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Rose and Rainer

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You’ll look back on this and laugh, Rose. Really, you will. Managed to track down the rare-ass bit of flora-

“Initiative type, probs thought we’d gone extinct. Bah.”

-out in the middle of the fucking desert, no less, half buried in the damned sand-

“Pretty lil’thing - both her an’her ride.”

-only to completely miss the two fucking scavengers not even a hill away. Goddammit, I have got to stop letting myself get distracted!

“Oi, girly, y’listenin? We want yer ride.”

“Not for sale.” Rose snaps as she clicks back into the present, eyes narrowed at the rather scrawny pair of scavs she’d been unlucky enough to stumble upon. “Not looking for trouble, boys; just out here hunting flora.”

“Flora? Y’mean flowers? On Elaaden?” the taller of the two nearly cackles, “You outta yer mind, girly? This planet’s a desert.”

There’s a flower right in front of you, moron. She bites her lip at the last second, purposely keeping her gaze away from the tiny thing; they’d probably step on it just to spite her. “I like a challenge.”

“That right?” the shorter one steps closer, and Rose’s breath catches - not in fear, more just to stem the curses that want to start spewing out when he almost steps on the bud.

Okay, no more playing nice. Rose curls her fingers into her hand, making the motion that would set her omni to pop off an overload, 3, 2, 1-

Thunk.

Both she and the shorter scav jump, and her eyes lock on the downed form of the other man just before something whistles - watching in startled silence as the second man falls as well, dead and gone.

Sniper. She realizes, pressing closer back against her Nomad, giving the bud a quick glance - they didn’t land on it, good - before her gaze darts to the hills, Another scav? Initiative? I didn’t pick up any familiar pings out here-

There’s a figure coming down the hill, and she can tell it’s a turian well before any details are clear; the tall, lanky form and easy movements through the sand make it obvious. As the form draws closer she can pick out faded armor - a mix of scavenger and initiative tech, strangely - a well-kept sniper rifle clutched between gloved hands, blue colony markings standing starkly against dark, ash coloured plates.

Rose stops ogling the stranger when he - she knows it’s a he because of his fringe, long and almost regal looking - reaches the bottom of the hill and strides swiftly in her direction, holstering his rifle as he moves.

She doesn’t uncurl her fingers, poised to hit the trigger in case he’s not friendly, “Hey, uh-”

The turian doesn’t even glance at her. Just goes straight to the bodies of the scavs and starts digging through their satchels, muttering to himself the whole time.

Rose watches in morbid curiosity, only slightly miffed at being ignored - the way he’s pawing through the bags, it’s clear he’s looking for something.

Still. It’s a little awkward.

After another minute Rose coughs, clearing her throat. “Uh, hey? Hello? Mr. Sniper? Your translator working?”

“Ah’m busy.” the turian mutters, and okay, that makes her miffed.

“Hey, I just wanted to thank you for shooting those guys. Saved me the trouble.”

He snorts - though the sound cuts off into a sort of relieved, trilling sound when he pulls something from one of the bags - a knife? Maybe? - “Wasn’t playin’ hero, lady. These idiots stole from me. Ah’ve been trackin’ their asses fer two days.”

“Two days? Where’s your Nomad?”

“Don’t have one - it’s called walking, princess.”

“On Elaaden?! Are you crazy??”

“Spirits, quiet down, will ya? Th’planet won’t kill ya anymore, thanks t’the Human Pathfinder.” the turian secures whatever he’d been looking for in his own satchel, turning as he stands, “As long as ya can find water-”

“DON’T STEP ON IT!” Rose can’t help it; the second she sees his foot about to land on the bud she launches herself at him, weight managing to knock them both flying backwards on top of the dead scavs.

“The hell is wrong with ya, woman?!” the turian’s voice is more a growl, but she hardly notices; too busy scrambling off him to check on the bud, giving a weary sigh of relief.

I’ve been tracking this down for a week.” she grumbles, scooting to the side so he can see the plant, “So if you could not step on it? That’d be fantastic.”

The turian’s eyes narrow - vibrant green eyes, she half-notices - mandibles quivering in what she thinks is curiosity before clamping close to his face, “What is it?”

“A Remnant Bloom - named that because of the strange colouring.” Rose gently digs into the sand on either side of the bud, only scooping it up once she’s sure she has the roots, “And, they typically only grow at Remnant Sites - which is why when my scanner picked up this little bud, I wanted to try and find it.”

“You a botanist or somethin’?”

“I am. My team’s been on Havarl since we were brought out of stasis - came here for some sun.” Rose gently deposits the plant into the prepared container, then stands, eyeing the turian as he follows suit, looking again at his odd mix of armor, “You, uh… are you a scavenger, or…?”

The sound he makes is definitely a snort this time, “Not quite. Came here with th’exiles and scavs after shit went crazy on th’Nexus, sure - but Ah began soloing when th’other’s started goin’ crazy. Now Ah freelance - mostly for th’Resistance, but some work comes from th’Initiative.”

“Right. Makes sense.” Rose fidgets under his stare - he’s a lot taller than her up close, yikes - clutching the Remnant Bloom just a little tighter as she coughs and turns back to her Nomad, “Well, uh, thanks again for accidentally playing hero. Really. I’ll just be going-”

“Ya headed back to the Outpost?”

She pauses at the question, giving him a look over her shoulder, “Why?”

“Elaaden’s sun might not be killer anymore, but it’s still damn hot.” the turian looks away, mandibles flaring briefly in what she thinks might be reluctance, “Ah did save yer hide. Mind givin’ me a lift back in that shiny toy of yers?”

“I’m not actually heading right back to the Outpost - I have a Remnant Site I need to check for Blooms, first.” Rose considers him for a moment, then shifts the Bloom to one hand as she turns, “If you don’t mind tagging along - and maybe playing lookout - then I can give you a ride back after. Sound fair?”

“Sounds fair.” he agrees, an almost relieved slump to the set of his shoulders.

“And swear you won’t turn scav on me and steal my Nomad. I’d be seriously peeved.”

“Fine, fine, Ah swear Ah won’t turn into a rampagin’ idiot and steal yer toy. Can we go now?”

“Names first.” Rose extends her now empty hand, not caring one bit that she still has sand and bits of root stuck to her, “I’m Rose.”

The turian just stares at her again, mandibles flaring in a gesture she can’t recognize.

After another moment of silence she sighs, “No names, no ride.”

That earns her a grumble and his much larger hand clasping hers in a shake, his dual voice sounding distinctly annoyed as he answers, “Rainer. Happy, princess?”

Ecstatic. Let’s go.”

Chapter Text

Strange human. Rainer adjusts the sights on his rifle, tweaks it to perfection for his current position, then brings it back to his eye, A botanist on Elaaden. Spirits, that’s some joke.

He’s positioned himself on the tallest Remnant pillar in the area, way up where he can see everything; the enclosed space of the ruins below where Rose is working, the jagged cliffs surrounding it, the hills flanking them.

She’s chosen the ruins closest to the old Remnant Ship that takes up most of the mountainous region of Elaaden, the structure a looming mass in the late afternoon sunlight. He’d never admit it, but he was glad she’d meant this small set of ruins, and not the damn Ship.

Rainer’d kept near silent during the drive over, eyeing the human. Rose -  a botanist named after a human flower? The joke jus’gets better - had glanced at him a few times, grip tight on the wheel of the Nomad, but she hadn’t said anything.

She ogled me earlier, fair’s fair.

Overall, he’s still somewhat annoyed at being coerced into giving his name and playing lookout - better be a quick stop, Ah’ve been out here too damn long as it is - but he’s also just slightly intrigued by the strange human.

Doesn’t look like any of th’Initiative types Ah’ve seen sniffin’ around before.

Rose is a lot shorter than other human’s he dealt with, for one thing. Built… how’d those idiot scavs describe their conquests? ‘Curvy’ or somethin’ equally ridiculous? It doesn’t quite fit, but it’s close enough - the fit of her armor just seems bulkier up top, for whatever reason.

Skins paler then most on Elaaden, though if she’d been on Havarl that doesn’t surprise him, and her face is covered in… dots. There’s a word for them, but he can’t be bothered to remember it.

Plus that scar on her jaw, covered with th’tattoo. Looked like burn damage. Rainer shifts his position, using the rifle’s scope to zoom in on the human hard at work below, Mostly hidden by her hair anyways - didn’t think th’Initiative let human’s keep their manes that long, but eh.

The colour of her hair’s debatable - it looks black one second and then dark brown the next, depending on how the sun hits it.

Rose either doesn’t notice him watching her through the scope or doesn’t care, and his mandibles twitch in brief amusement, watching her dig up another one of those strange flowers.

Humans’re weird.

He shifts his scope to eye the flower instead - bigger then the first bud, fully bloomed and showing off intricate black petals, detailed with silver and red veins.

Like that damn worm.

Normally, Rainer wouldn’t stay still very long, out here in the depths of the desert - but the big Remnant sites seem to be safe from the Worm, and most of the small Remnant are either docile or gone, thanks to the Human Pathfinder.

Well, his mandibles flick when he catches movement off to the right, firing the moment his scope locks on the spider-like machine, most of’em are gone.

Creepers still tended to pop up around the bigger Remnant sites - harmless unless you got close enough to them.

Rainer readjusts his position, shifting from bored to interested, tracking each of the Creepers as they appear and taking them out with precise shots.

Swarms were common; once you’d attracted one more were sure to follow, and he picks off another six, moving easily between targets.

There, his mandibles flare as another Creeper goes down, satisfied by the brief action, Enemies dow - ah, shit-

There’s a Creeper right behind Rose that he hadn’t noticed, sneaking up on the still distracted botanist.

“OI, WATCH YER-”

The Creeper jerks and pops suddenly, an Overload hitting it and frying it’s circuits - and Rainer just stares through his scope as Rose keeps working, the barest hint of a smirk clear on her lips.

“…flank.” he finishes lamely, clamping down on a curious trill.

Strange, strange human. He thinks again, maybe just a little less annoyed then before. Maybe.

Finally, he sees Rose stand and brush her legs off before waving her arms over her head in his direction - a ready to go, he assumes.

Rifle secured to his back, Rainer leaps easily down to the nearest rock ledge, continuing till he lands roughly ten feet from the human - and maybe the brief look of awe he catches her throwing his way at his smooth landing makes his mandibles flare curiously. Maybe.

“Done playin’ in the dirt, princess?” he jibes, all cocky swagger as he moves closer, “Nice Overload, there - here Ah thought ya were a damsel.”

“Hardly. Good thing I’m not, since you’re a terrible lookout.” Rose bends to pick up the newer sample and narrows her eyes at him, “Unless you were hoping that Creeper would get me.”

Rainer can’t help growling at that, mandibles tucking in tight against his face, “Ah ain’t the type ta go around stealin’ vehicles from women, princess. Or anyone, fer that matter; already told ya, Ah’m no scav.”

“Alright, alright, I’m sorry, yeesh.” Rose rolls her eyes and scrunches her nose for a moment before turning and walking back towards the Nomad, leaving him to glare at her back. Then she stops, surprising him when she turns back and gives him a look, “You coming, slow poke? I’d rather get back to the Outpost before dark, if you don’t mind - harder to see that damn Worm at night.”

Rainer considers being an ass about her comment - fuck, Ah would never stoop that low, that stings, woman - but bites the words back at the last moment, settling instead to knock into her as he walks past, humming in amusement when she squeaks and stumbles.

“Thought ya were in a hurry?” he taunts over his shoulder, endlessly amused by the glare she’s fixing him with.

“I almost dropped the flower, you jackass!”

“Almost. Ya didn’t. Now let’s go, and then ya won’t have ta deal with me ever again.”

“Oh, Gods, thank you.” she mutters behind him, making him chuckle.

Maybe somethin’ good came out a huntin’ down those fucking scavs, he muses, toying with the recovered knife in his satchel - one of the few bits of sentimentality he’d allowed himself to keep - before hopping up into the Nomad behind her, settling himself into the solo passenger seat, got ta amuse myself messing with th’princess here. Not a bad day.

“Did you get it back?”

Rainer starts, gaze snapping to the woman. Rose’s entire focus is on the desert in front of them, steering carefully around Remnant ruins and the occasional debris.

He think’s at first he was imagining things. Then Rose glances at him, frowning. “Did you hear me?”

“What?” he retorts, just to make her scowl.

“I said, did you get it back?” she looks back at the sand, jerking them roughly around the outer ridge of a mountain, “What the scavs stole?”

“Oh. Yeah.”

“What did they take?”

“None a yer damn business, princess.”

Rose’s scowl deepens, “Can you stop calling me that?”

“Naw.” he purrs, snickering at the near-growl she releases. Her reactions were far too amusing to stop.

They’re silent the rest of the way to the Outpost, though he breathes a silent sigh of relief once they’ve pulled into the defended outer ring of the settlement. Survived another day, Rainer. Good job.

He slides out of the Nomad first, waiting while Rose carefully scoops her two collected samples into her arms and makes her way out of the vehicle - shimmying on her butt and then landing gently on her feet in the sand.

“Thanks fer the lift,” he says, honestly, “Saved me a long hike back through th’sand.”

“Well, thanks again for saving me, accidentally or not.” Rose shifts her bundles a bit, looking up at him, “Are you staying in the Outpost?”

“Stayin’ with the Krogan, actually - don’t ask, Ah know. Been doing odd-jobs fer them since Ah left the scavs.” Technically, runnin’ jobs for Kesh through Vorn, but she doesn’t need to know that. “Ah bunk down there when Ah’m not out working.”

“Ah, gotcha. Well then.” Rose shifts again, seems to consider something, then shrugs. “Well, maybe I’ll see you around, then. I’ll be here a while.”

“Sure.” Rainer hums back, already turning to head for the Krogan’s colony, waving over his shoulder, “See ya later, princess.”

Stop calling me that!

Rainer just chuckles and keeps walking, mandibles flared in pure amusement.

Wonder if Vorn’s around. Maybe he can explain th’importance of those damn flowers.

Chapter Text

Stupid smug-ass turian jerk! Calling me stupid nicknames - arg, I should’ve kicked his ass for that. Wasn’t even a good look out! That’s the last time I give a stranger a ride!

Rose huffs the whole way back to her team’s allotted unit, grip tight on the two Remnant Blooms she’d recovered. She’s irritated and annoyed that she’s allowed herself to be irritated, that he’d managed to get under her skin.

Petty as it might be, she takes a moment to mentally replay his graceful landing back at the pillars and pictures him wiping out instead, face planting in the sand - an image that makes her lips twitch just a little. Would’ve been hilarious. Bah.

She’s grumpy right up until she steps into the central living area of their little complex, pausing at the sound of arguing from beyond the door to her left.

At it again, Rose quirks a grin at the voices, amusement overtaking the irritation, Probably arguing over what to name a new bug.

She shakes her head and casts the door a last glance - the sign her teammate had hung on it proudly declaring it the ‘Bio Lab’ in huge, sparkly letters - before heading instead for the door to the right, a sign with her own precise script marking it simply as ‘Botany’.

Couldn’t very well call it a greenhouse, Rose nudges the lock with her elbow and shuffles quickly inside, crossing to the prepped table to set down her load. She sighs and rolls her shoulders in relief once the extra weights gone, stretching her arms out and arching her back with a quiet hiss. Not quite enough windows.

Her ‘Botany Lab’ is simple and functional - at least, it is for her, and since no one else needs to touch her specimens she can’t say she cares too much about what others might think.

The wall opposite the door is lined entirely with windows, cracked open to catch whatever faint breeze might be blowing, angled just so to make sure the plants got the proper amount of sunlight.

Her desk and terminal are set up at the far right of the room - a couple of frames propped up, a music player ready and waiting, her sketchbooks and datapads piled neatly near the edge.

Her couch takes up the left end; a long enough fixture that she can stretch out completely on - one of the few perks of being freaking short - sporting a blanket and several pillows, her personal locker sitting on the ground next to it. Technically, her team had a shared bunk-space, accessed via a ladder in the main room - but after being in stasis for 600 years, and then living in close quarters on Havarl… she likes having some space of her own.

The window-wall is occupied by a long, sturdy workspace - holes dug out and prepped for specimens, her tools placed neatly on the shelves of one end.

Currently, only the two specimens she’d brought from Havarl occupy the space - sitting beneath a section of blackened windows, trying to simulate the environment on Havarl as best she can.

The dirt she’d prepped for the Elaaden blooms sits waiting at the opposite end of the work space, ready for the new specimens.

Rose grins, already working to get out of her armor. Alright, then, no more distractions; let’s get to work.

It’s a relief to be out of the tight-fitting Initiative gear, and she straightens out the tank-top and leggings she’d worn beneath it before going for her gloves. Not taking any chances till we know if Heleus dust can kill if ingested. No thanks, I’ll pass on being the test-dummy for that one.

Gloves secured, Rose gets to work; taking first the tiny Bloom she’d managed to save from being stepped on and gently scooping it out of the container, settling it gently in the waiting dirt. She’s humming as she carefully covers the roots in dirt, patting it down and making sure no bits are sticking out before grinning.

“You’re safe now, little guy - despite nearly been squashed by scavs, and a turian, and somehow sprouting out in the middle of the desert. Welcome to my garden.”

She watches it for another moment, ever curious, then laughs and moves to grab the other bloom, going through the same procedure of carefully burying the roots and settling it in the dirt.

The small watering can she keeps in the room is topped up from the reserve and carried over, giving each plant a drink - the Havarl Blooms get more water than the Elaaden Blooms, considering they’d come from a planet with much less sun.

Maybe it’s a less efficient then the methods bigger research teams are using, but that’s fine with Rose. Her team’s job is simple; investigate the effects of the Remnant on the local Ecology.

Finding the Remnant Blooms was pure luck, but I’ll take it.

Rose eyes the plants again, hmms, then sets down the watering can and strips off the gloves, thoroughly sanitizing her hands just to be sure. She plops down in her chair and opens her Terminal, glancing over her emails and loading the News Feeds she bothers to keep up with.

The only new email she has is from Vorn, the Botanist of the affiliated krogan colony - a confirmation that the Remnant Blooms are a new discovery, so far as he knows, and a request for updates. Easy enough.

HNS is quiet save for new birth and colony anniversary announcements, and that’s fine by her; haven’t had to face a Kett yet, and here’s hoping I never do. Though so long as it’s not them, I should… be okay.

That thought hangs on for a moment, makes her flinch, before she physically shakes herself, loading the last news feed and sighing.

Meridian’s still not open to new colonists. Rose leans back in her chair, squinting at the bulletin, I understand they want to explore the majority of the planet before Pathfinder Ryder declares it safe, but c’mon! It’s been almost three years.

Three years since the Hyperion had become a Port on the planet, anyways - it’s only been eight months since Rose was brought out of stasis, along with her teammates.

Ah, well. Maybe eventually. Rose sighs again, eyeing her sketchbooks for a moment before grinning and grabbing the top one, Okay, before I get too distracted - gotta sketch out the new Blooms.

She pauses when she reaches for her pencil and accidentally brushes the music player, staring at it for a long moment. I could listen to one of those logs. She thinks, chewing on her lip, I mean, that is why I brought that with me… sure.

Rose bumps her knuckle against the on switch, scrolling to the last playlist and selecting the first recording - tapping play before she can chicken out.

“Hey, Rosie!” her twin’s voice greets cheerfully as she settles in to draw, already sketching the shape of the full Bloom, “Just heard the news - a Botanist! That sounds so interesting! And not at all what Mom and Dad want, I bet - don’t worry, I’ll handle them.”

Rose snorts, lips quirked as she draws - the Elaaden Bloom’s petals are thinner but longer, probably from the lack of rain - eyes glued to the sketchbook even as her ears are focused entirely on the voice.

“Can’t all be N7’s, right? Need some scientists! And hey, you got in to both programs - they can’t be mad!” the voice pauses - so typically Lily - before continuing, ever cheerful, “I mean, they’re probably mad, but fuck it, you do what’ll make you happy, Rosie!”

The petals are the same silver black, but Havarl’s have purple and blue veins - Elaaden’s are all silver with hints of gold. Hmm… wonder what causes that difference…

“Anyways, I won’t talk your ear off any longer - but I miss you! I can’t wait till I get a break from N School so I can come visit you guys! Then you can meet Nate!” Lily’s voice goes even higher on the name - her voice was already higher than mine, just a bit, enough to tell us apart if you knew us well enough - before settling back down, still happy and excited, “Take care, Rosie! Let me know the minute you start your new training! Love you lots!”

The recording finishes with a beep nearly insync with Rose’s last line on the sketch, staring down at the finished Bloom for a moment.

“Love you too, sis.” she mumbles quietly, closing the sketchbook and setting it back down on the desk, “Wish you were here.”

“Knock, knock!” the voice and rapping on the door make Rose perk, quickly plastering on a grin as the lock flashes open and her visitor swoops in with a smirk, “Ahah, you are hiding in here, Rose! I’m hurt!”

“Hey, Malee.” Rose laughs when the asari plants herself directly behind the chair, blue arms wrapping around her shoulders and her friend’s chin resting on her head, “I heard you guys arguing - find a new bug?”

“Pft, hardly,” Malee squeezes her again, voice a purr when she says “We were debating whether or not you’d brought that yummy turian home with you. I said no, but Naermi swore she spotted you sneaking him into the lab - so if there is a turian hiding in here somewhere, kudos to you, Rosie.”

“Oh, my Gods, you two were spying on me again.” Rose groans, tilting her head back to glare at the laughing asari, “And somehow I think you have those bets reversed, Mal.”

“Hmph! I do not!”

“Malee bet you’d brought the turian home - I said she was crazy.” the bored voice of their third teammate pipes up from the doorway, a deep sigh present in the otherwise high voice, “Pay up, T’Velis - I told you Rose wouldn’t bring a scav home.”

“He’s not a scav.” Rose can’t help mumbling, but Malee’s too busy whipping around and huffing to notice.

“Dang you salarians, I swear you are no fun.” she hears the asari gripe before typing something on her omni, hmphing again, “He was a very good looking turian, why wouldn’t Rose be interested?”

“How should I know?” Naermi retorts,  “I just assumed she wouldn’t want to bring a dirty scavenger into the house.”

“He’s not a scavenger.” Rose says again - louder this time - fed up with being the current topic of debate, “Or - not anymore, anyways.”

Two sets of very different eyes are on her then, and Rose slowly spins herself around in the chair, meeting them both head on.

They’re a team of three, but she’s the only botanist - and considering how often the other two argue, she’s glad to be able to run solo on most things. Both of the other women are xenobiologists, but they’re also… very different.

Malee T’Velis is an asari - 40 years old and still a Maiden by asari standards, with blue-purple skin and white markings where a human would have eyebrows. Outgoing, inquisitive, smart and charming - and the best friend she’s ever had, since they’d met as teens on the Citadel.

Naermi Solus is a salarian - 20 years old but probably smarter than either Malee or Rose herself, skin a pale-coralish tone, personality exactly what she’d come to expect from salarians - usually serious, studious, but easily excitable whenever they found a new specimen. She’d only joined them after they’d all ended up on the Nexus - something Rose was honestly grateful for.

Good to have an opposite to Malee.

“Ooooo, Rose knows things.” Malee’s grin says everything about her thoughts, and Rose lifts a hand to stop her.

“Nope, don’t even think about it, Mal. I gave the guy a ride back from the Outskirts because he helped me deal with a couple of scavs. That’s it.

“You sure? He seemed awfully friendly.”

That’s it, Mal.”

“See? Waste of time.” Naermi blinks once at them both and then takes her leave, mumbling the entire time.

Malee only grins wider, “Seems strange that someone you don’t know at all would give you a nickname, Rose.”

Oh, fuck. “He was just doing it to be a pain in the ass, Mal; now shoo, I want to sleep-”

“Aw, you tired, Princess?”

“OUT!” Rose grabs her gloves and tosses them at the fleeing asari, her laughter echoing behind her even once the doors closed itself.

She stands and stares at the door for several moments before allowing herself a quiet chuckle, too - running a hand through her hair and glancing back at the biggest frame on her desk, giving a crooked grin.

“Wish you were here, sis.” Rose laughs, the sound going quiet, “You’d have loved this.”


 

 The next morning finds Rose heading for her Nomad and stopping dead in surprise, wondering if she’s pissed off some sort of Heleus God. “What the hell are you doing here?”

Rainer pauses in examining his talons to glance up at her, mandibles quirked out in what she can clearly read as amusement. “Mornin’, Princess. Figured Ah’d catch ya eventually if Ah waited by yer toy long enough.”

Don’t call me that.” Rose grits out, glancing around - fuck, Malee better not be hiding somewhere… oh, Gods, she’s probably up in the bunk with binoculars- “Are you here for a reason or just to annoy the hell out of me?”

“Well, mostly ta annoy ya, if Ah’m being honest.” Rainer purrs, pushing away from the Nomad to pace closer - and it takes every single ounce of Marine training she’d ever had to not take a step back, “But also ta offer a hand. Ya headin’ out ta more Remnant Sites t’day?”

Rose does take a step back then, but only so she can tilt her head back and give him a proper suspicious glare, “Maybe… why do you care?”

“As it happens, Ah’ve got no jobs for th’moment - and thanks t’ya, Ah cornered those idiot scavs yesterday. So.” Rainer shifts his stance, mandibles twitching, “Thought Ah’d offer t’play lookout again. Just this once - and Ah’ll even pay attention this time.”

Rose can’t even help a startled burst of laughter, shaking her head, “Aw, you worried about the poor wittle human, Rainer? I can handle myself, bud - but, if you’re that bored, I guess you can come with me. Just this once. Deal?”

“Deal.” the turian steps back, voice dripping with sarcasm as he sweeps his arm out towards the Nomad and bows, “After you, Princess.”

Fucking jerk.” Rose snarls back, stomping past the laughing turian and yanking the door of the vehicle open, “Oi, you coming or not, jackass?!”

“Aye, aye, Princess.”

Ohhh, I’m going to kill him.

Chapter Text

“Okay, we’re working on the opposite side of the Ship today - donno how familiar you are with the Remnant sites?”

“That th’one embedded in the mountain?”

Rose hmms, and he catches her shooting him a look before her gaze snaps back to the sand ahead of them. “You got it. Guess you would know more about this desert then me, being an ex-scav.”

Ah was a fake scav, but that’s not somethin’ ya get t’know. Rainer shrugs nonchalantly - something he’d picked up from the human scavs, which he’ll never admit - stretching out as much as he can in the cramped space of the Nomad. “Gotta know where yer goin’ or ya’ll end up lost in th’desert, Princess. And bein’ lost in this desert? Yer guaranteed death.”

