Garrus was getting restless. Frustrated, even. He had gone through another long, completely useless transcript from a staff meeting of Saren’s Virmire science team. They had salvaged only scraps of the vast amounts of data stored in the building-sized servers in the base: as much as they could take on their omni-tools and what Tali managed to upload directly to the Normandy. Mostly it was rubbish, but someone had to go through it and make sure there weren’t any gems of usable intel among the piles of files regarding various mundane details of running such a massive operation.
Not everybody was assigned to toil through the data, however. Garrus glanced over to Wrex’s station with envy. The lumbering krogan-shaped silhouette was snoring, barely visible but clearly audible from the Mako, which Garrus preferred to his cubicle in crew-quarters. Besides Garrus, only Tali, Liara, Chakwas and Adams had qualifications to assess the scientific value of the recovered data. And Shepard. But Shepard couldn’t be bothered. Not tonight. Tonight, she was occupied with mourning, or so he presumed.
Garrus allowed his head to fall back and nest between the human-designed head-supports as he considered this. He wasn’t quick to make friends and wouldn’t really miss Alenko. Shepard, however… had they been lovers? For some reason the question kept coming back to poke at him, and now that Alenko was gone, and so suddenly, it seemed to bear an even greater importance.
He could… simply ask her.
But no. It wasn’t his place. It was none of his business.
With a tired sigh, he directed his attention to the endless list of directories again. A new class of files. “Routine Surveillance Footage.” Damn. That sounded even more boring than “Staff Meeting Transcripts.” He scrolled through the list and was relieved to find it wasn’t very long. The naming pattern was weird, though. Very different from what he’d seen in his stack so far. He tapped one. Encrypted. Ah-ha!
Solving problems, however minor, was so much more interesting than going through endless, static data. He popped his knuckles and started the finger dance in the haptic interface. The key wasn’t overly complex. Seemed like a phrase, letters only, small caps, common turian. He let one of his new cryptography algorithms run over it: an accidental find on the extranet, perfect for his daily needs, required only a handful of modifications to suit his taste. The program took entire seven point nine seconds to deliver. A simple phrase, really, but it made him lift his browplates: “another memory.”
He decrypted the file and let it play on the console.
The video started with a close-up of Saren, adjusting the angle of the camera and checking it on a console that was barely visible to his left. Garrus’s muscles toned up in reaction to the face of the enemy. But this must have been taken years ago. A quick glance at the file listing confirmed it: 2178. Saren looked a lot younger, and still quite… natural. There were no implants shining from his eyes and no obvious cybernetic grafts. He was wearing a dark gray robe with a white pattern, a matching cowl tucked behind his fore-plate. He blinked at the camera, and said, “One, two, three.”
Garrus winced. His visor registered a 68% increase in his heart rate.
He shook his head clear just as Saren stepped away, allowing the camera to take in the surroundings. It wasn’t Virmire, that was obvious at once. More like the insides of a small ship. Docked on the Citadel, judging from the silhouettes in the viewport straight ahead. Garrus took to guessing: what would this turn out to be? Some… undercover assignment? An interview? Interrogation?
And then, as Saren still fiddled with the console, another person came into view and made Garrus’s heart rate spike again, but for entirely different reasons.
“Recording, eh?” said Nihlus, and laughed, sending ripples of some nameless feeling through Garrus’s unprepared brain. “Kinky.”
Garrus tapped the console to pause the recording and puffed out a breath he’d been holding. A flash of merciless clarity played in front of his waking eyes, a memory, another memory. He stroked his mandibles, locked tight to his chin. What the hell did he stumble upon?
He could guess. Oh yeah, he could guess alright. But what should he do with it? He sat there, tapping his fingers against his knee, then allowed the vid to play on.
Saren turned to face Nihlus, but made no reply. Instead, he switched the console off and walked away from the camera until he stood next to what looked like a kitchen counter. “Nihlus,” he said.
“Saren,” Nihlus replied with a grin, and Garrus couldn’t help but smile himself. Nihlus had been the smiliest turian he’d ever met. He stepped forth and put a hand on Saren’s shoulder. “It’s good to see you again.”
