1406: When You’re Strange – Chapters Five and Six

Title: When You’re Strange
Author: Actually-Fen-Harel
Media:  Video Games
Topic: Mass Effect
Genre: Romance/Sci-fi
URL: When You’re Strange: Chapter 5
URL: When You’re Strange: Chapter 6
Critiqued by Herr Wozzeck

DISCLAIMER: Today’s installment of snark contains a sex scene; therefore, this installment is NSFW! Read at your own discretion.

Hello folks, and welcome back to…

*shudder*

Trust me, I’m not looking forward to doing the rest of this fic any more than the rest of you, okay? I’m just gonna say that now. After the barrage of completely fucking stupid we got last week…

*takes a deep breath*

Okay, let’s do this. You can do this, Herr…

We open the next chapter of this shitfest with an author’s note:

A/N: I’m really struggling with this chapter. It doesn’t feel completely right to me. But it’s the best I can come up with for now.

Considering what we saw last chapter, I really question what your “best” actually is.

This chapter is pretty much from Garrus’ POV. Yep. Stuff. Read already. :D

*BAM*

Bad! Bad author! You shall not use smileys in your author’s notes! Bad! Bad author!

Anyway, we open the chapter with this:

Taren Shepard was obviously not happy. She huffed several times on the way to her office, with Garrus hot on her heels, a question dangling insistently at the end of his tongue. She seemed to know she was screwed, that the jig was up. He’d heard her second voice box, and her sub-harmonics trilling all over the place, then heard as it all went back to a normal human voice all of a sudden, and she stank of fear and deception as she tried to deny giving him an odd look.

I don’t know how you’d stink of deception, but that sounds like a very interesting smell. Also, she smelled of fear: I’m assuming she pissed her own pants?

As they stepped into her office, she gestured to the chair across from hers by her desk, and he took the seat willingly. He watched as she clasped her hands in front of her on the desk, and looked at him with an uncomfortable glare. She huffed again. “Well, you wanted to speak to me in private. So speak.”

He met her gaze steadily with his own, and wondered if she would recognize the gesture when he flared his mandibles upwards for just a moment, a clear challenge to any turian. Her eyebrows shot upwards and her eyes fixed on his mouth, as she let out the quietest growl he’d ever heard. Her eyes flicked back up to his, and the sound stopped. ‘Challenge accepted.’ He jerked his chin towards her. “You were raised by a turian.”

*headdesk*

Really? You hear Shepard’s subharmonics that, frankly, pretty much every human is likely biologically unable to create, and your first thought is “you were raised by a turian”?

I know that being a turian/human hybrid really does sound even stupider the more you think about it, but come on! Surely you’d think there would be some other thing he would think of first!

His tone was almost accusatory, and his sub-harmonics trilled that she’d been caught.

So what did he say, then? What did he specifically say that said “gotcha, bitch”?

She rolled her eyes and scoffed. “That so? What else do you think you know about me?”

He let his mandibles flick out in a sly smirk. “You were either born with an extra voicebox, which I find highly unlikely, or you have implants, and you’re trained with them enough to know how to use the sub-harmonics properly.

*raises finger, then pauses*

Okay, huh, I actually didn’t think about implants there. You bring up a compelling point, Garrus.

You speak at least one dialect of turian, fluently. And you can read turian expressions, and even imitate them to a point. You can hear sub-harmonics, because I saw you reacting to that Requisitions Officer at C-Sec when he hadn’t said a word.

*headdesk*

I’m starting to wonder if Actually-Fen-Harel understands how sound actually works. Here’s the thing, Actually-Fen-Harel: subharmonics do not work that way! If you actually knew anything about sound, you’d know that subharmonics are literally the opposite of the harmonic series. You know, the series of overtones that all sounds have that defines the timbre of various sounds? Subharmonics work very similarly, in that they can affect the sound. Now, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that turians can hear the subharmonics (and indeed, the way a voice recording is processed to create the turian characters indicates there is a modulation involved below the fundamental pitch, which would likely be amplified to turian ears), but you know what they need there? THEY NEED AN ACTUAL FUCKING SOUND THERE! Subharmonics literally cannot sound without a fundamental pitch!

*BAM*

You know what? I’ll be right back.

*steps in the back, comes out with more electronics*

Okay, new counter! Let’s see… there’s the whole turian hybrid business (which, believe it or not, actually gets stupider after all my involvement in the FBA), Shepard somehow is able to pass for human despite having turian features, the whole amino-neutral business, the subharmonic bullshit…

That’ll do pig. That’ll do.

*hits buzzer four times*

Fuck You, Science! Count: 4

I’d very much like to know how all of this can be true without heavy implants, and without spending a considerable amount of time around turians. Your service records indicate no such thing.”

His eyes were drawn to her hands as they trembled with the strain she was putting on them.

“What are you doing? Get your hands out of that crusher right now!”

“But don’t you see? My hand is straining against the top! I’ll be fine, really!”

His eyes widened when he saw tiny trickles of mauve-colored blood coming from under the pointed nails of her interlaced fingers as they dug into the backs of her hands. She must have noticed his reaction, as she suddenly relaxed her grip, and drew her hands into her lap and out of sight. She spoke through clenched teeth. “Your observational skills are astoundingly annoying, detective.”

Hey, they’re less annoying than that whole turian hybrid bullshit!

So then Garrus asks what Taren thinks of his observations. Taren is all “you sure, because you won’t like the answers,” but –

He smirked. “I’m sure.”

*ducks under the table*

Cerbersheep! Stop it!

She growled at him. She pinched her earlobe, turning her translator off. He saw her flex her throat again, like she had in the cargo bay when her voice had gone from beautiful and turian, to boring and human. When she spoke again, it was in the same turian dialect she’d used on the turian at C-Sec.

Jargon, dumbass! It’s called “jargon”!

