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Once More With Feeling

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Guess who’s finally released from house arrest? I know six months without a word is a long time, but it was a fair punishment for what I did...they were also trying to protect me from a bunch of angry batarians. I just wanted you to know I wasn't avoiding you--in fact, I couldn't exactly get you or our night together off my mind. So, if you want to continue this--us--know that I want to.


She’d sent the email before she'd had a chance to regret her words and edit them for a fifth time--before forgetting about it for weeks, her focus split between the war and the people she could still save. He hadn't responded, and she assumed he was busy, teaching and gushing about Dark Energy since it was his life's work, but it had been good to see him. She'd forgotten about the email until she saw him while she was checking on the refugees in the docking bay, a self-conscious part of her telling her that he’d probably moved on in those six months. She rolled her eyes as she realized what he was doing, telling anyone who would listen that if Cerberus was good enough for Commander Shepard, it should be good enough for humanity. No, no, no! He'd gotten slightly overzealous with her absence...though she may have not specified she wasn’t exactly with Cerberus, just using them for their resources, plus they'd just tried to kill the Council in their coup. But just the fact that he trusted her so much made warmth bloom in her chest, as they approached him. She grabbed him by the collar, hauling him away from where he was ranting and pacing, her crew rolling their eyes at his antics. His face lit up at the sight of her--six months was far too long apart.

“Conrad, sweetie, I'm not with Cerberus anymore--technically I never, they kind of just tried to kill the Council.”

“Seriously, Shepard? Not that your personal life is any of my business...but Conrad?” Garrus’ brow plates shifted in confusion, arms crossed.

“You're right. It is none of your business.” She snapped.

Conrad bit his lower lip, blue eyes conflicted with emotions--happy to see her again but slightly afraid. “Oh no...I screwed up again didn’t I?”

"You did, but I think its cute, but I've got this; from now on, you just be you.” She giggled, adjusting his lapel and pressing her body closer. “No more fanboy, okay? You're better than this persona you've built. actually can help with this--what can you tell me about your Cerberus contacts?”

She interlaced their fingers together, ignoring the incredulous looks of her crew--except Liara who was shaking her head--walking with him over to a bench and sitting down beside him, her hip bumping his. She placed their linked hands on his thigh, her thumb rubbing comforting circles on the back of his hand, having absolutely no problems with this public display of affection. He'd read her email, over and over again he'd read it, believing it was too good to be true, that she'd woken up the next morning regretting ever sending it. He’d tried to respond--drafting a new response every five minutes, only to end up deleting everything and agonizing. He’d waited for her, but every second they'd been apart he'd convinced himself she was out of his league and that the email was just a fever dream. She cupped his chin in her hand, forcing him to look at her and planting her lips against his, ignoring the hushed whispers and the furtive glances of the refugees and her crew.

“Hey. ‘To be continued,’ remember?”

He smiled, gazing into her beautiful grey eyes--his Quinn. “I can’t tell you much. They wanted me to recruit people over near the medical station.”

“Ah. Which was sabotaged while you had everyone distracted.”

Conrad's eyes went wide. “Wait...what? Oh no! I didn't know--”

“It's okay--I'll take care of the meantime, start thinking about where you want to go for dinner? Oh, and find that doctoral dissertation for me. I have a feeling it will come in handy for my new project; it's an ancient, Prothean dark energy device to stop the Reapers.” Quinn stood, pressing a kiss to his forehead.

He hadn't realized Cerberus’ plan--sabotage the medigel supply to the refugees, their xenophobia knowing no bounds, but at least with the Dark Energy he could help. How had he gotten so overzealous again? He knew she could take care of herself, she was a soldier, but he worried and just wanted to help how he could; he wanted to be close to her, part of her world, and he kept letting himself get carried away. He didn’t release her hand, tugging on her arm gently, pulling her back down beside him; trust went both ways--he’d trusted her when she was with Cerberus and now it was Quinn’s turn to trust him--trust that he knew what he was doing and could help her win this war. She’d come back to him twice now, and he had a feeling he had to help where he could, keep it so that as long as she could, she’d keep coming back to him. Giving her hand a reassuring squeeze, he pulled up his omnitool, arm glowing orange, as he flipped through a list of contacts that looked like they hadn’t gotten use in some time. Probably about two and a half years...and a streak of guilt shot through her; her death really had shaken him up.

