Mass Effect: Milieu

Sanity Check

It was time for their weekly "sanity check". Shepard was looking forward to it. She needed it. Kaidan hadn't been kidding when he had told her he wanted to take it slow. In a way she was thankful. Their relationship was developing beyond…whatever it had been.
Since they had caught dinner together on the Citadel, two weeks ago, Kaidan had made a point at least twice a week they got together, whether it was drinks in the lounge, dinner on the observation deck or tonight's choice a vid in her quarters.
Whenever they got together they talked about everything, but the war. It was an unspoken truce between them. In a way it was nice, something to look forward to, a little sanity check to get her through the rest of the week. They both needed it.
Unfortunately, she was running late.
She was passing through the CIC on her way to the elevator, when Traynor stopped her.

"Commander, can I have a moment to speak with you?" Shepard liked Traynor, she was dedicated and faithful to the cause, but right now Shepard just wanted to sit back and relax, enjoy a drink and movie with Kaidan. She didn't want to think about how many times she had been shot at today. Cerberus was getting annoying.

She was happy to have helped Jacob and the ex-Cerberus scientists. Dr. Cole seemed nice and Shepard was genuinely happy for Jacob. They hadn't been great friends, but she was glad to have repaid what debt she had seemed to incur to him. And she was glad to get Dr. Cole's help with the Crucible Project.

"Go ahead, Traynor, but just make it quick."

"Yes, Commander," She nodded. "I just wanted to let you know I finished my report and diagnostic run of the newer communication system…" Shepard waved her hand, stopping the woman.

"Traynor, did you write everything in the report?"

Traynor nodded, "Yes, Commander,"

"Then I'll just read the report."

"Hmm…well, ma'am I'm afraid I might have gone a bit too technical in the report, so I was going to clear up a few…huh, uncertainties and…"

"Don't worry, Traynor, I'm certain I can find someone on this ship to help me decipher your report, if I need it." Shepard smiled letting Traynor know she wasn't upset about it. In truth, she had the perfect person to explain everything to her. "Is there anything else?"

"No, ma'am, unless your free for a bit of chess later tonight?" Traynor asked hopefulness blossoming in her voice. Shepard shook her head.

"Sorry, Specialist, but I'm booked for tonight, but maybe some other time."

Disappointment registered in her eyes. "Not a problem, Commander, we'll take a rain check."

Shepard smiled at her. "Definitely, I have a reputation to maintain after all." With that she gave Traynor a little wave and turned toward the elevator and her much needed sanity check.

As Shepard exited the elevator on her private floor, she saw Kaidan was waiting for her. He leaned against the wall in the little entrance way. His dark eyes sparkled in the dim lighting.

"Sorry, the meeting ran later than expected." Shepard said walking pass him. The doors to her private quarters opened automatically at her approach.

"It was no problem. I had to finish a report. Huh, thought I was running late." Kaidan followed her into the room. He stopped gazing around the room. He whistled. "Wow, this is pretty nice, Shepard."

Shepard rolled her shoulders and unbuttoned her blue officer's jacket. "It's private and quiet." She kept her voice neutral. It wasn't that she didn't like her room, but it was different. It reminded her of the rooms she had stayed in when on tours with her mother. In a way, she had enjoyed the small room back on Earth she had been confided in. It was the first time she had spent an extended amount of time there. And now it's all gone.

"Hey," His eyes roamed over her. She removed her jacket and unceremoniously draped it across the back of her desk chair. "Why don't you give me the tour?" he asked smiling at her with that infectious grin.

"Alright," She motioned behind her, "Bathroom," She crossed over to it. The door slid noiselessly open for her. "With an actual shower." She pointed out.

"Very nice, Anderson of course left that in the designs. Hell, I would to."

Shepard chuckled. "Yeah, it's a nice little perk." She stepped back letting the door close.

"Hmm…might have to borrow it sometime, of course with the Commander's permission, first." His voice dipped huskily and Shepard felt warmth flushing her cheeks.

"Well, I'm certain I can arrange that, Major. In fact, you can borrow it right now." She lowered her voice too and caught his eye. He was just as much fun to tease as James, though James was harmless fun. Nothing would come of it whereas with Kaidan…she silently hoped he would take up the offer.

Kaidan leveled a steady gaze her way, as if actually contemplating the idea. Shepard's heart sped up. She kept her eyes focused on him. A smooth chuckle rumbled out of his chest. "Tempting, so very tempting, maybe after the vid." He smiled again and Shepard smiled back, nodding.

"Alright, rain check it is." She crossed her arms trying not to show her disappointment. A girl could hope, but something told her Kaidan wouldn't be using her shower tonight. He had been very adamant about taking things slow.

At first, it frustrated her. If they only had so much time to live, why wait, but then the more she thought about it the more it made sense to her. She thought back to their dinner. He had said he didn't have enough memories of their time together. And sadly it was true. They had given themselves the night before Ilos, because they hadn't thought there would be time later. There had been a high chance of either one of them dying.

