reposted from my old profile


Garrus stared at the grenade that was arcing through the air toward him, knowing that he was expected to catch it, and knowing further that it was all his fault. He'd started the whole thing, hadn't he? Of course he had. It may not have been intentional, but this was all his fault.

I'm going to lose my hands, he thought, and he wondered if even that was going to be enough to distinguish him. He should have just told her the truth.

It had been an accident; it really had. He had been so focused on lining up his shot on that lying blue Spectre, that he hadn't seen her compatriots on the roof. He'd stepped forward, casually almost, and managed to put himself right in between Shepard and the shot that was meant for her.

He'd realized his mistake as soon as he felt the pain hit his stomach, berated himself as he fell. Well, what did they expect? Snipers were supposed to be intent on their shot. You weren't supposed to send them into the field like anyone else. He couldn't do everything at once. Shepard didn't spare him a glance as he fell, instead being sure to clear the field. He'd hoped she would have time to come say good-bye if he was dying. But his eyes started to slip closed, and he couldn't put proper pressure on the wound with his armor on. Why did they keep trusting Spectres? It never worked out for them.

§

He'd come to in the medical bay, Shepard holding his hand. He caught a glimpse of how tight her face was, but the look disappeared once his eyes were finally open, replaced by relief.

"Garrus," she'd said. "Thought we lost you."

"Sorry." He tried to shrug, and ended up wincing. "To be perfectly honest, I didn't—"

And that was when she kissed him, and he forgot what he'd been trying to say. Spirits, they'd had a conversation about testing his reach and her flexibility ages ago, and since then, she'd been standoffish. And now—well, would it really hurt her to think that he'd done it on purpose? No, I have to tell her, he'd decided. His mother had always warned him about lying. It wasn't right.

Except that when Shep pulled back, her eyes were wet. "I was down to no shields," she told him. "You saved my life, big guy." And then she gave him that crooked smile, the one she reserved just for him—

Okay, so he was weak regarding his Shep. It wasn't the worst thing.

"So, following you to the ends of the galaxy, helping destroy a Reaper, nearly getting killed then dropping everything to follow you again and finally getting shot for you merits 'first base.' What on Palaven do I have to do to get further?"

Shepard snorted laughter. "Where did you learn that phrase?" she asked, ignoring his question.

"From Joker." The pilot had explained it was among the euphemisms least offensive to humans.

"Of course, Joker. Well, I've gotta go," she said, squeezing his hand.

"Glad to see you're going to make it."

"So, about 'sliding home?'" He waggled his mandibles, knowing it would come off more pitiful than lecherous right now, and not caring.

Shepard paused in the doorway, giving him that smile again while the short red curls fell loosely about her face. "You just get healed up. You're not sliding anywhere until you're fit for duty, at least."

"You think you're so clever, don't you?"

Garrus's head whipped around as he realized for the first time that Liara was there in the infirmary, too.

"What?" he asked.

She approached him, biotics flaring slightly. "You're not the only one who loves her, and now you go do this. You're already closer to her than anyone. Well, it won't work. You're not the only person who can prove their love for her."

"Liara, wait." Garrus craned his neck, trying to be sure Shepard was well and truly gone before whispering the truth to her. "Liara, it was an accident."

"Oh, of course." She gave him a scornful look. "Everything you happen to do, just happens to accidentally impress her."

"Liara, really —"

"I will not fall for your tricks. We're still going after the Shadow Broker, and I will prove my love for her there."

Garrus gaped as she stormed away. Shit. She was going to get herself killed.

"Excellent work, Vakarian," Chakwas said once everyone else was gone.

"It was an accident. I tried to tell her." Guilt tugged at him. He'd tried to explain to Liara … it wasn't his fault she refused to listen.

Chakwas tsked at him, a sound that apparently was used by humans as well as turians. "It seems to me the problem is Commander Shepard's reaction, not whether you saved her. If you told her it was inadvertent, you might be able to clear this all up before anyone else gets hurt."

"I'll tell her," Garrus muttered towards the sheet. Chakwas tsked again, sounding just like his mother. His mother had always warned him of the dangers of lying. He would man up, tell Shep the truth, and then everything would be fine. Except for that crooked smile he loved so much. He had a feeling that might be gone for a while. Still, right was right.

