AN: Wrote this while at the airport waiting for my flights, and then finished it on the plane because the person behind me would apparently rather tap the back of my chair than sleep through an overnight flight.
This story is also notable because it is my first mass kink fill that does not break past a T rating, and even that is just for language.
The Normandy, although funded by an illegal, pro-human terrorist organization, was very much like all the other vessels Shepard had served on. Everyone had a shift. Crew schedules were determined by the XO. And even though they weren't planet-bound and relying on sunlight to determine when was "day" and when was "night," the ship still had "day" and "night" cycles.
Shepard wasn't a morning person. She wasn't a night owl. She was blessed - like many shippers - with an adaptable internal clock that didn't pay attention to this sort of thing. Which is why she was often landed with those awkward shifts in between regular morning and night shifts. The ones that fucked up other people's sleep schedules to the point where they were running solely on caffeine and coffee fumes.
In all honesty, it didn't bother her much. She loved her ship and was more than happy to wander around, even if there was no one to chat with. On shifts like these, she could go hours without seeing another person. Just her and the engines.
But sometimes she would forget. Forget the ungodly hour and head to engineering to talk to Tali, to the medbay to catch up with Chakwas, or to bug Joker in the cockpit. Normally it wasn't a big deal. She'd just wander in to an empty room, realize the time and head out, glad no one was there to witness her embarrassment.
Maybe that made her a little less cautious than she should have been. Just a little less considerate of the time when she'd go to visit someone. Finding out it was 0400 when an unmanned station greeted her instead of her crew was hardly a big deal.
Goddamn Garrus Vakarian and his inability to sleep in crew quarters.
It was an innocent enough mistake. Her wandering had taken her to the Main Battery. She hadn't seen Garrus since their last mission and wanted to check in with him. See how the Cerberus people were treating him. You know. Commander stuff.
When the door opened, she just assumed she'd see the back of his armor, hear him typing away at that console doing whatever the hell he meant when he was 'calibrating.' (In her next life she'd be sure to come back as an engineer, just to understand what it was he was always doing.) Going with her forward momentum, she'd taken a couple steps inside before she realized Garrus wasn't there.
Her smile faded, her greeting dying on her tongue, and her stride faltering just slightly as she came to an abrupt stop.
Fuck, she thought as her hands went to her hips in annoyance. She chewed the bottom of her lip as she swallowed her disappointment. Guess she'd have to try back at the end of her shift.
She probably wouldn't have even noticed him. In hindsight, the idea was ridiculous but she knew it was true. How could someone miss a sleeping turian, only three feet away? But the only thing that brought her attention to him, the only thing that made his presence known to her, was the way his breathing hitched slightly and his mandibles twitched in what she assumed was the turian equivalent of a snore.
Shepard instantly froze, combat mode starting to take over her reflexes. But as she turned slightly to the right, she finally saw him.
Back wedged between a storage crate and the wall, limbs sprawled out in front of him, head drooping to the side. Garrus Vakarian, former Spectre candidate and vigilante scourge of Omega, was sleeping in the fucking Main Battery. Shepard wouldn't have been more shocked if he'd had a blanket and a teddy bear.
Well. Maybe if there were a teddy bear.
She couldn't help but stare, utterly baffled by what she was seeing. This was… not what she was expecting.
Part of her immediately wanted to turn away. She felt… uncomfortable. This was an odd invasion of his privacy that she hadn't planned on. It was a complete goddamn accident, when it came down to it. Like accidentally walking in on someone showering. Totally inappropriate. And in situations like that, you're supposed to blush, look away, and stutter your way through an apology as you backed out the door.
So why were her feet glued to the floor?
The other part of her – the curious part, the nosy Commander, the part of her that fucking missed having her old crew and was clinging to the ones she still had like they'd fucking vanish if she didn't – couldn't take her eyes off him.
She didn't know how many minutes she stood transfixed, watching the even intake of breath. His features more relaxed and at peace than she'd seen since her resurrection.
Goddamn, was he beautiful.
The realization that she'd just thought of one of her best friends as beautiful surprised her enough that she looked away. She shifted uncomfortably on her feet, scratching her forearm awkwardly. Slowly, her eyes drifted back to the still sound asleep turian.
Yes. Definitely beautiful.
She quickly suppressed the implications of that line of thought. Now wasn't the time to open that can of worms.
Doing what she did best in this sort of situation, she ignored what she should be doing (i.e. getting the fuck out of there), and instead took the two steps that separated her and Garrus. She came to her knees beside him, leaning in to get a better look. Her face was only about a foot away from his.
Face to face with a sleeping turian, she mused. Not how I thought I'd spend my shift.
