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Hands-On Training

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“Hey, Garrus, do you have a minute?”

In fact, he’d just set some code to compiling, so he doesn’t have any excuse for avoiding Shepard this time. It’s not that he doesn’t like her company... it’s that he likes it a little too much. Since she came back from the dead, it’s been harder to ignore the feeling he gets in his chest whenever she’s around, hard to forget the occasional fantasies he used to entertain. But she has enough to deal with without managing his unrequited affections, and he doesn’t really need the distraction, either, so he tries to keep himself busy. At the moment, his excuses have failed him. He turns around. “Sure, Shepard. What do you need?”

She’s smiling. The corners of her mouth turn up and the skin around her eyes crinkles. It seems like she smiles at him a lot, lately. “Well, I was just thinking—”

“Uh-oh. That’s always dangerous.”

Her jaw drops and then she laughs. “Shut up! I was thinking I should broaden my skills a little.”

He laughs a little, too. “That’s so like you, Shepard. You’re not content with how good you already are, you’re always looking to try something new and get just a bit better.”

Her smile broadens and she raises an eyebrow. “Oh? Do you have something new I should try out?”

He tilts his head sideways, puzzled. “Well, I’ve been looking into mods for my rifle, but... you don’t use one.”

She shakes her head a little, still smiling. “That’s actually what I wanted to ask you about. I’d like to train on the sniper rifle. I’ve already studied the schematics, but I could use some more practical experience.”

“Oh!” Now this he can get enthusiastic about. He feels a flush of pride that she’s come to him, that he has something to show her, for a change. “Sure, I could give you some hands-on training.” His mind is already running through what she needs to know. Shepard’s no raw recruit; mostly she needs to get experience with how the rifle is different from her usual weapons.

Her mouth pulls sideways. He knows that one: it’s a smirk, which makes him wonder what he said this time. “Hands-on training, exactly. I look forward to it,” she says. “Do you want to meet in the cargo hold for some practice?”

“If you really want to learn, we should find somewhere open-air,” he says, firmly. “You need to learn to adjust for wind and sun, and we can work at longer range.”

She crosses her arms and leans back on one foot, still smiling. “Good point,” she says. “EDI, can you find us somewhere suitable where we won’t be attacked by something?”

The AI says in her usual calm voice, “While an absence of hostile encounters cannot be entirely guaranteed, Shepard, I can provide a list of nearby planets with the appropriate conditions.”

“Great!” she says. “We’ll pick a spot and take the shuttle down. A little excursion, just the two of us. It’ll be fun. For now, I’ll let you get back to work.” She smiles.

“Definitely,” he says, starting to feel nervous. He manages to keep a grip on it until after she’s left. He hadn’t quite thought through some of the implications of his plan: that this training involves the two of them, alone somewhere, for several hours. It’s going to be hard to pretend he feels nothing more than friendship and respect for her. Avoiding this sort of situation is exactly why he’s been spending all his time in the main battery.

This could be a very bad idea.

#

EDI found them an uninhabited spot on a planet without much native fauna. It has breathable air and a livable temperature, and it’s actually breathtakingly gorgeous, a dry plateau with distant mountains and lots of hills and rock formations. Shepard breathes in the fresh air while Garrus sets up the targets and thinks that she’s really going to enjoy this. Not just the training (hands-on training, indeed), though she really does want to develop new skills, but having an excuse to spend some time with Garrus, who’s been hard to talk to lately, all vague excuses about calibrations. Oh, he’s been reliable and helpful, both in and out of combat, but he also keeps to himself more than he used to. She misses hanging out with him, the way they used to back on the first Normandy. That seems to have gone by the wayside since Omega.

And... maybe she’s been crushing a little. She always liked him, enjoyed spending time with him, didn’t think there was anything more than that. But just finding him on Omega made her feel a rush of happiness and affection that caught her off guard, and since then, she’s found herself attracted to him in ways that she hadn’t really noticed before. Probably he’d never really consider anything, but... they’re still friends, surely, and she’d at least like to be able to talk to him. So this little excursion is a good chance to spend some time together.

“Shepard?” he calls, and she realizes that he’s ready to get started.

#

“The first thing you’re going to have to adjust to is the size,” says Garrus, and Shepard smirks to herself. He goes on, “It’s longer and heavier and has more kick than you’re used to...” and she giggles. “Wait, what did I say?”

“Nothing,” she says, composing herself. “Never mind.”

