~And here we are about to begin another story. Thanks to Mordinette for agreeing to beta once more. And a thank you to the readers who encouraged me to continue on. Hope you enjoy it!~

Amala shifted the arm that was trapped under her even as she tried not to disturb the sleeping turian slumped against her back. The gentle hum that she had decided was a turian snore was oddly pleasant. For a species that seemed designed to keep others at bay, what with all their spikes and sharp lines, turians (well at least this one) were strangely fond of cuddling. Of course, it might be because his bed partner had none of the pointy bits or hard surfaces he did. Even now, Garrus's arm was draped across her while his head felt to be in the region of her shoulder blades. She felt him yawn against her back before he rubbed his cheek against her skin, bringing a smile to her face. It was stupid how much she enjoyed being with him and this thing between them that should never have worked. Their first time together was difficult enough as they learned how to read the other, but they also had to deal with the casts they were both wearing still. It was surprising they managed to get anywhere without knocking each other out. However, they had, and now it just felt right.

"Good morning," she said, not bothering to move yet.

"Mmm, good morning. Ready for another lesson in turian 'weapons'?"

That brought a laugh out of her. "I think I mastered your 'weapon' last night, based on the fact that my poor translator couldn't even keep up with the babbling coming from you."

"Good point. You might have forgotten something while you slept?" he asked with a hopeful lilt to his voice.

"Well, I suppose we should take care of it, what with you having it out and ready to go already. I thought you might have had enough by now."

He chuckled. "Storing it all up. I know when we are out there among the stars there won't be much time just for us."

"You okay with keeping our personal time separate from when we are in the field?"

His mouth continued its foray along her back, raising goose bumps as he went. "Not to worry, turians are taught to compartmentalize from the start of our lives. Society first, unit first, mission first - all that before our personal lives. I'm just glad that humans are the same."

Amala cleared her throat even as she turned her head to gaze at him. "Actually, we aren't, but that's sort of why I never took much time for a personal life. Most can't keep what I do separate from who I am and the fact that my job has to come before my life on a frequent basis."

She rolled over and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him down to kiss him. If the hum that was reverberating through his chest was any indication, he had learned to enjoy human kissing. She let one hand drift downward until she reached his waist, an area she had found he responded well to. Hell, any area that wasn't covered by plates seemed to be more sensitive and was an area he enjoyed being touched. He gave a delighted growl at her hand caressing him along that length of warm hide. His mouth left hers and traveled down the side of her neck, being careful only to use a small amount of pressure, as that was all that was needed to coax the soft sigh out of her.

"Amala, Garrus - I hate to break up your latest foray into interspecies coitus, but General Arterius is heading directly for the ship," EDI's voice rang through the ship.

They broke apart. Amala groaned while Garrus growled. She wriggled towards the edge of the bed, one hand blindly hunting for clothes. Garrus grabbed her leg before she tumbled off the edge.

"Fuck!"

"That's what I was hoping for," Garrus said with a soft sigh, his head dropping down to rest against her body.

Amala laughed at the wistfulness of his tone. She twisted around until she was once more firmly on the bed. She brushed one hand along his cheek before she gave him a quick kiss on the brow.

"Maybe you don't mind meeting with the General naked, but I do."

He grinned at her. "He's coming to see you, not me. I'm going to use the shower while you two have a nice early morning chat."

He rolled out of the bed while she struggled to get dressed.

"Don't you dare use up all the hot water, Vakarian!"

"Who, me?" he laughed.

'Smug bastard', she thought to herself. And he did love his hot showers.

"EDI, how much time do I have before Saren is here?" Amala yelled out.

"He is here. I explained he interrupted your early morning intercourse session and you are trying to get dressed. I believe Garrus waved at him as he headed to the shower."

Amala dropped her head down to her chest with a groan. "Fuck, EDI, what did I tell you about oversharing?"

"I perhaps shouldn't have mentioned your aborted reproductive attempt?"

"Shit, EDI, that only makes it sound worse. Please, no more explaining what Garrus and I are doing to anyone."

Finally dressed enough to face Saren, she headed out into the main part of the ship. She found Saren sitting in the eating area, a cup of something in front of him. When she would have spoken, he waved a hand.

"It's quite alright, Shepard. Trust me; I'm well aware what is between you two."

"Crap. So much for being discrete."

