Of course it all went completely different from how Shepard had intended this to go. Her crew was gone, taken by the Collectors, and they were heading for the Omega 4 relay. The chances of surviving that one were slim, and she didn't even want to consider how much less the chances were to recover her crew alive and generally come out of this one alive.
Her initial rage had cooled down into icy determination. Probability didn't matter. They had to try, and they would.
This wasn't the right time by anyone's definition to worry about personal problems or make relevant decisions for one's future.
She had made it clear enough to Garrus that she was interested, or at least hoped that she had, although she had been very careful to leave him a way out if he chose to.
And she had made it clear that it was his choice, and he had to come to her if and when he was certain.
Part of her was still surprised that he really had come to her room. She was touched by how hard he tried to follow what he considered the human protocol for this, bringing wine and playing music, and how awkward he seemed. Before that certain conversation with two persons who knew about these things, she had been faintly amused at the way he seemed awkward when in anything else he was so confident. Now, she knew better, and it wasn't funny anymore. He was out of his depth, and instinct warred with deeply imprinted social rules. He might have referred to himself as a bad turian, and in a way he was, given that streak of independence that he had, but he was still a turian, and in a situation he didn't know how to handle. Whatever else they were, she was still his commanding officer, and a turian simply didn't pursue someone above his rank like this.
Shepard had been bristling at the suggestion that it was her who had to define the way this had to be, but in a sudden flash of insight, she knew that this wasn't about ordering him to do something, but about reassuring him that he wasn't overstepping his bounds.
And she should have known by now that he only got nervous like this if it was about something he considered really important, and he was certain he was failing at it. And it was bad enough that he even said so, in a strange, halting tone she'd never heard of him before.
She waited till he had finished. "Relax. This isn't a performance review, you know?" She stepped up to him, and carefully brought a hand up to his scarred mandible, cradling it lightly. He briefly closed his eyes, leaning into her touch.
Shepard smiled at him. "Now let me say something for once. This...this isn't at all how I would have planned this." His eyes flew open, and he tried to draw back, but she very gently held on to him, and he didn't resist. "I would have waited for a better moment, waited to give you time if you wanted to reconsider. Wanted to make absolutely sure I'm not pushing you into some direction you don't want. But we're out of time. This is the best thing I can do. I can only offer you now. If you want that, that is."
Garrus stared at her, then just said "I'll never know what you see in me, but if you want me with you, that's where I'll be." To her surprise he suddenly leaned in, and slowly leaned his forehead against hers.
Her breath caught in her throat. She wouldn't have thought that it was that far for him. She had hoped he'd be okay with giving this a chance for something more than this, just easing tension, no strings attached. She had had a certain hope for that, because of some of the remarks he had made.
But this...For all he knew, she had no idea what he was just doing. He'd just given a promise, accountable only to himself.
She could choose to leave it at that for now, pretend that she had no idea what he'd just done, let this be something they'd figure out later. If there was a later.
He deserved better than that.
Never make a promise you aren't certain you can keep. She heard those words in her mind, in the voice of another, older turian, and just found herself replying. I'm sure about this.
Almost by itself, her hand came up to his face again, and she traced the outline of his scarred mandible again, then slipped her hand under it, gently cupping the jaw.
For a moment, he relaxed so much he seemed almost melted, a strange sigh coming from his mouth, and that made her smile, then he went rigid. "Shepard..." he said, carefully, then his voice trailed off, as if he had no idea how to ask this question.
She kept contact, and replied softly. "It's all right. I know what it means. I mean it, too."
"Oh." His relief was almost a physical force. "Right."
She was just as relieved, to he honest. He understood. That was good enough for now. This wasn't the time for in-depth discussions.
"Now." she said, allowing her voice to become a bit more playful, "I believe there was something you suggested about easing stress?" She ran her hand over his fringe, and he gave a startled sound that turned into a deep, throaty growl as she stroked again over the spines, then lightly ran her fingers over the back of his neck. There was that line of scales that ran from the base of his head down his neck, and those were rigid, but to the left and right of that was softer skin, and that was where she dug her fingernails in, very gently.
