An Anon gave me the prompt "Shakarian, date night on the Citadel (that doesn't involve breaking 137 regulations on the Presidium)" over on my Tumblr. It turned out longer than I expected so I figured I might as well post it here as well.
This is just shameless fluff.
With a hint of Traynor, because I like her.
Even if she does shower with her underwear on.
[Fancy a night out? - G]
The message, sent directly to Shepard's omni-tool, seemed innocuous enough. But the sender was Garrus, and he was never innocuous about anything. She had to wonder what he was planning.
[The crew was planning on heading to Purgatory to celebrate the distruction of the Reaper. I'm guessing you have something else in mind? - S]
[You could say that. - G]
[We're not going to be breaking 137 rules again, are we? I don't think I can play the Spectre card for something like that. Again. - S]
[This one will be perfectly legal. No guns, I promise. - G]
[Who are you and what have you done with Garrus Vakarian? - S]
[If you're that desperate to break Citadel regs, you're talking to the right turian. Though I thought you'd prefer something more sedate after all that excitement back on Rannoch. - G]
[Sedate sounds perfect. Meet you at the usual spot? - S]
[I'll be there at 2100 hours. - G]
Her omni-tool vanished at the touch of a key and Shepard folded her arms across her chest, a small smile pulling at the edge of her lips. She stared at the report she was in the middle of typing up when the first message arrived but didn't really see it. They were in the middle of a war, they were all feeling more than a little stiff and sore (physically and emotionally) after the mad rush that was the war-within-a-war between the geth and quarians. The rest of the crew was going out to get drunk and act foolish at Purgatory; most of the Alliance team would be celebrating the death of the Reaper, but a select few would be toasting a friend who didn't make it. And yet here she was, feeling all giddy like a schoolgirl with a crush. It just wasn't right or proper for a soldier being used as 'the tip of the spear' (and thank you very much Admiral Hackett). But for one night, Shepard wasn't going to let herself care.
Of course, 21:00 was hours away and she still had a stack of reports to file as well as datapads to read - not to mention the schematics of the Destroyer EDI had sent to her terminal. Shepard groaned as she focused on the words she had already typed, forcing herself to focus on her report rather than daydream about what Garrus had planned - a job in and of itself when it came to him. A day of work for a night off. It seemed a fair trade.
Time doesn't fly when you're meant to be focussing on the task in hand but your mind keeps wandering. Shepard had found this out years ago, back before she had even heard the words 'Saren' and 'geth'. Before she'd even heard the word 'Normandy' in context with a ship. But she had worked steadily through everything that needed to be done. She hadn't had time to even look at EDI's report but she found herself not caring. Her mind had already wandered off.
Exiting the elevator onto the CIC, she noticed Traynor still at her station even when the rest of the Normandy crew had gone. Even Joker and EDI had gone ashore. Curious as to why the specialist had decided to stay behind, she wandered over and tapped her on the shoulder, making the young woman almost jump out of her skin.
"Oh, Commander! I thought you'd already gone." She sounded flustered.
"I'm about to head off now. Any reason why you're not with the rest of the crew?"
"I said I would join them later. I have a few official things I need to catch up on first though."
Shepard sighed and placed a hand on Traynor's shoulder. "Samantha, chances for shore leave like this don't come around often. You have to take the chance while you can. I'm sure what you're doing can wait a few hours."
"I…yes, Commander. I'll head down soon."
"Good, but just to make sure…EDI?" Shepard pointedly looked directly at one of the onboard cameras with the hint of a smirk.
"Yes, Shepard?" EDI's disembodied voice seemed to ring out on the deserted ship and Traynor visibly jumped again. Shepard had to wonder what was going on with that girl sometimes.
"If Traynor's still aboard within the hour, can you lock her out of the system? She need to get down to Purgatory at some point this evening."
"Point taken, Commander. Will I see you there?"
Shepard stopped herself from smirking triumphantly. "Not tonight. Garrus has something planned and I'm not sure if I should be nervous or not."
"Oh…" Now it was Traynor's turn to look smug. The shit-eating grin that plastered itself over her pretty little face wanted Shepard to take back everything she'd just said. "Don't go getting into too much trouble. The chatter from C-Sec about a skycar on one of the rafters of the Presidium got so noisy I had to block all but emergency calls last time."
Shepard shook her head and walked off, lifting a hand to lazily wave a good-bye to the smirking specialist. "Have fun at Purgatory, Traynor."