Garrus stares at her for a moment, until the light dawns, and his mandibles twitch in discomfort. “That’s, uh, not what I meant...”

“I know,” she says. “Sorry. So, yeah, it’s bigger than the Carnifex or my submachine gun. What adjustments do I need to make?”

“Your grip. You need to position your hands differently.” He demonstrates with his own rifle. She mimics what he’s doing, but it feels off, and sure enough, her shots are poor; plus, he’s right, the recoil is more than she’s used to.

Garrus says, “Try shooting from a prone position.” She’s still amused, but frustration and the need to concentrate overcome it. Firing from prone is a little better, but she’s still not getting good results.

“Here,” he says and reaches over her, one arm around her shoulders, covering her hands with his. He adjusts her grip, and she’s suddenly a little light-headed. They’re both wearing armor, but she can feel the pressure of his arm against her back and his breath against her cheek. “Better?” he asks, and his voice is right in her ear. That voice; the resonant tones have always done it for her, even before she came back from the dead and started... noticing him. Her breath comes a little faster. She turns her head to the left and he’s only inches away, regarding her with questioning blue eyes. She has an all-too-good view of that bandage, and the fresh scars it doesn’t quite cover, and her heart clenches a little.

“Shepard?” he says, and she realizes he’s waiting for an answer. She realizes, too, that while the position of her hands is unaccustomed, the rifle feels better balanced, more secure this way. She tells him so. “Good,” he said. “Sorry, I forgot to account for your height and build. Take a shot now.”

She does. It’s not perfect, but it’s almost in the center of the target. The recoil bumps her against him, with a clang of their armor, reminding her just how close together they are. “Good,” he says again, and she’s a little sorry when he lets go. “See if you can keep that grip without me.”

She can, though she feels a little temptation to let her hands slip, just to see if he’ll reach over and correct her again.

#

Shepard gets up and stretches while they talk about breathing. “Control is the thing,” he says. “Even breaths, not too deep—”

“You don’t like going deep?” she asks with a smirk.

The interruption earns her an annoyed mandible flick. Garrus continues: “—and fire between breaths.”

“Blowing or sucking?” she asks, wiggling her eyebrows. His look suggests that didn’t translate. She sighs. “On the inhale or the exhale?”

“Whichever works. I do it on the intake.”

She smiles at that. “Show me?”

She flops on the ground beside him to watch his demonstration, propping herself on one elbow. He barely seems to be moving, or even breathing at all, squeezing off several rounds. She glances at the target and, sure enough, they’re all dead center. He does this all the time, of course. Usually she’s the beneficiary, and too busy with biotics and techmines and whatever else is going on to be able to observe how glacially calm he is while he’s working. On impulse, she pulls her glove off and reaches for the pulse in his neck. He stiffens and looks askance at her. “Commander?”

“Just checking,” she says with a laugh. “You’re so still, I thought your pulse might be halfway to dead.”

Garrus settles a little. “It’s just a matter of training.”

“Hands-on?” she says, grinning.

“Didn’t know you’d take me literally,” he says, but he lets her touch him, and takes another shot or two. His skin feels very warm and a little rough, but it’s not as hard as she halfway expected. She can feel that his pulse is speeding up, though, and the second shot is outside the mark that the others share. She’s obviously making him uncomfortable. She pulls her hand away, feeling a little guilty. “Your turn,” he says.

She puts her hand under her shoulder and levers herself off the ground, one-armed, then springs to her feet. “What?” she asks, noticing Garrus staring at her.

#

“That’s just... impressive,” he says. He doesn’t have that many opportunities to observe how strong and flexible she really is. She moves with a precise body control that catches his attention. Much as her fingers did, against his throat, slim and cool, making it difficult to concentrate.

She shrugs. “Also just a matter of training,” she says. “What’s next?”

For the next hour or so, he has her practice shooting from different positions: prone, kneeling, standing. She wants to stand with her feet too close together. He taps her feet further out with his boot. “Wider stance, Commander. You want a stable base.”

“So you... want my legs spread wider?” she says, as he puts his hands on either side of her hips and adjusts her position slightly.

“Yes. Didn’t I just say so?” She swallows audibly and looks sideways at him. Her hair blows against his neck, soft and tickling. Then he realizes he’s still holding on to her hips, and in fact, his knee is against hers. This must seem very inappropriate. He’s obviously making her uncomfortable. He steps back, quickly. “Um, for stability. Commander.”

