Of course Shepard's the kind of person who talks to the dancers, Steve thinks, watching his old friend chat up three of Afterlife's finest. Especially after he and Traynor forked over three month's salary worth of credits for a private room and a dedicated staff in honor of Shepard's impending nuptials.
"Stop glaring," Traynor teases, catching his frown. "I know you, Steve. You're not exactly the bump-and-grind sort. You'd be talking to the dancers too."
Steve grunts. "With these dancers? Come on."
Traynor laughs. "It's Shepard's bachelorette party. She can do as she likes. And the main attraction is still to come."
Steve scowls, but without really meaning it. "You sure Shepard's going to going to like this 'Jimmy Vega' guy?" He makes a point of smiling at the scantily clad human waiter who sets down two drinks in front of them, just to prove to Traynor that he can be as lecherous as the next man.
"Garrus assures me that he's the best. His connections claim he's Aria's favorite. Said, and I quote, 'even I can tell he's good.'"
Steve grimaces. "So now we're trusting the taste of the turian with the gun fetish?"
"The turian who is marrying the woman of honor."
"Because they've got the same kinks, that's why. Sniper rifles, kicking ass, and taking names."
Traynor grins. "Trust me, Steve. Besides, no matter how good or not this Vega is, we'll definitely be having a better time than Garrus."
"Maybe it was mean of us to let Joker handle his bachelor party."
Trayor wrinkles her nose. "Definitely not."
The thumping generic club music flooding the room fades as a souped-up dance remix of the ICT Academy anthem, of all things, pumps over the speakers. Traynor grins at Steve, who sits up on the couch, still feeling cautious.
A spotlight fixes on the previously-ignored pole in the middle of the room.
The far door opens, but instead of another scantily clad dancer, a marine in heavy armor strolls in. He marches straight for Shepard, and for a moment, everyone in the room goes tense, all eyes on the Predator at the man's side. Steve can practically hear Shepard wishing for her Carnifex. Then the marine reaches up, pops his helmet, and grins. He's no one Steve recognizes, but Traynor lets out a relieved sigh.
"Jimmy Vega, ma'am. Honor to meet you, Commander." The marine--dancer--seizes Shepard's hand and pumps it. Steve shoots Traynor a look.
"Have a little faith," Traynor whispers.
Vega sets his helmet aside and puts his hands on his hips, clearly setting up his show. "Heard you're getting married. Shame, if you ask me." He gives Shepard an up-and-down and smirks. "Maybe I can change your mind."
He pulls Shepard to her feet and marches her over to a couch some of the waiters have moved near the pole. Standing at ease in front of her, he reaches for the releases on his armor. With each pounding rise in the music, he pops a latch. It's costume armor, Steve realizes, seeing the ease with which Vega removes it. Vega sheds the pieces to reveal a skin-tight, translucent black undersuit.
Steve starts to understand Aria's interest. Jimmy Vega is ripped, and solid as a house. His face is almost boyish under the shadow of his beard and jarhead haircut, but it's scarred, as if Vega has seen real battle at some point in his life.
Then Jimmy Vega snaps off his lower armor and Steve finds something else to appreciate.
"Probably just padding," Traynor murmurs, lips curling mischievously.
Judging by Shepard's expression after Jimmy Vega gets up on the couch and grinds his hips a bare inch away from Shepard's face, it doesn't look like 'just padding' up close.
Steve's leaning so far forward he's almost falling out of his chair. He makes himself sit back.
Vega grins and climbs off Shepard's chair, heading for the pole. As he turns around Steve gawks. The rear is cut out of the undersuit, exposing one of the tightest, firmest, finest asses Steve has had the pleasure of seeing. The thin black stripe of a thong passing down between the man's buttocks serves no purpose but to tease.
"Guess you approve," Traynor says, laughing.
Steve swallows. He can only hope Shepard's enjoying this show half as much as he is.
Vega wraps his hand around the pole in a way that makes Steve think of nothing but that hand wrapping around other long, hard things. Then Vega drops abruptly into a crouch before sliding the front of his body up the pole. His hips undulate as he moves up.
"Jesus," Steve breathes, and Traynor laughs again. "What?" He fumbles for words. "I mean. You just wouldn't think a guy built like that could move like that, you know?"
