Almost two weeks had passed since the night on the Citadel, and mostly Garrus had kept to himself. He hadn't been put on the team for missions in that time either. "You need to clear your head and think about what we talked about," Shepard had said once Garrus came back to the Nromandy, and he figured he owed her to accept her judgment without question. He needed time to catch up on the ship calibrations, anyways, and that gave him the perfect opportunity. So he stood over the control panel, checking algorithms and finely-tweaking system functions as always.
Shepard always knew what she was doing. Of course Garrus thought about their fight and all that had transpired between them over the past few weeks, and ultimately he felt terrible about what he had put her through. He knew that she had more than enough on her plate for the time being and didn't deserve to be treated the way he had treated her. He had even begun to consider the whole conflict with Sidonis...
Sidonis. Garrus had pinned the turian as the root of all of the problems that Garrus had now, but part of Garrus told him that this couldn't be true. Because Garrus still felt angry, and, while he still felt that justice had been served, he still missed his team, almost more so than before.
Nestled in the corner of a small, shady bar on Omega, Garrus and ten of his eleven men sat around a large table that was scattered with drinks and assorted snacks. They were celebrating as they had just succeeded in taking out one of the larger cells of Blood pack mercenaries, including their leader. The group was roaring with laughter as those in the circle went around, telling stories about their lives before the squad Garrus had set up. Garrus sat back smiling as one of his crew told the story of how she had been approached by Garrus.
"So there I was, standing there with a stripper's outfit on, blood everywhere, and this guy," the woman pointed over to Garrus, "this guy has the cahones to come up to me and not only compliment me, but make a pitch for me to join the team!" The woman tossed back her head as she laughed with the others, her long brunette hair moving about her shoulders. Melanis was the only one Garrus had actually chosen for the squad after having seen her ability and... well, Garrus would never tell her the other reason. She had reminded him so much of Shepard... It was strange to have someone who seemed to be a clone of his old commander in his crew, but it was also, in a way, comforting.
"Garrus, what are you doing just sitting there?" Garrus's eyes quickly shot over to who the voice belonged to, seeing that it was the missing member of his team, Sidonis, who was holding a platter of drinks. The turian set the platter down, averting his attention to everyone else. "Sorry I was late everyone; had a bit of a hold up, so I bought the next round of drinks."
Sounds of approval coursed through the group as they each grabbed a drink before going back to their stories. Sidonis sat down in the empty seat next to Garrus, nodding to Garrus's nearly full ale glass. "You've barely touched it. Something on your mind?"
Garrus's mandibles clicked before he shook his head. "Just thinking about things past; nothing to worry about."
A moment of silence passed between the two turians. Garrus had told Sidonis about his time with Shepard and how abruptly it came to an end; Sidonis had helped Garrus through some of the worst of his mourning after Shepard's death.
But for now, Sidonis simply slapped Garrus's back in a show of camaraderie. "Well, you better finish your first glass soon, otherwise I'm going to have to drink the ale I brought for you and for me. And believe me, it's way too much for just one turian to handle." Garrus chuckled, grabbing his glass and holding it up in front of him. He called for the team to quiet down.
"You guys were outstanding out there today. I don't think I've ever worked with a better group of men and women." Except for once Garrus added in his head but simply paused in his speech. "So cheers, men. You've earned it."
The whole crew picked up their glasses with a roar of approval. Glasses clinked and ale sloshed out of glasses before all were drinking as if testing to find the bottom of the glass. Another round was quickly served up as the team continued their celebration.
Garrus sighed as he opened his eyes, taking his hands off of the panels. Sidonis hadn't been a bad person. Maybe Shepard had been right... maybe Garrus shouldn't have shot Sidonis, should have given the turian a second chance...
But then he remembered his team not as they were before, but as they were now: dead, lifeless. Many left families behind. No. You knew exactly what you were doing, Vakarian, Garrus thought as he finally let his hands start to move over the keyboard, beginning to analyze algorithms again. He's dead. Your men are avenged. Don't start second-guessing yourself because Shepard got involved.
Shepard groaned as hauled herself back onto the ship after having been out on a mission for Jacob. He had received word on his MIA father, and after having found him and the wretched conditions he had put his crew in, Jacob finally was able to put his lingering past behind him and put his focus solely on the mission that lay ahead of them. And while Shepard was more than happy that she had been able to help out one of her crew, she was beginning to wonder if all of them would ever be able to get through their own respective issues and focus on the task ahead.
