Author's Note: This story was for a prompt on the ME kink meme, which asked for a story of everlasting love between a salarian male and a human female.
Silus, the turian chef, is a character from another story of mine (The Real Thing).
Thank you The Read Celt for beta reading the story.
Disclaimer: I do not own Mass Effect, nor the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.
"Hmm? Oh, sorry. I was playing this fascinating human game—Solitaire. Did you need something?" Nalik blinked apologetically at the young woman on the other side of the counter.
She'd been standing there for a while, waiting for him to finally acknowledge her presence, but he'd been so immersed in whatever he was doing on his omni-tool that she'd had to clear her throat and tap her feet as loudly as she could to draw his attention. At the mention of Solitaire, however, all her annoyance dissipated and her eyes lit up with an enthusiastic gleam. "You know that game? Isn't it great? I've been playing it for days. It's addictive!"
Nalik carefully considered her for a few seconds, not sure if she was serious or if she was teasing him, like his co-worker Don, who thought that his new passion was nothing more than some boring child's play. She was a pleasant looking human, at least from what he could tell based on his limited experience with the race, with short black hair that was dyed purple in stripes and light blue eyes that sparkled like lorin stones in the dim light.
"I don't blame you. I can hardly turn it off myself—as you could see just a few moments ago. For which I apologize," he added quickly, waiting to see if she was going to laugh at him now about his confession or she was indeed a kindred spirit.
"You know what else is fun? Tetris!" She beamed at him, and now he knew that she was the real deal.
"Oh yes, another interesting human invention!" he gleefully replied, happy that he'd finally met somebody who appreciated the kind of entertainment he himself had an obsession for. Don and most of their customers were more into sports games or fighting games with big choices and visceral combat.
"So, were you looking for something?" he asked. He would have liked to chat more about their common interests, but he was here to sell games after all.
"Yeah, I was wondering if you've received Final Fantasy forty-eight yet?"
"Sorry, not yet. You might want to check tomorrow, though. We're expecting it any day now. So... you like roleplaying games, too?"
"They are my favorites. Though I wish they still made them like they used to."
"I know what you mean! I miss those old games, where you had to remember to drink water, and it took five hours real time to fly somewhere."
"I know, right?" She let out a happy little chuckle. Finally, somebody who felt the same way she did!
"Well, I'll come back tomorrow then." She gave him a nod and a smile, turned around, and left.
He watched her leave for a while before he turned back to his Solitaire.
"See, I told you it's a nice place," Don declared as they entered the brand new human-salarian-asari restaurant in Zakera Wards.
"Whether or not the environment is pleasing to the eye does not influence my ability to digest my food," Nalik replied, still irritated by the fact that Don had dragged him away from his video game for lunch. He preferred to eat a quick bite while he played on his omni-tool, making use of the opportunity to have an uninterrupted period of time without having to answer and serve customers.
"Look, there's your girlfriend!" Don grinned, ignoring Nalik's protests, as usual. He nodded in the direction of a young human female who was sitting by herself at a table in the corner.
"What girlfriend? I don't have any girlfriend," Nalik snorted, looking around. "Oh, she's just a loyal customer," he said when he spotted the woman Don was heading towards.
"Right. That's why she's there all the time, chatting and batting her eyelashes at you."
"What? We just like the same kinds of games, that's all."
"Let's go and say hi to her."
"No! It would be rude to interrupt..."
But it was too late. They were already at her table.
"Oh, hi," she said, smiling up at them.
"Hi. Mind if we join you?" Don asked, sitting down already before she even had a chance to say anything.
"What are you reading?" Don picked up the datapad lying next to her plate. "FTL Mechanics? Are you kidding me? This is what you read during lunch?"
"Yeah. I'm an engineering student." She shrugged, ignoring the teasing tone in his voice. "I want to serve on a starship one day. My name's Alice, by the way."
"I'm Don, and this is Nalik."
"We've talked several times but never introduced ourselves. It's nice to put a name to the face." She smiled at the salarian.
It did not escape Don's attention that she didn't seem to care about his name. Pity. She was cute. But, the only person she seemed to have eyes for was Nalik. If only she knew about salarians... Or maybe she did, she just didn't care.
"Nalik and I were just talking about the new Galaxy Trek movie," he said.
"We were?" Nalik stared at him in shock. Don kicked him under the table. "Ouch."
"So, uh... Would you be interested in going to the movie theater with us tonight to see it?"
"I... I'd love to. I was going to go with my friend, but she got sick and I didn't want to go alone. I love Galaxy Trek!" Her eyes glinted with unbridled enthusiasm.
"You, too? I've seen every movie at least ten times!" Nalik exclaimed with a big grin on his face.
"It's a date then," Don smirked and leaned back in his chair, extremely satisfied with himself. "Let's meet there at 7 P.M."
By the time Alice arrived, Nalik was already waiting for her, but there was no sign of his friend.
