The first thing Kaidan thinks when he wakes up the morning after the big party, is that it’s too damn early for Shepard to be moving around.
Every muscle in his body is in a state of utter relaxation, warm and tingling, the mattress a bit bouncier than the one in Shepard’s cabin, the sheets a tad softer. He can feel Shepard turning towards him, hear him rubbing his eyes and clearing his throat. There’s a few moments of silence where Kaidan hangs in that fuzzy space between consciousness and slumber, aware that he’s being watched but not interested in opening his eyes. Until he hears Shepard’s voice, all gravely and deep.
“I want to do this for the rest of my life.”
Kaidan blinks his eyes open, a frown tugging at his mouth, his brain fumbling for that sentence to make sense. Shepard wants to throw a party everyday? He wants to have clumsy-yet-still-amazing sex with him every night? Surely he doesn’t mean waking up with a hangover forever—though Kaidan has his doubts if Shepard can even get real hangovers anymore, what with all his fancy cybernetic enhancements. Kaidan doesn’t know what he means so he goes for vague agreement.
“Last night was… a hell of a party.”
“The party…” Shepard narrows his eyes before shaking his head. “No, I mean this, Kaidan. I wanna wake up next to you every day for the rest of my life.”
He says it like he's asking about Kaidan's thoughts on the last mission, flat and effectless, and it throws Kaidan off balance. He blinks again, holding his eyes squeezed shut—he could use a cup of coffee or five—and when he reopens, Shepard looks so, so—
Shepard reaches out to cup Kaidan’s cheek before sliding the hand down the curve of his neck to stop at his chest. Kaidan knows Shepard must feel his heart racing, and this close he’d see his glistening eyes, too (Kaidan doesn’t cry, but his eyes do water from time to time, mostly when he looks at Shepard and can’t believe how far they’ve come). He opens his mouth but when he can’t get words to come out, he settles for kissing. Shepard returns the gesture eagerly, slipping a little tongue in at the end of the kiss, sending a lick of heat between Kaidan’s legs. When they pull away, Kaidan takes a deep breath.
“Yeah, I—I want that, too.”
Shepard smiles at that. Which is always something else to witness, much less firsthand, knowing that he’s the cause of him smiling. He can’t imagine ever growing tired of this, of Shepard. Shepard has been the most important person in his life for the last three years, and now that they’re actually together everything feels like it has fallen into place exactly where it belongs. He’s at Shepard's back, Shepard’s got his, and they’re happy. Kaidan’s deliriously happy, now. What a thing to hear upon first waking.
Then Shepard throws him for another loop. He props himself up on one elbow, looking Kaidan dead in the eyes and without a trace of hesitation says, “Let's get married.”
Kaidan forgets to breathe for a couple seconds, his chest tightens. The words are out before he can think it through.
“Now? Yeah, that sounds good. Why wait? I don't wanna wait anymore.”
Kaidan feels like dancing, but he sticks to jumping up and down in his head and thinking about how he’ll tell his mom.
“If this is some scheme you’ve cooked up to get me to bottom for you…”
Shepard’s grin widens, the wrinkles around his eyes deepening and making him look even more rugged and handsome. Not that Shepard needs help with that. Kaidan loves this man. He hasn’t told Shepard that yet, but he hasn’t seen the need to, and it’s looking like the first time might very well be on their wedding day.
“Is it working?” Shepard asks, tongue-in-cheek.
“I guess—” Kaidan breaks himself off to plant a kiss on Shepard, “—you’ll just have to marry me to find out.”
Shepard kisses him, his hands roaming. “Guess so.”
They get a little distracted then. It’s impossible not to with the way Shepard’s hot hands roam all over and under Kaidan’s shirt, the way they dip, teasing, underneath the waistband of Kaidan’s underwear. He hadn’t bothered with redressing completely after their early-hours, still-drunk fuck last night. Didn’t see the point of it, knowing he’d just wake up hard again and that no one was going to come knocking on the door to the master bedroom. But as quickly as Shepard can make Kaidan stand at attention, his brain has started sloughing off the remains of slumber and kicks into overdrive.
