Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the favs, alerts and ESPECIALLY thank you for the reviews :D I'm so glad you guys like the idea, and if you have any fun ideas you want to see happen let me know. I'm open to suggestions ;)
I recently read an AMAZING fic called Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained by ghost.713. It's Oriana/Kolyat, a pairing I'd never considered before stumbling across this fic. And OH is it a good story. If you read it be sure to review, maybe it'll encourage them to update eh :D
Naama pulled away after just a few seconds, wiping her eyes and forcing a couple of laughs. "I made myself promise I wouldn't cry as soon as I got here," she mumbled, turning away and going back to the suitcase. "Now look at me."
"I won't tell anybody," Toren assured with a playful chuckle. "Do you need any help unpacking?"
Grateful for the change of subject, Naama rubbed her eyes once more before looking over her shoulder at her roommate. "I think I've got it for now, I always take forever to organize things."
"Oh? You didn't tell me you'd traveled before."
"No," she responded, pulling the shrunken tube that held her tops from the bag. "I just rearranged the house sometimes, when dad was too tired to care. It took days sometimes."
"You're not going to do that here are you?" Toren stood a little straighter, alarmed.
"Course not. I just did it because I was bored." Naama peeked into the little closet, grimacing at what she found. "Looks like I'm going to need to buy hangers," she muttered, taking the few strangely shaped ones that remained and setting them on the little table next to the bed. They were made for turian clothes, large and rounded to support the cowl. "Looks like you've got some spares," she said, smiling at her friend and noticing what he wore for the first time.
He was wearing blue and white, the cut more formal than what she was accustomed to seeing him in. When they were children he'd been so casual, now he looked like he expected inspection at any moment. And he was watching her watching him.
"Sorry," she said, meeting Toren's eyes. "I don't mean to stare. Just… you never sent me pics or linked me for a vid. You're so grown up."
He nodded, stepping into the room, and for a moment Naama's heart stopped. He was walking right to her, was he…?
He picked up the hangers. "I'll get these out of your way. I'll be in the living room for a couple more hours if you need anything." He glanced down at her left wrist and nodded, answering some unasked question. "Set your omnitool for 0600, we've got a busy day tomorrow."
"K," Naama mumbled, grimacing once he let the door shut behind him. She was on a different schedule, and she doubted she'd manage any sleep "tonight." Not with so much on her mind.
Toren had been up long enough to shower and make himself something to drink by the time Naama dragged herself out of bed and stumbled to the kitchen.
"Water," she grumbled, searching the cabinets for a glass.
Toren leaned around her and plucked a blue cup from the cabinet. She took the cup, glancing at the cabinet. Oddly, the cabinet was color coordinated. Blue dishes on one side, green on the other.
"OCD much?" she asked, turning to the faucet in the sink and filling her glass.
"Not really. I'll use the green, you'll use the blue. It reduces the chance of us cross contaminating if we're allergic. It's how asari and turian couples do it."
"Oh," she said, trying to sound nonchalant and hiding her flush at the mention of couples behind her cup. "Makes sense," she grumbled after several fast gulps. "You think we're allergic, though? We hung out for five years. If one of us was going to puff up we wouldn't we have done it already?"
"I was tested when I enlisted. I have a really mild allergy, some swelling and bumps. Nothing life threatening, but you might be different. We're in much closer quarters now, sharing things like cooking surfaces and a bathroom. I'd rather not risk anything. There are epipens for both of us under the kitchen and bathroom sink."
"Sure," she said quickly. "I don't want to risk anything either. I guess you've been researching how to make this safer, then?"
"An asari friend gave me some pointers," he said, sipping his drink. It smelled good, but that was the extent of her knowledge on it. "Here, I'll put in on your omnitool." He fiddled with his and she raised hers up until they linked and her readout said file received.
"I didn't expect you to have one of these," Toren admitted. "What good would it do you back home?"
"It was a present," she said slowly.
"Yeah? What was the occasion?" Toren leaned over the counter, eying her with innocent interest.
"Going away present."
"From?" He asked, dragging it out curiously.
"Well… don't get upset or anything." She rolled her cup between her palms nervously. "Your mother gave it to me after I told her I was going to move in with you. She was surprised when I told her."
The turian couldn't seem to figure out what to ask first, struggling for a moment before finally blurting, "My mother gave you an omnitool?"
"She said it wasn't safe to be on a space station without one."
"Have you ever even used an omnitool?"
"No, but I read the manual on the shuttle."
Toren blanched. "What did Syphus say when he heard I asked you to come?"
"I don't know, he isn't usually home when I visit. But Laisa was happy. She said you'd stopped writing her. She left a note for you, with me, actually. Remind me to give it to you after we shop today. I'm not quite sure where it's stashed right now."
Toren just hmphed, sipping his drink and hunching a little more over the counter while looking away pointedly.
