Charlie stared at Kaidan across the courtyard and ran a hand through her hair, tucking loose, stray strands that escaped her messy bun behind her ears. Of course Kaidan was early for their date, already sitting and perusing the menu of the little cafe, no doubt looking for the steak he was so determined to get.
She wasn’t even sure if she could eat anything—she might just throw it up, she was so nervous. You could throw her at reaper troops with no problem, but sending her to dinner, with him, to talk about them… she shuddered.
Taking a deep breath, Charlie walked over to the table and sat down in the free seat beside him.
"Hey," Kaidan greeted, a smile on his face. "Hope you don’t mind, I started looking already."
"It’s fine, I can catch up," she said, smiling back. She grabbed the datapad on the table with the menu on it and started looking through the options, of which there were quite a few.
"Surprised this place can still get supplies for a menu like this," he commented.
Charlie huffed. "Maybe it’s better if we don’t ask how… or where."
Kaidan chuckled, putting his menu down. He looked her in the eyes and said, "I’m glad we’re taking the time to do this. I could use a sanity check."
"Sanity check," she repeated, nodding. "Yeah, I’m with you on that."
"You know, my life flashed in front of my eyes on Mars," he started, voice soft, "and there weren’t enough moments like this, with people I care about."
He was right, moments like this with people they cared about were few and far between… but they were at war. They wouldn’t get a lot of time like this while the reapers were out there ripping apart the galaxy. She frowned—there were already too many chances where she’d lost him already, Mars included, and would have missed out on the chance to be here with him now.
"I’ve been meaning to ask," she started, dragging her thoughts out of the dark depths they were quickly descending into. "You still drinking that gross concoction your doctor was giving you? I don’t think they’ll have that here."
He laughed. "No, I don’t think they will."
"So what are you going to get?"
"If you’re trying to butter me up, it might take a nice steak sandwich, too"
"Yes, of course, the real reason we’re here," Charlie drawled. "The steak."
Kaidan laughed at her again and picked up his menu to continue browsing through it. "Think I’ll go with a shot of whiskey and a good old Canadian lager. Think they have it?"
"I hope so," she replied, skipping to the drinks section of the menu. "Whiskey sounds nice. Or vodka. I could go for an entire bottle of vodka right now." He quirked an eyebrow at her and she sighed. "What? I don’t like talking about emotions, all right?"
"I thought talking about things like an adult was your new favorite pasttime?" he teased, the tiniest of smirks on his lips.
Pursing her lips, she glared at him. "Kaidan, if you want me to even make it to the conversation about us, you’d better stop teasing me or I might just get pissed and leave."
Kaidan chuckled, holding his hands up in a defensive position. "Okay, okay."
Charlie shot him one last glare before looking back to the menu, frowning at what she found. "Well, they do have Batarian Shard Wine."
"I take it you don’t like Batarian Shard Wine?"
"I’d rather drink piss," she muttered, and he smiled at her. She rolled her eyes at him and saw they had whiskey listed below the piss and ordered herself some and then found those steak sandwiches Kaidan had been going on about. She ordered one of those as well and then placed the datapad at the center of the table, where it would be out of the way when their food and drinks arrived.
Kaidan finished ordering for himself, placed his datapad on hers, and then sat back in his chair with a sigh. "At my parents’ place in Vancouver, drank more than a few beers on their balcony, looking over English Bay."
"Sounds really nice."
"Yeah, beautiful view," he said, looking off into the distance as if he were picturing it right then and there.
"It must have been horrible watching the reapers attack," Charlie said quietly. "I mean, I saw reports of what happened in New York… I don’t have the best memories of that place but it was still home for a time, and to see the reapers rip it apart like it was nothing…"
Kaidan sighed, turning his gaze back on hers, a sad look in his eyes. "Yeah, it was… hard," he replied. "Any report from Earth is tough to look at, but being there, in Vancouver when the reapers hit…"
"Shit, sorry I brought it up."
He shook his head. "You know what, though? I feel good about our chances," he said, reassuringly.
She quirked an eyebrow at him. "You do?"
"Yeah," he said with a shrug. "Let’s me sleep better at night."
"Wait, you’re not sleeping either?" Charlie asked, sitting up straighter.
