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Treasure Hunt

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Shepard is “dancing” with James when she spots it – a rectangular box, with the words Quarian Ship in large, chunky blue writing. Throwing both herself and James off, she stops completely. A distracted fist collides with her face. She manages to ignore it completely.

Her arms drop from a guarded position, and she’s walking away from the conversation / fight / dance, despite James’ voice, nagging, ‘Hey, what are you doing? Come on, Lola, we aren’t done yet!’

There’s a stack of boxes in the corner of his station. The supposed Quarian Ship model is poking out of the box on top.

‘James, where’d all these crates come from?’ she asks.

He sidles up behind her, arms crossed, frowning. ‘You looking through my stuff, Commander? I promise, you won’t find any kind of red sand—’

Shepard ignores him, pulls the Quarian Ship right out and holds it in her hands. It’s slightly dusty, heavier than she remembers, but she does remember. It’s the same model ship she had when she was with Cerberus.

‘Oh, man, I thought these were gone for good,’ she says, unboxing the model. James looks from her to the box, then back again. He says nothing. ‘Where’d you find this?’

‘I don’t know, I’ve never seen it before. Not like I would collect model ships,’ he replies, walking past her to his work bench. ‘It’s dorky.’

Shepard grins, holding it at eye level. She inspects every detail. ‘Dorky or not, do you think there’s more around here? I basically had a whole fleet at one point…’

‘Great. Maybe they can help us stop the reapers.’

She places the ship back into its box and tucks it underneath her arm. Ignoring James’ very insistent side eye, her attention shifts to Cortez.

‘Hey, Cortez! You seen any of these around?’

He barely glances up from his omni-tool. ‘Seen any what?’

‘Model ships!’

‘Huh?’

‘See?’ She wanders over, shoves it toward his face, shakes it slightly. Doesn’t want to damage it, after all. The Quarian Ship is one of the more expensive models. ‘Had a bunch of ‘em—’

James groans. ‘Commander, if you’re gonna come down to visit, at least have something interesting to talk about. Esteban and I aren’t as old as you yet, we can’t fully appreciate the art of… model ship collecting.’

Shepard huffs, tightening her grip on the box.

‘I’m older than the commander, Vega.’

Ignoring both of them, she stalks off to the elevator. (Makes sure to poke her head underneath the armoury quickly, just to make sure. Nothing at all.)

‘You’re – what?’

‘I’m 35 next month,’ Cortez says.

Before the elevator door closes, she yells, ‘Show some respect for your elders, Vega!’

-

‘Do you have any model ships in here?’

Liara’s fingers stop typing, and she looks up at her girlfriend. She’s poking through her drawers, searching through her shelves.

‘No model ships,’ she lies. Liara happens to have one in her room – the rest are elaborately placed around the rest of the Normandy. ‘But Glyph has upgrades waiting if you’re
interested.’

Shepard moves to the bed, pulling pillows up and throwing the duvet off. Liara watches Shepard sigh, and begin tucking the sheets in again. She moves to help, grabbing the duvet off the floor.

‘Model ships?’

‘I found one in the shuttle bay earlier,’ she says. Throws the pillows on, then sits down on the edge. ‘Then, I found two in the subdeck. Do you think someone’s hiding them?’

Liara takes a seat on her lap; hooks her arms around Shepard’s torso. ‘Maybe they are. I’ll let you know if I find any.’

She places a quick kiss to Shepard’s temple. Her girlfriend grins, rests her head in the crook of Liara’s neck.

-

Shepard marches into the gun battery like there’s something worthwhile in there – at least, that’s what she’s hoping. She says nothing to Garrus – he watches, also saying nothing, until it’s been a good five minutes of her rooting through cabinets and picking through boxes of his own things.

‘Need something?’ he asks, arms crossed. Shepard closes a cabinet and, in a squatted position, throws her arms up in a shrug. ‘What are you doing down there?’

‘I’m looking for model ships,’ she says, standing. Wipes her hands off on her pants. ‘I’ve found four around the ship. The ones I owned before we destroyed the collector base. It’s weird.’

Garrus is about to respond, though Shepard marches right out again. The door bangs closed, and that’s the end of it.

He briefly wonders if the commander has finally snapped under the pressure.

Definitely possible.

-

‘Have you seen—’

‘Jane Shepard, if you ask me that one more time…’

Dr. Chakwas holds a threatening needle towards her. Shepard cringes and leaves just as quickly as she had run in.

-

Joker thinks the collectors must have boarded again by the frantic look in Shepard’s eyes.

