|Resta Con Me
Author: Moranth PM
"Stay With Me" Nothing for Russell Shepard has ever been easy, and his lovelife is no exception. He's unsure of how to proceed when he realizes he has feeling sfor someone in his team, leading to misunderstanding. The 3rd part of the Just A Man Series.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Humor - Shepard (M) & Thane K. - Chapters: 8 - Words: 22,367 - Reviews: 28 - Favs: 29 - Follows: 49 - Updated: 09-14-12 - Published: 10-23-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7489063
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Russell was no stranger to blacking out in one place and waking up elsewhere, but typically he was lucky enough to know what had been the cause.
The last thing he could readily recall was staring up at the ceiling of the cargo hold, the same way he was staring up at the ceiling of his quarters now. Or at least, that's where he assumed he was.
Most places on the ship above the third level looked the same if you didn't have a view of the furniture or floor plan. It was too quiet to be the Medbay; he didn't hear the sound of monitors or respirators and the good doctor herself was nowhere in sight. If Chakwas was around, she would have started poking and prodding him by now.
But what had happened after he went down into the hold was the million credit question. All the evidence pointed to booze being the culprit, but his reserve of anything harder than a beer had run out weeks ago. Kasumi, purveyor of intoxicants had been off the ship for at least a day and had probably taken a good portion of the booze with her, not that he'd checked. Of course, there was also the part where he'd sworn off liquor, but that was beside the point. He'd gone down into the hold trying to hide from his problems. It wouldn't have surprised him if he'd broken his oath and tried to crawl into a bottle of whiskey or bourbon or whatever he could find.
He sat up slowly, surprised that his head was being so cooperative. He squinted around his surroundings, but something was different. The aquarium's light had been turned off, not that there was much to see besides empty water. The only illumination, as scarce as it was, came from the clock on the bed stand. Something in the darkness in front of him shifted and was caught in the faint orange light.
Perched on the end of his bed, was one drell assassin. Russell could just make out that he wasn't wearing his usual get up, but something looser, more suited to something like exercise. But why would he…
The information raced back to Russell in a deluge, rather than the slow trickle it had been since he'd opened his eyes.
Thane had talked him into sparring, and in the end, things had gotten heated. One moment, Thane was charging him, eyes filled with bloodlust, the next, it was just plain lust. Russell recalled losing the feeling in his tongue, just after he'd felt Thane's, but that was it. Everything after that was a blur, but the important parts were becoming clearer.
Thane had confessed his mutual attraction as well as a familiar fear of rejection. If thane hadn't taken the proverbial bullet on this affair, they might have missed out on the pleasure of each other's company, no matter how brief it had been. But if Russell remembered correctly, it was also plenty pleasurable.
"You're finally awake," Thane said in a low voice, thick with fatigue. The light reflected in his eyes as he opened them, and Russell watched it move. He wondered, briefly, how good a drell's night vision was.
"How long was I out?" It was a little eerie hearing Thane, but not being able to see him. He was close enough to touch, but it was almost like they were communicating over the combat radio.
"About six hours." Thane shifted again and Russell heard his feet make contact with the floor. The lights in the room came on and brightened the room just enough so Russell didn't have to squint. Thane stretched his arms as he walked back towards the bed almost silently, coming to a stop in front of the Spectre.
"Here, let me have a look at you." Tucking his fingers underneath Russell's chin, Thane leaned in close and turned his head to the left and then to the right.
"How bad was it?" Russell asked as the drell pried his eyes wide, checking his pupils. Russell could count on one hand the number of times Thane had been closer than the breadth of the table in life support would allow and the human found himself understandably distracted.
In all the hours they'd sat and chatted, Russell hadn't been able to discern the color of Thane's eyes. It was immediately apparent from the darkened sclera that they weren't human, but other than being attentive and capable of holding Russell's gaze as he spoke, he couldn't describe them. Now he could.
