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Lithium Flowers

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It had been a party, for sure. And they deserved a party after destroying the Collector base, without a single casualty on their part. So there'd been a party. With Kasumi bartending - and hitting on Kelly, she was pretty sure - and Shepard's music thumping over it all.
And now it was winding down and people seemed to be pairing off, Shepard and Garrus had vanished together, and not as sneakily as they thought. Jacob and Miranda hadn't even tried for sneaky.

And she? Well Tali was feeling particularly lonely right now. There was someone she would have liked to celebrate with, but Kal wasn't here. So when everyone else was leaving, she'd thanked Kasumi for the many drinks and went to find some privacy. So she couldn't celebrate with someone but damn if she was going to let that stop her from having some fun.
Her feet carried her down to engineering without her even thinking about it. There were a lot of quiet corners down there. Tali knew that maybe better than most people.

She found a nice, secluded spot, leaned against the wall as solidly as she could, and fired up the nerve stim program in her suit. At least she tried to. There was a pleasant tingle along her arms, and then it just fizzled out.
"Oh for-!" she tried again two more times before she had to admit that there'd probably be some damage during the fight, and she couldn't fix it that quickly.
Certainly not quickly enough to fix her current problem of 'slightly drunk, pretty horny, and absolutely frustrated'.

With a wordless shout of anger Tali banged her fist against the wall beside her.

"Creator-Tali’Zorah, do you require assistance?"

The words made her wheel around, hands going to her hip where she *didn’t* have a gun right now. Keelah, anything that size should make more sound when it moved, but Legion seemed to have an unfair knack for sneaking. Regardless, she shouldn’t be shooting Legion. Even if seeing a Geth at the edge of her vision did make her twitchy sometimes. It had been incredibly helpful during the run on the base. And if she was honest with herself, before that too.

“Legion! You- no, I’m fine.”

That didn’t seem to work. The little flaps around its optic flared out and up, its head twisted - that was Shepard’s concerned tilt of the head, and it was eerie to see on a machine.

“Your pulse rate and breathing are elevated, the energy readings of your suit are fluctuating. This indicates a malfunction. We can escort you to the med bay.”

“There is no-” Tali sighed. “There is a minor malfunction in my suit, nothing dangerous. Just...inconvenient”

There was a pause as Legion...what did it call it, established consensus? She couldn’t even imagine what that was like, inside there, all that arguing...except Legion seemed pretty even-keeled all the time, but maybe that was just because synthetics didn’t have feelings.

“We can correct any software malfunction quickly.” It took a step towards her and she leaned back instinctively, and it stopped again.

But… but she really wanted her implants working right now and Legion was offering and she had seen its work. And Legion had plenty of chance to quite literally stab or shoot her in the back. And it wasn’t like her suit didn’t have plenty of fail safes against hacking, system failure or the like. All Quarians had it, but hers was a step above that too. She’d be fine.

“What...what sort of system access would you need?”

“Connection to your suit’s systems. Once you activate it, we can see the malfunction and correct it. Estimated time for correction: 1.63 seconds, rounded up.” It was hard to read, but Legion seemed pleased by the estimate.

Well that was pretty fast. Fast was what she wanted right now. Tali found herself nodding and she hadn’t even quite finished the gesture when a request for system access pinged her suit. She looked at Legion and granted it and then triggered the nerve stim. It predictably still failed.
The synthetic didn’t fidget a lot but now it became even stiller as her suit informed her that something was editing her software. It really only took a second, then Legion’s voice came right out of the speakers in her suit.

“Starting function test”

It was all the warning she got before her stim implants became active again. She’d gotten the deluxe version but even then, they’d never felt that good. It was like hands running all over her body, up her arms and legs, with a little more pressure over her ribs and the underside of her breasts, just like she liked it.

“Oh.” She gasped and leaned back against the wall again, and the sensations vanished immediately, making way for Legion’s voice again.

“Creator Tali’Zorah? Did we damage you?” It sounded honestly concerned, and wasn’t that unexpected?

