By Kodiak Sage

Author's Note: Written for the ME kinkmeme on LJ. Spoilers for ME3 Shepard/Kaidan and Shepard/Garrus. Rated Mfor sex


"Grunt," Shepard greeted her Krogan friend cheerfully, a drink in her hand and a smile on her face. The party was going excellent—it was so nice to have all of her friends in one place, and not fighting for their lives for once! She could forget, for the time being, that this apartment had belonged to Anderson, and that he had given it to her mostly because he didn't expect to make it out of the war alive. Truth be told, neither did Shepard. All the more reason to enjoy herself while she could.

"Shepard," Grunt croaked his customary greeting at her and turned back to the door controls, where he was getting a kick out of telling people to go away. Shepard watched in amusement for a few minutes, until the video feed turned to a familiar face.

"Oh shit."

"Shepard?"

"It's Kaidan." Shepard's mind tore itself apart for a minute while she looked for excuses to turn Kaidan away, but in the end she drew a blank. "Let him up Grunt."

"If you say so Shepard." Grunt said, pushing the buttons to allow Kaidan access to the tower.

Shepard waited by the door, her eyes darting around to make sure that the rest of her guests were unaware of this little blip. Her gaze lingered on Garrus for an extra moment, but then the door chimed behind her and Kaidan was walking in.

"This way," She said coldly to him before he could speak. She downed the drink in her hand and set the empty glass on the table in the hallway. Her mouth burned with the alcohol and her mind went a little more numb. Kaidan followed her into the "workout" bedroom and Shepard closed the door behind them.

"I didn't know you were having a party." Kaidan said awkwardly. He was wearing his Alliance utility gear and he looked tired, as if he'd come to see her after a long day of work. Whatever his work consisted of nowadays. Shepard hadn't kept in close contact with him after turning down his offer to join her on the Normandy again. It had been a calculated thing. Shepard could feel the hurt in his voice when he mentioned the party, but she only stared back icily. She wasn't going to give into his sad, brooding manipulations. Not again.

"Why are you here Kaidan?" Shepard asked. She folded her hands over her chest and cocked out one hip defiantly. If she were in uniform, she'd look very imposing. In her little black cocktail dress and heels, however, she just looked ready to pounce.

"I just want to talk to you. I want to understand what happened. My next mission…might be my last. And I don't want there to be any bad blood between us."

"You're a Spectre now." Shepard said. It was an observation, a train of thought to anchor her to the present. Kaidan wasn't some young lieutenant anymore who needed protecting or mentoring. Spectre Major Alenko technically outranked her. "What's your mission. Can I help?"

"It's classified," Kaidan's face was stone. "You can help by answering my questions."

Shepard didn't like his response one bit. She turned and paced to the punching bag and back, her hands clenched in fists so tight her finger joints cracked. She hated his condescending attitude, his expectation of her cooperation, the fact that he had to come tonight, during her party! Shepard took a breath. She could do this. She could talk to Kaidan, answer his questions, get him gone. The quicker this was done, the sooner he could leave.

"Fine. Interrogate me. We'll see where this goes."

Kaidan's shoulders slumped as he relaxed. He was getting what he wanted after all. "Why did you refuse my offer?"

Shepard made a half-snorting noise in her throat. "There's too much history and drama between us Kaidan. You're a good soldier, a good man. I can trust you to drop an enemy, but damn it Kaidan I can't trust you not to fuck up my personal life! Do you know what it was like after talking to you on Horizon? Do you know how fucked up it was that we were arguing over Udina at gunpoint?"

"How you felt?" Kaidan's gravelly voice rose an octave. "I had to live for two years knowing that you were dead! Then I find out that you're screwing some alien—"

"Some alien?" Shepard wanted to scream, to throw a punch, to do anything but listen to Kaidan talk about Garrus that way. She had to work to keep her voice low, but she didn't even try to hide the venom she felt in every syllable. "That alien saved your sorry ass more times than you can count! And after the way you treated me, you had no business being jealous. You made it clear that you had moved on."

"I made it clear that I needed time to figure out—"

"I was on a suicide mission, Kaidan. I didn't have time to let you figure your shit out."

"Well I'm going on a suicide mission tomorrow Shepard."

