Somehow Vakarian’s weekend nights had quickly turned into acting as a handyman at his best friend’s apartment. He wouldn’t have it any other way, though, because that involved his two favorite things – his best friend, and fixing things.
Their evening had started out as a dinner and vid night to relax after spending the afternoon in the autopsy lab going over a drell who was missing most of its face and a significant portion of its torso. However, it quickly turned into replacing Shepard’s fan in her bathroom because the thing started sparking when she turned it on and was seconds away from turning the bathroom into a bonfire.
Jane cursed. Rocket shot out of the room so quickly it was clear how he’d received his name. It was a moment, to say the least.
So it was Vakarian to the rescue.
An hour into the project, Vakarian was nearly finished replacing the fried wires, and just needed to get them all trimmed and tidied before they could finally get to the vid.
Shepard’s job was simple, cut off two-inch sections of electrical tape and hand it to him. It’s something a kid could have done.
But not Shepard.
Ready for the first strip of tape, Vakarian turned to Shepard. Noticing a little black dot on her lip he lifted a finger to his own in reference. “What is that?”
“What?” she asked while lifting her hand, which possessed a single strip of tape. It wasn’t the length of the tape dangling from her hand that upset him most – being an inch and three-quarters max – it was the unclean, stretched-out edges that made his left mandible flare out and caused him to pause, completely taking his focus off her lip.
She rubbed at her lip though, the irritatingly imperfect strip hanging from her finger as she did so.
“What?” she asked again, a bit of impatience in her voice. They were both tired, hungry, and ready to relax.
He turned his focus from the tape issue back to her lip issue. “You have a black spot on your lip.”
She turned her head to inspect her reflection in the shower stall glass.
“Oh,” she said, lifting her finger and gently scraping at her lip with her nail, “that’s just electrical tape.”
“How in the hell did you get electrical tape on your lip?”
“Because I couldn’t find any scissors,” she said in a way that made him feel like he was the fool.
He looked at her, still confused. "So you just bit into the tape?”
“Go find some scissors,” he told her as she got the speck loose and carelessly flicked it off her finger. “I’m not taping these wires together with jagged tape mangled by your blunt little teeth.”
“It’ll work just fine,” she insisted and held up her finger, offering him the unusable strip still hanging there. So confident that the tape would work, and that Vakarian would have no objections to either the mangled edges or the incorrect length, her eyes inspected the electrical panel while she held out her finger so that he could take the strip from her. It only took a moment of silence and inaction before she cared to glance at Vakarian to see that he stared her down with a dissatisfied look. He wanted to get the project wrapped up, but sacrificing quality for expediency would only lead to additional issues. In other words, another Friday evening fixing her fan instead of relaxing.
“Fine, she huffed. “I’ll go look for the stupid scissors.” She turned, balling up the strip of electrical tape between her fingers and throwing it in the trash as she exited the bathroom. Rocket trailed behind her, giving attitude with a flick of his tail.
Vakarian called out to her, “It’s that kind of laziness that led to this unit failing, Jane.”
“I just want to watch a damn vid!” she called back, frustration in her voice, her feet pounding against the hard floors as she stomped off.
“I apologize for saving your life.”
“You are so dramatic,” she muttered, just barely loud enough for him to hear.
“Oh I’m dramatic?” he muttered to himself because no one else was around by that point to hear his ranting. “Who was the one shouting like a crazy person over a little electrical flame?”
In her absence, Vakarian worked on trimming some additional wires and congratulated himself on making his point clear to her. As time passed though, he wasn’t sure if she couldn’t find the scissors, or if she just got bored with helping him. He pictured her sitting on the couch with Rocket curled up on her lap, both of them staring at the vidscreen while he fixed her damn bathroom fan all by himself.
His suspicion was proved inaccurate, though, when he heard her footsteps, then her soft voice. “Can we finish this already?”
His mandibles jittered in irritation at her nerve. As if he was the one holding this whole operation up. “Did you find the scissors?” he asked, not even trying to veil the snark in his voice.
“Alright, I’m ready,” he answered. Without looking away from the wires in his one hand, he reached out the other and signaled for her to hand over the first strip. Her fingers brushed his palm before a sticky mass was pressed against his skin. He lifted it up to wrap around the wires but paused in agitation just as the strip came into his view. Expecting to see neat, blunt cuts – and hopefully a full two inches as he instructed – he saw a strip of tape with jagged, stretched out edges instead.
“Jane, you did not find the scissors. This strip is even more torn up than the last one. How is that even possible?”
“I found them, the tape just got caught on the blades. It’s really sticky.”
Losing his patience, he turned to her, ready to argue with her and accuse her of being a damn liar. But as he caught sight of her, a smile broke out on his face instead. Right there on her lip was another little speck of black.
“Oh is that so? Because the evidence of your crime is stuck on your face, proving otherwise.”
“Shit,” she muttered, a guilty smile creeping out. She lifted a finger and gently picked at her lip in a vain attempt of removing the little bit of sticky tape. He watched as her nail just slid right over it over and over, though. Then it finally loosened, only to get stuck once again.
She inspected her finger. “Did I get it?”
His irritation with her waning, because he could never stay mad at her for long, he laughed softly. “No. It’s…” He raised his finger, itching to simply get it for her, but hesitant to just reach out and touch her soft, pink lips. The longer he stared the more engrossed he became, mild agitation building because he just wanted to get it for her, but knowing deep down how awkward it would be.
