Floggers, Foreplay, and Medi-gel

Chapter 5:


A/N: So. Three months. Yeah. I'm a terrible person. I frankly couldn't come up with the date. Plus I kinda worked out my need for Mordin porn with "The Commander's Scientist". But now TheRedCelt has struck a deal with me to write her Wrex/Femshep story if I'll continue this. And I love me some good Wrexard. Soooo I must return! Hopefully I can still churn out the Mordinspeak well enough. :) My style's changed since the last chapter, so I hope it still flows well enough. :D Let me know please! :D

She watched him exit her cabin and sighed as a knot began to form in her gut. It wasn't the typical knot she got in the middle of battle; instead, it was a knot that seemed to be bothered endlessly by tiny, annoying little butterflies that just wouldn't go away. She swallowed and shook her head, stripping and tossing her dirty uniform down the laundry chute as she headed towards the shower.

Mordin stilled as he heard the door to Shepard's cabin close behind him. He didn't know what to think about this situation. It had all come on so suddenly, no warning at all; and he was left standing in the eye of the storm, completely baffled and flustered by his own emotions. It had barely been a few weeks since he'd first met Shepard, and already they were in love. It seemed impossible, scandalous even. What would his family's Dalatrass think of him if she could see him now? All his past accomplishments would be for naught in the face of actually falling for a member of another species. It wasn't that salarians were particularly xenophobic, but to actually take someone outside of their own species as a mate? It was improper, indecent... something a deviant would do; not a respected scientist who'd spent his life making a name for his family.

He turned and gazed at the green door interface panel as dread settled and twisted in his stomach. How could he possibly explain this to his family, if it came to that? And it would now, seeing as they both felt the same way about each other. He'd thought it was impossible for salarians to develop feelings like this. But this woman - this human, of all things - proved him wrong every time he saw her. One part of his mind wondered how long the feelings would last for either of them, while another considered the implications of this whirlwind romance in the face of the collector threat. Perhaps it wouldn't matter in a few months; there was no guarantee that any of the crew of the Normandy would survive the Omega 4 relay, after all.

But what if they did survive? What would it mean for them if the truth got out and their relationship stayed true? Would he be disgraced amongst his people? Would she? If they defeated the collectors, they would all be heroes, but would that overshadow their scandal, or simply push it to the forefront, shown as an example to others of how celebrity had clouded their judgment?

He jumped subtly as the sound of water rushing through the exposed pipes at the end of the short hall hit his ear canals, and realized that he should probably go prepare for their date. He loved her, consequences be damned; and he wasn't about to let the prejudice of others keep him from where his heart led him. He never had before, and it'd always worked out in the end. He quietly prayed that his luck would hold true, for both their sakes.

o0o0o0o0o0o0o

Forty minutes later, Mordin found himself pacing near the airlock, waiting for Shepard. Most of the crew had already disembarked, save Miranda, who was in a meeting with the Illusive Man, a few of the engineers who'd decided to hold a Skillian 5 match in the cargo hold, and Joker; who was quietly sitting in his chair, occasionally stealing questioning glances over his shoulder at the salarian's odd behaviour. After five minutes, Joker couldn't hold back his curiosity, and turned his chair around.

"Soooo Mordin... why are you wearing a hole in the deck plating? And why here? Don't you have some kind of samples to run scans on in the lab or something?" His curiosity couldn't completely hide the mild annoyance in his voice, so he smiled awkwardly to try to lessen the edge of his question.

Mordin stopped mid-pace, and blinked at the pilot. What a silly question, of course he had samples being scanned and analyzed in the lab. That was a constant occurrence. The samples had never demanded that he be present to watch them being scanned. He huffed and waved his hand at the human as if batting an annoying insect away. "Am waiting for Shepard. Samples in lab being scanned as we speak. No need to worry about them... or integrity of deck plating." He continued his pacing as if he'd never been interrupted.

Joker raised an incredulous eyebrow at the odd salarian. "I wasn't actually worried, Mordin. And you're waiting on the commander? Is she late or something?"

Mordin sighed and stopped once more, turning to face Joker. Humans were almost as nosy as salarians, a fact he would never get used to. "No, am early. And if you weren't concerned, why ask? Very counter-productive."

Joker snorted. This salarian was something else. "Just making conversation, Professor. You got a mission for the commander or something? Why wait?"

