niki_chidon: (ME_Distraction)
Niki ([personal profile] niki_chidon) wrote2012-11-20 12:54 am

Fic: R&R Stands for Revelations and Reactions (Male Shepard/Kaidan Alenko)

Title: R&R Stands for Revelations and Reactions
Fandom: Mass Effect
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Male Shepard/Kaidan Alenko
Disclaimer: I don't own them, I write for fun, not profit!
Notes: Usually I reread and rewrite my stories obsessively before posting. This? I pretty much wrote in one go when way too tired, then checked for typos and semblance of sense the next day...;) I think the characters get more OOC the closer it gets to dawn but hey, it's all in the name of humour? Last chapters written the next night, and boy, can you see where I took a break to get some sleep...

Sequel to Let Your Mercy Spill

As per my new motto, I'm blaming shiny_glor_chan for this;)



Chapter 1: the Sacred and Secret Order of the Holy Ancient Alien Aphrodisiac

Steve stayed in the med bay with the doctors, even though he really had nothing to contribute, and the Kodiak could do with a post-flight check.

But he wouldn't stop worrying even if he was there, and if Vega noticed... that was really not a conversation he wanted to have. Too many people knew about what was going in in the captain's cabin at the moment anyway, and if Vega knew, the rest of the damn ship would know soon. His first “the FUCK?” could probably be heard in neighbouring star systems.

“Can I do anything?” he asked. “Maybe read some of the notes?”

“Thank you, but I think you couldn't make much sense of what's in here without an in-depth knowledge of the Protheans,” Doctor T'Soni said.

Steve was just glad she didn't question his presence. Then the doc shot him a sympathetic glance, and he realised she knew very well why he was there. After all, she could have retreated to her own cabin to read. She probably had reference material there, too, but was choosing to share the wait with the others.

Steve was trying very hard not to think about what they were waiting for. Commander Shepard was... not only was he very attractive – very, very attractive – but he was also the one man that had made Steve think about getting over Robert. Shepard had never been anything but friendly but he couldn't have helped thinking about maybe.

And it's not like the Major was unattractive. The thought of the two of them together... Not going there!

He thought of the small smile on Alenko's face when he said instruction was “not necessary.” A good-looking man (with a great ass) who was confident about his abilities in bed? Yeah, hot.

Which is why he was not thinking about it while stuck in a room with two women, and also... his Commander was fighting for his life. The reminder worked like a cold shower. Yeah, not entirely consensual. Even if Shepard had been fantasising about Alenko and... not. Going. There.

Steve looked at Doctor Chakwas, who was typing up something.

“Anything I can do for you? Stack some shelves? Clean some machinery? Update your procurement list?”

The doctor looked up and smiled. “I'm on the fifth rewrite of my report,” she admitted. “Maybe we could... go through the inventory.”

“I am actually reading the cook's log,” said Doctor T'Soni with a small smile, and the laughter they shared seemed to lighten everyone's mood.

“EDI, how... how are they doing?” she then asked.

“Major Alenko asked me to cut the audio feed but I am still monitoring their vital signs. The Commander's are fluctuating in the figures they have been, and the Major's are also in...”

“We don't need to know, thanks,” Steve said, cutting her off.

So Alenko was enjoying what they were doing. Did that make him feel better or worse? Was that like taking advantage of the situation, or would it be better for Shepard afterwards if it had been mutual? He supposed only Shepard could answer that, and his attitude towards the Major afterwards would be the only clue the rest of them would get.

“Is there anything about a possible timeline, Doctor T'soni?” he asked.

“Liara, please. And no, the scientists obviously didn't see a need to speculate on such things.”

“Steve,” he said, out of habit.

“I think that under the circumstances you can call me Karin,” Doctor Chakwas said, giving them a wicked smile. “I feel like we're a part of a secret society.”

“Keepers of the Secret of the Alien Aphrodisiac Trap,” suggested Steve.

“Order of the Holy Union,” countered Liara, lifting a pad. “It was meant for... mates, after all.”

“I do hope Shepard and Kaidan can get over this,” Karin said, sobering up again.

“Me too,” said Liara. “I... thought there might be something there, and I'm not sure if this will be good or disastrous to a possible future relationship they might have.”

“Really?” Steve asked. “I haven't seen them together often enough to tell. But we did visit the Citadel quite often while the Major was in the hospital.”

“That Shepard would have done for any member of his crew I think,” Karin said. “But now that you mention it... yes, maybe.”

“Then I really hope they can get over this,” Steve said, quietly.

“They have been through so much together already,” Karin said. “Saren and Sovereign, all that. They have gotten over quite a lot, too.”

“Horizon,” said Liara, quietly. “Garrus told me about it.”

“What happened?” Steve asked.