“Well, shit, thanks for the lovely sentiment.” she mutters back, jerking the wheel hard to the right to avoid a shambling taurg, breathing a quiet sigh when the Monolith comes into view ahead of them, “I’ll admit, I haven’t scoped this area out yet - just drove by slow enough to pin-point it on my map. Anything specific I should be watching out for?”

Rainer hums, drumming a talon against his knee and pretending to think long and hard about it, not bothering to clamp down on the amusement singing from his sub-vocals. “Well, yer Human Pathfinder essentially demolished th’scavenger population on th’planet, so ya just get the occasional rovin’ band of idiots like the ones ya stumbled on yesterday. Kett are scarce around here for th’same reason.”

“So this Monolith is clear?”

“Of smart enemies, sure. Still gonna get creepers poppin’ up - ohthis Monolith, right, yer gonna be glad ya brought me with, Princess. Hope yer shields are amped.”

“Why-”

Rose breaks off with a curse when the Nomad bumps over something, hitting the brakes and squinting out the windshield. She starts swearing at the same time that Rainer starts laughing.

Are those giant ticks?!

“Can’t say Ah know what a tick is,” Rainer purrs, far too amused by her reaction, “But those, Princess, are spit bugs. Nasty little acid spitters - get caught and it’ll eat through yer shields like nothin’.”

“Is there a nest near here or something?” Rose scowls, lifting her arm and typing something on her omni, fingers a blur of movement that he stops trying to trace when it makes him dizzy, “Or are they just… drawn by the Remnant?”

“Can’t say fer sure, just know there’s always spit bugs around here. Ah’ve seen scavs brought down by those things, thinkin’ they were harmless - nasty way ta go.”

“Naermi will love this.” she mutters, finishing her typing with a flurry of keys - Rainer leans back when her shields regenerate suddenly, flashing yellow in a number of places, “Alright, shields are amped - you need a boost or you set?”

“Thought ya were a botanist?” he asks, clamping his mandibles close to his face to stop the faint hum of curiosity trying to come through.

“I am, but do you really think the Initiative would hire a botanist that couldn’t defend herself? I was a Marine, first.” Rose rolls her eyes, throwing the Nomad into park before climbing into the back of the vehicle, “Tech specialist - so I’m better at tweaking shields and throwing overloads then I am at fighting on the frontline, but I can handle myself.”

Rose reemerges from the back a moment later with a satchel of supplies slung over one shoulder and a shotgun strapped to her thigh - but what makes him trill in surprise is the sniper rifle clutched in her right hand.

“Princess with a sniper rifle.” he mutters, mandibles flared in amusement, returning the scathing look she shoots him over her shoulder with a wide grin of his own. “Gotta be a story behind that.”

“Later. Let’s take out the bugs first.” Rose reaches for the door latch, pauses to throw him another look “You need that boost or what?”

Rainer types a code on his own omni and flicks a mandible as his shield restarts, flashing yellow just as hers had, “Naw, mine’s already calibrated for the shit out here. Why? Ya worried, Princess?”

Rose snorts, yanking on the latch and hopping down to the sand, “Just don’t want to have to lug your ass back to the Outpost, jerk.”

Rainer hoots with laughter, firing off a shot as he hits the sand behind her, scoping out the bugs closest to them and purring “Aw, ya do care!”

“Save it.” she snarls, tracking another set of bugs and taking them down with quick shots - she’s a little off-centre, not perfectly scoped, but not bad, either, huh - moving slowly but steadily towards the hulking form of the Monolith.

Because they’re prepared and managed to catch the bugs off guard, it’s an easy task to take them out - leaving a small graveyard of insect corpses littering the sand.

“They’ll disintegrate soon enough,” Rainer chuckles when he notices the woman’s disgusted look, ejecting the spent clip from his rifle and loading a fresh one just in case, “Need any more help with th’bugs before Ah find a good perch an’hunker down?”

“Looks like we’re clear for the moment - but staying in contact on the comm would probably be a good idea.” Rose looks incredibly peeved as she says it, lifting her arm and typing out a quick command on her omni, “Here, I’m sending you my code - then you’ll actually hear me if I’m calling for help.”

“Ya do realize this means Ah can contact ya whenever, right? Even after this little outing?” Rainer flares his mandibles widely, accepting the code and pinging his own back.

“Trust me, I’m already regretting it.”

Plus,” Rainer turns to scope out the pillars, heading for the tallest one to look for a way up, calling back over his shoulder, “Ah’d have been able ta hear ya anyways, Princess; turian hearin’s a lot better than human hearing!”

Now you tell me?!”

Rainer’s laughing the entire way up to the top of the tallest pillar, sub-vocals humming with amusement. Spirits, it’s been a long time since Ah’ve laughed this much - interestin’ little human.

It’s an easy task to make it to his chosen perch - jump jets were one of th’best damn things t’come out of this damn trip - and he gets as close to the edge of the space as he can, settling into a comfortable sniping position and adjusting the scope on his rifle.

Ready to go, Rainer does a check of the area and then zooms in on Rose, watching as she kneels next to one of the Blooms and pulls various containers and tools from her satchel - noting that her rifle is close at hand this time. Better prepared. Good.

He watches for a bit as she sets herself up, pulling on gloves and opening containers and the like, before returning to watching the perimeter - picking off the few bugs that pop up at the very edges of the site.

Maybe twenty minutes go by before he hums and activates the comm link, saying “How’d ya become a botanist?”

“Why?” comes Rose’s immediate response, tinged with suspicion and backed by the noise of her working.

“Call me curious.”

“The way anyone becomes a botanist.” she snipes, making him growl softly.

“And ya call me a smartass.” he mumbles, hearing a huff of laughter from the other side. She says nothing else, but he can hear her working - turning the scope back to her he can see her digging, scooping up samples of dirt and pouring them into specific containers.

The fact that she’s left the comm line open makes him grin, trying again. “Okay, c’mon, talk ta me, here. Why did ya become a botanist? Seems like a strange profession to get into if yer already a Marine.”

“What is this, twenty questions?” she asks, voice just a tad less guarded.

“If ya want, sure. Otherwise it’s gonna be a very boring outing for me, and Ah may resort to whining.”

“Fine, you big baby. I never liked being on the frontlines of battle - I was offered a choice between N School and moving into a Research position, and I chose Research. Botany just ended up being the strain I was best at.”

“Aren’t N7’s supposed t’be some kind of badass soldiers?” he wonders aloud, scoping and shooting down another two of the bugs, “Seems strange ya’d be offered that if ya don’t like frontline battle.”

“Tell me about it - I was happy to be given a choice, really. Already have one N7 in the family - don’t need two.”

“One of yer parents?” Rainer asks, sub-vocals humming curiously.

Rose is quiet for a moment, still digging away, and he’s just about to turn the scope back to her to check what’s going on when she says “Okay, my turn. Let’s start simple. Why did you offer to accompany me again?”

Well, ya know, you’ve managed to pique the Nexus’ interest with yer work on the Remnant Blooms - which ya know anyways, or else ya wouldn’t have been moved to Elaaden. What ya don’t know is that Kesh wants an eye kept on ya to make sure nothing in this Spirits damned desert manages t’kill ya - and as her apparent errand boy on Elaaden, Ah’ve been assigned the wonderful duty of keeping ya alive. All delivered through one Vorn, who is also quite excited about the new discovery.

He’s not going to tell her any of that, of course. Even if Kesh didn’t care, he isn’t willing to risk it - and he’s not about to tell her everything a day after meeting her, either.

So Rainer pauses, then purrs “Because Ah was bored, and yer funny as hell t’annoy.” Which isn’t a lie, really, considering the pure thrill he gets just from her growl on the other end of the comm.

“Anyone ever tell you you’re an asshole?” she grits out, digging suddenly louder - likely taking her annoyance out on the dirt.

“All the time.” he answers without a hint of shame, “My turn - easy, because Ah’m crap at judging human age. How old are ya?”

“Counting the six hundred year nap or no?”

“Gonna go with no.”

“Then I’m thirty. Same question back at you.”

“Thirty three, give or take - Ah was thirty when we went into stasis, and Ah’ve been awake since th’Nexus got here.” Rainer pauses to shoot down the first batch of creepers that pop up, thinking, “My turn, huh? How’d ya get a Nomad?”

“By scrounging every single damn credit I made before and since waking up - happy to say the credits I’d had stashed in my omni made it through the conversion when I hit Andromeda. The Initiative covered the majority of our gear, so I was able to pour all my funds into buying the Nomad the moment we hit Elaaden.”

“Seems a bit more suped up than others Ah’ve seen people with out here?”

“First rule; if you’re buying a Nomad, get it from the outpost on Voeld or Elaaden.” Rose pauses, making a noise of surprise - he can see her examining a sample of dirt through his scope, eyes narrowed - before explaining “They have the two most hostile environments in Heleus that we’ve come across, so the Nomad’s are pre-set with better environmental controls and all-terrain mods. I had enough that I was able to give it a couple other mods, but nothing crazy like what the Pathfinder’s have.”

“Huh. That’s smart.” he mutters, shifting his rifle at a hint of movement and taking down another spit bug.

Rose goes silent for a moment, even the sound of digging halting, and he zooms in on her immediately - fuck, did a bug get through or somethin’? - before she exhales loudly, expression looking startled through his scope.

“I’m sorry, did you just say something nice to me?”

“Must be hearin’ things.” Rainer denies, clamping down on the strange sense of panic he’d felt at her silence, turning his scope away to check the perimeter - and freezing when she starts to laugh, surprised.

“You’re such an ass.” Rose says, but there’s no venom in the words, and she’s still laughing - so different from the other tone’s he’s heard from her, lighter then before.

Huh. Rainer stays silent, just listening as he scans for threats, mandibles quivering curiously.

Eventually the laughter subsides, and Rose sighs on the other end of the line, voice back to normal when she speaks “Alright, my turn. What did you do before coming to Andromeda?”

“Ah, nothing excitin’. Ah was a low-level member of the Hierarchy’s Military. One of the snipers they’d assign to various squads, help keep a lookout and down enemies from afar.” he doesn’t say that he was the top sniper of his rank, or that he’d turned down a raise in the ranks in order to come to Andromeda - the raise had been due to his name, and not his skills, something that didn’t sit right with him.

“So why did you come to Andromeda?” she asks, sounding curious, and despite it technically being his turn, Rainer stops, thinking about it.

To get away. To be something besides a Vakarian, defined forever by a family name I didn’t ask for. To not have those expectations to live up to. To be-

“Rainer?”

“Ta be someone.” he answers, lamely, and the line goes quiet for a moment.

“I get that.” Rose says eventually, and he can hear her starting to pack things up.

“How’bout you, Princess?” Rainer uses the nickname to steady himself, reigning in his subvocals again, “Why’d ya join the Initiative?”

“I’d rather not talk about it.” she says immediately, and something in her tone stops him from poking at that - some note of emotion that he can’t identify, doesn’t know if he wants to identify.

“Alright, then… d’you have a mate? Or whatever the hell ya humans call them?”

“Nope - too much of a workaholic, I guess.” he can definitely hear her getting ready to pack up, now, and a glance through the scope confirms that she’s begun tucking things into her satchel, “How about you? Come to Andromeda with anyone?”

“Nothin’ that serious - had a couple a flings over the years. None worth mentionin’.” he thinks briefly of the one such event he’s had since arriving in Andromeda and shakes his head, annoyed, “Ya ready t’go, Princess?”

“Yeah, come on down - got the samples I need.”

Rainer makes sure his rifle is secure before taking the same route down that he had up, landing smoothly on the sand and turning to see Rose watching him with narrowed eyes.

“Impressed?” he purrs, brow plates lifted.

“Nah, just picturing you screwing up your landing and face planting in the sand.” Rose quips, smirking, “It’s a hilarious image.”

“Ha, ha.”

Rose just grins, opening her canteen as she turns to head towards the Nomad, frowning and shaking it upside down, “Ah, damn, I drank it all. Need to invest in a bigger one.”

“Here.” Rainer holds his own out to her, humming at her narrowed look, “What?”

“What is it?”

“It’s water, Princess; Spirits, yer paranoid.” holding her gaze, he pops the cap off and tilts his head back, taking a long swallow of water before holding it out again, “See? Perfectly safe.”

Rose’s eyes stay narrowed, but she reaches out and accepts the canteen, tilting her own head back for a much smaller swig. Then she hands it back, grimacing, “Bleh, tastes almost metallic - yuck, turian spit.”

“Ya like it.” he teases, laughing at the hmph and half-hearted swat it earns him, following her back towards the Nomad.

“Not goin’ to take any bug corpses back to study?”

“That’s all Naermi; if she wants them, she can come get’em.”

Rainer just snickers almost the entire way back - purposely nitpicking at her driving just to rile her up more, laughing outright when she swerves hard to miss a rather lazy taurg lounging in the sand.

It’s only as they’re nearing the outpost that he notices Rose has gone quiet, catching her scratching at her throat. “Alright there, Princess?”

“Yeah.” she rasps, voice sounding strained suddenly, “Just itchy. Do I have any bumps or anything?”

The moment she takes her hand away he leans in closer, examining the skin - her throat is red, and there are indeed tiny bumps spread over the skin, like a sort of rash.

“What th’hell could have - oh, fuck,” Rainer curses, gripping the canteen at his hip, “Princess, ya got any dextro allergies Ah should know about?”

“I didn’t think I did!” Rose grumps, scratching at her throat again as she pulls the Nomad back into place at the outpost, scowling, “Crap - turian spit! Arg, it’s itchy.”

“Shit, Ah wouldn’t have offered if Ah’d known.” there’s a growl in his voice, but he can’t help it. He hadn’t meant to do anything but share the water, dammit.

“Rainer, it’s fine - Naermi’ll have antihistamines or something. And a small rash really isn’t that bad of a reaction.”

“Still.”

“It’s kind of funny, actually.” she says, and he looks up at her to find her grinning, “Botanist taken down by turian spit. I’m allergic to you, Rainer.”

Rainer stares at her for a moment, processing the words - then he howls out a laugh, sub-vocals thrumming.

“Alright, Princess,” he agrees, chuckling, “That is pretty funny. Let’s not leave it too long, though, just in case.”

“Deal.”

Chapter Text

As a general rule, Rose steers clear of her teammates’ lab - both out of respect for their work, and because she’d really rather not see their dissections up close, thanks.

So now that she’s there - sitting on the end of one of the work-benches at Naermi’s request, the only clear space in the damn lab - she takes a look around, wary but curious.

The salarian is mumbling to herself as she gets the antihistamine shot ready, apparently oblivious to Rose for the moment, so the brunette hums and squints at things, trying to identify them.

There’s a live Kaerkyn in a tank towards the back of the lab, along with a live Drall from Havarl in the tank beside it - the only way to study them, since they explode on death - and an empty tank to the right of that, which makes her pause for a moment.

The rest of the lab is either dissected specimens - the corpse of a Shemrys lays momentarily forgotten on the workbench opposite her, dropped when she’d come to ask for medicine - or remains kept for studying, such as the spines from a Challyrion, and plates from the Galorn they’d stumbled on hours before leaving Havarl.

And notes scrawled everywhere, as is Naermi’s way. Rose muses with a grin - then jumps with a curse at a sudden prick of pain in her arm “Ow, Naermi, warn me, fuck!”

“Assumed you heard me approach, my apologies.” the salarian blinks once, withdrawing the empty syringe and returning to her workstation, “Don’t move, need to let it take effect - you’re lucky your reaction was so mild, Rose. Could have been much, much worse.”

“I know, trust me - I haven’t had allergy testing in years, so it’s my own fault.” Rose sighs, quirking a grin, “Just didn’t expect to share a canteen with a turian, I guess.”

“Hmm.” Naermi’s silent for a moment, fidgeting with something, and Rose mentally prepares herself for the imminent teasing when she says “Small amount of dextro proteins, small reaction: makes logical sense. Simple mistake, not to worry.”

She slumps in relief, “Thanks, Naermi.”

“You know Malee won’t buy it, though. She’s already convinced you’re ‘sneaking around’ with the turian.” Naermi glances at her for a moment, blinking, then going back to her work, “Just a heads up.”

Rose groans, putting her face in her hands, “Why am I not surprised? He’s literally just come along to bother me, that’s it.”

“Hmm, must not be all bad, or else you’d have refused to bring him along again.”

“He’s an ass.” Rose mutters, considering, “But he’s a half-decent lookout, and somewhat entertaining to talk to, I guess.”

“Don’t say that to Malee, or she’ll never shut up.” Naermi nods to herself and walks back over, another syringe in hand, “Oh, one more thing; I want a spit bug.”

“You want a - OWNaermi!” Rose hisses when the salarian injects the needle, yet again with no warning, “What did I just fucking say about warning me?!”

“You’ll get over it.” Naermi withdraws the syringe and eyes the injection site for a moment, looking incredibly pleased with herself, “There, that should do it - you’ll need at least two more shots, though, spaced a day apart, each.”

“I need that many antihistamines?” Rose rubs her arm with a wince, noting that the skin feels tender, “I thought my reaction was small?”

“Oh, only first shot was an antihistamine. This shot is preventative, a formula to familiarize your body with dextro proteins so you don’t need to worry about having another reaction.” Naermi gives her what would be a human duh look, “Need at least three treatments, will need to test reactions after that. Uncle developed formula - managed to acquire it before going into stasis.”

“And why is it necessary for me to be your test subject?”

“In case of circumstances such as today, Rose - so that sharing a canteen, or anything else, with Rainer, will not lead to allergic reactions. Not important, back on topic - spit bugs. They amass at the Monolith you visited today, did they not?”

“Hold on a minute here, who says I’m going to - wait. Waaaait.” Rose’s eyes narrow, grip on the table tightening, “I didn’t say a thing about spit bugs, or the Monolith.”

“Oh, didn’t you?”

“Did you hack my comm?”

“Perhaps, but that is irrelevant. I need a spit bug-”

Naermi!”

“-in order to study the Remnant’s effects on them.” the Salarian gives another slow blink, unperturbed, “For that, I require help.”

“Malee can help you get a corpse, I’ll mark the Monolith on your map-”

“Ah, no, do not want a corpse. Need a live spit bug. Need you, Malee, and Rainer to help, if what I’ve heard of their acid spray is correct. Turian seems competent, going by conversations over comm.” Naermi’s moved away again by this point, heading to the tanks at the back - and now the empty one makes sense, “Don’t worry, tank is fortified, will resist acid. You’ll ask him, yes? We should go tomorrow.”

“If only because I know I’ll never hear the end of it if I don’t ask him, fine.” Rose hops down off the bench, more than ready to retreat to her own lab, “Am I good?”

“Yes, yes, though warning, you may feel nauseous for several hours; tea should help.” Naermi waves over her shoulder, fiddling with the tank, “Also, Malee ran to the supply unit - checking for deliveries and picking up more food.”

“Alright. Thanks, I guess.”

“No thanks needed. Be ready for tomorrow.”

Rose hustles out of the lab as quickly as she can, making a brief stop in the bathroom before slipping into her own space and sighing in relief.

Fuck me, she groans, stripping out of her armor and flopping face-first onto the couch, mumbling into the pillow, She wants a live goddamn spit bug. This is gonna suck.

She just lays there for a moment, listening to the sounds outside the windows - perking briefly when Malee sings out a greeting on entry, fidgeting in the main room before her voice gets further away - curling into a ball when the aforementioned nausea rears its ugly head.

Should get some tea. She thinks, making zero effort to move. In all honesty, she could probably just fall asleep - forget about Naermi’s crazy request and her allergic reaction and just drift away into dreams.

Still need to get those soil samples sorted properly, Rose sighs, pushing herself up, Microscope isn’t here yet, but may as well be prepared-

The thoughts interrupted by her omni pinging suddenly, and she squints at the call for a moment before blinking. Huh. Well, saves me calling him.

“Hey, Rainer, something happen?” she asks once the calls active, tucking her legs beneath her.

“Ya alright?” comes the turians voice, serious for once, and Rose just stares at her omni for a moment.

“What?”

“Yer reaction.” Rainer says, exasperation singing from his sub-vocals, “Did yer teammate have meds?”

“Oh, yeah, she did, it’s cleared up; I’m good to go.” she pauses, smirks, “Were you worried about me, Rainer?”

“Maybe.” he grumps.

“Aw, tough old Rainer, worried about the wittle human.” Rose coos, using the same simpering tone she’d used before - with all the needling she’s gotten from him, she can’t resist.

Rainer growls on the other end. Yes, Ah was worried about ya, Princess - Ah might be an ass, but Ah wasn’t tryin’ta hurt ya. There, happy?”

Rose freezes at the confession, surprised and… strangely, happy. Examine that later, Rose.

“I’m okay, Rainer. Honestly. Naermi had meds.” Rose leans back, grinning wryly, “But, if you want to make it up to me… I need your help.”

“That so?”

“Yuuup. Naermi wants a spit bug - but not a dead spit bug, she wants a live spit bug.”

There’s silence on the other end of the comm for a moment, then “Is she crazy?”

“That’s what I said, but regardless, that’s what she wants. And I feel like having all four of us there might give us a better chance at actually surviving this encounter. Or at least, not getting covered in acid.”

Rainer sighs, humming, then “Alright, Princess, Ah’ll accompany ya girls on yer expedition. Let’s jus’hope they’re good at takin’ care a’themselves.”

“They’ll be fine - meet you at the Nomad at 10:00 tomorrow.”

“Got it. Sweet dreams, Princess.”

“Night, Rainer.”

It’s only once they’ve hung up that Rose realizes she hadn’t rebuked Rainer once about calling her Princess, making her pause and scowl.

No, you know what? Don’t dwell on it. You’ve just somehow managed to make friends with an asshole turian and you’re getting used to him, that’s it.

Rose forces herself to her feet at that, shaking the thoughts away as she pads quietly out to their little kitchen and makes herself some herbal tea - one of the last batches I brought with me, shit, hopefully someone on the Nexus brought some to sell - before returning to her lab, booting up her terminal.

There’s another email from Vorn, and this one catches her by surprise.

Rose,

Told Kesh about the progress you’re making with the Blooms! She’s decided to assign you a bodyguard to make sure nothing kills you. Bit rough around the edges, but a good guy; he’ll find you tomorrow. Keep me updated! No word on Meridian slots opening yet, but Eos should be clear when you’re ready to move.

Vorn.

Typical Krogan, straight to the point. Rose hmms, leaning back in her desk chair and tapping a finger against her lips, Bodyguard, huh? Should be interesting - as long as he and Rainer don’t rip each other’s throats out we’ll be good. Though if Rainer’s been staying with the krogan, maybe he knows the guy? Hmm… guess I’ll find out tomorrow.

Her mind's buzzing with questions that she doesn't have answers to, so Rose grabs her notebook and flips to the page with her current sketches, hitting play on the second file of her audio player before settling in to add to the sketches.

Morning, Rosie! Sorry we had to leave so early - had to head back to Base for a briefing, but since I didn’t get to say goodbye in person, thought I’d leave you a log!

Need more purple, Rose thinks, reaching blindly for her stash of coloured pens and making a noise of triumph when she grabs the purple one, Delicate veins, designs like the Remnant-

“Mom and Dad are the same as ever, huh? I mean, we’re both out on our own, doing awesome things, and they still act like we’re teenagers! Don’t listen to them, okay? You’re doing such important work! We’re always discovering new planets - going to need to know if the plants are edible! They’re just too old fashioned, is all.”

-and blue lines, here, light blue, not nearly as dark as Rainer’s markings. Markings that seemed very very vaguely familiar, if she’s being honest, but like from a newspad or something she’d seen on the Citadel, not anyone she’d met in person, Familiar but different, like an off-branch or something, or however the hell their markings are determined-

“I’m sooo glad you like Nate! He really likes you, too! You’ll do it, right Rosie? You’ll be my maid of honor? We’re going to get married before I get reassigned - I’m leaving you both behind for the front lines soon, hah! Should be interesting! Don’t worry about rushing out and finding a boyfriend, either - let Mom and Dad have their complaints, it’s your life, and we’re only twenty-six!”

“Anyways, transports here, so we’re off - take care of yourself, Rosie! Love you lots!”

Rose finishes her sketching in silence, lip caught between her teeth, thoughts divided between the present and the past.

She’d said yes, of course. How could she ever say no to her twin? Lily had been her only true source of support for years, until she’d befriended Malee - even then, her twin was irreplaceable.

She looked beautiful that day, too. She always looked beautiful, but that dress made her glow.

Rose blows out a breath, setting the notebook aside and glancing at the framed pictures - eyes drawn to the portrait from her twins wedding.

Lily had been glowing, so happy and excited and alive in that moment, that it broke her heart to look at it, now.

“Rest well, sis.” she mumbles, “I’ll do my best to make you proud, out here.”

 


 

Vorn

Vorn sends the email off to Rose and then pauses, squinting at his terminal while he thinks.

Alright, gave her the heads up - now, who to send as a bodyguard? Hmmmm. He grumbles, then starts typing, Ragh can do it! He’s been bitching that he’s been bored lately, anyways.

It’s only once he’s hit send that a thought clicks, making him curse and start typing on his omni, Idiot! Rainer’s going to be with her anyways, since he’s having so much damn fun annoying her. May as well make his position official.

“Vorn. What happened this time?” comes the turian’s sarcastic drawl the moment he picks up, sounding otherwise happier than Vorn’s ever heard him.

“Got a job for you - or rather, making your job official.” Vorn smirks, even knowing the other man can’t see him, “Congrats; you’re Rose’s bodyguard. Don’t fuck up, alright? Or Kesh’ll have both our hides?”

There’s a pause on the other side, then a burst of laughter. “Shit, ya mean Ah get ta spend m’time annoying th’Princess, and Ah’m gettin’ paid fer it? Ah’m in.”

“Figured you would be. Keep me updated.”

“Will do.”

Rainer hangs up without another word, but that’s always been his way; Vorn just continues to smirk, turning back to his terminal to email Ragh back and cancel-

-jumping back instead when a video call opens on the screen and he finds himself stared down by one very annoyed Kesh.

“Kesh? What’s wrong? Is everything alright-”

“Dad! Story!”

“We want story!”

“STORYYYYYY!”

“Your children are refusing to go to bed without a ‘story from papa’,” Kesh grumbles, hoisting the three toddlers higher in her lap, “So, Vorn - it’s storytime.”

“O-of course, Kesh.” Vorn clears his throat, trying to think of a story, still endlessly bewildered in the face of his children.

And completely forgetting to email Ragh back.

Chapter Text

By the time 10:00 rolls around, Rainer’s been waiting by the Nomad for at least thirty minutes - leaning back against the vehicle with his arms crossed, casually watching the other members of the outpost going about their business, tracking movements between buildings.

Nothing suspicious, and with the scavs taken care of the spying aspect of his job is essentially null, which has left him bored and antsy.