"Hello. Don fell sick and couldn't make it," Nalik announced as soon as she was within hearing range. "If you want to cancel, I'll understand."
"Not a chance," she answered with a broad smile. It's even better this way.
She felt more comfortable just with the salarian. There was something about him that attracted her; sure, it was nice that he liked the same kinds of things as she did, but it was more than that. She found his enthusiasm and upbeat personality irresistible, and she felt... safe with him. She felt confident that he was somebody who would not hurt her. Or, at least, not intentionally. Unlike... unlike some people.
"So, let's go get the tickets," she proposed cheerfully, chasing away the bad memories of her old boyfriend, and hurried inside, Nalik following close behind.
The movie was great. Lots of action, special effects, romance— they loved it all. Well, Nalik mainly liked the action and explosions; the love scenes left him cold. But Alice thought it was all wonderful. They were still talking about their favorite scenes on their way out of the theater when a big advertisement stopped them in their tracks.
"Look, there's going to be a "Galaxy Trek Convention" here this weekend. Are you going?" Alice asked, pointing at the announcement.
"Of course. Nothing could keep me away."
"Are you going in costume?"
"Sure! I'll be Captain Loran. You?"
"I'll be Specialist Jiril." She gave him a sideways glance. "Maybe we could go together. It would be more fun."
He walked her home, talking about the movie and the convention the whole time, and returned to his apartment happier than he'd ever been since he'd started to work on the Citadel.
They arrived at the convention in full costume, just two in a sea of participants, most of whom had dressed up as one of the beloved characters of the series. Up ahead there was a registration desk where they could sign up for events and get maps and schedules. They downloaded the data to their omni-tools, then stopped in a relatively quiet corner to discuss where to go first.
"Look, there's a row of vendors on this floor. Let's go and see what kind of stuff we can get," Alice suggested.
"I hope they have Major Etril's action figure. I'm still missing that one from my collection," Nalik said, excited like a little kid on a field trip.
The merchandise area turned out to be much bigger than the map had implied, and it took them several hours to look at everything and decide what to buy. By the time they finished their purchasing frenzy, it was time to go to the costume contest. They had signed up together and went on stage as a pair, showing off their outfits, taking on the mannerisms of their characters and re-enacting one of the thrilling scenes from the latest movie in the short amount of time allotted to each competitor. The audience cheered and hollered, and they won second place. First place went to a hanar and an elcor, a favorite among the crowd for their realistic getup and props, complete with pyrotechnics and a light show.
"There's no way we could have competed against those!" Nalik grumbled, clutching the little statue he got for his prize.
"We still did very well. Maybe next time we'll prepare something spectacular." Alice patted his shoulder. "Okay, where next?"
"Let's see. Oh! The autograph signing session in B2 is starting soon. I definitely want to go there."
"All right. Let's go!"
Unfortunately, by the time they arrived at the designated suite, there was already a huge crowd waiting for the actors to show up.
Alice stopped in her tracks. She looked heartbroken. "We'll never get to them this way!"
"Hmm," Nalik murmured as he fiddled with his omni-tool.
The next moment hers went off with a ping, alerting to the fact that the signing had been moved to another room on the far side of the building. Just as she was about to turn around and rush there, he grabbed her arm and stopped her.
"Wait," he said, pulling her aside, just in time to prevent her from being run over by the herd of fans hurrying out of B2 and off to the new room.
"We're going to miss it again!" Alice complained. She puffed out a frustrated breath of air, but he didn't seem concerned at all. In fact, he seemed to be quite satisfied with himself. She narrowed her eyes at him. "Why are you smiling?"
"The signing was not moved. Just the crowd."
She wasn't sure if she should gasp in horror or laugh. "What? You... You hacked into the notification system and sent out a false alert?"
"Well, now we can easily get to the front of the line."
"What line? There's nobody else here now."
"You're evil," she chuckled.
"No, not evil. Just resourceful. Using my skills to achieve a goal," he replied indignantly. "I'll send out another note, telling them it was all a mistake, once we've gotten our autographs."
"Where did you get those hacking skills, anyway?"
"I studied computer science and virtual intelligence for a few years at university. But I'm much more interested in video games. One day I'd like to make my own."
She gave him a warm smile. "I'm sure you will, and I'm sure it will be fun." Her eyes darted to the door and she grabbed his arm with excitement. "They're here! Let's go get those signatures!"
After the convention they spent as much time together as they could—at least whenever she wasn't at her part time job at the souvenir shop or at school. They had lunch together, went to the movies or played video games either at her place or his.
When she had to leave for a few weeks to visit family on Earth for some holiday, he felt positively lost without her. The food didn't taste as good as before, he had less enthusiasm for his job and less patience for customers, and he didn't feel like doing anything but stare out the window when he finally got home. Even his video game system sat lonely and abandoned in his living room; it just wasn't the same, playing without her.
