It felt strange to be on the Normandy. Kaidan kept finding himself comparing SR-1 to SR-2 and thinking of the Cerberus tech that the Alliance engineers must have had to take out. He tried not to think of some of that tech being left behind either because someone was careless or it was too well hidden but he figured the Alliance probably went through every single part of the ship with a fine comb, so to speak, so they wouldn’t miss anything.
Even though the ship was different, at least part of the crew was familiar. Liara had been a welcomed sight, both of them being out of the fight while Shepard ran around saving humans from the Collectors. Garrus, on the other hand, hadn’t been so welcoming.
Kaidan understood why, he really did. Shepard was friendly to everyone on the ship, from the engineers and shuttle pilots to Dr Chakwas and any of his squad mates but the closest people to Shepard were Kaidan and Garrus. Shepard used to take them everywhere, for any type of mission, unless he absolutely needed someone else there, to the point that the three of them had inside jokes that would leave other crew members confused. He remembered that Ash used to be so annoyed at not being invited to join, mostly because of her itchy trigger finger, but partly because of the crush she had on Shepard.
And, well, that was Kaidan’s problem too. He was happy that his friendship with Shepard was salvageable and that they were slowly rebuilding that old camaraderie between them—even though he had to put up with Garrus giving him the evil eye in the background. Before this, he didn’t even know that turians could even do that. Garrus was always protective of Shepard.
Except that wasn’t the problem, was it? The real problem was this stupid…thing that he had on Shepard. He didn’t really know how to explain just what it was that he felt for Shepard. What he did know was that the only other person that he felt this strongly about had been Rahna and that was years ago, when he was young and far more foolish.
A part of him pointed out that at least his feelings for Rahna had been requited. His feelings for Shepard, on the other hand, was something that he had to quash down and ignore.
That had been fine when they were on the SR-1, where Kaidan would watch with amusement as an oblivious Shepard would ask him why it was that Liara and Ash would snap at each other so much. Why Ash would make a snide remark whenever Liara clung to Shepard or vice versa. Not that Ash clung to anyone, but the way she would approach Shepard with what was obviously apprehension was probably close enough.
Things were different now; they were far worse, not least of which was that Kaidan found out about Shepard’s preference for male companions. Before, his guilt alone would have stopped any type of fantasy involving Shepard from fully forming. Before, it was enough to stand beside Shepard, to have his back on various missions.
Now, he struggled with dreams of Shepard’s lips on his skin, of those rough hands on his hips. He spent too many nights tossing and turning as Shepard’s voice whispered sweet nothings and purred filthy words in his ears.
It was far too cruel to learn that he might have had a chance with Shepard, that if he had been brave enough, then maybe he could have this.
When Kaidan first met Steve Cortez, he didn’t think much of anything. The man was pleasant to talk to and he found Cortez’s repartee with Vega quite amusing. This was before he saw the way Cortez reacted around Shepard.
He had a front row seat to what was essentially his own heartbreak when he was fiddling with his assault rifle, making sure it worked properly. Not that his obsession with weapons reached Shepard's level of tinkering but he wondered if he should obtain a mod for this particular rife. Turning to look at Cortez and add another requisition to what had to be a million and one orders already, the elevator doors hissed open.
It was the way that Cortez’s face changed that made the alarm bells started ringing. Cortez had been so focused at his duties, a deep frown marring his face, that when he turned around and it was suddenly replaced by a very happy look...well, Kaidan had to wonder who it was that just arrived.
When he caught sight of Shepard, his heart started sinking. Shepard made his way to Cortez’s side, smiling widely and draping an arm over his shoulder.
A part of Kaidan—the one deep in denial, it seemed—made a thousand and one excuses. They were just friends. Shepard was always friendly to everyone. Heck, even the Pirate Queen of Omega was on good terms with him.
It still didn’t explain the fond smile on Cortez’s face or the way they leaned towards each other. Kaidan didn’t know what was worse—that he was so wrong about Shepard or that he was too late to do anything about it. He placed his rifle back down on the table and headed to the elevator. He made sure to stare at the side wall as the doors closed, closing his own eyes when the elevator began to move, releasing a painful breath from his lungs.
Calming himself down wasn’t easy, but he managed just enough to think things through. To tell himself that this was Shepard’s decision and that he had no right to feel anything about it. He had his chance and he didn’t take it. That was that.