“Not everyone was happy that Shepard seemed to work for Cerberus after he... came back,” Liara explained. “Kaidan saw it as betrayal of the Alliance, of all they'd fought for.”

“Can't really blame him,” Karin said. “The Cerberus we knew before they stepped up to deal with the missing colonies? Nothing good. But the fact he didn't even give Shepard a chance to explain...”

“Maybe, if there really was something, he saw it as a more... personal betrayal?” Steve suggested.

“Maybe,” Karin admitted.

“But they got over that. Mars was... well. But they were so obviously okay after Kaidan came back. And now this,” Liara said, looking worried. “How much more can they...”

“It's over!” EDI's triumphant voice said on the intercom. “Shepard's vitals are returning to normal.”

“Thank the goddess!” Liara said.

Steve closed his eyes in relief and felt his body relax. He hadn't even realised how tense he had been.

“That's wonderful news, EDI,” Karin said. “We should get Shepard back here for a check.”

“Oh,” said EDI. “It seems they are... not done. Shepard's vitals are spiking up again.”

They shared frowns and concerned looks, then Steve started smiling.

“What?” asked Liara.

“I think they'll be okay,” Steve said and Karin smiled as well.

“It can't be a relapse,” she explained. “You said it doesn't work that way – there is no chemical to work out of his system. So they are choosing to continue.”

“Oh,” said Liara, and smiled as well.

“I'll send my report to Shepard and ask him to come down for a check up when he wakes up,” Karin said, still smiling. “And now... I think we deserve a drink.”

“Lounge?” asked Steve.

“We might run into someone and end up having to explain. No, I think we can crack open one of my personal bottles.”

“To the Sacred and Secret Order of the Holy Ancient Alien Aphrodisiac,” he toasted the ladies.

“On our next meeting, I will describe the expression on Shepard's face when he shows up,” Karin promised.

“I can provide a picture,” said EDI.

“You are hereby ordained as an honorary member,” Steve said.

“As long as you remember the 'secret' part of the the title,” Liara reminded.

“You wound me, Shadow Broker.”

- - -

Chapter 2: My What Big Hickey You Have on Your Neck, Commander

The second time Kaidan woke up that morning Shepard was still in bed, and was looking at him with a smile on his face.

“What?” Kaidan asked, stretching.

“I could get used to waking up next to you,” Shepard said, leaning in for a kiss.

“Yeah, well, I definitely prefer waking up next to you to waking up and finding you panicking on the sofa.”

“I think I'm done with my guilt trip.”

They lay around in bed, definitely not snuggling or anything unmanly like that. “Chakwas asked me to come down for a check up when I wake up,” Shepard said after a while, not making a move to get up from the bed.

Kaidan could feel his face burning.

“What?”

“They all know what we did,” he said. “We did collectively decide to send me up here, after all.”

“Not all we did, I hope. And not this morning. What?” he asked, when Kaidan hid his face in the pillow.

“I hope EDI stopped monitoring us at some point of the night,” he mumbled against the cloth.

“What?” Shepard exclaimed, sitting up.

“Standard medical procedure. She was monitoring your vitals from the moment you arrived on the ship.”

“Just... that? She wasn't... watching us?

“No! No video, no audio.” Please, please, please don't ask about before.

“Oh. Good. Maybe I can look her in the face, then. I'm... not looking forward to facing Chakwas, though. Or Liara. Or Steve.”

“Me neither,” Kaidan admitted.

“Well,” said Shepard.

“Well,” said Kaidan.

“As much as I'd like to, I can't actually spend the whole day in bed. Also, I really need food,” Shepard said, sighing, and got up to look for his clothes.

“Can we stay here as long as it takes for the bite mark to disappear from your neck?” Kaidan asked, noticing only now the hickey he had managed to leave on the other man.

“The what?” Shepard asked, moving towards the mirror in the head. “Damn.”

Kaidan leaned on the doorway. “So much for keeping this a secret I suppose.”

“I could tell people I got bitten by a Banshee?” Shepard asked, smiling, then groaned when he turned to look at Kaidan. “Put some clothes on, man, if you want me to ever leave this room.”

“You do realise that my underwear's still wet, and I have to go to the crew quarters to change,” Kaidan said conversationally.

“You might as well move your stuff up here, then. Everyone's going to know anyway,” Shepard said.

He sounded serious.

“Really?” Kaidan asked, and Shepard walked closer to rest a hand on his cheek.

“I meant it when I said I love you. And that I'd like to wake with you every day. We can't know how much time we'll get – not with this war. I want to... make most of whatever we get.”

Kaidan couldn't not lean in for a kiss. He kept it light (in the interest of actually getting and keeping some clothes on for a change), and rested his forehead against Shepard's after.

