|The Very Long Night of Kaidan Alenko
Author: Selkit PM
Kaidan and Garrus have a sane and rational discussion about the woman they both love. Takes place after ME 2. Shepard/Garrus, past Shepard/Kaidan.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Drama - Kaidan A. & Garrus V. - Words: 2,842 - Reviews: 15 - Favs: 39 - Follows: 6 - Published: 03-05-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7897281
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: With ME 3's release (finally!) just a day away, I thought I would post a few old fics that I never got around to uploading here.
After almost an hour of standing in line at the Citadel's customs port, emerging into the gauntlet of shops, restaurants, and bars that sprawled beyond was like sending an open invitation to Migraine Central. A few telltale flickers of pain twinged in Kaidan's temples, and he rubbed the back of his hand across his forehead, resisting the urge to shade his eyes from the garish lights that blared above every establishment.
Welcome to the Citadel, he thought, wincing as a beam of blinking red light flashed in his vision, sending pain arcing through his head. Feel free to give us all your money.
His lone modestly-sized piece of luggage rolled along behind him as he lowered his head and plowed on, a resolute set to his jaw. After several stone's throws of walking, the worst of the eye-assaulting neon signs began to fade into more subtle advertisements, and the jostling crowds dissipated. Kaidan blew out a sigh of relief, forcing his facial muscles to relax. The luggage seemed to double its weight as a wave of fatigue swept over him, and his jaw loosened in an involuntary yawn.
The rapid transit portal came into view at the end of the hallway, and he quickened his steps, brightening at the thought of the soft, fluffy pillow just waiting to be mashed up against his face. Years of military service had taught him to function on limited rest, but at this particular moment, all he wanted was to cave in to the old cliché of sleeping for a week.
The shuttle pulled up as he approached, and Kaidan parked his luggage next to the portal, punching in his destination as he waited for the cab's passenger to disembark. A dull silver gleam caught his peripheral vision as the door swung open, and he raised his head, fixing a polite smile in place.
"Oh," the other passenger said, and cleared his throat.
Kaidan's smile froze, all thoughts of pillows fleeing.
The turian inclined his head, shuffling a few steps away from the rapid transit cab. "Kaidan. I didn't know you were on the Citadel. Back from your mission, I take it?"
"Uh, yeah." Kaidan rubbed at the back of his neck, jerking his thumb over his shoulder in the direction of the port. "Just got through customs a few minutes ago. What about you—what are you doing here? I mean…"
He paused, sucking in a deep breath as he scrambled to collect his suddenly scattered thoughts. Horizon's yellowed grass and balmy temperatures pushed to the forefront of his memories, and this time the stab of pain through his temples had nothing to do with the nearby shops.
"Are you still traveling with Shepard?" he asked, the words sticking to the dry walls of his throat.
Garrus twitched his mandibles, his eyes darting back and forth as though he were expecting an ambush. "Yeah. She's here, if that's what you're asking."
The knot in Kaidan's chest seemed to loosen and tighten at the same time, and he let out a long breath that shuddered in time with his heart's hammering. "So she's alive. She made it back from her mission."
Garrus nodded, his eyes hooded. Not for the first time, Kaidan wished he were a little better at reading turian expressions. "We docked this morning, and she's been debriefing the Council ever since."
"Ah." Kaidan forced a small laugh. "I guess that explains why Anderson hasn't answered my calls."
"Yeah," Garrus said again. He tugged at his collar, his eyes meeting Kaidan's briefly before flicking away to stare at a point somewhere over his shoulder. "You know how politicians are. Can't get anything done without hours of deliberation."
"Right." Kaidan swallowed, cleared his throat, and swallowed again. "Listen, Garrus, I know this is a little awkward given everything that happened on Horizon, but would you mind sitting down for a little while, maybe having a drink? I'd like to catch up on everything that's happened—if you're not busy, anyway."
Garrus stilled for a long moment, the sudden lack of movement a jarring contrast to his earlier restlessness. Finally he shrugged, shoulders bobbing up and down in a strangely human gesture.
"Sure," he said, tone casual. "Why not. Just like old times." His mandibles flared in something like a smile. "I'm here to pick up a few parts for the Normandy, but it can wait. We're not going anywhere for a few days, anyhow."
"Okay. Great." Kaidan maneuvered his luggage away from the rapid transit portal, eyes scanning the surrounding area for the classiest-looking bar. "So, uh…the Normandy, huh? New ship, same name, I take it?"
"Oh, yeah," Garrus said. "I forgot you didn't know. It has almost the same layout as the original, but bigger. More crew space. Better guns." His eyes gleamed, and Kaidan chuckled, feeling a bit of the tension ease despite the turian's obvious care not to mention the ship's origins.
