We are still kids but we're so in love
Fighting against all odds
I know we'll be alright this time
Darling, just hold my hand
Be my girl, I'll be your man
I see my future in your eyes
Baby, I'm dancing in the dark
With you between my arms
Barefoot on the grass
Listening to our favourite song
When I saw you in that dress
Looking so beautiful
I don't deserve this
Darling, you look perfect tonight
Perfect by Ed Sheeran
Both Shepard and Garrus didn't sleep very well the first night in the apartment. Something about it was too dissimilar to a ship or small research station. They traded sleeping in short bursts and tried to occupy themselves with vids or whatever they could find on their omnitools.
Shepard was browsing Citadel news, trying to stay familiar with the current happenings, with Garrus snoring beside her as the artificial sunlight started filtering in through their window. Then a brand new article caught her eye.
Vakarian Back-- with a "Special Friend"?
She clicked it, and sure enough, there was a picture of her and Garrus still at the docking terminals. She looked closer and studied where they were, where the camera must've been... it was taken shortly after they'd said goodbye to Joker. She only skimmed the article; it didn't have much. It referenced Garrus's run in with Hyatt as the last eventful thing he did on the Citadel, his arrival on Palaven, and even a visit to a classified Council station. She frowned; someone was well-informed.
Garrus suddenly rolled over and nuzzled his mandibles into her hair, but noticed her rigidity. He opened one eye and Shepard raised the omnitool screen to show him. He tensed also but stayed snuggled close, his arm over her abdomen.
"That didn't take long," he grumbled.
"No, it didn't. Someone was waiting for us at the docks," she said.
"Anti-syns?" he asked.
"It's possible Xanossi told Hyatt, who leaked a rumor to a reporter that you'd be returning with a special someone," she agreed.
"Do they say anything about who you are?" His mandibles were twitching now.
"No. Not even my new name. It's very vague, other than the picture. Even if Hyatt knows it's me, he might be just keeping his cards close for now," she said, frowning again.
"I'll have the Councilor check Hyatt's associates for anyone in journalism, maybe get some extra surveillance there," he decided, closing his eye again.
"I guess this means I could go with you to Spectre Status without worrying about the public's initial reactions, though," she added with a hopeful smile, and gently nudged him. He groaned and rolled over onto his back, stretching to wake himself up further.
"How about we start with sparring first?" he suggested, then took on a teasing tone. "We need to make sure you can still handle yourself in a fight."
"You're on, Vakarian," she retorted, and rolled out of bed, ready to go.
"...wait, you mean now?" he moaned from the bed.
"Why not? Come on, do I need to splash some cold water on you?" she teased.
After some more grumbling, Garrus eventually got up. They decided to use the empty bedroom. It had the most clear space, but the hard vinyl floor would be a lot less forgiving than a mat. They agreed to try and lessen any blows that would send the other to the floor.
Despite all her talk, once they were ready, standing across from each other, Shepard froze. Her brow furrowed as they both held a solid stance, Garrus watching her and waiting.
"...what is it?" he asked gently.
"...I don't know how Shepard fights," she admitted, her tone having lost all the boldness she had before. She watched Garrus hesitate, unsure how to reply.
"Don't try too hard. You said it felt natural before," he offered, but sounded unsure. Shepard still felt frozen, and Garrus couldn't bear the lost expression on her face. After another long pause, he stepped forward and prepared a swing, but he watched as something instantly clicked within her. Shepard adjusted to move away from his momentum and thrusted forward to aim for his shoulder, then his legs. She connected and he almost lost his balance, but was able to easily stabilize again.
From there Garrus continued to initiate, and Shepard always had a response. Finally, he didn't wait for one. Shepard blocked several before being backed against the wall. He stopped and Shepard let her arms fall to her sides, her chest heaving as he simply studied her.
"Let's go again," she eventually panted, and they returned to the center of the room.
Several more rounds went the same way. She could always get some good hits in, but eventually Garrus would overtake her, and she couldn't recover.
"Didn't I used to win some of these?" she huffed as he easily deflected her blows.
"You tell me," he said calmly. His relaxed demeanor upset her, and she gritted her teeth as she tried to find the right combination of speed, force, and trajectory.
Two hours passed. She couldn't beat him. Garrus was getting more concerned, but stoic, and Shepard was getting more upset and less proficient.
"You haven't had any water yet today," Garrus reminded her for the third time after backing her into a corner once again.
"I don't want water," she snapped, and gave him a shove to get him back into a starting position.
"We should make breakfast."
Shepard ignored him and lunged forward again without even catching her breath. By now she was tired and sloppy, and before she knew it Garrus had simply sidestepped, gently taken her hand, and rested his other hand in the small of her back. He spun them both and suddenly was leading her in a slow, gentle dance that Shepard couldn't bring herself to resist. He began humming a tune she was too frustrated to recognize.