“No no, I’m fine, just didn’t expect this. You...improved the function somewhat.” That was the understatement of the century. “You may continue your test, if you want”

“Your implants now run ten percent more efficiently, and are tailored more closely to your physiology.” There was another slight pause, but it seemed shorter than usual when Legion made a decision. “We will be running your preferred program to ensure optimal functionality”

And then it launched the program again, from the start. Hands sliding over her skin, kneading her hips, and up the inside of her thighs. Heat seemed to ripple in waves over her skin, almost like someone’s body sliding against hers, suction against her breast as if her suit was clinging tighter and that was new, and it was fantastic. Her knees went weak and she slid down the wall, panting as the implants slowly dialed up the intensity, focused on all the parts of her that were especially sensitive. It seemed to adapt more, focus on her reaction and she wasn’t sure if that was Legion but she also didn’t care. Her pleasure built and crested until she could feel nothing else, her entire body going tense as she rode it out, wave after wave of almost mind-numbingly intense sensation, each wave extending the last one a little more, a little higher until she thought her suit or her brain would just give out. Only then did the implants slowly dial down again, ebbing away back to baseline.
She found herself sitting on the floor, panting so hard that the inside of her mask had started fogging up. She’d never felt this good in her life, as if her entire body was just heavy, glowing and warm.

A soft sound made her turn her head. For a moment the Geth looked hazy, until her suit’s systems cleared the fogging from her faceplate. It had knelt down beside her, head tilted in the same concerned way as before. “Creator Tali’Zorah? Are you well? Have the repairs been satisfactory?”

“ ‘M fine.” More than fine. She took another deep breath “Your repairs are outstanding, thank you.” Tali slowly pushed herself up against the wall, still feeling a little shaky. She needn’t have bothered. Legion rose alongside her, a lot more fluid in motion and then offered her a hand up.

“I believe the proper reply is ‘you’re welcome’” It told her as it pulled her up to her feet proper and steadied her for a moment more.

-------------------------

She wasn’t sure how she’d ended up in her quarters, but evidently, she had, since she woke up in her bed, with the telltale pounding in her head that said ‘been to a really good party’. For a moment she just laid there, trying to order what had happened last night. Collector base run, everyone coming out alive but slightly beaten, the party afterwards, lots of drinks, suit mishap, Legion - Legion? Oh Keelah. Tali sat up suddenly enough to make herself slightly nauseous for a moment. That… was a thing that had happened?
A quick inspection of her suit’s logs did indeed confirm that it had happened. She had given system access to a Geth. Just how drunk had she been? Obviously the answer was ‘too drunk’ but okay. Okay she could deal with it, headache be damned.

 

But even a deeper dig through her suit’s readouts and logs revealed nothing untoward, at least nothing untoward against Quarians as a whole, or even her specifically. Legion had accessed the system, rerouted data around input from a broken sensor - aha, that had been the problem! - and… test run the system afterwards. Proceeding to give her what was probably the best orgasm of her life.

That was just surreal. She leaned forward to put her hands over her faceplate. What had she been thinking? What had Legion been thinking? Surely it had known… had it? What if it hadn’t? That thought made her feel worse. Obviously you couldn’t molest a machine, but she got the weird feeling that maybe, somehow, she’d managed to do exactly that.

She… would have to talk to it about it, wouldn’t she? At the very least, she had to apologize for what had happened. First, she got herself something for the pain, and a little bit to eat despite her stomach protesting it. Fainting on the way to the AI core because she’d been too miserable to eat was not a good way to have this particular conversation.

It still seemed to take entirely too long to get to the AI core, and she was fidgeting enough along the way to make EDI ask her if she was alright. Which naturally she wasn’t, but this wasn’t a conversation she wanted to have with the ship, so she tried to brush her off as politely as possible, pretending not to hear what seemed to be concern in EDI’s voice.

Legion already seemed to be waiting for her when the door swished open.

“Creator Tali’Zorah.” It inclined its head to her.

“Legion. I, um. I would like to talk to you about something.” She’d have liked to have more privacy about it, but the ship… doubtlessly already knew. Maybe both synthetics had been talking about it? She felt slightly ill about it again.

“If you wish. How can we help you, you have not sought us out before.” At least it didn’t sound upset? If anything, it sounded intrigued but could it be upset? Did it matter if it wasn’t if she knew that she’d done something wrong?