Shepard soaked in the lines of his face. The meeting of plates and the length of his fringe. The lines of his clan markings and the lines of his scars. The cybernetics glowing slightly in the dimmed lighting, reminding her yet again how close she'd come to losing him.
I've never been this close to a turian before, she thought, and instantly realized how stupid the thought was. She'd been this close to turians before. Hell, she'd been this close to Garrus before. But it had always been in combat. Somehow, in her mind, it hadn't counted. This was way different. Much more… personal. Almost intrusive, but the fact that it was Garrus seemed to make it not so.
Her hand was slowly making its way toward his face. It was far enough away that all she had to do was decide to stop it, no harm done. But he was just so fucking peaceful and adorable that she couldn't help herself.
Just a quick touch and then you're getting the fuck out of here, alright?
Her fingers barely grazed the lower tip of his mandible. A feather light touch that only hinted at what was to come.
Faster than even her augmented eyes could catch, his hand snapped up and grabbed her wrist in a vice. She cried out slightly, taken off guard by the movement and the unexpected strength of his grip. But a quick look told her that it was just a soldier's reflex. He wasn't any more awake than he'd been before. His breathing was calm, his features still smooth.
"Garrus," she cooed, mimicking the way her mother had soothed her when she had a nightmare, "it's alright. It's just me."
He grunted in response, but his grip loosened and eventually the talon dropped with a slight thud onto his armored leg. He flexed his shoulders before shifting his weight and resettling.
Thank god turians are deep sleepers, the thought twice as amusing in association with the ever alert sniper.
When she was sure he'd calmed down, she let her fingers trace the same lines and edges she'd only looked at moments ago. She took the time to memorize every part of his face, taking in every detail she'd managed to overlook two years ago. Gently did the same to his scarred cheek, even tracing the charred edges of his armor.
She knew turians were built tough. Built like a fucking tank in comparison to humans. Knowing that, she'd made some assumptions about turian skin. About the texture and feel of it. She'd always assumed it would be like leather, maybe a little tougher. So many lines across his face, she just assumed it would be rough, maybe coarse like sandpaper.
As usual, her expectations of Garrus fell short.
He was surprisingly smooth. Her fingers could glide across his angular features, trace the lines of his nose, and find no resistance. There was almost a give to his skin. Not quite pliable enough to mold, not at all like her skin which could be pushed and pulled with relative freedom. But it gave in to her touch just enough to indicate that it was organic tissue and not metal.
Not that his skin wasn't hard. She could probably take a hammer to him and not even make a dent. It was just… living armor. She was vaguely reminded of a tortoise shell. Her fingers suddenly itched with a desire to explore more of him. To have him completely bare before her, subject to her exploration.
Shepard couldn't help but blush slightly at the idea of her gunnery chief nude.
But dammit, she wanted more.
Both hands were now on his face, greedily taking in every possible contour. She should have noticed she was applying too much pressure. No longer a dream but something much more solid and real. Something that even a sleeping man might notice.
Her thumb followed the line of his jaw, grazing a protruding tooth and coming to a rest on his lips. She wondered what it would be like to kiss them and if he'd be able to reciprocate.
Aw hell, when am I gonna get a chance like this again?
With that, she threw caution to the wind. She leaned in and placed the ghost of a kiss on his lips. Eyes drifting closed as she lingered, as she felt the heat of his skin spread into her.
When she finally pulled away and let her eyes blink open, it was to two blue orbs focusing on her.
She nearly jumped out of her skin as she fell back flat on her ass. "Garrus! I.. uh… didn't see you there…?"
God, just kill me right now. I am going to fucking die of embarrassment so just fucking kill me now.
"What are you doing?"
"Nothing! What would I have been doing?" Nervous laughter. How do you spell 'absolutely mortified?' Fuck. "Ahem… I was just… checking… something…"
"And what exactly were you checking on my face?"
It wouldn't be half so bad if he weren't so god damned amused about this.
"I… I was just checking… uh… on how your scars were healing…?" Slight cough. "They're, uh… looking better." She winced at how goddamned idiotic she sounded. She could hear Joker laughing his ass off if he ever found out about this.
Long pause. Any other time, she would punch that asshole for the smug look on his face. She got up, ignoring the stiffness in her legs. "I'll just be going then…" To throw myself out the nearest airlock.
He followed suit and got up. "Well, I'll be here if you need me, Shepard."
"Right," she said, awkwardly backing herself out of Battery.
He smiled that damn turian grin. "Next time, you might want to wait 'til I'm conscious, though."
The door shut not quite quickly enough to block out the sound of his laugh.
Safely back in the corridor, Shepard collapsed against the wall, absolutely certain that she was a deep scarlet.
"Vakarian is never going to let me live this down," she muttered to herself before putting as much distance between herself and the Battery.