And it sounded like silk. “Very well, Garrus Vakarian. Remember that you chose this, and you forced the issue. What I am about to tell you does not leave this room, is that clear?”

“Unless you talk to the Gunnery Chief. She knows.”

He nodded, and spoke to her in the corresponding dialect of a subordinate. “Yes, quite clear. Please, continue.”

She cocked her head to the side, eyes wide, sub-harmonics trilling confusion. She quickly righted herself, blanking her face and forcing her sub-harmonics into a hum of questioning agitation. “Why are you using that dialect? Are you trying to get beaten up?”

He quickly switched to Common. “What?! Why would I get beaten up for using the proper dialect?”

She clapped her hands to her ears, groaning, her sub-harmonics screaming agony. “Don’t ever speak Common with my translator off again! It destroys your beautiful voice.”

*facepalm*

Awfully picky there, aren’t you, Shepard? Bonus points for the impetus for that second shout being related to your hormones. Which means…

*hits buzzer*

“Strong, Independent” Woman Count: 8

Because nothing says “she’s strong and independent” quite like deciding her subordinate can’t speak certain languages because she thinks his voice is hot in another language.

He blinked, unsure of what to do or say, and what language to say it in. He opted for the commoner’s dialect of turian. “Beautiful voice? You think my voice is beautiful?” He listened as her sub-harmonics trilled relief, then embarrassment, as a mauve-colored blush crept up her neck, fading faintly onto her cheeks.

*sigh*

I’m not going to talk about subharmonics. I’m not going to talk about subharmonics…

Shit. I said that out loud, didn’t I?” He nodded. “Fuck. Ah, fuck it. Yes, you have a beautiful voice.” His own sub-harmonics purred with pride. “As for getting beaten up, every time I used that dialect when I was a kid, my mother would beat me, and tell me that dialect wasn’t fit to be uttered by my tongue. She always made me speak in this dialect or commoner’s, unless we had company over, then it was regular old Common, or Proper turian, depending on the race.”

Wait, her mother beat her for simply speaking another dialect? Wow, no wonder she turned into a bitch: she was brought up by one!

Also, that strikes me as being supremely counterintuitive. I mean, why is her mother commanding her to speak proper turian if there is a turian in the room when she can pass for human? I mean, Taren makes a big deal about hiding her hybridism, right? So then why the fuck does her mother emphasize her turian heritage in the household when others are there? I think that would be incredibly weird, and you’d clue them in to what’s up with her somehow.

He smirked. “Your mother obviously didn’t want you to be a very good turian if she wouldn’t let you use a subordinate’s dialect. Every turian has to learn that dialect for when they’re in the military to speak properly to a commanding officer, or even for later in life, when speaking to a superior in a civilian job, or at C-Sec”

And why the fuck would she want to be a good turian? She is three quarters human! Shepard, please point this out!

She laughed lightly, and shook her head. “No, my mother wasn’t a very good turian herself. Then again, that’s probably because she wasn’t turian. Well, not entirely at least.”

Wow, I can’t believe I actually asked this fic to point out its own shitty science. You know you’re fucked when you’re doing that.

And now is when we get that whole spiel again, right?

His sub-harmonics trilled confusion and curiosity. “Not… Entirely?”

She sighed as she launched into the same story she’d told Ash only an hour before. He listened, and watched as she seemed to be bored with her own story, rushing through things in some parts, as if she were rattling off the information from a well-rehearsed script. Ten minutes later, he could tell the tale was reaching its end, as she began to retell more recent events, like her sole survivor situation on Akuze.

*flops on the chair*

Oh thank fuck. If Actually-Fen-Harel had done the InHarmsWay thing of reprising the same fucking exposition every time it came up, I’d just quit right away. I don’t know if my mind could take being spoonfed the same stupid all the time.

Anyway, Taren is then all “well, I won’t have to lie to you about it”, and then Garrus is like “I would never have figured this out without your voice box slip-up. And of course…

She sighed, lifting up her bangs and baring her teeth, and letting loose a fringe-curling growl. He narrowed his eyes, noting the small plates around her alien hair, and her decidedly sharper than the average human’s white teeth. If he hadn’t seen his fair share of humans in his time at C-Sec, he wouldn’t have noticed the subtle difference in the dental department.

Yeah, yeah. We know all about –

She chuckled suddenly, and stood, walking around the desk to him, and turning so her right side was facing him. “And I’ll show you another difference that I didn’t show Ash earlier.”

She pulled up her pants leg, and he could see a small nub of a spur on the outside of her upper calf. She kicked off her boot, and revealed a very turian-like foot, with four toes, talons and articulated ankle. She gestured to her foot and chuckled. “That’s the second most turian thing about me. You may or may not get to see the other part. We’ll see.” She winked at him and retrieved her boot, slipping it on and walking back around the desk to her chair.

Really? So she is somehow able to hide her turian foot despite how human footwear works?

*headdesk*

How has this bitch not been uncovered as a freak by now!?

She grumbled as she sat down, her sub-harmonics groaning out anxiety. “And now to a part of the conversation that I’m really kind of dreading having with you. Well, not kind of, I am dreading it.” She paused, her eyes shifting quickly from one spot to another as she fidgeted in her seat.“I’m going into heat soon.

Oh goodie. For a second, I thought that plot thread was going to die like all other common sense in this fucking story.

Anyway, Taren then talks about the whole marking thing, Garrus asks when she goes into heat, and –

She blanched, then flushed mauve again. “Um, no. A week or less.”

A week!?

His eyes flew wide open as his sub-harmonics squealed alarm and his heart jumpstarted to try and run a race without him.

*snerk*

I love these random bits of purple – sorry, mauve prose. They make reading through this slog to get to the next incredibly stupid bit worth it.

“A week, Taren?”

She winced as his alarm hit her ears,

*slap*

“You jerk, why’d you throw your alarm at me!?”