“I have a contact that I think I could find some ancient xenotechnology schematics that could help you with construction. Let me try, please.” Quinn nodded slowly, Conrad pulling up a number on his omni-tool, and pressing his finger to an earpiece in his ear, a muffled voice on the other end of the line. “Aw, come on, Hossle. Help me out...sorry, the war has him scared…”

The name sparked something in her memory--Feros. “Hossle? Gavin Hossle, the tech researcher? I did him a favor once. Tell him this is for me.”

Conrad grinned at her, relaying the information before giving her a thumbs-up; he’d had no idea they’d known each other--it really was a small galaxy, but when Gavin agreed to send the schematics over, straight to his omni-tool, Quinn smiled, holo blueprints shimmering in the air in front of them, ancient asari all over them. He frowned, brow wrinkling adorably as he stared at them. He’d finally had his moment to shine and help Shepard out, and here he was, failing miserably yet again. She laughed--a beautiful, melodic sound--resting her head on his shoulder, the floral scent of whatever shampoo she used tickling his nostrils. Her squad rolled their eyes, mumbling something about heading to help some people and she knew where to find them, leaving him alone with the woman of his dreams; the one who impossibly wanted him as much as he wanted her...but time for that later, right now he had asari text to translate and prove that he could be helpful to her, and prove to himself once and for all that he was worthy of her affections, even if she’d never ask that of him.

“It’s in an ancient asari dialect. We’d need a lot of ancient asari writing to translate.” Conrad ran his fingers through his blond hair, exasperated.

“Would a collection of asari matriarch writings help?” Quinn pulled up her own omnitool, her overzealous planet explorations aboard the first Normandy that her entire crew had given her grief for were finally coming in handy--she couldn’t wait to rub their noses in it.

“Yes. Yes it would. Okay. It’s autotranslating. Let’s see...oh no. The technology falls under an existing patent. I can’t actually access the schematics without a license from...let’s see...Elkoss Combine.”

Quinn teasingly knocked her thigh against his as she held her omnitool against his, syncing them together under her Elkoss Combine License she’d purchased all those years ago for the Alliance Requisition Officer. “You’re cute when you’re flustered. How are the kids?”

“How did you even? Well, this is great! Do you think this will help you build your dark energy device?” When she nodded, he heaved a sigh of relief. “They’re good. I spent almost everything I had getting them offworld when the Reapers attacked--I hope they’re okay...I should have stayed with them, then I wouldn’t be going out of my mind with worry. Anyways, good luck fixing the medi-gel dispensers...I’ll just be...figuring out dinner plans.”

“Perfect. See you later... doctor Verner.” She purred in his ear and his heart stopped at the use of his title in that flirty tone of voice. “I may have an idea for that later…”

“I’m not that kind of doctor--”

But she was already walking away, exaggerating the sway of her hips, and he couldn’t help but stare after her, his entire body, aching for him to follow her--to take her in his arms and not let go. But first he needed to check on the orphans this war with the Reapers had caused, the ones he’d gotten offworld when the Reapers attacked, her backstory had inspired him to take action. They were just kids and didn’t deserve what had happened to them, and he worried about them more than he worried about Quinn putting herself in harm’s way--which was near constant. The docking port was hard up for supplies--he’d seen two guys fighting over a thermal clip, the reality of the war had finally reached the Citadel and he couldn’t help but wonder if things would’ve been different if they’d heeded Quinn’s warning two years ago...maybe he’d see if she could do anything for them when this whole fiasco with the medi-gel dispensers was fixed.

