Author's Note: This is the same Shepard as Life, Letter by Letter, Reckoning, and Divided Loyalties.

Garrus was hard at work in the main battery. Calibrating.

Not the guns, this time. (And he couldn't make out why the notion of calibration seemed to be becoming a running joke to the humans.) The Normandy needed a lot of repairs since they'd hit the Collector Base and returned through the Omega-Four relay, and every system repair or upgrade required a certain amount of finagling to fit it in with the rest of the ship's systems. Tali had routed data to his workstation so he could help the rest of the techs and engineers with the job. He had a vague sense that it must be nearing the end of his shift, but he hadn't been paying close attention to the time.

The door slid open behind him. "Hey, Garrus."

"Shepard." He turned around at once, automatically smiling at her. "What brings you down here?"

One eyebrow went up as she grinned back, crossing her arms and leaning one shoulder back against the door. "How about the fact that my favorite turian should have been off-shift two hours ago?"

"Oh—ah—really?" Sure enough, the chrono on his visor informed him of the time he'd been ignoring. "I guess I got preoccupied."

Shepard shook her head slightly, but kept smiling. "You know, I can come up with a lot more interesting things to keep you occupied, if you want." Her voice dropped into a lower, more intimate tone.

Garrus rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. His mandibles twitched. It was still… disconcerting, the whole thing. He hadn't had any cause to doubt their friendship—even after she came back from the dead—but it had come as something of a shock to realize that she was serious when she offered a little mutual stress release. The prospect had stunned him and thrilled him at the same time, forced him to admit to an attraction he hadn't named, and it had gone... far better than he'd had any right to expect, considering.

He wasn't sure which fact surprised him more now: that they'd all passed through the Omega-Four relay, taken on the Collectors, and come back alive, or that Shepard seemed to think whatever they were doing wasn't a one-time thing. The realization that something had gone right left him reeling a little, not sure which way was up.

Yet there Shepard was, leaning against the wall, giving him that sly look that made his chest feel warm and tight. She still had a few faded bruises from their fight with the Collectors, but she looked otherwise recovered, and the sight of her there, relaxed and smiling, gave him a strangely peaceful feeling.

He'd been silent too long, he realized. "What—ah, what did you have in mind?"

Shepard pushed herself away from the wall, taking a few steps closer. "Quite a few things, actually," she said in the same husky tones. Then her voice returned to its normal register. "But for now, get yourself into civvies and meet me at the airlock. We're going out."

He couldn't quite suppress a twitch at the thought of going out into Nos Astra out of armor. It might not be Omega, but still... "Out?"

"Out," she repeated firmly. "I know there's a lot to do, but I've hardly seen you in the last week. There's no need for you to work double shifts. We're taking some time off the ship, Garrus."

It didn't take him long to change; it wasn't as if he had a lot of civvies to choose from. He went to the airlock in the same clothes he'd worn up to her quarters that first time. After a moment's thought, he took his seldom-used sidearm, too. He hated the feeling of being completely unarmed in public.

Shepard was waiting alone at the airlock, arms crossed, wearing... a dress. That dress, the only one he'd ever seen her wear. Black, hitting just above the knee, and showing off her shoulders and arms. Garrus stopped in his tracks, blinking at the unexpected expanse of skin. "Ah... where's everyone else?"

"Oh." Shepard smiled at him and hit the controls. "Who said anything about everyone else? It's just you and me tonight. I hope that's all right."

She wasn't quite looking at him as she spoke, and there was something odd in her tone. Garrus blinked again. Was it possible that... Shepard was nervous? "Yeah," he said. "Of course."

Her smile relaxed and widened. "Good. I asked around—okay, I asked EDI to check restaurant reviews—and found a place that serves both levo and dextro cuisine. Supposed to be good. I thought... we could check it out?"

"Sure." As the airlock finished its cycle, and they stepped out, he said, "So, dinner, and... did you have anything else in mind?"

Shepard shrugged. "I don't know. We can see what we're in the mood for. I'm sure there's plenty to do in Nos Astra, if we want to see a show or something."

"So you're telling me that... this is a date?"

"Well... yeah." She sent him a sidelong grin. "Unless... do turians date?"

"Oh, no," he said. "We're paired up by citizen rank when we reach age thirty and expected to reproduce for the Hierarchy. Before that it's just casual sex. No long-term commitments allowed."

Garrus counted it a minor victory that he managed to keep his expression under control when Shepard shot him the most bewildered look he'd seen from her in a long time, eyebrows up and mouth half-open. Then her eyes narrowed. "You're messing with me."

He couldn't contain it any more and burst out laughing. "Yeah, I am."

She tried to scowl, but her lips were twitching. "Smartass turian. I ought to give you a piece of my mind."

"Like you've ever been shy about sharing your opinion before." Tentatively, he held out a hand.

"Of course turians date, Shepard."

"Hm." She let the smile come and put her hand in his. "Good to know."

"I guess that would make this our first date, then."

"Unless you want to count all those times we killed something together, yeah."

"Hm. That would be a lot of dates. We'd better call this one the first. Easier to keep track of."

"First it is, but..." She shifted closer, close enough that her shoulder brushed against his arm. "I hope, not the last."

His hand tightened around hers. Her grip should have felt odd, and for a moment, he was conscious of the alienness of it, her fingers too slim and numerous. But her hand was warm and she squeezed back, and the sense of oddness faded into a contentment that was exactly right, as they walked out into Nos Astra together.