"Are you ever going to make good on all this Vega?" Shepard's smirk widened as her question made the lieutenant before her squirm. Immediately all of his resolve dropped as his bluff was called.
James fought hard to keep himself from blushing. "Well, uh, um…" Good Lord did he want a distraction right now. Thankfully for him, the batarian tattooing him provided one as he pressed down hard with his needle, causing the big man to flinch. "Hey!" He protested, gritting his teeth. "Watch it."
James was half expecting Shepard to leave, that was what she usually did after she'd made the man feel suitably awkward…or when she'd had enough of flirting for a little while. Shepard didn't move though, she stayed still and watched as James winced slightly.
"It can't hurt that much." She remarked.
Vega looked up at her in disbelief. "And you'd know all about that would you jefe? As a matter of fact these things hurt like a bitch."
"Baby," came the woman's teasing remark and then she stepped closer, her eyes swept up his body and James felt a hot flush swell through him. "You've got some pretty big ones," she remarked gesturing at his tattoos.
Vega raised a suggestive eyebrow and smirked.
"You know I'm talking about your tattoos." Shepard chuckled, amused by his facial expression.
James laughed and nodded. "Yeah, but they still hurt Commander."
She stepped closer still and then lent over him to peer at the tattoo currently being drilled into his skin.
"You are such a baby!" She declared drawing back. "That's tiny!"
"Hey, hey Commander, you're hurting my manly pride here! And anyway, I'd like to see you get through one without throwing a pataleta."
Shepard stared down at him, her bright blue eyes boring into his hazel ones and then she smirked.
"Fine," she retorted. "Challenge accepted."
"Wait wha-?" James was lost for words; he cocked his head at the woman. "Seriously Commander? I was just kidding around-"
"As usual," Shepard intervened, smiling, and James was brought back to that moment earlier when she'd asked whether he was ever going to make good on his flirtatious. He couldn't help but wonder what she wanted from him really. He took in the woman before him and absentmindedly licked his bottom lip; he knew what he wanted from her. But truth was he was too worried about the rejection or reaction if he did try to act on his feelings. James wasn't big on the whole 'crush' thing and having a crush on your commanding officer was a bit loco, especially considering his commanding officer was Commander Shepard. Shepard, unaware of the man's thoughts, sauntered onwards.
"But I, James, make good on what I say," she leant forward till her face was close to his. "I'm going to get a tattoo."
Alright pez gordo, back to normal now.
The tattoo artist behind him continued with his work, James grinned at Shepard.
"Getting it anywhere special Lola?" He enquired.
"You wish," she replied, snorting.
"I'll get it on my back," she continued, unaware that James was now mentally undressing her...or maybe she was, because she stretched, causing her muscles to roll and her chest to puff out. "I don't want anything clothes can't cover up."
"Aw, where's the fun in that chica?" James asked.
"Well, it means I can continue to torture you my testosterone fuelled friend," Shepard smiled down at him. "I like to keep a bit of mystery."
"Ah commander, you can be cruel."
"So can you." Replied Shepard and James once again thought back to her earlier question. Did she really want him to act on the flirtation? Vega flirted with nearly everything that moved...though he had to admit, his flirtations with Shepard were always a tad more raunchy...and they tended to give him greater joy.
"What're you going to get then Lola?" He asked, once again trying to return to normality.
"Not your name, that's for certain." Came the woman's response.
"Yeah, save that for another day." Vega agreed.
Shepard laughed. "Right, right. You'd love that wouldn't you?"
"Sure would jefe," James replied. "But Lola, why not get an N7 tattoo like me?"
Shepard shrugged. "I don't know, I'd kinda like something not to do with the military," she glanced down at James and laughed at his expression. "Amazingly James, I do think of things other than the military."
"Well, hmm, why don't you just let it be a surprise?" James suggested. His tattoo was nearly done and it was hurting like a motherbitch. Honestly, Vega wasn't convinced that this guy was totally legit, but he'd offered to do it for only 25 credits, and it was only a small tat. "Let compadre here get creative."
The alien looming over James smiled nastily at Shepard. The Commander raised her eyebrows at him and then looked down at James.
"Alright then," she concurred. "But you're on watch duty lieutenant; if he starts drawing something unsavoury on me it's your job to stop him."
The smile dropped off the batarian's face.
"No problemo Commander." Replied James. "You done back there brother?"
The batarian nodded and James got to his feet, rolling his neck as he did so. His tattoo artist didn't even move to clean the new ink on James' back. Yup, definitely shady thought Vega.