“I’m sorry, I can’t find the snooze button!”

and she trilled the most sincere apology she could back at him, along with a hint of indignation. “Well it’s not like I could’ve warned you any sooner! I’m sorry I wasn’t hunting down a rogue Spectre two months ago! I mean, it’s not like I can just tell my body, ‘Oh hi there, body, I know you want to go into heat now, but you’re gonna have to wait until this fucking mission is over, because it makes Garrus Vakarian’s heart race through the roof!’ I’m sorry, but I just can’t do that. You see this?”

*BAM*

Hey, you stop the wild declarations of anger at a character being stupid! That’s my job, thank you very much!

She flared her fingers out in front of his face. “Look at the nails. See how they’re sharpening almost into talons?”

He nodded.

They only do that in the month before I go into heat, and they become solid talons in the week just before. They’re almost there. So you tell me how close I am!” She shoved them even closer to his face to emphasize her point.

And how the hell did nobody notice that throughout the entire time Shepard was in the Alliance? I mean, between boot camp, N7 tranining, the journey to Akuze, and now Eden Prime, I’m sure someone must’ve noticed how odd it is that Shepard’s nails grow extra long and turn into talons every [ERROR: DATA NOT AVAILABLE]. That, and her weird behavior!

Also, heat does not work like that. I mean, you could argue that the hormonal imbalance presented could affect the way the body functions, but lengthening your nails to the point of becoming like a turian’s talons? I don’t think hormones do quite that.

*hits buzzer*

Fuck You, Science! Count: 5

So then Garrus is like “what am I supposed to do?” Taren is all “don’t mark me, and we’ll be okay.” Garrus is then all “okay, works for me,” and then Taren is all:

She scoffed. “It won’t be a problem. Or at least, it shouldn’t. I’ll give you a substitute to bite on. It won’t be my flesh, but it will be flesh-like, and you’ll be able to bite as hard as you can stand to. It might help some, at least. And I have no problem with you nuzzling me while you bite the substitute to enhance the experience. I know how much scent plays a role in that one. It’ll even bleed my blood, if you want me to set that up. Anything to keep you from marking me during this… Process.”

Good luck setting it up. And good luck explaining why you need a fake shoulder to Chakwas, Ms. “I gotta hide my turian side of me no matter the cost!”

Alright, pull out all the stops then, Taren. May as well. Should we test it now while you’re not in heat? Can you get it all set up in a couple hours?” He asked, his sub-harmonics humming out genuine concern.

She seemed a bit surprised by the suggestion. “If you think it’s a good idea. I just need to get Chakwas to draw a small bag of my blood to set it up. I can be ready in twenty minutes.”

Oh my God, she’s not even in heat yet and already Garrus is like “let’s fuck”. Good Lord, I know one night stands are a thing, but if this fic is expecting us to believe this shit will lead to a longer-lasting romance?

*headdesk*

Whatever, that’s the end of the chapter. Let’s move on to the next one!

A/N: Holy shit guys! I can’t believe this story has gotten THIS popular this fast.

Neither can I. I mean, you do know how fucking stupid this fic has gotten in Chapter 5 of 25, right?

Thank you all SO much for favoriting/alerting, and thank you SO much to my reviewers, you guys are fucking awesome. This sticky, hot chapter is just for you. Much love!

*le sigh*

Great, there’s a sex scene. Who wants to bet she’ll get her anatomy totally fucking wrong?

Oh, also, if Shepard is talking to a human, she’s speaking regular old Common (What I call English in the ME universe). If she’s talking to Garrus, and they’re alone, assume they’re both speaking turian. That way, there’s no need for bold text during the love scenes. It’s annoyingly distracting. Any other time I’ll bold it for differentiation. Mkay? Got it? Good! :D

*headdesk*

Are you for real? You think the boldface is annoying?

*BAM*

The only thing annoying about the boldface to denote the languages is that it messes with the formatting whenever I port these snark installments to WordPress’ post manager from Microsoft Word! And even that is only a minor inconvenience, considering it takes far less time to fix that than to deal with all the other myriad formatting issues I already deal with anyway! The thing about the boldface is that it at least lets me know that we’re not speaking English.

And you know what? That is actually clear! Hell, I’ve had to deploy special formatting to ensure they know ‘hey, they’re not speaking English here.’ Other FBA writers I know have done it too, with the only exceptions coming in when gratuituous Spanish/Italian/Japanese/Swedish/what-the-fuck-ever is involved! So you know what? I actually don’t mind the bold, because it’s pretty clear what it’s there for!

It’s certainly a hell of a lot clearer than telling us “oh, by the way, when she’s talking to a human she’s in this language, and if she’s alone with Garrus she’s speaking this,” and then expecting us to fill in the blanks! I mean, I keep going on about how audiences aren’t stupid, but this is pushing it a little bit. Like, imagine if you didn’t have this author’s note for a second: wouldn’t it be confusing as hell that the formatting changed between chapters?

And yeah, maybe boldface wasn’t the way to go. But you know what? That’s not the only option. Why not italicize it? Why not underline it? Why not do anything to emphasize the language isn’t English? Because that’s clearer than just not emphasizing the difference at all!

*headdesk*

You really don’t know what you’re doing, do you, Actually-Fen-Harel?

Anyway, the chapter opens with Taren –

She burst into the medbay and placed a hand on Chakwas’ shoulder. “Doc, I need you to draw some blood for that thing we discussed when I came onboard.” She coughed, and looked around a little nervously.

Chakwas looked at Shepard’s state of unease, and smiled. “Taren, that’s fine, but you forgot your implant. You haven’t talked to anyone but me with it off, have you?”

Oh, so Dr. Chakwas is in on it too. So that makes … three people on the Normandy that know? And that list could include Liara given where she stays on the ship, so that’s possibly four people that’ll know.

What is it with fanfiction Shepards with moronic backstories being terrible at keeping hugely important secrets about themselves?

