Edit 2:Super duper revised edition circa 7/06/09, now with slightly smaller walls of text for your reading pleasure. Also, new chapters! Oh my god, the world must be coming to an end!
Hey everyone, this is my first fanfiction ever.
Edit: Removed the absolutely massive introduction.
Edit: Fixed 2 punctuation errors I missed.
Disclaimer: I do not own or claim to own any of these characters or settings. They are the sole intellectual property of Bioware, and I am only borrowing them for storytelling purposes.
-- .:Cool Blue:. --
Garrus Vakarian eyed his drink with a cocktail mix of disgust and disappointment. He had requested a Turian beverage, but he wasn't sure if this bartender knew of any drinks beyond human cocktails. The green concoction floating around in his glass seemed to support this theory.
Sniffing the strange liquid and wrinkling his nose, he shoved the drink away.
Garrus sat alone at the bar of one of the most popular human nightclubs on The Citadel. The club was packed to the brim at this time of night, although not with bar patrons.
Taking his eyes off of the toxic waste he had just purchased, he took a quick look around the club. He guessed that the entire dancing area was about 70 feet long, and maybe 100 wide. The ceiling arched upwards, supported by steel rafters, and the walls were painted a light shade of gray. The actual bar was a few seats down, but Garrus didn't feel like 'shooting the breeze' with the visibly bored bartender. He sat in the very last seat of the bar, wedging himself between the faceless and uncaring steel of a wall, and the fiery crowd of dancers.
This particular man was not a very good dancer. He would not have bothered Garrus much, had the man turned around and apologized.
"Oh, I'm terribly sorry. I didn't mean to bump into you. I'll try not to do it again," he would say.
—But no, this man continued to bump into Garrus. Once every few minutes like clockwork, he would lose his balance and slam into Garrus's back, pulling himself away and back toward his two lady friends, the trio laughing hysterically in a drunken stupor. This was the fourth time that man had bumped into Garrus. He had been counting.
He couldn't have been drunk. Garrus had not seen anyone else at the bar tonight, leaning back to check around the corner, he saw that the bartender was gone as well. Perhaps this music had the same effect as alcohol on some people, drowning out their senses with it's pulsating stabs and rolls, dulling their minds from everything on the outside of those cold steely walls.
Looking around the club, he spotted Kaiden, dancing with some human girl Garrus had never seen before. The expression on his face was one that Garrus was all too familiar with now. It was a smile, no doubt, but different; he had seen true smiles before, filled with warmth and depth. This smile was shallow, cold, forced. Kaiden would never speak to this girl again, but tonight was his chance to escape, to not worry, to have fun simply because he had to. Garrus wanted to escape like that.
Hundreds of sweating humans, rocking back and forth, jumping, grinding against each other in time with the music. The 'disk jockey', as Garrus had learned they were called, oversaw the entire crowd, waving his hands back and forth and shouting, a huge grin spread across his face. The floor hissed and moaned with every bass stab as the pounding of a hundred human feet smothered it's steely maw. The song changed, the DJ mixing the two together seamlessly. No one seemed to notice. They kept dancing, jumping, and bumping into each other in a chaotic melee.
Across the floor he spotted a lone asari. Probably the only non-human in the club, aside from him, of course. She had the same expression that Kaiden had on his face. Dancing along with some human male, that cheeky grin plastered on her face, fading every few moments to drop a wink before grinding up and down his body. Garrus turned back to his drink, taking a sip to try and wash out the bad taste that was growing in his mouth. The drink was bitter, with an odd metallic aftertaste to it.
The lights in this particular dance club were not hanging from the ceiling, nor embedded in the walls. Instead, hundreds of glass cylinders were entrenched within the metal floor, rays of light bursting forth every now and then between the writhing mass of human flesh. Garrus tilted his head up, watching the abstract shapes dance around and wrestle for territory on the cold gray walls. He felt at peace for the first time tonight. The whirlpool of colors helped to take his mind off of the blaring music, the bitter drink he was forcing down, and the unique feel of isolation one can achieve only by being the lone person not dancing in a nightclub filled with people.
Garrus had spilled his drink. It was bitter, he had no idea what it was, and he would probably be sick later because of it... But he had spilled his drink.
He sat staring at the small puddle of liquid on the counter, the stream falling from his chin down across his chest, his hand clenched around the empty glass. A minor inconvenience considering Garrus didn't even enjoy this particular drink, but nevertheless, it infuriated him.
He suddenly wondered why he had accepted this invitation. He suddenly wondered what he was doing in a human dance club, as he was not human and he certainly did not dance. And he suddenly noticed that if he did not get out of here soon, that man who could not dance very well would be leaving on a stretcher.