They were an odd mottled green, parts of dark almost matching the darkness around them, while others were so bright they seemed to vibrate. Altogether they unlike anything he'd seen in the human spectrum, even with the range of cosmetic augmentations available.
"According to Doctor Chakwas," Thane said pulling away. "Your reaction was relatively mild."
Russell laughed dryly, finding the air overwarm and hard to inhale. "She has a funny idea of what 'mild' means."
"It could have been much worse. You aren't breaking out in a rash. You're no longer delirious."
"No, I was just passed out for a quarter of the day."
"Yes, well." Thane started fidgeting on the spot. Russell raised a brow. He'd never seen him openly nervous, except for when they'd tried to save Kolyat. "It was the poison that knocked you out, but it wasn't what kept you there.
"Mordin… assumed this might happen and left us something of a safety net."
Russell shouldn't have been so shocked. Nearly every time he was down in the lab, the wizened professor tried to pin him down to launch into a lecture on interspecies relations. Russell always declined, sometimes politely, sometimes not, opting to do his research on his own instead. He sort of wished he'd taken the time to listen now, but the idea of having that sort of conversation with Mordin made him infinitely uncomfortable. He knew the salarian was looking at it from a purely clinical perspective, but that hadn't made it any easier to take. Still, he should have listened. Now he owed the old salarian a debt of gratitude.
"By the time Chakwas made it to the cargo bay, the toxin had taken hold." Thane paused, rolling his neck and shoulders. "You claimed to have a winning strategy for dealing with the Reapers, the Council, and quite a few human names I'm unfamiliar with." Thane rattled off the names of Russell's former compatriots in the Reds and a kid who picked on him at the orphanage.
Russell blew a frustrated breath through his nose, as he wiped a hand down his face, as if that would save him from this embarrassment. At least it couldn't get worse.
"You sounded very convincing," Thane went on, "until you demanded I remove my pants."
It could get worse.
"You've got to be shitting me."
Thane made no effort to mask his amusement. "Your exact words 'Take off your damn pants, already.'" Russell covered his face with his hands and threw himself back on the bed. Thane chuckled but quickly tried to cover it with a cough.
"You got grabby after that." Russell interrupted with a loud groan. "And Chakwas thought it was a good idea to sedate you until Mordin's treatment took effect. The sedative was mild, but there were complications." There went that word again, "mild." He might have to request that Thane or Chakwas remove it from their vocabulary. "Mordin's drug intensified the sedative, turning one hour of sleep into six."
"Christ," Russell muttered. No wonder he felt disoriented; he'd just emerged from a mini-coma.
"Chakwas monitored you in the Medbay for the first few hours. Once it was clear you were out of danger and we just had to wait until the sedative worked its way out of your system, I asked her if I might make you more comfortable."
"You brought me up here by yourself?" Russell's extensive research told him that drell had denser muscles than humans, but he still found it difficult to digest. Thane was almost a head shorter than him. It couldn't have been easy.
"You aren't light by any stretch, but I managed."
Was… was Thane poking fun at him?
"And you stayed here, with me, this whole time?"
"Yes…" Thane used the tone he reserved for when Russell was being particularly dense. "The doctor was roused from bed, so I was also doing her a service."
"Come on then." Russell grabbed Thane's forearm and pulled, but the drell didn't budge. The idea that he'd carried him up here was becoming easier to believe by the second.
"Siha, what are you—"
"Have you had a chance to rest yet?"
"My body requires little sleep," Thane said quickly, realization dawning on him. "And I've spent my time in my meditations so—"
"So that's a 'no,' then," Russell cut across. The corners of Thane's mouth dipped down ever so slightly in annoyance. He hated being interrupted, especially when it was with something that would prove him wrong. He'd never said as much with words, but Russell knew.
"Get your ass up here, Krios. That's an order."
"I listen to your orders at my leisure," Thane grumbled, even as he climbed into bed.
He kept a modest distance between them, his arms folded over his chest, hands tucked into the crook of his elbow. Flat on his back, he stared up at the ceiling before closing his eyes. With that kind of posture, one might think he didn't want to be there.
