Kaidan looked at the quiet room, a sudden sense of unease settling over him.
Maybe this was a mistake.
He glanced out of the window, the holograph blinds showing him a view of the Ward below, but masking him from sight to anyone who might be looking up. The room itself was simple, spartan even. There was a chair, a vid screen, a single lamp, and a door leading into a private bathroom so small that the toilet was practically inside of the tiny shower. In the center of the room was a bed for two. Kaidan’s eyes kept straying to that bed.
The place was clean, at least. It wasn’t exactly quiet, as he had heard children running up and down the hall earlier. He supposed that if half the Citadel had been destroyed, it made sense that almost every hotel left standing was full up. Truthfully, he’d been surprised to find a room at all. He felt a little guilty for taking it, but then, it had been free and he had only booked it for two days.
Kaidan frowned. Two days. That was what had become of their promised two-week shore leave. The Normandy SR-1 would be repaired in a few days time and they would be out on the next assignment. As proud as he was of Shepard, of what they had accomplished together and of her rising star as a Spectre and the darling of the Council, he really wished that some good old Alliance procedures applied to their situation. After over a year on the mission, they clearly had earned some down time. But the Council wanted to get Shepard back out into the Traverse as quickly as possible. So the promised two weeks of shore leave had become two days of off duty time.
And his promise to take Shepard on a private vacation had turned into two secretive nights in this hotel.
Kaidan looked to the side table. He’d tried to buy something for her this time. He had wanted to buy wine, but besides knowing nothing about vintages, there had been a rush on all the food stores on the Citadel. People had stocked up on booze first, which struck him as strange, but so it was. He had found an old-style Earth coffee hut by accident on his way here, and miraculously, it had been open. But the drinks were cold by now, and there was no way to warm them. Once again, Kaidan wondered if he should just call this off.
Before he could reconsider yet again, there was a chime from the door. Kaidan crossed the small room in three strides and pressed the button to open it.
It was Shepard. She was standing in the hallway wearing civvies and a hat, of all things. He had no idea she owned anything other than uniforms. Her pants were slim, her boots came up to her knees, making her legs appear endlessly long. She wore a simple jacket and a button-down shirt under it. The tiny buttons that marched down her chest made Kaidan suddenly itch to get his fingers on them. The collar was open, showing her pale throat. With the beret covering her hair, it was as if she was cheekily playing at wearing an old-style military uniform. On her, it looked both mannish and feminine at the same time. Kaidan found he liked the effect – a lot.
Shepard slipped past him, carrying a large bag. She set it next to the bedside table as Kaidan shut and locked the door behind her.
“Nice view,” she said, taking off the hat and shaking out her hair. “This place was a little hard to find.”
“That was the idea,” he replied. Now that she was here, unbuttoning her jacket, he was beginning to feel uneasy again. On the one hand, he was eager to see those clothes come off of her. On the other hand, he still wasn’t sure if he fully approved of the venue.
“Coffee?” she asked, pointing to the cups. “Oh, excellent, Earth brew.”
“It’s…” he didn’t speak fast enough to stop her from taking a sip and making a face. “Cold,” he finished lamely.
“Oh,” she said, setting the cup back down.
Kaidan crossed to her. “I tried to find you…something. But the stores…”
“It’s a madhouse out there,” she agreed. “That’s why I’m late. I got delayed by the Council, then I decided I’d better change. I wanted to avoid being recognized and well, you can’t show up to a seduction in armor, now can you?”
Kaidan frowned and looked away.
“Whoa, hey,” Shepard said, putting her fingers to his chin and turning his face back to hers. “What did I say?”
“This isn’t…” Kaidan began. He looked over her shoulder, out the window at the Ward below, teeming with people. “We can’t do this, Shepard.”
“Can’t do what?” she asked him.
“We can’t just…have sex in this hotel room.”
“I suppose we could find another garden…” she began, going for humor to hide her disappointment.
“Shepard,” he said, “When I asked you here…” He broke off in frustration. “I wanted to take you to Earth.”
“I remember,” she said. “To spent two weeks in that cabin near Vancouver that you talked about. Don’t think you’re going to get out of that one. I fully intend to hold you to it.”
Kaidan opened his mouth to speak, waved a hand at the room, then let out a frustrated breath.
