Shepard tried to keep the smile off her face as his eyes widened, as did his mandibles. And this, she thought, is the sight of Garrus catching on. Well, that took him long enough. Subtlety evidently hadn't worked so far, so she'd tried for a more direct approach.
To be honest, she had no idea at all how turians went about flirting, or whether they did so at all. All she did know was that for some reason she didn't just like him as a person, she actually felt attracted to him. She had been surprised at herself a bit for considering someone not even of her own species in that manner, but that had been the extent of it. She never had made a habit out of second-guessing herself or overanalyzing. There were some things she didn't question, and this was one of them. It had seemed reasonable enough to try and just see what his reaction would be.
After all, if this went badly, she could always make light of it or blame it on some cultural misunderstanding, no harm done. In the end, it was better knowing for certain, even if the outcome wasn't favourable, than keeping wondering indefinitely.
She pushed herself away from the Mako's wheel and leaned her back against the hull left to the hatch instead.
"You're doing that on purpose." he accused her.
She had to smile at that, he sounded almost scandalised. "You are a credit to your investigator training." she teased, and he shook his head.
But his stance was tense, and she couldn't really read his expression right now.
Garrus pushed away from the Mako, coming closer. "You really were doing that on purpose" he repeated, and there was an edge to his voice. Something in the set of his facial plates changed, hardened, as he advanced another step. "You shouldn't do that. You just...shouldn't."
Shepard blinked, considering her reply, but he was suddenly right in front of her, slamming his palms against the Mako's hull to each side of her head, looking down on her. Too close. It was an effort to suppress fighting reflexes that insisted that being trapped by a tall turian of at the moment uncertain temper was a very bad thing.
She had to admit to herself she'd probably had made a mistake here.
He was breathing hard, and it took all of her nerves not to flinch but to give him a calm look. Inwardly she cursed. Well, she had wanted to provoke a reaction. Now she had. Pity it wasn't the one she'd been looking for.
Then she realised that he was growling, steadily but almost inaudibly, and as close as she was to him, that wasn't a reassuring sight at all. By all accounts she ought to be at least wary - his reactions were difficult to predict, given that he was a different species, and there was no telling what he'd do once he lost his temper.
She hadn't seen that on him, so far, so she didn't know what warning signs to look out for.
All she knew was that she had somehow pushed him too far, and what had been friendly and more or less subtle flirting to her obviously was something else altogether to him.
Yet she couldn't back down, not just like that. Instead, lifted her chin slightly, pretending he wasn't invading her personal space and she wasn't worried in the least. "Speak your mind, by all means." Her own voice was calm, she was glad to find.
The growling grew slightly louder, but his expression remained the same.
"Don't do that." he said, the deep growl somehow an undertone to his normal voice. "I already told you I'd do whatever I could to help, whatever you ask. I said I would follow you. And I will. I don't know what else you want of me, but whatever it is, just say it. There's no need to toy with me like that."
Shepard stared up at him. Was he thinking she was trying to humiliate him? Why would he think that? Was that why he was that angry?
"Garrus, just how angry are you at me, right now?" she asked in the same calm tone, meeting his eyes.
His eyes were still too bright, but he suddenly shook his head, looking down. "I'm not angry. Not really."
Shepard frowned. If he wasn't angry, as he claimed, why was he still growling, and all but threatening her.
Then she could have kicked herself for being this slow. Not angry. Just a mixture of turned on, hurt pride at the perceived deception and confusion, probably mostly the latter.
Something must have shown on her face, because he lifted his head and pushed himself away from the Mako, maintaining distance between them again.
"I'm sorry, that was way out of line." he said, trying for his normal tone of voice but failing.
Shepard narrowed her eyes at him, searching his face. "Not sure what you're apologising for", she said. "given that I was trying for some reaction. Seems I got one."
The turian shook his head ruefully and twitched his mandibles in the way she had started to recognise as embarrassment. "As I said, sorry. I don't know what you want from me."
He looked almost ready to bolt, but her gaze held him.
"Hmmm. A honest reaction would be fine." she said slowly.
His mandibles twitched again, as he visibly and in vain struggled for words.
"I wasn't trying to toy with you, as you called it. I was just...trying to see whether you were interested, because I sure as hell am. I certainly didn't intend any insult." He looked a bit incredulous. "Tell me one thing" she continued "if this was a turian ship and I were a turian and your commanding officer, what would you do?"
Garrus laughed at that, slightly startled. "We wouldn't even be having this conversation. If you'd shown any interest we'd definitely be ...uh, very much not interested in conversation right now. Turians, we're a lot more direct than you humans seem to be."
Shepard's lips twitched. "So you're just not into aliens, is that it?"
Inwardly she shrugged. It was a pity, but if that was the way he felt, that was all right, too. She knew how to respect boundaries.
"I don't know." he replied, staring at her. "I thought I wasn't. I've never really considered it."