"Did peacetime turn you into a lover, not a fighter?" she grumbled, covering her own insecurity with a tease.
"I was always a lover," he corrected, his voice soothing. "The universe just needed my fighting more during the war. It doesn't now."
"I suppose you're right," Shepard chuckled, letting her body relax into his. "Which am I? What was Shepard?" she whispered.
"You don't need me to tell you that," he purred confidently.
"But I don't remember..."
Garrus hummed a flourish and led her into a spin, but her legs were tired and she fumbled at the end. He managed to recover and lowered her into a dip as he hummed the end of the song.
Before bringing her back up, he whispered, "You will, Shepard. You will."
The rest of the day almost played out like a dream.
After breakfast, Garrus suggested they watch a vid. Shepard suspected he was just trying to distract her from initiating another sparring match, but was tired enough to concede. She dozed in his lap, and could tell Garrus wasn't at all offended by her lack of interest in the show.
When she woke she felt calmer, but also restless. She managed to talk Garrus into wandering around the Citadel; they'd already been spotted and reported on, anyway. They set out and browsed tech shops, visited a Spectre museum (that had a large area focused on her, which they didn't stay at long), got lunch, and wandered through a park that had tall, thick foliage. Vrilakir did a fairly good job of keeping enough distance to not seem like a third wheel, and was discreet, but seemed to enjoy watching them. Garrus practiced calling Shepard by the name of Roxanne, but struggled to do so comfortably. At least it wasn't too difficult for her to respond to it.
It was dinner time when they arrived back at the apartment building, having ordered food to be delivered again; Garrus always met the courier in the lobby to prevent anyone from knowing their exact residence. A package was also waiting for them in the lobby, which caused Garrus to grin.
"What is it?" she asked, watching him tuck the box under his arm.
"A gift for you," he purred. "Let's eat first and then you can take a look."
Shepard stared at the box for most of dinner, and definitely noticed Garrus staring at her with a smirk. He was enjoying her anticipation. Shepard finished her meal first and, without waiting for an invitation, quickly cleared her mess and then grabbed the box, slicing at the adhesive with a small knife that was handy. She opened one flap, pulled back some packing paper, and golden, shimmering fabric shone up at her.
"Oh!" she exclaimed. Without another thought she recklessly removed her glasses, shirt, and jeans, ignoring Garrus's chuckle from where he still sat at the table. She lifted the dress from the box and carefully stepped into it. She remembered it; long sleeved, floor length, but with slits up to her thighs to allow for plenty of movement. Garrus had imagined her in it at Councilor Lyric's party, which had caused her to also imagine herself in it.
The back had a zipper, and before she even attempted to reach for it, Garrus was behind her and pulled it up with reverence, causing the shape to hug her abdomen perfectly. Then she heard music. Soulful, sappy music that dripped of romance with a melody that threatened to sweep her away itself.
She shuddered as Garrus took a moment to purr into the back of her neck. Her eyes were still closed as he took her hand and led her into the living room where there was a bit more space. They swayed close together; nothing fancy, just two bodies melting and moving together, exhaling thoughts of anything but that moment.
Garrus shifted his hand position and straightened his posture, and Shepard knew what that meant. His steps became deliberate now, and she went rigid as she struggled to find the proper steps that matched. Her brow furrowed deeper and she huffed after her second misstep.
"Garrus, I don't remember. I'm not what you want me to be right now. I don't know if I'll ever--"
His chuckle cut her off and she narrowed her eyes at him.
"You are exactly as I remember," he purred.
"But I don't remember how to do this," she snapped, beginning to pull away but Garrus kept her close.
"We've never done this," he said pointedly, his eyes taking on an earnest look that she knew well. "It's a new routine. I don't know it perfectly myself. And you started to give up at the same point you always do." His mandibles twitched in a small smirk before pulling her back into the rhythm, and she let herself follow.
"Dancing is the only thing you ever became a defeatist about," he continued, his tone light as a purr rumbled from his chest. "Always, at some point, you'd give me that look of consternation and try to convince me it was too complicated for you," he chuckled again. "Sometimes more than once. But you enjoyed being close to me enough to keep trying, and soon, before you knew it... you were masterful."
He was right; she had been following effortlessly since they started again. As if to prove it to her, he added in a flourish that spun her away from him and back, and she didn't miss a beat as she returned.
"...I'm not as different from my old self as I think I am," she realized quietly.
"Exactly," he assured her, bringing his mandibles close to her ear. "Things may be foreign right now. You haven't had your body for over a year, so it may not seem the same to you... but I never forgot it. It's just as warm, just as strong... just as alluring."
His purr deepened as one hand drifted down her hips and his fingers slipped under the slit in her dress, gently gripping the skin of her thigh and causing her breath to stutter. Their swaying became more subtle as he brushed the side of her neck with his mandibles and mouth. Shepard's mouth parted as she exhaled and leaned her head back with her eyes closed.
