A/N: This story might be boring, but meh, I enjoyed writing it. It's a Garrus/Shepard fic, so if you don't care for that, don't read it. Takes place about ten months or so post game, and there's spoilers (imagine that, a fanfic with spoilers...) and angst and fluffiness and a naked turian...read at your own risk. There's adult language and insinuations, but I don't think it's anything above T rating. Mass Effect has taken control of my brain for the time being, so anyone following my KotOR story, I swear I'll get back to it eventually...I'll just have to shoot my muse and grow a new one. Oh, yeah, and pardon the typos...my beta reader isn't into Garrus...
Disclaimer: Obviously, I don't own Mass Effect or any characters therein...that would be BioWare last time I checked.
Edit: 2/15/10 - Cleaned up some errors and changed a few minor details to make it meld more believably with the ME2 plot.
"Hey, Skipper, care to share a drink on a special occasion?"
At the sound of Ashley's voice, Shepard broke off her conversation with Garrus and the pair stopped their rounds of the Normandy. "Occasion?" the Commander asked as they moved to the small table in the back of the mess where Ashley sat alone.
"Armistice Day, ma'am," she explained as she cracked open a bottle of cheap whiskey. "It's…sort of a family tradition." Her eyes fell on Garrus, who looked uneasy and ready to excuse himself, but after a scowl and a momentary hesitation, Ashley added in an uninviting tone, "You're welcome to join as well, Vakarian."
"Oh, no that's alright. I really should be…" Garrus began, but Shepard saw an opportunity and seized it.
"That sounds like a great idea," she said with a stubborn smile as she slid into the seat beside Ashley. "Garrus, why don't you grab us three glasses and we'll drink to Armistice Day."
Shepard sighed and slowly allowed reality to creep over her senses. The skin on her back felt close to burned from the hot sun despite the cool breeze that gusted off the waves. Lazily, she rolled onto her back and flung one arm over her eyes to block out the late morning glare. She dug her bare feet into the warm sand and debated going for a swim, but the rumbling in her stomach reminded her that she hadn't eaten yet. With another sigh, she stood and dusted off her bare skin before heading back to her small tent hidden along the shoreline.
Despite the tragedy that clung to this planet, there was a peacefulness about Virmire that could lull even someone like Commander Shepard into complete relaxation. Well, perhaps not complete. She'd set up the usual traps around the perimeter of her camp, and she never went anywhere, not even down to swim, without a weapon on her at all times. Still, she'd never expected to find herself dozing naked on the shore of the planet where she'd been forced to make one of the hardest decisions of her life.
Wrapping herself in a towel, she sat in the shade just outside the flap of her low tent and picked at some bland rations while she gazed out at the torpid, rolling sea. For a moment she was grateful for the hostilities with the Terminus Systems. The threat of war was the only reason this planet remained uncolonized, untouched…pure.
That's what Ashley called it. Pure.
A wave of loneliness washed over the woman, and not for the first time since she'd returned to Virmire, but a part of her rejoiced in the feeling. It reminded her that she was alive, that she wouldn't become like some commanders who seemed immune to the losses under their command.
She would never be that woman again.
A tingling along the line of her shoulders told her she was being watched, a result of harsh, grueling years of training and conditioning. In one fluid motion she drew her pistol from its holster on her thigh and whirled to her feet as a thin blue energy surrounded her body. Calm gray-blue eyes stared back at her, unblinking.
"Garrus?" she gasped, lowering the weapon and dispelling the biotic shield around her. "Wh-what…what are you doing here?" Unspent adrenaline pounded in her ears mixed with the melancholy she'd felt for four isolated days, and she startled them both by drawing the turian into a fierce embrace. His palm rested gingerly on the small of her back for a moment, and she realized herself before he had the chance to really return the gesture. She pulled away, embarrassed, but the pleased gleam in her eye didn't fade. "How the hell did you get around my traps? And how did you know I was here?"
Garrus tilted his head and gave a slight shrug as he watched her tighten the towel around her body. He knew from experience that she had very little concern for modesty, especially considering that they were of two different species, but he couldn't help but notice how vulnerable she looked then. The hardened warrior who practically lived in her armor, used her natural biotics to protect herself and never left her guns out of arm's reach had been reduced to a small human woman wrapped in a thin towel.