"Maybe a little restless. The war isn’t the only thing keeping me up at night," he said, eyes glancing away from hers. "I wonder about us."
Charlie’s stomach flipped and she muttered, "And that’s why we’re here." She looked around for their drinks, but didn’t see them coming. "Where’s my whiskey?"
"Hey," Kaidan said softly, taking her hand, and she froze at the warm touch. "It’s just me. We’re talking, that’s it."
She looked at their hands and then met his gaze, her mouth dry. "I know," she whispered. "I don’t want to mess it up again."
"Don’t worry about any of that," he said, giving her hand a squeeze. "I just want to know what you’re feeling and thinking. I know you well enough to make some guesses, but I want to hear it from you." Oh, god, she could only imagine what he thought she was thinking… "And I want to tell you how I’m feeling, too."
"Which is what, exactly?" Charlie asked, practically holding her breath for the answer.
Kaidan stared into her eyes, in that way of his that made it seem like he was looking into her soul. "I love you, Charlie. I always have," he said softly, and her heart skipped at his words. It wasn’t the first time he’d used the word "love" in reference to her but it was the first time he’d said "I love you," and god help her, it sounded absolutely beautiful. "I want to understand what this is between us, and make it real," he continued. "That’s what I want. What do you want?"
"Kaidan, I…" Charlie’s throat suddenly tightened, and she furrowed her brow, tearing her gaze from his as her mind whizzed with thoughts. Sure, she’d made progress with her baggage and all that, but she was still scared shitless about what could happen—they were in the middle of a war for fuck’s sake! They could both be dead by the end of it. The thought of losing Kaidan, especially if it was because of a choice she had to make haunted her, because she couldn’t lose another man she loved. But that was the thing… she loved him, so damn much, and she didn’t want to waste any more of the time they had left.
Charlie glanced back at Kaidan and wanted to slap herself when she saw his face had fallen. She’d hesitated, overthinking things, and now he thought she was going to break his heart… again.
"Fuck, I—" she blurted out, swallowing hard past the lump in her throat, "I love you, Kaidan." It felt so good to finally say it, and it was even better to see his face start to light up at her words. She, of course, had never said it to him. He had to have known, though—she was trying to tell him when she was dying over Alchera, after all—but actually saying it to him and admitting it out loud was different. It made it real.
And now that she’d told him, he was looking at her like she hung the damn moon. Like she was the most wonderful thing he’d seen in the entire galaxy, and it was almost too much for her to handle.
"I want to give us a try," Charlie added, and Kaidan nodded, smiling.
"And that," he said, taking her hand and holding it up to his face, "makes me so happy." She smiled back at him, savoring the feel of his face in her hand and his fingers around hers. The look in Kaidan’s eyes changed, ever so slightly, and then he was smirking at her. "And there are… benefits to that happiness," he said, pressing a kiss to the palm of her hand, the touch sending a quick shiver down her arm.
Regaining her senses, Charlie snorted at his complete shift in his thinking, even though she was glad to be getting away from the more… emotional things. "So, these benefits as we’re calling them," she started, eyeing his lips before dragging her gaze back up to his eyes, "When exactly are we going to get to them?" She toyed with his hand, her voice lowering. "Last time I checked, we both put in full orders."
Kaidan laughed, releasing her hand as he gestured behind her. "Later. Our drinks are here and I am going to take my time."
She glared at him as a salarian waiter came and dropped off their drinks. Charlie watched as Kaidan drank his shot of whiskey and savored the taste, placing the small glass back down on the table with a hum of approval before smiling at her.
She raised her eyebrow and said, "You going to take your time with your food, too?"
"Yeah. It’s hard to get a decent steak sandwich nowadays. I’m going to enjoy it."
Shaking her head, she huffed a laugh. "You’re prioritizing steak over me. This is getting off to a great start."
Kaidan leaned in closer to her, flashing her that look again. "There will be plenty of time for you—us—later," he said, voice deep. "And we’re going to need all the energy we can get for those… benefits."
"You make a valid point," Charlie breathed, unable to stop her eyes from dropping to his lips. She licked hers, and his mouth parted, and she wanted to kiss him right then and there.