Mordin laid his thumb and forefinger on the inner corners of his eyelids, rubbing lightly to ease tension. He was wrong again. Humans were more nosy than salarians. His own kind would've taken the cues from his body language to stop questioning him by now. He didn't want to lie to anyone, but he wasn't sure how Shepard wanted to handle their relationship with the rest of the crew. He decided a cop-out would be preferable. "Would prefer you ask her when she arrives. She requested the meeting." It wasn't a lie, at least.

Joker raised his eyebrows impossibly further, then let them fall with a shrug. "Alright, if you insist."

Mordin barely bit back his sigh of relief when the pilot turned his chair back around, busying himself with the console in front of him. Mordin resumed his pacing, his arms crossed in front of him, the fingers of his right hand worrying his lip lightly as the anxiety rolled off of him in waves. He made a mental note to never again be early when waiting on Shepard.

o0o0o0o0o0o0o

Shepard looked in the mirror and huffed in annoyance. The one time she had a date in years - thanks to her death – and her hair wouldn't cooperate. Any other day, it was perfect. A glance at the time on her omni-tool told her that she had twenty minutes to spare. She huffed again, muttered "fuck it," and leaned over, turning the water in her sink on and dousing her hair, hoping a fresh start would make the difference. She slung her wet hair back and began drying it methodically, the same as she always did, and finally, a semblance of her normal style began to appear. It wasn't perfect, but it was a damn sight better than the crow's nest it had been.

She applied some light makeup, blending what was left of the still-healing scars from her resurrection in with her normal skin with some success, dabbed some balm on her lips, and nodded in satisfaction. She straightened and walked out of her bathroom towards her closet, picking out the same outfit she'd worn to Mordin's lab when they'd first kissed. As she dressed, she remembered that he'd seemed incapable of taking his eyes off of her shoulders when he first saw it, so she pushed the arms of the sweater down a tad further, letting a bit more of her skin show than she had that day, and smirked at her image in the full-length mirror. She had no idea what salarians counted as attractive in their own species, let alone in humans, but to her eyes, she looked ravishing.

She spritzed her perfume on lightly, and took one final account of her appearance before slipping her shoes on and heading to the elevator. She prodded the holo-button for the CIC, and flicked her wrist to activate her omni-tool chip. If the elevator didn't take longer than usual, she would arrive at the airlock right on time to meet Mordin. She hoped for a moment that he wouldn't be late, waiting for him with Joker sitting there as he always did for a few hours after docking would be awkward, to say the least.

The elevator was making good time today, and as the door swished open, she closed her omni-tool and started making a beeline for the airlock. As she rounded the galaxy map, she smirked at the sight of Mordin pacing just outside the airlock. He was facing away from her, and she could tell from his posture that he'd been waiting for a while. As she saw the curiously disconcerted look Joker was giving him, her concern for the length of time he'd been waiting grew.

The knot in her gut tightened as a thought occurred to her. How did she want to handle her and Mordin's relationship in regards to the rest of the crew? How did he want to handle it? She wasn't sure of the answer to either question, though she doubted their relationship had even become scuttlebutt yet, as they'd managed to keep it under pretty tight wraps so far, without even really trying. She knew that wouldn't last though, and they'd have to figure it out before it became an issue. Their relationship had come on so quickly that she'd not even had time to consider that aspect of it.

She hadn't realized that she'd stopped in the middle of the CIC until she heard Mordin cough softly. She looked up and met his curious, nervous gaze, blushing and smiling lightly, then walked over to him. She grinned almost shyly, and spoke quietly, "Hi, Mordin. Ready to go?"

He looked as if he were about to respond, when Joker chose that moment to turn his chair around and interrupt, in his usual fashion. "Hey commander. Any plans for shore leave?" His gaze flitted to Mordin for just a second before refocusing on Shepard.

She followed his line of sight and flushed slightly. "Well, I asked Mordin if he'd like to have real food for breakfast, then I think we'll take in the sights for a while. After that, I don't know. Might go see a show, it's been a while since I saw anything that wasn't in vid form." She smiled evenly at her pilot, her eyes daring him to make something of her statement, or her company.

He took the bait like a fish takes to water, his face lighting up in a sly grin. "Why, commander, that sounds suspiciously like a date. I didn't know your tastes ran along scientific lines." She could see the barely suppressed laughter in his eyes, and she rolled her own, smiling.

