Shepard hears the lock turn over in the front door with that same click it always makes just as he leans back into the couch. Used to be, he knew what time of day it was, almost to the minute, in Galactic Standard Time and in whatever was considered local time on whatever planet he was on.

Lately though, time's measured by whether Kaidan's getting ready for work, at work, or coming home from work. And right now, Shepard figures it must be at least eighteen hundred hours, since Kaidan's just walked through the door and he can hear the hard heels of his shoes as he moves down the hall towards the bedroom. There's no point in turning around to look at the clock on the microwave, though – it's been flashing zeros for at least a couple weeks now, since whenever that last big windstorm had blown through Vancouver and killed the power to most of Coal Harbour.

Thoughts of how he and Kaidan had had to pass that night by omni-tool flashlight roll through Shepard's head, as he idly dips a slice of apple into the caramel sauce he'd just nuked in the aforementioned microwave. He realises, as it hits his tongue, that it's maybe a little too hot; the bottom of the bowl's pretty warm in his palm as he holds it in his lap, slowly setting the nerves in his fingertips on edge. The cool tartness of the apple helps though, and that's probably the whole point anyway.

"Hey." Kaidan's voice is tired, over Shepard's shoulder. He shuffles his way around the back of the couch, flopping next to Shepard with a sigh.

He looks comfortable, in the same sweats he's changed into after work every day for a week or so. Shepard can't fault him there, though – he's been in his for far longer, and he doesn't have an excuse to change into something else when he wakes up in the morning.

"Long one, huh?"

Kaidan ignores the question, stuck on the half-eaten slice of apple Shepard holds; his eyes follow a drop of caramel that falls back into the bowl.

Shepard holds back a grin, and holds the apple out to Kaidan. "You want some?"

"I'd have to check it again," Kaidan starts, shaking his head at Shepard's proffered fruit, "but I'm pretty sure a bowl of caramel isn't in Dr Kirchner's nutrition guide."

"You're probably right," Shepard says. The apple's crisp when he bites into it. "But apples are."

Kaidan huffs, something that was maybe a chuckle, once. "That's a bit of a stretch."

"Tastes good, though."

Kaidan doesn't say anything and Shepard isn't expecting him to. It's not like there's dinner on the stove to worry about ruining an appetite for, for instance. The hunger will be there whenever they will it to be, and dinner's not usually 'til twenty-one hundred hours anyway.

"Yeah, it was a long one today," Kaidan says, two apple slices later.

Shepard looks up from the caramel and over at Kaidan. He stirs a slice through the sauce and holds it out to him. "Sugar for your thoughts?"

A smile pricks along the corner of Kaidan's mouth but it disappears when a large drop of caramel lands on his t-shirt.

"Shit," he says, leaning forward. "Guess it was time to wash this thing anyway."

He hooks a finger under the hem of the shirt and pulls it over his head, careful to keep the sauce away from his hair. He moves to stand, but Shepard grabs his arm, holding him still.

"Later," he says, in answer to Kaidan's quirked eyebrow. "You just sat down."

Kaidan looks down at the t-shirt, considering. After a moment he folds the shirt neatly in on itself – not crumpling it up, like Shepard would've done, despite the fact that its next stop is the washing machine – and lays it on the floor.

"Here," Shepard says, shifting to face Kaidan. He dips the same slice back into the caramel, stirring it around to get at the warmer stuff at the bottom of the bowl. "Let's try that again."

He reaches out with the apple, and for whatever reason, Kaidan's slow to react and the caramel drips in one big drop onto his bare chest. Kaidan sucks in a breath, something tight through his teeth, and Shepard feels the tightness in his gut too, that familiar coil heating up and winding in on itself.

It's not planned, but he does it anyway – steadying the bowl of apparently-still-pretty hot caramel in his lap and leaning forward until he's low over Kaidan's chest. The sauce had landed just above the trimmed thatch of dark hair, a centimetre or two shy of the pulse point in the middle of his clavicle. Shepard swipes his tongue broad over the skin, over the caramel. It's already a bit salty to begin with, that stuff – the whole salty and sweet thing being the point of the snack – but Kaidan's skin is salty too and and all Shepard can think is how good it tastes when the caramel turns into the sweet part.

"Sorry. Guess that microwave is kinda strong," Shepard says as he pulls back. Kaidan's already staring at him when their eyes meet, and it's that stare... that one that sometimes takes over whenever he's feeling determined, or turned on. And sometimes with Kaidan, the two come at the same time.

Kaidan shifts then, turning to lay his back against the armrest. He draws his left leg up and beside Shepard, until his calf muscle is cradling Shepard's hip. He takes the bowl of caramel and Shepard picks up a piece of apple to hand over but Kaidan shakes his head, just once, before he dips his long forefinger into the bowl.

Shepard watches at he stirs it around, but it's not out of curiosity – he knows where this is going by the way Kaidan's looking at him through his eyelashes. So he settles in, leaning over as far as his stiff back will let him to put the plate on the floor. It's not quite far enough and the plate clatters onto the hardwood but the noise isn't sharp enough to draw their attention away from each other.

Kaidan drags his finger through the caramel a few more times, and when he pulls his finger out it's coated. Shepard waits for Kaidan to put his finger in his mouth, to maybe wrap his tongue around it once or twice, but he doesn't. Instead, he drags his finger slowly across his stomach, leaving behind a wide swipe of the sticky sauce.

Shepard smiles a little and leans forward, pulling his own t-shirt off as smoothly as he can, bum elbow and all. "Funny," he says, once the shirt's on the floor. "You don't look like a slice of apple."

"Best compliment anyone's ever given me," Kaidan says, and it's a joke, obviously, because that's what they do, but his voice is nowhere near playful – it's deep, ravelling away into that husky tone that always sends shocks through Shepard's system in every direction, down every limb.

