It started with Liara. Shepard had gone to check up on her after the mission to Noveria and continued their conversation from earlier when suddenly Liara mentioned she was interested in Shepard, in a romantic way. Shepard was floored and let her down gently, telling her he just wanted to be friends. The Liara mentioned Ashley and Shepard got confused. The chief had never made even a hint of liking him. The commander shrugged it off and left to go talk with the rest of the crew.
Ashley was next. After the mission on Feros, she had asked Shepard. He let her down lightly, letting her know it wasn't because of the regs, since he had become a Spectre they had been less strict, but because he was just not interested. He'd rather have her friendship. Joker made some jokes about how popular he seemed with the ladies. Shepard just rolled his eyes. Then Virmire happened and Shepard questioned for days whether or not that was the reason he left her to die. Kaidan helped him remember to stop blaming himself. Not directly but seeing Kaidan blame himself made Shepard realize that way of thinking doesn't help you at all.
And then he died, and came back to life. His face was scarred and everytime he looked in the mirror, he frowned. As soon as Doctor Chakwas mentioned he could get them fixed, he took it. He smiled in the mirror finally glad to feel like himself again. Then Miranda hit on him, remarking on how handsome he looked. Shepard shot that down quickly, not wanting to get involved with Cerberus more than necessary. Joker laughed about it when EDI told him about it and Garrus must've overheard. That's when it really started.
Shepard had gone to the battery to check in with Garrus. They'd had just gotten back from retrieving Grunt and the Commander was still sore from being shoved up against the wall after releasing him. Garrus looked up and greeted Shepard with…maybe that was what Turians look like when the grin. Shepard wasn't sure.
"So Shepard, what brings you here?" Garrus asked.
"Just wanting so see how you're doing. First time on a mission again with me you know," Shepard leans against the wall near Garrus as he worked on calibrating.
"You know, I think I have a way to make these guns bigger. I've always liked big guns," Garrus commented, looking at Shepard. He wasn't familiar with turian facial expressions and this one looked off.
"If you have the specs, I can see to getting them upgraded," Shepard answered.
"Yeah, I bet you want to work on my guns," Garrus answered, refusing to look at the Commander. Shepard cocked his head to the side, confused by the turian's phrasing.
"I'm sure you are fully capable of handling your own guns Garrus, I won't go touching them," Shepard responded.
"That hurts Shepard, I thought you liked my guns," Garrus gave him a clearly hurt look.
"I do!" Shepard back peddled, "I'm sorry, I'll touch them all you-" Garrus broke out in laughter and Shepard suddenly realized what was happening. He turned bright red. "Fuck you Garrus."
"A little forward Shepard, you haven't taken me on a date yet." Shepard stormed out of the battery, the turian's laughter following him.
It spread through the ship pretty quickly. Jack hit on him but he wasn't too surprised until she started talking about how she'd buy him flowers. Donnelly and Daniels offered to have a threeway with him. Gardner made them a romantic candle light dinner which Shepard ate despite all the laughter at his expensive. The food was worth the shame. Jacob asked him to work out with him which Shepard thought was an actual invitation to work out until Jacob said they could lose the clothes. Mordin had his own way of asking.
"Heard of new ship tradition. Don't usually copulate at all, not to mention other species. The humor is worth the question. Shall we copulate Shepard?" Shepard gave a resounding no before storming off. Zaeed cornered him quickly after that.
"I don't usually go for the men Shepard but I won't deny that you have a nice ass. I'd love to pin you down and-"
"I am good Zaeed. Thank you," Shepard responded, not wanting to hear it from the creepy mercenary.
"I wasn't offering Shepard, I take what I want." He never made good on his threat though after Shepard saved his life on the revenge mission. Oddly, it died off suddenly when they traveled to Horizon. Shepard didn't complain, he really wasn't in the mood for jokes. An then Tali got it started again unknowingly when she admitted she had feelings for Shepard since they first met. Shepard actually let her down as nice as possible instead of storming off.
Kelly heard about the interaction and asked Shepard to dance sometime with a smirk on her face. "What if I actually said yes? What would you do knowing that you were asking as a joke? What if I really liked you?" Kelly laughed.
"You like someone else, you and I both know it," Kelly smiled.
"Wait, I do?" She knew something but she refused to tell him saying he'd have to figure it out on his one.
Samara was next though it wasn't what he was expecting. "Shepard, I believe there is a tradition on this vessel that everyone flirts with you in some way despite actually being attracted. While I do see how this may be a bonding experience, I believe that this is not the time or place for me to join in the tradition. At some later date, I may partake in the camaraderie." Shepard just stood there for a moment before leaving.
