Commander Shepard had been under house arrest for three days, and he'd slept for most of it. A doctor came by every few hours to check on his injuries. Before turning himself in, he'd taken out an entire batarian prison. Alone. Taken out an entire base of indoctrinated reaper thralls. Alone. And that was after having been kept sedated for two days. Upon his return, the Alliance had treated him to hours and hours of interrogation, and when he'd finally been brought to his apartment – a loose term as it was more of a bedroom with a sitting area and an en suite – he'd collapsed into bed from fatigue, dehydration, and malnourishment. He'd been attached to an IV, and James had been treated to an unobstructed view of the Commander's body peppered with fresh wounds, burns, bullet holes, incision scars and more, as well as a plethora of older scars already turning white. The Normandy's doctor obviously had her hands full treating the Commander.
On the fourth day, James escorted the doctor into the Commander's room, and they were treated to an unobstructed view of Shepard's bare ass as he sprawled on top of the covers, snoring away. He must have had his nose broken plenty. He sounded like a buzz saw. James blushed, the doctor cleared his throat, and the Commander jolted awake, yanking the covers over his ass. “Sorry,” he muttered. “More comfortable to sleep naked.” He sat up, yawned and stretched, scratching absently at his stomach. It growled. “Can I have food?” He yanked the IV out of his arm and tossed it toward the doctor, pulling the tape off his arm without even wincing. “Or is the Alliance planning to starve me?” Glancing around the room, he pointed at a chair, “Vega, toss me those sweatpants will you?”
James obeyed, and Shepard somehow managed to wiggle into the pants under the covers without exposing himself again. “I'll see that you get some breakfast, Commander,” the doctor said. “How are you feeling?”
He tossed the covers off and rose, stretching again. “I'm fine,” he waved his hand dismissively and headed over to the window. “Never better. Can I go outside or something?”
“I'll let Admiral Anderson know you're ready for visitors. He will fill you in on the terms of your... confinement.”
“Confinement,” he sighed. “Food would be nice.”
“I'll see to it right away, Commander.”
James followed the doctor out of the room, with one last glance at Shepard. The man still stared out the window, and James imagined that he was longing to be out there. He knew he would be, in the Commander's place. He returned thirty minutes later with a tray of food to see that Anderson was already visiting. The two men seemed to have a rapport with one another, then James remembered that they'd served together on the Normandy before Shepard was made a Spectre.
“You gotta get me out of here, Anderson,” Shepard was saying, nodding his thanks to James before digging into his tray of food. “The reapers are coming. I only delayed them,” he said around a mouthful of oatmeal. “Goddammit I'm hungry! This is the first time they've fed me.”
“They're not going to let you starve, Shepard,” Anderson said as if he were scolding a child.
“This is the first bite of food I've had in four days. If the service doesn't get better, I'm going to demand a refund!”
Anderson chuckled. “You can go outside for two hours a day, but you have to be escorted. The gym in the officers quarters anytime you want. Firing range three times a week.”
“Will I at least be allowed to shit and shower in private, or do I need an escort for that too?”
James didn't blame him for being angry. It was a hell of a way to treat the man who'd just saved everybody's asses. Again. Alone. “Shepard, you know we're doing the best we can. This is all for-”
“For my protection,” Shepard interrupted. “So you keep saying, but it sure as shit feels like a punishment. You think I'm getting soft in my old age, Gramps?”
“You're hardly old, Shepard,” Anderson chuckled again. “You've got a lot of life ahead of you. A lot more battles to fight.”
“So long as the reapers just line up outside my window and wait in a nice line for me to take them out.” He tossed his spoon down on the tray, suddenly disinterested in his breakfast.
“You're not the only one who's frustrated with this situation, John,” Anderson sighed. “Eat your damned breakfast. I don't need you withering away in here. Keep your ass in shape and your skills sharp, and I'll do the best I can to get you out, alright?”
“Yeah, alright. Sorry.”
Anderson patted him on the shoulder. “I'm on your side, son. I'll be back to visit you in a few days. Anything you need in the meantime?”
Shepard glanced around the room. “There's nothing to do here.”
“I'll have some vids and books sent in. Let James take you out tonight and show you a good time,” he winked at the younger marine, and Shepard's face split into the first genuine smile that James had seen since he arrived.
“Now that's the best idea you've had in a long damned time, Gramps.”
