The sea seizes against the rocks sending spray against her face. It’s the colour of rich, navy satin with the most delicate of milky sea foam. She stands on the precipice of a rock that is weathered from the salt and sea, covered with the tiny creatures that Victoria has never seen before. Rannoch is as beautiful as the history books say, however unsafe it could possibly be for Quarians. The sea roars at her feet. It slopes down before cascading toward the sky, sending the thick, cloying scent of salt toward her. It cards through her hair with careful fingers and dusts her leather jacket with mist. She thinks for a moment that Rannoch would be a nice place to stay, once hell stopped dropping from the sky.
Victoria thinks of what Kal'Reegar would think of this place, the home he has never seen. Probably just a 'damn' and there'd be a smile in his eyes. It would do her heart good to see the man she loves so happy because it seems neither of them possess the ability to be happy save when they're drunk with Tali. When the sea crashes nearby, she thinks of Kalahira. She thinks of Thane…
The wound is still raw in her heart, though she tries to guard it while she fights. She is thankful for Kal, who has taken her hands from the proverbial knife she had to her throat. He loves her, his love is solid, this she knows yet cannot bring herself to forget the kindness Thane gave to her when she was through listening to orders from some hologram. He listened to her, just as he did when he passed, and now she has someone else that listens and now, complains with her. It's a liberation that she hasn't felt since leaving home.
And it’s the moments such as this that Victoria hates and loves. What little time there is to simply be a human and not a legend are rare, so rare that people would pay damn good money for it. Shore leave in the Citadel is nice, but it's nothing compared to the time she remembers as a child, playing in field of grass so tall that she could get grass seed in her hair. Rannoch reminds of her those lazy days, sprinting through make believe forests and being chased by goblins and dragons. Edging closer to the cleft of the rock, she crouches and tries to reach for a creamy seashell. She hears the familiar scuff of boots on stone, but ignores it. It's probably a Geth.
"if you fall into the ocean again, I'm afraid I can't swim," A voice says at her back, deep and rich in timbre despite the ever so slight buzz that only an enviro-suit's helmet could make. "Do I want to know what you're doing, save showing your ass off to the entire fleet?"
Victoria bites back a quip and pushes strands of her inky, short hair out of her face, "After a seashell. And if the fleet wants to look at my ass, they can simply ask you since you're so invested in it."
Kal'Reegar kneels down beside her. Sitting up, she looks into the black visor of his helmet and he motions with his eyes for her to move. He leans down and comes back up with the shell she was after. She turns it over in her hands. Its opalescent on the back and creamy on the front, waving like a strip of satin in the wind. Then she offers its to Kal, but he shakes his head.
"It's yours, Victoria," He tells her with the utmost kindness. Gently taking her hands in his own, he observes the careful scars on them from knives, fights, and clips. "You know, my old trainer used to say scars tell stories that could rival hanar. Yours seem to tell a lot."
His hands are cold from the suit, but she whispers, "Quarians don't get scars, do they?"
"Hardly. I've only got two to your sixteen." He removes his hands from hers and looks out into the sea. "Where'd you get the one on your hand?"
She lifts up her right hand where a tooth scar lies. Its nearly faded now all save a the smooth skin that it only a hair lighter than the rest of it all. "Moppet bit me when she was baby. Deserved it to some extent. Thanks to the Cerberus tech in me, my healing is upped just a touch."
Kal sighs, "Keelah, I forgot you had a varren for a pet."
Glancing at the shell in her hand, she steals a look back up at him before swallowing thickly. This is a war they're fighting, together no less, and she would keep something from Rannoch for the sake of a man she thought was wacky. She has hundreds, ones from different ocean bearing planets, even a few that Javik and Liara found for her while hunting around for artifacts. She turns to him, heart clenching in her chest like a pit viper readying itself for a fight.
"Kal, I want you.." Victoria bites her cheek from the lump that goes into her throat. "I want you to have this.. In case the world goes to hell and we.. don't come back."
He blinks over at her through the shade, "Shepard, what are you saying?"
"I've got this.. gut feeling that this isn't going to go over well. I've felt it since the beginning. Yes, we've gotten our taste of victory but it seems like it might become ashes in our mouth." Her hands tremble, cheeks screaming for the sweet release from her teeth. "Maybe I'm a cynic, but all of this seems to always culminate late and blow up in my face."
He closes the distance between them and rests a hand on her thigh. There is silence between them aside from the crash of a wave nearby. She thinks that she is wrong to say such things, but they've been eating at her constantly ever since Earth became a hot spot for Reapers everywhere.
He gives her leg a squeeze, "I wouldn't worry too much."
There is a break in her voice, "But-"
"Now hear me out, Tori. You and I have always felt that the worst case scenario would come. And maybe it will, who knows," He takes a deep breath, one that makes her heart stall as his hand leaves her leg and they go the cinch on either side of his head.
"What are you doing?" She tries to stop his hands, but all he does is give a look that could paralyze Death. "This isn't safe for you.. You know that!"
The helmet releases with a hiss of air and a cough. And the face that stares back at hers makes her heart drop into her belly. His face is made of sharp angles, a strong jawline, and curious silver eyes. His hair is blond and hangs down the back of his neck in a short ponytail. Her mind reels for a moment. This is Kal'Reegar, her Kal - she.. didn't expect this out of him.
"I take your staring is a good thing?" He enquires as she dares her hands to touch him, despite everything telling her not to. He turns his eyes down at her quivering hands. He smiles, "You can touch me, Tori."
He guides her hand to his cool cheek. His skin is soft to her fingers and they grace every feature, as if by happenstance they'll disappear before she can truly understand the man that's in front of her. Kal'Reegar's smile becomes sly, "You're wondering how I'm not coughing, aren't you?"
"Why wouldn't I?" She runs her index finger over the bridge of his nose. "I mean, we linked suits but.. This could kill you."
"I know, but Rannoch is safer than other planets. Besides, my body is used to your germs by now. Linking suits helped far more than many realize." He leans forward before she can move and kisses her forehead. It’s a soft kiss, like a feather on skin. "I'm glad I get to be beside you while we kick Reaper ass, Tori. And I'm glad I get to see you without a filter on."
Victoria nods, speechless as he touches her cheek with a hand. He continues, "We should return to the Normandy before anyone notices we're gone."
"Right.. Yes, that's a good idea."