When he thought things over, he realized a number of things. For example, Shepard’s reaction to Cortez was nothing like his reactions to Garrus. Shepard always looked exuberant whenever he would bump into Garrus, never mind that they saw each other minutes before. And Shepard’s reaction to Liara, while not quite as enthusiastic, was very intimate. He remembered Mars and the way Liara’s name slipped from Shepard’s mouth like a caress.
It was days later when Kaidan received confirmation, much to his own dismay. He never did manage to ask Cortez for those mods, which was why he was trying yet again to fix his rifle. While fitting a fairly new precision scope, he thought to himself that he really should have gotten a stability damper or at the very least, a magazine upgrade at the Citadel. Of course, having to go from one mission to another made it difficult. The last time the Normandy made a stop at the Citadel, they were only there for a couple of hours before they were off on yet another N7 assignment. He was still lost in thoughts when he heard Vega’s voice.
“Hey Esteban, saw you and the Commander at Purgatory last night,” Vega said, sidling close to where Cortez was no doubt doing his procurement duties.
The moment he heard those words, Kaidan cursed at the universe. The main reason he came down here was to forget all about his feelings and Shepard and his feelings about Shepard. He didn’t know if this was fate telling him to buy a new rifle or to stay far away from the shuttle bay or to only come down whenever Cortez wasn’t on duty.
Whatever it was that the universe or fate was telling him, he was going to listen. Because what he heard next was pure torture.
“Yeah? Surprised you were lucid enough to see us by the way you were downing those shots, Vega.”
“I also heard what you guys were talking about.” By this time, Vega was practically glued to Cortez’s side. It was this that caused Cortez to stop typing. Kaidan, who had been tinkering away at the weapons bench, forced himself to keep working. His fingers moved on autopilot as he stripped the rifle down again, pulled the scope free and attached an extended barrel. A part of him didn’t want to listen to what was being said, but he couldn’t help himself.
“How did you manage to do that? I didn’t see you at the upstairs bar and the music was way too loud for us to be heard anywhere else.”
“Hey, man, I’m happy for you,” Vega said, the teasing gone from his voice. “I gotta tell you though, I’ve heard rumors from guys back on Earth that Shepard likes guys but it was still a surprise to see it firsthand. His flirting needs work but you know, I wouldn’t mind helping him out with that.”
“I really don’t think that’s necessary, Mr. Vega,” Cortez said flatly, clearly far from amused.
“Whoa, take it easy, Esteban. I’m only teasing,” Vega laughed. They were quiet for a moment before Vega spoke up again, “Don’t matter, Esteban. Good to see you smile more, man. Even though you called Shepard, of all people.”
“’Of all people’, huh?”
“Hell, yeah. Me? I’d have gone for someone like...I dunno. A human version of Wrex, maybe?”
“You know, I’m pretty sure YOU’RE the human equivalent of Wrex.”
It was around this time that Kaidan stopped paying attention. His brain was trying to wrap around the idea that Shepard apparently liked men. And that Shepard was flirting with Cortez. Was probably with Cortez. He felt a coldness settling in his stomach that had nothing to do with the Normandy’s air filtration system. It was the same feeling he had when he saw the SR-1 explode and when he heard from a very distressed Joker that Shepard was dead.
As if the universe was conspiring against him, after that revelation Kaidan kept bumping into Cortez and Shepard together. They would be sitting at the mess hall, speaking in hushed voices with Cortez smiling and laughing while Shepard turned steadily redder by the moment. The moment was usually broken when they noticed Kaidan was nearby. Then the chatter would cease altogether. It shouldn’t bother him, it really shouldn’t. Because he had no right to feel hurt or to feel anything, really, but he couldn’t help but notice the abrupt silence.
“Can I help you, Kaidan?” Shepard would ask in his best ‘official’ voice, the one he used on Alliance brass. Beside him, Cortez would hide his grin behind his hand and then excuse himself. It gave Kaidan a chance to speak to Shepard, usually about one of their missions or about updates from Earth. Ever since Kaidan found out about Shepard and Cortez, he made sure to keep any conversation he had with Shepard highly professional.
Anything personal might remind him that Shepard belonged to someone else now, someone who wasn’t him. And Kaidan didn’t trust himself not to suddenly blurt out to Shepard, “why not me?”
And that…well, he might have just had his heart broken but that didn’t mean that he was going to be pathetic about it.
He just had a bad feeling that it was going to take more than a few visits to the bar for him to get over this one. But hey, the galaxy was at war, so there were bigger things to worry about. He just wished his heart could get the memo.
