|Vanilla and Warmth
Author: BloodyMassive PM
That scene when Shep woke up on the couch in Purgatory needed a little bit more to it. For a mass kink prompt.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Romance - Aria T'Loak & Shepard (F) - Words: 2,656 - Reviews: 12 - Favs: 29 - Follows: 33 - Published: 03-24-12 - id: 7952959
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Shepard would be the first to admit she was starting to have a drinking problem. So what? It was the only way she could really unwind these days. Earth was in ruins, she'd lost Mordin, Thane, Legion... Tali... the list of her mistakes went on for miles. Before the invasion started she could put them aside because she felt like she was actually working towards stopping the Reapers, but with the growing mortality rate of those she held close the stress began to weigh heavy on her mind.
She had no one to turn to at this point, after all she was too busy saving the galaxy to pursue romantic entanglements, and it wouldn't be very professional to break down in front of her team. It was far too important to keep her mind together; people were counting on her now more than ever.
So she drank when she had the time. It made it easier to run away from the misery of loss, the horrible dreams of people she couldn't save, and that burning child haunting her sleep. She hadn't had nightmares like this since her recovery time after Akuze.
There was no time to mourn now because this was not the time to let weakness bring her to her knees, she just hoped that her resolve could hold up against the growing ache in her chest. It wasn't healthy to hold it all in, she knew, but there would be time to let go later. Probably, or she would be dead. Whichever came first, it did not really matter to her.
She sidled up to the bar and motioned for the bartender to bring her a drink. Downed it like a pro. Then another. And another.
It didn't take long for a warm numbness to lull her head. Almost absentmindedly she started swaying with the music. She wandered over to the dance floor and let loose, the beat thrumming through her like a pulse. There was a pretty asari dancer making eyes at her and she joined her.
Flying high from the dancing and the booze she stumbled away when she tired of her asari partner. For a short time she leaned against the wall and just let her brain buzz peacefully, but then a big smirk pulled across her lips. Now would be a splendid idea to catch up with Aria. The stairs were somewhat hard to navigate, but she's Commander fucking Shepard and to hell if she was going to let stairs stop her.
When she made it to the platform she almost fell on her ass, causing her to laugh raucously. Somehow Aria hadn't noticed her yet, maybe because she was too busy staring intently at a datapad? Or maybe she thought Shepard was just another bumbling bar patron. Either way she wasn't paying attention. Perfect. Before she could confront Aria a man stepped up to stand in her way, he held a hand up to block her.
"Do you know who I am?" She didn't even slur, she was sure.
The man looked somewhat affronted and disgruntled, his face scrunching up, but then Aria called him off, "Let her through Sheerk."
She grinned as the man gave her a dark look before stepping away. Shepard walked past him with a swagger full of smug superiority. Or she would have if she wasn't completely drunk off her ass. Instead she managed to stumble away from him and crash into the couch right next to Aria. Her arms shot out for balance and she attempted to play it off like she did it on purpose.
The asari's eyes fell to slits, mouth turning down in a frown, "You're drunk."
Shepard lifted her head up from its limp placement on the cushions to give her a stupid smile, "Maybe a little. Miss me?"
Aria snorted and shook her head, her eyes falling back to her datapad in a clear brush off. That wouldn't do.
"I bet you're playing solitaire right now. Yep, you like to act all intense and mysterious and like you're doing important under the table business when you're being observed, but you're really just bored and trying to keep yourself entertained."
Aria slowly lifted her head to meet her eyes in a critical look. Shepard couldn't hold her serious gaze for long and burst into little giggles. Her body shook with the laughter until she fell forward. Her head crashed into the cushion near Aria's lap causing short messy hair to ghost over the other woman's thigh.
"I'm not your babysitter Shepard, go bother someone else." Aria said in a clipped tone, though there was a hint of amusement underneath.
She flipped over to stare up at the asari and pouted, "Why?"
Aria muttered something under her breath like 'I'm too old for this shit,' and rubbed at her temple. In one smooth motion she put the datapad down at her side then turned to lean over Shepard, who gave her a triumphant smile.
