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A Clean Slate (1/?)

It’s my first fill…something I wrote to fit into a larger Shepard/Joker story I’m working on for ff.net that I thought would be a good response to this prompt!

To say that she had been avoiding her reflection was an understatement.

Two years of lying on an operating table had left her stiff and sore, but at least she was alive, and that was the most important part, right? Sure she was some robotic zombie -creation …but she was better, right? Stronger? Faster? The 4 billion credit woman, back from the dead to save the universe from invading sentient machines.

When she thought of it like that it seemed like the premise for a bad holo-vid.

Yet here she was, new and improved and alive, hesitating in the bathroom doorway. Shepard could see the enemy to her 9. She wrapped her fingers along the frame anxiously.

“Is there something I can help you with, Commander?” EDI’s helpful orb sprung to life, causing Shepard to jump in surprise.

“Everything’s fine, EDI.”

“Is there something wrong with the restroom facility? I can alert Operative Lawson to any problems.”

“No, really, it’s fine.”

“Shepard, my sources indicate that standing in a doorframe is not normal human behavior.”


“Also, I noticed a rapidly increasing heart rate, indicative of emotional distress or anxiety. I could summon Dr. Chakwas or perhaps yeoman Chambers to assist you.”

“I’m good EDI. I definitely do not require Miranda, Chakwas, or Chambers, and if at any point I DO, I will make sure to ask.”

“Logging you off, Shepard.”

Shepard exhaled, rubbing a weary hand over her face. Determined to speed this up, lest EDI get impatient with her and decide to alert her babysitters, Shepard squared her shoulders, took a deep breath, and stepped a hesitant foot into the bathroom.

A Clean Slate (2/?)

“I am worried about the Commander.” EDI’s blue ball sprung to life next to Joker’s chair, causing a rattled ‘yip’ to escape his throat.

“God-dammit EDI! Didn’t I tell you to stop sneaking up on me?”

“I do not sneak, Mr. Moreau.”
Joker’s attention was turned back towards his console as the image changed from the Normandy’s technical readout, to a surveillance feed of what Joker could only assume from first glance was a bathroom. He leaned forward, curious as to why the damn AI would show him something obviously not work related, and wondered briefly if she was programmed to analyze his extranet searches and make suggestions. Not that bathroom-voyeur was high on his search list, but maybe she was getting creative.

Upon closer inspection he could make out the very Shepard-shaped figure standing with her back against the sliding door, fully armor-clad. His eyes widened in realization, maybe EDI was more perceptive than he gave her credit for, and then was struck with the fear that if Shepard knew he could see this, she would march right on up the bridge and point that oversized pistol right at the back of his head.

“Uh, EDI…”

“Like I said, I am worried about Shepard. She is exhibiting unusually high levels of anxiety characterized by shortness of breath, increased heart rate, and a sudden drop in her core temperature.”

Joker looked at the monitor more closely. From the angled view all he saw was Shepard standing, leaning back against the door for support, unmoving. “So…she’s stressed…and…” He squinted at the screen. “…cold?”

“She declined assistance, but her psychological profiled indicated that this is not normal behavior, and my programming dictates I am to alert any unusual patterns to responsible parties.”

He raised a questioning eyebrow over to the electric orb.

“I’m considered a responsible party?”

“Mr. Moreau, are most acquainted with the Commander; while Operative Lawson knows her anatomy, you know her personality. I concluded that you would be a better source of information. ”

A Clean Slate (3/?)

Shepard had seen a flash out of the corner of her eye before slamming her back against the closing door. Full length mirror on her 6. Her heart was threatening to escape through her throat. It was an ambush, she was trapped.

She had never been particularly vain, but surely resurrection was bad for the complexion.

She sighed.

She was Commander-no-Spectre, Fucking God-damn Shepard.
She survived Akuze.
She was savior of the fucking Citadel.
…And she could face her own reflection.

Just take two steps forward, and spin. And after a deep, reassuring breath, she did just that.

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

“Look, if she says she’s fine then she is.” Joker tried adjusting the camera’s angle for future viewing pleasure, but EDI wasn’t being cooperative. Suddenly, just as quickly as it had appeared, the feed vanished. “Hey! I was watching that!” He protested, scrambling to find the surveillance controls.

“I activated the surveillance feed so you could asses Commander Shepard’s behavior. You stated that there is no need for further concern so I deactivated the feed.”

“I’m not done assessing!”

“You said…”

“I know what I said, and no EDI, taking- what did you say-seven minutes?-to enter a room is not normal Shepard behavior, she just didn’t want you butting in. I will keep an eye on it, make sure she’s ok.”

There was an uncomfortable silence for a brief moment before EDI reactivated the footage. Shepard was still standing with her back facing the door, but was no longer leaning against it. Joker again tried to fidget with the camera angles.

