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Shepard's Dream Catcher

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Amber double-checked her journal entries in her omni-tool. Around three weeks have passed since the mission of Akuze and she was certain the Alliance would assume she died in action. She imagined the trouble she'd give to revert her status from KIA back to active duty once she made it back.

When she shut off her omni-tool, she picked up her dream catcher that lay next to her and held it over her head. She watched it hang there, minute bits of energy causing it to slightly swing back and forth. Gazing at it reminded her of the days she and her mom would sit down and read any fantastic tales they could get their hands on. The haunting dreams of Akuze still lingered, revealing their ugly heads every now and then like the monsters they embodied. Perhaps it would help to remedy that. Closing her eyes, Amber brought her dream catcher close to her chest.

Saren came back some time later, having bought more a load of groceries with him. On the way to the kitchen, he briefly peeked into the guest bedroom.

"Shepard?" Saren called over.

Amber snapped out of her thoughts and sat up from her bed.

"Saren, I didn't hear you return," she acknowledged.

"I got you more food," Saren pointed out, holding out the grocery bag.

She gave a small smile.

"Thanks, Saren," she replied.

Amber set her dream catcher down on her end table and stepped out of her room while Saren headed over to the kitchen to put away the groceries.

"Is there anything else you might need?" he asked, unloading the bag.

Amber shook her head.

"Good. Just wondering, have you been sleeping well?"

"A little," she answered.

"Still need me? There's no shame in saying you do," he reassured.

Just as Saren finished storing the food in the refrigerator, Amber approached him and embraced herself to him. Saren reciprocated the gesture.

"If you have troubles on your mind, speak them," Saren advised, "you may be special forces, but you aren't impervious."

"Well," Amber replied, "I know I still miss my friends back at the Alliance."

He nodded.

"I understand that," he reassured her, "we'll find your way back."

Amber nodded at him before he released her from his embrace.

"So," Amber asked, "what do you like to do in your downtime?"

"Well, there's a bar I like to hit after vigorous missions. Want to come along?" he offered.

Amber nodded at him before she scampered over to her guest bedroom, where she grabbed her boots and slipped them on. She left the guest bedroom and met up with Saren at the front door. They stepped out of the apartment and traversed through the wards until they reached a wooden-smelling, well lit bar. The inside almost resembled the inside of some animal carcass with the bare structure being barely outlined by the completely black walls. The outside walls were completely glass, and the front door was composed of a thick slab of petrified wood. The booths themselves appeared to be made using the hides of something big.

"Well?" he asked.

Amber perched her chin on her palm.

"It's impressive," she commented.

He gestured to the door and brought her inside. It was a relatively modest part of the ward, so he felt there would be minimal risk to bringing her along. It didn't take long for them to find suitable seats. He pulled out menus for the both of them.

"I'll do my best to help you along with which drinks are better," Saren said, "for example, don't get anything krogan-made."

"Right," Amber nodded.

Amber began reading through the section for asari and salarians. While she went with a salarian-made brew, Saren chose a turian brandy. While they waited for their drinks, the Alliance soldier read through the list of appetizers.

"Erm…what would you say is good?" she asked, unsure about the small, yet foreign list of dishes.

Amber showed Saren her menu, allowing him to read the appetizer list.

"As for levo-options, I'd definitely recommend the salarian dishes again," Saren suggested, "needless to say, it's an interesting mix."

Amber nodded in agreement and then she found a salarian dish that she wanted to try. Placing their orders, the waiter took their menus and they chatted a bit while they waited for their drinks and appetizers. As other guests came and went, a couple of them made brief glances at the turian Spectre and the human accompanying him.

"So you're sure them seeing us here won't be a problem?" Amber inquired.

Saren shrugged nonchalantly.

"Like I said, this is one of the seedier parts of the Citadel," Saren replied, "word won't get far."

Saren ran his talons through Amber's hair, allowing her to lean into the touch.

"Still, the key term here is unlikely. You sure this won't spread?" she asked sealing reassurance.

