I wrote this as a fill for a prompt on Tumblr.
The prompt was: "there's a really good 2-for-1 deal on this fancy restaurant I've always wanted to go to on valentine's day, so will you go with me?"
Big thanks to the wonderful Suilven for beta reading. :)
Working on a Cerberus vessel had never been one of Garrus's career goals, but he had to admit: his new life situation did come with certain advantages. First, there was the technology—new, shiny, advanced, made for restless fingers to tinker with. Second, and this was the best of all, as far as he was concerned, the crew, being Cerberus and all, generally left him alone, allowing him to work on the weapons systems in peace.
The only person to come by his "lair," as Shepard liked to call it, was the commander herself.
She visited just about every day. Sometimes, they talked. They discussed missions and logistics and upgrades, and reminisced about the old times. More often, though, he sent her away, citing work that still needed to be done, calculations that still needed to be finished.
The day their relationship took an entirely unexpected path, he let her stay.
At first, he regretted that decision. And then—he didn't.
It all started when they docked at the Citadel and Shepard went ashore to make some much needed purchases for the ship and her crew, taking Kasumi with her and leaving Garrus behind so he could tweak the guns to his heart's content.
He thought they'd be gone for hours; instead, Shepard walked into the battery, steps sharp and precise, a mere forty minutes after she'd left.
"Hey," she said as she came to a stop by his workstation. "Got a minute?"
Garrus looked up from his numbers. He wasn't quite done with his calculations, but he was making good progress, which made him feel generous enough to take a short break for her sake.
So, he lifted his fingers off the keyboard and gave her his full attention. "Sure. Need me for something?"
Shepard's lips quirked up into the kind of grin that almost always meant trouble. "You could say that." She leaned her back against the railing, resting her elbows on the metal bar. "Remember that restaurant in Zakera Ward? The Melting Pot?"
Garrus groaned. Not this again. The Melting Pot was a new, wildly popular multi-species eatery in the Ward, and it happened to be the only establishment on the entire Citadel that had declined to give Shepard a discount in exchange for her endorsement.
That kind of failure was not something Shepard could ever tolerate. It pissed her off, ate at her, kept her obsessed with the idea that somehow, someday, she was going to get a rebate, any rebate, for that place.
"How could I forget?" Garrus said, blowing out a deep sigh. "You've been complaining about them for weeks. Why don't you just go to another restaurant? I'm sure there are plenty that would be happy to give you your precious discount."
Shepard looked at him as though he'd just murdered her last remaining fish.
"It's a question of principle, Garrus," she said, poking the air with an outstretched finger. "Besides, I don't have to. The wait's over. Turns out, they're having a two-for-one deal for Valentine's Day." Her half-cocked smirk turned into a full-on grin, and she pushed away from the railing, turning fully towards him. "Which happens to be today. So… how would you like to come to The Melting Pot with me for dinner this evening? I'm paying."
"Doesn't that defeat your purpose of saving some credits? You'd still be paying full price for your own meal."
Shepard raised a shoulder and dropped it in a shrug. "Doesn't matter. It's the principle, remember?"
Garrus cocked his head. "Well, in that case—"
Shepard held up a hand, putting a halt to the rest of his sentence. "But. Before you decide, there's something you need to know. To get that deal, we have to go as a couple. Like, on a date. I mean, we don't have to actually be a couple… we just have to pretend to be one. You know?"
Garrus stared at her, his brain doing its best to make sense of the words that had just come out of her mouth. He vaguely remembered some human holiday for lovers, but that still didn't explain why she'd chosen him.
"Why me?" he finally asked. "Wouldn't going with another human be more believable?"
Shepard crossed her arms. "I don't want to go with another human. I want to go with you. There's no-one I trust more than you. But…" Her expression tightened, her brows pulling into a frown as she seemed to consider some kind of new angle to her proposition. "If you have someone that this would cause a problem with, then forget it."
