I see a lot of sad fanfics about the end of ME3. I see a lot of fanfics about happier endings where Garrus was always the romance option. Haven't seen one yet like this one. Because I seem to love depriving the two of them until it is almost too late(Like the first chapters of Always Be There) here is a story about what would happen if Shepard and Garrus had never allowed themselves to be more than friends in ME 2 and 3, no matter how much they really wanted to.
Also… It never did sit well with me that Garrus, the most loyal of Shepard's companions would allow himself to be led away while Shepard pushed forward into an unwinable battle without him. In fact, as touching as that scene was as a whole… That bugged the SHIT out of me. I will do my best to correct that.
This will be split POV between Garrus and Shepard.
This Shepard is actually largely renegade, with a really big soft spot for mandibles and natural armor plating.
Almost there. Another fifty yards of fighting through the maw of hell to reach the actual gates to the pit, and they could end this. Reapers had been flooding the streets in numbers that she had hopes never to face, cutting down Alliance forces every bloody step of the way. A Reaper Dreadnaught loomed behind the gate in what she hoped was a desperate attempt to prevent them from reaching their only weakness. Yet still they kept moving forward. The acrid smell of charred flesh mixed readily with the metallic burn of vaporized alloy as another tank was blasted into the air by the beam from the crimson eye of the Reaper. And eye that she was sure was staring directly at her, taunting her with how insignificant she was by comparison but proving itself wrong just by turning its attention to her.
That's right. We're coming for you, you son of a bitch. All of you. The thought blazed in her mind, even as the tank was torn from gravity's hold long enough to flip through the air towards her, forcing Shepard to hit the ground running in a slide that allowed it to pass over her. By inches. She had felt the sting of heat from the Mako's over-taxes main cannon pass over her face before it cleared her, slamming into the ground behind her and continuing its final roll. She sucked air into lungs that burned, pushing against ribs that ached and strained against torn muscles as she took that moment to look behind, to check on her squad.
And she saw them, not far behind now. Garrus and Tali ran full tilt towards her, tanks flanking them on either side ensuring that they were able to dash across the ruined streets of London unmolested by the mutated horrors the Reapers had created in their quest to destroy all life.
Garrus. The Turian had always been her rock to lean on, the arm she could depend on, the shoulder she could rest her head on when she grew too weary of the endless fighting. He was the only one who had never doubted her, or pushed her aside. He was the only one who had come with her without hesitation or personal agendas every time she needed him. And she needed him. There was no doubted that she needed him. Every mission, on every planet, against every foe, he was there to cover her flanks, keeping her focused, relaxing her with dry humor and sarcasm that made her want to hug him and punch him depending on her mood. Even now, those predatory blues were on her without panic, his only goal to close the distance so they could go the rest of the way together.
The rumble of the Reaper's call caused the ground to tremble, and the sudden push of a shock-wave against her back gave a fraction of a second to see the Mako launched into, and towards her squad.
No, came the quick, instant thought a moment before the tank landed in front of them, followed by a swell of relief when the Quarian and Turian both managed to roll to the side as it tipped over and crashed to the ground between them. And then, liquid fire. The eruption of plasma that followed the destruction of a fractured Eezo core flowed over them in waves, obscured her vision as it swallowed the two hungrily, passionately destroying her line of sight from the only person in the galaxy that kept her sane.
No, no, no, no, no, no… Frantic, she almost stumbled in relief when the flames died and she saw movement. Later, because she didn't even spare Tali more than a glance, she might feel some self-reproach. Now, she vaulted over the remains of the Mako and dropped down beside the Turian. The ache in her chest easing only slightly when he raised those predatory blues to look up at her; dazed but alive. Blue armor melted, blackened and sizzling along with a good portion of his hide. But alive. The burn of the hot alloy melting into her own gloves didn't even register as she grabbed him, half dragging him into cover while checking frantically for anything that might be a fatal wound.
I can't do this without you.
There is no Shepard without Vakarian.
I need you.
Why did I never tell you?
She couldn't bring herself to face the reply as she called the Normandy for extraction.
"Shepard?" He could hardly find the strength to stand on his own, but his determination not to leave Shepard alone stopped Tali from taking him further into the Normandy when he realized that she was not following them.
"You've got to get out of here," she called, half speaking to Tali in an attempt to get her to move forward.
"And you've got to be kidding me," he ground out. The fact that he was having a hard time thinking at all did not stop him from pulling against Tali, trying to make his way back to her. Getting back to where he belonged in this fucked up galaxy.
"Don't argue, Garrus." Her face was firm and set, and her words held the same conviction that normally stopped all arguments.