"Alright Shepard, you've got my attention, what do you want?" She sighed.
In a clumsy wooden motion Shepard shifted on the couch and placed her head into Aria's lap causing the asari to become ridged. It seemed like a good idea at the time but now that she had done it she was expecting the worst. The odds figured that the best case scenario would be Aria upending Shepard off her lap and onto the ground.
Shepard looked up at her and found Aria watching her contemplatively, like a cat might watch a mouse that had done something interesting. Had she been sober she might have dreaded what showing her insecurities to this woman would mean, but right now she didn't give a damn.
"Can you just... let me..." She trailed off then buried her head against the other woman's stomach.
The asari 'hmph'd' in agitation and they stayed like that for a few long tense moments. The tension broken and Shepard flinched when she felt a hand on her head. Again, nothing terrible happened. Her body fell lax at the sensation of Aria stroking slim fingers through her hair. It soothed her nerves and her eyes closed against her will like a pet reveling in its master's affection.
Aria was comfortably warm and she smelled good. Like real vanilla, not like that fake perfume crap that they tried to sell all over the Presidium. Shepard sighed softly, her body falling into a relaxed state. Her breathing slowly evened out and became deep, sleep embracing her with welcoming arms.
Sometime later she woke up, a raging headache beating at the inside of her head like a child throwing a tantrum. She jerked up, not knowing where she was, all she knew was she had slept deeply with no dreams or nightmares. It was almost worth the stiff neck and raging hang over.
Shepard looked around quickly and was surprised to find Aria T'loak watching her, the look on her face unreadable. The asari broke the eye contact with a slow blink and then looked away. Memories of her drunken antics started coming back slowly causing Shepard to run a hand over her face, her cheeks flushed in embarrassment.
She made a hasty exit out of Purgatory without a second glance back.
On the elevator ride up to Embassy she received a message on her omni tool.
'Come see me in my apartment later. It's 32c.'
It wasn't difficult to guess who sent it.
She delayed the Normandy's scheduled take off for another night. When her crew asked what was up she said they deserved extra shore leave, after all, they needed to be at their best. James had given her a look like he knew what was going on. Had he been in the bar during her drunken antics? He certainly had been hitting up Purgatory at regular intervals recently.
Shepard took a sip from her cup and frowned in disgust. She shoved the cup away from herself hastily and wondered if the asari barista even knew how to make a damn cup of coffee, and how they got a job mixing drinks to begin with.
Nervous anticipation racked up her nerves. For the fifth time she stared down at her omni-tool messages. She didn't know if she should take Aria up on her invitation or run back to the Normandy and curl up in her bed for the night.
The woman was dangerous and not to be trusted, but she would be lying if she said she wasn't attracted to the cool tempered asari. That hint of danger at reveling how vulnerable she really is felt seductive and heady. Normally she knew better than this, but there was a small part of her wanted that wanted to gain the other woman's attentions.
Obviously she had it now, all she had to do was get smashed and make a fool out of herself.
Her mouth went dry as hazy memories from the night before teased at her. The most vivid thing she could remember was the scent of vanilla. She caught herself reaching for the cup to whet the inside of her mouth then cringed as she remembered the taste.
"You want my drink instead?" Liara asked as she took a seat across from her at the table.
"I don't know. What are you drinking?" It was easy to slip out of her troubled thoughts and back into the role of Commander. Nonchalantly Shepard tossed her cup into a nearby trash bin, the beverage sloshing about as it hit the inside of the can.
"Tea," Liara replied concisely and offered her cup to Shepard.
Hesitantly Shepard took the beverage, not trusting anything that had come from the asari barista that worked at the establishment that undeservedly boasted the name 'Coffee House'. Reluctantly she brought the cup to her lips and took a sip. The drink was warm and had a hint of a bitter aftertaste to it, but it wasn't terrible. If anything the dark flavor complimented the light lavender hints.
She put the cup down and gave Liara a warm smile, "Thank you."
