Actions

Work Header

Pretty Bird

Work Text:

Her head was throbbing, her mouth was like a fucking desert, and it felt like every single piece of her body had been smashed into little, throbbing, inarticulate shards and then mashed back together in a Picasso-esque parody of a Marine. As she opened her eyes, a heavy, bedraggled groan slithered out her throat and rang out, double-vision style in her ears.

"Ah! Shepard, conscious. Most fortunate, was becoming concerned."

Mordin's shadow darted between her vision and the blazing lights of the techlab, the ones currently burning a hole in her retinas. She closed her eyes and just was for a moment as the body-wide-throb pulsed blood through her brain. She felt liquid, it was...disturbing.

"Good news, Commander. Experimental procedure complete success."

"Great," she answered. She could hardly hear herself over the pulse in her ears, let alone Mordin's gleeful murmurings. Goddamn, but that guy never stopped talking.

"--Blood pressure optimal--arapace effective--hue difficulty but variation clinically acceptable--"

"Mordin, did you spike that shit with ryncol or something?" Shepard prompted and tried to push herself up onto her elbows. Her arms were violently uncooperative and she slipped back down onto the metal table before she could find purchase. God the tweak in her back--her spine felt a mile long and bent in the wrong direction. Sleeping on metal tables was not a good decision.

"Catalytic agent was pq42-75a, very effective." Mordin was tapping away on his omnitool, she could hear it without opening her eyes. "Full external effects, extent of interior alteration...mmm bears further study. Mild chance of organ redundancy, more a benefit really."

Wait, what?

Shepard forced her eyes open and stared. "What?" If it were possible for her voice to sound flatter, wait...her voice was never that flat. Why did it sound different in her head? Something wasn't right here. She sat up and her abs objected with a hard pang of pain. It felt like she'd just taken a shotgun blast to the solar plexu--why was she taller than Mordin while seated?

Instinct demanded something very simple of Jane Shepard. Instinct demanded that she look down to assess the amount of damage done to her poor wracked body, probably so she could decide how to proceed in this very strange situation. Instinct, however, did not know how to deal with the immediate, visceral disconnect of the situation before her.

"WHAT THE FUCK, MORDIN?" Her voice was sharp, loud, and reverberated...twice. The Salarian seemed completely unphased as she scrambled off the table onto completely unfamiliar, digitgraded legs. Holyshit it felt like walking on stilts, if they had been integrated into her fucking skeleton. She swayed and scraped taloned, three fingers hands across her chest--her armored, FUCKING, CHEST. Her hands pressed against her face and, goddammit, she had articulated mandibles, no lips, and......her hair. Without even taking time to think about it, she swung and punched Mordin. She landed a solid one in his side and the Salarian stumbled slightly before blinking at her.

"Violence unnecessary, Shepard," he replied conversationally, as though she hadn't just slugged him in the gut. "Though emotional reaction fascinating."

"I was aiming for your head," Shepard snarled in her new dual voice. Her mandibles fanned and snapped together against the side of her face, like a snake or lizard or something. She was pissed, but something in the back of her head was impressed by the Salarian's ability to take a punch without flinching.

"Hm, hand eye coordination affected, thank you, Commander, point of note." Mordin typed a series of notes into his Omnitool and Shepard seethed at him.

"What did you do," Shepard demanded less than asked.

"Invented new camoflage technique. Convenient, ultimately. If perfected, can permit easier travel to harsh environments. Also, likely to promote cross species cultural understandings. World peace, perhaps award-winning." Mordin trailed off. "Good chapter in biography."

"So you turned me into..." Shepard looked own at herself again--it made her stomach turn a little, seeing something so fucking unfamiliar attached to her neck. It was surreal, like some fucked up dream.

"Exterior translation into Turian biology, internal organs remain predominantly the same with minor genetic fallout, fascinating alterations really," Mordin explained cheerfully and ducked when Shepard swung at him again. "All completely reversible. In good fun. Enjoy while you can, Commander. Take notes."

"Enjoy?" Shepard demanded and pressed her hand to her face. It was an automatic motion that felt strange, even repugnant with a three fingered hand. She flinched and let out a long sigh. "How long until you can reverse this?"

"Seventy six hours, fifteen minutes, thirty seven seconds until batch completed. Began working while you were unconscious. "

That lessened her anger just slightly. She might not have to kill him for this. She leveled a hard stare at the Salarian. "Get it done."

"Of course, no point in administering transformative without reversion," Mordin replied with a confused blink. "Enjoy foray into unknown. Take notes."

"Clothes."