“Indeed,” Saren said. “It has been too long.” He took Nihlus’s hand and pressed it against his mouth.
“Yeah.” The tones of Nihlus’s voice were deep and gentle. Garrus had known these tones, once. They made his chest ache. “I missed you too.”
No longer able to sit still, Garrus paused the vid again. He had a pretty clear idea of what would ensue. What he needed to decide was, whether to watch it, or not. He ran a hand over his face again. Chances of finding useful information in the “routine surveillance footage” were close to nil. He snorted at the name. Not a bad ploy, to name your most private files in a way that could only make the intruder yawn.
He scrutinized the still picture, paralyzed with indecision. Saren pressing Nihlus’s hand against his face, Nihlus smiling, his features relaxed into a blissful expression of complete comfort, complete trust. Garrus wriggled his fingers above the console. What to do?
Shepard would know.
Ridiculous. The last thing she needed right now was this sort of… thing. Just thinking about explaining it to her made him sweat. He had no idea how humans treated same-sex relationships, age-gap relationships, coworkers-having-sex relationships, and basically, relationships. Where would he even start? Commander, it would seem that Saren and Nihlus were…
No. No way. He’d have to decide for himself. Should he watch, or should he just delete it? Delete the entire series? Delete what he suspected was evidence of their… love?
Nobody knows him like I do.
Garrus wanted to shake the memory off but found that he couldn’t. Even after so many years, he still remembered the solemn respect, the… reverence in Nihlus’s voice when he spoke about Saren. The barefaced bastard who had killed him.
Professionally we don’t see eye to eye. But there’s this whole other side of him, which is… amazing.
Perhaps… Perhaps the vid could offer insight of another nature. Insight into Saren’s personality. What did any of them really know about him? Other than the fact that he was fighting this indoctrination thing and apparently losing. Other than the fact that he was operating under the illusion that he was working in the interest of his people. That was one thing Garrus could not deny him: he had always worked in the interest of the Hierarchy. What if… what if there was still some angle, some approach to take with him and bring him back to… sanity?
His eyes lingered on the smiling dark-skinned face colored in vivacious whites, remembered its warmth, its naked honesty. What to do? He needed direction more than ever. What would Nihlus tell him if he were alive? Garrus frowned at the fantasy. The few hours of conversation and intimacy they’d had together hardly qualified as “knowing” each other. How the hell could he guess what Nihlus would want?
Nobody loves him like I do.
Garrus nodded. He wouldn’t destroy the memory. The decision took some of the weight off his chest, and he flexed his shoulders to try and redistribute the tension. He’d watch. And if it became too intimate, too personal, or simply too painful, he’d stop. It was as simple as that, right?
Nihlus clasped his arms around Saren’s collar, nesting his face inside it. Saren returned the gesture with a delay and relaxed into the contact only after several breaths.
“Why can’t I see more of you?” Nihlus said, lifting his head and brushing his cheek against Saren’s. “Why can’t we set up some arrangement, you know? When we’re…”
“Yeah. I know. I’m being silly. But a man can dream, right?”
“Tonight we dream together.”
Garrus coughed. To hear the notes of such gentle devotion from someone he regarded primarily as a monster, was deeply disturbing. It had been a long time since he had last thought of Saren as of a man, a turian like himself, like himself in more ways than he cared to admit. Was it possible that his ice-cold Spectre persona was just an elaborate mask? The kind Garrus put on for Shepard when she’d start moralizing? Everyone wore masks. But he had a feeling he’d see under Saren’s soon, and the feeling was anxiety.
Saren disengaged from the hug and observed Nihlus at an arm’s length. Nihlus was also wearing civies – a white and brown sporty outfit, greatly complimenting his sculpted curves. Saren ran a hand down his chest. “Something to eat? Drink?”
Saren gestured toward the kitchen counter, where a decanter full to spilling waited. Nihlus lifted it in a toast, then drank from it directly.
“You know, I can’t remember the last time I was here.”
“Six months, to the day.”