"Your back still arcs in my favorite way," Garrus breathed huskily, accentuating the curve in her spine as he held her close. Unfortunately, the more the rest of Shepard's body became aroused, the more her head hurt.
"Mmm... but you're still more confident in it than I am," she mumbled, feeling the dull ache in her head grow.
Garrus paused and took note of her hesitation. She wasn't entirely tense, but she wasn't fully participating either; her arms were around his neck but they stayed there, unadventurous. He thought about all the tantalizing ways she used to reciprocate his teasing that must be gone from her mind. He cleared his throat and loosened his hold just slightly, but gently stroked her back still.
"You're right," he conceded with a smile. "I know you want to feel ready. I know how to be patient," he assured her. "But I won't pretend it's easy." He ran a hand through her hair and gave her waist a quick squeeze as his purr deepened again. Shepard laughed and trembled slightly before melting into him once more.
"I think that's fair," she replied with a grin. The song playing on Garrus's omnitool ended and she looked away thoughtfully with a small laugh.
"This day has been almost too perfect. I don't know what to do with this much contentment," she mused.
"You wouldn't be feeling that way if the battles of the Transcendant War weren't still a part of who you are. Perhaps that's making it more difficult for you to feel like yourself again," he pointed out, then smirked. "Should I go offend some krogan?" Shepard laughed.
"Hopefully such drastic measures won't be necessary," she replied. "In the meantime... want to go try sparring again?" Garrus laughed at her eagerness to master herself further.
"And take the dress off already?" he asked, tilting his head and nearly whining. "How about a few more dances first?"
"Mmm, that sounds fair too," she replied with a smirk. Garrus quickly selected a new song and Shepard took the time to place a long, slow kiss on his mouth before allowing him to lead her again.
Later, Garrus was up in the night again. He hadn't been quite as restless, but was wide awake for whatever reason now. At least Shepard seemed to be getting quality rest. They'd sparred again for a couple hours before bed, and she managed to best him several times. Not quite as often as she used to, but enough for her to gain some confidence back, which he was thrilled to see.
Giving up on sleep for the time being, he picked up his omnitool and began aimlessly browsing. There were a couple of brief articles about their day out, but it was purely pointless "celebrity" gossip, nothing threatening or substantial.
He saw he had a message from Admiral Hackett and opened it.
Councilor Lyric informed me of the developments on her project. Sometime when we can be discreet, I'd like to discuss the results.
Garrus's mandibles twitched at Hackett's excessive vagueness. He guessed Hackett was talking about seeing Shepard again after they weren't quite as in the spotlight as they were now. Visiting with the Normandy Elect with "Roxanne" could be written off as Garrus introducing his new girlfriend to his friends, but introducing her to Admiral Hackett would definitely appear odd, so it made sense to wait.
Still, Hackett sounded like he didn't feel the communication was secure. Had something been compromised? Garrus kept reading.
Your discovery from just before you visited Palaven has disappeared. We had a team doing what they could, but the information and the green wave is just... gone. This happened three hours ago.
I don't know what this means, but thought it may be a piece of your puzzle. It's possible someone else unraveled it before we did, which I imagine means trouble.
I'll be in contact again soon. Wait for me to reach out.
Admiral Steven Hackett
The rest of that message confirmed that something was absolutely compromised and Garrus found that very unsettling. He put his omnitool away and turned to watch Shepard beside him. Part of him was still amazed she was truly there next to him... and the other was painfully aware of how incomplete she felt, and therefore behaved.
The "green wave" that claimed to be her on his scanner, gathering in the last place anyone knew she was... what was it really? Was it just some ethereal leftover energy from the Cynosure? Or could it have held some pocket of information, perhaps the information Shepard was missing?
Someone unraveled it before we did...
Garrus thought back to Hackett's message and a small growl escaped him at the thought of someone else claiming whatever might have been meant for Shepard. If so, it had to be the anti-syns. They could have had a mole on that team the same way they had Xanossi on Councilor Lyric's... but what was their plan? Would they soon make demands?
His growl, louder than he realized, cut short as he blinked and caught Shepard gazing at him, looking groggy and concerned.
"Is something wrong?" she asked.
"Ah... no," he grumbled, then cleared his throat. He covered his face with one hand and took a deep breath, reminding himself to not let his imagination or worries get away from him. "Just... a bad dream."
He felt Shepard shifting beside him and then her hand on his cheek as she placed a kiss on his forehead. He was immediately purring, which only got stronger as her hand moved to the back of his head and gently pulled it down against her chest.
"Don't worry. I'm here to keep you grounded," she whispered.
Being careful not to scratch her with his face plates, he nestled his head as close to her heartbeat as he could. He knew Shepard probably didn't remember, but she'd held him this same way when he'd told her about his mother's death. He took in a deep breath of her scent as comfort washed over him.
"Mmm... I know."