"Let's have a look at the finished product," said Shepard and James swivelled so she could look at his back. He couldn't help but smile fondly as the woman got on her tip toes to look at the art on his shoulder blade. He could never get over how this small slender woman was one of the most badass people in the galaxy.
"Very nice." Said this woman, though she only said this once Vega had turned around, so the man was inclined to believe she was talking about his body. Whether this was true or not, James didn't care, he was going to believe what he was going to believe.
"I know, I know." He said smiling cheekily.
Shepard shook her head at the man's pure cheek, before gently pushing past him and going to stand in front of the tattoo artist.
"Right then," she muttered. "Let's get this over with." Then she shrugged her military vest off, revealing a tight fitting vest top.
A small swell of heat radiated through James as he took this in, but then he shook his head, trying to snap some sense back.
He looked down and Shepard threw her head over her shoulder as she sat where he'd been sitting a moment earlier.
"Keep an eye on him."
James nodded and then went to stand over the batarian tattooist, who was now looking disgruntled. As James watched, the tattoo artist began setting up his equipment. Shepard was quiet; the bottom of her palms pressed together, her gaze fixed on the refugees all around them. She seemed lost in thought. That was until the batarian behind her let out an experimental buzz of his needle. The Commander nearly jumped out of her seat, going pale as she turned to look at the alien behind her. An amused smile made its way onto James' face.
"I thought you could handle this Lola. Not backing out are we?"
Shepard's eyes narrowed and she glowered at James, though her expression still looked slightly strained.
"Not on your life lieutenant," she retorted, then her resolve seemed to falter a little and she glanced at the tattooist. "Just...I was expecting a little warning, that's all."
"You'll get one." Grumbled the alien.
"And only one." James put in before raising his eyebrows as the batarian turned to glare at him.
Shepard turned her face back outwards. The batarian buzzed the needle a few more times and then dipped the tip into ink.
"Here we go." He stated gruffly.
"You ready Commander?" James questioned.
"As I'll ever be." Shepard replied, it sounded as if her teeth were gritted.
"Pull up your shirt." The batarian instructed.
James watched as Shepard lifted her shirt slightly, and tried to hold in his disappointment as she only pulled it up midway. Still the man drank in the woman's milky coloured skin with gusto. The tattooist didn't seem to care about the Commander's obvious hotness however as he began lowering the needle.
"Here we go." He warned.
Shepard braced herself, looking out upon the scours of refugees surrounding her, and then the needle touched her skin, its relentless buzzing sounding all around.
"You ok Commander?" James asked as it was obvious the tattooist wasn't going to.
"Uh…yeah," Shepard sounded as if she was gritting her teeth. "I'm…I'm ok."
James directed his attention back to the tattoo; it seemed that the batarian had decided to ink what appeared to be a comedic version of Shepard herself onto her back. The soldier didn't know how his Commander was going to take that. He looked back to the woman, her hands were clutching to the box she was sitting on, obviously trying to fight back against the pain.
"Sure you're ok?" He asked.
Shepard seemed to take the question as a challenge. "I'm fine James," she returned. "Like I thought, they don't hurt tha-ow."
The tattooist had started inking his drawing of Shepard's hair into the piece, and this long flowing mane was travelling across the woman's spine, a place that was well known to be more painful than the rest of the back. Despite himself, James smirked a little, finding it funny that his commanding officer was being proven wrong. He watched as Shepard began squirming.
"Ow!" She repeated. "What are you even doing back there? Is it done?"
"Nowhere near." Came James' cheery reply.
"Tha…that's fine," Shepard responded, putting up her bravado once again. "Doesn't hurt any-mother fucking hell ow!"
The batarian drew back as Shepard let out a yelp of pain. Thankfully he'd managed to withdraw his needle just in time; if he hadn't…Shepard may have ended up with simply a large scribble across her back. Realising he'd stopped, Shepard turned to look inquisitively at James and the tattooist.
"It helps if you stay still Lola." James explained, while the batarian simply glowered at her.
"I know that!" Shepard responded angrily. "I just..." She cut herself off and turned back round. "Get on with it."
The batarian looked at James who shrugged and nodded his head. The tattoo artist let out a low sigh and then edged closer, the needle buzzing again. However, just as he was about to touch skin, Shepard leapt up.
"Actually!" She exclaimed. "This hurts more than a million bullets to the head, so I think I'd rather you didn't continue."
