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Expressions of Love

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For Arke

 

The cargo bay next to the weapon rack is not really the proper place to get drunk on a ship, but Shepard doesn’t particularly care. He’d found Garrus down here moping and decided the two of them needed to have some fun. After all, Garrus had just come back aboard the Normandy two years after the war was over. Shepard had feared he’d never even see the turian again, given their importance in both the turian and human chains of command, but the fates had conspired to throw them together once more. That’s cause enough for a celebration.

“Hey, Shepard, y’know, it’s great to be back!”

Shepard winces at Garrus’ unusually loud tone. “Hey, Vakarian, you get loud when you’re drunk!”

Garrus flaps a hand, looking so much like a bird that Shepard has to bark a laugh. “Hope your… what do you call it, ‘Christmas?’ is going well.”

“Yeah, I had a nice time catching up with my mom over the QEC.”

“That’s all you got to do for Christmas?” Garrus looks about as sad as a turian can, which is comical.

He shrugs. “Sure. That’s a huge deal, you know. Ever since the war ended, using the QEC is a special privilege. I’m lucky they let me talk to her.”

Garrus’ face draws up in an expression Shepard recognizes as horrified . It’d taken him two years to be certain of that, though, after struggling to discern any kind of emotional projection by the usually calm turian.

“They’d better let you talk to whoever you want. You’re the savior of the galaxy, Shepard. Don’t let them give you the runaround.”

“Trust me, Vakarian, they don’t. I picked you up, didn’t I? A turian serving on an Alliance ship outside of wartime? They either like me or they love you. Not that I could blame them, of course.”

Garrus opens his mouth to speak and then leaves it open.

Shepard refuses to take it back. “You’re gonna catch flies if you don’t close your trap.”

“Is that a bad thing? Catching flies in a trap?”

Shepard laughs. “No, it’s just an expression.”

“Seems apt. I guess that’s the point.”

“Yeah, kind of.”

Shepard pauses, staring into his drink. He’s never been great at flirting, or relationships in general for that matter, but now that Garrus is aboard, he can’t ignore his feelings any longer. Only question is: How the hell does he bring it up? He imagines anyone who brings up dating while they’re drunk is probably an alcoholic… or something like that. At least Garrus would think so.

Eh, fuck it. Let’s go with the not subtle approach.

“So, Garrus… I’ve been wondering. How does turian cock work?”

Garrus nearly spits out the dextro liquor he’s drinking. “I… what?”

“You know, penis. I don’t know anything about it, and I’m curious.”

“Shepard… what?”

“C’mon, surely you know how your own anatomy works.”

Garrus stares at him, completely floored. “Okay, I guess,” he says slowly. “What, uh, what do you want to know?”

“Is it soft inside the armor? Does it hide somewhere?”

“Are you sure you can’t get this in a textbook?”

“I could, but where would be the fun in that?”

“I see. You’re making me tell you because… you’re, how do you say, ‘trolling?’”

“Nah. I’m just curious, and you’re the resident turian. I like hearing it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.”

“Your colloquialisms are so weird.”

“And you’re deflecting.”

“Alright. Yes, it’s soft inside the armor. Just like yours.”

“What if you get hard? You don’t have any room to maneuver in that armor, if you get my meaning.”

“Yeah, but turians aren’t quite like humans, Shepard. Our hips run higher, and there’s padding in the bottom plate of the armor.”

“So it’s a soft spot. Is that why you never take the armor off?”

“Uh, yes to the first question, and no to the second. Why would I take off a perfectly good suit of armor, just in case I’m needed? It takes awhile to get this thing on and off, you know.”

Shepard shakes his head. “Ever heard of comfort, Garrus?”

“I’m perfectly comfortable in this.”

“Except when you’re hard.”

“It’s not like you’re any different,” Garrus points out drily.

“Point taken.”

 

***

A few days later, they’re hanging out on the crew deck, shooting shit with the rest of the crew, when Garrus catches his eye, motioning for Shepard to follow him to the forward battery. It’s likely got nothing to do with the whole ‘feelings’ thing, or so he tells himself, but his stomach swoops just the same.

Shepard gets up from his seat, leaving the crew to the rest of their meal and gesturing for Garrus to lead the way. Once there, he waits for Garrus to turn and then scoops him into a hug.

Real subtle, Shepard. Real damn subtle.

But he’s got it bad; what can he say?

“What… what’s this for? Shepard, are you feeling okay?”

“Feel great, Garrus. Finally feel like my life is made up of more than just war now. I’m still military, but peacekeeping is not quite the same.”