“I… would like to talk about yesterday, after the party. You um, you helped me with... my suit…” Oh no Tali already felt terrible about this, and it didn’t help that Legion didn’t have a real face that she could read and, well, it had body language but not...not like anything she knew and anyway it was all voluntary so who knew if that confused air it had right now was genu-

“Have the repairs had any side effects? We assumed that just routing around the sensor would fix it, but our experience with Quarian environment suits is limited”

That kinda stopped her but also made it worse, somehow. “No, no, it’s fine, your work is fine I just. I wondered if you… do you know what you helped me repair?”
Legion straightened up, the concerned tilt of head and drawn down flaps vanishing. If it had been organic she was fairly sure she’d have seen understanding dawn on its face.

“Yes. You have nerve stimulation implants that interact with your suit, for the purpose of mimicking sexual intimacy with another person. The damaged sensor lead to a failure loop in the programming, keeping it from producing satisfactory levels of stimulation.”

Ok, if she thought she’d been mortified before, she was ready to die now. It would be a rather unique way for a Geth to kill a Quarian, but it was imminent. Legion had...known...that she used nerve stims. And had helped her repair them. And use them. She might have been making a strangled little sound about it, too.

“Creator Tali’Zorah?” Yeah it absolutely sounded concerned now, maybe because she had her hands in front of her face and was still making that sound.

“I’m fine.” She wasn’t fine.

“You seem distressed, but we don’t understand why.”

“I. I’m.” Oh Keelah, she would absolutely have to say it, wouldn’t she? Because of course Legion wouldn’t get it otherwise. “I’m trying to deal with the fact that we had sex.” There. She said it as quickly as possible, as if that would make it better.

There was a pause from Legion, probably as it tried to integrate the new information. It was a pretty long pause, considering how fast it normally did what passed for thinking for a Geth.

“Interesting. The experience differed considerably from archived Geth memories about intercourse with the Creators. We found this a more balanced experience.”

Wait what? “Archived memories?” Tali as pretty sure she sounded a little bit hysteric. Just a touch. Maybe to make up about how cool and collected Legion sounded about it all

“Yes. Quarian-Geth relations before the Morning War did occasionally run more physical, and suitable hardware upgrades for a platform were possible, if rare.”

“Oh Keelah. I… need to sit down for a moment.” She just sat down on the floor and put her hands in front of her face for a bit because not looking at Legion seemed the preferable option, though she could hear it crouch down besides her. She wanted to ask about this, and at the same time, she really, really didn’t want to have more details than she already had.

“So you’re… ok with what happened last night? You made it sound like you liked it, even” Because that was the question that was currently bothering her most of all, though she was starting to suspect she knew the answer, since Legion had clearly known what it was doing to her. It might even have enjoyed it, on some strange, synthetic level.

“Yes. We realized quickly which parts of your program were malfunctioning, and why. If we had not wanted to help with it, we would have refused you and withdrawn.
We do not ‘enjoy’ things like organics do, but the interaction was interesting and supplied us with new information. This platform was constructed with the goal of positively interacting with organics. Last night’s interaction fulfills those parameters. Calling it ‘enjoyment’ would be misunderstanding, but we do consider it a satisfactory experience.”

That… wasn’t helping. Ok it was helping her feel better because apparently Legion didn’t consider itself particularly molested but now she had a whole other line of things to feel bad about. She...had to think about this, yes. Somewhere else. Somewhere Legion wasn’t. Preferably, somewhere that had turian brandy. Yes, yes that was a good idea. She inhaled and got up again, trying her best not to look at Legion as it rose beside her, its flaps oddly restless around its optic.

“I’m sorry, I should go. Thank you for your help, again.”
She didn’t exactly flee, but it was a very brisk walk to her quarters anyways.

-----------

It wasn’t turian brandy, but turned out that turian wine was good enough. She didn’t really want to be drunk anyway, considering how that had gone last time, but it made it...easier to cope with everything. Or maybe just easier to think about. She was trying to be rational about it.

She had let a Geth get to her suit software (bad). It had resulted in the best orgasm of her life so far (good) except for the part where she’d basically gone and had sex with a Geth (BAD). Which apparently hadn’t been unheard off between Quarians and Geth before the War (weird) and Legion didn’t mind it at all (good) and had even found it ‘satisfactory’ (weird).
On top of that entire mess, it was hard to think of Legion as not-a-person. After sharing space and going through dangerous missions together...and alright, her drone wasn’t a person, but her drone also didn’t debate philosophical theories on the afterlife with drell assassins in the crew mess. Or beatbox. She was still trying to come to grips with that particular habit, and apparently so far nobody else had worked up the courage to ask Legion about it, either.