Honestly, it was refreshing to have these little moments of flirtation and sanity. Almost like everything was normal in the galaxy. She could pretend in those few minutes that she hadn't been shot at a couple hours before. That her muscles weren't starting to shake from fatigue, stress and fading adrenaline.

"Who's the little guy?" Kaidan asked breaking the silence that had built up between them.

"Oh, that's Boo." She turned and tapped the glass. The fuzzy orange brown ball stood up on his back legs looking for a hand out. Shepard smiled at him. "Hello, Boo." Twitching his nose at her once, he slid his paws down the glass and scurried back into his porcelain house.

"Cute," Kaidan said from beside her. She turned toward him. The corner of her mouth twitched like Boo's nose. He was watching her intently, his dark eyes flashed.

"Me or the hamster?" She inquired; she had never considered herself cute. Even as a little kid she was the 'pretty' one or the 'skinny' one. Not the cute one.

"Both." He replied turning away. "So model ships?" His eyes fell on the empty spot between the Destiny Ascension and SSV Normandy. "You seem to be missing one."

Shepard felt her cheeks grow hot. "Yeah, it's a hobby I picked up while with Cerberus. It helped with…keeping my mind occupied."

"Keeping your mind occupied? Huh, I guess I could see that." He paused and then stepped closer to the vacant spot. "Which one are you missing?"

"Sovereign." She stated quickly as she headed for the stairs leading down to her bed and couch. "I have a vid screen over on the wall here." She gestured to the spot over her dresser.

Kaidan followed her. If he noticed the deliberate topic change he didn't say anything. For that she was thankful. She didn't want to think about anything related to the war tonight. She just wanted to sit and watch a vid with the man she cared for. Simple enough.

"I'll start the vid if you want to set out dinner." He said starting toward the vid screen.

"Dinner?" She hadn't plan on dinner.

"Yes, here." It was then Shepard realized he was holding a bag. She took it for him and peered into. In it were white boxes.

"I had James cook some of those ranchero things he was going on about."

The smell of peppers and cheese made her stomach grumble and her mouth water. She hadn't eaten anything since this morning.

"Smells good." She said placing the bag on the small table. She sat down grabbing the first box out. She opened the lid and the divine smell hit her again. Setting the box down, she dug through the bag pulling out the second box and some forks. "Let's hope, James can cook as well as he can shoot."

Kaidan laughed and sat down taking the second box. "That would be quite a feat. But somehow I wouldn't put it pass him."

Shepard nodded as she took a bite of food. The flavors were good. A little too much spice, but it was good none the less. She had never eaten a ranchero before. It was zesty and spicy, but not too much of either. Kaidan started the vid. A classic adventure vid about an archeologist looking for lost treasure. Shepard couldn't remember the title, but she remembered seeing pieces of it as a kid. It was good vid, if a little out dated.

When they finished eating, she slid over to sit next to Kaidan and he put his arm around her. The vid was engrossing enough that she did get caught up in it a few times. Every once in a while Kaidan would shift or she would which would break her out of the illusion, causing her mind to start filing through things that needed to be done while she was sitting down and enjoying herself.

At some point when she had zoned into thinking about how best to go about transporting krogans from Pavalen to Earth, Kaidan started rubbing his hand up and down her arm. It was a light touch, but gentle as if he made the motion subconsciously.

Looking up, she saw he was intently watching the vid. She smiled and leaned into him resting her head on his shoulder.

He was warm and his heart sounded strong and reliable. And that he was. If she ever needed an honest to goodness opinion, Kaidan was her man. He wouldn't sugar coat it. Even though he knew she might not like the answer, he would still give the straight up truth. She liked that. She needed that aspect in her life. She closed her eyes. This was her sanity check. She liked the title. Their stolen hours away from the chaotic state of the galaxy.

She opened her eyes and glanced upward again. Kaidan was staring at her. His eyes reflected hers, brown and green melding together. Her breath caught. His eyes were so mesmerizing. She could lose herself in his eyes. Shifting, she brought a hand up to his face and caressed his cheek.

Kaidan closed his eyes turning to press his lips against her palm. She shivered at the touch of his lips. Her hand slipped down his face, her fingers ghosting over his skin and rough stubble on his chin. He exhaled and tilted his face back toward hers.

"Shepard," He intoned as she let her hand flit down his neck. She could feel his pulse pounding under her fingertips. Her hand came to rest on his chest. He reached up a hand and covered hers with his placing it lightly over his heart.

She couldn't help the smile that drew across her lips. "Kaidan," she said calmly back just before planting her lips on his. Before she could even register what she was doing, he was kissing her back.

She closed her eyes and enjoyed the moment. He was a good kisser, soft and sweet, with just enough bite and roughness to his kiss that related his passion and desire. It was a safe kiss, nothing like what they had shared the night before Ilos. It was something more than friends, but not quite lovers. It wasn't desperate.

Shepard thoroughly enjoyed it.

It felt amazing, it felt right. And there was no place in the galaxy where she would rather have been right then. For the first time since she had awoken on that Cerberus lab table, she felt normal. Just plain, simple, normal.

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