Saren stared at his reflection, trying to ignore the wild look to his eyes. His hands shook, making it difficult to properly affix his head cover. Snarling in frustration as the center design became lopsided once again, he tore the thing off, flinging it into the sink. Swearing under his breath, he looked down at his trembling hands, willing them to still.
“Looks like the kids are just about settled down.” His wife’s voice drifted closer, informing him of her impending arrival. Sure enough, the fiery red-head appeared through the open bathroom door, limping slightly. Though the injury was old, Saren still felt himself emitting a soothing sub-vocal sound for her continued pain. Her sharp eyes flickered over his form, noting the shaking in his hands and the crest cover in the sink. Without a word, she stepped up to him, taking the cover into her hands and placing it on his head. As she fixed it to his liking, she continued speaking as though nothing were amiss. “We’ve got quite the crowd. I know we were only expected a handful of kids, but it looks like there’s at least fifty or so out there.”
“Knowing the numbers isn’t helping my nerves, Shepard.” Saren drawled. Faith grinned up at him, her storm blue eyes twinkling merrily. She didn’t mind that he never called her by her first name. Even though technically her family name was now the same as his, he would always think of her as ‘Shepard’.
“You were a Spectre for over twenty years. You’ve faced down innumerable enemies without hesitation, been in far more stressful situations than this. You’re a hero of the Reaper Wars. So why is it,” Faith admonished him as she finished affixing his cover, “that a few biotic children are causing you this much concern?”
Saren huffed, glancing at himself in the mirror. “Probably because said Reaper War left scars on everyone. Most of the children lost more then their families; they lost their innocence, their sense of security, their homes, everything. The slightest slip on my part could cause them to relive those painful memories, and they’re already traumatized enough.”
Faith smiled at her husband, laying a fond hand on his arm. Turning, he gathered his wife into his arms, resting his head on her hair and breathing deeply of her scent. The shaking seemed to calm to a dull tremor as his previous tension melted away. Ignoring the sound of their bedroom door opening, Saren remained wrapped in his wife’s gentle embrace, allowing everything to fade away.
The sound of two turian fledglings giggling brought him back to reality. Opening his eyes, he saw his two adopted boys, Decimus and Desolas, looking up with amusement at their parents.
“Hi daddy!” Desolas chittered, ducking his head shyly. Decimus ran forward and wrapped his arms around his mother’s leg. With a squeal, Desolas followed suit. Faith chuckled, reaching down with a hand to pull her boys in close.
“When did you two get so big?” Faith asked, lovingly stroking Decimus’ mandible. The boy leaned into the touch, purring happily. Desolas held up both hands, fingers spread.
“We’re six now, mommy! We have to be big!”
Saren chuckled at their antics. From the doorway he heard a sigh, and could almost picture the oldest sibling shaking his head. His wife moved faster than he did, however, and called out.
“Tirius, are you just going to hide and mope around the corner?” Faith called out. With a snort, the young man appeared, holding their youngest in his arms.
“It’s not moping. It’s serious contemplation.” The twelve-year-old retorted. Faith put on an artful expression of worry.
“Oh no. You’re turning into your father, aren’t you?” She sighed theatrically, shaking her head. Saren did his best to look offended. The young human girl in Tirius’ arms cooed at her new parents, drooling around her favorite teething toy. Faith reached out and took the bundle of trouble, before ushering the herd of children out of the bathroom. Saren smiled as he listened to his mate direct them, telling the two biotics to stand with the others during orientation. Decimus grumbled about being left out yet again, and Saren felt his smile grow.
“I wish you could have lived to see this, brother.” Saren quietly reached out to the spirit of his older brother. Ironic, Saren thought, that the child who bore his brother’s namesake had turned out to be a biotic like Saren.
Shaking the ghosts of his past from his thoughts, Saren charged after his family, unable to hide the smile that spread his mandibles. They left their small prefab home, heading outside into the crisp morning air. Saren couldn’t help glancing around, suddenly very glad they had decided to set up the school far away from the decimated cities and towns on his home planet of Aephus. The area surrounding their small, hastily built school was relatively untouched. It would be a good place for those children, and his family, to recover without the constant reminder of the war.
Looping an arm around his wife’s hips, Saren tried to keep his rising tension at bay. Already, he could see the numerous Turians, some very young, others almost ready for their mandatory military service. They were all gathered on the lawn, eyes on him. He felt Shepard’s hand snake around behind him, brushing her fingers over his hip crest before settling on his buttocks and giving it a light squeeze. Instantly, his tension was replaced with incredulity that she’d do such a thing in public. Then he saw the impish gleam to her eyes as she took Decimus and Hannah to stand to the side as Desolas and Tirius stood with the other students and realized that was completely her intent.
Must be a human thing.
Turning back to the students, Saren assumed his lecture pose, allowing everyone to settle and stop talking, their eyes on him. Quite suddenly, the weight of what he was about to start settled onto his shoulders. Rather than feeling bowed under the weight, he straightened, his head held high.
He could do this.
With a voice that could have been heard across battlefields, Saren addressed his charges. “Good morning, and welcome to your first day at the Arterius School for Biotics. My name is Saren Arterius, your dean and teacher. Now, let us begin...”