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Shepard’s hands are so soft compared to his, the pad of her thumb has a little give to it that a turian thumb just doesn’t have. None of the sharpness, not that they bring that with them to stations or ships in the first place. Garrus clips his talons short, anyway; it’s just convenient for wearing armor, working with aliens. Most people really only grow them out on the colonies, where they don’t need to wear gloves.

Maybe he’ll grow them out after the war, see what it feels like. Settle down somewhere with a natural atmosphere, and trees, far from the Reaper-devastated urban centers. Shepard won’t want to, she won’t be able to rest until she knows she’s done everything she can, but once there’s some stability…

“Thinking about something, big guy?”

Garrus turns his gaze from her hand to her face, cheek half-buried in the pillow. A nice one, too; she had to take a minute to just enjoy the bed when they’d finally come up here. The one on the Normandy is nice for what it is, but it’s not as if she actually sleeps much there. Kahlee Sanders evidently has good taste for decor. A little ostentatious for his liking, but he has to admit that the amount of space is nice. Ultimately, for security purposes, a cleaning service can't be trusted, and neither of them will have the time or attention span to keep it well-maintained.

All that being said, last night was the first in weeks where she slept the minimum eight hours that humans need to be healthy, seemingly without any nightmares...

Shepard yawns and cranes her neck, rolling a shoulder as she curls her fingers around his hand. It pulls him away from the spiral of logistical thinking, back into the present. It’s early, they don’t have anywhere to be, and he intends to make the most of it.

“Thinking about retiring,” he says, finally, sitting back against the headboard. It’s cool on his exposed back, seeping into his skin. It’s one of the few times in his life that he’s actually enjoyed the cold. “After all this is over. Where do you think you’d want to live? This place seems pretty big for you, and most of it is rigged to explode, through no fault of my own.”

Shepard snorts quietly and squeezes his hand before she takes hers back, pushing herself up so she can pull the pillow under her neck and chin, arms folded beneath so she can arch her back until it cracks. She finally settles with a satisfied hum in a register that just catches his cowl and warms him up, just a little. “Samara said something to me once. When I die, it will not be in bed. I’ve still got a few years of service left in me." She glances up at him, little smile playing on her lips. "Not that this hasn’t been the nicest… twelve hours of my life, so far. I wouldn't mind an encore, sometime.”

“Definitely,” Garrus murmurs, running his fingertips over her shoulderblades. She’s no turian, but the only alien thing in here is the peace. Domestic appliances are far quieter than an active warship, stealth frigate or not; the only thing that would be better is real sunlight filtering through some windows. Maybe crack one open a smidge, let in a cool breeze. Watch the way her chest rises and falls as she breathes it in. “Come on, Shepard. Indulge me. You’re really not curious if your apartment on Intai’sei survived?”

“Guess it would look pretty bad if your fiancé was homeless,” she agrees, finally, and his heart skips a beat at the word. They haven’t really spoken about it since they rented the skycar, it just seemed to be something that needed to wait for when things were better. Illium-style shotgun weddings have been more and more common in the lower wards lately, nearly as many frantic brides and grooms and spouses-to-be as refugees, sometimes overlapping. Something simple would be serviceable, sure, but this party had made Shepard so much happier than Garrus had expected, even as she just drifted around, seemingly content that everyone else was having a good time. 

She deserves something nice. A real celebration.

“Hell, Shepard,” he manages to respond without sounding like his heart is in his throat. “I always look bad. You’ll have to try pretty hard to disappoint my family if I’m standing right next to you.”

“I don’t know about that,” Shepard murmurs, rolling onto her side. Her eyes shine so bright, even in a dark room. “Peel a few layers of armor away and hell, I’d sleep with you. Might have to buy me a few drinks first, though. Silversun Gazette says I’m worth at least seven martinis.”

“You’re beautiful,” Garrus says reflexively, like he meant to say something else. She smiles that smile that’s too big for her face, like he just said something really stupid, but he can’t even manage to feel defensive about it right now -- he loves how happy she looks.

“I love you,” she says, plain and simple. It's exactly what she meant to say.

He doesn’t say it back. He never says it back. But she reaches out for his hand and he takes it in both of his, presses her knuckles to his scarred mandible so she can feel his subvocals thrumming. He says it there, where she can't hear.

“We should move back to Palaven,” she says, like it’s that easy, even without the war. Just another day on the Presidium, all tidy and orderly. Things that seem crazy sound so possible when she suggests them. “You have family there.”

You’re my family,” he says, like an idiot, letting go of her hand. She laughs.

“I said we. As if I’m letting you go anywhere alone. Every time I swing by to pick you up, you’re on death’s door.”

“We don’t have to go back to Palaven for me,” he insists, turning his gaze back on her. “We don’t have to start there, I mean. I’m not running away, but can we just… have a few months off? One or two? Let the bureaucrats figure out the aftermath, for a change?”

“You really want to sit around with cocktails while the universe is in flames?”

“I’m not a firefighter, Shepard." Garrus is turian, his mouth is dry by design, but it feels drier right now, somehow. "I know it’s selfish, I just…”

Shepard waits patiently, and he has to close his eyes to keep from feeling small, sheepishly running a hand over his crest.

“I just want… more time.”

She finally pushes herself up and knocks his legs to the side so she can clamber unceremoniously into his lap, arms looped comfortably under the swell of his cowl. This close, Garrus can see all the little, fuzzy hairs on her neck. He closes his eyes again and rests his chin on top of her head, sighing like the weight of the world has been lifted from his shoulders. He can only hope it hasn't deferred to hers, like everything else in the galaxy.

He wants to steal her. He wants to win this war, he wants to save the universe, but even more, for the first time in decades, he wants a future.

“It’s us, Garrus,” Shepard says, muffled, into his chest, and her breath warms his skin. “We’ll get through this. There will be time.”

He runs his hand over her back soothingly. He’ll say it back. Eventually. When it counts.