Being appointed as Rose’s bodyguard, though - he hadn’t expected it, but he sure as hell wasn’t going to say no to it. Getting paid to stick close to the interesting little human is just a damn perk; he’d have kept tagging along regardless, just to pester her.

It’s been a long time since he’s had anyone around he’s cared to talk to - Vorn being the only real exception - so unless he’s given a damn good reason, he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

So he hums in surprise when Ragh appears from the border of the outpost and heads towards him, giving a curious trill and lifting his brow plates. “Ragh. What’s got ya up this early?”

“Job from Vorn.” the krogan grunts, looking just as surprised to see him, “Bodyguard duty… though considering you’re here, Rainer, I’m thinking some wires got crossed, somewheres.”

“That’s what Ah’m thinkin’.” Rainer hums, attention darting over the krogans shoulder when he catches movement - rumbling in amusement at the group approaching them, “Mornin’, Princess. This yer team?”

“Good morning, Rainer. Who’s your friend?” Rose only stops once she’s nearly at his side, giving the krogan a curious look.

“This is Ragh, one o’the few krogan Ah actually care t’talk to. He got sent out by accident, though.”

“Huh?”

“Ah, Vorn must’ve gotten distracted by Kesh, betcha any money.” Ragh cackles, clapping Rainer on the shoulder - the turian holds back a flinch, mandibles quivering in annoyance. “Vorn emailed me t’act as yer bodyguard, missy - but seein’as Rainer’s got it under control, I’m goin back t’bed.”

“See ya later, Ragh.”

“Wait…” Rose’s nose is scrunched up when he glances down at her, looking confused, “What just happened?”

“Vorn’s a bit easily distracted.” Rainer’s given up trying to clamp down on his sub-vocals, too amused to bother, “Ah’m guessin’ he emailed Ragh first, changed his mind and called me, then forgot t’cancel with Ragh.”

“So… you’re my bodyguard?”

“Yup. Afraid yer stuck with me, Princess.”

Rose’s reaction is a disgruntled noise and throwing her arms up in the air, whining “Why, Gods?! What did I do?!”

Rainer just laughs harder, reining himself back in with a last trill and patting the shorter human on the shoulder, “Alright, enough fun n’games - introduce yer team mates, Princess.”

“Ugh, fine. Rainer - Malee T’Velis, and Naermi Solus. Girls, this is Rainer.” Rose plants her hands on her hips and grumps, “My bodyguard as of this morning, apparently.”

“Pleasure.” he purrs, mandibles flaring wide at another noise from Rose, “Ah’ll be accompanying ya ladies on yer mission t’catch a spit bug t’day - which, might Ah say, seems like a fool's errand?”

So nice to finally meet you, Rainer! Rose won’t tell us anything.” Malee’s grin makes him slightly wary, but he accepts the hand she offers to shake, keeping an eye out for biotics. “And please, we’re professionals - it’ll be fine.”

“Greetings.” chirps Naermi, the salarian looking incredibly bored and fidgety, “Can we pack up and go, now? I want to spend as little time as possible hunting down a bug.”

“Yup, good, agreed, let’s go.” Rose steps up to the nomad and bumps Rainer out of the way, shooting him a look and activating the DNA lock on the side door, “Malee and Naermi, you’re in the back with the gear - no buts, Rainer’s too damn tall to fit back there, and I’m driving.”

“Fiiiiiine.” Malee sighs, shooting him a wink as she climbs up into the back of the Nomad, followed by a clearly impatient Naermi.

Rainer sweeps into a bow before Rose can say anything, purring and flaring his mandibles, “After you, Princess.”

“Don’t even try to make this a habit, Rainer, or I swear I’ll leave your ass behind.” Rose growls, climbing grumpily into the Nomad - more smoothly then he’d have expected a woman of her height, really, but she’s likely had plenty of practice since buying the thing.

“Aw, that hurts.” he laughs, climbing in after and pulling the door shut behind him, strapping in as the brunette gets the vehicle up and running.

“Alright, girls.” Rose throws the Nomad into drive and hits the gas, the bleep of a location marker pinging on the nav mod on the dash, “What’s our plan, here?”

“Capture a spit bug.” says Naermi, as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world.

“Uh huh, great plan. Totally won’t get us all covered in acid. Any other thoughts?”

“How long you been on Elaaden, Rainer?” Malee pipes up, catching his attention, “And is there a last name there, or did it get lost somewhere?”

“Yeah, Ah’ve got one.”

“...and that would be….?”

“Vakarian.” Rainer rumbles, hoping it’s not one they’ve run into, “Ah’ve been on Elaaden since th’krogan came’ere - left with them when shit went down on th’Nexus. Been here ever since.”

“Vakarian?” he hears the hmm in her voice, worries briefly that she does know it, before she continues “Well, no one better suited to guard Rosie, then! Glad she’s got someone capable looking after her.”

Rose makes a noise and veers sharply around the mountain ridge - Rainer only clamps down on the humming when she shoots him a glare.

“Not a word.” she hisses, gaze back on the road as they approach the familiar structure - and the swarm of spit bugs surrounding it, the same as they had been previously, “Okay, then, here’s the plan: clear out all the spit bugs first, set up the trap, lure a damn bug into the tank when they pop up again.”

“Sounds easy!”

“Affirmative.”

“This outta be fun.” Rainer purrs, already unstrapping his rifle as they skid to a stop, popping in a fresh heatsink, “Ready when you are, Princess.”

“Alright, girls - time to shoot some bugs.” Rose throws the Nomad in park and grabs her shotgun, nodding to the two women in the back, “Don’t let their acid catch you - I’ve amped our shields, but it could still eat through if you’re not careful. Just shoot them as quickly as you can; worry about catching one after the first wave is down.”

“Fine.” he hears Naermi grumbling as he pops the door open and climbs out, lining up one of the bugs in his scope but waiting till the other’s are ready to go, curious.

Let’s see what they can do.

It’s clear from the moment they hit the sand that Rose’ team is used to dealing with threats like this - they form a small circle, backs pressed close, able to keep watch on all sides.

Malee attacks first, the asari grinning from ear to ear as she throws shockwaves of biotic energy - Rose catching closer bugs with her shotgun while Naermi picks off more distant targets with a modded pistol.

Rainer picks off a couple of stray bugs with his rifle, but mostly just stands back and enjoys the show, sub-vocals humming appreciatively.

“Gotta say, Princess,” he calls once the first swarm of bugs is down and the girls are returning to the Nomad for their equipment, “Ya got a damn good team.”

Rose stumbles briefly, giving him a look of utter surprise that melts into smug pride, shoulders straightening. “Damn straight I do. Think you can keep up?”

“Ah think Ah’ll manage.” he rumbles back, “So, what’s th’plan?”

“Set up tank, wait for bugs, lure bug into tank.” Malee reappears from the back of the Nomad toting what looks to be a heavy bag, still grinning, “Easy peasy!”

“Depending, of course, on whether or not the bugs like our bait.” Naermi is mumbling as she follows Malee, carrying the tank, “Will simply have to test, put all bait in tank at once - do not want to be here longer than is strictly necessary.”

“Alright, you two get the trap set up - we’ll play lookout.”

“Affirmative. Malee, if you would?”

“I’m coming, I’m coming, yeesh.”

Rainer’s having a hard time keeping his amusement down - they can definitely hear th’humming, heh, ah well - making sure to keep his gaze on Malee and Naermi as they set up the trap, and not on the human woman standing beside him.

“So.” Rose says after a while, sounding almost hesitant, “Vakarian, huh? That sounds vaguely familiar.”

“Nothin’ special.” he says, amusement fading, “Big, old family, Palaven based. Probably been in the news feeds in the Milky Way, some time or other.”

“Is that what your markings are?”

“Mine’re a variation of th’standard Vakarian markings. Not part a’the main family.”

“Ah. Gotcha.” Rose goes quiet for a moment, and Rainer chances a glance down at her - hum returning at the almost chagrined look she’s wearing. “Sorry - wasn’t trying to pry.”

That throws him even more off balance, silence stretching as he tries to think of a response - she hadn’t joked about it, and he remembers her rather tense request to not ask about her own family.

“Yer not pryin’,” he rumbles finally, squashing down on the strangest urge to wrap an arm around her shoulders and give her a squeeze, “Don’t worry about it, Princess.”

Rose’s lips twitch into a grin, her posture relaxing slightly - why the hell does that make me feel better? - looking ready to make a comment, or maybe poke him some more-

“OI, LOVEBIRDS! WATCH THE BUGS!”

Rainer jumps at the yell, cursing - goddamn bugs!

Crap, back-up, quick, we need to - RAINER!” Rose’s voice is a shriek as he grabs her, narrowly avoiding a spray of acid as he dances out of the way, hoisting her over his shoulder as he dodges around the sudden swarm of bugs, “PUT ME DOWN!”

“No can do, Princess!” Rainer’s growling as he darts away from the swarm, running directly for the set-up tank, “Looks like we’re playin’ bait!”

“Don’t you dare drop me!” he hears her curse, to focused on running for the trap and avoiding acid spray to bother with a witty retort.

He’s always been nimble, even running over sand, and the second he’s close enough he’s vaulting over the trap, hearing Rose curse up a storm and yelling “CLOSE THE DAMN TRAP!”

The next second his foots slipping out from under him and he’s tumbling forwards into the sand, swearing and releasing Rose’s legs to keep from landing on them, hearing her yelp as they land.

“Spit Bug acquired! Good work.” Naermi’s crowing somewhere in the background, probably near the tank.

“Shit, you two alright?! That’s a nasty slide!” Malee’s saying, actually sounding concerned as her voice draws closer.

“I’m fine.” he hears Rose grump, her weight lifting from his back as she shuffles around, “Rainer, you alive?”

“Takes more then some sand t’kill me, Princess.” he grumps right back, twisting into a sitting position and growling at a sudden itch spreading over his cowl, “Though it’s damn itchy, Spirits, was not planning to play bait fer you girls.”

“What’s itchy?” Rose is on her knees at his side, brushing off her pants and looking just as annoyed as he feels, “Can I help?”

“Sand in m’cowl, Princess - most of it’s protected by m’armor, but the parts that are partially exposed get irritated.”

“Well, here, let me brush it off-”

“Ah, y’don’t need t’do that-”

Rainer’s mouth snaps shut when the human ignores him and starts brushing away sand particles - focused mostly around his shoulders and the very edges of his cowl, leading up to the parts of his neck that are affected - a hum starting that he can’t seem to control.

This is… nice. Strange, but nice.

“Is that better? Rainer? Oi, Elaaden to Rainer, you hit your head?”

“What?” Rainer snaps back to attention, the hum cutting off as he stares at the scowling human for a moment without comprehending. Then he catches up, swatting her hands away with a low chuckle, “Ah’m fine, Princess; thanks.”

Rose grins, punching his shoulder gently before standing up, “Hey, you saved my ass - again - least I can do is brush sand off you.”

“True, true,” he purrs, pushing to his own feet and flaring his mandibles at her,  “What would ya do without me, Princess?”

I think we owe Rainer dinner for being such a good bodyguard!” Malee appears behind Rose, slinging her arm casually around the humans shoulders with a knowing smirk, “What say we get the hell outta Spit Bug paradise and get some grub going?”

“Only if he wants to come for dinner - I’m not forcing him to endure you and Naermi and your dinner ‘conversations’, that’s completely his choice.” Rose hmphs, shooting him a look.

“Can’t argue with food.” Rainer hums back, tilting his head at the brunette, “So long as y’don’t mind me joining yah, Princess; not about to make y’uncomfortable by invadin’ yer space.”

“Hey, you’re the one that’s choosing to put up with these two’s version of polite dinner conversation.” Rose snarks, grinning, “Be warned - they discuss their dissections at the dinner table.”

“Ah think Ah can handle that.”

 


 

 Back at the Outpost, it’s clear Malee had planned on him joining them for dinner; she’d picked up dextro supplies during her run the night before.

The asari only smiles innocently and bats her eyes when Rose brings the point up, again hooking an arm around her shoulders and cooing “Now, Rosie, why in Heleus would I ever do such a thing? I just thought it would be good to have on hand in case we happened to have any turian guests!”

“You’re a bad liar, you know that?”

“Oh, please. I’m a fantastic liar!” Malee winks in his direction, steering Rose away towards a set of pull-down steps, “We’ll be back, stud! Gotta get changed out of our bug hunting gear!”

“Take yer time.” Rainer calls back, chuckling at the exasperated expression on Rose’s face - it’s clear the two women are close, but also clear that the human doesn’t quite share her teammates enthusiasm.

“Feel free to wander, Rainer - though I’d stay out of the bio lab if you don’t want to deal with bugs!” Rose shouts just before the two disappear up on the second level, leaving him alone in the main room.

Can’t hurt t’look around? She offered.

Taking her advice, Rainer instead heads for the door labeled Botany, trilling and stepping inside when the door opens at his approach.

It looks about how he’d expected it to, going by what he knows about Rose; neat with the tiniest hint of clutter, small personal items here and there, the Blooms growing steadily under her care.

Rainer glances over the flowers as he wanders further in, stopping at her desk to glance at her sketches - very well done, the Princess has a knack fer drawin’ - and then peering at the photos she has framed, curious.

His eyes lock onto one specific picture, mandibles quivering in surprise.

It’s Rose - maybe just a couple of years younger, maybe - and another woman that has to be her sister, they look so similar to each other. The stranger is in a wedding gown, Rose in a pale pink dress, and he trills curiously, intrigued.

She doesn’t want t’talk about her family. What happened?

“Rainer? Ah, you are in here - decided to steer clear of the bugs?”

“Thought it was safest.” Rainer turns, feeling almost guilty for snooping - and freezing at the sight of her, mandibles clamping close to his face, “Huh.”

He’s only ever seen the woman in armor before - so the sight of Rose with her hair tied back, wearing a tank top and leggings is… interesting.

Incredibly interestin’, his eyes glance over her quickly, curious - hesitating just a moment on her chest, ‘breasts’, he remembers human females have, though Rose’ seem rather larger than other humans he’s met - then landing on the right side of her face, focused on the tattoo and the rough skin beneath it.

“What’s th’scar from?”

“Ah - acid, ironically.” Rose gives a lopsided grin, lifting a hand to run a finger over it, “First year of Botany classes - it was an accident. Didn’t do any serious damage, thankfully, just cosmetic - got the tattoo to cover it up, a bit.”

“Did it bother ya?” he asks, taking a step closer to her, “The scar?”

“Nah, it didn’t bother me… and the people it did bother are back in the milky way, so.” she shrugs, “That’s that.”

“Gotcha.”

“What were you looking at, anyways? My sketches?” Rose lifts an eyebrow, “I try to catalogue the differences in the Blooms we find, colours and shapes and things.”

“Ah, no - Ah did look at them, but yer photos caught m’eye.” Rainer nods his head towards them, “Yer sister?”

Rose follows his nod, and he watches her expression close off - the easy ribbing and banter of the day gone, replaced by a sudden unwillingness to talk.

“Yeah, Lily.” she says, and the buried pain in her voice hurts him, makes him wonder what the hell happened to put that pain there, “Can we not - I’m just…”

“Consider it dropped, Princess.” Rainer rumbles gently, giving in to the urge to reach over and squeeze her shoulder, marvelling at how soft her skin is, “No explanations needed.”

Rose stares at his hand for a moment, likely as surprised by his actions as he is, but before he can withdraw it she covers it with her own much smaller one, squeezing back.

“Thanks, Rainer.” she whispers, causing a burst of emotion in his chest that he shoves away for now, “Ready for dinner? I think it’s almost ready.”

“Ah, yeah, Ah’m starvin’.”

Just like that, the moment’s broken, and his hand falls away as she turns towards the door, mentioning something about ‘hope you’re ready for Malee’s cooking’ as she goes.

And leaving Rainer to follow after, wondering what he’s gotten himself into.

Ah’m getting… attached. That’s a good word. Shit.

Chapter Text

R.E.: You ready?? As soon as my damn microscope shows up I want to hit the sand.

R.V.: Yeah, yeah, relax, I’m on my way over now. What’s the destination today?

R.E.: Don’t freak out - but I want to go to the Remnant Ship.

R.V.: You gotta be shitting me-

R.E.: There’s a huge signal from there that matches the other Blooms, Rainer! I need to check it out, and besides-

R.V.: -ya know I avoid that ship on purpose, Princess, the damn thing gives off bad vibes-

R.E.: -it’s the only Remnant Site I haven’t checked for Blooms! I need to check them all before we move on to Eos!

R.V.: Ugh, fine, Princess, I’ll be there soon. Yer lucky I’m so nice.

R.E.: Oh stop whining you big baby, we’ll feed you for your trouble, alright? I bought more of that Dextro fish I know you like - you’ll just have to help me cook it, since Malee and Naermi’ll be out all day.

R.V.: Done.

Gotcha. Rose smirks, closing the message window and rocking back in her desk chair, attention returning to the new sketches she’d been working on before she’d messaged Rainer. Just a few addendum's to add as she observed the Blooms - no major changes, but enough to mark down.

“-going to be headed to the Citadel soon, since Nate and I have been assigned to the Alliance squad stationed there. Did you hear the rumors about that Spectre, Saren? I hear Commander Shepard’s been trying to track him down - Gods, Rosie, I’d have loved to be in N7 training with her, she’s already a legend - she was a year or two ahead of me though, boo.”

Lily’s voice is a soothing backdrop as she works, despite it being the second last message she’d ever sent her - excitement and anxiety present in her twins tone at the prospect of working on the Citadel, the thought of being part of something big - and Rose hums, sketching down notes.

-the Blooms are growing the same as they were, no changes asides from bigger petals on the Havarl Blooms. Mixing the soil of the two planets doesn’t seem to have messed anything up, at least, since they’re growing as they should be-

It’s an interesting find, for sure - whatever the Remnant have done to the plants, they’ve changed them in the same way across both planets, with only a few physical differences. I wonder what they’ll be like on the other planets, if there are any on other planets-

Going by reports, Eos definitely has the Blooms - Kesh had emailed Rose directly not two nights before to give the team the Okay to head for Eos, including reports of Blooms sighted near the Remnant Vault there.

Malee and Naermi had requested at least another week on Elaaden - the Spit Bug they’d managed to wrangle a month before had apparently only left them with more questions, and they wanted to try and hunt down another to compare them.

“We can handle it this time, Rosie, you and Rainer don’t need to play bait!” Malee had smirked, winking as they discussed their plans over dinner the night before, “Gotta let you two have some alone time, after all.”

“Will Rainer be joining us on Eos?” Naermi had asked before Rose could throttle the asari, picking carefully at her food, “You must admit, he has been an asset to the team - and though I hate agreeing with Malee, I do believe you’ve gotten attached.”

“I’ll ask him.” Rose had answered, refusing to even acknowledge the salarians claim.

Now, though, her brain seemed stuck on that thought: will Rainer come to Eos with us? I hope so, but I can’t exactly force him - even if he is supposed to be my bodyguard. Huh. Unless Kesh ordered him to… no, that’s just mean.

Truth be told, the cranky turian has grown on her over the last month of exploring together - Rainer might’ve been rough around the edges, but he’s a good lookout, entertaining to have around, and his experiences on Palaven are both similar and vastly different to her own on Earth.

So she really, really hopes he’s going to come to Eos with them.

“...gotta go now, Rosie, shuttles gonna head out. Keep an ear on the comm waves, alright? Not liking this news of Geth. And don’t worry about Mom and Dad - congrats on graduating top of your class! I knew you could do it! They’ll get over it eventually - just keep being awesome. Anyways, love you lots! I’ll call again once I’m settled in!”

The log ends at the same time as the buzzer at the front door goes off, Rose nearly toppling from the chair in her rush to stand - scrambling out of the lab with a curse and palming the lock on the door.

“Hey there, Princess!” Rainer greets, jerking his head at the bored looking delivery man behind him, “This th’package ye were expectin’?”

“Yes! My microscope, finally!” Rose steps out to meet the man, shooting Rainer a behave please look that only earns her a flare of his mandibles, “Hi, this is for me - Rose Evans, Botany. Do you need a DNA scan or anything?”

“Just a fingerprint scan,” the man deadpans, typing on his omni and running the beams over the hand she stretches out, “Identity confirmed - thank you for your business. Where would you like the package?”

“Ah, in the lab - this way, please.” Rose steps backwards through the door, keeping her hand on the lock while the delivery man directs the floating platform inside the building, “Rainer, can you-”

“This way.” the turian grumps, waving at the worker and leading him over to the Botany door, shooting her an amused look as he holds the door till the platform has made it through, “Oi, Princess, where d’ya want this thing?”

“Anywhere on the ground is good for now! Rainer, you can lift that, right? To move it later?”

“Should be fine - we can call Ragh if we need more muscle.”

The man’s expression doesn’t change as he types on his omni and directs the platform to deposit the package on the ground, giving Rose a nod and Rainer a quick glance before silently taking his leave.

The turian only waits until he’s out of earshot before purring “He was a riot, dontcha think?”

“Be nice.” she laughs, elbowing him out of the way, “Ahh, yes, only been waiting on this damn thing since we got to Elaaden - freaking shipping times.”

“Y’sure ya wanna go exploring that dusty old ship today? Wouldn’t ya rather work on settin’ up yer microscope?”

Rose can hear the hopeful thrum to Rainer’s sub-vocals, and she answers him with a laugh “Hell no, Rainer, you’re not getting out of exploring the ship with me. I promise we’re only checking the areas on the surface of the planet - and once we’re done, I’ll cook that salmo for you.”

Rainer squints at her, arms crossed and mandibles quivering. “D’you even know how t’cook salmo?”

“Nope. But you can show me.” Rose returns the look with a brilliant smile, batting her lashes, “C’mon, Rainer, you already agreed - take it like a man and stop trying to weasel your way out of it.”

“Ugh, fine, Princess.” the turian’s grumbling, but the humming of his sub-vocals gives away his amusement, “Let’s just get it over with then, yeah?”

“Just need to put my armor on, give me a few minutes.”

“I’ll wait by th’car.” he sighs, giving her a last glare before sauntering out of the lab - making her shake her head and laugh.

“Drama queen.” she mutters, fondly, before gathering together her armor and working at strapping it all on, glad she’d already been wearing her Initiative leggings and shirt, testing out her mobility each time she straps on another section.

It takes maybe five minutes to strap herself into the armor - she’s a botanist, after all, so her armor isn’t the crazy high-tech styles of the Pathfinders or Military types - and then she’s grabbing her shotgun and rifle and heading for the front door, humming as she walks.

Rainer’s waiting by the Nomad as he’d said he’d be, and he sweeps into his habitual bow as she approaches, dodging out of the way when she swats at him.

Ass.” she huffs, hitting the lock and climbing in when the door spring opens, hearing his trilling laugh behind her.

“Can’t resist.” he chuckles, mandibles flaring wide in response to her glare, “Alright, Princess - let’s go explore the haunted ship and get it over with. Ah want that salmo.”

“Patience, Rainer, cripes.” Rose chides, trying to sound annoyed - her grin likely gives her away, though, if his snort is anything to go by, and she throws the Nomad into drive and hits the gas, enjoying his startled curse as they hit the sands.

 

 


 

 

 

Soon enough, the hulking form of the Remnant Ship looms ahead of them, and Rose pulls the Nomad in as close as she can without it being right up against it - never know if debris is going to start falling from this thing, and I am not losing my Nomad to something like that.

Rainer has his sniper rifle ready the moment his feet hit the sand, mandibles pulled in tight to his face - he looks so serious that Rose finds herself pausing, honestly startled.

“Rainer… okay, seriously, what’s going on? You can stay out here if the ship bothers you that much - are you claustrophobic or something?”

“...maybe a bit. But ahm not lettin’ ya go in there by yerself, Princess.” Rainer seems to draw himself up, striding resolutely inside the broken wall of the ship, “C’mon, let’s find yer Bloom.”

Rose scowls, pulling up her omni as she hurries after him - cursing, not for the first time since meeting him, just how damn short her legs are - “Okay, it’s straight ahead -we’ll have to weave through the walls of debris down here, looks like parts of the ship that broke off when it crash landed.”

Rainer just hums an agreement, grip on his rifle tight, and Rose does her best to navigate them through the debris as quickly as possibly, not liking how tight-lipped and stiff the turian is.

“...used t’explore ruins like this, when ah was a kid.” Rainer says after they’ve been walking for a while, voice quiet, “Not Remnant, obviously, just old buildings - some ol’ships that had crashed, stuff like that. There was a whole bunch of’em near our home… thought it was an adventure.”

Rose’s attention snaps from her omni to Rainer’s face, finding his expression… well, she’s not sure how to read his expression in this moment, actually. His mandibles are close to his face but quivering just the tiniest bit, eyes seeming far off even as they scan the perimeter, a tone humming from his sub-vocals that she can’t identify.

“Sounds like fun.” she says, voice quiet, thinking of the kid-friendly playgrounds of her own youth, the distinctly human structures.

“It was. Till Ah got careless.” Rainer stops walking, gaze focused on something far off, before he shakes himself and keeps moving, “One o’the older ships wasn’t as stable as ah’d thought it was - floor collapsed b’neath me, and ah got stuck in what was probably th’cargo hold, originally.”

Oh, shit.

“Didn’t get hurt, an’my parents found me th’next morning. But to a six year old kid, a night stuck in th’belly of an ol’ship is terrifyin’. Haven’t been a fan o’ship ruins since.”

“Shit, Rainer, I’m sorry - let’s go.” Rose is ready to turn around and yank him back out the way they came, his comfort much more important than finding the Bloom, “I don’t need to scan this last Bloom, I didn’t mean to drag you somewhere that brought back bad memories-”

“Rose, hush.”

The use of her name makes her mouth snap shut, eyes finding his to stare at him in surprise. He never uses my name, what the-

Rainer watches her for a moment, quiet, before flicking his mandibles out. “Ah’m fine, Princess. Really. The memories aren’t bad, persay - not anymore. Gotta be stronger than yer fear. So let’s find yer damn flower and go cook some fish.”

That makes a laugh burst from her, concern shifting to… well, she’s not really sure what, honestly.

“If you’re sure.” she says, then pauses, biting her lip, “Thank you… for telling me.”

“Eh, if y’don’t tell yer friends about yer fears, who y’gonna tell?” Rainer shrugs, knocking against her as he keeps walking, “Now c’mon, lead th’way.”

Rose stumbles a little, but she doesn’t bother to chastise him - only reloads her scanner and does as asked, leading them around a corner and just a little further into the structure.

“It should be just about-” Rose steps around another corner and stops, staring, “-here. What the hell?!”

“That’s… a big flower.” Rainer trills, sounding just as amazed as she is.

