A/N: Done as a misfire fill on the Mass Effect kinkmeme. Pure porn with some tiny semblance of a maybe-plot.

Disclaimer: I do not own Mass Effect; all characters contained herein are over the legal age of eighteen.

Javik was staring at Shepard as though she had just dropped to all fours and turned into a Varren.

"'Pleez'?" he inquired, with an angry undertone to his already growling timber. "What is the meaning of this...'pleez'?"

"Figures the prothean wouldn't know basic etiquette," Joker mumbled, taking a sip of water.

"Ah—" Liara interjected, happy to be part of any conversation that involved protheans and their culture, "the prothean language doesn't have an equivalent of the word 'please.' Imperative statements are considered good etiquette for them. That probably didn't translate well for him. Or at all."

"Do not tell me this as if I am not aware," Javik said to Liara in a rather sour tone, before turning his attention again to Shepard, who was watching the scene play out with mild interest. "Now tell me what is the meaning of this word."

"Bossy," Joker lilted.

"Imperative," Liara corrected.

"Answer me," Javik snapped.

Shepard gave up altogether on eating her meal. She pushed away her plate and sighed, leaning her elbows on the table and staring up at Javik with a furrowed brow. He had come to join the crew in their celebration of destroying the Reaper on Rannoch, but he refused to partake in any meals or excited conversation. For most of the night, he had been leaning quietly against the wall beside the table, observing the festivities and occasionally shooting off some comment about this-or-that species' behavior. His interest had been piqued, however, when Shepard had asked Liara to "Pass me the gravy, please," (to which Liara had confusedly looked between a boat of gravy and a cup of milk). "It's human etiquette," she explained, meeting his gaze and not wavering under its intensity. She remembered his comment about prothean staring contests and smirked slightly. "Most other species share the sentiment."

Javik made a low noise of discontent in the back of his throat and shifted, looking the other way. "Frivolous niceties. Prothean do not bother with such things."


"Joker," Shepard cautioned, not wanting to upset their prothean squadmate further. He didn't seem too upset, though, and instead seemed more inquisitive than anything. His features had softened, though the sharp angles of his crest as it dipped over his eyes gave him a perpetually pissed-off look. "It can also be a form of pleading or bargaining," Shepard continued, to sate what might have been his curiosity. "Some humans favor begging when conducting negotiations."

"Weak," he commented, and that was the last word he spoke of the night. After his sudden outburst, the rest of the crew had gone back to minding their business, eating and laughing, rejoicing and then sharing worries about the upcoming mission. Javik had occasionally fiddled with his omni-tool, perhaps in an effort to look busy or perhaps just because he felt like it, though Shepard noticed—mostly out of the corner of her eye—that he would occasionally glance in her direction until she made to move or someone else began talking about her.

It seemed this "please" had interested him more than he let on. Either that, or he had some other issue that he wasn't going to discuss in front of the whole team. Regardless of the situation, she resolved to visit him in the cargo hold after the night's events had wound down. They were still en route to another star system, but it would take them another twelve hours to get there, so she had time to ask him what was up and still get a good night's sleep in.

After conversation had died down and everyone's bellies were full of food, people began to retreat to their own quarters. Garrus was the first to slink off for the night, quoting some tired line about calibrations in jest (or so Shepard assumed—it was very possible he was being serious). Traynor had gone shortly afterward, and after them people began to leave in groups until the only ones left were Shepard, James, and Javik. James and Shepard were chatting calmly near the sink, a drink in each of their hands, but Javik was still leaning against the wall, on his omni-tool and pretending like he wasn't listening to their conversation.

"Would never have pegged him as a wallflower," James said under his breath, and Shepard laughed.

"I think it's less of him being a wallflower and more of him just being grouchy."

"I dunno, Lola. I don't think 'grouchy' is the right word for it." He finished off his drink and set it in the sink, straightening and then giving Shepard a stiff salute. "I think I'll be retiring for the night, now. We got a long day ahead of us tomorrow."

"Damn straight we do. At ease, soldier," Shepard teased, and she watched James leave, finishing up her drink and then setting it in the sink as well. She watched Javik as she passed by, watched how he seemed unconcerned that they were now the only two left in the room, and then stopped shortly before she rounded the corner to get to the elevator. She didn't say anything, though, just watched—waited to see when he'd notice and say something.