So now she wasn’t sure what to think at all, and nobody else on board would understand because well, nobody else on board was a Quarian and alright some of them were just as suspicious about Legion - and EDI when it came to that - but they were more worried about getting backstabbed, not… not worried about whether or not they counted as people. In fact an awful lot of the crew didn’t seem to mind at all interacting with them as people. Shepard in particular and that made Tali feel kind of bad, really.

Shepard was a good friend, and one of the kindest people she knew who still could take your head off at a hundred paces, but still. Having Shepard treat Legion like a person made Tali feel like she was in the wrong for questioning if it even was one to begin with.

She needed to talk to someone. Someone who’d understand. Someone she could trust.

So naturally she ended up sitting down on her private terminal and calling Kal’Reegar. With any luck he wouldn’t be on duty or patrol somewhere.
She was lucky. Kal picked the call up right away, posture a little tired, but he perked right up when he saw her. Not for long, because even with her face hidden away, she’d never been that good an actor and he could just tell that something was up.

“Tali! I’m glad to see you, but somehow you don’t look like this is a courtesy check-in.”

“Kal.” She smiled, hoping that the transmission would pick up enough of her bioluminescent patches to make it clear. “I’m… afraid not. If you’re busy, it’s not that pressing, I don’t want to impose.”

“You’re not imposing. I have some time. Even some privacy, I’m still on light duty and the rest of my squad is out. So, what’s bothering you?”

She told him, all of it. Finding Legion, Shepard deciding to take the Geth on board and bring it online, interactions since then, up to and including what had happened after the party and today. He listened to all of it, without talking, just listening and forming his opinion and honestly, she appreciated that so much about him, she wanted the outside perspective of someone who would get it. He would.

“Hm. I can see why you’re conflicted. Your father was… very strict in his opinions about the Geth. And I understand why, but you know my opinion on the subject. So far, Legion seems to have tried being polite to you, to the best of its ability, yes?”

“Yeah. And I know, you think picking fights with the Geth is stupid.” She relaxed a little. Kal didn’t seem upset at all, if anything he just seemed understanding.

“If you want my opinion on it… I think you’re not really losing anything if you go forward considering that Legion might be a person. If you’re wrong then you’ve just been nice to a machine, and I’ve seen you fuss over your drone. If you’re right then well, you’ve been nice to a person, and you’re usually doing your best to be just that. You can still be careful, nobody’s expecting you to fully trust anyone you met such a short time ago. Does that sound like a reasonable deal to you?”

“I...yeah, yeah it does. Doesn’t solve the other issue though” The one where she’d...had sex with a Geth. God, thinking about it more often did not make it less weird.

“Ah no, that I can’t help with, I’m afraid, but luckily I’m not a jealous man and you have my blessings” Even if she hadn’t been able to see his patches, the teasing in his voice was obvious enough.

“Kal!”

“Sorry, I just had to. But I’m afraid you will have to figure that out yourself. You’re the smartest person I know, you’ll get it done. I just wanted you to know that I’m not upset or jealous about it, alright? I love you. We’re just far apart right now.”

“I. Thank you. I love you too” She reached out to the terminal and he mirrored the gesture.

“Let me know how this goes, yes? You’re probably the first Quarian who’s had peaceful contact with a Geth in centuries, make the most of it. Mark my words, before long you’ll be the expert on them.”

“Oh hush. I mean, you’re probably right but...yeah. Alright, you’re right. Thank you for listening to me.”

“Any time. Well almost, I’ve got my patrol round upcoming so maybe not in the next six hours, but otherwise any time. Talk to you soon. Keelah se’lai”

“Keelah se’lai” She replied and ended the call, feeling much better already. Still confused about considerable parts of it, but the sick, worried feeling in the pit of her stomach had lifted.

-----------------

It was quiet for a few days. They hadn’t gone back through the Omega Relay yet, since the Normandy had taken some damage during their arrival. Nothing big, but enough to keep her and the other engineers busy, and enough to make her leery about using the relay yet. So she spent most of her time repairing things, which means spending a lot of time with Legion, too. It was almost a little flattering, being able to keep up with an entity made up of a thousand minds. It had helped her get used to it all, until its presence was as normal as Adams’.

That didn’t stop her from being surprised when Legion approached her after she’d retreated to a corner of the mess, where things were quieter.

