What is going on? Am I sleeping inside the Normandy's engine room or something? That was the first thought that entered Commander Shepard's mind as she slowly awoke from her slumber. It was ridiculously hot in her bed, like…more than one person in the bed hot. Shepard's eyes snapped open. Someone was in the bed with her. God her head was banging. It was hurting worse than the time she'd headbutted a Krogan…and she'd fractured her skull doing that. After taking a moment to allow the pain to pass, Shepard risked a glance over at the person in her bed. As soon as she realised who it was, a smirk slipped onto her lips. So it had worked after all had it? Vega had finally come good on all his flirtations. And he had been really good. A flood of pleasing memories washed into Shepard's brain. Hands touching skin, clothes hitting the floor, lips on collarbones. Vaguely Shepard was aware of the shower running in the other room, and the hum of conversation downstairs (her guests clearly hadn't left the apartment yet), but other than that the only sound in the room was James' soft breathing. Shepard watched him quietly for a while and then tapped him lightly. The woman reckoned that James would probably want to talk all this over before going downstairs to face the others. For all his bravado, the lieutenant was actually a very caring, quite sensitive, guy. There was also the fact that Shepard wanted to know what this night meant to him because in all honesty it had meant quite a lot to her. She always felt like she had someone to rely on when James was around and…he made her laugh…that wasn't something that easy to do nowadays. There was a long silence after Shepard tapped him and then James slowly awoke, his bright hazel eyes blinking as artificial lighting attacked him. He glanced around blearily before letting out a small sound of distress.
"Ah!" He complained bringing his hand up to his head as he slowly began to pull himself up. "My head is killing. What exactly did you put in those drinks Lola?"
Shepard was about to reply, smiling, but then James dropped the hand off of his head and turned to look at her, his eyes widening.
"Lola?" He repeated, his tone going quite a few octaves higher.
Shepard nodded, her eyebrows raised. James stared at her for a few seconds and then his eyes moved down her body. He then looked down at himself and then looked back to her. This continued on for quite a while, so Shepard decided to intervene.
"Something wrong James?" She enquired. She sounded casual, but her heart was actually beating harder than she'd ever felt before, it was almost painful.
James was now staring down at the covers, his eyes still wide. "I…" he tried to speak, but then stopped himself. Regaining his composure he riled himself to speak again. "Uh…no, no Lola…I mean Shepard…I mean Commander."
Shepard watched him, her eyebrows rising even higher. "So I've become Commander Shepard again have I?" She put forth. She felt a small beat of disappointment.
James was looking incredibly uncomfortable now. "I, uh, I'm sorry Shepard," he muttered. "I just," he rose his eyes to look at her. "I don't know how to react. I mean…you're naked."
Shepard crossed her arms. "That's your fault," she returned. "You're the one who ripped all my clothes off."
The pair of them looked down at the pile of clothes at the end of the bed and, despite himself, James let loose a quick smirk.
"Yeah," he stretched slightly. "Sorry."
Shepard shook her head. "You've got absolutely nothing to apologise for Lieutenant."
"Aha," James let out a nervous laugh and then rubbed the back of his neck, looking nervous. "So…that took fraternisation to whole new level."
Shepard smiled. "Yes," she responded. "It certainly did."
They were silent for a while longer and then Shepard leant forwards slightly. "James-"
"Don't worry about me Lola," James interrupted her before she could continue. "I'm just…I'm trying to wrap my head around it. I mean…you're Commander Shepard."
"I'm aware." Replied Shepard.
James gave her a sheepish smile. "And I'm…y'know…" He trailed off and gazed at her helplessly.
Shepard was in no mood to help him. "Very good at rolling your tongue?" She supplied and then smirked widely as James' cheeks coloured.
"You're," he coughed slightly. "You're getting pretty good at making me blush Commander."
"Yes," she replied. "I've noticed."
The statement seemed a bit weighted and James obviously didn't know how to respond. Eventually he glanced back at Shepard.
"So, um, how exactly did it all go down last night?" The big man put a hand to his head and winced. "Because I can barely remember a thing."
Shepard frowned a little. "I'm hurt James."
"No, uh," James shook his head. "I remember all that Shepard. Trust me, I do,"
Shepard smiled again and raised her eyebrows.