"I will tell her," he said again.

§

He didn't tell her.

When Shepard came back, she was walking close behind Liara, making sure the wounded asari wasn't going to fall. For her part, Liara limped in, holding her stomach oddly but still managing to look proud of what she'd accomplished, which was apparently jumping in front of some kind of wild animal. Her face was torn up and blood streaked everywhere.

"My goodness, what's happened now?" Chakwas asked. She and Shepard settled Liara into the bed next to Garrus's. When Shep wasn't looking, Liara smirked at him.

Chakwas fussed around fixing Liara's face while shep sat on the edge of Liara's bed. Holding her hand! Giving her that special, crooked smile!

Garrus opened his mouth to tell her; he'd been too focused and a little clumsy; Liara was just being stupid. Then Shep leaned in to give the asari a kiss on the side of the mouth, and Garrus felt sick.

"Dr. Chakwas, I'm in a lot of pain right now."

"Of course you are, Vakarian. Give me a moment." Once she'd stabilized Liara, bandaging those ragged claw-marks on her face, she came over to Garrus, offering him an injection of pain-killer.

"Nothing you want to tell them?" she asked, her mouth set in a stern line.

Garrus set his mandibles stubbornly. Right now, he just wanted to go to sleep, and he tried not to listen to Shep and Liara as he waited for the pain meds to kick in. Mercifully, Shepard left before doing anything else to that woman. Liara was not merciful.

"Who is her favorite now, Garrus?" she asked.

Garrus drifted off, and slept fitfully.

§

"Now, this is getting ridiculous!" Chakwas exclaimed, waking him up some time later. Thane was at the threshold, carrying in an unconscious Kasumi. "What the devil's happened now?"

"Forgive me, Dr. Chakwas," Thane replied. "I do not quite know. It was headed for the Commander, and it appears to have reacted negatively with her technical implants."

"Oh, for the love of—Well, here, let me make up another bed." She shot a dark look towards Garrus as she walked by.

Liara was asleep, still, and Garrus fretted, mandibles unsure. He had to stop this somehow. Was there any way to do it without admitting to Shep he'd lied?

Garrus sighed, dreading the moment he had to tell her.

Thane returned from the back part of the infirmary, having left Kasumi with the doctor.

"Thane!" Garrus hissed. "You have to help me. This is all a misunderstanding."

"A misunderstanding? I do not think so." Thane shook his head gravely. "You have proven your love for my Siha, and now we all must, or risk losing her to you."

"Wait, all? You're not going to —"

"I am afraid I am, Sere Vakarian. I simply cannot let this stand without proving myself to her, as well."

Garrus's mandibles flailed, and he fought with the sheet, trying to follow the assassin as he strode out of the room. He twisted his stomach the wrong way, though, and fell back onto the bed, panting. Why did it have to be a gutshot? They took so long to heal.

When Chakwas came back from treating Kasumi, she found Garrus trying not to writhe in agony, and she gave him another dose of the pain-killer.

"Wait, no, I have to tell—"

"You have to rest," she replied firmly. Shep arrived a short time later, going behind the closed door to visit Kasumi. By the time she came back out, the medication had made Garrus loopy. He tried to tell her, he really did. She was gone before she realized he was trying to say something.

§

Thane came back with a burn across half his face, and was placed in the bed recently vacated by Liara, who was good as new. Chakwas muttered darkly about permanent disfigurement, but Thane brushed off her concerns.

"I have been injured before, Dr. Chakwas. It will heal." When she turned her back, the normally reserved assassin got Garrus's attention, and stuck his tongue out at him.

Garrus was flabbergasted, not knowing how to respond to that.

Miranda came back with a knife wound.

Jack came back with her face half smashed in.

Taylor appeared with a series of fine holes on his right arm.

Kelly came in limping, followed by Joker, who had clearly broken something—how did they get injured when they never leave the damn ship? Garrus was stumped, and then infuriated each time someone got his special smile, and the kiss on the side of the mouth.

Mordin apparently had run afoul of some more tech that was aimed at Shep.

Even Grunt came back injured. Grunt was not a good companion to have in sick bay, even if he did share his plastic dinosaurs.

Tali was the worst, however. Garrus never found out what she'd stepped in front of, but it had ripped her suit and she spent a week and a half fighting the infection she'd picked up.

