Title: Under Better Circumstances - Chapter 5: Checkmate
Game: Mass Effect
Characters/Pairing: Commander Nevada Shepard (femShep) and James Vega
*****SPOILERS ARE IN THIS CHAPTER!!!!*****
Chapter 5 - Checkmate
While traveling from one solar system to another, Lieutenant James Vega came to the conclusion that this would be the opportune moment to approach the Commander. He had questions brewing about the recent mission Nevada Shepard embarked on with her fellow Alliance officer. Although, it was hardly about the mission
it was about their interactions.
The way Major Alenko idolized Shepard was becoming a nuisance and was causing the rivalry between them to brew. James didn't know how much longer he would be able to control his urges to settle things between them once and for all. The only thing holding him back was his devotion to the Commander. He wanted nothing more than to protect her but if she refused it
if she desired something else
then he would concede.
Upon entering her private quarters, James caught glimpse of the heroic soldier. He wandered further inside and quietly watched as Shepard casually paced around her room. Even with her attention being detained by the datapad resting in her soft hands, each step she took perfectly navigated around the obstacles on the floor.
"Commander," James saluted, breaking her concentration.
Nevada peered over to her guest and a hint of excitement could be heard in her tone, "Lieutenant, are you here to play a round of chess with me?"
"Not today, I'm sorry."
"You're no fun," she pouted, tossing the datapad onto the table in front of her, barely missing the chess set inattentively waiting. She took a seat in front of the playing board and danced her fingertips over the tops of the pieces. Her gaze bounced between the seat across the table and the Lieutenant standing closeby, suggesting his invitation.
"Fine," he ceded, grudgingly forcing himself into the empty chair, "I could never understand your fascination with chess."
Feeling accomplished in convincing her fellow marine to play her favorite game, she moved her pawn forward, "And I could never understand how you like Cerveza."
"And you and your brandy?"
"What? Dr. Chakwas got me hooked on it."
"You seem so well-reformed compared to me, Commander," he commented, moving his pawn to meet hers, "You need to come hang out with the grunts of the crew more often
play a few rounds of poker with us
so maybe I could finally win a game against you."
"Maybe I will," she smiled as she directed her next piece, "But knowing my luck, I'll clean you out."
Vega let a smirk creep onto his lips, "Only if I let you win."
She paused, with her white bishop dangling in her fingers, contemplating her next move, "Will you let me?"
"You'll have to play and find out," he teased, taking out one of her pieces, "But really, do you know how silly this makes me look?"
"What? Is big Mr. Vega afraid of what the other crewmembers think?" Shepard taunted, "It never stopped you from playing against me in the Detention Center."
"Things were different then."
"Not that I recall. I seem to remember a certain someone coming in on their days off to keep me company."
"Even so, you never explained to me why you love this game so much."
"Well, the reason I like it so much is because of the similarities it shares with my position as a Commander. Every battle requires strategy and the ability to outthink your opponent. Take this war for example
" She grabbed the white queen from the board and while using it as a visual, explained, "I am the queen who can move as many spaces as she wants in any direction. My goal is to protect the king from checkmate, in other words protect Earth against the Reapers. I need to use my fellow army to place the Reapers into a position that will guarantee our win. Force them into a corner that they cannot escape
force them into checkmate."
"And what if she fails?"
"In this game
we lose the war and our world is lost," Shepard stared quietly at the queen before placing it back on the board.
"Then someone needs to step up and protect the queen," he suggested as he made his next move.
"What are you intending, Lieutenant?"
"Nothing, Commander. Just looking out for the Alliance's best hope to win this."
" she started as she castled the rook and king, "There's something more in that sentence, Vega
I know there is."
Shaking his head, he muttered under his breath, "Usted nunca deja de sorprenderme."
Nevada stared at the man sitting across from her, curiously thinking about the possible inquiries he said in his foreign tongue, "No fair, you know I don't speak Spanish."
"Maybe you should learn," he gloated.
"Or I could take a stab at what you said
maybe you're wondering if there is someone already protecting the queen?"
"Possibly," he grabbed the black knight and held it idly over the board, "What about Major Alenko?"
"What about him?" she scoffed, holding back her laughter as she hunched over the playing board.
"He talks about you quite a bit."
"That's all he ever does, ever since the beginning
I guess some things never change," Nev shook her head causing some of her long brown hair to cover her face, "When I was detained at Alliance Headquarters, I welcomed anyone who visited me, especially you. Now that my title has been reinstated, it feels like I need to tighten my open door policy since the Major considers 'open door' as another word for 'available.' I have enough with trying to get everyone working together, the last thing I need is someone hounding me for intimacy."
With one smooth movement, she ran her hand through her hair and placed every disobedient strand back into their picturesque position. The Lieutenant could no longer hide his hungry gaze feeding off of her flawless disposition. She was the ideal soldier
she had experience, intelligence, wits, and was easy on the eyes. If someone ever judged a person on looks alone, they would never imagine her to be one of the fiercest forces in the universe.