“No, yeah, I get that. You were worn out something fierce. We were all worried about you at the end. I just wonder because… have you ever hugged me before?”

Shepard steps away but remains unapologetic. “No, don’t think I have. I know it’s not a thing that turians do, but it’s a very human sign of affection, and of friendship. Don’t worry about it. I’m not going to grope you. Unless you want me to.”

Garrus’ eyes narrow. “Are you sure nothing’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing. Or at least nothing that wasn’t wrong before. Garrus, the war is over . You’re back on the Normandy , and we’re going to do good in the galaxy again. I’m happy . That’s all.”

“I’ll take your word for it. Seems too easy, but I’m a turian, and we don’t make anything easy. I can say I’m happy to be back. Definitely. The Normandy is a second home to me.”

Shepard smiles and makes to leave, but Garrus grabs him by the shoulder before he can.

“Hey, Shepard? We should, I don’t know, go out for drinks sometime? Catch up, maybe?”

He tries to hide his excitement, his anticipation, but he’s pretty sure that’s failing miserably. “As friends? Colleagues? Something else?”

Garrus gives him an unreadable look. “I don’t know, Shepard. You tell me.”

Shepard shrugs. “I can’t tell you what to think or feel, Garrus. Let me know when you want to go and we’ll stop by the Citadel.” He leaves Garrus staring after him perplexed.

That had actually gone better than expected.

 

***

 

Their ‘coffee date’ ends up being a scuffle in a back alley behind what used to be Chora’s Den. Shepard and Garrus beat the shit out of a young band of tracksuits thinking that they had easy pickings, not recognizing the Spectre and his sidekick until it was too late.

Shepard huffs a laugh at that image, thinking they are indeed a bit like some old-timey superheroes, just upgraded. Space heroes. Though Garrus might not be too happy with being known as Shepard’s ‘sidekick.’

“Why are you laughing?” Garrus asks him as they make their way to Apollo’s - or at least, what’s left of it.

“Just thinking about how we should’ve gone to Apollo’s in the first place, just like I said.”

“Well, how was I to know we’d get jumped?”

“Hell, Garrus, knowing you, you might’ve planned it.”

“That does sound like a turian thing to do.”

“Indeed.”

They sit at a table overlooking the destruction. Once-beautiful palisades crumbling into the sidewalk, empty lakes staring like gouged-out eyes… it’s horrific, but Shepard forces himself to focus on the positives. Like the fact that places like Apollo’s are still open. Like the hustle and bustle of the crowd around him. It’s not what it used to be, but it’s something.

They won .

“Shepard, I gotta say, your face is freaking me out a bit.”

“Well gee, Garrus, that’s just what every guy likes to hear.”

Garrus snorts. “Not what I meant, I just mean-”

“I know what you mean. I’m doing that joking thing again. You should try it sometime.”

“Oh.” Garrus scratches the side of his face with a talon. Shepard finds himself wondering what it tastes like, what it’d be like to suck Garrus’ talon like a particularly delectable candy bar. Or a cock. “You know, Shepard, I’m not sure why you’re out with me today. You’ve been acting a little strange lately. We have never done this before, just ‘hang out’ like this. I’m really thinking something is up.”

“I told you, Garrus, I’m just happy. It’s not that complicated.”

“So I was imagining that you were… flirting with me?”

Is Shepard losing it, or does Garrus seem nervous?

“Would it bother you if I was?” Shepard asks him cautiously.

“I have to admit I’ve never thought about it before, but people aren’t normally this good of friends without… some thing between them, right?”

Shepard smiles and shakes his head. “Usually, no. At least not when it comes to humans. Sometimes it’s not romantic… on Earth they like to call them ‘bromances,’” he shudders, “but I know how I feel. How do you feel?”

He tries to pretend like it’s a casual question, but Garrus can probably see right through him. Or perhaps not; it is Garrus he’s talking to, after all, Garrus who could easily receive the Worst Flirt on the Citadel award, if that were a thing.

Garrus stills in a way that reminds Shepard of an assassination. He imagines Cupid’s arrow flying true and stifles a laugh. His mind is going interesting places today, that’s for sure.

“Yeah, I mean, of course you’re an attractive man, but it’s more than that. It’s camaraderie. I’ve never felt that with someone before, not like this. But it’s also weird.”

“Weird how? Because it’s me, or because I’m human?”

“Because I’ve never done this before, not seriously. Well, that and the fact that you are human, yes.”