"I mean…how did we get from, you know, playing around to…"
"To having sex?" Shepard supplied. "We're not twelve James, you can say it."
James started chuckling. "I know!" He responded. "Jeez jefe you don't seem all too pleased with me right now. Did I do something wrong? Maybe bite down too hard or…?"
Shepard was just about to reply when EDI suddenly strolled into the room. She turned to look at them.
"Hello." The AI greeted.
James and Shepard stared at her for a few seconds, completely silent, and then James pulled the duvet up over himself slightly. Shepard shook her head at him.
"EDI," the Commander exclaimed, trying very hard to sound completely normal. "How are you?"
"I am well Shepard, thank you for asking," EDI replied, bobbing her head slightly. "How are you two? I can ascertain that the amount of alcohol and lack of sleep you both had last night make for less than ideal company, but I decided to check on you anyway."
"Oh, uh," Shepard exchanged a glance with James before looking back to the robot. "I think we're good EDI, thank you."
"Where're all the others?" James asked.
"They are all still recovering from the night before. Grunt is still currently in the shower…he has been in there since 3am last night."
"That can't be good." Shepard mumbled. Despite the fact that Grunt was a Krogan, and more than capable of caring for himself, Shepard did tend to fuss over him a little.
EDI bobbed her head again in agreement with her Commander. "Jacob is working out in the downstairs bedroom, Garrus is asleep on your couch with Jeff, Tali is currently in the other bedroom repeating 'I'm am going to die' and 'I feel like death' over and over again,"
Shepard shook her head a smile on her lips.
"Operative Lawson is currently sitting in the kitchen with Kaidan and Liara, Samara is meditating, Wrex is splayed over the bar, Steve is watching TV, Javik is kneeling over one of the toilets cursing primitives, Specialist Traynor is brushing her teeth and has been doing so for quite a while, Jack is asleep on your table top, and I do not know where Kasumi is, though it is safe to presume she is probably nearby, listening to us converse."
At these last few words Shepard and James shared a slightly worried look.
"She wouldn't have…" James trailed off while Shepard shook her head empathetically.
"No," she replied, though she sounded more like she was insisting to herself. "No."
"At any rate Commander, I heard you and James talking earlier and I picked up on the fact that you two cannot recall how you…" the AI paused and looked the bed up and down. "…ended up in this position."
"Or any of the positions." James agreed cheerily.
Shepard elbowed him and James yelped slightly, rubbing his side and giving the woman a hurt look. Shepard smiled sweetly back. Meanwhile, EDI was activating her omnitool. She raised her hand up and an image appeared on the screen.
"You were recording the party?" Shepard question, her attention immediately snapping to the screen.
"I am always recording," EDI responded. "But most of the footage I retain is for my own uses."
Shepard and James directed their attention to the screens. As they did so, Kasumi appeared next to EDI. The two soldiers on the bed jumped.
"Hello." Said Kasumi smiling.
"What are you doing in here?" Shepard questioned.
Kasumi smiled at her as if the answer was obvious. "I've come to watch the show of course." She enthused.
James pulled the duvet up around him even higher. Soon a flickering image appeared on the screen, the time on the bottom left pinned this piece of footage to be around 2am, just after they'd finished the group photo. Everyone was dancing wildly in the living room. Most of EDI's optic attention seemed to be focused on Joker, who was now dancing whole heartedly as a result of a few too many Hard Thessia shots.
"Quite the fiesta." James commented, his eyes on the screen.
Shepard shot a smile his way and then returned her gaze to the TV. "Definitely…" she trailed off when an image behind Joker became apparent. It was her and James…and for once her dancing wasn't half bad, though that may have had something to do with the fact she was essentially on James. The Commander found herself colouring as she watched her past self move her long hair to the side as she dipped her hips, allowing James to press his lips to her ear. He was obviously whispering something as past Shepard's smile was growing wider and wider.
"…uh." The current James muttered and then he glanced at Shepard.
"This is quite the show." Kasumi commented.
The TV screen flickered away from that scene and over to the rest of the party goers. Kasumi let out a small squeal when she saw Jacob appear. Shepard rolled her eyes, but she was heavily aware that James was now looking at her and not at the screen.