Anyway, Taren tells Dr. Chakwas she accidentally told Garrus, and then she explains the awkward sex stuff. Dr. Chakwas is just like “okay, sit down and we’ll get it done.” So then they extract the blood, Shepard notices she extracted a little extra, and Dr. Chakwas is all “I’m running a few tests to check on you, don’t worry.” She then leaves, and Dr. Chakwas is all “have fun!”

Oh good, we finally got a scene that didn’t leave me wanting to claw my own brain out. Only took six fucking chapters…

Shepard clutched the small, flat bag of blood in her hand, and slumped against a wall in a dark corner outside the medbay. ‘I can’t believe I’m having to do this crap again. Why’d it have to be a teammate this time? I just know this is gonna get fucking awkward, I just know it. SPIRITS why?’ She let her head fall forward into her hand as she shook it.

Because the shipping gods demand it, Taren. Don’t take it personally, it’s affected other Shepards …

She heard armored feet fall softly on the metal grating of the deck, slowly growing nearer and louder. She looked up, and Garrus was standing in front of her. She growled at him softly, warning him not to come any closer. He took a step back as he sighed.

“Look, Taren… If you don’t want to do this yet, just tell me. It’s gonna be really hard to avoid in a week though. I really think we should make sure this substitute of yours will wor-”

She cut him off with her firm lips on his mouth plates.

Aaaaaand, there they go. That didn’t take long, did it?

Her left hand trailed around his neck to a soft patch of skin under the first plate, stroking softly at first, forcing her long tongue into his mouth and grabbing his own tongue, curling hers around his and tugging on it hungrily. She flexed her throat and let her sub-harmonics loose with a purr of pleasure.

Ugh, I just can’t be assed with the subharmonic bullshit anymore.

*headdesk*

Fine. I’ll shut up about the subharmonics. But seriously, if Actually-Fen-Harel thought she could fuck up properties of sound in front of a fucking musician, she’s got another think coming.

At first he tried to pull back from the sudden onslaught of her attack, but she knew too much of his anatomy to allow for that. Her fingers had quickly found the soft skin between his neck plates, and soon he was putty in her hands. As she forced her tongue into his mouth, he was unsure what to do. When her tongue snaked around his, slicker than his but with that reminiscent roughness, he couldn’t help the moan that escaped his throat. It was all so alien to him, and yet somehow… Familiar. It confused him horribly, but he knew without a doubt that it turned him on.

He managed to gain some of his sense back for long enough to pull back. “Maybe we should… Go somewhere that’s not so public.” He said, between deep breaths.

She grinned up at him and chuckled. “Thought you’d never ask.”

Oh, Garrus, don’t you know? We’re always watching! And I’m always on standby to provide this:

Anyway, folks, I’m just going to cut over most of this sex scene. Yes, I know, disclaimer, but come on! Do you really want to see sex scenes here?

So here’s the sexy highlight reel!

She snarled up at him in indignation, but he didn’t care. He descended on her, shredding her clothes and ripping them off of her, the tattered remains clinging to her arms and legs like the shattered remnants of a forgotten dream, and he gazed at her exposed, alien body like a man who’d lost his way, but had found it in her.

And had finally found the period at the end of that run-on. Also, good luck explaining the tattered clothes to your crewmen, Shepard! I’m sure they’d love to hear all about how you fucked your new turian cop barely a day after he stepped onto the Normandy.

An uneasy smile crept over her face as she watched him looking down at her. “Too alien for you, Garrus?”

Yeah, that’s another problem with this, isn’t it? As someone who would probably only have had casual sex with turians, Garrus would have no idea how to work around the human body. This was a whole thing implied by Mordin’s talks about the love interests in ME2, and they’re just jumping onto the “let’s fuck” bandwagon without Garrus knowing anything about human anatomy.

This is gonna be hella awkward, isn’t it?

He felt her voice caress his plates like silk as he focused on her face. He shook his head violently, as if to clear it of some unseen haze that clouded his vision. “No, it’s… Surprisingly close to home, and yet… Different.” He smiled. “I can deal with different.” He harmonized comfort and desire, as he saw her smile become more confident, and he looked back down at her body, marveling at it, as if in reverence.

Thus is an encounter about the first time having sex with someone. I’m just thankful that Taren has already been fucked by a few turians, I’m sure she’d be able to guide him in the right direction like any more-experienced partner should.

Which is exactly why I get the feeling that won’t happen.

His eyes traveled back up to the juncture between her legs, and what he saw there was a perfect blend of turian and human female genitalia. Pink lips peeked out of the thin slit, and he could see a tiny nub of pink flesh at the top, something turian females didn’t have. He reached a talon out to touch the tiny hint of flesh, and saw her legs twitch as the tip of his talon touched it ever so lightly. Suddenly her silky voice was reaching out to caress all of his nerves at once again.

“I don’t mean to be a kill-joy, but if you plan to play with that, be gentle. It’s extremely sensitive.”

….

Okay, I was wrong! Never mind!

So I skipped over a bunch of paragraphs of Garrus admiring her body, which incurs the issue of describing her body in greater detail than some of the action scenes in this fic. At least this fic is making no overtures to the effect of “THIS ISN’T SHIPFIC!”…

Anyway, he feels the back of her neck, blah blah…

He watched as a flame sparked in her eyes, and suddenly she pounced on him, throwing him onto his back with remarkable strength and speed. She thoughtfully tucked a pillow under his head to support his neck,

Which will no doubt result in this:

Yes, nice thinking there, Shepard. Have fun explaining to requisitions why you constantly need new pillows.

then flicked her tongue out to grasp his left mandible, curling around it and stroking from the base to the end, giving the fringe of it a flick of her tongue before she dove under his chin, nipping and suckling at the soft flesh there, trailing kisses and licks down his throat.

And then blah blah, it goes from there, good time, blah blah, she licks his slit (it’s canon that turians have internal glans), he finds it hot, she goes at it again, more description than any of the fight scenes thus far in this fic, blah blah, she then starts to give him oral sex.

