-December 24th, 2:30 a.m.-
Kaycee Shepard wakes to an empty bed, her love nowhere to be found. She blinks her eyes sleepily, trying to adjust her eyes to the darkness, "Liara?"
Kaycee sighs to herself, coming to the conclusion that Liara is in the same place she's been every single night since the Reaper War ended.......at her desk. She throws the covers back, revealing her long slender legs, tiny scars scattered here and there across them. Clad in nothing but her gray tank-top and a pair of black underwear, she winces as her bare feet touch the cold floor. Opening the bedroom door quietly, Shepard notices the telltale blue lights coming from underneath the door that leads to Liara's office. Kaycee shakes her head sadly, She's supposed to be getting rest. Dr. Chakwas told her specifically that the stress from running her operations is not healthy right now.
As she gently opens the door, she hears her love's voice, weary but alert, "Operative Belan. Have your team divert those shipments of Platinum and Eezo toward Palaven. They are in desperate need of supplies while they run their rescue excavations."
A deep gravely voice responds from the console, "At once, Broker."
As the conversation ends, Kaycee watches Liara lean back, one hand massaging her left temple, the other resting on the large bulge at her stomach. "Goddess......so many people need assistance. How am I going to manage the resources needed for everyone?"
Kaycee clears her throat, causing Liara to just about fall out of her chair. "Shepard! Don't scare me like that!"
The winning smile she gets in return puts all thoughts of irritation from her mind. Kaycee's expression turns from smiling to concerned. "Li.....You should be in bed."
Liara's smile fades slowly, "I know. But so many people need help, and I'm the only one to keep the supplies flowing to where they are needed most."
Kaycee slowly makes her way over to her love, and kneels behind her, wrapping her arms around Liara's shoulders. She rests her chin gently on Liara's shoulder, leaning against her slightly. "Liara. Right now 'she' needs you more than the galaxy."
"I can't just ignore my work."
"Not asking you to. I've been giving this some thought for months now. I think I have a solution, but you need to be the one to make the choice."
"You want me to stop."
"Not entirely. I was thinking.....you don't have to do this alone."
"You mean......give other people access to my network?"
"Not telling you to give access to complete strangers, Li. I'm asking to let our friends help you."
Liara's gaze wanders over the office, the banks of computers all processing resource transports and supply needs. Kaycee releases her from her embrace and spins her chair around slowly to face her, grasping Liara's hands in hers, her crystal blue eyes searching Liara's. "Listen I've already asked someone to help pick the best for this....and I think you'll approve."
She activates her omni-tool, "You awake?"
A calm, female voice sounds from the omni-tool, "I do not ever sleep Shepard. I merely power down and sift through my files."
A full-size hologram of EDI materializes next to the desk, her "hair" pulled back in a ponytail, her visor still constantly moving as she multi-tasks. Liara looks first at EDI then back to Kaycee, her expression unreadable. EDI glances at her, "Is there something wrong Liara?"
"You both.....have been so worried about me that you've been trying to find ways to reduce my work load?"
"It was originally Shepard's comment that you have been working late hours when you should have been resting. I came up with the idea that perhaps the Shadow Broker is no longer needed. Perhaps it's time for the role to change."
Kaycee clears her throat, "Well instead of having one person trying to be a hermit at her desk......."
She winces at the glare Liara shoots her direction. EDI finishes Kaycee's sentence, "Have a group of individuals, each bringing something special to the table, so the burden will never have to rest squarely on one person's shoulders."
The glare and righteous anger fade from Liara's visage, replaced with a surprised expression. EDI capitalizes on this, continuing her line of thought. "As we all know only members of our little 'family' with very few exceptions know about your work. I would suggest we look to them for assistance."
Liara manages to compose herself, "Who do you have in mind EDI? Besides yourself?"
"Miranda would be one of the most obvious choices, her tactical mind would be perfect for the logistics that the position would require."
Liara nods sagely, "If you had asked me that a year ago, I would have thrown something heavy at you. But she's proven herself time and time again. Who else?"
"You want to give a master thief access to the most comprehensive database in the whole galaxy? Are you completely out of your mind EDI?!?"
Kaycee puts a hand on Liara's shoulder, giving it an affectionate squeeze. "Honey, I know how you feel about her. But Kas has access to information that even you don't know."
Kaycee puts a finger on Liara's lips shushing her. "Li, she knew more where to find Cerberus front companies than you did. Faster too. That's not saying she's better than you, just that her particular set of skills would make her invaluable to the group."
Liara's eyes flash with frustration, but the fire dies as she realizes that Kaycee was right. She takes Kaycee's hand in hers, bringing it to her cheek, closing her eyes. "Anyone else EDI?"
"Tali has offered to assist with the technical aspect, but other than that.....no."
"But....do you think the operatives will go along with this?"
"Do you really think that they'll believe that they have a choice?"
Liara chuckles quietly at this, bringing a smile to EDI's smooth features. A tear wells up in the corner of Liara's right eye and begins a slow decent down her cheek. When she opens her eyes again, Kaycee is leaning over her, the softness of her lips pressed against her forehead. "I love you Li. I just want you to be happy."
"I know you do. It's just.....going to take some time for me to get used to letting others handle my operations....I guess I should say 'our' operations now, shouldn't I?"
Kaycee wraps her arms around Liara once more, "Just think. This time next year....we will be celebrating our daughter's first Christmas."
"It's really hard to believe how quickly these months have flown by."
Suddenly her lips are locked with Kaycee's, as she is pulled into a passionate embrace. The seconds feel like hours as time seems to stand still for the couple. Finally, Kaycee breaks the kiss, resting her forehead against Liara's, "Merry Christmas Li. You've given me the greatest gift ever."
"Oh? What's that?"
"......... a family."