A/N: This story contains offensive language and graphic sexual content. If that isn't your thing, don't read it. Small Spaces is not meant to be a cutesy romantic story – it's awkward and might make some readers feel uncomfortable. Small Spaces is also not a story that's easy to self-insert into; the Shepard being featured has a very distinct (and possibly offensive) personality (no, not my personality), and it might not be what you're looking for. If that's the case, there are a lot of other fantastic, on-going Shrios fics out there, two of my favorites being: A Dance of Minds by Katerina Kintari and How Fornax Changed My Life by kiwibliss. Give them a read.

This fic has kind of grown. A lot. I had never intended for it to be multi-chaptered. This was a one shot that I wrote just to see if I could. This was my first time writing not only fanfic, but fiction in general. That being said, this first chapter was kind of outdated. I've rewritten it using the same general idea, while making it a little more a part of the overall story. It kind of stuck out like a sore thumb – Shepard's personality wasn't quite right (I was still figuring it out at that point), it's lacking the style I'd developed through gaining more experience, and it was very inconsistent. I've been led to believe that I've misled people, so I'm fixing that.

Small Spaces is a grouping of interrelated one-shots that primarily detail the developing relationship between Thane and Shepard. It will also feature a series of interludes that are told through the perspectives of other characters. Besides Shepard and Thane, this fic will also focus on other squadmates – primarily Jacob. Thanks to all of you who have read and liked it this far – you guys really motivate me. And to any of my new readers, I hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer: I do not own Mass Effect.


Commander Shepard stared at her access terminal, the orange glow blending with a morbid sense of perfection into the scars that lined her face. Her mind was racing just as quickly as her eyes flitted back and forth over the holographic images on the screen, and her eyes saw text, but her brain was too wrecked to comprehend it. Her stomach panged and she swallowed, the gulping noise the only distinguishable sound that filled her darkened cabin.

Commander Shepard was falling apart.

The office chair she was sitting in squeaked against the material of her pants at the continued shaking of her leg; up-down, back-forth, up-down, back-forth. The muscles in her thigh twitched at every movement and her lip curled; she didn't like the way that felt, because it felt unfamiliar. The muscle wasn't the same. The bone wasn't the same.

Everything was unfamiliar now – different.

She flexed her fingers – the fingers that were much stubbier than she could remember them being – and inhaled as she clicked at the terminal's holographic interface. She could feel tension in her body, knotting up at her shoulders, and knew that she was stressed. But she'd held it together, somehow – everything was okay. She hadn't even cried, no matter how much she wanted to.

Because she did want to cry – she did. Shepard wasn't suppressing it, she just physically wasn't capable. She leaned in toward her monitor and stared at it, the screen's proximity making her eyes cross; maybe if she didn't blink…

She was being so childish. She sat back in her chair, her eyes still glued to her monitor; she didn't want to turn away from it, because she knew that if she did, she'd look in that spot. She couldn't face it again.

Ugh.

She put her hand over her eyes and slapped out at it, knocking the picture frame off of her desk in the process; she heard the clatter and a warm feeling erupted in her stomach, but was soon squelched when his voice echoed around in her head.

"Maybe you're the one who's not thinking straight. You've changed, but I still know where my loyalties lie."

She hadn't changed.

No.

He had.

She couldn't have changed; she'd been dead.

But he'd…

He was wrong.

Those loyalties he'd talked about – they weren't with her, and they never had been. Yeah, she'd expected Garrus to come running back, and she'd been very deeply mollified by Tali's return despite the Cerberus connection, but out of all of them, she'd thought that Kaidan would be the one to stay by her side. He'd trusted her, fucking knew her better than everyone else.

But his message. The message. The message where he'd attempted some fucked up version of an apology and had offered to get back with her if she proved herself. The one where he'd confessed to seeing a woman on a single date and feeling guilty about it and had apologized for it while simultaneously hanging it over her head. The one where he'd romanticized the night before Ilos and…

So maybe he hadn't changed.

Ugh.

No.

Shepard was done.

Kaidan could kiss her ass – and so could the whole fucking Alliance, for all she cared. They'd practically fed her to Cerberus alive. If Kaidan wanted to blame someone, he should be blaming himself – blaming them. Because they'd given up on her. They'd left her.

They'd abandoned her.

On some level, she knew that her rationale was wrong. But on a deeper level, she didn't give a fuck.

…So maybe she had changed.

She slammed her hands against the desk and jerked away from it, the clapping sound of the impact so loud that it startled her. Her chair had rolled out from behind her, and she stood there for a moment, her chest rising and falling rapidly. Her lip pouted and her brows were scrunched so low on her forehead that it made her head pound, and her fists twitched at her sides.