"It was easier to avoid your traps than to track you down. The Normandy docked at the Citadel two days ago," he clarified at her questioning look. "I…well, I went to see you, but Joker said you were taking a 'private' shore leave."
Shepard's eyes darkened. "Let me guess," she muttered, "he just up and told you where I was?" Inside, she cursed her helmsman. She'd specifically told him not to tell anyone where she was taking her leave. This was something she felt she needed to do on her own…but now that Garrus was here, she wasn't so sure anymore.
"Actually, no," Garrus responded with the turian equivalent of a smirk, his mandibles twitching upward. "That smartass was tight-lipped about your location. I'm afraid I had to resort to hacking into your personal logs to find you, Commander."
The human blinked in stunned silence. "You…what?"
Amusement shone in his eyes as he teased, "It was distressingly easy to infiltrate your ship, Shepard. I would recommend upgrading your security – perhaps learn from the turians. Secondary encryption would have really slowed me down."
Laughter bubbled up in her throat in spite of herself as the Commander grumbled, "You son of a bitch. I suppose if you'd been caught, you'd just claim it's part of your Spectre training and weasel your way out of it, right?"
Garrus had no idea what a weasel was, but the meaning was clear enough. He winked, a silly human gesture he'd picked up from the Commander, and drawled, "I learned from the best."
"Well," Shepard said with a suspicious smile, "despite having my personal files violated, I am glad to see you."
The turian looked pleased. "The feeling is mutual. It's been what…four…five months? Seems like only yesterday and yet an eternity all at once, doesn't it?"
A dark, unreadable look crossed Shepard's face, but she quickly shook it off. "Come on," she invited as she turned toward the water. "Join me for a swim." When Garrus hesitated, she lifted an eyebrow at him. "Don't tell me you're shy, Vakarian. I've seen your naked ass before, you know."
Garrus leveled a dry stare at the human. "Wounded soldiers in the field of battle is not quite the same, Shepard. But…" he looked uncertain for a moment, his thoughts on something other than swimming, "don't you…wonder why I'm here?"
A long sigh, heavy with remorse and pain slid from the woman's lips. "I don't really give a damn, Garrus. It's lonely as hell here, and I'm grateful for the company. Besides…I get it," she murmured, her eyes fixed on the ground. "It's Armistice Day."
He stepped in front of her and gently hooked one of his talons under her chin to force her to meet his worried gaze. "When I found out you'd come here, I felt stupid for not thinking of it sooner."
"I'm trying to make peace," she whispered, blinking back the infuriating tears that tried to form in her eyes.
"Part of making peace is learning to forgive yourself."
She forced a wan smile. "I'm working on it."
Realizing himself, Garrus dropped his hand from her face and cleared his throat as he took a hesitant step back. "I…uh, didn't think you'd be here alone. Where's Kaidan?"
The moment the question left his lips, he regretted asking. "Kaidan and I…we didn't work out," she said tightly. "We separated a few months ago. He hasn't requested reassignment. Yet."
"That's…" terrible? sad? unfortunate? "surprising. You seemed happy together."
"We were, for a time," she gazed out at the crashing waves. "But in the end we both needed something from each other that the other wasn't able to give. Some things just aren't meant to work." She gave Garrus a sad but sincere smile. "It was for the best."
He nodded. "I'll trust your judgement on that. Still, it must make today even more difficult for you."
Shepard's expression showed that he'd hit a sore spot and she waved him off with an impatient sigh. "Enough soul-searching for the moment you nosy turian. I'm going for a swim." Without a word or backward glance, she dropped her towel and strode purposefully toward the waves.
Bemused, Garrus watched her with open curiosity. Most humans were less than friendly with turians in general, and the chance to observe one like this piqued not only his personal curiosity but also his professional interest. He often wondered how humans survived with such thin, porous skin covering their bodies – it seemed so ineffective as a means of protecting their internal organs. She looked so very different from a female turian, and yet there was something appealing about her form. He'd spent too much time around asari, he told himself.
Shepard dove headlong into an oncoming wave and bobbed up a moment later, her hair darkened by the water and clinging to her neck and shoulders. "Damn it, Garrus," she shouted over the pounding surf, "stop thinking and get your ass in here!"