A silence fell between them. Shepard's anger was sucked away like leaves out an airlock. She didn't hate Kaidan. Despite the anger and the coldness and the frustration, she didn't. And she knew more than anyone how he felt just then. Not having a chance to make things right with him before she went through the Omega 4 relay had been hell. She'd had time for all of the loose-end missions for everyone on her crew, but she hadn't taken the time to seek out Kaidan and get her own heart in order. She had taken her best friend to bed instead and convinced herself that she had simply moved on, but had she? She thought so, until she saw Kaidan standing in front of her with his strong jaw and deep oak eyes. When she was looking at him, when she could see his precious little quirks and hear his gravelly voice—when he was real to her, she doubted.

"I am sorry Kaidan. I'm sorry that things didn't work out between us." She stepped forward and took his hands in hers. They were large and warm, with calluses along the palms and hairs on the back. Familiar. Close to home.

Kaidan leaned forward and kissed her, slowly, sweetly, tentatively. The taste of him was just how she remembered, his mouth on hers was déjà vu. She pressed herself against him and felt tears well up for the first time in a long time. Not since Thessia—but now, with Kaidan, their doomed romance and their last chance triggered an emotion in her, hot and desperate. Maybe it was the alcohol, maybe it was something else, but Shepard's hands moved to the back of his head and pressed him into her chest. Kaidan's hot breath steamed against her, his hands were under her skirt. Shepard wanted this—she wanted him. She rocked her hips in encouragement and hooked a leg around his waist.

They fell onto the bed together like a game of twister. "One last fuck, Kaidan." Shepard panted. She tore off her lacy black underwear and spread her legs even as Kaidan unzipped and climbed on top of her. His clothes were rough against her bare thighs, and his heavy combat boots were going to leave marks on the bed. Normally considerate, normally so polite and apologetic, Kaidan entered her quick and hard. And Shepard wanted it, she wanted to feel something from him besides his pain and fear. She wanted this to be a fuck she would remember for the rest of her life, even after the buzz from the alcohol wore off and years had passed with any number of other lovers. His mouth on her neck was no less gentle, sucking and biting and licking until she arched against him, burning for him in her very soul.

They didn't talk until they were done, when Kaidan climbed off of her and zipped up his pants. He sat up and looked down at her. She allowed herself to smile, finally, a little bit. She felt lightheaded and warm all over. She rolled the other way and swung her feet off of the bed. She fixed her top and smoothed her hair before standing and walking to the door. "I need to get cleaned up and then get back to my guests." She knew, and she knew that Kaidan knew, that that had been the last time. Her doubt was gone now. She wasn't the same woman she had been when they fell in love years ago on the SR-1. And Spectre Major Alenko wasn't the same man.

There was a party going on still, even without her. Shepard could hear the music and the laughter and the clinking of glasses. Kaidan walked to the door of the bedroom and paused in front of her.

"I'll probably always love you Shepard, as fucked up as that is. But I know it's over. I won't come around again."

"I know Kaidan. Good luck with your mission." Shepard said. She touched one tentative hand to his clean-shaven cheek, and then he was gone.

#

The party had indeed continued without her. When she returned to it, freshly made-up and with clean underwear, it had turned into a dancing and whooping and joking kind of party. She joined in the fun as if she hadn't just fucked her ex-boyfriend in the downstairs bedroom. She downed drink after drink as if alcohol could fix her broken personal life.

The hickey Kaidan left on her neck bloomed into a spectacular flower over the course of the evening. Shepard hadn't even realized that it was there until Jack wagged her tongue at her and pointed to her neck while performing a crude congratulatory dance. A quick glance in the mirror brought Shepard's mind right back to that bedroom with Kaidan and a hunted look came over her face along with a realization; there would be no hiding this from Garrus.

Garrus approached her at that very moment, encircling her from behind with his long lean arms, his chuckle resonating through his chest and hers, her back pressed against him. "How's my girl?" he asked, oblivious to what had transpired.

Shepard skirted the question and shrugged out of his embrace, avoiding his gaze the whole time. "I should go," she called out absently. Retreat, retreat! She fled up the stairs to where Liara and Joker were having a conversation about EDI.

"Holy crap Commander, what happened to you?" Joker said. His gaze was fixed on the hickey and his eyes were practically bugging.

"None of your business Joker," Shepard growled at him. She took a drink from the coffee table and downed it without tasting it.

Joker caught on quickly, however, and didn't let it go. "Damn! I knew Turians had a reputation for being rough, but that is really rough. Like, medi-gel rough."

Unfortunately, Garrus had heard him from the top of the stairs. He had followed Shepard up. Of course. Because he was worried about her. She had been avoiding him, and then shrugged him off downstairs. He looked confused and mildly offended by Joker's teasing. When he got close enough to see the guilty look on Shepard's face, he stopped in his tracks.

