They were en route to Terra Nova to re-supply the ship. The mission at Feros had cost them most of their rations thanks to Shepard’s generosity. Joker was sitting at the helm, setting the course, and Kaidan had agreed to make a few more changes to the navigation systems to that they would be easier to calibrate from Joker’s computer.
The moment that Kaidan sat down in the chair next to Joker, the helmsman turned to him, speared him with a look and said:
“So?” Kaidan blinked at Joker in confusion. That had not been a normal “so?” It had been a “so?” with eyebrows raised and a crooked grin to go with it.
“So, what were you doing in the commander’s quarters at 1 a.m.?” Joker asked.
Kaidan gaped at him.
“How did you…?” He caught himself and glanced over his shoulder.
“Hah! I thought so.” Joker smirked.
Kaidan felt like kicking himself. He’d as good as admitted it. “Who else knows?”
“Just me,” Joker said. “Williams had her back to the door, but I saw the commander walk across the deck to the med bay in her skivvies – it was a nice view, by the way.”
“But not so nice that I want to get killed over it,” Joker amended hastily. “Geez, Alenko. Lighten up.”
“Joker,” Kaidan warned, “this is our commanding officer we’re talking about.”
“Don’t I know it,” Joker agreed. “So what did you two do with the medigel? You kinky kids you.”
“Joker, that’s disgusting.”
“I know, right? Wouldn’t that be, like, kind of slimy? ‘Cause I’m thinkin’…”
“Joker,” Kaidan said, pinching his nose.
”…and if you tried to lick it off, wouldn’t it get your tongue numb, or something?
“Joker,” Kaidan snapped. “I used it for my face .”
Joker grimaced. “Yeah, I really didn’t need that detail.”
“No,” Kaidan said, shaking his head. “It wasn’t like that. Damn it, she hit me, Joker.”
Joker looked briefly taken aback. “Okay,” he said nodding slowly. “I can see where some guys might get off of that kind of thing. The commander always seemed more of a paragon of virtue to me, but I guess with the right pair of boots and a whip…”
“Joker,” Kaidan said, now rubbing his forehead. “If Shepard hears you say that, then I won’t be the one to kill you.”
”‘Shepard,’ is it?”
“I mean, the commander,” Kaidan corrected himself hastily.
“I’m worried about this, man,” Joker said. “I mean, S&M might sound like fun now, but you could get seriously hurt. We need you at your best on this mission.” He gave his friend a look of sorrowful concern that suddenly broke into a wide grin. “Then again, in spike heels, the commander might…”
“God, Joker!” Kaidan exploded. He realized a few people looked up at his outburst and he lowered his voice hastily. “It wasn’t like that. Nothing happened. She was having a nightmare – because of the beacon. I felt – I *heard - * a noise and went to check on her. She hit me when I tried to wake her up. But it was an accident. She got the medigel for me – for my face, that is – and we waited for you and Williams to leave so it wouldn’t cause talk below decks. Only now I see the talk’s already started.”
“I didn’t talk,” Joker frowned and turned his attention back to the monitor in front of him. “And I won’t. Come on, Alenko. You know me better than that.”
“Thanks,” Kaidan said, relief flooding him.
“Only I liked my version better,” Joker added petulantly. “Leather and medigel…”
“Joker…” Kaidan let out an exasperated sigh. Then he paused and looked over at the helmsman. “Wait a second, how did you even know I was in her room? You only saw her leave, right?”
“Yeah, well, I thought that was weird that the commander was out in her skivvies, and walking so quickly, too, like she didn’t want to be seen or stopped, but it didn’t really register until I went to go to sleep. There was a pod already opened and turned down for the night. Only when I open up the locker, there’s clothes inside – your clothes.”
“How did you know they were mine?”
“Your dogtags were stuck in your shirt.”
“I kind of put two and two together.” Joker smirked. “Or one officer and one officer, if you get my meaning.”
“Damn,” Kaidan muttered. He couldn’t believe he’d been so careless.
“Williams didn’t see anything,” Joker assured him. “She was at the other end of the row and she never turned around as the commander passed. So I just closed your pod and took the one next to it.”
“Oh.” Kaidan nodded. “That right. I didn’t remember shutting it.” They sat there in silence for a minute.
“So how was she?” Joker asked. “The commander, I mean.”
“Nothing happened,” Kaidan said, willing himself not to get annoyed. “We just talked.”
“In your skivvies.” It was a statement, not a question.
“She put on a jacket.” Kaidan tried not to conjure up the image of Shepard wearing her officer’s jacket and little else. He failed.
“You were in the commander’s quarters,” Joker said. “ With the commander. In her skivvies. In *your * skivvies.”
“God, Joker, come up with another word for it.”
“And a pack of medigel. And you did… nothing ?”
“She’s my – our – commanding officer.”
“And you’ve been staring at her for weeks.”
Joker waited for Kaidan’s protest, his exasperated denial, but when the lieutenant said nothing, Joker looked over at him. Something in Kaidan’s expression made Joker’s face fall.
“Whoa,” he said, amazed. “You actually like her.”
“Of course I like her,” Kaidan replied stiffly. “She’s a good Marine.”
“No, I mean you like her like her.”
“What is this, grade school, Joker?”
“Damn, Kaidan,” Joker looked a little abashed. “I didn’t know.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Kaidan asked.
“It just means…” Joker paused. “That this isn’t something to tease about.”
“Never stopped you before.”
“Yeah, but now you’re actually serious about her.”
“I’m not,” Kaidan told him hastily. “We’re on duty.”
“Being on duty and being serious about her are two different things, Alenko.”
“Since when did you become the ship’s shrink, Joker?”
Joker fell silent for a moment, then snorted. “Alenko?”
“You are so screwed.”