Nihlus chuckled. “Just off the top of your head, eh?” He looked about the room. “Looks exactly the same as always.”
“Not the same.”
Saren sighed. “She’s getting old. The torpedo launchers are acting up. So is the life support. And the navigation sub-cluster.” His back was turned to the camera, but Garrus was almost certain that Saren was smirking. “She only flies straight when you’re onboard.”
“Yeah,” Nihlus smiled in reply. “She always did like me better than you. Remember that time when we needed to plot a course through a globular cluster? With like, two hundred waypoints and scheduled course corrections? Spirits, that was one fucked up night in FTL. I stayed up until 4 am and then you sent me to bed but when I closed my eyes I could still see stars, fucking stars everywhere, and I couldn’t sleep.”
“Called you back an hour later. As soon as you left, the number of required adjustments doubled.”
“Haha, that’s right. Can’t remember where it was. Iris 34? Could be… that one’s near the galactic plane. Hierarchy space?”
“Trying to get ahead of a transport full of minagen bound for Credo. Taking a shortcut. Your idea.”
“Aww, come on. It was fun. Or at least it’s fun to remember it now. And it was one of the few missions when we weren’t at each other’s throats.”
“Yes. A good memory.”
Nihlus put the decanter down. He’d drunk more than half the water. He took off his jacket, let it drop on the floor, and stepped into Saren’s personal space again. “Let’s make another one.”
Nihlus cupped Saren’s cheek, and after a momentary hesitation, Saren leaned into it. Nihlus pressed close, then, and their foreheads touched. A nameless mixture of embarrassment, sadness and anger stirred within Garrus. He frowned at yet another spike in his heart rate displayed shamelessly on his visor.
He couldn’t see clearly, but they seemed to kiss. Foreheads still locked together, they appeared to be touching tongues and nibbling mandibles. The sounds of their breathing slowly became discernible, and then prevalent over the omnipresent hum of the equipment, which dropped below the sensory threshold. Deep, accelerating breathing lined with nascent mating subvocalizations, even though they were doing nothing other than standing there, tasting each other. Garrus caught himself arching his neck for better perspective. Ridiculous.
Nihlus started removing Saren’s clothes and in response, Saren’s hands closed around his waist, tugging on the light fabric. He made an opening, slid a hand under, and Garrus could see with bitter-sweet clarity how Nihlus trembled at the touch, pushing ever closer, hips first, into Saren’s motionless body. The robe fell off to reveal a thin, almost translucent underweave. Garrus squinted at the vid. Some… things were shining along Saren’s spine in familiar shades of tainted blue.
And now that Nihlus caressed Saren’s back from just under the crest, down the neck and lower, he noticed it too.
“Saren?” he said, examining the things through the thin textile of the underweave. “What’s this?”
Saren let out a deep sigh and lowered his head on Nihlus’s shoulder.
“New amp slots?” Nihlus said. “Spirits. Let me see.” With that, he undid the seal of the overall, with Saren’s head still resting on his shoulder. The underweave pooled around their feet, revealing Saren’s naked body. Garrus scrutinized it with morbid fascination, irritated that he could only see the back. Nowhere nearly as well-proportioned as Nihlus, Saren was heavy-set in the shoulders, with narrow hips and a wide waist. His exotic racial traits extended well below the ‘valluvian horns’, especially noticeable in the shape and inclination of his collar and the muscle-ridges on his back. And then there were the biotic amps. He counted… four, two on each side of the spine. From the amount of swelling and scarring, it looked the lowest row was relatively fresh.
These were observations he could conceivably think of as useful. It made watching a bit easier.
Now Nihlus turned Saren around and Garrus lifted his browplates at the silent obedience. He leaned closer to study the strange absence of pigmentation and the unusual shape of the sternum as Saren turned to face the camera. Thank the Spirits, he was not yet open. Though there was a dark seam between his pubic plates that could not escape a detective’s eye. He had strong legs and long spurs. Far from anything Garrus would call handsome, but Nihlus’s hungry attentions made Saren look like the pick of the Primarch’s Vault.
