Title: Beating Like A Hammer (Part 4/4)
Word Count: ~6100 this part (~16500 total)
Summary: Garrus doesn't know if she is real, or a hallucination, but when Shepard storms back into his life on Omega, he finds that he doesn't much care. He just knows that he's not letting her go again, not if he can help it.
Author's Note: The final part of the kinkmeme fill. Again, some dialogue has been borrowed directly from the game. Story and chapter titles taken from the song "Help I'm Alive" by Metric. I'd like thank everyone for reading, every single comment/fave/alert that I have gotten has put a smile on my face :-D Also, shouts out to the OP for the prompt that spawned this fic. It would't have been possible without you! Now, onto the conclusion!
Part 4: And My Heart Still Beats
Something happens to Garrus the minute they walk through the doors of her cabin. The intense, confident turian she's begun to expect disappears, and in his place is a much more somber and uncertain counterpart.
True to form, he does actually sweep her room, floor to ceiling front to back, for bugs. Once he's satisfied that they have all been taken care of he turns to her. But rather than bridging the gap between their bodies like she thought (hoped) he would he stares past her. One hand reaching up to rub the space beneath his fringe and looking as nervous as she has ever seen him. He opens and closes his mouth a few times, but no words come out. Finally he seems to give up trying to say whatever he planned to say and turns from her to face the empty fish tank. Shoulders slumped and head bowed.
Seeing him like this makes her insides start to churn, concern forming rocks of doubt that weigh her down. It reminds her too much of how he looked when she found him on Omega earlier...and did she really just find him this morning? It doesn't seem possible. Reality has tilted so often in just one day cycle that she's a little worried about her sanity.
She, of course, had no idea that he'd be the one on the other side of that bridge when she disembarked on the lawless station so many hours ago. She doesn't want to think about what would have happened if they'd gone after the salarian doctor first, like Miranda had wanted. Doesn't want to think about what they would have found if they had waited until tomorrow... just considering it is enough to make her nauseous.
She scrubs a hand over her head to try and release some of the more unpleasant images, but it doesn't really help. It just makes her aware of the fact that her hands are shaking. Jesus, she's not sure how much longer she can ride this emotional crazy train before she starts singing nursery rhymes and declaring herself a teapot. She needs something stable to help keep her grounded, and she needs it now.
She wants that something - someone - to be Garrus, needs it to be him, and by the looks of things he needs that touchstone just as badly. She's still keyed up physically, her body is pulsing with unfulfilled desires, but no matter how much she'd rather save the emotional conversations for a later date it's starting to look less and less like an option.
And while she's been thinking all of this, Garrus has spent five minutes staring at an empty tank. Great. Way to be a friend, Shepard. With tentative steps, she crosses the short distance to the tank to stand by his side. In truth, the tank isn't completely empty: there are rocks and a few plants, but it's not exactly enthralling to watch them sway in the water. Well, it's not that enthralling. "I was thinking about getting some fish. Never really had any pets before though. I'm a little worried I'll forget to take care of them and they'll die."
"I've never known you to be forgetful, Shepard. And hell, if you managed to salvage my ass when I was certain it was a lost cause, I think you can handle a few fish."
She looks at him, at his damaged profile - the lights of the cybernetics blinking through the bandages - and has to stomp down the urge to reach out to him again. She has no idea how she has gotten to this point so fast, where she has to curb her displays of affection. She can recall the number of times she touched him before today - outside of battle - on one hand. And all of them were always nothing beyond professional, platonic. She tries to cover her slight unease at the rapidly changing situation with a nervous laugh. "You give me too much credit. Killing things is more my speed, but keeping things alive? That's usually just a happy byproduct."
He doesn't say anything, but gives her a look that she can't take as anything other than him disagreeing with her. It's in the tilt of his head, the flicker of his uninjured mandible, the way that his eyes just seem to bore right through her. The look lasts for only a second before he turns his attention back to the tank.