"No, taking clothes is stealing. Notes much more effective form of communication. Less law enforcement."

"No, Mordin," Shepard replied tiredly. "I need clothes." She didn't know enough about Turian female anatomy to know what bits were important to cover, but goddammit she knew enough to know that walking around naked was probably an awful fucking idea.

"Oh! Of course, clothing most popular form of decoration in most cultures, standard in public arena," Mordin murmured as he drummed his fingers on his omni tool. "Coloration of carapace non-standard, however. Situation will be exacerbated by popular Turian fashion palette."

"What?" Shepard prompted and looked down at herself. Yup, still an armored velociraptor alien. "What the fuck are you talking about now, Mordin?"

"Commander," Mordin lowered his tool and stared at her. His voice took on a note of utmost seriousness. "You are purple."

"...And?" Shepard prompted after a long silence.

"Purple is...rare. Very notable genetic aspect," Mordin elaborated, almost. His hand waved in the air briefly as he sought the correct terminology. "Not expert in protosexual cues of Turian biology, unfortunate. Anatomically, exemplary, with minor variations. Waist too thin, more heavily plated than standard normative. Neck and digits abnormally long. Carapace coloration...nonstandard. Mild failure on my part, regrettable."

"Right." Shepard was unmoved. "Mordin, are you telling me you can't get me clothes that match my eyes?"

"No, telling you I cannot find clothing that matches skin," Mordin corrected. "Will change social experience if interaction with other Turians occurs."

"Mordin, first off: I'm human. Second: black." Shepard rolled her eyes, something she was relieved to find that she could still do. Mordin's brows rose sharply and he cleared his throat before inclining his head.

"Black. Yes, um, of course."

Shepard was far too irritated and tired of this situation to prompt the Salarian further and simply stared at him until he'd fabricated and passed her the appropriate garments. Getting dressed was a goddamned experience, but she managed it. She shot Mordin a mildly threatening look and tapped her wrist, a motion that apparently went completely over the Salarian's head.

"Tick tock, Mordin," she elaborated and walked out of the room into the CIC.

It hadn't occurred to Shepard that this was going to be a major imposition until she saw the aghast expression on Yeoman Chamber's face. The redhead was staring at her in abject terror as she approached, desperately palming the security button on her panel. Fortunately EDI, if no one else, was aware of the situation and the button triggered nothing.

"Hell, Chambers, I'm not a fucking collector," Shepard barked and several of the bridge crew twisted in their chairs, as if they'd just noticed the purple Turian in the room. "You do this with Garrus?"

"Who--wait," Kelley blinked. "Commander?" Her hands flew to her mouth and she stared, wide-eyed. "What?"

"Mordin," Shepard answered shortly and Kelley's eyes darted back at the tech lab. She swallowed and stared openly, her eyes raking over Shepard's new Turian body.

"Oh," she managed, elegantly. "Uh...you have a few um...unread messages but...I think they can wait."

"How long until we reach the Citadel?" Shepard prompted, almost tiredly.

"Um...two hours," Kelley answered and Shepard sighed. "You aren't seriously considering...?"

"I've got shit to take care of, Chambers, the world doesn't wait just because Mordin decides to play Salarian Frankenstein with my ass." Shepard scrubbed her hand back across her head and the talons skittered across her fringe. She jerked her hand away from the strange appendage, reflexively, and sighed again. "We have any spare Turian class armor?"

"I'll check, Commander," Kelley answered with a pity-filled forced smile. Shepard waved a hand to dismiss her and she scurried off toward the armory looking all the world like she was going to buckle over laughing as soon as she was behind something sound proof. Shepard didn't blame her.

She had two hours to kill before they docked at the Citadel. The thought of spending the remaining seventy-something-hours-and-change in her cabin was violently tempting, but she couldn't waste that kind of time and still expect the mercs she was hunting to be anywhere near this quadrant when she was done. She didn't like it, but she knew what she had to go do.

The elevator was quick and Gardner didn't jump half as high as she'd expected him to. He, however, didn't grant her the courtesy of diving out of earshot before he started laughing. ("PURPLE, CHRIST COMMANDER, LEAST IT AIN'T PINK.") She ignored him after a slight, involuntary growl, and made her way to the main battery. Predictably, Garrus was half hunched over the console, numbers ticking by beneath his fingers. Whatever part of her triggered Garrus's sixth sense must not have been affected by Mordin's little experiment, because he didn't even turn around.

"Commander, you need something?" He prompted and Shepard crossed the threshold. The doors closed and sealed Gardner's racous laughter on the other side of them.

