The game has become their inside joke, their code word for a haven against the battering demands of uniting a galaxy. Sometimes they even actually play it - Sam always wins, much to Shepard’s chagrin. It drives Shepard crazy in a way that intentionally missing a shot in a sniping contest with Garrus didn’t, and she doesn’t know why, but she’s not thinking about that too hard.
Instead, she’s thinking about smooth lips that quirk up into a half-smile as checkmate is declared yet again, about the wicked tongue that mocks her gently, and then proceeds to do things even more wicked and considerably less gentle to her skin. By now, Sam knows all the hidden, sensitive places that are yet unobstructed by callus or scar tissue, and the knowledge of that tends to make Shepard shiver at wholly inappropriate times.
The same thing goes for the appropriate times, too, of course.
The dark, good-humored eyes catch Shepard’s from across the table, and the holo-board is shoved away as Sam catches onto what she’s thinking, already reaching for Shepard’s short-cropped hair with coffee-skinned fingers and breathing hot promises against her neck. Shepard pulls her forward over the table, and the shared tumbler of whiskey spills, but neither of them care, Sam pulled securely into Shepard’s lap, already wrapping her legs around the muscled waist.
Their lips meet, and it is here that Shepard regains the upper hand, her teeth and tongue taking possession of the other woman’s mouth, earning a sound like a purr from Sam’s throat and a tightening of those cool, precise fingers against the back of her head. Shepard’s arms lock at the small of Sam’s back, pulling her hard and tight against her middle, torturing her with the grind of still-clothed bodies.
It’s going to be a long night, and neither of them will miss the sleep.
The next day is Sam’s birthday, and when she finds the real chessboard with carved stone pieces waiting on the table, they share smug smiles and promise yet another rematch… later.