Shepard woke with a gasp. The viewport above her bed was uncovered; the wisps of the Normandy's mass effect field sloshed over the glass, the stars beyond twinkling like silent sentries. It made her sick. Ever since her death, she couldn't look out into the void; she was hypersensitive to any window with a view of it. Leaving the shutter open was an honest mistake, but one that could have been avoided if she hadn't overworked herself.
She carefully pulled herself to a reclining position yet her bedmates were so attuned to her movements, and having an extra sensory skill for survival, that they stirred. Two very different arms—one green and visibly strong, the other gray with a wiry strength—took up positions across her torso, effectively keeping her in bed. She smiled at both of them. Her men, her amazing sharpshooters. She rested her hands on each head, and although there was a small reflection of light from Thane's large, dark eyes, it disappeared as he settled against the pillow. His thumb stroked her hip—slowly, slower, until the movement faded away with sleep.
Thane was always the first to wake with her nightmares; Garrus was too heavy a sleeper. Normally Shepard hated to wake them, but on rare, vulnerable occasions, she preferred both of her men to comfort her. It wasn't necessary tonight. It was the standard nightmare—weightless, freezing, suffocating and helpless—and she had learned to deal with it on her own, just as she had when the nightmares after Mindoir began. She was thankful, however, that she now had the option of not being alone.
She reached over Garrus's lightly snoring body to hit the switch that would close the shutter above the bed. Thane's hand tightened minutely as she reached further to snatch the datapad she'd left on the bedside table. She wasn't getting back to sleep so soon, even snuggled between her two favorite aliens.
Settling between them again, Shepard turned on the datapad and lowered the brightness. It wouldn't bother Garrus—he was out cold—but Thane was sensitive to light. She even adjusted her aquarium before bed; instead of the main light source for the room, it served as a dim nightlight up the steps.
She brushed her free hand along the crimson of Thane's throat. He hummed with sleepy pleasure. She had quickly learned that velvet-like expanse was an erogenous zone and she smiled at the sounds he made. To know he was an assassin yet was perhaps the kindest, gentlest man she knew—and one with such a cute sleeping face—seemed impossible. She was grateful that he even felt comfortable enough around her to let down his walls.
When they first started sharing a bed, he was always last to fall asleep and first to rise. He never took naps around her. He wouldn't let himself be vulnerable. Now she had the pleasure of waking him with kisses as he would stretch, long and languid beneath her. The picture of relaxation and trust.
And Garrus, well, she couldn't recall when he factored into the equation. He just did. It had always been Shepard and Vakarian, even if she didn't think of him romantically right away. He was technically two years older than her but he was still growing into his character—one that she even helped to shape. He had been awkward and unsure, but slowly he saw the same thing Shepard did. He was a great person, he wanted to do what was right and no amount of red tape could stop him. It was when he started to project that confidence—and drop the hero worship attitude—when Shepard took notice of her friend.
On the datapad, she browsed the contents of her inbox while she stroked first one arm, then the other, with her free hand. Neither man stirred. Good, she had some business to do. It would tire her out, at least.
Mordin had finished another report on the seeker swarm, making sure to alert Shepard every time he made amendments to the previous report. Miranda was waiting on Shepard's authorization to buy more upgrades. Samara wanted to see her in the observation room when there was time, and Jacob had finished a prototype heavy weapon that needed field tested. There were also two separate reports from Kenneth and Gabby about the Normandy's performance, and knowing those two, they each said something different. She would have to read them carefully.
Shepard switched the datapad to her right hand so her left could absently run along Garrus's back as she read. He preferred to sleep on his stomach so the entire length of him was free for her to explore.
In fact, she never paid much attention to what her men felt like. There was rarely enough time to slow down and think. The last few weeks, especially, had been a whirlwind.
The difference between her men wasn't startling; they both had their rough patches—physically and mentally—and soft. Garrus was mostly rough.
His tough carapace felt rugged beneath her lightly calloused fingers. She ran her hands between the plates under his shoulder blades, feeling the leathery skin there. Turians were physically imposing and hardened, but Shepard knew a secret. Her hand trailed up the pebbled skin of his neck to the spot just underneath his fringe, where it connected to his skull. The spot she was looking for was three fingers wide and felt like silk. He once explained it was the easiest way to rip off a turian's crest, or give him the most explosive orgasm he's ever had.
She barely touched that skin when his body gave a violent jump. His head came up and in the glow of the datapad, he looked worried, almost scared. Maybe it was a natural instinct to protect that sensitive little area.
"Sorry," she whispered. "Didn't mean to wake you."
He withdrew his arm from her stomach and propped himself up on his elbows, running his hands over his face. "Like hell you didn't."
"Are you okay?"
"Don't worry about it." He turned his head and squinted in the light from her datapad. "What are you doing up?"
She shrugged. "Couldn't sleep."
"Hmm, that's funny. I seem to recall one exhausted commander calling me up here for 'snuggle time.' And she happened to be asleep before I even stepped off the elevator."
"Well, I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. It's not a big deal," she replied, a little defensive. "I have work to do and Thane's still sleeping. You don't have to be up for four more hours; go back to sleep."
"Do you need any help with your paperwork?" He crossed his arms on top of the pillow before settling his cheek there. He looked utterly kissable.
She smiled. "No thanks. I'm a big girl, Garrus. I can handle a little responsibility here and there."
He shrugged and slid his arms under the pillow, falling back into sleep quicker than most individuals. It was a trick soldiers had to master if they ever wanted to sleep; Shepard's own ability was rusty. But if anything could lull her to sleep, it was sure to be Mordin's report.
She opened it and switched hands again so that she could caress Thane's naked arm. Most of his skin was smooth one way and rough the other. Once upon a time, she expected him to feel warm and slimy—but like a snake, he was cool and dry. Although the front of him was without blemish—well, all but a small scar on his right hip—his back was peppered with rough scales. She loved the coarse texture of them.
Shepard never imagined falling in love with not just one, but two aliens. If someone had told her this three years ago, she would have smiled and given a politically correct statement about interspecies relationships and walked away. They made great friends and loyal comrades, but how could a human love something so different, so foreign and terrifying? But love could happen to anyone, especially when they least expect it. It didn't matter that they were green and gray, or that their biological systems were different, or even if she couldn't have children with them. Shepard loved them both equally. She couldn't see her life without them. If they were separated by the war effort, they were still her men, and she would always find her way home to them.