He took a ragged breath, and nodded his head. That seemed to be enough confirmation for her, as she ducked her head back down, and as he looked down to watch, she took his entire length into her mouth. At first, he panicked. If a turian woman had done this, he would be in a lot of pain in a matter of seconds. But as she pulled back up, all he felt was hot, sweet suction, and he almost lost all semblance of control and came right then and there.

Well, I mean, she’s got lips and turian ladies don’t. Hooray for new experiences, I guess?

So then Garrus is like “wait, I’ll climax if you keep doing that.” She goes on, bhal bhal…

As he finally started to feel that he was getting enough air to his lungs, he rolled to his side and leaned up on his elbow, looking down at her. She stroked the right side of his face, trailing up his cheekbone and back down his mandible. She had something in her eyes, some emotion that he couldn’t decipher. There was no sound coming from her, no expression on her face to explain it, but something was going on in her head at that moment that he couldn’t fathom.

Oh lovely, she’s falling in love mid-fuck. As if we needed any more indication that this is a stupid ship-fic, right?

The next moment, it was gone, replaced by base lust. He flicked a mandible out in an indication of nervousness at the sudden change.

Oh, and suddenly we’re back to the action. Blah blah, vaginal sex, blah blah, turian lengths, blah blah, they fuck, but he starts surprisingly gently, blah blah,

She was overwhelmed at his gentleness, the slow, sweet rocking motions, the soft fluttering of his mandible against her cheek… Normally turian sex was a matter of surviving the penetrating, slicing, biting… This was… Something different. Her eyes flew open as the shock hit her when it registered in her mind what this was.

He was making love to her. Her body stiffened in panic. Had he actually noticed the momentary lapse she’d had when she stroked his face? ‘No, impossible. Nobody’s that observant.’ Then it hit her, a second shockwave of panic. ‘Wait. Yes, he is that observant. Oh, damn. Oh. SHIT!’

Hey, shipping gods demand it and all that.

He paused and backed up enough to look at her as he felt her body stiffen a second time, when he could tell it wasn’t from orgasm. Not this soon. Plus, her sub-harmonics were screaming with panic.

And that means he’s going to stop, right?

Something was wrong, terribly wrong. He could see the panic she was harmonizing mirrored in her eyes, though the rest of her face was a mask of neutrality. He let himself harmonize concern as he spoke. “Taren, what’s wrong? Why are you panicking? Did I do something wrong?”

*wipes forehead*

Okay, good. Actually-Fen-Harel knows what psychologically healthy sex looks like.

I know that’s small fucking potatoes, but when you compare it with other fics that had overlong sex scenes that’ve graced the Library? Yeah, thank fuck for that.

And then this happens:

‘Fuck!’ She slowly shook her head. “No, you didn’t do anything wrong.”

He raised a browplate at her. He could smell the lie. “Don’t lie to me, Taren, what did I do? Tell me what’s wrong.”

She shut her eyes tightly and tried to gain control of her gale storm of emotions. She opened them to see him glaring at her expectantly. She sighed. “It really wasn’t anything you did wrong, I just… I don’t know how to explain it. I’m not used to this.” She cursed herself for her lack of ability to tell him outright what the problem was, but how could she explain without outing herself? It would be too uncomfortable. And Awkward. Exactly as she’d predicted.

He growled, harmonizing exasperation at her. “Not used to what, Taren? You’ve had sex with a turian before, right?”

She looked at him like he was crazy. “Of course I have. That’s exactly the problem. This isn’t… Normal.” She shook her head, trilling her own exasperation.

“Taren,” he raised himself up on his hands, pulling out of her, “WHAT isn’t normal? Speak plainly, tell me what’s going on.”

She smacked her hand to her forehead, and whimpered. Actually whimpered. He took her wrist in his hand and pulled her hand away from her face. As he looked at her, what he’d seen in her eyes that had confused him a few minutes before then suddenly came back tenfold, burning in her gaze and setting his mind on fire. As he tried to understand what he was seeing, she finally spoke, and there was no hint of a lie, instead it was replaced by fear. “I’ve fucked turians before. Never had any of them make love to me before though. Until you.”

*perches in front of the fic*

He rocked back and sat on his heels, his mandibles and jaw slack with surprise at the revelation.

She continued despite his reaction. “I never thought I’d actually like that, until now. It was the combination of you doing it, and my liking it that cause the panic mode. I’m sorry if I startled you. I’m just not used to… This.” She sat up and reached out, stroking from his cheek to his mandible, like she’d done before, trilling comforting, soothing tones. He leaned into the touch, and returned his own peaceful tones.

She smiled at him and let her hand drift down to his keelbone, letting a finger slip into the hook, and gently pulled him down on top of her as she laid back down. She slipped a talon under his chin, and gently pulled his face towards hers, resting her forehead on his. She heard the surprise register in his sub-harmonics, and she hummed back reassurance, nuzzling her forehead against his, before letting her head fall gently back to the pillow.

She reached a hand up behind his neck, and slowly massaged the soft skin under the first and second plate, trying to get him worked up again. His cock hadn’t fully retreated, but she knew he needed a bit of help. Her other hand slid down to grasp his length and gently stroke it, as a low purring growl began to rise from his throat.

His body wanted the pleasure, but his mind wanted confirmation that she was alright, that she knew what she’d just done, even though she couldn’t possibly be ignorant of the significance of the action. “Taren, are you sure about this? I don’t want you to do anything you’re not comfortable with.”

She smiled sweetly. “Yes, I’m sure Garrus. You’ve accepted me for who I am, haven’t even blinked at me being different, even agreed to do things my way. I couldn’t be more sure.” She hummed acceptance and affection at him.

Huh.

Suddenly, I don’t want to strangle this fic so badly anymore.