After a few moments, he spoke, though he didn't look up from his omni-tool. "I have ears, Commander."

Shepard frowned. He always had such a poor attitude. "Good. In that case, you know that I'm going to bed now."



Shepard folded her arms and faced him fully, cocking her head sideways. "Don't protheans have...I don't know, some kind of nighttime farewell?"

He looked up from his omni-tool, forearm still raised to chest-height and highlighting his features in soft shades of orange. "Yes."

Shepard uncrossed her arms. "Well?"

He didn't say anything for a moment, but he studied her face, perhaps wondering if she really even deserved to know. "Faa mi sile odaarun."

She was about to accept this and simply say goodnight, but then the words began to come together in her mind and she realized...that she could speak Prothean. She understand immediately what he had said, and rather than be surprised that she knew a dead 50,000-year-old language that only one other being in the entire universe knew, she was shocked at what Javik had actuallysaid to her: "You just told me to leave you alone."

He seemed to glean great amusement from this, because his omni-tool disappeared and he stood to his full height, pacing around her much like a predator would. "Yes. I had wondered if you could understand Prothean."

She watched him as he walked in a wide circle around her, stopping before the corner and giving her one last appraising once-over. "O da aaro, Commander." And then he disappeared.

Shepard continued to stand rooted to the spot, in shock for a moment, processing what he had just told her: Good night, Commander. In Prothean. And she had understood it. And before that, he had told her to go away. By the time she'd regained her bearings enough to dart around the corner and confront him, he'd already taken the elevator down to engineering.

Upon returning to her cabin-now made much less fancier and much bleaker by the Alliance retrofitting crew-Shepard found it nearly impossible to sleep. She had showered and climbed into her warm bed, wearing comfortable black pajama pants and her thin black civilian t-shirt, but she tossed and turned, uncomfortable about everything. Thoughts raced through her mind: of the upcoming mission, of the ever-looming threat of the Reapers, of the losses her team had suffered, and, perhaps most curiously, of the conversation she had earlier shared with Javik. It was so disconcerting that she knew Prothean, though actually quite understandable. She wanted to talk about it. Wanted to discuss how and why. She couldn't do that to Liara; Liara typically went to sleep early nowadays, waking early to take care of her Shadow Broker business and leaving the long hours of the night for sleep.

Shepard sighed and flopped onto her back, kicking off the blankets. There was no way she could sleep with this much on her mind. After a brief moment of thought, she activated her omni-tool, pinging Javik—the only one who probably would still be up—to see if he was available. He responded before she could even deactivate her omni-tool and lay her hand back down by her side. His message was the perfect picture of brevity:

[00:12:34] You have pinged Javik.

[00:12:42] Javik: What

Shepard was unsure of what to say. She had actually assumed he would be asleep. She thought for a moment before responding.

[00:13:01] You: Didn't mean to wake you. You available?

Just as before, she didn't have to wait long for a reply.

[00:13:10] Javik: Yes

She took only a second to steel herself before she sprang to her feet and pulled on some socks and boots. She decided not to change, figuring Javik was probably in his civilian clothing at this point as well. It was late and she doubted all that armor was terribly comfortable anyway. She wracked her brain for ideas of what to say to him when she went down there as she boarded the elevator and chose engineering as her destination. What could she say? I just realized I can speak a dead language. Hi. Yeah, that'd go over well.

The elevator arrived at engineering faster than she would have liked, and she stepped out, hoping no crew members would see her sneak to the cargo hold. God forbid Allers was up and prowling this deck; she'd never let her live this down. "Sneaking off to see the prothean at night, Commander? Sounds like the making of a tragic soap opera."

The door to the cargo hold was not locked, so it whooshed open for her on a soft sigh, and she stepped inside the humid space. Javik was at his usual post in front of the basin, treading his fingers in the water languidly. To her surprise (and horror) he was, indeed, still outfitted in his smooth red armor.

"Commander," he greeted, without turning around.

"Enle," she responded in Prothean. She had only said a simple "Hello," but he whirled on her, his eyes narrowed. She was almost worried he would cause an incident and cursed at not at least putting her hoddie and military pants on, but his tense posture relaxed and his expression changed from anger and surprise to boredom.