James and the batarian artist shared a hopeless look before looking back to Shepard.
"It's nowhere near done yet." The tattooist grumbled.
"Lola, I think you'd rather it was finished than not, right?" James attempted to convince the woman.
Shepard gazed at both men for a little while and then breathed out heavily through her nose. "Fine." She grumbled and then she re-seated herself.
Vega decided to try some encouragement. "C'mon jefe, you've taken down Saren, The Collectors and countless other enemies, you can handle a tiny tattoo."
The batarian began moving downwards with his needle again while Shepard nodded bravely.
"You know what James you're-" The needle touched her skin and Shepard's resolve immediately wavered. "You're wrong! You're wrong! You are so wrong."
As she moved away from the needle once again it seemed the batarian had had enough. Growling angrily he stood up, glared at James and then Shepard and then stomped off, leaving the pair alone with the needle. Shepard and Vega watched him go and then Shepard turned to give her lieutenant a hopeless look.
"Is it finished?" She asked, spinning round.
James looked down at the half formed tattoo on the woman's back. It depicted a caricature of Shepard riding a missile while laughing maniacally, it was actually pretty funny, and quite well drawn, but it was not finished. Half of the tattoo Shepard's arm was not there, and the missile was only half done too. Also, her face needed some shading. James pulled a face.
"Not quite chica."
Shepard groaned. "Why did I agree to get this done?" She moaned.
James shrugged and then itched the back of his neck. "I'm a little surprised by your reaction to be honest Lola. I mean, you can take a bullet, but you can't take a tattoo?"
Shepard gave him a mean look. "I don't willingly take bullets," she returned and then she groaned. "Argh, why did I do this? I mean, now I've got a half-finished tattoo on my back!"
James shrugged again. "You could always get it removed?" He offered.
The suggestion was entirely innocent, but Shepard didn't seem to take it that way. Her blue eyes became icy and she turned a glare onto the soldier.
"You'd like that wouldn't you?" She growled. "If I was 'too scared' to get a tattoo."
"Commander?" James' eyes were wide because he had no idea what she was getting at.
"No!" Shepard exclaimed, and her voice had the tone she usually reserved for heart-warming, courage inducing speeches. "I said I would get a tattoo, and I will get a tattoo."
"Uh…ok," James agreed. "But you'll need a tattoo artist for that, no? And your tattoo artist did a runner."
"Oh balls." Came the Commander's immediate response as she sagged.
A thought formulated in James' head. He'd actually tattooed some friends before in life. He looked over at Shepard, a sheepish expression on his face. The question was would she allow him to tattoo her? Would she trust him enough? Well, there's no point in not trying the man reasoned and then he opened his mouth.
"Lola, if you like, I could finish the rest of the tattoo for you?"
Shepard, who had been gazing out hopelessly at the refugees as if hoping one would randomly come up and offer to help her out, spun on the spot, turning to face him. She gazed at him sceptically, her eyebrow raised.
"You?" She asked.
"Uh…" James shuffled. "Yeah, me."
"You can tattoo?" Shepard checked.
"I have done in the past," James nodded. "And if you'd rather you didn't have a half-finished tattoo, I could…do it for you?" The sentence became a question mid-way through and Vega was left simply staring at his commanding officer, waiting for her response.
Shepard seemed to be seriously mulling the option over. Her bright eyes were searching his hazel ones, and James began feeling a little awkward again. Finally, however, Shepard saved him as she nodded her head.
"Ok?" He checked.
"Sure," she nodded again, more definitely this time. "Fine,"
James was just about to smile, but stopped when Shepard pointed her finger into his face. "But if you balls this up Vega, you'll be kitchen duty for the rest of your days."
James went cross-eyed looking at the woman's finger and then he nodded. "Gotcha Commander."
"Good," Shepard breathed out through her nose and then made her way back to her box seat. "Then let's get this over with."
James followed suit, moving over to sit behind the woman. Shepard rolled up her vest a little more and then James picked up the needle with one hand. He cocked his head at the drawing, wondering where to start from. Eventually he decided to follow the line of the arm and complete that, before moving on to the rest of the missile. He edged closer and one of his large hands settled on the woman's bare side. Shepard stiffened as he did so and her breathing increased ever so slightly. James' hand felt like it was tingling as his skin rested on hers, but he was doing something serious right now, so he shook the thoughts that had flowed into his brain, out of his mind.
"Here we go Lola." He murmured.
"O…ok." Shepard replied, her breath hitching slightly.