Nihlus examined Saren’s back, looking, touching, frowning. “I don’t get it. Why do you need more? Even I know the effects of amps don’t stack.”
“Don’t need them.” Nihlus wasn’t in position to see it, but Saren closed his eyes. “They are redundant. Can be linked externally to form a basic bio-feedback loop.”
“How about you translate that to the idiot language for me.”
Saren’s face, still hidden from Nihlus, became a study of singular focus, as if he was investing a great effort into... what, exactly? Again, Garrus leaned forward to watch more closely. He noticed that Saren was clawing into his palms. “It’s a prototype. Should allow me to use… alternative energy sources for biotics.”
Nihlus lifted his head, staring at the back of Saren’s. “Alternative.”
“Muscle proteins. Fatty tissue.”
“You’re telling me that you can use these things to… eat yourself?”
A faint smile ghosted over Saren’s features, eyes still firmly shut. “Essentially… yes.”
“Spirits, Saren. That’s downright crazy.”
“Is it? Crazier than drinking yourself to the brink of death? Or being unable to function without stims? You do realize that, when you’re drunk, the membranes of your brain cells are actually dissolved? That when you take stims, you alter the metabolism of all the energents in your body? You’re quick to judge for one so slow to understand.”
Nihlus shook his head, unfazed by the lecture. “Do they…” He swallowed. “Do they hurt?”
“Sometimes.” Saren’s frown deepened, and Garrus was alarmed to discover he was… feeling for him. There was no way to tell if the amplifier slots in question were really just some prototype he had picked up as a part of regular Spectre business or “improvements” forced on him by the Reaper, Sovereign. It was more than likely that Saren had already been partly indoctrinated at the time of the vid, five years ago. A wave of resentment rose in Garrus. Nihlus had no idea. Devotion and trust rewarded with betrayal and death. No. No sympathy for Saren. The son of a bitch killed his friend and lover in cold blood, and for that, even if there was nothing else, Garrus would see him pay.
Nihlus sighed and gently pulled back the cowl from Saren’s head. When he traced a pattern of careful, feather-light touches along the back of Saren’s neck and behind the jaws, blue sparks lit up to connect with his talon-tips. Saren seemed to like this. His face relaxed into the usual absence of expression, and his head rolled back. Nihlus embraced him, nuzzled into his cheek from behind, then ran the tip of his tongue up the length of the horn. A low rumble escaped Saren’s throat, entering a resonance with Garrus’s vocal cavity. The feeling of wrongness returned, doubled in intensity. The way Saren surrendered to Nihlus’s ministrations, the way he suddenly seemed boneless, unsure on his feet, melting in sensation, rang so true, so familiar, that Garrus sensed it all over his body as well. He shivered.
“Spirits, I love your taste,” Nihlus breathed, taking the tip of the horn into his mouth and sucking on it. The sounds of breathing, short, violent exhales through the nose, filled the cabin of the Mako and Garrus realized with dismay that they belonged to him. Saren was rumbling in quiet tones of seduction, impossible, yet irresistible, turning his head to request the same attention be given to the tips of his crest-blades. Nihlus let go of the horn with a grunt of reluctance, but complied. He gave each blade a long, teasing lick starting at the back of the head and ending at the top, where he’d pause to suck on the tip. But then his hands went down Saren’s chest and waist and between his legs, thumbs tracing the edges of the seam. Saren’s rumbling turned into a low-pitched moan, and Garrus sat up straight, fighting his opposed feelings. Turn away, you fool, a part of him demanded. Don’t look! But the other part kept his eyes fixed on the screen and he could see everything, every confident motion of Nihlus’s hands as he coaxed Saren into opening up for him. Saren seemed to enjoy the game of holding back as much as the next turian. He only gave in when Nihlus had tasted every blade in his crest, closing the circle with the other horn, and finally bit into the curve of his neck just behind the jaw.
Saren arched his head back and let out a long, throaty, “Mmmhhhh.” Nihlus exhaled through his nose, taking him in both hands, one fisted above the other, and the slick sounds made Garrus swallow a knot.
