It's been a while since I uploaded a Mass Effect fic, even though I have been working on others, I promise! This one I started just a few days ago, and I'm really happy with how it turned out. It takes place three days after the defeat of Sovereign and deals with what I think is a really important scene we didn't (and probably won't) get to see. The title is a play on "the birds and the bees," because it is just that awkward.
A million thanks to my awesome beta HeavenlyMuse, who helped me fix this up super fast! :D
I hope everyone enjoys it! And as always, feedback and reviews are loved and what keep me writing. :)
"What do you think he wants?" Kaidan asked quietly.
He and Irien Shepard had been relaxing in her quarters on the Normandy when Joker notified them that an urgent message had just been sent to the ship. Apparently newly-chosen Council member Anderson needed to see them in the human embassy, and they needed to leave right away.
"Not sure," she replied, just as quietly. He was slightly relieved to know he wasn't just completely out of the loop. Shepard had no more ideas about what he wanted than Kaidan did, and she looked rather concerned. "It doesn't seem like anything major has happened. And if it did, wouldn't he have wanted to talk to all of us?"
He agreed, but that didn't stop him from being extremely nervous about whatever they were being called in for. It didn't help that they'd been met at the entrance of the embassies by two members of C-Sec, who were looking extremely serious and said they'd be escorting the pair while they were in the area. To protect us from people, or to protect people from us? he wondered, and it worried him that he didn't know the answer.
It had only been a few days since the defeat of Sovereign. Shepard was still limping slightly, though she'd confessed to him how she hated how weak it made her feel that she couldn't help but do so, and her forearm was still in a cast. His stomach tied up in knots every time he thought about the ceiling falling on her when a piece of Sovereign hit the tower, and he glanced at her now as she walked next to him. I could so easily have lost her, he thought. I don't know what I would've done.
C-Sec had stepped up its efforts considerably since the near-destruction of the Citadel – people were scared, and the general feeling among Citadel residents was panic. Far more brawls in the streets had occurred than usual, and there was concern in the Council and news networks that there could be full-scale riots. C-Sec seemed to have it under control, but this was at the cost of being everywhere and looking suspicious of everyone. Including them, apparently.
They arrived outside the door to the ambassador's office, where two more C-Sec officers were stationed, and one of them knocked as their escorts returned back to the first floor. "They're here."
They opened the door, expecting just Anderson, but Kaidan's nervousness increased when he saw three people instead of one – apparently Ambassador Udina and Admiral Hackett also wanted to talk to them. Concerned, Kaidan glanced at Irien out of the corner of his eye, but she was looking straight ahead. He could tell she was no longer Irien but Commander Shepard. She had faced down geth, monsters, and Reapers, and she wouldn't show weakness or fear to anyone.
The three were sitting behind a desk, and two chairs were in front of it – they were certainly prepared for this, whatever it was.
"Thanks for coming, Shepard, Alenko," Anderson said. Even he looked serious. "Have a seat." He motioned to the two chairs in front of the desk, and the two of them gingerly did so.
Why do I suddenly feel like I've been caught playing hooky and called into the principal's office? he wondered.
They all sat in silence for an extremely awkward minute or two. Kaidan tried not to fidget as his three superiors simply looked at them. Are they waiting for us to talk, or what? Shepard, of course, was unconcerned, and sat there patiently without making any sign she would speak, and he attempted to emulate her. At least we'll have a unified front of silence, he thought.
Finally, Udina couldn't stop himself from talking for a second longer. "Commander, I'm sure you know how much we appreciate everything you and your crew did to protect the rest of us from Sovereign," he said, somewhat grudgingly, "but what the hell were you thinking?!"
She narrowed her eyes at him. "I could probably explain whatever it is better if you actually told me what you're talking about, Udina."
He crossed his arms. "That's Ambassador Udina, Spectre," he practically spat the word. "Just because you work for the Council doesn't mean you don't need to show your superiors some respect."
"Superiors, absolutely. I wouldn't say that includes you though-"
"Enough," Hackett finally interrupted, and while the two backed down for the moment, they continued to shoot daggers at each other. The two had never gotten along well, and Udina's betrayal of the crew about the Ilos situation had only increased tensions. Kaidan couldn't blame her for disliking the man, and now that she was a Spectre and had saved pretty much everybody, she felt free to say what she really felt about him.