Chuckling to himself, Garrus eased off his pack and removed his weapons. He could feel her gaze, as curious as his had been moments before, following the movements of his hands as he removed his armor. Despite knowing that they had seen each other naked during the hunt for Saren – he'd seen nearly all of the crew unclothed as some point due to injuries – he couldn't stop himself from feeling self-conscious. He wondered how she managed to become the only creature in the galaxy that could make him feel like that. She had inspired him. No one had ever inspired him.
Shepard was grinning wide by the time he finally made his way into the water. Turians had always fascinated her. The avian species moved with a grace and speed that intrigued her, yet they kept their bodies so completely entombed in bulky armor. She loved watching the way the plate-like scales across Garrus' back moved and flexed with each step. Her eyes were drawn to the most tender places on his body – the skin on his neck and lower abdomen looked like little more than leathery human skin, and for a moment she wondered if it was as sensitive to the touch as her own. Physically shaking off the thought, the Commander ducked under a wave to cool the sudden burning heat on her cheeks.
When she resurfaced, Garrus was nowhere in sight. Worried, she treaded water and turned in place, scanning the beach and water for any sign of the turian. "Garrus?" The beach was so quiet, she would have thought she'd imagined him showing up if not for the pile of his armor by her tent.
She jumped and squealed as something brushed across her calves, and a self-satisfied looking Garrus appeared beside her. "Sorry, Commander," he said, grinning.
"Like hell you are," she laughed, splashing him. Garrus splashed back and the Second Contact War erupted, punctuated by their sputtering laughter and Shepard's occasional shriek. Diving below her again, Garrus tugged her legs to pull her under and, startled, she kicked out at him hard, bruising her foot on the bony fringe on his head. Garrus lifted them both to the surface and she clung to his neck as she coughed and sputtered.
"Damn it," she hissed in pain, but she was fighting back laughter nonetheless. "Your hard head broke my foot."
Garrus clicked his tongue and shook his head. "You humans are so squishy," he teased. He swam languidly in place, holding them both up, and tried not to think too hard about how wonderful it felt to have her arms around his neck, her soft human body so close…
"Yeah, well maybe you turians are just too hard," she said. A slow flush crept over her as the pain in her foot was replaced by a sharp awareness of her naked body in his arms. She loosed her hold on Garrus' neck and goosebumps rose across her skin as his talons brushed against her abdomen just before he pressed his hand against her back. The sensitive skin on his palm was hot, almost scalding, and Shepard's first instinct was to arch her body.
"Are you alright to swim back?" Garrus asked, his voice low and slightly strained. He was reluctant to let her go, but when she gave a stiff nod, the pair broke apart and made for the shore.
Shepard wrung the moisture from her hair as they hiked through the wet sand. After she retrieved her towel, the human turned to see her turian companion crouched on the beach, one hand on the ground to steady himself. Two violent twists of his body sent droplets of water spraying off his scaled body, and when he straightened up, he was all but completely dry.
"Lucky bastard," Shepard muttered, fishing a blanket and a wrapped bundle out of her tent before returning to the beach. She spread the blanket and settled herself face down, her long hair, so rarely unbound, spread out across her back to dry in the sun. To her pleasant surprise, Garrus joined her on the blanket without waiting to be invited.
Side by side, the pair dozed in the fading afternoon heat, not touching, not speaking, simply sharing each other's company. After a time, Shepard cracked her eyes open to study the apparently sleeping turian beside her. The multi-spectral colors reflected off his scales like a living rainbow. His normally tense face was relaxed, eyes closed, mouth slightly open – Shepard had never seen him like that, and she tried to memorize the moment.
Her eyes fell on his hand nearest her, and she raised her head to inspected it curiously: three long, strong fingers, each tipped with a sharp curved talon not unlike the raptors of Earth, and covered in a patchwork of scales along the backside. His palm looked incredibly sensitive, and she thought about reaching out to stroke the skin with her fingertip, to see if it was truly as hot as it had felt in the water.
She glanced up to find his sharp, hawk-like eyes watching her expressionlessly.
A tense moment passed, filled with something neither of them was willing to put into words, but Shepard looked away first. "Why were you trying to find me?" she asked to fill the silence.
Garrus breathed out a sigh and rolled onto his back, his eyes tracing the shapes of the clouds overhead. "I didn't think you should be alone today, Shepard," he said softly. "And…" he looked at her meaningfully, "I thought you might want to carry on the tradition."
