A few days later, she found him at Apollo's Café, sitting at a table and looking as though he was trying desperately to keep his mind off their impending date he had asked her on. 'Probably fears the worst. All things considered, can't say I blame him
' she thought to herself, idly smoothing the black leather of her dress. She was grateful that Dr. Chakwas had held onto her old dress from when she aided Kasumi in recovering Keiji's graybox. 'That PVC dress in my closet that Traynor found
' she suppressed a shudder at how downright unflattering that dress looked. Traynor had good intentions in adding that to Samus' wardrobe, but
this one was more
stunning, to say the very least. She sauntered over to the empty spot at the table he was sitting at, her black lace pumps clicking with each step. She stopped just before the chair he was occupying.
?" she asked hesitantly when he didn't notice her still. He jumped a little in surprise before facing her. He opened his mouth to say something, but his jaw simply hung there as he gawked a few moments. She held back a grin as she watched him try and compose himself. After a few moments he cleared his throat and attempted to keep himself occupied once more, staring at a holo-menu for the café.
"Surprised this place can still get supplies for a menu like this," he commented as she eased into a chair with practiced grace.
"Maybe it's better if we don't ask how
or where," they both shared a chuckle as Kaidan took his eyes off the menu and looked back at her. His eyes still smoldered as he looked her over.
"I'm glad we're taking the time to do this
I could use a sanity check," a soft smile was playing on his lips. Samus couldn't keep the wry smile from her mouth, try as she might.
"Things have been pretty crazy." But he suddenly seemed a thousand miles away and yet here all at once, his gaze drifting off towards the view of the Presidium. His smile faded into a pensive stare into eternity.
"You know, my life flashed before my eyes on Mars, and
there weren't enough moments like this
with people I care about
" his normally amber eyes clouded over. He regretted not trusting her, not loving her in the way she deserved for the last six months that she had been alive again. He hated that he had pushed her away, feared that he had finally pushed her too far-
"How are you feeling these days?" She asked sincerely, though her arm twitched as she resisted the urge to reach out and take his hand. She was still unsure of where she stood with him, after all that had happened between them. She lifted her eyes when he seemed to try and shake his thoughts from his head, his smile coming back, if a little more muted.
"Feeling up to whatever the Reapers throw at me- and grateful that I could convince you to take half a second and relax," his tone was only half teasing and she smiled a little guiltily at that. She had thrown herself so deeply into her work, everyone kept telling her that she needed to come up for air, as Garrus had put it. She leaned her forearms on the table, lacing her fingers together to keep them from reaching out to him.
"Yeah," she murmured quietly, bracing herself for what was to come, "I think it's a good time for us to have a heart-to-heart," trying desperately to lighten the mood, if only to soften the blow should he reject her, she teasingly added, "what are you drinking?" He chuckled quickly, though tried to ignore the warm feeling in his chest when her tone became almost flirtatious. It brought back memories that had been haunting him at night and day equally, but he grinned at her nonetheless.
"If you're trying to butter me up, it might take a nice steak sandwich, too," she quirked an eyebrow at him in amusement.
?" His grin widened when he saw she wasn't taking no for an answer. His eyes went back to the menu as he brought up the alcohol choices to scan over.
"Shot of whiskey and a good old Canadian lager," he snapped his eyes back up to her in inquiry. "Think they have it?" She snorted as she shot him a flat look over her own menu.
"More likely to have Batarian Shard Wine," she picked a sweeter wine of Asari origins off the menu and set it down. Kaidan must have made his choice, because his menu was already on the table as he laced his hands together.
"At my parent's place in Vancouver," he chuckled nostalgically. "Drank more than a few beers on their balcony, looking over English Bay," his smile faded, a somber expression replacing it as his voice dropped almost to a whisper. "Yeah
" he stopped to look at her, his voice more normal as he pulled himself out of his reverie. "You know what, though? I feel good about our chances."
"Yeah," he replied, though with less conviction. "Lets me sleep better at night." He didn't miss the frown of worry that creased her brow, her head tilted slightly the way it always used to when all she had to worry about with him was his migraines. Given his most recent blackout incident, she tended to carry his migraine medicine around with her, just in case. She had already suspected he was having trouble sleeping, but it still worried her that he wasn't resting enough.
"You not sleeping, Kaidan
?" He flinched, knowing he didn't deserve her concern, or the caring look she was giving him. It was stupid for him to ask for her love now, but he needed her to know his feelings, to know that they've only grown stronger since they were last together.
It didn't mean he had to feel brave about it.
"Maybe a little restless," he shifted uncomfortably, avoiding her gaze, though he still felt it, that soft, concerned look in her sapphire blue eyes that he drowned in so many times before. He sighed quietly to himself. 'If you leave a way out again, you'll lose her in the most absolute sense.' His mind warned him. 'She won't put up with you forever if you keep that up.' He swallowed the lump in his throat before explaining, "the war isn't all that's keeping me up at night
I wonder about us." He still hadn't looked at her, trying so hard not to fall into old habits of only showing bits and pieces of his emotions. Mars taught him that life was a very finite and uncertain thing, and he couldn't squander what he had left wringing his hands in worry over what could happen.