"Yeah, I really do," Shepard replied, her voice(s) all resignation, and folded her arms across her chest. It was much less comfortable as a Turian.

Garrus stiffened at the sound of her new voice and his head cocked to the side slightly, as if dislodging a particularly annoying dustmote from his ear. He reached up and jangled his visor as he turned to face her. "Pardon, Commander, I think my translator is broken. You sounded almos--"

She'd never seen a Turian go wide-eyed before, at least not that wide-eyed. Garrus's mouth opened, closed, and did it again as he stared. Something that almost resembled a word made it up through his throat but stumbled across his parted mandibles as little more than "bfffhu." Shepard tapped a foot--it sounded strange with the cleft digits--and stared at him.

Garrus came back to himself all at once, his eyes darting across her and his face screwing up in confusion and finally anger. "This isn't a very good joke."

"You're fucking telling me," Shepard agreed dryly and Garrus's expression went slack. His eyes darted to EDI's terminal, but it was already apparent that she wasn't a hologram.

"You...you're...Turian." He blinked and Shepard nodded.

"Yes, that's pretty much the whole situation," Shepard agreed and put her hands on her hips. Garrus watched the motion with absolute attention and his eyes fixated on her waist. "Garrus." Nothing, though she watched his throat shift--did he just swallow? "GARRUS."

"What? Oh!" Garrus's eyes snapped back up to her face and he cleared his throat. "What...what the hell happened?"

"Mordin," Shepard explained for the third time in so many minutes. Garrus stared and, after a brief moment, seemed to understand. "So, we've got a mission to do and I'll be goddamned if I let a little thing like being Turian stop me. I'll need you on this one."

"Of course," Garrus answered without hesitation. She'd intended to bring Thane and Jack, but that plan has lost some of its lustre. "I've always got your six--are you sure you can do this? I mean..you...you're in a new body, and all."

"That's part two of why I need you," Shepard continued and Garrus swallowed. He was normally more suave and collected...but she was also not normally a female Turian, so she'd forgive his brief shock. "I need some combat practice in this body."

"Combat practice? Like how do you mean?" Garrus asked, his voice a little more urgent and a little higher pitched than she was used to.

"Like basic sparring shit. Want to make sure I don't accidentally crack my alien tibia trying to do a roll or something," Shepard explained. "I figure the cargo bay works, we got two hours till Citadel dock."

"Yes, yes of course," Garrus agreed readily and followed her out.

The sparring went well, even if Garrus was clearly taking it easy on her. She'd yelled at him once, about how she wasn't even that fragile when she was human, but he didn't listen for shit. Turians were a lot harder to damage though, even out of armor, it was no wonder the Blue Suns were always such pains in the ass. In any case, she intended to let her pistol do most of the talking, but the practice had been more than just a bit helpful.

When she could take no more of Garrus's encouragements and full out surrender on the mat, she dismissed him to get ready for the mission and commed Kelley. Apparently they had a passable suit of armor, spares provided for "archangel" that were generally her size, and a spare holster set to boot. How Jacob managed to keep a straight face when she went to claim them, she'd never fucking know. Fucker even helped her put the shit on without cracking wise. His face fell when his absolute ability to remain professional earned him the second spot on the team.

She needed a biotic who wouldn't be crippled over laughing and, apparently, his ass was it. He frowned all the way to the shuttle bay.

"Question, Commander," Jacob asked as the shuttle left the Normandy for the transit hub.

"What?" Shepard asked back, calmly. Garrus was uncomfortable, she could feel it pouring off him in waves. Every so often, despite being the one driving, he'd shoot her a glance and his grip would shift on the wheel.

"How the hell are we getting past C-Sec? You don't exactly look like the photo on your driver's liscence," Jacob reminded patiently and Shepard hmmed. It sounded weird with her temporarily multitonal voice. Garrus scowled slightly.

"We'll figure something out," Shepard answered after a moment. The shuttle ride was silent and Jacob was the first out when they landed in Zakera. Man took the initiative to look for an alternate entry and Shepard took the moment to level a dry stare at Garrus.

"So what the hell's wrong with you?" Shepard prompted and Garrus let out a short, frustrated sound.

"This doesn't feel right," Garrus complained quietly in his our relationship voice. Shepard blinked and then laughed, the sound was odd, throaty, and made Garrus flinch. "See, like that. Spirits, I feel like...like I'm cheating on you with...with you." He motioned at her with his free hand.

"Garrus," Shepard started and set a hand on the side of his face as she often did. He frowned outright. "You're a fucking idiot sometimes."