The Commander nodded, blinking back the tears that unexpectedly appeared. "I do. Here. I think…I think she would have liked that. She said this was the most beautiful world she'd ever seen…."
Nodding his agreement, Garrus turned his face skyward again. "It reminds me of Palaven. There is a wild beauty here."
"'Pure and untamed' she called it," Shepard remembered. "I was too busy dealing with Wrex the last time to really appreciate it…." After a long pause, the Commander recalled with a weary smile, "She said, 'When this is all over, let's take leave here, Skipper. We'll swim all day and eat nothing but booze for a week.' I said, 'Sounds great'…but I wasn't really listening…not really thinking beyond the mission…and now this is her grave…." She couldn't stop the single silent tear from slipping between her closed eyelids.
Garrus turned on his side to face her, his expression sincere and worried. "You made the right choice, Shepard."
"Did I? I chose the guy I wanted to screw over the only woman I've ever considered a friend, Garrus."
The bitterness in her voice made Garrus cringe, but the turian shook his head. "That's not true, and you know it. You chose to secure the nuke, to stop Saren from disabling it or Sovereign from removing it from the planet before it detonated. Just because Kaidan was with the nuke doesn't mean you chose him over her, and saying it does is just a way for you to keep the guilt on yourself."
"You really think I would have gone back for the nuke even if Ashley had been there instead of Kaidan?" There was scornful incredulity in her voice, but also something small behind it that begged for reassurance.
"I do, Commander," he said with a decisive nod. "I know what you were like then, and I think that day changed you, but I can say without a shadow of doubt that you did the right thing and you did it for the right reason."
Shepard scrubbed at her face with the back of her hand. "I wish I had your conviction, Vakarian," she said gruffly, but she was comforted by his words. Kaidan had never said anything like that to her, and she'd always wondered if he blamed her for saving him and leaving Ashley to die. Or maybe that was her own guilt talking again.
Garrus hated seeing her pain, but hesitated to give her anything other than words for comfort. For so long, he'd suppressed his feelings for her, categorizing them as friendship and devotion to his leader. He had sought her out because of genuine concern, not expecting her to really need him. Finding and realizing that she did need him was not something he knew how to face. The harsh reality remained – he was a turian and she was a human, and whatever he felt for her beyond companionship was hopeless.
A chill wind rose as the sun dipped toward the horizon, and Garrus noticed the human shiver. "Come on Shepard," he said, standing and offering her his hand. "Let's drink to Armistice Day."
The Commander tried not to blush like a foolish teen as she accepted the naked turian's hand and let him haul her to her feet. The pair brushed sand from their bodies and dressed at the camp before heading back toward the surf. Shepard seemed to have a plan in mind, so Garrus simply let her lead.
Unwrapping the cloth-bound bundle beside the blanket, Shepard produced a bottle of cheap whiskey, identical to the one they'd shared with Ashley a year ago, and two shot glasses. "I wasn't expecting company – guess I'll just have to drink from the bottle," she smirked, but the moment seemed to weigh on her and there was no humor in her expression.
Garrus nodded and followed her down to the shore, the water rising up to their ankles. She handed the first drink off to Garrus, poured the second and held it out over the water, then posed the bottle in front of her lips.
"Here's to Armistice Day."
The three knocked back their drinks, and Garrus cringed as the liquid burned its way down his throat. "Damn, Ash," Shepard choked out, her eyes watering, "that's the cheapest shit I've ever tasted."
Ashley snorted at their expressions, clearly unfazed by the drink. "Weaklings," she smirked.
"So you do this every year, huh?" Shepard asked, recalling a recent conversation on the topic. "In honor of your grandfather?"
"I suppose," the Chief shrugged, "but I think it's more to remember who we really are. Where we come from, and where our loyalties lie." She eyed Garrus with open suspicion. "What about the turians? Do they drink on Armistice Day too?"
Garrus considered his answer for a moment. "I'm sure some do, but I'm not one of them. I prefer to move forward from the past, and I guess I just don't see the point." The words we careful and measured in an attempt to not offend the human.
"Moving forward is fine," Ashley agreed, but her expression was hard, "but we can't just forget the past. Some things are too important to just shrug off and keep going, and if we don't learn from our mistakes, we'll just end up repeating them."
"True. Which is why it's important for people like us, turians and humans working together, on a ship built through turian and human cooperation, to set an example for the future of our two races." Garrus wasn't sure that those words would have come from his lips just a few months earlier, but now he meant them firmly.
