Peebee wasn't sure what data she was looking at anymore. She had been looking over her Remnant research while waiting outside the Tempest's Med Bay for Ryder's post-mission examination to end. She had mindlessly tapped and swiped at her datapad so much that she may as well have been looking at research relating to growing crops on Havarl. She wasn't reading any of it anymore. She couldn't focus long enough for that because her mind was full of thoughts about Ryder.
And about how Ryder had died.
Granted, it was all part of SAM's plan to get them out of the Archon's trap and he had been able to bring her back to life a few moments later but... she had died. Watching Ryder's lifeless body collapse to the ground wasn't something Peebee was going to forget anytime soon, no matter how much she wanted to.
Finally, the Med Bay doors slid open and out walked Ryder with Doctor Lexi beside her. The asari was giving her a few last 'doctor's orders'.
"...and please, take a few days off. Your body really needs to rest after what it went through. It's not every day that you come back from the dead. And usually it happens in a properly-equipped hospital and not aboard a Kett ship." The asari doctor lectured her patient.
"Alright alright, I get it Lexi. I'll take it easy on our way back to the Nexus." The Pathfinder's tone made it clear that she was not nearly as concerned about what had happened as her doctor was.
"I mean it, Ryder." Lexi placed her hand on Ryder's shoulder and turned her around to force her to look her in the eye. "SAM told me it took a few tries to get you back. That's not a good sign. There's no guarantee you'll come back again next time, especially if you keep pushing yourself as hard as you always do."
"Okay, okay. Once we're back on the Nexus we'll all take some shore leave. We could all use a break." Her voice sounded much more genuine this time.
"Good." Lexi let out a small sigh of relief and then nodded towards Peebee. "I think you have a visitor." She let go of Ryder and the Med Bay doors slid closed after she made her way back inside, leaving Peebee and Ryder alone in the hallway that connected the lower level of the Tempest. Peebee realized she had been staring at Ryder and Lexi and quickly looked back at her datapad in an effort to look like her presence there was coincidental and not completely intentional.
"Hey Peebee." Ryder smiled and moved over next to the asari and leaned against the large window that separated the hallway and the cargo bay. "What're you reading?" she nodded down at the datapad in her hands.
"Oh, um, just going over some of my Remnant research. That's all." she looked at the datapad again and realized that the text was gone because the screen had turned off from being idle for too long. "I was just walking around the ship to get a little, uh, change of scenery. See if that would give me any new ideas about this stuff." she quickly said, answering a question that Ryder hadn't asked.
"Oh, so it's just lucky timing that you're the first thing I get to see after Lexi's examinations?" Ryder said with a smirk. Peebee smiled but ignored the obvious flirtation.
"So, it sounds like you're okay? No long-term worries after..." Peebee paused and her eyes moved away from Ryder. "After what happened?"
"Nah, nothing to worry about." Ryder tried to brush it off as nothing. She always did this. No matter how many times Kett shot at her or tired to blow her up or a biotic tried to throw her through the air, she always played it down like it was no big deal and that her crew didn't need to worry about her.
"Ryder." Peebee's gaze snapped back to meet the Pathfinder's. "This is serious. You're... important. To the whole Initiative... and..." She wanted to finish that sentence with 'and to me' but she couldn't quite get the words out. Sure, they flirted from time to time but it had never been anything serious. Peebee still didn't quite feel comfortable making a comment like that.
Ryder took Peebee's hand in her own and brushed her soft blue skin for a moment before saying anything more. "I'm good as new. SAM and Lexi do a great job of taking care of me." Ryder's voice was much softer and warmer than before.
"Ryder..." Peebee let her name slip from her lips without even thinking about it.
"And... I'm sorry. I shouldn't be so dismissive when people are worried about me. I promise I'll try to be better about that from now on." They both watched as Ryder's hands explored Peebee's - her fingers carefully traced the lines along Peebee's palm and felt each individual finger.
"And... thank you." Ryder eventually added. "For being so concerned about me."
Peebee's gaze moved up from their intertwined hands and found that Ryder was already looking directly at her. Suddenly it seemed like Ryder was the only thing in the world that Peebee could see. Had they always been standing this close together...? Her eyes landed on Ryder's lips and she felt a strong urge to lean forward and meet those lips with her own but her body felt like it was frozen.
They were suddenly bathed in a slight orange glow as the omnitool on Ryder's wrist lit up and interrupted them. "Would you two just kiss already" came Cora's voice over the comms. It suddenly dawned on them just where they had been standing this whole time. They turned their heads and looked through the large window that looked out into the cargo bay and saw that not only Cora but Gil, Liam, Vetra, Jaal, and even Drack were all gathered up around the Nomad and had been watching their entire conversation unfold.
Peebee grabbed Ryder's arm and tapped the part of the holographic interface that made sure she'd be heard by everyone on the Tempest. "Kallo, prepare the air lock. We've got some debris we need to dispose of." She followed the message with a glare at the crowd in the cargo bay. Cora put her hands up in defeat and moved away as the rest of them all dispersed to various positions around the cargo bay. When Peebee looked back to Ryder, she thought that the woman had definitely actually moved closer now.
"Peebee... well... can I?" Ryder had a nervous smile on her face with a dusting of blush across her cheeks.
"Can you what?" She replied with a smirk. She knew what Ryder was asking but she wanted to hear her say it.
"Can I... kiss you?" The blush on Ryder's cheeks deepened. Peebee wanted to wait and find out if Ryder's cheeks could possibly turn as red as her hair but she spoke up before that could happen.
"Goddess, please, I've been waiting for you to say that."
As soon as the words came out of her mouth, Ryder put her arms around Peebee and pulled her in and closed the last bit of distance between them. The kiss was gentle at first but quickly escalated as they both let their pent-up emotions loose upon one another. Peebee pulled back when she felt Ryder's tongue press against her lips as it silently asked for permission to enter.
"Oh, I'm sorry, did I- am I going to fast?" Ryder quickly apologized, concern clear on her face.
"Maybe we should take this somewhere else." Peebee grinned and glanced back through the window at the cargo bay. Either the rest of the crew weren't watching or they were doing a much better job at hiding it now. Ryder's gaze followed Peebee's as it moved from the window down to the opposite end of the hall and the door that lead to the Pathfinder's quarters. "Somewhere a little more... private."