"I'm sorry," Garrus told Chakwas for the hundredth time.

Chakwas, for her part, had decided that Garrus no longer needed pain medication. He was sure she would give him some if he asked her … he was just afraid to ask her.

He was finally, finally declared fit for duty at the same time Tali was released. Garrus left the infirmary determined to find Shepard and tell her. He and Tali arrived at the conference room just as she was briefing everyone else. She gave them a tight nod and continued her speech.

"This is a big one. I need every one of you out there. No screw-ups. No distractions. Are we clear?"

Each of them nodded, and all Garrus could do was nod along. He couldn't tell her now. She'd just said, no distractions.

So instead, he found himself on the battlefield, staring at the grenade which promised the end of his career. Liara had already taken out the man who had thrown it, clearing the field, but the grenade was still headed for Shepard, and the rest of the crew shifted back slightly, looking at Garrus expectantly.

What, are we taking turns at being nearly killed?

This is why you don't lie, son.

Garrus had a sudden vision of his future. He lay in bed, while his good friend Shepard fed him soup, telling him how much it meant to her that he'd sacrificed his hands to save her.

"Well, fuck that!" he shouted. He raised his sniper rifle. He didn't have time to aim. Didn't need it. He fired, and the grenade lobbed harmlessly away, exploding high above them. Everyone just stared at him for a minute, varying expressions of anger and annoyance that all said the same thing: you cheated. Garrus finally broke.

"Have you all gone stupid?" he screamed, dropping his rifle. "Someone going to get themselves killed! This isn't a game! I didn't even take the first bullet on purpose! You are all a bunch of fucking morons!"

Liara shuffled her feet, looking at the ground. Each member of the crew avoided his glance, avoided looking at Shepard as the information sank in. Even Thane managed to look discomfited. The awkward silence was broken by Shep, who started laughing. It began as a series of giggles she struggled to hold in, but before long she was gasping for breath, her butt hitting the ground as she lost control of her legs. She would trail off for a moment, only to catch sight of one of her crew, which seemed to trigger another fit.

"You'd all better go back to the ship," Garrus told them. They shuffled away, embarrassed and shooting fearful glances at the Commander.

They'd never seen her laugh like this before, but they'd seen her plenty angry when she lost control. They all seemed to have the same thought: if she's gone crazy, then fine, let her kill him.

Garrus knelt by his Shep, marveling at how strange it was that she turned bright red when she was about to murder someone, or laughing her ass off. He wondered if there was a connection.

"Shep? I'm sorry, okay? I didn't mean to—"

"Garrus," she gasped, clinging to him, still laughing. He put a tentative arm around her waist while she rode out the last of the giggles. "I thought I was going crazy. People kept coming back injured, and I was just trying to figure out what I kept doing wrong." Another fit of giggles hit her, gradually tapering off as the worry of the past weeks left her.

"I'm so sorry, Shep. It was all my fault. I let you believe … I'm sorry." Garrus sighed. Once she got over her stress reaction, she was never going to forgive him. She must have been killing herself every time someone else under her command nearly died.

"Garrus," she said, grabbing his hand. "You were the first person on my crew smart enough to not catch a grenade for me."

Garrus was stunned. "You mean I could have just—You wouldn't have—"

"Next time, big guy, do me a favor, and don't lie to me, okay?"

"Of course, Shep." He felt as though a huge weight had been lifted.

She was giving him that crooked smile again, and he knew she wouldn't be giving it to everybody. Not anymore. They got up, Garrus offering his hand to help pull her to her feet. They walked back to the shuttle, where everyone else waited for them to show up.

The crew seemed somewhat relieved, but annoyed. Well, who can blame them? I've won the Commander and gotten off scot-free, to boot. He made sure to stick out his tongue at Thane when Shep wasn't looking.

"Oh, and Garrus?"

"Yes, Shep?"

She was giving him that crooked smile again, but … Garrus's brow plates shifted down, worried. She had that sardonic glint in her eyes.

"You're on scut work until further notice. And, you will make yourself available for any task no one else feels like doing."

Oh, spirits, no. He looked around the shuttle, watching the expressions of spiteful glee that now dominated every face.

See, this is why you don't lie, he told himself.