She straightened and breathed in again, slow and deep, before turning to walk down the stairs that led to the main living area of her quarters. A couch, a secondary desk, a giant ass bed, a shitty skylight – she kept it dark because she hated how much it looked like a fucking bachelor's pad. The artificial blue lighting emanating from the fish tank that lined an entire wall was the only thing that illuminated the room, and she walked toward it, her hand hovering above the feed button.

The fish had died again.

A broken laugh tore its mangled way up through her throat. Of course she'd forgotten to feed them again. The shining beacon of humanity who was supposed to save the fucking galaxy couldn't even save a few fish. They were just floating there at the top, along with the food she'd just tried to feed them – helpless victims to Shepard's increasing…lack of care.

No, she thought about this shit too much to call it not caring. She just felt…stupid. She felt blocked. She felt like she'd been dwelling on things too much, thinking in circles too much, waking up in cold sweats too much, not dying too much. No, not being dead enough.

And that felt weird.

It all felt weird, like she wasn't supposed to be here anymore.

Because she really wasn't supposed to be, and she wasn't blind to that.

She'd lost her ability to compartmentalize. Thoughts were leaking into other thoughts and stupid things just kept spewing from her mouth, and man had she become awfully trigger happy – God, it was happening again. The thought spilling, looping – the thought constipation.

And she knew what it was, too.

It was that green, scaly son of a bitch.

She just couldn't stop thinking about him.

Because they were like, together or something? She didn't know. She'd had a lot of word vomit in his presence. A lot of…thought spilling. A lot of stupidity. It was all moving fast, and thinking about it made her head spin.

But she liked him so much.

So much that she had been avoiding him. She'd been avoiding Thane for a couple of days, actually. She rubbed at her cheeks with her hands, the gloves cooling the creeping blush that had caused them to heat and tingle.

Yeah, it was Mordin's fault. All of it. Because the creep was trying to get her laid. She groaned and flopped onto her bed, taking a moment to unzip her shirt and rip it off. It'd gotten hot, really suddenly, and despite her gain in stupid, she knew why. Mordin had sent her pamphlets explaining drell anatomy and sexual habits. She'd seen enough drell dick to last her a life time.

Or two, in your case.

It was really creepy that she was hearing Miranda in her head at a time like this.

Shepard covered her eyes and whined, the firm mattress beneath her not enough to relax her stiffened body.

She didn't understand a fucking thing about this situation. She didn't understand why she couldn't even stand to be in the same room as Thane, let alone have any more conversations with him. It was…weird, because she was a pursuer. She was annoying and confrontational and inappropriate and Goddammit she got what she wanted. Shepard had been the one who had suggested being "more than just friends" in the first place (not even entirely serious, but pleasantly surprised when he'd taken her up on it), but right now, she didn't know what the fuck she was doing.

Shepard had always been that confident, in your face bitch – but now she was hiding out in her room because she was embarrassed over looking at drell dicks and some tit-less lizards. She'd even covered up EDI with a shirt an hour ago because it'd just dawned on her that the AI knew everything, and the fact that she let the fucking computer embarrass her spoke levels.

…Could AI see through shirts?

She groaned again and peaked through her fingers at the spot where the computer normally materialized.

It was gone, for now.

Good.

Shepard hated the fact that she had balls. Or maybe she hated the fact that they'd shriveled upon her curiosity getting the better of her. It was the pronounced anatomic differences between drell and humans that was getting to her – the titless lizard thing. No breasts.

They didn't have boobies.

"Mammary glands are unnecessary for drell because this species are born with the capacity to consume whole foods upon birth."

Of all the text book facts to take residence in her idiot fucking brain…

Ugh.

Shepard wasn't body shy, but she didn't like this idea of having weird ass skin flaps on her chest when drell didn't have any. It was gross. She felt like the weird one. Fuck tits. Fuck nipples. Had Thane ever even seen nipples before?

Goddammit.

There was a man out there who didn't like boobs, and he was interested in her.

Bad news.

She looked down her tank top, one hand lifting the collar of the shirt over her head, the other smooshing a boob up and over. It jiggled back into place.

Ew, it was weird.

And thus, she was ignoring Thane.

She chewed her lip and a thought occurred to her, it being one that made her immediately more uncomfortable. Mordin had probably given Thane human porn. Oh, how awkward. And yet another cause for avoidance. Perhaps that was why he hadn't called her out on her shit yet.

Or maybe he didn't want to get intimate with her, ever. Maybe she'd misinterpreted his boundaries. Maybe what they had was purely emotional (her nose scrunched at the thought) and he'd never wanted to seek out anything physically rewarding from their relationship in the first place.