"Mind telling us why we're here, Admiral?" Irien asked, pointedly ignoring Udina.
"It's come to our attention that you two have taken certain... liberties with the regulations," Hackett replied. "Specifically, the ones regarding fraternization."
Oh, that was why they were here, he thought, feeling even worse than he had before. Suddenly, his visit to the principal's office had turned into a courtroom, where all the evidence their judge, jury, and executioners needed was the way the two of them tensed upon hearing the word "fraternization." He stopped himself from glancing at Shepard and proving his guilt even further.
She took a moment to respond – a moment that didn't go unnoticed by the commanders. "Again, if you could clarify-"
Anderson looked apologetic. "I think your little display after defeating Sovereign made it pretty clear that there's something going on between you two," he pointed out.
Kaidan immediately felt bad – it was his fault. Sovereign had hit the tower and Shepard had yelled at him to run, but when he'd woken up after being thrown clear, he'd expected to see her right behind him. Anderson had helped him out of the wreckage, and when she was nowhere in sight, he didn't know how to handle it. It was the most scared he'd ever been, thinking she was dead, so when she'd come stumbling up to them, he couldn't help but kiss her. The fact that Anderson was there hadn't mattered at the time – he was just so relieved to see her alive.
Unfortunately, it seemed to matter now.
"We'd just like to know exactly what it meant," Anderson finished.
Shepard blushed. She actually blushed. Has she ever blushed before? Is she as embarrassed as I am? That's not good at all, he thought. He'd thought this meeting couldn't get worse.
Udina nodded and grinned in victory. "Aha, see? She admits it!" She scowled in response.
"Anyway," Anderson continued, ignoring Udina's interruption, "we need you two to be open with us about this." He sighed. "There's a lot of pressure on humanity right now. On every species, really. But the fact that you headed up the team that saved the Citadel, Shepard, means you're going to be held to a higher standard than everyone else. If there's something that- might not be in accordance with regulations, then we need to know so we can figure out how to deal with it. So. Is there something we should know about?"
Kaidan wished, desperately, that they'd had some advance warning about the topic of this meeting. In the few days since defeating Sovereign, he and Shepard had been very close, and had barely left the Normandy, especially since she was still recovering from her injuries. But they hadn't talked about where their relationship was going, if it was going anywhere at all.
Maybe things are different to her, now that she doesn't think we're about to die, he thought. He knew what he wanted – her, always – but did she really feel the same? And if she did, did he really want her saying so for the first time in front of three of their superiors? He looked at Shepard and kept his mouth shut. It's up to her.
She sighed, looking at the floor, clearly deep in thought. Finally, she faced them again. "Yes," she said. "Yes, there is something."
Anderson, Hackett, and Udina looked at each other, clearly surprised that she'd so bluntly admitted it.
Not half as much as Kaidan, however. He raised his eyebrows and wished she'd look at him, but her attention was firmly fixed on their superiors.
"Lieutenant Alenko?" Anderson asked, wanting confirmation. Kaidan nodded wordlessly, and he caught Anderson smile very briefly before returning his expression to one of seriousness again. Nice to know he's rooting for us, at least, Kaidan thought, and then his mood soured. I'll have to remember to thank him for his support after I get court-martialed anyway.
"I'm sure you're both aware that a personal relationship of any kind between commander and subordinate is completely unacceptable," Hackett told them, folding his arms and frowning. Was he always such a stickler for the rules? Kaidan wondered. "What exactly is going on? And for how long has... whatever it is, been happening?"
Shepard looked to Kaidan for backup on this one, but he shrugged. Hackett would have to say more specifically what "this" was if he wanted an answer on the timeline of things, he thought defensively. How long since he'd gotten a crush on her? Since they started flirting? Since they kissed? If they wanted to lecture the two of them, they'd have to work for the answers they got.
"Depends what you mean," Shepard said, crossing her arms. Apparently she had the same mindset on this that he did.
"Well..." Anderson began, then paused. "Is it serious? Or are you just... having fun?"
Kaidan was so embarrassed at the question that he wished he could sink into the floor and disappear. Never, ever did I want to hear Anderson ask if we were dating or just hooking up. But he half-smiled for a second. I'm sure he'd be happy to know that that didn't start until just a few days ago. Or he'll get angry that it's happening at all.