"So it's just that easy, huh?" Ashley snorted. "Just hold hands and sing songs and think happy thoughts, right? Are all turians that naïve or are you just special?"
"That's enough, Chief," Shepard broke in, frowning at the angry woman. "I understand your resentment, but this is ridiculous. Garrus saved your ass on the last mission, and he's done the same for all of us at least once in the past. Liara, Tali, even Wrex for shit sake has put their necks on the line for humans countless times over the last few months."
Ashley shifted in her seat, taken down a notch, and Garrus stared at Shepard for a long moment before looking away as silence descended on the table. "I…know you're right, Skipper," the younger woman acknowledged, looking everywhere but at Garrus. "It's just hard sometimes, when you see how humans are treated everywhere, how the Council ignores us, how they protected Saren. We're just the dog, remember?"
Shepard shook her head sadly. "I hope you don't always feel this way, Ash. We have to trust each other, or this whole ship will fall apart."
"I know, and I do…it's just frustration talking, I guess. We've been at this so long, and if we don't find a break on Virmire, we might never find Saren." Hesitantly, she looked at Garrus. "I'm sorry, it's not personal. If…well, if I didn't trust you at my back, I'd always stand behind you, okay? Just don't ask me to play nice with the rest of your people."
A ghost of a smile echoed in Garrus' voice. "I wouldn't dream of it."
"You know…" Shepard said with mischief in her eyes, "I think you two should kiss and make up. You did say you'd kiss a turian if I ordered you to…."
Both women laughed at Garrus' obvious distress.
Shepard poured Ashley's drink into the sea.
"You know, that conversation was the first time she ever addressed me directly without looking like she'd swallowed broken glass," Garrus mused aloud.
"Ashley was a stubborn woman," Shepard reflected, "and in some ways, she had good reasons for the way she felt. But in other ways, she was dead wrong."
"I wish I'd known her better."
"So do I." Shepard took a long drag from the bottle of whiskey, grimacing as it seared its way down her throat, then upturned the bottle over the sea. "Since you're the only one who liked this garbage anyway, it's all yours, Ash," she muttered with a sad smile.
Silently, the two hiked back to Shepard's camp as the sun fell below the horizon, bathing the land in shadow. Garrus began unpacking his tent, but Shepard, her face lined with weary sorrow, waved him off and said, "It's too late for that, it'll take forever in the dark. My tent's big enough for both of us."
Surprised, Garrus stared at her back as she crawled into the low tent. He knew that among humans, just as among his people, sharing a sleeping place was considered quite intimate, and he felt uncharacteristically nervous at the idea of sleeping beside her. But, just as the hesitation came, it went, and he ducked inside and made himself comfortable on the vacant side of the tent.
Shepard smiled to herself in the dark, glad that he hadn't refused to join her. Perhaps it was only the solitude of the last four days, but she couldn't stand the idea of having him out of sight. As her eyes drifted shut, she could only hope that his presence would keep the nightmares at bay.
Garrus lay on his side, watching the slow rise and fall of the human's chest and listening to her rhythmic breathing. Even in the dark, his sharp eyes could make out every contour of her face, every strand of hair. He longed to reach out and touch her, hold her as he'd wanted to for so long, but he was content to sleep beside her. After a long time, he too faded off to sleep.
Not long before dawn, a sharp sound and sudden movement jolted Garrus fully awake. The turian tensed, talons reaching for a weapon on instinct, but his eyes fell on Shepard first, sitting beside him in the tent. Her face was buried in her hands and her shoulders shook with sobs, but she made no sound.
"Shepard?" he asked, gently reaching out for her as he sat up. She jerked away from the sound of his voice, her eyes wide with fear, then she seemed to realize her surroundings. Before he could react, her face was buried in his neck, her hands clutching at the sharp ridges on his back almost desperately. The logical part of his mind hoped she didn't hurt herself, but his arms circled her carefully. "Shepard, what is it? What's wrong?"
"They're never going to stop," she whispered, her voice pinched and bitter. "The visions will always haunt me, no matter what I do."
"Visions? You mean from the beacons?" It had never crossed his mind that the Prothean message might still linger in her mind. Shepard had never directly spoken of what she'd seen, but Liara had given Garrus a halting description of the images, and even that had been enough to chill his blood.