‘What the hell are you doing? Hey! Hey, don’t touch that!’ he yells. She bends down, looking under the main console. ‘Shepard, if you’re looking for my legs then congrats, you’ve
found all two of them!’

‘Not a secret third down there?’

‘I hope not.’ They stare at each other, and for once, Joker is the first to crack a smile. ‘Alright, seriously, what are you doing in here? My guard dog isn’t here to chase you out.’

‘EDI would chase you out before me,’ she replies.

Joker sighs. ‘Shepard, what are you doing in here?’

‘Model ships. Seen any?’

There’s a stiff silence. Joker knows about Liara’s plan – only because EDI’s in on it, and never stops talking about it. The biggest flaw in all of that is that he’s an absolute terrible liar.

‘Definitely not in here. Try, uh, the air lock.’

‘Oh, very funny,’ she murmurs, turning to leave.

-

‘A-ha!’

She drags the Alliance Shuttle into her hands, throwing it over her head in achievement. A trophy, of sorts. Not that anybody is around to appreciate it. She dusts it off, grins like a
big kid.

‘Commander?’ It’s Traynor. ‘Oh, you found another one!’

Traynor is the only person actively supporting her model ship collection. Every now and then she shows up at her cabin, having found another one. Everyone else thinks she
slightly crazy, and old, usually.

‘Alliance Shuttle! Easy to come across, but still one of my favourites.’

The two move into the conference room, no doubt about to brainstorm new places to look. Traynor was just on deck three, interrogating the crew no doubt – due to her empty hands, Shepard can only guess she found nothing.

After a hectic week of scoping out the entire ship, she and Traynor have found her entire collection – apart from one. The Shadow Broker Base.

It’s slowly driving both of them insane.

‘I say we re-check the shuttle bay, but first,’ Traynor pulls up her omni-tool, shows her a message from Engineer Adams. It’s a blurry photo of…

‘My space hamster?’

‘You had a space hamster?’

‘Yeah, I called him Rango. Smartest of his breed.’

Traynor raises an eyebrow. ‘Was he really?’

‘No, I just liked to tell him that.’ She smirks. ‘Made him feel special.’

-

Liara finds Shepard on her hands and knees in the subdeck. She wants to crack a joke but figures it might be inappropriate with Specialist Traynor standing right there.

‘Hello, Specialist,’ she says. ‘Is she finding any ships down there?’

‘It’s the commander’s old space hamster, actually.’

Now that, she didn’t plan.

Shepard’s still wearing her armour from their last mission. Apparently far too eager to have another attempt at catching her long-lost pet.

The original idea was to keep her focused on something other than the reapers. They had fallen asleep in Liara’s quarters, only… One of them hadn’t. Shepard had been awake the
entire time, thinking about the war.

It was working, of course. When Shepard came to speak with her, it was not only about the reapers, but her model ship collection to. Something about those little ships made her
girlfriend endlessly happy.

Liara pulls a ship out from her behind her back – Shadow Broker Base.

‘I found this on my way here,’ she lies. It had been under her floorboards.

Shepard turns her head, and her face visibly lights up. ‘Shadow Broker Base? Where? That’s the one we’ve been looking for!’

‘Actually… It’s been in my quarters since I moved in,’ she admits. ‘I’ve been hiding your ships around the Normandy.’

She takes the box into her hands. Looks at it for a hot second.

‘Huh.’

‘Not maliciously, of course…’ Liara inches forward a bit. ‘I just thought it might… distract you.’

'Well, it definitely worked,' Shepard says. 'Traynor, give us a minute?'

She bows her head awkwardly and runs up the stairs. Liara waits until she's heard the sound of the doors shutting closed before taking a step forward, and reaching her hands out
to grab Shepard's.

The model ship box gets placed, very gently, beside their feet on the floor.

'You've been stressed,' Liara whispers, tracing her fingers across Shepard's palms. 'Laying awake at night. You talk in your sleep, about... a number of things. I found your ships, a little bit after Mars. I thought you must have known they were in storage, until one day...'

'... We were on the citadel, and I told you about my collection.'

Liara smiles at her. 'I'm sorry if you would have preferred me to just hand them over.'

'No, no... I found it entertaining to say the least.' Shepard presses a kiss to her girlfriend's cheek. 'Thanks for the distraction.'

'Anytime.'

'You should hide your underwear around next,' she says, which makes Liara laugh. 'I promise I won't get Traynor to help me.'

'Inappropriate, Commander.'