After riding the elevator up to her suite, Shepard quickly stripped out of her armor and took a shower, removing the grime and sweat that she had accumulated on her body throughout the course of the mission. The warm water soothed her as she stood beneath the stream, and she ran her hands through her hair, untangling the knots that her helmet had tied.
Once she deemed that she was adequately cleaned, she turned off the warm stream, her body instantly met by the cold air around her. As she looked around for a towel to cover herself with, she found none, so after sticking her head out of the bathroom and surveying her room as if someone would be there beside herself, she made a dash for her closet. She quickly grabbed a towel from the top shelf, wrapping it around her body after drying her hair.
Just as she was about to move back to the bathroom to brush her hair, however, a knock sounded from the other side of the door. Always when I'm just out of the shower, she thought as she called out. "Who is it?"
"It is I, siha," Thane's raspy voice sounded from the other side of the door. Shepard quickly ran over to her closet, dropping the towel and quickly slipping on a tank top and shorts. Finished with her mad dash, she went
The door promptly slid open as Shepard walked over to her desk. She heard his approaching footsteps behind her and also how quickly they stopped when she was in sight of him. "I am so sorry, siha, did I interrupt?"
Shepard looked back at the drell, who stood straight and stiff as always, though she could see he was averting his eyes from her much more than usual. Shepard had forgotten almost all of the crew was used to seeing her in military gear, so seeing her clothed for bed was showing Thane a lot more skin than usual. But Shepard simply smiled. "Don't worry about it, Thane," she said as she sat down in her desk chair. "I wasn't expecting to see you so soon after the mission, but what is it you need?"
Thane looked back to her, his eyes firmly locked with hers. "I wanted to let you know I received word that my son, Kolyat, has begun working with Citadel Security. We may not be truly father and son again yet, but I wanted to thank you for helping me to have him in my life again."
Shepard smiled. "It was the least I could do for you, Thane."
Thane turned away from her. "That is not the reason I am here, though. It has to do with you and Officer Vakarian." Shepard's smile instantly faded, her face instead filling with concern, but Thane continued speaking. "I have noticed that it seems Officer Vakarian has barely been spotted outside of his quarters," Thane said as he presumably watched the fish in the Shepard's fish tank swim aimlessly about. "However, there has been another who has been spotted outside of his quarters much more than usual." Thane turned his head, looking over his shoulder at Shepard. "Why haven't you spoken to him yet siha?"
Shepard held her towel closer to her and blushed. "I... I've been busy. And I guess I don't really know what to say to him. I mean, he..."
"Shepard, you have told me many things you could tell Officer Vakarian" Thane paused, turning around to face Shepard. "Are you scared he will hurt you again?" Slowly Shepard nodded; Thane had finished her thought for her, as if sensing what she wanted to say but couldn't. She looked down, brow furrowed in thought as she tried to figure out what to say.
"We used to be so close, Thane," Shepard started slowly, her lips carefully probing over her every word. "I counted on him for everything. I took him on every mission when we were tracking Saren... I depended on him to watch my back. I've told him things that I've never told anyone ... but then not only do we fight but he... he..." Shepard stopped as her eyes flitted to the area where their argument had gotten rough, her chest growing unbelievably heavy. She tightened her lips and stood from her chair, turning away from Thane and closing her eyes.
It wasn't that she was scared of the physicality. Hell, hand-to-hand combat was usually one of her top skills, and in any other situation she would have been ready to fight back. But when Garrus had grabbed her like that... For her it was the fact that Garrus was the one who was grabbing her, that it was Garrus who was the one that was hurting her that scared the life out of her. When Garrus had been angrily breathing down her neck she finally understood why some people could be so scared of turians.
Shepard felt a cool scaly hand touch her shoulder, but she neither jumped nor turned to look at him. "I'm scared..." Shepard closed her eyes, hanging her head. "He's changed so much since our mission to stop Saren, just as I have, but I don't want to lose him like I've lost many of the old crew." She grew silent and brought her hand to her forehead, her eyes beginning to tear. She felt Thane's hand twitch. She turned, and Thane let his hand fall from her shoulder. "I'm sorry, Thane, I've made you uncomfortable. You came to tell me about Kolyat and I just started spilling out my feelings." She weakly laughed. "What a tough commander I am, huh? I-I'll let you go."
