Little Syren Shepard opens her eyes sleepily, gently rubbing the sleep from them. She glances around her room, the pale orange light of the sunrise peaking through her curtains. She carefully hops off her bed, wrapping her blanket around her shoulders from the cold, and picks up her teddy bear, Athena. Syren shuffles over to the curtains and peeks around them, standing on tiptoe to see over the window sill. A small gasp escapes from her, followed by a quiet giggle. White, as far as the eye can see, the entire countryside covered in a thick blanket of snow. Realizing that it's Christmas morning, Syren quietly shuffles out of her bedroom, moving one door down on the right, "Aya? You awake?"
Her big sister is sitting in her bed, reading a holo-comic, clad in red sweatpants and sweatshirt. She looks up at Syren, "Well, good morning and merry christmas Sy."
"Mewwy Chwistmas Aya."
"Anyone else awake yet?"
"I dunno. But it snowed outside."
"Yep. It's so pwetty."
Aya deactivates the comic, pulling the covers off and hopping off the bed. She bends down and picks up Syren, "Should we go get the others and wake up Mom and Dad?"
Syren nods vigorously, giving her sister a big hug before Aya places her back on the floor. Taking her hand, she and Syren gather up both Velair and Rinyn, neither of whom wanted to get out of their nice warm beds. Together, they quietly make their way towards their parent's room, on the other end of the hallway. Aya, with all the stealth she practiced with her Auntie Kas, turns the doorknob without a sound, the door swinging open silently. Their mother, lays curled up in bed, the blankets almost mummifying her, their father.....nowhere to be seen. Ayrene's eyes widen as she realizes her mistake..........too late. "GOTCHA!"
Two long slender arms snap out, wrapping around her tightly, lifting her bodily from the ground. Kaycee Shepard grins in triumph, "Finally! I got the better of you this time Aya. I've been waiting for hours for you four to wake up and try something."
Aya returns the smile, "You may have gotten me.....but not them. Get her sis!"
Kaycee cries out in mock disapproval as Velair and Syren tackle onto her legs, sending them all tumbling backwards. Kaycee closes her eyes, preparing herself for the heavy *thunk* of impact.....but it doesn't come. She opens one eye in surprise. Rinyn stands in the doorway, her eyes shut tight in concentration, a bright blue glow emanating from her hands. A biotic "cushion" supports the four of them, keeping them from harm. All four stop their struggling, their eyes all focused on Rin in wonderment. Liara's voice sounds from the bed, "Rin? Sweetie, you can stop now. They're fine."
Rin's eyes snap open, and the cushion fades, the glow fading from her hands. Liara's expression shows the pride she has in her daughter's talent. "Your lessons have obviously been going well honey, haven't they?"
Rin nods quietly, a slight blush to her cheeks as her sisters still continue to stare in bewilderment. Finally Ayrene breaks the silence, "That.....was........wicked!!!!! When did you learn to do that? Can you teach me?"
Kaycee tickles Aya for an instant, breaking her train of thought, "I think you all have forgotten what's on the agenda this morning."
Syren waves an arm in the air energetically, "Santa!!!!!!"
Kaycee taps a gentle finger on her nose, bringing a giggle from the tiny Asari. "Absolutely. Now then, go get the clothes your Gramma Hannah gave you all last night, then meet your mom at the top of the stairs. I'm gonna go make sure the old guy's not here"
She winks at Liara knowingly before tearing out of the room at high speed. Aya picks up Syren and Velair off the floor, dusting off Sy's teddy bear before handing it back to her. "Come on, let's go get ready."
-Five minutes later-
Liara leans against the wall as her daughters file out of their rooms, each wearing a Christmasy sweater, patterned with everything from snowflakes to N7 logos. She smiles down at the expectant faces, "Well, are you all ready?"
A resounding cheer responds to her question. She steps aside, gesturing towards the stairway, "Go ahead darlings. Merry Christmas."