She glanced away, looking deflated. She seemed more vulnerable at that moment than Garrus had ever seen her, on the battlefield or off. It was always her who helped others. Had anybody ever offered to do something for her?
"All right," he said, hoping he wasn't making a mistake. "I'll go with you."
Shepard's face lit up. "Thanks, Garrus. It'll be fun, you'll see. I'll make the reservation; you'll just have to be at the airlock in four hours. We'll go together."
She took a step towards the door, but turned back to give him a wink. "Wear something nice. We're going on a date, after all."
Garrus might have been a bad turian, but he was a good cop, and he still remembered that a successful undercover mission required preparation. Preparation and research. Lots of research.
Getting a heart shaped box of chocolate wasn't too difficult. Apparently, a lot of human customs and holidays had spread on the Citadel since he'd left, and this… Valentine's Day had become one of the most popular ones. Deciding what to wear for the occasion turned out to be a bit trickier. He would have greatly preferred his armor, banged up or not, but Shepard was right. No-one would show up in an all-metal, bulletproof outfit for a date. Probably.
As he stood by the airlock door, dressed in the best civilian clothes he could afford to get, he couldn't avoid thinking back to those times before Shepard, before the Normandy, before Saren. He'd had a few hookups back then, with turian women, but none of those had required this much thought and planning beforehand. You'd just ask her out, have a few drinks somewhere, then, if you hit it off, you'd go to her place or yours. Simple.
Not like this was a real date. It was just to humor Shepard and to—hopefully—get her to finally stop whining about that damned place and her damned discount.
He sighed, leaning his back against the metal wall, wishing she was coming already so they could get this whole thing over with.
And… finally, there she was, her steps clanging on the floor as she approached the airlock and turned the corner to step into the small space next to him.
"Hey," she said, her smile bright.
For a moment, all Garrus could do was stare at her. She looked so… different. Gone was her military garb, replaced by a form-fitting black dress that hugged her curves and left her arms and clavicles exposed. No boots either: she wore a pair of black shoes with high heels that made her legs look like they went on forever, her thighs disappearing under the hem of her dress with a disappointing finality. Garrus had never been attracted to humans, but he had to admit: Shepard looked mighty fine.
It was her laughter that broke him out of his daze. "I see you did some research," she said, nudging her head at the box in his hand.
Garrus rubbed the back of his neck. "Yeah, well I, ah, thought it would help us sell our story."
Shepard nodded. "Good idea." She paused, her tongue darting out to wet her lips. "I hope those are real. I wouldn't mind having a few."
"They are." He held the box out to her, and she took it, lifted it to her nose, and took a deep inhale.
"Mmm. Nice." Her eyes raked down his body, then back up again. "You look nice, too."
"Umm, thanks." He cleared his throat, trying to come up with some compliment himself. Hopefully something that wouldn't be offensive to humans. "Your, ah, hair… looks nice, and your waist is… very supportive."
Shepard laughed, and clapped him on the shoulder. "Thanks, I guess. All right, shall we go?"
It wasn't exactly the reaction he'd hoped for, but at least she didn't throw him out the airlock, so he took that as a win, and nodded.
Then, off they went.
"We should hold hands," Shepard whispered as they approached The Melting Pot's door.
Garrus looked down at her five fingers moving closer to his own three. He wasn't really a hand-holding type (most turians weren't), and performing something so intimate with someone who wasn't even his own species was one of those things he'd never imagined he'd one day do, but here he was now, complying with Shepard's request, trying his best to follow her example and intertwine his fingers with hers. It took a few clumsy attempts but, eventually, they managed, and by the time they entered the restaurant, with her hand in his and the box of chocolates in the crook of her arm, they must have looked convincing enough, for the hostess didn't bat an eye when they walked up to her and Shepard claimed her reservation.
"Oh, yes, for the Valentine's Day special, right?" the asari said, flashing them a smile. "This way, please."