“Creator Tali’Zorah?”

She looked up from the file she was working on, just a little writing on the side, because everyone needed a hobby, and was immediately concerned. Over the last few days she had gotten better at reading what passed for body language with Legion. It looked..worried, face flaps pulled in tight and posture leaned back, ready to brace for the metaphorical explosion.

“Legion, is there something wrong? It’s not the capacitors, is it, I’m sure we put them in right-”

“No, the capacitors are working as you predicted. We have a more personal request”

Somehow that was even more concerning, but she nodded and gestured at the seat opposite from her. Polite, right? Also better than staring up that far. It took her up on it and sat down, a little awkwardly.
“Alright, what can I help you with?”

“We have been trying to gain a better understanding of interpersonal relationships for organics. Simulation seemed a good starting point. But our skills don’t seem to improve. We believe that you could help us, the simulation is based on a movie you have been quoting on occasion”

Tali needed a moment to translate that into normal-people-words. “You...have been playing Fleet And Flotilla? The dating sim? And you want me to help you with it because you’re not good at it?”

“Affirmative”

She was probably imagining it, but it seemed a little contrite about it. It was almost cute. And honestly… she was good at the game. She loved the movie and everything else to do with it, and she might or might not have played every romance path often enough to be able to quote them, too.

“Alright. I’ll help you, but not here” Absolutely not here. The rest of the crew didn’t need to know about her obsession.

They ended up in the AI core, with Tali sitting cross legged on the little platform Legion had been placed on first. She had a small portable screen on her lap and had Legion boot up its game for her. The logs were enlightening to say the least. Legion’s ‘hopeless’ rating was pretty accurate in her opinion.

“We don’t understand why we don’t seem to improve.” Legion was looking at the screen, even though it probably didn’t need to.

“Well, judging by what I can see, you’ve been trying to do too much at once. Some of the characters want to be courted more extensively, and others will always refuse you if you try to romance someone else at the same time”

“We don’t understand”
“Some of the characters are jealous and don’t want to share, some just prefer monogamy. Don’t ask me why, some people just are like that, so some characters are coded like that too. There’s hints in game about who’ll react badly to it, and I’d generally suggest that you pick someone you want to pursue and focus on them.” Which hadn’t happened so far, from what she could tell. “So what sort of person are you aiming for? I can give you better tips if I know who you want to woo”

There was a pause in which she realize that she’d basically just asked Legion for its dating preferences, which was...probably not something the Geth as a whole had ever considered before, she imagined.

“No data. We do not ‘woo’.”

Yeah that was what she had expected. “Just pretend, for a moment, that you do. It is after all the point of a dating sim. So if you were to pursue a relationship with someone - let’s say a platonic one. I’m a big believer that you should be good friends with your lovers, so that works just as well. And a lot of romantic relationships start as friendships, too. So, what sort of person would you like to be friends with?”

This time she wasn’t so worried about the pause. It was a hard enough question for someone who was used to the idea of dating, Legion probably need a while to reach a decision. Or consensus.

It was still a pretty long pause before Legion spoke again. “Establishment of parameters for ‘friendship’ complicated, organics define the concept vaguely and often overlap it with concepts of ‘love’. We do not experience such emotions.”

Tali sighed. “Do you have preferences for people you spend time with? Of the crew, I mean.” She should have expected this to be hard, and yet.

“Yes. Some crew members are less uncomfortable around us, or offer interesting conversation and data to us. Some try to gain an understanding of us in turn without signs of hostility. A few crew members seem to go out of their way to make us more comfortable”

Alright, that she could work with. “So… someone smart, and empathic, and curious? Likes to learn about other species, tries to interact with them on equal basis?”

“Affirmative”

Hmmm. sounded kind of like Shepard, which alright that made sense, Shepard had been very nice to Legion, welcomed them aboard...which character would be most like that? There were a few options there…

“Do you prefer topics of conversation you’re very well versed in, or rather something that’ll teach you something new?”

“Yes.”

Well there went nothing. But, she could make do with what she had. “Alright, I think those two would be the best fit” She pulled up the character profiles. “You can start on both of them and see which storyline looks more promising to you, fortunately neither is the jealous kind before you enter a relationship with them.”

She could tell when Legion connected to the portable screen, leaving through logs and then loading a safe file to start. Twentieth time was the charm?

