Grunt pulled Kelly's arm through his and wondered for the tenth time what all the fuss was about. Pink trees and far too many people around to maintain a safe perimeter. What was all this about? Then he was glad he kept that to himself when his gesture earned him a smile from Kelly and she rested her head on his shoulder for a moment.
"It really is a miracle that all this survived the Reapers. It's so beautiful here."
Krogans didn't believe in miracles. Well, maybe one miracle… no, two. The first miracle was Commander Shepard rescuing him from that tube. Then he'd given Grunt the time and the resources to grow up and become a valuable member of his crew. Grunt shook his massive head. Perhaps the fact that his battlemaster allowed him to live at all was miracle number two.
Number three is this wonderful female by his side. Definitely a miracle.
Kelly Chambers sensed a growing unease in her companion. She was good at reading people. So she pulled him to a stop and led him under the glowing pink branches of a cherry tree.
"Everything okay?" She asked, looping her arms around his thick neck.
How he loved these displays of affection from her. A few months ago, Commander Shepard had said something to him. It was after he'd rescued Grunt from being arrested by the Citadel Security Officer. The commander hadn't gotten mad at him for all the trouble he'd caused. And then the commander had said something to him, in a tone of voice, Grunt had never heard before. So he diligently researched the phrase so he could understand it.
This word 'love' was apparently very important in the human language. There were words for the act of breeding in his language, but no word resembling 'love.' After committing all the definitions to memory, Grunt had decided that one or two of those definitions fit the way he felt about Kelly Chambers. He also thought he loved Commander Shepard right back, but decided he would show the Commander how much he meant to him rather than saying it out loud. Kelly was a different matter.
So Grunt took hold of his courage and revealed his teeth in a way he really hoped look more like a smile than a threat. Oh, good. She was smiling too.
Then he placed his hands gently on her cheeks and pressed his lips against hers. "I love you, Kelly."
"Hey you two. Get a room!" This was from James Vega. He and Steve Cortez shared a laugh and kept walking.
For Grunt, the moment was shattered. It was Kelly who turned his attention back to their conversation. "Hey, you. I liked the sound of that. Say it again?"
He could do that. She was being very distracting though, pushing herself against him and kissing his jaw line.
"I-I love you, Kelly."
"I love you too, Grunt."
Well, that was a surprise. Now two people loved him. And it was the two people he cared about most in the world.
"Let's continue our walk through the pink trees, my woman," and linking his arm back through hers, they continued their walk. He thought, there couldn't possibly be a prouder or happier Krogan in the entire Universe.
Several feet away Steve and James watched the couple continue their journey.
"They're cute together," James commented.
"I wonder what people think when they see us together."
"I'm sure they think what a handsome couple of hombres just walked by. Hey, wait a minute. What do you mean by together, Esteban?"
James found himself trapped against the trunk of a cherry tree by strong arms. One of Steve's hands slipped around the back of James' neck and before he knew it he was being kissed by Steve. The effect was electric and immediate. His body responded before his brain could process what was happening. Every sense screamed yes and when the soft lips pushed his mouth open he had to agree. This was a kiss like no other kiss had ever been.
When Steve finally let him go, James grabbed the other man's arms to keep him close.
"That was… that was… I've never…"
"Yeah, I know." Steve grinned at him. "That's why I thought the cherry tree seemed like an appropriate place."
James couldn't help but laugh and hugged Steve to him. "So about getting that room I mentioned?"
"Turn to, marine. Turn to."
Garrus Vakarian and Tali vas Normandy were sitting on a bench next to the water. Neither of them were entirely used to the site of so much water in one place. The pink trees were an oddity, to be sure, but this much water in one place was almost shocking. Was this a decorative thing? What a waste.
They hadn't spoken in a several minutes. Tali wonders what Garrus would do if she leaned up against him. Garrus is wondering what Tali would do if he put his arm around her. The longer they sit together like this, the more peace and quiet drew out, the stronger her temptation to reach out and touch him.