“Only because Adams snores, you realise,” he said.

“Of course.”

- - -

They debated whether to leave together. Would exiting the elevator together just make it really damn obvious to everyone? Shepard was past caring about fraternisation or the Alliance regs and everything that had made him keep his silence back on the first Normandy. The thought that he might have had this all this time?

Screw shrines, he'd build temples.

“Everyone will know sooner or later anyway,” he said. “Leaving separately would just make us look like we feel guilty. I'm a Spectre – you're a Spectre. I refuse to make you a dirty secret.”

“Fine. You realise no one's going to say anything to your face, though? Garrus will demand to know my intentions, and Joker will tell me not to pull a gun on you again, and then realise what he said sounds like an innuendo, and then no one will have fun ever again.”

“James will stare at my neck like he suspects I got bitten by a Banshee, and Chakwas will look at me with that knowing smirk of hers, I just know it.”

“We can compare notes tonight.”

“You're not coming with me to the med bay?”

“You really want me to? With Chakwas' knowing smirk and all?”

“You've got a point. I'll have to go see Liara and Steve, too, to let them know I'm okay, I suppose. It will be...”

“Awkward enough without me.”

Maybe not temples, after all. The Protheans' gift came with massive embarrassment, after all. Then again, Kaidan in his bed every night?

Shepard took one more kiss, “for luck”, before they stepped decisively into the elevator.

“What are you going to do?”

“After a quick shower and a change? ...Wait, shower, damn.”

He had obviously remembered the bruises Shepard left on his hips and thighs earlier that morning.

“Use mine,” he said, smirking. Then he remembered his own bruises, and concentrated on wishing Chakwas didn't want him to undress for the check up. There was nothing he could do about the lovebite, though.

“Thanks, I will. I can finish the reports in your cabin, too.”

“Our cabin,” reminded Shepard just as the elevator doors opened, and the smile he got in return was blinding.

They needed to come up with some ground rules, but he supposed kissing in the public parts of the ship would be out of the question, so he merely smiled back and touched Kaidan's arm briefly.

“I'll join you as soon as I can,” he promised.

“Looking forward to it.”

- - -

Chapter 3: That Damn Knowing Smirk

Shepard looked just as sheepish walking into the med bay as Karin had expected. She couldn't help smiling a bit at his discomfort.

He didn't look like the morning after had been too bad, after all, so she assumed things had gone well with Kaidan. The huge bite mark on his neck could have just been a reminder of the... cure, but there was a distinct air of satisfaction, even happiness, around the commander – despite the obvious discomfort.

“Feeling okay, Commander?” she asked.

“All better,” said Shepard, lingering at the door.

“Good. I still need some tests, so come in.”

She directed Shepard to sit down on one of the beds while she drew blood.

“I don't suppose I'll find anything,” she said. “But you were influenced by an alien device, and there are procedures.”

None for treating a patient with sex, though, that was a new one. She really hoped the men had walked out of it with at least their friendship intact if not with a relationship.

“Thank you,” said Shepard, quietly.

“For?”

“For sending Kaidan,” he clarified, flushing but meeting her eyes with a sincere look.

“I'm just glad it worked,” she said, smiling.

“It... worked, all right.”

“Are congratulations in order?” She couldn't help her smile getting wider.

Shepard smiled back, not looking a bit abashed. “Yes.”

“In that case... Congratulations. I'm happy for you.”

“No reminders of regulations, Doc?”

“I somehow don't see you letting this affect anything in the field, Commander,” she said dryly. “Unless there's something you'd like to tell me about Virmire.”

That killed both of their smiles. “I apologise,” she said. “That was uncalled for.”

“It's okay. I would like to believe we're both professional enough to not let this... complicate the chain of command.”

“It's not me you're beholden to, Commander. As long as you win this damn war, you can keep a harem as far as I'm concerned.”

“I think Kaidan's enough for me, thanks,” said Shepard grinning. “Are we done? Can I escape now?”

“As far as I'm concerned. You're fine, back to normal. You might want to go visit Liara and Steve though,” she suggested. “They will worry until you do.”

“At least it's only them.”

“For now. The others will have questions as soon as they see you.”

“I know, I know, the damn bite.”

“That. And your very evident happiness.”

- - -

Chapter 4: Oh hi, Shepard. Didn't know you were in a fight yesterd... wait

Shepard nodded to a few crew members eating, then made his way to the galley. He had had the cupboards filled with biotic friendly snacks on their last stop to the Citadel, and was happy about it now that he could pinch some instead of staying to eat a proper breakfast.

Not that he was averse to eating with the crew normally. He enjoyed the connection, but today... not so much.

He chewed on his high-protein energy bar and knocked on Liara's door.

“Shepard! Are you okay?” Liara asked, shooting up from her seat by the computers.