He didn't understand what was happening to him. He refused Don's accusations that he was "a lovesick puppy", retorting that Alice wasn't his girlfriend, salarians did not have girlfriends, and they most certainly did not get lovesick.
When she finally returned, however, his mood immediately improved and he was ecstatic to receive an invitation from her to play Alliance Corsair HD at her place that evening.
They sat on her couch, watching the holo-projector, as they ducked behind cover and shot their way through hordes of mercs and batarian slavers to complete their mission.
"Right behind you!" he shouted as he noticed a krogan charging her character. Despite his warning, however, she didn't shoot or move away from her position. He blasted the krogan, then glanced down at her. She was slouched by his side and her eyes were closed.
"Alice?" He nudged her, at which she mumbled something and proceeded to lean towards him. She put her head in his lap, pulled her legs up and settled comfortably down, never opening her eyes. She slept as if she was dead to the world.
He sat there, astonished, unsure of what he should do. It never ceased to amaze him how quickly other species seemed to run out of steam. But, he figured, maybe she just needed a little rest and soon she'd wake up and they could finish the game. He paused the action and waited patiently, watching her breathe in and out, finding the silence, interrupted only by the soft sounds she made as the air entered and escaped her lungs, strangely peaceful and calming.
After a while he was forced to come to the realization that she was not going to arise any time soon, so he decided to pick her up and carry her to her bed, then leave.
She was a little heavier than he'd expected, but he managed, salarians being stronger than they seemed. His efforts were helped by her unconscious efforts to hold onto him while she buried her face in his chest.
She briefly opened her eyes when he placed her on the bed, and she reached up and pulled him down with her.
"Don't go," she whispered, and he obediently lay down beside her.
Putting an arm around him, she snuggled into his side, then reached around his neck, pulled him down to her and kissed him on the lips. She released him with a contented sigh and went right back to sleep, leaving him frozen with surprise. He was unable to do anything but stare at her and listen to her breathing again.
What did that kiss mean? Did it mean that she was indeed his girlfriend? Did he even want one? Before she'd come along, he would have vehemently said no, but now... having her here, lying next to him on her bed, with her arm across his waist... it actually felt good. It was something that he could get used to. In fact, he liked it so much that even though he had planned to leave as soon as she was unconscious again, now he had no desire to do so. He liked her. They enjoyed the same things. They had fun together. And it was really nice to lie in bed with her, listening to her breathing—it made him relax and forget everything else, even though he knew that he could be up, doing something else right now. But he didn't want to. He was right where he wanted to be.
He made his decision: they were going to be a couple. He'd have to do some research about human mating customs, though. Now that he'd made up his mind about it, he didn't want to disappoint her. He'd have to learn how to... do things to make her happy.
He pondered the issues for a while, then turned towards her, pulled her closer, and drifted off to sleep.
She woke up to the sound of her radio clock with a groan. She felt so damn tired; the day before was spent traveling, unpacking, replenishing her food supply after being away for weeks, and then... playing Alliance Corsair with Nalik.
She turned around to check if he was still there, but the space on the bed next to her was empty. Her heart sank. She wondered if she'd made him uncomfortable and if she'd ruined their friendship with that kiss. But she had to make her move sooner or later...
She turned the clock off with a sigh then dragged herself to the bathroom to take a shower and get dressed. By the time she entered the kitchen, she felt a little better. At least now he knew how she felt and she was going to take it from there.
So, it was with a bit of a shock to find him by the stove, gleefully preparing some scrambled eggs while he hummed a song she did not recognize.
"Good morning!" he greeted her cheerfully, as if it was the most natural thing in the world for her to find him there, cooking breakfast and waving at the table for her to sit down.
A cup of coffee and some toast were already waiting for her, and she sat down with a grateful smile. Something didn't feel right though; it felt as though something was different. She looked around and realized what it was: the dirty dishes had been washed, dried and put away, the pile of magazines and datapads that she had scattered all over the table had been tidied up, and the cabinets and counters, which she had been neglecting for months, were sparkling clean.
Her mouth fell open. "Did you do all this while I was sleeping? When did you get up?"
"Salarians only need an hour of sleep. I thought I'd make myself useful while you were in bed."
"You certainly have. Thank you." Her eyelashes fluttered nervously as she glanced down at her hands. "I, ah, hope I didn't make you feel uncomfortable last night."
"Not at all. I..." he cleared his throat, "rather enjoyed it."
"So... do you want to come over again this evening?" she asked with a blush. Her heart was beating so hard she was certain he could hear it.
"Umm... I have some urgent work to do tonight. But I'll be free tomorrow," he added quickly.
"All right then. It's a date." Her lips curled into a grin and she dug into her eggs, not even bothering to ask where he'd learnt to cook something like that. Knowing him, he'd probably scoured the extranet for information on human food while she was asleep.
A date. My first date. Nalik rolled the word around in his head as he watched her eat.