Shepard smirks, trying to hide his nervousness. “If it helps, I’ve never been with a turian before. Hell, I never found you ugly bastards attractive until I met you. You got under my skin, Garrus, what can I say?”

“That’s a… frightening thought, me getting under your skin.”

“It’s another expression.”

“Of course it is. You know that my translator doesn’t catch every last idiom you humans have, right?”

“All the better to stump you with, my dear.”

“You do seem to enjoy me being a little flat-footed.”

“You should see me in the bedroom then.”

If Shepard didn’t know any better, he’d swear on his own father’s grave that Garrus blushes.

“I imagine I’m going to find out, aren’t I? Should I be scared?”

“Depends on what scares you, Vakarian. I’ve seen you flirt, though, so I might be scared if I were you.”

“You saw me flirt with a civilian, Shepard. C’mon, we should go dance. It’ll get us warmed right up.”

“By dance, I assume you mean pretend to kill each other in hand-to-hand combat?”

“Isn’t that what I said?”

“Lead the way, Vakarian.”

 

***

 

As it turns out, Garrus Vakarian has a hell of a right hook.

The two of them spar for what feels like ages; the sweat is running down Shepard’s body in rivulets, making him feel gross and not at all normal for a… first date? If that’s what this is. But this is better than any other date he’s been on, because Garrus gets him in a way no one ever has before. He doesn’t need romance when he has this.

The best part is, it’s new to him, all of it. Not just the depth of their friendship, or how natural it feels to take that next step, but the strangeness of being with a turian. Of wanting to be with a turian. He’d always considered them physically unappealing, but now he finds himself distracted by the sinuous way Garrus moves, the way he uses his dexterity to his utmost ability, avoiding Shepard’s strongest punches so that he has to improvise. He finds Garrus beautiful in a way that he’d never thought possible.

Just goes to show how much love can flip one’s perspective.

Garrus finally throws in the towel when Shepard pins him, thighs locked tight around his middle, hands holding his wrists above his head. With the cybernetics, only a Brute could break out of a grip like that. But more than that, it seems to him that Garrus wants to be pinned.

Garrus’ eyes are bright, his expression rapt as he watches Shepard. His breathing speeds up, and Shepard grins, feral in the dim light of the cargo bay. Two of the crewmembers who had been watching the battle walk away, faces red, and Shepard figures it’s probably time to take this somewhere else. He reaches down to whisper against Garrus’ skin.

“My cabin. Now.”

Garrus opens his mouth and does that thing, that fly-catching thing that always makes Shepard snicker. It’s cute and so very Garrus that it makes Shepard twitch a little bit with desire. Anyone who sees him will know how affected he is, considering he’s not wearing any armor, unlike the turian.

They step onto the elevator, for all appearances just two soldiers after a good sparring session, but their professional demeanor falls apart as Shepard leads Garrus into his cabin. Garrus immediately grabs him from behind and pulls him in close, running his talons up and down Shepard’s face. It tickles a little.

“Why don’t we shower?” he whispers in Shepard’s ear. “I’ll give you a little ‘learn by doing’ lesson in turian anatomy.”

Shepard shivers and pulls away, wordlessly and unceremoniously removing his clothes. He can feel Garrus’ eyes burning him, but doesn’t look back as he turns on the shower. He just stands under the spray, awaiting his best friend with trepidation and not a little anticipation, closing his eyes and sighing as Garrus removes his armor.

Shepard lets out an undignified moan when Garrus steps up behind him again. His body feels… strange. Hard in a way no human body can possibly feel, and as strong on the outside as Garrus is on the inside. He’s very aware of his own softness… but then Shepard feels Garrus’ cock against the upper curve of his ass, and it’s got the same give, the same pliability as a human’s, and suddenly he’s gotta turn around, gotta see -

Garrus meets his gaze. His face is as soft as Shepard’s ever seen it, eyes bright and kind and patient. The water sluices off their bodies, unacknowledged, as Garrus gently backs him up against the wall and lowers his face, knocking their foreheads together in a gesture of affection.

Shepard breathes in the spicy scent of him and sighs, closing his eyes. He has no idea what to do next, no idea if turian and human anatomy lines up the same, no idea if he needs prophylactics - probably should’ve checked that out on the extranet first - and it’s weird, so weird, but so perfect, too. Awkward and loving and romantic in their own special way.

Garrus takes Shepard’s hand and brings it to his cock. It’s similar to a human’s, longer but thinner, coming to a point instead of thickening into a head at the tip. He shows Shepard how to stroke, long and slow and languidly.