I mean, look at that above bit. That’s what someone who’s unsure about romance looks like, fic authors! There’s self-discovery, and it goes through the whole gamut. Ecstasy, fear at the revelation of what it means … and what’s more, Garrus gives her space. He tries to take things at her pace, and that triggers her being like “you know, I could get used to this,” and that brings it full circle.

This is actually compelling! Not to mention it’s also helped by the fact that it’s being portrayed okay.

So fine. The science behind this fic is absolutely fucked and totally inaccurate. The cast also isn’t totally in-character. But dear God, this is an actual sexually healthy relationship! Do you know how rare that is in shipfic around here? And it hints at how Shepard could be clued in to the fact that “this may not just be any fling.” I just…

*hands fic a redemption cookie*

There. Take it. You deserve it! And smack me if I should ever have to take it from you!

Anyway, after that, we get more sexy times, blah blah, more sex, blah blah, it’s amazing, he clamps down on the bag like she asks, and then it’s good.

His thoughts were interrupted by silk caressing his skin and plates once more. “So, do you think it’ll work when I’m in heat?” She asked, pointing in the general direction of her substitute.

Oh, right, and now we’re back to the stupid fucking “in heat” conversation. It’s like, I don’t think turians are that horny, and even…

Wait. Turians are based on birds, right? I know going “into heat” is a thing mammals do, but do avians do it?

*goes to Uncle Google*

Oh my god.

*headdesk*

Birds do not go into heat.

Are you for fucking real? You have turians more readily going into heat than humans do, and you make it this big huge thing where the females of the turian species are always ready to get some action! You have that, you make it this big fucking plot point …

… and it’s based almost entirely on assuming that the reproductive cycles of all species on the planet are the same as mammalian menstrual cycles.

*headdesks onto buzzer*

Fuck You, Science! Count: 6

Like, okay. I know that maybe the fact they give live birth changes things. But I’m sorry, what? You can’t have a species based on birds and then just ignore avian anatomy completely! It doesn’t work like that!

*headdesk*

Fuck’s sake. I’m so tempted to take that redemption cookie away now … Just …

He trilled uncertainty. “I don’t know. To be honest, I’ve never been with a female in heat before. I was around one once, but she wouldn’t let me near her, she was waiting for the male she intended to bond with. So I really don’t know, Taren. It worked pretty well this time.”

She sighed. “Well, I guess we’ll find out.”

He chuckled. “I guess we will.”

She turned her head towards him and smiled. “Ready for round two?”

He grinned. “Definitely.”

*pulls hand back*

Ah, right, psychologically healthy sexual relationship. Anyway.

We then get a line break, and we cut to the author’s note.

A/N: Holy shit long chapter is long. Pretty sure that scene was even longer than the one in Waterfalls. I’m damn proud. Let me know if you liked it, and I’ll see you guys soon!

Yeah, um, can you put as much detail into everything else in the fic too? I know this is ship fic, but that doesn’t mean you have to save all the good description for the sex scenes, now, does it?

Also, I love writing non-human sex scenes. *melts in a puddle*

You should be happier that you actually managed to portray a compelling sexual awakening mid-sex scene, but hey, what the fuck ever, right?

Anyhow, I’ve been Herr Wozzeck. I’ll see you guys next week, to see what in this fic could possibly ruin the good scene we’ve witnessed thus far…

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71 Comments on “1406: When You’re Strange – Chapters Five and Six”

  1. Addicted Reader says:

    That was … not as bad as expected.

    I’m not sure how I’m supposed to react to that.

    ::is so confused::

  2. AdmiralSakai says:

    “Why are you using that dialect? Are you trying to get beaten up?”

    Well, not exactly

  3. AdmiralSakai says:

    He listened, and watched as she seemed to be bored with her own story, rushing through things in some parts, as if she were rattling off the information from a well-rehearsed script.

    Much like the author in that regard…

    • Herr Wozzeck says:

      Hey, at least in this case it was to gloss over exposition we’ve got before.

      It is still a problem with her, though.

  4. AdmiralSakai says:

    “It won’t be a problem. Or at least, it shouldn’t. I’ll give you a substitute to bite on. It won’t be my flesh, but it will be flesh-like, and you’ll be able to bite as hard as you can stand to. It might help some, at least. And I have no problem with you nuzzling me while you bite the substitute to enhance the experience. I know how much scent plays a role in that one. It’ll even bleed my blood, if you want me to set that up. Anything to keep you from marking me during this… Process.”

    This, for whatever reason, strikes me as the single most fucked-up thing in the ‘fic so far.

  5. AdmiralSakai says:

    If you think it’s a good idea. I just need to get Chakwas to draw a small bag of my blood to set it up

    And sign eight billion NDAs…

  6. AdmiralSakai says:

    She cut him off with her firm lips on his mouth plates.

    mouth plates

    Ok, now I might have a bit of an unfair advantage because my coauthor is a biomedical engineer who can figure out what all of these alien parts are actually called, but even on my own I think I could’ve done better than mouth plates.

    • TacoMagic says:

      “Mandible” springs to mind as the most apropos.

      • Herr Wozzeck says:

        Those tend to come to refer to the little things on the side, for some reason. *le shrug*

      • AdmiralSakai says:

        The proper term for the two rather prominent ones that make up the upper lip (according to Nick) is obicular plates.

        • TacoMagic says:

          Sounds kinda right since that translates literally as: “plate that resembles a barrier” which those plates do kinda protrude in front of the oral cavity in a way reminiscent of a barrier.

          Though if we want to use existing terminology, “upper mandible” is the avian term for the top part of the beak. Premaxilla is a more generic term for bone structures at the front of the skull, so that would also work.

  7. AdmiralSakai says:

    grabbing his own tongue, curling hers around his and tugging on it hungrily.

    So, did Totally Not Cerberus throw a little chameleon into the mix, too?

  8. batjamags says:

    That was better than expected, and yet somehow I’m still disturbed.