"Wow, Shepard, thanks, I feel all my concerns have been aleviated," Garrus answered flatly.

"I'm serious," Shepard continued and Garrus's brow twitched with irritation. "Your fucking girlfriend," Christ but didn't that just sound juvenile as hell, she'd have to come up with a better word, "who is allergic to pretty much everything about you, just got turned into a Turian. You don't want to exploit this a little more vigorously?"

Garrus was thoughtfully silent. "Okay...so maybe you have a point."

She patted the side of his face and pulled her hand back. "Let's go kill us some mercs and then have something alien and poisonous for dinner, aye?"

Garrus looked much less irritated as they climbed out of the shuttle, but his expression darkened as the three C-Sec officers running customs spotted them. For once, it was all Turians on duty. Shepard nearly groaned and cast a glance around for Jacob. The human was standing just alongside the port wall, looking disgruntled. He gave her the kill signal and she rolled her eyes.

"I guess it's time for some sweet talking," Shepard commented quietly to Garrus. She didn't know how to be threatening with a Turian face, so charming it was. There was something odd, though, about how all three of the officers were watching her as she approached. They were laser focused, like she had a flashlight strapped to her head and was threatening destruction by geth.

"Name," one of the officers demanded as they approached. There was no pretending she hadn't heard them and no pretending they were talking to the other two. Three sets of avian eyes were locked on her, hard, and Shepard blinked. She couldn't well use her own name--fuck, she needed a Turian name. Why hadn't she thought of this before?

"Lilihierax," she answered genially, used the first names that came to mind. "Lilihierax Qui'in." The Turian stared at her but, if he detected fallacy, he didn't comment.

"What brings you to the Citadel?" The second officer questioned and his mandibles flared--she'd known Garrus long enough to recognize the awkward sort of smile for what it was.

"Yes, business or pleasure?" The third added and the first cleared his throat.

"Professionalism! Man, you'd think you two were drooling humans," he muttered and cast a brief glance at Jacob. "No offense."

"Do I look like I'm drooling?" Jacob answered back dryly.

"I need to see your papers," the first Turian continued and looked at Shepard.

"My papers?" Shepard started and reached toward her pocket. She knew full well she didn't have any, but she made a show of checking. "Have either of you seen my wallet?"

"Did you drop it in the shuttle?" Garrus asked, quickly catching on to her game.

"I didn't see it in the shuttle," she answered and let out a bedraggled sigh. "I must have left it on the ship."

"Look," Jacob chimed in. "I'm not waiting for you to go back, and I'm certainly not letting this scaly bastard drive my shuttle."

"Hey," Garrus snapped and the other Turians puffed up in offense.

"It's fine! It's fine," Shepard interrupted. It was easier, she found, faking a distraught voice when she had two of them overlapped. "Just...go ahead in, and I'll wait out here by the shuttle."

"Yeah, human," the second Turian snapped and held out his hands. Jacob provided his identification, it cleared, and the Turian motioned rudely for him to get inside. Garrus provided his own and it cleared without contest.

"I'm sorry about him," Shepard apologized and one of them cursed something in Turian that made Garrus stand up a little straighter and stare a little meaner.

"Don't worry about it," the first Turian answered with a short sigh and cast a glance across the transit hub. It was mostly empty. "Your papers cleared inspection."

"Yeah, go on through," the second offered with a nod.

"Have a nice day." The third grinned and waved his hand a little, at least until the second jabbed him in the side with his elbow.

"Thank you all so much," Shepard answered, her voice a bit more insipid than she was generally comfortable with. All three smiled and they let her straight through, weapons and all.

Once they'd passed to the other side and found Jacob, standing just around the corner, Garrus let out a huff and growl. "Idiots, let any pretty creature with a sob story through customs. I'm amazed they didn't drown drooling, and that slur! If I were their captain--"

"Hey, our job is to make sure the Reapers don't anihilate them, making sure they can keep it in their pants, not my problem." Shepard shook her head.

"Well now that we're in, where's the Eclipse drop?" Jacob prompted and Shepard nodded sharply.

"You gonna be okay in...that?" Jacob asked and motioned vaguely to all of her. Garrus huffed.

"Haven't broken anything yet," Shepard answered dismissively and withdrew her favorite pistol from its holster at her waist. "Let's get this done, people."


"So Shepard." Garrus's voice sounded flat over the intercom, she could hear Jacob throwing crates between shots, and could see explosions as they hit the ground on the other side of the warehouse. "That name you picked..."

"It was a garage guy on Noveria," she answered and the Asari Engineer in front of her went down as Shepard broke her nose with the back of her pistol.