“Your help is appreciated, Creator Tali’Zorah. Thank you.”

--------

Tali wasn’t sure why they still had gotten the mission dossier after what they’d done to the Collector base. The Illusive Man had to be pretty mad at them. Maybe it was supposed to be a suicide run of sorts, but after they’d just finished something that counted as an actual suicide run? It was starting to feel like a pretty weak try.

It was something to do with VI, so Shepard had brought both her and Legion. Considering the amount of geth they were facing, it had been the right choice. As the problem started to come together - VI experience, VI-human hybridization and that had made Legion make a sound that was as close to rage as she’d ever heard it come, and honestly she understood why. After what they’d just seen in the Collector base, with that horrible human-machine reaper embryo, she felt about ready to deck this Dr.Archer herself.

They had progressed through the bases, carefully, taking out Geth as they went, and Tali found herself wondering what Legion thought about having to fight Geth. Not the ‘heretics’ that had allied themselves with the Reapers, but Geth taken over by some other sort of intelligence. She would have liked to ask, but there was no time for it, and she didn’t want to distract it, either. There was a time and place for asking your sniper questions, and ‘middle of a fire fight with enemies that had rocket launchers’ was not one of them.

Progress was slow but steady, right until a door came down between them and Shepard. She rushed to the door, hand banging against it for a moment as she called for her friend, then radioed her. To her relief Shepard replied immediately. She was fine, and was going to go forward on her own, sure that she was close to the solution, and she probably was. Shepard had a knack for gettings things done in the face of impossible odds.

But that didn’t mean that she had to do them alone. That’s what teams were for, what friends were for. So Tali immediately went to start hacking the door, or trying to. It was hard, the VI was tricksy and fast, almost as fast as Legion, but only almost. And Shepard was distracting it, too.

Her task had her entirely absorbed, which was her only excuse as to why the shout of ‘Creator!’ only dimly made it into her awareness. The following ‘Tali!’, backed by all of Legion’s bulk pushing her against the wall however had all of her attention. She only had a moment of confused ‘wh-’ before a rocket exploded almost in her face. The force of it ate through Legion’s shield and crushed it further against her with the angry sound of denting and tearing metal, but her own shields held.

Her faceplate darkened in a split second to compensate for the glare and she already had her gun up and firing, straight past Legion’s - burnt, fizzling - arm before it came back to its normal coloration. She almost overclocked her heat sink firing into the Geth, until it was a twitching pile of scrap on the floor, then popped it out and stepped around Legion to cover him as his shields came back online, slow and she could see the flickering now. Damaged, then. She’d fix that in a second. But first… first the other two Geth approaching down the corridor had to go. Her shotgun didn’t have the range for it but her drone sure did. She let Chikktika distract them as she approached. Her shields could take the hits until she was in range for her shotgun to blow their heads clean off.

She waited for a moment, even had her drone scout further down the corridor, but nobody else seemed to be eager to meet the business end of her weapon, so she slowly retreated back to where Legion leaned at the wall behind some cover.
He still looked bad, two of the delicate little flaps around his optic almost torn off, scorch marks all over the chest, shoulders and one arm and some sizzling inside his chest cavity where cable insulation had burnt off. The optic itself had a crack, too, but was still bright.

She crouched down in front of him, still keeping half an eye on the corridor and then setting Chikktika into guard mode to let her focus on repairs.
“Legion, can you give me a damage report? What do you need for repairs?”

“We are at seventy-eight percent functionality. Mandatory repairs require cable insulation wrapping, welding, and replacement of structurally damaged plates in the upper right shoulder area. Everything else is cosmetic only.”

Tali nodded and started towards the downed Geth. She was very, very good at taking them apart and finding the functional parts, and she found that she knew pretty exactly which parts would match Legion’s plating enough to work, and which would be too small. Welding materials and insulation wrapping she had on herself at all times anyways. Despite what Legion had said, she also took one optic glass that had survived the onslaught, and a few tiny hinges. Just in case.

It was still quiet from her side of the doors, which worried her. It probably meant that Shepard was being one massive distraction elsewhere, but right now she couldn’t help her. Repairs to the teammate she had with her first, door hacking afterwards.