Garrus got up and started walking around the massive crowd of dancers. The light from the floor concealed most of their faces, making it hard to recognize anyone. He noticed that keeping his head down and staring at the floor, a universal sign of avoidance, actually made him easier to recognize, easier to see. Tilting his head up to mask himself in darkness, he started making his way around the outskirts of the crowd. Finally reaching the exit, he walked outside and turned sharply, leaning against the wall next to the nightclub's entrance.
Massaging his temples, he exhaled, relieved to be out of the club and away from the blasting music.
I knew this was a bad idea, thought Garrus, she said it would be fine if I didn't come, but I refused. I had to be the different one. Wrex didn't come, who knows what he is doing on his vacation. Tali didn't come either. Not me, the fun-loving turian. Garrus leaned further onto the wall, crossing his arms and closing his eyes, trying to enjoy a few moments of silence. He was never the dancing type, if he was around other people he preferred to be doing something constructive or engaging, not just moving back and forth with a phony smile plastered to his face.
He couldn't leave, he told Shepard he would come. He promised her he would come. She had been awfully worried lately about every member of her crew. Word of assassins had spread around the citadel, and Commander Jane Shepard and her crew were prime targets. If he left, she might be worried sick.
Would she? Garrus pondered on that thought for a moment, his face contorting into a frown when he noticed the answer. He wanted to leave, he wanted her to be worried about him, to miss him.
But she won't, thought Garrus, she is still in there, dancing like everyone else. Anger crept up inside him like it did back at the bar, ruining his silent meditation.
Garrus had been interested in Commander Shepard ever since he first laid eyes on her. He was not sure exactly why he was interested, but he knew that he was. Shepard interested him, and he had made it his goal to get to know her better.
He loved to set goals. All types of goals. Goals with things, places, and people. They could be short term goals. File papers. Do laundry. They could be long term goals. Learn to play chess. Learn human figures of speech. Spend more time with Sheperd. Small personal objectives that helped to turn the monotony of every day life into a carefully executed battle plan. Often, it was the only thing keeping him sane.
Normally he would have shoved this out of his mind, dismissing it as mindless curiosity of a fellow crew member. He couldn't bring himself to do that, though, as he noticed that he had never truly been interested in someone before. Curious? Maybe. But, interested? Definitely not. He had always preferred solitude. He rarely enjoyed conversation unless it was about his job, and all of his free time was spent alone. He had intended to keep it that way.
Garrus had started to notice lately that simple goals were not enough to keep him going anymore. Every moment in which he wasn't occupying himself with something, some mindless task that he had pounded into his own head until he was convinced that it was essential to the Normandy's mission, he was descending further into madness.
The insomnia was getting worse every night. Garrus would shut his eyes and clamp them down for as long as he possibly could, until the pressure swelling up within him was too much to hold in, more of a detriment to his sleep then keeping them open. He groaned and rolled over, glancing at his bedside clock.
Shutting his eyes again, he tried to forget everything. Forget all the goals, all the people, all the faces. To fade away into the peaceful void of sleep.
His mind, however, simply would not rest. Citadel. Case files H-E9b. The nightclub invitation. Assassins. Shepard. Oh yes, he had to know more about Shepard. Couldn't forget that, what was he doing sleeping anyways? He had work to do. Much like Garrus had been wedged between the cold steely walls of the bar and the ferocious crowd of dancers, in his sleep Garrus found himself trapped between the dreadful monotony of his daily routine, and the insanity of his dreams.
He explored his thoughts for hours, desperately trying to find sleep, each night there was a different horror waiting to be found.
His dream of the citadel, walking down the endless hallways, blood of all species dripping out from beneath each locked door.
Case files H-E9b, the case files of the murder of Garrus's entire family. Garrus was the perpetrator.
Shepard... He dared not think of Shepard, afraid of what he might find locked away in his subconscious. And yet he could hear her voice, calling in the back of his head. Moaning...
Garrus opened his eyes.
He would walk around the citadel aimlessly for hours on end. He couldn't sleep. He could barely speak to anyone anymore, something as simple as conversation was becoming difficult. He couldn't do anything anymore, but walk. He knew that vacation wouldn't last forever, and he would be expected to get back on the Normandy and do his job. His job. Garrus had always been very good at his job, he wasn't so sure anymore.
And so here Garrus stood. Alone, outside of a nightclub, thinking about how he could spend more time with his commander. Images of Shepard dancing around with the rest of those humans, the same phony grin on her face, swarmed his mind. He grimaced at the thought, contemplating what to do now.