"I will not be getting used to that any time soon," he commented, obviously referring to hearing his own language again.

"It was a bit of a surprise when I realized I could understand it," Shepard said, folding her arms. The ship was generally too cold to run around in just a t-shirt, but the cargo hold was warmer and the air was heavy. Javik took a few steps toward her and the hair on her arms stood on end. "Which was about thirty minutes ago, I should add."

He seemed to take in the sight of her, the sheer bulk of her form diminished by the lack of armor or even outer clothing, lingering uncomfortably long on the place where her clavicle was partially hidden under the neck of her shirt. "Do you like it?" he asked, his voice deeper than she remembered, slightly flanged as always but also tinged with a gentle and subtle vibration.

"The language?" she asked, shifting under his gaze.

His lips curved into a barely noticeable smile. "What else would I be referring to, Commander?" His eyes moved to the rather exposed column of her neck. Okay, maybe coming down here was not the best idea.

"It's pleasing," she replied honestly. Prothean was definitely easy on the ears, though it was a rather unemotional language. Words seemed to roll together perfectly with few pauses or breaks in syllables and speech. "And interesting. I'd like to more about it."

Immediately distracted by this declaration, he scoffed, tearing away from her and returning to his post at the water basin, though he now braced himself against it instead of leaning on it leisurely. His shoulders were hard, straight lines, his posture stiff and straight. "You sound like the asari," he commented dourly.

"Can you blame me?" She moved closer to him until she, too, was up against the water basin, though she kept a reasonable distance between them. "We know next to nothing about your people. It's only natural that we want to know more. Even you were curious about the human custom of saying 'please.'"

"That word," he snapped suddenly, turning on her and baring his teeth, surprising her into a defensive position, "does not suit your mouth, Commander. A human such as you should never be so weak and timid as to say pleez."

Shepard, now more curious than worried for her physical well-being, raised an eyebrow. "A human such as me...?"

Javik gripped her by her upper arms in the span of a second, his strong fingers digging into her flesh, his four bright eyes boring into hers. She briefly saw flashes of his memories, his experiences: first one or two prothean comrades, then his emergence from his stasis pod, his fear and confusion, his later acclimatization onto the Normandy, all the times he had watched her fight and then spoken to her in this very room. She felt a flood of tension in the pit of her belly that spread hotly between her legs as Javik's memories of her rushed past her at a dizzying pace. When he leaned near her in conversation, stood close to her in the shuttle, pressed his body against hers in tight cover, he had been experiencing these feelings. The memories stopped abruptly, and she found she was again staring up at the face of Javik, who had taken on a predatory look and was breathing in shorter and faster breaths than he had been before. Some of her memories had been transferred to him, too, she realized in shock. Some memories of her heart beating slightly faster when his warm body was held firmly against hers, dodging hails of gunfire-not, probably, because it was Javik, but just because it was someone who she respected, and because she couldn't help her hormones.

"You fight as a true warrior," Javik intoned, his voice hoarse and strained. He released his grip on her arms and moved his hands up to smooth over her shoulders and then down, following the dip of her back and then pressing against her, moving her closer to him. "You fight as a prothean." And then he leaned forward and his lips were suddenly on her neck, his teeth barely grazing the skin there, his hands still rubbing rhythmically up and down her back, mapping her very human muscles and the curvature of her spine.

"Javik," she breathed, her world spinning. He was still touching her, still transferring his feelings to her, so she was feeling every little tug of pleasure that he was, every little flood of heat. She couldn't blame it all on just the transference of experiences, though; not entirely. That idea, instead of bothering her, seemed to fan the flames, and she groaned under his touch, leaning further into him, hips flush against his and her hands grasping at the front of his armor. "Off," she whispered harshly, searching blindly for any seals to pop or clasps to remove to just get that armor of his off.