Thane's flirtation was uneventful and blunt, as if he was pulling teeth. "You know, it's not really a tradition," Shepard explained.
"That is not what the pilot told me." Shepard stormed up to the cockpit.
"I hear you've been telling people about the tradition," Shepard growled arms crossed and eyes boring a hole in Joker's head. Shepard would normally punch him but with Joker, that could be quite a debacle.
"Relax Commander, just some good natured fun and bonding. We can't help being swept away by your ravishing good looks," Joker commented, sarcasm lacing his words. The Commander just sighed.
"Well at least everyone has already done it. I think," Shepard started counting through them all, "Just Grunt and Kasumi haven't and I don't think I'll have to worry about either of them. I'm heading to my cabin."
"See you Commander," Joker responded. Shepard spoke too soon of course when he found his room full of rose petals and a dozen roses in a vase on the desk with a card.
I hope these flowers remind you of me. I can't be with you right now but I'll always be watching my love.
At first he was worried the thief was serious until he saw the receipt for the roses was signed by him. Or rather forged by Kasumi.
Grunt's was….disturbing. The Commander at first thought the quickening was a joke until he realized they really needed to go to Tuchanka for his rite of passage. After they finished, Grunt just said, "Hell of a first date Shepard." Shepard was thankful that his helmet hid how bright red he got.
With Legion on board, Shepard kept waiting for it to come. He knew some must've told Legion. It was just a matter of time. The crew was captured, they went on the Suicide Mission and they all came out alive. Commander was still on guard for Legion so when the Illusive Man said, "I hate to see you go but I love to see you walk away," Shepard lost it.
"Don't you dare soil it!" Shepard shouted before the transmission cut. He hated the tradition but like hell he'd let the Illusive Man use it. Shepard paced back and forth as they head for Omega for repairs and celebration.
"Shepard-Commander," Legion interrupted his pacing, "We must leave to return to the Geth. It has been an honor serving under you in a sexual manner." Shepard barked out laughter. "We do not understand this tradition but EDI insisted."
"It was good to have you Legion. We'll miss you. You can get off once we reach Omega."
Raiding the Shadow Broker's Lair and Arrival went as smoothly as the Commander could expect and he spent the next six months bored out of his mind and cut off from the world. When they left, Earth was too fresh on his mind for Shepard to get excited about Kaidan being back and the constant questioning on Mars didn't help at all. But once Kaidan was slammed into the shuttle, all the anger and hurt he had towards the man vanished and all that mattered was saying Kaidan. Leaving for Palaven was the toughest thing to do and coming back to see Kaiden getting better made Shepard push even harder as they searched for the cure.
And through it all, Shepard let his guard down again. "Hey Loco, you like watching me workout?" Shepard was walking in the shuttle, wanting to get acquainted with the team, his mind still on Kaidan unconscious in the hospital when Vega called to him. They talked a bit and started to spar. At the end Vega said, "Now that you've got me sweaty, whatcha gonna do?"
"Lieutenant, are you hitting on me?" The Commander asked, clearly upset, "You know there are regs against this."
"I wasn't serious Loco. It's a ship tradition right?"
"I'm going to kill Joker."
"It was not Jeff that informed Lieutenant Vega of the tradition Shepard," EDI chimmed in over the comm.
"Yeah, it was that asari, Liara?" Shepard left to go chew out a Shadow Broker.
"There was information about the tradition in the old Shadow Broker's files John. I thought it fitting for this last endeavor to carry the same tone. I did start this after all," Liara smirked at him. Shepard just kept frowning. "Just let it happen, Shepard. It's good fun."
Engineer Adams was next asking if the Commander needed any repairs. Doctor Chakwas was next with a thorough medical exam that Shepard quickly walked out of with the Doctor calling after him, "Red is a good color on your face Commander."
Wrex even got his share. "I never got the chance when I was on your ship before but Grunt tells me it is quite a bonding experience. How about you and I butt heads Shepard?" Shepard laughed at that one.
With Cortez, Shepard wasn't really sure if he was serious about the flirtation or just grateful for helping the pilot move on. On the dance floor, Cortez explained he didn't want get in the way of the relationship the Commander already had. "I'm dating someone? I think I'd know."
"I got it, your secret is safe with me," Cortez mimed zipping his lips.
"Who am I dating?" Shepard asked, remembering when Kelly had said something similar.
"No one, you're single," Cortez gave him a wink.
Kaidan was back on board and that was fantastic. Shepard really didn't want to shoot him. He's pretty sure he wouldn't have betting it would've been Garrus. Garrus had a weird grudge against the biotic that Shepard swore wasn't there before. The Commander was musing on it when he ran into EDI.