He had a feeling he knew, anyway. He ignored his stomach's churning at the thought.
"If you're here buying parts," he said as they seated themselves at a table in the corner, "does that mean she's damaged? Or just in need of an upgrade?"
"Damaged," Garrus replied. "Not beyond repair, but enough to need attention. The mission was…a little rough. We lost a few people."
Kaidan swallowed. Chief Williams' mischievous brown eyes flashed unbidden in his mind, as they did more often than he cared to admit. "I'm sorry."
Garrus accepted the words with a bob of his head. "To be honest, considering they kept telling us it was a suicide mission, I'm surprised as many of us made it back as we did."
Kaidan rested his wrists on the table, lowering his voice unconsciously. "How's Shepard taking it?"
He didn't miss the way Garrus tensed at the mention of the Commander, mandibles fluttering, though the reaction lasted only a split second before he resumed his casual posture.
"Harder than she lets on," he said, pausing a moment before he added, "You know how she is."
I hope I still do. Kaidan took a deep breath.
"Look, about Horizon," he said. "After our, uh, encounter…how did she react?"
To his surprise, Garrus gave a dry chuckle. "The same way she usually does when she's pissed off: by shooting things. She took us straight to an uncharted world and wasted a bunch of Blue Suns. Believe it or not, I almost felt sorry for the bastards." He paused, scratching a mandible. "Almost."
Kaidan blew out his breath. He hadn't realized he was still holding it. So she was angry. Okay. That's not unexpected. We didn't part on the best of terms, after all.
"And what about now?" he asked.
"Now?" Garrus shifted in his seat, lifting one hand to rub at the base of his fringe. "She's not still stewing about it, if that's what you're asking. She, uh, put it behind her. She was focused on the mission."
Kaidan leaned back in his chair, nodding absently. "Okay. You said you were going to be here a few days, right?"
The turian nodded. "At least long enough to complete the repairs. After that, we'll see."
Kaidan flattened his hands on the table, its surface cool under his palms. "That's good to hear. I'd like to talk with her before one or both of us leave the Citadel—if she's up for it. But maybe I'll wait a little while before I try to contact her, just to give her some space. And to give myself the time to come up with exactly what to say," he added with a wry twist of his lips.
Several seconds passed without a response, and Kaidan looked up to see Garrus studying him with an intensity normally reserved for his targets.
"I assume," Garrus said slowly, "you're talking about your…relationship."
Kaidan blinked, feeling prickles of heat creep up under his collar. The usual scuttlebutt aside, none of his former crewmates had ever asked him directly about his relationship with Shepard. On the other hand, I guess it's not like we kept it a huge secret. Especially on Horizon.
"Well, yes," he replied, keeping his voice level. "Among other things."
Across the table, Garrus had gone still again, his mandibles held tight against his face and his eyes fixed on the table. In the back of Kaidan's mind, tiny alarm bells began to chime.
"So…" Garrus finally said. "What about that doctor you were seeing?"
The chiming turned to a blaring siren, and something hot and sharp stabbed in Kaidan's gut.
"How do you know about that?" he asked, voice quiet but stiff. "Are you reading Shepard's email now?"
"I didn't actually read it," Garrus said. "She told me about it."
Suddenly he was restless again, fingers fidgeting, eyes looking everywhere but at Kaidan.
"Look," he said. "There's no good way to say this, so I'll just say it. Shepard and I are, uh. Together."
Kaidan's mind went blank.
"Together," he finally managed after several moments of shell-shocked silence. "As in…"
Garrus cleared his throat. "Yeah."
"Wow," Kaidan said faintly. His tongue felt like it was made of wood. "That's, uh…wow."
Even with his imperfect understanding of turian facial expressions, he could recognize Garrus' look of extreme discomfort. The turian looked like he wanted the floor to open up and swallow him whole.
"I'm sorry you had to find out like this," Garrus said, his mandibles flapping in a constant rhythm. "I'm sure Shepard would rather have told you herself."
He fidgeted in place a few more seconds, talons clacking against the table before he pushed his chair back in one quick motion. "I should probably go."
The words and the movement combined to pierce through the haze surrounding Kaidan's brain. "Garrus, wait," he heard himself saying.
The turian stopped, his body still angled toward the door, a picture of sheer reluctance.
Kaidan forced a half-smile onto his face, hoping it didn't look as bitter as it felt. "You can't just drop that on me and then flee the scene," he said.
Garrus' mandibles flared, but he edged back toward the table and dropped into the chair, giving Kaidan a wary glance. "So you're not going to attack me or anything?"
The jolt of indignation that flashed through Kaidan was a welcome antidote to the cold numbness. "Come on, Garrus, really? You know me better than that."