Why would he want to? He'd had a wife, and he's got his…solipshism.

It wasn't like they'd ever talked about it. No, the things they talked about were much less personal, and a lot more geared toward the drell trying to open her mind to the wonders of philosophy. Though he'd once mentioned his uncertainties – of admitting that he was not sure of where to go. And ever the dumbass, she'd brushed him off and told him to play it by ear.

She'd all but shushed him every time something like this came up, so it really was her fault.

She grabbed a pillow and put it over her face. She was such a bitch for being the one to react like this. He'd made so many attempts to talk to her – he'd even asked her to his room for dinner via extranet mail tonight. And she'd ignored it, like the turd that she was.

Shepard grumbled into her pillow, and her tummy rumbled in response. She hadn't been out of her room since the message, and subsequently hadn't eaten since morning. She crawled out of bed and adjusted her bra straps, the commander wobbly on her feet. She'd talk to him tomorrow or something.

Well, maybe.

Shepard enjoyed nights like this one. Being alone on the ship unless she was holed up in her quarters was unusual given that people generally went to bed when they either could or wanted; the differentiation between night and day was pretty much nonexistent.

For as much as this was true, though, there were still patterns. There was about three hours each day where everyone was asleep, and when she actually had the time to be out and about during those few hours, she took advantage of it.

It wasn't that she was a loner – she just never got to be alone unless she was asleep. It kind of came with the job.

Shepard squatted and dug around in the mess hall fridge, a spoon in her mouth and her fingers clutching at a pudding cup. She'd taken the time to write her name on it so that no one would steal it; that shit was hers.

She closed the fridge with a hip and plopped down into a chair, her free hand automatically shooting out to grasp the data pad that she'd left on the table earlier that day. It took mere moments for her to immerse herself in the info detailing her next "mission"; Joker had already plotted the course, and it was now just another waiting game.

She sniffed and rolled her eyes. Another Cerberus operative getting themselves into shit, imagine that. He'd been captured by the Blue Suns, and he had info the Illusive Man wanted to keep secret. She didn't give a shit either way what happened, but she'd considered doing it because the Illusive Man had said pretty please.

That, and things had also been kinda slow lately. She was bored. And she wanted to get away from Thane. Being off ship eliminated any chance of running into him.

Shepard hunched her shoulders, her thoughts interrupted when she heard the quiet pitter-patter behind her. Marking the footfalls was easy – Thane had a very distinctive gait, and she could tell that he'd purposefully made noise as he walked in order to alert her to his presence. She allowed herself a smile at the courtesy and quickly relaxed her stature; sure, he may have had her, but she was going to make every attempt to appear as unruffled as possible.

"Siha, I am surprised to see you about. As of late, you've been but a ghost."

She shivered at the sound of his voice and covered it up by inhaling another spoonful of pudding, and as she did so, he took a seat across from her. She calmly put down her spoon and made eye contact. He looked determined – he was unwilling to let her slip away again. He was after an explanation – and she knew that the jig was up.

"Just going over a mission brief. What about you? It's pretty late." She raised her eyebrows at him and fingered her spoon. She'd been able to keep her voice level.

"It seems that after all of the time I've spent alone in my life, my conversational skills have begun to atrophy. I find it difficult to discuss common topics of interest with the rest of the crew. I take my meals after they've gone."

Interesting. He'd wanted her to eat with him. And they always had talked just fine. She rubbed at her arm as a silence fell between them, one that was for once uncomfortable. She kept catching Thane stealing glances at her, the look in his eye curious, before it dawned on her that before now, she'd never really looked casual in front of him. He was creeping her out; it made her feel like she was being analyzed for her skin's weird pigmentation and lack of texture compared to his.

Ugh.

Enough fucking pussyfooting, because he clearly wasn't giving up until she got everything all out in the open.

She rubbed her bare arms and cleared her throat, taking a second to mentally prepare for this mindfuck of a conversation.

"Listen, Thane…I've got a, uh, question for you."

He blinked at her, his two sets of eyelids flicking in perfect unity. The curiosity he had was palpable, but he showed no confusion. She knew he knew what this was about. "Yes, Siha?"

"One second. I need you to be ready for this." She smiled crookedly at him and shrugged before she started cracking her knuckles. He was always so calm, so cool, so damn collected. He had an excellent poker face. In this moment, Shepard aspired to be a little more like him. "Okay, you ready?"

"of course."

She'd said she had a question, but it was more like a litany of questions. The commander popped her spoon into her mouth and played at looking like she was thinking really hard. She settled for the one that seemed the most direct and the least likely to make her look like a fucking idiot.

