So this is my first fanfic (insert yay/boo here). You can thank/blame Ygrain for ultimately giving me encouragement to do one of these myself. These (my) fanfics (assuming I post more than one) all take place in the universe of my first (Ben) Shepard but do not necessarily include him. I.e. they are somewhat related to each other.

"Congratulations on your new appointment Ma'am"

Kal'Reegar was standing a few metres away from the officer he was saluting. She returned the salute before allowing Kal to lead her away from the meeting room of the admiralty board.

"Admiral Tali'Zorah vas Normandy. That's got to be something quite special, Ma'am"

"Kal, how many times do I have to tell you to just call me Tali?" The officer replied, a hint of irritation was buried in her voice. Beneath his helmet a small smile slid across Kal's face, Tali and he had had this verbal skirmish about the formalities of how he addressed her before, he decided he would stand his ground on it for the moment, let it have more emphasis when it slid.

"It wouldn't do for you to be seen talking too casually with those under your command now, Ma'am. It could undermine your authority when you need it the most"

"Really now, Reegar. I hoped that my appointment wouldn't make talking to people this much more awkward."

"Tali... You've changed a lot, you know that." Kal's flat statement had the anticipated effect on Tali's body language.

"What are you talking about Reegar?" A mixture of disbelief and incomprehension filled Tali's voice this time.

"Something about how you act is very different from how you were before and on Haestrom. Did anything happen to you?" Tali paused, trying to estimate how much of what she was feeling inside right now was obvious, and how much of everything else she should confide in Kal. What was the best excuse for her change in outlook?

"I... I miss him..." She finally said with a long sigh.

"I expect you assumed that I would take that to mean your father, right?" "You saw through that?" Tali was disappointed at her failure at a cover up. "We all saw you at the trail after you retook the Alerai, you were sad then yes but nothing near as sad as you seem now. No. that wasn't your father... Was it your old captain?" Tali's reply to that was a half sobbed nod.

"I... just don't know if anything has happened to him. The damn fleet gets hardly any news from council space, let alone anything about what's happening on earth. But the reapers are still out there, and they will be looking for him. Then to top it all off, the other admirals want to go get us killed by the geth anyway! It feels like everyone is trying to make things wrong and I'm stuck here trying to put them right, but he is the only one who really can." Kal had been expecting to get something out of his question, maybe even confirm his suspicions that Tali had an emotional attachment to her old captain, but he had never anticipated the newly promoted admiral to have a small breakdown in response to him.

"Tali, if no one ever tries to make things right again then they never get better at all. Keep playing the admirals for time, and he will be back in time."

"How can you be so sure?"

"Because he is Captain Shepard and he wouldn't leave you, his favourite machinist out here alone."

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