Dilan - fiancee
Caris - Beloved, precious, cherished
Avosem - Grandfather (Familiar form Avo)
Amiala - Grandmother (Familiar form Ama)
Maribellu - Beautiful female … undercurrents of radiance and within a close relationship (wife, mother, grandmother, etc.)
Puer - Puerin plural. Child. Pueriti - Baby / infant under the age of 1
Domin - House in the sense of it being a home rather than the structure
Coillas (Coillasi - plural) - The chains that hold turian bonding robes closed. After the ceremonies, they are wrapped and fastened around the wrists of both bond-mates.
Ylasiun - The ancient turian version of heaven. The realm where all honourable warriors spent eternity.
Moruvesin - Winged insect analogues native to Palaven that grow to approximately 2 cms in length. Covered in articulated armour, they are very difficult to kill and have a sting that might not kill you, but it will make you wish it had.
Victus can't help but grin wide enough to make his mandibles ache as Jane turns, squeezing herself between the front seats in the crowded skycar to holler at the lunatics in the back. "Aren't you all supposed to be strapped in?" Even though she raises her voice, he can barely hear her over the blaring music of the Garrus-led air band performance.
Zirra interupts her back up vocal and air guitar performance to say, "We are, Ama. See?" The tiny turian holds out her belt, her expression gorgeously earnest. "A seatbelt can't stop me from shredding it on my axe."
Sinking back into her seat, Shepard lets out a tremulous breath. "Sweet lord, I'm an ama."
Shepard's words disappear into the family's reaction to their smallest thrash rocker, but they resonate deep in Victus's gut. His dilan reaches out, laying a hand on his thigh. He understands. Sometimes joy proves as terrifying as the battlefield … perhaps moreso. At least they knew their place amidst the horrific reality of battle. Happiness … peace … comfort … they're all still learning to trust those foreign concepts.
Adrien covers Shepard's fingers with his talons, supporting her with a gentle squeeze. He knows that she just needs to check in, and it's his privilege to become her anchor for as long as she needs one. And she needs one more than she'll ever admit. He meets her gaze for a handful of heartbeats before the world outside the windows demands her attention. She looks away, the sun leaving him in shade.
The awe in her voice leaves no doubt as to whether or not the view inspires her as she asks, "Where have you brought us, caris? Family picnic in heaven?" Her hand slips out from under his to grip the car door.
He doesn't need to reply, because the next moment, he guides the car below the forest canopy, revealing their destination. A large log house stands in the center of a broad clearing, its windows intact, its deep, violet-silver logs free of any trace of soot or damage. It's a decidedly new addition to the vista and the answer to a great many of his hopes and dreams.
"My lord, if God didn't just go and make himself more than one Garden of Eden." Shepard says, the words an awed whisper. She turns to watch him, her left hand slipping back over his thigh. "But it's hardly an example of traditional turian architecture."
Victus chuckles, the sound reverberating straight from his heart. "Very true. One would almost think it was built with humans in mind."
"It's quite the house." She rises to his teasing and clicks her tongue. "Must be some extraordinary humans."
"Oh, she is most extraordinary." Victus layers his subvocals with everything he's felt since that day on Menae. He squeezes her hand, then loosely laces his talons through her fingers, unwilling to let her go, even for the few moments it will take to land.
"Oh, stop flirting." Garrus's groan drifts up between the seats. "Next you'll start kissing." Another groan. "How is that even considered hygienic?"
When Victus meets his best friend's gaze in the mirror, Garrus's eyes sparkle . He's playing to the audience. Still, beneath the teasing, Victus sees the yearning the stubborn obluvis will never admit to.
"I like it when Ama and Avo kiss," Zirra says, audible thanks to the krogan band's song ending. The puer sighs, her disapproval worthy of a strict great-amiala. "They love each other, Garrus. Leave them alone."
The entire car falls into silence for a single breath, laughter tumbling into the void on the next. Spirits, she's precious. Her soul glows with an ancient light that both tickles Victus and breaks his heart. If only her wit and intelligence didn't owe their origin to the horror and tragedy of the war.
Victus turns his attention to landing the car on the wide pad just downhill from the domin. Even as he opens the doors, he meets each set of eyes staring at him in the rearview display. "Welcome home, everyone." He swings out of the vehicle, hurrying to the passenger side to take Jane's hand, helping her up from her seat. Leaning in close, he whispers, "Welcome home, maribellu."
Shepherd slips her arms around his waist, pressing in tight against his side. "So, Primarch, this was your surprise, huh?"
"A good one?" Will he ever stop being amazed at the way she fits against his body? Spirits, he hopes not. He'd never known how much of him died with Lanira until he held his Jane, and that piece of the puzzle slid into place.
She smiles up at him. "The very best, my love." Her grip on him tightens, the knuckles of one hand caressing his lower spine. She rests her head against his chest and lets out a long breath, her contented sigh telling him more than words ever could. "The very best."
"Avo!" Zirra races toward them, dragging Sam along by the hand. She stops, pressing in against them both, her expression betraying all the conflicting emotions behind her words when she asks, "Is this really our domin?"