She led them to a small table in a corner, and handed them two datapads with the restaurant's menu as they sat down.
"Your server will be with you shortly," she said, and then, she was gone, back to her post to take care of the next couple already waiting at the entrance.
Shepard put the chocolate in a prominent spot on the table, declared Stage One a success under her breath, and buried her nose in the menu.
Garrus looked around, not ready to commit to Stage Two yet until he'd scoped the place out. The restaurant was nearly full, almost every table occupied by couples enjoying their meals or chatting quietly, holding hands and gazing into each other's eyes as their servers hurried around. Most of the couples were human, but Shepard and himself weren't the only mixed-species pair by far: there were plenty of asari and turians in the crowd, with a few salarians and quarians mixed in as well.
Satisfied that their "liaison" most likely wasn't going to raise any eyebrows, or worse, suspicions, he turned his attention to his food choices. The selection of dextro-amino dishes was impressive, befitting a restaurant with The Melting Pot's fame. His stomach growled just reading the names of some of the turian ones—he couldn't even remember when he'd last had any of those. On Palaven, back in his mother's kitchen, perhaps?
"Hello. My name is Melissa, and I'm going to take care of you this evening. Have you made your choices?"
Garrus looked up. Their server was a young human woman with brown hair and brown eyes and a pleasant smile.
Shepard nodded, punched in her selection, then handed the pad over. After a moment of hesitation, Garrus did the same, picking an old favorite, a Sarkalian hoverfish in Merdian sauce, accompanied by a glass of dark Cipritine ale.
"Oh, that's a good choice. It's my boyfriend's favorite," the woman said, then, leaning closer, she added, voice hushed, "I'm so glad to see another human-turian couple. How long have the two of you been together?"
With all his preparation, this was something Garrus had neglected to discuss with Shepard. What was he supposed to say? Had they just started dating? Or had they been going out for a while?
He decided to go with the former.
"A day," he blurted out, hoping that would be the end to this conversation.
"A year," Shepard said at the exact same moment.
The server raised a brow. Shepard kicked Garrus under the table.
"Honey, she meant how long we've been dating," she said, forcing a laugh. "Not how long it's been since we've last, uh, been together." She gave the woman a wink, smiling brightly. "Sometimes, that's all he can think about. He's insatiable."
Shepard flicked her eyes at Garrus, her smile morphing into a smug smirk.
So. A challenge. All right, then. If she thought she could embarrass him with something that was as natural as breathing to a turian, she had another thing coming.
He leaned forward, putting as much smolder into his gaze as he could, and took her hand in his. "Just wait until we get home, sweetie. You'll see how insatiable I really am."
Shepard's eyes went wide. She bit into her lower lip, her face turning bright red as she lowered her gaze to his hand on hers.
Melissa let out a small, wistful gasp, and clutched the datapads to her chest. "Aww, that makes me miss my boyfriend even more. He's on Palaven and won't be back for another week." She gave a Garrus a long once-over before she turned to Shepard. "You're one lucky lady."
She stepped away from the table, promising to be back with their drinks, and finally walked away.
Garrus released Shepard's hand and leaned back in his chair, utterly satisfied with himself.
"Well, that went well, don't you think?" he said.
Shepard hummed a noncommittal reply, but she didn't look up. In fact, she seemed to actively avoid looking at him at all.
Garrus's brain faltered. Had he gone too far?
Maybe he shouldn't have agreed to this whole thing. Maybe he should have kept his mouth shut. Maybe—
Shepard let out a small cough. "So," she said, her eyes finally finding their way back to his face," did you order something good?"
Garrus's mandibles flared out in a relieved smile. It was good to know he hadn't ruined this whole evening. "Yeah. It's a dish my mother used to make. If this one is half as good as hers, I'll be happy."
