Shepard opened her eyes and found herself alone. She was mildly irritated.

If she was being honest with herself (which was rare), she was only mad because that was her thing. In every sexual relationship she'd ever been in, she had always been the one who woke and dressed first. She figured it was probably some deep seated dominance or control issue buried deep in her subconscious. If she had ever bothered to go to a shrink for more than two sessions, she might be able to work through it.

Yeah. That'll happen.

In the face of the alternative, she was happy to settle for being mildly irritated for a few seconds every time she woke up. It was a small price to pay, considering.

Shepard rolled over and looked at the clock. Then she blinked and narrowed her eyes and looked at the clock again.

It was two in the morning. Garrus woke early, but he never woke that early.

She threw off the covers and quickly slipped into some cotton shorts and her hoodie. She'd been insulted that someone had seen fit to include it in her cabin's wardrobe back aboard the SR-2 - like Commander fucking Shepard was going to schlub around in a goddamn hoodie in the war room - but in peacetime, and in particular during her medical leave, she had gotten quite attached to the damn thing. It was loose and comfortable and she'd earned that. But like hell she'd ever wear it in public.

She opened the door to her bedroom and found a light on in the living area. Garrus was sitting at the tiny dining table, leaning on his elbows and cradling a cup of kava in both hands. He looked up when he heard the door open.


"Hey yourself." Shepard wandered over to the seat opposite him. "You feelin' okay?"

He nodded, but the set of his shoulders and the look in his eye gave him away. Shepard used to find turians unreadable. She still did. But she knew Garrus better than anyone.

"Come on, big guy," she prompted gently. "You gonna start lying to me now?"

Garrus sighed. He squared his shoulders and straightened a bit, looking her in the eye. "You remember when we said goodbye? Near the end of the war."

Shepard's eyebrows rose. She swallowed. "Yeah."

He looked away again, bowing his head. "We talked about tropical beaches and royalties from vids. And children."

Now Shepard felt as nervous as Garrus looked. She fought to keep her expression under control. "Go on."

There was a long moment where Shepard had just enough time to drive herself to the brink of cardiac arrest. Garrus really needed to say whatever the fuck he was going to say and make it quick because she needed to know right now whether to pick 'fight' or 'flight.'

"Well..." Garrus started and stopped and Shepard was glad she was hugging her elbows because it gave her something to squeeze real hard and he really hoped he couldn't see her white knuckles and why wasn't he talking start talking already- "You know that was just nerves, right?"

The pressure that had built so suddenly in Shepard's chest was lifted immediately, and she released a breath she had no idea she'd been holding. She visibly deflated. Garrus took this entirely the wrong way.

"I mean, not that I don't want to have children someday. If you want to. They wouldn't be your children, but - I mean they would be, but you wouldn't have them - unless you wanted to have them, I mean, we can find a way to-"

"Garrus." Shepard smiled in what she hoped was a reassuring way and reached over to touch his hands. "Slow, deep breaths."

Garrus took a slow, deep breath.

"I just... do you? Want children, I mean. Someday."

Any other time, this burst of sudden awkwardness from Garrus would be endearing, even reassuring. Shepard wouldn't have ended up falling quite so hard for him if he weren't alternately suave and bumbling. It did her good to know that she wasn't the only one in this relationship whose stomach did somersaults from time to time.

Right now, though, she was right there with him. She had no idea where to begin. Give her a heavily fortified compound with superior enemy numbers and emplacements, and she could find a way in. But this? This particular fortress was impregnable.


She found herself laughing, but when she saw the look on Garrus' face, it caught in her throat.

"Hey, hey," she said, tightening her grip on his three-fingered hands. "I'm not laughing at you. Alright? Calm down."

He nodded, his mandibles flat against his face. Shepard knew that look. He didn't trust his voice enough to speak.

It was time to assault. She only hoped she could find an assailable approach.

"I remember what we said, back in the war. I know it was all bullshit. We both knew we had a very real chance of not coming back and we were just saying anything and everything we could think of because that might be the last chance we'd get." Shepard swallowed and stared at their hands. She really hoped she was doing alright.

"But if I'm being honest with myself?" Which is rare, she thought as she shut her eyes and screwed up her courage to force the words out of her mouth, "I guess I do want to have kids someday but not now," she emphasized. "Not when what we have is so new and... we're still riding on the crest of a wave of I can't believe this is real, Garrus. I don't want to complicate things before we've even gotten a handle on this."

Garrus nodded slowly. His mandibles loosened and twitched softly. His fingers gently gripped her own. They felt like the softest leather.

"What brought this on?" Shepard asked curiously. "It's been months since then."

Garrus chewed on his tongue because he didn't have lips to bite. "I saw Liara the other day. We got to talking and it drifted back to the war, like it always does. I remembered our goodbye and it just hit me that... we'd never talked about it afterward. And I realized you might want something that I just couldn't give you."

"Garrus." Shepard gave him a look. "Do I seem like the kind of person who assesses breeding possibilities before I enter into a relationship?"

Garrus looked well and truly chastised. Shepard's expression softened and she held up his hands in front of her. "If we have kids, however we have them, they'll be ours. Ours, Garrus. You read me?"

Slowly, Garrus smiled that turian smile for the first time since she woke up. "Read you, Shepard."

"Good." She set down their hands on the table and sighed wearily. "I am so glad that's over. I swear to Christ, Garrus, my heart was like a fucking jackhammer when you said 'children.'"

He chuckled softly. "Yeah, well. Felt my stomach fall through the floor when you laughed."

She looked up at him, a bit of an apology playing around her eyes. "We're no good at this touchy-feely shit, are we."

He met her gaze. "Nope."

A silence fell between them, and Shepard was content to just let it lie for a minute. They just sat, looking at each other, or down at their hands, or out the window next to the table. It wasn't often that they just held hands, Shepard realized. Neither of them was big on public displays of affection - they were military, after all - but it wasn't like they had anything left to hide. She made a mental note to hold his hand next time they were out and off-duty.

But right now, Shepard began to feel silly just sitting there and holding hands when there was a bed not ten meters away.

"So are you going to come to bed or do I have to drag you there?" She asked, lowering her voice.

He tilted his head and she saw the smirk in his eyes before she even heard his voice. "I don't know. I'm not that tired."

"I wasn't suggesting sleep."

"Then what are you suggesting?"

"What do you think?"

His eyes glimmered. "I can think of a few things."

Shepard grinned and stood, sauntering past him and dragging her hand along his chest. "Show me."

As Garrus followed her dutifully to the bedroom, Shepard couldn't help but imagine the two of them picking out a crib and deciding what color to paint the nursery. It would have been entirely absurd with anyone else - it should have been with him - but turning off the lights and finding herself wrapped in his arms, warm inside and out... for the first time in her life, the idea didn't seem all that crazy.

Which was, itself, crazy. But then, when did their relationship ever make sense?