Nihlus kept at it for a short time, still holding Saren’s neck between his teeth. But then Saren lowered his hands over Nihlus’s, and said, “Slow down.”
Garrus sat back, puffing. Yeah. Good idea. Let us all slow down a bit. The awareness of his surroundings and the passage of time intruded on him out of the sudden, and he turned around in a momentary fit of panic: what if someone was to come knocking right now? He paused the vid, scrolled to the controls for the Mako and locked himself in. Lowered the covers over the viewports. Streamed the audio to his earpiece and muted the console. There. Better. A little bit.
The feeling of utter impropriety ate at him from his guts, and at the same time, there was no denying his curiosity. Curiosity and… Garrus wondered if he would see Saren differently the next time, for there would certainly be a next time, and probably soon. Would sharing in this intimate moment serve to strengthen his resolve or weaken it?
Too far gone to turn back now. He resumed the vid.
Saren slithered away from the grasp and turned to disrobe Nihlus. He wasn’t gentle about it. After several impatient tugs, Garrus thought he heard the fabric ripping.
“Ooooh, someone’s horny.” Nihlus smiled, but his voice was deep and throbbing with desire.
Garrus stared, transfixed, as the last scraps of clothing fell away from Nihlus. Gorgeous in his nudity, he stood in full view of the camera and grinned. “Make me.”
A raspy utterance later, Saren was upon him, covering his face with thirsty kisses, his body with hungry caresses. His hands were everywhere, touching everything, running over Nihlus’s arms, shoulders and back, and finally lower, pushing his legs apart. Nihlus gasped. The unrelenting onslaught made him retreat, step by slow step, until Saren had him pinned against the kitchen counter, ravishing his neck and chin. Nihlus gripped the edge of the counter to support himself as Saren pushed his hands behind him, groping. Garrus couldn’t see what exactly he was doing, but judging from the blissful abandon on Nihlus’s face, whatever it was, it felt great.
“Oh yeah,” Nihlus exhaled. “Oh yeah… ah… Fuck!”
“I’m not very good at this,” Saren muttered, then delivered a juicy lap from the nape of Nihlus’s neck all the way to the back of his crest.
A breathless little laugh tumbled out of Nihlus. “Practice makes perfect.”
“At this frequency,” Saren murmured between kisses, “learning by trial and error… would take decades.”
“That’s what I said! We should meet more often.”
“Or live to be seventy. It would be easier to arrange.”
“Or you could just ask.”
Saren leaned back and slowly shook his head. “I’d rather be told.”
Nihlus regarded him seriously for a second, then nodded. “On your knees, then.”
A playful glint lit up his eyes as Saren obediently knelt and ran his tongue along the seam of Nihlus’s pubic plates. Nihlus hissed, looking down.
“Mmh. Why should I?”
Saren dragged his sharp talontips down his lower belly, over his crotch and along his inner thighs, making Nihlus squirm and giggle. “Because I’m asking nicely?”
“You can do better than that.”
Saren licked between the plates again, and Nihlus propped himself on his toetips, bit his mandible, but did not yield. “Because,” Saren purred, “I want to please you.”
Garrus smirked. Saren was good. But Nihlus was better. He laughed, tossing his head back in a challenge. “Go on.”
“I want you inside me.”
Nihlus put a hand on Saren’s cheek, angling his head up so he could look him in the eye. He had grown serious. His next word rolled out on deep mating subharmonics.
Garrus coughed, mortified out of proportion. Feeling something perhaps not so different, Saren made a gurgling noise that could have been laughter. He hid his face in Nihlus’s crotch and shook his head.
“No? Awww.” Nihlus sighed with mock disappointment. “I guess your heart isn’t in it. Oh, well.” He moved as if to extract himself from the embrace, pushing Saren’s head away.
But Saren held on to him, fingers digging into hard flesh. He growled. “Wait.”
“Alright.” Nihlus caressed his crest. “You have… ten seconds.”
Saren rolled his forehead against Nihlus’s stomach.
Garrus glanced at the clock. Those were some long seconds.
In the video, Saren was apparently engaged in a serious battle with himself.