The old man laughed and patted Shepard on the back once more before taking his leave. Shepard turned to James, shit eating grin, “I better warn you, Vega... I'm not a cheap date.” He stood and stretched and crossed the room to his closet, pulling on a t-shirt and some sneakers. “And I never put out on the first date.” He winked at James. “Come on. Let's go to the gym.”
Shepard hadn't been kidding. The man could drink! Anderson had given him a few hundred credits to pay for Shepard's drinks, and James knew that if it hadn't been for that, the man would have cleaned him out. He figured the officers club would be the safest place to take the Savior of the Galaxy – twice over now – but Shepard had insisted on a seedy dive in the bad part of town. Who was he to argue? It's not like the two of them couldn't take care of themselves. Besides, he had the feeling Shepard was itching for a fight.
They sat on stools at the bar, knocking back shots of Jack Daniels – well, Shepard was, James had only had a few. He had to be able to get the Commander back to HQ after all. He had a feeling he was going to have to carry the man. “'Sa hell of a thing, James,” Shepard slurred. “A goddamn fucked up thing.”
“I'll drink to that,” James said, holding up another shot and clinking his glass to Shepard's before downing it. Shepard followed suit then rose on unsteady legs to find some music on the old fashioned looking jukebox in the corner. The speakers started blaring an old rock song that was actually pretty cool. James mostly just listened to whatever was popular – usually club music with a thumping beat. He could definitely see Shepard as an old school rock 'n roll kind of guy. Shepard tapped his fingers against the machine while he flipped through the other selections, lips moving with the words.
James watched as a man sidled up to the Commander, all up in his personal space, and red flags went up in his head. No one would try to assassinate him in this shithole would they? He edged off his stool and slowly made his way toward the two men, halting halfway there when the man leaned in to whisper something in Shepard's ear. The Commander grinned and said something that James couldn't hear over the din of the bar, but he understood the man's reaction all too well. The man's hands slid up the Commander's chest, settling on his shoulders, while one of Shepard's hands rested on the man's waist, gripping lightly.
James was stunned. Shepard was gay? Holy fuck! He didn't know why, but that revelation rocked him to his core. He was still gaping when Shepard led the man by the hand toward the bathroom. He followed them and found Shepard already pinned against the wall, stranger latched onto his neck. The couple didn't notice him, so he cleared his throat. “James, I will pay you to leave me alone for twenty minutes,” Shepard said, voice husky in a way that had James' insides fluttering.
“No can do, Commander. Sorry.”
“Ten minutes? Five minutes? Just... tell Anderson I had to go to the bathroom. He did promise I could go to the bathroom alone, remember?”
The stranger watched the exchange with an amused grin. James looked at the two of them and cursed under his breath. “Come on, Commander. I think it's time to go home.” For some reason, he couldn't stand the thought of Shepard getting fucked in the grimy bathroom of this shitty dive. It made his stomach twist.
Shepard sighed and pushed the guy off him gently. “Sorry. Maybe next time,” he said dejectedly then followed James out of the bar. They strolled along in silence, and James wondered what had happened to Shepard's buzz. He'd been stumbling drunk when he'd gone to the jukebox, now he was able to walk a relatively straight line. His hands were stuffed into the pockets of his jeans, and his breath left his lips in little white clouds, eyes never leaving the sidewalk.
“Thought you didn't put out on the first date,” James said lightly.
“I wasn't on a date with him.”
“No. You were on a date with me. I think I should be offended.”
“Didn't think I was your type,” Shepard said, scuffing his boots along the concrete.
“What do you think is my type?”
“The type without dicks,” he said flatly.
James chuckled and rubbed the back of his neck. “Yeah, I... uh... I've never thought much about being with a guy.”
“Well, that's a shame.” Shepard never looked at him, just kept walking back toward his prison cell. He didn't want to be there, that much was obvious, but the fact that he was willing to submit himself to imprisonment spoke volumes for his character. “You know, theoretically, it's been more than two years since I got laid,” he said at last. “I mean... in my mind it's only been a few months, but still...”
“Sorry,” James murmured.
“Is it against the rules?”
“I, uh... I don't know.”
“Then why'd you stop it? Just out of curiosity.”
James found himself rubbing the back of his neck again. “I really don't know,” he confessed. “Just thought you might regret it tomorrow. You were pretty fucked up.”
“I know how to handle my liquor, Vega. I never do anything I don't want to.”
“I'll uh... keep that in mind.”
“Good.” They were silent for the rest of the trek. Shepard thanked him for the drinks and bid him goodnight at the door of his cell, then James was staring at a glowing red lock.