“Okay,” Shepard nodded, considering him. “I think I know what you’re trying to say.” She turned to look at the room. “It’s not a bad place, you know. Considering that the Presidium is full up – not to mention crawling with Alliance military and dignitaries and the press…”
“It’s not the hotel,” he said. “It’s that… I’m not a cloak-and-dagger kind of guy, Shepard. This is just way too…” He couldn’t find the words to explain it. “Something,” he finished.
“Come here,” she pulled him towards the bed.
“Shepard…” he began.
“Just…come here, okay?” She sat down on the bed, then scooted back to lay down with her head on the pillow. “Come talk to me.” She held her hand out to him.
Kaidan hesitated a moment, then climbed onto the bed and lay down next to her. They lay side by side, looking into one another’s eyes. Kaidan reached out and ran his calloused thumb over Shepard’s lips. She smiled at once.
“This isn’t how you wanted it,” she said, softly.
“Not at all,” he replied. “I wanted…” He frowned and rolled onto his back. “I want to give you…”
“Among other things.”
She scooted close to him and laid her head half on his shoulder, half on his chest.
“Such as?” she asked. Kaidan fell silent, and for a minute, she wondered if he would say anything at all.
“Look, Shepard,” he said at last, still looking up at the ceiling, “When I asked you to come meet me here…”
“Yeah?” This close, she could see the shadow of hair on his jaw and had the sudden desire to lick the stubble. But seeing as how he was clearly struggling to find what he wanted to say, she waited to let him finish.
“Damn…” He closed his eyes and pressed his fingers to his forehead.
“You’re not getting a headache, are you?” she half-sat up in concern. “If you’re not feeling well, just say so.”
“No, I’m fine,” he shook his head. He tugged on her shoulder slightly until she lay back down beside him. “I don’t want to be meeting you in a hotel room like…”
“An asari prostitute?” she said, chuckling as she said it.
He frowned. “Or something. An affair, at the very least.”
“Well, this *is * an affair…”
“Yeah, but I don’t want it to be…” He broke off, frowning again. “I mean, you deserve better than this.”
She looked at him, her eyes narrowing. “You’d better not be implying that I deserve better than you, Kaidan. As far as I’m concerned, you’re the best thing that has ever happened to me.”
He shifted to gaze down at her and she met his gaze. Then he pulled her into his arms so that she was pressed tightly against his chest, her cheek resting against the material of his shirt. He was warm, she thought, always warm. She let her eyes close peacefully.
“Kaidan,” she said. “I understand that you’re uncertain about this, but I, for one, am damn glad you asked me. I kept thinking about it all through my meeting with Ambassador Udina this morning. I bet he thought I was drunk the way I kept staring off into space with an absent smile on my face.” Kaidan chuckled at the mental picture that gave him.
“We may not have much time,” she went on, “but I plan to make the most of these two days with you. I brought take-out. I hope it will hold us, because I don’t plan to leave this room at all.”
“You want to spend the next two days just having sex?” he asked, his voice rumbling beside her ear.
“That wasn’t your intention when you asked me to join you here?” she asked teasingly.
“No. Well, yes. I mean…” he made a frustrated sound. “Damn it, Shepard.”
“Kaidan,” she said, rolling on top of him so that she could rest her chin on his chest and look down into his eyes. “If this isn’t what you want, tell me so. If you want me to leave…”
“No,” he said firmly, wrapping his arm around her waist to pull her close.
“I care about you,” he said, his voice soft, his eyes intense. “So damn much. I can’t figure out how to say it or show it, but I do.”
Shepard felt her heart skip a beat. She wanted to lean down and kiss him on the lips, but as there was evidently something he wanted to say, she willed herself to lie still and listen. He put his other arm behind his head to prop his head up and look at her.
“I respect you, Shepard. You know that.”
“Of course,” she told him. “And I respect you.”
“You’re the… It sounds so stupid to say it, but you’re the best friend I’ve ever had.”
Shepard’s lips quirked into a smile. “Same here.”
“But the truth is,” he went on, “Every time we’re together, I can’t help but want to touch you. And then I think that I don’t want this to be about sex – well, not just about sex.” He frowned, let his head drop onto the bed and scrubbed his hand over his face.
“Kaidan,” she said, climbing on top of him so that she was lying along the length of him. “I think you’re worrying about this too much.”
“Shepard,” he told her, “if someone were to find out about us…”
“Yeah, I know,” she frowned. “Though, at the moment, technically, we’re off duty.”
“And as officers, technically , we’re a liability if we have feelings for each other.”
“Alright,” she paused. “I’ll ask you again. Do you want me to leave?”