It has the undertones of a dismissal, and that pisses her off enough to speak up. "You disagree?"
"I didn't say that."
"You didn't have to. I know it may have been a while for you Garrus, but it's only been a few weeks for me. I haven't forgotten how to read you, you know. If you've got something to say, just say it."
There is no hesitation in him when he speaks. As if he has just been waiting for permission to do so. "You always have a plan, Shepard. Killing might be the method that you use to accomplish your goals more often than not, but I've seen youtalk people down from murder, from suicide. You don't kill just to kill, you do it in order to keep others alive. And when you see an alternative, you take it. If you weren't focused on saving the largest number of people that you could your answer to everything would always be a bullet to the brain. There's enough times when it's not for me to know that saving people isn't just a happy byproduct for you."
"You're trying to make me out to be some sort of paragon, Garrus. But I'm not. You're right, maybe I've managed to save a few people here and there. Maybe Toombs is alive because I found the right words. But I've lost a lot of good people along the way. And I seem to remember having talked someone else into committing suicide, without even trying."
"Saren?" He scoffs, the sound causing a strange double-echo around the room thanks to his sub-harmonics. "Please, Shepard. We both know that was one case where death was the only answer. That's not something that should weigh on you."
She snorts. "Doesn't change the fact that it does."
The look he gives her this time is long, measuring. The heat that built in his eyes while they argued dissipates and he gives her a nod. "I get that."
The lighting in the cabin doesn't change, but somehow the room feels darker when he turns away from her this time. It's as if she can actually see the visible effect of the last two years settling down on his shoulders. It makes him look older, hardened at the edges and cracked down the center. She opens her mouth to speak, but doesn't get the chance. Instead it's his quiet, almost inaudible voice, the dual-tones nearly out of sync with one another, that breaches the silence.
"So much has gone wrong these last two years. And even when I thought I had things under control, that I had a team I could rely on, that I could trust - we were doing good work, Shepard. We were making a difference. But it all blew up in my face." His laugh is harsh, cold. She hates it. "Literally. And ten good men are dead now because of my mistakes. And I thought that was it. I held my own for as long as I could, but I didn't have an exit strategy. I didn't have a plan. Then you showed up and, Spirits, but I'm still not sure I believe it. Part of me thinks I died on that hellhole, and this is all just some kind of dream." He looks at her, the blue of his eyes bright in the light of the tank, and doubt painted like a mask over his face. "That you are."
If he never looks at her like that again, like she's a figment of his imagination that is going to turn to smoke at any moment, it'll be too soon. "It's real. I'm real. I can promise you that." She slips a tentative hand into one of his, and gives it a squeeze, her nerves firing anxious little bursts through every point where they touch. His eyes drop shut at the contact, and some of the icy pain radiating from him melts away. To her relief, he squeezes back.
"And I'm not going anywhere. Not unless you want me to." Hoping to lighten the somber mood, she trys for flirty, think that she's probably failing horribly. "Judging by earlier, I'm thinking there might be a few reasons you'd like me to stick around, and they don't all have to deal with my proficiency with firearms."
That seems to surprise a subdued laugh out of him and his hand tightens around hers. That same heat from the comm room flares back to life in his eyes and his voice hits those lower registers that never fail to make her shiver. "I can think of a few. But..." And now the awkward Garrus she knows and lo...really, really likes...comes back out to play. "I don't know what I'm doing here, Shepard. This is...it's uncharted territory for me."
She watches the play of emotions across his face, trying to catalog them all. Uncertainty, worry, a little fear...and just a small flicker of hope. She wonders how easy all of those same emotions are for him to read on her face. It's the last one that she clings to, that she tries to project back to him. "That makes two of us. What a pair we make, huh? The blind leading the blind." She pulls on his hand just enough to get him to face her. Taking a deep breath, she lifts her free hand up to the uninjured side of his face, fluttering her fingers against his mandible with care. "But I'm still willing to try, if you are."