“Yeah, thanks. Did the Cerberus notes have anything useful in them? I mean, useful in a larger scale of things. Like for Crucible.”

“Not really. Did you see Doctor Chakwas? What did she say?”

“She smirked at me.”

Liara pursed her lips, obviously trying not to laugh. “Shepard,” she reprimanded.

“She said I was fine.”

“And... you and Kaidan? Are you also... fine?” She seemed genuinely worried instead of just collecting information.

“Yeah,” he said, letting a small smile curl his lips. “Yeah, we're fine.”

“Oh, that's good. We were worried you might... well, we were worried.”

Shepard realised the other three had most likely stayed at the med bay waiting for them to... be done. To find out if it worked. He didn't really want to think about what their plan b had been. Or about the fact that they had been aware of everything that went on upstairs. Well, not everything, but more than he was really comfortable with.

“I'm... just happy Kaidan was the one you sent up,” he said.

“You do know that anyone on this ship would do anything for you?” Liara checked. “It was just a case of... finding the right man for the job.”

“Okay, did everyone know I was in love with him?” Shepard demanded.

“In love?” Liara asked, eyes widening. “We didn't even know for sure you liked him that way!”

“Oh. Well, good guess.”

“Love, Shepard?” Liara asked, softly.

“Yes.”

“And you are... fine?”

“Yes, yes, you can update your files. Major Alenko and Commander Shepard, in a committed relationship since year blah-blah-blah.”

“I think the appropriate response is, congratulations.”

“Thank you.”

“I really am happy for you. Kaidan hasn't had a serious relationship as far as I could find and...”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait, really? I don't even want to know. Okay? Never tell me. You really have a file about me, us?”

“The old Shadow Broker did. I merely... expanded them.”

“Do I even want to know what he had dug up on me?”

Liara seemed to consider the question seriously, maybe reviewing the data in her mind.

“No.”

- - -

Chapter 5: Nothing, Lieutenant Vega, why do you ask?

“You're fidgeting, Esteban. Why are you fidgeting?”

“No reason. And I don't fidget. I'm just... is it hot in here?”

“No. And you let the Kodiak unattended for hours yesterday. You can't tell me there's nothing going on.”

“Nothing that should concern you, Mr Vega.”

“So the fact that you guys were seen helping Loco into med bay after the mission is no reason for concern? Or the fact that you came back drunk?”

“Would I drink without you, Vega?”

“Obviously.” It was hard to put a name to Vega's tone. Steve was tempted to call it 'petulant'.

“I'm sure Shepard is fine,” he said, and turned back to the list of parts he had been trying to concentrate on. It was morning. Shepard was usually up and about by now, and since he had been indisposed the night before, Normandy was still orbiting the planet. Wouldn't the Commander want to get them moving again as soon as he was able?

He was sure Chakwas would have informed them if something had gone drastically wrong during the night. EDI was still monitoring, after all. Wasn't she? Damn it but he couldn't ask while Vega was there.

“The world won't end if I postpone my maintenance work a bit,” he said in reply to Vega's earlier statement.

“Hello? Are we talking about the same person here, Mr I Have No Free Time Because When I Don't Have Something Legitimate to Do I Make Up Work on the Kodiak?”

“Yeah? And you're the one always hounding me to stop working and start drinking.”

“Yeah, with me!”

Wait, what? Did he really mean that to sound the way it did?

“And not keep secrets about the health and well-being of our CO!”

So maybe he didn't. Damn. Wait, what? Was he really... Maybe it was just that as he started getting over Robert he was starting to notice good-looking men again. And the Lieutenant was nothing if not easy on the eye.

And here he had been worried about falling for Shepard.

“James,” he said, turning to meet the other man's eyes. He noticed the younger man noticed the use of his first name. “If there was something important going on, I would tell you about it, okay?”

“Okay,” Vega... James said, quietly.

“There was... an incident. It was not serious. The Commander... won't have any lasting effects.” He just hoped he wasn't lying.

James opened his mouth to obviously ask for further detail when the sound of the elevator stopping drew their gazes. Steve couldn't help the relieved smile on his face when he saw Shepard walking out, looking just as cool and composed as always.

Wait, was that a hickey on his neck? It might complicate the story he was telling James.

“Can we talk? In private?” Shepard asked, and James just nodded before walking towards the worktable to continue modding his rifle. Steve walked towards a quiet corner with Shepard, sneaking looks at him from the corner of his eye.

“I'm fine,” he said, obviously noticing the looks. “No lasting damage.”

“I'm glad. We were...”

“Worried, yeah, I know.”

The younger man looked away, rubbing the back of his neck, seemingly undecided about what to say.

“Are you and the Major...”

“Okay? Yes, yes, we are.”