“This is what you get for chewing on electrical tape like a child.”
“Turian kids chew on electrical tape often?” she quipped.
“Well, no. But even if they did, who are you to judge, you’re the one with tape stuck on your face. And you’re supposedly an adult.”
She rubbed at it again, still in vain, and huffed out a short laugh.
He couldn't take it anymore. It wouldn't be that weird if he just got it off quickly. “Here,” he said with a smile, reaching his hesitant finger to her lip. “Can I…?”
She nodded, “Yes, please.”
Once his talon was just nearly touching her lip he became fully aware of just how delicate the smooth, plump flesh must be, and how sharp his talons were. While she pouted out her bottom lip to give him better access, somehow making it even plumper than he’d ever seen it, he tenderly placed the blunt edge of his talon to the speck of tape. Her warm breath fell in a soft wave against his fingertip, making him hyper-aware of just how close they were. Far too close.
Best to get this over with. With his first swipe, he was surprised at the way her lip puckered around his talon at the slightest pressure. And maybe it was because it was really stuck on there, or maybe it was because the texture of the delicate flesh around her mouth distracted him, but he wasn’t able to get the sticky little bit loose either.
Carefully, he moved his talon back to make his second attempt, but as she realized he hadn’t been any more successful than her, she let out a soft exhale of a laugh. With attention so rapt that it embarrassed him, he watched her lips part to let that laugh out and the very tip of her little pink tongue pressed forward just slightly causing him to wonder at all the things she could do with it. All the exciting, teasing, wonderful things she could do.
Her breath was almost too hot on his fingertip that time.
"What are you looking at?"
He must have been staring because she sounded more self-conscious than irritated. "Nothing, I'm just trying to get this off you."
Illogically, he blamed the heat traveling up his neck on her warm breath, but they weren’t that close. Which forced him to acknowledge the feelings blooming deep inside him while he touched his best friend’s lip, felt her breath against his fingertip, watched her tongue move almost imperceptibly but in the most surprisingly seductive way.
Determined to remove the troublesome little speck from her lip so he could ignore the way she was making him feel he made another attempt. Ashamed of the thoughts drifting through his consciousness and worried she could somehow perceive them, his finger shook.
Another failed attempt. His agitation grew. If only she knew her antics led to his confusing and unwelcome considerations of her very strange and increasingly alluring anatomy... Well, she’d probably look a little bit harder for her scissors.
She laughed softly, this time with an inflection of self-consciousness. “Sorry.”
He joined her laughter, more so because he really didn’t want this to be as awkward as it was turning out to be and to ease tension. Honestly, he didn’t feel like laughing anymore. Mostly he felt like hiding in a closet and berating himself until the terrible, pulse-thumping thoughts her lips and mouth and tongue were giving him were gone for good.
“You’re a mess, Jane,” he managed to say.
Her gaze met his, warm green eyes making him feel like has was falling just for a brief second. “Good thing you like me so much,” she said with a shy, sly little grin.
He lost time just for a brief moment, caught staring into her eyes and trying to figure out just what was going on with him. And her. When he came back to reality he realized his hand had wound up cupping the back of her head to keep her still, and his fingertip rested gently against the pouting, enticing flesh, talon hanging in the space between her upper lip and lower.
Peeling his eyes from hers, he cleared his throat and tried once more to pry the little speck loose, and this time he was finally successful. So relieved this dangerous little escapade was over, he let out a satisfied sigh. “There,” he said, his voice deeper and warmer than he’d like, “got it.”
“Thanks,” she said, eyes falling to the ground as she brought her own fingertip to the place his had rested, brushing her lip with the gentlest touch. He watched her, anxious that he had hurt her, or that he’d made her uncomfortable.
“Did I hurt you?” Vakarian asked.
Easing his worries, she shook her head. “No,” she said with a voice so soft it made him wonder what her breath would feel like against his neck. Because dammit it felt amazing against his fingertips. “I'm going to go, uh, look for those scissors again.” And with that she turned from him, leaving him alone with his racing thoughts and horrible desires.
Instead of getting right back to the wires, he turned and leaned against the sink to gather himself, carefully avoiding his reflection in the mirror out of pure embarrassment.
Why in the hell was he so damned awkward?
And who in the hell thinks it’s normal to touch their friend like that?
His thoughts stayed on her lips. Then the sight of that little black speck of tape. How funny she looked. The real question was how someone could be so unbelievingly beautiful, but such a damn goofball. He laughed softly and finally peeled himself away from the sink, determined to wrap this damn project up so they could finally watch the vid.
He worked a while longer in solitude before Shepard reappeared around the corner, waving the elusive tool in the air. “Found your stupid scissors.”
He thanked her and took them, careful to avoid letting his hand linger for too long on hers, then he cut a strip of tape – 2 inches exactly with perfectly clean edges – and handed it to her.
“You want me to tape the wires?” she asked, unsure, as she took it.
“No, but if I’m going to finish fixing this damn thing, I’m going to need to distract you. Thought you might want to chew on that.”
“You son of a bitch.” She slapped his arm as his mandibles flared out in a wide grin. They both fell to fits of laughter as he realized he could spend the rest of his life like this – doing dumb shit with her – and he’d be a happy man.