AN: This was a bitch to write, but also hilariously fun. Rated for language, and manly alien smooches. Inspired entirely by the mass effect kink livejournal.
Right up until the door to Life Support hissed open, Garrus was sure he'd turn around and forget about this incredibly stupid idea, but then he thought about Shepard, and the warm glimmer in her eye— when should I book the room?
He hadn't been sold on Krios when they'd first met, though he'd appreciated that the drell was a damn good shot. It hadn't been a question of skill, but of loyalty, and maybe it was a little hypocritical of him, but Garrus took issue with a guy who'd kill solely for the creds. Then, after a handful of missions with Krios at his back, he'd started warming up to the calm, sort of eerie drell.
They'd both solved some… problems together, during the same fateful trip to the Citadel. After, long after, Thane had come down to see him at his station, and they'd actually had a really enlightening discussion about revenge. Up until that point, Garrus hadn't considered talking seriously to anyone else on the new Normandy, except her commander, but there was something to be said for chewing over stuff like that with somebody who truly understood. It also helped to talk to someone who didn't distract him every time she stretched, or tilted her head, or bit the edge of her soft, plush mouth with her flat, white teeth.
Lips. He knew from the literature Mordin had sent down— hardcopy, because apparently everybody thought Garrus didn't check his messages— they were called lips, and he also knew he was terrified about what he was supposed to do with them.
But hey, drell had lips. If he could talk to Thane about the dark, red blood rage that had eaten away at him for months, he should be able to talk with him about this.
He hesitated at the open door, clenching his talons so hard his gloves creaked. He was good with odds, good with surveying a field, so what had a greater chance for embarrassment? Going in blind with Shepard and trying to figure out this whole kissing thing at the same time he was learning her body? Or just growing a set and admitting that yeah, he had no idea what he was supposed to do with parts he'd never had to deal with before? It wasn't exactly a secret that his facial structure was wildly different than a lot of other humanoid races, and he'd never been into xeno, so maybe Thane wouldn't think he was some kind of pervy idiot for even asking him about this.
He'd always been the man with a plan, the guy on higher ground, and it tended to keep him alive pretty well. Walking into something as important as, well, blowing off steam with Shepard didn't seem like the time to try just winging it and hoping for the best.
Thane was sitting at his table, his Viper neatly disassembled in front of him. Guns were good— masculine, familiar. Garrus knew how guns moved, how they fit together, and how they fit in his hands. Guns didn't freak him out. Guns didn't make him confused, and nervous, and so turned on… except very rarely.
"Krios," he said by way of greeting, and he knew the drell's hearing range probably would have picked up the weird pitch in the lower register of his voice. Still, Thane just nodded, making it clear Garrus should feel welcome to come in.
He forced his fists to open, and tried to keep his mandibles from sitting so tight against his face. He was so damn uncomfortable.
"Since leaving Kahje," Thane began, his hands still moving effortlessly through the process of cleaning the rifle. The air was sharp with the smell of solvent. "I've encountered many turians. You look troubled."
"Uh." Looming over the sitting drell made him feel even creepier, so Garrus dropped into the room's other chair with minimal fumbling. Thane blinked at him, waiting. "Listen, Thane—" He drummed his talons lightly against the tabletop, breathing in the comforting hint of metal and grease under the strong cleanser. "I want to ask you something, but this is really awkward, all right?"
Such a straightforward acceptance, without questioning why this was so awkward, really helped. If Krios was this professional about the whole thing, Garrus thought he just might get out of this without dying of shame.
"Well, see… You, uh, you know about me and Shepard, right?"
"About your courtship?" The corner of Thane's mouth quirked up, and it wasn't so very different than when Shepard… smirked. "It's a small ship, Garrus. I think you would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't know."
"Great," he muttered, because it would be fantastic to crash and burn with this thing when the whole crew was probably betting on the results. "Let's just set that exciting bit of information aside for a minute. I, uh, I've got no one else I'd even consider asking this, but… I need to know how to kiss."
Silent, inscrutable Thane, with his steady hands and steadier will, dropped the rifle's barrel, and the sound of it hitting the table was startling enough that Garrus jumped. Huge dark eyes were staring at him, and he had even less experience with drell than he did with humans. Whatever Thane's expression was conveying, he wasn't getting it.
"Drell do kiss, right? I mean, you've got those lip things, so I assumed, but maybe this is way out there for you too… I looked over these diagrams that Mordin gave me, but they're not helping, and I just don't understand how—" He realised he was yammering just about the same time Thane held up one fleshy-fingered hand, effectively silencing him.
"Have you considered," Thane asked, his own deep voice still very even— almost too even, like he was being particularly careful to keep it so. "That Shepard may be willing to assist you with this? She seems to care for you a great deal, and the act of education between a lovers can be very fulfilling."