“Why do I get the feeling this is not the first time you've had this conversation today?”

“Because it's not? Nothing personal, I just had to see the doc first, and then Liara was on the same floor, and...”

“It's okay. I'm just glad you came. I was worried.”

“Yeah, I understand that. Thanks. But I really am fine.”

Steve tried to think of a way to ask about the current state of his relationship with the Major but couldn't come up with anything. He wanted to ask about the night, and really, really didn't at the same time.

“You're just dying to ask, aren't you?” Shepard asked with a smile.

“You read minds, now? That another Prothean side-effect?”

“Not the first time I've had this conversation, remember?” Shepard said, dryly, then smiled. A wide, happy smile. “The answer is yes.”

Steve's first reaction was to be sincerely happy for the other man, and that proved to him he really did only consider him a friend.

“Good luck,” he said, smiling. “I'm glad something good could come out out of this.”

“That's it? I can understand Chakwas having different priorities, and Liara is not Alliance, but you? No word about regs?”

“I'd say you deserve any happiness you can find during these dark times. Anyone does. And if you even considered putting it off for later... I'd tan your hide. Sir. You can't know if you'll ever have 'later'. You can't take one moment for granted. So, yes, I say screw the regs, and find any reason to keep fighting.”

“Thanks. I know... we might not have long, and I... I've lost three years. I'm not going to lose one day of the time we have left. Whether it's measured in days or years. So... thank you, for everything yesterday. And... thank you for sending me him.”

“Any time, Commander. I'd promise my discretion in the matter but I'm afraid I'm going to have to field some difficult questions from the Lieutenant there if he noticed your neck. He knows you met no resistance yesterday, Cerberus long gone from the dig site. And the shape is... quite distinct.”

“Yeah, and with EDI in the loop... she really is a bit of a blabbermouth, isn't she?”

“Yes, well, I didn't know Liara was Shadow Broker until yesterday. I thought Shadow Broker was just a cover for an organisation. Has she been it ever since you knew her? I though she was an archaeologist!”

“Nice one, EDI. No, I actually helped her defeat the old Shadow Broker. But I didn't tell you that.”

“Tell me what, sir?”

“As to James... Hell, he'll find out soon enough anyway, I suppose.”

“Oh?”

“We're not going to flaunt it. But I'm not hiding it either, and Kaidan is moving his stuff upstairs as we speak, if he hasn't already. Not taking a moment for granted.”

Steve smiled, a wide, happy smile that matched Shepard's. “I'll let you get back to it, then. Though you might want to talk to Joker, too.”

“Does he know, too?” groaned Shepard.

“About our next destination,” Steve reminded.

“Wait, we're still here? Damn. I thought I'd told him... but I suppose I wasn't thinking very clearly yesterday. If EDI says anything in front of him, I'm going to download her into a toy Mako.”

Steve laughed until he was gone.

“What's going on?” James asked, as if Pulled to his side the moment Shepard was gone. “You're smiling.”

“I can't smile?”

“I haven't seen you smile like that since... ever.”

“I guess I'm just happy.”

James seemed to deflate at that. “Oh.” He turned away, shoulders hunching. Okay, what did he miss?

“Shepard has... found someone,” he said, taking Shepard's words earlier as a permission.

“Yeah, I figured,” James said, still facing the other way.

“So I'm happy for them.”

James turned around at that. “Them?”

Steve raised his eyebrow. Wasn't plurality implied by... wait. James was always very expressive, so much so that it wasn't always clear what he was reacting to. Was he reading this right? Or was that just wishful thinking?

“Yes. It seems that... whatever happened yesterday has managed to work through three years of non-communication.”

“Loco and Doc?”

“No,” he said, amused.

“Don't tell me it's Scars, no, no, no.”

“What? No. Major Alenko.”

“Really? No wonder he was so cut up after Mars! And I had thought they didn't get along.”

“Obviously they've worked through their problems.”

“Wait, why did he come down to tell you that he was breaking regulations? Why are you telling me?”

“You really give a crap?”

“I'm not going to get on the comm for Hackett, if that's what you're asking. As long as it doesn't affect the way they fight, why should I care? I'm just wondering why he chose to confide it you.”

“Because we're friends?”

“That's all? It has nothing to do with you being there yesterday? Or Loco thinking he needs to... break the news to you gently?”

“I hope not. I was... yeah, he's a very compelling man. Maybe I could have been interested if... but I got over it long before this.”

“So there was something?”

“Nothing mutual. He was a friend when I needed one. He helped me put my past behind me. I'm not saying I wouldn't say hell yes if he ever offered because damn, have you seen his ass?” he couldn't help adding, with a grin, and he got to see the rare sight of flustered James.

