Little details and differences had a way of slipping under the radar until there was an active watch for them.
And then they were everywhere.
Three fingers instead of five, soft skin without plates, blue rather than red, fuzz and not fringe. That was just the obvious, the ever-present reminders that he was not like her and she was not like him.
It would be a lot easier to find something more similar, less worryingly different. But she’d always had a way of saying what they were both thinking.
I don’t want something closer to home.
"Well, look who decided to emerge from his cave," is Joker’s greeting when Garrus reaches the bridge.
Any other day this would have started witty banter, but today Garrus has a reason for “pestering the cripple”. “Got a minute?”
The pilot waves him closer. “Anything for you, turian buddy. What do you need.”
“Need your help with some, ah,” he quickly racks his brain for the right word, finally settling on, “research.”
Joker blinks once and then grins so wickedly Garrus starts to wonder if maybe this is a bad idea.
“What kind of research?” he asks, sounding far too thrilled about the prospect.
Garrus fidgets and twists his talons, nerves starting to get the better of him. “Ah, relationship. With humans specifically.”
“Oh, feel like trying out the fleshier side of things, huh?”
Yeah, bad idea.
Joker grins wider at his discomfort and clears the work off of one of the screens. “So what are we looking for? Positions, kissing, something a little edgy-”
Garrus frowns and taps his translator to be sure it’s working. “Kissing?”
Joker looks at him for a long moment, enough that Garrus almost starts fidgeting again.
“We’ll start with basics,” he decides, tapping away at the console.
Garrus very nearly jumps out of his armor.
“Do you mind?” he grumbles at the woman who has just appeared in the main battery.
Kasumi just smiles. “You and Shep, huh?”
He stares at her in disbelief. He’d talked with Joker only that morning, the ship isn’t that small. “How-”
“Trade secret.” She hops up onto the console and idly swings her legs. “Anyway, I thought I’d offer some insight into our dear commander.”
He honestly doesn’t know what kind of insight she could have about Shepard that he didn’t already know, but it’s probably a better idea than the vids. “Alright.”
“Well, you and Joker already have the physical angle covered, but you can’t forget about setting the mood.”
Oh crap. He hasn’t even thought about that. “Mood. Right.”
“Garrus! Glad to run into you, wanted to talk. Medical matters.”
He already didn’t like where this was going.
“More than one way to let off stress, I guess.”
The words were innocent, not meant to get stuck in her head, not at all intended to spark thoughts of her and him and “together”, but there they were. And the more she thought about the idea, the fewer arguments she could find against it.
He was a good shot, almost better than her, and one of the best soldiers she’d ever fought with. He knew his way around a battlefield, always seemed to have a witty comment to take the edge off the stress. Being from completely different species was an obstacle, but not an impassable one. There had to be some information, the extranet had everything after all.
And he was her best friend, someone she trusted more than anyone else that had walked into her life. And yes, it was possible for this to end badly, that was always a risk. But she had a feeling it’d be worth the risk with him.
“We could test your reach, my flexibility.”
Garrus opened his mouth. And then closed it. And then barely resisted the urge to check his translator for a malfunction.
He was pretty sure Shepard was propositioning him. Shepard, who could drill a mail-slot at a hundred yards, who could assess a battlefield in a single glance, was propositioning him. She could probably have her pick of anyone in the galaxy, but she was leaning against his terminal and giving him that smirk that seemed to transcend species.
It had to be the scars. Some women liked scars, and apparently Shepard was one of those women.
He mulled the idea over in his head and honestly couldn’t find a reason why not. He liked the idea of a moment just for them in the middle of all the chaos.
Shepard ran her fingertip around the rim of the empty glass, debating the merits of refilling it or getting back to the pile of work sitting on her desk that she needed to finish before bed. And of course there was the matter of finding a suitable replacement for her rifle. She was not using a Viper, period end discussion.
Heaving a sigh, she poured out another glass, watching the liquid swirl and settle.
“Any revelations yet?”
She didn’t look up as Garrus joined her at the bar. “Not yet.”
“You look a lot less intimidating without your armor,” he observed, deftly cracking the lid off a bottle of dextro-liquor.
She casually drew the pistol on her hip – a precaution, she’d told Lawson, which had not improved the operative’s mood at all. “Can still shoot you.”
“True, but you won’t be nearly as intimidating.”
She rolled her eyes and tucked the pistol away.
“You alright?” he asked as she took a drink.
Shepard let the wine settle in her stomach before answering. “Just another day in the life.”
“Well, that’s what happens when you decide to come back from the dead.”
She smirked a little at that. While everyone else danced around the subject, the possibility of Shepard dying, Garrus acknowledged it as something she would do and openly teased her about it. It made the concept a little easier to deal with.
She looked up from her glass and caught his gaze. “How are you holding up?”
She dropped to a crouch at the sign of mercs flooding the LZ, rifle tucked against her shoulder as she sighted in on a target.
“Bet I can hit more targets than you,” Garrus challenged, tucked behind a pillar of rock.
She barely spared him a raised brow. “You’re not that good, Vakarian.”
His rifle fired a second before hers and the target dropped; her shot pinged harmlessly off the rock.
“You were saying?”
Shepard didn’t say a word, just loaded a fresh clip. It was on now.
When all the clips and targets had fallen, she tucked her rifle away and smirked at the now-surly turian. “You’re buying, then?”
“You cheated,” he accused. “You’ve got that cloak thing. Why don’t I have a cloak thing?”