"We're in this to the end!" He found strength in those words, and in the fact that they caused her to pause. Despite his weakness and the pain wracking his body he pulled against the arms that tried to take him from her. He only stopped struggling when she walked up the ramp with… Something in her eyes, beyond the sadness and determination. Something that he had never seen before and it caused a clench in his gut when she reached up to placed one armored hand on his cheek. Tilting into the type of touch that they had never shared, he struggled for the words to express what he wanted her to know. Had always wanted her to know. "Shepard…"
But then, she was gone, turning from him and making her way down the ramp and back into the battle without him. Another set of arms came around him, drawing him further into the ship as the human specter turned and waved urgently. "Go!" before she turned from him as he felt the ship start to move.
"Shepard! No!" It was only the two sets of arms around him now that prevented him from breaking free and running off of the Normandy after her. "No!" More arms came around him as the doors close and sealed him inside. The blackest pit of fear he had ever known in a life filled with black pits opened before him, and gave his limbs the strength to move against the ones who were allowing her to leave him. He snarled at them, cursed and thrashed against their hold on him. When he lashed out, catching some hapless marine across the fact with a blow that sent him crashing to the ground, the grief stricken Turian tore himself free from Tali and ran to the hatch controls.
She needed him. He would fight his way back to her side, and he would be with her when she finished this. And when it was finished, and she had once again saved the galaxy, he would tell her what he had not allowed himself to tell her for years.
But he was, after all, only mortal. The pain that he had ignored until then, the loss of blood, the physical abuse that he had suffered over weeks of constant battle chose that moment to remind him of that mortality as the world tilted, and darkness blurred around him. He heard the shuffle of feet rushing up to meet him before he hit the hard metal floor. He didn't feel the pain of the impact. He didn't feel the hands that lifted him, and gently placed him onto the stretcher. All he felt was the agony of knowing that he might never have the chance to tell her. He might never get to understand what he had seen so clearly in her eyes before she had turned, and gone to do what only she could do.
And as the darkness closed around him, Garrus knew that he would wake to a world where the only thing left for him to feel was regret.
Why hadn't been able to tell her?
They found her.
Later, with what little she could remember, she would think of it as swimming through soupy darkness to find a light. No, not a light. It was more like… A vibration. A gentle hum of what might have been sound that she couldn't really hear, but certainly felt deep down in the dark. Not knowing what it was should have been terrifying, but she just knew that she desperately wanted to reach it. But every time she thought she was getting closer, her strength would fail and she would slip deeper into the black where there was nothing but silence. Formless silence.
But it always came back for her. Called to her gently, urgently, passionately without the sharp edge of command, but with the softer touch of hope and need. Every day she came closer, until the vibration became a sound. A muffled incantation that she couldn't understand, but knew she longed for deep down in the only place she knew was still whole. It was never clear, even when she started to recognize it as a voice. His voice. The beautiful low rumble, with the double-edged tone that made her feel the need to fight back tears, even though she wasn't entirely sure she had a body that would allow her to weep. She struggled closer, needing to hear it even if it was an illusion.
"Shepard, I don't know if you can hear me…"
Pain. She felt pain around the edges of consciousness, the pain of the physical so intense that she pulled away from it for a time. Only when she felt an ache as intense as the pain, born of the need to hear his voice again did she move closer. It may have been minutes, it may have been days. But the pain remained, though not as overpowering as before. But she suffered it as a distance without embracing it when she realized she could make out words.
"You shouldn't have left me behind…"
What could she do? Drag the one person who made her fight bearable to his death? She inched closer, but backed away again when the pain caused her to scream silently.
"I know why you did, but… You should know by now what happens when we're apart…"
Alchera, Omega, The Alpha Relay, Earth.
Every time they were apart, things eventually went wrong. Horribly wrong. Reason might have demanded the understanding that these things would have happened with or without each other, but it had become so common place that listening to reason seemed unreasonable.
"You said that there is no Shepard without Vakarian. Well it works both ways; there is no Vakarian without Shepard."
She felt an ache of longing in her chest, and with it came a flare of the pain she had been shying away from. This time, she didn't back away.
"I need you."
Was it his voice reminding her of her own words, or was her mind reminding her of what she had known for months, but never found the courage to tell him? She didn't know. But she pushed forward again. Pushed towards his voice, back to where she needed to be. Into what felt like a wall of blinding light and burning agony that caused her to scream silently. But she refused to retreat again, refused the cool and the dark. Because she would suffer anything, bear any pain if she found him at her side again. Then the voice went silent.
No… Talk to me, Garrus.
I need you, too.
