Part 3, Chapter 22 of Valkyrie

Kaidan woke suddenly and found himself staring at the ceiling above. It was an egg-shell colored ceiling, that dingy shade that all pre-fab buildings were made in. A fly buzzed into the shield-window and fell away, stunned by the impact. Morning sunlight streamed into the little room, giving a golden glow to the opposite wall. Outside, the gold-green fields were rustling in the breeze, signaling the changing season from Horizon’s summer to fall.

Kaidan barely registered all that. His eyes were fixed on the empty space before him, his mind still caught up in the dream he’d so abruptly woken from.

Sweat-slicked skin slid against sweat-slicked skin. His mouth trailed kisses down her spine. He gripped her shoulders; she arched her back…

Kaidan let out a breath.

That had been one hell of a wet dream.

It had been so unbelievably erotic, more so than anything in the last…well, in a while. He had sex dreams often enough, even in the first weeks after Shepard’s death. His body, so delighted at finding such a perfect partner, had never gotten the message that said partner had…died. In fact, his body seemed to get ever more insistent for Shepard the longer Kaidan had gone without her.

At first, he’d avoided thinking of her and simply took plenty of cold showers. After a time, he allowed himself to work the problem out in private. That kept him sane, it was true, but it was always…unsatisfying. Apparently, his needs had gotten so tangled up with Shepard that it was difficult not to touch himself and think of her. As a result, he often found himself torn between lust and feelings of guilt and sorrow and even…shame. Shepard was dead, for God’s sake, and here he was, still using her memory for his own pleasure. Release often felt hollow.

Still, he did what he could to keep his needs at bay, and sometimes, on some wonderful nights, he’d dream of her and wake to find his body had taken care of itself. There was always a sense of loss afterwards, but for the moment when he was still half awake, it was glorious.

Only last night’s dream had been more intense than usual. The love making had gone on and on, starting with teasing foreplay, jumping ahead to the climax and then shifting back again to the beginning. And oddly enough, the woman in the dream had been…faceless.

There had been touching, kisses, bodies melded, the lips searching…

And the woman’s face was not Shepard’s.

It wasn’t anyone’s, really. There just hadn’t been a face there. The woman had been some empty placeholder for his fantasies.

He wasn’t sure if that was a step in the right direction or what, exactly. It was certainly a change. And the dream had left him feeling a little more satisfied this morning than he could remember. Kaidan stretched and sat up. Hell, he’d take it. It was a small thing, but he’d take it.

Now he just needed a shower.

Shepard stumbled into her room, feeling exhausted.

Worse than that, though, she was really damn horny.

She blamed Afterlife. The music there – the asari dancing in a way she knew that Kaidan would have approved of and that she wanted to learn to do herself, the people making out in every corner - it had all fueled this primal instinct in her. She was having one of those days, she realized, one of those days when her libido just was raging out of control.

In the past, she’d ignored days like this or, if things got bad, she found a way to get a moment alone and take care of herself. That wasn’t always easy on a ship with hot-bunking sleeper pods, but there had always been the showers. Only here she was, in the so-called ‘privacy’ of her own room, and she knew she was being watched. She wondered if there were monitoring devices in her private shower, too. Maybe she should ask EDI. The idea of being watched while clinically cleaning oneself and the idea of being watched by the Illusive Man while doing something else entirely was just…sick.

Shepard scowled and stripped her armor off. This was going to drive her nuts. Being watched was bad enough, but if she was going to have to go without any relief for who knew how long, well, she was going to get bitchy really fast.

Not that she wasn’t feeling bitchy already. She’d been on edge the whole time on Omega. She supposed she owed Garrus an apology for being so short with him. She’d sent him back to the ship, not wanting him in a plague zone if the plague affected non-humans only. She hadn’t been terribly nice about it. She’d bitten Miranda’s head off more than once. Kasumi had avoided it all only because the thief was smart enough to stay out of her way. That new crew member of theirs, the salarian, had avoided her temper. He had amused her right from the start, even with his unending chatter. His enthusiasm for an intellectual challenge spoke to her. His need to help people - even when that meant making hard decisions - resonated for her. And best of all, he joined her for his own amusement and curiosity, none of which had to do with big Cerberus bucks. She liked that. He and Garrus were the only two who hadn’t signed on for the pay. For that alone, she decided that she’d be keeping those two close.