Russell turned on his side and closed most of the gap. He brushed his fingertips against the bare shoulder closest to him, tracing one of the darker lines.
"Thanks," Russell mumbled, the word barely recognizable when he was done with it. "For hauling me up here, for watching me."
Thane glanced at him from the corner of his eyes, closed them, and sighed. "It was nothing."
"How long does this drug last?"
"Ten hours. It works better if you have a dose before… any activity."
"Did Mordin leave us anything else in that safety net?" Russell said, eager to change the mood. He didn't think having to lay down was that much of a concession.
When you didn't have a sex life of your own, it freed you up to ponder the relations of others, and if Mordin had spent the time to concoct a treatment for something that might not have happened, he might have had more up his sleeve.
Suddenly, a strange, low sound filled Russell's ears and he perked up, looking around the cabin. It was as if something electronic was vibrating at a low frequency, almost lazily, nearby.
Several seconds later, Russell figured out the sound was coming from beside him.
"He left some… items." The ribbing of Thane's throat darkened in patches, mostly along his jaw. "I placed them in the nightstand."
"Thane," Russell slid closer until he was nearly pressed against the assassin's side. "Are you embarrassed?" He couldn't imagine what Mordin could have assembled that would make Thane so uncomfortable. He was tempted to have a look at the contents of the drawer, but the urge to remain where he was, was far stronger. But perhaps it was more than that.
"There were quite a few things that I'm not… exactly familiar with, but I'm not ashamed of that." He turned to his side, fixing Russell with a somber gaze. He looked like someone had kicked his pet varren.
"I was very afraid for you today." He wouldn't meet Russell's gaze, instead focusing on the narrow strip of sheet between them. "I acted rashly. I didn't prepare thoroughly enough and my impulsiveness almost came at a price that was too high to pay. If something had happened…"
"But it didn't." Russell cupped Thane's cheek and forced him to look at him. "It'll take more than a kiss to put me down for the count."
"I'm being serious, siha."
"So am I. You can't just be so overly cautious for every little thing." Russell was fully aware of the irony of such a statement coming from him. "Even if we didn't have Mordin's remedy, it wasn't like it was something that's fatal." Right…?
"If you'd waited, we might have missed out on this." The slightest touch of his mouth on Thane's and the drell's breath hitched. Pressing harder pulled an indistinct rumble, different from the sound before, less anxious.
Russell's fingers drifted down Thane's face. He touched the grazed the folds of his neck, Thane seized his hand.
"If we are to continue, I would ask that we do so cautiously. I don't want a repeat of the last time."
"Of course," Russell tossed him a lopsided grin. "We'll go at your pace." Thane's number one concern was Russell's wellbeing, there was no doubt of that, and Russell had similar concerns. Thane was his first drell, and Russell was probably a double first for him being his first human and perhaps his first male. Russell's plan, not that he'd spent much time on it, was to go slow.
"You decide just how carefully we go."
Russell's words must have been enough to appease Thane, because the next moment he was on the offensive, kissing, sucking, biting. He was downright aggressive, not that Russell minded.
Rough hands slipped beneath Russell's shirt and across the small of his back. The feel of them reminded his of his early training days when his own hands were always thick with callouses. As Thane moved up, a tender touch passing over ribs, and shoulders, he brought Russell's shirt with him revealing more and more brown flesh.
Russell felt the heat of Thane's gaze as it moved over his bare skin, absorbing him, committing him to memory. The idea was flattering on the surface, but Russell squirmed self-consciously as it was put in practice. Would his body hair, as sparse as it was, freak Thane out? What about his nipples? Their very existence confused Russell at times, how would Thane take it? And what about the smell? He'd worked up a sweat down in the hold, and he was sure to he reeked by now.
So wrapped up in his own worries, the human didn't notice Thane had moved until he felt his breath on his bare torso.