"Right, the last name was the Synthetic insights guy, right?"

"Bingo, Vakarian," she agreed and four shots later had five Vorcha dead on the ground before her. A high powered round resounded in the room and a Krogan at her three o clock went down, half a skull lighter.

"I'm not sure how to tell you this, I don't think I know an appropriate human analogy for it."

"Please tell me Shepard just named herself Tits McGee."

"Funny, Taylor," Shepard answered and hopped a crate. Goddamn this was easier with Turian legs--hiding wasn't though. Six shots from her and another two from Garrus and the path was clear again. The room rocked with another explosion.

"I don't understand...Tits McGee? At any rate, I don't think you could have picked a more...backwater name, Shepard. If you were less...well less, I think even I would have started laughing."

"Great," Shepard answered. "I'm on record as a Turian Hillbilly." She blinked and cracked a human merc out with a punch to the temple. "Wait, are you saying I'm hot, Garrus?" Garrus cleared his throat and Jacob started laughing.

"Shit, Shepard, I could have told you that. If Turians could twiddle their hair, you'd have reduced those three to puddles right there. They were practically all over themselves about it."

Shepard laughed, honestly cackled with amusement, as she kicked a Vorcha off the main platform and shot down the last three Asari she could see. "Awesome."

"I'm glad you're so amused. Krogan."

"That wasn't very nic--" A shot went off next to her head and a heavy grunt caught her attention. She spun and half a clip later the Krogan hit the ground. "Right."

"Looks like that was the last of them."

"Good work," Shepard congratulated as she popped the heatsink from her pistol and idly reloaded. "Jacob, you contact Miranda, get those manifests and Cerberus crates onto the Normandy. Garrus, this level, doubletime."

"So I get the paperwork and you get to have fun?" Jacob complained dryly.

"You got to call me Tits McGee and got off without a bullet in your ass," Shepard reminded him and Garrus laughed. "I wouldn't be bitching, Mr. Taylor."

"Whatever you say, Jethro Turian," Jacob answered and Shepard could taste the smirk in his voice. "Taylor out."

The comm set went out and Shepard left the warehouse. It only took Garrus a few spare minutes meet her on that level, and he was grinning rather smugly when he did arrive. Shepard arched a brow and Garrus held out an arm for her.

"Okay just because I'm Turian doesn't mean I'm a different person," Shepard argued back and Garrus shrugged.

"Worth a shot," he replied. "You'll have to explain Tits McGee to me."

"Later. With that job done, I want to exploit this anatomy while I have the chance," Shepard answered and Garrus's chest puffed slightly. "Food first."

"Well sure, if you want to go the predictable route," he complained lightly, but he was the one who lead the way.

For all the bitching he'd done about how uncomfortable having her be Turian was, he sure as shit seemed to be strutting his stuff now. With her at his side, his step picked up a little bit of a flourish, made especially pronounced every time he smirked at a gawking C-Sec officer or Turian shop clerk. If she'd doubted his previous assertion, that she was smoking hot, she didn't now. Every Turian they'd passed, every single fucking one, had the same reaction, one after another. They'd drop whatever they were doing, stare at her until she noticed them, and then do something embarrassingly awkward before pretending to ignore her. It was like being the stacked chick in high school and damn if it wasn't hysterical.

"I didn't know Turians had a thing for purple," Shepard commented as Garrus took her through the upper wards. He was clearly taking the long way, but she wasn't particularly bothered by it. She'd be harassing him about it endlessly in the future, but it didn't bother her now.

"It's...abnormal," Garrus defended quietly and slowed his gait. They were in a section of shops she'd never bothered to visit. She didn't know how to read Turian and the idea of learning hadn't crossed her mind.

"We talking 'Good god, what happened to her face?' abnormal, or 'You'd never believe the shape of this birthmark,' abnormal?"

The stare Garrus leveled at her was blank. He blinked and considered how to answer, even if he didn't quite understand the question. "I suppose...it would be like...what's a rare human hair coloration?"

"So it's like I'm a redhead," Shepard supplied and Garrus nodded.

"Pretty much. I've met a few purple Turians, served with a few, but you only see purple women in...ads, dramas, that sort of thing. Before this debacle, I'd never met one. Ah!" His mandibles flared in a smile as they reached their destination. He clapped his hands together and ushered her through the doorway. "Here we are! Best food on the Citadel."

"Wait, so I'm like...a Turian supermodel? Weird," Shepard asked and shook her head. Her mandibles--weird--clicked slightly with her confusion and she tried to focus on the task at hand.

