Shepard was sitting in a darkened corner of the bar, waiting for Garrus to finish with the refugees, when she caught the edge of a dual-toned conversation from the table next to her.
“His fringe is a little long, isn't it?”
“It's not awful.”
Shepard sat back so she could see the two female turians out of the corner of her eye. They were crowded on one side of their table, scoping out the men in the area. Some things were universal, she thought with a rueful smile. The male turian at the corner of the bar noticed the female turians' attention and raised his glass with a questioning flutter of his mandibles. They looked at each other, then shook their heads.
Shepard sipped her drink, using it as cover to look a little closer at the male. She'd never been able to suss out exactly what was considered attractive to other turians. She knew they liked tapered waists on their females and fringes were considered important to both sexes, but efforts to get more details from Garrus were met with vague answers or changes in subject. The turian at the bar wasn't bad, she supposed. His skin color was a much darker grey than Garrus's, but it contrasted nicely with the white of his colony markings. He wasn't quite as broad in the shoulders, or as tall, both things that she appreciated in Garrus. His fringe – Shepard frowned – his fringe looked a bit shorter than what Garrus had. Did that mean Garrus's fringe wasn't attractive?
She felt mildly upset at the thought.
The voices at the next table broke off into dual sounds of shock.
“Do you see that?”
“On his face! Like a krogan!”
Shepard looked over, a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. Garrus was standing just inside the door, doing a slow scan of the area. He spotted her, and started to make his way over. The females made consternated noises, and she bit down on a sudden surge of anger. Meritocracy, her ass.
She stood, wanting to get out of the bar and not wanting to hear Garrus subjected to any more of their ridiculous judgment. It brought up old memories of careless remarks and casual dismissals, and he deserved so much better. She met him halfway across the room, covering her anger with a smile, and indicated the doors with a short jerk of her head.
“Change in plans?” he asked when they got outside.
“We have about six hours before we need to be shipside,” Shepard started slowly, still working through what she wanted to do. “Want to get a room?”
“We could,” Garrus said. He was giving her what she'd long ago termed his C-Sec look. It meant he knew she was up to something and was trying to work out what it was. “What's wrong with your cabin?”
Shepard shrugged. “Change in scenery? And we'd be doing our part for the Citadel economy.”
“Fighting off Cerberus didn't count?” he asked, but pulled up his omnitool. She leaned against his arm so she could see the hotel listings, and in a few minutes they had a suite booked in the Presidium. Turned out the best hotels had reserved blocks for Spectres. The rooms were probably intended for incoming agents reporting to the Council, but Shepard figured she was owed a perk or two.
Despite the pictures that had accompanied the listing, she wasn't prepared for just how big the room was. The bed alone could hold four krogan, and the window that ran the length of the room only emphasized the large dimensions. Garrus poked the bed experimentally, then looked at her.
“Hold on,” she said. “I have got to see what the bathroom looks like.”
Huge, was the answer, with too much silver for Shepard's taste. It had two showers and a soaking tub, which seemed like overkill, but maybe the suite was meant for a larger party than two.
“Your cabin could fit in here with room to spare,” Garrus said from the doorway.
“Seems that way, doesn't it?” Shepard took a closer look at the shower. Besides the fancy shower head, there were inlaid water jets all along the walls that probably felt amazing. Garrus came up behind her, and settled his hands on her shoulders.
“The camps aren't as clean as they should be. Want to join me?”
“I think I'll just watch.”
She could feel his surprise, and she turned and brushed a kiss across the scarred side of his face. He gave her that look again, but didn't press. She hopped up on the counter next to the sink as he undressed, and couldn't help noticing that he never so much as glanced at the mirror as he did so. Did he think like those female turians back at the bar? Shepard's stomach twisted as her jokes about him being ugly and his about finding scars attractive became less funny and more cruel.
Garrus turned on the water. “Sure you don't want a shower?” he asked again, hand hovering over the temperature controls.
She let her eyes trail down his body, then back up with the same slow appraisal. She smiled at him. “I'm sure.”
“That's not going to make me blush.”
“That's okay. You're still worth looking at.”
Shepard couldn't quite read the expression on his face as he stepped in. Confusion? Denial? She'd deal with it later. Her words hadn't been flattery. She still didn't find turians sexually attractive as a whole, but Garrus definitely did it for her. She liked the sweep of his cowl over his shoulders and the way it flowed into the keel of his breastbone. She liked the broad expanse of his back and how it felt under her hands when she clung to him. She liked – he turned in the shower and her eyes followed the rivulets of water – oh yes, she liked the jut of his hips and the ropy muscles of his thighs.
He was taking longer than usual to get clean. She dragged her eyes away from admiring the flex of his arms and up to his face just in time to catch him sneaking a look at her. He was doing it on purpose. He didn't know why she'd decided to play voyeur, but he was indulging her anyway. He looked away, not quite fast enough for Shepard not to see the nervous twitch of his mandibles. Shepard frowned. That was the opposite of what she wanted.
She took off her shirt and wriggled her pants down over her hips. They bunched around her feet until she pushed off her shoes and let the whole tangled mess fall to the floor. The sound made Garrus twist around, and she stretched, knowing the motion did wonderful things to the lines of her torso.