Shepard proposed to him.
Kaidan pulls away, catching Shepard’s (his fiance’s—is he allowed to call him that?) hands before they can do more damage to his concentration. Looks him in the eyes. They’re clear sky blue, no cloudiness, no traces of the crazy alcohol-heavy party left.
“You really mean it?” he asks.
“Mmhmm,” Shepard hums, affirmative. He tugs his hands from Kaidan’s grip and goes back to fondling him through his clothes.
Kaidan looks off as Shepard kisses and nips along his neck. “We’ll have to find an officiant. I can’t imagine there are many people on the Citadel who can lawfully perform weddings.”
“Maybe Tali can do it, she’s an admiral, that has to count for something,” mumbles Shepard into Kaidan’s skin.
“Quarians don’t have weddings. And I’m not sure that she… well, who knows about us?”
Shepard leans back, looking around the room as though to prove a point. “After last night? Everyone, probably. Everyone who was here.”
Kaidan furrows his brows. “Scuttlebutt travels faster than light but we’re not exactly obvious, either…”
“I think you hauling me upstairs to suck my dick may have tipped off some of them. Jack and Traynor saw us, at least.”
“...I didn’t do that?”
Shepard gives him a flat look. “You don’t hold your booze as well as you think.”
He makes to protest but stops when he, in fact, can’t remember how he got upstairs in the first place. He remembers Shepard trying to get Jack and Miranda to kiss, he remembers Vega getting more and more boastful the drunker he became, he remembers having a heated debate with Tali over omnitools, and he remembers being in this bed three fingers deep in Shepard—and later holding a palm against Shepard’s mouth as he pushed into him (thank god he doesn’t get whiskey dick). But he doesn’t remember how he got up there, and who may have been awake and who may have seen them going to bed together. For all he knows, he may have stood on a table and shouted out his love for the commander in front of the whole party.
“We’re both Spectres, can’t we marry ourselves?” Shepard’s question snaps Kaidan out of his thoughts, and he looks at him.
Shepard’s not watching him, but rather looking down the bed to their feet, or somewhere over them, a thin, short crease marring his forehead, mouth utterly still. The expression he gets when he’s trying to school his features, when he’s worried or angry about something but trying to appear not. His ‘I’m talking to the Council’ face. And Kaidan feels his heart clench for a moment, afraid that he’s the cause of that non-expression.
“I doubt the Council’s authority matters much when we’re talking about human custom, Shepard.” He sits up and pulls up his omnitool, angling it in such a way that Shepard can easily see him searching the extranet for wedding services on the Citadel. He hopes Shepard isn’t suddenly getting cold feet, even though it was his idea. Or maybe he thinks Kaidan is trying to get out of it without outright rejecting him, in which case Kaidan wants to show him. He wants this to happen as much as Shepard does.
Sure, it’s a little fast. A lot fast, actually. If it’d been left to Kaidan, he would have waited until after the war, and probably years after that, even. But the possible end of the world scenario they were currently facing puts a lot of things in perspective. It doesn’t matter if they do it today or do it five years from now, Kaidan already knows what his answer is, and he’s tired of waiting.
He smiles to himself as excitement and giddiness overtakes apprehension. There’s still a little worry, because there really is no good way to tell a mother that her son eloped with his commanding officer. Worried less about the Alliance—the Reapers really make things like fraternization regs seem inconsequential. But most of all, he feels happy, and so damn in love.
His eyes skim over a familiar name on the haptic screen and his brows rise.
“I don’t believe it. Hey Shepard, you know this person, right?”
He leans toward Shepard until their shoulders touch, gesturing with his other hand at the familiar salarian name listed under known Earth-custom wedding officiants available on the Citadel.
“Oh, Bau. He’s another Spectre.”
“I thought so.” He shrugs, cocks a thick eyebrow at Shepard. “Wanna give him a chime?”