"I didn't know it was a secret," Naama said, straightening defensively. "If you're embarrassed living with a human I don't have to stay here."
"And where would you go?" Toren asked, his tone hardly gentle.
"I don't know," Naama growled. "But why would you invite me here if you didn't want me here?"
"I do want you here!" Toren insisted, straightening up. It was harder for her to glare so furiously at him when he was towering over her like that. "I just…"
"Just what, Toren?"
"Just didn't want dad to know. That's all. He chose to take the human colony job, and there weren't many turians at the time who would. But it doesn't mean he likes humans, Naama, and he'll think I'm just trying to disappoint him or something. He thinks that if I'm not going to try to move up in the military I should find a good woman and settle down, raise some kids. He'll just see this as a rebellion or something to make him mad personally."
Toren slumped again as he spoke, finally walking around Naama in the tiny kitchen and going to the couch in the living room. She followed, feeling bad for thinking the worst, and sat on the arm of the couch opposite him.
"I didn't know you and your dad weren't getting along. Your mom never said anything about it."
Toren glanced over at her, his mandibles clamping tightly to his face. "You mean, you visited her a lot?"
"Yeah, all the time. She's really nice. Lots of people visit her."
Toren seemed dumbfounded at this, staring at his hands, limp in his lap.
"Every time we ever talked about you your dad always said good things about you."
"He wouldn't want to embarrass the family," Toren grumbled. "But wait til he hears I didn't go into C-sec."
"It doesn't matter, Toren," Naama assured him, sliding off the couch arm and leaning across the space between him as if she might touch him. "It isn't your job to keep him happy. I made dad mad too when I left. So we're both in trouble with the folks."
Toren relaxed a little, slumping towards the middle of the couch and resting the side of his head against the couch to stare at her. "I was really surprised you agreed to live with me," he revealed after a long moment of silence.
"I was surprised you asked," Naama chuckled and flashed him a grin. "But I figured if I'm going to go on an adventure, I might as well go with you."
"I wish my life still felt like an adventure," Toren sighed, tilting his head up and closing his eyes. He only opened his eyes when Naama's stomach gurgled hollowly. "Um, Naama?"
She rubbed her stomach apologetically. "Haven't had breakfast yet," she reminded him.
"Oh! Right. Finish getting ready and we'll get you something to eat, then shop."
Naama jumped up and ran for the shower as if a varren was on her heels.
Toren took her through their ward, showing her all the shops and paying for much of what she needed. When she protested he reminded her that he hadn't had much to spend his money on in the military, and he liked helping. So Naama let him, but still tried to pass her chit over the counters every time. Toren was just faster.
She blamed the shock, or jetlag. There were bright neon lights everywhere, advertisements that knew her name and Toren's, way more aliens than humans, strange smells and strange music. But no matter how overwhelmed she knew she should feel, Toren's presence at her side was a comfort.
A few hours later they were both laden with bags and boxes. They deposited their haul at home in a heap on the couch and began sorting things out before heading back out for lunch and groceries.
They went to one of the many little food joints in their part of the ward, paying at the counter but sitting where they pleased. They were eyeing each other's meals suspiciously when someone squealed at the door and came rushing over. An asari slid into Toren's booth seat, not quite throwing his plate across the table and squeezing the stiffened turian into a hug. Her purplish blue hue was emphasized by the garish yellow of the booth.
"I heard you got a new roommate and it's a scandal, the asari cooed, practically sitting in the turian's lap. Her leg bumped Naama's knee as the asari somehow curled one leg over Toren's despite being hindered by a long dress. "What is she, quarian? I've heard of it happening, the whole dextros sticking together thing, and there's that Fleet and Flotilla book that they're talking about adapting into a movie, but I didn't think-"
"This is my roommate," Toren growled, easing the asari off him a bit. "Soni, meet Naama."
The asari looked at Naama for the first time, and the human couldn't help feeling like a bug under a microscope. An unattractive bug.
"Oh!" Soni said, grinning in a way that left Naama wanting to disappear. "Well, a human's not so bad. You're, ah, new to the Citadel?"
"Yeah, how could you tell?" Naama asked honestly.
"People don't dress like that here," Soni said with a dismissive wave.
"Soni, ease off," Toren warned.
The asari looked back to the turian next to her, inspecting him with surprise. "Oh, I get it," she finally said with a grin. "Well… I'll just leave you two to your lunch. Nice seeing you Tor. And Naama, we should get coffee some time," the asari offered unconvincingly before walking away with a sway of her hips.
Naama slouched, staring at the rest of her sandwich long after Soni was gone.
"What's wrong?" Toren asked.
"That woman," she grumbled. "Do I look ridiculous, Toren?" She gestured down at herself.
