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Curiosity.

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It takes four nights on Menae for the conversation in the sleeper pods to devolve from old war stories to tales of their conquests. No one can sleep, not at a time like this, with the Reapers ravaging Palaven and all their loved ones stuck planetside, alive or dead by now. So when the orders come in for them to hit their racks, catch some sleep on their cots, the dutiful soldiers spend the first few hours of their required rest trading memories.

“Had an Asari a few months back,” a lieutenant says to fill the silence, “I always end up thinking they’re all five or six hundred, but she was eighty-three.”

There’s quiet ribbing, even a Turian-like hoot and holler from the others laid out on their makeshift beds in the relative darkness.

“Bet you were her first, did she even know how to embrace eternity? Surprised her great-grandfather didn’t come after you for it,” someone says.

The lieutenant laughs but it’s held back, like the question’s a little too close to the truth of the matter. “Still sends me letters from time to time.”

“Enough of the bullshit,” an irritated soldier cuts in, “was the azure as good as it’s made out to be?”

Garrus, from where he rests, swears he can almost hear the lieutenant blush just by the sound of his voice. It makes him smile as he listens. The man can’t be more than five or six years younger than he, but there’s a distinctive youth to him that Garrus envies.

“It was…” he stutters, “better than good.”

“They’re eager,” another joins the conversation. “Didn’t earn their place as whores of the galaxy without good reason.”

“Watch it,” Garrus finally says, and he’s met with a chorus of voices chiming in, respecting the title and rank he has that comes along with the sound of his flanging vocals. For the most part, he’s let the talk go where it may, but on behalf of the few Asari he calls friends, some part of him speaks up in their honor.

The room is quiet after that, until the original lieutenant talks aloud again. “Limber, though.”

There’s an eruption of laughter and Garrus is thankful they’re no longer left to dwell on his orders from the moment earlier. Someone else on the other side of the room starts in with a particularly vivid description of the last Turian female they fucked back on Palaven, and somewhere amidst the talk of sharp lines of her hip and her exotic pale grey, nearly white, skin tone, Garrus thinks back to the last woman he was with. He wonders, for a moment, when the details of a female of his own species stopped doing it for him.

“What about you, Vakarian?” Someone asks.

He’s hesitant, and thinks of just retreating to a particularly bland memory from years ago when he’d been with someone else during his days working in C-Sec, instead of the particular story and admission he knows would top it all. It would even out-do the story from the night before about the Turian-Asari-Quarian threesome.

“Human,” he says plainly, and there’s a flutter of mandibles clicking and breaths of disbelief.

“Liar,” a brave Turian accuses.

“I wouldn’t,” he remarks with confidence, something he didn’t have much of on the night he and Shepard were together, but he’s not about to give a completely accurate retelling of that evening. He’ll leave out the parts about how he’d almost backed out a hundred times out of fear of embarrassing himself, or the awkward compliments he’d given her.

A voice Garrus hasn’t heard all night rings out, and it’s Adrien Victus, from where they’d all presumed him to be asleep at the far end of the room. “You’re not keeping that story to yourself now, Vakarian. So let’s have at it.”

Part of him curses inwardly for speaking up on the matter, now backed into the corner. He thinks of Shepard, whether she’d be angry with him for talking of what had happened in her cabin the night before the Omega-4 Relay, but somehow in all the scenarios he plays out in his head, Shepard just ends up smirking, egging him on, and adding in her own fragments. Maybe that’s wishful thinking.

He breaths deep, and starts. “She was soft. Softer than any Asari, if you can believe it.”

One man scoffs, “it’s why they’re so weak.”

No,” Garrus is quick to interject, “it’s actually terrifying how soft they are compared to how much damage they can do. Not many of you have fought beside or with humans, so I’ll educate you. They can go into a fight, lose half their blood, and pick themselves up and walk away. A couple hundred years ago they didn’t have guns, didn’t have biotics. They tore everything apart with knives and fingers—and you’ve seen their hands. They’re dull and small, but powerful in ways you’d never assume from looking at them.”

No one says a thing, just listens with rapt attention.

“Earth isn’t like Palaven, you know. There are areas made only of ice, other parts where the temperatures rival even Palaven’s hottest zones. They’ve got regions of desert and then humid jungles. Put you or I down there, and unless we were in just the right spots, we’d be dead in days. Humans, though, they cover every inch of that place, and even within their own species, they’ve adapted mutations to help them bear with the changes.” He pauses, swallows and lets his mouth take a break from the nervous dryness there. “And that softness? You know why humans are so soft? Because if they have to, they can go weeks without eating to survive. They’ll outlast you and outlast me, because their body will eat itself.”

“Spirits,” Garrus hears someone whisper, but can’t place the voice with a face or name.

“The humans I know, put in a fight of hand-to-hand with most of you…” Garrus continues with a hint of pride, “I’m placing my credits on them.”

