n. failure to communicate adequately
“Shepard, I need a word with you.”
v. to calm or send to sleep, typically with soothing sounds or movements.
For once no nightmare had interrupted her rest, just her own internal clock. She moved slowly and quietly to keep from waking her companion, breathing deeply as she rubbed sleep from her eyes. Once her gaze focused in the dark she noticed an extra light source beside her. Garrus sat up in bed, absorbed by the datapad he held.
Hira swallowed a yawn. “Work doesn’t help with sleep, you know.”
He jumped a little, head snapping around. “Don’t do that,” he admonished with a chuckle, concern in his eyes. “Are you okay?”
She nodded. “Just awake. You?”
Garrus shrugged. “Can’t sleep. Figured I might as well be productive.”
She frowned. His insomnia was on par with her own. With the ongoing war, they both needed all the sleep they could get and Garrus had become absolutely dedicated to making sure she got a few hours of peaceful sleep. If he’d been foregoing his own rest for hers, she would kick his ass. But for now she’d settle for him going to sleep.
Sitting up a little, she plucked the datapad from his hand and set it on the nightstand. Garrus stared at her for a second. “Uh, I wasn’t finished.”
"Can wait." She pulled him until he laid down beside her and curled up against him. To his credit he made no protest, wrapping an arm around her middle. Hira let her fingers trace the edges of his chest as she started singing softly.
She hadn’t sung in a while, making her voice rough at best, but she remembered the melody and pitch well. Garrus lay still, save his mandibles flicking in surprise. Once she’d finished a verse he spoke up, “I didn’t know you could sing.”
“Usually only when I’m drunk.”
His chest puffed up a bit under her hand. “I feel special.”
Smiling, she picked up the song again. Slowly she felt his breaths deepen and even out, his arm tugging her a little closer as he nuzzled her scalp gently. By the time she finished her song his eyes had closed, mandibles slack against his jaw. Hira pressed a gentle kiss to his nose. “Sweet dreams, Garrus.”
v. to make known
"Lieutenant Commander." EDI stood as Ashley entered the cockpit. "I can leave if it would make you more comfortable."
Ashley smiled. The first time she’d seen the AI’s platform she’d nearly shot it, even with Shepard warning her about it beforehand. That EDI understood and was willing to accommodate her if needed was both comforting and surprising. “No, it’s alright, EDI. Thanks.”
EDI nodded and returned to her station. Joker leaned around his chair to wave. “Hey, Ash.”
"Joker." She leaned against his chair and watched the console lights for a moment, considering how to phrase her question. With Joker, blunt always worked, part of the reason she liked him. “So, Shepard and Garrus.”
He flashed her a grin. “Who knew, right?”
“Shepard and Garrus began a physical relationship during the fight against the Collectors,” EDI answered, adding in a thoughtful tone, “They seem happy together.”
“Kind of annoying, really,” Joker admitted.
Ashley jumped a little at Shepard’s sudden arrival; she’d forgotten how quiet the commander could be. She didn’t look up at them, gaze sweeping the datapad in her hand.
Joker waved a hand. “Don’t mind us, Commander, we’re just gossiping about your personal life.”
Shepard looked up from her datapad for a second, ever-present frown deepening. “Fortunate you’re you, Joker.”
“Lieutenant Commander Williams was surprised to learn of your relationship with Garrus Vakarian,” EDI explained helpfully.
The commander looked to Ashley next. “Problems?”
“No, ma’am.” Ashley smirked. “You make a pretty cute couple, actually.”
“No comment.” She gave the datapad to EDI, who handed her another.
Ashley followed Shepard back to the bridge. “So how is he?” When she glanced up Ashley gave her a conspiratorial wink.
“Get your own turian and find out,” Shepard ordered, voice too warm for Ashley to believe she wanted her to drop it.
"C’mon, skipper, it’s been years since we had a half-drunk late night chat. I’ve missed it." Shepard shook her head, but Ashley caught the quirk of a smile before she could hide it. "Meet you in the lounge at twenty-one-hundred? First round’s on me."