"It was more of a when, not an if, as far as I could see. You two are inseparable."

"Well, we've been training; of course we are together a lot."

Saren chuckled. "Yes, but he comes to sleep in the ship with you. Come to think of it, I haven't seen any reports about the pair of you in the field."

He leaned back in his chair, waiting for her response.

"That was the whole point; we didn't want to be seen." She leaned back in her own chair, giving him a cocky grin.

"Right then. Guess I need to work on my people's power of observation," he ground out through clenched teeth. He made a mental note to have a chat with his patrol leaders.

"Don't be too hard on them, General. I'm very good at it and Garrus is picking it up fast. So you just stopped by because you had to say good-bye to us?"

Saren snorted. "Hardly. As Chellick's commanding officer, I had to inform my superiors that he was planning to leave with you. Since the Primarch assigned Vakarian to you, I had to inform him as well that he was also departing with you. The Primarch would like to see all of you before you leave Palaven."

"How do I get in contact with him to set a meeting up?"

Garrus strolled into the area and took a seat. At least he was dressed. Amala wasn't sure if he would just wander out naked since they had spent time like that before.

"It's all set up. He will see you at ten this morning. I'm sure someone at the airfield can give you directions to his office," Saren said. He stood up and gave a brief nod to them before he left. "Good luck and I hope you find all of those lost still. And Nihlus wishes you well, although his exact words were 'blow up some damn asari for me'. Unofficially, I echo his sentiments."

Amala laughed. "We will do our best and give our best to Nihlus. I'm sure the doc will be freeing him from his cast soon."


A small ship headed for the field on the outskirts of the capital of Palaven, Cipritine. Several ships, larger than this one, were also using the area for the same purpose. Around them, the beginnings of buildings and hangars were starting to take shape as what would be the future spaceport for Cipritine. The Wildcat had barely touched down when a group of turians approached the vehicle. They offered a salute to the human and the two turians that disembarked from the vehicle.

"Spectre Shepard, the Primarch asked us to escort you to his office. With all the construction going on, he wanted to make sure you found him before the week was over. His words, ma'am."

Amala waved a hand, motioning them on. "Lead on then. I must admit I wasn't looking forward to finding my way there."

"I grew up here and even I don't recognize half of these buildings," Garrus added, his gaze sweeping along the new skyline.

Decian nodded in agreement. His head swiveled around as he took in all the changes. The majority of the construction was being done by the turians, but they had hired a few specialists from other races to help modernize the city in order to keep up with the new galaxy that they were now a part of. Their escorts led them to a large armored vehicle. Amala raised an eyebrow at their choice in transport.

"Are we in trouble?"

"No, ma'am! This is just the safest vehicle we have to transport you in."

"Expecting trouble?"

"We hope not, but we won't take any chances."

Amala swung inside and took a seat on one of the benches. The turians jumped in behind her and the vehicle jolted into motion. Over the noise of the engine, they could hear one of the guards notify someone that they were en route. The ride was short, if a little bumpy. Although the turians had cleared most of the larger debris from the war, there was still some smaller rubble left. When it finally came to a halt, their guards hustled them out and into an older building, some signs of the recent conflict still evident on its sides. Amala stripped her helmet off once they were inside, but she was a little surprised by the turians that were lined up to watch them as they walked the halls.

Amala nudged Garrus. "Are they gawking at us?"

Garrus had the nerve to laugh at her. "No, at you."

"He's right, ma'am. Everyone knows who you are and what you did for us. The Primarch made sure we were all aware that the humans stood with us when

we thought we were alone," the guard to her right said.

Garrus grinned as he noted the slight rise in red into her cheeks. Her darker skin made it hard to spot, but he had learned to look for it. It was something he had discovered that could be caused by several different emotions, although he knew that this time it was due to embarrassment. He had noted the same color change one evening after one of their encounters and he had asked her about it.

"Oh. Uh, you're welcome." She nodded at those that caught her eye. Whereas humans would be cheering and waving at the arrival of someone they considered a hero, the turians stood quietly, returning her nods and when they were a recipient of said nod, a flare of mandibles accompanied the motion.

The little parade didn't stop until the guards halted in front of a door. One moved up to rap sharply on it.

"Enter," came the muffled reply.

A guard opened the door and gestured them inside. The Primarch stood up from behind the desk he had been sitting at.

