His hands are shaking. He looks down at them, as if staring at them would somehow stop their tremors, but of course, they continue trembling so hard that he decides not to try to pick up the steaming cup of tea before him. He has gone and got it almost immediately after they fled the blast zone and the black hole's accretion disk, knowing that he has to replace fluids lost during intense combat. His hands weren't shaking back then.
He clenches his fingers into tight fists and takes several deep breaths, ignoring the first pangs of pain when his lungs fill completely. He needs to regain his calm. He has survived a thousand battles, a thousand missions, he has sneaked in heavily fortified fortresses, has eliminated innumerable guards so that he could reach his targets and snuff their lives out. He has never reacted like this before – his training has made sure of that. He is one of the best Assassins in the whole damn galaxy, and he is one of the best because among other things, he is capable of keeping a cool, level head at all times.
So why is he so damn jittery now? Why can't he find a place to sit comfortably, why does every muscle of his body feel like a tightly wound spring ready to burst from the tension?
He knows it's not a result of the battle – he has been through too many of those to be this deeply affected, always going to a mission mentally prepared that it could be his last. The most recent mission was no exception. No, it's not really the stress from the battle itself.
It is siha.
Every time a Collector's biotic attack burst a hair's breadth away from her, every time her ablative shield went down with an explosive crack, leaving her vulnerable to their weapons, his heart hammered in his chest as if trying to smash its way out of his rib-cage. The thought of losing her, of her dying before his eyes, so close and yet not close enough to save her, filled him with the kind of dread he hadn't felt since he returned to that quiet, blood-stained apartment he shared with Irikah, knowing that something was wrong the moment he unlocked the door and stench of spilled organs hit his nostrils.
Thane knows, rationally, that his past experiences with losing a siha have shaped him into who he is today. And he knows that the fear that he might lose this one too, because he wasn't good enough, fast enough, strong enough, smart enough to reach her on time would always be there, despite the rational knowledge and awareness that Shepard is a formidable warrior, a hunter no less precise and deadly than he is. Perhaps she's even better than him. She would scoff at any attempts to show her preferential treatment during a battle – and he would never presume to insult her in such a way.
So during their desperate storming of the Collector base he kept those fears to himself and fervently prayed to all his gods every time he saw her go down and then spring back up again, beautiful and indestructible, truly the avenging angel of his goddess.
And then finally, in those last, breathless seconds when they ran to escape the explosion, when he saw her body flowing gracefully through the air over the gap left by the blasted platforms, he realized his own helplessness. She could have missed the Normandy, she barely reached it as it was – and he would've lost her forever.
The reusable polymer cup crunches in his grip crunches when his fingers tighten around it without him realizing, hot liquid splashing all over his hands, scalding him but he barely notices. He needs to find siha, he needs to see her, to smell her, to see that she's alright, real and alive and tangible, not a ghost that would haunt him until his lungs give out and he dies in a gods-forsaken hospice, fighting for a gulp of oxygen and drowning in his own fluids.
Abruptly Thane gets up from behind his table and leaves the Life Support section, brisquely walking up to the elevator, passing by Samara who actually steps away from his path, her beautiful face cool and impassive as always but eyes twinkling in a knowing way – she has been around long enough to be able to read most sapient beings' body-language. He pays her no mind, does not even acknowledge her, though he's aware that later he'd probably feel guilty for his rudeness.
The elevator doors open with a hiss and he presses the controls that would lead him to the captain's cabin harder than necessary.
When he enters Shepard's quarters he sees her standing by her desk, looking tiredly at the console there, perhaps rereading old messages. It does not matter.
Her expression is tired, but her dark eyes are glowing with determination. Some of her hair has escaped the tight ponytail, framing her exhausted face, and he notices she has removed some of her armour. As far as he knows, by human standards she's not a beautiful woman – not like Miranda is, or even Kelly. There are too many angles on her, she has more muscles than curves and her face does not possess the delicate femininity that humans seem to covet in their females. She is more handsome than pretty, with a strong jawline and a generous mouth and in his opinion she's perfect.
Shepard turns to look at him when he enters her cabin and gives him a wry smile – that is, as much as she can smile with the rather large and painful looking bruises forming on her cheekbone and the side of her chin. There's a smudge of soot on her other cheek, and he can smell sweat and blood – both hers and his own. Thane knows he doesn't really present any better picture – his entire body aches from that rolling he did down the platform when it tipped, his upper lip is busted and probably swelling as well, his coat is ripped and also covered in grime and soot.