Minutes later, the waiter returned with their drinks and their appetizers on a tray.

"Reporters, C-Sec, and anyone digging for rumors rarely come down here," Saren answered, "what could possibly go wrong?"

Saren and Amber started eating their appetizers while savoring their drinks.

"So, tell me more about your family," he said between bites.

"My mom raised me on her own," Amber explained.

"Just a mother?" he was cautious not to unearth anything too discomforting.

Amber nodded.

"From what I could hear," Amber clarified, "my biological parents didn't have that much luck."

Saren grimly nodded.

"I can relate," Saren commented.

Amber tilted her head as she raised her eyebrows.

"Why?" she paused, "do you have any relatives you miss?"

"None I can remember aside from my older brother," Saren answered, looking off to the side.

Amber took another bite of her appetizer.

"So what's your brother like?" Amber proclaimed.

"Oh, he's still around, doing his own thing. Yes, he's an asshole and did a lot of older brother things to me when we were kids, but he kept us safe. That's all that matters," Saren hastily corrected.

After they took their sips from their drinks, Amber extended her hand, allowing Saren to grasp it as means to accepting the gesture.

"Maybe when we find my way back," Amber asked, "would you like to meet my friends?"

He flicked his mandibles.

"Yeah, I'd like that," Saren nodded.

Time seemed to fly, yet Saren and Amber finished their drink and appetizers. The turian Spectre paid the bill before he led Amber out of the bar. The stroll through the wards went quiet until they returned to their apartment. Amber put aside her stuff before she returned to the living room.

"So, what do you do for personal enjoyment?" Amber asked.

Saren noticed Amber was examining his game console underneath the screen.

"I could turn that on and show you what I have," he offered.

Amber sat down on the couch.

"I'd love that," she nodded.

He turned the holoscreen and handed her a controller.

"I'm sure you'll get the hang of it rather quickly."

Amber nodded at Saren before she turned her focus towards the screen.

"So the scenario is a bit of a mess," Saren started explaining, "we're mercenaries and looters who are interested in some ancient tech on a rather barren planet. Along the way, we get tied into the conflict between factions below and fighting ensues as we face off against both the hostile wildlife and locals."

Amber listened as the game continued to load.

"I'll try to help you along, get used to the controls and such," he continued.

"Thanks," Amber complimented.

The two continued to play through the night, fighting alongside copious hordes of various species and tribal enemies. It took some trial and error for Amber to get the hang of the game, and part of her now wondered if Jack would like to give the game a try. They only came to a proper stop when drowsiness began to take hold. Shutting off the game, Saren lifted the tired human into his arms and carried her over to her room. He laid her down on her bed and tucked her underneath the covers.

"Would you like some company?" Saren purred.

Amber quietly nodded. He crawled under the covers behind her and huddled up against her back. Saren watched as she leaned into his embrace, which elicited purrs out of him. In turn, he wrapped his arm over her shoulder, feeling her warmth as he pressed her against him. Thoughts swam in his mind, remembering he noticed Amber growing fond of him these days. Could it be a method of coping with her grief? Over the course of her stay, Amber had noticeably been spending more time with him between missions. He really didn't mind it all too much considering she was admittedly lonely, being so far away from her own species. He wasn't sure if he was feeling the same way, but he brushed it off so he could drift off to sleep.

The following morning, Saren received a ping on his omni-tool. Putting down his kava, he looked at the message.

{Chellick and Garrus invited me to breakfast. Wanted to include you as well.}

Saren read the message before he turned his head towards Amber as she was in the middle of brewing her tea.

"Hey, Nihlus just invited me to breakfast. Want to come along?" he asked.

Amber paused what she was doing before she tilted her head towards Saren.

"I'd like that," she nodded, "do you have a portable cup?"

"Yeah, I have a few paper cups in the kitchen," Saren answered, "I'll grab you one, then I'll be getting my coat."

Amber smiled before she headed over to the front door to slip on her shoes. Just as the tea finished brewing, Saren poured it into a paper cup and sealed it with a lid. With everything set, they headed out the door and made their way through the Presidium towards the cafe Nihlus had contacted them from. Once they arrived, Nihlus stood near the door along with two turians standing next to him.