He hummed gently, a reverberating noise against her skin that sent a warm buzz through her body, and guided one of her hands around to his left side, where a seal was nestled beneath a plate of armor. She released it with some effort, and the hard shell around his chest came loose. He shrugged it off, looking displeased to be breaking contact with her, and then slipped out of the armor covering his lower body as well. He wore a simple black undersuit beneath it that conformed to his body and outlined every dip, curve, and jut—every very alien feature, including the now-prominent tent in exactly the place she expected it to be. She didn't have long to study him, though, because he was back on her in a breath, sweeping her up and setting her atop the water basin. She yelped as her butt and thighs touched the water, but he silenced her when he tugged her shirt up over her head and then pulled her against him by the legs. He started in on her neck again, licking down to her collarbone and giving it particular attention, making her gasp. For every breath she took, his breaths increased in pace, until he was panting as he covered her entire upper torso in prothean kisses-which seemed to be more swirling the tongue than pursing the lips-and gentle bites. "O rewa lobinrin ni t'ole nkan," he breathed. Your beauty is only for me.

She wanted to respond in kind—in Prothean, no less—really, she did, but he began to take off his undersuit and she lost her train of thought. She ran her hands over his chest as it became bare, his skin slightly harder than her own but smooth to the touch. Her fingers trailed down to his ribs, which had the same ridges his throat did, and his breath hitched. Shepard smiled deviously, still somewhat breathless, and leaned in to tease his neck much like he had hers, mimicking his prothean kisses and grazing his flesh carefully with her blunt human teeth. Javik tried to contain a desperate groan and failed, his undersuit now half off and bunched at his hips, and moved his hands down her stomach, down beneath the waistband of her thin pants. Shepard wondered briefly at female prothean physiology before Javik's cool fingers touched her outer folds and then slipped between them, already feeling the wetness there and humming low in his throat in approval because of it.

"I see human physiology is similar to prothean," he mused, sounding far too amused for Shepard to be wholly okay with. It wasn't fair that he wasn't reduced to a panting mess like she was. She decided to remedy this by sliding her hands down the flat planes of his stomach and over the bulge in his undersuit.

His next sentence died before he could whisper it in her ear, and he gripped the edge of the water basin tightly with the hand that wasn't busy exploring between Shepard's thighs. She followed the form of it through his undersuit, noting that it was somewhat similar to a human's if not a bit bumpier and thicker at the base, and said in a low voice, "Looks like you're right."

A strange noise fluctuating in pitch and rolling like a low-toned chirping ripped through his chest, reminding her for a terrifying moment of the noises that the Collectors made. He moved away from the basin to remove his undersuit the rest of the way, and Shepard slipped off of her seat, going down on her knees in front of Javik, deciding that she found the noise sort of sexy in its own way, if only because it was coming from Javik.

He watched her curiously with half-lidded eyes as he removed the last of his clothing, tensing when she took his cock in her hand and experimentally moved her fingers along it. It certainly did have bumps—dull subdermal ridges that lined the side of it all the way to the tip. The tip itself was rounded but not quite as much as a human's and it was thinner, growing in girth until it reached an impressive thickness near the base. It felt firm in her hand, and she wondered if he was at full arousal. To test this theory, she pressed her lips to the tip, and it stiffened as he gasped her name when she darted her tongue out for a taste.

"That feels..." he began, obviously at a loss for words.

"Mmhm," she hummed playfully, taking what she could into her mouth. She ran her tongue along the ridges, delighting in the way that he shuddered under her ministrations. Now he was the one who could barely form a sentence. She took Javik's cock out of her mouth to lick a path down and underneath, pumping while she licked the smooth flesh there. He put his three-fingered hands in her hair, probably unsure of what else to do with them, and pulled, forcing her to move where he wanted her to move. He guided her mouth around him again and thrust, the tip pressing against the back of her throat and giving her a shock. She adjusted to his movements, though, and sucked while he slowly slid his cock in and out of her mouth, along her tongue, groaning while he did so and his chest heaving.

"Shepard," he insisted—growled, really—letting her know that he was close, and she withdrew from him. He seemed none too pleased with this action, but she motioned for him to join her on the ground and he did, sitting down and pulling her into his lap. "Take these off," he said, tugging at her pants, and she did, with ease, also removing her underwear.

"So how do we..." Shepard began, suddenly feeling a little bit awkward and unsure. Missionary sex would probably work and from-behind certainly would, but—

"Like this," Javik instructed, moving her legs around his hips and positioning the tip of his cock just below her pussy. "Take a breath, Commander," he continued, grinning in what Shepard could only describe as self-satisfaction. "Protheans are not like your human men."