It’s a Remnant Bloom, alright… but it’s about five times bigger than the other’s, nearly as tall as Rose herself, and it’s immediately obvious that they are not going to be able to move it.

“Oh, my Gods. This is amazing! It’s huge!” Rose can’t help how giddy she is, stepping closer to sweep a scan over the flower and nearly bouncing, babbling “I need to take samples - we can’t move this, obviously, so I’ll have to cut off one of the leaves, maybe a piece of a petal-”

“Do whatever y’need to, Princess, but first - go stand with the damn flower an’I’ll take a picture so y’can show the girls.”

“Good plan!”

Rose spends about an hour carefully taking samples from the giant Bloom - she wants to study it, yes, but not at the cost of damaging the plant - and letting Rainer take pictures, some of which she knows are going to look ridiculous - the damn thing’s as tall as I am, cripes!

They’re both in good moods once she’s finally satisfied and the samples have been tucked away into her satchel, chatting quietly as they weave their way back out of the ruins.

“I think we deserve a break after all this exploring, ugh.” Rose stretches her arms out above her head as she walks, wincing when her left shoulder pops, “Know any good spots, Rainer?”

“Hey, now, don’t think yer gettin’ outta cookin’ me that salmo, Princess.” Rainer pokes her in the side while her arms are raised, purring when she jumps with a squeak.

“I’m not trying to! I mean another day!”

“Gotta be more specific, woman. In that case, though… there are some nice little oasis’ on Elaaden, further out past th’mountains. Could check out one’a them?”

“Ooo, that sounds perfect-”

Rose steps out into the harsh sunlight with a laugh, freezing at a curse from Rainer and a sudden roar above her head.

“FUCK, ROSE, GET BACK-!”

Rainer’s voice is muffled by the Eiroch’s arm catching her, sending her flying sideways with a startled shriek and landing hard enough to blur her vision.

“Princess, move! Oi, beasty, look over here!”

Rose curses, ignoring the dizziness to try and scramble up, swearing when she twists and ends up flat on her back, staring at the bit of debris her ankles caught by.

Motherfucking debris! Shit, shit, shit - Rainer!

Chapter Text

“FUCK, ROSE, GET BACK!”

He’s to late with the warning, scrambling to load up his assault rifle when the Eiroch catches Rose with it’s arm and sends her flying.

Fuck fuck fuck fucking screwed up again Rainer, kill it now-!

He can see Rose pushing up on her elbows as he dances back out of the creatures reach, relief flaring that she hadn’t been knocked unconscious - or worse.

“Princess, move!” Rainer manages to pop in the clip and unleashes on the Eiroch, snarling back at it when it starts to turn, “Oi, beasty, look over here!”

That gets the things attention away from Rose - but he’s forced to backpedal around the ship as it roars and charges, continuing to fire even as it swipes at him. He’s not even afraid at this point - just pissed off and raging, swinging close to unload a barrage of fire into the Eiroch’s chest before dodging away again.

“C’mon, ugly, lemme see whatcha got.” he taunts, knowing the thing can’t understand him - smirking regardless when it roars louder and starts to charge again, opening itself for fire-

-and then falling with a noise of pain, static popping all over its body from a charged overload.

“That’s my girl.” Rainer purrs proudly, giving the beasts remains a hard kick before it begins to disintegrate, jogging back around the corner to where Rose is still sitting on the ground, “Hey, y’alright?”

“My ankles caught.” Rose jerks her head, nose scrunched, “Stupid debris - otherwise I think I’m just bruised, so that could have gone a lot worse.”

“Agreed. Let’s get ya outta there.”

Rainer holsters his rifle and gets down on one knee for leverage, taking hold of the debris and carefully lifting it up and off of the woman’s ankle, allowing her to roll out from under it.

He drops the chunk of metal and stands, brushing off his knee and trilling at her, “Ah think we’ve had enough excitement for one day, dont’cha think?”

“Oh, definitely - I just want to go home and take a nice hot bath and - fuck!” Rose had managed to push herself to her knees, and then to her feet - but the moment she puts weight on her right ankle she crumples, swearing, and Rainer’s at her side immediately, sub-vocals spazzing with worry.

“What happened? Yer hurt, dammit - shit, ah fucked up - some bodyguard.”

Rainer, neither of us saw the damn Eiroch - I think I just twisted my ankle, I’ll be okay.” Rose sighs, giving him what he’s sure is meant to be a reassuring grin and reaching towards him, “Help me up?”

“Ah don’t think y’should be standing on it, Princess.” Rainer argues but does as asked; gripping her hands and gently pulling her up, not surprised when she curses in pain and topples into him the moment weight is on her ankle. “See? Stubborn woman - yer gonna make it worse.”

“Can’t just sit out here, Rainer.” Rose is scowling, cheeks tinting a faint red that intrigues him as she leans against his chest for balance, “Help me hobble back to the Nomad, I guess - should probably get this checked out, just to be safe.”

“Ah’ll do y’one better.” Rainer quips, slipping his arms beneath her and scooping her up before she can argue, purring and flaring his mandibles in response to the peeved look she shoots him. “What? Don’t like bein’carried like a Princess?”

“I don’t like feeling like some helpless damsel.” Rose mutters, attempting to cross her arms.

“Rose, yer far from helpless - and yer definitely not a damsel. No shame in accepting help when yer hurt.” he chides quietly, padding back towards the Nomad.

Rose is silent for a moment, staring down at her arms. Then she sighs and leans against his chest, eyes closing. “...thanks, Rainer.”

“Don’t mention it.” he trills, trying not to focus on the brush of her hair against his throat, or how nice it feels to carry her. Spirits, Rainer, control yerself.

They make it to the Nomad and Rose opens her eyes, reaching out to activate the lock on the door, stopping him when he moves to settle her in the driver’s seat.

“You should probably drive, Rainer - my head's still spinning a little from being thrown.”

“Fuck, Princess, y’didn’t mention that! Yer sure yer alright? Should I be calling ahead?”

“I’m fine, just a bit dizzy.” Rose waves off his concerns as he sets her down, strapping in as he settles awkwardly into the drivers seat, “It’s not hard to drive, and I trust you - just don’t take us off any cliffs, alright?”

“Ay, ay, Princess.” Rainer gets the vehicle up and running, eyeing Rose as she tries to angle her legs properly, wincing everytime she moves her right ankle, “Let’s get you back.”

The Nomad is easy to maneuver, and Elaaden is relatively quiet without the scavengers, so the trip back to the Outpost is quick - which is good, because Rose has her eyes closed and her breathing seems rough, and he can hear her hissing in pain every time they hit a jump and her leg gets jarred.

He doesn’t even ask once they’ve hit the outpost - just throws the Nomad into park, slips out of his seat, and scoops her back up, trotting quickly but carefully towards the medical building at the centre of the outpost.

Rose huffs but curls into him, and he’ll never admit that he almost drops her in surprise when she presses close, mumbling something like “A girl could get used to this.”

The doctor’s free when they get there, and the turian slumps in relief when he gives his diagnosis: sprained ankle and minor bruising, no concussion, just dizzy from being thrown and hitting the ground fairly hard.

“No lifting for a couple of weeks, and I’d postpone any planned trips for at least a week, miss Evans.” the doctor - a human male who’s name Rainer didn’t catch - glances at him for a moment, making his mandibles snap to his face, before looking back to Rose, “I’m going to give you some pain killers for now - you’ll sleep for a few hours, and then you can head to your teams post. Just need to rest.”

“Alright.”

The shots administered and Rose is helped to stretch out on the hospital bed before the doctor approaches him, typing on his omni.

“You are welcome to stay while she is resting, though I must ask that you do not move her until she awakens - are there any emergency contacts I can add to her patient record?”

“Ah, yeah… Rainer Vakarian, here’s m’code.” Rainer’s typing is almost distracted, brow plates lowered, “An’there’s Malee T’Velis and Naermi Solus, her teammates - these’re their codes.”

“Much obliged. I’ll be in the next room, should you have need of me - otherwise, miss Evans is free to go once she wakes up.”

“Thanks, doc.”

Rainer waits until the doctor’s left the room before heading back to the bed, chuckling softly when he sees that Rose has already passed out.

“Y’gave me a damn scare there, Princess.” he sighs, sitting on the edge of the bed for a moment, careful not to bump her legs. “Thank the Spirits yer alright - m’days would be a lot less interesting without you around.”

Rose looks peaceful as she sleeps, features relaxed, the medication temporarily washing the pain away - he’s not much of a judge on looks, when it comes to humans, but he finds himself studying her face, following the dots - freckles - that cover her skin, tracing the sweep of her brow, the point of her nose, the line of her lips.

He’s not a good judge, but Rose is probably the most attractive human he’s met - though is that because I’m fond of her or…?

“No more wrestling Eiroch’s.” he mutters aloud, more as a distraction from those thoughts, mandibles flaring when her brow scrunches and she mumbles in her sleep, “Good, so we agree.”

Rainer shifts a little closer then, bending to gently press his forehead against hers, a low purr rumbling from his sub-vocals. He’s just to damn relieved that she’s alright, relaxed and comfortable with no one else in the room, rubbing gently back and forth in a motion that feels strangely right.

Then he realizes what he’s doing and jolts up from the bed, purr cutting off into a trill of panic and mandibles clamping to his jaw.

He’s out the door before he even processes moving, typing out quick messages to Malee and Naermi to let them know where Rose is and then high-tailing it back towards the krogan compound, trying and failing to clamp down on his panic.

SHIT, Spirits, what am I doing?! What was that, why did I - fuck, fuck FUCK!

Rainer makes it all the way back to the little room he’s been sharing with Vorn before he lets out a noise of frustration, slamming his fist into the wall-

“Uh, Rainer? You okay?”

-and belatedly realizing that Vorn is in the room, staring at him from his terminal beside the door.

“Ah fucked up.” he spits, pacing away from the wall and then back to it, needing to move.

“What happened?”

“Eiroch - Rose got hurt. She’s alright - thank the Spirits, she’s alright - but then she was given meds, and then ah-”

“Woah, buddy, you didn’t, uh, y’know-”

“NO, Spirits, no! Vorn, ah’m an asshole, but ah’m not a fucking pervert.” Rainer turns his glare on the krogan for a moment before resuming his pacing, “But ah did… something ah shouldn’t have.”

Vorn stares at him for a moment - squinting in the way he does when he’s trying to puzzle something out - before jumping from his seat and gasping (which he has to admit, watching a krogan jump up and gasp is pretty funny) “You did the forehead thing?!”

Rainer trills in annoyance, continuing to pace “Yes, ah ‘did the forehead thing’.”

“And then you panicked and ran!” Vorn declares, sounding far to delighted by the prospect.

If looks could kill…

“Yes, ah panicked, alright? Ah don’t know what t’do! She’s human!”

“Your point? Interspecies couples are much more common these days - the human Pathfinder married an Angara, remember? Their daughter was the biggest news Heleus has seen since they defeated the Archon!”

“Ah know that!”

“Does it bother you that she’s human?”

“No.” Rainer forces himself to sit, vocals humming anxiously, “Ah like that she’s human, ‘cause it makes her even more impressive. She’s smart, Vorn - smart and sassy, ready t’take on the damn world. And ah’m-”

“-helplessly in love?” the krogan supplies.

“-attached.” Rainer grits out, pinning another glare on the over-eager krogan.

“I think you’re more then attached, Rainer. You wouldn’t be freaked out otherwise.”

“Fine. But ah donno what t’do about it.”

“Eh, you’ll figure it out. D’you think she’s interested in you?”

“Prob’ly not.” Rainer sighs, resting his elbows on his knees and staring at the ground, “Thinks of me as a friend, if’m lucky.”

“Ehhh, I don’t think you’re giving yourself enough credit, but I won’t argue with you.”

Rainer shakes his head, lifting his arm in surprise when his omni beeps at him, trilling unconsciously, “It’s Rose.”

“See? You’re worried for nothing.” Vorn sits back down at his terminal, wearing a huge grin as he spins around to the screens, “I’ll behave, go ahead and answer.”

Rainer hesitates, then hits the accept on his omni. “Hey, Princess. How yah feelin’?”

“Still a little groggy, but the meds helped the pain - where did you go?”

I realized how much you mean to me, panicked, and ran - yeah, not gonna tell yah that.

“Had some things t’take care of, Vorn needed a hand.” Rainer says instead, shooting the krogan a look, “Yah still at the med centre?”

“Nah, the girls came back early when they heard what happened - I’m in my lab, and I am not moving for the rest of the night.” Rose pauses, and he can picture her chewing on her lip, “I’m sorry - no salmo tonight, I guess.”

Rainer barks out a laugh, feeling better as he sinks back into their usual teasing banter, “Yah can cook me dinner another night, Princess - just worry about healing up. An’maybe once yer clear t’leave the outpost again, we can check out one a’those oasis’ we were talkin’ about.”

“Ooo, I like that plan! Holding you to that promise, Rainer!” Rose sounds much more like herself, if tired, and his subvocals start purring again, something he’s going to need to watch when she’s nearby, “Ugh, I’m about to pass out again - just wanted to check in with you. And… say thank you. Seriously. You saved my ass, again.”

“Hey, gotta make myself useful somehow, right? Otherwise y’wouldn’t let me tag along.”

“Nah, you’re good company, even if you’re grumpy.” she laughs, that drowsiness clear in her voice, “Anyways, good night, Rainer. Maybe we can have the salmo tomorrow, if you’re free.”

“Just name th’time.” Rainer chuckles in reply, “G’night, Princess. Sleep well.”

Rose disconnects the call, and Rainer looks up to see Vorn watching over the top of his chair, clearly having been eavesdropping.

“Alright, enough, I get it.” the turian stands and rolls his shoulders, shoving the krogan off his chair as he walks past him, “Ah’m gonna press my interest… slowly. Ah don’t want t’make Rose uncomfortable, if she’s not interested. And you will keep yer damn trap shut; no blabbing to Kesh.”

“Spoilsport.” he hears Vorn mutter as the door slides shut behind him, but Rainer only smirks, feeling better.

Alright, Princess, y’caught me. Now let’s hope y’want me.

 


 

 “You sure you know where you’re going? I feel like we’ve been past that sand dune already.”

“Y’can tell the sand dunes apart?”

“Sometimes, yeah - ok, not really, but we’ve just been driving forever.”

“Ah promise, Princess, ah know where ah’m goin’ - we’re almost there. Trust me.”

“Trusting you isn’t the issue here - I’m letting you drive my damn Nomad, that means I trust you a lot.” Rose grumps from the passenger seat, crossing her arms and pouting, “I’m just bored - I hate not being able to drive.”

“Soon enough, Princess; just gotta take it easy fer another week or so.” Rainer flicks a mandible at her, happy when she laughs, “Least yer allowed outta the outpost, now - you’ll like this spot, ah promise.”

“Alright, I’ll stop bitching - you’re even being nice enough to take me out to the oasis, and here I am complaining.” Rose makes a zipping motion over her mouth, “I’ll shush.”

“No need.” Rainer says, taking one hand off the wheel to point at a spot through the windshield, “Look, see the trees? We’re here.”

“Yes! Finally!” Rose cheers, and her giddiness makes Rainer grin, too, pulling the Nomad up along the outer edge of the small grove and throwing it into park.

“Oi, slow down or yer gonna hurt yerself again.” Rainer barks, catching her by the elbow when she tries to jump down out of the Nomad, “No rush, Princess - take yer time.”

Sorry, sorry, just happy to be out again!” Rose apologizes, carefully sliding down out to the sand once he releases her - though it’s clear she’s reigning herself in as she pads towards the little oasis, a bounce in her step despite the bruising still obvious on her ankle.

Rainer can’t even pretend to be mad - he’s too happy to see her acting like herself again, and proud that he’d made it happen.

He catches up to her easily, listening to her babble as they walk around the shaded grove - amused by the eager way she points out colours and textures, the shape of the leaves and the few roots they can see.

Rose stops babbling and turns red when she realizes what she’s been doing, biting her lip in the way he knows means she’s anxious. “Crap, sorry, I’m rambling on and on about plants - probably not why you brought me here, huh?”

“Ah brought y’here so you could enjoy yourself and have a break, Princess.” Rainer reaches out and ruffles her hair, mandibles flared wide, “Besides, ah like listenin’ t’you ramble.”

Rose grins, making him trill happily - following at a leisurely pace as she continues further into the oasis, dodging under shorter branches and reaching up to pull one down to her height, watching her run her hands curiously over the bark.

She pauses as they draw closer to the thicker cluster of trees that makes up the back ring of the grove, glancing back at him and pointing. “Rainer, near the bottom of the ring - looks like a scav cache.”

“Fuckin’scavs.” Rainer draws his sniper rifle, keeping it aimed at the trees as they continue their approach, “Be careful - shouldn’t be any scavs left, an’it’s probably an abandoned cache, but y’never know.”

“Roger.” Rose flexes her left hand, static popping around her fingers from a prepped overload as she creeps closer to the cache. It’s clear once they’re right in front of it that it’s an abandoned junk cache - various tools and old pieces of metal piled together haphazardly.

“What the hell? Some scavs junkyard?” Rose scrunches her nose again, carefully lifting one of the metal bars to peer closer at the pile, “Why would they keep this st-AHH-!”

Rainer whirls from the trees he was inspecting at Rose’s shriek and the sound of her overload going off, rifle trained on the junk pile and fringe flaring. Nothing’s moving, and it takes a minute for him to see the cause of her fright - a damaged Geth head sitting inactive in the middle of the scrap.

“Shit, Princess, y’scared me - s’just an old Geth head. Who the hell was dumb enough t’bring this t’Andromeda-”

Nonononononononotagainnono-”

The muttering catches him off guard, making him turn and curse, startled to see Rose on the ground, curled into herself.

“Shit, Rose! What happened?” cache forgotten, he’s dropping his rifle and going to his knees at her side, subvocals dropping into worry and despair, “Are y’hurt? What-”

She’s shivering, he realizes, hesitantly reaching out to set a hand on her shoulder, rage running hot in response to the terrified state of the woman he’d become so fond of, I will kill whatever did this to her-

Rose jolts up at his touch, practically tackling him and wrapping her arms as tightly around his torso as she can, still shaking and whispering - Rainer nearly cracks his fringe off the ground before managing to catch himself, even more confused than before.

“Rose, Princess, talk t’me, c’mon, yer scaring me here-”

Don’ttakeheragainpleasepleasenonodon’ttakeher-” Rose’s voice is laced with a sob, and Rainer trills in worry when he sees the tears streaming down her cheeks, his own arms going around her as his legs draw up around them, cradling her against his chest and stroking her hair as gently as he can.

Breathe, Rose.” he murmurs, sub-vocals purring - trying to comfort her as best he can, rocking back and forth with her, “Breathe - yer safe, ah’m not gonna let anythin’ hurt yah. Ah’m here.”

The whispering dies down, but the shivering seems worse for a bit, the sobbing quieting as tears continue to drop onto his armor, clinging to him. Rainer just keeps purring, keeps talking to her, realizing what it is that’s happened - if not the cause.

Slowly, Rose seems to come back to herself - sucking in a deep breath and coughing a little, the shivering subsiding. She lifts her head hesitantly, eyes red from crying when she meets his gaze, sniffling, “R-Rainer?”

“Hey, Princess. Think you were havin’ a panic attack.” Rainer bends, taking a chance and bumping his forehead against hers, second larynx still purring softly, “Talk t’me.”

“Shit, I’ve been…” Rose sniffles again, seeming surprised but not put off by the contact, grip on his torso loosening but not giving way completely, “...been fine since getting to Andromeda, h-haven’t been any… any…”

Rose’s expression crumples briefly, and she hides her face in his throat and makes a vague motion towards the scrap pile.

Rainer’s mandibles flare in understanding, his grip on her tightening just a bit. The Geth head.

“Something happened.” he says, quietly, “Back in the Milky Way, b’fore the Initiative.”

“Can’t seem to… let go.” Rose mumbles against him, “Can we… I-I don’t want to-”

Rainer only responds by adjusting his hold on her and carefully getting to his feet, cradling her tightly to his chest and doing his best to keep the Geth head out of sight.

It’s a slow drive back to the outpost - Rose doesn’t want to let go, and Rainer won’t force her to - and he carries her up and into the teams post without a word, pausing in the main living area. Should ah be getting the girls? Or would she want them t’know-

Malee catches them before he can decide, coming out of the kitchen with a grin. “Hey lovebirds! Did you enjoy your little tr - Rose! Goddess, what happened?!”

The asari’s at his side in a moment, peering closely at the human in his arms and pressing her lips into a grim, knowing line. “Oh, honey, what triggered it? Nevermind, don’t think about it - Rainer, here, let her down, she’s going to need a nice hot shower.”

“We’re back, Rose; y’need to let go.” Rainer murmurs to the brunette, waiting till she’s untangled herself and her feet are on the ground before reluctantly letting go. “Malee’s got yah, alright?”

“Don’t leave.” Rose manages to ask, golden eyes watching him fearfully, “Please?”

“Ah’ll wait in yer lab, Princess, don’t fret.” Rainer reaches up and brushes back a strand of hair that had fallen into her eyes, flaring his mandibles in what he hopes she can read as a reassuring grin, “Go on, now.”

“Okay.” she turns, takes two steps, then whirls around and grabs his hand, eyes wide, “Rainer! There’s, um… there’s a log. The player on my desk. Just… play the last log. It’ll… maybe, if you want, but-”

“Shh, I’ll listen to it while ye shower, Rose. Breathe, Princess.” he lifts his left hand to grip hers between both of his, still amazed by how small she is.

“Okay.” Rose stares at him for another moment before flushing red and dropping his hands, scurrying after Malee - the asari shoots him a grateful look before escorting the brunette into the washroom and out of sight.

Rainer lets out a long sigh, glances around for a moment, then heads to the botany lab - making a beeline for her desk and the audio player she’d mentioned.

Alright, Princess, let’s see what’s caused your pain. He thinks, scrolling through to the last log on the list - hit, suddenly, by just how much trust she had to have in him, for her to allow him to listen to this. Don’t waste it, Rainer.

He takes a last breath, stealing himself, then taps play.

“-they’re here, shit, I don’t have much time - Nate’s already gone, downed in the first attack. I’m sorry, Rose, I’m so sorry - I promised I would visit again, but that’s not going to happen-” the voice is similar to Rose’s but not identical, and the sound of guns firing and explosions nearly override the words at times, coupled with a heavy static. “-this is it, no one was prepared; I can feel myself fading, bleeding out - shit, they’ve fucking found me, I’m sorry Rose-”

There’s the sound of a gunshot, a thud, and the distinct mechanical whirring of a Geth before the log cuts off, leaving Rainer staring at the player in aghast.

That’s why she doesn’t want t’talk about her sister. She was killed on the Citadel. Rainer blows out a long breath, pacing back to the couch and dropping onto it, By Saren’s fucking Geth - that log… no wonder seeing that damn head gave her a panic attack.

He sits and stares at the ground for a while, thinking about the log and the new information - only looking up when the door slides open and Rose steps inside, not meeting his gaze.

She’s dressed in loose PJ pants and an Initiative tanktop, hair braided and slung over one shoulder - and even in the aftermath of a panic attack, looking tired and defeated, he’s struck by how beautiful he finds this particular human.

“Ah watched th’log.” he rumbles after a moment, needing to break the silence and get her talking, “Ahm sorry, Princess.”

“Lily was fearless - she loved being an N7. And our parents loved that she loved it.” Rose shuffles slowly over to the couch, plopping onto it beside him and clasping her hands in her lap, “They weren’t so fond of my decision to go into botany - didn’t matter how good my grades were, I’d wasted my life by not accepting the invitation to N School.”

“Ah don’t think ah’d have liked yer parents.” he says, glad when she cracks a wry grin.

“They wouldn’t have liked you, either - racist old fools. Didn’t like anything that went against their decisions, their preferences. So they loved Lily - who married a fellow marine from a different division, and graduated the N7 program near the top of her class.” Rose sighs, shoulders slumping, “Not Rose, who questioned every request they ever made and went into the sciences, who graduated top of the class and was scouted for the Initiative even before the shit with the Citadel went down. No, they didn’t love me - and after Lily was killed, they blamed me for that, too. If you’d been there, your sister would be alive! You killed her with your mistakes!

“You came t’Andromeda to escape.” Rainer hums, understanding.

“The first panic attack happened in public - I was out with Malee, maybe a month after Lily’s death, and a news station was broadcasting about the damage… as soon as I heard the sound I crumpled, Rainer. Flat out collapsed into a sobbing mess.” Rose hangs her head, hands balling into fists, “Pictures, videos, sound files… even hearing someone talk about them has triggered an attack before. I figured Andromeda would be safe - both from my parents and the triggers, that I could move on.”

“And then some fucking idiot scav sneaks that through the screening process - to what end?! The hell were they thinking?!”

“Ah donno, Rose - but ah wish ah hadn’t brought ya t’that damn oasis.”

“It’s not your fault, Rainer. It’s mine for being so damn weak-”

“Stop. Don’t y’dare call yerself weak, Rose. Weak is th’last thing ye’are.” Rainer sets his hand on her shoulder, squeezing till she looks at him, “Yer brave, coming to Andromeda - and one of the smartest people ah’ve met. Ye took on a sea of Spit Bugs without flinching, and your overload took that Eiroch down - yer strong, Princess, and don’t ever let those memories tell yah otherwise.”

Rose stares at him for a moment, chewing on her lip, before lifting one small hand and settling it over his, “Why did you come to Andromeda, Rainer?”

“T’escape a reputation ah could never live up to.” he says, completely honest, “Ah’m a decent sniper - had loving parents, some o’the best people y’could ever hope t’meet. But the Vakarian name’s old, well distinguished - a distant cousin was a C-Sec legend, and ah was always compared to that. Every promotion ah was offered was b’cause of my name, not my skills, so ah turned’em down.”

“Then Vorn mentioned the Initiative - we’d met on the Citadel some years back - and ah jumped at it.”

“What about your parents?”

“They were sad - an’ah was sad t’say goodbye, truthfully. But they knew it was what ah wanted, an’they wished me all the best.” Rainer flicks a mandible at her, trilling softly, “They both saw me’off at the Nexus, b’fore we went into stasis. Ah miss’em dearly, but ah don’t regret coming here.”

Rose scoots closer to him when he trails off, dislodging his hand from her shoulder so she can tuck herself against his side - Rainer immediately wraps his arm around her back instead, marvelling again at how tiny she is against him.

“Thanks, Rainer.” she mumbles after a while, snuggled close. Then, after a pause, “...I think I’d have liked your parents.”

Rainer doesn’t even try to stop the purr that rumbles from his chest, leaning closer to press his cheek against her head. “Ah think they’ve have liked you to, Princess.”

Chapter Text

“Sooooo… you told him, right?”