"What're you watching?"
Shepard nearly fell off the bed when Kaidan strolled in, followed by Miranda and Liara.
"It's none…none of your business!" She yelped, for once in her life flustered.
"We are watching records from last night," EDI answered Kaidan. The AI gestured at the screen. "Lieutenant Vega and Commander Shepard were curious as to how they ended up having sexual intercourse-"
Miranda, Liara and Kaidan began sniggering as Shepard felt a blush the colour of tomatoes begin taking over her face.
"-I recorded the party and so offered to show them how it occurred." EDI continued, apparently unaware of her Commander's growing embarrassment.
James, for his part, wasn't looking as awkward as he had been before. Seeing their past-selves dancing had obviously elicited something in him, as he had directed his attention back to the vid and was now leaning forwards slightly, his bright eyes scanning the screen.
"Ooh, is this it?" Kaidan looked from his Commander to the screen.
James and Shepard were now back on the TV in full view. Shepard turned to look incredulously at EDI.
"Were you following us?" She demanded.
"Not at all times," EDI replied modestly. "But it was your party; I thought that you would like to be the main focus."
"Sweet." Commented Miranda.
"Not so sweet." Liara added gesturing at the screen.
Shepard's mouth nearly dropped open. She and James were going at it like crazy people. As she watched, the James onscreen half threw her past self onto the sofa before joining her. The current Shepard actually let out a gasp as she watched the past James bite her past self's earlobe before trailing kisses down her neck. Thank God this vid doesn't have sound the Commander thought to herself as she, and her companions, watched the Shepard on screen run her fingers across James' bristly hair and gasp. Everyone in the room went silent as they watched, entranced and then Traynor entered the room.
"What's everybody doing? I-oh my." She went quiet too and started watching the screen attentively, where Shepard's top had just been ripped off as she and James made their way up the stairs, still locked in their kiss. "This is very…interesting." Traynor murmured as everyone in the room watched the pair on screen pause in their ascent up the stairs. Shepard's top was hanging loosely in James' hand while the man's other hand was occupied with the inside of Shepard's thigh.
"Well, well, Shepard." Miranda muttered, seemingly impressed as the Shepard and James onscreen stopped kissing for a second, coming up for air, only to dive straight back in.
Shepard was staring at the screen with an uncertain expression. She wasn't sure how she was supposed to feel about this. On the one hand she was pretty happy, considering the evidence she'd had a great night and she really liked James. On the other hand…she was James' superior officer and she also had no idea how he felt about all this. She risked a glance at the man, he was currently slumped forward, his eyes still on the screen, his mouth hidden behind part of the duvet. Holding in a sigh, the Commander returned her gaze to the screen where, thankfully, she and James had disappeared into one of the bedrooms.
"Alright," the woman mustered some courage, making her voice loud. "Show's over."
"No," EDI responded. "It is not."
Shepard gave her and incredulous look as James glanced at the AI curiously.
"Oh my." Traynor repeated again, her eyes still on the TV.
The others in the room redirected their attention to the screen and Shepard nearly yelped when she saw her and James, both bare from waist up, now kissing aggressively against the balcony. Thankfully for Shepard, her modesty was covered by James' huge torso, but that didn't stop the current Shepard from rubbing at her eyes in humiliation.
"Oh." Liara mumbled as they all watched past Shepard's hands tuck under James' trousers.
James shot a smirk his Commander's way; Shepard gave him a guilty smile back. Finally, onscreen, it appeared the pair were retreating into the bedroom. For goodShepard hoped.
"And that is it," EDI reported. The TV screen went dark and everybody looked to the AI. "Though I know for a fact that you did not go to sleep until 5am."
"How do you know that?" Shepard requested, dreading the answer.
"You were very loud," returned EDI. "Also, at one point, you," she pointed at James. "Came downstairs to fetch cream from the fridge."
Everyone gaped at the AI.
"That was a joke." EDI said after a while of silence.
And then Tali entered the room. "Eurgh, my head," she groaned. "Shepard, I've come to request permanent leave as this hangover seems to be perma-" the quarian cut herself off as she took in the sight before her. James and Shepard still on the bed, the duvet covers messy and disorganised. "Oh," she commented and then she backed slightly out of the room. "Garrus!" She yelled, then, "Ah my head," then, "Garrus!" Again.