Now that they’d spilled the beans on their feelings and she could kiss him without worrying about fucking things up between them, she wanted to, badly. She wanted to know what it would be like to taste him again, what his lips would feel like on hers, on her skin, on her—
Feeling heat flush to her cheeks, Charlie stopped her train of thought and grabbed one of her whiskey shots, downing the drink in one gulp. She slammed down the empty glass and immediately snatched up her second one and tossed it back as well, barely tasting the liquid as she practically inhaled it.
"I’m giong to need another drink… or two," she announced, putting her second empty shot glass next to the first, and Kaidan laughed at her. "Fuck, what did you call this? A sanity check?"
He smiled. "Yeah, sanity check."
- . - . - . -
Throughout their dinner they kept the conversation light, content to eat and talk as they usually did, though there was a new, carefree undertone to everything they did. It was almost like a weight had been lifted off their shoulders now that they’d finally talked about how they felt towards each other.
When they finished their steak sandwiches, they took to aimlessly strolling through the Citadel with no real destination in mind. Charlie didn’t mind, she always enjoyed spending time with Kaidan, and now was no different—okay, it was a little different, but in a good way.
She felt his fingers brush against hers as they walked, and she glanced down to them before meeting his questioning gaze. With a smile, she took his hand and slipped her fingers between his, enjoying the way he gave her hand a little squeeze and smiled back at her.
"Do you remember the first time we came to the Citadel together?" Charlie said as they approached a balcony perched over the Presidium. "Looking over a balcony just like this…"
"How could I forget?" Kaidan asked, a light chuckle in his voice. "I made a complete fool of myself."
Snorting, she leaned against the balcony railing and turned to face him. "Yeah, you did," she said, thinking back to that day. "I was surprised you ever even developed a thing for me. I mean, most people don’t like me much after spending more than ten minutes with me. I figured it would pass." She gestured to their conjoined hands and shrugged. "So much for that."
Kaidan leaned against the railing and faced her, a light laugh escaping his lips. Charlie glanced back out at the Presidium, her mind wandering back to the day Kaidan had embarrassed himself while they had been looking over a balcony just like this one. Ashley had made fun of him for it, which made the whole situation awkward, and she remembered just wanting to get to the Council and warn them about Saren.
Thinking of their fallen friend made her stomach sink, and it must have been written all over her face because Kaidan noticed.
"What is it?"
"Ashley… I just wish she could be here now, you know?" she said quietly.
"Me, too," he muttered.
"You know we’d never hear the end of it if she was," Charlie started, glancing at him. "This, us, would have been a field day for her."
"Yeah," Kaidan said with a laugh, before his face fell again. She looked back out at the Presidium and swallowed hard, trying to ignore the growing lump in her throat. "Charlie?" Kaidan asked softly, and she looked at him, his brows furrowed. "You’re not second guessing this, are you? If you don’t want—"
"No, I’m not," she breathed, cutting him off. "I meant what I said, I want to give us a shot." She pursed her lips and looked away, trying to find the words to explain what she was feeling. "I just… don’t feel like I deserve this, you know? Not with the things I’ve done…"
She’d done a lot of bad things for the greater good, in order to save lives, but not all the horrific things she’d done were for the right reasons—like slaughtering the surrendered batarians on Torfan or letting Ashley die to save Kaidan… How did someone like that, a monster, deserve to be loved? To potentially be happy?
Kaidan lifted his hand to her face, and she leaned in to the touch, sighing at the contact. "Do you remember what I told you… before we slept together?" he asked softly.
Nodding, Charlie met his gaze, his eyes boring into hers. She would never forget what he said to her, because she knew what it meant to him… and because she felt the same way. "You make me feel human," she whispered, and he nodded.
"I meant every word. Still do." His beautiful brown eyes searched her face. "I want to be that for you, too.
She let out a deep breath and said, "You are."
"Good," he continued. "Because when I see you, I don’t see what you’ve done, I see you. I see the amazing woman I feel in love with."
Fuck, her throat was tight again, and this time it wasn’t because she was thinking of dead friends… he was actually going to make her cry, dammit. Goddam feelings and emotions.
Charlie closed her eyes, and bit her lip. "I’m sorry, you know I’m shit at emotional crap," she said, her voice a little unsteady.
He huffed. "Yeah, but I still love you."