Rose pauses mid-stir to lift an eyebrow at the asari, waiting for further explanation. When none comes, she resumes stirring, “Gonna have to be more specific than that, Mal - there’s a couple things you could mean.”

“Oh, I’m sure there’s plenty of things - such as a confession of feelings, maybe?”

“Malee-”

“But I digress, there are two specific things I was thinking of, yes. One.” Malee holds her hand up, brandishing one finger, “You told him about Lily?”

“I did.” Rose taps her spoon on the edge of her mug and sets it down, inhaling the scent of the tea greedily as she cradles it in both hands, “He deserved to know, after… well. If Rainer hadn’t been there when the attack hit… he helped. A lot. It wasn’t a secret I wanted to keep anymore.”

“Good, good, so that’s one step closer to admitting to feelings, yes, I like it.”

“My God, Malee-”

Ah, and number 2!” the asari leans right over the table so she can flash two fingers in Rose’s face, grinning like a damn cheshire cat, “Did you tell him we’re leaving for Eos yet? Or ask him to come with us?”

“Oh.” Rose sucks in a breath, mutters a curse, “Crap, no, I forgot - you two just decided you were ready to leave yesterday, cut me some slack!”

“We’re leaving at the end of the week, Rosie!! Get on that or your man’s going to be stuck behind on Elaaden!”

Malee, will you quit it!” Rose swats at the laughing asari, grumbling as she takes a sip of her tea, “He’s supposed to be my bodyguard, I’m sure he’s coming with us - you’re right, though, I need to let him know.”

“You haven’t told Rainer yet?” Naermi shoots her a look, pushing past to get to the fridge, “Turians can be incredibly protective of mates, especially if they are long-distance; best to bring him with us.”

“Rainer is not my mate! Jesus Christ you two!” Rose can feel her face turning red even as her heart gives a strange little flip, “He’s my bodyguard, and we’re friends!”

“Here I thought you’d been going on sneaky dates all week, since you’re still not allowed to really do anything.”

“The pheromone readings would also suggest a high interest-”

Ugh, I’m out-”

“Okay, nono, wait, girltalk time, Rosie, c’mon, sit down, please.” Malee pats the back of the chair, giving her a pleading look, “Teasing aside, seriously.”

Rose squints at her, still cradling her tea like a lifeline, before slowly taking the offered seat, gaze never wavering. “Alright. What?”

“In complete, 100% seriousness - no teasing, no jokes, just me being concerned because you are like my sister-” Malee watches her for a moment, then says “Do you like Rainer? As more than a friend? Because if not, I am very confused.”

The brunette goes quiet, staring down at her tea, brow scrunched. “I… haven’t really thought about it much, I guess?”

“That’s not a ‘no’, Rose.”

“Give me a second, okay?! You’re talking to someone who’s never had a crush or relationship in her life, remember?” Rose kicks her feet back and forth between the table, chewing on her lip, “He was an asshole when we first met - he’s still an asshole, but he’s a caring asshole, somehow.”

It’s strange, now that she’s thinking about it, how different her opinion of the turian is, compared to when they’d first met. He was still rough around the edges, but that was just part of what made him Rainer, the cranky sniper who’d unintentionally saved her life the first time they’d met.

The same man that had then saved her ass multiple times, accompanied her on missions and explored Elaaden with her, shared stories of his past and his family… carried her back when she’d been injured, and comforted her during a panic attack.

… fuck.

Rose keeps her eyes on her tea as she lifts her hand, mimicking a near pinch, “...maybe I have a tiny crush on him.”

She’s prepared for shouting and carrying on, so Malee’s hand landing on and squeezing her shoulder, and the asaris quiet grin throw her off.

“Good. Rainer’s a decent guy - deep down beneath the assholeish tendencies and rough exterior, at least.”

Deep, deep down.” Rose says, making Malee laugh. “Just… don’t say anything, okay? There’s not way he’s interested.”

“I think you’re wrong about that, but I’m not going to go blabbing - just give it a chance.” Malee gives her shoulder one last squeeze before stepping away, winking, “Just ask him about Eos ASAP!”

The chime going off makes Rose fumble her tea with a curse, sighing in relief when only a bit manages to spill onto the table.

“Perfect timing.” she hears Malee mumble as she abandons the mug and makes a beeline for the door, not quite trusting her teammates not to say anything stupid.

“Morning, Rainer!” she greets once the doors slid open, stepping back with a grin to let him in, “You know, we’ve told you not to bother ringing the bell - or does the lock not respond properly?”

“Works fine, Princess, jus’not comfortable walkin’ in unannounced.” Rainer shrugs as he passes her, bumping her shoulder, “Doesn’t seem right t’enter a ladies space without prior warning.”

“I think you’re just worried there’ll be a Spit Bug running around if you don’t knock and check first.” Rose teases, brushing off the shivers his bump had sent running down her spine.

“Touche.” Rainer flicks a mandible at her, looking her over, “How’re yah feelin’?”

“Right as rain.” she chirps, horrified by the sudden flush she can feel creeping up her neck at his concern, “Seriously, I promise, I’m good - still can’t lift anything, but I’m good.”

“Glad t’hear it.” he trills, and it’s like admitting her crush to Malee has flipped a switch because suddenly she can’t stop blushing.

“We’re leaving for Eos.” Rose blurts, fidgeting with the end of her shirt, “At the end of the week - the transports booked and everything. You’re coming with us, right?”

Rainer’s trill cuts off with a startled chirp, and he’s hyper focused on her suddenly, mandibles twitching. “Woah, slow down there, Princess - say again?”

“We’re leaving for Eos - we’ve covered everything we can here, and Kesh approved transport for the end of this week.” she’s nearly tying the edge of her shirt in knots at this point, watching him carefully, “I kind of assumed you’d be coming with us, I guess - going to need my bodyguard out there.”

It’s a lame reason, but she seriously hadn’t even considered the fact that he might not go with them - what if he prefers Elaaden? What if I’ve just been a nuisance this whole time and he’s just been acting nice lately? What if-

“Sure. Ah’m in.”

Rose jolts back to reality, golden eyes seeking out green. “Huh?”

Rainer flares his mandibles, reaching out to ruffle her hair with an amused trill, “Ah said, ah’m in. Yer not gettin’ rid’a me that easily, Princess. Spirits know what’ll happen if ah don’t go with ya t’look after yer ass.”

Rose laughs, stepping closer to give the man a hug - too damn happy to care if it’s maybe just a little out of nowhere, because she’s not sure she’d want to go to Eos if the cranky turian wasn’t coming with her.

What she’s doing only clicks when she feels Rainer hesitantly return the hug after a moment, giving a quiet purr somewhere above her head that has her blushing against his chest.

“Okay!” Rose pulls away quickly, turning to hide her blush as she heads determinedly for the lab, “So, you should pack, then! I swear, we just got this damn lab set up - betcha anything it’s going to take months for everything to arrive on Eos again”

Rainer’s laughing behind her, “Y’need any help packin’ up yer stuff?”

“Definitely - gotta get the Blooms prepped and ready! The bigger equipment will follow us later, but personal things, the Blooms, and my terminal will all be coming on the transport with us. The Nomad, too!”

“How th’hell did ya swing that?”

“Kesh arranged it, actually. Probably figured I’d want to bring it with me.” Rose chances a glance at him over her shoulder, grinning, “Ready to help me pack up this mess?”

“Gimm a box an’point me in th’right direction, Princess.”

 

 


 

 

 Three hours into their trip to Eos sees Rose sitting near the window of their allotted cabin and scowling out at the Scourge as they weave through it, following the paths painstakingly marked by the Pathfinders and their crews.

Always forget how much I hate long space-flights until I’m stuck on a ship again. She muses, tugging her blanket tighter around her and sighing.

She can hear Malee and Naermi arguing over some of their notes in the background, a familiar backdrop to the otherwise silent space of the cabin.

They’re on one of the newer transport ships that the Initiative had developed with help from the Angara, integrating tech from both parties and creating a vessel that could house all of the current species in Heleus. They’re the only passengers currently onboard, so the girls had been allotted one cabin, and Rainer the one next to it.

She hadn’t said anything about the arrangements, but she’d been a little disappointed they weren’t all just sharing one cabin. It’s to freaking quiet in here without him to talk to.

Rose glances at her arguing teammates, then back out at the Scourge, before making up her mind and pulling her blanket tighter around her shoulders as she stands. “I’m gonna go poke Rainer - can only take so much of you two bickering.”

Naermi mutters something under her breath that Rose knows is something about her crush, but Malee just grins and waves her off. “Have fun, don’t do anything I wouldn’t!”

Rose only rolls her eyes and exits the room, padding quietly to the next door over. It’s only as she’s knocking that she realizes she’s a bit underdressed - just wearing pj pants, a tanktop and her bra, with the blanket around her shoulders - and wonders if she should scurry back to put on more clothes just as the cabin door slides open.

Rainer stares at her for a moment, mandibles flicking out, but she’s too caught up ogling the sight of him without a shirt on to really process his expression - turian’s are so different, but so interesting - scars on his waist, holy crap why are turians all so skinny, I’m jealous - wonder if the plates have feeling- until he makes a strangled sort of chirp that has her gaze darting back up to his.

Rose turns red when she realizes what she was doing, opening her mouth to apologize - until she realizes he’s been giving her a once over, too, his eyes lingering for a moment on her waist before coming back up to meet hers.

“Everything alright, Princess?” he asks after a moment, voice low and rough, and there’s something in the tone that warms her insides.

“Yeah, everything’s fine, I just…” she hesitates, chewing on her lip, “...not a big fan of long space flights, so the overnight trip? Has me a lil freaked out. Malee and Naermi are arguing about bugs - wondered if I could…?”

Stay in your cabin is what she almost says, brain cutting off at the last moment, but Rainer understands regardless - stepping back to allow her into the room.

“C’mon in. Plenty’a room in here fer two people.”

Rose pulls her blanket a little tighter around her, wondering just how dumb her smile looks as she steps inside. “Thanks, Rainer.”

The turian only waves her off, heading back across the cabin to the bed nearest the window - every single back muscle and plate moving in ways she finds ridiculously elegant, finds her hands twitching to reach out and touch - an urge she squashes by gripping her blanket even tighter.

She glances around for a moment before trailing after him, plopping down on the bed next to him and humming curiously. “So. What’ve you been doing in here, all by yourself in this big cabin?”

Rainer chuckles, that deeper note still present in his vocals. “Nothin’ exciting - just cleaning m’rifle. D’you mind if ah…?”

“Go for it - I’m the one invading your space.” Rose shimmies backwards and crosses her legs under her, watching curiously as he reaches for where he’d set his rifle down and goes back to work.

They sit in comfortable silence for a while - Rainer cleaning the rifle, Rose watching quietly, occasionally asking a question - and it starts to dawn on her just how comfortable she is with him, just sitting here side by side, not needing to talk or fill the silence.

It’s strange, and kind of nice, and strangely intimate.

“So… Eos.” Rainer hums after a while, attention still on the rifle, “D’we know where we’re settin’up yet?”

“Yeah - the original Site 2, Resilience. It’s been torn down and revamped as a secondary research site.” Rose hides her face in her blanket for a moment, covering a yawn, “We’re the first team to be assigned to the new facility - should be interesting, to be set so far apart from the main outpost.”

“Hmm. Guess th’Kett ain’t as big an issue anymore.”

“Guess not.”

“Should b’interesting. An I’ll be there t’keep an eye on ya.”

“What would I ever do without you, Rainer?” she sighs, eyes slipping closed as a wave of weariness washes over her.

“Rose?”

“Tired.” she mumbles, “Don’t like being on a ship overnight - like being planetbound.”

“Ah feel that.”

Rose makes a sleepy noise of surprise when an arm wraps around her shoulders and tugs her gently against his side, head at the perfect height to rest against his shoulder, “Rainer?”

“Get some rest, Princess - much worse things then bein’used as yer pillow.” he’s purring again, a sound that is so ridiculously soothing she can feel herself starting to drift off, “Ah’ll wake y’up once we’re there.”

Rose sighs and snuggles a little closer against his side, soaking up the warmth he seems to exude. One last thought makes it past her sleepy brain, turning her face into his shoulder as she mumbles “I’m glad we met, Rainer.”

She feels him shift, hears his purr stutter for a moment, before he says “Me too, Princess.”

Chapter Text

Rainer’s up early in the morning to prep for their landing on Eos, wanting to make sure he hasn’t left any of his meager belongings behind on the transport when they depart.

He lets Rose sleep while he works - casting a fond glance at her peaceful form as he goes about gathering everything up, mandibles flickering in amusement when she flips over and manages to wrap herself up like a cocoon.

He’d left her take the bed nearest the window and shifted to the second bed for propriety's sake - no matter how comfortable she seemed to be around him now, she’s not his, and he hadn’t been sure how she would react to waking up in the same bed.

Better t’be safe.

Rose mumbles and rolls into a sit shortly after he’s finished packing up, blinking at him blearily for a moment before her lips tug into a sleepy grin. “Morning, Rainer.”

“G’mornin, Princess.” he trills, offering her a hand up, “Better go get yer stuff t’gether - we’ll be landin’ in thirty minutes.”

“Awesome - I’ll be happy to have solid ground beneath my feet again.” Rose accepts the hand and tilts her head back, grinning up at him, “Thanks, Rainer - that’s probably the best sleep I’ve had on a spaceship, 600 year stasis nap not included.”

“Not a problem, Princess.”

Rose flashes him one last grin before gathering up her blanket and padding out of the cabin, and Rainer spends several moments staring after her before he shakes himself from his stupor and heads out to the docking bay.

The girls join him just a few minutes before they’re due to land, dressed in their typical armor and toting the boxes and belongings they’d brought on board with them.

“Okay guys, once we’re on the ground everyone hop in the Nomad - we can bring our personal things and any small lab stuff over in the back, and then the Transport’s Crew will be bringing the bigger stuff later.”

“Plus, we’ve gotta wait for things to be delivered again.” Malee groans, draping herself dramatically over Naermi’s shoulders, “We just set things up, and now we get to wait… again.”

“Don’t be so dramatic, Malee.” Naermi sighs, shrugging the asari off with a scowl, “It only took a month for the most necessary equipment to be delivered.”

Malee whines, Rose laughs, and Rainer just shakes his head in amusement. These girls are somethin’else.

“Now arriving at: Site 1, Promise, Research Landing Pad.” an automated voice rings out over the comms, “Please prepare yourself for landing.”

Malee and Naermi steady themselves against the Nomad, but Rose startles him by grabbing onto his elbow as the landing jolts them - using him as an anchor and then snatching her hand back after.

“Sorry.” she mumbles, an interesting flush spreading over her cheeks as she turns to head for the Nomad.

Rainer only trills, mandibles flared wide as he watches her, following after a moment and helping the group load things into the Nomad. Maybe Vorn’s right.

Once the Nomad’s loaded with as much as possible and they’ve all clambered inside, Rose carefully drives down the loading ramp and out onto the landing pad, and they’re all staring at their surroundings as they drive - taking in the unfamiliar landscape of Eos, the presence of fuller vegetation, the way the sun isn’t quite as scorching as Elaaden’s.

“Oooo, I see wildlife!” Malee’s leaning up between the two front seats, staring out of the front windshield, “Can’t wait to see what differences there are!”

“They’re all affected by Remnant, Malee, they’ll be similar in composition-”

“Oh hush, let me have my fun.”

“Behave, children.” Rose mumbles, grinning and pointing up ahead of them, “There’s home.”

Rainer squints as they drive down along the set path, between two small cliffs and into an open area - the buildings coming into view as they round a bend.

Rainer’s heard stories of the two original attempts at outposts on Eos - the bad weather and radiation, the Kett ambushes that had all but wiped out the people sent to build them - and the Eos they’re presented with is the exact opposite of those stories, white buildings outfitted securely, no radiation present in the air, and the little research nook they’ve been granted seems pristine.

“Alright, team, we’re here.” Rose pulls the Nomad up to the designated parking area out front of the building, throwing it into park and grinning at them, “Let’s check it out.”

“According to the specs we were sent, the main building has a lab on the first floor as well as a kitchen and small living space - the upper level is meant to be a bedroom.” Naermi’s pulling up the layout on her omni as she climbs out of the Nomad, pausing to sweep a scan over the buildings, “The smaller building off to the right is a single lab with a small living area overtop.”

“It’s also closer to the small lake that the site backs up onto, so we figured you’d want that one, Rose.” Malee grins, grabbing one of her boxes from the Nomad.

“There’s a lake??” Rose’s attention is immediately on the asari, expression lighting up, “We have a lake?!”

“We do! And recent tests have shown it’s safe to swim in.” Malee’s smirking now, eyebrows lifted, “I say, once we have the boxes moved into the building, we should take a break and have a beach day!”

“I would like to see if any insectoids are present near the water.” Naermi muses, padding towards the complex with an armful of boxes.

“Ah donno about swimmin’,” Rainer says, pulling out several boxes to carry over, “But ah’ll come keep watch. Gotta make sure y’girls are safe, after all.”

Oh, shoot, turians don’t really like swimming, do they?” Rose looks crestfallen suddenly, bottom lip caught between her teeth, “We don’t have to go swimming, I don’t want you to be stuck watching-”

“Princess, it’s fine - if ah get really bored ah can take a nap.” Rainer says, reaching up and brushing a strand of hair back from her face with a grin, “Alright?”

She watches him for a moment, as if trying to see if he’s lying just to appease her, before giving a little smile. “Alright. Let’s get the car unpacked and head down to the water to relax, then.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

 


 

 An hour later sees Rainer settling down on the sandy shore of their lake, just wearing a short pair of casual pants and sitting on a towel he’d managed to find in the boxes.

Naermi joins him shortly after, wearing the standard tube-like one piece most salarian’s seemed to choose and waving back in the direction of the outpost with a vague look of disgust. “They’ll be down eventually. Rose couldn’t find her swimsuit, so Malee is forcing her into one of hers.”

“Forcing her?”

“Malee’s choice of swimwear is rather more revealing than Rose’s choice of swimwear.”

Rainer’s left to mull this over as she heads for the shoreline and starts unpacking the bucket she’d brought down with her, staring out at the gentle laps of the water against the sand.

Calm as it is, he’s not going anywhere near the water - previous attempts had proven that trying to swim was a bad, bad idea.

“Oi, Naermi! You better not have started without me!”

“It’s not my fault you’re so slow!”

Malee racing by briefly catches his attention, mandibles flaring in amusement as she practically dives onto the sand beside the salarian, sending dust flying.

Footsteps to his left make him turn, swallowing a chirp and staring in surprise.

Rose shuffles her feet, hands on her hips as she stares intently off towards the lake with a faint flush painting her cheeks. He can’t help looking her over - much more skin bared then he’s ever seen, wearing a black string bikini bottom and matching top.

Breasts, he remembers the word at the same time as he realizes he’s been staring for far to long, dragging his gaze back up to her face and noting she’s chewing on her lip again.

“It looks bad, right?” she asks, managing a faint little laugh.

“If by bad, y’mean amazing, then yeah.” Rainer says, trying to tone down the purr that wants to break through, “It’s a nice suit. Looks good on yah.”

“Oh.” Rose’s cheeks go deeper red then, the brunette staring at him for a moment before turning abruptly on her heel, “Okay, going swimming now!”

He’s laughing as she retreats, trying to clamp down on his worry about her swimming alone - watching as she dives into the water and disappears briefly from sight, releasing a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding when he sees her resurface.

Rainer settles back down on his towel once Rose has proven she’s fine - diving under water and reappearing several times, clearly a far more competent swimmer then any turian - tucking away those feelings for the moment and making himself comfortable with his arms crossed beneath his head, careful of his fringe.

He can hear Naermi and Malee arguing about something as they play in the sand - “These bugs are not the same as on Elaaden, Naermi, hah! Look at the stripes! Told you!” - and he briefly muses that it’s sad how familiar their chatter has become, slowly drifting off.

He’s woken by something nudging against his foot, blinking bleary eyes and looking up in time to see Rose standing over him - soaking wet and grinning like a maniac.

Don’t-!”

He’s yelling too late; Rose is already shaking her hair out over him, spraying him with water droplets and making him yelp.

Rainer’s up and grabbing for her as soon as she’s done, making her shriek and run for the water - diving right back in to escape his grasp.

“Little brat.” he mutters, half annoyed and half affectionate, trudging back to his towel in order to dry himself off in the sand. He pretends to settle back in, closing his eyes and listening carefully for footsteps, somehow knowing she’s going to try again.

His paranoia is rewarded maybe ten minutes later by soft steps in the sand; eyes popping open as he sits up and grabs for her, dragging her laughing form down onto the sand.

They roll for a moment before Rainer manages to pin her by a shoulder, careful to keep from actually resting his weight on her - flaring his mandibles and not bothering to try and control the purr rumbling from his sub-vocals as he gazes down at her.

Rose is still laughing, hair a mess of curls spread out around her head - covered in sand but still so damn beautiful, golden eyes bright and happy.

Rainer bends and bumps his forehead gently against hers before getting up and pulling her to her feet, giving her a teasing push towards the water. “Alright, Princess, y’ve had yer fun; go rinse off so yer not trailing sand through the brand new outpost.”

“Aye, aye.” she snickers, bouncing back off to the lake, and Rainer catches Malee watching them from her place in the sand, eyes narrowed.

When she sees him looking she nods briefly, lips quirking, and Rainer returns the look with a nod and mandible flare of his own.

Don’t waste this, Rainer. He tells himself as he gathers up his towel, Make a move - b’fore y’lose yer chance.

Chapter Text

“Remind me where we’re headed again, Princess?”

“Out to the Vault - one of the researches at Prodromos mentioned spotting Bloom’s near the outer structure, so I want to take a look.”

“We ain’t goin’in th’Vault, right? Remember wha’happened last time we went inside a Remnant ruin?”

“Hey, who’s the one that ended up with a twisted ankle?” Rose snorts, shooting him a look, “Of course I remember - and no, we’re not going inside the Vault. Promise.”

“Can’t blame a guy fer bein’cautious.”

“Is that what you call it? Here I thought it was just you being a big baby, Rainer.”

Oi, be nice, Spirits.”

Rose snickers and turns her gaze back to the road, mind wandering as she drives.

They’ve been on Eos for a week or so - getting things set up and organized, checking in with local leadership about what to expect from the planet, asking about things to avoid and places to check out.

Rose has spent the entire time trying to figure out if she’s imagining things or if Rainer’s actually flirting with her.

The turian’s demeanor hasn’t changed, really - he’s friendlier, obviously, and Gods know the man’s already pulled her ass out of a number of bad situations - but she has noticed that he’s been looking at her more, when he thinks she doesn’t notice or even sometimes when he knows she can tell.

Touching her more, too; nudging her or brushing her hair back from her face, bumping into her when he walks by - even now his arm is lying over the back of the drivers seat, not quite touching her, yet making her shiver all the same.

She likes him, so is this just her brain making it seem like he’s flirting? Or is he actually?

“Ah, there’s th’Vault - ye ready, Princess?”

“Hmm?” Rose jerks the wheel in surprise when she snaps from her thoughts, blinking innocently at the startled curse her passenger emits, “Oops.”

Careful, woman, y’tryin ta give me a heart attack?” Rainer growls, though the hum of his sub-vocals and the flare of his mandibles tells her he’s joking.

“Pft.” Rose grins sweetly and throws the Nomad into park, grabbing her shotgun and popping open the hatch, “C’mon, you big baby - let’s find some Blooms.”

Rose lands on the sand with a soft thump, shotgun ready as she heads towards the Remnant structure - the telltale sound of Rainer’s grumbling and his own feet hitting the sand following quickly behind, making her grin.

They’ve gotten to be a good team over the time they’ve known each other - scoping out Remnant sites for any sign of activity before getting to work, his rifle and her shotgun usually more than enough to take down any Creepers or other creatures that might come sneaking up.

The Eiroch was a fluke.

The outer structure of the Vault is quiet and clear, and Rose goes to work the moment they locate the cluster of Blooms - growing in the shade of the roof, a fuller Bloom then Elaaden with a tiny hint of green to the petals - gently digging up the roots and transplanting the flower into the prepped container.

It’s a quick transfer, even with Rainer making constant comments as he keeps a patrol - an easy banter between them, comfortable and amusing and at times she swears he’s flirting, but-

Stop being a damn coward and just ask him. Maybe this is just some interspecies awkwardness thing that you’re misreading. The thought makes her slump a little, biting her lip as she finishes up with the Bloom, Which… well, it’ll suck, if it is, but at least I’ll know-

Rose is distracted as she trots back to the Nomad, climbing inside - yelping when her boot catches on the edge of the step and she pitches forwards, instinct making her clutch the Bloom-

-letting out a quiet oof when Rainer’s arm catches her around the middle and saves her from face planting, his other hand gently extracting the Bloom from her to set it down before he helps her stand.

“Y’alright? Didya twist yer ankle again?” he demands, tone catching her off guard - not anger, or annoyance, but fear and concern - “Shit, Rose, talk t’me, here, what-”

“Do you like me?” she blurts out.

Rainer freezes, stares at her, mandibles slack and expression unreadable. He doesn’t let her go, though, and after a moment says “Come again?”

“Do you like me?” Rose manages to stammer, knowing her face has probably turned bright red, “Like… you know. Have you been flirting with me, or is my brain screwing with me?? I can’t-”

“Hold that thought.”

Her mouth snaps shut when he climbs fully into the Nomad, making sure she’s settled in the driver's seat before moving into his own - turning so he can regard her carefully, browplates lowered, and Gods she wishes she could read his expression right now.

“Alright, Princess. Y’caught me. But b’fore ah answer, lemme ask you a question - and ah promise, m’answer won’t change, no matter what y’say.” Rainer watches her for a moment, apparently just as unfamiliar with her expressions as she is with his, “Do y’want it t’have been flirtin’? Or ah’m ah makin’ y’uncomfortable?”

“No. You’re not. I mean I like it, I just wasn’t sure-” Rose’s tongue feels like it’s tied in a knot, even worse so when Rainer’s hand comes up to cup the side of her face - a touch she leans into greedily, placing her own much smaller hand over his and trying to be brave, “I like the flirting. I like you. A lot.”

Rainer’s sub-vocals seem to drop into a rumbling purr at that, the hand on her face shifting to tilt her face as he leans closer. “Ah like yah far more then ah should, Princess.” he admits quietly, nuzzling his forehead against hers in a motion that seems strangely familiar and makes her breath catch. “D’yah remember me doin’ this, back at th’lake…?”

“Kind of?” she whispers, swallowing around a sudden lump in her throat - feeling like she’s drowning in those gorgeous green eyes of his, now that he’s so close. “It’s nice.”