When she opened her eyes, Garrus had not spoken to her for hours. Doctors had come and gone, respectfully allowing him to remain after he had made it clear that he was not leaving. As with all hospital rooms, this one smelled heavily of disinfectant and sterilized air, an effect that was only compounded by the fact that the walls were stark white and metallic. He was used to the atmosphere by now, as he had not left it since she had been cleared for visitors. Before that, he had been stationed outside of the door like a sentinel. The war was over, the Reapers had been destroyed along with every other A.I. in the galaxy, but he had not trusted the insurance of her safety to anyone other than himself.
Beep… Beep… Beep….
The only thing that broke the bland nature of the room was the flowers, and gifts from friends and shipmates. They came daily, along with cards, and books, and letters of thanks. Even the Council, the remaining leaders of each military, and diplomats came to see her, and where turned away by the stoic Turian. They all left gifts, but side from the crew, her friends, and her family, he had thrown them all away. He knew that she would not want their platitudes and hollow thanks now that it was over. She would have agreed with him, he believed.
What makes you think you have the right, after ignoring her for so many years?
They steady, never changing beep of the machine that monitored her vital signs was the only sound in the room aside from their breathing. She was no longer on a ventilator, yet she showed no signs of life. Her body had healed, slowly but certainly thanks to the Cerberus implants and an unlimited budget intended to ensure her survival. When he had been told that she might never wake up, and Garrus had been hard pressed to control the flash of rage at the very idea of it. That she who had won an unwinnable war, who had brought the races together by the undeniable force of her leadership, and who had stopped a cycle that had lasted for millions of years would not have the strength to come back to the galaxy she had saved? It was… Unthinkable.
Beep… Beep… Beep…
So he sat silently beside her bed now, though he was not always silent. He talked to her almost constantly, giving her updates on the state of the worlds she had saved. The rebuilding of the Mass Relays, the plans to move the Citadel back to the Widow Nebula. Plans for using the tech that had almost been the downfall of all civilization, because no one knew how to live without it. He also updated her on the crew, their friends, the Normandy, the hunt for the last vestiges of Cerberus, the fact that the politics of space had begun all over again when the Quarians demanded a seat on the Council and the Council stating that now was not the time for that kind of change. No one agreed with them. Not the Alliance, or the Krogan, or to his surprise even the Turian Hierarchy. So the Council would give in, he told her, or they would become obsolete.
But today, he had been silent. His hope was battered, but not broken. He simply needed a day to stare at her, and remember her. He needed a day to remember her voice without the sound of his own drowning it out; to see her lightening quick grin and the sparkle of amusement in her eyes when it came. A day to remember their last moments together, the touch of her hand, and the look of… Something in her eyes. Something.
If someone had not reminded him to eat every day and brought him food, he would not have eaten. If sheer exhaustion had not occasionally claimed him, forcing his eyes to close, he would not have slept. Every day, one of her crew would offer to take him home, let him get some real rest and he always refused in a tone that brokered no argument. Every so often, someone would try to convince him that she would not want him to let himself waste away like this.
Waste. How dare they. If for nothing other than the fact that she had saved them all, his sitting beside her and waiting for her to wake up should never be considered a waste. Every race, every person should have been sitting beside her bed, praying to whatever god or spirits or angels they worshiped. He believed that they should have, but he was glad that they didn't. This was his place. Not because she had saved him, or anyone else. He stayed because there was no Shepard without Vakarian, and if he left her… What chance did she have?
Predatory blue eyes narrowed slightly as he tried to find what had changed in the rhythm of the room. Coming out of his memories, silence reigned as his chest tightened. The hope that had been steadfast in him while all others had failed flared brighter now as he drew himself to his feet quickly and stood over the bed where she had slept unmoving for months. The readout on his visor confirmed the increase in her pulse rate, the quickening of her breath.
He spoke so softly into the silent room that was not sure if he even heard his own voice. That may have been because of the rushing of blood through his head, but it hardly mattered. A flutter. The statue that was her face twitched once, before her lips parted in a tiny sign that was the most amazing thing he had heard in his entire lift. Then her brows moved. And her mouth again, followed by a weak slide of her tongue over her dry bottom lip. And, Spirits yes, her eyes struggled to open for a moment before dazed green shone into his life again. He wanted to collapse when she turned her head slowly to look around, and almost did when the strength left his legs when she turned her gaze around until she found him. Her smile was wane, but it was her smile. Her eyes were tired, but they sparkled as they locked on his. Her voice was raspy with disuse and weak, but it was her voice.
"There you are..."
Soooo… There will be a second chapter. This second chapter will involve many emotions, a great deal of detailed Turian/Human lovins, and (because I am an unrepentant romantic) the happy ending Shepard deserves, DAMN IT.
See you soon.