Chapter Sixteen:

After a few moments, Tevos felt Aria gently withdraw from her body. She allowed herself to be rolled over on the bed and let out a sigh of relief as her wrists were freed, knowing she needed to move eventually, but completely unable to control her limbs. Even rolling the stiffness from her arms was too much. The meld faded, and she ached to call Aria back as she watched her walk unsteadily toward the en suite, sucking on the fingers of the hand that was coated in her wetness. But all she could do was lay there, twitching with aftershocks and the rawness of her emotions. She knew her lover would return in just a moment, bringing washcloths and a towel and kisses and soothing words, but she hated being alone after what they had just done.

As usual, Aria made her wait, but not for long. For all her faults, Aria had always been good at aftercare, even before they were in any kind of relationship. Perhaps it was a benefit of the ability to meld, but she always seemed to know when and how to offer comfort. "Here, let me just..." She didn't resist when Aria parted her legs, and even sighed in pleasure at the warmth of the washcloth. Despite the way her entire body ached, she even allowed Aria to lift her hips and ease a towel underneath them so that the large wet spot on the bed wouldn't make her cold and uncomfortable. They would definitely need to change the sheets, and probably take another shower, but later. For now, Aria was the only thing she wanted.

Tevos clung to Aria as soon as she crawled back onto the bed and refused to let go, making it slightly difficult for her to settle into a comfortable position. They melded again for a few minutes, a mating meld even though there was no physical sex happening, and felt instant relief at not being just half of a whole anymore.

'I missed you.'

'I was gone for about two minutes.'

'Two minutes too long.'

They didn't even have the energy to banter, and simply folded in on each other. The universe seemed to shrink until it only held the two of them, and nothing else mattered. Aria did find the energy to say one more thing, though. "I love you..."

It had taken a long time, but the words came more easily now, and she meant them.

"You're impossible. I love you, too. So, where do you want to elope?"


That earned her an immediate, "Absolutely not."

"Come on. You like Illium. It has the best shopping."

"Illium is for shoes, pricey lingerie, and amps I can't get anywhere else. Not bondmate ceremonies. Besides, the place is crawling with paparazzi. Do you know how many celebrities live in Nos Astra?"

"What do I care?"

Tevos laughed against Aria's warm shoulder. "You care. You're too vain to get married on Illium. Do you really want to go to the one place in the galaxy where there's a chance you won't be the tallest, sexiest, wealthiest asari in the room?"

"I'm not sure if that's an insult or a compliment. Probably an insult. What about Nevos? Beaches, two moons... less illegal activity..."

"If I cared that much about illegal activity, do you really think I'd be visiting Omega to fuck you on a regular basis?"

Aria had to admit that Tevos had a point. "So, is that a yes or a no?"

"Nevos sounds nice. I've never been."

Aria had visited Nevos before, but decided that it was probably wise not to mention some of the things she had done there. "Okay," she said, blissfully content as she threw a casual leg over Tevos's hips, enjoying the warmth and the stretch in her lower back.

"Now I just have to figure out how to tell my mother."

The perfect moment shattered, and Aria groaned in frustration. She nipped Tevos's neck briefly, latching on to the skin there in hopes of creating a distraction. "Great. What are you going to say? Hi, mom! This is my asari bondmate, who also happens to run the biggest criminal enterprise in the entire Terminus System. She's fantastic in bed, but I mostly stay with her because of her sparkling, vivacious personality when she's not killing or extorting people."

Tevos sighed. "Don't worry. She'll probably faint before I get past 'asari bondmate' and won't hear the rest."

"That's really comforting, Thea. Thanks a lot."

"Hey, I just let you fuck my ass. Coming with me to Thessia to meet my mother isn't too much to ask... after we're bonded, of course. I refuse to let her scare you off like she did with my other girlfriends. Eventually, I just stopped bringing them. It wasn't worth the trouble."

Aria was almost insulted. "I've fought entire armies of mercs, and you think one stuck-up matriarch is going to scare me? Please. The hard part will be restraining my biotics."

"She always wanted me to bond with someone that was wealthy, influential, and not an asari. So I guess two out of three isn't bad."

"No," Aria said. "But... I think I might need some more convincing before we go visit."


Aria took Tevos's hand and sent her a brief image – reclining against the headboard, propped up on several pillows while she gripped her lover's crest, rolling her hips against the soft tongue working between her legs.

'Oh. That kind of convincing. I get a turn after, right?'

'Yes, as long as you take your time.'

'I'm completely fine with that. Now get your leg off me. I think I'm getting my second wind.'

. . .

Liara collapsed back onto the pillows, her body relaxing from it's jackknifed position as her fingers eased their grip on Shepard's hair. "Goddess, Shepard! Don't take this the wrong way, but your tongue is very... efficient."

Shepard took a moment to nip Liara's inner thigh and leave a dark purple mark there before answering. "Efficient? You can't come up with anything better than that, Dr. T'Soni?"

"Wonderful. Talented. Masterful. Pick your complimentary adjective."

"I like masterful," Shepard said, pressing one last kiss to the very tip of Liara's clit before shifting up a few inches and resting her cheek on the swell of her bondmate's lower abdomen, careful not to let the full weight of her head rest there. The texture of Liara's skin always amazed her. It looked scaled up close, perhaps even a little reptilian, but felt incredibly soft to the touch, even softer than her own flesh. "Hey, didn't your Omnitool go off just before we came?"