"What if it is, and what if they do, Joker? Don't you have an argument with EDI to get to?" She smirked, knowing he couldn't resist arguing with their resident AI.

He rolled his eyes and sent a death glare towards EDI's station in the cockpit. "Oh, don't get her started. She'll never shut up."

Shepard laughed and twined her hand around Mordin's elbow, which he courteously bent for her. "Have fun, Joker. And make sure you get off the ship for a while, I don't want to catch you staying here more than a couple hours. We've got three days of shore leave, and I want everyone using it. Including you." She pointed at him for emphasis.

Joker rolled his eyes again and scoffed. "Okay mom. Sheesh, go have your date, the rest of us have things to do." He shook his head and turned his chair around.

Shepard grinned and palmed the airlock door, Mordin in tow, and walked into the bright light of the docking bay. She looked up at Mordin and smiled. "So, do you have a place in mind for breakfast?" She looked around nervously and dropped her hand from his elbow, lowering her voice as she spoke again. "Also, how do you want to handle... this..." she motioned between them discreetly, "in public? Pretty sure we already answered that as far as the crew is concerned; everyone on the ship will know in an hour thanks to Joker, but I'd like to follow your lead on the general public part, since I don't know as much about your culture as I'd like." She shifted her weight nervously from one foot to another as she looked at him.

He blinked once, his rapid-fire mind coursing with options which he considered one by one and either dismissed or accepted. He nodded as he came to an acceptable conclusion. "For breakfast, there are a few options, will let you decide upon arrival." He paused, turning to look her squarely in the eyes. "To the issue of publicity... if you are comfortable with them knowing, I am as well. Is... an unusual pairing, will create controversy amongst my species. Problematic, but am capable of handling if need be." He smiled reassuringly down at her, then turned to the side, offering his elbow to her once more.

Concern clouded her eyes, but she smiled at his gesture, and accepted his offer, lightly gripping the crook of his elbow. He smiled lovingly at her acceptance, and headed to the elevator, intent upon taking it to the presidium commons. They stepped into the thankfully empty lift, and he pushed the needed holo-button, then settled in to wait next to Shepard. She leaned into him, resting her head on his shoulder as the lift started off towards their destination. He smiled and turned his head to plant a kiss on her hair, closing his eyes as he lingered there, inhaling the sweet floral scent he remembered from several days ago in the lab, where things had gotten a bit farther than he'd intended... he stopped himself there, knowing if he let his mind drift any farther in that train of thought, they wouldn't make it to breakfast, let alone a walk in the park.

He straightened again, glancing down at her and taking in the view of her smooth shoulders in the same outfit she'd worn then, though he noticed that more skin was exposed than had been that day. He blushed lightly at the thought of her not only noticing, but remembering the attention he'd paid to that outfit. She was more observant than he'd given her credit for. He smirked and gestured towards her with his left hand as he spoke. "Don't know if you realize, but in salarian culture, a female wearing a similar outfit to yours was once considered a signal of availability. At least, traditionally; before limitations and breeding contracts came into play. Is rare to see it now."

Shepard lifted her head and looked at him, surprise spreading across her face. "So is that why you reacted the way you did in the lab the other day? I knew you liked this outfit, but I had no idea of the reasons behind it." She smiled up at him, curiosity replacing the surprise on her features.

He nodded, returning her smile. "Yes, females showing skin of any kind other than face or hands is traditional means of searching for a partner. Is similar for most species, though elcor and hanar completely opposite; hanar always naked, and elcor only don clothing or other ornaments to attract mates on their homeworld."

She giggled and shook her head in wonder as he relayed this thoroughly serious information, and she leaned up to plant a kiss on his cheek. "Mordin, how is it you always know how to make me laugh, even when you're not trying to?"

He smiled through his surprise at her words, her light mood as infectious as the collector plague he'd cured. "I am... unsure. But, am glad to be of service, Spyke." He beamed down at her, just as she beamed up at him.

Just then, the elevator promptly opened up to announce their arrival at their destination. A turian stood there, waiting for the elevator to become available, and upon seeing the odd couple, so obviously radiating attachment, he blinked in surprise. He watched them, gaping, as they departed the lift and walked past him, and he nearly missed stepping onto the elevator before the doors closed as he continued to stare until the doors cut off his view.