“Alenko's isn't half bad, either,” he couldn't help but add.

“What's wrong with mine, then?”

“Nothing, Mr Vega, your work out regime is obviously working very, very well for your posterior,” he said, grinning, keeping it light in the interests of plausible deniability.

“Good to know,” James said, grinning happily, and turned to walk back to his work.

Very, very well.

- - -

Chapter 6. Insert “Cock-Pit” related pun or an innuendo, here.

The good thing about talking to Joker was that the man seldom turned to face you when he was in the cockpit.

The bad thing about talking to Joker was that his girlfriend was the damn ship that had cameras all around, and didn't need to turn to face you to see you.

“You okay, Commander? Can we stop hanging around this boring, boring planet now?”

“We could have stopped yesterday, but I guess I never sent you that authorisation. Take us to Eden Prime. There have been worrying rumours about Cerberus presence on yet another Prothean site, and that they've actually found something important.”

“Well, let's just hope you don't have a bad reaction to that.”

“What?”

“Isn't that what happened? You had a bad reaction to some bit of Prothean technology?”

“You could say that, yes. EDI?”

“I had to give him some reason as to why he couldn't contact you to ask about the flight plan and schedule,” EDI said.

“Oh. Right. Thanks.”

“Wait, isn't that what happened?” Joker demanded, and... turned to face him.

“Is that a hickey? Was I stuck staring at that planet because you were busy getting busy?”

“No,” said EDI.

“Yes,” said Shepard simultaneously, grinning as widely as he could.

“That's it, I'm calling Hackett. I'm calling the Council! Never mind the war effort, I was bored out of my skull!”

“It wasn't quite like that,” EDI said, either consoling or because she liked to stick to facts.

“The bad reaction to the Prothean tech was related,” Shepard explained.

“So, what, you got zapped by a Prothean sex ray and had to have an orgy down on the planet?”

“Something like that,” said Shepard, still grinning, at the same moment EDI said “No.”

“I thought we had a relationship based on trust!” Joker turned to look at EDI. “You have to tell me these things!”

“May I assume from your attitude that things are well between you and the Major?” EDI asked.

“Kaidan!?” yelled Joker.

“You may,” Shepard told EDI. “You may also update the security of my cabin to grant him unlimited access.”

“Done. I think the appropriate response is, Congratulations.”

“No, no it isn't, there will be no congratulating anyone until I get some answers. Since when? You into getting guns pulled at you?”

“I'm into guys who have so much integrity they don't hesitate to pull a gun on a friend if they think said friend is in the wrong.”

“How many times do you need to prove yourself to that man!”

“It's not about proving myself to him! How do you know Cerberus didn't plant a control chip in my brain? Because an ex-Cerberus employee said so?”

“Because you stole their ship and people and gave them over to the Alliance? After saving all those people Alliance and the Council were happy to let die?”

“Because the Illusive Man never makes plans that give results years later?”

“Are you just defending him because you're sleeping with him?”

“No, I'm saying I have no use for blind faith, I'm not a religious figure. I want my crew to think for themselves, even if that involves questioning me. Am I happy that this time he let me explain my position before storming off? Yes. Am I happy he believed my explanation so easily? Yes. Am I upset he doubted me for a second when I drew a gun at the Council? No. And if I'm not, neither should you. Kaidan saved my life yesterday, as he has many times before. Yes, we've had our problems, yes, it fucking hurt to have him walk away from me on Horizon, but am I going to let that rob me of the good things? You know me, Joker. I wave my arms quite a bit when dancing.”

“Yeah. Okay. Fine. But if he pulls a gun on you again... oh god, that sounds like a stupid euphemism, go away! You're making me picture you and... Bleach! Bleach! I need to purge my brain!”

“Anytime, Joker. Thanks, EDI. And for not telling him yesterday.”

“Wait, what, telling me what? And what did you mean saved your life yesterday, I thought you met no resistance on the planet, what's going on?”

“Have fun, EDI. I am torn between allowing you to tell him in detail and letting him splutter. Which ever you think will distress him more, I suppose.”

“I will try to ascertain that before choosing a course of action, Shepard. Your news are definitely in the positive feedback category. I stand by my congratulations.”

- - -

Chapter 7: Calibrate this.

Notes: This chapter written six thirty in the morning. I take no responsibility. Whatsoever.

Shepard really wanted to be done with the day and retreat to his cabin but he knew he had to tell one more person, because he would be pissed off if he heard from someone else.

He just wished not to have the repeat of the same argument with Garrus. The Turian had seemed to not blame Kaidan for the face off afterwards but you never knew.

“Shepard, what happened down on that planet? I was expecting you to stop by for a chat after as you always do but when I tried to contact you EDI told me you were 'unavailable'.”

Trust Garrus to get straight to the point.