“Right,” she says. “You’re right, this stance is better.”

There’s a breeze coming up, so she practices compensating for air movement. She picks that up fairly easily. “Good to know all that math and physics training comes in handy,” she comments when they take a break. “What’s next?”

They do some longer-range shooting, then; the rock formations provide handy targets at various ranges. Shepard talks him into a competition, but insists he take off his targeting visor. “I don’t mind you cheating when we’re actually in combat, but not in a friendly competition.”

“Fine, Shepard. I don’t need it to beat you, anyway.”

“We’ll see about that.”

He does beat her, but she lands some difficult shots. Afterwards, they take a break to have the lunch Gardner packed for them. “This is weird,” she says, between bites of her sandwich.

“What’s weird?”

“I’m not sure I’ve ever seen you without that thing before.”

He ducks his head, a little self-conscious, and reaches for the visor. It’s a little strange for him, too, not to have its regular readouts and blue tint. Shepard says quickly, “I don’t mean you have to put it back on. You just look different. It’s... kind of nice.”

Garrus tries to think if she’s ever commented on his appearance before. Aside from the time he’d just dragged himself out of sickbay, and they both joked about his mangled face. “It is?”

“Yeah. It’s like there’s nothing between us.” She turns a little pink. “I meant, not nothing, but not as much... oh, you know what I mean.”

Garrus is grinning, now. “Do you really think I’m going to let that go, after all the times you teased me?”

She heaves a sigh, and grins herself. “No.”

The rest of lunch is relaxed and companionable. As they finish up, Shepard asks, “So what’s next on your training agenda? You seem to have a plan for the whole day.”

Garrus smirks. “Moving targets.”

He’s brought an assortment of combat drones, which will both move and attack them with mild shocks. The rest of the afternoon is spent in several rounds of running and ducking and shooting. It’s like combat, but more fun; skill counts, but nothing is lethal. Garrus keeps hearing Shepard’s laughter echoing among the rocks, and it makes him smile too. It’s been a long time since he’s seen her this relaxed and happy.

He downs the last drone and comes back to their plateau. Shepard is already there, stripping out of her armor. He stops dead at the sight of her in her undersuit, which fits like a second skin. He’s seen her out of armor before, but... not like this, all smooth curves and muscle. She stretches, arms over her head, legs braced in a triangle, hips tilting from side to side, and his breath catches. “What are you doing?” he manages to say.

“It’s getting much too hot,” she complains, arching backwards, chest toward the sky. His mouth goes a little dry. “Aren’t you overheated, too? You can take off your armor, if you want. I don’t mind.”

As he watches her continuing to flex and stretch... taking off his armor seems like a really terrible idea. She bends over, walking her hands out in front of her to stretch out her back, sighing in pleasure. He averts his eyes. “No, I’m fine, Shepard. Palaven, ah, has a hotter overall climate than your Earth. I can handle some heat.”

She stands up and smirks at him, hands on her hips. “Oh yeah? What else can you handle?”

The urge to cross the ten or so meters between them and handle her is getting fairly strong. His mind goes blank. “Uh...”

She smiles at him and picks up her rifle. “The drones were fun, but what do you say to more intelligent competition?” There’s a dangerous gleam in her eyes.

He takes a couple of steps backwards. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea, with you out of armor... even concussive rounds are going to hurt...”

“I’ve got biotic barriers,” she says. “Besides, you’ll have to catch me first. You’ve got armor, I’ve got speed. It’ll be fine.”

He balks. “I really don’t think this is a good idea.”

#

This has been a fun afternoon, but she wants more, and now Garrus is just being obstinate. It’s irritating. Shepard bounces on her feet, feeling flushed and keyed up. “What, do you think I’m fragile?”

His eyes widen. She thinks he must have recognized the dangerous tone in her voice. “Ah, no, of course not, Shepard, but I have more experience with the rifle and armor, which give me both offensive and defensive advantages...”

She’s going to have to provoke him. “We’ll see about that,” she says, loading a concussive round into her rifle. She doesn’t even bother with the scope, just aims it at his chest and fires. He dodges, but not fast enough, and the round hits him in the vicinity of the right shoulder. It knocks him backwards, hard. He staggers, making a noise somewhere between a yelp and a snarl, loses his balance, and falls out of sight beyond the drop-off from the plateau she’s standing on.

