“Oh, God,” Kaidan sighed, resting his head against Shepard’s chest. He breathed in, the smell of their sweat so intoxicating. He felt the biotic energy still flowing through them, all around them. Shepard rested her cheek on his head and wrapped her arms around him.
“You said it,” her voice warm and low. “But then, you always did have a way with words, Alenko.”
He chuckled and took another deep breath. Their biotic barriers were dimming now, leaving the room in semi-darkness. He pressed his hands to the wall behind her and pulled away from her a little to look down at her face.
She was half-sitting on the edge of her narrow desk, her legs wrapped around his waist. Her hair was a mess: she looked up at him from between the locks and smiled.
“Oh,” she started, pulling away from the wall behind her, “That’s cold all of a sudden.”
He pulled her to a standing position and wrapped his arms around her. “You’re cold?”
“When the biotics wear off, it does get a little chilly.”
He chuckled. “We get pretty hot, huh?”
“In more ways that one,” she agreed with a smile. Kaidan returned it.
“Things get a little out of control when you’re around, Shepard.”
“Admit it,” she said. “You like that about me.”
“I admit it,” he confessed. He grinned at her, then turned to glance around the room. The place was a mess. Their clothes were trailed from the door all the way to the desk, the chairs tipped over and a lamp lying on the floor. The only thing that was still neat was Shepard’s perfectly made bed. They hadn’t gotten quite that far in their haste. The sight of the door suddenly made him remember what lay beyond it: a ship full of people – and duties and responsibilities - not to mention the promises he’d made to himself…
The sight made him suddenly frown.
“Hey,” Shepard said, cocking her head and looking at him in concern. “What’s the matter?”
“Nothing,” he said, tucking a hair behind her ear.
“Kaidan,” she said, watching him closely, “I didn’t mean for us…” She broke off, her brows drawing together. “I don’t want you to be my dirty secret. You know that, right?”
He said nothing, but his face darkened.
“Kaidan…” she began.
“I really ought to…”
“Go?” she said, softly. There was no need to be quiet, she knew. The walls here were thick and the engine hum added to the privacy. Still, a sense of growing sadness led her to speak low.
“Yeah,” he said, regretfully. “I have the evening shift at the helm tonight.”
“Right,” she said, trying not to frown. She failed.
“Shepard, you know I…” He looked up at her, his eyes uncertain, “You know I want to…”
“I know,” she sighed. “I do.” Kaidan looked at her a moment, then pulled away.
“Hey,” she said. “Talk to me, here.”
“There’s nothing to say.” He scowled as he reached for his undershorts.
“Hey, look at me, Kaidan.” She took a step forward and reached for him. He caught her hand and turned it over to press a kiss to the inside of her wrist. The gentle gesture, especially following the rather aggressive sex they’d just shared, gave her a sharp, bittersweet pang of longing.
“Kaidan…” she murmured.
“I know,” he said, dropping her hand and pulling his shorts on. “Really, I know. But you know that I can’t stay here tonight. Hell, I just hope I haven’t been gone long enough to be missed.”
“Yeah, I know.” She frowned and suddenly felt very naked. Well, she was very naked. Shepard reached into her closet and pulled out a towel.
“Going to take a shower?” Kaidan asked her, eyebrow raised.
“I’m gonna need it,” she admitted. “This just isn’t enough.”
“You didn’t enjoy that?” he frowned.
“No, I did. Kaidan, come on, you know I did. I just want more of you than…this.”
“Than this what?”
“Than this sneaking around. How long has it been since that two day leave? How long have we been keeping apart, pretending we’re just officers, just friends?”
“One week, six days and seven hours,” Kaidan replied automatically.
Her eyes widened. “No shit. Did you just…?”
“I’m good with numbers,” he shrugged.
“Yeah, I guess.” She paused, then ran a hand through her hair. “I remember what we said. We can’t send the message that we think fraternization is okay – that the rules don’t apply to us. That’s wrong and unfair.”
“And yet, here we are, being wrong and unfair,” he said, bitterly.
“Hey, you were the one who suggested working out in the cargo hold to keep our biotic skills sharp.” she said, growing defensive.
“I just wanted to tell you that I think it’s more effective to pull a target towards you if you’re going to shoot at it than to throw them up into the air to land God knows where.”
“Well, you were doing a hell of a lot more than telling me about biotic pulls,” she replied, crossing her arms over her towel to keep it in place. “More like showing me biotic pulls.”
“Shepard,” he scowled, then yanked his pants on. “You know I didn’t intend for us to end up back here.”
“Didn’t you?” she raised her eyebrows. “Is that why you dragged me into the elevator?”
“Look, I…” Kaidan sighed and let his arms drop. “I don’t know. Shepard, I don’t know what to do about this. I just want you so damn much. I see you and I want to touch you. And I don’t want to worry about who might be watching.”
“I know,” she said. “I feel the same.”
“If this were just sex,” he said slowly, as if measuring each word, “I think it might be easier. But it’s not. Not for me, anyways.”
“It’s not just sex for me either,” she replied. “It’s really good sex.” When he frowned, she shook her head. “I’m joking, Kaidan. I’m trying to be funny. Obviously, I’m failing. Look, for me it’s really good sex and it’s more. I care about you, you know. Damn, I don’t even know what to say here. I just feel like we’re figuring this out day by day.”
“Yeah,” he said, pulling his shirt on and reaching for his boots. “And day by day I feel like I’m going crazy.”
“Would you rather be on another ship?” she asked, hating to bring it up, but feeling that she must. “I mean, I could get you transferred if you…”
“Never,” he said, shaking his head. “I never want to be away from you.”
“We’ll figure this out,” he said, sitting down on the edge of her bed to pull on his shoes and socks. “We will. I just wish I was stronger willed when it came to you.”
“Kaidan,” she said, “you’re the strongest willed person I’ve ever met.”
“Not when I comes to how I feel about you, I’m not.”
“We’re in a weird place,” she told him. “That’s what it is. We’re professionals, but we’ve become personal. I’m your superior officer, but I think of us as equals here. We’re supposed to be searching for geth, but we both know that’s a crock because the Reapers are the real issue. And we were given almost no shore leave at all before being sent out on this waste-of-time mission.”
“And technically, we’re both under Alliance regulations about fraternization, but as you’re a Spectre, you don’t really fall under anyone’s authority. I still do, however.”
“Well, so do I. I’m still Alliance – sort of.”
“Yeah.” He was fully dressed now, so he stood.
“Kaidan,” she said reaching out a hand, but not touching him. “I want this. However we work this out I want this. I want you.”
“I know, Shepard,” he replied, “I just… I need to get back to work.”
With a frown, he left the commander’s quarters.