"Officer Vakarian. A word, if you please."
Garrus turned from the terminal and spared a glance over his shoulder. He didn't really need to look at the single-horned salarian standing at the entrance of the main battery to know it was Mordin, his voice and rapid speech already giving him away, but he felt it was only polite to look in people's faces when they spoke to you anyway.
"Can it wait for a bit? I'm in the middle of – "
"Unfavourable. Matters of utmost importance, wish to discuss. Matters concerning Commander Shepard, actually. Already talked with the commander, now you remain the only loose end."
"Oh, um, okay then. Come right in." Garrus said hesitatingly, turning his full attention to the doctor who stepped in, the door sliding shut behind him.
He tried to hide his surprise – Mordin never visited him in the main battery before. Actually, Garrus had never seen him outside of the laboratory, except during the rare occasion he bumped into him in the mess hall during mealtimes. But the good doctor had him concerned – what was it about Shepard that was important enough for Mordin to purposely seek him out? Shepard was groundside on a mission with Thane and Samara and he doubted she was in any immediate danger or the whole ship would be up in arms by now, so he allowed him to relax. Just a little. The way Mordin had called him a 'loose end' had a skin-crawling quality about it.
For a moment, neither of them said anything. Garrus staring awkwardly at Mordin, who was completely unperturbed, scanning the towering turian up and down and muttering under his breath like an antique collector would appraise an ancient quarian relic. Garrus caught occasional snatches of the professor's garbled speech, "- leg spurs longer than average turian male, appealing in turian society but others…" and "– good length of fringe, longer than average as well. Perhaps a good thing. As humans say, 'a representation, not compensation' -"
Somehow, Garrus felt like he missed some joke or other when he heard that, but the most unsettling of all, "– cowl thought to represent dominance. Subject is in armour, difficult to gauge. Hm. Medical records from Dr. Chakwas should -"
Mordin was rattling off to himself faster and faster and seemed to have forgotten entirely where he was. Garrus couldn't take it anymore and interrupted him in the middle of a self-debate about the scientific theory behind a turian's personality based on the tangent of the curve of the talons.
"Er, Professor, I don't mean to interrupt you but what was that thing you wanted to talk to me about? About Shepard?"
Mordin abruptly stops and snaps his head up to meet Garrus' eyes, his own ones wide in surprise. "Oh, of course! Forgive me, got carried away. Conceived interesting hypothesis based on turian anatomy, will conduct experiments in more conducive facilities of lab later."
Mordin moves away from him to the railing, putting both hands on it and leaning on them. Garrus turned questioningly. Mordin's back was to him but his voice still addressed him. "Nature of mission runs high risk of incurring stress among crew members. Aware that turians have… methods of dealing with stress, particularly among crewmates. Fraternisation not as frowned upon in turian culture as opposed to human."
Garrus felt his jaw and both mandibles, even the injured one, grow slack with shock and embarrassment – Spirits, why was Mordin talking about this, out of the blue?
And what did it have to do with Shepard?
"Cross-species sexual relations very common, though turian-human ones rare. Makes for very scarce referencing material, much guesswork and experimentation involved. Hazardous, considering incompatible fluids. Humans based on levo-amino acids, highly reactive against turian dextro. Advise against direct, skin-on-skin intercourse – come see me later, will provide turian-strength condoms. Warn against use of tongue; could cause allergic reactions, anaphylactic shock – possibly death."
Garrus' felt his brow plates shoot up. Did he mean - ?
"Warn of chafing as well. Turian hide and plating much more abrasive than human skin, will cause human partner to suffer discomfort, inflammation and possibly open wounds from tearing. Can recommend several positions to minimise this, have forwarded booklet to your omni-tool. Peruse it carefully."
Garrus gulped, "Er, Professor, what are you tal – "
"Have advised Shepard on use of analgesic – sufficient painkiller for – "
"Mordin! Wait!" exclaimed Garrus, mandibles twitching in a flustered manner as he approached the doctor. This all had to be some big joke. "This isn't what – "
"Lack of willingness to heed advice of a practicing doctor with subjects' best interests in heart extremely inadvisable and can lead to utterly severe consequences, Vakarian." Mordin suddenly spat, spinning on his heel and stopping Garrus dead in his tracks with a baleful glare. Garrus felt his mouth go dry. The temperature of the room seemed to fall about ten degrees centigrade. With fantastic timing, his mind brilliantly reproduced a memory from a previous mission where the aged salarian had incinerated a shrieking merc until the only thing left was grey ash in an empty, charred set of armour. No wait, so not a good time to remember that.
"Turian-human relations frowned upon in social and political setting – could cause Shepard very bad publicity if not careful. Much more to lose than you in terms of reputation in case of public scandal – which I expect you to prevent at all costs. Stress levels high enough as it is. Abominable behaviour!"