It was a couple of days later that Cortez seemed to go out of his way to find Kaidan, to talk to him, of all things. He suspected that this was Shepard’s doing. Maybe he thought that this sudden distance that Kaidan had put between them was because Kaidan disapproved of his choice—which was partially true—and he asked his boyfriend to make nice.
The thing was, it might have worked, too. Kaidan would have accepted it after a while, maybe after he put his heart back together, but every single time Cortez would sit himself down across the table from Kaidan or maybe on the chair to his left and then he’d start talking about Shepard.
He’d go on and on about how great Shepard was, how hard he was working to make sure that all species were working together to take back Earth, how caring he was about every single crew member, and on and on and on. As if Kaidan hadn’t noticed that. No, as if Kaidan hadn’t noticed that first.
Because Kaidan was there from the very beginning. He was there when Shepard was still the XO with the badass reputation. When Shepard was the quiet officer who used to hang around the Med Bay and didn’t talk to anyone unless he absolutely had to. He was there when Shepard was made Spectre. He was there at Citadel Tower to witness it firsthand. At Shepard's request, even. He was also there when Normandy was finally made Shepard’s. He was there when Shepard began to slowly rejoin the rest of humanity, when he made those first stumbling steps to get to know his crew. He was there to see the cold indifference fade from Shepard’s eyes to be replaced by something like compassion when he spoke about his experiences at BAaT.
And he was the person who left Shepard behind to get Joker as the Normandy burned around them.
Alright, maybe Kaidan didn’t have the right to be angry. Because he hadn’t been the one who stuck by Shepard’s side when he worked for the devil—that had been Garrus and Tali. And he hadn’t even treated Shepard’s homecoming with joy and relief—that was Wrex. And he hadn’t been the person who gave Shepard to the devil in exchange for the shard of hope that he would live again—Liara did that.
So he swallowed his anger and he swallowed his pride. And he listened.
Because that was the only thing left that he could do.
He was starting to think that making himself listen to Cortez’s stories was a tactical error on his part. It wasn’t long before he was inundated with stories of Shepard’s adventures. Stories where he wasn’t an active participant.
“Major, did you hear the story about how the Normandy’s Cerberus crew got taken?”
“No,” he replied, because it was the truth. He had heard rumors but he hadn’t heard it from the man himself—because Shepard may be a braggart with his friends but he didn’t seem comfortable regaling stories of his past adventures with Cerberus whenever Kaidan was around.
Even after Gellix, after rescuing those former Ceberus scientists, after the talk they had about the Illusive Man, after what Kaidan thought was going to be the last of the awkward silences. It felt like Shepard was still wary of him, still unsure of his trust.
“I’m sure you heard the part about Joker, at least?” For once, Kaidan was glad for Cortez’s interruption. His thoughts were quickly spiraling downwards, not exactly useful when the rest of the galaxy was in flames.
When he realized what Cortez was asking, Kaidan had to snort. “Yes, unfortunately.” It was one of the first things that Joker said to him, actually. And it was said in Joker’s usual “your bullshit can’t tromp my bullshit” tone. He pretty much said, “Hi, I flew a brand new Normandy with a mouthy AI, ran around inside it when the Collectors boarded and unshackled said AI. Oh! And I also helped us survive what should have been a suicide mission. What have YOU done in the last year, Major?”
It really said something about Shepard’s character that he had all these people who were loyal to him to the core.
So Kaidan listened as Cortez told of how Shepard returned to the ship, anxious about the crew, Joker, and the ship. He listened to how Shepard made sure Joker was all right before heading straight into the Omega-4 relay. Without thinking twice, he just headed into the unknown so his crew wouldn’t have to suffer.
It was horrible to hear that he hadn’t been at Shepard’s side for that. That he had missed that opportunity as well. Regardless of the storyteller, he was glad to hear the story. Glad to hear that despite what he had feared, Shepard really hadn’t changed, even during his time with Cerberus.
And after that, there were other missions. The mission to Menae—finding Garrus again, Shepard throwing himself into the fray without a look back, saving the now-Primarch’s life. Or their mission to Grissom Academy, saving the lives of the students there.
“And then that’s when the Commander spots them,” Cortez said, while telling the story of the attack on the Academy, “Three tech students surrounded by a protective shield. And one of them just happened to be David Archer.”
The name...seemed familiar.
“Wait, the brother of Dr. Archer? The former Cerberus scientist we pulled off Gellix?”