“No,” he said. “God help me, but no.”
“Okay then,” she said, nodding. “Then we figure this out.”
“Figure what out?”
“Well,” she said, “At the moment, I’m trying to figure out if we need to talk about our feelings any more, or if we take a break and eat something, or if we just have sex for the next two days straight and see if that doesn’t solve all our problems.”
Kaidan’s pained expression instantly lightened into a wry smile. “And just how is having sex for two days straight – even assuming that is possible – going to solve our problems?”
“I don’t know,” she answered. “We’ll have to see if we can do it to see if it works.”
His eyes suddenly filled with lust and his body tightened. She could feel the change in him instantly.
“Is that what you want?” he asked her, his voice strained.
“I just told you it was - is,” she answered.
He paused for a moment, then something flickered in his eyes.
“Take off your jacket,” he said.
Shepard pulled back from him, surprised to find her heart was beating hard in her chest. “Giving me orders, lieutenant?” she asked. Her voice came out breathless.
“Take it off,” he repeated.
“I’m not sure I understand,” she told him, going for a teasing tone. “You’re lying down, so I’m going to have a hard time getting your shirt over your head…”
Kaidan sat up and yanked his shirt off. It hit the floor at the same time her mouth dropped open. She realized she hadn’t actually seen this sight since the night before Ilos. That seemed ages ago. He was exactly as she remembered though: all toned muscle and that delicious dusting of hair. It trailed down to his trousers, low-slung on his hips.
Kaidan leaned back down onto the bed, propping himself up on his elbows. Shepard realized she was straddling him, kneeling right over his crotch. She could feel him growing hard against her as his gaze trailed up her body to rest on her breasts.
“Your turn,” he said, his eyes suddenly looking like they might be able to melt the clothes right off of her.
Shepard hesitated for a moment, just a moment, before she shrugged out of her jacket. She had never done a strip tease before, never taken orders like this before, but she decided she’d be damned if she let that stop her. This was Kaidan – her Kaidan – and she wasn’t about to hold back from him, regardless of who was running this seduction.
In truth though, she suspected that they would both be taking turns doing the seducing over the next few days.
Shepard tossed her jacket to the floor. She decided she’d done that a little too quickly. She resolved to take her time with her shirt. She began at the cuffs, slowly unbuttoning each one.
“You know,” she told Kaidan, loosening her sleeves with deliberate care, “I almost didn’t believe your message when I got it.”
“I had to encrypt it,” he told her, his throat feeling suddenly dry. He was tempted to grab one of her wrists and nibble the soft flesh on the underside. However, that would mean moving from his present position, and he didn’t want to interfere with the show.
“It took me a while to figure out the pass key,” she went on, reaching for the top buttons of her shirt. She seemed to think better of it though, and suddenly rocked back and stepped off of the bed. Kaidan began to sit up to follow her, but she put a hand on his chest to stay him.
“I’ll be back” she promised. She turned on him and gave him a good view of her well-toned ass as she bent over to unbuckle her boots. Kaidan sat there awkwardly, as all the blood in his body headed to the vicinity of his lap.
“Ilos,” she said, turning to grin at him. She then turned to the other boot. “Using that as the passkey? It was sweet.”
“Sweet,” he repeated. She reached forward and put one hand on the wall, her feet apart as she reached down to take off her boots. Kaidan started to stand. Up against the wall like that, she was so damn inviting…
“Hey,” she said, looking over her shoulder once more. “You’re supposed to wait there.”
“I thought *I * was giving the orders,” he said, stepping towards her. A slight shove seemed to come out of nowhere. Kaidan sat down on the bed hard, not at all hurt, but feeling a little dazed.
“Did you just… throw me?” he gaped at her. “With biotics?”
“I didn’t hurt you did I?” she frowned at once. “I’m sorry, I thought…”
“I’m fine,” he said, his voice wondering. “I just…” He raised an eyebrow. “Shepard, you just changed the rules of engagement entirely.”
“Did I?” she asked, raising an eyebrow in return.
“Oh yes,” he murmured. Then, before she could react, he suddenly twisted his hand. She stumbled towards the bed, compelled by Kaidan’s biotic pull. He grabbed her at the same time the pull ended and tossed her onto the mattress.
“I can think of a lot of ways this could work,” he murmured, trailing a finger along her throat.