Shepard hesitates. She was going to shoot and then run, trying to get him to chase her, but he fell harder than she thought he would, and she doesn’t like the silence. “Garrus?”

There’s no answer. Fear lodges somewhere in her chest. She drops the rifle and runs. “Garrus!

By the time she gets to him, he’s propping himself up on his elbows and wheezing for breath. “Spirits, Shepard,” he hisses.

She drops to her knees in front of him and reaches for the seals on his chestplate. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” he says, panting. She frowns. He doesn’t lie, usually, but he’s often evasive about injuries.

“Let me see.”

“Don’t worry about it.” That’s as good as an admission that something’s wrong.

“Let me see,” she says, ruthlessly pulling pieces of armor away from his torso. He huffs at her, but stops resisting. She finds the strip along his shoulder that seals his underarmor and pulls that open, too, peeling it down so she can see his shoulder and upper chest. She stops short, frozen by what she sees. There’s a good-sized bruise, purple-black, where she must have hit him just now. But under the bruise is worse: extensive scarring, an area larger than her two hands, plates missing or obviously misshapen, exposed skin that still looks raw, and beneath that, the faint blue glimmer of cybernetics. “I’m sorry,” she says. “I didn’t realize.” Because she could never bring herself to actually read Chakwas’ report. He was on his feet, he seemed all right, and she didn’t want to think about just how badly injured he’d been.

“I’m fine, Shepard,” he says, sounding more like himself. “It’s just... tender. There’s a bone...” He gestures, and she thinks it’s roughly the equivalent of a human collarbone, “... that Chakwas had to replace with synthetic, and there are cybernetics in there to keep my right arm functioning.” He manages a weak laugh. “I don’t know how you managed to hit me in exactly the same spot as the rocket, but...”

“I am so sorry,” she says again. For the concussive round, for letting him get hit by the rocket in the first place, for taking his recovery for granted. Her eyes feel wet. She throws her arms around his chest and buries her face against his neck to hide her tears. He stiffens. He’s so warm, the rough skin fever-hot against hers. She holds on tight, needing his solidness.

After a moment, his arms come around her, hesitantly. She practically melts into the hug. She can feel his voice rumbling through his chest as he says, sounding confused, “Shepard?”

#

Garrus wants to ask her what the hell she’s doing. Checking for an injury he understands, though he didn’t intend to reveal the extent of his old injuries this way (or maybe ever). But now she’s kneeling between his legs and holding him. Her hair is soft against his jaw and his neck is getting slightly damp where her face is pressed against him. Her body molds into his, not soft, exactly, but more pliant than he’s used to, without a turian’s harder edges, all lithe muscle. Her scent fills his mouth and nose. It’s intoxicating. The lower half of his armor is about to get really uncomfortable. They’ve always been friends, and she’s maybe hugged him once or twice, but never like this, holding him as if he might melt and vanish if she doesn’t. He doesn’t know what question to ask, so he just says, “Shepard?”

“I would never have forgiven myself if you’d died,” she says, her voice muffled.

He strokes her back, a little awkwardly. “I’m all right.”

She lifts her head to look him in the eye. “We are replacing your damn hardsuit as soon as we can. With all that damage, it cannot possibly protect you enough. No arguments.”

Her eyes are wet, but her jaw is clenched. He knows that stubborn expression. “Okay.”

“Good.” She drops her head to the other side of his neck, where it’s unscarred and more sensitive. Garrus bites back a groan at the sensation of her soft, smooth skin against his. Yeah, that pelvic armor is definitely uncomfortable now. “Garrus, can I ask you a question?” she says.

“Sure,” he says, hoping the question will help distract him from the feel of her.

“Why have you been avoiding me?”

That’s not the distraction he was looking for. He wasn’t expecting that question. He’d kind of hoped she hadn’t noticed. Stupid; of course she would notice. He starts to speak, but can’t quite get anything out. Her arms tighten. “And don’t pretend you haven’t been. Calibrations or no, you hardly even leave the main battery unless we’re on a mission.”

“I...” He’s been trying to keep it to himself, not burden her with his feelings. She has enough other things to worry about. He doesn’t want to make things more awkward between them. But the way she’s leaning on him now... maybe she wouldn’t mind. Maybe he’s better off telling her. “It’s just been hard since you came back,” he says.