She couldn’t help but release a shaky breath at how easily he said "I love you," and how goddamn warm and fuzzy it made her.
"I am not used to that yet," she said, glancing up at him, unsure of what to do with herself.
"Well, the more you hear it, the more you’ll get used to it, right?" Kaidan asked with a smirk. "I’ll just have to say it all the time." She laughed and rolled her eyes. "I love you," he said, stepping closer to her, sliding his hand on her face back to cradle her head, his other hand coming up to brush his fingers down the side of her face.
Charlie was uttered breathless at the gesture and she swallowed hard, staring into his eyes as she waited for what he would do next.
"I love you," Kaidan repeated, and then he had his forehead pressed against hers and she could feel his breath on her lips and she was completely and utterly lost to him. She tugged him closer by the waist, tilting her head up, her lips parting as she breathed him in. Her heartbeat was thrumming wild in her ears, her breaths unsteady, and she just stared at his lips, so, so close to hers.
Charlie didn’t know who made the final move, her or Kaidan, but a second later, his mouth was finally on hers, and her eyes fluttered closed as she savored the taste of him. She could feel the small scar on his lip, and the scratch of the day’s beard growth against her skin as they kissed. She could smell him, the mix of standard Alliance soap and shampoo mixed with the faint smell of eezo and him, and felt his body pressed against hers, and it was all overwhelming in the best possible way.
One second the kiss was slow and passionate, and the next it just… exploded. They broke apart before they got carried away, both of them breathless, and Charlie took a step back from Kaidan, her eyes roving over his body.
"We need to… get back to the Normandy for those… benefits you mentioned before… ASAP," she said through heaving breaths.
It took a second for Kaidan to process her words, his eyes glued to her lips, but he swallowed hard and nodded. "Benefits… right… yeah."
Licking her lips, Charlie took his hand and they started rushing back to the Normandy’s docking bay.
When they reached the Normandy, Charlie had one goal: get to her cabin, and get Kaidan naked.
She practically slammed the button for the elevator, and when it arrived on the CIC, Garrus and Tali were inside talking about something—she wasn’t paying attention, and she honestly didn’t care. As they took their sweet old time stepping out of the elevator, the two went to greet them, and Charlie cut them off, dragging Kaidan into the elevator with her before they were even fully out.
"Not now, we have important Spectre business to discuss," she said, hitting the button for the first deck. Garrus and Tali just looked at her with confused expressions, their eyes falling to her and Kaidan’s conjoined hands just as the elevator door closed.
Normally, she’d care that they saw them holding hands… but in that moment, she didn’t, too preoccupied with Kaidan when they practically jumped each other the moment they were alone.
Charlie had thought about this, about him, on more than one occasion. She’d only slept with him the one time, but she had replayed it in her head quite a bit lately—without the crappy shit she pulled afterwards, of course. She wanted Kaidan, wanted him, and after more than three years, she finally had him… so there was no holding her back.
She could feel a similar need in the way he kissed her, too. Kaidan kissed her like he was hungry for her, like he’d been craving her for the past three years and couldn’t get enough of her. He kissed her like she’d disappear if he stopped touching her, like he couldn’t get their bodies close enough together.
When the elevator opened to the first deck, they shuffled towards her cabin, refusing to break their kiss. Charlie aimlessly reached for the button to open the door, and they almost fell inside her room, their backwards momentum causing her to cling to him as he held her up.
Pressing her up against the nearest surface he could find, Kaidan pinned her against the fish tank, and she dug her fingers into his back, loving the way she was squished between the hard glass and his body. He tore his lips from her mouth only to latch them on to her neck, and she shuddered against him when he found the sensitive spot there. Noticing her reaction, he turned his full attention to that spot, and she bit back a moan.
Charlie lifted her leg, hooking it around his waist and ground her hips against his, feeling his building arousal, and he jerked his hips forward into hers, his biotics flaring. For a moment, she felt a pleasant buzzing feeling where their bodies touched, until his biotics faded away.
"Fuck, Kaidan," she breathed. "The bed, to the bed."
He pulled his face out of her neck and let her tug him towards the bed, stealing a few kisses on the way. When they got there, she kissed him long and hard, before pushing him down on the bed with a smirk. He sat up, leaning back on his forearms and watched, riveted, as she pulled her tank top over her head and tossed it aside. Charlie quickly shoved her pants down and kicked her boots off, leaving her in her underwear and bra, before crawling over him on the bed.