Around the spoon in her mouth, "Mordin talked to you about anything embarrassing lately?"

It came out sounding like she had a speech impediment and she couldn't stop herself from cringing.

He blinked at her again, unmoving, poker facing. She really wanted to know what he was thinking. Then he smiled, and it was contagious. "Certainly he has spoken of nothing more embarrassing to me than what he has spoken of to you, Siha."

Well played.

It seemed he wasn't going to come right out and say it; if he did that, it might make things too easy on her. He wanted her to say it, because she'd been flighty as fuck over it. She knew what he was up to. Shepard dropped the spoon from her mouth and drummed the table with her fingertips.

Seemingly in response to her movement, he leaned forward slightly, inclined his head, and placed his cheek in his hand; his movements were so delicate that they were enough to inspire awe in her. His elbows rested easily on the smooth surface of the alloy table top. Sitting immediately across from him, Shepard felt her resolve slipping.

Okay, she needed to just blurt it out.

"Being coy, Thane?" Her relentless tapping faltered as the words left her pouty lips.

But she couldn't.

"Perhaps."

She was being coy too.

She snickered at him, a full-blown grin breaking out across her face. This was why she liked him so much. He didn't necessarily make her feel comfortable (actually, he made her feel really awkward), but she was still able to find comfort in him. It was his subtlety and his willingness to make her squirm…it was his sense of humor.

At first she hadn't gotten it, but she understood now. When she'd first met him, his jokes had been difficult to catch; he'd fired them off in such deadpan that it was easy to question whether or not what he'd said was meant to be funny. A couple of times in the past he had taken her completely off guard, causing her laugh to bubble upward a few long seconds after he'd said something, when she finally understood.

But she knew him better now. She knew he knew what she was talking about. She knew that Mordin had approached him as well – and yeah, he was still interested. Maybe even more so, because the seed of desire had been planted within him. And so he was toying with her; he wouldn't play this game if it were serious, if he were serious. This was just his way of showing her that he had no concerns about moving forward.

She suddenly felt so fucking confident.

"What did you think? We still…?" She leaned back in the chair that was making her ass feel numb and stretched her legs out like feelers under the table, seeking him out. She wanted to make him react. Her foot found a leather-clad ankle and she brushed against it in playful contact. His lip quirked, the only sign he gave that her touch had even registered, and he opened his mouth to speak.

"Indeed we are, my silly siha. I'm wounded that you could be capable of thinking any differently."

"Mmhm." She tried to move her foot farther up his calf and she suddenly wished that her legs were a little longer. She slid from her chair and her arms flung out to catch the table and she bit her tongue, the blush that had been a permanent part of her face that night deepening.

She thought she heard him snort – but other than that, still no reaction. And she felt so stupid, because it occurred to her that Thane probably thought she was a real weirdo. Here he was playing it cool, so calm, just sitting in front of her in a casualness that she could only someday hope to replicate.

Despite it being embarrassing, it was really, really hot. She was tired of this shit – she wanted him to show her that he wanted this.

She settled for bluntness.

"Actually, Thane, this whole interspecies porn pamphlet convo was just an awkward lead in to the real question I've got for you. A proposition, if you will."

He chuckled and cleared his throat. "Ah, how poorly implemented." In the dim lighting, the green of his skin was luminous. Thane was flawlessly stunning, a striped and speckled beauty so alien to Shepard that she caught herself dumbly staring. He moved his ankle against her foot smoothly in response to her and her whole leg jerked, and he drew his hand across the cold, metallic table, caressing it. "You are drawing this out, Siha. I don't wish to wait much longer."

He was playing, and the ball was in her court. She wanted to play, too. She was tired of everything being so serious, fucking tired of being so troubled and weighed down by bullshit that was only going to end up killing her again anyway.

And then it hit her.

She was being so apprehensive about this because they were all going to die.

God, she really needed to take up smoking again.

They all had a year or less. It didn't matter that Thane had Kepral's – the collectors were going to destroy all of them, and if not those giant fucking bugs, then those giant squids. She couldn't stop a reaper invasion – no one could.

So she was going to live it up.

Because it didn't matter, and right now, she had something else on her mind; it had actually been on her mind since she'd first encountered Thane on Illium, although it had been much more innocent in nature then than it was now. She had a proposal to make – she had an agenda to promote.

She could not help the smirk that hauled her plush lips upward, effectively dimpling her cheeks, any more than she could stop the anticipation from building in her stomach. She had butterflies. It had been a long time since she had felt that, and she liked it.

"Fair enough. I'm gonna switch gears a second – swear it's related." She brushed the hair from her eyes and licked her lips. "I remember the first day I met you, bludgeoning my way through Dantius, you know, ever my subtle self; I had no fucking clue what to expect. But I knew I could get you, and I knew I was gonna recruit you – the only thing I wasn't sure of was whether or not you'd be worth the trouble."

