Author: Minquette PM
Insomnia was the stimulus for a relationship that both Shepard and James knew was already doomed by the ticking clock of galactic annihilation. FShep/Vega, past FShep/Kaidan.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Shepard (F) & James V. - Chapters: 9 - Words: 25,844 - Reviews: 131 - Favs: 103 - Follows: 119 - Updated: 04-30-12 - Published: 03-29-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7968921
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
James grimaced as he craned his neck to watch Chakwas inject some sort of antibiotic cocktail into his cleaned wound.
"This does not hurt, Lieutenant." Chakwas put the needle aside and started to set up the instrument that would do the fine internal suturing for the front of James' stab wound, the exit wound already fixed up. "You've got too much anaesthetic from the last set of sutures for you to feel anything."
"I can imagine it hurts if I want to." James tried not to pout.
"You can sit through multiple tattoos yet you cannot sit through an injection — which you can't even feel — without squirming like a child." The look she gave him was exactly the same one his abuela used to give him when she found him tracking muddy shoeprints into the house.
James mumbled something about not being a child and let his head drop back against the operating table. He stared up at the ceiling as the machine sewed the muscle back together where the sword had gone through it. The medi-gel had done its job to keep him from bleeding out but it couldn't magically heal such a serious wound. He was lucky the sword (who the fuck used a sword these days anyway?) didn't hit anything major but the nerve and muscle damage were apparently extensive.
Getting patched up always felt weird. He knew what was going on should hurt but he couldn't feel anything. The machine going about its business just felt like someone prodding him with their finger. It was such an odd sensation that he felt the urge to check what was going on — except he'd learnt long ago that while he didn't mind seeing someone else's insides, he didn't like seeing his own.
"Muscle sutures are done," said Chakwas as she monitored the machine's progress. "We'll have to do another set of sutures between the muscle and the skin before we can fully close it."
"If I'm going to be here a while, can I have some of that expensive brandy I saw you sharing with the Commander?" James grinned at her and she gave him a deadpan look in return.
James sighed and let her get on with her work in silence. He wanted to chatter on about nothing in particular, except that his chattering was usually smattered with all sorts of swearing and inappropriate observations. Chakwas kind of reminded him of his abuela, though, and he had never sworn in front of his abuela. In fact, he was sure she was convinced James didn't swear, drink, have sex, gamble or smoke all the way up until the day she died.
It was probably a good thing she didn't live to see the Reapers invade. He had faith his uncle had joined the resistance, he even had faith his alcoholic father had managed to weasel his way into some refugee camp, but he couldn't believe she'd live through this. The supplies were too short to help the elderly, the mental shock too great for someone so set in her ways. She'd had a hard enough time coming to terms with the fact that there were sentient beings apart from humans who had already been colonising the galaxy for centuries. No, she was better off dead. Hell, maybe she had the best deal out of his entire family.
The machine dropped the needle it was working with into a little water-filled bowl, a tiny tendril of blood dispersing in the liquid. The machine retracted its arm, folding away neatly out of the way again so Chakwas could inspect the stitches before wrapping everything up.
"You'll have a scar but nothing hideous," she said as she applied the waterproof dressing.
"Damn. Here I was thinking it'd get me some hot krogan ladies. Eve told me they like scars."
"Commander Shepard did mention that you received a breeding request while on Tuchanka." A smile tugged at Chakwas' usually serious lips.
"Deal breaker." James shook his head and sighed as if there was nothing he regretted more than turning down sex with a krogan. "Don't want kids right now."
Chakwas levelled a raised eyebrow at him. "Keep putting yourself in the line of fire, Lieutenant, and maybe someone will stab a testicle instead and children will no longer be an option at all."
James looked horrified, not so much at the thought that someone could manage to get through all the protection he put around his junk, but that she'd said the word "testicle". He didn't want to hear her say that again. Or any other word pertaining to sexual organs.
"Please don't say testicle. It's like my abuela saying testicle."
"I'm sure your grandmother had sex at some point and knows what a testicle is."
"Lies!" James glared at her and covered his ears, humming an inane song while Chakwas shook her head and chuckled.
Chakwas looked away and said something. James dropped his hands and realised that while humming Shepard had come in. She had a look on bemusement on her face and he just smiled at her like he hadn't looked like an idiot.
"James." James' eyebrows shot up at her use of his name. She always greeted him by his rank, regardless of whether she was coming around for a social call or for business. "Doctor Chakwas tells me you're out of commission for a while."
"Two weeks." James grimaced. "The war will be over by then."
"You'll have to injure someone else in the meantime, Shepard," said Chakwas before making her excuses and leaving.
Shepard smiled after the doctor but it was tinged with a bit of… sadness? Regret? James didn't know all the nuances of her expressions yet. He did know that even though Shepard acknowledged that they were all soldiers and soldiers got injured, she hated that her crew didn't always walk away with just minor bruises and scratches. Hell, sometimes they didn't walk away at all, but she didn't like to talk about that.
"We need to talk," said Shepard, snapping him out of his thoughts.