"God, you’re beautiful," Kaidan said, taking her in.
"You’re not so bad yourself," she replied, her lips finding his as she settled in his lap. She kissed him, slowly, sensually, while her fingers worked at the buttons of his uniform shirt. She heard his boots hit the floor and smiled into the kiss as she finished opening his shirt, sliding her hands up his chest and over his shoulders to push it off, delighting in the feel of his bare skin under her fingertips. She shimmied back a bit and went for his pants next, but Kaidan rolled them over so she was on her back and he was perched over her.
"Wait," he murmured, eyes roving over her face.
Confused, Charlie furrowed her brows. "What?"
"I don’t want to rush this," Kaidan said, his voice deep, giving her a look that had her heart skipping a beat.
She nodded, swallowing hard. "Okay."
Then, taking his time, Kaidan began to kiss down her body. He started at her lips, with a deep, slow kiss that practically had her swooning, and then he kissed his way to her neck again, to the sensitive spot he discovered earlier. Charlie’s breathing grew ragged as he lavished her with attention, teasing her skin with little kisses and nips. He reached behind her and undid her bra, taking it off and tossing it to the side before he moved on to give his full attention to her breasts.
Charlie found her hands in his hair, and when her fingers grazed over his implant she made sure to be careful of it as she ran her fingers through his hair. He really was going all out, and she tossed her head back, a few curses slipping out of her mouth. Kaidan continued his path down her body, kissing between her breasts before he moved lower and lower. He kissed her almost reverently, and her skin quivered wherever his lips touched, her body growing warm. His lips traveled down her stomach and over her hipbone, and then he was taking off her underwear and getting comfortable between her legs.
Chancing a glance down at him, he stared at her while he held her leg and kissed up the inside of her thigh. Fuck, the sight of him staring at her while he did that sent heat straight to her core, and when his lips finally got there, she moaned, her head falling back on the bed.
Kaidan groaned at the taste of her, and Charlie almost lost it then and there. He was true to his word and took his time, testing the waters, experimenting until he figured out what she liked, and then he eagerly got to work building her pleasure, his mouth working wonders. And when he added his fingers to his mouth… that’s when she did lose it, tumbling over the edge quick and fast, his name on her lips.
"Good?" he asked after kissing his way back up her body.
Opening her eyes to meet his gaze, she sighed, having regained her senses. "Fucking amazing." He smiled at her, and she couldn’t help but smile back. She reached up and pulled him into a kiss and groaned at the taste of herself on his lips. "You’re still wearing your pants," she mumbled against his mouth, grinding her hips into his clothed arousal for emphasis. "Kaidan, I want to feel you."
"Fuck, Charlie," he moaned, biotics flaring again as he pressed his hips back into hers. She shivered where their bodies touched, his biotics eliciting a pleasant tingle over her skin. The hand Kaidan wasn’t using to hold himself went to his pants, and hers joined him. As soon as they got his belt buckle undone, they shimmied his pants and underwear off his hips and pushed them down over his butt. Kaidan partially rolled off of her to get them all the way off and then climbed over her again.
Charlie took him in, all of him, and bit her lip. He was beautiful with the blue aura of his biotics surrounding his body, something she’d thought the first time they slept together and had tried to ignore because she wasn’t supposed to be having feelings for him. But now, she stared at him and her heart swelled, because she loved him and he loved her, and she wasn’t denying it anymore.
Kaidan kissed her, and she pulled him close, arms wrapping around him as she opened her legs so he could settle between her hips. He reached down to align himself and her hand drifted down to his butt, urging him on.
He pushed inside her and they both moaned at the sensation. He held still for a moment, his forehead pressed to hers, her hand holding him close by his butt. For a second, they enjoyed the feeling of coming together, and then Charlie got a little impatient, giving his butt a squeeze. Kaidan started moving, pumping into her, and she met each of his thrusts with her hips.
Their lips came together in a flurry of messy, sloppy kisses they could barely maintain, and they didn’t care. They kissed whatever they could reach, their mouths, cheeks, necks, shoulders—any kind of contact was good enough.