And he was right. From the moment he slid inside of her, he stretched her slowly, the tip of him fitting just fine but the base being an uncomfortably tight fit. She gasped out loud and gripped his shoulders, throwing her head back. Javik made that deep chirping noise again, obviously seeing this action as some kind of prothean social cue that she was offering herself to him, and he bit into her neck, holding her firmly in place but not harming her. He lifted her up by gripping underneath her thighs and then slowly lowered her again, eliciting another noise of pleasure and dull pain from Shepard. He grunted loudly with her neck still in his mouth when he lowered her completely, fitting his cock snugly inside of her, completely filling her with his length and width. The ridges on it rubbed against Shepard's inner walls. She could feel his cock twitching inside of her whenever he lifted her up and then down again, furthering the sensation of the ridges against the inside of her, and she cried out Javik's name on a desperate plea.

He pulled away from her neck only to demand, "Bami lyen si." Say it again. And even then, when he had broken contact for that brief moment, he had gripped her thighs tighter until he could again latch onto her neck, this time letting his tongue slip out to run tantalizing circles over her skin. The sensation of his mouth on her throat, his hands on her thighs, his cock inside of her, so thick and strange, stimulating her in ways she'd never felt before, became too much too quickly. She gasped and moaned and rolled her hips against him, helping him in lifting her up and down. Javik seemed to be sharing in this pleasure, because she could feel his skin grow clammy and his cock swell slightly and grow even harder. Even his teeth on her neck pressed down, sharp enough to give her a pinprick of pain but blunt enough not to break the skin.

"Please," Shepard begged, and a feral-sounding half-chirp, half-growl tore from Javik. He slammed hard into her, making her yell out in pain and see stars.

"Kosi," he ground out in Prothean, pulling only momentarily away from her, obviously not able to form sentences in any other language at the moment, "itu'nede si." No. Demand it.

Shepard almost apologized but then thought better of it, instead saying "Fuck me," from between clenched teeth. Javik rumbled approvingly and pressed his lips underneath her jaw, licking where ridges would be if she were prothean, thrusting up and inside of her, hands alternately squeezing her thighs and her ass. "Fuck me harder, Javik," she barked, digging her nails into his shoulders, which seemed to make him move faster. "That's an order."

She felt him begin to move with the desperation of someone who was right on the edge, teetering just on the precipice, and the idea of him cumming combined with the feel of his cock swollen and stiff inside of her brought her nearly to climax. He grunted her name in his thick accent, whispering harsh words in Prothean that Shepard neither cared to nor was able to decipher, his cock stretching her more and more the closer he got to finishing. She felt his body go ridged and heard his strained breath catch in his throat, and she felt something warm and thick fill her. Javik rode out the waves of his orgasm by rocking into Shepard's pussy, filling her with his cum while she continued to work his still-hard cock until she found her own orgasm, clenching tightly around him and saying his name on a barely constrained moan.

She shuddered as she floated back down to Earth (or the Normandy, in this case), still wrapped tightly around Javik. Javik moved his hands from her sore thighs up to her hips and positioned them both more comfortably, him leaning against the wall and her leaning into his chest, letting her head drop against his shoulder. She could see see that his skin was slightly raised and raw where she had scratched him with her nails. After a moment of catching her breath, her chest rising and falling in a slowing rhythm against Javik's already-calm one, she tried to pull off of his lap. Javik tightened his grip around her waist.

"Don't," he warned, still sounding breathless despite their recuperation period.

She pulled away from his shoulder to look into his face, which was slightly flushed. "Why?"

"Prothean physiology," he responded coldly, as if disconnecting himself from the explanation would make it less awkward to talk about. "After copulation, we must...wait. Or it will be painful. For you."

"What do you-" She tried to pull away, harder this time, and instantly regretted it. Javik was still thick and hard inside of her, though he no longer seemed to be aroused. The pain of trying to pull away from him when he was still so enlarged and she was still so sensitive sent a shock through her and she collapsed against him on a shaky intake of breath.

Javik huffed and rested his hand against her bare back, rubbing in a motion that could almost have been considered soothing. Almost. "Stubborn human."