“Now that you’ve finished scaring the children,” Adrien says humorously, “why don’t you fill us in on their.. Ah, finer points.”

Garrus chews Victus’ words over, trying to find a place to start. There are some details about Shepard that are his and his alone—like how her lips actually felt, how red they got after she came; the high-pitched moans she breathed out on every thrust he gave; how different and perfect his name sounded coming from her throat—but the room of anxious and tired Turians isn’t really looking for the sentimental notes. Just the main details, the bullet points of what it feels to be with a human. He’ll give them that.

“I’ve heard some Asari have learned to do it recently, but humans are eager to use their mouths,” he says, letting the implication sink in for a second. “Almost as common as they mate regularly, from what I know. You think you can understand what I’m saying, but until you’re inside a human mouth, hot, moist, their lips sealing around you… you have no idea what you’ve been missing. They’ll suck you nearly dry.” He stops, and when he hears a ragged breath, he adds in, “and if they get you there, they’ll even swallow.”

“Did she?” That young lieutenant asks.

“Yeah,” Garrus hums in a fond remembrance. “Wouldn’t even listen when I told her to stop.” A hand strays beneath his blanket to rub over the slit at his groin. He makes no move to encourage his cock to slide out, but just enjoys the gentle pressure he finds there. “And she loved receiving it in return just as much.”

Adrien Victus stifles laughter. “She let you near her with all those teeth? Brave woman,” he says, knowingly.

“I’ve seen… pictures on the extranet,” another hesitantly mentions. “Does their sex really look like that?”

“A lot of variation in how they look, so I’ve heard,” Garrus replies. “Even have some hair down there. Pink, though, for the most part. And they’ve got this little spot hidden away at the top,” he says with almost too much pleasure. Shepard had helped direct him to it during their night together, taught him where it was, how she preferred for it to be touched. He wouldn’t soon forget. “There’s another place inside them too. Touch either of those just right and they go wild. Not sure if you’ve heard, but they can go multiple times in a short period of time.”

For female Turians, at least, the general rule was that once was all they’d be achieving without a significant break in between. Garrus had been more than surprised, and pleased, to know he could give her that kind of satisfaction so numerous and quickly.

“They look flexible,” one person suggests.

“The positions we got into, you’d never manage with one of us. And Spirits—humans, they’re so wet. I never thought I’d fit inside her, I could barely get a finger inside when we started, but she was so wet that we managed somehow. I’ve never felt something so tight.”

“Lucky you didn’t come right away like a kid, eh?”

Garrus smiles to himself in the dark. That tightness he’d found inside of her had nearly driven him to that point at the time, he’d even had to stop once he was sheathed by her, gathering his faculties to prevent an early release and making a fool of himself. Not that Shepard, of all people, wouldn’t have understood. Hell, she’d probably have laughed about it and then asked what she could do to get him going again, but regardless, he was thankful that embarrassment wasn’t his. “She loved to be touched everywhere. Had to have my hands and mouth on her or she’d be begging—though I did stop sometimes, just to hear her ask for it.”

“Was it just the once?” A Turian asks.

“Yeah,” he says with a bit of sadness. “Just the once. Not that I wouldn’t again in a heartbeat if I ever see her again.”

That earns a group response from the room, or at least from the ones still awake. The sound is mournful, and for a brief second they’re not all led by their hormones and urges. Outside, there’s the faint sound of gunfire, the whistle of a projectile and its impact with the dirt. Reminders, on cue, of the war they’re in. Tomorrow, when they return for their allotted hours of sleep, another cot will probably be empty with someone lost to the battle. And if any of them ever see the Turians, Asari, Quarians, …human, that they care for, that’s another story altogether. For a second, they all share that unspoken fear.

No one says anything else that night, they just try to get some sleep.

Hours later, they’re woken when the next shift of soldiers come in, worn and exhausted with soil and blood still splattered across their plates and hard suits. Garrus pulls his armor on and makes his way outside, folding his rifle up as it comes to rest on his back. He’ll get his rations for breakfast then head out to his post, check in with the high command for new reports of how things fare both on Palaven and Menae, and try to search his mind for fragments of information he’s gleaned over the last few years that can give them the upperhand with the Reapers. In between the explosions and death, he’ll think about Shepard.

It’s while he’s getting a drink that General Victus approaches from the side, grabbing at a fresh canteen. Victus shoots Garrus a sidelong glance while both men drink. His sip is long, and when he draws it away from his mouth, Adrien finally clears the silence.

“Is Commander Shepard going to be happy to hear that a room full of Turians know the fact that she’s got a birthmark on her—what’s the correct term—labia?” He teasingly leers.

Garrus nearly chokes on his water. He doesn’t have the guts to face Victus directly, so he grabs for a dextro-ration bar. “Was it that obvious who it was?”

Victus repeats Garrus’ gesture and secures his own breakfast in hand before taking a few steps away. He stops and glances back to Garrus. “As if it would be anyone else.”