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Endurance Test

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Tali always felt a bit like an intruder as she rode the elevator up to Shepard's quarters. Never mind that he'd given her standing permission to be there, and EDI knew it; no one was going to challenge her. Her discomfort was purely psychological, and she knew it; the room was obviously his place, and she was entering into it, and there was something strange and almost taboo about that. It was difficult to explain to people who had never had to sit in a small corner of a room full of people and set their suits to non-interactive just to have a moment to themselves.

Being there without Shepard was even odder, she thought as she walked in. She was alone, save for the curious chirping of the little furry creature in its cage in the corner. But this place afforded her a good deal more privacy than she would likely get on the Engineering deck, where she and the two Cerberus engineers would have to share quarters. She had nothing particular against Ken and Gabby, but there were some things she preferred to do in private, when she could. And she was sure - especially recently - that there were a few things that the two of them would like to have some privacy for as well; she was doing them a favor as much as she was helping herself.

Shepard would be back soon, anyway. He'd taken two of the others along on a mission, something about krogan mercenaries. Off the top of her head, Tali wasn't sure exactly what was happening, but she wasn't too worried. After what they'd been through wih the Collectors, dealing with a few krogan wasn't going to kill him.

She sat on the edge of Shepard's bed, unable to shake the guilty thrill that was running through her body. She was going to try one of his new programs today, after all. She was in his room, trying out one of the programs that he had custom-made for her, and there was no denying just how much she was looking forward to it.

Tali still remembered how puzzled Shepard had looked at first, when she'd given him the datapad with the software. "So, what exactly do I do with this, again?" he had asked, squinting at it.

Fighting the urge to sigh, Tali had started to explain it again. "It's software for a nerve-stim program, along with various set paramaters. The hardware is, um, integrated into this." She'd pressed one hand against the chestplate of her suit, glad that he couldn't see how much she was probably blushing. "It's meant to... um...."

"I think I get the basics," he said after she faltered, his voice amused and not unkind. Unfortunately, just the thought of it made her blush even more. "I'm just wondering exactly what you're expecting."

"Well, you said that you didn't want me, um, out of my suit again for a while."

"Tali, you were sick for two weeks after that."

"Yes, and it was horrible. Nothing to do but have those amusing chats with Doctor Chakwas and share some of her wine."

The sarcasm had gotten a smile out of him, at least. But he hadn't shown any signs of backing down. "I know it didn't do any permanent damage, this time. I just want to make sure we minimize the risk before we do it again."

"I know," she said, and for all of her joking she did understand. It had taken weeks of preparation just to get that far, and she knew perfectly well what could have happened if she hadn't been lucky. It had been worth it, yes, but that didn't mean they shouldn't be careful. "Anyway. I've told you about what the hardware, um, actually does. I was wondering if you'd mind, well, creating some new programs for me? Until we can do the other things again, anyway."

"Well, I'm not much of a programmer. Spent too much time in special biotics training for that."

"You don't have to be, trust me. It's the deluxe version. It comes with, um, instructions. And I've already programmed in parameters, so you don't have to worry about hurting me."

He'd raised an eyebrow. "You've thought of everything," he said, smiling. Tali, embarrassed, could only nod. "Well, I'd be happy to see what I can do. But I have one condition."

"You do?" she'd asked, curious.

"Of course. I want to be able to watch."

"Um," Tali had said, then coughed. "Yes. That sounds... good."


It had taken a few days for Shepard to program the first module; he'd finished just before he'd left for the mission. And Tali didn't see anything wrong with trying it out, as long as she made an effort to meet Shepard's conditions. The setup hadn't taken too long, at least. She'd had to be careful picking the recording devices - she hadn't wanted anything that could be hacked by outside programs. There was only one person that she wanted to be able to see this.

Finally she relaxed on the bed, and changed her suit settings so that she wouldn't be able to see, hear or feel anything from outside of it; she wanted to be able to focus on what she was feeling. She was already trembling a bit with anticipation as she dialed up the new program.

It returned a message - something she'd never seen before. Confirmation required from programmer, it flashed. Please wait.

"Programmer?" she repeated, staring at it. She hadn't expected this. "You mean, Commander Shepard?"