They waited long enough that Shepard almost fell asleep, the sensation of Javik inside of her uncomfortable but not unbearable. She was content to be sitting in his lap though, against him, hearing his heartbeat and feeling his touch on her back, her hip, her arm, her shoulder. He seemed to slip into contemplation, and neither of them shared words, opting to simply revel quietly in the moment. It was a moment stolen, and Shepard was sure that Javik was aware of this. Their looming future fate had been temporarily cast aside in favor of enjoying the present. With her eyes closed and her mind on nothing but Javik and how good what they had just done felt, Shepard was not wont to get up and leave anyway.

Before she could actually fall asleep, though, Javik roused her, letting her know without saying so that it was okay to pull away from him. He had reduced in size drastically now, and it slid easily out of her as she stood up and away from him. She got a brief glimpse when he moved to stand and saw that it was almost fully retracted. Internal, then. That answered that. Not wanting to make him uncomfortable by staring at his naked body, she moved to gather her clothes and put them back on, now hyperaware that the evidence of their tryst was slowly dripping down her thighs. There was quite a bit of it down there, and she now wished more than anything else for a shower. She felt satisfied, though, for the first time in a long time. She wasn't ashamed or regretful of what she had done, and she hoped Javik wasn't, either. When she turned to face him, she found he had replaced his undersuit and was just gathering his armor about him.

"Wait," Shepard said, causing him to immediately stop what he was doing. She remembered what she had said to him earlier—"That's an order,"—and felt a little thrill. "Where do you sleep, Javik?"

He gave her that same look he had given her when he'd first heard her say "please." "I sleep here, Commander."

"Yeah, I know that," she responded in exasperation. "I'm saying—I mean, do you have a bed?"

"No. I sleep on the floor. It is not uncomfortable, if that is what you are asking."

Shepard brought up her omni-tool to check the time, then decided against it. She didn't want to know. It was late and she'd just leave it at that. "You can come stay with me, if you'd like," she offered coyly. "In my cabin," she clarified, as if that needed clarification. She instantly felt stupid and hoped Javik would take the offer well.

His expression did not seem to change, but he stepped toward her, snapping his armor in place. "Your cabin would be preferable to the cargo hold," he said, with only the barest hint of sourness in his voice.

They took the elevator to Shepard's cabin together, and after showering for the second time that night, Shepard collapsed on her bed in a tired heap. She fell asleep almost immediately, figuring Javik would either sleep next to her or find better lodgings on the floor or the couch or wherever. At this point, she didn't care. It just felt nice to have Javik near, and she was dead tired. When she woke the next morning, only a few moments before Joker let her know over intercom that their ETA was two hours, Javik was nowhere to be seen. However, when she got dressed and armored and activated her omni-tool to check, she found a message from him.

[07:22:14] Javik has pinged you.

[07:37:55] Javik has pinged you.

[08:40:06] Garrus has pinged you.

[08:40:46] Garrus: You up, Commander?

[08:41:12] Javik has pinged you.

[08:41:34] Garrus: Come see me when you can, I want to go over an idea I have for a Black Widow mod with you. Think you'll like it. ;) (Is that right? A "wink"?)

[08:42:28] Javik has pinged you.

[08:42:50] Javik: I do not know how this inferior technology works where are the grammatical keys if you see this come to the cargo hold

She laughed and headed down there.

He was fully dressed, as he was when he had come back with her to her cabin the night before, and when she entered through the unlocked door, he actually turned to face her. There was a different air about him. A calmness. Some sort of serenity that wasn't underscored by frustration as it usually was. She stopped in the middle of his cargo hold, not wanting to get too close without knowing just how he felt after all that had happened, her hands behind her back. "You needed something, Javik?" she asked, her voice as platonic as if she were talking to EDI.

"This 'omni-tool' is infuriating," Javik complained, waving a dismissive hand. "I did not know whether I was reaching you."

Shepard smiled. "You were. I was asleep for the first few pings. Sorry about that."

He seemed to want to discuss the matter further but instead decided on dropping it. He looked from her eyes to some point on her neck, focusing intently on it, his expression growing wolfish and making her shiver. "I wanted to discuss...matters with you, Commander."

