Another MassKink fill, for this prompt: "Shepard's LI notices that Shepard has a grey hair, or two, or twelve, and unthinkingly, either through ignorance about social stigmas or just plain not thinking, points it out. How Shepard reacts is up to the author.
Anon would prefer FemShep/Garrus as anon ships them like burning, other pairings are fine, too."
What to do with grey
They're walking back to the Normandy's berth, after another irritating meeting in Anderson's office. Shepard is fuming, her lips pressed together and her eyebrows drawn down. Garrus is watching her out of the corner of his eye. He notes her expression, but he's really watching her hair, how the sunlight on the Presidium sparkles in it and brings out its texture. It's so strange to him, but so beautiful, that he never gets tired of looking at it. He's glad she mostly wears a helmet in combat, so he doesn't get distracted.
Today, he notices something different. "Shepard?"
"Your hair is two colors."
She stops walking. "What?"
"I mean, it's lots of different shades, but mostly one color, except here." He reaches out with a finger, but doesn't quite touch her; touching her in public seems not quite appropriate. "Here, it's silver."
"Oh my God," she says. She looks around, and bolts toward the reflective window of the nearest shop, peering at her reflection. He follows, puzzled. She's muttering to herself that she can't see well enough, and when he gets close enough, she rounds on him. "Are you serious?"
"Yes?" he says, then goes for the firmer version: "Yes. I just noticed it now, in the light."
"Dammit," she says. "I'm not even thirty! Well, I guess I am over thirty now..." She scowls, as she tends to do when reminded of her missing time. "I need a proper mirror."
She storms back to the ship in a black mood, fast enough that he has to work a little to keep up, and he's not sure what he said wrong.
Shepard makes some excuse to get to her quarters alone, and leans toward the mirror, staring at her reflection with minute attention to detail. Garrus is right; there's a streak of grey starting at her forehead, half hidden among the rest. It shouldn't be a big deal, it's just hair, but she finds it unreasonably irritating. She may have come back from the dead, but she doesn't want to look like it.
Her terminal pings: message from Kasumi, inviting her to "girls' night" in her lounge. Fine. She could use a drink.
"I had my first grey hairs before I was twenty," says Kasumi, sipping her ridiculously pink cocktail. "You can always color them. I do."
Shepard says, "Kasumi, you wear a hood. No one even sees your hair."
The thief grins. "I do. And certain gentleman friends do. Grey can be a real turn-off for a lot of guys."
Kelly says, "Oh, I don't know about that. Grey hair can look very sophisticated."
"On men, sure," says Kasumi.
Shepard says, "Kelly, I think you're using 'sophisticated' as a euphemism for 'old.'"
Kelly giggles. "Maybe. I do like an older man."
Kelly likes every kind of man, as far as Shepard can tell, and most kinds of women, too.
Jack puts in, "Dyeing your hair is kind of lame, Shepard. You should just shave it off." Shepard was surprised when Jack started coming to these gatherings, but Miranda never comes, and Jack seems to get along okay with Kasumi and Tali.
Kasumi smirks. "Do you have any grey hair, Jack?"
"Not telling. Even if I did, you couldn't tell, could you?"
"I like it longer than a buzz cut, thanks," grumbles Shepard.
Tali looks around from one woman to the next. "I don't understand the problem."
"Human hair turns grey as it ages, Tali. It's a sign of getting older."
"I understand that, but I don't understand what's wrong with looking older."
Shepard just sighs. Kelly starts in on an explanation about the social value of youth, but she's already had a couple of drinks, so the explanation is a little incoherent. Tali seems to be earnestly paying attention, anyway.
"I bet Miranda dyes her hair," says Jack. "Hair that dark goes grey early, and cheerleader's too vain to put up with that shit."
"I doubt it," Shepard says. "She's probably genetically engineered to stay brunette until she's eighty. Whoops." She puts her hand over her mouth. She tries not to talk about Miranda's genetic engineering, even though everyone on the ship kind of knows. Maybe she's had a few too many. It's not making her feel any better, though, just kind of melancholy. She doesn't want to cut all her hair off, and she's not sure she wants to color it, but she doesn't like the thought of going grey, either. She'll look old, and it reminds her too well of what's coming. Death hurt the first time, and she's not looking forward to her second.