Mordin had begun stalking up to him like an angry rooster chasing off encroachers and Garrus found himself backing away slowly.
"Completely illogical – anatomies an utter mismatch! Turian hide, talons, spurs, plates – all potentially painful to Shepard if not careful. Humans much more pliable and vulnerable than turians, utmost care expected while engaging in sexual activities so as not to injure partner!"
Garrus felt his back go up against the main battery doors – he had nowhere left to go now – and the doctor took the opportunity to get right in his face.
"Responsibility, Vakarian!" Mordin was near shouting now, prodding a finger into Garrus' chest armour as Garrus, a full-grown adult turian, cowered before this aged, wrinkled salarian who didn't even reach his shoulders. "Know the risks and take every possible pain to avoid! Expect you to do in-depth research and be fully informed before even going within ten feet of Shepard's quarters! Handle with care – be gentle! Breasts of human female especially sensitive – don't you dare touch with unfiled talons!" A thoughtful expression suddenly crossed his face, finger going to his chin. "Though debatable if Shepard's sexual tastes run in a more deviant direction. Hm. Never considered. Possible."
But before Garrus could relax, the finger was back on his chest again.
"Chaffing!" cried the doctor with renewed fire, "Akin to rubbing iron file on candle wax – damaging to human skin and could potentially introduce sores and cause infection. Human skin very thin! Traditional missionary position absolutely prohibited, too much overall contact with skin on thighs – skin would tear, cause bleeding. To mar her skin when she already has so many scars from battle - inexcusable!" Garrus doesn't think it's physically possible for a turian to shrink himself even more than he already has.
"Also! Turian view of 'blowing off steam' more casual than humanity's view on sexual intercourse –commitment and emotion is usually behind action, rejection or brushing off of the matter later on like practiced on turian ships emotionally very hurtful to human – feeling of being used. Breaking of the heart, they call it. If I hear even one word- "
Finally, Mordin seems to deflate, the sudden (and undeserved, thought Garrus) outburst of anger seeming to trickle out and exhaust itself. He quietened, but the calmness of his voice made his next words sound all the more serious.
"Concerned about Shepard – worried. Never experienced cross-species relationships before – never even watched Vaenia, imagine that! Highly enlightening film of cross-species intercourse. She is inexperienced in these matters – anything could happen." He looks up at Garrus, black bulbous eyes searching his own blue. "Will hold you responsible if anything befalls Shepard. Word circulates of her so much as suffering a cough, will find you. Twenty-four hour guarantee."
"Would kill you and use organs for experiments on turian physiology. Incinerate the rest." Garrus fights down a grimace as the memory of the ashes and charred armour presents itself again and he tries not to let it show. "But you are important to Shepard. She chose you. Will respect that. But remember warning – heed advice and everything should be fine between us."
Before Garrus can move, Mordin had activated the door and walked briskly out, letting it lock shut behind him again and leaving Garrus alone in the main battery. Once he's sure the doctor is gone, he finally gives in to the feeling of jellified legs and sinks to the floor with a heavy breath he wasn't aware he had been holding.
Spirits, Mordin could be scary.
"Hey Garrus, you – whoa, what happened to you? You look like you just found Grunt's Krogasm magazines or something."
Garrus starts a little at the opening of the door, but relaxes as the sound of her voice caresses his ears. He looks up at her as he finishes fiddling with his omni-tool and shuts it off. Looking at her standing there, framed by the doorway of the main battery, he is hit with déjà vu and falters a little. Something that does not go unnoticed by Shepard.
She approaches him slowly, putting her hands on either side of his face as she gazes into his eyes. "Garrus, seriously; are you all right?"
He sighs and takes one of her odd, human hands in his. "Yes, don't worry about it. Really, I am." He met with her sceptical look and raised eyebrow before relenting. "Well, Mordin came by earlier to have a talk, that's all."
"Mor- Oh God," said Shepard, mortified. She put a hand across her face – not like it successfully hid her rising blush anyway. Garrus remembered Mordin telling him he had given Shepard some… bedroom advice as well. "What did he tell you?"
"… Let's just say you're not the only one with daddy issues."
She quirks an eyebrow at him in confusion. "Garrus, my father died ages ago. There's only my mom."
"Not those kinds of daddy issues, Shepard."
It wouldn't be until much later, months later, in fact, that Shepard finally managed to pry the answer out of him – promptly choking and spitting out her coffee at him as she roared with laughter until tears came to her eyes.
Well, thought Garrus, as he cleared coffee from his eyes, at least one of them found it funny.
A/N: Saw this prompt at the Kmeme and thought I just had to do it. xD It's 4.30 am now and my index finger hurts like hell, but it was worth it. Had lots of fun writing this. :D
Found out that today is LyingOwl-Aria's birthday so Happy Birthday! :DDD What excellent timing this fic was. xD
Collapsing into bed now.