"Of course." Shepard moved toward him, hoping for the best, and leaned against the water basin beside him. He didn't seem uncomfortable by her close, proximity, which was good. "What's on your mind?"

He looked again at her neck. Shepard wanted to touch the place where he was looking, wondering if she had something on her, but didn't, figuring she could just look in a mirror later. "Last night was..." He struggled for what words to find next, an insecurity that Shepard had never seen in him. It made her heart drop. She and Javik were not in a relationship, it was true, but after what happened, she couldn't just pretend she didn't now have some feelings for him. "It was inappropriate," he finally finished, his accent thick and heavy in the air between them. "I should not have done what I did."

"If you're worried about insubordination or fraternization, Javik—"

"No," he snapped, looking away. "Protheans do not have such limitations and I will not hold myself to them." She watched him swallow, watched the ridges at his throat ripple as he did so. "I was referring to marking you. I should not have done that without your consent, Commander. I understand that the differences between our cultures are...great and I was the right state of mind at the time." The words seemed painful to even say. Javik didn't seem one to easily admit his regrets, especially when he didn't really mean it. He wasn't apologizing, and he wasn't even really saying he regretted it. He was just saying that he should have asked her permission, in retrospect. But there was a more important matter at hand, and that matter was:

"Marking me? What do you mean?"

His voice grew cold again. Ah, the disconnect. "During copulation with a mate, male protheans will hold their partners in place, usually by the neck, leaving a mark." He nodded toward her. "That bruise will not heal quickly. Especially since you are not prothean."

"Bruise?" She did bring her hand up to her neck this time, eyes wide. So that's what he was looking at. She felt immediately embarrassed. What was she going to tell her teammates? Surely they would be able to tell it was a bruise from someone's mouth. It was in a perfect mouth shape around her neck. And even despite her cybernetics, it would still linger for a while. "Is it noticeable?"

Javik looked vaguely pleased with himself. "Very."

She wondered at the implications of Javik marking her as he would a mate, but she didn't press him for details. At this point, she didn't really care. She was happy to share whatever little stolen moments she could get with Javik, and he seemed more than happy to share them with her as well. "It doesn't matter," she said gently. "I don't care that you marked me and I don't care who sees it."

He looked toward her, his bright eyes betraying his bored expression. "You would not deny those who asked after it?"

"Well, I mean, I wouldn't go into detail, but I suppose I wouldn't lie, either."

Javik had the decency to look shocked. Obviously he was expecting a very different reaction. "I... The sentiment is appreciated, Commander."

Without another word, Shepard pushed off from the basin, heading toward the door. "All that said, I'm going to go ahead and meet with Garrus. Apparently he has a weapon mod to discuss with me."

"The turian?" Javik inquired, stepped beside her and sneering. "I would like to see this so-called 'mod.' In my cycle, the turians did not know a weapon modification from their own—"

"Your cycle was a very long time ago," Shepard said firmly, already walking out with Javik toward the elevator. "The turians are an advanced and intelligent space-faring race now."

"I have my doubts."

They boarded together and rode to the crew deck, then walked in silence toward the forward battery, garnering a strange look from James as they passed him in the kitchen. The door to the battery opened, and Garrus turned. "Shepard—" he started, then stopped upon seeing Javik beside her. "And Javik."

Javik inclined his head toward Garrus.

Garrus cleared his throat. "You got my message, Shepard?"

"Sure did. Show me what you've got, Garrus."

His mandibles flexed wide into a smile. "Gladly," he drawled, turning toward his weapon bench and motioning for Shepard to follow. Javik watched over Shepard's shoulder, occasionally shooting the turian a stern look or two. Garrus continued discussing the modification with an excited Shepard, pointedly ignoring the 50,000-year-old prothean breathing down his neck.

Shepard commended him on the mod and asked him if he could make it for her, too. He responded that that was his plan, glancing once or twice to the bruise on her neck, but if he knew what it was, he didn't say anything.

Upon leaving the forward battery with Javik in tow, Shepard found that the rest of the crew had congregated in the mess hall. And if they had any opinions on Javik and Shepard or the strange new bruise on Shepard's neck, well, they didn't say anything either.

After all, they knew that if they asked, Shepard would tell the truth, and sometimes being oblivious was the much more comfortable option.