Shepard pulls himself up onto his knees and draws forward until he's kneeling between Kaidan's legs. He points his chin at Kaidan's stomach. "Guess you need someone to take care of that for you."

Kaidan shifts his hips down, towards Shepard, until his groin is pressing against Shepard's thigh. "It'd be nice."

Shepard takes Kaidan's hips, bracing himself as he leans down – he moves slowly because he has to, because his muscles shift in strange ways, now, but it's not all bad, not when Kaidan's breath gets a bit quicker in anticipation. He licks across Kaidan's lower belly, a few inches below where the caramel is, and then he retraces his steps back and forth as he makes his way upwards. Kaidan's hand moves to the back of Shepard's head – his hair's longer now than it was a few months ago, and even though it's not by much, Kaidan grips into it all the same. Shepard's tongue finally reaches the caramel; it takes a couple of passes but he gets all of it, rubbing his tongue broadly over Kaidan's skin. He pulls back a little, but before he withdraws completely, he blows across the wetness. Kaidan's skin turns into goose bumps and his fingers tighten into Shepard's hair.

He lets go and leans over to put the bowl of caramel on the floor and as he does, Shepard starts pulling Kaidan's sweats down, reaching behind to get the waistband past the curve of his ass.

"Here?" Kaidan asks, but his hands make no moves to stop Shepard.

"Got you where I want you."

"Hard to argue with that."

Shepard drags Kaidan's pants further down, and Kaidan pulls his right leg up so Shepard can get them past his knee. Kaidan's half-hard in his boxers and Shepard leans forward, nuzzling between Kaidan's thighs. He wraps his lips around Kaidan through the cotton and presses down with his tongue; Kaidan lets out a quick grunt and his hands are in Shepard's hair again, blunted nails on his scalp.

Shepard licks Kaidan again, and now the fabric's damp but it's from more than just Shepard. Kaidan lets go of Shepard's hair and hooks his thumbs under the waistband of his boxers, pushing them down as best he can without sitting up. His movements are insistent, almost frantic, and Shepard takes them down the rest of the way.

Shepard takes Kaidan's dick in hand and glances his tongue over the head, going around once, twice, before pressing the tip of his tongue down on the slit.

"Damn," Kaidan whispers, his hips shuddering as they tilt upwards to bring him closer to Shepard.

Shepard obliges and takes the length of him into his mouth, as much as he can. He pulls back slightly, pressing the breadth of his tongue up along the vein at the underside of Kaidan's dick, and then it becomes all about drawing as many different noises as he can out of Kaidan, as many times as he can. Kaidan's not a quiet guy, though, so it doesn't take much before all Shepard can hear is deep groans and breathy exhales, with a few of his own hums thrown in.

It's his favourite thing, working Kaidan up like this, getting him to the point where he's nothing but pure physical reaction – and, Shepard can't help but notice, for a guy who keeps a lot to himself, it's not that hard to do. But then, he figures that's why, like a lot of things, they just work.

Before long, Shepard's as hard as Kaidan, and he leans back on his heels. Kaidan's eyes are screwed shut and he opens them at the lack of Shepard's warmth around him, but he doesn't protest or even make a noise, he just watches as Shepard pulls down his own sweats and boxers. Kaidan's an observant guy, and that's Shepard's second favourite thing, because he likes being watched by Kaidan. Sometimes he drags things out, relishing in the way Kaidan's jaw sets when he's concentrating on Shepard. Now's not one of those times though; not when he's as hard as he is, and not when Kaidan's face is as flushed as it is.

Shepard strokes himself a couple of times, passing his thumb over the tip and catching the precum there, running it down his length. Kaidan sits forward then and takes Shepard by the hip, drawing him back down.

Shepard angles his head up and kisses Kaidan. It's something that's almost desperate, but definitely urgent, so Shepard wastes no time. He grips himself and Kaidan together in one hand, bracing his other up by Kaidan's head. He thrusts forward, pressing his hips down hard into Kaidan's – he knows it'll cost him a couple extra reps in physio tomorrow but it's worth it, the way that Kaidan's head falls back with a sharp gasp. Shepard lets out an answering grunt and he thrusts again, and again, tightening his hold around them both.

It's the best kind of friction, he thinks – something a shade away from a little too dry but he feels everything a little bit more that way. Kaidan meets Shepard's thrusts with his hips, and he buckles forward to wrap an arm tightly around the back of Shepard's neck, and he's so close that his breath passes hot and damp over Shepard's jaw. They move together and it's anything but graceful, but it is something raw, and it's what they both need from each other.

Suddenly Kaidan grips into the hair at the side of Shepard's head, and his hips move a little frenetically, but it's the near-whimper that he lets out that tells Shepard he's damn close, a second or two before he's right there. Shepard gets off on Kaidan getting off, like he always has, and he comes on Kaidan's stomach with another grunt.

Kaidan lets go and lies back against the armrest again, and Shepard hangs there, hovering over him and running the back of his wrist across his forehead to wipe away a few beads of sweat.

"I think maybe we can add caramel to that nutrition guide," Kaidan says a moment later, his voice still deep but with a tired, spent edge to it. "In pencil, maybe – as an exception."

"Yeah," Shepard replies. "Gotta have a few of those."

Shepard sits up and leans back, resting his elbow on the back of the couch. It won't take long until his muscles stiffen up on him again, and he can already start to feel it in his shoulder a bit. He watches as Kaidan reaches down and grabs his folded t-shirt, and then he can't help but be surprised when Kaidan drags it across his stomach to clean himself.

"I— really? You, of all people."

Kaidan shrugs, rubbing his stomach once more before balling the shirt in on itself tightly. "Laundry night tonight anyway, isn't it?"