Affirmative. Request has been sent and received. Please stand by.

Odd. Then again... maybe he had wanted to be there when she used it. That would make sense. She hoped he'd forgive her for doing this without him, but honestly, she'd been feeling a little bit bored, and lonely. Maybe she couldn't have him out of her suit again for a while, but he wouldn't begrudge her this, surely.

Confirmation received, the message flashed. Beginning program.

"Thank you," she said softly, knowing that the devices would pick it up.

The stim suit slowly came to life, starting slow - no surprise, considering that she'd listed that as one of her parameters. She could feel the warmth tingling along her body, racing along her nerves, the pleasure slowly and carefully building. It wasn't the same as that night she'd spent with him; nothing could ever be that. But it was good, the way that the phantom touch slowly ran up and down her body, almost as good as him. He'd been paying attention, he knew how she liked it, and that made her feel good as much as anything.

She must look a sight, she thought distantly, lying on his bed, squirming and making little noises through her mouthpiece, with no one else around -

The program must have shifted, and she felt the pleasure centering downwards, between her legs. Yes, she thought, squirming even more. It had been too long since she'd had the chance to do this, even with her own software. And the program... oh, he'd known what he was doing. He had been paying attention, she thought dizzily as she felt tendrils of pleasure inside of her, like fingers sliding in and out.

"Yes," she said, almost moaning. It had been far too long. She felt like she'd just started and she was already so close. "Keelah, please..."

It kept going for a few more seconds - and she was sure that was going to be enough, just a little bit more, she was so close. So close. Just a little bit longer -

The program shut down almost completely, just as she was about to finish, with only the faintest lingering touches to let her know that it was still running. Tali lay there, shaking, and very confused. "What?" She managed. "Is something... wrong?"

"Negative," her suit returned. "Program is operating normally."

She moaned. Had he made a mistake, somehow? He must have, this was only the first time he'd done this. Surely he wouldn't have done it on purpose, would he...?

The pleasure was building again, the sensations even stronger than before - it felt almost real, that time, as if it was him touching her, and she couldn't help but writhe under it again. She was so close -

The second time it happened, she started wondering if it wasn't an accident. The third time, she was sure that it hadn't been. She had thrown herself into it, not thinking about anything else, and the cycle had been shorter than before - she had been sure that she had been about to finish, that time, when the stimulation shut down even more abruptly than before, leaving her lying trembling on his bed.

She swore, again, still thrashing about on the bed. It still felt amazing - that was the only reason she didn't abort the program - but what was going on? She wasn't used to denying herself like this, and to think that he would was strange. Or was this some kind of... of...

Proximity alert, her suit warned, flashing a brief ID that she didn't need to look at. Who else would it be, here?

"Sh-" she started, then trembled. The program was warming up again, and it felt amazing. Her body needed this, especially now, after all of those denials. "I... this is so good... I..."

He might have spoken to her, but she couldn't hear or see him. All she knew for sure was that he was watching.

"So... close," she said. "I want to... Keelah, Shepard. Please. Please!"

The program cycled up towards its peak - then beyond it, and she felt the full force of it, inside and out. She couldn't help it - she screamed as she finally finished, body convulsing with the force of the released tension. For a while she was convinced that it was going to last forever.

It didn't, of course, and soon she was lying on her back again, panting and senseless and finally relaxed. "Wow," she eventually said, tapping the familiar sequence of buttons to turn on her sensory input from outside of the suit again. "I... wasn't expecting that."

She opened her eyes and saw him next to her on the bed, shaking his head. "Why not?" he said, gently. "I said I wanted to watch, didn't I?"

"I had recording devices," she protested weakly. "I... I was going to show you -"

"I appreciate the thought, but it's not quite the same." He smiled, reached across and took her hand. She squeezed it back, weakly, her body still tired. "Besides, there's nothing wrong with an endurance test once in a while. I'd like to see how long you can hold out sometime."

"Mmm." She wished he could see her smiling, like this. At least, she thought, he could tell she was happy. "Sounds like a good idea, as long as you're here."

He let go of her hand and threw an arm around her waist, and Tali relaxed happily next to him. "Of course."