Desperation, mingled with nerves, made his answer sharper than he'd intended. "This is not like learning how a female likes her scales scratched, Krios. I've got enough to worry about trying not to puncture her skin or crush her little human bones— this damn kissing is basic human foreplay, and as it stands right now, all I've got are too-sharp teeth, a flat mouth, and a nearly twenty-five centimetre tongue that I'm scared she'll choke on. If we even get that far."
"Twenty-five centimetres?" Garrus wasn't sure he'd ever heard Thane sound so surprised— a reaction that did not set him at ease in the slightest. "That's, hm. Is it… flexible?"
The unexpected question snuffed out his annoyance quite successfully. "Well, yeah, I suppose so. That's good, right?"
Now Thane was chuckling softly, perhaps a bit breathlessly. "If human women are at all similar to drell women? Yes, it could be very good." That was a little heartening, but then Thane continued. "What is it you're asking of me, Garrus? I can describe kissing, if that would help. I certainly remember every kiss I've even been involved with."
Meeting Thane's gaze, Garrus tried not to flinch. "This is really weird, isn't it? I'm being a freak about this."
"It's… unanticipated." Thane favoured him with a brief, comforting smile. He recognised that expression, and he appreciated the thought, but he was getting transfixed by the drell's lips, and it was just feeling more bizarre by the second. "But you're interested in learning new things for the benefit of another, and that is to be commended. For Shepard's sake, and yours, I will help in whatever way I can."
It was like a huge weight shifted off his shoulders, and Garrus sagged with relief. "Thank you, Thane."
The drell was already pushing some rifle parts aside, clearing a section of the table between them. "Let me make certain I understand the parameters— your teeth are very sharp?"
"Yes, but they're more for gripping than cutting. Pointy, but no edge." Flaring his mandibles as far as they'd go, Garrus opened his mouth wide.
"I see." The lack of recoiling or otherwise fearful reactions was a promising sign. Most turians refrained from opening their jaws so wide in front of other races, because the sight was generally understood to be disturbing and rather menacing. "And that is a very long tongue. Hm. Your mouth looks quite dry."
Tucking his mandibles back in order, Garrus idly scraped his tongue along the roof of his mouth. "Turians don't produce saliva all the time, just when we eat or, you know, get excited." This was about to stray into more intimate territory, but he needed the help, and Thane wasn't objecting. "It's slick, and it helps with getting a female to un-plate."
Thane cocked his head. "Un-plate?"
"Ah, crap. The lubrication encourages the female to… open." His mind started spinning with the kind of medical jargon Mordin's literature had been full of— it would be better than trying to think of a good euphemism at least. Dirty and clinical was better than another disturbing metaphor. "Uh, well, female primary sexual organs are sealed off by a series of sensitive plates, until she's properly aroused. Actual copulation usually takes some serious effort from the male. A lot of licking."
Turians also had extremely sharp eyesight. When the red, fleshy ridges on the sides of Thane's throat darkened just slightly, Garrus noticed, but didn't mention it. Thane was talking again anyway. "That's… fascinating, but you asked about kissing specifically. Do you have any movement possible around your mouth? Any puckering?"
"Puckering?" He thought he might understand what that meant, but the motion had nothing to do with how mouths were supposed to work— it was like Thane had asked him to rotate his chest plate or wiggle his fringe. He was suddenly and painfully struck by the feeling that maybe he just didn't have the proper parts.
If Thane was aware of his immense discomfort, the drell was polite enough not to bring it up. "Here," he said, without a hint of condescension. "You've likely seen other races do it. Like this." The corners of his soft looking mouth narrowed in, pushing his broad lips even farther out from his face. Garrus was fascinated, but as the drell suffered unmoving under the scrutiny, the contrast between his puckered mouth and the otherwise completely serious expression started to become more and more apparent.
Swallowing back some utterly inappropriate laughter, because this was a huge, freaky favour he was asking, and Thane was being an incredibly nice guy about the whole thing, Garrus stopped trying to move muscles he simply didn't have and shook his head. "No puckering, I guess. And, uh, that sort of looks ridiculous. Sorry."
Thane abandoned the puckering in favour of a small, amused smile. "Not with another's lips pressed against mine, moving together." His voice was layered, with words sounded above a growling drone, and even through the translators Garrus could hear some real similarities to turian vocalisation. Human voices, even when they sounded like they were speaking his language, had a hollow quality that was really disconcerting until you got used to it.
Except Shepard's voice. From the very first time he heard her voice— on an old vid interview about the Skyllian Blitz he'd found on the extranet, about three months before meeting her in person— he'd been struck by the resonance of it, and the depth and power behind it. Shepard's voice commanded attention at all times, whether she was shouting orders in battle, tearing a strip off some piece of shit politician, or even just chatting with him in the Main Battery. Chatting, or more recently, flirting, then slipping away with that coy little glitter in her bright, expressive eyes—
And now he was getting turned on. Merciful spirits, this was definitely not the time.