The other woman returned her smile and reached out to lay her hand on Shepard's, "It's just good to see you smile. You've looked like hell since we left Rannoch. What happened to the Quarians was terrible, but you can't blame yourself for what happened to them, or what happened to Tali. I know I'm often busy, but if you need someone to talk to Shepard, I am here for you."
The words struck home.
"I appreciate the sentiment but I'm fine. I'm Commander Shepard after all, I can handle anything."
She slowly pulled her hand out from under Liara's and shifted to sit back in her chair, hey feet pushing back so the chair sat on the back two legs. The smile faded from the asari's lips and Shepard had to fight back the feeling that she had hurt her friend's feelings.
"Don't do that." Liara said with an edge of ice to her voice.
"Do what?" Shepard asked and looked out towards the vista.
"Put on your Commander mask."
She resisted responding to that statement. When it became obvious that she had nothing to add Liara pushed her chair back and rose from her seat. Shepard's head turned to take in the other woman's stiff angry posture.
"Fine. You don't have to talk to me, Shepard, but if you can't open up to someone you know cares deeply for you I suggest you find someone else to open up to. Anyone. Before you break."
Liara turned her back to Shepard and stormed off. Shepard let the front legs of the chair fall back to the ground and stood to go after her, but when push came to shove her voice died in her throat and her legs wouldn't move. She slumped back in the chair and stared blankly at the table in front of her. The cup of tea she'd been given had been knocked over in her hast to stop Liara, the liquid spilling over the edges of the table to pool on the ground.
The sight made her want to cry. She laughed harshly instead, because of all the things that could have brought her to tears, and there was just so many these days, a cup of tea spilling came the closest to doing her in.
She pushed away from the table violently and startled the other customers. The action garnered a warning glance from an on duty c-sec officer nearby.
The walk to Aria's apartment took less time than she thought it would. Her legs carried her numbly to the front door of 32c. Before she could think she knocked.
Her heart was in her throat when the door opened, her body stiffened when she found herself coming face to face with Aria T'Loak again. She had known this was the asari's private apartment but she still had been expecting body guards to open the door. Almost instinctively Shepard looked behind her and noticed a turian and batarian lurking about at a distance but they were keeping an eye on her.
Aria made an impatient noise and her head shot back.
"Are you just going to stand there?"
Shepard frowned and took a step forward through the doorway into the room. Aria closed the door firmly behind her, "Just wasn't expecting you to be the one opening the door, don't you have underlings for menial tasks like that?"
The other woman gave her a clearly unimpressed look and didn't respond to the quip. She coolly crossed her arms and leaned against the wall near the door as though she was waiting. Shepard swallowed, her mind grasping for something to say but she kept drawing a blank.
The asari finally got fed up and stepped away from the wall to take an aggressive step toward her, "Why are you here Shepard?"
"I don't know." She responded without hesitation.
"Then get out and stop wasting both our time." Aria demanded, one hand fluidly gesturing to the door of the apartment.
Shepard stared at her with watery eyes.
"Please." She rasped, voice suddenly husky.
Aria's patience seemed to be fading rapidly as a look of displeasure began marring her fine features, yet her blue eyes held a predatory gleam that was unmistakable. The hungry gaze tore at Shepard's gut and made her want things she shouldn't.
Shepard obeyed like an obedient pet. The asari took her jaw between soft fingers, "Tell me why you're here."
"I," She struggled to find the words, "I need release."
Aria hummed lightly and ran a thumb over her lower lip, the touch near tender, "Explain. Tell me everything."
Shepard closed her eyes and felt a rush of emotion beating at her, pure and raw, entirely undefined because she had been refusing to acknowledge it for so long.
Words started uncontrollably pouring out of her mouth. She talked about her nightmares, how every death seemed to weigh so terribly heavy on her that it made it impossible to sleep restfully anymore. She recounted every loss, told Aria about how brave Mordin had been, how in Thane's final moments he prayed for her, how Legion sacrificed itself for its people, and then she recounted watching Tali fall away. Her hand a been just a moment too late to save her, she just hadn't been quick enough.
Even now, she couldn't cry, it was too hard to let go.