Conrad didn’t even notice as his feet followed the same path Quinn had taken…


He shouldn’t have said anything, shouldn’t have alerted him and gone so gung-ho into this whole his Cerberus contact was pointing a gun at her--at his Quinn, and his body was about five steps ahead of his brain. He leapt in front of her as the shot was fired, the bullet leaving the gun and hitting him square in the chest, body hitting the ground hard and forcing a groan from his lips. Quinn screamed his name, clenching her fist and socking the operative in the face, knocking him out with one rage-fueled punch, and shaking her fist afterwards. Kneeling on the ground beside Conrad, she cradled his head in her lap, hands stroking down his jaw, kissing him fervently, desperately as she started to cry. Why had he followed her? She’d told him to stay put! With no military training, he’d put himself in harm’s way--for her and she was livid, her jaw clenching as she took his hand in hers, pressing his palm to her face and kissing it. His thumb brushed away a tear. He hated that he’d caused that fear, pain and anguish on her beautiful face, but how lucky was he to have someone that made saying goodbye so hard?

“Quinn...Quinn did I help?”

“You idiot! You didn’t need to help like this! You absolute fucking moron!” Her hands balled in the fabric of his shirt, torn between shaking him senseless and bursting into tears right there in the docking bay.

He stared at the ceiling above them. “I don’t even feel anything.”

“Actually, I sabotaged his gun. it might’ve looked like it fired, but that was just the thermal clip overheating. Hey Commander. Remember me? You helped me a few years ago when I was working undercover at Chora’s den.” A familiar voice said, Quinn straightening and wiping her eyes on the sleeve of her N7 hoodie, as she got to her feet and held out a hand to help Conrad up.

“Jenna--you volunteer here now?” Quinn asked, her hand squeezing Conrad’s tightly as he dusted himself off.

Jenna nodded. “Chellick showed me a few little tricks when he had me working undercover. Guess that paid off, huh?”

Quinn laughed wryly as she nodded, bringing Jenna into a one armed hug, before she left the two of them standing alone amongst the refugees, an awkward silence settling between them. She didn’t even know why that had hurt so much, and she’d lost her composure and started crying. Conrad stepped closer, brushing her cheek with a gentle thumb, cupping her chin and bringing her in for a passionate kiss--she’d cried over him. They pulled away from the kiss, both of them breathing hard as his mouth trailed hungry, possessive kisses along her jawbone and down her neck. This was the side of her most people never got to see, and he counted himself extremely lucky that she let him see her with her walls down; under her military hardened shell, she was just as vulnerable as everyone else but didn’t have the luxury of being able to let it show.

She dragged him by the hand, not even glancing around at who might be watching, determined not to let him out of her sight after what had just happened. Quinn was silent on the walk back to Anderson's apartment, contemplating the events of the evening, her grip on his hand never loosening. It seemed like she was almost as shaken up over everything as he had been at her death. She cared . He sat on the edge of her bed, Quinn finally starting to chat a little to get her mind off of everything, pulling a simple navy blue dress out of the wardrobe, and donning it and a pair of black flats. Conrad gaped at her--the dress was short, barely covering her ass, and hugged her every curve, black bra peeking out of the plunging neckline. And to think six months ago she'd been embarrassed, about that red v-neck and how much it showed. He had half a mind to just keep her here, but she insisted that they go out to dinner--he owed her a sense of normalcy to calm her down. Not that he needed an excuse to spend more time with her.

Conrad side-eyed her as they walked, gaze sweeping down her body, blue eyes lingering on her bare legs before they disappeared under her skirt--a dozen explicit images flicking through his mind as he remembered those glorious legs wrapped around him, her breasts bouncing with every thrust--

“Are you listening to me, Conrad?”

He rubbed the back of his neck with his left hand and took a deep breath to calm the blood racing in his veins, a blush slowly creeping across his cheeks. “Sorry; I was distracted…”

“What's on your mind?”