She lifts her head to look at him and he turns his eyes away. He doesn’t want to see her expression if she’s appalled or pitying. “I always liked you. I was glad we were friends, not just commander and subordinate. But... while you were... gone, I realized how much I cared about you. I mourned you for two years. I thought about you every day. And I’m glad you’re back, but it’s hard to... be around you without wanting something more.”

He waits. Any moment now she’ll let go of him and move away. Maybe make a joke, maybe just apologize for not feeling the same way. They’ll move on. It’s probably better that he said it.

She doesn’t move away. Instead, her hand is on his unscarred cheek, gently turning his head toward her. “Garrus? We don’t have to be just friends.”

#

Shepard feels like a fool for not figuring it out sooner. Garrus is staring at her now with an absolutely stunned expression. She goes on, “There’s no one I care for more than you. I just didn’t think you’d feel the same. Maybe I should have asked, but I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable, a commander shouldn’t be coming on to her subordinates, and...” she smiles a little, “... well, you always said you weren’t into humans.”

“Just you,” he says, voice low, making her blush. He pulls her close and nuzzles the side of her face with the unscarred side of his, warm and smooth, his mandible flicking against her neck. She sighs and kisses the side of his neck, liking the slightly metallic taste of his skin. They lose themselves like this for a little while. Shepard cautiously explores his back with her fingers, plate and scale and softer hide that makes him squirm. Garrus runs his hands through her hair, and his hot tongue on her neck makes her gasp.

Eventually, though, he pulls back, catching his breath. “What now, Shepard?”

She thinks. “Well, we’re alone, and we’re not expected back for a while yet.” She runs her hands down his sides, marveling at how slender his waist is, and grins when the touch makes him twitch. “So I think I could do with some more hands-on training. How about you?”

“I’d... like that,” he admits, with a little shyness that she didn’t expect from him. “But I don’t really know what I’m doing here, Shepard.”

She bites her lip. She indulged in a little turian-human porn, a few weeks back, when she was drunk and feeling curious. She didn’t last very long before turning it off in embarrassment, but it gave her an inkling of what she’s dealing with. “You never... um, looked?”

His eyes shift away from hers. The sun is going down, putting them in shadow, but she’s pretty sure his neck just flushed blue. “Uh, maybe once or twice.”

“Me too,” she says. “Look, we’re both grown-ups. Surely we can show each other what feels good and tell each other what doesn’t.”

His shoulders relax. He nods. “Can we start by finding a more comfortable location?”

“Well, I’m comfortable,” she jokes, but she gets up and offers him a hand, already missing his warmth.

They gather the scattered pieces of his armor and head back to the top of the plateau, where the sun is still shining. There are some blankets in the shuttle; Shepard takes them out and spreads them on the flat ground. She lounges on the blankets, trying for a come-hither pose, while he stows the armor in the shuttle. When he’s done, he looks at her for a moment and she dissolves into laughter at his expression. He drops easily to the ground beside her. “Were you, um, planning this when you took your armor off?”

Her breath quickens at his nearness. She remembers the look on his face when he saw her in just her underarmor. At the time, she wasn’t even thinking about how it might affect him. “No. I really was hot.”

“Hmm. And now?”

The air is cooling off, but she feels plenty warm; heat seems to radiate from his skin. "I think you can keep me warm," she says. He flicks a smile at her, finds the zipper of her underarmor and slides it down. He peels it off her slowly and carefully. Even though she’s seen his, which are much more livid, Shepard feels a little self-conscious about her scars, the little incisions that the Lazarus Project left on her. He doesn’t seem to mind them, seeming fascinated by the expanse of her skin as it’s revealed. He keeps pausing to touch, running his hands over her neck, shoulders, arms, back, ending by pulling the suit off her legs and sliding his fingers up from ankle to knee to thigh. His touch is so light and delicate that her body craves more and her heart is pounding. The underarmor is supportive enough that she doesn’t bother with a bra, so she’s bared to him now, wearing only a pair of panties that are already soaked.

#

Garrus sits back and looks Shepard over, at how her chest rises and falls when she’s breathing this hard, at how her flesh quivers. Breasts, that's the word. She’s impossibly alien and astonishingly beautiful. “Where should I touch you?” he asks, and doesn’t miss how she shivers at the sound of his voice.