As he leaned there, in silence, a human male and an asari walked out, leaning into each other and giggling in ecstasy. As the man's car was pulled up to the entrance, he grabbed whatever money he had in his pocket and shoved it into the valet's outstretched hand; a small tip, although Garrus doubted that the man actually knew how much he had in his pocket. As the valet tried to force a smile and count up the disheveled mass of change in his hand, a single coin dropped onto the ground. The coin bounced and twirled around, weaving around the delicate cracks in the steel floor before settling on a single steel plate, where there was nothing to obstruct it's delicate dance.
As the coin continued to spin in place, Garrus suddenly forgot about everything on his mind. He forgot about the dance club. The horrible blaring music. The big phony smiles on everyone's face. He forgot about his myriad goals and plans, his worries and fears. He forgot about Shepard.
Everything around him didn't matter in comparison to this single coin, spinning around in circles on the cold steel floor. As the coin lost speed, Garrus's focus on it increased. The coin was barely spinning now, struggling to make each successive revolution, and yet it had not fallen. Garrus's jaw dropped slightly, as he stared at the coin, now barely turning, still resting perfectly on it's edge. Garrus stopped leaning on the wall, and made a step towards the coin. It fell.
As the valet bent down to pick up the fallen coin, Garrus's eyes remained focused on the small piece of metal like a hawk watches it's prey. His smile had faded, replaced with a menacing glare that only a turian is capable of.
"Can I help you sir?" said the valet. Garrus was silent. "Can I help you sir?" he repeated.
"It always falls," muttered Garrus, unknowingly his native tongue.
"What was that?" asked the valet, as Garrus tilted his head up to look him straight in the eyes. A look of fear washed over the the man's face. Garrus stood silent, staring daggers at the nameless valet. His hands were clenched, his face was wet with perspiration, his eyes glowing with anger and frustration. As Garrus was contemplating which would be more damaging, a knee to the face or a bite to the neck, he was saved. His mask of sanity and order was preserved for at least one more day, one more minute, one more moment. He was counting the moments now.
A simple tap. A tap on the shoulder. A very feminine tap on the shoulder, with a touch so light that it could probably be considered a brush. And yet this tap, this brush, was enough to snap Garrus out of his trance.
He suddenly realized that his mask was slipping off. He realized that he was ready to attack a valet for picking up a coin. And he suddenly realized that he was getting a lot of very strange looks from everyone around him. Garrus straightened up, unclenched his fists, and gave the valet a quick smile.
"Oh, I apologize. I'm not feeling very well tonight," said Garrus, the lies sliding off of his tongue with a cold efficiency. His mind was not set on the valet anymore, or the coin, but the tap he had received moments ago.
He wondered, who was his accidental savior? Someone in the club? Did they follow me out? Did I drop something? Another light tap on his shoulder reminded Garrus that he was still standing in front of the entrance to the club, in front of the same valet that he had just silently threatened mere seconds before.
"Garrus." He knew that voice.
He spun around, his eyes wide. It was none other than Commander Shepard. Her hand retracted back towards her stomach, smiling weakly at Garrus. His eyes drifted toward the ground. Taking his hand and ruffling the scales on the back of his head, he exhaled. "Yes, Commander?"
"Are you alright? I came out to get some air and..." She glanced over Garrus's shoulder, seeing the perplexed valet still holding that single coin. She looked him over.. he seemed different. He was always so calm and composed... He appeared distressed, as if something was bothering him. She didn't remember seeing him in the dance club, how long had he been out here?
"Yes commander. I just needed to.. 'get some air' as well. I—uhm. Well..." Garrus didn't know what to tell the commander. It was part of his plan to attend the nightclub and have a good time. Easier said than done. Shepard couldn't know that he had been having a bad time. "I'm feeling a bit ill, is all. Commander."
Looking back to Garrus from the valet, she stared at him intently for a few moments. Her eyes tightening, then finally relaxing again. She sighed. "I'm not feeling too good myself. Could use a bit more fresh air. I'm thinking the gardens, would you like to go for a walk?"
A walk. She wants to go for a walk.
"Yes. A walk."
She knows. She definitely knows. How does she know I've been walking instead of sleeping? Could she have been watching me? Does she know that I walk around at night? It's not that peculiar, plenty of people walk for exercise. Is she spying on me? Is she spying on the entire crew? Why would she? What should I-
"Garrus?" Shepard started to notice a small crowd gathering around the entrance to the club.
"What? Oh. Ermm.. Yes. Well, I mean. Yes, I would like to take a walk with yo-.. to take a walk, get some air. Yes... get some air. C-.. Commander. Walk. Yes."
Garrus put a hand on his head and shut his eyes, inhaling and holding the breath. Shepard ushered him away from the entrance, down a corridor towards the nearest elevator. A small paper sign was taped onto the door.