He presses his face into her hand, a soft sort of purr issuing from his chest. "I am. I just...I don't want to screw things up. Just this once, I want something to go right."
"Well damn, Garrus, if that was all you were worried about, why didn't you say anything?" She steps closer to him, going onto her toes so that she can ghost her lips across his mouth before pulling back, afraid to cause him any pain. "Haven't you figured out by now that we make a hell of team? I think if we put our minds to it, we could accomplish anything."
His laugh this time is louder, more joyful. He grimaces almost immediately after. His free hand going to his wound. "Ow, Shepard. Don't make me laugh."
A half-smile plays on her mouth. "Wasn't trying to, I was being serious."
"Mmm, somehow, I don't think that entering into a cross-species liaison with your best friend is quite the same thing as fighting in sync during a mission."
She arches an eyebrow, and deciding to step up her game she places his hand on her hip, and closes the gap between them again, circling her own hands around his waist. "Really? Because I gotta say, I always thought that kind of shared rhythm would play out beautifully in other areas. But if you think otherwise.."
He growls, the talons that she placed at her hip gripping her possessively as he tightens his hold, his other hand sliding into her hair. She gasps as he tugs her head back and licks a trail up from her shoulder to her ear. "I never said that I wasn't willing to try."
Garrus doesn't know how they make it down the steps and across the room, he just knows that they do. A stumble here and a misstep there as they tug at each other's alien clothing. (Armor he can deal with, latches make sense, but these metal teeth things that Shepard calls 'zippers'? They clearly aren't meant for someone with claws in mind. Neither are the hooks on the contraption she wears around her chest.) But they make it, kicking their shoes off along the way. Their staccato breaths heating the air between them, bodies finally bare from the waist up and greedy hands working to map every alien peak and valley.
In quick succession, he learns that her body trembles in a delicious fashion when he trails a talon over the raised mounds of flesh at her chest; while she discovers that the dip of a finger into the soft space between the plates at his waist makes him shudder.
They learn all of this while they're still standing.
By some silent, mutual agreement they both stop moving when Shepard's knees touch the side of the bed. Instead, they chose to hover at the edge, exploring, tasting, touching. Dancing at the brink of a line that they are both nervous to cross.
Garrus wants this, this unexpected intimacy. But beyond that, he wants something real. Something that has a chance to last. And he wants it with Shepard. He wants it with an intensity that propels it past the point of physical need and into the depths of his damaged soul until it registers as an aching sort of hunger.
And he's absolutely petrified that he's going to screw it up. He hopes she assumes the shaking in his hands as they coast along her naked back is from arousal, and not from the fear that is starting to gnaw away at him. Though he knows it's a mix of both.
He's never given any genuine thought to interspecies relationships before. And even on his darker days on Omega, when he'd venture into the endless supply of 'what if' scenarios regarding what could have (should have, would have) happened if Shepard was still alive, he never allowed them to go much further than a lingering touch or meaningful glance. Anything beyond that point just felt disrespectful to her memory, to their friendship.
To find himself in the situation he's in now, having gone embarrassingly primitive on her back on Omega - twisting the simple act of comfort she had offered, into something sexual in a matter of moments - to having her openly admit to wanting to try this with him, to the two of them half-naked and tilting towards the bed...it's hard to comprehend.
Back on Omega - hell, even back in the comm room - his adrenaline had been running so high that he hadn't cared about things like physical compatibility, chirality, or cultural differences. Or witnesses. All he'd cared about was that she was there, alive, and that she wanted him as much as he wanted her. It had been a heady feeling.
Not that it isn't now. But now he's had a chance to dwell - if only for a short time - on all of the things that could go wrong. And there are just so very many things. It's enough to draw him up short, enough to make him start to pull back. A question on his tongue, an offer to stop this before they've gone too far, and do some research. So that they can make sure that their enthusiasm doesn't override their common sense.