The water turned off, and a moment later Garrus stood dripping in front of her. She smiled innocently at him. He tilted his head back, and Shepard put her hands up.
“Don't you dare,” she told him.
He grinned at her, then shook his head forward, the water trapped in the grooves of his fringe flying everywhere. It hadn't turned cold yet, but she still smacked him in the arm and dodged his attempt at a wet hug.
“The towels are over there, Vakarian.”
“What, done looking?” He was joking, but it was the krogan women and scars kind of joking again.
“Nope.” Shepard ignored his startled look and went back to the bedroom. She piled all the pillows she could find at the head of the bed, and waited. Garrus came out few minutes later and there was tension in him again.
“Shepard.” Garrus paused and for a moment looked so lost that her heart hurt. “What's going on?”
“Sit down?” she asked, gesturing at the pillows. He put his back against them and stretched his legs out in front of him. Once he was settled, Shepard climbed into his lap, straddling his hips and resting her arms on his shoulders. He put his hands on the outer curve of her thighs and sighed when she leaned her forehead into his. They stayed that way for a long moment before she pulled back.
“There were a couple of turians at the bar,” she said. “Female. They were looking for company and not being particularly quiet as they evaluated their options.” Garrus went very still under her, and she knew she would sooner pull out her own tongue than tell him he'd been one of those discussed. “Some of what they said about the other turians there made me realize that your scars,” she cupped that side of his face with her hand and ran her thumb along the edge of his mandible, “might be a bigger deal than I thought. You've never been shy about telling me that you like how I look, and it occurred to me that I haven't been very good about returning the favor.”
“Shepard,” Garrus began. “You don't need to -”
“But then,” Shepard interrupted, placing her fingers over his mouth. “I remembered that unless it's wrapped up in a joke, you can't take a compliment worth shit.” His mouth moved under her fingers and she took her hand away to kiss him, swallowing any words of indignation. “So I figured it would be easier to show you,” she said, leaning back again. “But I want to say it out loud at least once, just so we're clear.” She took his head in her hands then, and kissed his browplate, ghosting her lips lower to the lighter plates above his eyes. She drifted down to the colony markings on his cheeks, and lingered there, tracing the lines with her fingers and following with featherlight kisses. Soft and gentle was not in her nature, but his disbelief that she might find him attractive on purely physical grounds offended her sense of what was just.
His hands were trembling on her thighs by the time she made her way to his mandibles. She didn't have any of her own to slide against his, but she compensated as best she could with her fingers and tongue. Scarred and not received the same care, and when she finally kissed him on the mouth, he gave a full body shudder and gripped her legs hard enough to leave bruises.
“You,” she said to him, drawing her hands down his neck, “are damn sexy, Vakarian.” She dug her nails in and ground her hips into him hard. He bucked back involuntarily, and she could could feel him hard and thick through the thin material of her underwear. “If you didn't insist on wearing your armor everywhere, I'd have christened half the ship with you by now.” She kissed him again. “And not just because I'm in love with you, but because you're that irresistible.”
He said her name, subharmonics rising to the upper ranges that meant need and vulnerability, as she slid off his lap and down the bed to lie between his legs. She kissed his stomach, then his thigh, and ran her hands over his hips and along either side of his now-parted seam. His long fingers found the back of her head as she took him in hand, and she let him guide her mouth over the tip of his cock. She worked him slowly, keeping the suction light and pulling off occasionally to follow a raised vein with her tongue, or simply kiss along the shaft as she teased him with her fingers. She looked up when she could, enjoying the way his head bowed as she brought him closer, his curses when she backed off to make it last longer, and the tangle of want and shocked wonder in his eyes when they met hers.
“Shepard,” he gasped as he neared the edge again. “Please - I can't -”
She drew back, but kept up the motion with her hand. “Do you want to finish in my mouth, or. . . ?”
“In you.” His voice strained as she let go to unhook her bra. “Spirits, in you.”
She slithered out of her last shreds of clothing and back up into his arms and lap. She expected him to press his face into her shoulder like always, but he kept their eyes locked as he pulled her on to him. She gripped his shoulders and rolled her hips, knowing he was too close for her to find her own release like this, but still enjoying the feeling of him inside her. It took just three quick thrusts before he came, the almost too hot rush of fluid a now familiar and welcome sensation. Only then did he drop his head to her shoulder, pulling his legs up behind her and wrapping his arms around her back.
“That,” Garrus started, then turned his face to her neck. “Shepard,” he said. Just her name, but she heard what he couldn't voice. She murmured his back to him, and hoped he did too. His cock twitched inside her and he loosened his grip with an apologetic look. “You didn't . . .”
“This one wasn't about me.” Shepard bumped their heads together gently to show she meant it. “Don't worry about it. The room's ours for another few hours. Plenty of time for you to even things up.” She rolled off of him and stood. “Let me take a quick shower and you can get right on that.”
She was adjusting the water temperature back down to something that wouldn't scald her when she heard the click of his talons on the bathroom floor. “Decide to join me?” she asked over her shoulder. When he didn't respond, she turned in some concern.
He was examining himself in the mirror. His eyes slid to her in the reflection and he gave her one of the most thorough and blatant up-and-downs she'd ever been on the receiving end of. He turned from the mirror and smiled.
“I think I'll just watch.”