Thane smirked at her and raised a brow in silent challenge.

She bit back a laugh; she'd known that that one would hit. "Don't get me wrong, I'd heard you were good. I just hadn't seen you in action," she shrugged.

"The panicked comm chatter was fucking hilarious, that argument about who had to go into the vents had me and Jacob in stitches. My interest was kinda piqued, actually, and when moments later you dropped a body on me, you had me. The way you did shit, it was creepy and efficient as hell. You were gaining on your target, disposing of mercs, and you had me in your sights the whole time. I want you to teach me how to do that, how to…move aroundlike that in such small spaces."

"Is that so, Siha?" He leaned back in his chair and smoothed his collar, the small smile never leaving. "I…suppose we could arrange that."

She pulled away from him entirely, her chair scratching across the floor, and stood up. "We've got a couple hours before Mission I'm Bored as Fuck: So I'm Doing TIM's Dirty Work," Shepard trailed her fingers along his arm, bidding him to stand. "We could practice in the ducts."

Thane stood with grace as he smoothed down his jacket, and he looked directly into her eyes. They were close, a hair's breadth away from touching. Shepard couldn't tell who was better at teasing, who had the upper hand. It was a struggle she was beginning to enjoy. He opened his mouth and breathed lightly, words on his tongue.

"Do you think that wise? The only one we'll have…immediate access to is located in the med lab. I'm sure our salarian friend is sleeping." The smile not present on his lips lit up in his eyes, and she could tell that he was up to no good.

Whatever he had on the lesson plan was going to be noisy.

"We should now, while we still have time. You never know when a talent like that can come in handy. What if I die on the next mission because you didn't teach me how to sleuth it up in an air duct?" She thought she heard him snort again, but it was obvious that he was going to go along with it. He wouldn't turn her down, no matter how contrived her argument was; they were very much on the same page.

"Ah, now that is reasoning that cannot be denied."

Shepard approached and entered the elevator with a purpose, unbothered by the wait time or the way that Thane was glancing at her from across the small space between them; he leaned casually against a wall of the elevator and crossed his arms, his pink tongue darting out to wet his lips.

The door opened and they stepped out together, and Thane touched her arm to get her attention. The look he gave her was disarming. "That top flatters you, Siha."

She smiled and nodded, uncomfortable with how good a compliment from him made her feel. She grasped his arm and pulled him toward the med lab, the two of them coming upon the door in stealthy silence. She looked back at him and signed; she would go in first to make sure Mordin was sleeping.

Shepard tiptoed in, light on her feet, and felt giddy upon finding the scientist slumped over his desk in quiet exhaustion. His hand lay clasping his latest encased sample and drool dribbled faintly from the corner of his mouth. Looking at him, she suppressed a chortle; he couldn't be comfortable.

It felt good to be sneaking around like a teenager again, like her greatest care in the world was being caught red-handed. She motioned Thane, a finger pressed firmly to her lips; their hushed footfalls lead them to the ventilation shaft. Shepard braced her hands on her knees and peered down, somewhat intimidated by the height; it almost felt like cheating that there was a ladder.

"It appears you'll need to be careful, Siha." Thane whispered, his utterance indicating the white writing that marked the wall immediately in front of them. It was brightened by a single pallid light fixture seemingly meant to bring attention to the text reading simply: KEEP THIS AREA CLEAN.

Shepard didn't miss a beat, continuing the whisper. "Me?" She snorted. "What about you? Scales in strange places…that's bound to be messy."

He laughed shortly and quietly, "Be sure to keep your hair in your head, I hear humans are prone to shedding. Ladies first, Siha."

Shepard took no offense to the comments and moved to step down the ladder, Thane offering her his hand. It struck her that this was the first time she'd actually felt him; when they'd held hands before, hers had always been gloved or covered by armor. She savored the feel, finding nothing unpleasant about it, and tightened her grip around him.

The quality of his skin reminded her momentarily of an old synthetic snakeskin wallet she had once owned back on Earth. His hand was deeply textured; it did not pull or drag at her skin even though it was still kind of rough, as if it were calloused. She wondered what it would feel like elsewhere. His fingers warmed around hers and she began her descent into darkness.

When Shepard's foot reached the final rung of the ladder, she wondered what she was doing. She turned around clumsily and was met with the tinny surface of the duct's wall and realized that if she wanted to go any farther, she'd need to crawl. She ducked down on all fours and proceeded to move forward, what little she could actually see due to the pale lighting lining the wall above her.

