AN: Well, this is the last piece. Thanks for following along with me. Happy Winter Holiday of your choosing. Feel free to leave any comments, and feel free to check out my profile to see what else I've got.

Christmas Day

"Shep, it's after midnight," Garrus whispered, shaking her shoulder. "Wake up." He couldn't wait any longer. It was Christmas, and he wanted her to open all her presents.

Shepard burrowed further into her pillow, voice muffled. "If you tell me you're waking me up because of tradition…."

"Don't you want to know what your big present is?"

Shep finally pulled her face out of the pillow to look at him. "It wasn't the gun?" she asked suspiciously.

And sleepily.

He twitched a mandible a little, looking at her sleep-smeared face. How a woman who rarely wore makeup managed to looked smeared in the morning was beyond him.

"Nope. But it's the last present, so you have to open everything else first." He grinned widely.

"You are going to grin your mandibles right off, if you don't watch it. Don't be so smug." She shook her head at him, then leaned in to kiss him briefly. "Did the stuff I ordered for you arrive yet? I can't imagine any stores actually being able to do anything while we're still cleaning up after the-"

"No. No Reaper talk. And yes, presents have arrived. Of course they did. St. Nick is never late."

Shep rolled her eyes. "Don't you think we're a little old for Santa?"

"I don't know what you mean. But check the roof, if you don't believe me."

"If you made those poor reindeer walk around on the roof-"

"I did no such thing," Garrus protested. "Those are hoof prints from Santa's reindeer. Now get up. Get some real pajamas on."

"These are real pajamas."

"That's an old T-shirt with holes in it. Here," Garrus said, thrusting a package wrapped in snowflake-covered paper into her hands.

"What's this?"

"That's your first gift. Hurry up, you need to be wearing proper pajamas to open presents."

Shepard shredded through the beautiful paper to find a set of midnight-blue silk pajamas.

"Silk? Really?" she asked.

"It's fine. I just won't touch you in them," Garrus said, indicating his talons. He was fairly certain he could touch her without ruining them, but they had been expensive. He'd rather wait for her to get out of them, just to be sure he didn't end up with nothing but silk ribbons.

"That kinda ruins Christmas," she joked, shrugging into the camisole top. "Ooh, comfy."

"See? They're nice. Quit complaining." He watched her backside as she tried to hop into the matching pants.

"Fine. Then you can't complain if I start dancing and you're not allowed to touch me.

Garrus tried to roll his eyes, one of those oh-so-human gestures that he couldn't quite manage, but insisted on doing anyway. He mostly did it because it made her smile every time. "I've seen you dance, Shep. I think I can resist."

"Really," Shepard said dryly. She got up to leave, then stopped in the doorway, sliding her back down then back up the doorframe, wiggling her backside, and then bending over to flip her hair.

Garrus knew she was watching, waiting for him to answer. He couldn't say anything. Time had frozen. "That," he croaked. He swallowed, tried again to force words out of his suddenly-dry mouth. "That is not how you normally dance," he finally said.

"Well, it's not exactly appropriate at the clubs while I'm the commander, is it?" She looked at him, all wide-eyed innocence, pretending she didn't know what she'd done.

"Take those off right now and get your ass back over here."

Shepard grinned. She loved it when Garrus didn't ask nicely.


Some hours later, they finally made it downstairs. Garrus watched as she looked at the pile of wrapped boxes he'd arranged around the tree, Shep pretending to be adult and military and not caring about the presents. He knew better. She was really just a big kid inside, and if you understood that, you understood Shep.

I think maybe no one but me understands my Shep.

"Did you wrap your own presents?" she asked.

"I left them all in the shipping boxes, don't worry. I have no idea what's in them."

"When did you even do that?"

Garrus chuffed at her, and moved closer so he could wrap his arms around her. "Do you have any idea how much time you've spent sleeping lately? I could have taken a vacation from the vacation and you wouldn't even have noticed. Open a present."

"You open one," she challenged.

"I believe I already got my main present upstairs," he said, and was rewarded with a tiny elbow to the ribs. He sat, still holding her, and settled her into his lap, reaching around her for presents. He handed one to her and started opening one for himself.

Garrus spent the next hour exclaiming over presents, his heart beating faster with each little squeal of surprise she gave. He had picked well, evidently; she hadn't opened any presents she didn't like. He was pleased with his haul, as well; not so much for the presents, but for all the effort she had obviously put into picking things. A stuffed varren, for example, that hearkened back to a joke between them that predated them being a couple. Shepard didn't often do anything romantic or sweet in this way. It was nice seeing she really did feel it, even if she didn't usually demonstrate.

"We're going to do Christmas every year," he whispered to her. The promise was more for himself than for her.

"Not if you're going to lie to me about it. Where's my big present?"

Garrus chuckled at her. "Are you sure? Are you ready for it?"

"Gimme, gimme."

"Close your eyes."

"You close your eyes," she grumbled, but she obediently covered her face with her hands. Garrus waved a hand in front of her face, to be sure she couldn't see. "Keep 'em closed," he told her, chanting it like a mantra as he pulled a new set of armor and her favorite assault rifle from the closet, laying them in front of her silently. "Keep 'em closed. Keep 'em closed."

The armor had been the easy part; he was able to get her measurements from the last time she'd ordered armor. The rifle was difficult. She had had it with her when she charged the Crucible, and he had spent days combing through rubble, before and after visiting hours, looking for the damn thing. Going through rubble after a disaster was a shitty job, but this was her rifle.

"Keep 'em closed," he intoned again, before pressing a few buttons on his omni-tool. Hackett's voice started playing.

"Dammit, is this Vakarian again? You screwed with her messaging address, didn't you? Well, tell her that Admiral Hackett called, and if she's not too busy, we have something of a pirate problem. Out in the Terminus systems. They seem to think that because we're busy rebuilding, they won't be bothered. She needs to get her ass out there and clean it up. Hackett out."

Garrus looked to see Shep peeking through her fingers.

"Really?" she asked.

He pointed to the armor on the floor. "Really. It's time."

Shepard barely glanced at the armor before she flew across the room, landing against him and nearly strangling him with her tiny little version of what she called a "bear hug." Garrus held her, wishing it wasn't yet time to go, wishing they could spend just a little bit longer here, relaxing. Recovering. Then he remembered that his bondmate was Commander Shepard, and he told himself they'd always have time between missions, when she wasn't busy saving the galaxy.