"Shepard, if you wanted to touch, you could just ask," EDI commented. Shepard just glared at her, "That was a joke. I was hitting on you like everyone on the ship has."
"I got it, EDI," Shepard left and headed for his cabin. His console pinged. There was an email from Traynor asking for a late night shower with a winky face. And then another email asking him not to take her up on the offer. Men weren't her thing. A request to have an interview on the ship Tradition from Diana Allers which went straight to the trash can. Shepard swore if anyone in the war room started this shit, he was done. Last email from Kaidan for some drinks to catch up. Shepard smiled before sending a yes.
The café was nice. Talking with Kaidan was nice. Getting hit on by Kaidan, kind of snapped something inside of Shepard. He stood up and stormed to the bathroom. He splashed water on his face to try to calm down when he heard the door open.
"Commander, are you okay? I never meant to-" Kaidan began but Shepard cut him off.
"Yeah, no one ever means to hurt my feelings. It's all good fun but you know what? It fucking pisses me off!" Shepard tried to keep from shouting but it just was all coming out.
"What are you-"
"Who put you up to it huh? Liara? Joker? Everyone else has so why not you?! Well no Kaidan. I do not want to date you. You are a member of my squad and that it! Nothing more so go fuck yourself!" Shepard stormed past Kaidan, livid. Shepard pulled up his omnitool and canceled the meeting with the Council before going to Normandy's Cabin. He laid on the bed for a bit before violently shredding a pillow with his biotics to release steam, refusing to cry over this. He had always liked Kaidan. Always wanted this day to come and now that it came, completely hollow and meaningless, the Commander felt broken.
He rescheduled the meeting for the next day and avoided the crew by sneaking out early in the morning. Shepard spent the rest of the day avoiding anyone who had ever been on his ship by talking to the council and helping people with their complaints and problems. He got back late and decided to check with Liara about their next mission to Thessia. There was music coming from the port observatory. The door opened to the whole crew drinking and some dancing but Shepard only saw Kaidan slumped over the bar looking awful. 'Good,' he thought, 'He should feel bad.' Then the Commander realized that no one had told him about this get together and the hurt flashed again.
"Commander," Garrus said, stepping in front of Shepard, blocking the view of the room and access, "What are you doing here?"
"This is my ship," Shepard responded, "What's up with this secret party?"
"We're trying to cheer up Kaidan not that you'd care," Garrus answered bitterly.
"Since when did you care about Kaidan. As soon as he was back you were giving him the stink eye."
"Well at first I was upset at him for what he did but you Commander, you're a piece of work. What he did on Horizon is nothing compared to what you did."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Shepard was getting pissed and the rest of the crew was taking notice of his presence. Kaidan was still slumped on the bar.
"We thought you liked Kaidan," Garrus hissed.
"Of course I liked Kaidan. He was the only one that didn't play the stupid game you all came up with! Well, except Javik."
"Come off it Shepard, we all know you're in love with Kaidan," Tali chimed in, obviously wasted.
"WHAT?!" Shepard shouted, a little too loudly.
"We've seen the way you look at him," Cortez started.
"I've seen your emails back and forth-"
"I have recordings of all your favorable conversations-"
"I've seen you stare at his ass-"
"And everything he's done for you-"
"The look in his eye when Kaidan sees you-"
"How much we use to talk about you-"
"Kaidan even got jealous of me-"
"Stop!" Shepard commanded, his cool returned. "Kaidan was serious yesterday and actually likes me?"
"Yes!" They all shouted. Shepard pushed past them all and spun Kaidan around. The major wobbled in his seat and Shepard caught him.
"Shepard, I-" Kaidan started only to be cut off as Shepard kissed him fiercely. Kaidan melted into the kissed and grabbed onto Shepard for stability as he pushed into the kiss. Shepard broke the kiss to make sure Kaidan knew.
"Kaidan, I love you."
"I love you John," Kaidan responded. John went in for another kiss before Kaidan stopped him, "This is great and all but if I know you, we'll end up sleeping together tonight and I am so wasted I won't remember anything."
Shepard looked at Kaidan confused, "Awfully cognitive drunk aren't you."
"Side effect of the L2," Kaidan chuckled, "Remind me of this wonderful moment over breakfast?"
"Yeah, lets get you to bed."
"Leave my clothes on or I'll think you gave me a pity fuck."
"You were not kidding about that side effect were you?"
"Hello Commander, would you like to serve under me-"
"Can it Javik, the Commander is mine," Kaidan growled. Shepard smirked. He's starting to like this tradition.