"Sure that's what you were thinking," Traynor says. "I'm going to get another drink. You want?"
"Uh. Yeah. Thanks," Steve says, barely hearing her. Vega is stalking around the pole; once it's between himself and Shepard, he hinges at the waist, falling forward, grinding the pole against the cleft of his ass. Then he wraps both hands over the pole, above his head, showing off the impressive muscles in his back and shoulders, before vaulting up. Steve has a brief fear that the pole is simply going to snap under the big man's weight, but it doesn't, and Jimmy Vega hooks both legs around it before letting go with his upper body and arching his back. The pole juts out from between his thighs like a massive silver phallus--or a pair, one disappearing between his buttocks. He slides partway down before grasping it again and swinging off to much applause.
Traynor sets something purple and faintly glowing in front of Steve, who drinks it without even tasting it.
As the music ramps up, Vega moves behind the pole again, and during a particularly fervent section of the anthem, tears the undersuit off. Traynor sticks her fingers in her mouth and lets off a wolf-whistle.
Stripped down to nothing but a thong, Jimmy Vega is on full display. He has the body of a bulked-up Greek god. Tattoos climb up one side of his neck and shoulder, and stripe his back and chest like rank bars. He grabs the pole with both hands again and uses the strength of his arms to pull himself up. He spreads his legs wide around the pole to give the room an eyeful, and then, in a sheer display of power, kicks himself into a spin around the pole. He ends up with his back to them and wraps his legs around the silver shaft before he slowly raises and lowers himself several times.
Steve hooks his fingers in his collar and yanks slightly. Even though he knows it's the intended effect, he can't get rid of the idea of that pole as a cock Jimmy Vega is eagerly riding, can't stop wanting it to be his cock instead.
Traynor knocks him in the arm. "Now I know what to get you for your bachelor party."
Steve waves her off. "Already did the whole fancy wedding thing once."
"So, what? That doesn't mean you can't have fun your second time around, does it?"
Steve shrugs. It's easier than explaining that the big double-bachelor party and the nice suits and the hordes of family were Robert's thing, not his. That he's gotten used to being alone. Maybe too used to it.
Besides, Vega is now mouthing the pole as he dismounts. He gives it one more caress as he finally leaves it and stalks towards Shepard. There's no way Shepard's just talking to the dancer this time, Steve thinks, watching Vega climb onto Shepard's chair. Vega grips the back of the chair, hands on either side of Shepard's head, and undulates. Shepard's eyebrows are climbing towards her hairline.
Steve says, "Think Shepard's going to kill us?"
"Give her a little credit! The Commander knows how to let her hair down now and then."
"If it involves shooting her way through a club, maybe. And…"
He trails off because Jimmy Vega has just put Shepard's hands on his generously filled-out thong. Steve holds his breath, not sure if it's because he's waiting for Shepard to throw Vega on his ass, or if he really wishes he were Shepard right now. Vega leans forward, murmuring something to Shepard--
--and she laughs, shakes her head. Eases him down off the couch with two hands. Steve hears her say, in her Official Commander Shepard voice:
"Thanks, but I'm taken." Glancing around herself, she catches Steve watching, and smiles. She indicates him to Vega with a tilt of her head. "But maybe my friends would be interested."
"Hey. Like I said earlier. A real shame." Vega grins and extends his hand to Shepard. "But seriously, Commander. It's been an honor."
Shepard gets up out of the chair and shakes his hand. "I appreciate your services, Mr. Vega."
"Anytime, bella." Vega knocks off a more-than-casual salute and turns towards Steve and Traynor. Steve can't help but wonder which one of them puts a brief, honest interest on Vega's face. Vega turns the expression into a full-fledged smirk as he nears them.
Traynor chuckles when Vega heads for her first. Steve swallows his brief envy.
"Boys aren't really my thing. Sorry."
Steve balks as Vega turns to him instead. Vega is entirely too much his thing.
"Thanks, but…" Steve shakes his head. Traynor elbows him, but he ignores her.
"Sure, no problem." Vega shrugs. "I'll get the place cleaned up, yeah?"