"You're right." The turian stared down at the table, reaching up to tug at his collar. "Sorry. I was just flashing back to some of the cases I worked at C-Sec." His tone turned wry. "Let's just say some members of your species don't react well to this sort of situation."
"Yeah, well." Kaidan briefly pressed his fingertips against his temples, letting out a sigh. "I spent the past two years coming to terms with her death. If I can handle that, I think I can handle this. And it's not like I can really blame you, anyway." His throat felt thick, the words unwieldy. "You were there. I wasn't."
He leaned back in his chair, letting nerveless hands fall back to the table. "I do have to ask, though. Were the two of you already…in a relationship when I saw you on Horizon?"
"No." Garrus tilted his head, gaze growing distant with memory. "It wasn't until a few weeks after that that she first, uh, proposed the idea."
"Mm." Kaidan stared down at his white knuckles, thoughts tripping over themselves in his head. Is this because of Horizon? Did one conversation ruin our entire relationship? Or was it already over for her even before that?
He raised his head, narrowed eyes scanning the half-mutilated turian face across from him. Or maybe…there's a chance it's not completely over. If she was upset after Horizon, and didn't start something with Garrus until afterwards…could she be using him to get back at me?
Even as the thought sparked a tiny flare of hope, the more rational half of his brain kicked in. Forget it. You know Shepard's not the type of person who would do something like that. And if she were, you wouldn't have fallen for her in the first place.
"Well, in any case," he said aloud, giving a weak laugh, "I guess that explains why she never returned my email."
"I don't think she's had time to return any emails." Garrus leaned forward, settling his elbows on the table. "Shepard's had her hands full lately. She's been dealing with the Collectors, that damn Illusive Man, and squabbles among crew members, just to name a few things. All on top of trying to figure out how she fits back into the galaxy after spending two years dead."
Kaidan pressed his lips together, remembering the look of disbelief that had flashed in Shepard's eyes when he'd asked why she hadn't contacted him. "Yeah, about that..."
Garrus was already shaking his head. "If you're going to ask me about how it's even possible, don't bother. You'd have to take it up with Cerberus. But Shepard believes it, and that's enough for me."
His tone softened. "But really, I'm not sure how she's even stayed sane through this whole thing. She's been helping everyone work through their various problems, never asking anyone for anything in return, never even letting on that she's got her own worries and frustrations. If there was one thing I learned while she was…gone, it's how hard it can be to hide your problems from the people under your command. I don't know how she does it."
The chair creaked under Kaidan's weight as he sat back, suddenly uncomfortable at the quiet but unmistakable pride in Garrus' voice.
"Well," he said. His voice was thick, his tongue scraping against the roof of his mouth. "It sounds like she's got you to help her through it."
"Yeah." The turian flicked his mandibles once. "Yeah, she does."
He blinked several times in rapid succession, as though rousing himself from a trance. "Speaking of which, I ought to get back to the Normandy. She should be getting done with the Council before long, and she'll probably want to, uh, spar when she gets back."
Kaidan raised an eyebrow. "Spar?"
"Yeah." An odd bluish tinge colored the turian's face, darkening his scars to purple. He coughed. "She'll be worked up after dealing with the Council's crap all day. It helps her burn off her stress."
"Right." Kaidan rose from his chair, suddenly assaulted by mental images of Shepard grappling with Garrus in hand-to-hand combat, her cheeks flushed, skin glowing, eyes bright…
It's been a long time since I met a woman who—
"Damn it," he muttered, passing a shaky hand over his forehead. Pressure built under his eyelids, threatening to explode.
He felt rather than saw Garrus pause. "Did you say something?"
"Ah, nothing." Pull yourself together, Kaidan. "Sorry."
He raised his head, arranging his frozen facial muscles into something resembling a smile, and held out his hand. "It was good seeing you again, Garrus."
The turian looked as though he didn't quite believe it, but reached out to shake Kaidan's hand nonetheless. "Yeah. You too."
"And Garrus…" He blew out a deep breath, composing his thoughts. "Listen, I would be lying if I said I was thrilled for you guys, but…clichéd as it may sound, I want Shepard to be happy. And if you make her happy, then…" He gave a half-shrug, smile tightening. "I won't stand in the way."
Garrus tilted his head. "Thanks, Kaidan. I appreciate that." He hesitated a moment before continuing. "If you want, I can tell Shepard you're on the Citadel—"
"No." He bit down on the inside of his cheek, forcing his expression into something smoother. "Thanks, but no, that's okay. Just…treat her well, Garrus."
"I plan on it." Garrus nodded once. "And, uh, good luck. With everything."
He turned toward the door, and Kaidan waited until he was a silver blur in the distance before following suit, still dragging his luggage behind him.
As if on cue, the long-promised migraine began to pull at his temples, and he closed his eyes.