  9. AdmiralSakai says:

    His eyes traveled back up to the juncture between her legs, and what he saw there was a perfect blend of turian and human female genitalia.

    Egad.

    • TacoMagic says:

      We call it a Vagaca.

      • Herr Wozzeck says:

        Taco, that sounds suspiciously like a shitty Spanish swear word.

        • TacoMagic says:

          I know little to nothing about Spanish, so it’s not an intentional parallel. I was going for a portmanteau of vagina and cloaca. Eventually I found that clogina sounded better, but this was what I stumbled upon first.

          I know how to say “hello” and “pants” in Spanish, and my knowledge ends there.

        • Herr Wozzeck says:

          Well, “caca” is Cuban slang for poop, so…

      • TacoMagic says:

        Woohoo! Third word! I can now sorta say, “Hello, poop-pants.”

        Likely with horrible grammar.

        • Herr Wozzeck says:

          You’d have to say “pantalones de caca”. Compound nouns in Spanish require “of” (“de”), because it’s not like German or even some cases in English where you mash the two nouns together.

          It’s actually something that I dock one of our FBA authors for (he created a “Pajaro Fuego Academy” in Spain when that should really be “Academia Pajaro del Fuego”, so…)

      • AdmiralSakai says:

        Pantalones de Cloaca?

  10. AdmiralSakai says:

    Like, okay. I know that maybe the fact they give live birth changes things. But I’m sorry, what? You can’t have a species based on birds and then just ignore avian anatomy completely! It doesn’t work like that!

    *headdesk*

    Fuck’s sake. I’m so tempted to take that redemption cookie away now … Just …

    Actually, that’s not really an issue. (I mean, of course it is, but for purely narrative reasons.)

    Turians are aliens– they resemble birds, reptiles, and a few other terrestrial species, but they are also strictly their own thing and can demonstrate physiological traits not found in Earth birds.

    • Herr Wozzeck says:

      True, but you can’t deny that it seems a little strange, doesn’t it?

      Also, it is really bad for narrative reasons. I guess some are into that alpha/beta in heat fetish, but it just doesn’t make sense here. At least in StarFox you’re dealing with exact animal counterparts.

      • AdmiralSakai says:

        Well, look at the title.

        Actually, the heat-cycle thing seems wrong to me for entirely different reasons, in that the models of intelligent brains I am familiar with (used mostly in AI) can’t be “overwritten’ to the degree that would be required to make such a complete change in behavior happen, To make a long lecture extremely short, I doubt that the turian equivalent of the frontal lobes could be so cleanly disconnected during a heat cycle, but still be useable at other times for intelligent reasoning.

        Then again, the ‘fic itself is kind of inconsistent about exactly what the behavioral changes brought about by this cycle are so I really don’t have an exact idea of what is even going on.

        • Herr Wozzeck says:

          Basically, it’s an excuse to get Shepard and Garrus together.

          Because fuck science!

      • AdmiralSakai says:

        Basically, it’s an excuse to get Shepard and Garrus together.

        Because we really need another one of those.

        Pfft. Mutual respect and sharing life-or-death experiences together are so mainstream.

  11. AdmiralSakai says:

    His eyes traveled back up to the juncture between her legs, and what he saw there was a perfect blend of turian and human female genitalia.

    Now that I have a chance to stop and think it over, there’s still more problems with this. We see the human half, but in the descriptions later on no turian components are in evidence… and how does Garrus know what human bits look like to begin with?!

  12. AdmiralSakai says:

    “Look at the nails. See how they’re sharpening almost into talons?”

    Oh, great, another ‘fic where turian claws are actually sharp. Ignoring for the moment that in daily life they’d cut everything they tried to hold into ribbons…

    he could see a tiny nub of pink flesh at the top, something turian females didn’t have. He reached a talon out to touch the tiny hint of flesh, and saw her legs twitch as the tip of his talon touched it ever so lightly. Suddenly her silky voice was reaching out to caress all of his nerves at once again.

    “I don’t mean to be a kill-joy, but if you plan to play with that, be gentle. It’s extremely sensitive.”

    Yeah.

  13. AdmiralSakai says:

    He met her gaze steadily with his own, and wondered if she would recognize the gesture when he flared his mandibles upwards for just a moment, a clear challenge to any turian. Her eyebrows shot upwards and her eyes fixed on his mouth, as she let out the quietest growl he’d ever heard. Her eyes flicked back up to his, and the sound stopped. ‘Challenge accepted.’ He jerked his chin towards her. “You were raised by a turian.”
    His tone was almost accusatory, and his sub-harmonics trilled that she’d been caught.
    She rolled her eyes and scoffed. “That so? What else do you think you know about me?”

    He let his mandibles flick out in a sly smirk. “You were either born with an extra voicebox, which I find highly unlikely, or you have implants, and you’re trained with them enough to know how to use the sub-harmonics properly.
    You speak at least one dialect of turian, fluently. And you can read turian expressions, and even imitate them to a point. You can hear sub-harmonics, because I saw you reacting to that Requisitions Officer at C-Sec when he hadn’t said a word.
    I’d very much like to know how all of this can be true without heavy implants, and without spending a considerable amount of time around turians. Your service records indicate no such thing.”

    His eyes were drawn to her hands as they trembled with the strain she was putting on them.

    His eyes widened when he saw tiny trickles of mauve-colored blood coming from under the pointed nails of her interlaced fingers as they dug into the backs of her hands. She must have noticed his reaction, as she suddenly relaxed her grip, and drew her hands into her lap and out of sight. She spoke through clenched teeth. “Your observational skills are astoundingly annoying, detective.”

    Why do I suddenly really, really want a Batman-Mass-Effect crossover?

  14. AdmiralSakai says:

    I’ve just realized, apparently these hybrid things are actually fertile (it’s how Shepard came to be, after all).