God, it was hot.

The sound of her hands and knees scuffling sent echoes through the vent, soon accompanied by another set from behind. The duct was slippery and she found herself sliding around fairly often; thus far her technique was proving inadequate. A little further, and Shepard couldn't see a thing.

Shepard stopped moving and squinted. "How do you do this? You are crazy."

"I am able to see in the dark better than you are, Siha."

She felt hot and a little disoriented and she placed her forehead against the floor of the vent in an effort to cool it, her form almost mimicking child's pose.

"That so isn't fair," her voice came out muffled and she straightened a little, rolling her shoulders.

Shepard placed one knee forward and felt a roughened hand seize her ankle, tugging her backward and startling her. She was pretty sure she'd just emitted a noise she had never made before; it echoed around her in a symphony of embarrassment, which was soon followed by the quiet sound of Thane's amusement.

Shepard was on her stomach with her arms outstretched before her and she could feel his breath on her ear, the warm movement of air creating a tingling sensation which prickled outward and spread down the surface of her rosy cheeks. She liked that, how close he was.

She wanted more.

His hands were placed on the floor by either side of her face, knees situated outside her hips, and she felt him nuzzle the back of her neck. The sound of his voice filled her ears, enriching her as it rumbled and rasped.

"Turn around, Siha. I wish to see you."

The request was followed by an awkward poking of limbs, the sound this caused amplified in a thundering reverberation. A few moments of fumbling had Shepard and Thane face to face, both breathy and hot. He resituated and placed a knee between her thighs, cuing Shepard to spread her legs as much as possible in the small space they had so that he could rest comfortably between them.

It was pitch black and difficult to breathe; if he hadn't have been down there with her, she would have been flipping shit, but he was. She felt…okay. She took a lot of deep breaths and listened to him as he inhaled and exhaled. She was okay. She breathed in again and closed her eyes.

All she could smell was leather, the only sounds she could hear were the elevated pants being emitted by herself and Thane, their breathing mingling together in a frenzied unity; it all at once comforted her and overwhelmed her and when the softness of his lips brushed against hers, she felt perfect.

Not bad for a first kiss.

She wrapped her arms around him a little, and then pushed him back, breaking them apart.

"I want to see you, Thane. I need to see you." They were so close together that when she spoke, her lips moved momentarily against his.

Thane propped himself up on one arm and ran his other hand through her hair, the coarse strands tickling his fevered skin. Shepard leaned into the contact, savoring it, and moved her right arm a little behind her head.

There's an idea. She kept her eyes on Thane, dark energy began to pool and prickle at her fingertips. She used her control of biotics to create a light source, flowing from her hand and ebbing in place. She could keep it going for a little while; it would work. It was adequate. And Thane looked gorgeous, totally ethereal in the pale blue light.

"That's cheating, Siha."

"What are you gonna do about it?"

"I suppose I'll have to train you, teach you to abide by the rules."

"I have to warn you Thane, I don't care much for rules."

Shepard finalized the short exchange when she bucked her pelvis upward, wrapping her legs around the back of Thane's hips in an effort to pull him closer. The roughness of his leather pants pushed and felt wonderful against the soft material of hers; she could feel how hard he was and her head reeled at the throaty sound of the moan she had shocked out of him. It was deep, dark, and raspy, begging for more with one syllable. She was more than happy to oblige, wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him in for another kiss.

Shepard felt his hands in her hair and she opened her mouth against his in hungry desperation; his tongue was on her lips, then in her mouth, exploring. She loved the way his tongue felt, the way it tasted; flavor was heady, reminding her of fine wine. It was more flexible than hers was, a tad longer, and obviously possessed more strength; if she'd been standing, the way he'd delved into her might have made her weak in the knees.

All she could taste, hear, smell, feel, and see was him; he had all five of her senses wrapped around his finger, and he was overloading them, one by one. It seemed like he was all around her; everything felt amplified, bigger and better than anything she'd ever experienced in her life.

Every taste of him left her feeling lightheaded, her mouth and nose tingling as if she had just inhaled cinnamon; it made her wonder minutely if oral contact really did cause hallucinations, and if so, how fast acting it would be; she'd honestly thought Mordin had been pulling her leg on that part, but she wasn't so sure anymore.

The thought was cut short when he rocked aggressively against her and she bucked back; apparently drell were as into dry humping as humans were.

Sweat was beginning to bead on her forehead and she could do nothing to prevent the keening noises he was prying from her. She broke off the kiss and moved instead to his jaw, licking and nibbling her way down to the hollow of his neck. He was so pretty there; she delighted in the color and feel of him and she was knowingly taking advantage of the information she had gained from Mordin's pamphlet. Drell were abnormally sensitive in that area, the mere ghost of a touch causing heightened pleasure.