“Turians don’t kiss th’same way as humans.” he hums, carefully shifting his head back and forth, brushing their foreheads together, “This is our equivalent, ah s’pose. A show o’affection.”

Rose immediately presses back into the touch, mimicking his motions and shivering when his purr deepends. “Like this?” she murmurs, curious.

She can’t help the startled yelp that escapes her when his hands suddenly grip her by the waist and hoist her onto his lap, her hands finding purchase on his shoulders as she’s held carefully against his chest.

“Perfect.” he purrs, grip tight but affectionate, and she marvels at this side of him - this softer, affectionate Rainer, who’s holding her as though afraid she’ll disappear, nuzzling her so gently it’s like he thinks she’ll break if he pushes too hard. “Ah s’pose it’s a good thing we don’t kiss quite th’same way, as if ah recall right, yer allergic t’me.”

“Not anymore.” Rose grins at his surprised look, shifting her arms to loop them around his neck, “Naermi and her shots took care of that - so if you’re willing to try…”

“Ah’m up for anythin’ y’want, Princess.” Rainer assures her with another nuzzle, and Rose melts.

“No fair.” she whines, pressing herself closer, “You’ve at least had some experience… I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. Why would you want me?”

“Are ye’kiddin me? Do y’not see how amazing ye’are?” Rainer’s thumbs are stroking over her hips, mandibles quivering as he watches her, “And fer the record, yer the first person ah’ve actually cared so much about - yer no one-off, Rose. Ah’m also just as new t’this as y’are, since ah’ve never been with a human b’fore.”

“I’m sorry if I screw up.” Rose says, leaning in closer.

“Y’could never screw up. We’re learnin’ together.”

She feels a swell of affection and bravery at his words, finally leaning in and doing what she’s wanted to since realizing how she felt - kisses him on his mouth plates, arms winding tightly around his neck.

Rainer presses back with another low hum, plates flexing beneath her lips - after a moment she feels them part slightly so his tongue can slink out, opening her mouth to allow him entry and groaning when his tongue wraps around hers and squeezes, gently.

Holy crap.

For being his first time kissing a human, Rainer’s instincts are definitely better than hers; one of his hands stays on her hip to anchor her while the other starts carding through her hair, pulling gently and making her sigh pleasurably against his mouth.

She loses track of how long they sit there, just touching and learning - until she shifts her hands and scratches beneath his fringe, vaguely remembering that turian’s were supposed to like that.

Rose is startled when Rainer growls and pulls away from her, her grip dislodged as she stares at the panting man. His eyes are hungry suddenly, his grip on her tightening, and she can feel his growl reverberating all the way through her to settle low in her core.

Oh… oh, wow.

“Save that fer another day, Princess.” he manages after a moment, voice still a low rumble that does things to her, “Don’t wanna touch there unless yer prepared fer… other things.”

Rose’s cheeks flush, but she grins sweetly at him and leans in for another quick kiss - catching the tip of his right mandible between her teeth briefly, letting go when he whines.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” she promises - shivering at his responding purr.

Chapter Text

It’s almost hilarious how easy the shift from ‘friends’ to something more is, when Rainer thinks about it a couple of days after their little talk in the Nomad.

Talk. Right. He muses, chuckling, More like makin’out, but ahm not complainin.

Truthfully, though, he’s been flirting and testing boundaries for a while - all that’s different now is that he knows the interest is reciprocated, and the sneakiness is no longer necessary.

So he’s been… staking his claim, in little ways. Making sure to brush against Rose at every opportunity, catching her by the waist to halt her mid-pace, bending for a quick nuzzle whenever he can.

Rose blushes every time, cheeks turning that delightful pink he’s beginning to love, but her smile always brightens, and she always presses back into his touch - shy and maybe a touch embarrassed, but happy all the same.

He’d had a hard time controlling himself that first day, once she’d gone for his fringe - someone’s been doin’ research, ah think, Spirits - managing if only because what he wants with Rose isn’t just physical, and he hadn’t wanted to start their relationship off that way.

Scary thought that it is, Rose is the first woman he’s cared for beyond the physical - the first person he’s ever wanted as his amicae, his other half. That she’s actually chosen him in return is mind-boggling and humbling - he wishes, quite deeply, that his parents could meet her.

Look, yer son finally stopped screwin’up and found an amicae. Hopefully. Rainer tilts his head back, trilling quietly, Damnit, ah wish they were here.

Malee and Naermi had known the second they’d gotten back from the Vault - the salarian only mumbling something about ‘finally’ while the asari started jumping in place.

Actually… hopping up and down in place, squealing. It had been an amusing - if concerning - sight.

They’d both been more than okay with the development, at least, and if he had to deal with nosey team-mates, so be it. Rose was worth any amount of annoyance.

One thing he still needs to figure out is proper sleeping arrangements, however - Malee and Naermi have taken over the top bedroom of the main building, and Rose has claimed the smaller building towards the lake - but Rainer doesn’t want to impose on her, whether they’re in a relationship now or not.

So he’s been taking the couch in the main living space during the night, keeping his belongings stashed in a corner.

He does sometimes take the opportunity to nap on the couch in Rose’s lab when she’s working with the Blooms - all of the heavy lifting has been finished, so the girls have been able to start their studies of Eos.

That’s where he finds himself now - comfortably arranged on the couch and enjoying the sun coming in the big window, ‘lounging like a cat’, as Rose had said previously - listening to her work.

It’s funny how calming the sounds of her working are, now - quiet mumbling as she makes notes, the scratch of her pens in her sketchbook, the shift of her chair or near silent typing on her omni - and Rainer finds himself drifting quickly off, calm and comfortable in what has become a sort of Haven.

Rainer’s woken maybe twenty minutes later by Rose crawling onto the couch beside him and trying to curl up against him, her frustrated muttering making him chuckle.

Rose stops moving at the sound, flashing him a guilty look. “Sorry, wasn’t trying to wake you up.”

“No problem, Princess. C’mere.”

Together, they figure out a way to both fit on the couch that won’t leave either of them in pain - Rainer with his head propped on a pillow so his fringe doesn’t get bent, Rose half-on top of him with her head near his throat.

Rainer doesn’t bother trying to contain his trill, entirely to content where he is. “Y’know…” he drawls, running gentle talons through her hair, “Ah rather like this.”

Rose makes a soft noise of agreement, snuggling a little closer. “Rainer, meant to ask… you don’t really have your own corner, here.”

“Ah, doesn’t bother me, Princess - ah’m used t’sleepin on a couch.”

“Okay, but… you can share my space, if you want.”

The words are so soft he barely catches them, trill cutting off in surprise as he stares at her, wondering if he heard her right.

“Come again?”

Rose looks ridiculously shy suddenly, running a hand up and down his chest. “You can share my space.” she repeats, “I have a full bedroom upstairs, and it’s decently sized - I don’t know what turian beds are usually like, but, y’know, if you want to-”

Rainer can’t help it. He presses his forehead to hers with a rumbling purr, slightly overwhelmed by the surge of pure elation at her simple offer.

Spirits, she has m’wrapped around her finger.

Rose is laughing in his arms, nuzzling back at him with a wide grin. “Sooo… is that a yes, then?”

Yes.” he growls, shifting his head to kiss her the way she’d shown him that day in the Nomad - thrilled when she sinks immediately into him.

Soft, innocent kisses quickly build to much more heated presses, and Rainer nearly hisses when her deft little fingers find that space below his fringe again.

“Rose, what did ah tell yah about tha’spot?”

“What if I want to go further?” she says, catching him even more off guard.

It’s not often Rainer finds himself speechless, yet here he is, staring at the tiny human who’s nearly straddling him, mandibles slack.

“Are ye’sure?” he asks, sub-vocals humming as he reaches out to brush her hair from her face, “There’s no rush.”

“I’m sure.” Rose smiles - a tad nervous, but honest - and leans down to press her forehead to his again, nuzzling back and forth, “Just… go slow with me, alright? I’ve never… y’know.”

“Ah know.” Rainer purrs, stroking a hand up and along her hip, noting her shiver, “Ah’ll look after yah, Princess - ah promise.”

“Good.” she whispers, bending to kiss him - and jolting back at a sudden loud ping from her omni.

“Dinner time, love birds!”Malee’s voice crows over the speaker, sounding far too cheerful, “Come get some before it gets cold!”

“She’ll come lookin’ if we don’come down, won’t she?” Rainer growls quietly, earning a sigh and a nod.

“Afraid so.” Rose bites her lip, glancing at him, “We can… after dinner? Maybe?”

Rainer bumps his head against hers again, mandibles flared. “Sounds like a plan.”

Chapter Text

Rainer

Dinner is a test of patience Rainer isn’t sure he can pass.

Malee has everything served and ready by the time they make their way over to the main building - hands clasped, because they both need some form of contact after the sudden interruption - and while he’s grateful for both the food and the efficiency, it makes him suspicious.

The asari only grins pleasantly as she sits and digs into her own meal - but he can see the glint in her eyes and the way she keeps glancing between them, and she knows, damned asari.

It’s not a malicious thought, merely an annoyed one - remember t’have Rose debug her omni, ah bet it’s hacked - as he digs into his own dinner, stomach happy to have food. He prefers Rose’s meals, the times she’s cooked for him, but Malee’s not a bad dextro cook.

Eat fast but don’t shovel it down. Don’wanna be to obvious.

He starts a little when a leg bumps against his beneath the table, glancing at Rose from the corner of his eye. She’s grinning, still a little flushed, and he wiggles his mandibles and bumps her back, relaxing.

Yer in this t’gether. Get through dinner, then take care ah her.

“Goddess, you two must have been starving!” Malee’s voice is an excited crow from the other side of the table, “What have you been up to?”

“Research.” Rose quips, finishing off the last of her dinner.

“Oh? What kind of research?”

“Oh, you know.” Rainer forces himself to stay perfectly still when he feels her hand settling on his thigh, stroking gently up and down, “Testing the Blooms - and how responsive their petals are.”

Rainer has to clamp down on a whine at the metaphor, nearly quivering beneath her touch - he can barely even feel her hand through his pants, but the pressure and warmth of her is there.

Spirits, woman, yer gonna kill me.

“Must we discuss this at the dinner table? Some of us are trying to eat.” Naermi grumbles.

“Sorry, Naermi - we’re done, anyways.” Rose rises elegantly from the table, giving him a quirk of a grin and offering her hand, “Ready to get back to work?”

“O’course.” Rainer takes her hand as he stands, making a show of lifting it and nipping at the back with his mouth plates, watching her eyes go dark and her grin shift to a smirk.

“Gonna be unavailable for the rest of the night, ladies; we’ve got important work to do.” Rose tugs him back towards the door as she speaks, shouting over her shoulder, “And Malee, stop hacking my omni!”

Told you she knew.” he hears Naermi snicker just before the door closes and they’re left alone in the evening sunlight, comfortable and amused as they walk - Rainer slowing his pace to match hers, rewarded with a tighter grip of his hand and a brilliant grin from Rose.

“Gotta say, Princess.” he hums as they climb the stairs to the building, “Ah thought ye’were th’innocent one, yet here ya are, layin’out innuendos like a pro.”

“A one time accomplishment, I assure you.” she laughs, cheeks flushing as the door slides open and they head inside, pausing once they’re past the threshold.

Sensing her nerves returning, Rainer puts his hand on her shoulder - turning her gently, watching her face. “Yer sure about this, Rose? Like ah said - no rush, no pressure. Ah’m not goin’ anywhere.”

“I know. And I’m sure.” Rose steps into him, wrapping her arms loosely around his torso and tilting her head back to pin him with her eyes, grinning softly, “I’d like… I want to…”

She hesitates, blushing and chewing on her lip, and Rainer just runs a hand up and down her back in silent encouragement, forever surprised by how damn endearing he finds her quirks, how much affection he feels for this tiny human.

Rose takes a breath, steeling herself and looking him in the eye again, “I want to be with you, Rainer - I want to experience that with you. Maybe it seems fast - I don’t know, I’ve never done this, any of this before, but-”

“It doesn’t seem fast.” Rainer hums, bending to nuzzle her forehead gently, sub-vocals purring, “Spirits know ah’ve gotten more attached t’yah than anyone else in my life, Princess - and ah’m yours t’do with as ya please, s’long as you’ll have me.”

“I don’t know how Turians refer to it,” she whispers, breath ghosting over his mouth, “But… I want to make love with you, Rainer.”

He goes still for a moment, purr stuttering as he processes the words, and Rose turns red as soon as she says it, trying to avert her gaze.

“Oh, Gods, that sounds so ridiculous and cheesey out loud, forget I just said that before I completely ruin the mood-”

“No.” Rainer catches her chin gently between two talons, carefully turning her embarrassed gaze back to his, “Ah like seein’this side ah’yah. And ah may not have any practice at this… romantic, flowery crap, but ah’m willing t’try.”

He bends, nuzzling her again, purring right into her ear and making her shiver, “Be my amicae, Rose. Only mine.”

Amicae?” she questions with a shiver, tightening her grip around his waist.

“Mhm. Significant other, more or less. Ah’m not sure what th’human term is.”

“Ah, boyfriend and girlfriend.” Rose pauses, flashing him another small grin, “I think I like amicae better.”

Rainer’s purr strengthens into a low rumble as he nuzzles at her throat, nipping gently at her skin - being careful to only use his mouth plates, no matter how strong the urge to use his teeth and mark her is - waiting until she’s shivering and sighing in his arms to mumble “Where did ya want ta do this?”

“Upstairs.” Rose pulls from his arms to lead him backwards, touching a panel on the wall that lowers a ladder from a trapdoor above, “Small space, right? Oh - we should have grabbed your things-”

“Time fer that later, Princess.” he assures her, “Lead th’way.”

Rose nods, grabbing onto the ladder and climbing it swiftly - giving Rainer a quick moment to appreciate the way her pants hug her ass before she disappears up top, chucking to himself and following after.

Rose is kicking off her boots and unzipping her jacket when he reaches the loft, his attention momentarily wandering - he hasn’t been up here, yet, and she had always just slept in her Lab back on Elaaden, so he’s curious.

The space fits her perfectly; the wall facing the lake is that glass the Initiative seems to favor for their buildings, letting in lots of light and giving a gorgeous view of the wildlife outside. Her bed - decent size, much better fer her then sleepin’ on her couch - is pressed up against that glass, with two simple dressers along one long wall, and the rest of the space still mostly occupied by boxes. Not big, but more than enough room for Rose - for both of them, now that the offers been made.

“Shit, um, Rainer?” Rose’s voice is timid again, drawing his attention to where she stands near the bed - her jacket halfway off, as though she’d paused mid-strip - giving him an utterly baffled look, “Are you… how is this… are we…?”

“Yer adorable.” he can’t help purring, crossing to the flustered woman and flicking his mandibles reassuringly, “What’s th’question?”

“...do we take our own clothes off?” she questions quietly, face once more flushing that lovely pink.

Rainer chuckles, cupping her face briefly to run a thumb over her cheek, gently taking the jacket from her. “Depends. Sometimes, it can be sexy as hell to strip each other. But, ah’m gonna say we take our own clothes off today. Considering ah’m not very familiar with human clothes, and yer not familiar with turian clothes.”

Rose bites her lip and nods, and he steps away to do just that - attempting to keep his gaze averted so she won’t feel embarrassed, or like she’s on display, but finding it increasingly hard to focus as the pile of clothing on the floor grows - both his and hers tossed haphazardly together.

How very domestic. He purrs mentally, the thought warming him where once it would have sent him running.

“Rainer?”

He pauses in undoing the straps on his pants, trying not to get them stuck on his leg spurs - for once - turning and feeling his mandibles go slack at the sight of her before him, purr thrumming loudly from his chest.

Spirits above, what did’ah ever do ta deserve this beautiful woman?

Rose has her arms held determinedly at her sides, and he can tell it’s taking all of her control to not try and cover up. He can’t help letting his eyes rove hungrily over her form, taking in every little detail and doing his best to memorize them. She’s petite but curvy - heavy breasts looking as though they’d be a perfect weight in his hands, slim waist more then pleasing to a turian, a thin patch of hair guarding that secret place between her legs - Rainer releases a soft growl when he inhales and catches the scent of her arousal, musky and sweet and perfectly Rose, feeling his groin plates begin to loosen in response.

“Yer beautiful.” he says, trilling softly, “How’d ah ever get so lucky?”

That makes her laugh - a quick, happy burst of sound - and shift her feet, the movement doing wonderful things with her breasts as she shoots him a coy look.

“Just about ready, lover?”

He hums at the name, returning his attention to his pants - hesitating only to ask “You, ah… done any research on turians, Princess?”

“About…? Oh, if you mean about how your-” Rose pauses, wincing and flushing, “-how your cock is concealed, then I know. Malee decided to educate me about that.”

“Outta respect fer your sanity, ah’m not even gonna ask.” Rainer chuckles as he manages to discard his pants and underclothes, turning to face her - giving her the chance to look as he’d done to her, to make sure this was really what she wanted.

Rose’s attention is on him the moment he’s bared, eyes hungry as she looks him over - concern flashing over her features when she reaches his waist. He’s confused until she crosses over to him and places a gentle hand over his left side - over the scars he’s had for years.

“What happened?” she murmurs, running careful fingers over the slash lines, and it takes every ounce of self control Rainer has to not scoop her up and throw her on the bed.

“Varren.” he manages to grit out, letting his own hands find her hips and settle there, thumbs brushing over her skin and making her shiver, “That’s ah sensitive spot there, princess - ya keep doin’ that, ah might end up ravishing ya.”

“I wouldn’t mind.” Rose whispers, head tilting back so she can look him in the eye - nerves still present in the gold, yes, but the obvious desire and trust makes his heart jump and his purr stutter.

“Another time.” Rainer promises, bending now to press their foreheads together - purring even louder when she immediately presses back, “Ah want ta make sure yer taken care of, this time - ah don’t want ta hurt ya, Princess.”

“I trust you, Rainer.” she lifts her arms to wrap them around his neck, brushing kisses over his mouth plates and mandibles, “Lead the way.”

He trills softly, returning the touches with brushes of his mouth plates against her lips, tongue slipping out to taste her again as he slowly leads her backwards, ever careful not to push her to hard.

Rose’s quiet oof when her legs hit the bed makes him chuckle, releasing her only long enough for them both to climb onto the bed.

Rainer guides her to lay on her side, pressing himself right up against her back and pulling her leg back to hook it over his thigh - leaving her open for him to explore.

Rose shivers against him when he takes a breast in hand and gently kneads it, working until the nipple is stiff against his palm to trail down over her stomach, resting over that soft patch of hair. He feels her suck in a breath, then nod against him, murmuring a quiet “Please…”

Permission granted, Rainer lets his hand slip down between her thighs - ever careful of his talons as he strokes over her folds, finding and working his thumb over her clit in gentle circles, testing her responses.

Rose is almost immediately whimpering and bucking into his touch, leg tensing where it’s thrown over his and head thumping back against his shoulder, breath coming in quick little pants.

Sure that she’s enjoying herself now, he slowly sinks one digit inside of her - stroking carefully, keeping his movements shallow and intune with his thumb on her clit - purring deliriously at the delicious warmth he finds there, feeling his plates drawing fully back.

Rose is cursing and whispering as he works her - quietly begging for more oh Gods, Rainer, that feels so good, please - hips bucking hard against him, crying out when he adds a second finger and rubs over a patch of rough skin inside her.

She goes suddenly still when he adds a twist to the touch at her clit, back arching and breath gusting out of her as her cunt spasms around his fingers, clenching and grasping.

He’s purring as she rides out her orgasm, working her gently through it, only removing his hand once she’s slumped bonelessly against him - pride flaring at the look of sated sleepiness on her face.

“Y’alright?” he purrs, nuzzling gently at her cheek, rumbling loudly when she reaches up and manages to scratch behind his fringe.

“Wow.” is all she says, making him chuckle.

“Glad ya approve.” Rainer groans when she presses back again, unconsciously grinding his fully unsheathed erection against her, “Spirits, Rose… tell me now if yer done fer the night, it’s alright if y’are-”

Rose’s fingers digging in behind his fringe make his words stutter off with a hiss - one that turns into a low, dangerous rumble when she rolls her hips back against him.

“I told you before.” she murmurs - quiet but alert and so very, very amused - “I want to be with you, Rainer - this was just a fun warmup.” Rose sits up enough to press a kiss to his mandible, smiling, “Stop worrying.”

Rainer hums, sub-vocals now locked in a purr of need. “On yer back, Princess.”

“Ooo, missionary, huh? How very traditional of you, Rainer.” Rose winks, laughing as she obediently rolls onto her back while he positions himself above her - hair a mess of chocolate curls around her head and golden eyes bright with arousal and happiness - and he basks in this carefree side of her, this easy comfort that’s blossomed between them.

Spirits, ah love this woman. He thinks, not allowing himself to dwell on the thought or the stark truth of it, carefully kneeling and urging her to hook her legs up around his thighs - bringing his tip flush with her entrance.

“Tell me if it hurts.” he says, waiting till she nods to begin pressing in - slowly, no matter how good she feels, or how badly he wants to be buried inside of her - watching for any sign of discomfort.

Rose’s breath hitches several times, her hands clenching in the sheets - biting her lip and throwing her head back with a quiet gasp once he’s halfway inside of her, but never once telling him to stop.

Rainer’s chest is vibrating with the strength of his purr once his hips have come flush with hers, bending to bury his face in her throat and just reveling at the feel of her tight heat wrapped perfectly around him - squeezing him in ways he’d never experienced, a warmth that just feels like home.

“Spirits…” he mutters into her throat, nipping at the skin while keeping carefully still - giving her small body time to adjust, waiting to make sure he hasn’t hurt her.

Rose washes those worries away when she wraps her arms tightly around his neck and bucks her hips against him, whispering in his aural canal “Gods, Rainer… you feel so fucking good.”

Rainer whines and draws his hips back - nearly pulling free of her body before pushing back in, her responding gasp doing in the rest of his hesitation.

He keeps his pace steady, even thrusts in and out, not fully letting go of his control this time - it’s her first, there’ll be plenty’a time fer that later - only focusing on the feel of her, the sounds coming out of her, her sweet scent clouding the air around him and making him feel drunk-

So when she makes a noise that is definitely not one of pleasure, Rainer quickly comes to a stop, staring down at her in worry. “Rose? What’s wrong?”

“Didn’t realize how rough you are.” she tries to laugh, a broken sound of pain, and he pulls back to see the damage he’s caused - purr dying in his chest at the sight of her scraped inner thighs, red and raw from rubbing against his plates. “It’s okay - my own fault, just need some lotion or something-”

“Ah hurt ya.” he trills, mandibles clamped tight to his face as he turns away - shamed and angry with himself.

“What? Rainer, I’m okay - just a little chafing.” he feels the bed shift as she moves, whole body trembling when her hand touches his shoulder, “Hey… c’mon. What’s-”

“Ah hurt ya, Rose.” Rainer growls, keeping his gaze on the ground and ignoring his bodies responses, “Ye don’t hurt yer amicae, dammit. Ah fucked up - ah’m sorry.”

She goes silent for a moment, though her hand stays on his shoulder. He prepares himself for rejection, or a brush off, but he’s not prepared for what she says instead.

“You didn’t fuck up.”

 


 

Rose

Rose is frustrated by the sudden pain on her thighs, but she’d considered it a minor setback - having Rainer inside of her felt fucking amazing, and he’d been so affectionate and careful throughout the whole thing, surely they could just swap positions or something-

-she hadn’t expected him to pull fully away from her, turning to sit on the edge of the bed and staring at the ground in shame, as though he’d hurt her on purpose.

She scrambles after him, ignoring the pain and setting her hand on his shoulder - trying and apparently failing to comfort him with the touch, watching him draw further into himself despite his still obvious erection.

“Ah hurt ya, Rose.” he growls, gaze still averted, “Ye don’t hurt yer amicae, dammit. Ah fucked up - ah’m sorry.”

Being called his amicae warms her all the way down to her toes, and she wonders if something had happened in his past - if a previous partner had somehow been injured, and blamed Rainer for it.

I am not letting one little setback ruin what has otherwise been amazing.

“You didn’t fuck up.” she promises, shimmying up until she’s on her knees beside him - wrapping her arms around his neck and leaning down to nuzzle against his brow, “If you want something to blame, blame it on our inexperience  - my inexperience with everything, and yours with humans. Neither of us thought to combat chafing.”

“Ah still-”

“No, hush, listen to me. I want you, Rainer Vakarian - up until the chafing hurt, I was feeling fucking fantastic.” Rose shifts so she can whisper in his aural canal, trying to channel the confidence she’d seen Malee use with her lovers, “C’mon, babe, I want to feel you - I want your thick cock buried deep inside of me, I want you to take me until we’re both sated and too damn exhausted to move.”

Rainer shudders in her grip, cock giving an interested twitch as a low whine crawls out of his throat. “But yer-”

“We try a different position.” she shifts to press kisses down his mandible, catching the end between her teeth at the same time as she digs her nails in behind his fringe again, “Me on top, maybe? C’mon, Rainer - please, babe?”

Rainer growls, finally turning to look at her - green eyes dark with want despite his hesitation. “Yer sure yer alright, Rose?”

“I promise. Now come here.”

Rose silently cheers when he allows himself to be pulled into a heated kiss - lips pressed to his mouth plates and then parting happily when his tongue slinks out, kissing him until she’s breathless and squirming, her core burning with a need to be filled.

“Okay, c’mon, up on the bed - sit against the pillows maybe? Be careful of your fringe-”

“Yes, ma’am.” Rainer snarks, settling so he’s seated against the headboard, propped up by pillows so his fringe isn’t bent.

Rose immediately climbs atop him, shivering when his hands ghost apologetically along the skin of her inner thighs before coming to settle around her hips, keeping tight hold as she slowly lowers herself back onto him.

She sighs out a breath as her hips come flush with his, relishing in the feel of him buried inside of her, of the way his talons are just pricking at the skin of her hips - loving the sight of him with his head thrown back and his mandibles spread in pure pleasure, feeling the vibration of his purr all the way through her core.

Rose lifts up and then drops back down, delighted by his stuttered growl - repeating the motion again and again, aided by his grip and his hips snapping up to meet hers, nearly giggling every time his purr stutters.

There are no setbacks this time, and soon enough she feels that newly-familiar sensation building in her belly, movements becoming more erratic, “Rainer, oh Gods, I’m almost-”

“Me, too.” Rainer snarls, grip on her tightening, hips bucking harder -

-and it’s when he hits something on that next upstroke that she breaks, crying out as her release washes over her and her back arches, white hot pleasure shooting through every nerve and making her body sing.

Rainer follows with a string of expletives she can’t quite catch, only making out her name amongst the curses - gasping in surprise when he thrusts deep and she feels him swelling, shivering at the new sensation.