Liara vaguely remembered hearing the familiar buzzing alert of a missed message as Shepard's tongue pushed inside of her, but she had been far too close to orgasm to pay much attention at the time. Frowning, she felt over the surface of the nightstand until she grasped her Omnitool's wristband. She narrowed her eyes when the display screen popped up. She did have one missed message.



SUBJ: We're even


There was no text in the body of the message, but Liara's curiosity overcame her caution, and she opened the first attachment. "Oh! Shepard, look. They're adorable."

Shepard frowned, turning her head to view the holo projection. She had never expected to hear Aria T'Loak described as 'adorable', but she did look surprisingly content as she and Tevos held hands under a pair of large white moons. "Wait... holy shit, are those bondmate bracelets?"

Liara pulled her fingers apart, zooming in on the holo. "I suppose they are." She couldn't help fidgeting with her own bracelet, which was interwoven with strands of blue for faithfulness, purple for trials withstood – purple had many of the same connotations for asari that the color red did for humans – and green to remind her of Shepard's eyes. There were a few other colors interwoven throughout the pattern as well, some with meanings behind them, and some that were simply aesthetically pleasing, but those three made up the bulk of the design.

"Wow. Never expected someone like Aria to settle down. She always seemed like too much of a lone wolf."

Briefly, Liara added 'wolf' to the mental list of English words she needed to search for on the extranet. "Or a hedonist," she added, although not unkindly. "But if she is going to settle down, I suppose I should stop sending my operatives to kill her."

"Oh, come on. Don't give me that crap. You haven't sent anyone to kill her since the wedding." It was true. Liara was still playing something of a dangerous game, sending agents to gather intelligence on Aria T'Loak's mercenary activities, but she wouldn't be able to fulfill her duties as the Shadow Broker if she let Omega become a blind spot.

"At least this explains why my reports from the Terminus System have been so short lately. I suspect Aria is too busy embracing eternity this week to smuggle as many illegal weapons and substances as usual."

"Good for her. Still weird, though. Did I tell you she tried to sleep with me a couple of times after I came back from the dead? Said human women were some of the best lovers she'd ever had."

Liara grinned. "I believe it. My experience may be limited, but if the extranet is to be believed, you humans are very... inventive when it comes to physical intimacy."

Shepard lifted her head from Liara's stomach, pausing to give the slight curve there a protective caress before she crawled back up to the head of the bed. "Open the next one... Damn. Aria looks good in a dress. I guess I'm used to her badass leather ensemble."

"I like the color Tevos is wearing."

"I'm not surprised. You always liked yellow."

Liara opened the third holo, and immediately began laughing as Shepard blushed and automatically covered her eyes. "I will never understand why humans are so put off by nudity. It is not nearly so taboo in asari culture."

"Well, I just – but... oh, hell. I've already watched them fuck, so I have no idea why I'm embarrassed at seeing them lounging on a nude beach." Almost all asari beaches were nude beaches, which Shepard had been quietly terrified to discover during their honeymoon several months ago. Naked skin aside, it was actually a nice picture. Aria was kneeling behind Tevos, massaging sunblock into her shoulders and kissing the column of her throat. "I bet she wasn't dumb enough to get a mouthful of sunscreen like I did when I tried that trick," Shepard mumbled, a little put out as she remembered the first day of their own honeymoon. After a little alcohol to wash the taste from her mouth, the rest of the day had been much more pleasant.

"Probably not. You know, I might be able to help them. A timed information leak... something juicy, but unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Maybe Dalatrass Linron's affair with one of the elcor diplomats."

"Dalatrass Linron's what? Okay, I wanted to make love again tonight, but I think you just killed my sex drive for the next week. Speaking of sex drives, why would a salarian have an affair at all? They don't get married, and they don't usually have sex for pleasure... especially with elcor. Gross."

"Best not to think about the details," Liara suggested. "But it would help push their faces off the front pages at Westerlund once their bonding becomes public knowledge."

"I'm not sure that would work, Liara. Aria and Tevos are, well... really hot. And Dalatrass Linron, er, isn't. They make better fantasy material, so they'd probably sell more magazine downloads."

"They do," Liara was forced to admit as she remembered the carefully encrypted vid file saved on her private terminal. She had tried to delete it a few times out of respect for Tevos, but could never bring herself to get rid of the last backup. "The only thing asari, quarian, and human readers like more than a forbidden romance and a wedding is a celebrity pregnancy."

Shepard's eyes widened. "That could work if we time it right," she said, idly stroking Liara's stomach.

"I'll give Khalisah a call as soon as my data searches for Aria and Tevos spike."

"Wouldn't you rather Diana?"

"Yes, but I know Khalisah's bondmate. A sweet girl. It would be a shame to see her widowed so soon. If al-Jilani is reporting about me, she'll be too busy to bother Tevos, and then Aria won't have to tear her apart with her biotics."

Shepard let out an irritated huff of air. "Fine. Whatever you want." Although she and al-Jilani had reached a tentative sort of truce, and she had behaved herself (mostly) in regards to their wedding, part of Shepard was still wary. Sometimes, she really missed Emily Wong. Just another reason to hate the Reapers.

"It was bound to happen eventually. At least this way, our inconvenience will help someone else."

"You'd better be talking about Khalisah and not our daughter."

Liara aimed a swat at Shepard's head. "Of course I am. Now... about your sex drive. Is it still dead because of the Dalatrass," Shepard gave an exaggerated shudder, which Liara ignored, "or can I do something to revive it?"

"I dunno. Maybe you should experiment and find out?"

"Well, I am a scientist," Liara murmured as she swung one of her legs over Shepard's hips, effectively straddling her as one of the human's hands cupped between her legs. "Experimenting is what I do best..."

The End