She pulled him down closer and kissed him there roughly, cradling his head in her arms, dragging her tongue and lips across his neck in a slow torture. The taste of him was nice, devoid of any salt; it reminded her of drinking a glass of sparkling water, the tingling sensation not leaving her. He groaned out again, not stopping the roll of his hips or altering the pace they had set. She rose up to meet his every thrust, because she wanted more; craved it. It still wasn't enough.

"Thane…Thane, I—oh," Shepard's breathing hitched, interrupted by a whimper brought on by another forceful thrust, "it's h—I'm, Thane, I'm too hot. It's too ho—oh, in…ughn…help me…get this off." She took her arms away from him and tugged willfully at her shirt.

"Mmm," he buried his face against her and stilled before he spoke, seeming to inhale her scent, his breathing still a little heavy. "The conditions in here feel ideal, to me. If you truly wish to become adept at my skill, you're going to have to…acclimatize."

She whined in frustration, the range of motion in her arms too limited to remove the tank top that was now damply clinging to her skin. She wanted to punch him for still going along with their role play. She felt him smile against her neck and he seemed to take pity on her; his hand moved under her shirt, uncertain, feeling along her ribs and causing goose bumps to rise on her skin.

His hands felt so good against her, the quality of his skin creating the right amount of friction to make her stomach jump and hitch at the touch.

A moment of uncertainty passed within him before he pulled her shirt over her head. He moved to unbutton her pants, and she placed a hand firmly on his to encourage him as she simultaneously struggled to kick off her shoes. Accomplishing removal was an interesting process, limbs poking about chaotically, but it was one they both eventually managed.

That left Shepard in her underwear, and she felt his eyes on her. She once again found herself in the position of wanting to know what he was thinking. A few moments later, and then she didn't care. She just wanted to see him. All of him.

"You've got me at a bit of a disadvantage here, Thane."

His hand graced her stomach again and smoothed around to her side; he seemed to marvel at how their skin looked together, how it contrasted, before he gave her an answer.

"So it would seem…how would you rectify that?"

Shepard's hands surged forward and pulled at his jacket, trying in vain to remove it. There were so many flaps and zippers and buckles, and she was so hot, and he was so…

"Ugh, why is this thing so damned complicated."

"I could say the same about the contraption adorning your breasts. I haven't the slightest idea as to how I should go about removing it."

Shepard almost died at how cliché sounded but bit it back, choosing instead to smirk, and pressed her index finger down against the clasp in the middle of the "contraption," causing her breasts to be exposed momentarily. She was careful to hide them, her arms wrapping around them quickly in order to block his wandering eyes.

Shrugging out of her bra and careful to keep her arms around them, she effectively kept herself hidden from Thane's view. "You show me yours and I'll show you mine."

This elicited another laugh from him; his siha was on a roll, it seemed. He kissed and suckled at her collar bone, and when he spoke, his voice seemed to reverberate through her.

"What is it that makes you think I want to see them?"

She grabbed his hand and placed it over her breast with her free arm, still keeping from his view with her fingers covering his, and she leaned into him. "That look of longing on your face is a dead giveaway. You're so curious about them." Shepard could tell.

He pulled his hand away, maybe regretfully, Shepard repositioning quickly to remain covered as Thane moved fluidly out of his jacket, unbuckling it far more deftly than she ever could have hoped to. She had to help him peel the material from his shoulders, him balancing awkwardly above her and Shepard groping gracelessly about with one hand.

They probably could have picked a better place to do this, but she didn't care. All she cared about was seeing him; she resisted the urge to unzip his vest in favor of keeping her chest out of his view, her eyes drawn to the exposed patch of speckled skin on his upper body and to the zipper hanging teasingly below.

Thane followed her gaze and smirked, still resting comfortably between her thighs, holding his position upright with a hand; with his other, he gripped his zipper tightly and led it to descend in a way that was painfully slow to Shepard. He moved so slowly that she could hear the sound of the zipper sliding against each of the teeth individually, a noise that felt like it was echoing inside of her head; she was going crazy, he was making her crazy.

She closed her eyes and arched towards him, sighing, "Now who's drawing this out?"

His only answer was a snort, an acknowledgement of Shepard successfully using his own words against him. He finished unzipping and slid effortlessly out of his vest, their clothes piling up in a mess going both directions, Shepard's behind her, Thane's behind him.

His biceps were sexy and black stripes lined his forearms; he was very well defined, black stripes marked along his ribs as well. There were areas along his torso that matched the color of his neck, sensitive places she wanted to exploit. His anatomy was obviously different, but it looked right to her.

