Her rounds through the crew done, Shepard slinked into the elevator, collapsing heavily against the wall as the doors closed. Some good people had been lost in the pods - she just hadn't been fast enough. As traumatized as the crew was, the reality of their success left a shaky sort of zeal in each person. Saving your race, saving your friends, hell - saving yourself - she made sure no one forgot how lucky and successful the mission had been.
She knew she should return to the doctor - to either of them. But right now she didn't have the energy anymore. She wanted out of her clothes. She wanted time to herself. She just wanted the oblivion of sleep; there was a peace in her limbs that overrode the points of pain. The buzz of the battle had seeped away, leaving her crashing.
The elevator opened, and her eyes flickered open, posture straightening even as she saw who it was.
There were smears of medigel under the ridges that lined the ribbing on the left side of his face, and his eyes relaxed, hands unclasping from their place behind him.
She smiled, the expression lopsided with fatigue.
"I hope you're going to the med-bay."
She licked her lips slowly, tongue flicking in the corner of her mouth, chiding the dried blood there away.
"Mordin is helping. They can accommodate you. I know you haven't yet been."
Shepard adjusted her stance with a certain care, scarce betraying the difficulty of the movement.
"Always watching me."
"You'd prefer otherwise?"
Tilting his head, Thane took her hand in his, pressing it flat. His face bowed forward, lifting her hand to his lips to kiss the fingertips that emerged. It drew a soft sigh from Shepard.
Thane's expression relaxed, and Shepard let herself lean back against the side of the elevator, leaving her hand in his grasp, eyes on it.
"Alright. But you're coming with me."
He chuckled and touched the button for the crew deck, and the elevator shifted down.
Laid out on the mess table was an assortment of medical implements, not limited to medi-gel and anti-biotics. Tali seemed to be manning the station, and the quarian turned when the elevator opened. Shepard offered a soft smile as she strode over, and Tali put the tool in her hand down to embrace the Commander whole-heartedly.
"It's about time you got down here."
Shepard chuckled weakly, squeezing the young woman back.
"If you say so, Doctor."
Tali scoffed a bit, turning back to Jacob, who sat on the table. She cycled the bottle on her pressurized syringe and jabbed him with it, prompting a sound of protest.
"Oh shush. One more."
Tali tilted her head to Shepard as she stood there, her three-digited hand nimbly prying another bottle of serum from the med kit laid out beside her. It was soon in place, and she delivered the injection to Jacob with a little more care.
"Never would have imagined Tali."
"I am a bit of an expert with fighting infection, you know." The quarian waved a hand at Jacob, who weakly grinned and offered a thanks.
"Get some rest, soldier."
Tali linked her hands together, turning back to Shepard, "The doctor instructed me which were most suitable for what race. Administration isn't so difficult."
"Thanks, Tali... but you should rest soon too."
"Yes, well, when everyone's had their shots." Garrus came striding out of the med-bay and Tali cleared her throat, motioning him over. Turning to Shepard, she murmured, "I will enjoy this entirely too much. See me later, you two."
Thane gave a tug at her arm, and Shepard looked at him, before hitting Garrus in the arm. The turian rolled his eyes at her and started speaking to Tali as the Commander slunk away.
Shepard made a sound, looking to her side, where a blossom of fluids and blood was soaking through, dampening the dark material. She touched a hand to the site, cringing. The mission high had almost ebbed away, leaving much of her body eager to be noticed.
"Perfect timing then, I guess."
The med-bay doors opened to reveal Dr. Chakwas and Mordin leant over Crewman Hawthorne. The doctor patted his arm as the professor injected something into the man's arm, turning to her as she walked in.
"It's about time you came here."
Shepard waved her free hand, leaning into Thane's offered arm as she gingerly sat on the nearest med-bed. Looking at her hand, she wiped it on the sheet beneath her.
"I used medi-gel. Liberally. I thought you'd be happy."
"And what about you, Mr. Krios? Come for inspection, as well?"
Thane inclined his head.
"It would be wise."
"Good. Then sit there." Dr. Chakwas motioned, looking at Shepard as Mordin sidled up to the Commander.
"Thank you for helping with triage, Professor."
"Of course, Shepard. Wouldn't have it any other way."
Shepard cringed as the needle in his grasp bluntly pierced her skin, the site burning with warmth as the stopper suppressed. Mordin guided one of the diagnostic armatures overhead, taking the wireless electrodes to place on key points.
Catching the bottom of her shirt, Shepard made to pull it off, cringing as the wide wound on her hip was revealed, its surface clogged with medi-gel. Dr. Chakwas put the instruments in her hand down and took the fabric from her, and Shepard sucked in a breath.
"Can we just cut it off, next time?"
Dr. Chakwas pursed her lips, tentatively touching over the packed wound. Shepard sloughed her pants with greater ease, lying back on the bed at the doctor's encouragement.
"I don't know how you walk sometimes, Commander."
Shepard closed her eyes, body heavy as she gave a soft sigh. She focused on her breathing as air hit the wound, the medi-gel released. It sped up her pulse, and she could feel the weep of blood spill down her thigh.
"Implant looks damaged. Will take time to repair."
"Sorry you had to see that."