The restaurant was packed. There were nearly as many Quarians as Turians, and all of them were very thoroughly engrossed in their food. There was some music playing, the translator only caught about a third of the lyrics but the beats were blasé enough to tell her that it was pop-culture trash. Overall, the place was crowded, hot, small, loud, and the air was permeated by that indescribably thick spicy restaurant stink.

She could see why Garrus was so attached to it.

"One minute, one minute," the server, a tall reddish Turian in a long white apron, spouted as he dashed up to the front podium, grabbed a few menus, and entered something into the console. "How many?" He hadn't even looked up.

"Two," Garrus announced evenly but Shepard could still feel the excitement in his voice. Apparently, so could the server. The turian looked up and made a face at Garrus but didn't say anything. He looked at Shepard, paused, and his jaw parted for a moment before he remembered himself.

"Right," he said quickly and cleared his throat, "yes, right, this way." They followed and conversation seemed to take a dip in volume as they were seated. As amused as she'd been by the reaction to her purple creepy alien body before, it was a little nerve wracking to be in a tight crowd of people, most of whom were staring. If it weren't for the proximity of the waiter, she'd have drawn her pistol. "I'm Kryik, I'll be your waiter."

"Oh no, we don't need menus," Garrus interrupted and waved his hand as the server tried to hand Shepard one of the garish, red, laminate sheets. The red Turian, Kryik, glared at Garrus a little and shoved the menus under his arm as he pulled up his omitool.

"What'll ya have?"

"I'll take the number two," Garrus informed him, "And a bottle of the Taetresian Alcol."

"Right," Kryik answered and turned a broad, creepy smile at Shepard. "And you?" When Garrus cleared his throat, Kryik's smile fell, but he turned dutifully.

"She'll have the Number eight, full dinner combo," Garrus said with a nod. "Two glasses for the Alcol." Kryik leaned back and looked at Shepard, as if to gauge the truthfulness of Garrus's order, and Shepard shrugged.

"What he said," Shepard agreed dryly. It wasn't like she knew what the hell any of it was, anyway. "I'm taking his word that this is the best food on the Citadel." Apparently this was very much the right thing to say because Kryik beamed at her and several of the nearby Turian occupants let out a raucous, and slightly drunken cheer.

"You won't be disappointed," Kryik promised and inclined his head as he walked off. Shepard maintained a smile just until he walked away. Garrus was smiling like he'd just committed some horrible caper and Shepard stared him down hard.

"So what the fuck did you order?" She asked in an urgent whisper and leaned forward. Her...chest...bone...divide thing wasn't as prominent as Garrus's, but it didn't let her lean that much closer. The way the chair was shaped, though, was surprisingly comfortable.

Well," Garrus took a slow breath. "I'd rather not explain. Human's tend to get a little...weird, when they find out just what Turians and Quarians eat."

Shepard stared at him, her expression perfectly flat. "Garrus, seriously?" She leaned back and crossed her arms over her waist--it was infinitely more comfortable, but caused several quiet, heated conversations around them. Garrus swallowed again, and forced his eyes up to her face. She rolled her eyes.

"We've been to Tuchunka. I've seen people butcher and barbecue Varren in the fight pit. Then I had Pyjak jerky. You had Pyjak jerky. It was missile scorched." She drummed her fingers on her waist and Garrus looked around covertly before clearing his throat. "What?"

"Shepard, uh...it would be best if you didn't...do that." Garrus's jaw shifted and Shepard stared. He was looking terribly uncomfortable.

"Would it?" Her dark smile translated easily and Garrus's eyes widened.

"Shepard, I do like this restaurant," Garrus pleaded quietly and she briefly considered having mercy on the panicky Turian. She shifted her hands and braced both against the sides of her waist, as she often did when human. According to the high-fiving (threeing?) Turians behind her, it was practically pornographic.

"So tell me what you ordered," Shepard demanded and Garrus looked ready to die, both of embarrassment and appreciation, it was an interesting combination.

"Spirits give me strength," Garrus prayed quietly and rubbed his hand across his face. "Okay, okay," he agreed in a hushed voice and Shepard set her hands on the table. "The number eight is....it's Syikla with a couple of sides, mostly...what's the Human word? Molds, funguses, that sort of thing."

"Tell me what Syikla is, or I'll pretend I'm making out with my invisible girlfriend." That she managed to keep a straight face was nothing short of a miracle. Garrus stared at her and, despite the fact that it took several seconds for him to figure out what she was on about, nodded.

