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Where Do We Go From Here?

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Shepard is running pell-mell for the Normandy, Collectors swarming after her. Her breathing is becoming ragged. The hexagonal floor is collapsing. She isn't going to make it. Garrus grasps the doorframe of the Normandy, reaching out a hand as far as he can stretch. She leaps.

Time seems to stand still as she hangs suspended in space between death and safety. Her biotics spark, giving her the extra lift to reach the ship. Garrus's hand closes around her black and red armored forearm. The universe resumes its course.

Joker barely waits for the door to close before taking the Normandy out of there. Behind them, the Collector base explodes. He dodges debris and races sand particles trying to penetrate the shields. And then they're gone.

Shepard leans against the tall turian as she centers herself. Her breathing slows and her legs feel less wobbly. She realizes he's still gently holding her and looks up at him. His ice blue eyes have a peculiar expression. She wants to stroke his mandible and help him focus on whatever it is that he's thinking. She wants to feel the odd hardness of his plates contrasting with the softness of the skin between. Maybe it's just the thrill of battle and victory and being alive, but she wants him again.

That wasn't their agreement. But given that he's still holding her what seems like a thousand years later, it seems he might still want her, too.

However, there are other considerations, also known as the rest of the shell-shocked, adrenaline-addled crew.

She should take care of them.

She should.

Because it's the right thing to do.

Yes.

She wonders if she can get him to make that possessive growling noise again.

And there's that full body vibration as he hits his climax...

No.

Focus on the crew.

Shepard steps away from Garrus before she does something unbecoming a commander, such as posing for too long like a love-struck teenager.

She turns to find Miranda. "Lawson. Good. Everyone made it?"

"Yes, commander. All crew are reporting in," the dark-haired XO replies.

"Objective achieved?" Shepard pulls off her helmet and stores it with the rest of the EVA equipment in the shuttle bay.

"The base is destroyed."

"Alright. I say we party! Have the crew checked over by Dr. Chakwas and Kelly, and then put all nonessential personnel to work setting up decorations in this area. I want everything ready to go 36 hours from now, after everyone has had a good nap."

"Yes, commander," says Lawson with a smile.

It's good to be able to delegate.

Shepard looks back to Garrus. The turian is looking at the door, head tucked down in his cowl, fingers of his right hand sliding against themselves where he caught her, where he might have missed catching her. "Vakarian." His head lifts. "We should discuss those weapon calibrations you were talking about earlier." She begins walking to the elevator and he falls in step beside her.
"Shepard? I don't remember any calibrations."

She spins on her heel, and smirks at him as she continues walking backward for the door. "That would be a first." She works on unclasping her gloves and sliding them off.

"I'm certain I got everything properly aligned before the mission," he says so seriously that she can't help but laugh. Yes. Everything was definitely properly aligned ...

"You do excellent work..." When the eternity of waiting for the elevator ends, she steps inside, hits the button for her quarters as the door slides shut. "You told me how turian crews prepare for battle. What about afterward? Do you celebrate being alive?" She runs a bare finger over his mandible; her heart races.

Garrus's hand lifts to her shoulder, running down to grip her armored arm. "Ye-es," he responds cautiously. He seems to be standing especially still.

She slides her hand down to the vulnerable skin of his neck to feel his pulse quickening, too. Voice slightly breathy, she says, "I want you. Right now." It's frightening to be so blunt, to admit that she might want anything for herself. His eyes are intense now, boring down into her, and she steps backward to exit the elevator, away from him, but he won't let go.

Instead, he half lifts her, half shoves her against the wall next to the door to her cabin, pinning her on her tiptoes. "That's good because so do I. And if you keep backing and taunting, I'll go crazy." He leans his head down to press their brows together.

She drops her gloves on the floor of the landing and reaches for the latches of his blue and silver armor. "Can't stand me being out of your reach?"

"You nearly were," he growls.

She tugs, and the chest and back plates of his armor fall to the floor. "You scared me, dangling off that platform."

"That's one of the many things talons are good for." He's been busy: Her greaves hit the floor, and his fingers run down her thighs. She places her hand on the lock to her door and it slides open as he lifts her up to balance on his hips. He strips off his gloves, curved claws wrapping around her, and carries her into the cabin.

"Three fingers are faster than I thought." She scrambles to keep up, figuring out where the buckles for his groin plate are. When she kisses him, he stops, thrown off his game. "Having second thoughts?" She tries to keep her voice steady, even though she's nothing of the kind and all she can focus on is the feeling of him against her.

"I forgot who I was with for a moment," Garrus says.

"Oh." The word comes out more hollow than she expected. Why shouldn't he think of someone else? Someone he finds more attractive. They're just friends with some interesting new benefits. It's just a bit of dented pride to wish he'd find her desirable as she is. "Then let me remind you."
Shepard runs her hands up her sides from her hips to her breasts, and then farther up as she arches back to touch the ground. She can feel his plates shifting beneath his undersuit and can't help the satisfied smile stealing across her face.

"I didn't know you could do that ..." His talons run over her waist and back in wonder.

"Vanguard, remember? I've trained to have complete control over every muscle of my body at 150 mph. I hope you can keep up." She wraps arms around his neck, and catches his mouth with a kiss again.

More metal hits the floor, and he begins scraping his mouthplates along her clavicle. "I intend to take my time lining up my shots."

Memories of last night (was it only last night?) play through her mind. How he took his time exploring her body and every sound he could draw out of her. How uncertainty played behind his eyes, slowly replaced by the oh so cocky confidence she'd grown to expect from him.

"That's what you say, but I think your body has other ideas." She smirks and wiggles against him, slipping off the top of her suit and feeling his plates expanding between her thighs.

"Do you know me that well?" A talon traces the trail left by his mouth as he looks consideringly into her eyes.

"Maybe." She works at slipping his suit off of his shoulders. "It couldn't hurt to know you better, could it?"

His rough, warm hands trail along her back, removing the last of the fabric between them. His cobalt cock is slick with self-lubricant as he rubs it teasingly along her slit, making her groan. He turns and presses her against the glass wall of the empty fish tank, so that the world is cast in blue. "I don't know. What if you don't like what you find?"

"Do you get darker and angrier than Archangel putting killers to death?"

"No."

"Then you have nothing to fear." She gasps as he presses into her hard and fast. Her back arches and he pins her hands above her and as she begins to ride.

#

The first time they'd made love, it had been fumbling and slow and testing. They understood the basic concept, but not all the sticky little details.

The second time they'd made love, it was full of the desperation and anger of two people who had died. They didn't care if it hurt because they wanted it to hurt. Blood and pain were the ways to be certain everything was real.

The third time they'd made love, it was with clarity. They knew who they were and what they wanted even if they couldn't put it into words. It was forgiveness. It was freedom before submitting again to virtues of sacrifice.

The fourth time? The fourth time was an unmoored beginning.