" her tone was completely neutral, her expression unreadable, and it unnerved him, but he pressed on, for once his expression unguarded, his eyes telling her how he felt before he actually said it,
"I love you, Shepard. I always have," he paused, his gaze never breaking from hers as he continued, "I want to understand what this is between us
and make it real," suddenly out of steam, he signed, his head bowed with a soft sigh. "Well
that's what I want
" he lifted his head- a glutton for punishment, he must be- and looked at her directly. "What do you want?" He held his breath, his eyes scanning her face for any clue, any sign that she still felt anything for him at all. She smiled softly.
"I can't bury what I feel for you anymore
and I don't want to," he fought back tears of joy and he finally broke through that wall of tension between them as he took her hand in his, bringing it up to his face and pressing his cheek into her palm. She shivered pleasantly at the feel of his skin, the way his stubble lightly scratched her skin sent a jolt of pleasure crawling places it hadn't since they had last been together.
makes me so happy
" understatement of the century, but at this point he was fighting a lot of urges of several kinds. He wanted to cry, to kiss her silly, to drag her back to the Normandy and lock them both in her cabin, and he found himself paralyzed with both elation and indecision. He still wasn't sure what she was ready for, and he would never push her, never again
"and there are benefits to that happiness
" still not sure if she wanted him to kiss her the way he wanted to kiss her, he settled for pressing a lingering kiss into her palm, though the smile she gave him made him shiver in longing. The waiter was bringing their drinks over to them, and so he let her hand go with an almost embarrassed laugh. "But
more on that later," she arched a brow.
"Later? We need to get back to the Normandy ASAP." He felt a rush of blood shoot straight to his loins at her implications
now he knew how much she wanted, and so the fun could begin.
"Ah, yeah, too late
our drinks are here and
I'm going to take my time," he replied with a smug smile. She knew instantly what his games were- she was on to him
but she could play along.
"What'd you call it? A sanity check?" he grunted affirmatively.
"Sanity check." Once the waiter left, she began to sip her wine delicately, raising an eyebrow inquisitively at him. She set her wine glass down after a moment, licking her lips. 'It's official. Those lips are torture.' He squirmed a little. Since when did his uniform pants feel so uncomfortable?
"So," she drawled, and he felt a long forgotten heat pool at the base of his gut at how her voice had dropped into that breathy whisper that she knew drove him mad. "Seeing as you and I have never technically been on a date before
how does a date with Kaidan Alenko end?" She rested a hand over his and laced their fingers together. As he was about to respond, she dragged her thumb nail against the inside of his palm, and he nearly hissed at a shot of blood jolted straight into his loins. It must have registered on his face more than he thought it had, because she smirked seductively at him, and that certainly wasn't helping things.
"Well," two could play this game. His eyes smoldered as he stared at her, and she felt herself grow warm with need, but managed to keep a steady face, for the most part. "Normally, I'd walk you to your door and kiss you goodnight before I headed home," he was trying his hardest to look innocent, but she wasn't buying it, oh no, not with him! "But
seeing as we both live on the Normandy
and considering we're both heading that way anyway-"
" she tried not to grin. Oh, she was being so very unfair to him
"I have some business on the Citadel that I need to take care of. A Spectre mission here, a few item drop-offs there, and then I can come back to the Normandy," the crestfallen look on his face made her unsure of whether she wanted to postpone her missions, or if she wanted to openly laugh at his evident need for her. She stood, and his face turned into a full-blown puppy dog pout. She wasn't going to leave him hanging, but she would leave him aching- that much, she was good at. He rose, either to stop her or walk with her, she wasn't certain.
"Shepard-" she placed her hands on his chest, pressing their bodies as close together as she could. His arms didn't hesitate to wrap around her waist and hold her close. He hummed happily, having missed her being in his arms so much, it had left a literal ache inside him. Now, he felt
content, and he knew she did, too. She lifted her head so there was but a breath apart from them, her eyes inviting. "Samus," he breathed as he leaned in a little more. Just as their lips were about to touch, she giggled and ducked her head into his neck. "Hey-!" his protest died on his lips as he felt her kiss his neck, nipping at his pulse point. He moaned softly, his arms squeezing her closer. Just as he was about to pull the high collar of her dress back to return the favor, she pulled back, a devilish grin playing on those damned lips of hers.
"Don't worry, Kaidan
" she kissed the corner of his mouth, and slipped back too quickly for him to get a real kiss from her. "I'll meet you back on the Normandy in a little less than an hour, love." His heart warmed at her new pet name for him, though it only added to his current
frustration. "I'm just going to
take my time," turning his own words against him, was she? "But for now
I should go." As quickly as she had started this, she turned and walked away, her steps deliberately slow so her hips would sway just a little more than they normally would. He groaned in agony and need all at once as he watched her go.
She was going to be the death of him.