"There's a type of large insect that lives in the mountains on Palaven. It's like...a flying roach bat...thing. Syikla is the...filleted intestine of it, stewed in the fatty membrane from it's eyes and then stuffed with a..." He made a mixing motion with his hands. It looked more like he was explaining laundry than cooking. "Mixture...charred, in its...zest."

Somewhere in the middle of that explanation, Shepard had just tuned him out. After a beat, she arched a brow. "Rachni haggis?"

"...Something like that," Garrus admitted uncomfortably and Shepard shrugged.


Okay, she'd probably rather have licked the fucking underside of a Krogan before ever ordering Turian Rachni Haggis of her own accord, but Garrus had a goddamned good set of taste-buds. As absolutely revolting as it had sounded, shit, she could just eat the hell out of this, probably forever.

"You're sure this will kill me normally?" Shepard prompted as she speared some of the...whatever the hell it was, sausage maybe, and dipped it in a generous helping of the green and gold moldy bullshit next to it. She took a bite, savored it with a sound that was universally obscene, and followed with some of the fantastic Turian ambrosia he'd ordered.

"You keep it up like that and I'll find a way to make it for Humans," Garrus promised as he refilled her glass. Shepard felt like she was going to explode, but goddamn.

"It's like steak wrapped in bacon, chocolate, and joy, Garrus," Shepard explained as she finished the last piece of her freaky Turian roach guts. "Deep fried in victory."

"I'm glad you approve." Garrus answered back and Shepard took a deep breath before reflexively patting her stomach...or where she was accustomed to her stomach being. Garrus made a strangled sound and Shepard ignored him as she pushed her chair back. Her balance was a little off when she stood, that bottle of whatever was pretty good.

"I need to stretch my legs, Garrus." Shepard rifled through her pockets and tossed her credit chit at him. "It's on me, tip Kryik hard enough to put a hole in a Krogan."

"Right, I'll just be a moment."

Shepard waved off his statement as she left the crowded restaurant and stepped out into the colored lights of the ward. Somewhere to her right a terminal was playing the Blasto 2: Revenge of the Tentacle ad. Today was a pretty fucking awesome day. In retrospect, Garrus probably shouldn't have let her leave the restaurant, alone, drunk, in unfamiliar territory, and in an unfamiliar body. At the moment, however, Shepard was enjoying the recycled Citadel air. She propped her hands on her waist and took a deep breath just because.

"Hey, looking good, purple lady."

"Need a guided tour of the ward, or my pants?"

Shepard blinked and twisted around. Her smile was absolutely wicked as she found the source of the catcalls. Two Blue Suns, relaxed by the rapid transit console, and one of them was motioning her over.

Fucking. Awesome. Day.

Shepard had seen Garrus walk in a sexy manner, at least, what he thought was a sexy manner. She did her best impersonation of it and, wouldn't you know, it fucking worked. The two Suns made some obscene motions (she guessed) and one of them let out a polyphonic trill--fuck it, he whistled. Shepard stopped just outside of reach and looked them both over.

"I'd remember seeing you around. Did you just get in?" The first of the two asked suavely and leaned on the bulkhead. It was an excuse to lift his arm up, show her how tall he was. Shepard nearly snorted. "What's your name?"

"Lilihierax," she answered, somehow, and there was a brief falter in the Turian's smile. Yup. Jethro. "Just got on the station, but I'm probably going to get off pretty soon." The extended Turian flinched and his arm slipped noisily. The second one laughed at him, flat out.

"I could help you with that," he offered and Shepard stared at him. He took her silence as approval, apparently, and slid forward to wrap his arms through hers and settle his hands on the bottom of her chest-plate.

"You wouldn't happen to be one of those big, scary mercs, would you?" Shepard prompted evenly and the Turian watched her throat. "You know, the kind who smuggle expensive things...and kill anyone who gets in their way?"

"I've been known to...dabble on the darker side every so often," the Turian answered with a smirk and Shepard let out a sharp cackle.

"Oh good," she said and her knee came up in a swift kick, knocking the Blue Sun back from her, over the railing, and into the planter. The other had just enough time to draw his pistol before Shepard swung and punched him solidly in the throat. He stumbled and cracked her across the side with his forearm. Lame.

Shepard's grin was absolutely insufferable as she fought the two Mercs. She wasn't halfway to serious, but goddamn, this was a great way to work off an even greater dinner. Garrus left the restaurant to find her half drowning one of them in the decorative pond outside of the Elkoss Combine outlet. Why he was surprised, she wasn't really sure.

"What was that? I can't hear you?" Shepard taunted as she pulled the guy up by his fringe.

"Shepard!" Garrus hissed as he sidled up alongside her.