He paused, and she again could have kicked herself for being insensitive. She simply hadn't considered that option. Just because he had lived and worked on the Citadel didn't mean he had adopted the same moral standards for his personal life.
"It's okay" she said. "I never meant to make you uncomfortable."
"No, that's not it." he interrupted quickly. "I mean, yes, I may be a bit uncomfortable, but it's because I don't know what to do."
Shepard raised an eyebrow. "Do you mean you don't know whether you're really interested or you don't know how this should work, technically?"
If he was taken aback by her blunt question, he didn't show it. "The latter, mostly."
A slow smile started on her face. "Neither do I, really, but I've always been good at improvising. So...if you want to give this a try..." her voice trailed off, with a bit of a teasing note.
"Well, I already told you I'd do anything you asked." he said, with a slight flare of mandibles. "And really, who am I to refuse my commanding officer?"
Shepard shrank back, staring at him. Sudden shame flooded through her. She was taking advantage of someone under her command. Someone who wasn't able to refuse. That was the last thing she'd wanted. She was still struggling for words to form an apology, anything, when he gave her a slightly confused look.
"I just said something really wrong now, didn't I?"
Shepard looked at him. "No. But maybe I did." His expression was still one of honest confusion, and she bit her lips. "Look, this isn't what I -" She drew a breath. "I don't want to take advantage of your loyalty. Or push you into some direction you don't want. And just because I'm your commanding officer-"
To her surprise, his mandibles flared wide. He shook his head. "That just came out wrong, I guess. Maybe just lost in translation. It's not like that. And I know you wouldn't do that." He gave her a considering look, then suddenly nodded slightly, tension draining out of his stance. "I think I've figured it out now. I don't think I'm interested in humans. But I'm interested in you. Very much so."
She didn't try and interpret more into these words than necessary. This wasn't the place or the time. But what mattered was that she hadn't ruined this.
So the question now was how to proceed...
It might have been wiser to take it slow, talk things through, be sensible. There was so much possibility for misunderstanding that it made her head ache to even think about it. Take time to plan. Time to second-guess oneself, and maybe time for one's initial courage to fail.
Or else, she could take a chance and play this by ear, here and now. As she had seen just now, words could be misinterpreted, and his self-confidence in this regard seemed uncharacteristically fragile. Chances were high that he'd interpret delay as rejection.
And just as plain as that, she wanted his company, and had no problem at all letting him know that.
Shepard suppressed a smile. In the end, that was an easy decision. Well, then.
She turned to the side, opening the hatch of the Mako, and slipped inside, retreating to the opposite side and leaning her back against the inner hull.
Garrus was watching her with a mixture of uncertainty and fascination, but made no move to follow.
Shepard smiled. "Will you get yourself in here by yourself or do I have to make it an order?" Her tone was teasing.
His mandibles twitched in amusement, but he complied without further comment, folding himself on the seat beside her and drawing the hatch closed. "What do you have in mind, commander?" he asked, the growl back in his voice.
Shepard's smile widened. "Well. It's my fault you're would up that tightly...I better do something to ease that tension. That's only fair, isn't it?"
"I've always admired your sense of justice." he quipped.
The interior of the Mako didn't allow for much room, and the interior lighting was minimal, but somehow this was quite all right with her. She slid closer to him, careful of his reaction as she leaned in and laid a thumb against his right cheek-plate, tracing the blue markings there.
He half closed his eyes and leaned into the touch, which she interpreted as permission to continue. His hands came up, settling around her waist, and the growl deepened, becoming almost inaudible to her. Shepard chuckled and slipped off her uniform shirt, feeling his hands immediately taking advantage of the situation. He'd gotten rid of his gloves, sliding textured palms against her torso. Blunted black talons trailed slowly over her skin. His hands mapped her body, a bit hesitantly, but she supposed that was understandable. He had told her he had no idea about how to do this, and presumably was worried about unintentionally hurting her or coming over as too clumsy. Easily remedied, that. She took one of his hands and guided it to her breast. He caught on quickly, which came as no surprise; from other situations she'd already witnessed that he was a fast learner.
It shouldn't have affected her that strongly or that quickly, but it did, and she found herself leaning into his touch as she tugged at the seals of his armour. At least this wasn't much of a challenge as his armour and the undersuit he wore underneath detached in parts, just like Alliance issue armour did. She checked for his reaction again, and found he seemed quite at ease and content to let her take charge like this, just as trusting in her ability to lead as out in the field.
There really wasn't much space to move in here, and it wasn't exactly the time or mood for finesse, but in these circumstances that actually was an advantage. In a way, it meant there was less opportunity to make mistakes, really.