Jack and Kasumi are mixing up new drinks, cackling at each other. Tali slips up beside Shepard and pats her shoulder. "In quarian culture, seniority is very important," she says. "It's good to be thought of as older. More authoritative."
"Humans have some of that, too," Shepard admits, "but..."
"Dr. Chakwas has grey hair."
"Yeah, and she wears it well, but she's also twenty-five years older than I am."
"It's just a little grey, Shepard. I can hardly even see it."
"But I can," says Shepard gloomily.
She broods over it for a couple of days, while they're taking on supplies and installing upgrades. She could ask Dr. Chakwas, or even Miranda, for their opinion, but she doesn't want to draw anyone else's attention to it. She's already half-convinced that everyone can see it, that Kelly's looking at it all the time, and she spends way too much time each morning fussing with her hair to try to keep it covered.
Finally she slips out of the ship alone and heads to a drugstore. She finds the aisle of hair coloring and is a little boggled by all the options. For a minute she thinks that if she's going to color it, she should go for something obviously artificial, blue or purple or something. Jack would probably approve. She decides to just stick with her own natural color, though. There's a little kiosk that scans your hair and suggests matching shades and lowlights and highlights. She does the scan and picks the medium option, and heads back to the ship, feeling as though she's somehow doing something illicit.
She takes it up to her bathroom and is reading over the instructions when her door chimes. She hastily stashes the package in her medicine cabinet and goes to answer it.
It's Garrus. He usually comes right in, so she stands and blinks at him in surprise. He looks ill at ease, shifting from one foot to the other, and he's carrying... flowers? Something she doesn't recognize, probably not an earth flower, with petals striped yellow and blue. "Hey," she says, "what's up?"
"I was hoping you could tell me that," he says. "You've seemed upset, so I thought maybe I should apologize for something, but I'm not sure what I did wrong."
Her eyes widen. Oh crap, she's been really thoughtless. She's been avoiding him while she brooded over her stupid grey hairs, and of course he doesn't know why. "No, I'm sorry," she says. "Come on in."
He does, and holds out the flowers. She takes them and looks around for something to put them in, finds a plain old ordinary glass and runs some water in it. "These are so pretty," she says, "but you really didn't have to."
"Kelly said flowers were a good way to apologize," he says, "I'm just not sure what I'm apologizing for."
She goes back to him and wraps her arms around him. "You didn't do anything wrong," she says. "I just got bent out of shape. It's nothing to do with you. I'm sorry."
He tentatively hugs her back, and relaxes a little, but not all the way. "But it is something to do with me, isn't it? I said something about your hair... I'm sorry if that was offensive, or inappropriate..."
"No!" She tightens her hold on him, feeling guilty that she let him worry about this for days. "I just hadn't noticed that I had some grey hairs until you pointed it out. It's a sign of aging, you might have noticed older humans tend to have completely grey hair, and I just didn't like to think about getting older."
"Oh." He blinks. "I'm not very good with human ages. I didn't realize. But... isn't it better to get older than. You know. Not getting older?"
She has to laugh. "Yeah, that's true. It's just a human cultural thing, we tend to value youth, and I was feeling vain. Actually, when you came up here I was just working myself up to color the grey so it matches the rest."
He pulls back and looks puzzled. "But it's so beautiful!"
She catches her breath, startled. "It is?" Garrus doesn't dish out the compliments regularly, and that's okay; actions speak louder than words, and he's done enough that she knows he respects and admires (and, okay, desires) her. But it's unexpectedly nice to hear a compliment, especially when she wasn't fishing for one.
"Yeah." He traces a finger along the grey, and she shivers at the touch. "It's just a little silver streak, a beautiful little contrast to the rest, like the trim on your armor. Hardly anyone would notice, unless they were really paying attention. Like a secret." He clears his throat, looking suddenly abashed.
Shepard smiles. "So you were really paying attention, huh?" He nods. If he could blush, he probably would. "Well," she says, "if you like it, it can stay. But I warn you, it's not going to stay a secret little streak forever. There'll be more and more of it, and then eventually it'll all turn grey."
"Then we'll match," he says, and looks nervous. "Um. If that doesn't bother you."
She looks him over, at how the light shines silver off his plates, and thinks it over, and smiles. "Yeah. Then we'll match. That'll be nice."