She didn't know?

“You. It's always you.” His voice was pitched an octave lower than normal, husky with desire, and she felt a warm wetness settling between her legs.

He knew just what to say...

The Silver Coast Casino building loomed ahead of them, Conrad heading right for it, obviously their destination for the night. They were led to a booth in the back, and he was thankful for the privacy, considering as soon as they sat down across from each other her foot brushed against his ankle and continued higher as she rested her head against the back of her hands, elbows braced on the table; he had to work to drag his eyes from her exposed cleavage to her face, and divert his blood flow away from his groin. He heard the whispers around him, saw the jealous and incredulous stares of the casino patrons, reinforcing his earlier worries that she was entirely out of his league and he was just playing at romance, but Quinn only had eyes for him. Why? He'd seen her crew, old and new, the best the galaxy had to offer--the muscled Alliance Soldier who looked like he could break anyone in half with his bare hands; the Second Human Spectre-- the guy could’ve been a freaking model! ; the bearded pilot that already had a fan club in the Citadel; the lithe and graceful drell assassin, almost a work of art; the turian bad boy with his two meters of solid toughness, advisor of his own world; the krogan battlemaster with the red brow plates who was a legend among his kind; the scarred one-eyed mercenary who only respected Quinn; the salarian genius...and rumors had fed the mill that even Admiral Hackett had said something or two about her beauty. Not to mention the asari scientist, the smoking hot former Cerberus operative, the powerful biotic who he knew used to run half naked across the Normandy, that sexy thief with a voice like velvet and curves to die for and the genius quarian engineer. She could’ve picked anyone, and he was willing to bet a month’s pay that anyone would’ve said yes.

Yet she was here, with him of all people.

“God, she's gorgeous.”

“Isn't that Commander Shepard?”

“Wait, who's that nobody she's with?”

“Wasn't she with the other Spectre, Alenko?”

“What a babe.”

“She’s way out of his league.”

He ground his teeth together before taking a swig of his drink, wishing everyone would mind their own business and quit eyeing her up and down. “Did you have to wear that dress? Everyone's's pretty provocative.”

Quinn rolled her eyes, ignoring his tone and reaching across the table and placing her hand over his, his knee hitting the underside of the table when she grazed his cock with her toes making him choke on his drink. “That was kind of the point; provoke and seduce.”

“Provoke and seduce who?” He said between coughs, placing the glass aside.


“Quinn, be real, why are you here?” The words left his mouth before he could process them, brows creased as he looked at her with a sad expression.

She blinked, tilting her head to the side. “To be with you Conrad, I don’t understand--”

“Come on! You're beautiful--no, gorgeous, you’re the first Human Spectre and the most famous person alive! You're smart and fun to be around. You can have anyone you want--”

“And I want you! You wanted me when you didn't even know it was me--when you had no idea what I looked like or who I was. You wanted Quinn, not Shepard...and I love you!” She clapped her hands over her mouth, grey eyes going wide in surprise the moment those four words left her.

“You--” He gasped like fish out of the water, looking at her intently. Did she actually--?

“I’m sorry!” She blurted out, covering her face with her hands. “That's not--”

He leaned across the table, whatever she'd been about to say hung in the air as his lips found hers in a passionate kiss, Conrad’s teeth scraping her lower lip before sucking it in between both of his, his mouth hungry and demanding against her own. She sighed against his lips as she melted against him, angling her head to deepen the kiss. He opened his mouth against hers, letting their tongues intertwine, her fingers slipped into his hair, pulling slightly, the sting of her nails on his scalp caused him to hiss, but they didn't pull apart. Was that why it had hurt so much when she'd thought he'd gotten shot? She hadn't expected those words to come out of her mouth, after only knowing the real him for nine months, but here they were. Someone cleared their throat and the two of them broke apart sheepishly, sitting back in their seats to give the waiter their order. She kissed the air in front of her face, winking at him when no one was paying attention.