"Ah, Spectre Shepard, thank you for agreeing to come here before you left our world."

"Primarch. It wasn't a problem, and please call me Shepard. Garrus wanted to check the latest lists of refugees that arrived before we left, and well, I wanted to update you on our plans."

Victus walked in front of his desk. "So it's true, you do plan on taking some of my people with you."

"Completely voluntary, sir," Garrus added.

"And what would you say if I said I could use your help here?" Victus asked, watching the reaction of the two turians closely.

Decian looked down, but Garrus looked his Primarch in the eye. "Sir, we plan on getting back those that haven't been returned."

"The asari assure me that they will be; they just need more time."

Amala snorted. "Please tell me you don't believe that, sir."

"Trust me, I have my doubts, but I can't act on them."

"No, but I can and I will do my best to return them all home. First, I plan on going to the Citadel and get them to confirm that I am still a Spectre in good standing. Once they do that then I will present Garrus here as my protégée."

Victus shook his head. "I don't see that going well."

"It's a Spectre's prerogative to cultivate someone they think will make a good candidate. And I truly believe he will be an outstanding one - well, when I finish training him. As an added benefit, your people will get the prestige of having a Spectre that is one of their own."

"And what about you?" Victus asked, flicking a talon in Chellick's direction.

"Sir, I want to go with them. They might need another gun."

Victus sighed. "I could use you both here." He held up a hand when Garrus was about to interrupt him. "But I see the necessity of what you are doing, and if all of our people are going to be returned, I have no doubt it will be faster if Shepard takes the matter in hand."

"Thank you, sir." Garrus gave him a relieved smile. For a moment, he thought the Primarch was going to forbid him from going. He would have hated to leave against the Primarch's wishes, but there was no way he was going to stay here when Amala left.

"As for the list of refugees that have returned, I have one here for you. Along with a list of those still not accounted for. Although another ship is due to arrive within the hour. May the Spirits watch over you out there," Victus said as he handed the most current lists to Garrus.

"Sir, you have the com codes to the Wildcat should you need to update the missing list," Amala added.

"Thank you, Shepard. I appreciate your willingness to work so closely with the turian government."

She flashed him a smile. "Trust me; Hackett isn't afraid to call me if something comes up. It's a sort of unspoken perk of having a Spectre from your species."

Victus' mandibles twitched for a moment. "The Council allows that?"

"Technically, no, but so long as you don't violate Council orders in order to do a favor for your own government, the Council looks the other way. Considering most Spectres are either salarian or asari, they can't really say anything, and they can spread it out amongst all their people so it's not so obvious. I'm the only human and Garrus will be the first turian, so you only have us to go to."

"Good to know. Keep in touch and know that you have a refuge on Palaven should you ever need it," Victus said as he escorted them to the door.

"Thank you, sir. Always good to know I have a safe place to land."

And with that they found themselves once more surrounded by guards who brought them back to the airfield. How Garrus managed to walk and look through the list without running into anything was a mystery, but he did. He was oddly silent and when he finally glanced up and caught Amala's eyes, he shook his head sadly.

"There's another ship landing in less than an hour, maybe they will be on that one."

Garrus nodded. "Thank you. I wasn't sure if we could wait or not."

"Of course we can. I need to do some last minute checks and Chellick can make sure you guys have enough decent food that you shouldn't have to resort to dried rations while we wait for its arrival."

Chellick coughed into his hand. "Uh, yeah. I don't think I can access my funds in my bank account yet."

"While the electronic systems are still being brought online, most places are using a barter system," one of the guards said.

"What sort of things are in demand?" Amala turned to face the guard.

"Pretty much anything of use for survival, ma'am."

Amala grinned. "Well, then I think we got that covered. I have an old solar generator and water purifier on the ship. You know, in case I ever crashed. I've been meaning to upgrade them, but might as well get some use out of them. You should be able to get whatever you need with those, Chellick."

"Ma'am, he should bring those to the base; we can put them to good use and we can make sure your people get the food they need."

"Sounds good. If you guys could give him a lift back and forth, that would be great."

The turians eagerly took her old equipment and she made a mental note to ask EDI to get a message to Alliance and make sure they were giving their new allies these sorts of things. Garrus stood on top of the ship with a pair of field glasses in his hands as he waited for the transport to arrive. All they needed now was for that ship to show.