Steve’s always been a light sleeper, though he hasn’t been waking up as much since he and Shepard moved into an apartment together.
We’re already used to living on the same ship, Shepard had said with an awkward half-smile. Sharing an apartment will practically feel like living across town from each other.
It wasn’t the most romantic move-in request Steve’s ever had, but it made him smile all the same. And really, after spending a few weeks dividing his time between passed out on a hotel bed and propped up in a hospital room chair, Shepard’s right; the space in the apartment feels like they have a whole little planet to themselves. That will change once Shepard’s leave of absence is over and he decides what to do about his military commission, but for now they’re both taking advantage of the lull after the storm, a very well-deserved respite.
But Shepard’s still recovering, so when a crash and clatter from the kitchen wakes him, Steve hits the floor running. The pale blue sheets catch on his ankles, and he pulls them free as he stumbles over the threshold and into the hall.
“You okay?” he says as he rounds the corner into the kitchen, and Shepard grins at him sheepishly, standing over a shiny pile of cooking pans on the floor. An egg teeters precariously on the edge of the kitchen island, and Steve picks it up before it can fall.
“Yeah, fine.” Shepard hefts a skillet and shrugs, turning it over in his hands. “Thought I’d surprise you with breakfast in bed, but I guess I kind of ruined that part of it.”
Steve laughs, relieved, and settles onto one of the high stools at their kitchen bar, leaning on his elbows and watching Shepard start to clean up the pans. He’d help, but he knows from experience that the two of them trying to move around each other in the kitchen usually ends up with someone’s elbow in an uncomfortable place. Usually Shepard’s elbow, and usually Steve’s uncomfortable place.
“Well, I’m still surprised. Does that help?” He shifts the egg from one hand to the other, sliding it gently across his callused palms, watching the brown curve of shell shine dully in the light.
“Maybe,” Shepard drawls. “We’ll see how you feel once breakfast is done.”
Steve exaggerates his wince; Shepard’s cooking skills are legendary, but for all the wrong reasons. For some reason he’s gotten it into his head that he wants to learn how to cook, and Steve’s been a long-suffering guinea pig. The hero of the galaxy had finally made some decent boiled eggs two days ago, and a couple of pieces of toast made it out unburned.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Steve asks, and Shepard takes the egg from his hands with an imperious look, deliberately not answering. Steve laughs, and Shepard turns away – to hide the smile he can’t quite stop, Steve would bet all his credits on it.
“At least let me make the cof—” A mug with dark, steaming liquid appears in front of him before he can finish speaking, and he picks it up to sniff at it gingerly. It doesn’t smell burnt, at least, and he takes a cautious sip. It’s rich and good, full-bodied with an aftertaste like caramel and smoke. He lets out an involuntary noise not unlike the one he’d made the night before when Shepard had slid into him, slow and confident.
“If there’s one thing I can make, lieutenant, it’s coffee,” Shepard says, grinning as he cracks eggs into the skillet. Steve thinks he sees a bit of shell go in and makes a mental note to examine each bite carefully before he puts it in his mouth.
“I knew you had to have some redeemable qualities.” Steve hesitates on a breath, stomach fluttering before he says too casually, “You’d be shit out of luck if we were deciding husband material based on cooking skills.”
Shepard laughs, but he’s quiet long enough that Steve has time to feel nervous, like maybe he should take that back, apologize for getting too heavy, say it was just a joke.
“What makes you think I’m husband material at all?” Shepard says without turning, his back to Steve as he babysits his questionable fried eggs. “I’m just a washed-up old soldier. I don’t know anything but fighting.”
Steve sets his mug down on the counter, leans to the side to try to get a glimpse of Shepard’s face. It doesn’t work, and he leans on his elbows, chin on his folded hands. “I don’t know. I’m just a scruffy fighter pilot who got shot down over London at the worst possible moment. Maybe I’m the one who’s not husband material.”
Shepard does turn then, a sharp look on his face, and points at Steve with his spatula. Grease and bits of egg drip off the end, and Steve has to work to keep an inappropriate smile off his face.
“Don’t even say that.” Shepard swallows; it’s visible in the movement of his throat. “That was the second-worst moment of my life, thinking I’d lost you already.”
Steve tilts his head and picks his coffee up again, blowing the steam off the top before he takes a sip. “What’s the worst?” Of all the things Commander Shepard has been through, all the things he’s seen in his career and before, Steve’s honestly a bit surprised the shuttle moment even makes the top five. He’s curious as to what’s at the top of the pile. Maybe dying outside the first Normandy, maybe losing his best friend on Virmire, maybe—
“The moment I thought I wasn’t going to make it back to you.” Shepard turns back to the stove, unable to hold eye contact for long. “When I knew I was going to have to break my promise, leave you alone again when you’d just – when we’d just –”
Steve stands, leaves his coffee on the counter, and pads around the island to slide his hands around Shepard’s waist, pressing his face between those strong shoulders. He knows most of the scars without having to see them now, and he lets his lips brush the one at the base of Shepard’s neck, just below the amp port.
“You are,” he says, his voice low and thick with emotion, “most definitely husband material.”
Shepard rests one hand over both of Steve’s on his stomach, fingers fitting together like a puzzle piece. “You really think so?”
“I’ll prove it to you.” He lets his chin rest on Shepard’s shoulder, lets go with one hand to help Shepard flip the egg in the pan without breaking the yolk. “If you’ll have me, I’ll marry you.”
Shepard drops the spatula and turns in Steve’s arms, both hands coming up to frame his face, thumbs on his cheeks, fingers under his jaw. Steve barely has the presence of mind to reach behind Shepard and turn the stove off before he’s being pressed against the island counter, sweet, fervent kisses prying his mouth open.
When they part, pulses racing, Shepard presses their foreheads together and grins breathlessly. “I wouldn’t have anyone else.”