Legion did most of the repairs himself, with her watching the corridor and only helping on a few hard to reach places inside the chest. For the first time in a long while, she felt weird reaching into a machine to wrap sparking cables in tape and tuck them safely out of the way. Legion was watching the corridor over her shoulder as she did, his Widow held steady on the box they were cowering behind. She’d only just finished with the last line and was thinking about going back to the door when it swished open and Shepard came back out, carrying a pale human male with all the ease her cybernetic implants allowed her.

Her eyebrows went all the way up when she saw Legion and Tali crouched down with a lot of disassembled geth in the hallway.

“Seems I missed some fun?”

“Seems you had some fun of your own” Tali replied as she stood, nodding at the man. Legion rose with her, less fluid than normal and hm, she would have to look at the servos and gears in its legs later. It seemed to be favouring the left one.

“Yeah. Tali, Legion, meet David. David, these people are part of my team, they helped get you out.” Shepard took a breath. “And now let’s get out of here, David needs something better than medi-gel, and Dr.Chakwas is just the person to help.”

The man - David - looked at them both and nodded. His eyes lingered on Legion for a moment, went from it to the destroyed Geth and back, then he shrugged. He just looked very very tired, in the way sleep alone wouldn’t fix. Shepard was right, they should get back to the Normandy.

“Yeah, let’s go, David isn’t the only one who needs to get out of here.”

-----------------------------

They split up once they were back on the ship, Shepard taking their erstwhile guest to the medbay while Tali just followed Legion back to the AI core. Once there it stopped to look at her, body language even more hobbled that normally by the damaged flaps.

“Do you require something, Creator Tali’Zorah?”

“Sorta. I require you to sit down and tell me what’s wrong with your knee. I can see you favouring your left leg.”

“We will make repairs tomorrow.”

“And I will make repairs now. Sit down.” Tali was fairly sure her glare didn’t read through her faceplate, but Legion seemed to get her point anyway. It sat down on the berth, and she took that as permission enough to step close and kneel down in front of it to gently stretch out the damaged leg.

“This really isn’t necessary.” Legion sounded almost hesitant about it, but she was having none of it.

“It is. Looks like a shrapnel puncture, with the shrapnel still embedded. If you have damage sensors for this, you should probably turn them off now” She unrolled a small bag of tools from a bag on her hip and started to work the shrapnel loose with a pair of fine tweezers. She could see the circuitry around the damage and tried not to touch any of it as she teased the piece out and dropped it to the side. The joint was damaged, but the servos around it seemed fine. She leaned a little closer to start welding it shut with little pieces of metal she shaved off another Geth panel she’d picked up planet-side, then checked her work over with a little UV-flashlight, letting it show her the remaining minuscule damages. It was fiddly enough work to make her forget all about time and the fact that she was crouched down long enough that she had to roll her head a little when she was done.

“Alright, that’s done.”

She stood back up, but when Legion tried to follow suit she held up a hand. “No no, stay there, I’ll fix the other damages too, best to let the welds cool some anyway before you do anything on that leg” And with that she climbed onto the berth beside Legion and shone her flashlight over the damaged face flaps. It looked like the hinges were bent and torn, and really wasn’t it good that she had decided to pick some small hinges off the destroyed Geth earlier?

“Please hold still, I’m sure you know how delicate this is.”

“Creator Tali’Zorah, this is really only an aesthetic repair, it shouldn’t take priority.”

“You use them to communicate with organics, don’t you? We’re not in combat anymore, there’s no reason not to fix them now”

“Affirmative”

There. She leaned closer to get a good angle for taking off the first flat, gently unhooking the wires and lines to the hinges before removing them. The angle continued to be awkward, and she shifted closer and closer, until she was leaning onto Legion’s shoulder to steady herself.

“So how is your progress in Fleet and Flotilla looking? Did my tips help any?” She asked just as she put the first flap down.
“Organics are distracted by auditory input during detail work.”

“I’m not, I usually listen to music through my suit speakers while I work, it helps me focus. Seems rude to do that while working on you when we can just talk. So, how is it going?”

“It is...going well. We have managed to progress to a first date and are now gathering information on the target to ensure success”

“That’s a very tactical way of going about it” Tali snorted and swapped the hinges out, tightening tiny screws and aligning joints. “But I’m glad you’re making progress. Is it helping you understand organics?”

“Tactical approaches are most promising. We have learnt that organics value honesty in interpersonal relationships, but sometimes prefer falsehoods in matters of small personal preferences, such as music or vids. Is this accurate to non-simulated relationships?”

