In the aftermath, Shepard sprawled across her bed in careless repose, feeling warm all over, pleasantly sore, sweaty and debauched and utterly wonderful - and in no small part mischievous, like she was getting away with something grand.

"What are you chuckling about?" Garrus asked, while he propped himself back up to get a good look at her face. He sounded just as amused, albeit still a little self-conscious - not that he had anything to worry about, as she'd just proven at rather ridiculous volume. Even so, she took care to prove her intent. She let one hand settle gently on his chest.

"It's just… us," she said, still smiling. "Making this work, no matter how improbable we may look to anyone else. I feel like we're giving the whole universe the middle finger."

Garrus chuckled. "Humans and your idioms," he said, considering his own hand. He was still wearing the talon sheaths he'd re-appropriated, to great effect, from the kit he normally used for working with sensitive mechanics and electronics. "I think you'd have to have as many fingers as you do to come up with that one."

Shepard deliberately let her touch drift lower. "From the way you were shouting earlier, I think you like all these fingers of mine."

Garrus' mandibles flared in a way she'd come to consider as something like a blush. "I admit, they're very… deft."

"I do my best." She tilted a grin at him. "You weren't doing so bad with yours, either."

He gave a low laugh. "Well. It's good to know that giant guns aren't the only thing I can make sing."

Shepard smiled and curled up closer, enjoying the warmth in his voice and the low reverberations of that laugh. Garrus - with a fair amount of his own deftness, she noted - nudged the sheaths off his fingertips, set them aside, and ran two fingers back through her tousled hair. He had a remarkably gentle touch, even considering the tangles.

"Feels nice," she murmured.

He made another low hum. "I like your hair," he admitted. "Wasn't sure what to think of humans and their hair at first, with all those colors and textures and styles… I didn't know if they were like clan markings, or…."

She smiled again. "Sometimes it's cultural. Mostly it's just about vanity."

"And once I figured that out, it just seemed like a lot of fuss." He lifted up a lock with one finger, then slowly let the strands fall. "But… it's pretty. And so soft."

Shepard gave him a self-deprecating grin. "I doubt it looks that pretty after everything we've been doing."

He shushed her and bent closer for a gentle, affectionate nuzzle. Shepard hummed contentedly. "You still look incredible," he said - before something in his voice went sly. "And I'm always going to think you look the most beautiful when I can get you like this."

Shepard laughed. "Ah. Is that smugness I'm detecting, Vakarian?"

"Mmh. Maybe."

She teasingly poked his chest. "Just because I'm the one who has to look disheveled doesn't mean I'm the only one who got all hot and bothered, here."

This time it was Garrus' turn for a self-deprecating laugh. "Oh, believe me, if you'd spent more time around turians, you'd be seeing the signs too."

"Like what?"

He pointed at the softer, uncovered skin of his neck, which she'd lavished with considerable attention not so long ago. "My skin's not normally this dark, for one thing. It's the blood flush. And the plates all shift a little…."

Shepard glanced downwards again, smirking. "That much I'd noticed."

"I didn't just mean those plates, Shepard."

"No, but that's still some pretty impressive evidence."

"Hah. Now do I get to sound smug?"

"Just this once," she replied, and tilted her chin up again so she could give him a kiss. It was different - very different - than kisses were with humans, but once she'd eased his mouth open, felt him sigh and then felt the flickering, raspy touch of his tongue against hers, she went so warm all over that her toes curled. Garrus held her close, evidently enjoying every moment of it.

"Stay with me tonight?" Shepard murmured into his mouth, once she'd caught her breath. Garrus hesitated only a moment.

"If you… don't mind if people talk, about me sleeping in the commander's quarters…."

"Oh, Garrus." She cupped his cheek with one hand. "You know what I was saying about giving the universe the finger?"


"The regs can hang themselves," she told him. "I want you… with me…. and I don't care what anyone thinks about it."

Garrus rested his forehead against hers. "Neither do I," he said hoarsely.

Shepard kissed him one more time, trembling with the sudden force of her emotions. Then she moved a little, tucking her head under his chin and settling in, heedless of the angles and her own vulnerability. Garrus hummed softly into her hair. He sounded more content than she'd ever heard him. She felt both grateful for it and a little bit awed.

And for all that the heartbeat beneath her thrummed to an entirely alien beat, she thought as she drifted off towards sleep that she'd never felt so much at home.