In fact, she’d brought Garrus and Mordin with her when she did her last run of errands around Omega. Unfortunately, the exercise had just worn her already thin patience down to the thread. Running around in the dark underbelly of Omega had pissed her off again. The people here lived in filth. She had saved one quarian kid from it all by paying for his way out of here, but it seemed such a small thing against the squalor. She’d helped some krogan keep himself alive, but in doing so, she realized she’d pissed off Aria and possibly upset the power balance of Omega. Not that she really gave a damn, but it was annoying the way that one good deed had probably sparked all sorts of messy repercussions.

She felt that buzzing in her head again, behind her right ear, it seemed like. She shook her head, but the feeling wouldn’t go away. Neither would the feeling of frustrated disgust.

It was days like these that she wondered what the hell she’d been trying to save when she took down Sovereign. Omega couldn’t be any worse off if it just blew up, she thought disgustedly. Slavers, mercs – she was beginning to see why Garrus had taken them on all by himself.

Shepard stepped out of her tight, sweat wicking undergarments and tossed them into the laundry chute. She was now down to her lacy underwear. It was the least prissy pair that she had. Everything else had bows on it, she thought with a frown. They were small bows, but bows nonetheless. Shepard knew because she’d gone through the drawer trying to find something simple. Too bad Miranda’s taste had been anything but.

Shepard hadn’t been able to go shopping for personal clothes on Omega – not that she’d let any of that stuff near her body. Even the sniper headgear she’d let Garrus talk her into buying would have to be sent through decontamination ten times before she’d put it on. She didn’t trust that dirty elcor merchant one bit.

With a sigh, she flopped onto her back and stared up at the ceiling. She was so tense just now. She was fully aware that a certain Illusive Man was watching, even now. Or at least, he had footage of her and could view it any time he wanted. Her mouth thinned into a hard line. Just knowing that made her feel both more pent up and less able to even think about helping herself to release.

Well, damn, she thought, sitting up quickly and grabbing a robe from the closet. She might as well take a shower – a really cold one. Too bad she’d be feeling too antsy to really kick back and enjoy it.

Down in the tech lab, Professor Mordin Solus smiled to himself as snapped another surveillance device in half. This place would do nicely, he thought. He just had to re-calibrate the computer interface, take out the rest of the monitoring devices – and they might be hard to find. Still, he had to take them out. He simply couldn’t work with people watching over his shoulder. Though the AI was helpful, yes. This would be a nice change, a very nice change. He would have to thank Shepard when next he saw her.

Shepard. His lower eyelids narrowed. Yes, Shepard was unexpected. Cerberus he knew of, had monitored. Shepard, however, he knew only by reputation. That reputation had not prepared him for the human he had met. She was smart, which surprised him. He had expected the – charisma, as humans called it. He expected the skill with the gun. It was why he’d handed her the Carnifex pistol. He was pleased to hear she’d used it well.

No, she’d been smart, cunning. But she was idealistic at the core. That was unexpected. She wasn’t as naive as his assistant, he could see that, but she’d saved lives when she didn’t have to, even lives that were not so worth saving.

Idealistic, yes. A frown crossed his face as he wondered what she’d say if she knew some of his past actions. She seemed like someone who could understand a hard decision, but then, humans were often surprising. He hoped she would be able to understand. He hadn’t yet decided if he should tell her. After all, he was beginning to like this place, beginning to like being a part of this project. The idea of learning about the Collectors was appealing. It was a task no one of his academic acquaintance had taken on. And he found he looked forward to working with Shepard. He did not often work with humans, and this would give him a chance to observe one of their finest soldiers.

He did wonder at her tension, though. She had seemed to grow apprehensive during their return to the ship. If he understood the readings he had furtively taken from her with his omnitool, it seemed that her hormone levels were increased, and not simply because of the adrenaline rush of fighting all day long. Being a non-hormonal species himself, he wondered at it. Perhaps she was going through a monthly pre-mating cycle?

He would have to ask her about it next time he spoke with her. After all, his job here, as he saw it, was to help keep the crew at their best.