They both need a shower, a doctor, a good meal and a long, fitful sleep. What he wants, however, is something entirely different and he desperately hopes she wants the same thing as well because he's not sure he can stop now, short of getting clocked in the face.
He covers the distance between them in two long, fast strides and wraps his arms around her, his hands finding the taut, muscled globes of her ass and grab and squeeze, eager to touch as much of her as he can, to reassure himself that she's warm and alive in his embrace. She hisses at the rough treatment but makes no attempt to dislodge him, in fact, she's grabbing onto his shoulders for leverage and wrapping her long legs around his slender hips. Thane sees her smile just before kissing him, pressing her lips to his. He immediately opens his mouth, and lets her tongue in, curling around his wetly.
As she's wrapped around him, he takes one more step forward, reaches for the desk and sweeps everything on it away, the delicate equipment crashing onto the floor in a shower of sparks but neither of them pays any heed to that when he plops her down onto the cleared surface. She growls and sinks her teeth into his injured lip, and the pain shoots straight to his groin – if he was only half-hard before, he's fully erect and swollen now, straining against the tight confines of his breeches.
Shepard is still growling like one of those giant cats that once inhabited the Earth steppes he's seen on old vids on the Extranet while she's tugging at his coat. He breaks the kiss to pull back a little and help her remove it, holding her gaze in his own, knowing that the almost predatory need on her face is mirrored on his own expression. She has removed her greaves and that makes it infinitely easier to work the hidden buttons and zippers of his pants while he's busy with her own clothes, both of them desperate to take off enough garments to make this act possible. The urgency is too great for any careful exploration and tender foreplay – he wants to sheathe himself inside her, here and now, to feel her wet heat clenching around his length.
When his mouth finds her throat the bulky spaulders still attached to her shoulders dig into his bared chest but he pays them no attention. His tongue traces over her hammering pulsepoint on the side of her throat, tasting the soot and sweat on her skin. Her scent engulfs him – ozone and blood and fire, the smell of battle and death and it incenses him even more, finally losing patience to deal with the clasps of the suit she wears under her armor, so he simply grabs the material and pulls, hearing the satisfactory ripping sound. Shepard laughs then, one arm still wrapped around his broad shoulders, short, blunt nails digging into the scales of his back, the other working the zipper on his crotch and then finally managing to free him from the confines of his clothes. Her strong fingers immediately wrap around his steely length, the gun calluses contrasting deliciously with the rest of her smooth skin on her palm as she slides it up down his erection, tracing the ridges on the underside. She's biting him again, nipping the fleshy ridge over his ear canals, mouthing the piercings he wears there and tugging the smooth metal clasps with her teeth. If he didn't like it so much he'd turn her around, bend her over the desk and take her from behind, but as it is he just presses his mouth and teeth against her neck, suckling at the warm, smooth mocha skin there, wanting to leave a mark on her. She lets out a hoarse moan then and her hand guides the tip of his erection to her moist entrance – he does not hesitate to slide in her with one smooth thrust.
When Thane finally sheathes his erection in his lover they both whimper and shudder at the sheer relief of being joined like that again. Shepard's arms and legs are wrapped around him in a vice-like grip, barely leaving him any room to move, so he reaches for her wrists and grabs them, forcefully pulling them away and pressing her torso down to the desk, holding her hands over her head. Her eyes flash warningly up at him but he just smiles and begins to thrust, establishing a fast, hard, almost punishing rhythm. It hurts to do that, he's pulled too many muscles and carries too many bruises to do it without pain, and he's sure it can't be any more comfortable for her as well, but it is what they both want, her legs around his hips urging him on to go even faster, even harder. A string of words spills from her mouth, so dirty and needy that his translator can barely keep up, and he knows he's talking too, growling endearments and curses in equal measure.
It can't last. It's too fast, too brutal to last for long, but they're not aiming for slow and tender lovemaking. That can come later, after they've achieved that initial release. With a final growl she arches under him and her moist walls ripple around him as she rides out her orgasm. He flings his head back and his hips snap erratically as he spills himself into her, pleasure overriding his senses so deeply that he cannot contain the hoarse shout of ecstasy that leaves his mouth.
He collapses onto her afterwards, bent over her desk and her body, letting go of her wrists. At the moment he's too sated, too filled with pleasure to be guilty for the way he took her, though he knows that in a few minutes when the post-coital bliss ebbs away he'd feel like the worst person in the world for disrespecting her like this. Then her freed hands wrap around his shoulders again and she begins to purr contentedly, raining small, wet kisses against his cheek and shoulder. Maybe there'd be no need to feel guilty after all.