"They're different every time," the trembling human murmured, sounding angry rather than upset, "but always the same idea. I see people, always people that I love, dying…dissected by the Reapers…Ashley…Kaidan…" she pulled away from his chest and looked up at him, "you."
The turian's breath caught for a moment, but he tried not to think about the significance of her words. She couldn't know what she was saying…could she? The Commander seemed to sense his hesitation and took it as a rebuke.
"I…I'm sorry, Garrus," she stammered, anger at herself rising as she released him and slid back over to her side of the tent. "Foolish emotional humans, right? Always saying what's on our minds and looking like idiots."
The turian's hand lingered uncertainly against the small of her back. "Foolish?" he echoed.
"Yeah, as in stupid enough to get emotionally attached to…you know what, just forget it."
She started to turn away, but Garrus shocked her by grabbing her face firmly in both hands. "If I was human, this would be the moment when I would kiss you," he growled low, his eyes hungry and predatory, yet frustrated and sad at the same time. "But I'm not human, and you're not turian, so I have no idea how to show you what I feel for you, Shepard."
He could feel her pulse racing under his fingers, see the heavy dilation of her pupils as her eyes struggled to see him in the early morning darkness. A long, heavy moment passed before Shepard whispered, "Are you willing to try?"
Garrus startled as she asked that impossible question, one he could never have imagined she'd say. It held so many implications, and the fearful hope in her voice was like nothing he'd ever heard from her before. "Try to show you how I feel?" he breathed. She nodded, her face still firmly held between the warmth of his palms, and his mandibles flared as he paused in uncertainty. "How?"
Instead of answering, she pulled one of his hands gently away from her face and lay a soft kiss on his sensitive palm. The turian's eyes closed for a moment as he cherished the sensation, but they opened again in surprise as he felt her fingers exploring the edges of the scales around his chin, her nails trailing across the leathery skin of his neck. Her touch was tender, determined but tentative, full of unsaid hopes and unnamed fears.
When she paused, Garrus slid his hand through her thick mane of hair, relishing the silken feel of it between his fingers. His talons on her scalp sent chills down her spine, and Shepard gasped softly at the pleasant sensation, shifting closer to him unconsciously. A small voice in her mind whispered that this would only lead to frustration, or a whole mess of complications that she didn't want to deal with, but the rest of her told that voice to shut the hell up. Come what may, she was going to take what she could from this moment and never regret it.
"It's good to have you back, Commander," Joker greeted her with a wide smile. "Looks like you got a hell of a tan out there."
"I practically lived in the sun the last two weeks," Shepard admitted, seeming to notice the dark cast to her skin for the first time.
"Did you find what you were looking for?"
It was the first time she'd seen Joker look so serious, and she offered him a small smile. "I think I have…but some things just take time. I think we'll have to make this an annual tradition. How was your shore leave at the Citadel?"
The helmsman shrugged, "Boring, but relaxing. Next time try to banish us to a planet with more places like Chora's Den and less places like Flux, okay?"
Shepard chuckled. "Sure thing, as long as you promise not to break a leg getting a lap dance, Jeff."
"Hey, hey, that only happened that one time, Commander, and…." His voice trailed off as his surprised gaze fixed on a point just over her shoulder.
Turning, Shepard smiled at Garrus. "Go ahead and put your stuff in my quarters," she murmured softly, her fingers twining momentarily with his talons. "I'll be there in a few minutes to shower off two weeks worth of vacation." The turian nodded and brushed his forehead up against hers briefly before disappearing down the hallway.
"Sorry," the Commander said with a grin as she faced her bewildered pilot again. "You were saying?"
"I…what…did I just see what I thought I saw?" Joker finally managed to stammer.
The woman feigned thoughtfulness then replied, "Probably."
"Is…that even physically possible?"
Shepard's grin widened and she winked.
Joker groaned. "Why? Why do I ask the questions I don't want the answers to? Oh, God, no," he dug the heels of his palms into his eyes, "the mental pictures…"
Shepard laughed and turned to leave. "Well, when you're done enjoying them, set a course for the Citadel. We'll be dropping Vakarian off before our next assignment."
Shaking his head, the pilot turned back to the helm. As he lay in the course, Joker muttered to himself, "Well, at least she's not pissed that I told him where to find her."