His entire demeanor changes; the slightly smarmy smile fades and his posture straightens so that he's no longer leading with his crotch when he walks. He retrieves the pieces of costume armor with a brisk efficiency and stacks them near the door. Steve swears he sees something military in the way Vega moves.
"There's a story there," Traynor says, with more than a little interest.
Steve nods. "Ex-merc, maybe?"
"Or marine? Quite the career change, I'd say." Traynor shifts her attention to Steve, eyebrows arched. "And you, what was that a moment ago? Weren't you just complaining about Shepard not taking advantage of the dancers? I know you were interested."
Steve shrugs, trying to be nonchalant. "I don't know. With the Commander right there and all…"
"It's a bachelorette party. It's supposed to be uncomfortably lewd. Besides, I think Jimmy Vega likes you." She smirks. "I've never been with an exotic dancer, have you?"
Vega's approach rescues Steve from having to answer. Back in his undersuit, Vega looks almost presentable, if Steve ignores his bared behind. "Hey," Vega says, and Steve starts to wonder if he starts every conversation with 'Hey'. It's sort of cute. "You guys still have half an hour of my time. You sure you don't want a dance?" He punctuates the question with a broad, honest grin.
Steve can feel Traynor's eyes boring into the side of his face. And he is so very, very tempted, but he shakes his head again. Bachelorette party or not, after seeing Jimmy Vega's ‘real’ self, having the dancer's crotch grinding in his face doesn't seem right.
"Not your type either?" Vega asks. He sounds regretful. Or Steve could be indulging in a little wishful thinking. He blames Traynor for putting the thought in his head.
"Very much my type, I'm afraid."
"Don't tell me, you're taken too."
"Once upon a time. Now, not so much." Avoiding Vega's eyes, Steve grabs two drinks off the tray of a passing waiter and offers one to Vega. Vega takes the drink with a nod. "Join us?"
"Now we're the ones chatting up the dancers, are we?" Traynor murmurs.
"Must be getting old," Steve shoots back.
Traynor snorts. "Speak for yourself. If you'd invited a few of those asari from the main floor…"
"Maybe next time," Steve says. He looks back at Jimmy Vega and gestures to the empty space on the couch between himself and Traynor. Vega hesitates a moment, then drops down between them.
Steve grins as the thick cushions sink under Vega's weight, tilting Steve into him, and Vega grins back, automatic.
"Could use seats like this in the Kodiak," Steve says, mostly to Traynor, but it's Vega who answers,
"Hell yeah. Those shuttle seats are so hard you can feel 'em clean through heavy armor!"
Steve laughs despite himself. "They aren't that bad!"
"He does have a point, Steve." Traynor ignores Steve's dirty look. "Though I wouldn't have expected a dancer to have much experience with drop shuttles. Or heavy armor."
Vega is suddenly preoccupied with his drink, his grin growing fixed. Steve frowns at Traynor. She shrugs. Steve tries again.
"So you know Shepard?"
"Heard of her. But who hasn't?" Vega says. He follows the statement with a long drink. There's more there, Steve can see it in his face, but he doesn't say more and Steve doesn't want to push it. Steve sips at his drink for something to do, something to fill the awkward moment.
"Suppose even Aria can't stop the Alliance rumor mill, huh?"
Vega shrugs. He's beginning to look like he regrets sitting down. He polishes off the rest of his drink in one huge gulp and studies the empty glass like he wishes it would either refill itself or give him an excuse to leave.
Traynor asks, "So you were in the military?"
Vega stares into the glass. "Does it matter?" he says. "I'm here, now."
"You were with the Alliance," Shepard says. She has a dancer hanging off her arm but a serious expression on her face. Jimmy Vega looks up at her and something like shame passes over his features. He gives a great shrug and rises to his feet.
"Thanks for the drink, but I'd better beat it before Aria catches me putting away too many." He catches Steve's eye, salutes him with the empty glass before setting it down on a nearby table. "Enhorabuena, Commander."
Steve glances over at Traynor and Shepard as Vega retreats. For a moment, he's afraid that the exchange is going to put a dampener on the whole evening. But Shepard shrugs, and says, grinning wickedly, "See what happens when you talk to the dancers, Cortez?"
Steve's face grows hot as Traynor erupts into giggles beside him.