The woman formerly known as Commander Jane Shepard lounged boneless in a reclining chair. The light breeze tugged at her auburn hair while the sun brought even more freckles out on her body. The smell of the salty sea air along with the lapping of the waves around her feet had relaxed her into a state of comfortable bliss. An edge of her mouth quirked upward in a grin at the thought that this whole section of beach had been closed off for her use thanks to an unlikely admirer.
The sound of footsteps had her cracking an eye open, even though she knew who it was. The former turian councilor, Sparatus, had arranged this whole weekend solely for her benefit. How he had figured out that lounging on the beach with unlimited Bahama-Mama's at her disposal was her idea of heaven, she had no idea although she suspected some of her former crewmates as divulging that information. She wasn't sure if it was all that open water that made him nervous or if it was being alone with her on this beach, either way she was enjoying his discomfort.
"You know Sparatus, you might be more comfortable in something a little less formal." Jane stated, a hint of laughter in her voice.
Sparatus's mandibles twitched, "I thought this was casual." even as he smoothed down his tunic and slacks.
"We are on an empty beach, hell I might even go skinny dipping later."
Sparatus wasn't sure how to respond to that comment. Part of him would be thrilled to see Shepard naked but another part of him was uneasy about his response to seeing her completely unclothed. Not that what she was wearing now left much to the imagination, when she had flung off her robe earlier and he saw what humans considered beach attire he nearly swallowed his tongue. Asari club dancers wore more than she did at this moment.
So he settled for a safer topic, "Would you like another drink?"
"Why Councilor, are you trying to get me drunk?" Shepard purred up at him.
"No, Spirits no! I, uh, just saw it was empty."
The woman was going to kill him he just knew it. Her green eyes caught his as she stretched, arching her back showing off her hips and waist. Spirits, did she even know what that did to him?
Her laughter chased him back up the beach as he retreated to the pavilion he had set up for their use. Turning his back to Shepard, his talons tapped out a comm code on his omni-tool.
"Septimus," Sparatus hissed at the holo of his friend, "This isn't working. Have you any other bright ideas?"
"Well if that's what you are wearing, of course you are failing. You look like you're going to a business meeting, not a weekend on an isolated beach with a woman. Did you not get the beach clothes I had sent to you?"
"I did, well half of it, there was no shirt."
Oraka laughed, "That's the whole thing, just the shorts. That's what human males typically wear for a sea-side holiday. Don't tell me you let yourself go soft?"
"Of course not," he huffed indignantly. "Just, I don't think a turian in that will attract her eye."
Oraka sighed, "We've been over this, if she wasn't interested she wouldn't have agreed to join you there."
"Well I may have increased my odds, that ship AI, EDI, gave me her extranet browsing history. This was the beach she viewed most often and I made sure to bring plenty of her favorite food and drink."
"Ha! I like it. Well go change and join her on the beach instead of talking to me."
Sparatus gingerly removed the 'shorts' Oraka had sent him. When he had first opened the package and saw them, he had sworn that Septimus was playing a joke on him. No way any human male would be caught dead in a pair of shorts with giant, bright blue and white flowers on them. A little searching on the extranet had him sighing that human males really did wear such outlandish things. Casting a glance out at his companion, he could see Jane was still turned away from him. It was now or never, he told himself.
He carefully removed the clothes he had worn when he had picked Jane up at the nearby space port. Grimacing in distaste at the outlandish piece of attire, he pulled the shorts on. Thankfully, this set at least was designed with a turian in mind. Clad in his swim trunks, something he was sure NO turian needed, he once more approached Shepard, still half-asleep in her chair. He had to admit, it felt good to feel the warm sand between his toes and the sun on his plates. Now if he could just pretend he wasn't wearing giant flowers while trying to impress a woman, life would be perfect.
Jane heard the turian as he carefully made his way back towards her. She wondered how long he would last this time before he retreated. He was always sure of himself when they had met in the Council chambers but out here, here she was seeing a new side to him. Tilting her head to the side to see what he was up to, she managed to bite down the laugh but the grin she gave free rein too.
"Now you look like a turian ready to relax on the beach! I like it, Councilor."
Sparatus eyed her carefully, was she teasing him? Maybe, but it was good-natured if her eyes were any indication.
"Please we both took a leave of absence from our respective careers so just my name will do. Now about human males choice in clothes, I think they need a good dose of fashion sense. And to top that off, I'm not sure why anyone thought turians needed special clothes to swim in but here they are."
He gestured to the swim trunks, the bright blue and white flowers standing out against the dark grey of his own plates.
"Oh come on, it will be fun! Splashing and frolicking in the waves."
Now he knew she was teasing him, the merriment dancing in her eyes was a clear indication that she knew exactly how preposterous that whole idea was.
"You do realize that turians can't swim."
