“Alright, Freckles. I want information and I want it now.”
A woman with a frankly alarming amount of tattoos burst through the doors of Liara’s cabin, stopping in the entryway, blocking as much of it as possible. The amount of space such a small human could occupy seemed to defy the laws of physics.
“Excuse me?” Liara arched one perfect approximation of an eyebrow at the intrusion. She knew the woman's identity, of course. Even if they hadn’t just answered a distress call at Jack’s most recent location Liara would recognise her; she’d done her research.
A slender finger jabbed in her direction, no doubt some attempt at intimidation. Liara let her eyes narrow. She would not let the hissing and spitting of a cornered kitten frighten her anymore than the tense, coiled-to-attack human in front of her.
“Don’t play dumb,” Jack scoffed. Booted feet clunked down on the floor, and the doors swooshed shut behind her when Jack moved further into the cabin. “I want any information you have that wasn’t in the Cerberus files Shepard gave me. Anything and everything you got. About me, and about any other kids they took.”
“I see.” Liara’s mouth twisted down in a faint grimace and she turned to shuffle a few omnipads around on her desk, almost invisible underneath them all, the wall of glowing screens not nearly enough for the data she had to contend with on a daily basis. She placed a few in a stack and glanced back. “Well, I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place, that kind of information is probably highly illegal to obtain-”
“I said: don’t play dumb.” Jack’s voice came out in a harsh, vibrating seeth through closed teeth, fists clenched at her sides. “I know who you are and I know what you can do. Shepard told me.”
Liara’s head jerked up, eyes assessing the red lips turned down in a scowl and the hard-yet-knowing glare.
Shepard had known for a while. If Jack had managed to weasel it out of their Commander, then any attempt at misdirection would just end up with one pissed off human biotic, and Liara found she didn’t want to take that path, her feeble attempt at a ruse aside.
“Shepard would if I asked. Nicely.”
“Goddess,” Liara pinched the bridge of her nose, almost burying her face in her palm, “how am I meant to operate a secret underground information ring if Shepard talks as soon as a pretty woman bats her eyelashes.”
“Heh. If it helps, I was owed a favour.” Jack surveyed the screens in the room and Liara almost groaned at the smirk on her face, attack position dropped in favour of something more relaxed the moment Liara gave up the pretense. “Nice to know you think I’m pretty though, Freckles.” Liara tried not to squirm at the accidental slip, but the embarrassment was cut short. Jack continued: “Now, what do I have to do for that information?”
“Nothing, Jacqueline,” Liara sighed. She began bringing up files on the closest screens, blue glow flickering over Jack’s face. Liara’s fingers skipped a key, trying (and failing) not to notice how the light highlighted Jack’s features. She blinked, the words on screen swimming back into view.
“How do you know that name?” A thin, strangled sound left Jack’s mouth. “That is-”
“Secret? Yes, I know. Now who’s playing dumb? I won’t tell anyone. Not even if they ask me nicely.”
Liara mimicked Jack’s earlier smirk, but it dropped when Jack looked away, frown back in place.
“Your poetry is good, you know,” she started, “Nothing to be ashamed of.”
“I’m not ashamed!” Jack breathed out through flared nostrils, head whipping back to hold Liara’s gaze.
“Of course.” Liara twitched, but nothing more, and turned back to the screens, nodding towards them. “All the information I have is here. You’ll understand that I can’t give you a hard copy, too much of a risk, but you’re welcome to read them here whilst you are a guest on board the Normandy. If there is anything else you think is missing, I can try to track it down, just let me know.”
Jack stared hard at Liara for a moment longer before her eyes flicked to the screens and back again. She stepped up close, coming to rest her hip against Liara’s desk, only turning her head to the screen at the last second, and Liara wanted to fidget under the scrutiny.
“Are you sure you don’t want anything in exchange?” Jack said, eyes moving over the text in the files at lightning speed, absorbing the information in front of her.
“I’m sure. I don’t want anything. We are on the same team.”
“So you would never ask me to join you for coffee, tomorrow night, say 8pm?”
“I wouldn’t ask something like that,” Liara began, sharp intake of breath preceding her. She would never. “I would not exploit-”
“Yeah, yeah,” Jack interrupted, when Liara seemed to be building up for a speech, “a real fucking paragon of virtue, aren’t you? You definitely don’t do anything illegal.” She drawled the last word, smirk sitting back in place. “What if I were the one asking?”
“Yeah. Asking you out. For coffee. Or, asking you over to the mess hall, I guess.”
“Oh! I- umm,” Liara stammered, a deep blush visible even against the blue light spreading over her face. “Yes, I- That would be acceptable.”
“Tomorrow then. 8pm.” Jack settled back on her heels, cocking her head. “Let’s hope the Normandy’s coffee has improved.”
“It hasn’t,” Liara said with finality, shaking her head. Shepard really should stock up on better stuff when they were back on the Citadel.
“Too bad. We might just have to find something else to do.” Jack reached out and pulled Liara in close, placing a solid kiss on her lips, leaving them stained a faint red. The flush on Liara’s cheeks matched nicely and Jack turned to leave, smug and satisfied.