Liara sensed instantly that something was wrong. She stood up and put a hand on Joker's shoulder.

"Jeff, we should go down and ask EDI how she feels about the tech we talked about. As a sentient AI, she should have some say in what happens to her, don't you think?"

Jeff caught the look on Shepard's face. He looked back and forth between Shepard and Garrus, then stood up, crouched over painfully without his crutches. "Uh, yeah. Of course." Liara helped him over to the stairs as quickly as she politely could.

Alone, Garrus approached Shepard, his expression blank. When they were facing each other, he raised a hand and briefly touched the large red and purple mark on her neck. Their eyes met.

"Who was it?" he asked matter-of-factly. Shepard didn't do him the dishonor of lying, or looking away. She wasn't sure if she hated herself for fucking Kaidan, or for not being clear with Garrus that she didn't feel like they were an exclusive item. The hurt in his eyes struck her to the bone.

"Kaidan came by a little while ago." She said. She was trying to sound nonchalant, but there was no way it came out that way. Garrus knew her too well not to see that she was struggling, burning on the inside from a fire that had scorched her heart and soul, leaving nothing but chaos.

"I see." Garrus said. "Are you okay?"

Shepard knew he wasn't just referring to the bruise on her neck. It was killing her that he could be so good, so thoughtful, so calm. That he could play the best friend when she knew—or thought that she knew—that he would rather be the one in her bed. When she didn't' say anything, Garrus shifted his weight from foot to foot nervously. "I just mean, I know that you and Kaidan have a kind of painful history."

"You could say that." Shepard admitted. Her stomach hurt, but she didn't know if it was the alcohol or the current conversation that was causing it. How could he just stand there? Why wasn't he throwing a tantrum at her, yelling and shouting and calling her a low-down double-crossing drunk-ass whore? Why wasn't he fighting for her?

"I'm not mad, if that's what you're wondering. I never thought that what we had was anything more than friends blowing off steam together. We never agreed…" He clicked his mandibles in agitation, and Shepard could tell that he was distressed. He was saying everything right, but then why did it feel like she was falling apart?

"Not just friends," She attempted to save the situation, but all she could feel was the churning in her gut, the pounding in her head. "Best friends."

"Yeah." Garrus gave a feeble laugh. "If you need me for anything…" he walked away. Down the stairs and back to the party.

Shepard was alone. She ran to the bathroom and puked into the toilet.

#

Shepard must have blacked out, because the next thing she knew, she was laid out on the bathroom floor and Liara was squatting next to her, rubbing a cool wash cloth over her forehead. Her stomach felt better, but the rest of her felt like shit.

"I fucked up." Shepard said. She closed her eyes and wished that her stupid, stupid body would just sink into the floor so that she could never get up and act like an idiot again.

"Hm." Liara made a noncommittal sound and continued her ministrations. Liara always knew when to just be quiet. She could tell a whole story with just one look, after all.

Shepard wanted to stop talking, but her mouth was still going, out of her control. Her thoughts seemed to spill out of her like the contents of her stomach just had. "Kaidan just showed up…gave me some line about a suicide mission, and that was it. I fucked him. I wanted it, too, until it was over. And then I realized that I didn't want him at all, and he didn't want me. I fucked up my chance for something real with Garrus because I was so eager to fuck Kaidan and make sure there wasn't anything there." Tears were threatening again, but Shepard bit them back. She didn't want Liara to see her cry.

"How do you know how Garrus feels until you ask him? He is a very understanding man," Liara said wisely. She helped the alcohol-soaked commander to sit up.

Shepard ignored the sage advice. "Ah, shit. Can you hand me that tube right there in the vanity?" She pointed to the soothing cream that Mordin had given her in case of chaffing. Chaffing against a turian. She spread her legs and rubbed cream into the red rashes where Kaidan's utility pants had rubbed her raw during their encounter. Liara looked away politely, then replaced the tube in the cabinet and helped Shepard to her feet when she was done. She never would have thought she'd need that cream for something like this…she was disgusted with herself, but at least her legs felt better.

"You don't have to come back down you know," Liara said. "I can just tell everyone you were feeling ill."

"Thanks Liara, but this is my party. I'm okay now. I just…need to put my personal drama away for a while. We can break out the cards and get some games going. I need a distraction."

Liara gave Shepard a serious look with eyes as sharp and multi-faceted as diamonds. "Don't put away your personal life for good Shepard," She murmured gently.

"Right." Shepard plastered her smile back on and shrugged off Liara's helping hand. "I need another drink."