"I think Garrus mentioned it once, he said it was mostly splashing interspersed with bouts of drowning."
"That is an accurate statement."
Jane tapped her jaw thoughtfully, "Now that you mention it, I don't think I've ever learned your full name."
Sparatus chuckled at that, "I've been Councilor Sparatus for so long even my friends call me Sparatus now. But in answer to your question, my full name is Tolim Sparatus."
Sparatus inclined his head slightly as if he were greeting her for the first time. Jane stood up and grasped his hand in her own.
"Tolim, pleased to meet you. My name is Jane Shepard. So if turians don't swim at the beach, what do they do?"
"We enjoy sunning ourselves much as you were doing and the young like to dig in the sand and dodge the waves."
"I have to ask, how did you know I was craving a weekend on a secluded beach? Who ratted me out?"
Tolim shook his head, "I promised not to reveal my sources but the information was given with your best interest at heart."
"I assume there is a beach house nearby for our use?"
"I, uh, thought you might prefer to stay on the beach. But if you don't, I'll try and find housing nearby," he blurted out, his mandibles twitching nervously.
"Really? Where would we sleep?"
"Here, let me show you," he stated as he lead her towards the large airy structure placed well above the high tide mark.
Jane had only given the pavilion the most cursory glance in her haste to reach the water and begin the process of decompressing. Gauzy white cloth draped off the sides, allowing the open sides to be closed if needed. More cloth inside separated the structure into small rooms but still allowing a cross-breeze throughout the structure. She marveled at the conveniences it had hidden inside it. Tolim showed her the small kitchen area, no stove but a peek inside the cooling unit found it stocked with lots of already prepared food and even better fresh fruit from Earth.
"I'm impressed, we won't starve that's for sure."
"There is a self contained bathing room at the other end and on either side of it two bedrooms, one with a hammock for you and one with a mat for me."
Jane eyed him, "Yeah I can see how a hammock would go badly for you."
"Yes, being rescued from my bedding is hardly how I want to start the day," Tolim replied dryly.
As Jane gazed around the area her mind wandered to why he had done all of this for her. She had been amazed when she had received the invitation for a weekend beach getaway with him. She had accepted, not only because she craved it but because she was curious. For years he had always been formal and distant, she honestly thought he couldn't stand her. Of course when the Reapers had come a-knocken, well suddenly she was the go-to person for the war effort. And then after the Citadel coup he had even declared that he had owed her a personal as well as a larger debt for all of turians for saving their Primarch.
"I have to ask, why invite me here?" Jane inquired, puzzled at to his motivations.
Tolim sighed and for a moment, Jane thought he wasn't going to answer as he stared out over the water.
"Because I wanted to give you something that was just for you."
"Ah, I told you before you don't owe me a debt. Yes, I saved the galaxy but I didn't do it alone."
"Spirits! This wasn't about any debt I felt I owed you. I knew this was a mistake," he muttered dejectedly.
Sparatus's shoulders drooped as he turned to walk away, he was stopped when her hand reached out to grasp his arm. Jane took hold of his much larger hands in her own.
"Then what is this about? Not that I'm not grateful, this has been the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. I mean that."
"I, uh, was hoping to, you know, get to know you better," he stuttered.
Jane could hardly believe her ears, this was the Councilor who always was smooth and sure of his words. She had never seen him like this, awkward and clearly feeling uncomfortable. Holy hell, he was courting her she realized.
"Why Tolim, I didn't know you cared!"
Sparatus eyed her, "Are you mocking me?"
"You have to admit, you have been an unmitigated ass to me on several occasions. Don't even get me started on those damn air quotes, 'Reapers, we dismiss that claim'," Jane exclaimed while wiggling her fingers much as he had done more than a year ago.
"I had to be hard on you," he growled.
"Why? Would it have been so difficult to believe me once in awhile?"
"Because! Saren's actions pushed you through the system faster than normal, we only knew what we read about you before we had that first meeting. Nihlus died before he even sent off a preliminary report about his observations about you. You were an unknown entity. Normally it takes months for a Spectre to be approved, they meet with all the Councilors on numerous occasions."
"Yeah, I can understand that," Jane sighed, "You didn't really know me and hell, even back then the concept of Reapers seemed impossible."
"If you want, I can get an Alliance ship here to bring you back to your ship," he replied softly.
"What? No, let's start over. Hi, I'm Jane," Jane held out her hand with a smile.
Having known a turian for years, she could read the confusion on his face but he he grasped her hand in his anyway.
"Great, now I believe we came here to relax and enjoy ourselves. However, I have one more question. If I tell you I saw a Reaper, what will you say?" she asked with a grin.
"Shepard, you were supposed to kill them all in the last war," he replied, only a slight twitch of one mandible giving away his amusement at the question.