Victus releases Shepard to crouch, meeting the puerin at their level. Reaching out, he strokes their cheeks. Spirits, but hasn't he fallen in love over the past couple of months? "It's all ours," he assures her. "You two should pick out your bedrooms before they're all snatched up."
Both puerin stare, eyes alight, mouths agape with a combination of hope and disbelief, the second cracking his heart down the center.
"Any room we want?" Sam asks, his voice barely audible over the rustling lafolitectus leaves.
Victus wraps his arms around them both, turning them to face the domin. "See that big section over on that side?" He points out the domin's two storey, western-most wing. "That's for you two and your paris, and you can have any rooms you like." After nuzzling both cheek and mandible, Victus gives the puerin a gentle push toward Terion and Marc. "Better get moving, they're waiting for you."
Sam throws his arms around Victus's neck, then just as quickly spins away, chasing Zirra across the broad expanse of mossy lawn. Victus watches after them for long seconds. How can bodies so fragile contain spirits of such strength? He smiles, heart so full it aches behind his keel. Maybe he doesn't need to see the workings behind the miracle. Maybe it's enough for it to exist. He straightens.
Stepping back in against his side, Jane slips her arm through his. "Do I get to pick my room?" she asks, a sly heat threaded through the question.
"Yours was made to order, but I'm sorry, the puerin don't have to share, but you do, and your roommate leaves datapads everywhere." He takes a step toward the domin, his hand caressing her arm on its way down to wrap her fingers in his. They're cold despite the warm morning. "Come, caris, let me show you our future."
Instead of following, she tugs her hand from his grasp. Turning, he tries to capture her gaze, but she keeps it leaping ahead of him, refusing to settle.
"Jane?" He steps toward her, his arm sweeping out. The gesture offers everything before her, both seen and not. "This is it, my love." His words breathe there in the space between them, living promises. "This is the oaths we spoke, the blood we spilled, the goodbyes we endured with straight backs and clenched fists."
His words fail him, all the emotions tangled in his gut finding their escape in a smile … pure sunshine pouring into the silence. He swoops her up in his arms, spinning her around. "This is it," he whispers again, his mouth pressed to her ear. "This is the threshold. Allow me to carry you over it. Isn't that a human tradition?"
"Adrien." She pushes against his chest. "Put me down." A sigh like a hiss of steam forces itself between the iron-pressed line of her lips. "You're … I'm … we can't just … ." She shoves and wriggles her way from his arms, but he manages to catch her hands in his.
He sits down, the thick, soft mosses cushioning his less-than-graceful backside. Somehow he manages to keep his grip on Jane's fingers through sorting himself out to sit cross-legged. "Sit with me, beloved heart."
When she finally focuses on his eyes, she lets out another steaming-kettle sigh, her expression as solid as the ancient trees that stand at his back. "You can't charm your way out of the reality of our situation, caris. We have responsib—"
"No!" The word erupts on a blast of pure vitriol. Spirits, how he hates the impossible weight she forces herself to carry. "No." He tugs on her hands. "Sit." While he won't force her, he layers in vehement enough subvocals that she stops fighting him. "Sit," he repeats when she doesn't move toward him. The spark that has warmed the back of his neck since the moment she appeared on Menae flares, a scorching blaze. "I need to explain something to you, so sit and just …"
He shakes his head, a sharp knife to cut her off as her mouth opens. Her arguments die still-born. "Please, Jane, we need to have this out before we wrap our coillasi around one another's wrists." He tugs on her again, gently but as decisive as his command. He's allowed his love to carry around a head full of nightmares and imagined responsibilities for far too long. No longer.
After a few more, stubborn moments, Jane gives in, moving to sit across from him, their knees touching. That too, he cuts off at the root, guiding her onto his lap as he did the night he proposed.
"No. Seriously Adrien, there could be cameras—"
"Please," is all he says when she begins the tired argument for protecting his public image. Spirits, if she got her head any more twisted up, it'd be on backwards. It's as much his fault as anyone's. He should have stopped treating her like a piece of ancient hyalus … well, he's at least five cycles late. She's not broken or even fragile, and it's far past time for that notion to meet a grievous death.
It takes long enough for her to submit that Terion and his brood have disappeared into the house, and Garrus has wandered to the far side of the lawn, looking equal parts miserable and awkward.
"All right," he says, as much a sigh of relief as anything. He wraps her calves around behind him, easing her in closer. "Come on, soon-to-be Pridamani Shepard-Victus, get in good and close. I want you to really hear this."
She deflates a little as a breath escapes her lips. She softens into his embrace.
He waits until her arms find their way around his neck before he speaks. "I mean it, caris, I need you to hear me." He nuzzles her ear. "Trust me, please."
She nods, her cheek like silk against his mandible. "Always."
"Good." He holds her, one hand stroking the length of her spine, the talons of the other combing through the strands of silk on her head. "You owe this galaxy nothing, Jane." He tightens his grip ever so slightly as he feels her brace to argue the point. In reply he turns his face into her neck, layering his words with subvocals of devotion. "Bear with me."
