One Fine Morning

by R.H. Stevens

A beam of artificial sunlight cut through the window of the hotel bedroom, settling over the face of the dozing turian lying on top of the rumpled bedspread.

He groaned, jolted awake by the sudden heat, throwing up an arm to shield his eyes. Garrus stretched himself alive again, rolling over so his back was exposed to the pleasant warmth. He didn’t often get to luxuriate in the mornings. Hell, he didn’t often get to luxuriate at all, not on his salary. Dating Commander Shepard, it seemed, had benefits. Or, at least, he assumed that dating Commander Shepard had benefits. Based on everything she had said just before the relay – and everything that had happened last night – he felt certain that the chemical reaction between them was not just some fling, but he’d learned long ago not to expect too much from life and just take what he could get.

He flung out an arm which came into contact with nothing, and he opened one bleary blue eye. Of course – Commander Shepard was gone. He’d been hoping to hold her just a little bit longer, but…No, he supposed that he’d made the critical error, yet again, of hoping too much. And yet she’d been so understanding on the night before the Omega 4 relay. Despite all of their flirtations leading up to that point, they hadn’t made love, only sat and talked with intertwined hands, which somehow struck Garrus as a profound an unfamiliar intimacy.

They’d survived the ordeal with the Collectors, as Shepard had apparently known they would have, and in the aftermath, Garrus Vakarian found himself on the citadel celebrating with the rest of the crew.

Shepard had a certain magnetism to her. No one could know her for very long and not recognise this peculiar and powerful gift she had, of drawing people into her orbit with quiet gravitas and diplomacy. Therefore, no one could possibly have been surprised at the ease with which Shepard drew Garrus to her, to a waiting cab, to the hotel, to her embrace.

And what an embrace…! What was it he had said? “I’ve never considered cross-species intercourse..” Hah! One thing was for sure, he’d be considering last night for a long, long, time.

Garrus sighed, sitting up, partially propped up on his elbow. His body felt electric, alive with the memory of Shepard’s hands, her mouth. All of his sexual encounters up until this point had been crude, fumbling things, usually helped along by alcohol and a certain desperation. His lovers, if they could even be called that word, had not gone to bed with him out of an appreciation for his character. They had been pent-up soldiers looking for some action or, more than once, looking to drive out the memories of their previous partners with a night of meaningless screwing.

Such interludes were the sexual equivalent of scratching an itch. Shepard, on the other hand, well…Last night he’d had his eyes opened in more ways than one. He’d never actually made love before, been conversant in any way with the mysteries of sex.

They played all sorts of smutty shows on late night holovid programming. Garrus was more familiar with seedier entertainment than he would readily admit, attracted to it through a combination of longing and frustration and the insomnia he’d picked up after Shepard’s…disappearance. In all of those shows, it was a man who chased a woman, looked at her with desire and made her writhe with (false) licentiousness.

Garrus would never have dreamed that a woman would look at him with such longing, the kind of longing which made him simultaneously her master and her slave. In the end, he’d been the one to surrender, to tremble at her touch.

He picked himself up out of the bed, pausing to wrap himself up in one of the robes the hotel so kindly supplied. Well, if he was being dumped, he was at least going to get Shepard’s money’s worth in this hotel. Maybe she’d been disappointed with his performance, or had simply realised after the fact that he wasn’t what she wanted after all.

Garrus didn’t know how to articulate how he felt about that, only that he’d experienced a similar feeling when Sidonis had betrayed him. It began with a certain numbness that eventually gave way to devastation. Garrus wondered if it was too early to begin drinking. It might stave off the eventual abysmal low he was to endure.

Fuck! How could he have let this happen? How could he have allowed himself to care for someone like Shepard, a woman so laughably superior to him in every possible sense there could have been no other outcome but her desertion?

He was just a burned out cop past his prime, a failure in every possible sense. He’d fucked up bad in C-Sec, fucked up worse on Omega and his family were barely speaking to him. Shepard been raised on the knee of her illustrious military family, to continue on a legacy of commendations, medals, and admiration.

Garrus wandered into the parlour, settling on the arm of one of the plush sofas, the one facing the view of the central waterway. Outside, the airspace was full of gleaming cars whizzing by, the pedestrians below them ambling in their finery to jobs and restaurants and stores. Garrus wondered at the isolation of the Universe, that all those multitudes could continue on as if nothing had happened, when tens storeys above them, Garrus’ life had just capsized. He pressed the palms of his hands to his eyes, exhaling deeply through his nose.

Damn Shepard for this, too. He’d told her, he’d told her! So many things had already gone wrong in his life, and then she’d had to come along and make him care. ‘Fucking alien,’ a rather uncharitable voice in Garrus’ head snarled. ‘Fucking human. Making me feel this way.’

There was a soft beep on the other side of the hotel room’s entrance, and suddenly Commander Shepard was striding into the living room, a large bag of something which smelled delicious clutched in one hand, a tray of drinks in the other.

“Garrus!” She smiled at him as the hotel door clicked softly shut. Garrus gaped at her, overwhelmed with relief, overwhelmed with its implications. She appeared not to notice, depositing the bag and tray onto the kitchen counter. Garrus had understood that some famous figures often seemed smaller in person, but that was not true with Shepard. Her presence dominated any room she was in and presently she was, quite unconsciously, filling up the space it even as she went about her relatively mundane task.

“I didn’t want to wake you,” Shepard said. Her eyes were a warm, welcome weight on his face.

“I thought you had left,” Garrus managed weakly.

“Oh, I did leave,” Shepard grinned. “And now I’ve come back. I wanted to surprise you with breakfast.” She opened up the paper bag and began depositing various food containers onto the shiny counter-top, prising open a few of them to expose their tasty-looking contents.

“Now, I wasn’t sure what you wanted, so I got you a whole selection,” Shepard explained. “I found a nice place nearby that makes Cipritine food and drinks, and I thought you might like something to remind you of home.”

She’d left to go get him breakfast. Garrus instantly felt like an asshole for allowing himself to think so little of Shepard, that she would walk out on him.

“They look so interesting, these turian teas,” Shepard was saying, taking the lid off of one of the paper cups and examining the pale green liquid within. “Sometimes I wish I was dextro, just for one day, so I could try all of the turian and quarian food around here.”

Garrus took one of the cups from her, the yellow tea, his favourite. “Thanks, Shepard,” He rumbled back at her. He wondered at how clearly he might be broadcasting his emotions on his face. “I could get used to this.”

“You could,” Shepard smirked back at him. “You will.”

Garrus could only chuckle back, as if the comment was more of the same banter they’d traded back and forth over the last few months, as if he wasn’t already so in love his heart felt ready to burst.

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