Mordin gestured to several different restaurants that all served both salarian and human food, indicating that she choose one. Shepard ignored the restaurants, instead turning to Mordin and giving him a pointed look. "Which one is your favorite between them?" She asked, keeping eye contact with him to make sure he knew it was his choice.

He blinked, going over the options in his head. "Spyke, are you sure you want me to choo-" He was interrupted by her hand on his mouth.

"Mordin, I asked you which one you liked. Now pick one and let's go. If I ask you to pick something, I mean it." She paused as a grin crept across her lips. "I love you, but you've got to stop questioning my orders." She said teasingly, and lowered her hand from his mouth. She wanted to replace her hand with her lips, but even if they were publicly dating, it probably wasn't a good idea to push their luck. They were already garnering a few disconcerted looks from passer-by's.

He relented, and pointed at the one restaurant with a salarian behind the counter. She smirked and nodded, inclining her head towards a booth near the rear of the building. He led them to it quietly, ushering her into her seat as she released his arm, before he seated himself on the opposite side of the table. A green-skinned salarian waiter promptly appeared beside their table, before they'd even had a chance to warm the seats. He handed them both menus, and took their drink orders, before he left as quickly as he'd appeared.

Shepard leaned in to ask Mordin a question, and he held his hand up, slinging his omni-tool on as he began some program or another. He nodded to himself several times, keying in several commands before he looked back up at Shepard, and nodded at her. "Sorry, wanted to check for surveillance devices. Found several, deactivated now. Please continue."

Shepard blinked, a smirk pulling at the corners of her mouth. "Seriously? Why are there bugs in a restaurant, of all places?"

He shrugged. "Most assume restaurants to be neutral, safe places to meet for various illegal or secret arrangements. Is an incorrect assumption, especially in case of salarian-owned establishments."

Shepard shook her head, marveling at the salarian instinct to gather information, and generally spy on everyone, including their own kind. It was a trademark of the species, but it never ceased to amaze her exactly how far they'd go to gain the upper hand in the information game. She'd looked up what she could about modern salarian culture on the extranet, but it had mostly been about their government and their public face; she hadn't been able to find much information on their more intimate social structures, other than some articles on breeding contract negotiations.

She'd decided she wanted a more personal account of his society. She was about to start her line of questioning, when the salarian waiter appeared once again with their drinks. She was becoming a bit disconcerted with this salarian's ability to seemingly appear out of nowhere; she hadn't once actually seen him approach, nor did she see where he'd disappeared to either time that he'd left. She wasn't normally one to be so unaware of her surroundings, and it raised a few hairs at the back of her neck that she'd been so easily foiled four times now.

Mordin interrupted her displeasure with a hand on hers. "Is something wrong, Spyke?" he asked, concern coating his words delicately.

She was loathe to admit to him what was bothering her, but the fact that he'd noticed her displeasure made her push her way through it. "I... I have to ask, is that waiter of ours using a tactical cloak or something? The only time I see him is when he's already at our table. I never see him approaching, nor see where he goes when he leaves. The whole point of picking this booth was so I could see the whole place, and I'm somehow missing our waiter." She smirked through her frustration at the ridiculousness of the situation, casting her eyes about the room as she looked for the waiter in vain. Her smirk gave way to a slight frown of concern when her eyes fell back on Mordin, who was sitting absolutely still, looking at her in alarm.

He leaned in and she barely caught what he whispered, "Thought I was being paranoid. If he is using a cloak, is using it to spy on customers in illegal manner. Surveillance bugs mostly legal for salarians, tactical cloaks to subvert customers smart enough to deactivate them...are not. Watch carefully." He flipped his omni-tool on, and began rapidly flickering through the keys, inputting lines of code faster than she could follow what he was doing. He glanced up to see her watching him, caught her gaze, and subtly nodded his head towards the room around them, before returning his gaze to the program he was creating.

She diverted her eyes to casually look around the restaurant, taking a few sips from her drink to appear even more at ease. She knew how to be stealthy. She heard a soft tone emitting from Mordin's omni-tool, and suddenly she saw a flicker of their waiter standing not five feet away in the periphery of her vision. She smirked slightly, and looked at Mordin, nodding subtly and glancing in the direction of the flicker she'd seen. Mordin followed the line of her quick glance, input a few more lines of code in the program on his omni-tool, then quickly aimed it at the supposed location of the waiter, and triggered the program to execute.