"Look, Garrus, I made a friend!" Shepard announced as she shoved the Turian back under.

"I see that," Garrus replied and his hands flexed in front of him as he considered what to do. "We should go...before C-sec gets here." She waved a taloned hand at him and shifted her grip to the back of the Blue Sun's armor. He hoisted free from the water with a short jerk. Shepard grunted as she slung him back over the low wall and onto the floor, proper.

"You know, there's always dancing?" Garrus supplied as Shepard loomed over the merc, her right hand balled into an inefficient, taloned fist.

"Dancing, you say?" Shepard questioned and twisted to look at him. She punched the merc, knocked the guy out cold against the floor, and stood up. "Aren't you just full of great ideas today?"

"I try," Garrus replied with a tight shrug and ushered her away from the broken planter box and the two unconscious, seriously injured Turians.

It was a short walk and a very long elevator ride to Dark Star, but the booze was strong and the music, loud and violent. Shepard got to watch Garrus shuffle awkwardly on the dance floor, and then got to throw a Batarian across the bar. She didn't even have to start the bar fight, some asshole Volus had done it for her. She took a few hard knocks to the mandible and a bottle across her fringe, but made it out mostly unscathed. Really, the worst of the damage was a gash across her palm--apparently Turian arms were not conducive to drunken boxing--and that was self inflicted.

"I should be Turian more often."

"I think it would be best for my health if you weren't," Garrus deflected thickly as he helped her into the shuttle. She dropped back against the passenger seat with a heavy thud and he followed her in. At this point, both of them were more exhausted than drunk, but nowhere near sober.

"Eh, sissy," Shepard jabbed, both literally and figuratively. Garrus rolled his eyes as he pulled the hatch closed and initiated dustoff. "Shit, that was a good day. I think I owe Mordin a free pass for this little fuckup."

"It has had its benefits," Garrus agreed tiredly as he piloted the shuttle back to their docking bay and the Normandy. They spent the brief ride in companionable silence. When they arrived in, Garrus helped Shepard stumble her way up to her cabin and dumped her on her bed. When he let go, though, she didn't and he came crashing down on top of her. The clatter of armor would have been a distinct turn off, had they been any other two people in the galaxy.

Garrus tried to push himself up, but even a drunken Shepard was still Shepard. Without much delicacy, she managed to roll him over and shimmied up the bed, resting her knees on either side of his hips. Garrus swallowed beneath her and Shepard set her hands down aside his head, trapping him.

"So," she started out in a low polyphonic purr. Garrus was frozen in place. "All I've been hearing all day is how hot and purple I am as a Turian. I think it's time to cash some of that in, don't you?"

"Shepard, I, uh..." Garrus shifted beneath her, as if trying to find an escape route.

"I was reliably informed once," she continued and lowered her head until their mandibles were almost touching. "That this is where you're supposed to compliment my fringe...or my supportive waist."

"Shepard, this...this is...surreal," Garrus informed her quietly, his eyes wide. Her fingers twisted in the blanket, her sharp talons ruining the fabric.

"You didn't seem to think it was so weird when I suggested it earlier," Shepard whispered and pressed her forehead against his. Without thinking about it, she slanted her mouth across Garrus's. It was...less than fruitful. "Fuck, that's right, kissing doesn't work."

"Shepard, I don't think..." Garrus chimed in again and was summarily ignored as she sat up and slid her taloned hands across his chestplate.

"What's the matter, Garrus? Afraid you haven't got the reach? Or maybe the flexibility?" Shepard joked and tossed her head slightly. The effect was lessened without hair. Whatever. Her hands slid lower, across the narrow expanse of his waist and settled between her own legs, on the closure of his pants. With a smirk she palmed him and...wait. "Garrus?"

"Fuck," Garrus announced with a pained groan and let his head fall back against her bedding. Shepard shifted and pushed herself up, the mood shattered.

"What gives, Vakarian?" There was a long, long moment of silence. Garrus didn't bother to pick his head up when he started talking.

"You remember how I said I wasn't a human fetishist?"

"Seriously?" Shepard prompted and her jaw went slack. "Seriously?"

"This is your fault, you know," Garrus defended dryly. Shepard moved and dropped down onto the bed next to him. Garrus cast a stray glance at her and she huffed.

"Forget what I said about giving Mordin a free pass," Shepard complained. Garrus grunted in agreement and she huffed again. "Three. Fucking. Days."

"Or, you know, not." Garrus took a deep, resigned breath. "I miss your breasts."

She wasn't sure which one of them groaned, but it really didn't make a goddamned difference in the long run.