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Kaidan pulled the duvet back so Garrus could settle Tali onto the mattress, and then pulled it over her after she'd curled onto her side. It didn't look comfortable sleeping in that mask, but he supposed she was used to it. "Do you think she even needs this blanket? The suit will keep her warm, right?" he asked curiously.

"Probably not," Garrus replied as he slid the back of a claw gently over the edge of Tali's cowl. "But it won't hurt either."

Kaidan lifted a surprised brow at the gentleness in the Turian's voice. He wondered for a moment if he was interpreting the alien's tone correctly, but as he watched Garrus watching Tali sleep, he wondered instead if Tali had any idea that the Turian had a soft spot for her. Kaidan shook his head slightly and clapped Garrus on the shoulder before leaving the room.

The party was still going strong, although the pumping dance music from earlier had been turned down to something more mellow. He wandered through the apartment, joining in conversations occasionally, but only for a few minutes at a time. It had been a while since he'd seen Shepard, and he suddenly felt the need to have a moment alone with him.

"Are you looking for Shepard?" Jack called from the couch in the downstairs lounge. She was stretched out, using the armrest as a pillow, and Miranda was curled up in the corner of the other couch.

It felt strange speaking with them, although he'd spent some time earlier talking biotic shop with Miranda and she seemed pretty okay. But Kaidan hadn't been part of the crew at the same time they were, and they had gone through the Omega Relay with Shepard after Kaidan had refused to join him. He felt a twinge of jealousy over that, which was irrational because he'd been the one to turn Shepard down when he'd asked. He pushed the feeling aside and walked closer to them so he could be heard over the music. "Yeah, I'm looking for him," he said.

"Yeah, I figured," Jack replied with a smirk. "You boyscout types are so easy to read."

"Excuse me?" Kaidan asked in confusion.

Jack swung her legs down and stood up with smooth, cat-like grace. She sauntered close to Kaidan and leaned her elbow on his shoulder and leaned in close. She had a wicked look in her eye that warned him that he probably wouldn't like what she said. "Don't you Alliance guys have some rule against banging your commanding officer?" she asked with a smirk before taking a sip of the drink she held in her other hand. "Not that I blame you," she continued after swallowing. "He's definitely bangable. I'd have taken a round with him myself if he weren't so disgustingly nice all the time."

He probably should have been offended, but the comment just made him want to laugh. He'd learned quickly that Jack liked to stir up trouble, and he knew exactly how to deal with that. And he was just drunk enough that he was willing to stir up a little trouble of his own. "Too bad," Kaidan replied nonchalantly "I definitely wouldn't describe him as 'nice' in bed."

Jack gave him an overly dramatic look of disbelief. "Yeah right," she scoffed.

Kaidan reached up and pulled the collar of his shirt down enough to show off the fading bruise Shepard had left a few nights before. "Really," he said flatly.

She tilted her head to get a better look, and let out a disdainful snort. "So he's a biter. So what?"

Kaidan shifted so that Jack had to remove her elbow from his shoulder, and he sat his drink down on the table. He used both hands to tug at the hem of his shirt out of his pants and pulled it up enough to show Jack the finger shaped bruises peeking out of his waistband. When she reached out a finger to tug his pants a little lower, he smirked at the way her eyes widened. "All his cybernetic implants make him pretty strong, and sometimes he forgets," he said smugly.

"Wow," she said, letting go of him. She wrinkled her nose. "I think that's more than I wanted to know about the boyscout. And you."

Miranda sat up to get a look for herself, and she laughed at Jack's disgust. "And they're both biotics," she teased. "Tell me," she said to Kaidan. "Have you slammed each other around that cabin with your powers yet?"

Jack tossed back the rest of her drink. "I don't need to hear this," she grumbled.

"Not yet," Kaidan drawled. "He doesn't want to risk his model collection."

"Or the fishtank, I'd imagine," Miranda added dryly.

Jack stuck her fingers in her ears. "Not listening... lalalalala-"

Miranda laughed again, and it was a joyful, carefree sound. Kaidan knew the rest of the crew described her as icy and unfeeling, but Kaidan thought the sound suited her. "Don't be such a prude, Jack," she called loudly enough that Jack would be able to hear her.

That definitely got the other woman's attention. "I've got stories that would frizz your perfect hair, Cheerleader," she growled.

"I'm sure," Miranda said with a roll of her eyes. She turned a smile to Kaidan, ignoring the dark looks she was receiving from Jack. "I saw him head upstairs not too long ago."

Kaidan nodded his thanks, and turned towards the stairs. But he paused and made his way to the kitchen instead. He grabbed the last six pack of lager before heading up. He waved away attempts to pull him into new conversations. When he found Shepard sitting on the foot of the bed in the master bedroom looking down at a datapad, Kaidan wasn't surprised. It was quiet except for the music spilling in from the rest of the apartment.

He stood in the doorway for a moment and watched Shepard. The Commander hadn't been present tonight, and Kaidan was glad to have seen Just Shepard instead. Other than some of their private moments alone, Kaidan hadn't seen Shepard so relaxed, or smile quite so much. But now, Shepard looked tired and the set of his features were melancholy. "Hey," he said softly, without entering the room.

Shepard looked up and his eyes lit up with a small welcoming smile. "Kaidan," he said. "You're not waiting for an invitation, are you?"

