On their first night together, while learning each other's bodies in every way they can, Shepard finds Thane's piercings with her tongue. Even through the venom's haze, she can't help but imagine what he must have looked like in the days he made that choice.

Younger. Vainer. As strong and confident and lethal as he is now - but likely a lot more reckless. She's feeling reckless herself, as dazed as she is. The rush she's getting from him is unbelievable. The sounds he's making as she nips at that ridge and starts to tease at the skin beneath are even more so.

She leans in closer, wanting to hear more of that, and wanting to revel in all this as much as she possibly can.

"Earrings?" she murmurs. His head tilts back, a soft groan issuing from his throat. Her free hand starts undoing clasps on his clothes, until she can feel that groan through her palm, too. "Really?"

"Really."

She slides her tongue over the last piercing in the line. "When?"

"I had it done… some years ago." He turns toward her, lips almost brushing her jaw this time. "I still have a set."

"You should wear them for me."

He manages an ironic chuckle. She has to admit, it's a little ridiculous to be telling him what to put on while she's busy divesting him of everything else. Soon enough her hands are sliding over the hard planes of his muscles and the rasping friction of his scales, which she's rapidly discovering she wants to feel all over.

She is, however, not finished studying him yet.

"Got any other piercings you haven't mentioned?" she breathes, moving her hand lower. "Anything… hidden?"

He laughs, even through a groan of pleasure. "No. Sorry if it disappoints."

"There's nothing I'm feeling right now that's at all disappointing, Thane."

"Glad to hear it."

"Cocky bastard," she says, making the most of the pun. She laughs when he retaliates by grabbing her hands, then her clothes, then all control of the situation. Before long, all Shepard can do is fall back against the bed, moaning contentedly as Thane starts mapping out her body with lips and tongue and agile fingers.

He is, as she'd suspected, a very quick study.

There's light swirling in her vision and needy, urgent heat everywhere by the time he finally reaches her waist, smoothing his hands up and down her sides and murmuring again about the softness of her skin. Then he tugs her underwear down enough to see the tattoo on her hip. His laugh, low and rich, reverberates through her.

"Now we find your secrets." He traces the lines until she writhes against the sheets. "How long have you had this?"

"Oh… some years, now, too."

"And how often do you show it to anyone?"

There's an extra layer to his question, suddenly. Shepard props herself up to face him. She's still a little dizzy, and she can't quite read his expression - but God, his eyes….

"Not… often," she tells him at last. "Not often at all."

Thane slides back up against her in one sinuous movement. Her heart's hammering and her whole body's aching so much that she's surprised he can't simply feel the answer, but he says it anyway: "So. This… truly matters to you."

"Of course it does."

"I'd hoped so," he murmurs, stroking her hair back. "Not that this would be any less pleasurable without… but I'd hoped so."

She breathes in raggedly. It's hard to sound teasing now, but for the sake of levity, she tries. "Pleasurable? We haven't even gotten to the best part yet."

His smile slowly tilts. When he rolls his hips against her, Shepard groans and presses right back. Sparks fire behind her squeezed-shut eyelids. She'd been right: he does feel incredible against her. She desperately wants to know how he'll feel inside her.

So she angles herself, whispers encouragement and urges him on - and this time, it's enough to crack what's left of his self-control. He doesn't hold back.

Neither does she.

Just as she'd hoped, this really is the best part. It feels right, not just good - and the "good" is amazing. He's versatile. Flexible. Tremendously sensual. And he's clearly taking his own pleasure from giving her as much as he can.

Next time, she plans to pay him back plus some, but for now, she's overwhelmed enough that she'll happily settle for obliging him.

Between the poison of his skin and the pleasure of his touch, it's not long before the skylight's view of the galaxy is far outdone, and she's seeing nothing but stars.

They take some time to sleep off the shared exhaustion of it all, but inevitably enough, morning rises and duty calls. Thane slips away early, murmuring something about discretion. She sleepily agrees, even as hard as it is to let him go.

Then habit propels her through her morning routine... until she finds herself with a problem.

Light's glinting in her vision at almost every angle. Most of it fades after several good blinks and a long drink of water, but a few things suspiciously linger. She leaves her room anyway, hoping breakfast and a mug of strong coffee will take care of the rest.

She's still working on the coffee with grim determination by the time she steps into the CIC.

Everyone's already there, Thane included. He smiles subtly at her. Another gleam distracts her, however, before she can respond. She blinks until her eyes start watering. "Come on," she mutters, squinting to focus again.

It doesn't quite work. The light's still there when she looks at Thane. She's starting to worry until he turns his head, and she realizes what she's actually seeing.

He's clipped on his earrings, and the bright-white lights of the galaxy map are reflecting off the metal.

Shepard breathes in sharply. Going by his still-present smile, he must have heard her. As nonchalantly as she can, though, she walks up beside him. Her hands come down on the console close to his.

"Nice touch," she says under her breath.

He doesn't look at her, but his smile stretches into a smirk. "I'd hoped you'd notice."

"Kind of hard not to."

"You did tell me I should wear them. For you."

That she had. Shepard shivers with a sudden memory of the night before - and wonders what he might be able to recall of it, in such potent, perfect detail. Suddenly she envies him.

Of course, the idea of doing it all again in lieu of reminiscing is hardly a drawback, either.

So she lets herself continue.

"For now… we have work to do. And I expect you to come with me on today's mission. With no distractions."

"Of course, Commander."

"But." She adds the rest too quietly for anyone else to overhear. "You better still be wearing those tonight when we get back. Because, for the record? I have plans."

"Of course," he says again, more warmly this time. "I suspect this will be worth waiting for."

"Oh, you don't know the half of it. Wait until you find out what I'll be wearing."

His expression as she turns to go is worth remembering in every detail.

And it's the strangest thing, but now she's sure that she can - because with the promise of something she can look forward to, for the first time in a long, long while, Shepard's vision has finally gone clear.