Shepard's cheeks went red again, but thankfully she was still willing to talk. "I, uh..." She'd never been so ineloquent before. This is really bad. "No, it's-" She glanced at Kaidan, and he tried to smile reassuringly at her with a confidence he didn't feel himself. "It's serious."
Anderson sighed. Kaidan wondered if that was because of her answer, or because they were admitting it at all.
Hackett spoke up next. "Who knows about this relationship?" he asked, leveling a serious look at them. Kaidan tried to avoid his glare – the man was intimidating enough over the phone telling them about new missions; he really did not want to piss him off in person.
He tried to answer this one to give her a break. "I think we've been pretty discreet, sir," he said, thinking of how he'd snuck into Shepard's room as they headed for Ilos. "We just... talk a lot. I doubt anyone else knows."
Shepard coughed once in nervousness, and Hackett turned his attention back to her. "You have something to add?"
"Nothing," she said hurriedly. Hackett continued staring her down, and she made a face. "It's just that- before Ilos... I mean, I think everyone... kind of figured it out."
Udina sighed loudly. Hackett shook his head and opened his mouth to speak, but Anderson cut him off with a frown at the pair. "What happened before Ilos?" he asked, glancing at Udina as he asked.
Several things that the Alliance doesn't approve of, including you punching Udina. Kaidan wondered, briefly, if Anderson had gotten in any trouble for attacking the Ambassador. He hoped not – the guy deserved everything he got. He also wondered how quickly they'd be able to get his court-martial set up, and if his parents would see him as a hero on the news ever again before the inevitable headlines about this appeared. "Scandal! Heartless, promotion-seeking rule-breaker Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko seduces his totally blameless and innocent superior officer, Hero of the Blitz and human Spectre Irien Shepard!"
Shepard apparently regretted bringing Ilos up and blushed a brighter red than ever. "I, um... well, we, ah…" she stuttered.
He felt awful and had never seen her so uncomfortable. She could face down any enemy with ease, except awkward conversations, apparently. But I wouldn't be able to do any better at this than she is, he thought.
"So are you saying you two have a sexual relationship?" Anderson asked.
Shepard faced them all for a moment, then buried her face in her hands in embarrassment. Kaidan blushed so hard that he wished he could run out of the room and never see the three of them again. They all began to talk at once.
"I'm sure you two are aware that this is completely inappropriate. You are superior and subordinate! This is so far out of line-"
"You are both being incredibly irresponsible, how could you possibly think this was a good idea, or were you thinking with your brains at all-"
"You two should know better, especially at a time like this when we need to have perfect reputations to get as much support as we can from back home-"
He had never been so embarrassed in his life, and that included the "facts of life" talk that had been given at Brain Camp. They were all teenagers, far from home, and most of them were away from their parents for the first time. Of course many of them – Kaidan himself excluded, of course, as he'd never actually had a chance with Rahna – wanted a little more privacy than the instructors thought they deserved. He had sat next to Rahna for class like he always did, and had regretted it immediately upon learning the topic of the lecture that day. But this, somehow, was worse. Probably because I know I'm guilty this time.
Udina finally talked loud enough to silence the other two. "I am amazed that the Council would put so much faith in someone whose judgment is clearly compromised by a relationship with a crew member!" He turned to Anderson. "I demand you to recommend that the Council revoke Shepard's Spectre status in order to give it to someone who actually deserves the trust of humanity."
Kaidan was surprised to see that Udina wasn't actually angry. In fact, he was smiling. Smiling rather smugly, in fact. It's not about us for him, he thought. It's about her, and that she didn't pick him for the Council. Damn politicians!
Anderson, fortunately, wasn't going to let Udina bully him into anything. "That's a bit much, Ambassador," he said dryly. "A relationship with one crew member isn't quite enough to damn her completely. I'm going to assume that Shepard isn't... involved with anyone else on the Normandy," he said, looking to Shepard for confirmation, who blushed furiously and nodded again.
"Maybe it wouldn't damn her completely, but it could be a huge blow. This relationship can't be ignored," Hackett said. "It could be a PR nightmare at a time when we need support the most."
Anderson sighed. Kaidan had never seen him so stressed. Years of service in the Alliance, he thought, and when he gets to the age when most people want to start taking it a little easier, he's given an even harder job.
"We need to talk about this," Anderson told them. "Why don't you two go wait outside and we'll call you back in when we're ready."