He had been, actually. Somehow, it hadn't felt right just walking in on the moment. "No," he lied. "I was just taking in the view." That was definitely true. It still felt odd to see Shepard in his civvies, but he liked it. He walked over to the bed, pulling a beer from the six pack and holding it out to Shepard.

Shepard took it with a grateful smile, but he waited until Kaidan was seated next to him before he opened it. They clinked the bottles together and both took a swig at the same time. "You're right," Shepard said, looking down at the bottle appreciatively. "This is good stuff."

"Yeah," Kaidan replied heavily. "Expensive though... probably because the brewery doesn't exist anymore."

Shepard didn't say anything, but he leaned closer to Kaidan, nudging him with a shoulder. They sat like that, drinking their beers in silence. It felt nice. Even traveling between missions was full of planning and preparation. Kaidan hadn't been to a party in what felt like years. Certainly not for a very long time. He glanced over at Shepard to see him staring off into space.

"What's on your mind?" he asked. He didn't really want to break the peaceful moment, but he couldn't help it. He could tell Shepard wasn't thinking about the party anymore by the hard set of his jaw.

Shepard blinked and looked over at him. He shifted so that he could grab the data pad he'd been reading and handed it to Kaidan. "I was looking for reports of... my clone. No one has found his body yet."

"No reports of a bloody smear anywhere huh?" Kaidan asked with a chuckle as he took the datapad. When his joke was met with silence he looked up to see Shepard frowning down at his lap. "Hey, what's wrong?"

Shepard had finished his beer and reached down to grab another one from the case sitting between Kaidan's feet. He wouldn't meet Kaidan's eyes while he twisted off the cap and took a long pull from the bottle. He fiddled with the label with his thumbnails for a moment, while Kaidan waited patiently for him to speak, but it became apparent after a few minute that he wasn't planning on saying anything. "You're upset that he's dead?" he guessed.

"Maybe," was Shepard's quiet reply.

Kaidan shifted so that he could face Shepard. "Are you serious?" he asked in surprise. "He tried to kill you. All of us."

Shepard continued to pick at the beer label with his thumbnails. “Yeah,” he said quietly, then took another drink.

“So....” Kaidan prompted when Shepard didn’t speak anymore.

“He wasn’t very old,” Shepard said just loud enough to be heard over the music. “He looked full grown, and he spoke like an adult. But he was a child. And he was being influenced by Brooks.” He met Kaidan’s eyes, and his expression held a wealth of regret. “If he’d lived... maybe...”

Kaidan felt his chest tighten with emotion. Every last doubt he ever had that the man sitting before him was the real Shepard and not some Cerberus creation melted away. He reached up and cupped his hand around the back of Shepard’s neck pulling him close until their foreheads met. “Yeah,” he agreed gruffly. “Maybe.”

Bright blue eyes, framed by thin scars and wrinkles that were definitely not from a life full of laughter, stared back at him intently. Searching for the truth, and apparently finding it. Shepard closed the space between them and brushed a kiss against Kaidan’s mouth. Then another, and another, slightly rougher than the last. His arms came up to wrap around Kaidan, and the kiss turned passionate.
They were interrupted by a snort of disgust from the doorway. “In my cycle we closed the doors before mating if there were guests in our home.”

Shepard and Kaidan broke apart and turned to see Javik standing in the doorway with his arms folded. “Do you need anything?” Shepard asked. “I can-”

Javik stopped him with an imperious wave of his hand. “It is nothing,” he grumbled with his usual disdain for everything in the current cycle, before he turned and marched away.

Kaidan chuckled and looked back at Shepard. Seeing him smiling had Kaidan leaning in to pick up where they left off. Shepard responded in kind, nipping at Kaidan’s lips and sliding his hand down to slip up under the loose hem of Kaidan’s shirt.

“Have you seen Jav- Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

They broke apart this time to see Liara standing in the doorway looking uncomfortable. “You just missed him,” Shepard said. “Is there something you need from me?”

“No,” Liara said. She glanced away from them and twisted her fingers together nervously. “I was just looking for Javik... I had questions about... Well, I was hoping I have a talk with him. I’ll leave you two alone.” She turned on a heel and disappeared.

Shepard sighed. “Do you think it would make a difference if we closed the door?” he asked in a tone that suggested he already knew the answer.

Kaidan chuckled and answered anyway. “Doubtful. We should probably get back out there.”

“Yeah,” Shepard replied with a dejected look. “Although I was enjoying having you to myself.”

“We can stay in here for a few more minutes,” Kaidan said.

Shepard smiled. He shifted to lie back on the bed, and Kaidan followed him. “Alright, five minutes and then we’ll get back to the party.”

“Deal,” Kaidan said as he relaxed on bed. It was a lot more comfortable than the one in Shepard’s cabin on the Normandy. He rolled closer to Shepard, and wrapped an arm over his waist. “Hey do you think we could trade this mattress out for the one in your cabin?” he teased.

“I’m sure we could arrange it,” Shepard replied. He sounded like he was falling asleep. He’d closed his eyes, and his voice was low and slightly slurred. Kaidan wasn’t sure if it was from the alcohol or from lack of sleep, but he suspected it was definitely a combination of the two. “Five minutes,” he mumbled.

“Five minutes,” Kaidan agreed. But his eyes also began to droop, and he didn’t even try to fight the sleep he could feel creeping up on him.