"What?" Garrus yelled back up.
"They did it!" Tali shouted.
"Which ones?" Came Garrus' reply as the others in Tali's company shared confused glances.
"Who do you think?" Tali replied.
James and Shepard shared an incredulous look. Had it really been that obviously inevitable? There was a moment of silence and then Garrus appeared in the room. He took in the same sight that Tali had and then chuckled.
"I owe you some credits then Tali," he said before looking to James. "I didn't know whether you'd be brave enough to go through with it Jimmy. Congrats."
"Uh…thanks I guess." James replied while Shepard shook her head behind him. The lieutenant glanced over at his commanding officer and quickly mouthed: 'loco' to her. The woman couldn't help but agree.
"Grunt and I have just broken your shower," Wrex strolled in, an incapacitated Grunt thrown over his shoulder. "They're design isn't tough enough to withhold a few krogan head-butts-" the big alien paused in what he was saying and then a grin slipped over his face. "Ahehehe." he began chuckling.
"Right! Who wants eggs?" James suddenly yanked at his trousers pulling them and hastily slipping them on under the duvet. He got to his feet and glanced back at Shepard, who was now staring down at the covers, blocking her face slightly with her hand. "Commander?"
Shepard glanced up at him. "A coffee would be great. Thanks lieutenant."
"Come on compadres," After a lingering look at his Commander, James began ushering people out of the room, just as Steve wandered in. "Esteban!" Exclaimed the lieutenant. "Eggs?"
"Have I ever said yes to your eggs Mr Vega?" Returned the shuttle pilot.
"No," Vega conceded. "But you want to."
Steve rolled his eyes at his friend and then strolled over to the bed where Shepard was still sitting. The man waited until everyone had left the room and then he turned to the woman.
"'Commander'? 'Lieutenant'?" He repeated the words he had just heard his two friends say and settled onto the bed with a disapproving look.
Shepard looked up at him, confused. "…yes?"
"What are you guys doing?" Cortez demanded as Shepard's look became even more confused. "You two are wrecking what could potentially be a great relationship!"
"Oh, hey, woah," Shepard raised her hands. "No, no Steve, you seem to have got the wrong end of the stick. James and I-"
Steve began rolling his eyes through this and so Shepard cut herself off. "What?" She demanded.
"You're lying to yourself and you know it," the shuttle pilot returned. "Don't try and write this off as a one night drunken screw, you both know it means more than that."
Shepard was quiet for a long while before replying. "How do you know that?" She requested.
"Because I'm the one who has to hear all of Mr Vega's gushing about 'how cool is Commander Shepard?', 'She straight punched this guy out earlier it was loco', 'Lola's pretty amazing isn't she?'"
Despite herself a small swell of happiness surged throughout Shepard's body and a stream of butterflies began dancing in her stomach, dancing to the fast beat of her heart. "He…he said all that?"
"Yes and more," Steve returned. "But look, you know James; he doesn't know how to handle stuff like this. It's my bet that he wants nothing more than to be with you, but he's too afraid of rejection, that maybe he can't be all you want him to be."
"I don't want him to be anything other than what he is." Shepard said immediately.
Steve gave her a small smile. "And he wouldn't want you to be anything other than what you are."
Shepard shrugged. "I'm not so sure," she replied. "He had to forget I was Commander Shepard to even sleep with me."
"Defence technique," came Steve's reply. "He likes you because you're Commander Shepard and despite the fact that you're Commander Shepard. He's just a big dumbass."
Shepard chuckled a little at that and Steve's smile widened. "He's a nice big dumbass though." The shuttle pilot continued.
Shepard looked down at the covers again. "Yes," she concurred. "I know."
"Don't ruin this for yourselves," Cortez murmured. "You guys need to embrace and hold onto what you can get. Trust me, I know that from experience. If you find someone you're happy with, hold onto them," Then the shuttle pilot got to his feet. "I'll tell James to come up here and talk to you properly." And then he departed.
Shepard watched him go and then yanked the draws nearby her bed open. She quickly yanked on a vest and some trousers and then she took in a shuddery breath. What on earth was she doing?