Cortez made a noise to convey his disgust. “Former Head of Project Overlord. He’s a real piece of work, Major.”
“Shepard didn’t seem to like him very much,” Kaidan said, faintly. “I mean, I was sure that he was going to pull a gun on the doctor.”
“I would’ve pulled the trigger, from all the stuff that Shepard told me.”
Damn, that hurt. So Cortez had heard the story from Shepard himself.
“What’s Project Overlord?”
Cortez told him, without missing a detail. The horror that Kaidan felt for David Archer only seemed to cement the hate he had for Cerberus.
“And Dr. Archer rushed into the room, while Shepard’s staring at the monstrosity that the good doctor kept his brother in. The doc made some excuses—you know how these scientists are—but Shepard...get this, Major, Shepard pistol-whipped him and yelled in his face that he was going to take the brother to Grissom Academy.”
Well, Kaidan could certainly see that happening. He knew Shepard’s temper when it came to villains and victims. He saw firsthand how Shepard would carry a victim one-handed and would shoot the villain between the eyes with his other hand.
Kaidan was jolted back into the present when Shepard walked by with Traynor, both of them discussing something. When Shepard caught sight of the two of them, he smiled and nodded his head once. And despite the situation, Kaidan couldn’t help but smile back.
“The Commander is very capable, isn’t he?” Cortez asks, looking at Kaidan who was looking at Shepard. He stared at those broad shoulders that seem to carry the weight of the entire galaxy, down to that strong dependable back and even lower to the curve of his…
“Yeah,” Kaidan managed to croak out, throat dry and chest tight. “He certainly is.”
Despite his intentions, he forgot that there was only so much that one man could put up with before he finally snapped. Of course, anyone else would have been able to tell days ago that this was a bad idea. And lately, Kaidan seemed to be the king of bad ideas, second only to Shepard.
It happened during one of Cortez’s sessions of extolling Shepard’s many virtues, this time it was about some quarian kid who ran a shop on Omega. Kaidan’s patience was wearing thin, to be honest, to the point that he could feel the start of a low-grade headache. Thankfully it wasn’t a migraine because he didn’t know if he could stop his biotics from reacting to something the Flight Lieutenant said.
“You know Shepard missed you, Major.”
The way his fingers tightened on the datapad he was holding was automatic.
“I...So did I,” Kaidan said, trying to focus on the blurring words. “He’s a great friend. It’s good being by his side again.”
Cortez sighed. “No, I really mean it. He really did miss you. And Major, I apologize if I’m being intrusive but...do you like Shepard?”
The datapad in Kaidan’s hand flew as his biotics flared up. He caught it hastily with a stasis but that still didn’t stop the way his heart pounded like a battle drum.
“I really don’t see why this is any of your business, Flight Lieutenant,” he said, managing to sound calm even though it was clear to both of them that he was anything but.
“Sorry sir, but yes, it is. Shepard’s my...”
That. Was. It. Kaidan couldn’t even hear whatever term Cortez was about to use, cutting him off before he could finish.
“I’ve never let my feelings interfere with my work, Flight Lieutenant Cortez. And I’m not about to start,” Kaidan said, despite knowing what an utter lie that was.
He fully expected Cortez to protest again, but instead the lieutenant was silent. He shook his head once with what looked like disappointment but was probably something closer to anger and left Kaidan to stare, unseeing, at the datapad in his hand.
He didn’t know when things had started to unravel the way they did but he needed to get a hold of himself.
He finally decided to tempt fate and head down to the armory. He really needed to fix his rifle. During the last mission, Garrus had given it a thoughtful look and remarked that it was looking worse for wear. Shepard had looked at Kaidan as if it pained him to see him with such an old model. Kaidan knew for a fact that Shepard had an almost unnatural love for weapons in general but there was no way that he could explain the jinx to fixing his rifle to anyone and not sound insane.
Still, he knew that it was all about safety. And all about having Shepard’s back. Superstitious nonsense took second place to that.
So even though he would probably walk in on Shepard proposing to Cortez or something, considering his luck, he had to do it. For Shepard.
It was a relief to see the weapons bench free and there was no sign of Cortez. Kaidan felt slightly guilty for feeling that way because, as he told himself over and over, Cortez was one of the good guys. One of the best, really. Of all the people in the whole galaxy, Kaidan should be…maybe not happy, but at least relieved that Shepard found himself a good man. The only other person that Kaidan would trust with Shepard would be Garrus—something he had told the turian when he decided to drown his sorrows with whisky, which was horrifying the morning after but at least it stopped the glaring.
