A/N: This is a fill for a prompt on the ME k-meme that asked for small, loving gestures between Shepard and Garrus in their domestic life.
Big thanks to KabiViolet for beta reading.
These snippets are about Shepard and Garrus from my story "Serendipity."
Disclaimer: BioWare owns Mass Effect and its characters. I make no money from the writing of this story.
I'd do anything
For you, dear, anything -
For you mean ev'rything to me.
"I'd Do Anything" (Oliver!) by Lionel Bart
Slowly getting baked to a crisp by the hot rays of the sun as they stretched out on the lounge chairs they'd set up on the pristine, white sands of this little island was not exactly Shepard's idea of fun. Garrus, however, couldn't have been happier. The skies were clear, the temperature was warm enough to make his plates sing with joy, and, most importantly, they had this whole place all to themselves. It wasn't quite the retirement home he'd been dreaming of, given that they were only renting this place for a week, but it was close enough—certainly better than being cooped up in their small apartment in London while trying to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives now that the war was over.
He lay on his back, his head propped up by a turian pillow, and closed his eyes as he soaked up the blissful heat enveloping his body. He tried to ignore the little noises coming from his left, as Shepard fidgeted and sighed, then fidgeted some more, and didn't even crack an eye open when she got up with a moan at last.
"I'm hotter than a chicken in an oven," she groaned. "I think I'll take a dip in the water. Wanna come?"
"No, thanks. I didn't survive three suicide missions just to drown on my vacation."
"Come on, it'll be fun. I can teach you how to swim."
He finally opened his eyes to look up at her. "As much as I looove the idea of fighting for my life, I think I'll pass. Turians don't enjoy filling their lungs with water quite as much as humans do."
She shook her head with a laugh and turned towards the shore with a wave of her hand, and he watched as she ran across the hot sand, yelping at the searing sensation of the milliards of little particles burning into the bottom of her feet before she dove into the depths of the ocean.
He closed his eyes again and let his mind drift back into the pleasant numbness of doing nothing but inhaling and exhaling, until he drifted off to a light sleep.
By the time he woke up, she was back by his side, lying face down on her chair. She seemed to be taking a little nap of her own.
He reached for his cup on the small table between them to moisten his parched throat, but found it empty. Giving up the comfort of his spot and making the trek to their cabin didn't sound too alluring, but it was better than dying of thirst, so he stretched out his limbs to get the blood flowing and slowly stood up. Her drink was gone, too, so he picked up both glasses and headed to the hut to get some refills.
He puttered around in the kitchen for a while, getting ice and filling the cups with their chilled beverages, then trudged back to their little oasis on the sand. Shepard was still lying motionless on her lounge chair, her head turned to the side and her arms hanging down over the edge.
He crept up to the small table and took great care to deposit the glasses as quietly as he could, but, despite his best efforts, they still clinked softly as they touched the metal surface. His eyes darted over to Shepard's sleeping form, but she didn't move.
His gaze slid down her spine to the round curves of her backside, covered only by a small patch of yellow fabric. Her shape was as lovely as ever, but he couldn't shake the feeling that something was different about her. He stood still, eyes narrowed in concentration as he tried to put a finger on what exactly it was that had caught his unconscious attention, until she moved a leg, making her bikini bottom roll up a bit. A startled, involuntary gasp escaped his throat at the sight of a sharp demarcation line between the color of her milky white skin that had been covered until now and the bright red shade of the other areas that had been exposed to the sun for too long.
"Spirits," he blurted out, forgetting all about his plan to let her sleep as long as she wanted to.
She lifted her head to blink up at him, her eyes still bleary and unfocused from her earlier state of unconsciousness. "Hmm?"
"Your skin. It's... red."
She raised her torso up onto her elbows and twisted around to take a look. "Aww, shit. Forgot the damn sunscreen. Well, that's gonna hurt."