“Seven.” Nihlus helpfully rolled his hips forward, offering, and Saren lapped at his slit again. “Six.”
Saren leaned back and cleared his throat, but nothing more.
And then there was a whisper.
The playful smile waned from Nihlus’s face and his mandibles hung loose. “I didn’t hear.”
“Please,” Saren croaked. His voice was changed, overflowing with undertones Garrus couldn’t quite place. His head was bent low, and his back heaved with heavy breaths.
Nihlus swallowed. He lifted Saren’s chin up in silence. They stared in each other’s eyes, and when Saren ran his tongue along the seam this time, it spread open. He took Nihlus into his mouth in one smooth, practiced motion, never breaking eye contact, and the sounds of breathing soon turned into quiet moans.
Garrus sat back, crossing his arms over his chest. He looked at the video sideways, cursing his own accelerated breathing. He didn’t think he could possibly be more uncomfortable. Yet he kept watching.
Saren’s face became buried in Nihlus’s trembling stomach and stilled. He must have… swallowed. Nihlus pushed himself away from the counter, finding his balance, then took Saren by the back of his head and started rocking in a slow, gentle rhythm.
“Fuck… oh Spirits. Oh, my love. Yeah. Oh, yeah.”
Words got lost in the rumbling. Garrus tried to swallow but his throat was completely dry because he’d been breathing through his mouth and hadn’t even noticed. “Shit,” he whispered to himself.
Nihlus picked up the pace, accelerating degree by tantalizing degree, but his movements were still very gentle, controlled, his white-hot ahs and ohs following every shallow thrust until he could stand it no longer. He took Saren’s face in both hands and pulled out.
Saren let go, reluctantly, and went on rocking in place, continuing the same heady rhythm. After a while, Nihlus leaned and helped him up. Saren clung to him limply.
Saren replied with a deep, satisfied rumble. They pressed foreheads together again. Pushed into each other, face, chest, hips and all, grinding at a slow, hot pace. Their tongues were entwined, their arms groped shoulders and collars and their legs and spurs became completely entangled.
“Shit,” Garrus whispered again, and paused the video, for it had become unbearable.
He sat there, breathing, thinking, for more than a few minutes, looking from the paused video, over the Mako controls, over the fake leather on the seats – it was already peeling off – over his knees that jerked from time to time with nervous tension, up to his hands, resolutely crossed on his chest, and back to the video. The whirlpool of ill-defined feelings inside him crystallized mostly into a vague sensation of sickness.
Strange thoughts flashed through his mind. Pathetic attempts to rationalize what he was doing, or at least give it some semblance of a sane emotional foundation.
Would Nihlus be opposed to one of his one-night-stands getting off at the sight of his lovemaking? For to call it any other name would have been cowardice. It was clear that these two had pledged themselves to one another. He was doing this for Nihlus. Yes. Because Nihlus deserved to have a witness, to have someone to testify to their love.
But the mirror image of that notion was acutely upsetting. The idea that… Saren deserved it. To have a witness. To have someone to testify that he too was a man, a man with a heart, a heart that had known love. A notion not only upsetting but dangerous, it was fucking dangerous to grow feelings for the enemy now that it was all going to hell anyway and over what? Garrus glanced at the status bar under the video. Over these fifteen minutes? Fifteen minutes of sexy footage?
Of which only five remained.
Garrus was many things, but he wasn’t a coward. He played it again.
“Tell me, my love,” Nihlus breathed. “Tell me what you want.”
In the way of an answer, Saren slid a hand down, and around them both, and with each stroke, touched the tip of Nihlus’s tongue with his own. It was an effective way to shut Nihlus up, but soon it became too much, and he pushed on Saren’s shoulders. “Tell me,” he insisted. “Tell me or I’ll come right now.”
Saren’s mandibles flicked. “Unacceptable.” He let go.
“Come on,” Nihlus said between kissing Saren’s mouth and chin. “Just… tell me.”
“Haven’t I done enough already? Besides, you know what I want.”
Again they became entangled in an embrace that could physically get closer only by that one ultimate increment.