He arched into her touch, drawing in a sharp breath, and Shepard chuckled slightly. "Seems I'm doing something right" she commented, and he growled again. "Now, how do I get this suit off you?"
That got a slight laugh out of him, and he was happy enough to demonstrate.
Their clothes ended up discarded on the way to her bed, and Garrus ended up sprawled on her bed, with her straddling him. Deep down she had wondered whether if it came down to it the alien structure of his body would throw her off, or make her at least pause. There was no doubt in her that she wanted him, but she wasn't foolish enough to confuse imagination with reality.
She found it simply didn't come up. It wasn't turians in general she was interested in, it was just Garrus, who happened to be one. His body was unfamiliar, alien, but that was just the way he was. And there was a strange, unexpected beauty in that angular body covered in shiny plates and less shiny hide.
She took her time exploring. Reason told her they didn't have much time, but she pushed it to the back of her mind. This wouldn't be rushed. If this was all they would have, then they'd make the most of it.
He wasn't shy or awkward now, which only confirmed what she had suspected before: he'd been unsure about what she wanted, and afraid of misunderstanding. But there could be no doubt about her intentions now, and he seemed content to let her take the lead here, too.
She ran her fingers lightly over the inner side of his collar, caressing the softer skin there in a slow motion that made him sigh and stretch in response.
"You've done research." he said, softly, and she smiled as he leaned into her touch.
"You know me. Always be sure of your intel and terrain before charging onto the battlefield." she replied, mock-seriously.
That got a chuckle out of him. His hands came up to her waist, tentatively stroking over her skin, and she leaned into him, encouraging.
He took that as permission, as it was meant to be, and carefully slid his hands higher, letting them rest on her breasts. His palms were textured with rather flat and flexible scales, and the sensation of that against her skin was unfamiliar but pleasant. Very pleasant, she amended to herself as he stroked over one nipple. He was taking his cues from her reactions, and she had to admit he was a quick learner. Then again, he always had been.
She mapped his body with her hands, keeping her touch light, finding the right spots that made him groan in pleasure.
Very soon, she felt plates underneath her shift, which was exactly the reaction she'd been looking for, and smiled again. He was tense under her, muscles shifting under his plates as he fought for control. She appreciated the thought, but she decided that that restraint really wasn't necessary in this instance and ground herself against him, at the same time tightening her thighs around him. Either that convinced him, or it just broke his fragile control, because Garrus gave a deep growl and pushed against her, entering her in a rather sudden stroke.
Her breath caught for a moment, and she instinctively gripped his collar. It shouldn't have taken her by surprise, but somehow it did, and she needed a moment to process the sudden sensation. Then her body caught up with events, and she shivered as a rush of raw pleasure ran through her. Yes, that decidedly felt very nice.
Garrus growled again, but held still, almost worried for her reaction. She ground against him again, a bit harder this time, and that was clear enough for him. It was difficult to say how exactly, but something in his expression relaxed, and his hands settled around her waist again, holding a bit tighter.
The settled into an easy rhythm, and she moaned as she got used to the feel of him. The bit about him expanding a bit apparently was true, and she had to say she fully approved of that.
She leaned over him, bringing her face closer to his as she again reached for the back of his neck. He arched against her, and something in that move brought her into very pleasant contact with a section of ridged plate. It rubbed against her clit in just the right way, and she bit back a gasp.
His reply was a deep, quiet rumbling laugh as he pulled her close, which intensified the sensation. That together with the way he held her let her know that he knew exactly what this was doing for her, and he liked that. Well, he'd always been quick to spot tactical advantages, and use them.
She smiled and leaned even closer, her hand coming to rest farther up at the back of his head, just under the spines of his fringe. His skin was soft here, and she gave it a gentle stroke.
Sudden tension gripped his body as he groaned and thrust at her, and that reaction of his translated nicely between species and required no further explanation.
Shepard didn't even try to hide her delight at this and continued caressing that patch of soft skin, enjoying the sounds that drew out of him, the way it made him move against her. Experimentally, she put on a bit more pressure, just letting him feel the tips of her fingernails.
