Shepard dropped her coffee cup with a clatter as a shriek echoed through the mess. She spun around and glanced at the others. Garrus, Liara, and James looked equally perplexed.
“What the fuck was that?” she half-shouted, clutching her hand to her heart and scanning the room. No sooner had she begun to move toward the hall than Tali came bursting into the room, making them all jump.
“Someone on this ship is injured!” she shouted. Her hands fidgeted up and down as she shot harried glances at each of their faces.
Shepard blinked. “What?”
Tali fidgeted even further. “There’s–there’s blood in the bathroom, and so much of it, and these weird bandages.” Her voice rose in pitch on every word.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down.” Shepard sighed. “What are you talking about?”
Tali groaned. “Come here.”
Shepard followed with Liara close on her tail. Garrus and James came as well, though remained outside, with the door open but not inside, while Shepard and Liara followed the young quarian into the women’s restroom.
Once at the sink, still in sight of the boys lingering in the doorway, if only barely, Tali stopped and threw one hand out in dramatic gesture at the waste bin. Inside said bin laid two used pads and one used tampon, plain as day. Shepard had to blink a few times to process the sight. Liara was openly gaping.
“It’s not like I’ve never seen blood before, Shepard, but in the bathroom! With so much? Why wouldn’t they just use Medigel?!”
And then Shepard laughed. She couldn’t take it another moment longer.
“Did she just say…?” James probed.
Shepard straightened, laughter still wracking her body as she tried to stifle the fits of giggles. All she managed in the end were two frantic nods, and then James’ booming laugh joined her own, echoing in the halls and in the small bathroom. James laughed so hard that he even walked away from the doorway, as if removing himself might calm him. Garrus, who had caught sight of the “bandages,” was fluttering his mandibles as he glanced between the two humans and the bin.
“What’s funny about this?” Tali all but shouted.
“Oh…” Liara’s voice was soft as the reality dawned on her, and then she was stifling a giggle as well, her hand flying up to mouth in protest, which only served to make Shepard laugh even harder.
“What is so funny?!” Tali cried, voice shriller than Shepard had even heard it.
When she was finally able to breathe again, she straightened and ran a hand through her hair, taking two deep breaths just to be sure the giggles were gone. “I’m sorry to laugh, Tali, I just couldn’t help it,” she stated, her voice breaking into a chuckle on the last word.
“How is this funny?” Garrus added from the door. James, who had only just returned at Garrus’ nine, guffawed once more and walked away. Garrus was now openly glaring at them both. “What?” he shouted.
Shepard shot a glance at Liara, who only shrugged and shook her head, a small smile tugging at her lips.
“I swear to god…” Tali muttered.
“Okay, okay,” Shepard chuckled. “It’s, umm, well, when human women reach a certain age, their body sheds the lining of their uterus once a month when it’s not being used to, umm, house a baby.”
Garrus and Tali were silent, neither of them moving.
“That shedding is bloody, and lasts anywhere from 3 to 10 days depending on the woman,” she went on. “Frankly, I’m surprised this hasn’t come up sooner.”
Garrus’ mandibles went slack and a strange choking sound left his throat. “Are you saying–? Do you–?”
“Yes.” She nodded, giving her best impression of a Cheshire grin. “Once a month. Usually around 6 days.”
“You have to be joking!” Tali stated.
“She’s really not,” Liara said. “All female humans go through it, even ones that are not fertile.”
“Bu–but look at it!” She gestured at the bin wildly with both hands. “Doesn’t it hurt? What about the blood loss?!”
Shepard only shrugged, and glanced at Garrus long enough to shoot him a wink before turning back to Tali. “It hurts like a bitch sometimes, and that pain varies from woman to woman as well. Mine feels like someone’s twisting my spinal cord on a bad day. Good days you just feel bloated and uncomfortable. But, clearly, we don’t die of blood loss. There isn’t exactly a shortage of female humans.”
Tali mumbled something in kelish and looked at the bin one last time. Despite the face plate, Shepard imagined her friend’s eyes were wide open. “No wonder you never die.”
Shepard laughed and let the unadulterated amusement fill her bones. It wasn’t often these days she could feel like this. She smirked at Garrus, who was still standing frozen, mandibles and jaw slack. She walked over and wrapped an arm around his waist. “Come on,” she said to the others while nodding into the hall. “Sex ed class is over kids.”
James could be heard laughing at her comment in the mess. Tali walked out slowly, with Liara’s arm over her shoulder. It looked so much like someone who comforted a grieving person that Shepard had to stifle a laugh. Again. She held Garrus back for a moment behind the others, arm still draped lazily over his waist, and looked up at him. He was staring at her in awe.
“What?” she chuckled. He only shook his head once, and finally let himself laugh. It rumbled through her and she felt warmth race over her body.
He leaned down and pressed a kiss to her hair. “The Reapers are fucked.”