Charlie locked her legs around his back, one hand buried in his hair, the other scraping down his back, while his fingers dug into her hip, his other arm bracing himself as he moved within her, both growing closer and closer to their peaks.
Kaidan reached the edge first, breathing her name, his biotics flaring out in a burst from his body, the energy blast making her topple over the edge after him, pleasure radiating out through her body.
They continued holding each other as their breathing rates came down and their erratic heart beats returned to normal. Kaidan stopped holding himself over her and collapsed half on top of her and half beside her, and Charlie huffed, opening her eyes to meet his. She saw the last bit of blue from his biotics leave his eyes and she dragged her fingers down his cheek. He turned to kiss her fingers and then held them to his face with his hand, and she smiled at the gesture—it reminded her of the way he’d kissed her hand at dinner.
"Hey, Kaidan?" she asked.
"Can I ask you something?"
"Anything," he answered, fully rolling off of her and settling at her side, facing her.
"Do your biotics always do that?"
"Normally, I’d try to retain more control," Kaidan answered. "But with you…"
Charlie smiled and thought back to their conversation overlooking the Presidium. She was glad she made him feel human enough to be himself around her, the same way he made her feel human. Her smile turned into a smirk. "Well, it’s good anyway… it’s nice," she added, and he snorted. "Can you do anything else with them? I mean, I’ve heard of some crazy things…"
"Have you now?" he asked, pulling her into a kiss.
"You’ll have to tell me about it later," Kaidan said against her lips, and Charlie pulled him closer.
Charlie lost track of how long she and Kaidan fooled around, but they had a lot of time to make up for. They talked too, even about some serious stuff like her fears and her baggage and shit, but they spent most of the night occupying their mouths with things other than talking. They’d barely gotten a couple hours of sleep when her alarm went off the next day, and the blaring sound of it startled her out of sleep.
She rolled over to shut the damn thing off, rubbing at her eyes.
"Fuck," she groaned, collapsing back down on the mattress.
She felt movement in her bed, and then realized it was Kaidan, who turned and pressed his chest to her back, sliding his hands around her as he kissed her neck. She rolled onto her back and looked up at him, a grin lighting up her face.
"Hi," she said, yawning.
He chuckled. "Hi."
He kissed her, his hand on her face, fingers roving over her cheek, down to cradle her head. His movements were precise and perfect, and hers were… sloppy and sleepy.
"How are you so awake right now?" she asked when they broke the kiss.
"I don’t know… I’m just… I’m happy," he said simply, and she smiled at him. "There’s a war on, but I get to wake up with the woman I love. Hold her in my arms… watch her drool as she snores."
Laughing, Charlie shoved him. "That started out so poetic."
"I couldn’t help myself, he said, and she rolled her eyes and smiled at him again. "I’ve never seen you smile this much in the morning before."
"Well, I’m happy, too."
"Didn’t know you could be happy before you had your coffee."
"Watch it, Major," she warned, narrowing her eyes at him.
He held his hand up in a defensive position and then pressed a kiss to her temple before rolling out of bed. She watched him walk over to her desk, shamelessly admiring his naked body as he made them each a cup of coffee. He caught her gaze on the way back and smirked at her.
"Like what you see?"
"My coffee being served to me?" she teased, sitting up against the headboard. "Absolutely." Kaidan chuckled and gave her her steaming mug of coffee. Taking a sip, she hummed in appreciation and watched him get back in bed with his own cup. "You’re a bonus, though," she added, and he laughed again.
"Glad I could be of service," he said sarcastically, and she snorted, shifting closer to him. He pulled her into his arms and she cuddled up to him, completely content.
"I could get used to this," Charlie said. "Waking up with you, drinking coffee together." She sighed. "It’s nice."
"Good way to start the day," Kaidan agreed, sipping at his coffee. "Almost like a morning sanity check."
She snorted, almost choking on her coffee. "Our last 'sanity check' ended up with us here in bed, naked, for hours," she pointed out.
Kaidan shrugged, lips curled into a grin. "I don’t see anything wrong with that."
She burst out laughing and he joined her, and when they calmed down she sighed, resting her head on his shoulder.
"I love you," Charlie said quietly, her chest swelling, and Kaidan tightened his grip around her, pressing a kiss to her head.
"I love you, too."