But then Shepard does something with her tongue and her teeth along the underside of his uninjured mandible at the same time that she scratches her nails along the soft, unplated skin of his waist that short circuits his brain. The simultaneous stimulation causes all non-pleasure seeking neurons to seize up. Garrus growls, and ignoring any pain from his injury, he presses his mouth to hers in a mimicry of the kiss she'd given him on Omega, framing his hands on either side of her face to guide the unfamiliar act along. He swallows her sigh, and pushes forward, the taste of her bursting on his tongue in tiny explosions.
Her nimble hands drag like makeshift claws down his back. And still he keeps kissing her, entranced by the sensuality of the experience, until she bites down lightly on his tongue. And he thinks fuck it, they're compatible enough. He sweeps his hands down her body, beneath her ass. Lifts and angles her, and together, they fall to the bed.
It's not a graceful fall. Her legs don't have enough time to hook around his waist, and so they tangle together with his. When they hit the mattress her head bonks against his with enough force to make them both pull back with a hiss.
Once the dazed moment of pain passes, he meets her eyes and fines them shining. The crinkly skin at their edges matching the lines framing her smiling mouth. Another moment passes and they are both laughing, curled up with one another. Her head buried against his chest, as he laughs into the silken mess of her hair.
Rather than feeling appalled, Garrus is grateful. The laughter does them some good, easing the heavy tension that had built between them until they are wading in a warm pool of familiarity. He's never held her like this before, of course, but this simple enjoyment they feel at being together is something that had grown between them on the first Normandy. Just...not to this extent.
The laughter dies down and he smooths a hand over her side, nuzzling against her neck - thrilled at how she unconsciously tilts her head up to make the action easier. "That maneuver worked a lot better in my head."
She breathes out more of those happy noises that he loves, her talented fingers playing at his fringe. "I don't know, I think it went just fine."
"Mmm, so you enjoy sustaining minor injuries mid-romance? Good to know."
She presses a hand to his chest, pushing him far enough away that he can see the incredulous look on her face. "Garrus, I let you strip me down in the middle of a firefight, I think it's safe to say that a hint of danger does it for me."
He chuckles. "Maybe we should work on finding a happy medium. Say somewhere between accidentally clobbering our heads together, and getting shot because we're too busy fooling around on the battlefield." He leans back into her neck, trailing his tongue along the dip at her shoulder and down towards her clavicle. Centering all of his attention on the arch of bone beneath the skin there, pushing her down onto her back as he licks a slow path from one side to the other.
She releases a pleased sort of moan. "That would probably be best. Especially since I already promised Miranda I would stay fully dressed while out on missions from now on."
Surprised, he lifts his gaze back to hers. "Really? When did she pry that out of you?"
One of her hands takes advantage of his momentary distraction to ease down his chest to the clasps that hold the bottom of his civvies up. The way she toys with them while she speaks is positively maddening. "Somewhere between homicidal mercs number fifty and seventy-six, I think." The way that she pops open the clasps and slips her hand along the top of his pelvic plates beneath the cloth brings him into full-on incoherency. "Does it matter?"
His response is stuttered out between pants. "N-No...it..it doesn't...Shep-Shepard..." Her fingers dip lower, just edging along where his arousal has made itself fully known, a teasing touch. It makes him arch towards her, seeking more direct contact. Absurdly, that is when the very last bit of his reasoning exerts itself, forcing him to try and halt her ministrations. "Wait - we...Spirits that feels good...no, I mean...stop, please. I can't think when you're doing that."
"That's kinda the point." Her voice is breathy, but she does stop. Pulling her hand away, and laying it at his waist instead. It's a moderate improvement.
He takes a moment to gather his thoughts and form them into words that make some kind of sense. "I've never...with a human. There could be, uh, complications. Maybe we should..." Her lips slide along his neck, up to his mouth. If he was capable of any emotion more complex than lust when she does that he'd be amazed at how easily tangling his tongue with hers has become instinctual. As it is, he's too lost in the sensation to really register the fact.