He was so focused with his work that he didn’t hear the noises until he was pretty much done with his mods. When he realized the voices, whispers mostly, came from behind one of the shuttles, he was wary. He served on enough ships to know what some members of the crew did during their downtime.
Still, this was the shuttle that Shepard’s shore party used and there was no way that he was going to let some random crew members besmirch its reputation. So it was with great reluctance that he made his way to the shuttle.
The scene that greeted him, however, made him stop in his tracks.
He could feel his anger taking over and common sense flew out the window. A panicked part of his mind screamed that he should probably wait, reassess the situation. However, that part of him was drowned out by the rage.
At any other time, he would find the way the two men jumped away from each other funny. As it were, because the two people he found practically attached to the hip and flirting openly next to the shuttle happened to be Vega and Cortez, he was furious.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” He all but snarled at Cortez.
“Whoa, easy there, Major,” Vega said, moving in front of Cortez. The flight lieutenant rolled his eyes and punched Vega once in the kidney. “Shit! What the hell, Esteban? I’m trying to save your balls, pendejo!”
“Major, I think that you might have misunderstood the situation,” Cortez said, ignoring Vega’s—was he pouting—no, definitely not the time for this.
“Really? Is that what you’re calling it?” Kaidan asked, with an incredulous laugh. “So you weren’t flirting with Vega while your boyfriend’s upstairs, trying to save the galaxy?”
“Hold on there, flirting?” Vega practically shrieked while at the same time, Cortez said,
“Boyfriend? OK, this is worse than I thought.”
Before Kaidan could yell at them some more, a very loud, angry and all too familiar voice interrupted them.
“Hey! What the hell is going on here?”
There were many ways that Kaidan could answer that. Not like this. Not in front of those two. So he grabbed Shepard’s wrist and dragged him away from both Cortez and Vega. It wasn’t until they were in a secluded area that Kaidan realized that what he was doing, felt the warmth of Shepard’s skin and the way his pulse was racing, that he released his hold. When he finally looked up he saw the frown on Shepard’s face, the one that said, “You better have a good explanation for this.”
Steeling himself, he said, “Shepard, I didn’t want to get involved because who you’re dating is your business. But as your friend, I’m obliged to tell you that your boyfriend is out of line. I understand a bit of flirting but the way he was conducting himself with Vega was more than flirting and you should know that and you—”
“Hey, hey! Hold on there, Kaidan,” Shepard said, and Kaidan’s breath hitched slightly as Shepard grasped his arm in a tentative hold. The disapproving frown was gone from his face, replaced by...well, Kaidan wasn’t sure what that emotion was. “First of all, I’m not dating anyone. And second, I’m pretty sure that Steve can flirt with James all he likes. In fact, I’d encourage it.”
When Shepard chuckled, he felt the vibration of it through the hand holding his arm. Even though he was confused, a faint hope was building inside his chest.
“I don’t know where you heard it from or who you heard it from, but Steve and I aren’t dating,” Shepard said, firmly. “That’s what got you so annoyed, right? That you think he’s, what, cheating on me?”
“I’m your friend, Shepard. I’m supposed to look out for you.”
“Yeah, well, don’t worry about it. Steve and I aren’t dating. Like I said, I’m not dating anyone.”
“So...the rumors aren’t true?”
“What rumors?” Shepard asked, wary.
“That you like men, sir.”
“You outrank me, Major. I’m supposed to be calling YOU that. And as for the rumors,” Shepard paused, scratching his neck in an obvious sign of discomfort, “that one’s true. That’s not gonna be a problem, is it?” Shepard tried to look nonchalant, but Kaidan could see the apprehension in his eyes, the flash of fear.
He felt dizzy all of a sudden, torn between sighing in relief and turning around and running. “I,” he coughed, clearing his throat, “It’s definitely not a problem, Shepard.”
“Ah. Good.” He smiled at Kaidan, squeezing his arm once. It was then that Kaidan realized that Shepard was still holding his arm, though he didn’t even realize he was doing it.
It was then that everything fell into place. The knowing looks that Cortez would throw his way, the way Cortez and Shepard would suddenly fall silent when he entered the room, the way Cortez would grin—not to show off, no, but because he knew and Kaidan was too blind to see it—and the way Shepard would look away, a faint blush dusting his cheek.