Her sigh broke his devoted attention, "But I should expect this from Kaidan
he's been trying to break protocol for quite some time now."
Afraid of the answer awaiting him, James hesitantly asked, "What's stopping you?"
"I'm only following protocol," she leaned back in her seat and crossed her arms, "I'm a Commander. I have a title that demands discipline and determination. If I start bending and breaking the standards set for me, then what kind of expectations would I set for my crew?"
" he leisurely commented but the beaten tone in his voice expressed his hidden desires.
Studying his reactions carefully, Nevada continued, "Even if I did allow fraternization, it wouldn't be with Kaidan. Hell, he's not the only one to try either. There was also Armory Officer Jacob Taylor and a few others from my crew who attempted at least once to bunk the most eligible bachlorette in Citadel space
I shot them all down though."
Hearing her talk about the others invoked his jealousy and piqued his curiosity, "If you don't mind me asking, why is that?"
"Are you trying to get personal with me, Lieutenant?"
"No, just having a conversation with you. Like how we used to back in Alliance Command."
"I guess there's no harm in discussing this," she shifted forward, "You really want to know why I didn't give anyone the time of day?"
"Yes. Apart from protocol, of course."
plain and simply, I didn't find myself to be attracted to them enough to break regulations. Come to think of it, I didn't find anyone worthy. I was too busy fighting and I will be until the end of this war. I didn't have the time to find someone so I guess I will have to wait until this is all over
"You'll always have me, Shepard."
She stared at him, evaluating his physical attributes. Her sparkling eyes dazzled at his muscular definitions. Reminiscing on the days they spent together at Alliance Command, she recollected how the Lieutenant morphed in front of her eyes. Each time he guarded her, she noticed a visual progress from his extensive training and a change in his attitude. Still bitter from the events that happened prior to their first meeting on Omega, he began opening up to her and she noticed a special bond between them grow.
Memories of a night they shared shortly before the Reaper invasion popped into her busy mind. Vega snuck in a bottle of tequila and shared it with the detained prisoner. She met him shot for shot, persistent to out-drink the tough marine. Unfortunately it came to a draw but she remembered him mentioning a promise he made to Admiral Anderson
to protect the most valuable asset the Alliance could ever had.
The Commander placed another piece on the board forward and said, "Thank you, James. I appreciate it. Hopefully I can express my gratitude for all the things you've done for me one of these days."
"Just join us for a round of poker one of these nights
And if you ever need me to, I would be more than happy to put the Major in his place."
"You already are
just by sitting there."
"You're making this difficult for me
having to choose Cervaza over you."
"I know. I am a mean and horrible Commander."
Eying the remaining pawns, Vega carefully selected his bishop and took one of them out, "Actually, Shepard, there is something I would like to ask you."
"What is it?" she asked, quickly avenging her piece.
"Do you remember our conversation before you met with the Defense Committee? After I wished you good luck, you mentioned there was something you wanted to tell me."
"You have quite the memory," she smiled, judging his next move.
"Only when it comes to y
" he stopped mid-sentence, catching his confession from jumping off his tongue. "I," clearing his throat and trying to reclaim the words that escaped, "I was curious to know what you wanted to say."
Nevada directed her attention away from the static white army to observe the hulky man sitting across from her nervously try to keep his composure. It was amusing to see him finally show some signs of his tender heart around her, especially without the influence of alcohol. Even more entertaining was the piece of information he so dearly held onto.
Using her freshly acquired knowledge of this weak spot, she leaned forward and rested her elbows delicately on the edge of the table. Her slight squirming and suggestive facial expressions encouraged the Lieutenant to ponder deeper about her answer. Every breath living her lips seduced him
every curl of her hair invoked his appetite. She was doing everything within her power to tantalize him, making the pawns beneath his fingers vibrate in anticipation. His heart pounded rapidly against his chest, eagerly waiting for her reply
wondering to see if she would finally say it
Her gentle voice slowly resonated, "I wanted to tell you how I was beginning to f
"Commander, we're nearing Sur'Kesh," Joker's voice beaconed from the intercom.
"Got it, Joker, on my way," she replied. Without a second thought, she stood up and left the table.
As she began walking towards the elevator, Vega turned in his chair and called out to her, "Wait, Shepard
what were you going to say?"
"Maybe next time," she winked, "The queen has been moved."
Feeling his emotions racing wildly like adrenaline pumping through his veins, he didn't know how to react. He needed resolution
he yearned to know the answer to the question she was so successfully avoiding. Waiting for any bone to be thrown, his body tensed when he noticed Shepard stopped at the entrance of the elevator.
"And James," she leaned against the doorway, staring back at the timid Lieutenant. Her vibrant brown eyes twinkled in the ambient lighting of the ship, piercing through his tough mortal coil. A wicked grin curled on the Commander's face, teasing the marine anxiously seated in her quarters. "Checkmate."