Thane smiled sadly at Shepard. "You need not worry about me, siha." He folded his hands in front of him and looked her in the eyes. "You have started to make me realize that emotions are what make a person strong."
Shepard blinked, her face feeling hot as she tried to keep eye contact with him. She had talked to him an awful lot in the few weeks, frequenting Life Support to discuss anything that came to mind. It was a ritual that she normally performed with Garrus, but after the way things had devolved, she essentially turned Thane into her emotional rock. He had listened to her talk about issues for hours, though he would talk about himself and his life as well. Even though they had only met recently, she was quickly finding it in her to call him a close friend. Of course, that's probably what he means...
Seeing that Shepard had become consumed in her thoughts, Thane seemed to realize it was best to turn the conversation back towards her and Garrus. "If you do not want to lose him then you must find your words quickly. You may need him, Shepard, but he needs you as well, more than you might realize."
Thane closed his eyes, giving a polite bow. "I will take my leave now," Thane turned, walking towards the door. He looked back, though to Shepard the look in his eyes seemed to have wanted something more from her. Whatever it was, he abstained. "Remember what I've said, siha."
The door swiftly slid open and closed, but Shepard couldn't find it in herself to move. Thane was right about her and Garrus, but he had ended up leaving her feeling more conflicted than before. She ran her hands through her knotty hair, beginning to feel uncomfortable again as she stared across the room, replaying the events of her and Garrus's fight that occurred only a few weeks ago. She sighed, shaking her head as she turned to enter the bathroom and comb her hair. She would have to talk to him, but she didn't want to quite yet. She wasn't sure she was ready.
Garrus quickly entered the access code, causing the door that led to the base to slide open quickly. Running trough it towards the main area, Garrus reached over his back to grab his battle rifle. Gunfire was prominent, and yelling could be heard over all of the shooting. Garrus upped his run to a full-out sprint as he went down the winding hallways that led to the main area.
As he grew closer, however, the shooting began to die down, the yelling following quickly after. After a few more seconds Garrus finally reached the main room but halted almost instantly at what he saw. His men were all dead, two even still in their cots as if they had never woken to the attack. However, in the middle of the room was a Blood Pack mercenary, clothed in battle armor and blood. Held tightly to the Krogan's chest with a gun to her head, however, was the last of Garrus's squad mates, Melanis. Normally a confident and vivacious woman, she looked terrified in her disarmed and bloodied state. Garrus's chest instantly tightened at the sight of her..
The mercenary grinned. "Aw, you've ruined all the fun... I'd always heard humans were more fun to play with than asari and thought I'd finally get the chance to try..."
Garrus gritted his teeth. "Let her go and I won't have to kill you."
The mercenary roared with laughter, pushing the barrel of his hand cannon into Melanis's temple, causing her to whimper. "You think you really have the high ground here, turian? Look around you! Your filthy team of vigilantes is dead, and you worry about this girl?" He looked down to Melanis with a sick grin on his lips.
A gunshot sounded, and the next thing Garrus remembered was placing his entire clip in his battle rifle into the krogan's head. Now covered in krogan blood, Garrus rushed over to Melanis's body. He dropped to his knees, simply staring at his fallen comrade. Despite the gore, he looked her directly in the eyes, and he couldn't help but see the expression of shock, pleading, disappointment
Garrus gasped as he woke up, realizing he was still on the Normandy. He brought his hand to his brow, his eyes closing for a moment as images from his recurring nightmare rushed through his mind. The most prominent, however, was always Melanis's lifeless expression, always staring at him, never seeming to want to leave him be. That image was burned in Garrus's mind, not only serving as constant reminder of the wonderful team of men he had lost, but also reminding him of so much more...
Garrus swung his legs over the side of his cot, staring at the floor for a few moments before standing and looking at the clock. 0300 hours
He sighed, stretching and realizing he wouldn't be going back to bed for the night; after checking the ship's calibration records Garrus exited the battery core, walking the short path to the mess hall. He quickly went to the fridge and grabbed the lone, large bottle of turian ale that he had requested from Gardner and walked over one of the empty tables, opening the bottle and drinking directly from it.
Garrus tried to keep his mind from going back to the inevitable, but he couldn't help but think about that night. Seeing his team dead, realizing it had been Sidonis who had betrayed them all, believing he would live the last of his days as a lone vigilante with his purpose seemingly stripped from him... Garrus knew his life as Archangel wasn't how he had ever wanted it, especially at what he had believed to be his end. Despite his tendency to stick to himself outside of mission time, he actually didn't mind being around other people, especially after joining Shepard the first time. She had helped him open up, to get his mind off of the task at hand and just talk about himself.
