At first, Vega thinks the strobe lights are playing tricks on him, but he taps her shoulder just to be sure, making his voice loud and even. “Slummin’ it with the grunts again, Commander?”
Shepard turns around to face him in civilian clothing, and Christ no wonder he couldn’t recognize her. It’s only a form-fitting shirt and pair of pants, much like what he has on now, but they’re on her which makes all the difference because she has those sharp and broad shoulders on a lean, whipcord frame with that perfectly shaped ass and oh right he’s still staring (but who gives a crap anyway, she knows he always ogles)—
“Thought I’d find you here,” she says.
Somehow he finds his voice. “Where else would I be?” He could be down at the refugees’ holding area winning another poker game, true, but Purgatory is loud, hot, and unapologetic (like him, he thinks smugly), three things that bring him to this floor every damn time they stop by the Citadel.
“Someplace less…” Smoothly stepping aside to let someone stumble through, she shrugs and vaguely sweeps her hand at the surroundings.
Vega crosses his arms. “What? You afraid of a little sweat and sleaze?”
Her smirk is visible under the multi-colored lights. “You think I’m not willing to get dirty?”
But isn’t she such a she-devil to bring all those associated images to mind. The marine swallows, rolling his shoulders because he isn’t such a horndog that he can’t think straight for the blood rushing from his brain. “I’m not gonna answer that.”
Her husky laugh is answer enough for him though, and it’s just one more time she’s surprised him with her reactions to his outrageous flirting. Vega knows better, of course—should know better—but his overwhelming curiosity to see how far he can take this (whatever it is) supersedes any common sense he may have had before meeting her.
The sudden shift in Purgatory’s crowd is palpable when the thumping, frenetic beat of the previous song segues into something much, much slower. One by one, people rearrange themselves on the dancefloor, pairing up to reflect the music’s leisurely rolling bass so that in a matter of moments, the room temperature has gone up several degrees and so has his blood. He glances at his commander who watches the proceedings with detached amusement, an expression that annoys the shit out of him and subsequently disintegrates the mind-to-mouth filter that was already shabby to begin with.
“Dance with me, Lola.”
Her eyebrows almost disappear into her hairline. Head cocked, she folds her arms against her chest. “Why?” What she crams into that one word is why not the other songs beforehand, why this one where everybody’s grinding on each other. Steady Vega, he thinks, pushing himself upright from against the bar.
“Because you’re here with nothing else better to do.” He lets an impish smirk cross his face. “Because rumor has it you’re a shit dancer.”
Her lip curls. “Is that so?”
Jackpot. “Prove ‘em wrong,” he says, offering his hand. “Right here, right now.”
His head’s gone dizzy like in the split-second he had before ramming the shuttle into Cerberus’ getaway vehicle back on Mars, but one second becomes two, then three, and Shepard’s got a firm grip on his hand, muttering “before I change my mind,” and just like that Vega’s leading the way to the middle of the dancefloor.
The crowd doesn’t effortlessly part for them like in the cheesy romance vids, but his linebacker shoulders do something similar while Shepard glides past on face alone. Once they find a prime spot, they turn to face each other; on cue, his palms grow clammy, arms hanging uselessly at his sides at a loss for how to proceed. His commander, bless her, shakes her head like a sigh and begins to sway of her own accord. Determined not to be beaten at his own game, he mimics her movements, letting his hand hover over her waist.
Vega raises an eyebrow. Shepard raises hers back. When she doesn’t flinch at the first brush of fingers on her waist, he fits one more hand on the other side and drifts a few steps closer. Around them, asari, turians, salarians, and fellow Alliance marines slide close against each other in time to a woman’s crooning voice from hidden speakers. Unexpectedly, it’s an old human song, and expectedly, it’s about desire and heat, things that go bump in the night. He doesn’t listen to the lyrics so much as threads the words against the brown of her skin and black of her hair, but as she comes within a whisper’s breadth of his face, fingertips on the crook of his neck with a height to match his own, he doesn’t know which one of them is supposed to be the singer crooning for that someone’s touch.
She’s been staring at him since they started dancing so Vega’s hands slip dangerously low on her hips to see what happens next. There’s no helping the involuntary gasp he utters when she leans in close, pressing the lengths of their bodies together, eyes still on him like a cat considering its next meal. The lights flicker on and off of her face: giving shadows to the harsh edges of her cheekbones, emphasizing the jut of her long nose, playing up the aching fullness of her mouth—details that stay firmly in his head as they slide thigh against thigh, fingers against skin. Dark curlicues of hair press wetly on her forehead, and Vega imagines he looks roughly the same way with sweat shining on his tattoos.
As the notes crest to a penultimate, swooning plea for eternity, the expression on Shepard’s face sharpens, dusky lips parting in a wordless gesture that has Vega gulping from the sheer force of it, and it’s all he can do not to gape at the invitation presented in her heavy-lidded eyes. The moment leaves as quickly as it arrives, however, and he moves to pull away reluctantly; his blood has yet to stop singing. She keeps a lingering hold on him though, her face once again wiped blank to collect her thoughts.
“Thanks for the dance,” Shepard echoes after a pause, still near enough for her voice to graze his ear, and adds, “Looks like I should get going though.”
“Anytime, Lola,” he murmurs and impulsively spins her around so that he’s in her original position on the floor.
Directly several yards ahead of him is Garrus sitting at a table legs crossed, his own keen eyes watching them—but for how long Vega never finds out because Shepard’s walking by him now in slow, measured steps, a wry twist to her mouth. “I expect at you at the docking bay in half an hour.”
Vega nods, feeling a ripple of heat pass from her to elsewhere, and merely grunts in assent (and creeping realization) because he already knows who she’ll be waiting for at D24. He laughs to himself, more surprised than offended, but still slightly green that her devastating smolder had not been meant for him. He sees them leave Purgatory, their hands carefully inches from touching.