"—remember practicing on my hand, of all things." Thane was still speaking, and he'd been completely out of his head, drifting away on thoughts of Shepard's voice and her face, and her smell. He needed to stop. "But that is hardly an option here. The issue, I fear, won't be teaching you how to move your mouth in a kiss, but how to react to the movement of her lips when she kisses you."
Garrus didn't really notice that the ensuing silence was tense on Thane's end as well; he was too busy trying to keep his dick firmly inside his carapace. Wouldn't that just feel great pressing up against the inside of his hardsuit, again, because he'd sure as shit been un-plated and ready to go the last time Shepard had shot him that look.
"You are quite serious about learning this, aren't you Garrus?" Oh crap, Thane had probably noticed his distraction, and how insulting was that when you'd agreed to help a guy with something so damn weird?
Resting his hands on the table, Garrus leaned forward in a way he hoped looked earnest and not pathetically desperate. "Totally, completely, yes. This thing with Shepard… it's got to work out. She deserves it to, and I need it to. I'll do anything to make sure it does."
Thane was absolutely still, but his expression seemed considering, so Garrus waited. Eventually, after a slow, measured blink of both pairs of eyelids, Thane pushed his chair away from the table and stood.
"EDI," he said smoothly, still calm and collected. Later, Garrus would remember that composure, and be amazed. "Please enable standard privacy locks on Life Support. Thank you." Now Garrus wasn't the one looming, though Thane wasn't physically imposing in the traditional sense. Still, having a blank-faced, killing machine of a drell staring you down wasn't the most comfortable experience.
Things were, of course, about to get much worse.
"Stand, if you would." The possibility of a demonstration hadn't even flickered through his thoughts yet, not really, so Garrus got to his feet without hesitation. Thane regarded him appraisingly, looking very much like he was scoping a particularly challenging battlefield. "Shepard and I are approximately the same height, which should help. Here—" Suddenly there was a cool, relatively smooth hand touching the unscarred side of his face, and Garrus flinched away.
"Uh—" Krios had never touched him before; the drell wasn't a shoulder slapping, manly chest bump kind of guy. "What? You're… uh."
Thane stepped back, arm lowering to his side. "When I was a very young child, my hanar handlers began teaching me to kill with vids and diagrams, including instructions for hand-to-hand combat, blade work, how to assemble firearms. The introduction was important, but it was not until I held the weight of a pistol in my hand that I truly understood."
The room was swiftly starting to feel too small and much too warm, and Thane didn't really mean— he couldn't—
"Were you—" He needed to be absolutely clear here. Maybe he was the crazy one. "Were you about to kiss me?"
"Oh." Shifting his weight from one foot to the other, Garrus couldn't stop his mandibles from twitching quickly. This was ridiculous. "Do you… I mean, do you really think that would help?" He could hardly believe he'd even thought that question, let alone voiced it, but now Thane was nodding carefully, and the possibilities flooded through Garrus' mind. Was it even possible? What would lips feel like against his mouth? What made the act so appealing to humans and drell and the handful of other species who usually performed it?
Did he really want to show up at Shepard's door, freaked out enough about trying those positions comfortable for both species, with absolutely no idea how he was supposed to respond when she kissed him?
"I— okay." He couldn't over-think this. Too much thinking made him doubt this entire decision, made him doubt himself and doubt starting such a relationship, and actually doubt Shepard, and that was just unacceptable. "Okay. Let's do this."
Thane, thank the spirits, didn't say anything else. Slowly, the drell moved closer again, and this time Garrus didn't baulk. This time, he allowed Thane to touch his jaw, drawing his head downward. This time, he felt lips press against his mouth for the very first time, and at least one of his questions was answered.
It felt weird.
Thane's mouth was cool and wet, his lips incredibly soft, but it wouldn't help to focus on specifics that may or may not apply to a human. To Shepard.
Movement and response— those were the things he needed to learn. He couldn't move his mouth the way Thane was moving his, but he could shift his head slightly, almost nuzzling. Thane hummed in a way that sounded approving, so Garrus went with it, following the instincts that were kicking back into gear. Nuzzling was good, he knew nuzzling, and just because there were lips involved didn't make it too bizarre.
When Thane pulled away, Garrus felt a stab of worry that he'd done something wrong, but the drell just slid his strange pink tongue over his surprisingly swollen lips (softer species bruise easily, he reminded himself. He needed to be careful of that).
"Mind your teeth, please," Thane said quietly, but Garrus didn't have a chance to question the request before their mouths met again, and now that pink tongue was sliding damply through the middle of the kiss. He'd seen the diagrams of this, a couple of really awkward vids, and now that he was in the midst of it, he was just as nervous as he'd expected.