She nodded, and the two of them stood and walked out of the room, hearing the whoosh of the door as it closed behind them. The two C-Sec officers moved a bit further down the hall to give them a little privacy, and Kaidan silently thanked them for it.
Shepard leaned back against a wall then slid down it to sit, curling in on herself and resting her head on her knees. "I'm sorry," she said, her voice slightly muffled.
He sat down next to her and put his arm around her shoulders to hug her. "For what?"
"Being an idiot. Talking for you. Blushing constantly. Argh." She shook her head, still resting against her knees. "I can't believe myself in there. I haven't blushed like that since I was a kid, and not even much back then." He wasn't surprised by this – he could just imagine a young Shepard taking charge and bossing her classmates around without fear of embarrassment or rebellions. She chuckled. "Guess there are some advantages to being a Navy brat – I'd heard everything before on every other ship I grew up on. Nothing shocked me. If only that had helped me now!"
"Shepard, you did much better in there than I could've," he told her. He reached over to pull her arms from her knees so he could see her face. "And you may have talked for me, but you said exactly what I would've said. What we have..." he paused, and she looked up to meet his eyes. "The way I feel about you, nothing can change that. Don't worry, okay? We'll get through this. No matter what."
She smiled in response and leaned on his shoulder. They sat in a companionable silence for a few minutes before she finally spoke again. "What do you think they're talking about in there?" She sounded concerned.
"They're probably calling around, trying to borrow a crowbar to pry us apart," he said with a smile, trying to lighten the mood. He was rewarded with a chuckle before the door opened and Anderson stepped out to motion them back inside.
"We've made a decision," Anderson said as they all took their seats again.
"We've considered the consequences of what could – would – happen to everyone else as a result of this relationship," Hackett continued. "Unwillingness to take risks that could put each other in danger, disobeying orders to protect each other, favoritism..."
"What really happened on Virmire, Commander?" Udina cut in, and Kaidan felt his stomach lurch in guilt. The ambassador was right to question it, of course, even if he was just out for revenge – Kaidan knew, he knew that Shepard had saved him instead of Ashley because of their relationship, and he'd never forgive himself for it.
Hackett nodded in agreement with Udina's question, but continued. "I think the only solution is to transfer the Lieutenant to another ship."
"What?!" Shepard was standing now, and her eyes were bright with fury. He'd never seen her so angry, and neither had the three across the table, judging from the looks on their faces. "Absolutely not. That will not be happening."
"Commander-" Hackett started.
But Shepard cut him off sharply. "No. Admiral Hackett, Councilman Anderson, I have nothing but respect for both of you," she said, ignoring Udina's presence in the room completely. "But I am an adult, so is Kaidan, and so is everyone else on the crew, and we're all adults here who can handle this. Have you heard any complaints about us?"
"Well, no," Hackett replied, "but that doesn't mean-"
"But nothing." She crossed her arms over her chest a bit awkwardly around her cast – yet another sacrifice she'd made to protect them. She almost gave up everything to save them, he thought. She almost died for them. "Kaidan said we were discreet. We were, but the crew isn't stupid. In fact, I'd be more worried if they hadn't noticed something. Joker, for one, definitely knows what's going on, and as you know, Councilman-"
Anderson chuckled despite his obvious attempts to take the meeting seriously. "If Joker knows something, the whole crew does," he agreed.
"This isn't just... 'having fun,' sir," she told them. "I meant it when I said this was serious. It's very serious." Shepard looked down at Kaidan and smiled a little nervously. "Right?"
He reached out to take her hand gently. "You know how I feel about you," he replied quietly. Her smile made his heart skip a beat.
Shepard turned back to the table. "Kaidan isn't going anywhere. You owe us – both of us. The Alliance and the Council grounded my ship and almost got everyone killed, and without Kaidan and the rest of the crew, none of us would be here. I think if the crew members were willing to come with us to Ilos and disobey a direct order for the greater good, then they're fine with a little fraternization."
He was so amazed that he didn't know how to respond, he just sat there in shock.
"And you're sure about this?" Anderson asked, smiling slightly. Shepard nodded and squeezed Kaidan's hand.
Hackett shook his head. "Absolutely not," he said with surety. "This will cause more problems than we have the power or time to deal with right now, and you know it, Anderson."
"Just because you're a Spectre doesn't mean you're not still a part of the Alliance, Shepard," Udina said, crossing his arms in anger. "You're not completely outside the law, as much as you'd like to think you are."