“Jeeze, doesn’t this thing rotate?” Joker’s fingers danced over the controls, trying to find a way to get a better view. Shepard was now two paces in front of where she had been standing, and spun around to face the mirror. The feed flickered and suddenly the camera switched to over her shoulder. He could see her from head to toe, her back to him, her front reflected in the mirror. Her eyes were tightly closed.

Joker was about to ask EDI why Cerberus has installed so many cameras in the Commander’s bathroom, when he caught himself. Shepard wasn’t acting normal. Questioning her privacy could wait.

But that was it, wasn’t it?

This is the first moment she’s truly been alone since she woke up.

Her voice, echoing slightly with the room’s sensitive acoustics, made him jump. “Open your eyes.” It was a Command, said in the same tone of voice she used with anyone on the ship. 

And Joker understood.

He leaned as forward as his chair would allow, holding his breath, poised and ready to leap (well, as much of a leap as he could do) out of his chair if she so much as faltered. If she needed someone, he would be there.

Cautiously, her eyes opened.

A Clean Slate (4/?)

With her armor on, all she could see was her face.

Ok, the apprehensive expression was new, but after a few deep breaths her features relaxed into a more neutral line.

“Time for inspection.” Deep breath in, deep breath out.

Her eyes scanned her reflection.

The first thing she noticed was her eyebrows. Shepard took a finger and ran it along her right eyebrow, smoothing out the hair there. “One scar gone,” she sighed. She had thought that one made her look particularly badass. She paused to relive the moment she got that scar, thinking about it one last time, and wondered how she would remember that part of her history without the visual reminder. But now that scar was gone, and in its place was an eyebrow, perfectly matching the other. A wholly unscarred eyebrow.

She frowned.

Her fingers poked and prodded their way down her nose and over her lips. She opened her mouth wide. She couldn’t be 100% on this, after all she was no dentist, but she was pretty sure all of her cavities were gone. Her teeth looked the same, just…newer.

Her hands moved to her hair tie. Normally her hair wasn’t long enough to require one, so tugging it out of the locks felt foreign in itself. Her hair rippled down in waves, over her armor, angling her face perfectly.

Now more than ever Shepard was convinced Miranda Lawson had played with dolls as a child.

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

It was like she was putting on a show. 

Joker sat on the edge of his chair, leaning against the console, eyes frozen on his Commanding officer. She had never acted so…human. He watched her get lost in a memory as she traced the line of the eyebrow back and forth. He had always liked that scar, it kept her balanced somewhere in between spectacular badass and military brat Barbie. Badass Barbie.

He felt his heart race as she moved her fingers gently over her lips.

Never, never had he felt like such a voyeur, and he had spied on people in much more compromising positions.

But this was different.
This was Shepard.
And she was vulnerable.
And Shepard was never vulnerable.

His breath hitched as her hair burst from its restraint.

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

“It’s so long,” she groaned as she ran her fingers down through the perfect mess. She hadn’t had hair past her chin since she enlisted. She figured she would have to do something about that. She thought about whipping out her combat knife and fixing it on the spot, but she figured she would get a lengthy reproach from Miranda and she was so not in the mood.

But there were more pressing issues at hand.

She turned her attention back to the mirror.

Along the left side of her face there seemed to be a strange glow. Her fingers poked at the spot, feeling the crevasses that had a strange orange tint to them. She couldn’t help but think of Saren’s cybernetics. “Creepy…” It didn’t hurt to touch them, but that didn’t stop her from cringing every time she did. “Eww.”

She took a deep breath and wondered if anything else on her body glowed.

“Well, time to find out.” She started unhooking the seals on her armor to reveal the protective layer underneath. Slowly she stripped off the shirt weave and tossed it on top of the scattered armored pile at her feet, leaving only a sports bra behind on her toso.

She gasped.

A Clean Slate (5/?)

Joker gasped, throwing his hands over the screen.

This was wrong.
So wrong.
She was going to kill him…
Or maybe she'd shoot him with that big freaking gun of hers…
Or maybe she’d just space him.

He peeked through his fingers.

Might as well die happy.

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

Her new scar shot across her torso like a tree branch. It was widest over the left side of her rib cage and narrowed on its way down to her belly button with little branches jutting out.

And it glowed.

She poked at it.

“Why does it glow?”  ...Cuz I’m a robot... Her brow furrowed. Or was it a cyborg?  She could never remember the difference. “I’ll have to ask Joker,” she mused, poking at the chasm.

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

“Ask me what?” He cried, throwing his hands up off the console. He couldn’t remember how to close his gaping jaw. His mind raced, trying to figure out what Shepard could possibly be thinking, while undressing of all things, that she would need to consult him about.

She was undressed, and she said his name.

He shifted uncomfortably as he felt some higher brain functionality leaving him.

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

Shepard spun around to get a good view of her back. There was a spackling of glowing pinholes, baby scars that emitted a soft glow. She frowned and turned back towards the mirror, smacking her for head against her reflection’s.