The waiter's cloak fell instantly, and he stood there with a look of complete shock on his face, before shame and fear overcame it, and he began wringing his spindly hands together and biting his lip, his eyes dashing around in search of an escape route, before realizing there was none. He looked over at Mordin with a grimace, his eyes narrowed as if he feared he was about to be beaten... or worse.

Mordin sighed, and crooked a finger at the waiter, beckoning him closer to the table. The waiter complied, slowly, his eyes dashing furtively between the two figures in the booth, waiting for one of them to pull a weapon and just shoot him right there.

As he reached the edge of the table, Mordin spoke. "Do you realize who you're failing to illegally spy on?"

The waiter shook his head quickly, his voice wavering as he answered. "N-no. My boss makes me spy on everyone. You're the first ones to discover me." His hands began to tremble as he continued to wring them together.

Mordin's eyes shifted to Shepard. "Is telling the truth." At her nod, he looked back to the waiter. "Tell your boss we would like a word... in private." He glared at the waiter to make sure he got his point across.

The waiter nodded emphatically and didn't bother reactivating his cloak as he tottered off to the kitchen, disappearing behind the doors that closed after his passing. Soon after, a flustered brown-skinned salarian emerged through the same doors, making a beeline for their table. He bowed slightly as he arrived, his eyes darting between the table's occupants, and resting on Shepard as they widened slightly. They flickered back to Mordin as he spoke, his abnormally high-pitched voice making an unpleasant shiver run up Shepard's spine. "I was told you wished to speak to me, urgently. I hope there isn't a problem with the service...?" He trailed off, waiting for one of them to fill in the blanks.

Mordin spoke up before she could, and Shepard leaned back and watched, as the situation unfolded in front of her. Well, she'd wanted to know about salarian society. She was getting a first-hand demonstration. She would've smirked in satisfaction if the circumstances weren't so serious.

"Yes, there is. We do not blame the server, but you should pick targets for spying on more carefully. The council will not look kindly on one of their Spectres" Mordin looked at Shepard, then back to the restaurant owner, "being spied on by someone without security clearance." He narrowed his eyes at the owner accusingly, as the owner's eyes widened even further at apparently having his suspicions confirmed. His eyes flitted to Shepard's, and he began to mimic the waiter's earlier hand-wringing. Mordin spoke once more, before falling silent, "Shepard will decide your fate."

Shepard looked the salarian owner over once, then settled her eyes on his as she leaned forward in her seat. "I'm going to make some things very clear here. Not only are you breaking the law, but you're playing a very dangerous game. If your server had been discovered by anyone but us, he would probably be dead, and you'd be completely exposed. Your business would be shut down, and you'd be rotting in a prison somewhere. The fact that you had him spying on a Spectre is outrageous, do you know what could have happened if I'd discussed classified information, and he'd reported it back to you? The political implications alone are staggering, let alone the lives it could cost, the wars it could start... Are you completely insane, using this tactic? I can understand using surveillance bugs, but a cloaked waiter to force the issue? Do you have any idea how damaging that could've been if my friend here hadn't been clever enough to break his cloak?"

She shook her head in disgust. "You're less than scum to use an employee in this manner. I should just kill you right here. It would be better than you deserve. Instead, I'm going to hand you over to C-Sec, and send a report to the council." She flicked her omni-tool on, and began pinging the needed contacts.

The owner reached behind his back and pulled a pistol out, aiming it at Shepard. "To hell with that! I'm not going down like some common criminal! I'm-"

He was interrupted by being frozen into a solid block of salarian popsicle by Mordin's omni-tool. Mordin nodded in satisfaction. "Thought he might try something. Had that attack prepped the moment he came from kitchen." He looked over at Shepard, who was grinning broadly at him. "Standard STG procedure: always be prepared. Failing that, improvise." He smirked at her as she chuckled lightly.

Moments later, C-Sec arrived in the form of two turians stepping out of a patrol skycar, bearing assault rifles. The surprise on their faces as they saw the frozen salarian almost made Shepard laugh. Mordin piped up as he saw their reactions, "Quickest way to subdue him. Recommend disarming him before he thaws completely." He pointed at the pistol the owner was still holding in his still semi-frozen hand.