Why did other species even do this? It seemed like way more trouble than it was worth.
Thane's mouth was really moist, and Garrus could feel the slight tingle he remembered from the few tastes he'd had of levo food, but it wasn't a huge allergic reaction— that was a good sign. Though he was starting to feel a little light-headed…
Very carefully, Garrus started to move his tongue, mimicking the twisting and flicking going on, and it wasn't so bad, now that he thought about it. It was certainly a very personal thing, trusting another person not to bite your tongue off, especially when the whole point was to get aroused. Then again, the information Mordin had sent showed humans mating face-to-face, so maybe biting wasn't such a huge issue for them— seriously, was there something wrong with the life support system? It felt like the oxygen mix was just slightly off, but there'd be some sort of alarm, wouldn't there?
Shepard's tongue was probably even softer than Thane's— her skin was softer, soft and sort of pinkish, with all that fine hair all over that was weirdly attractive but he hadn't mentioned, because it looked like she regularly removed some of it, below her nose and around her brows. No plating, no scales… humans were squishy, smooth and supple, and the thought of exactly how flexible Shepard might be was just so damn hot—
Thane was strong for such a little guy, so much so that Garrus probably couldn't have stopped himself from being pushed away even if he'd been expecting it. As it was, the hands shoving against his chest were a bit of a shock, and maybe the issue was with the gravity rather than the oxygen, because the room appeared to be spinning and he nearly landed on his ass.
"Easy," Thane was saying, somewhere nearby, but the drell's grip on his arms was the really important part. Whatever was happening, Garrus didn't want to land on his ass.
"What the hell—" There was a small part of his brain, somewhere in the hazy of dizziness, that swore he'd just been kissing Shepard… on Palaven, but that didn't make any sense at all. He could still smell the thick, familiar scent of vegetation and the faint salty odour of Shepard's hair right after a firefight.
"—never, except with other drell—" Garrus sat heavily when he was backed against the table and gripped the metal edge, holding on tight. It wasn't exactly like being drunk, but he definitely didn't feel sober. "—reaction with humans—"
"Shut up, Thane," he growled, squeezing his eyes shut. There hadn't been three blurry drell in the room before they started this. "Just give me a minute."
"Should I call Mordin?"
"Oh, oh fuck no." The doctor's amused little expression had been bad enough when he dropped of the information packet; imagining his smug salarian face again with that I've got no sex drive to make me act like an idiot superiority was just too much. "This is a drell thing? It'll stop soon, right?"
He heard the scrape of metal against metal, sounding like a chair being pulled across the deck, but didn't open his eyes yet. When Thane answered, his voice was clearer and still close by. "I believe so, yes. There is something in my bodily fluids that can cause mild hallucinations in other species. I didn't imagine it would affect you so strongly."
Something in Thane's tone made Garrus' stomach drop. "Strongly?"
"You may have begun to imagine I was Shepard." Oh shit. "But no harm was done."
Somehow, that wasn't quite as comforting as it could have been. If the crazy drell venom that was currently sending his head for a spin ended up killing him, Garrus wasn't entirely sure it would be a tragedy. He had just tried to get all over Thane, he knew it.
He vaguely wondered if EDI would stop him if he attempted to dive out of an airlock.
His balance was returning, the sense that the ship's stabilizers had failed was fading, and Garrus swallowed thickly (his mouth was wet, and not all from Thane— he'd seriously been ready to go). Retreat or murder-suicide seemed like his only feasible options, because of course Thane was going to be able to remember this whole fucking thing, in perfect clarity, for the rest of his life. It was with great restraint that Garrus chose the former option.
"I'm going to leave," he said calmly, unable to bring himself to look at Thane. He was a bad, bad person. A drugged up, horny turian with a dirty mind. The memory of squeezing Shepard's ass flashed through his mind, how firm it was, and that was Thane's ass. "Yeah. I'm going to leave."
There was utter silence in Life Support, except for the sounds of a flustered turian scrambling out into the corridor.
When the door hissed closed, Thane leaned back in his chair, pondering.
It seemed Garrus would do fine when he and Shepard finally decided to consummate their feelings, at least as far as kissing was concerned. Fears of teeth and other worries appeared largely unfounded—
"The rasp of his tongue, teasing my palate." He hadn't meant to slip into this, ever again, but it had been such a very long time since anyone… "Arms wrapping around my back, pulling me firmly forward. Can feel the strength in them; a momentary thrill, surprising—"
AN: Oh hallucinogenic drell secretions, you've got so much potential. The title is totally a nod to The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and perhaps especially to the oft misheard lyric to Purple Haze. Now, excuse me, while I kiss this guy.
Also, I promise I'm working on my in-progress stuff. Really, truly.