Thane can sense her discomfort when she briefs the team on the mission. A derelict reaper.
She has more experience with reapers than he, and her unease reflects on him. Carefully, she explains that she’s chosen only her most reliable crew members for this mission: himself and Garrus.
“Reapers have this effect called indoctrination,” Shepard continues. “I won’t get into the details but basically the more time we spend inside that thing, the more pull it has on our minds. We need to get in and get what we need as quickly as possible.”
- - - - - - - -
He’s with her on the bridge when the ancient machine comes into view. Broken and floating in orbit, stretched out on it’s side, he has to wonder if it’s actually dead, if a power that immense can ever truly die. In truth, the mission scares him. He’s caught between feeling angry and honored that she’s chosen him for this, and he glances at her. Shepard’s posture is cool and authoritative beside him. She’s making the best of this, and he resolves to do the same.
- - - - - - - -
The inside of the reaper is silent in the worst way. The air is breathable but unmoving. The smallest of shivers races up Thane’s spine as they turn another corner and he looks to Shepard again. “I’ve heard stories about the reapers, about Sovereign and Saren,” he says softly. “I had thought them to be exaggerations.”
Quiet and focused, her eyes are trained on what’s ahead, but he can hear her soft sigh at his words. “Let’s just get what we came for so we can go home.”
She cycles in and out of combat with practiced but strict ease, and Thane tries to forget that the husks they’re fighting were all once living, breathing people, not so different from himself. With no small amount of paranoia, he begins to wonder if the gnawing in his gut that’s growing more insistent by the second is actually the reaper already affecting his mind.
- - - - - - - -
The whole team isn’t sure what to make of the rogue geth they encounter on their way to disable the reaper’s kinetic barriers. In a split second decision, Shepard orders them to bring it on board the Normandy, and they hurry to escape the falling wreck they’re on. Thane can see the relief on Shepard’s face when their ship comes into view. He shares her sentiment. With its mass effect core destroyed, he hopes the reaper will be gone and forgotten, truly and finally destroyed.
They’re besieged by husks as the Normandy positions itself close enough for an escape. Garrus goes first, flinging himself off the railing and through the failing gravity into the airlock. Thane looks at Shepard, giving her ample opportunity to make her own jump, but he can see her eyes behind her visor and knows immediately that concern for herself is last on her conscience. He jumps, followed closely by the disabled geth as she flings it his way, and catches his balance in the airlock with a sharp breath.
The world around him seems to slow as he watches her make the jump herself, barely daring to breathe until her feet connect with the ship and the airlock hisses closed behind her. Shepard’s momentum carries her directly into him, and he catches her.
Thane’s hands connect with her shoulders and he can both see and feel the relief spread through her bones. He lets go the breath he didn’t know he was holding and feels the warmth radiate from her and into him. Tearing off her helmet, she abruptly throws her arms around him, burying her face in his shoulder in an embrace tighter than he’s ever known. His arms settle across her back and they breathe in time with one another for the briefest of moments before her hands come up to remove his breather and her lips are suddenly on his.
The awareness of what they’ve done surges through him at the urgency of those lips. She’s clumsy, desperate, drinking him in before he even realizes he’s reciprocating. Warm hands frame his face and anchor him where she wants him and there are no words to describe his relief. Seconds become hours beneath the insistent press of her lips, parting over his like a warm invitation to a sensation he hasn’t quite realized he’s wanted this badly before now. Time is theirs, and together, they are completely unaware of whatever crew may be gawking behind them.
When they separate, reality sucks them back in with a rush. Too quickly, they become Commander and assassin again, but he can still feel the tingle of her soft human lips on his long into the night cycle.