The turian couldn't have been more out of his depth. "Ah, well, I mean, you like fine…"
"My clothes," she said with a little gesture to herself. "Before we get groceries, I need to buy myself some new clothes."
Toren nodded, more in acceptance than agreement. He'd hoped he would find a way to get out of that particular shopping trip.
Naama darted into her room the moment they got home, snatching the bags and boxes Toren was carrying and adding them to her own juggled mess. She heard him chuckle faintly when she dropped her armload to her bedroom floor in a heap, and the crinkling of packages told her he was looking for a place to sit on the couch. The vid turned on after a few moments.
Pulling on her choice for the day, Naama sighed at the long dress. She'd made a point to choose several outfits that included pants, but she wanted to fit in. This one was mostly white with a little blue. She would never admit it, but she'd chosen it because it resembled Toren's clothes. Gods help her if he ever realized just how much he was on her mind.
She stepped out of her room, ready to propose dinner, but the sight of the turian asleep on the couch stopped her. Smiling faintly, she slipped to the couch and sat down slowly, trying not to jostle her roommate even a little. His eye popped open despite her efforts and her regarded her a moment before shifting to the vid screen.
"Looks nice," he said quietly.
"I think this huge skirt is kind of silly," Naama admiited.
"Me too, but it'll help you get a job." Toren gave a fearsome yawn, his mandibles stretching wide, and he sank a little deeper into the couch. "I never understood why humans and asari like to wrap themselves in a bunch of cloth, makes you vulnerable."
Naama shrugged. "I guess for humans you're supposed to have a big strong man to do the serious work. Did the asari wear skirts before humans showed up?"
Toren laughed. "Yeah, they did. I forget you've lived on a human colony your whole life sometimes… your letters always seemed so understanding."
Naama didn't answer, picking at a seam in her new dress. It was well made, and it resisted her attacks much better than the harried strap on the passenger shuttle had.
"Sorry," Toren said.
She smiled and stood up, taking the turian's hand. "I know we got groceries, but let's go out for dinner. On me."
"Uh," Toren said, standing up. "Ok, sure. Dinner."
"Great," she practically cheered, ignoring Toren's frown. She hadn't been one to fake happiness before he left, and this was all new to him. "You pick, I'm still lost out there."
Naama watched Toren bring a gelatinous orange thing to his mouth, not quite hiding her grimace. Had it moved or was it just that wriggly? Her stir-fry was long forgotten. It wasn't like she'd never seen turian food. On the contrary, she'd sat at the Alareon's counter watching Laisa make dinner for Syphus on many occasions. But actually seeing it consumed… His fairly normal looking lunch hadn't prepared her for this.
"Your food isn't any better," Toren seemed to read her mind. "It looks like larvae."
"Yeah, well at least it's not squirming around," Naama said, shoving a mouthful of rice into her mouth just to make Toren grimace.
"You'll definitely impress the humans over there with those manners," Toren remarked as Naama deliberately chewed with her mouth open, chomping her jaws open and closed like a trap.
She started, looking where the turian had twitched his chin. Three men were sitting there, and one was indeed watching. His face was blank with surprise, and it only made it worse when Naama realized her mouth was still open. He leaned over and said something to his friends, and they started to look her way before Naama jerked her eyes back to the table, flushing furiously.
Toren's laughter didn't help.
"I know where you live," Naama mumbled once she'd swallowed her food, turning her body to avoid looking at the three men as much as possible.
"That goes both ways," Toren said, popping another piece of his jiggling orange dinner into his mouth. "And you might want to turn around, one of those humans is coming over."
Naama spluttered into the glass of water she'd been sipping from, eyes darting frantically.
"Are you red from choking, or embarrassment?" Toren whispered, taking obvious delight in her discomfort.
"I'll kill you, Toren," Naama snarled before slamming her glass down. Despite knowing he was coming, she still jumped when a shadow moved over her.
The human wasn't especially interesting, dark hair and brown eyes. He wore gray and blue, matching the uniforms of his companions. Toren wondered where he worked, and vaguely pondered if his job made more than the gun range would.
"Hey," the human said, posturing before Naama. She looked directly left without bothering to find the man's face, and ended up looking right at his crotch. She mechanically cranked her neck back to look at the human. Toren had never seen her interact with a male of her species, at least not since she'd matured. She didn't seem to be doing well.
"Hi," she said, though it was more of a disgruntled honk. The red in her cheeks was starting to spread to her whole face.
"You don't have to eat dinner with a cuttlebone," the man said, ignoring Toren's presence. "We're gonna head to that new "Cowboys" place a few floors down. It doesn't even serve dextro, so that's one less alien to worry about."
Toren's mandibles couldn't have been any tighter to his face. He knew that their people didn't get along, that there were extremist groups and that hate crimes still happened, but the audacity of this one was startling all the same.
"No thanks," Naama said quietly, looking down at her food.