Shepard nodded. "Yeah. Same. Except, for me, it was my father who did the cooking." She inhaled deeply, as though she could still smell the scents filling that long-ago kitchen in her long-ago home. "Pot roast with potatoes and vegetables. I wonder if they make it the same way here."
As a rule, she didn't talk much about her life before Mindoir, before the Alliance, and as she fell silent now, Garrus decided not to push. He talked about his family and his own escapades as a young boy instead, and took it as an important win that he could make her laugh.
Soon, their drinks and meals arrived, and with the tension gone, they fell into their usual easy banter as they ate. The food turned out to be quite good—not as good as his mother's, but close enough to be enjoyable.
The company, on the other hand, was even better.
It was nice, Garrus thought, to sit in this restaurant and pretend that he actually had a love life; to have someone to hold, someone to go home to every night. In front of the staff, they called each other by affectionate names, which, eventually, turned into a game of who could come up with the most ridiculous endearments.
It was the most fun he'd had in a long, long time.
When, after the main course and some desserts Shepard insisted on getting for them both, it was time to pay and leave, Garrus rose from his seat with a reluctance he had not expected to feel.
"Come on, pumpkin," Shepard said as she left a credit chit on the table and extended her hand for him to hold.
He took it, entwining his fingers with hers with a newfound expertise.
Once they were on the other side of the door, they could have let go. After all, the ruse was over; there was no-one to whom to prove they were a couple anymore.
And yet, they didn't. They held hands as they walked to the sky car station, as they sat in the cab, as they made their way through the docking bay.
They only separated once they stepped through the Normandy's airlock.
"So, ah, my research indicated that I should walk you to your door," Garrus said as they stood in the small room, waiting for the decontamination cycle to finish.
Shepard smiled up at him. "I'd like that."
They didn't talk in the elevator, but they stood close enough for their arms to brush against each other, to feel the air warm up to a scorching heat between them.
Garrus's head swam with a thousand thoughts. Had Shepard been born a turian, their night wouldn't end now. If they'd gotten this far, she would most likely invite him into her cabin, and he wouldn't leave until the morning. But Shepard wasn't turian, and this wasn't even a real date, no matter how much he wished the opposite to be true right now—on both counts.
It was a universally held belief that elevator rides lasted forever. Not this one—this one ended much sooner than Garrus would have liked. The door slid open, they stepped out, and stopped in the small hallway leading to Shepard's quarters.
"I had a good time," she said, turning to face him. "Thank you for coming with me."
Garrus tipped his head. "Yeah. Me, too. Thank you for the invitation."
Their eyes locked.
For a long moment, neither of them seemed to know what to say. Eventually, it was Shepard who broke the silence.
"Would you like to come in for a drink or two? Maybe…" She swallowed, looked down at her feet, then glanced up at him. "Maybe make this a real date?"
Garrus's heart thumped loud in his chest. He cleared his throat, and forced himself not to look away. "Yes. Yes, definitely."
Shepard stepped closer. She lifted onto her toes and, wrapping her arms around his neck, she pulled his face down to hers.
The world froze into a singular, fuzzy moment as her lips pressed against his mouth plate.
She was warm, and soft, and tender, and although this alien gesture should have left him cold, her touch, so strange, so exhilarating, so wonderful, sent a rush of warmth to his groin.
"So… this is kissing?" he said when she pulled back, her cheeks pink and her breath coming in short gasps. "I like it."
She laughed. "Well, this is one kind. I can show you the other one later, if you want."
Garrus pulled her closer, head bent, and touched his forehead to hers. "Yes, please."
She took his hand in hers, and as she guided him through her door and into her cabin, she looked over her shoulder at him, the corner of her lips curling up into a lopsided smirk. "Maybe one day you can show me how insatiable you really are."
Garrus couldn't have stopped the rumbling purr erupting in his chest even he wanted to. "I'm looking forward to it," he said, and followed her, as always, to his doom.
And that was when he decided that stopping his calculations and letting Shepard stay that day had been a good idea after all.