"So you're still going to transfer him?" Shepard asked. Her voice was dangerously calm.
"We are," Hackett replied. "We'll get the paperwork done and sent to your ship-"
"That will be difficult to do, since it won't be there," she replied.
Udina and Hackett stared. "Excuse me?" the admiral said in disbelief.
"I'll be gone," she said flippantly, shrugging. "We stopped Sovereign on our own, I'm sure we can do it again. The crew stuck with me going to Ilos, they'll certainly stick with me again when they know we're the only ones who can figure out how to stop the Reapers."
She crossed her arms and stared them all down. "If you're going to start splitting up my crew, then I'm going to use my Spectre privileges and report directly to him-" she nodded in Anderson's direction, "-and the rest of the Council. They may be near-impossible to work with most of the time, but it would be actually impossible for me to do this without my crew. Including Kaidan."
He knew Shepard far better than any of them, and even he hadn't expected such a speech. She'd rather leave the Alliance entirely than let them split us up, he thought, amazed. What did I do to deserve her?
She smiled somewhat bitterly. "I'd think by now you all would've learned to leave me alone and let me do my job," she said firmly. "We'll be on the ship getting ready to leave, unless you all want to quit pretending you know better than I do about my life and my crew."
Shepard turned on her heel and left without another word, and Kaidan hurriedly got up to follow her.
They walked down the hallway toward the lobby, but after a few moments, Kaidan couldn't take it anymore. He took her hand, and as she turned around, he stepped forward and kissed her.
When they finally had to come up for air, she laughed breathlessly, all traces of anger gone from her face. "What was that for?" she asked, hugging him close.
He shook his head and smiled. "Because you didn't let me go."
"Of course I didn't!" she protested, sounding a little hurt that he would think she'd do such a thing. "You really think I'm going to give you up just because all our superiors want me to? I wasn't going to let them do that to us. Or the crew." She grinned. "What would they do if they didn't have us to gossip about? And I doubt they'd be very eager to fight the Reapers if I was moping all the time."
He chuckled in agreement, then simply smiled at her. "No matter what happens," he said, touching her cheek gently and holding her close, "nothing can change how I feel about you. Not Udina and Hackett, not Anderson, not getting transferred to another ship, not even the court-martial I thought I was going to get." He took a deep breath. His heart was pounding. "I love you, Shepard."
He'd never seen her smile so big. "Was that so hard?" she teased. "I love you too, Kaidan."
He kissed her again. Neither one of them noticed Anderson poke his head into the hallway to see them, then chuckle quietly before shutting the door.
"Well that went well," Hackett said dryly once the pair had left.
Udina was quick to place blame. "Thank you so much for the warning, Anderson," he scowled.
"I had no idea," Anderson said as he stepped back into the room, only partly lying. He'd seen the way they'd looked at each other in the Tower after Sovereign's destruction, and just now in the hall. But after his own experiences with romances in the Alliance, he'd assumed a forced split would be for the best so they could get over the heartbreak now, rather than at an even worse time later. "I'd assumed it was one-sided."
"Apparently not." Udina shook his head. "And instead of having a little more influence over Shepard, we now have less. Anderson, you were her captain. You should've known about this and warned us so we at least wouldn't have driven them off!"
"At least they know we're aware of the situation now," Hackett said. "Might keep them from doing anything too public and getting us all in trouble." He looked over at Anderson. "We're gonna have to keep this as quiet as possible. If too many people find out, we're going to get a lot of questions about Shepard's judgment and self-control, especially after the mess at Virmire."
"They're smart, they can handle it," Anderson replied. "I don't think there will be any problems. And if there are, we'll deal with them as they come, like we always do. Nothing else we can do anyway."
By the time Shepard and Kaidan made it back to the ship and Shepard's quarters, there was already an extranet message waiting for them. He sat in her desk chair and she sat on her lap, and they loaded up the message on her computer.
"Reassignment is cancelled, but I'm sure you knew that already. Nice work in there today, Shepard. I'm impressed. I won't tell you not to let us down – you already know what can happen if you do. Everyone's counting on you and the Normandy. I know if anybody can make this situation work, it's you two. Best of luck. -Anderson."
Kaidan smiled. "So we need luck now?"
She chuckled and wrapped her arms around him. "I've got you," she told him, smiling. "That's all I need."