"What, he won't let you or something? You got a problem, cuttlebone?" The human's large dark eyes zeroed in on Toren.
"The lady said no thank you," the turian said, his voice dropping a bit deeper than usual.
"I'm getting sick and tired of you god damned scaly freaks and your attitudes," the human said. The other two were watching intently, but they hadn't gotten up yet. Toren was about to retort, but Naama surprised him by standing up. She wasn't anywhere near the size of the other human, and the way she set her shoulders and lifted her chin told the turian she knew it. Then her hand lifted, brushing down the human's bare forearm.
"You don't like turians?" She sounded so innocent, Toren was starting to wonder what she was up to.
"Never met a turian I liked," the man said, plastering on a cocksure grin.
"Oh. Well, I like turians," she said, her voice starting light and sweet and rapidly hardening. "My best friend is a turian. And I don't like racist bastards with a superiority complex who think they've earned a reason to act like a prick to complete strangers. So." and her hand snapped up to his chest. The heel of her palm connected right where the turian had been trained to strike a human in hand to hand, the "solar plexus." It surprised the man, knocking his breath away and pushing him back a step, "I appreciate the invitation, but I'm gonna have to decline. Now if you don't mind, I'm going to enjoy my dinner and the company of my friend."
"Fuckin' bitch," the man started to clench his fists, but Naama put her hands on her hips. Toren couldn't see her face, but he could remember it well enough. She used to do that pose at him all the time, like when he wouldn't help her put curtains in their tree house (which didn't even have walls, much less windows) or when she found out he'd sabotaged her plans to catch a live rodent for a pet. It was shockingly intimidating then, and if anything she'd only managed to perfect it in the last ten years.
Finally, muttering more expletives than Toren cared to remember, he turned around and walked back stiffly, rubbing at his chest. Naama stood there for a bit longer before sliding back into her seat. She didn't look up at him, and when she picked up her fork it shook in her hand. She dropped it quickly, flattening her palms to the table on either side of her plate.
"Wow," Toren said, leaning forward. "I didn't know you could do that," he admitted.
"Neither did I," she said, darting a glance up at him and pushing her hair behind her ear. "I'm shaking like a leaf," she muttered. "I can't believe I didn't stutter."
"You did great," the turian said with a reassuring smile. He didn't know what possessed him, but he stretched his hand across the small table and rested his hand lightly over hers. Across the room, one of the racist humans snarled come on! but stayed at their table. "But next time, I'll take care of it. If you want."
She looked at his hand, thinking, then dragged her big blue eyes back up to his. "Thanks, I don't think I'm cut out for this kind of thing."
"Drink some water, you'll feel better," Toren suggested, drawing his hand back but letting it rest just a few inches from hers. She took his advice and either the weight of the glass steadied her or she was starting to calm down. Her hand didn't shake when she put it back down and took up her fork, picking at her plate.
"Do you think this will happen a lot?" She inquired. "People getting offended just because we get along?"
"Sometimes. It's weird to see humans like that here, since according to the census over seventy percent of the people living in part of this ward are either asari or turian. Humans make up less than ten percent, and from what I've met they're usually pretty tolerant. Still, new people come through all the time."
"Do they treat humans like that here too?"
"Well, yeah. It's about the same, turians convinced humans still have it out for them the same way humans are convinced. But don't worry, it's not like the news reports like to make it sound."
Naama nodded, apparently finally calmed enough to actually lift a piece of broccoli to her mouth.
"Why did you invite me here, Toren?" she asked abruptly. Toren closed his mouth, forgetting about the food he'd been about to put there. "You could've asked a lot of different people, or another turian… No more worrying about allergic reactions, right? So what made you think of me?"
"This tree is like our house, Toren! See, there's the kitchen, and the living room, and that's where the cat will sleep!"
"You got a cat?"
"No, but maybe we'll get one. I heard that the Cicero family's cat is gonna have kittens. Can you believe they'll be the first kittens actually born on the colony?"
"I don't like their cat."
"Fine. It's still our house, and we can do whatever we want with it."
Toren smiled slightly at the memory, earning a small but confused smile from Naama. "I just thought it would be nice, I guess. I don't know."
Naama just smiled and looked at his hand, where it still rested on the table, relaxed. He just barely managed to control his breath when she calmly took his hand, holding it against her palm, her numerous little fingers curling over one finger. He was so focused on how soft her fingers felt that he almost didn't hear her question.
"Are there any trees to climb on the Citadel?"
He laughed, just a little bit thrilled that her memories had gone to the same place his had, and she pouted. "No, but there is a rock wall we can try tomorrow." Her pleased expression came back when he shifted his hand to let his thumb rest across her fingers.
"Sounds great," she said, and Toren snapped back to reality when he started to push his plate across the table, he was leaning so far forward. She didn't laugh at him, thank the spirits.
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