Shepard turned round at her name and was met by the sight of James holding a cup of coffee. He moved into the room some more. "Cortez told me to come and talk to you?"
"Thanks," Shepard accepted the coffee off of the lieutenant and then regarded him over the cup. They were both silent, James watching her with raised eyebrows and then Shepard spoke. "So…"
"So…" James repeated.
"So we slept together." Shepard said. She had no idea where she was going with this, but Steve was right…she knew that much.
"We sure did jefe." James concurred.
"And…" Shepard trailed off again.
"And…" James repeated.
"And look," Shepard sighed and cocked her head at him. "What is this James?"
James's brow creased for a moment and then he rubbed the back of his neck, which Shepard really wished he wouldn't do because it made all his muscles ripple, which was incredibly distracting when she was trying to have an important talk.
"I don't see what you're getting at Commander." He muttered.
"That's what I'm getting at," Shepard gestured at him with her coffee cup. "This 'Commander' thing."
James turned his head slightly, looking confused. "You mean the thing where you're my Commander so I call you Commander?"
"What happened to Lola?" Shepard replied.
Realisation dawned in James' eyes and he looked awkward again. "Oh," he mumbled. "Look, um, Comma…Shepard," he hastily corrected himself, glancing up and meeting the woman's eyes. "I never thought that the flirting was actually going to go anywhere…and now it has, I'm kinda worried as to what you…I'm worried you might think of this as a mistake. I mean, you're Commander Shepard and, I mean, last night was maravilloso, but I don't want you to think that means…" James stumbled over his words and then looked at her helplessly. "Fraternisation." He finished lamely.
Shepard rolled her eyes. "I don't care about that side of it," she returned. "I want to know…what last night meant to you." She sounded desperate and it made her feel rather sick at herself.
James was looking uncomfortable, but eventually he looked up at her. "Truly?" He murmured.
"Truly." Shepard replied and her heart was beating so wildly in her chest that she was surprised it hadn't burst out yet.
"Lola, for me, last night was all I've ever dreamt about. It was maravilloso, asombroso-"
"James," Shepard interrupted. "You could be calling me a four eyed dog of a batarian war lord right now."
"Ah," James chuckled. "Lo siento," he apologised. "What I'm trying to say is…what I'm worried about is...is that you don't want this to be anything more. I understand, truly, I do. I mean, it's shore leave. Crazy stuff happens on shore leave,"
"Obviously." Shepard intervened, gesturing at herself and then at him.
"And, I mean, I guess I just presumed you would want to leave this as a forgotten memoria which is why I tried to get in there first. You know, make it easier for you."
There was a small silence after this and Shepard took a sip of her coffee, trying to seem casual. "And what if I didn't want to leave it as a forgotten 'memoria'?" She questioned.
James stared at her for a long time, trying to process what she was saying. "…Lola?" He muttered after a while, his tone unsure.
"You're a big stupid dumbass," Shepard muttered, shaking her head as she placed her coffee down on the bedside table. Then the Commander jumped across the bed over to him, wrapping her arms around his waist. "But I want you to be my big stupid dumbass. Get it?"
A smile split out over James' face at these words. "For real?" He pushed.
"Yes, you idiota." Shepard returned and then she leant up, placing a kiss on the man's cheek.
James took the woman's small hands in his and brought them up to his lips, kissing the fingertips gently before smiling down at her. "Chica, do you remember how I kept saying te amo last night?"
Shepard nodded, her eyes caught in his.
"I meant it." He murmured and then he leant down to kiss her gently on the lips, one of his hands on her chin, the other snaking down to her waist. Shepard's hands pressed against his chest, feeling the heat coming off his bare skin.
Once they broke apart they were both smiling. "Maybe we should tell EDI to fetch the whipped cream?" Shepard muttered and James smiled slyly.
"I will fetch it immediately."
Shepard and James both froze before turning around to see every single party guest standing in the doorway, all with huge smiles on their faces.
"You people are loco." James shot at them all and everybody began chuckling.
James and Shepard joined in and Shepard felt a rush of happiness swell in her chest once again. She had her friends, her companions and now she had James, forever and always.