepard?" Liara accused, her voice filled with worry and a small edge of anger. Fuck, Buffy had forgotten asari could do very minor mental reading just by touch, imprints mostly but that would have been enough to show she's not Elizabeth Shepard.
"Liara... I am Shepard... I swear. I'm just not exactly the same. Please Liara, I need you to trust me," Buffy pleaded from the doorway, not taking a step into the room for fear of her bondmate panicking.
Liara was hesitant to believe this woman who looked so much like her bondmate but felt so bizarre, different but the same, she couldn't figure it out, "If you are Shepard then why do you feel different, and yet the same?"
Buffy frowned, it was hard to explain that in a way that even she didn't think sounded crazy, "I am Shepard... but I'm not the Shepard you know. I'm the person Shepard used to be, not in this life... in a life a long time ago."
Liara thought about that, it sounded rather similar to the salarian concept of the Wheel of Life or humanity's own reincarnation concept but... "If you were reincarnated, why do you remember... before?"
Buffy shrugged, she knew why both her and Faith had remembered, they were connected at a level that could only be trumped by a true soul-mate, but not why
they remembered, "I'm not really sure. Me and Ashley both had the same dream then we remembered. I can't explain it... but I might be able to show you."
Liara hesitated for a moment, if something else was wrong with Shepard and she melded with her bondmate it might spread to her and then it could happen to the whole ship, but she trusted Shepard... possibly too much, so the pale asari reached out for her lover's hand and pulled her farther inside. Reaching up she cupped Shepard's face, "Relax, embrace eternity."
Buffy gasped as they found themselves in her mind, a familiar place of sand and rock. She turned to Liara and smiled in slight embarrassment, "Welcome to my brain." Thinking for a moment she was debating how to show Liara what she'd said she could when images flashed through her mind, surrounding them. Images of her years as one of the chosen two; the ritual that had bound her and Faith together for eternity as sisters; her eventual death, at the age of fifty, still fighting alongside slayers half her age; her rebirth as Elizabeth Shepard; the hard life she'd lived growing up in modern day Sparta; her inevitable, to anyone who knew how much she idolized the Spartans of old, decision to join the military; the Elysium Blitz, and all the horror involved there; then the stream of memories faded, the desert replacing them. She was about to break the silence when Liara's lips covered hers.
Liara had watched the memories in muted fascination at both the story they told and with the individual they told about. When they faded she couldn't restrain herself as she wrapped her arms around Buffy and kissed her with all the passion she could muster, which was quite a lot as one might expect. Now she understood why Shepard felt different even though the two people were so alike, two different, if eerily similar, lives led to two different, if eerily similar, people. Elizabeth Shepard was gone but Liara wouldn't grieve because Buffy Shepard was still her loving bondmate in every way that mattered.
For her part, Buffy was happily kissing back with her only thought and emotion being joy that Liara accepted her, changes and all. When they separated Liara smiled and they caressed each other before Liara closed the meld and they were back in the freckled asari's room. Buffy grinned a grin she'd inherited from Elizabeth, "Ash is waiting in my cabin. As much as I would love to keep her waiting... we do need to figure out the next step here, not all the crew will be as understanding as you.
They never made it back to Buffy's cabin because three seconds later there was a tremendous explosion and the ship rocked violently. Both bondmates rushed from Liara's room to the gear lockers nearby and assembled their armor. Another explosion and part of the corridor was on fire, Buffy wrenched an extinguisher off the wall and started trying to fight the fire. She tossed it to Liara to reach for the abandon ship button on a nearby console. As much as she loved this ship she wasn't stupid, whatever was attacking them was ripping her ship apart and she could feel it.
"Will the Alliance make it in time?" Liara shouted over the noise as she fought the fire.
Buffy wanted to tell the truth, that no one would be making it in time, that they were on their own. She didn't though, she wouldn't take that ray of hope from her love. Still, she couldn't quite lie to the asari so she told a half-lie, "They'll be here! We just have to hold on! Get everyone to an escape pod!"
Liara turned back to Buffy stubbornness radiating from her form, "Joker won't leave the bridge, he won't abandon you. And neither will I."
Buffy nearly growled in aggravation, why did she have to fall in love with such a stubborn woman, "I'll handle Joker, now get yourself to an escape pod. That's an order Liara!"
Liara did growl but did as she was ordered and rushed off. Satisfied that her bondmate would be safe she gave up with the fire and turned to the stairs leading up to the CIC and started that way, shielding her eyes from the flames and fighting the violent rocking of the Normandy's death throes.
Staggering her way up the stairs she found the CIC missing most of the hull. Buffy wanted to use her biotics but didn't know if her mag-boots would be able to grab the deck as she exitted the jump before she started to float away so she was forced to cross the depressurized area slowly till she reached the cockpit which had an atmo shield on it. "Joker, we've got to go! The ship is falling apart!"
Like the rest of her crew though, Joker was a stubborn bastard, "I can still save her!"
Buffy grabbed his shoulder, "Joker!"
The flight lieutenant sagged and reluctantly nodded, "Help me up."
Buffy hauled the pilot to his feet as fast as his brittle bones would allow. She'd gotten him to the nearby cockpit escape pod when a beam weapon sliced into the Normandy in between her and the pod, depressurizing that last area. Knowing it would almost certainly doom herself Buffy reached out and slammed her fist into the launch button for the pod. Seconds later an explosion flung her from the depressurized Normandy and stunned her, when she came to there was a suit breech warning on her HUD. That was the last thing she saw as she lost consciousness.
A/N: The touch reading comes from Liara's comment in ME3 about knowing it was Shepard the first time she saw her on Illium.