"Hey, Saren! Glad you could make it," he greeted.

"Oho! What mystery have you brought with you today, Spectre Arterius?" one of the other turians chuckled ambitiously.

Amber gave both the turian C-Sec officers in confusion.

"Do you know them?" Amber asked Nihlus, referring to the C-Sec officers.

Nihlus chuckled as he scratched his mandible.

"Shepard," Nihlus introduced, gesturing to the C-Sec officers, "this is Decian Chellick and Garrus Vakarian from C-Sec. Garrus, Chellick, this is Amber Shepard."

Saren cleared his throat.

"Right, Shepard is a human," Saren added, "a species we all haven't made proper contact with yet."

Garrus and Chellick's mandibles flexed in curiosity.

"Huh, so that's what it was," Garrus hummed.

Nihlus cleared his throat before he gestured his guests inside, where they searched the cafe for suitable places to sit.

"I'm glad you had us over, Chellick," Saren said, grabbing a seat.

"Eh," Chellick replied, "it's no biggie."

Amber sat down next to Saren and took a sip of her tea while she read through the menu.

"So, how long have you been on the station?" Garrus hummed.

"It'll probably be a month within a few days," Amber answered.

Saren, Amber, and Nihlus looked over the menu while the two C-Sec officers continued chatting among themselves. By now, Amber had gotten used to trying out alien foods.

"I think we know what we're getting," Nihlus informed as he perked his head upwards, "what about you, Chellick?"

Nihlus noticed Chellick and Garrus were still bantering with one another.

"Chellick?" Nihlus called out.

Chellick and Garrus paused in their conversation while they shifted their attention towards Nihlus.

"Yes?" Garrus returned.

"I meant to say is," Nihlus clarified, "what do you want to order?"

"Uuh…still working that out," Chellick returned.

While Garrus and Chellick double-checked their menu, Amber found a dish she found herself wanting to try.

"Anything you had in mind?" Saren asked her.

Amber shifted her attention towards Saren and pointed to an asari breakfast dish.

"Do you know how the asari get these kinds of eggs?" Amber asked.

He looked over her shoulder.

"I believe those are a type of lizard eggs," Saren mentioned.

Amber nodded at Saren just as the waiter approached their table. The group hastily placed their orders and handed off their menus before resuming their discussion.

"Speaking of which," Chellick asked Amber, "where exactly are you from?"

"Earth, it's not a planet well known," she answered.

Chellick tilted his head sideways while Garrus flexed his mandibles.

"What's it like there?" Garrus followed up.

"It's complicated. If I were to describe every biome and metropolitan setting, we'd be here all day."

Garrus couldn't help but chuckle.

"Yeah," Garrus agreed, "maybe I could wait until later."

Chellick took a swig of kava before adding another question.

"So, you've been living with Arterius this last month, right?"

"After he saved my life," Amber nodded, "yeah."

Amber took a sip of her tea. The two officers silently nodded, making sense of the situation.

"My team had no idea that one of our colonies was occupied by Thresher Maws," Amber added.

"Yeah, about the previous bit," Chellick started, "I don't know who it was, but one of the boys at the precinct managed to snag a shot of you and Amber, Arterius."

He pulled out his omni-tool and pulled up an image to show the two.

Saren and Amber couldn't help but shudder.

"W-What the…?" Amber blurted.

"It's not something that's caught too much momentum," Chellick clarified, "seeing as it has yet to get out of the precinct, but it's definitely been shared around the office."

Saren's mandibles flicked nervously as he examined the photo.

"That's…problematic," Saren muttered.

Amber tilted her head towards Saren.

"What do we do?" she asked him.

"Just keep up the pace," Saren advised, "and connect with the rest of your kind before this raises too many questions."

Amber nodded in agreement just as the waiter arrived with their breakfast orders. Even when they started eating their meals, the thought of an uproar from Amber's presence was enough to be unnerving.