“Yeah. But it’s such a turn-on. To hear you ask for it.” Nihlus rolled his hips as a demonstration. “Just thinking about it—"
Saren moved away a bit so that he could look Nihlus in the eye. He opened his mouth to say something, but nothing came out. Nihlus gazed at him in anticipation. At last, Saren huffed. “I can’t.”
“Sure you can. I’ll walk you through it. Let’s start with… something familiar. Say: fuck you, Nihlus.”
The way he said fuck with a juicy, pregnant flick of the tongue made Garrus twitch. His heart was hammering.
“Fuck you, Nihlus,” Saren echoed like an automaton.
Nihlus laughed. “Again. But with feeling.”
The feeling was annoyance, and Nihlus laughed some more. “You can do better than that.”
Saren sighed, then spoke in a deep, lusty voice. “Fuck you, Nihlus.”
“And now say, fuck me, Nihlus.”
Nihlus’s own voice had gone all the way down into the lowest register and was barely audible. Personal, Garrus thought, too personal! But he was far beyond the point of turning back now.
“Right,” Saren said. “Simple.” Yet his breathing was labored, his posture tense. He cleared his throat, and when the words finally came out of it, they were so loaded with honest-to-Spirits passion that Garrus bit his tongue. “Fuck me, Nihlus.”
“Spirits.” Nihlus groaned, pressing his forehead into Saren’s with an almost tangible urgency, his hips rolling to rub against Saren’s body just so. There were no more chuckles left in him. He was trembling with desire. “All right,” he said. “All right.”
That set off the avalanche. There was a flurry of movement as they spun in a half-circle, and Garrus absently enumerated the classical take-down moves. Now on the outside, Nihlus pressed Saren’s chest onto the counter, twisted his arm behind his back and pushed his legs apart with his knee. Saren gripped the edge of the counter with his free hand, white-knuckled. Nihlus bent over him and pushed himself in with no discernible preparation, eliciting a stifled moan. His free hand slid down between Saren’s legs. He glided deeper, and deeper, and a guttural “aaaahhhh” rolled from his mouth in unison with Saren’s soft “nnnghhhh”. He started moving. Gently at first, grunting in time with the thrusts, his hand stroking Saren at the same, slowly accelerating, rhythm. Faster and faster, deeper and deeper, closer and closer. And when Garrus sensed it was nearly over, he curled his hands into fists and clenched his jaws, just in time to hear Saren cry out, and see Nihlus arch his head back. His handsome features unravelled in an astonishing expression of vulnerability and bliss and he was perfect.
They were perfect.
He averted his eyes in equal parts shame and exhaustion, but also to allow them some privacy as they disengaged. When he glanced up again, they were leaning on the kitchen counter, their panting slowly drowning in the background noise.
“Tell me again why we can’t do this more often?” Nihlus said.
Saren didn’t answer. Instead, he took to caressing Nihlus’s crest, drawing lazy strokes along the lean, long blades. Less than a minute remained of the vid and Garrus was determined to see it to the end, although he felt terrible: guilty, dirty, and undone.
“The funny thing is, I know exactly what you want… don’t want… to say.” Nihlus cleared his throat and then did a pretty good imitation of Saren’s imperious voice: “In this line of work, it’s best to avoid entanglement.”
Garrus smiled a sad smile. It was true. Not that he would know, at least not from experience. But perhaps Shepard did. Perhaps she had just learned the hard way.
When Saren didn’t reply, Nihlus resumed the act. “Nihlus. This is dangerous.” He chuckled, and the happy innocence of the trill in his voice made Garrus’s eyes water. “Nihlus. This position isn’t secure.”
If there was some reaction on Saren’s face, it was too subtle to make out. Nihlus laughed. “Nihlus. Shut the fuck up.”
“I wouldn’t say that,” Saren muttered. “I don’t talk dirty.”
Nihlus turned to look right in the eye of the camera. Garrus froze. In the vid, the console on the desk came to life when Nihlus approached it, but before turning the feed off, he got his face into the camera, started to smile, then changed his mind. Instead he shaped three voiceless words, winked, and blinked out of existence.