The door to Shepard's cabin slid open, and she hobbled in with Thane's help. He supported her left side, ensuring she could keep the weight off.
Shepard's eyelids drooped, a concoction of medications in her system pulling sleep closer and leaving her hazy. She was left in a tank top and loose cotton pants, bandages sealed around her midsection and waist, her arms lacerated with new applications of medi-gel on her skin and coursing through her weaves.
"It doesn't bother you that... I have cybernetics? I'm pretty manufactured. I don't want you remembering me like that."
Thane straightened, lifting her more down the stairs. His own wounds were sealed and healing, superficial compared to the impromptu surgery she'd had.
"It is just your body. Your tool and weapon. I'd prefer you keep it honed."
"Is everyone following orders? Have you locked Joker out?"
"Yes, Commander. Much to his dismay. But Jeff has retired, as have most of the crew."
Shepard sighed, her fingers running up the back of Thane's neck as he helped ease her onto the bed. More fatigue crept into her voice.
"Have we made it to Thail? Stealth systems are activated?"
"You do not need to worry, Commander, we are safe. Combined with the ship's systems, the composition of Thail's rings will further conceal our position."
Closing her eyes, Shepard ran her hand down Thane's chest, snagging on the snaps that close his jacket.
"Thank you, EDI. We couldn't have done all this without you. Fifteen hours. Please keep the systems locked for fifteen hours. I don't want anyone trying to work. They need this rest."
"Of course, Commander. Logging you out."
A ragged breath seeped from Shepard's lips, and she opened her eyes, hands in her lap. Thane was feeding her fish. She weakly smiled.
Her voice cracked. Shuffling on the sheets, Shepard reached for the bed stand and took up the glass of water there.
"Is there anything else you need?"
Shepard looked to him over the glass, draining half of it before putting it back.
His expression relaxed, an amused sound in his throat as he stepped towards her.
"Something tells me you'd do better to rest, siha."
Shepard laughed, the convulsion drawing her hand to her hip. Shaking her head, she looked back up to him.
"Not what I meant."
She loosened the elastic from her hair, tossing it on the nightstand. Her senses were dulling more, drugged and softening.
"Just stay with me. Sleep here." She looked back to Thane, her brow lifting from her heavy eyes, "Please."
He rounded the bed and picked up her legs, helping Shepard ease back into bed with a cringe of pain.
"You never had to ask."
Thane tugged her cotton bottoms off, leaving her clad in just bandages and medi-gel. She grinned again, lopsided from fatigue and medications. Shepard sighed and pressed her head back into the bed, watching her partner undress with half-lidded eyes. A wide bandage was taped where her own trapezius muscles would be, and he wasn't without his own swatches of solidified medigel, sealing where he'd been hit. Yet he moved with the same fluid care he always did.
He looked over his shoulder and caught Shepard admiring him, and Thane's expression relaxed.
"Is there anything else you need before I join you?"
Shepard shook her head. She needed an army. She needed the galaxy and Council to believe her when she spoke about the Reapers. She needed to delegate the arduous task of combing and removing all the bugs and spy equipment the Illusive Man had on the ship. She needed to strategize their next moves. She needed to think how she was going to pay a rogue crew, to know if any of them were going to stay - and to know how, and where they would do all the necessary repairs. She needed a good deal more to feel like she were doing her best to protect people from what was coming.
But as Thane drew back the covers to slip into bed beside her, her medicated mellow and aching bones were far from those thoughts. With slow difficulty, Shepard rolled on her side, and he touched over her face, willing her eyes closed. She pulled into the crook of his arm, using his shoulder as a pillow, snaking her fingers over his chest to hug to his cool skin. In the wake of an impossible battle, she figured she should be allowed a small reward; this was it.
"Tell me something I don't know." Shepard's voice was groggy, one foot already into her dreams.
Thane mmm'd as he wrapped his arm around her, fingers evading the tender bandages on her hip and side. Her breathing was lengthening, the weight of her cheek into his chest growing. She was unwashed, the musk of her body strong from the long battle, mingled with blood, sweet antiseptics and the medicinal scent of bandages. All of it was her, familiar, and each piece of the whole harkened some memory of the past months spent together. The thought that came, though, was only the night before.
"Hair clings on your cheeks, lips pursed and eyes closed with heavy, sleeping breaths. Your skin is so soft under my touch. Battle, strain and worry are gone from your features, and there is some inexplicable innocence left."
Shepard made a small sound, her face tilting so her nose flattened against his wiry muscles. Her breathing deepened, and Thane's hands took to her skin, cradling her closer.
"Quiet blues on your skin. Like on the Citadel. I breath, 'I love you'... and you sleep."
Much like then, the absent admission is met with a sigh of sleep from the woman in his arms. Thane closed his eyes as Shepard's even breath flowed over his skin.
Dum spiro, spero
While I breathe, I hope.
A/N: Thank you so much to everyone who's read, reviewed, and just liked this story! I loved writing it. I will be working on rewriting it more in depth, starting earlier. If you like this Shepard's universe, please check out my other stories!
This timeline of this story continues Post-ME2, in a story on this site - Rising Tide. It continues Thane & Shepard's romance, and the outfall of choices and actions made, as well as preparing for the Reaper threat that looms closer.