Worst four words in the entire English language.
"Okay," he said, drawing out the word in trepidation.
"I chose you over the data today," said Shepard, holding his gaze. It made his mildly uncomfortable to be under such heavy observation. "I told Liara I could retrieve data but I couldn't resurrect someone. It seemed like a rational, calculated decision but it wasn't my initial thought. We're in a war against impossible odds and I should have chosen the data."
Her words were halting, coming out in short bursts. It was that night weeks ago again, when she'd told him to give her time to sort her thoughts out. Just like then, she chose her words carefully, her appearance guarded and keeping a respectful distance from him. Although she'd just indirectly admitted to putting her feelings before a mission, he still couldn't be sure how this conversation was going to go. Getting stabbed and that final nail in the coffin of his hopes of starting something with Shepard? That would be just fucking great.
"But that's not my biggest issue," said Shepard, sighing, and she rubbed her hand across her face. She seemed nervous, which was a ridiculous thought as Shepard never looked nervous. "This is war and people die. I've seen what the person who gets left behind has to go through and I don't want to do that to someone again."
That was her problem? Hah!
"If that's your biggest worry, Lola, then it's already too late. I'd go loco if you died." He reached out for her and she looked down at his hand, hesitating before putting her hand in his. He smiled, relieved she accepted the small show of intimacy. "You don't just push me to be better, Shepard; you make me want to be better. A better soldier, a better member of this team… a better person. What I can't figure out is why you bother with me. Apart from my hot body, that is."
Shepard snorted, rolling her eyes and shaking her head. She stepped forward and he thought she might bend down and kiss him. That'd be awesome. But she didn't. She perched herself on the edge of his bed, putting herself at eyelevel with him.
"You helped me keep my sanity after I was grounded. You still help me keep my sanity." Her smile this time was melancholy. "Everyone here has lost someone. Every word, every expression, every line of their body is tinged with sorrow. You refuse to succumb to that though. You have this unshakable faith that things will turn out for the best. I can go to anyone here and ask for a reality check, but you're the one I go to when even I start to lose hope."
Wow. That… wow. He really had convinced himself that her attraction to him was merely physical and she didn't want to jeopardise either their friendship or their working relationship, that's why she'd taken so damn long to get back to him. He knew he provided some distraction for her but in his wildest dreams he didn't think she'd put so much stock in whatever time they spent together.
"So… we should go for dinner on the Citadel."
Shepard's eyebrow quirked and humour came into her voice again. "Are you asking me on a date, Lieutenant?"
"Well, you once said that it's the usual thing to take someone on a date before trying to get into their pants," said James with a casual shrug. He realised just how flippant that sounded. He didn't want to seem like her words didn't mean anything to him. "But even if I don't get into your pants, I'm still going to take you out."
If James was a romantic, he would describe her smile as having the soothing warmth of a sun bursting out from behind oppressive clouds. Ah, who was he kidding? He was a massive romantic and even though he wouldn't exactly say such stupid, sappy things (he was a Man, after all), he was happy to think them.
"We'll just have to wait and see how well you do on that date," said Shepard.
A brief silence fell between them, where they sat there smiling at each other like idiots. James thought he was a damn lucky idiot, though, and that made him want to smile even more. Hell, he even wanted to tell her that he felt that way.
Shepard leaned in and silenced him with a kiss. This one was different. It didn't have the awkwardness of their first kiss during their sparring. It didn't have the angry heat of their second kiss in the elevator. Most importantly, it was Shepard initiating.
That flowery smell he remembered from their first kiss was stronger now that she wasn't covered by sweat or the grime from a mission. For the rest of his life, he'd remember this moment, where she tasted like peppermint and her shower-damp hair clung to his fingers and his chest felt tight and wanted to explode all the same time. People always said that your life flashed before your eyes before you died, but when he finally died he hoped that this moment was the one that he'd relive over and over again.
When she pulled away they were both breathing heavily and she had that look in her eyes that he remembered from their other kisses. Oh, yeah, she wanted him. He tried not to be a dick and flex his muscles.
Commotion from the other side of the window behind Shepard demanded his attention and he looked behind her. James burst out laughing, completely ruining the mood, and Shepard frowned at him. He gestured behind her. Through the window, Joker was standing up mimicking something vulgar with his hips and Cortez was next to Joker with both thumbs up and a massive grin on his face. A handful of the rest of the crew were around too but they were mostly either laughing at Joker or hollering things that couldn't be heard from within the medbay. That was probably a good thing.
"So… we really doing this, Lola?" he asked and Shepard turned back to him.
"Yeah, James." Shepard leaned in to plant a light kiss on his lips. She pulled away only enough that she wasn't a blurry blob. "We're doing this."
A/N: Sorry for the long break between updates. This was really difficult to write simply because I didn't know where to finish. Originally there were supposed to be eleven chapters but it had such a bittersweet ending and I prefer happy endings.
Thanks to everyone for their support and encouragement for my first foray into ME fic. My pre-ME3 James/Shepard fic is already in the works and coming soon to a webpage near you!