She ends the kiss abruptly, leaning up to touch her forehead to his. Her breathing harsh. "Garrus, if neither of us have had any negative reactions so far, with all of the saliva that we've exchanged? I'm thinking that we're good. And...judging by what else I've felt? I don't think we have much else to worry about."
Her hand delves back beneath his half opened civvies, and traces the exposed length of him with the tips of her fingers. He gasps at the contact, eyes going wide and locking on her heated gaze staring back at him. "So stop worrying."
With a growl, he kisses her again. He's quickly found himself addicted to the act, to the taste of her, at the way that she responds: mewling into his mouth and raising one of her legs up the outside of his, the material of their pants scratching together. Impatient now, he tugs at the clothing, earning a surprised laugh from her as her hand slides away from his erection as he moves down her body, determined to get the troublesome article off of her as soon as possible.
Garrus drags his talons along the length of her legs as he pulls the material down - snagging her undergarments along the way - not deep enough to cut, but with enough pressure to make her body go taut as she arches into him. His tongue follows an unmapped path down her torso as he moves. He might have no experience with breasts - only the vaguest of ideas from time spent around asari over the years - but he remembers how she had moaned when he touched the tips of them with his talons. He puts that memory to good use and swirls his tongue around one, watching with fascination as it pebbles, noting how her body flushes with warmth and her hands clench at his cowl and fringe.
He laps at the sweat that pools beneath the curve, follows it down to gently nip at the length of her lower rib; enjoying how it presses against the thin layers of skin and muscle, so different from a turian. She moans, and his arousal spikes further.
"Garrus..." She pulls at him until they are kissing again, the damaged side of his face throbs from the over-exertion, but he buries the pain to be dealt with later. His hand rubs her leg, moving in a steady pace towards her center. Nerves slowing his approach, no matter how great the physical need to move fast - to be with her now now now - may be. He wants to get this right, and that means taking his time.
With strained patience, he traces a talon along the inside of her thigh and up, reveling in the way that her breath catches and releases as she buries her face against his neck. Her hands grasp at him, pulling him closer, until he is almost lying lengthwise atop her. Their bodies shifted just a tad out of alignment.
His talons tangle gently with a patch of coarse hair, nothing like the kind that decorates her head, but intriguing in a different way. Finds her there, hot and wet and pliable to the touch. He slides his hand along her slit, tipping his finger lightly between the folds that he encounters, but goes no further - instead he waits to gauge her reaction, stroking her with even-paced caresses.
She squirms, her eyes shut tight. Little noises of almost frustrated sounding pleasure emitting from her. He watches her with awe, amazed at the reactions he is able to evoke in her, but even more amazed that she is willing to let herself go like this with him, that she wants to be here with him at all.
That she is here at all.
But he wants more. Wants to see her break and shatter, fall apart and come back together around him. Because without even trying, that's what she's already done to him. And he knows that without her guidance, he'll be unable to do more than fumble his way there, if he even can. That's not what he wants. And it's not what she needs. He rubs the uninjured side of his face against her cheek, the affection that he feels for her almost overwhelming, and he knows that the desperation that laces his sub-vocals as he speaks is abundantly clear. "Show me."
She gasps, and then she does.
One of her hands reaches down to join his, and guides him along. "There...right...right there." She shows him how much pressure to add to a little bundle of flesh that he hadn't yet encountered, surprising him with the very vocal and incoherent cry that she gives when he does.
Curious, he ghosts his finger against it. Once, twice, three times. More. Alternately circling it and rubbing - enthralled with her very visible and audible reactions. Her head thrashes back and forth, hands clamping down on his upper arms. Those dull nails of hers prying at his plates almost to the point of pain. Short, gasped words please and yes and there, right there! escaping her with each touch.
He darts his tongue out to catch the beads of sweat that gather at her cheek to roll down her chin. Her taste still alien, and sweet. One of many new favorite things.