Garrus's mandibles twitched in concern. He'd had no idea that this sun, as weak as it was compared to Palaven's, could do this much harm. "How bad is it? Do you need medical attention?"
Shepard rose onto her hands and knees and carefully slid off the chair, avoiding any contact between the coarse fabric of the furniture and her damaged skin. "Nah," she shook her head dismissively, "some medi-gel should take care of it. If I'm lucky, it will heal quickly and won't even blister."
She slipped her feet into her sandals and set out on the short hike to their cabin. "Give me a hand?" she asked, throwing a glance at him over her shoulder.
He hurried after her and caught up in a few long strides. This didn't sound good. In fact, it sounded much more serious than she seemed to want to let on. During his time in C-Sec, not to mention years of fighting every conceivable enemy by Shepard's side, he'd seen plenty of times what a burn injury could do to soft flesh. It was not pretty, to say the least—in fact, it was downright terrifying. So it was with no small measure of dread that he choked out, "Blister?"
She shrugged her shoulders. "Yeah, if the damage is deep enough. If it is, it'll probably peel, too."
Garrus stopped in his tracks and stared at her in shock.
"What?" she asked, turning back to look at him when she realized that he wasn't following her anymore.
His mandibles were pulled tight into his face and he had to take a deep breath before he could answer. "Your skin might... peel off?" He shuddered at the thought.
For a split second, she considered feeding him some tall tales about the horrors of it all, but he looked so sickened by the whole situation that she just couldn't do it. She took a step to close the distance between them and put a soothing hand on his arm. "Don't worry, if that happens, it won't hurt. A new layer of skin will come in and the old one will just come off. No pain. None."
His stance visibly relaxed at her words and he nodded his head in understanding. With his concerns sufficiently allayed, they finally walked into the cabin and found the medical supplies in the bathroom closet.
Shepard took her bathing suit off and lay down on the bed to give Garrus maximum access to all the areas that needed his attention. Her body screamed in pain at the touch of his hands, but she bit into her lower lip to stifle any groans threatening to escape. The analgesics in the medi-gel did their magic, though, and in a few minutes she felt nothing but blissful coolness over her hot skin.
She gave a contended sigh and got up. "Thank you. Much better now."
"Sure." He gingerly took her hands in his and gave her a remorseful look. "I'm sorry."
"It was my idea to come here. I didn't know—"
She put a finger on his mouth plates and shook her head. "It's not your fault. I just forgot to put on the sunscreen. People with fair skin and red hair are more vulnerable to the sun's rays. But it's no big deal. We've been through worse."
His mandibles finally flared out in a relieved grin. "That we have."
He watched as she carefully put on a long, cotton shirt, and followed her to the kitchen to get a drink. After a few gulps of ice cold water, he felt good enough to rib her a little bit about the vulnerability of her species.
"How in the name of all that's holy did your species survive?"
She gave him a playful glare over her glass. "We managed. Quite well, I'd say."
He hummed as he pretended to ponder her answer. "And peeling? Really? I didn't know your people molted."
Shepard nearly spit out her water, but managed to swallow it down before she deposited her glass onto the kitchen counter and crossed her arms in front of her chest. She leaned back on one leg and gave him her old Grumpy Commander look. "All right, Mister. Next time, we're taking a ski trip. Let's see how you do with the ice and snow."
Garrus couldn't hold back the shiver that ran down his spine at that mental image. He held up his hands in surrender and drawled, his voice mock serious but his eyes glinting with mischief, "Did I say molt? I meant, rejuvenate yourselves. You know, so you can be even more impressive and beautiful than you already are."
She laughed and cupped his face to plant a gentle kiss on his mouth. "Nice save. But we're still going to the Alps."
He shook his head and let out an exaggerated sigh. "Fine. If you want me to freeze to death—"
"No need to worry. I'll have my ways to keep you warm." She gave him a wink, which he reciprocated with a low purr.
Maybe the cold wasn't going to be so bad—as long as she was by his side to take away the chill.