“Good, yeah,” he said faintly, acting on instinct alone as he leaned forward and capture Shepard’s lips in a kiss. There was a moment where Shepard stiffened and Kaidan could only pray that he hadn’t been reading this wrong, but his worries faded when Shepard made a soft, desperate sound and leaned into the kiss.
It was strange, but a good strange. Their lips pressed together, tongues tentatively brushing—so tender that his insides felt like they were on fire. Even more than the kiss, Kaidan relished the way Shepard’s hands settled on his waist, squeezing gently, questing fingers finding themselves underneath his shirt.
The kiss turned into more kisses, first to the corner of Shepard’s smiling lips, then along his jaw, but then Shepard pulled away with a soft, almost disbelieving chuckle, eyes bright with happiness and wonder and Kaidan found himself being given the same treatment, laughing himself when kisses dotted his jaw and neck.
“So you’re not dating Cortez, then?” He couldn’t resist asking. He shivered as Shepard groaned against his neck, pulling away with a frown.
“Steve is a great friend, Kaidan. But I’m not interested in him that way. Where did you get that idea, anyway?” Kaidan raised his hand to touch Shepard’s cheek, thumb resting at the corner of his mouth, loving the way his eyes slid shut, the way the annoyance was replaced by utter contentment.
“I heard Vega talking about how you were apparently flirting with Cortez.”
Shepard laughed. “Yeah, Steve told me you were there when James asked him about what happened in Purgatory. I tried to flirt then, but he called me on it,” he said, scratching his neck nervously, “He knew straight away that I didn’t really like him that way.”
“Apparently, he saw the way I look at you when you’re not looking and, well, when you are looking,” Shepard said, sounding sheepish.
“So basically, we’re both idiots?”
“Looks like it.”
“Think we can fix that?” Kaidan asked, finding himself swallowing when he saw that Shepard was looking at him with something like fondness, making him appear younger.
“Yeah,” Shepard replied, moving closer, humming under his breath. “I think we can.”
His face was inches away from Kaidan’s now. And while Kaidan thought he’d be prepared for this second round of kisses, he definitely wasn’t. Not for the noises that he was hearing, the pleased humming and the soft gasps of pleasure. Not even for the way that they seemed to synchronize their breathing, their heartbeats, and even when they shivered against each other.
“I could get used to this, Commander,” he whispered, feeling Shepard’s smile against his skin.
“Yeah?” Kaidan’s brain seemed to shut down as teeth nipped gently at his neck, followed by a kiss. “Good to hear.”
The mission was a resounding success, even though Kaidan hated being stuck on maintenance duty while under enemy fire. Still, John and James both made sure that none touched him, taking out the Cerberus soldiers that seemed to have come in droves.
He was leaning against the shuttle wall, keeping an eye on John, who was clearly starting his post-mission rituals. James was copying John, a case of mild hero worship that was rather entertaining to watch.
“Heard it was rough out there, Major. Did you do alright?” Cortez asked. Kaidan turned to look at him, noting the genuine concern.
“I don’t like fixing things when I’m being shot at, but it wasn’t that bad. The Lieutenant and Shepard took care of the rest.”
“The Commander is very capable, isn’t he, Major?” Cortez asked, grinning. A week ago Kaidan would have ignored him or changed the subject. But a week ago he hadn’t been sharing a bed with John Shepard. He turned to look at Shepard who was frowning at his Valkyrie, carrying out an inspection on his favorite rifle.
“He certainly is,” Kaidan said. Surprisingly, John looked up at this—usually he’d be too busy with his rifle to notice everything else—and realizing what Cortez and Kaidan were talking about, broke into a wide grin.
The rush of affection at the sight wasn’t new, he felt it constantly throughout the week, but it still felt new. He couldn’t help but chuckle as John tucked the rifle away only to grab at his hand, tugging him down to sit next to John, fingers laced together. For a moment, he forgot that they had an audience, leaning forward to plant a quick kiss on John’s lips.
“Carajo,” muttered James, looking anywhere but at John and Kaidan. “C’mon, Loco, can’t you wait ‘til we get back to the Normandy for this? Y’know, so you can do it behind closed doors?”
“We’re doing this so you can take notes, Vega,” Kaidan said, keeping his gaze on John’s face, at the amusement in his eyes, the curl of his lips, “for when you finally ask Cortez out.”
The fact that the shuttle only swerved slightly spoke to Steve’s fantastic piloting skills, while James choked on a breath and began to cough loudly. Next to him, John threw his head back and laughed.