“Here,” she says, touching her own right breast, stroking and circling. He watches the center tighten into a firm little nub and puts his hand on her left, imitating her. Here she's really amazingly soft. “Yes,” she says, “just like that.” He runs his other hand down her side, feeling the contrast of the firm muscle. He leans over and licks the nub, and she moans, “Oh, God, Garrus, keep doing that.” She moves her hand to the back of his neck to keep him in place. It doesn’t take long for her wandering fingers to find the sweet spot under his fringe, and it’s his turn to groan against her soft flesh. She shudders at the vibration, and he tenses for a moment, but she pulls him closer and shifts her hips against him, and that message is clear enough. He lets his free hand travel across her waist and the smooth plane of her stomach, feeling out the harder ridge of her hip bone. She’s still wearing a small piece of fabric stretched over her crotch. He explores the soft skin under it, still licking at her breasts. When he breaks off and looks into her eyes, she’s flushed and gasping, but she gives him a smile. She puts her free hand over his and guides him to her most intimate places.

Here she’s hot, and wet, and so soft. He’s nervous; he could scratch her badly here, especially since she keeps moving. He shifts over her, using his weight to push her down, hold her hips still. She gasps when he does that, makes needy little noises as he feels out the geography of her sex and clutches him with both hands. He’s startled when he slides a finger into her; in spite of his occasional porn viewings, he hadn’t realized she’d be that open. She shudders, reaches down and guides his thumb to a small bud of flesh between her folds. He feels out what she likes, adjusting speed and pressure as she moans in response. He watches every flickering expression of her face, rubbing her both inside and out until her body clenches and she cries out.

#

What really tilts her over the edge isn’t the dramatic location (the setting sun throwing deep shadows from all those rock formations) or the physical sensations (even though she’s not sure anyone has ever touched her so carefully, or so thoroughly, and that attention to detail is… so like him). It’s that this is Garrus leaning over her and watching her with an incredibly tender expression, one she’s never seen before, wouldn’t have thought a turian face capable of, and wants to see over and over again. And just now what she most wants is to return the favor. As soon as she feels capable of moving, she pushes him over and leans over him, reversing their positions. “Your turn,” she says, getting to work on the remaining armor that he’s still wearing.

“I, um,” he says, looking oddly nervous again, “are you sure that—” but he sighs in relief as Shepard finishes removing the armor from his lower body, and she can see why because oh my. Okay, she did look at the occasional porn, so she had some idea of what to expect, but he’s... big, even by the standards of porn, and thick, and shaped not quite like a human. “Shepard—” he says, and her eyes snap up to his face, which looks apprehensive, and a little embarrassed.

She raises an eyebrow. "Been ready for a while?"

"Since you first climbed on top of me," he admits, and she blushes a bit.

“Let’s see what we can do about that,” she says.

He looks anxious. “Shepard, you’re smaller than a turian woman—you don’t have to—”

She straddles him, running her hands up from thighs to waist to chest, so he relaxes a little, and says, “I want to. Don’t worry. We humans are pretty stretchy.”

“I don’t doubt that, but—” She stops him with her hand around his shaft, because she wants to wipe the worried look off his face. It works, though she finds she has to keep the pressure light as she holds and strokes him, or it’s uncomfortable. He’s a lot more sensitive that she would have thought, and he rumbles deep in his chest when she touches him, which delights her so much she can’t stop smiling.

“I was going to find out everywhere you’re sensitive,” she whispers into his ear, surveying the alien ridges and angles of his body, mostly in shadow now, “but now I just want you inside me.”

He laughs, a little breathlessly. “Sounds good.”

Even so, it takes them a couple of false attempts to find the right position and angle, some fumbling and slipping, a hissed curse from Garrus and a lot of giggling from Shepard. But then she’s got it and sinks down on him, biting her lip at how he stretches her. She goes slow, consciously relaxing, and he groans and trembles at the effort it takes not to thrust into her hard. When she takes him fully in, she sighs, and he looks anxious again. “Shepard—are you all right?”

She leans forward and puts her hands on either side of his face. “Yes. Stop worrying. You feel good.” She shifts herself up, and back down. They find a rhythm, his hands on her hips, hers on his shoulders, sweet friction and pressure building up until he shudders and finds his release. The hot throbbing inside her sets her off again, and she collapses onto him. Then they simply hold each other, cooling off, breathing and heart rates gradually returning to normal.

He sighs and says, “We should probably head back.”

“Next hands-on training session, my quarters,” she says. As they set about finding the discarded pieces of armor and setting themselves to rights, she can’t resist adding, “I told you this would be fun.”