Taking a moment to chart a more gentle course, he breathes her in. Although he can never prove his faith on this point, he knows Jane's sweet scent is that of all praela, one that followed her from ylasiun.
"You've already sacrificed more than the galaxy has ever had a right to ask." Feeling her withdraw, Victus sits back to meet her stare. It burns, moruvesin sinking their fangs into the tender hide at his throat. "All the dead require of us is that we live well and take care of each other."
He smiles, mandibles fluttering a little. "I've sacrificed all I intend to offer the dead. I'll always cherish Tarquin's memory, but I won't chain myself to it. I have family who are very much alive, needing all my love and all my energy."
"But …" She shrugs when he answers the word with a rumble of protest, her cheekbones blushing pink. "We can't ignore the fact that you're the primarch, love. Your office requires us to act a certain way." Reaching up, she caresses his face, soft fingertips brushing his brow and cheek. "I love you more than I have words to describe, but jumping all over you and acting like a love-sick, sex-crazed teenager just gives your enemies ammunition."
Mandibles flicking at sex-crazed, he smiles, talons lifting to smooth away the knot of worry between her brows. "Let them take their shots, Jane." Closing his eyes he leans in, pressing his brow to hers. "I have weathered far worse in my cycles as primarch. Besides, Palaven and the colonies are well along the road to recovery. I've done what I owe the living, so if they fire me for being love-sick and sex-crazed, then let them. It will give me all the more time to spend with you and the rest of my family."
At last, he feels her relax, exhaling the rest of the breath she's been holding. Finally. Now she might hear him.
"Your responsibility was to win the war," he says, returning to the point. "It truly was more than we had a right to ask, but you did it. You sacrificed every last centimetre of yourself—spirits, you died for us—so now you get to live however makes you happiest. No more anchors tied around your neck, most especially my job." He nuzzles her lips. "Because that's what it is: a job. You, my puerin, theirs, and Garrus … you are my life."
She kisses him, soft lips lingering before she hugs him tight, her face tucked under his jaw. "As you and they are mine. And all of you have earned the right to live as you desire."
Victus lifts her in his arms and stands. "And, if I must, I will choose this over being primarch every time." Her weight settles softly in his arms, her smile both sweet and eager as she curls in against him.
"You know, this is supposed to be a wedding night thing," she says, her tone putting sultry Palaven evenings to shame.
Once again, the voice in the back of his head asks him what he was thinking bringing everyone along. "Well, we're not exactly traditional, are we?"
She chuckles, and they cross to the house wrapped in a gentle, new silence of understanding.
The front door stands open before them when Shepard gestures toward Garrus, who's conducting an intense, culinary investigation of the wild rylamia. "What do we do about my other, other half?"
Victus sets her down. "He has a suite on the lake side if he wants it, but I think you should go over there and drag him out of the shrubs before he eats all the rylamia. The two of you could …" He shrugs. "... take a walk down to the lake and discuss that very thing."
She faces him, her shields dropped, defense grids offline. "Did you mean it?" Shaking her head, she wards off his automatic reply. "No, Adrien, I mean really, from the very bottom of your gut, you want Garrus to be bonded to us, not just a member of our larger family?"
"He's my fratrin—and my other, other best friend—no matter what you two decide." He smiles, teasing and warm. "My love for him will only deepen over the cycles as it has since we worried over your bed after the war." His talons find their way back to her hair, brushing the wind-blown strands off her face. "His love and devotion to you is one of the reasons I consider him fratrin. I may not love him romantically, but karifratrus is not about that. It's about a bond deeper even than blood."
Victus caresses the line of her jaw. "It's the bond you already have with him." Closing his eyes, he savours the velvet skin of her throat. He pitches his voice to weave a spell between them. "Would you do anything in your power to ensure his happiness? If he bonded with another, would you love him any less, or would his love and family become yours? If he passed, would you not care for them?"
Jane turns to look at Garrus, but leans into him. "I would do anything for him, Adrien. All you've said and more." She sighs and when she meets his stare, her eyes threaten rain. "Anything and everything except hurt you. He is my strength and courage, but you are my heart."
She laughs, the weight gone, the spell he wove achieving his goal. "Spirits, this is corny, but you're my soul, Primarch Adrien Victus, and I won't risk that. So tell me one more time. Are you sure, because if you change your mind in five years or fifty, I'll have to break my best friend's heart. I don't know if any of us will recover from that."
He takes her face between his hands, brushing aside the few drops of rain that escaped the clouds. "I have rarely been more sure of anything, caris." The words settle true and real in his gut as he turns her toward the torin in question, the torin whose attention they now hold captive.
Nodding, Jane steps away from him. "Okay, my love, here goes."
Victus watches after her, leaning against the door frame to await their return before entering their new home. "Here goes."
A-N: So, here I am, back after a painfully long hiatus, but it is the summer of words, so expect to see my around my stories more often. This chapter is a little late for Primarch Week on Tumblr, but hopefully, Adrien's fans won't mind. Thanks so all you readers who have kept reading and checking in while I was away. I greatly appreciate it. Love to you all.