“Do you want the truth or the version that doesn't make you want to bleach your brain?”

“Bleach my brain?”

“Clawing your eyes to not see?”

“You are injured, I see. I trust you have seen Doctor Chakwas?”

“Yes. But it's not that kind of an injury.”

“Oh? What kind of an injury is it, then?”

“The kind you get when you are... relieving stress with someone.”

“Wouldn't that still make it an... oh, you mean the other kind of stress relief. Okay. You ditched me for a lay. Couldn't you let me know?”

“No, actually. This is where the bleach comes in.”

“Go on,” Garrus said, crossing his arms.

“So, there was this Prothean device that was somehow related to some fertility cult or something, and it... made it compulsory for me to have sex with someone or I'd die.”

“Then I'm really glad you didn't come to see me. Also, where can I find some of this 'bleach'?”

“Ask Joker.”

“Do I even want to know who helped you out with your little problem?”

“Not playing the guessing game?”

“I know you have a less than subtle attachment to a certain human biotic but as I can't be sure you are even aware of said attachment...”

“Very aware, thank you.”

“... and as I wasn't sure you'd let a little thing like a threat of death to break your self-imposed silence on the subject...”

“So it may have been a medical intervention. But you don't disapprove?”

“Of you spending a night with him? No, wait, of you starting a relationship with him. Well, I suppose everyone needs a reason to come back from the war alive. It it's him... who am I to grudge you that?”

“Ever the pragmatist, eh, Vakarian?”

“You know me. Now, is there a reason you're here and not with him?”

“Didn't want you to feel left out, Garrus.”

“You are hereby allowed to 'leave me out' of it all. Please.”

“See you, don't stay up all night calibrating.”

“Same to you.”

“Oh, we're calling it 'calibrating', now?”

“EDI, do we have any bleach on board the Normandy?”

- - -

Chapter 8: Finally!

Notes: Next night!

Shepard absolutely did not escape into the elevator. If pressed, he might class it as tactical retreat, but he prided himself over not increasing his speed the closer to his target he got.

Still, he felt more in a rush to get to his cabin than he had been yesterday, and that had been under the influence of the Ancient Alien Sex Ray. Then again, he hadn't had Kaidan waiting for him then.

Seeing the other man sitting in his chair, by his desk, looking for all the world like he belonged there in between his ships and hamster was... well, he didn't really have words for how right it felt. Maybe this feeling was what “coming home” meant. Having never had a home he wasn't sure, but he knew he liked it. A lot.

Then he realised he was standing in the doorway, smiling stupidly, and stepped in. Kaidan turned to greet him with a smile and the feeling intensified.

“Was it horrible?” Kaidan asked, getting up to meet him with a kiss.

“On a scale of one to ten, one being staying here with you and ten being meeting a Reaper on foot? Eight. And a half.”

“Aww, poor baby, did they give you a hard time?” Kaidan asked, solicitously, patting his head.

“I'll show you hard time, Major,” he growled playfully, and pushed the other man towards the other end of the cabin. He went, laughing.

“Let's see,” he said, taking of his shirt and watching Kaidan do the same. “I told Chakwas. She smirked. I told Liara, and she congratulated us. I told Steve, and he was happy for us. I told Joker, and he wanted to bleach his brain, I told Garrus, and he wanted to learn what bleach was, and where he could get some.”

Kaidan paused in removing his pants and looked serious all of a sudden. “You told them?”

Shepard shrugged, then bent down to unlace his boots. “Three of them were worried how last night was going to affect our friendship, so it was sorta natural to tell them. EDI had told Joker enough to make him wonder, and it was just too good a chance to mess with him, and Garrus... Besides you, he's my best friend. I figured he deserved to hear from me instead of the ship's rumour mill.”

“Hey, I wasn't complaining,” Kaidan said, resuming his undressing. “Just... wow. You told them.”

“I totally did. So if you change your mind, it's going to get really awkward,” Shepard said, grinning, and removed the last bit of clothing.

“Yeah, like I would,” Kaidan said, getting rid of his briefs before pulling him close enough for another kiss.

“How about you?” Shepard asked against his lips.

“Got some looks when I retrieved all my possessions from my locker, but as it wasn't much in the first place I don't suppose they realised I was moving house.”

After that they concentrated on kissing, first vertically, then horizontally on the bed that was conventionally so very close. Shepard enjoyed the casualness of it all, the effortless transition from discussion to sex, the wordless agreement of what they were going to do. It all seemed wrapped around the same feeling he had called 'home' earlier.

Their first time had been... different, due mostly to the fact that he had been so fucking horny he couldn't think straight while simultaneously fearing he was taking advantage of the other man. The morning after had been better, and... not so very different from the desperation of the previous night, in the end.