And then James touched the needle to her skin. His free hand held on tighter to the woman's skin, trying to keep her steady as he inked her. Shepard wasn't leaping away this time, all either of them could hear was the mingling of their breathing and the buzzing of the needle. James finished the arm and hand quite pleased with the result and then he moved to the missile. Vega had no idea whether the woman was going to like the tattoo, but at least it would be complete, not half done. The tattoo proved easy to finish, especially now Shepard was remaining still. In fact, James had never seen her so unmoving. The missile was quick and easy to complete and that was it. Upon Shepard's back was now a cartoon like tattoo. James, himself, thought it was quite cute.
However, even once the needle had stopped buzzing Shepard didn't move. She stayed very still.
"Lola?" James placed the needle down and removed his hand from her side. "Are you in pain chica?"
Shepard didn't speak, but she did glance behind herself slightly. Her expression was unreadable, but she took James' hand and placed it back on her bare side. There was something in her eyes, but James couldn't quite grasp it. He felt himself heating up as she moved his hand back onto her skin, which, he realised now, felt insanely warm. They stayed that way, staring into each other's eyes and then Shepard finally spoke.
"Remember my question from earlier?" She asked, and she sounded almost breathless. "About whether you were ever going to make good on all the flirting?"
James nodded silently, watching her with a bewildered, yet lustful, look on his face.
"I'd really like you to James." Shepard clarified.
"Oh…" Murmured the male solider and Shepard's lusty look became deadpan.
"'Oh'? Seriously?" She challenged. "Kiss me you stupid idiot." Then she moved her head back slightly, pressing her lips against James'.
James responded and the woman turned around properly, sitting herself upon his knee as she took his head in her hands. They kissed until they became breathless, warm throbs of heat shooting up and down both of them. Shepard winced as they drew apart, while James just stared at her as if she was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. Which, he supposed, she was.
"My tattoo's hurting." She grumbled.
Despite the setting they were in, James had all but forgotten the tattoo. "Oh yeah," he mumbled and then he smiled at her. "Dya wanna see it?"
Shepard smirked at him. "Well of course I do." She replied and then she got to her feet, removing her contact from him.
Feeling the loss, James pouted slightly, but then he activated his omni tool, bringing up a camera option which was usually used for intel and the like. Shepard lifted up her top slightly and waited while James took a quick picture of the tattoo and then he presented it to her. Shepard turned excitedly to look at it, and then her face dropped.
"You don't like it hermoso?" James questioned.
"No," Shepard returned. "Though I won't get it removed."
James felt a smile creep onto his lips. "Why? Because I did it for you?"
Shepard chuckled and then shook her head. "No, because tattoo removal costs a lot of credits," she patted the man on the cheek. "But thanks for the tattoo James, I appreciate it. I hope you don't mind if I don't pay in credits? I don't happen to have any on me."
James raised an eyebrow. "I don't know how I feel about that Lola," he remarked, his tone playful, swells of happiness surging through him. "How are you planning on paying me back for my artwork then?"
Shepard's smirk matched James' now. "I've got a few ways in mind, but they all involve us being back on the Normandy."
James tried to look nonchalant, but the smile tugging at his lips gave him away. "Well…the ship's not too far…" he trailed off meaningfully.
Shepard smile widened and she grabbed the man's hand before walking into the crowd of people around them, tugging him along. As they walked along, cheeky smiles on both their faces, something occurred to James.
"Lola," he began slowly. "If you didn't have any credits on you…how were you planning on paying that batarian tattoo artist?"
Shepard chuckled. "How do you think?" She questioned with a suggestive wink.
James' eyes widened and he gazed at her in surprise.
"I'm joking!" Shepard groaned. "I was just going to pull the whole 'I'm Commander Shepard' thing. You know, so I could get it for free?"
James smiled fondly at her. "You're a devious one Lola." He remarked.
"And you're moving too slow." Returned Shepard as she tugged the big man along.
James smirked at her and then began moving a little faster, keeping in step with his commanding officer. The woman returned his smile and then went to touch her new tattoo. James grabbed her hands.
"Ah, ah, Lola," he scolded. "Don't touch it."
"It hurts," grumbled the woman. "How much does tattoo removal cost again? I'm reconsidering."
James grabbed the woman's hand and kissed her knuckles before smiling at her. "You don't have enough credits." He returned before leaning in to kiss her properly. He could feel her smiling as his lips melted onto hers.
AN: Gaha, I hope this is ok. Drop a review if you like it. Thanks for reading!