He growled, a sound that was so low it was more a vibration through his body than a sound she actually heard, and she felt him tense again, then grow completely still. Then it was her turn to groan slightly, as she felt him shift inside her, and she whimpered as she was quite insistently reminded of that certain feature of his anatomy. Barbs, right. And what she'd been told about that had also been nothing less than the truth. She had been a bit apprehensive about that, to be honest, but apparently she had been worrying needlessly. She slightly rolled her hips, experimentally, and just that tiny move sent pleasant little shocks through her nerves. She gasped, heard him growl again in reply.
The knowledge that he was clearly enjoying this was making this even more of a turn-on.
Shepard looked down at him, meeting his eyes. She didn't quite trust her voice right now, but then again they had never needed words to understand each other. Instead, she held his gaze and moved herself sharply against him, tightening her hold on him.
It's all right. Let go. I got you.
He arched against her, hard, several times and she clung tight. The intensity of it had her almost black out, but she kept hanging on to her own control, urging him on until he finally gave a low snarl and shuddered against her. Different species or not, that was clear enough.
Something in that move pushed her over the edge as well, or maybe it was just his expression as he relaxed, tension draining out of him. She buried her face against the inside of his collar, whimpering as her own climax made her convulse against him. Distantly she was aware that she was gripping his collar again and that he was talking to her, encouraging, although she couldn't quite make out the words. Her mind simply seemed to have shortened out and gone blank of anything but sensation. That was okay, though. She knew he had her back.
Eventually, her reason returned. He'd separated from her at some point, but he was still holding her close. Some pointy parts of his chest plates were poking into her skin, but despite that she felt no inclination to move yet.
She became aware of a deep, soft sound that was clearly coming from Garrus, and she lifted her head to look at him. "Are you...are you purring?"
His mandibles twitched, a trace of embarrassment, but mostly amusement. "If you want to call it that, then yes. Does that surprise you?"
Actually it had. "I hadn't known you can do that."
He stroked over her back, absently. "I'm not sure how to ask this, and don't take this the wrong way, but how come you know so much about how this is done, and not know that?"
She raised an eyebrow at him, and he hastily continued. "I mean, Mordin did mention he sent some information package to you as well." his mandibles dropped at that memory, and she suppressed a laugh.
"He did. And I assume you got the talk, too. Was yours as bad as mine?"
Garrus shuddered. "I refuse to answer that one. You got the videos, too?"
"Let's never talk about those again."
"Agreed." His expression turned serious again. "So, no, that can't be it. Where did you learn?"
She traced the blue markings on his mandible idly with a thumb. "You were a C-sec officer. Do you really think I'd compromise my sources?"
He gave a startled half-laugh. "No, seriously. I doubt there are many humans about who know about the meaning of certain turian gestures. And there certainly are less turians who'd tell you. So, who did?"
Shepard shook her head, smiling. He returned that smile with a flare of mandibles that probably meant that the question was merely postponed.
She slid off him and stretched herself out alongside him. He turned on his side to face her, and after a moment's hesitation he wrapped an arm around her again.
They didn't speak, but it was a comfortable silence.
Then the alarm on her bedside table sounded, and she sighed. And just like that, reality had them back. Time to go and make that attempt at being big damn heroes.
She disentangled herself gently from him and sat up, looking at him.
"So let me suggest what we'll do." she finally said, and he looked at her expectantly. "We go through with our mission, rescue our crew and add the Collectors to the list of extinct species. Then we jump back, and once we're clear of the relay your assignment will be to report to my quarters for an in-depth discussion of how we're going to do this. And at some point, I expect, we will also review what your own research has yielded, and you will have to be prepared to...defend any thesis you might have. And then we'll go to the Citadel, and you can meet my sources. I'm sure they'll like that." She paused, then shrugged. "Does that agree with you?"
He stared at her, mandibles working in a way she had come to associate with him being stunned. After a few moments he shook his head. "You did the impossible before. Anyone else I would have called crazy, but with you...if anyone can pull this one off, it's you. You got yourself a deal, Shepard."
She smiled, a fierce flash of teeth. "I'll hold you to that."