She squeezed her thighs tightly around him, closing her eyes, and he rocked against her, making her moan. "What about your pants?"

"I don't wear anything underneath these, Siha."

This caused her eyes to pop back open; she really should have predicted that pants that tight didn't call for underwear. She saw uncertainty in his face for the first time and caught on to the fact that he really didn't want to go that far, at least not yet, and she didn't want to either.

Drell could relive memories in exact detail; she wanted their first time to be something that went on without a hitch, something that was hot, a memory not filled with the awkwardness of exploring new things. She wanted to grow closer to him and know him implicitly before they took that step. In the mean time, fooling around was a good way to accomplish that.

She smiled comfortingly up at him and nodded to let him know she understood, then moved her hands away from her breasts, allowing him to see everything. She felt apprehensive, a little self-conscious; she felt his eyes on her, drinking her in, and she was again crushed by the thought that nipples were really weird. The pressure was on.

"They're pink. That's…cute."

"What were you expecting?"

"The ones depicted in the diagrams were darker in color," he paused, eyebrow ridges pulling together in thought. "I was unaware such variety existed."

"Um, well…do you like them?"

"Siha, I've yet to discover something about you that I don't like."

He brought his hand back to her breast and touched it lightly, then squeezed. Curiosity was coming off of him in waves and he lowered his face to her chest, his dexterous tongue flicking out over one of the hardened buds of flesh. She arched into him, his name on her lips, and he nibbled, drawing out another whimper. He brushed his thumb over her other nipple as he worked both of him and she was impressed at how well he was doing, how amazing every single touch felt.

She let him continue to explore her as shudders wracked her body; he seemed fascinated by the reactions he could pull from her by toying with her chest. It was strange, the sensitivity in her breasts far greater than she'd remembered and he made her feel so good, turning her into a sweaty heap of gasps and moans. The rough texture of his skin left paths of red across hers, and she found that she liked it. It struck something animalistic within her, something primal; she liked having his mark on her.

She raked her hands across his back and squeezed his ass as he picked up where they had left off, his hips snapping and rolling into her; this time the feeling was more intense, her pleasure doubling because she could feel him more easily through the thin material of her panties.

Shepard grabbed the back of his head and kissed him hard, their mouths meeting forcefully; his tongue tickled at the tip of her lip before delving in and he explored her teeth, small, many and so different from his, before delving back out and lining her bottom lip. He flicked his tongue back inside and then removed it, repeating the motion, and when she realized how closely it hinted at intercourse she squeezed her thighs more tightly around him, growing impossibly more turned on than she had been.

Thane knew how to kiss, and it left her feeling funny, giddy, more than a little faint; her nerves were on fire and she could feel her heartbeat thudding in her veins. Her body ached with need and every time she heard him groan or cry out in pleasure, she felt her body respond by bringing her closer to her climax. She had never felt so turned on by a single sound.

One of her hands was on the back of his neck, clinging to him, the other arm placed behind her head and jerking limply with each timed thrust. She felt Thane's pace quickening against her; there was no doubt in her mind that he was almost there, his breath growing short and increasingly needier. The fact that he was getting something out of this, despite the thick leather he was wearing, made her stomach clench; she wanted more, but couldn't have it. Not yet.

Thane's gasps came out in short puffs on her neck, his body weight almost resting fully on top of her, and she felt him lift one of his arms up a little, surprising the commander by maintaining both his rhythm and balance. He took the hand she'd lain above her head in his and interlaced their fingers, her middle and ring digits spread open more widely by his fused ones.

It was a comfortable fit, and she felt a surge of emotion choke in her throat; no one had ever held her hand like that during sex, shown such feeling. His fingers tightened around hers and she responded in kind, the connection she felt to him because of this more than a little overpowering. It was intense and it made the pleasure building inside of her feel all that much better, because she knew it was building inside of him too.

Her stomach tightened and clenched; a few more needy thrusts and she was there, spots dancing before her eyes and disorienting her. She climaxed so hard she almost shouted and she briefly shifted in and out of consciousness; the vent went pitch black and she at first had the delirious thought that she had gone blind, that Thane had literally blown her mind. A few panicked seconds later she realized that her make shift light source had dropped.

He rocked against her one last time, moaning loudly, and collapsed on her, still holding her hand. He kissed her again, this one long and sweet; she had never felt more satisfied. For the first time, she had the passing thought that dying was the best thing that had ever happened to her.

As they lay together regaining their breath and calming their hearts, she decided she really didn't want to punch Mordin in the face. She wanted to thank him.

Sound really carried in small, echo-y spaces. In the med lab, Mordin patted himself on the back for a job well done.