Miranda is a details-person. She’s also a big-picture person, but if she had a preference (and she does), the woman would rather fuss over the minutiae of counting inventory on a top-of-the-line frigate than make big, grandiose speeches to a ragtag group of people meant to unite them against a common enemy. Not that she could, anyway. That’s Shepard job, which she has pulled off with inhuman ease time and again. Holding a datapad in one hand, she massages the corners of her temple with the other. Yes, let the commander handle the big picture. The XO is perfectly content with running everything else behind the curtain.
Her hand jerks on the mess of documents scattered across her desk as a soft knock sounds on her door. She takes a breath and arranges them into some semblance of order before announcing in a clear voice, “Come in.”
Shepard walks in, dressed in Alliance blues; Miranda forgets her manners and stares. She’s certain that she never supplied her closet with any clothing that bears the Alliance colors and logo, but strongly suspects Admiral Hackett of smuggling Shepard this piece of formal wear that one instance he had stepped foot onto the Normandy to debrief her on the mission that’s put them in this situation in the first place.
Miranda presses her lips together as the other woman nods at her. “Commander. What can I do for you?”
“Just checking on how you’re doing.” Shepard looks around, her eyes landing on the crates stacked neatly on top of each other in the corner. “Almost done packing?”
“I have a few more things to take care of, but this should be the last of it.” She gives herself one look-down of the uniform. “I don’t remember furnishing your closet with that.”
“I had someone dig it up.” The corner of Shepard’s mouth tugs up as she pats her sides. “Have to look presentable for when I’m in court.”
Miranda pushes aside the datapads because clearly no work will be done while Shepard’s here. “We won’t reach Earth for another twelve hours. What’s the hurry?”
“It’s been a while since I’ve worn my officer blues.” She tugs at the high collar. “Had to make sure there weren’t any stains or wrinkles.”
The deep blue suits her, brings out the grey in her eyes. The cut flatters too, emphasizing what Shepard already has in spades: broad shoulders, a shapely waist, legs that don’t seem to end. Pride swells up in Miranda at the sight of her handiwork, two years on the operating table and this is what she has to show for it, and damn if it isn’t an impressive job well done. Something else wells up inside her chest when she realizes how far she’s come from merely seeing Shepard as a pet project to someone worth leaving the Illusive Man for.
Miranda stands up and walks over to Shepard. “Here,” she says, throat bobbing, “allow me.”
She says nothing, letting her raised eyebrows be her response, but Miranda ignores the questioning look and the fact that the last time she had voluntarily touched Shepard in a non-combative situation was back on that operating table months before. Keeping a light touch, she skates her fingers over the bright, gold buttons, flicks imaginary dust from those thick shoulder pads, and smoothes down the faint creases near the hem of the shirt. It’s always in the details, and when Miranda finally takes a step back from Shepard, she can still feel the heavy texture of the uniform on her hands.
There’s a full-blown smile on Shepard’s face now from indulging her need to nitpick. “Better?”
In actuality, the commander could use a bit more pomade to tame the curls threatening to spring from her bun, the sleeve cuffs need a good ironing, and the dress shoes have a nigh-imperceptible scuff near the toes, but Miranda mentions none of these things. Instead, she silently adds up all the details, both good and bad, that create the Shepard standing in front of her: an image of authority, charisma, and human ingenuity—the ultimate big picture. The uniform doesn’t hurt either.
Miranda returns the smile, shaking her head. “Perfect.”