The Paradiso Cielo offered many attractions, not the least of them, an array of shops featuring goods…and best of all fashion from all over the galaxy. Tris loved to shop although no one would have known it given that she rarely appeared out of uniform. She was particularly fond of shoes. She loved them all; especially frivolous ones with very high heels and tiny straps in bright colors. Even though she didn’t have many pairs or occasions in which to wear them, she saw them as an expression of playfulness in the midst of her rather serious life.
At the moment, she was engaged in trying on a pair of rather expensive, bright pink, slingbacks with five inch heels and a large bow at the back of the ankle. All around her lay further evidence of her obsession – booties with peep-toes, straps, cut-outs and high heels, flat sandals, conservative pumps and even a pair of black and white athletic shoes. A rather harried-looking female staff member stood nearby, clearly hoping that she would stop asking to try even more pairs of shoes and simply buy something.
Tris stood and carefully picked her way through the mess, heading for a nearby mirror where she stood, pointing her feet this way and that. Although her eyes were focused on the shoes, her mind was elsewhere. She had come into the store originally as a ploy to kill time. Damn Anderson. Kaidan is supposed to be on leave! She had to admit that although she understood Kaidan’s rationale for excluding her, she was felt annoyed with the secretive nature of Anderson’s continued calls and requests. She also had to acknowledge, as hard as it was to do so, that her exclusion left her feeling both rejected and useless. The great Commander Shepard, Alliance Poster Girl, can’t be trusted to hear possible Alliance intel. She sighed with annoyance, then recognizing that her cheerful state of mind seemed to be to be dissolving, shook herself sternly and went back to trying on shoes. She would not allow herself to indulge in a cascade of negative thinking that would leave her in a dour, angry mood on one of her last few days of shore leave.
A few minutes later, the shop door chimed, followed by the saleswoman’s voice saying “G’day.” Tris had her back to the door which prevented her from seeing who had entered but from the saleswoman’s bored tone, it sounded as though she wasn’t terribly eager to have another customer. She went back to trying on shoes.
“Let me guess. Your greatest fear is being barefoot.” Tris looked up to see Kaidan standing at the edge of the debris pile surrounding her. He began to laugh. “Are you planning to buy all of those? I hope not! Seems like it’s a good thing I got here when I did. A few more minutes and the damage to your bank account have been irreparable!”
Tris smiled at him. “My hero. Whatever would I - or my ever diminishing bank balance – do without you?” She picked up several pairs of shoes from the floor and held them out. “So whaddya think about these?” From the corner of her eye she noticed the salesperson’s expression brighten.
“My God, Shepard, That’s six pairs of shoes! Where do you think you’re going to put all that on board the Normandy?”
‘I’ll put ‘em in the fish tank if I have to. I’ve killed all the fish anyway, so why not just drain it and make it useful?”
“There’s no way you’ll wear all those shoes, so why buy so many pair? I mean, how often do you wear anything besides your combat boots?”
She frowned. “Don’t get between a girl and her shoes Kaidan. You won’t like what happens. Really.”
He rolled his eyes. “I can take it Shepard. I’m not afraid even if you are a superhero.” He pointed to the pink shoes. “Take these for example. They’re nice, but I can’t see why you like them so much.”
“Nice? They’re more than nice. They match my lipstick, Kaidan. You know that’s important!”
He guffawed derisively. “Yes, shoes and matching lipstick. Somehow I don’t think matching lipstick would have made much difference when we fought the geth. Or Saren. And those shoes go so well with the shorts and t-shirt you’re wearing. Although I suppose they do help with your…height challenges.”
Changing tactics, she began to pout, “Aw Kaidan, after all we’ve been through, do you really want to deny me this small pleasure?” She looked at him pleadingly.
He held her eyes with his for a moment before allowing an indulgent grin to spread across his face. “I’m calling your bluff, Tris. If you really want six pairs of shoes it’s up to you although I don’t think you’re serious.”
She stuck her tongue out at him. “You doubt me? I’m stunned!” He laughed and then watched as she carefully put two pair of shoes – the pink sandals and a pair of black peep-toe booties into their respective boxes before handing them to the salesperson. “I’ll take these.”
As they left the shoe store he turned to her. “Told you so! I knew you weren’t going to buy that many pairs of shoes.”
“Oh you know me so well, do you? Well, then you know that we’re going straight back to our room so that I can try them on for you.”
She smiled, batting her eyes. “You know you’ll love it. Nothing’s better than shoes.”
“Well, I can think of a few things,” he replied, pulling her to him for a quick kiss. She returned the kiss, one hand on his cheek.
“Yes, I’m sure you can. Still, I haven’t said anything about what I’ll be wearing with my shoes. Or not wearing.” Her hand left his cheek and drifted slowly down his chest.
He grinned. “Ok, back to the room with you. You can show me the shoes.”
“Great!” She looked down at her feet for a minute and then shot a mischievous look at Kaidan.
“You know, it occurs to me that before we go back, I should probably see about getting a pedicure. I haven’t had one in a while and I can’t wear open toed shoes without a pedicure! Oooo! And I could get a manicure. A manicure would be fun.” She stopped, turning to look at him, her hands flying up to her face. “Oh, I know! I should also get my legs waxed. That would make me irresistible!”
“You’re already irresistible Tris. In fact, I’m thinking the only thing I’m about to resist at the moment is any more delay in getting back to our room.” He caught at her arm, propelling her down the promenade.
She maintained his pace for a moment and then slowed. “Are you sure I can’t stop for a pedicure first? I think I’d like to have my toes done with pink polish this time. To match my new shoes…and my lipstick!”
He glanced over at her with a sigh. "You know, I remember you telling me that Cerberus wanted to make you exactly as you were before. I don’t remember you ever caring about this stuff, so I’m beginning to think they crossed a couple of the wires in your brain during the rebuild. You certainly never said anything about matching lipstick when we were chasing Saren."
"That was a whole ‘nother lifetime ago, Kaidan. Literally."
“For you maybe but I was stuck in this life with only my memories. And pink lipstick wasn’t one of them. Two years is a long time to be celebate, Shepard. A guy could go blind…or something.”
“I know and I’m sorry. But still, if we stop for a pedicure it’ll make it much nicer for you when you kiss my feet and worship the ground I walk on.” Her smile, sweetly teasing at first, became a broad grin as she noticed his rather dismayed stare. “If only you could see the look on your face!”
He sighed. “Tris, you know I already worship the ground you walk on. Pedicures aren’t necessary. Now…can we go back to our room?”
Tris smiled and began walking again, figuring it was about time to quit teasing him with her fixation on shoes and pedicures. “Ok, but you’re still gonna have to watch me try on my shoes.”
“As long as they’re all you’re wearing,” he replied.