One of the turians shook his head quickly and approached the iceberg salarian, carefully prying his somewhat thawed fingers off of the gun, and patting him down as well as he could for any other weapons. He straightened and brought up his omni-tool, starting up a program and scanning the salarian. He nodded in satisfaction and looked at Mordin. "He's clean." He turned his attention to Shepard before he spoke again, "Any charges besides attempted murder?"

She nodded, "Espionage, spying on a council Spectre, denying his employee's rights to a safe working environment, using illegal means to gain information, with said employees being forced to use a tactical cloak to get close enough to spy on an untold number of customers for the purpose of bypassing any surveillance jammers used by said customers. In other words, he needs to be locked up for the rest of his natural life, for being a terrorist threat to the safety of the entire galaxy. If I'd discussed any classified information here, and his employee had reported it to him, the consequences could easily have been dire."

The turian nodded, waving his partner forward and turning towards him. "Arrest and book him as soon as he uh... thaws. Attempted murder, treason, espionage, and terrorism. I'll fill in the details on the report once I take their statements." He turned back to Shepard. "Would you like to press charges against the employee you mentioned?"

Shepard shook her head. "No, he didn't seem to be doing it of his own volition. Keep an eye on him though, if he does anything else wrong, he can share a cell with his old boss."

The turian nodded and looked back to see that his partner had just managed to wrench the salarian's newly thawed arms around and put cuffs on his wrists. The partner looked at him and nodded, then proceeded to drag the salarian to the waiting patrol skycar.

The remaining turian took Mordin's statement, then stalked off to talk to the restaurant employees.

Shepard sighed and looked over at Mordin a bit sheepishly. "Well, I guess this means we've got to find a new restaurant for breakfast. Maybe just some take-out, then go eat in the park? At least the surveillance bugs would be minimal." She grinned and chuckled lightly as he raised an eyebrow and smiled.

Mordin hummed a moment, deliberating. "Do know of a nice take-out stand for salarian food, unsure where to go for human food." He looked at her and shrugged.

She smiled. "It's alright, I know a few places. Is your place on the presidium, or in one of the wards?"

His face showed mild disdain as he answered, "Presidium. Would not recommend eating anything from the wards."

She blinked and raised an eyebrow. "Really? No good salarian places down there eh? There's a bunch of good human places. Granted, I'm not exactly a picky eater, but still. I know good food when I see it." She quirked an eyebrow at him as a thought occurred to her. "Wait, you're levo-amino based, right?" at his nod, she continued, "Well, wouldn't it stand to reason that we could eat the same foods? Within our taste ranges, at least. Or am I completely off the mark there?"

Mordin shook his head. "No, you are correct, and in fact, are many salarians who enjoy human food. Have had opportunities to try human food before, though haven't had much luck. Would be willing to try again, however, may need assistance in deciding. If willing to be patient, will try to find something palatable." He gave her a questioning smile, which she returned with a bright grin.

"There you go, presenting me with a challenge again, Mordin. You know I can't resist a challenge." She chuckled and got up from the booth, rounding to his side of the table and planting a kiss on his broken horn. "Let's go then. Shall we, Professor?" Her smile shone through her eyes as she stood and moved aside, holding her hand out towards the open presidium.

Mordin smiled lightly and scooted out of the booth, standing next to her and offering his arm once more. "We shall." He grinned as she took his arm, and he led them out of the restaurant. As they exited the now doomed establishment, he paused, turning his gaze to her with an unsure turn to his features. "Where would you recommend we go?"

She dropped his arm for a moment to flick her omni-tool on, and brought up a map of the presidium. "Well, we could go here," she pointed at a location close to the main market, "there's a few good places there to pick up some quick food... or, we could go here," she pointed to a spot closer to the entrance to the wards, "there's one really good place there called Nemo's, though they're a little slower, since they cook everything fresh and from scratch. They've got a pretty good variety of foods from all over earth, so there's probably something you could find that you'd like on their menu." She paused a moment, and looked up at him. "Come to think of it, I seem to remember seeing a salarian on the cook staff there that last time I was there. Maybe he could help you pick something." She smiled excitedly at him, and he returned the gesture, offering his arm to her once more.