“It’s not that different from a human, just like I said before.”

Shepard leans back against the wall and looks into Garrus’ eyes again. “You’ve been hard like this in your armor the whole time?”

“Well, not the whole time, no. But a large portion of it, yes.”

“Jesus, Garrus.”

“We’ve been over this. You learn to live with it. So do humans.”

Shepard hums and keeps stroking, enjoying the way Garrus twitches underneath his fingers. He’s got the most sensitive part of a turian’s body - the only sensitive part, it seems - in his hands, and Garrus trusts him enough to handle it carefully, lovingly. It gives him a sense of awe - and excitement - to know that there’s that much trust between them.

He leans in and murmurs, “You can touch me, you know.”

Garrus swallows nervously. “I won’t hurt you?”

“Probably not?”

“‘Probably not’ doesn’t exactly help your case here, Shepard.”

Shepard rubs his forehead against Garrus’ again. “Just touch me,” he whispers.

“Aye-aye, Commander, but if I hurt you, it’s all your fault.”

Shepard doesn’t tell him that he enjoys a little bit of an edge to his pleasure from time to time, and instead lets Garrus take over, marveling at how gentle the turian is even with his wicked talons. Garrus lovingly caresses his cheek, his chin, pulling his mouth open slowly and sliding a talon in, watching Shepard suck on it. He gasps when Shepard meets his eyes and flicks his tongue across it, and Shepard revels in the fact that he can force that out of his usually stoic friend. He closes his eyes and leans forward to take more of it into his mouth, and finally, Garrus makes a noise like he’s dying. Shepard chuckles deep in his throat.

“You play filthy, Shepard,” Garrus tells him, and yeah, maybe that’s true, but a soldier uses every tactical advantage available. It’s just second nature.

He sighs as Garrus’ other hand travels down his body, exploring the hard planes and soft spots that make up Shepard . His back arches in pleasure when Garrus runs a talon over his hip and down, down to his inner thigh.

“You’re one to talk.”

Garrus leans in to whisper in his ear, and Shepard feels the turian’s hardness rub against his own. He can’t help the whimper that escapes his traitorous mouth.

“Tactical advantages.”

Shepard shakes his head. He wants to kiss Garrus, but isn’t sure how to go about it. “We’re like two peas in a pod, Gare-bear.”

Garrus pulls back and Shepard instantly misses the hard heat of him. “I’m going to pretend like I understood more than two words in that sentence.”

“Will you fuck me already?”

“Was waiting for you to give the order, Commander.”

Shepard growls and easily flips their position, throwing Garrus against the wall and stepping in close. He takes both cocks in one hand and strokes them. This time, it’s Garrus who makes an embarrassing noise, and Shepard looks deep into his eyes with a predator’s gaze. Garrus breathes hard through his nose and looks away.

“Always knew you were easy, Vakarian,” he pants against Garrus’ neck.

“What can I say? There’s this human who’s got me under his skin. I can’t seem to say ‘no’ to him.”

Shepard speeds up and pushes Garrus’ hip against the wall with his free hand. The shower starts to run cold, but both soldiers ignore it; they’re generating enough heat between them, and Shepard moves ever closer, wishing he could just become one with the turian, with his best friend, with his chosen mate. Neither of them are capable of speech now, frantically chasing the edge. Shepard closes his eyes, unable to keep them open as he takes them both apart stroke by stroke. He plans to build them back up again even stronger than before.

“Shepard…”

“Yeah, I know. I know.”

“I want you to know… oh, spirits ... “

“You don’t have to say it.”

And Garrus can’t say it, can’t say anything in that moment, because he tenses up and grips Shepard’s shoulders as Shepard finishes him off. He gasps Shepard’s name over and over as he comes between them, splashing it everywhere. Shepard wants to lick it up, to taste it, put it in his body somewhere, somehow; it’s that thought that pushes him over the edge a minute or two after Garrus.

He leans his head against the turian’s shoulder, exhausted from their earlier fight with the tracksuits and the sparring and… what came after, this, their first time together as lovers. Garrus seems to sense his exhaustion; he picks Shepard up like a bride and carries him to the bed, still dripping wet. Shepard sighs in his arms and pulls him down to the bed to cuddle.

It’s strange, cuddling with a turian. The whole thing has been weird and awkward, but it’s the Shepard-Vakarian team, so it’s perfect, too. He falls into unconsciousness feeling sated in a way he hasn’t in a long time, looking forward to a future with his best friend by his side.