She thought about it for a moment while she connected the cables back in place. “I think that’s about right. Being honest might be hurtful in the short term, but usually long term it works out better, but telling someone that you hate their favourite writer is just rude.”
She shifted to get at the next plate, leaning further onto Legion and finally shuffling to straddle one of its thighs to have a more stable position.

That close she noted that Legion was actually warm. It made sense, all those little servos and engines moving it around had to produce heat, probably dispersed over surface plating. It was a surprising change, the machinery she usually worked with tended to be cool and inert. But then again, it usually also didn’t talk to her, at least not like that.

“I think I’ll fix your optic lens first, the cables will be easier to access like that.” She was gentle about it, gloved finger tips running around the edge of the damaged glass to find the little latches and screws that kept it in place and unhook them all by feel alone. She even closed her eyes to focus better.

“I’m sorry if this is uncomfortable”

“It isn’t” Legion tilted his head just enough to let her get at the last little latch.

“Right. I was just thinking that taking the lens off probably impacts your vision. I find it pretty uncomfortable when doctors have to do anything on my eyes.” She lifted the lens off and replaced it with the new one. It was just a little out of reach on her new position, forcing her to lean over quite a bit to reach it. In her current position, that left her wobbly, but before she could do more than slip a finger width, Legion’s arm wrapped around her waist, hand light on her back to steady her.

“This platform is equipped with infrared sensors on strategic points to prevent heat damage. We are currently running this data through graphic interpretation to let us track your movements even with diminished optical input.”

Well that explained how it’d caught her, and she righted herself again, settled solidly back on the leg. “That explains a lot. Well, I’ll be quick about replacing the lens and you can have your full range of vision back”

Knowing where the latches were and how they were supposed to fit, she made to put it back, eyes closed in concentration again. Her gloves were meant for work like that, sturdy enough to avoid punctures but at the same time, flexible and thin enough that she could feel all the details and gently twist the lens into place. There was a fine little click and then the light came back. She couldn’t help but smile at Legion.

“There, good as new. Time for the final flap and then you can test your leg.”

“Acknowledged. Creator Tali’Zorah, we have an inquiry.”

“Oh? Yeah sure, ask me.” She had to lean close and up again, half-way rising from Legion’s leg to get at the dorsal edge of the flap. She did sort of notice that Legion still had a hand not-quite on her, hovering just over her hip, maybe in case he needed to catch her again.

“Why did you pick this lens off a destroyed platform? This item is not specific to Geth constructions or designs. Studying it will not give new insights to your Fleet.”

“That’s not why I took it. You were damaged, and I knew that I could fix the damages if there were suitable parts. Leaving them behind would have been stupid.”

The repaired flaps perked right up. Score for her abilities!

“Quarians value conservation of resources and reduction of waste, based on the needs of the Fleet”

“Well...yes. But I just wanted to help you, and this gave me the materials to do so.” Tali shrugged.

“...We do not understand, but appreciate the answer” The flaps settled down again, which was good because otherwise there was a real risk that she would get her fingers caught in one.

She had been just about to connect the last wire back, leaned against Legion’ chest for balance again when the door to the AI core wooshed open. She turned half-around, hands still framing Legion’s optic and perched on its thigh as she was. Now his hand did come to rest on her hip, keeping her center of gravity stable.
Joker stopped dead in the door, looked at them both, and then put his hands up and retreated as speedily as he could without fracturing anything.
“Oh wow guys, didn’t mean to disturb you at all, have fun! Maybe put a sock on the door or something next time, let a guy know that-!” The door closed again, cutting off whatever he thought a ‘sock on the door’ would warn someone about.

“Just what was that about? I swear he gets more weird by the year.” Tali shook her head and turned back to fix the last cable into place and right the flap. “Alright, give it try, how does it feel? Anything stuck or grinding?”

Honestly, Legion wiggling all its flaps through their angles was pretty endearing; cute even.

“Everything is fully functional. We appreciate your efforts. Thank you.”

She smiled behind her mask and slipped off its lap. “You’re welcome. The leg should be good to try now, too.” She really did the best work. “Oh, do you happen to know what that expression meant, the one about the sock on the door?” Legion had the speediest extranet access, it might well know.

There was a split second of a pause, presumably for looking up the phrasing.

“No data available”