He nodded as she deactivated her omni-tool and took his arm, "That sounds... quite agreeable." His smile grew into an eye-crinkling grin, and they moved off together in the direction of Nemo's, chatting back and forth, earning several odd glares and shocked stares from aliens and humans alike as they went, which they happily ignored.

o0o0o0o0o0o0o

The salarian cook at Nemo's ended up being incredibly helpful, and quickly found something on the menu that he and Mordin both agreed he might enjoy. It ended up being a salad with a side of something akin to a mild gumbo. The cook had promised to add salarian spices to the gumbo, as human spices were a tad too strong for the salarian pallet. Shepard ordered two pancakes with a side of bacon, and they settled down to wait in one of the benches near the stand.

Shepard smirked and glanced up at Mordin beside her. "So, enjoying our date so far?" She chuckled as he looked at her as if he wasn't entirely sure, then let a small laugh of his own out.

"Yes, Spyke. Is a new experience for me, but any time spent with you? Worth the risk." His smile warmed as he looked down at her.

She bit her lip as she smiled, then looked down at his hand, which was resting on his thigh. She snaked her arm under his and entwined their fingers, clasping his hand firmly but gently in hers, marveling at the unique fit of their fingers. She returned her gaze to his, and smiled as she saw him look at their intermingled hands, almost seeming to study the phenomenon. He tightened the lax grip he'd had experimentally, and raised an eyebrow as she squeezed lightly in reaction. She rubbed his gloved thumb with her bare one lightly, and rested her head on his shoulder. He squeezed her hand a bit tighter, and sighed happily. They sat in comfortable silence for several moments, enjoying each others' company and touch. They almost missed it when the bell announcing their food's prepared state rang.

Shepard squeezed his hand lightly, then released it as she straightened and stood up, walking over to the stand as Mordin followed her. She slung her omni-tool on, and paid for their meal, despite Mordin's objections, stating with a sly smile as they walked away with their food in hand that it wasn't her paying, it was the Illusive Man. That seemed to mollify him, and they headed towards the central park, commenting on different monuments and artworks along the way.

They found a small clearing with a few trees and a large patch of well-maintained grass, and decided it was a nice spot to settle down to their breakfast. Shepard sat, leaned up against a tree, and began to rummage through her take-out bag, pulling out utensils and setting her meal staging area. Mordin set down next to her, gingerly digging through his own bag, sniffing at the gumbo container curiously as he fished it out. Shepard chuckled at his hesitation, shaking her head as she poured syrup over her pancakes.

Mordin blinked at her. "What?" His curiosity demanded.

She grinned and jerked her chin at the gumbo container in his hands. "You act like it's going to eat you. I'm pretty sure the idea is for you to eat it, not the other way around."

Mordin narrowed his eyes at her barely veiled challenge, and cracked open the lid of the container, picked up his spoon, and delved into the depths of the bowl with it, bringing it to his lips and glaring at her as he carefully dipped the spoon's contents into his mouth. His eyes flickered to something in the distance as he rolled the gumbo around in his mouth, testing the flavor against his pallet. He blinked, raised an eyebrow, and swallowed. His gaze drifted upwards as he seemed to consider how the flavor affected him for a moment, then returned his eyes to settle in hers, which were watching him with bemused curiosity. "Meaty, flavorful, and spicy. Quite good." He said simply, then commenced devouring the gumbo quite happily.

Shepard laughed. "Only you could make the taste-testing of food sound like a scientific experiment. Yet another reason to love you, Professor Mordin Solus." She grinned, then started digging into her pancakes.

Mordin's eyes flicked to her, observing her with familiar interest as a thought occurred to him. "Spyke?" He prodded.

She looked up and swallowed her mouthful of sticky pancake. "Yes, Mordin?" She looked at him, her unsure smile warming his heart.

He took a breath and dove in. "What is your real name? Where did nickname 'Spyke' originate?"

Her eyebrows flew up and her eyes blinked rapidly a few times. Her eyes turned down to her plate of food, her features relaxing minutely, and she sighed. "That's a really long story, Mordin."

A/N: Cliffhanger. Yep, I totally just did that. And I'm pretty sure this is the longest chapter I've ever written, so ENJOY IT PEOPLE! XD

Seriously, I'm sorry it took so damn long to update this. I really hope my Mordinspeak was up to the task, I tried to emulate him, but it's been so long... It wasn't easy. Hope I did the story justice.

Until next time...

PEACE!