Jondum Bau agrees to meet them at the Spectre office in an hour, so it’s just a matter of making themselves presentable and escaping the apartment without attracting attention. Shepard makes his rounds, greeting and chatting with all the hungover and sleepy guests while Kaidan makes a pot of coffee. He’s on his third cup and one too many when Shepard comes to the kitchen, giving him the same kind of look he does on the battlefield, silently asking with his eyes if Kaidan is ready, if he’s prepared.
In addition to the Spectre office being one of the most discreet places on the Citadel, all of their official files are right there accessible at the terminal, available for them to update their records as soon as the deed is done.
Bau greets them like a consummate professional, waiting just outside the entrance to the firing range. He gives a slight bow of his head. “Major Alenko. A pleasure to finally meet the second human Spectre.”
“The pleasure’s mine, Shepard spoke highly of your skill.”
Truthfully, Kaidan doesn’t know what to say. Being a Spectre, a member of such an exclusive club, is still a new experience for him. He’s not used to people outside the Alliance brass knowing who he is. And meeting Bau under such… personal circumstances, the feeling of being adrift is compounded. Kaidan swallows around the lump in his throat, offering a hand, which Bau shakes heartily.
“Can I let you in on a secret?” Bau asks, voice conspiratorially low.
Kaidan glances at Shepard briefly before answering. “Sure.”
“This will be my first time officiating a wedding between two humans. Usually, it’s human-asari. Sometimes human and some other species—but mostly asari. So! Very exciting day for all three of us! Shall we get started?”
They nod their assent, and Kaidan’s throat goes bone-dry. He wipes his palms on his pants legs. They’re actually going to do this.
“I gotta ask,” Shepard says as Bau approaches a terminal and begins typing on the haptic keys, “How did you get a gig like this? There can’t be many humans looking to get married by a salarian.”
“Ah, yes. Like I said, not many humans do. I became interested in human customs while tracking down an infamous thief, curiosity got away from me and I found the—” he pauses to glance at the ceiling as though searching for the right word “—splendor of weddings to be so lovely. Salarians don’t have such courtship practices or formal declarations of love. Only fertility contracts.”
“So you're a romantic,” says Shepard.
“You could put it that way. I enjoy the brief emotional high that being part of a wedding brings. So are we waiting on anyone or shall I begin the proceedings? Entire ceremony should take ten minutes at most. Are there rings?”
“No rings.” Shepard glances at Kaidan, reaching underneath the collar of his uniform shirt to pull out a long chain with his dog tags at the end. “I was thinking we would…”
Kaidan doesn’t need to hear the rest of that sentence to know what he’s going to say, and he feels a flush of warmth spread through his belly and chest. He doesn’t want to think about Shepard’s body, only identifiable because of the tags. He doesn’t want to think about what kind of promises they might make one another before the end of this war, or whether they’ll have to break those promises.
They each hand over their second tag to Bau, and with no further interruptions, the ceremony begins.
Right now, as Kaidan meets Shepard’s clear blue eyes with his heart pattering against his ribcage, the only promises he wants to think about are the ones he knows will never be broken. The ones he makes now: to love and cherish Shepard no matter what, for better or worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and health, for as long as they both shall live.
His fingers tremble when he slips his tag around Shepard’s chain, and Shepard’s cheeks are pink when Bau demands they kiss and declares them husbands. Suddenly Kaidan wishes their friends were there with them. Standing on top of a table and loudly professing his love for this man no longer seems like something Kaidan would do while drunk—he wants to do it right now, stone-sober but heart-high.
All that’s left is a simple matter of them signing forms and updating records. Kaidan’s next of kin and emergency contact now lists his husband. When the Alliance finally notices the updated records with the attached marriage license, they’re going to have some explaining to do, but he’s not worried about that. With Shepard by his side and leading the way, he knows they’re going to be just fine.
Until Kaidan talks to his mother. He still needs to figure out how to tell her.