“You’d abuse the privilege, Garrus.”
“And you don’t?”
“Just to steal your targets. You’d use it on the Normandy.”
The comm hissed to life, Kasumi sounding more amused than annoyed. “Are you guys coming or should I ask the pilot to come back in an hour?”
Shepard chuckled and took point, surly turian in tow. “On our way.”
She stood resolute as the shuttle soared over the colony, buildings shrinking rapidly below them. She glared at the specks, as if they were to blame for all of this. Ridiculous, really, but she didn’t have much else to glare at.
"So how long do you think she’ll be in the hospital?"
Shepard blinked, reverie broken, and turned to frown at Garrus. “What?”
"Williams. You throw a hell of a punch, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s at least a week before she can smell anything."
Anger mellowed to regret and she looked back out the window. “Shouldn’t have done that.”
"She was a bit out-of-line with the ‘traitor to the Alliance’ bit," Garrus pointed out, a barely-audible note of anger in his humor. "She knows you better than that."
Did she? Ashley had made herself very clear on that point. She didn’t know or trust the commander standing in front of her.
Staring at her reflection in the window, Shepard wasn’t certain who was wrong.
"Still," was all she said in reply, voice almost too quite to hear.
"Shepard." His tone was firm, insistent on her full attention, and she turned toward him. "You were thrown right back into the fight after being dead two years. You have no support from the Council or Alliance, you’re forced to work with known terrorists to get the job done.
"If you think I’m going to fault you for one well-aimed punch thrown in a fit of pique…" Garrus smiled and shook his head. "Don’t hold your breath."
Shepard didn’t respond for a minute, taking in the turian standing before her, the soldier she’d come to think of as her best friend. He hadn’t doubted her, who she was or why she was working with Cerberus, and he wasn’t going to. She could always count on him to be there when she needed.
"Have I mentioned recently that I’m glad you’re here?" she finally asked as the shuttle settled into the docking bay.
"Concussive rounds do send the opposite message," he admitted, mandibles spread in a grin.
"You started it, Vakarian," she reminded as she stepped off the shuttle, feeling a good deal lighter than when she’d stepped on.
Garrus winced when a projectile slammed into his shoulder, knocking him forward into the overturned table in front of him. Crouching low, he turned towards the direction of the shot: the upper balcony. “Having trouble, Shepard?”
“No." A rifle fired and one of the Blue Suns tumbled over the railing. "You?”
"Getting shot at from that side."
“Learn to duck.”
Garrus chuckled and turned his attention back to the firefight. His brain didn’t let it go, however, idly turning the scenario over in his head. It was a shot from above, but not lethal. What mercenary would waste an advantage?
It clicked and he looked up again. “Did you take a shot at me, Shepard?”
“Concussive round," she replied blithely, and he could hear the smirk in her voice. "You started it.”
"Yes, be gentle with the very fragile turian."
Garrus chuckled and winced. “If you keep this up, I might change it myself next time.”
"Mind if I watch?" Shepard asked, gently pulling the bandage from where it had seemingly bonded to turian plate. "Should be good for a laugh."
"I don’t think I’ve ever heard you laugh."
"Forgot how." She tugged a little harder on a stubborn spot and clamped a hand onto his carapace to keep him in place. "Hold still."
"Could you maybe speed this up?" he asked between clenched teeth.
"I would rip it all off in one go, but Chakwas said that might take the upper layer of skin with it."
"Never mind, then. No need to wake the crew with my screams of agony."
"Don’t think I’ve ever heard you scream. There we go."
Garrus sagged in relief and took a moment to work his stiff jaw, wincing as his scarred mandible stretched and twitched. “Does it look as bad as it feels?”
Shepard was quiet for a long minute, the kind of quiet that usually went along with a great deal of thought.
"Looks clean," she finally answered. "No sign of infection."
"Well, that’s nice."
"You’re lucky." She dropped the old bandage onto his knee and he quickly brushed it away. "Should be changing this every day."
"I got busy. Between calibrations and fighting krogan and keeping your ass alive-" Garrus’s words were lost in an agonized hiss as antiseptic seared across his face. He slowly turned to level a steely glare at her.
"What?" she asked innocently, setting the bottle on the floor. "Doctor’s orders."
"And you didn’t enjoy it at all."
She smirked. “Didn’t say that.”
"Definitely changing my own bandage next time."
"I’ll bring popcorn."
garrus likes to play ‘the fuck is that, the fuck is this’ with lieutenant vega. it’s his favorite game in the galaxy.
Perfect caption is perfect.
He still couldn’t quite believe it. After two years Shepard was sitting across the table, very much alive, eating the same goop she always had for breakfast.
Two years. It felt like a lifetime since Anderson had told him, since that nightmare the Council called a memorial service. Since he’d followed a lead to Omega and wondered if he couldn’t do a little bit more than just what he came to do, push a little bit harder.
He’d pushed as far as he could – and then a little further. That little further was what it took for the mercenaries to band together and push back. They’d been smart about it, smarter than Garrus had expected, and it cost his team everything. He’d just about given up when she’d walked into his scope.
In a matter of minutes everything turned around. The mercs were forced back, their leaders taken out, and he’d even survived the night. He was alive, same as she was, and they both had a chance to set things right.
She looked up from her food and caught his gaze. “What?”
Garrus just smiled at the specter. “Glad to have you back, Shepard.”
He couldn’t quite tell, but he thought she smiled back.