His confidence builds, seeing her like this. Knowing that he's at least partially responsible. He keeps some of his attention still focused on the spot that has her panting against him, but then he also carefully slips a talon between her folds, curving the digit upwards until it is enveloped in her warmth.
And Spirits, but she is warm. He groans at the way her inner muscles clamp down greedily around him, mindlessly thrusting his erection against her hip in time with his finger inside of her, the urge to be buried within her reaching a fevered pitch. But he quells it the best he can, determined to see this through and not behave like a wet behind the ears recruit.
He nuzzles at her neck, her cheek, her jaw - anything to distract him. The action allows him to take in the scent of her, the subtle way that it changes with her heightened arousal. He focuses on the way that she shudders and shakes in his arms as he brings her (hopefully) towards her peak.
When she reaches it, it is with a shout of his name and the tightening of her muscles all over. He growls in pleasure at her response, and quickly loses the uphill battle he has been fighting with his instincts, working his pants down his legs and off over his spurs, and moving to lay over her only to have his progress halted by a hand to his chest.
She pushes at him, dislodging his body from over hers - and for a heart stopping second, he thinks that he has hurt her, that he has done something wrong, and that this will all be over before it's even begun - but as she rolls him onto his back, she follows. One of her legs swinging over his waist and settling down on the other side until she is straddling him. She flattens her body against him, trapping his aroused length between their bodies as she kisses him again, humming into his mouth. He grasps the flesh of her hips, enjoying the way it gives just a little in his grip as he pulls her tight against him.
"Mmm, that was...you're a very quick study, Garrus Vakarian." She nips at his mouth, then his mandible, making him groan. "Now, let's see how I do."
Whatever witty remark he may have said is lost when her hand wraps around him and squeezes. The sound he makes is an embarrassing cross between a whine and a howl.
"That's good, I take it?"
"Uhh...hmmm..." He can't speak, he can't even understand why she would ask him to, what with the mindlessness that comes with the sort of pleasure she is giving him. That hand of hers - with so many extra fingers - sliding and tugging at him in a way that is almost too good to be real. Her palm so much softer, smoother than that of a turian. Her other hand tracing the edges of his plates, scratching along the unprotected skin between them.
He has no idea how she knows to do that, but he's infinitely grateful that she's doing it all the same. His body starts to go into sensory overload when she sucks on the sensitive skin of his neck, pulling it into her mouth and nibbling on it with blunt teeth. His hips rock upwards, seeking more contact, more friction...more of her.
And somehow, he finds that he's not above begging. "Shepard, please."
She kisses a track back up towards his ear. "Tell me what you need, Garrus."
She strokes him again, up then down, an uneven pace that makes it hard for him breathe. "You, just you. Please."
She sighs against the side of his face. "Okay."
And then she's shifting and lifting herself over him, guiding him towards her entrance. Both of her hands press to his chest, one landing over his heart - where he thinks it might beat itself free from its cage - as she eases herself down onto him. The slick tightness of her threatens to break the loose grip he has on his self-control.
Then she moves, and he is lost.
She rides him, but he isn't passive. Almost without thought he sits up, wrapping one arm around her body; the other finding the tangle of her hair at the nape of her neck. Her legs snake around him, over the hollow of his hips, as she seeks leverage to rise and fall over him. Slipping almost all the way off of him before sliding back down, her hips rotating with each pass up and down that she makes.
He presses his face to her neck, his hand at her back moving to the dip above her ass, holding her tight to him as he thrusts upwards, not quite matching the pace she tries to set. His legs rise up to help support her as she leans back, holding her in a position reminiscent of the one they shared on Omega, but different in a few very key aspects. The new hold changes the angle of her downward thrusts, forcing a shameless moan from him and a shuddering cry from her. Judging by the way that she starts to tremble in his arms, he has to assume that the change in position is as pleasurable for her as it is for him.