But that was what got you in trouble in the first place... Garrus sighed as he told himself the same old line he always recited to himself when he thought about his old friends. You got too attached to your team, and when you lost them, it hurt you ten times harder than it should have. He took another swig of his ale, wishing there was some way to just forget about the pain he felt, the hate he had for his former friend. He wanted to go back to the times of celebration in the bar after a successful mission, the late night recollections of past missions and teams they had worked on. Garrus wanted to remember Erash's snarky smile right after he had taken down a whole team of krogan with just a shotgun and a prayer, not his dead body mangled and strewn across the floor. He wanted to remember Weaver's crass jokes, not his blood pooling underneath him.
But most of all, and even Garrus couldn't deny it, he wanted to forget completely about Melanis. She haunted Garrus the most of his team, even more than Sidonis. It was her resemblance to Shepard, not only in looks, but in values, character, hell, even the fact that her parents were in the Alliance Navy. Garrus couldn't help but feel when he had lost her, he had lost the only link to Shepard he thought he had left.
After the non-human members of Shepard's first Normandy crew had been honorably discharged from service as the vessel went back to an Alliance-controlled ship, Garrus tried to begin training to become a Spectre, per to Shepard's suggestion back when they were fighting Saren. It had helped him to remember her and to feel like she might still be thinking about him. Every now and then she would send him mail, but he could never send any back, her link having blocked receiving messages from him and the other alien members of the crew thanks to the Alliance. Not to mention he was becoming more and more frustrated with the bureaucracy on the Citadel, and training to become a Spectre helped him to escape his old work at C-Sec.
But when he heard of Shepard's dead, everything changed. He wouldn't have known if Liara hadn't sent him a message about it, seeing how the media completely ignored the occurrence. Though glorifying Shepard as the hero of the Citadel, the council denied the Reapers were a threat, hell, that they even existed. Garrus cracked, quitting his training program and leaving the Citadel. Not long after he became a vigilante, deciding he was going to take the law into his own hands and fix it where it failed. He knew the perfect place for this was Omega, and while at first he resolved to try and fight against the crime and gangs alone, soon enough people around Omega started to hear about him. Having lost so much to the gangs, they wanted to help their Archangel fight against the lawlessness of Omega.
When Garrus found Melanis, it was as if the spirits had somehow brought her to him and had convinced her to join his makeshift team to serve as something of a stand-in for one of the only humans Garrus had come to truly respect. He grew close to her, trying to learn everything about her. But the spirits had just as easily snatched Melanis away from him, and with that final shot to the head the spirits and that krogan had taken from Garrus the only living memory of Shepard he had left.
Garrus drank deeply from the bottle of ale, wiping his mouth as he realized the bottle was almost gone. He stared at the last bit of ale left in the bottle, realizing how much he had missed Shepard when she was gone: her way of smiling after making one of those human jokes, her perseverance on the battlefield, her strange human habits that didn't seem right if anyone but her was doing them. Even though he still had some issues with it now, her new way of doing things was slowly beginning to grow on him. She was definitely much calmer now, and was more understanding, especially about all of the personal missions members of the team wanted to take. It was almost as if Shepard was unintentionally challenging everyone to think about how their decisions can affect other, to remember how close to death even the best can come, and how even the strongest can die with a blink of an eye. Thinking of it that way, it's no wonder she thinks before she shoots now, Garrus thought. She was given a second chance, so she's giving others the same benefit...
Garrus slammed the bottle down on the table, the loud noise echoing through the empty hall. "She's too important damnit, and I haven't even seen her in ages." He immediately stood from the table and abandoned his now empty bottle of ale as he marched over to the elevator and entered it, pressing the button that would take him to Shepard's private quarters. He was resolved to let her know how important she was to him, how much she had changed him. Shepard had formed him into a different turian. Maybe they still didn't see eye-to-eye on things, but he respected her, hell, trusted her with his life! He had to tell her how thankful he was, and he had to tell her now!
Garrus realized in all this that he had actually disembarked from the elevator and now was staring at the commander's door, unable to bring himself to knock. I'm drunk aren't I? He sighed, shaking his head before turning on his heel and heading to the elevator. However, before he could enter the elevator to go back to his deck, he heard the door open behind him.