“No fighting,” she said, tensing suddenly, “I don’t want to hurt…”
“Of course not,” he looked down at her seriously. “I would never hurt you. However,” he said, ducking his head down to nibble at her ear, “I would like to try this…”
He hauled her to her feet, made sure she was standing steadily, then, suddenly, Shepard realized she couldn’t move. Something warm and pulsing seemed to be pressing at her from all sides. She tried to push at it, but it was like running through neck-deep water.
“I’ll stop if you like,” Kaidan said, stepping behind her. “I’m being as gentle as I can.”
“You…Stasis?” She found it hard to speak, but she managed to gasp the words out.
“This is…a little tricky, Shepard,” he spoke directly into her ear. She realized that he was shimmering with biotic fire. “Hard to keep this up…So distracted…” He reached around her and cupped her breasts. In spite of the field surrounding her, she gasped. She had never felt so sentive before. She couldn’t tell if that was an effect of the stasis field or the fact that she could do nothing but stand there and feel him touch her.
“Kaidan…” she breathed as he caressed her, his glowing hands trailing down her body to cup her between her legs.
“Does it hurt?” he murmured.
“No,” she whispered. It felt good, actually, more than good. It was like floating in warm water, but with all the flickering heat of his energy rushing around her. She was beginning to forget where the touch of his hands ended and the biotics began.
“Good,” he said, nibbling her ear. She could scarcely think. The feel of his teeth seemed amplified a hundredfold when she couldn’t turn and meet that kiss. She felt rather than saw him unbuttoning her shirt. “Because having you like this is…So,” he fumbled a little with the buttons, “Unbelievably,” he slipped the last few open and rested his hand on the bare skin of her belly, “Sexy.”
His hands slid down to her waistband and unbuttoned the front of her pants.
“Kaidan…” she tried to speak, but wasn’t sure if she was making any sound other than a soft moan. His hand slid even lower. She gasped at his touch.
The field surrounding her grew warm and pliant. Instead of pinning her into place, Kaidan had dropped the stasis field and was now simply radiating biotic energy all around her. She realized that her own barrier was flickering all down her body. She reached her hands up to twine them in his hair, arching back to give him better access to her body.
“You broke free,” he murmured against her cheek, his stubble rasping her jaw.
“Or was set loose,” she murmured back. He grabbed her waist with his free hand, pulled her up against him as if he was trying to fuse their bodies together. He took her shirt in his teeth and pulled it back from her shoulders. Then, suddenly, he froze and pulled away from her. Shepard let her arms drop and turned at once to face him. He was looking down at her, his eyes widening.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, her brow furrowing.
“My God,” he rasped. “I didn’t… You don’t wear that under your clothes…all the time?”
Shepard looked down at her chest. “You mean this?” she asked. Kaidan nodded dumbly.
“No,” she said. “I bought it…well, today, actually.”
“I take it you like it?” she asked, hopefully.
“I do,” he said. “Is there…more to it than that?”
“Of course,” she replied. “Again, I wanted to dress properly for the seduction…”
“Show me,” he rasped.
“Hey,” she said, her lips twitching in amusement, “You were the one who interrupted the strip tease.”
“What was I thinking?” he muttered, shaking his head. He took a step back from her and sat on the bed.
“Okay,” he said. “Keep going.”
“Is that another order, lieutenant?”
“Please?” he said, his lips curling in a smile.
Shepard laughed. “If you put it that way…”
She let her shirt fall to the floor, exposing the bra underneath. It was made of a silky fabric, almost completely sheer, and intricately cut. The light gray color showed off her pale skin, making it appear rosy pink. She kicked off her boots, then finished unfastened her pants and let them fall to the floor. She wore matching panties, so sheer that they concealed nothing. A pair of gray silk stockings completed the set.
Kaidan stared at her. His eyes started at her toes, made their way up to her throat, and then drifted back down again.
“I almost wore heels,” she said, feeling completely naked under his gaze. It was simultaneously unnerving and arousing. “Only, I can’t walk in the damn things…”
Kaidan lifted his eyes to her face. What she saw there made her heart skip a beat. He looked at her as if he was in awe, as if she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen, not the hardened soldier she knew she was on every other day of the week.
He held out his hand to her. She felt almost shy as she put her hand into his.
He tugged her hand, pulled her to the bed, and in one swift movement had her lying on her back against the sheets.
“No tricks,” he told her softly, his chest rising and falling with heavy breaths. “No powers.” He stroked the side of her face. “I just want you.”
She nodded, and then he was kissing her, and she felt her whole body become liquid fire.