The closeness involved in sparring was leagues apart from the intimacy he'd felt in this moment. There were no goals, no aggression, no concentration, just two hearts trying desperately to feel each other out.
Russell pulled back and tugged the drell's shirt off over his head. He shouldn't be the only one feeling awkward and exposed.
Thane was completely devoid of mammalian nuances, as expected, but it was still a jarring sight. His chest and abdomen were very humanlike, save for what they lacked, were smooth green planes save for the occasional freckling of darker scales. They felt smooth, almost as if they'd been polished, under his palm.
Thane's eyes were on him again, watching Russell intently for some sign of disapproval or disgust, an utterly ridiculous concern. What he got instead was a pair of strong hands on his hips, rolling him onto his back, and a hot mouth against his throat.
Thane's fingers stroked the back of Russell's neck, quietly urging him closer. That rumbling purr that had persisted throughout intensified. Russell grinned. Clearly, he was doing something right.
"Commander." Russell didn't have to turn to see her avatar to know that it brightened up the little corner by the door. Her flat intonations had become as familiar to him as his own voice.
There was something about EDI's timing, always conveniently bearing the worst messages at the worst times that made Russell think she harbored a grudge. Perhaps it was payback for Russell's attitude about having an artificial intelligence on the ship when they first met that she was exacting at her leisure. He couldn't remember the results of any intellectual debates on whether or not AIs were capable of hatred.
Painfully, Russell pried himself from Thane to call out over his shoulder. "A little busy, EDI."
"Understood. However, Operative Lawson is on her way to the loft. She claims she will only knock once before entering."
Russell scowled as he considered his options; he could intercept Miranda before she got off the elevator, hoping she wouldn't need too much of his time and send her back down without incident or he could do nothing. He could stay as he was and treat her to an unrivaled eyeful, the news of which would sweep the remaining members of the ship like wildfire. But he didn't care about that. Right now, he just really didn't want to move.
"Personally," Thane said, interrupting Russell's dark musing. "I'd rather reserve my nudity for an audience of one."
Russell looked back at him, into those misty greens.
"How did you—"
"Call it a hunch." He leaned up and kissed
With a sigh, Russell stood, snatching his shirt from the floor. As he headed for the door, the bed creaked behind him, telling him Thane was doing the same. What Miranda wanted had better be damn well worth it. After a few adjustments, he intercepted Miranda at the door.
"What can I do for you?"
"You're needed on the bridge in twenty." Miranda looked as pressed and fresh as ever, even though there was probably next to no one to put on for. Her presence brought back the reality of Russell's situation back to him with startling clarity.
He'd given the crewmembers leave to defect and he hadn't taken a tally of just who he had left. That was something he needed to get done as soon as possible.
"You could have had, EDI relay that," Russell said over crossed arms, trying not to sound too bitter about having his responsibilities tossed back in his face.
"Oh, I could have," she grinned coyly. "But I heard about your little exploit last night and I wanted to see how you were doing." She cast her gaze over him. "From the looks of things, you're fine."
She turned on her heel. "We depart in twenty. Make sure you're there," and before Russell could respond, she was gone. He didn't know why he was needed. They'd managed takeoff hundreds of times without him, what was so different now?
There was no one to answer his questions but Thane, and he doubted the assassin knew more than he did. He went back into the room to find the assassin had redressed, such as it was, and was pulling on his shoes.
Sixteen minutes later, Russell stepped off the elevator into a fully populated C.I.C. Every station was manned by a familiar face, though he didn't know them all by name. No one acknowledged him with more than a casual glance, as if nothing out of the ordinary had transpired over the last week and a half.
Russell bit down on his lips, to keep the emotions threatening to overtake him at bay. A weeping C.O. wouldn't be proper, not when all of these men and women were here at heavy personal risk.
Joker's voice filtered in over the ship wide speakers. "What's our heading, Commander?" And then all eyes were on Russell.
He coughed to clear the emotion from his throat. "Take us to Earth."