“I’m a god damn light bright,” she groaned, fogging up the mirror.
But she wasn’t done. 

She placed her palms square on the mirror and pushed herself upright, back to exploring her stomach with her eyes.

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

Joker found himself laughing at Shepard’s reference to an outdated childhood toy, and tried to picture her playing with one as a kid. He doubted she did, most parents, especially parents stationed in the Alliance fleet, did not buy a light bright for their kids. But then again, it was one of those toys that some relative happened to have stashed away in an attic somewhere, never remembering actually buying it, but always pulling it out when kids were over.

Joker had also allowed himself to laugh the placement of her hands on the mirror. However unintentional, from the angle EDI had provided, she looked like she was groping herself.

He shifted again. Damn restrictive Cerberus pants.

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

Shepard ungracefully wiggled out of her under armor pants, thankful that no one could see her dance around so unflatteringly.

Almost there.

She stood in her sports bra and panties and sighed.

All of her battle scars were gone and in their place was a trail of glowing spots all the way down to her toes. Every reminder she had of every knife fight, gunshot wound, and shrapnel blast was etch-a-sketched away.

Clean slate.

She fell into a comfortable parade rest.

“Clean slate.”

A Clean Slate (6/?)

Joker couldn’t sit still.

He adjusted his SR-2 cap with an increased frequency. The flush that had started at the back of his neck had slithered up to his cheeks. He found the temperature on the bridge to be unacceptably warm. He was going to have to talk to somebody about that.

He shifted again.

He was going to have to talk to someone about these damn pants too. “Unacceptable.” He muttered.

He closed his eyes, but like getting stung by a camera’s flash, it was burned into his retinas. Shepard bent over, wiggling those hips, pulling down her pants. Sliding her fingers around the edge of her panties to smooth them back out.

His forehead repeatedly struck the console with a resounding ‘thud’. If she was this sexy alone and unaware, he wondered how sexy she could be when she was actually trying.

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

The worst of it was over.

Shepard still didn’t quite feel like herself. She felt like a copy of herself, a view of what she could have looked like if she had never enlisted. Her scars were gone. That was the most disappointing part. Sure they had hurt like hell, and the causes of them were not exactly her favorite moments to relive, but they were a part of what made her Commander Shepard. Those experiences had shaped her into what she was today.

Or at least, who she was when she died.

Now what was she?

Those experiences were, literally, in another life, belonging to a different Commander Shepard. The longer she starred at her new body, the further away those experiences felt.

But…she had new scars.

Surely the cybernetic-glowing cracks were a form of scar in and of itself. A scar representing a new experience, one that most people would never get: a true second chance. Just like any cause of scars, this experience hurt like hell, and would be painful to relive, but now, this too was a part of what made her Commander Shepard.

To say she cried would be a vast overstatement.

One tear slid down her cybernetic cheek, the only concession she would give to the sense of loss she was feeling. No doubt in the two years she was gone a few people had mourned her death; she didn’t need to mourn it too.

She took a deep breath and found a natural smile reaching up to her eyes.

She had a second chance, and she wasn’t going to waste it.

A Clean Slate (7/7)


His eyes flew open as the sound of a shower bursting to life echoed through the speakers. Every hormone in his body jumped to attention.
As Shepard’s thumbs slid under the waistband of her underwear Joker made a noise, somewhere between a moan, a grunt, and a less than manly yelp, with a bit of “oh please” and “stop” blundering out.

He really couldn’t take anymore.

“Shit, shit, shit,” he moaned. Steam was quickly fogging his view and the black material was sliding down those legs and the hips were wiggling oh-so-seductively again. He choked. The material lay lifeless on the ground. He stared at it, afraid to move his gaze to the flesh concealed underneath.

Her fingers slid up to the band of her sports bra.

“Stop!” He shrieked, throwing his hands over the screen. EDI paused the feed. “Enough! It’s…enough. I think…”

“If you are uncertain of the Commander’s condition and would like to consult with another party I can forward a copy to your omni-tool for further review.”

He blanched. No, he hadn’t heard that right. “Huh?”

“The stability of Commander Shepard is crucial to the success of this project. Keeping her personality intact was and remains the main objective and if you require additional access of this data feed to determine her emotional state then I can forward the information to your omni-tool for further analysis.”

“Yes.” The word vomited out of his mouth and he was aware of just how desperate it sounded. Let’s try that again… “I mean…fuck yes.” Dammit.

“Should I keep monitoring Shepard for future studies? I feel getting acquainted with the subtle nuances of her personality would assist me in adequately predicting an adverse change in behavior, should it ever arise.”

Joker’s omni-tool flashed with an incoming transmission. He had already been planning a cold shower but now…
“Sure? Yes. Do…do that,” the words tripped out. He scrambled out of his chair and down the bridge, calling out over his shoulder, “discreetly, EDI!”

Re: A Clean Slate (7/7)


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