Shepard’s hand stilled on the datapad for a long moment, then she looked up, meeting Ashley’s grin with a brief smirk. “Alright.”
adj. looking exhausted and unwell, especially from fatigue, worry, or suffering
Hira splashed a handful of water on her face in an attempt to shake off the nausea the nightmare had left behind. She stood there for a while, staring at the sink, water dripping off her nose and chin to plink against the metal. Eventually she raised her gaze to the mirror. An weary woman stared back at her, green eyes framed in dark circles.
She shook her head. Only a few months into the war and already she felt like an ad for death. And it would only get worse; a cheerful prospect.
The cabin door chimed. “It’s open.”
She didn’t move, listening to the familiar tread of steps. After a moment Garrus peered in, mandibles flicking. “Hira?”
She straightened, military discipline returning as she shoved her exhaustion aside. “Problem?”
“Nothing that can’t wait a few minutes.” He stepped closer. “Bad dream?”
Hira sighed, looking back down at the sink, and tried not to think about her recent run of night terrors. As if she didn’t have enough going against her, she could only get a couple hours sleep a night. “Among other things.”
His mandibles tightened in a frown. “I should have come up here with you.”
She shook her head. “Had work to do. Not the first time I’ve had a rough night, I’ll live.”
Garrus cupped her face with both hands and pressed his forehead to hers. Hira closed her eyes at his touch, her own hands rising to cover his. His thumbs smoothed over her cheeks, talons scratching a little. “I’ll be here next time,” he promised.
She let out a heavy breath as she leaned into him, letting him take her weight. “…Good.”
v. to freely devote, set aside, or sacrifice for a purpose.
Garrus watched silently as Hira puffed on a cigarette, her gaze seeing past the floor of the shuttle into the stars. He didn’t have to ask what she thought about. Lieutenant Victus would likely linger in all their minds for a while yet.
He’d done well at the end. Not a second of hesitation in getting the job done. It amazed Garrus a little how much the lieutenant had grown in a few short days. But then Shepard had that affect on people. Challenging them to be better and accepting nothing but the best they had to give. She’d pushed Victus and he’d risen to her challenge. Not something most people could claim.
He knew she was analyzing the mission now, pushing herself to improve as she pushed everyone else. Sorting through flaws and successful strategies, how to be better for the next fight, weighing how she’d improved from the last one. Weighing Victus and how he had improved.
She’d follow the example Victus set, as would he. Sacrifice every bit of herself to win this war. The thought filled him with both pride and terror.
Garrus crossed the shuttle and laid a hand on her shoulder. Hira looked up at him, breathing out a lungful of smoke. He didn’t say anything, simply holding her gaze. She gave a brief smile after a moment.
If the galaxy asked for everything she had to give, he would be right there with her to the very end.
n. the shooting of projectiles from weapons, especially bullets from guns.
Vega flashed a grin as the commander racked another clip into her rifle. “Good to be back in action, Commander?”
Hira lined up a shot, rifle bucking into her shoulder as the target dropped. “Hell yes.”
Her next target dropped before she touched the trigger. Smugness dripped from the turian’s voice. “Too slow, Shepard.”
She couldn’t help smirking as she growled a warning. “Sure you want to start that, Vakarian?”
"You’ve been out of the game for six months. I think that gives me an edge."
"Let your ego swell at least." She took a target, pleased by the grunt of disapproval from him. "Have to do something about that."
A grenade bounced into the killzone, taking down two targets. “How about you two just get a room and I’ll take care of this,” Vega suggested.
Hira chuckled and sniped another target. “New challenger, Garrus.”
"Using grenades is cheating."
Vega snorted as Hira flicked her cloak on. “And that isn’t?”
"That’s cheating too, Shepard, and you know it."
She ignored them, moving to the last target’s hiding place. Her omnitool slid through the armor easily and she stood upright as her cloak flickered off. “Twenty-three. I win.”
Garrus shook his head, mandibles spread in a turian smile. “Definitely like old times.”
'It'd be an awfully empty galaxy with you, Shepard.'