All concept of time leaves him, along with his worries and doubts. They become nothing more than abstract concepts as together, the two of them seek their pleasure in one imperfect joining that he hopes is the start of something that will last.
She babbles nonsensical words between every thrust. Words that are echoed by his own desperate pleas. The words themselves less important than the meaning behind them. You're real you're alive you're here please don't leave never...
Her cry of 'Garrus' and his of her name are the only two that really make any sense, the only words that are clear. The only ones that matter.
The feeling of her when she clamps down around him, a sob leaving her throat as she climaxes again, fills him with an even more primal sort of lust. He grunts and rolls them over, until he is nestled fully between her thighs, her legs still locked around him. The heels of her feet dig into his back as he drives into her, the pace almost brutal as he slips his hands beneath her ass to angle her towards him. Her vocalizations turn as heated and wanton as his own with the change.
She cries out, muffling the noise against his throat. He roars when she bites down, losing all semblance of rhythm and pressing forward in a series of quick, deep thrusts as he finds his release in the depths of her body.
He clutches her to him, shaking. His breathing harsh and irregular. For a moment, he fears that he will wake up and discover that he's still on Omega. Bleeding out around the remains of his squad, and that Shepard's return was nothing more than the hallucination of a dying man. But she presses a hand to his face, turning him to face her so that she can give him a soft, lingering kiss, and he thinks that the Spirits couldn't possibly be so cruel as to take this from him now, even if it's not real.
Sated and exhausted (When was the last time he slept without being sedated? He has no idea...) he slides down her body, dropping his head against her chest. Pressed as close to her as he is he can feel the rapid beat of her heart, off-time from his own but still similar. So much between them is similar, despite all the obvious differences. Hard plating and soft skin, both covering the soldiers within - they're really not that different, he thinks.
One of his hands seeks out hers, finds it by the side of her head. Their fingers link together - that grip that he knows he now loves - and he feels his heart swell when she squeezes his hand. Her other hand lands on his neck, dancing fingers making playful little strokes up along the fringe. He hums in contentment, stroking his free hand along her side, settling it at her hip.
"As much as I would like nothing more than to be your pillow, you're kind of heavy. Would you mind..."
"Oh! Sorry. Yeah. I'll just-" He starts to pull back from her, only for his limbs tell him no, that's not going to work. Instead, he slides off of her and lays on his side. She follows him a moment later, curving her body into his.
There's a slickness between their bodies, sweat and other bodily fluids mingling together. He winces at the thought of falling asleep like that, but he can't seem to make his body move. He figures she must be thinking along the same lines when she squeezes his hand once again and moves to stand. "Be right back."
"'kay." His tongue feels sluggish with fatigue, the weight of everything that has been holding him down lately finally easing as he starts to drift off. It could be minutes or hours before she returns, he's not really aware enough to tell. He just knows that at some point she returns. A warm, soft material swiping over his lower plates, cleaning him. He rumbles out his appreciation. Moments later she climbs back into the bed with him, jostling him as she fits her body to his. Her back to his chest. Blindly, he slings an arm over her, pulling her close. He nuzzles his face into her hair, drawing in that warmth and scent that is uniquely hers. "You're still real, right?"
She laughs, a soft happy sound that he immediately decides he adores. "Yes, Garrus. I'm real. I promise."
"Good." He tightens his hold on her, squeezing. "Do you mind if I -"
She taps her hand against his knuckles, silencing him. "You try and go anywhere, Garrus, and I'll cuff you to this bed."
"Mmm, maybe later. Wake me in an hour or two, and we'll see."
"I'll hold you to that, Officer."
They lapse into silence after that, Shepard's breathing slowing down to a pace close to his own. Without his bidding, a few words slip from his mind to his mouth. "I missed you."
"...I missed you, too."
His heart speeds up at the admission, before settling down into a place of peace where he can't fight the allure of unconsciousness anymore. But that's okay. Because she's here. She's real. She's alive. She's not going anywhere.
And neither is he.