Now, this... when it already felt like they knew what they were doing, unerringly heading for places and positions they knew worked and were liked... he was looking forward to knowing this man so well he could list all the spots on his body that made him make that particular gasp, those that made him moan, and those that made him squirm. He was looking forward to being known in that level of intimacy in turn.

It added a new layer to the feeling of 'home'. Maybe it was just 'love'? But that felt like a too simple explanation. Like the word couldn't contain everything he needed to express.

Lacking a better one, he still whispered it against his lover's skin, murmured it into his mouth, and thrilled to hear it in return.

Afterwards, he slept, in the comforting warmth of another body in his bed he was fast getting used to.

- - -

Chapter 9: Eden Prime, and we all know what that means

Notes: I... wasn't sleep deprived enough for this, it seems.

It wasn't even a question who he would take with him down on the planet. The Prothean expert was self-evident – also, he didn't want to think about the things Shadow Broker could do to him if provoked. Kaidan was self-evident, too. This was where it all began. This was where they first faced the Geth, first saw a Reaper. It was also his first ground mission with Kaidan, and therefore the first time he noticed how nice the then Lieutenant's ass looked in the form-fitting battle armour.

He met Kaidan's eyes in the Kodiak and knew he was thinking about the same thing. Well, probably not his own ass, but the history.

“Thanks for coming,” he said.

“I wasn't going to miss this one,” Kaidan replied.

They probably would have gotten lost in each others' eyes at that point if Liara hadn't drawn their attention to the current situation down on the planet.

- - -

It was all over too soon, and they were stuck with a Prothean. An actual living, breathing, fighting Prothean.

“Not... quite what I'd expect,” Liara said quietly, exiting the Kodiak after the ancient alien once on board the Normandy.

Steve seemed to be fighting back laughter, and Shepard couldn't help but ask.

“Just be happy we didn't have him along for the previous mission!” Steve got out, unable to keep the laughter back.

“Oh God,” muttered Shepard, biting his lip to keep the irreverent laughter in, but when Liara and Kaidan succumbed, he couldn't help it anymore.

If Javik heard their laughter... well, that could only improve his mood.

- - -

“There was something else,” Javik said to Shepard. “Not just the Beacon...” His eyes got wider suddenly, as he obviously went through what he had “read” from Shepard. “You have gone through the Dance of Union?”

“A what?”

“The mating imperative.”

“Oh, the... yeah. There was this machine... yeah. What was all that about?”

“It was developed to aid in keeping our numbers up. The more we developed, the less time we had for such things.”

“Your civilisation sounds... sadder than I expected,” Liara said.

“Family relationships get in the way,” Javik declared.

“Or they give you a reason to fight harder,” Shepard said, quietly.

“Are you saying your mate is on board? ...Wait, you mated with a male? What is the point?”

“Love? Desire? Companionship?” Shepard listed. “Passion? Anything?”

He just knew what was going to come out of the Prothean's mouth next.

“Primitives.”

Bingo.

- - -

Chapter 10: Epilogue

Javik did not join them for dinner, so he was the number one topic of conversation. Even Garrus joined in, although he usually ate on his own to minimise the risk of someone mixing up the food stuffs.

Luckily Steve had gotten his laughter under control, because most of the crew did not know the circumstances in which Shepard and Kaidan's relationship had started, and Liara figured they were happy to keep it so.

She and Shepard explained everything they had heard and learnt from the Prothean, and there was some speculation about the implications, maybe even gentle ribbing on Liara over her obsession on the subject, and the unenthusiastic reception of the interest by the last Prothean.

“So... where are you thinking of putting the shrine?” Kaidan asked from Shepard, casually, at the end of the meal.

At first Shepard merely look at him, uncomprehending, then he obviously made a connection, because his expression changed into such a weird mixture of emotions Liara had trouble classifying them. Happy rage? Indulgent frustration? It looked like he couldn't decide whether to kiss the man or kill him, and Kaidan grinned before springing into action, fleeing the table a second before Shepard attacked.

Shepard gave chase, but – even not understanding what had happened – Liara wasn't worried, as the grin on his face seemed to match the happy laughter of Kaidan's that echoed through deck 3.

No one was surprised that neither one returned to the table, and their laughter disappeared into the elevator.

Well, at least that made sure everyone knew about them.

- - - -

+1

“Was I that obvious?” Tali asked Garrus one night after she had returned to Normandy and joined them on their mission.

“In what way?”

“My silly crush on Shepard?”

“What do you mean?”

“Everyone has taken me to the side to make sure I knew about him and Kaidan, and that I didn't mind.”

“Everyone?”

“Liara. Joker. Doctor Chakwas. And EDI told me way too much.”

“There is this wonderful human invention called bleach...”


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