Rose carefully collapses against his chest - making sure to avoid the sharp ridge of his keel, tucking herself comfortably against his chest and shoulder - sighing in sleepy pleasure.

His hands drift up and down her back, hips twitching a little - chirping quietly when he pulls his hips back and hers follow, seemingly locked together.

“Ah, shit.”

“You didn’t fuck up.” Rose cuts him off before this new thought can form, pressing a kiss to the edge of his keel nearest her and giving him a look, “What’s wrong?”

“Ah’m, ah… ah knotted.” he mutters, pressing down on her back at the same time as he lifts his hips, that swell pressing deep and making her gasp, “It, ah… it’s never happened t’me, before.”

Rose giggles, too high off her orgasm to care much right now - it feels good, in a strange sort of way - grinning up at him, “I’ll ask for details later. I assume it goes away?”

“Yeah… not sure how long it’ll take, though.”

“Good thing you’re sleeping here now then, huh?” she blinks innocently at him, feeling his purr vibrate from his chest to hers, “I must be special.”

“Very special.” Rainer agrees quietly, his touch on her back almost reverent, “Knotting means ah care… ah care a lot.”

Rose only snuggles closer, happy when his arms wrap around her.

“Me, too, Rainer.”

Chapter Text

Rose is woken sometime later when she feels herself being lowered to the bed, disappointed and cold when Rainer pulls free of her body.

The turian must notice her annoyance, because he chuckles softly and bends to nuzzle her before moving away, leaving her to sigh and settle back against the pillows.

She’s still exhausted from their activities earlier in the night, and soon she’s nearly drifting off again, sleepy and sated and expecting her lover to crawl back into bed anytime.

He doesn’t, though, and the sound of him rummaging around and muttering under his breath has her stirring again, eyes opening to look out the window - surprised to see it’s pitch black outside.

“Rainer?” Rose pushes up on her elbows, stifling a yawn, “What’s going on?”

“Ah - shit, didn’t mean ta wake ya up, Princess. Go back ta sleep.”

“What time is it?” she blinks, squints, trying to see what he’s doing but only able to vaguely make out his form near her dressers.

“Jus’after midnight.”

“Ah, turian’s don’t sleep as long as humans, do they?” Rose yawns again, this one making it past her hand - she remembers that information, vaguely, but the way he’s acting tells her that’s not the only reason he’s awake. “What are you looking for?”

“D’ya have any medigel?” she can see him rifling briefly through the boxes she hasn’t managed to unpack yet - at least, that’s what it looks like he’s doing, “Or lotion? Somethin’ ta help with… y’know.”

“Help with… oh.” Rose sits up fully, wincing a little as her thighs rub together - still just a tad tender from the night before, but no worse than any sunburn she’s ever had, “Rainer, honestly, I’m fine, you didn’t hurt me - you don’t need to-”

Please, Rose.” he cuts her off, and the obvious whine to his subvocals makes her freeze, “Ah need… ah need ta take care a’ya.”

“Top left drawer of the second dresser. Should be some lotion.” she mumbles, watching him move to the specified location - suddenly very awake.

What happened, Rainer? Rose wonders, startled by this subdued side to him, What did you go through, that’s made you react like this?

Rainer finds the lotion and crosses back over to the bed, climbing on and motioning for Rose to spread her legs as he kneels between them.

She bites her lip in anticipation when he squeezes a generous portion of the cream into his hands and sets to work - rubbing it carefully, almost reverently, into the chafed skin of her thighs. It’s so damn tender and affectionate she feels herself drifting again, head lolling back and eyes closing in quiet bliss, basking in the attention.

His hands drift further up, thumbs stroking over the creases between her thighs and mound, and Rose shivers, heat pooling in her belly at the intimate touch, a soft moan escaping her when one thumb brushes dangerously close to her clit-

Rainer makes an odd strangled sound - nearly a sob - before his arms wrap around her middle and cling tight, face pressed against her belly.

Rose starts at the grip, eyes snapping open to stare down at him - confused and worried by the sounds coming from his throat, the emotions she hasn’t yet learned how to read.

“Shh, hey, it’s okay, I’m okay.” she wraps her arms around his shoulders and croons the words, trying to help, “You didn’t hurt me - everything’s okay.”

“Thank th’Spirits.” he mutters, sub-vocals whining, and Rose strokes gently over his fringe, humming softly.

“What happened?” she asks, voice gentle, knowing he understands by the way his grip tightens and his shoulders go stiff.

“Not t’night.” he asks, a silent plea underlying the words.

“Okay.” Rose presses a kiss to his head, still stroking a hand up and down his back, “Come back to bed, Rainer - I can’t sleep without you. Please?”

It’s not quite a lie - she’s slept best the few times he’s been near, lately - and it’s enough incentive for the turian to nod and release her, stealing a quick nuzzle before crawling back up to the pillows.

Rose lets him arrange himself first - since she knows turian beds are different then humans’, and she makes a mental note to at least get him the proper pillows if he’s going to be sharing her bed from now on - before burrowing against his side and sighing happily when an arm wraps around her, content and comfortable.

Rainer’s purr tells her he’s comfy, too, despite whatever trauma had kept him moving previously - and she drifts back off with that warm rumble against her ear.

 

 


 

 

The next time she’s woken up, it’s by the harsh patter of rain against the roof.

Grumbling as she reluctantly pushes up from her comfy spot snuggled against Rainer, she squints out the window and frowns, surprised by the gloom that’s snuck up on them.

“It’s been goin’ fer a few hours, now.” Rainer hums above her, one hand rubbing tenderly up and down her side, “Malee sent a message - said not ta chance leavin’ th’building unless necessary.”

“I didn’t think Eos got bad rain storms.” Rose yawns, opening her omni to flick through her own messages - finding an identical one from Malee.

Bad weather, stay inside - you’ve got supplies stashed over there, right? Only come running if you don’t have any food! Enjoy your day, lovebirds! ♥

‘Typical Malee.’

“Mmm, I think I’m okay being stuck inside today - I’ve got some protein bars stashed, both levo and dextro, and some tea and kava -”

“Might ah ask why ya have dextro rations, Princess?” Rainer’s voice is a teasing purr, no hint of that shame present from the night before, and Rose just blinks innocently up at him.

“Oh, y’know, better to be safe.” she shrugs, leaning up to nuzzle him and grinning softly, “I need a shower. Want to join me?”

“Definitely.” he purrs, nuzzling back, pressing his mouth plates gently to her lips before pulling away to stand up, one hand outstretched.

Rose giggles - since when do I giggle?? - and takes his hand, climbing carefully off the bed and flushing slightly pink when his eyes run over her, going dark.

She knows what he’s looking at - can feel the stickiness between her legs - and she bites her lip coyly, feeling flushed just from that look.

Need to wash the sheets - later. Wonder if Rainer’s up for another round…

“Come on - you can ravish me in the shower.” she says, tugging him towards the washroom - smirking a little at the rough growl that answers her.

Her washroom isn’t big or elaborate, but it’s functional and clean - a sink with a small cabinet for toiletries, a mirror, a toilet, and a single shower stall.

Thankfully, all Initiative buildings had been designed with all of the races in mind, so the ceiling is more-than adequate height for turian’s - Rainer’s 7’ self included.

Rose steps in to get the water going, and they spend several moments bickering about the water temperature - do you want me to look like a lobster?? Seriously?? - before settling on one that works for them both, sighing in near unison when the water washes over them.

The next moment finds Rose gently pinned by a very eager turian, his tongue claiming hers as one hand disappears between her legs - stroking in a way that has her gasping almost immediately.

Rainer purrs happily, slipping first one and then two fingers inside of her, stroking languidly as he kisses her - a purr that stutters off into a string of expletives when she finds the seam of his pelvic plates and starts running her fingers along it, delighting when they part after only a few careful strokes and his cock springs free into her hands.

“Someone’s eager.” she laughs breathily, trying and failing to wrap her hands around him, settling for stroking up and down, “Gods, you’re huge - ngh-”

Rose gasps when his fingers leave her and she finds herself being lifted and pressed against the wall, Rainer’s gaze tender and hungry when he nuzzles her again.

“Glad you approve.” he hums, urging her to hook her legs over his hip spurs - both for stability and to prevent any more chafing, she realizes - and groaning when she continues to run one hand up and down his cock, trailing her nails over the head, “Fuck, Rose, can ah…?”

Rose shivers at the needy whine to his subvocals, releasing his cock to instead wrap her arms around his neck, pressing a kiss to his mandible, “Go ahead.”

Rainer purrs, nuzzling at her again as he aligns himself and slams home, making her back arch and her legs squeeze tight around his waist at the quick intrusion.

He feels way to good, buried deep inside of her, and Rose rolls her hips against him in silent permission, holding on tight as he growls and starts to move.

It’s not a long encounter - he’d been sure to work her up first, make sure she was ready - and Rose is gasping as she feels that end drawing swiftly near, squeezing his waist again and hearing his purr stutter into a loud whine.

“You feel so good,” she gasps, trying to keep up with his thrusts, planting kisses all over his face, “Fuck, babeso good, I can’t -”

“Yer so damn tight, so fucking perfect.” Rainer groans - a dual-toned, flanged sound that only pushes her pleasure higher - upping his pace at the same time as he reaches down and rubs a thumb over her clit, “Let it go, Rose - come fer me, princess.”

That touch finishes her - his name ghosting out in a breathy scream as her release hits, back arching into a tight bow and eyes snapping shut, shuddering in exhausted pleasure.

Rainer snarls and gives another two thrusts before pulling suddenly from her body, his release spurting over her belly in several hot streams.

Panting, Rose opens her eyes when she feels herself being slowly lowered back to her feet, sighing in content when he bends to nuzzle her forehead again.

“Why’d you…?” she mumbles, somewhat disappointed - she’d liked feeling him come, the night before.

Rainer chuckles, “Much as Ah enjoy bein’ knotted with ya, Princess, we still need t’get washed - plus, gonna need some grub soon.”

At a responding grumble from her own stomach, Rose laughs, pressing into his touch, “Good point. Hand me that shampoo.”

 

 


 

 

 Despite both of their stomachs grumbling, they spend another twenty or so minutes in the shower - helping each other get cleaned off, cracking jokes about their differences - Rainer taking great delight in drying her off with the biggest, fluffiest towel she owned.

The rain hasn’t let up, so they both throw on whatever's comfortable to lounge in - Rainer just wearing his pants, while Rose pulls on a clean bra and panties and, after a moment's hesitation, the giant N7 sweater she’d inherited from Lily - and then head down to the main level.

Rainer settles on the couch while Rose gets some water boiling, tossing a dextro ration-bar at him and nibbling on her own while they wait, settling into comfortable silence.

Once the kettles boiled, she makes herself some herbal tea, and mixes up some kava for Rainer, carrying both over to the couch and handing him his mug before making herself comfortable against his side.

They sit like that for several moments, just listening to the rain outside, Rose feeling so damn content and sated she could very well pass out against him, sipping happily at her tea.

“She was ah fellow cadet, in the Hierarchy army.”

Rose glances at him, brows lifted. “I wasn’t going to push you, Rainer.” she says softly, laying a hand on his arm.

Rainer shakes his head, taking a sip of his kava, “Ye deserve t’know. An ah need ta get it out.”

She snuggles back into his side, nods that she’s listening - glad that he’s telling her, but also worried. What could have caused that reaction?

“Wasn’t anythin’ more than what other turians in th’Hierarchy do - simple stress release. She was good lookin’, same age as me - we’re talkin’ back when ah was maybe seventeen. The early days.”

Rainer lifts his hand, flexing his talons. “Turians scratch, sometimes, when we’re not payin’ attention, or we’re lost in pleasure. Wasn’t much of a point t’blunting yer talons, back on Palaven - and ah scratched her by accident, on th’waist.”

“At th’time, wasn’t an issue - freaked me out a bit, but she didn’t even mention it, not once. We were assigned ta different Units, and that was that. Or so ah thought.”

“A few months later, got a summons by my CO - that other cadet was accusin’ me of forcin’ a Mate Mark on her, of scratchin’ her waist ta hell and not takin’ responsibility.”

Rose’s mouth drops open in surprise. “But that doesn’t-”

“-make any sense? Ah know that, an’so did my CO, and my squads Medic.” Rainer slumps back into the couch, eyes closing with a strained chuckle, “My CO demanded she be examined by our own doctor - who found th’marks ta be recent, definitely not old enough for it t’have been me.”

“What the hell was she trying to get from all that?”

“Staus, ah suppose. Ah’m a Vakarian - th’name unfortunately meant somethin’, on Palaven, even tho Ah’m from an offshoot. Ah made damn sure not t’ever leave marks again after that - accidental or not. So… ah reacted badly, last night, and Ah’m sorry.”

“You have nothing to be sorry for, Rainer.” Rose sets her tea down on the sidetable and takes his kava to do the same, crawling up into his lap and cupping his face in both hands, “That cadet was a bitch, and you didn’t deserve to have that happen. If I ever see her, I’m punching her - heads up.”

That manages to draw a chuckle, Rainer’s expression opening as his hands come to rest on her hips, “Ah don’t think she came t’Andromeda, Princess, but Ah appreciate that. And Ah appreciate ya listenin’ t’me.”

“What’s an amicae for?” she says, testing the word, loving the soft purr it elicits from him, “Seriously, though. Don’t ever worry about things like that with me, okay? There’s no shame here - we’re both learning. And for the record? A little chafing is hardly enough to chase me away. I like you too much for that.”

Rainer’s mandibles quiver for a moment before he wraps his arms around her middle and pulls her flush against him, purring and nuzzling happily into her throat.

Rose just hums back, stroking one hand up and down his spine while the other moves to his fringe, scratching gently.

“Ah donno what ah’d do without ya, Rose.” he mumbles into her skin, nipping gently, “Ah ain’t ever lettin’ ya go.”

“Good.” she nestles closer, content in his grip, “Cause I’m not letting you go, either.”

Chapter Text

Two weeks later finds Rainer trailing behind Rose, amusement humming from his sub-vocals as his tiny amicae tries to find him new pillows.

Spirits, ah must love th’woman - would never’ah agreed ta this otherwise.

That thought is not nearly as terrifying as it once was, and he has to admit; it’s been fun listening to Rose gripe about how hard shopping for him is.

“Why is all of their turian armor bulky as fuck? I know you guys have a keel, but this is ridiculous.”

“Spirits know, Princess; Initiative seems hell bent on us lookin’awkward.”

“Gotta be something better - we’ll have to check on the Nexus, none of this is good enough.”

It’s getting harder and harder to keep his purr under control around her, especially when she says things like that, but he’s somehow managing - mostly due to the amusement he’s feeling watching her scrutinize the turian pillows on offer.

“Let’s go to Prodromos,” Rose had suggested the night before, definitely taking advantage of the fact that they’d been knotted and flying high off endorphins, “I know your neck’s bothering you from my bed - we need to get you some proper pillows. And updated armor - you’re not playing Scav anymore, Rainer.”

“What’s wrong with this armor? It works.”

“Sure, but it doesn’t suit you.” she’d pressed close, rolling her hips in the way she knew drove him mad, smirking at his whine, “Maybe we can find something that matches, hmm?”

“Deal.” he’d growled before grabbing her, and the rest of the night had been very well spent.

Now, he’s glad he agreed to go, if only because her annoyance is endearing.

“Rainer, could really use your input, here - is this the type of pillow you need? It doesn’t seem… I don’t know, supportive enough.”

“Yer adorable.” he chuckles, slipping his arms around her waist as he steps up behind her, using his height to his advantage to look down at the pillow in her hands, “B’lieve it or not, that’s what turian pillows are like. This one ain’t curved enough for my fringe, though - see how th’middle’s angled? Mine’s longer then what’d be comfortable with this.”

“Ohh, gotcha, okay - so…”  Rose sets the pillow back down, scowling, “...none of these will work, will they?”

“Ah, don’t think so.” Rainer squints at the selection on offer, unconsciously stroking one hand up and down Rose’s hip, “S’alright, we can check when we go ta th’Nexus ta look fer armor.”

“Alright…” Rose hums, resting her arms over his for a moment - tilting her head back to blink up at him, “Y’know… didn’t think turians liked showing affection in public.”

Rainer purrs, tightening his grip and wiggling his mandibles at her, “Why, ya don’t like it?”

“I didn’t say that-” she mumbles, lips quirked, “-just learning as we go, I guess. Should be grab some salmo for dinner?”

“Mmm, ya do know what Ah like-”

“Rainer?”

Rainer goes still at the voice from behind them, startled. That sounded like… naw, it can’t be-

“Valia, what’s th’matter?”

Valia. The name hits him in the gut and has him turning in place, a weak trill starting low in his throat, Spirits, is it…?

“Spirits, it is him - Rainer!”

“Rainer?” Rose questions, following his movements and eyeing the couple behind them in confusion, “What’s going on?”

Holy hell. Rainer’s too startled to respond, mandibles gone slack as he stares at the pair of older turians behind them, trilling loudly.

A male and a female, silver plates and ashy skin, blue markings identical to his own. Impossible, and yet… real.

“Mom.” he chirps, feeling overwhelmed, “Dad. How th’hell?”

“You’re alive.” Valia breathes, utter relief trembling through every subvocal, and he feels Rose draw away from him as his mother quickly crosses the space and presses her forehead to his in an emotional greeting. “Thank the Spirits, after all this time - we thought you were dead, Rainer.”

“Good ta see’ya, son.” Kaelus greets him with a warm hand on his shoulder, clasping tight and flaring his mandibles in elation, “When we heard ya were on Eos, we hoped we might find ya, but-”

“How are ye here? This is impossible-”

“We’ll explain, son, we promise, it’s just so good to see you.” Valia cups his face for a moment, sub-vocals purring out relief, before he sees her eyes dart to the side, curiosity joining the sounds, “Rainer, I’m sorry, how rude - your companion is…?”

“Ah.” Rainer coughs, pulling from his mother’s touch to stretch a hand back to the human standing silently behind him, glad when she accepts the grip and steps quietly up beside him.

“Rose, these are, somehow, ma’parents, Valia an’Kaelus.” Rainer slips his arm back around the woman’s waist, determined to start this encounter off right, “Mom, Dad, this is Rose - my amicae.”

 


 

 “...it was a last minute decision, before they closed the applications for the Initiative.” Valia’s mandibles are quivering as she fiddles with the mug of tisane Rose had prepared for her, voice soft “You’d already left with the Nexus. Silly as it was, we weren’t ready to let go.”

“Plus, wasn’t anythin’ keepin’ us tied ta Palaven, really.” Kaelus’ tone is casual, but he knows his father well enough to catch the emotion in his subvocals, “Figured we’d come along fer th’adventure.”

“Well, Ah’m glad yer here.” Rainer’s managed to tamp down on the overload of emotions he’d felt at his parents surprise arrival, vocals trilling quietly as they talk, “But where were ya b’efore this? The turian Ark was in pieces.”

“We were with Avitus’ group on Havarl - even got to meet the human Pathfinder, back in her early days.” Valia pauses to sip at her drink, making a sound of pleased surprise, “This is brewed perfectly, Rose, I’m impressed.”

“Ah-” Rainer turns briefly at the stammer, catching Rose paused with a knife halfway through a slab of salmo, “Rainer drinks his the same way, so I’ve had some practice.”

“Well, my compliments, dear.”

“Thank you.” Rose sees him looking and quirks a small grin, blushing and turning back to the fish when he wiggles his mandibles flirtatiously.

When he turns back to his parents, he finds them both watching him blatant amusement.

“Whut?” he grumps, not bothering to hide his purr now - it’s obvious they’ve both clued in.

Well, well. his mother hums at him, subvocals singing, Someone finally tamed my wayward son. And here I’d thought you’d be single forever.

Ma…

Y’know it’s true, Rainer. Kaelus sits back in his chair, crossing his arms and watching Rose for a moment, Gotta say… Ah approve. Donno much about’er, yet, but ah like what ah see. Yer calmer then ah’ve ever seen yah.

And showing affection in public! My my, she does have you tamed. Valia spreads her mandibles wide, nodding sagely, I like this side of you.

Y’don’t mind that she’s human? Rainer trills back cautiously, tapping a talon against the table. It’s his biggest concern, now that they’re here - he’s never known his parents to be xenophobic, and he’d cut his own fringe off sooner then leave Rose, but…

“Is that salmo I smell?” Valia says aloud, nose plates shifting as her attention shifts to Rose, “And yuba sauce?”

“Yes - it’ll be done in a few minutes!” Rose doesn’t turn her attention away from the food, though she swats at Malee when the asari tries to add something to the dish, “They didn’t have any louza left at the supplier, so I went with something I know Rainer likes. I hope that’s okay.”

Yer happy, Kaelus draws his attention back with a hum, looking pleased, An’if that salmo tastes half as good as it smells? Yer a damn lucky man.

“Perfectly okay, Rose - thank you for accommodating us on such short notice.” Valia’s gaze is still on his busy amicae, mandibles twitching in curiosity, “Where did you learn to cook dextro?”

“Rainer gave me a quick rundown the first time he stayed for dinner - Malee’s kind of taken over that tutelage, since then.”

“Not that she listens to me about spices,” the asari gripes, grinning widely as she carries various dishes over to the table - levo and dextro both, easily distinguishable by the colours, “My Dad was a turian - taught me everything he knew about cooking dextro, just in case.”

Turian, huh? Rainer hums at her, testing - chuckling when all he gets in response is a wink.

“Alright, foods ready.” Rose carries the serving dish of delicious smelling salmo over and sets it down in front of his parents, sweeping her hair back from her face as she settles into her own chair at his side, “Malee, where’s Naermi?”

“Oh, you know, she got a call from one of her Ark buddies about some new DNA strand or something,” Malee rolls her eyes, grinning as she slips into her own chair, “Told her she’d better be back before dark or I’d be jealous.”

“Gotcha.” Rose turns her attention back to his parents, and Rainer catches a tinge of something in her expression - anxiety? hope? - before it’s gone, replaced by a lopsided grin.

“Well, dig in, everyone.”

 


 

Dinner is fantastic, and his parents stay for another couple of hours afterwards, talking and catching up.

Rose seems almost on edge, stiff in her seat - comfortable but cautious, as though waiting for something to happen. Because a’her own parents issues? Hmm…

His parents are curious and interested, asking about her work, how they’d met - but they don’t ask about her history or family, as per his request. Bad mem’ries there, he’d hummed.

Rose relaxes minutely over the course of the visit, leaning casually against his side, though there’s an edge of tension in her shoulders that never quite leaves.

Malee makes herself scarce well before his parents head out, and it’s just he and Rose that see them off at the door, the shuttle they’d booked waiting just outside the fence of their little complex.

“Thank you for having us, Rose - we’ll need to visit again soon.” Valia’s smile is gentle as she reaches out for the human’s hands, giving them a quick squeeze. “Thank you for looking after Rainer.”

Rose seems momentarily stunned, managing a smile as she squeezes back, “Of course, any time - and… we take care of each other, really.”

“Yer a lucky man, son.” Kaelus chuckles and claps Rainer on the shoulder again, then offers Rose his hand, giving her much smaller one a shake, “Ah look forwards ta seein’ yah both again soon, Rose. Keep in touch.”

“We will.” Rainer promises, hooking his arm around the brunette’s waist as his parents finish their goodbyes and head for the shuttle, waving briefly back at them as it pulls away.

Rainer blows out a breath, shaking his head in amused disbelief. “Ah can’t b’lieve they’re here. This is amazin’. Ah’m sorry ta jump that on yah, Rose-”

“Is that… what parents are supposed to be like?”

Rainer pauses, looking sharply down at the woman tucked against him. She looks pensive, thoughtful, and so sad it makes his heart hurt.

“Like whut, Princess?” he questions softly, slowly turning her to face him.

“Warm. Encouraging, and friendly, and… interested?” Rose keeps her gaze on his chest once she’s facing him, making him trill in distress, “I just… they love you so much, Rainer, it’s obvious. And I’m so happy they’re here, that you get to… I just-”

“Hey.” Rainer hooks one finger gently beneath her chin, tilting her face up, “Ah’m happy they’re here, too - an’heads up, they’ll be makin’ pests o’themselves, cause they love you, too.”

Rose scowls, nose scrunching, “They just met me-”

“Doesn’t matter. Ya make me happy - ya care about me, and Ah care about ya, a lot.” he bends, pressing his forehead against hers with a quiet little purr, “That’s all they need.”

“They don’t care that I’m human?” she whispers, pressing into his touch.

“Love, s’long as ah’m happy, they don’t give a shit.” Rainer flares his mandibles out, smoothing his hands over her back and letting his purr deepen, “Yer part o’the family, now.”

Rose closes her eyes and sucks in a breath, lips screwed up for a moment.

The second the tears start falling Rainer’s purr shifts to a panicked trill, hands coming up to cup her cheeks and wipe away the moisture. “Princess, shit, what’d Ah do? Ah didn’t mean ta make ya cry-”

“I’m okay, it’s okay, I’m sorry, I’m just-” Rose laughs, the sound a little broken, placing her hands over his and smiling through the tears, “I’m happy, I’m just - just a little overwhelmed. I’m okay.”

“Shit, woman, ya freaked me out, there.” Rainer slumps in relief, pulling her in close and nuzzling at her, “Ya sure yer alright? Not too much?”

“Never too much.” she sighs, going up on her toes to press a kiss to his mouth plates, the tears stopping as she pulls away, “I like your parents. I really do. But… no more surprise family, okay?”

He barks out a laugh, pulling away so he can swing her up into his arms and carry her away towards their little corner of the complex.

“No more surprise family.” he agrees, mandibles flaring, heart pounding at the brilliant grin she flashes him in return.

Chapter Text

“Alright, that’s a new set for you, a new set for me, a couple of upgrades, annnd-” Rose hits the order button on the holo interface, grinning when the affirmative bing goes off, “Done! Couple of weeks, and we’ll have new armor delivered right to us. Damn, that’s a lot easier than it used to be.”

Rainer chuckles behind her, amusement humming from his subvocals, “Easier than th’Milky Way? Or here, too?”

“Both, honestly - you’ve seen me out of armor, Rainer - I’m busty. Good luck finding that sort of fit anywhere without a custom order, and the Alliance was notoriously slow with customs unless you were a top-ranking official or an N7.”

“Oh, Ah’ve seen yah outta armor, alright - definitely know what yer talkin’bout.” Rainer purrs, flicking his mandibles at her in a way she’s learned to read as a lewd grin, making her laugh and swat at him.

Easy, Rainer - save that for later.” she winks, earning another purr as she tilts her head back to blink up at him, “You still need new pillows, and I wanted to stop by the gift shop - they were supposed to get a new shipment of tea in, and I wanted to see if they had any dextro chocolate your parents might like.”