The four tiny Asari stampede past her, flying down the stairs with lightning speed, Liara slowly descends the steps after them. A gasp of surprise, followed by squeals of delight. The sounds of paper tearing reaches her ears, and the flashes of an omni-camera can be seen around the corner. Their ten-foot Christmas tree sparkles with its multi-colored lights, illuminating her four daughters, each amidst a large pile of Christmas presents. Aya is on her back, feet flailing in the air, full of delight, as she clutches a black bundle in her arms. "Whatcha got there sweetie?"
Ayrene leaps to her feet, unfurling the bundle, revealing it to be a black hoodie, the red and white logo reading N7. She also holds out a note that reads: Ms. Ayrene Shepard. We would like, on behalf of the Alliance Navy, to congratulate you on your acceptance into the Alliance Summer Training Camp. We hope to hear from you soon.
"Can you believe it mom? I got in! I thought they wouldn't take Asari?"
"I guess that they must have been convinced to change their policies. I wonder who had them do that?"
Liara's "poker-face" shows not a hint of mischief as Aya tries to figure out if her mother is pulling one over on her. She's dismisses it with a shrug and goes back to opening her other presents. Rinyn sits, leaned up against the table, a new book open in front of her. "Something interesting Rin?"
Rin doesn't even look up, her eyes constantly moving over the pages, "Mmhmm."
The book's spine reads, The Order: A Complete History of the Justicars. Liara thinks to herself, And she's now lost in the pages. Ah well, she definitely got that from me.
"Sweetie. You still have lots more to open."
"Just a few more pages. There are some amazing diagrams of Biotic forms for my training in here."
Velair dives behind a couch as she raises her new plastic rifle, firing a foam dart at the back of Rin's head. "Come on Rin. Read later, presents now!"
Kaycee watches her daughters' faces, each making her heart flutter. Syren tugs at her leg softly, "Daddy?"
She looks down at the light blue Asari, "Yes, Sy?"
"What are these?"
She holds out a small black lacquered box, engraved with the N7 logo on top. She opens the lid, revealing a set of dogtags on a sterling silver chain. The name on the tags is barely readable, due to the burns, Commander Kaycee Shepard. Kaycee kneels down to eye level with her daughter, "These were mine back when I served."
"You're giving them to me? Why? Shouldn't Aya get them?"
A quirk of a smile on her lips, Kaycee pulls Syren into a tight hug, "Aya's gonna have her own someday soon. But you......you'd never be a part of the military. Your heart is too pure for that. These will always help you to remember, that no matter what you choose to do, I will always support you, be there with you every step of the way. I love you Syren.......Merry Christmas baby."
"I love you too Daddy."
Kaycee takes the dogtags from the box and unclasps the chain, securing it around her daughter's neck. Liara's voice comes from beside them, "Smile."
Another flash of the omni-camera. Liara gives them a loving smile. "Better hurry up sweeties. Your family just called, they're on their way."
"Who's coming Mommy?"
"Aunt Miri and Auntie Kas........Gramma Theta and Uncle Zaeed.....and maybe Uncle Jeff and Aunt EDI will show up later tonight."
"Should we go set out their pwesents?"
"If you'd like sweetie."
Syren goes tearing off to her room in search of her gifts to her family. Liara intertwines her arm with Kaycee's, her head resting on her shoulder. "Kaycee? Why didn't you tell me you were giving her your old tags?"
"Because it was hard to let them go, to close that chapter of my life. But it was something I needed to do alone.....that's all."
Liara nods sagely, her eyes closed from her proximity to her love. "Who'd you threaten to get Aya into the camp?"
A chuckle ripples in Kaycee's chest, "I brought Miranda and Jack with me to speak to them. Needless to say, they didn't resist long."
"You're so devious."
"You know you love it."
"Merry Christmas Kaycee."
Kaycee leans down, and places her lips on Liara's, the kiss as sensual and romantic as the first time. Liara's heart stops from the feeling in her chest. As they part, Liara's breath is slow and heavy. She raises her eyes to Shepard, who smiles serenely, "Merry Christmas Liara."
Their daughters voices echo in the background as the pair continue their embrace.
"Goddess! I got the new Archangel Holo-Comic! Shadows of Noveria!"
"A justicar's headpiece? Wow!"
"I get a tour of C-SEC by Commander Bailey?!?! Awesome!"
And so much more.
-To be continued?-