CHAPTER 8: ADVICE
Shepard was speechless. The room was deathly silent. Anderson got up and walked over to the glass case behind his enormous desk. He selected a bottle from the third shelf and two glasses. Setting them on the desk, he carefully poured the amber liquid into each of them. He picked up the glasses and walked back over to her. He offered her a glass as he sat down in the chair across from her. She gratefully accepted it, taking a generous mouthful before setting it on the table. The liquid was rich and warm, burning a trail down her throat.
"I'm sorry, Shepard," he offered weakly, studying his glass. "She blindsided me. I had no idea why she came to see me and then she dropped that bomb right before you walked in. What right did she have to use that?! I swear Shepard, if I had known that there was a leak from the inside, I would never have put you there…."
"I know," she reassured him. "What do you think we should do?"
"Well…" he started slowly, thinking "…it pretty much goes without saying that the Krogan are going to want a cure for the genophage."
"There's nothing else we have that they would want."
"Christ, Shepard. You know what that means don't you?" he spat.
She nodded. "No wonder the Dalatrass paid us a personal visit."
He studied her face for a moment. "I know this isn't any of my business to ask but…"
She looked down at the glass on the table. "It is your business now and, for what it's worth, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for involving you. But I'm NOT sorry for what happened."
"I'm partially to blame for this mess, too. I should have been more thorough in my research, but we both know that we couldn't let anyone else do it." He paused. "Sera, besides you, me, and now the Dalatrass, who else knows about this?"
"Only my mother."
He stopped short. "You didn't tell Garrus?!"
"I – I can't," she said simply.
"What?! Why the hell not? Don't you think he has a right to know??"
"David, I can't do it. I'm still trying to think of how to tell him now. I know he needs to know, but when he finds out…" She broke off.
"Well, you better tell him sooner rather than later or he will find out from someone else…" He stopped as the doors to his office opened and his assistant walked in.
"Councilor, you have a visitor. She says she won't leave until she sees you."
Anderson peered through the doorway and a heartfelt grin spread across his broad face as he entered the outer office. Shepard could her some whispering and then footsteps returning. Her ears perked and her head slowly turned in the direction of a woman's voice in harmony with Anderson's.
"Mom!" A relieved and happy smile broke across the younger Shepard's face.
"Seraphina!" The older Shepard was overjoyed seeing her daughter sooner than she anticipated.
They embraced each other in a long overdue warm hug. They had last seen each other at Captain Adam Shepard's funeral, a little over 2 years ago. It was a long time to be apart but, with each of them in the Alliance, one an Admiral and the other now a Commander, it was virtually impossible to be in the same place at the same time. Recent events made it even more difficult. The best they could manage was to send one another holo-messages when they could. It was how Sera told her mother about Garrus….and what happened during her court martial.
They pulled apart, each studying the other. As far apart as they were in age, the younger woman was a spitting image of the older one, save for one thing: her sapphire blue eyes, the one trait that Hannah was ecstatic her daughter had inherited from her husband. They were a deeper, brilliant (especially when her emotions ran deep) blue and stunning set against the ebony black hair her daughter had inherited from her. One thing was for certain, the younger Shepard would never have to worry about aging gracefully.
"Sera! What's wrong??" Hannah asked, giving her daughter's face a once over. Even though they had been apart for so long, there were some things you can't hide from a mother. Sera's pale face and midnight blue eyes framed by dark circles told her everything.
"Mom…." she began and then faltered, not really knowing how to continue. She looked over at Anderson for help.
"Hannah…" he began, "the Salarians are threatening to blackmail Sera with what happened at Chimera."
Hannah's mouth gaped. "What?!?" She looked at her daughter for further explanation.
Sera explained, "The short of it is, if necessary, they will use it as leverage to control the terms of the treaty between the Turians and the Krogan so that Earth can get the help it needs. The Dalatrass is convinced that the cost for Krogan aid will be steep. So, she demanded to be a part of the negotiations or else she will release what happened to me at Chimera."
"Oh dear God," her mother said sinking onto the couch and the other two followed suit.
All three were silent for a few minutes, each trying to think of a solution to the problem.
"Sera, have you told Garrus yet?" she asked, already knowing the answer but wanting to hear her daughter say it.
Sera shook her head solemnly.
"Seraphina!!" Hannah admonished her daughter.
"I know mom. I just….can't. It's not that I don't want to. I do. When I even think about telling him, my mind goes completely blank. There are no words. Hell, when I see him, I want to run."
Hannah pursed her lips into a thin line, frustrated with her daughter. It was ironic that her daughter, the Great Commander Shepard, couldn't figure out how to handle a situation such as this. It didn't surprise Hannah at all that this is way her daughter would react, though. She had been this way all of her life. It seemed that her courage was somehow inverted. Everything that seemed insurmountable, hopeless and desperate, Sera grabbed by the balls and got it done. When it came to her own vulnerabilities, however, a wall went up and aversion was the number one tactic. She could thank her husband for passing that trait on to their daughter, the subtle but obvious flaw in the Shepard armor. The only way she could get through to either Adam or Sera was blunt confrontation; sometimes a swift kick in the proverbial 'ass' was all it took.
"What happens if he finds out from someone else? Have you considered that? If he does, you know it will be far worse."
"I know but what if…"
"What if what? What if he hates you? Walks away? Completely loses it? What?" Hannah said, exasperated.
"Yes," Sera said simply.
"Do you love him?" she barked at her daughter, her tone demanding an immediate answer.
"Yes! Of course I do," Sera bit out more sharply than she intended.
"Then it's a chance you'll have to take. If he doesn't understand, then he never deserved your love. But what if none of those things happen? What if he loves you more? Wants more? Wants you?"
Sera knew her mother was right. She would never know if she didn't tell him.
"I know you're right, mom. It's always easier said than done though."
"Of course I'm right, Sera. Once you tell him, then you can work together to take care of the problem with the Dalatrass. The fight with the Reapers is more than enough to deal without having to worry about Humans and Turians going to war – again."
Sera shook her head sadly. "I'm so sorry mom."
Hannah studied her daughter's face. It had changed so much since Adam's funeral. Her young, soft, lightly freckled cheeks now bore the glowing scars of her cybernetics, the only tell-tale sign of the horrors she had faced. Her eyes, which once beamed with a passionate blue flame for adventure, now had a permanent dark shadow behind them. It saddened Hannah that Adam wasn't here to give their daughter the advice she desperately needed and tried to think of what he would say.
"Don't be sorry, love. We can't help who we love. We just hope they love us in return and somewhere in between things will be as they are meant to be," she said, softening a bit but still firm.
"Thanks, mom," Sera said, smiling, finding solace in her mother's words. Her father's absence felt more poignant than ever, knowing that her mother was trying to fill the void.
"Now, what do you say we go have some dinner? I'm starving. David, would you like to join us?"
Shepard nodded getting up from the couch and David smiled as he offered his arms to the two women to escort them out.