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Shepard liked krogan. It wasn't always easy to motivate them or get them on your side, but once they were they became powerful and reliable allies. She could be straightforward with them in a way that she couldn't with other races. She was always mindful of how humans were viewed as ambitious and aggressive, and she did her best to promote a more tolerant image.
With krogan, it didn't matter. Wrex had seen right through her heroic platitudes to the sheer love of battle underneath, back before the battle for the Citadel, and she'd accepted the task of raising Grunt properly with a certain amount of relish and perhaps maternal pride. It might have been her heavy weapons that had done the majority of the damage to the thresher maw, but it had been Grunt's battle, and she'd glowed like a valedictorian parent when he'd been formally accepted into Urdnot.
As much as she regretted the fact that she'd be leaving Wrex on his home planet, she'd been pleased to see he'd made good use of the two years she'd been absent, and understood he was needed on Tuchanka more than on the Normandy. If his plans were ultimately successful, friendly relations with united krogan clans would be unbelievably useful to humanity.
Of course, the idea of krogan diplomacy was new, even for krogan, and thus she found herself back in the Urdnot camp to talk to her old comrade about what would best be described as a potential diplomatic incident. Shepard had the dubious honour of likely being the first human recipient of a krogan breeding request.
Grunt was free to come back after the mission, assuming he survived, and respond to his numerous breeding requests however he saw fit. Shepard, however, had to find a tactful way to refuse, even as she found herself having trouble believing the request had been made at all. She hoped it had been a misunderstanding from an overenthusiastic krogan female who had intended to request Grunt, or who had missed the vital information regarding Shepard being both human and female herself.
Shouts drifted up from the varren fighting pits below as Shepard approached the krogan leader. She didn't want anyone else listening in on this particular conversation, so she'd lent Zaeed the tame varren, Urz, and the mercenary was making a killing while Grunt acquainted himself with his new clan.
"What do you need, Shepard?" Wrex rumbled. He'd taken on both an air of authority and a vaguely harassed look in the two years since she'd seen him. He'd found leading his people as frustrating as Shepard found dealing with her own sometimes. His greeting when she'd first arrived had been one of the most enthusiastic she'd received since her return from the dead, and she'd found it immeasurably gratifying, even as she wondered why she seemed to get on better with aliens than her own people.
"I need your advice, actually," she replied. "I don't want to cause anyone offence but I think someone at the female camp got their wires a bit crossed."
Wrex looked concerned. The females were immeasurably important in his political game. "Speak."
Shepard held up her hand to reassure him it wasn't anything serious or life-threatening. No one ever died of embarrassment after all, although she found herself feeling very awkward. The mating habits of other species weren't really her business after all. "Well, someone sent in a breeding request."
Wrex raised his eyebrows, "For Grunt?"
"Yes, but that's not-" she sighed. "There was one for me as well." She rubbed the back of her neck, aware that Wrex was now looking highly amused. "I'm sure she's just confused. I mean, I'm not even male."
"We know you're female, Shepard." She could read Wrex well enough to know he was trying not to laugh. Well, he might find it funny, and she probably would too, eventually, but right now she just wanted to be reassured she wasn't in any danger of being accosted by a jilted krogan. Wrex shook his head, "Males can make requests too, although there's not a lot of point. The females pick who they pick, and what male's going to refuse?"
Shepard raised her eyebrows, "You mean the request didn't come from the female camp?"
"You mean the request came from someone here?" She turned and looked out over the camp. She'd been treated politely but hardly warmly, and she ran through a list of the krogan she'd met, trying to work out who the culprit could possibly be. The chief scout maybe? The merchant? She pressed her palm to her forehead.
Behind her Wrex's amused rumble broke into something she'd never heard before; full-throated laughter. Shepard's shoulders dropped as she turned slowly to face her old friend, realisation dawning.
"Shepard?" His shoulders were shaking with amusement. Krogan warlords probably didn't get a lot of opportunity for practical jokes.
"It was you, wasn't it? You sent the request." She shook her head in disbelief. "Why?"
"It was funny, wasn't it, Shepard?" He leaned back on what she could only describe as a half-assed throne. "The look on your face. Ha!"
Shepard found herself trying not to smile. It was hard to remain serious in the face of all that laughter. Wrex was overwhelming, no matter what he did. All right, so this would make a good story next time Zaeed tried to monopolize the conversation. She could take a joke. "I can't believe you did that. What if I'd said yes?"
"What do you think?" he rumbled, sitting up straighter, the laughter dying away.
Shepard's smile faded, as Wrex was sounding disturbingly serious. "Wrex?" she asked. She didn't think she needed to say anything more; it was blindingly obvious how unlikely that was.
Wrex stood up. Despite towering over her his eyes were level with hers. He stepped past her and looked out over the camp. "You should have been a krogan, Shepard. Your talent is wasted in that puny human body and short lifespan."
Shepard folded her arms, "I can see you're one for sweet talk, Wrex." He was taking this joke a bit far, she thought.
"Hah, you don't recognise a compliment when you see one. I said you were practically a krogan, Shepard. The rest," he shrugged, "can be overlooked." He turned his head and watched her steadily.
"Uh…Wrex…" Shepard could see that in general krogans didn't go in for a lot of flirting. He was definitely making the effort to have a stab at it, and that meant the joke was over.
"Shepard," he replied quite politely for a krogan, but he made it clear he'd said his bit. Her turn now.
She tilted her head, and looked the krogan up and down, trying to picture him without his armour and failing. He bore her scrutiny with some amusement. Whatever standards of attractiveness krogans held each other to, Wrex seemed confident that he met them. Half a ton of violent, yet restrained, sentient male. Shepard wondered if Cerebus had made a few mistakes rewiring her brain, because she was considering this.
"You realise this isn't going to help you with the genophage." Wrex seemed to have forestalled all other potential objections as faults to be overlooked.
Wrex grinned, showing rows of huge flat teeth, "Shepard, sometimes it's just for fun." He turned to face her, "It's not hard, Shepard, just yes or no."
He was right; it shouldn't have been a difficult question. Shepard quirked a funny little smile. The risk to dignity was equal for both of them, wasn't it? "Wrex?" she asked slowly, eyebrows raised.
She held up four fingers, looking enquiringly at him. Curiosity would be satisfied, even if anything else proved too difficult.
Wrex grinned and tilted his head, indicating that she should follow him. "You'll see, Shepard."
Shepard took a deep breath and cast one last glance over her shoulder before following him into one of the semi-ruined buildings which apparently served as his home. It was better furnished than the others they'd seen, such were the perks of being clan leader, she supposed. "Wrex," she said warningly as he preceded her into his room, the floor littered with trophies of battle. There were the constraints of her 'puny body' to consider and she hoped he'd considered them.
"Shepard," he drawled, waving his hand dismissively. She shrugged, if she couldn't trust Wrex then she couldn't trust anybody. And she did trust him.
It turned out to be surprisingly easy to get a krogan out of his armour, you just had to know where the catches were. Her jaw dropped. "Wrex," she breathed.
"Shepard," he growled, but didn't move while she satisfied her curiosity. "Shepard?" he looked pointedly at her armor.
"O-oh, right. Sorry, Wrex." She couldn't help but feel slightly inadequate, despite being held to different standards. "Ah-" she flinched as her back hit the wall. So much for different standards.
"Ssshepard…." His voice was muffled against her shoulder.