His purr trails off into a surprised trill at that, mandibles flicking as he tilts her head down at her. “Yah don’t hafta buy them anythin’, Rose.”

“I know, but I want to.” she offers her hand, feeling a stupid little thrill when he immediately links his fingers with hers in the way they’ve discovered works, walking back towards the direction of the gift shop. “I’ve met them twice, and they’ve already been ten times more welcoming than my own parents ever were - plus, they’re clearly thrilled to see you again. So I can at least buy them chocolate or something. Nothing big.”

Rainer’s grip on her hand tightens just a fraction, his purr rumbling again. “Yer one of a kind, Rose.”

Rose just blushes and smiles, tugging him down the corridor towards the proper shops - a new wing that’s been added to the Nexus in recent years, probably meant to mimic the shopping on the Citadel, now that the majority of the danger has passed.

The Nexus Gift Shop and Cafe has become a favorite stop for her, the few times she’s on the Nexus - run by a Turian and Asari couple, it boasts a welcoming cafe and a wide assortment of little gifts and delicacies for all of the Nexus species - teas, chocolates, even some savory snacks.

They also have the news running, and vid screens available to check in on current colony-status’ - whether or not certain planets are accepting new colonists, what the requirements are, etc.

“Ah’ll go get th’pillows ordered, then meet yah inside, alright?” Rainer pauses, flicking a mandible out at her, “Luckily, th’store doesn’t look busy at th’moment - shouldn’t b’long.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Rose can’t resist going up on her toes a little - glad when he clues in and bends enough to give her a quick nuzzle, a parting touch she’s gotten a little too used to, maybe - before shooting him a grin and tugging away. “See you in a bit, babe.”

“Stay outta trouble.” he chuckles, giving her a last look before heading inside the pillow shop, leaving Rose to turn and make her way inside the Gift Shop.

There’s maybe a few other people browsing the aisles, a couple sitting at the bar of the cafe, and the asari proprietress waves from behind the espresso machine when she notices her enter, giving the bright smile she always does.

Rose waves back, making a beeline first to the vid screens - figuring she’d may as well check it and get it over with, swiping through the screens until she comes to the last one.

Meridian shows as a lush, green world, with Port Hyperion pictured in the back along with various Remnant structures  - there’s also the barely visible shape of the human Pathfinders ship, the Tempest, just visible amongst the greenery.

The readout, as she’d unfortunately expected, still displays Current Immigration Openings: Zero. Openings Expected: Unknown.

“As expected…” she sighs, flicking the screen back to the main readout - where it announces, loudly, that Eos and Kadara are more then ready for more colonists! Uhuh…

“Still eyeing Meridian?” the proprietress chuckles as she passes, not unkindly, “Give it time, hun - it’ll open up.”

“I hope so.”

“Mhm. In the meantime, check out the new teas we got in - lots of herbal levo varieties, some that might be just to your liking.”

“Oh, that’s perfect, thank you.” Rose pauses, giving the older Asari a quick look - she seems weirdly familiar, somehow - before wandering in the direction of the teas, “You wouldn’t, um, have any recommendations on dextro chocolates, would you?”

“Dextro, huh?”

“They’re, ah… for my boyfriends parents.”

The Asari is all grins at that, wiping her hands off on her apron as she comes around the counter to lead her to the proper aisle, pointing out several boxes, “Any of these would be good - variety packs, and while I don’t personally know what they taste like, I can tell you my Mate goes nuts for these in particular.”

“Awesome, good to know.”

“Welcome to the dextro side, hun.” the Asari winks, making Rose blush and laugh, “Let me know if you need anything else, alright?”

“Thank you, I will!”

Rose picks up the boxes to compare them, reading over the contents - trying to recognize ingredients from talking to Rainer, but ultimately just trying to decide which sounds better.

She’s aware of someone else standing in the aisle a few moments later, but doesn’t acknowledge them until she hears them clear their throat, shooting them a look from the corner of her eye.

“Hello.” she says, flicking her eyes over the man - vaguely familiar, but -

“Hi. Rose, right?” he says, continuing at her nod, “Thought so. We were in Initiative training together, remember?”

“Ah, yeah, I do, hi. How are you?” his face clicks then, and she forces a smile. She can’t remember his name, but he’d been nice enough - asides from his incessant flirting, at least.

“Good, been stationed here since I came out of stasis. How about you?”

“Oh, you know, botanist - Havarl, Elaaden, everywhere.” Rose turns her focus back to the chocolate, deciding on the second, heavier box after a moment's consideration, “Just stopping to pick up some gifts.”

He doesn’t say anything else, just hovers, but she can feel him watching her, and she’s just about to ask what it is he wants, exactly, when he speaks again.

“Guess I shouldn’t have bothered flirting back in training, huh?” he scoffs, a sound that has her blood burning strangely, “Never would’ve pinned you for a bird lover.”

Rose isn’t really aware of what happens then. Her vision goes black, her blood starts pounding in her ears, and when she regains control her fist is making contact with his nose and she’s shouting, angry, and then he’s shouting, blood spraying from where she’d clocked him-

-and then she’s being hoisted up and over a familiar shoulder, Rainer’s voice in her ear even as he carries her away, telling her to calm down even as she shouts back at the asshole who had dared to refer to him in such a way, control shattered by that one little word.

“Rainer! Rainer put me down, I’m going to fucking kill him! Let me down!”

“Ain’t worth it, Princess, no matter what e’did.” Rainer just keeps walking, carrying her back down a flight of stairs and around a corner, only stopping once they’re in a fairly deserted hallway. He settles her carefully on her feet, then, hands resting on her shoulders, watching her, “What happened?”

“Fucking racist asshole.” Rose is still worked up, embarrassed at having snapped, averting her gaze and clenching her hands into fists, “I just - I was looking at chocolates for your parents, and he - we were in Initiative training together, he’d always flirt with me, but I kind of just ignored him. I don’t even remember his damn name.”

Rainer makes an encouraging noise, rubbing his thumbs up and over the base of her throat, calming her with the simple touch.

“He just - he must have seen us outside the cafe, cause he made a fucking comment - bird lover, who fucking says that? - and I just… I snapped, and I shouldn’t have, but it made me so damn angry! Why would you come to Andromeda if you’re a fucking racist, xenophobic piece of shit?!”

“Some people’ll never change, Princess.” Rainer hums, shifting his grip to cup her face, flicking his mandibles out at her, “N’matter what galaxy they’re in. Can’t help that.”

“Still…” she sighs, resting her hands over his and closing her eyes, feeling drained, “I’m sorry, Rainer - I didn’t mean to freak out-”

“Fuck, Princess, y’looked fuckin’ badass, takin’ that asshole down with a single punch - jus’didn’t want yah gettin’inta shit over it.” he purrs, bending to nuzzle at her, “And fer th’record, Ah appreciate yah standin’ up ta bigots like tha’ - Spirits knows, we’ve got enough workin’against us without th’stress ah jerks like that addin’to it.”

“I’m probably not welcome back in the Gift Shop, now.” Rose laments, trying to laugh it off.

He chuckles, pulling back to loop an arm around her waist. “Ah donno’bout that, tho we should apologize ta th’owners.”

“Okay. Can we…”

“A’course. Pillows’re ordered - ah’d just come ta find yah, anyways.”

They walk back slowly, Rainer’s warmth against her side calming her down, though she's biting her lip and hesitating as they walk back through the doors of the Gift Shop.

Both owners are there this time, standing by the cafe, though at their approach the Asari hurries over with a worried look. “Are you alright, hun? Your boyfriend whisked you out of here so quickly, I didn’t get the chance to check on you!”

“I’m fine. I just wanted to apologize for causing a scene in your shop.” Rose pulls away from Rainer so she can dip into a short bow - an expression of regret she’s seen used between various species over the years. “I understand if I’m no longer welcome here.”

“Oh, nonsense, it wasn’t your fault - if anything, you saved us the trouble of throwing him out.” the asari flashes her a wide smile, shaking her head, “And here Malee asked us to keep an eye out for you, Goddess, I think you two are more than capable of looking out for yourselves!”

That makes Rose pause, eyebrows lifted. It’s Rainer who voices the question, sub-vocals rumbling questioningly, “Yah know Malee?”

“I should hope we know Malee,” the flanged voice draws their attention to the turian as she comes up behind the asari, mandibles flickering in amusement, “We are her parents, after all.”

“You’re - wait - what??” Rose blinks, glancing between the two of them - noting, now, the similarities she’d noticed in the asari before, and the way the turians markings resemble her friends, “Malee didn’t tell me her parents had come to Andromeda, too!”

“Oh, that Malee.” the asari sighs dramatically, and it’s instantly obvious the two are related. “Yes, we did - Andromeda was just too interesting to pass up! We figured, why not? They needed more people - and we know how to run a business.”

“You’re getting ahead of yourself, ‘Mena.” the turian scolds softly, inclining her head in their direction, “I am Milona T’Velis, Malee’s Father, as you would - this is my Mate, Kal’Mena T’Velis. A pleasure to finally meet the two our daughter never stops talking about.”

“Oh, um, nice to meet you, too! I guess you know who we are, then, but - Rose Evans, and my amicae, Rainer Vakarian.” Rose greets back, ever polite, “I wish she’d told us you were here - we’re finding more family then we’d expected, every day.”

“Vakarian, Vakarian - ahhh, Kaelus and Valia’s son, no?”

“Aye?”

“I’m glad you were all finally reunited - they were quite distraught, when they first arrived here. Can’t say I blame them.” Milona flicks her mandibles again, head tilted, “Ah, those chocolates were for them, weren’t they? I know exactly which box they would prefer, then - give me a moment-”

“And in the meantime, come, have something warm to drink! On the house - for taking such good care of Malee, and to make up for all of the shenanigans today.”

“Well… if you insist!”

Kal’Mena grins and bustles away to the cafe station while Milona goes to retrieve the chocolates, leaving Rose and Rainer to follow after to the bar.

Rose’s omni pings as she slips into her seat, a tone that makes her scowl - that sounded like… but I haven’t set that notif to anyone else’s ID, so what-

“Rose?” Rainer notices her go very still, staring wide eyed at the display of her omnitool, subvocals crooning worriedly at her gasp, “Amicae, what is it?”

“It’s… it’s Lily.” she whispers, wide eyes lifting to meet his, “Rainer, she… she’s alive.”

Chapter Text

“A’right, tha’s everythin’ from Malee’s list.” Rainer drops the bags of shopping into the Nomad’s cargo hatch with a grunt and a shake of his head, brushing his hands off, “Spirits, ah thought this was a human celebration - Malee’s list was tha’longest!”

“She wants to make some fancy dishes, this time.” Rose laughs, setting her much smaller load of bags down beside his, “Wants to make up for all the small ones back in the Milky Way, she said.”

“Ah see…”

“I’ve got everything from Naermi’s list, too - thank God for the clerk, I couldn’t pronounce at least half of the items.” she pushes all the bags just a little further into the hatch, makes sure they’re stable, then hits the button to swing the door closed, “So, I think we’re all set! Unless there’s anything else you needed to do in the outpost?”

“Naw, Ah picked up everythin’ Ah needed while Ah was grabbin’ Malee’s shit.” Rainer hums, mandibles flaring in amusement at her eye roll, “Let’s go. Mom’an Dad’ll be around later, an’Ah think Malee said’er parents were comin’ tonight, too?”

“They might be delayed - something to do with the shop, Malee said - but they’ll hopefully be in tonight, yeah.”

Rainer makes a noise of agreement as they climb back into the Nomad, belting in as Rose starts the rover up and steers them back out of the Outpost.

Eos is calm these days, a good thing after the War with the Kett, and their Bloom Hunting has been smooth sailing - with any luck, Rose’s progress on her research will bump her up the list for Meridian, sometime soon.

That’s the hope, anyways.

For now, a human tradition had swept over both the Nexus and several buildings of Prodromos, one that involved family gathering together and people giving each other gifts. And one other thing Rainer keeps meaning to ask her about…

“Hey, Rose?”

“Mhm?”

“What’s with th’big fat guy?”

Rose nearly hits a rock in her surprise, lifting an eyebrow at him as she re-focuses, “The what now?”

“Y’know, the big holo in th’Nexus they’ve got up fer Christ-mas. What’s ‘e stand fer?”

“Ohhhh, you mean Santa.” Rose laughs, shooting him a grin, “He’s an old Earth story - meant more for kids, really. He’d bring them presents on Christmas Eve if they’d been good, or a lump of coal if they’d been naughty.”

Rainer falls silent at that, mandibles twitching in thought, before he grumbles. “Sounds like an awful legend.”

Rose only laughs harder.

 


 

 “I’m glad your parents and Malee’s have met before.” Rose slows the Nomad to a crawl as they approach their little outpost, throwing him a smile, “Makes things a little easier, once everyone’s together.”

“Agreed.” Rainer sits up as they get closer, watching the slow descent of Eos’s star in the distance, “Never asked - Ah know Salarian’s aren’t big’on family in th’same way, but-”

“She’s never really mentioned her parents, but she was close to her Uncle Mordin - he stayed in the Milky Way, though. He was a mentor to her.” Rose shrugs, humming, “Not all of us have great parents, unfortunately - lucky for me, my boyfriend’s parents seem to like me.”

“They love yah.” he mumbles back, fiddling with something in his pocket.

“Even better.” Rose ducks her head to hide a blush, throwing the Nomad into park and unclipping her belt, “Now, let’s get everything unloaded-”

“Hold on a sec, Princess.”

Rainer’s hand gripping hers stills her before she can stand, turning back to find him watching her rather… nervously?

“Sure, what’s up?” she turns to face him properly, frowning a little at the quiver to his mandibles, “Is everything okay?”

“How long’ave we known each other, roughly?”

Rose blinks at the question, scowling a little as she thinks. “Um… geez, I think it’s almost been a year, actually. Time flies.”

“An’Ah know Ah’m, ah… not th’best at expressin’ mahself, but…” Rainer swallows, seeming to take a breath and steeling himself before looking her in the eye again, “Ah love yah, Rose. Truly. Ah dunno where ah’d be without yah.”

That makes her breath catch for a moment, trying to think - has he ever said that? Has she ever said that, aloud? No, they haven’t - before she’s smiling widely, blinking to clear the tears from her vision.

“I love you too, Rainer.” Rose says, smiling wider at the trill he lets out, “And I am just as bad at expressing myself. We’re a good pair.”

“So, then Ah guess…” he fidgets a little, then lifts his free hand and reveals what he’d been hiding, “..it ain’t too early fer this.”

For the second time in under five minutes, Rose is struck speechless.

Because in Rainer’s hand lays a ring. A ring that was clearly chosen with her in mind, with a rose-gold band and a pink gem, carved to look like a flower - maybe a rose, but it’s so small it’s hard to tell.

“Rainer…?”

“It’s a promise ring. Malee helped meh pick it out.” Rainer’s watching her face carefully as he speaks, mandibles drawn close to his face, “Ah didn’t know what ta get yah for Christ-mas, and… Ah wanted it ta be somethin’ special. Somethin’ that meant somethin’. A promise.”

“I love it.” Rose whispers, feeling teary eyed all over again, holding her left hand out so that Rainer can slip the ring on for her - a perfect fit, as she’d expected if Malee had helped him. “It’s gorgeous, Rainer. Who knew you were secretly such a softie.”

“Hmph. Don’t go tellin’ anyone else that.” he grumps, grinning and hoisting her into his lap for a nuzzle, purring so loudly she can feel it where they touch. “Ah’m glad yah like it, Princess.”

“I do. I’ll show you just how much I like it later tonight.” she promises, giggling at the way the purr turns possessive, “I hope my present for you lives up to expectations, though.”

“Yah don’t hafta get meh anythin’.”

“Hush, too bad.” Rose pulls back, planting a kiss on his mouth plates, “In a couple of months, after the New Years celebrations, we’ll have to spend some time on the Nexus - I already have our hotel booked for while I’m in recovery.”

“Recovery?” Rainer’s purring dies off, confusion taking its place. “From whut?”

Rose smiles sweetly, leaning in to kiss him again.

“I’m getting auditory implants.” she taps one ear, winking, “So I’ll be able to understand your subvocals - I can’t reciprocate, but I’ll be able to hear them, properly.”

Rainer’s too overwhelmed with emotion to form a proper response to that. He settles for kissing his amicae senseless instead.

They have a few hours until the parents show up - they have time for a little mutual appreciation.

Chapter Text

“Alright, hun, that’s two breakfast wraps - one Dextro, one Levo - one specially brewed cup of Matriarch’s Pride tea for Rose, which I expect tasting notes on! She hasn’t had this one yet!”

“A’wright, Ma’am.”

“Annnd… a cup of our strongest blend of Turian Java, that only you and my ridiculous Mate seem to have a taste for.” Kal’Mena shoots a look of fond annoyance over her shoulder, sighing dramatically and settling everything into a to-go tray, “Made black, like all of our souls, apparently.”

“Yet you still love me.” Milona calls back, attention focused on the espresso machine she’d been cleaning since he’d walked in the door.

“Damn right I do!”

“Thanks.” Rainer chuckles at the now-familiar antics, pulling up his omni, “How much?”

“Not a damn cent, hun, you just scoot on back and get your lovely lady fed. How’s she doing?”

“Good - jus’restin’, healin’up, docs orders. We’ll be’ere another week’er so.” Rainer scoops up the to-go tray, making a note to ask Malee what her parents enjoy in the way of gifts, “Th’implants are workin’, though… it’s amazin’, honestly.”

“It truly is - I remember when I first had mine done.” Kal’Mena smiles wide, lifting a brow, “What was Rose’s reaction, the first time she could understand your sub-vocals?”

“Looked a little shocked, ta b’honest - then awed. She loves it.” Rainer flicks a mandible, shrugging a shoulder, “Ah’ve, ah… gotta git used tah’it. Gotta watch what ah’m sayin’ in tha’range, now.”

“Oh ho, I’m sure Milona can relate, especially the first few times afterwards when we-”

Mena, Spirits, don’t scar the boy.” Milona’s quick to cut the Asari off, crossing over to wrap an arm around her giggling mate and roll her eyes, “Didn’t you have something else to tell them? You know, regarding Meridian?”

“HmmmmmOH! You are so very right, my dearest love! Thank you!” Kal’Mena plants a quick kiss on the turians plated cheek before turning her grin back on Rainer, “So, as you know, we’ve got the best cafe on the Nexus… and as of late, a certain Pathfinder has been a regular customer…”

“A certain human Pathfinder.” Milona elaborates, rolling her eyes again at her mate.

Rainer’s at full attention, brow plates lifted. “Aye?”

“Well, first of all, her husband is a gentleman, and her kids - oh, Goddess, little sweethearts, all three of them! Senri is such a little doll! But anyways - I inquired, oh so casually, if they would be opening any slots on Meridian any time soon. You know, just curious - and turns out, they totally will be! In about four months, give or take.”

“That’s not long at’all…”

“Nope. And even better.” Kal’Mena’s grin is so wide he’s almost afraid she’ll split her cheeks, “I name dropped Rose. Oh, I know this amazing botanist - very good with plants, she’s been looking into the remnants effects on them, actually! And she’s been dying to go to Meridian. And - well, I can’t promise anything, buuttt… I do believe Rose is on the list for Meridian, now!”

“Damn…” Rainer can’t help being a little slack jawed, startled by this update, “Tha’s… tha’s amazin’! Ah’ll tell Rose fer sure, Ma’am, thank yah-”

“Oh, Goddess, quit calling me ma’am! Call me Mena! And you’re welcome! That girl deserves it!” Mena smirks, making a shooing motion, “Now shoo! Off with you! Go give your lady the food and good news!”

“Ah will, ah will.” Rainer chuckles, shaking his head and waving as he heads out, tray clutched tightly in his talons.

He’s not normally one to feel jittery, yet he’s nearly bouncing in place as he takes the elevators back to the Nexus Hotel, excited to relay the news.

She’s wanted tah go tah Meridian since b’fore Ah met’er! This’ll be perfect.

Rainer reaches their floor and strides quickly to the end of the hall, using his omni to open the door and stepping quietly inside - not sure if Rose is awake yet, and not wanting to disrupt her sleep if she isn’t.

Even if this is amazin’ news.

“Morning, Rainer.” his amicae’s voice calls from the bedroom, banishing those thoughts, “Where did you go?”

“Jus’ta get yah breakfast.” he calls back, setting the food down on the table of the kitchenette - happy they’d opted for the bigger suite - and heading into the bedroom with the drinks in hand, “Didn’know if yah were up yet-”

He steps through the doorway and pauses, somewhat startled.

Rose is sitting up in bed, hair pulled back in a messy twist, wearing the old N7 hoodie she’d inherited from her twin and covered from the waist down by blankets - several bright omni screens on display in the air in front of her, a data pad in her right hand.

It never ceases to amaze him just how smart his amicae is - how easily she’d tweaked her omni to allow multiple screens to broadcast, or how simple she found most tech issues - or how humble she is about her skills, always selling herself short.

Right now, though, the images on those screens have him staring, trying to place the people as he moves closer to the edge of the bed. “Everythin’ alrigh’, Princess?”

“Yes. No. Well… kinda.” Rose takes a shaky breath, flashing him a watery smile, “These all just popped into my mail… they’re from Lily.”

Lily. Her twin. Rainer remembers the message they’d received not long before Christmas, stating that Rose’s twin had actually survived and gone on to have a life in the Milky Way. He sets the drinks down on the nightstand and climbs onto the bed beside her, glad when Rose shifts so he can position himself behind her, tucking her comfortably against his chest.

“Pictures?” he rumbles, purring, happy when she sinks back against him with a grateful sigh.

“Mhm. From her life. All from over six hundred years ago, obviously, so it’s not like I can… they’re not…” Rose swallows, refocuses, “The Reapers did show up, but they defeated them - Shepard did. They all did. And Lily survived that - with her husband. Tiberius.”

Rose points at a picture, and Rainer squints at it, rumbling in question. The male turian in the photo looks vaguely familiar, like someone he might have encountered in initial training, but he can’t be sure.

“What’s ‘is last name?”

“Ramas.”

Hmm...

“Looks like they were happy.” he says aloud, trying to lighten the mood - he knows she’s sad, and she has every right to be. The twin she’d thought to be dead had survived - and now Rose had proof.

But they both knew these pictures had been taken long ago, and that Lily was long gone.

“They had kids, too - which amazed me, at first. Lily never seemed the type to want kids - she loved kids, don’t get me wrong, but I donno… with her first husband I could never see it, he was too… doesn’t matter. Look, see - they adopted twin Turian boys, after the War, Quintus and Sivus-”

The photo shows a pair of boys no older than nine, too young for markings, with dark plates and skin, silver eyes looking brightly at the screen.

“-and then later they applied to the cheir program, twice - the first was a turian boy, Barca-”

Another photo, a younger turian boy with green eyes and mahogany plates - the colour likely taken from the gene of his human mothers auburn hair.

“-the second and last, a little girl they named Iris. And look at Lily, she got huge while she was pregnant - Gods, I guess I know what to look forwards to, geez…”

Rainer’s attention is drawn from the two pictures by her words - the photos showcasing first a heavily pregnant version of her twin surrounded by her three turian children, and then a tiny human baby with silver hair and blue eyes - rumbling in question down at the brunette woman in his arms.

“Would yah want tah have kids, someday?” he can’t help asking, curious - it’s not something he’s ever really thought about, and definitely not something they’ve ever discussed.

“I mean, maybe? I donno… I don’t know that I’d be a good mother, with how my parents were. Although Lily managed okay.” Rose’s attention is still on the photos, swiping through them on her omni while the datapad lays open in her lap, “Probably? Though not for a while, yet - we’ve got too much to do, still.”

“They are gettin’the Cheir program up’an runnin’ over’ere too, now.” Rainer purrs, nuzzling into her throat as he says it, caught on the thought, “Not everyone’s up tah goin’the hybrid route, ah guess.”

“Hah, true enough, the Pathfinder’s still unique in that way.”

“Ah, speakin’ o’the Pathfinder…”

“And look, Lily wrote me a big letter too - there’s so many photos Rainer, I’ll have to look through the rest later - but she just… she wanted me to know she was alive, that they’d won, but.” Rose sucks in a breath, turning a little so he can see the wet shine of her eyes, “She wanted me to be happy. ‘Don’t let this hold you back, Rose. Know that I lived - and I thrived. Now it’s your turn.’ I had nephews, and a niece - we did. And we never got to meet them. But… they lived. And they were happy.”

Rainer trills softly, bending to press his forehead to hers, “An’now, it’s our turn, Princess. Yah gotta keep that promise. Yah gotta be happy.”

“I know - and I am.” Rose smiles a little, pressing back into his touch and letting her eyes close, “I found you, after all.”

“Ah’ve got somethin’ tah tell yah, Princess - somethin’ good.” Rainer strokes a hand down her back, humming, “Kal’Mena says th’Pathfinders been comin’ tah’er shop lately… and she mentioned yah.”

Rose’s eyes snap open at that, her back going ridged beneath his touch, “She what?!”

“She mentioned yah - oi, calm down, what’s wrong?” Rainer scowls, anchoring the smaller woman against him with a confused trill, “Ain’t that a good thing? She mentioned yah’ve been tryin’ tah apply fer Meridian.”

“I mean, I guess?? But that seems kind of desperate, doesn’t it?? To have a friend just randomly mention you to the fucking human Pathfinder?!” Rose wails, sinking against him, “Oh, fuck, I’m doomed, oh hell…”

Rose, calm down.’ Rainer switches to subvocals, running a hand up and down her back and purring, ‘A simple mention ain’t gonna ruin yer chances. Trust meh.’

“But Rainer-”

‘Shhh, no buts. Yer a damn talented woman, and th’Pathfinder’ll see that. If not, then she’s blind.’

That manages to get a tiny laugh from the brunette, amber eyes slightly brighter when she looks up at him. “Since when did you go all soft, huh?”

‘Only fer you, Princess.’ Rainer nuzzles at her again, catching her in a kiss when she angles her head up to his, purring at her sigh.

They pull away to breathe, Rose hugging him tight and lying comfortably against him, mumbling about damn convincing turians and making him chuckle.

“Yah hungry?” he asks after a while, switching back to his main voice, “Ah brought yah a wrap from th’Cafe - and a new tea. Might be cold now, but Mena still wants tah know yer opinion.”

“I’m starving. Being an emotional wreck will do that.” Rose pushes herself up, stealing another kiss and then taking his hands to pull him up after her, “Come on, let’s see that food - I know I’m not supposed to overtax myself yet, but maybe we can go wander the Nexus later on?”

Rainer catches her by the waist, unable to help himself from touching her - smirking and flicking a mandible out at her laugh. “It’s a date.”