She found Garrus casually leaning against the rented skycar wearing casual clothes and an amused expression. "You're late."
At the teasing inflection of his voice, Shepard tilted her head backwards and pretended as if she was going to carry on walking. "I'm never late for anything, Vakarian. I arrive exactly when I intend to."
With speed few expected from someone so relaxed, Garrus had pushed off from where he was resting and snagged her wrist. With a quick movement, he spun her around so fast she ended up bracing her hands against his chest to halt the momentum. "I could argue that when you intend to is usually late by everyone else's standards."
"Then I'm fashionably late." She tried in vain to keep the breathless quality out of her voice, his sudden closeness having forced it out of her in a gasp. She ran her hands over the soft material of his rarely-seen civvies and she let herself take in his appearance. Good wine was apparently not the only thing he could afford with that advisor's salary of his. She thanked whatever divine being gave him the decision to get rid of those awful clothes he had turned up to her cabin in the night before the Omega-4. He was no less of an imposing figure (Shepard figured it was the visor), but he seemed so much softer without all that hard armour. Plus, it was nice not to have to argue with that collar from time to time. "Nice clothes. I feel under-dressed."
He smiled. "Thought I'd make an effort. Where we're going doesn't exactly call for heavy armour."
"Oh? And where are we going?"
Garrus leaned in close, the tip of his nose brushing with hers as the faintest hint of a smile pulled at his mandibles. "You'll just have to wait and see."
Shepard huffed and folded her arms as he broke away, pretending to be offended. He chuckled as he unlocked the car, the engine starting up automatically. Casually, he held out a hand and after blinking at it for a while, Shepard realised what she was meant to do and took it as lady-like as a soldier could manage. She ended up almost falling into the car. She had to give Garrus credit for not laughing at her out loud but she had a feeling she'd never live that one down.
It was a comfortably quiet journey, the need for small talk had long since dissipated and they were just happy to be in each other's presence without having to constantly chat to calm the nerves. As they left the Presidium and the sky around them grew dark and dotted with stars, Shepard found herself marvelling at the Serpent Nebula around them and the twinkling lights of the giant arms below. Obviously they were going to one of the Wards, but Shepard was at a loss as to which. And as one loomed larger than the rest, she couldn't help but ask. "So…which Ward is that one we're headed to?"
"Tayseri." Garrus' eyes never left the busy lanes in front of him and Shepard frowned in thought.
"Wasn't that the one that got the worst of the damage from Sovereign?"
"It was. The Dilinaga Concert Hall is still closed after well over two years."
So they weren't going there. That was the only place in Tayseri Ward that Shepard knew of, and that was only thanks to an Avina terminal back on Zakera Ward. She caught herself gawping out the window as Garrus took them lower, noticing the black patches that were obviously still without power. Much to her confusion, they seemed to be dropping into one of those darkened areas, and she cast a confused glance back at her driver with a raised eyebrow. As much as she trusted him, she had to wonder what he was playing at.
He said nothing as they touched down and he exited, again extending a hand to her when it was obviously not needed. To her (well concealed) delight, she didn't end up falling flat on her face - she didn't even stumble. The doors closed behind her and the car locked with a beep as Garrus took her arm in his and led her towards a low-lit entranceway. "Alright. I give up. Where are we?"
"Hmm. Probably the most peaceful place on the Citadel. It even beats the Presidium for 'calm and tranquil'. I used to come here when I was on my break. It helped me think."
"Still doesn't tell me where we are."
"You'll see." What was it about people looking smug today?
Garrus lead Shepard through the dim entrance and she was greeted with a sight that took her breath away. She gasped, taking in the pale pebble walkway lined with bioluminescent plants that lead to a large, well-lit glasshouse. She was rendered completely speechless.
"Welcome to the Gaeron Botanical Gardens, Shepard."
"Garrus, it's…" she struggled to find the words. Beautiful and magnificent seemed insufficient. She had seen so many different planets, so many different biomes she had lost count. Each had their own beauty, even the worlds that were nothing but rock and lava. But something about this was special. Shepard didn't know if it was the actual gardens or if it was because she was with the man she loved or both or neither, but she didn't care. It was amazing.
"I thought you might like it." His voice had lost the smugness it had before, and if she had retained enough wits about her Shepard would have noticed that it was fringed with relief. But the gentleness of the sound pulled her closer and she stopped them so she could face him properly. Without a word, she pressed her lips to his and he pulled her close.
This was one date she wasn't going to forget any time soon.