    Please oh please tell me that she and Garrus don’t make any more abominations of nature…

    (If nothing else, I would prefer not to keep computing the binary fractions!)

    • batjamags says:

      It’s a shipfic. Of course they’re going to make legions of demonic Sue-spawn.

      • Herr Wozzeck says:

        It’s also Garrus/Shepard shipfic. These authors always find a way to make babies happen, no matter how illogical.

      • AdmiralSakai says:

        You know, putting aside the massive biological issues (I mean, after all, they could always adopt… and do asari offer that sort of service for hire?)…

        I really don’t think that Commander Shepard and Garrus Vakarian would make for very good parents. Even if we ignore the fact that turian and human parenting styles are likely extremely different, and that the poor kid would have basically the entire galactic news media breathing down their neck at all times…

        Shepard is at best a big-picture workaholic obsessively focused on her own military/political career and at worst just a bloodthirsty psychopath, while Garrus is a hardened ex-vigilante with daddy issues of his own to work out and an alarming tendency to jump into major decisions without proper forethought.

        That kid’s either going to spend the rest of his life in a padded room, or blow up the galaxy.

  15. SC says:

    *Glasses and Rose shove heaping handfuls of popcorn into their faces whilst reading the riff with utter glee*

    One not-horribly written sex scene, and these two practically nail their faces to the screen.

    • batjamags says:

      nail their faces to the screen

      So…

      Is there any way we can prevent Syl from seeing this post? Because I’m pretty sure there isn’t.

    • Swenia says:

      *Reaches in from behind, grabs a handful of popcorn, and pops a piece in her mouth*

      Hey! What happened to the Herrerasaurus flavored stuff!?

      • Herr Wozzeck says:

        It vanished with his internet availability yesterday.

      • Addicted Reader says:

        *Reaches in from behind, grabs a handful of …

        I was really nervous about where that was going for a moment.

      • Swenia says:

        I’ve learned that Glasses’ kids are rather protective of their mother, something to do with maintaining the timeline I think, so I have to save my random groping for somebody else. Groping Rose would be weird since she’s not even born yet, so is younger than my son.

        And I don’t grope Syl just as a rule.

        Truth be told, there are distressingly few around here who are on my “okay to grope” list.

      • SC says:

        Rose: I mean, if mom wants to be groped, that’s fine, just so long as it STAYS THERE, YOU MOTHERFUCKERS. And technically I am born, just not in this timeline. Time travel and such. What a load of bullshit.

  16. TacoMagic says:

    She seemed to know she was screwed

    Well, not quite yet, but obviously rather soon.

  17. TacoMagic says:

    He let his mandibles flick out in a sly smirk.

    He smirked. “I’m sure.”

    He smirked. “Your mother obviously didn’t want you

    Baaaaa!?

    No, you do not get to have power-armor made of gongs.

    BAAAAAAAAA!

    I don’t care if it would be a business expense!

    • batjamags says:

      I’m going to have to take Cerbersheep’s side here, if nothing else because the concept of gong armor is too awesome to pass up. You don’t even need to hit the smirks, they’ll deflect right off the armor!

      That’s how it works, right?

  18. parrish122 says:

    So how did Shepard get through her first physical when she joined the military? Or boot camp, for that matter. You’re in close contact with the other recruits almost the whole time. Somebody would have noticed that she was a tad different.

    • AdmiralSakai says:

      More to the point, she supposedly had sex with other turians before. Surely they noticed something a bit off…

    • Herr Wozzeck says:

      Because it does the Stupard thing where nobody notices. Actually, Taren!Sue and Stupard are remarkably similar on that front.

      I’ll still take Taren!Sue over Stupard any day, though. As much of a bitch as she is, Taren!Sue at least has valid reasons for keeping this secret, poorly kept as it is. Stupard doesn’t even have that going for him.

      • AdmiralSakai says:

        Valid reasons, maybe, but it still doesn’t make sense. Her hybrid nature is so transparently obvious that basically everyone who comes into contact with her is going to figure it out (does she really think that she can serve in a front-line combat capacity and never bleed?), so all she’s doing is providing the same story multiple times in person instead of making it a matter of public record.

        • Herr Wozzeck says:

          Still better than “I’M GOING TO HIDE MY SPECIES FROM THIS ENTIRE GALAXY BECAUSE THE COUNCIL SUCKS”.

  19. Swenia says:

    Anyway, folks, I’m just going to cut over most of this sex scene

    Boo!

    *Throws popcorn*

  20. Swenia says:

    He descended on her, shredding her clothes and ripping them off of her

    Poor Shep. Having your clothes ripped off is on of those things that sounds really sexy, but the reality falls very short of expectation.

    First, clothing is harder to rip than you’d think and there are seams everywhere. It’s actually kinda painful if somebody tries to rip clothing off you. And if they go for your panties, you’re as likely to end up with a wedgie as anything else. Nothing gets you in the mood like your partner giving you a wedgie mid-foreplay.

    Second, after you’re done, all your clothing is ruined.

    Nice going, Garrus. Maybe you should break a vase over her head next time.

    • AdmiralSakai says:

      I don’t think he’s ripping it so much as actually cutting it*. Because one thing you can count on with badfic turians is that their talons are always super, super sharp. Like, sharper than keratin could actually be sharp. Because fuck sapient species losing more animal-like traits that would interfere with easy tool use!**

      *And if his talons can do that to Navy fatigues, which are presumably designed to be durable, difficult to breach, and possibly offer limited body armor, think about what he’s doing to her skin.

      **See also, heat cycle.

      • Swenia says:

        I suppose it’s too much to ask for authors to do the five seconds of research it requires to understand that claws and talons pierce, not cut.

        Oh, who am I kidding, if the clogina is a thing, I suppose it’s just a small miracle that Turians don’t have psionic vibro claws.

      • AdmiralSakai says:

        Goddammit, now you’ve cursed it into existance1


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