His plates were rough against her skin as she slid into his lap, the sensation unfamiliar, but far from unpleasant. She had to contort herself quite a bit to get rid of the rest of her uniform. Apparently he seemed to like that too, as his reaction was quite familiar, species differences aside. She smiled at that, then slid into his lap again. She reached for his fringe, only intending to playfully pull him closer, but when he gasped and half closed his eyes, she couldn't ignore a perfect opportunity like that. Further experimentation showed that the back of his neck was a very sensitive zone, and a gentle stroke there made him arch against her. Shepard found she liked that, very much. Just as much as she liked the unmistakable hardness pressing against her. Of course there was always room for improvement.
She raised herself up a bit, reached down between them and ran her fingers over his length once. She had to go by touch alone, but from what she could tell was that basic anatomy was a close enough match to make this possible and the ridged texture held the promise of this being quite pleasant. She lowered herself slowly onto him, his unfamiliar shape stretching her.
Garrus held himself very still, but from his groan and the way his hands tightened around her waist again she was confident to assume that she had his approval.
He gave a low rumble, and she ground against him, moaning at the sensation. That was all the encouragement he needed, and he thrust up sharply against her, drawing another moan from her. She'd been right before, those ridges did feel very, very good inside her. She gripped him tighter with her thighs, instinctively trying for even closer contact as they found an easy rhythm.
Shepard leaned closer to him, hugging him as close as she could. She gasped as she found that at this angle some part of his plates rubbed against her clit in a very stimulating way. She dragged her fingers again against the underside of his fringe and the back of his neck, felt him respond to that by kicking up his pace.
Sensation built, drawing nearer to its inevitable conclusion as their movements grew more frantic. Shepard whimpered and dug her fingernails into his skin, urging him on wordlessly.
Garrus suddenly tensed under her, then gave a low, rumbling snarl as he thrust against her hard, a shudder running through his body. That reaction, too, translated well between species, and it was enough to send her over the edge as well. She whimpered again as pleasure peaked and her climax hit like a shockwave. The sensation was so intense that all she could do was cling tight and try to remember how to breathe. Distantly, she felt him shift his grip, hands splaying over her back as he held her.
Still out of breath, she held on to him, stroking the back of his neck in slow, gentle circles.
"Well. I can't speak for you, of course, but I'd say we got the question about how this is technically supposed to work solved." Her tone was deliberately light.
Garrus chuckled. "You know, if you keep that up, you risk a repeat performance."
Her fingers stilled immediately as she leaned back to look at him. "As much as I'd like that, I don't think that's a good idea."
A strange expression crossed his face, masked before she was certain of it, replaced by his normal calm.
He nodded, carefully. "I see." His tone was just as careful, betraying nothing of what he thought or felt.
Shepard narrowed her eyes, finally catching on. "No - no, that's not what I meant." Inwardly, she cursed herself. Of course he'd misinterpret that. "I meant, I'd like to take this somewhere else."
He blinked at that, and she clarified "I'd like to see you properly. Learn what you like. Take more time with this." She paused for a moment, searching his face, then added "Assuming that that's all right with you, of course."
His mandibles twitched into what she'd learnt by now to identify as a wide grin.
"Good." She smiled at him."Because I don't think that's the kind of activity the engineers had in mind when the Mako was designed."
She disentangled herself from him and slid over to the other seat again, spending some time to locate her clothing. It was definitely even more of a struggle to get back into them, given the cramped conditions of the Mako, but she managed it without pulling a muscle.
Having managed to get herself more or less presentable, she regarded him.
"I still have some matters to attend to, but that shouldn't take more than half an hour. So...if you feel like it, you're more than welcome to come by in my quarters, and we can discuss this risk of a repeat performance that you mentioned in more detail."
He nodded, then hesitated. "Are you certain about this? I'll be careful, but can't guarantee I won't be seen by any of the crew. Chances are that someone will notice."
Shepard gave it a moment's thought, understanding what he was getting at. Then she shrugged. "This is not an Alliance vessel and you're not Alliance either. If we get technical about this it's even debatable whether you're to be considered as really under my command, as you never were officially transferred from C-sec to the Normandy. I'm not aware of any rules we could be breaking here. Given that I'm a Spectre and a human one at that, it's a given that whatever I do, there will be disagreement about it, so it makes no sense to be too concerned about public opinion in any case. No, as far as I am concerned this is just between the two of us. What I do or don't do when off duty shouldn't be anyone's concern, should it?"
Her matter-of-fact tone startled him into a laugh. "That's a very turian point of view." he allowed, his tone approving.
Shepard smiled. "So. I'm not worried about any gossip. Are you?"
Garrus considered the question for a moment, then shook his head. "No." He offered no further explanation, and she didn't push for it.
She nodded. "That's settled, then." Shepard drew open the Mako's hatch and swung herself outside. She looked back over her shoulder at him, smiled briefly, and added "So, I hope I'll see more of you later on, Garrus." With that, she turned to walk away, but she did catch his reply in a soft, almost purring voice, and it had the sound of a promise.
"Oh, you will, Shepard. You will."