Tali watched Garrus rather deliberately slip off his gloves. Without speaking or looking in her direction he extended his hand to her.
Yes! She thought. I want this. Yes, please.
"Tali? It's just a hand, not a thresher maw."
"But it's your hand."
"Very astute observation. So what do you plan to do with that hand?"
"Well, if I could do whatever I wanted. I would remove my own gloves so that my skin would come in contact with yours. I've always wondered what you felt like. I want to know if your plates are smooth or rough and are your hands gentle or strong like when I watch you in battle."
"They would always be gentle with you, Tali girl."
"A-And I would remove my helmet so I could place a kiss in the palm of your hand so you could keep it forever. Y-you know, I've never been kissed before. That's such a human thing… but it looks like fun. What do you think?"
His answer was to pull her across his lap and with one arm anchored firmly around her waist he reached for the latches of her helmet.
"Tali…" he nuzzled her neck. "Sweet Tali. I promise to hold your head if you throw up, bring you tissues if your nose runs, or make you take your antibiotics and those herbal supplements I've heard you mention, but right now…"
One side came undone.
A hiss of air escaped from the hood of her quarian survival suit. Her hands gripped his forearms as she fought off a moment of fear. Why was she afraid? This was Garrus and he would keep her safe, just as he always had. But what if he didn't like what he saw?
The other side is unlatched now and he began to lift the faceplate from the hood. Tali turned her bare face away.
"Look at me, Tali girl...My angel." Then with gentle hands he guided her mouth to his and kissed her.
Kaidan Alenko was experiencing a situation completely foreign to him. Actually, it was a list of things. First, he was being idle. This was completely new. His brain kept jumping around and it took the long fingered hands soothing his temples and brow to keep him still. The second thing? He's laying with his head in the lap of Commander Shepard. On a blanket, in a park, in peacetime, under a cherry tree. No armor, no weapons and nothing to do. He didn't know how to be idle with nothing to do.
"Hey, Kaidan. Relax. That's an order." Came the voice that belonged to the hands.
"I don't know how. Stop messing up my hair. When do we eat?"
"Then we shall practice. We enjoy being alive and we enjoy the day and personally, I'm enjoying the view of you in those tight jeans and t-shirt."
A hand slipped inside the waistband of his jeans and pulled out the hem of his shirt. Kaidan tried really hard not to react, but the touch of those hands on his skin always sent him over the edge.
"You seem very restless. Are you bored?" Shepard asked innocently, slipping fingers over a puckered nipple. "Perhaps you're bored with me?"
Those damn fingers pinched the nipple they'd been tickling for the last few seconds.
Kaidan was about to pull his tormentor under him so he could demonstrate just how bored he was, when Joker and EDI walked up with lunch and something in large pink box. EDI set the box down and pinged her Omni tool. Very soon Shepard's crew joined them.
It was hard to ignore the proprietary hand James kept on Steve or the way they sat so close. The eye contact was enough to light a Thanix cannon. Shepard thought it was wonderful.
Shepard did the serving and made sure Tali and Garrus had their lunch. Then out came the traditional fried chicken, potato salad and something really disgusting looking that was an alarming hue of raspberry and whipped cream and fruit. Amazingly, it tasted delicious.
When everyone's stomach was full and the afternoon sun made everyone sleepy EDI light the candles on the cake.
"You guys didn't have to do this. But I love you for it. Thank you. Just, thank you.
They sang happy birthday to Commander Shepard and the candles were blown out all at one time.
"I made a wish. You're not supposed to tell, but I think it's okay. I want you all to know that it's been an honor serving with all of you. And even though we're are about to go our separate ways, I want to set this date aside as time for us to meet at my apartment. Okay, so next year. No matter what, we meet back at the Citadel."
Everyone nodded in agreement, enjoying the cake, the pink trees, and their time together.
Garrus counted this moment as miracle number four.