Out of order.
"Great," said Shepard, turning around to see Garrus taking a seat on a nearby bench. As she approached him and sat down, he straightened back up, his nigh-perfect posture returning. Shepard decided to ignore this for a bit, sitting down on the bench and looking him over. He was no longer holding his head, color was returning to his face. He wasn't breathing as hard as before, the shaking had stopped.
"Feeling better?" Shepard asked lightly, startling Garrus.
"Oh. Yes. I'm feeling better already. Just needed some fresh air, as you humans say it."
Shepard stared at Garrus. They were sitting in a dank little back corridor leading to nowhere, in the bottom of one of the Citadel's wards. The floor was littered with empty wrappers, discarded foods, and several bags oozing a suspicious green puss. The air was hardly fresh.
Shepard sighed. "Well, the elevator is out of order. Looks like we'll have to walk a few blocks to reach the next one. You still up for it?"
'Up for it.' He remembered that one.
"Yes, let's get moving. You said the gardens?"
"Yes, the gardens."
Garrus liked the gardens.
They walked silently down the street, Shepard leading with Garrus flanking her a few feet back. Shepard could feel him staring at her with his luminous blue eyes.
She had always liked Garrus, even though she did not know him much. The rest of her crew was very loud, talkative, and social. Garrus had always kept to himself, only bothering her when he had a question about the mission, or helping her fix something around the ship. She didn't mind talkative people, and she liked to socialize now and then, but she could always rely on Garrus to respect her personal space.
She wondered why he had accepted the invitation in the first place. She invited the entire crew, and he was the one person she had really expected to decline.
They reached the elevator. Shepard pushed the upwards facing arrow and stepped back, crossing her arms. She could still feel Garrus's eyes on her, it was making the hairs on her neck stand up. She was about to turn around and ask him why he kept staring at her, when he spoke.
"Yes, Garrus?" Shepard said, turning her neck to look at him. His expression had relaxed, the sleek shine of his face accenting his cool blue eyes.
"Are you sure you don't want to go back to the club? I don't want to ruin your night because I'm not feeling well."
Shepard looked surprised. "Oh, don't worry, that club isn't all it is worked up to be." The elevator doors opened and Shepard stepped inside. Garrus was quick to follow her, pressing what looked to Shepard like a hundred buttons on the small electronic console in a flurry of speed. "You know your way around here, don't you?" Shepard smiled at Garrus. The elevator doors closed.
"Oh, yes. It's comes from being in C-Sec, I guess. The citadel is truly massive, though. I would still find new places that I had never been to, even after years of living here." Garrus shifted uncomfortably.
"You ever miss working in C-Sec?" Asked Shepard, prying lightly at her mysterious comrade. He gave this question some thought, his eyes wandering around the elevator car, his hands folded behind his back. His mouth contorted in what can only be described as a turian biting his own lip.
"No, I don't miss it much at all. I much prefer the Normandy, and as I believe I have already said, working with a Spectre." Garrus turned his head back towards the elevator door, rocking back and forth lightly on his feet. He had already told her that, one of the first few times Shepard had spoken to him. However, Shepard was attempting to create conversation, and she wanted a bit more than that.
"Oh come on. You have to miss it somewhat... don't you have anyone back here that you left? Any friends? Family?" Garrus stared at the elevator door, no longer rocking on his heels. He opened his mouth to speak, but closed it again.
His head tilted down and away from Shepard, his blue eyes dimming as they drifted back and forth across the golden metallic floor. He was sweating again. Shepard tilted her head more to look at him, her smile faded as she realized she had asked the wrong question.
She opened her mouth to speak, but couldn't think of what to say. The elevator came to a halt, the doors retreating away from each other. Someone must have pressed the button and then realized that they did not need to take the elevator. Garrus exhaled and quickly shuffled out of the elevator, walking down the massive hallway at a very rapid pace.
"Garrus? Wait! This isn't our stop!" Shepard shouted out of the elevator. He didn't turn around.
Shepard panicked in frustration as the doors started to close, squeezing between the two slices of metal and bounding after him. He was a very fast walker. Shepard had to jog just to catch up with him. When she got within ten feet of him, his pace slowed to that of a normal walking speed. His arms were at his sides, swaying back and forth with each step, tri-fingered hands clenched into fists.
"Garrus! Where are you going? This is not our stop!"
He didn't stop walking. He merely turned his head around and gave Shepard a look that will stay with her the rest of her life. She was stopped in her tracks as that sullen gaze hit her full-on.
His mandibles were twitching and contorted. His brow was hardened into a glare that could cut glass. His eyes, however, showed something else entirely. They were sunken, low, almost rolling back into his head, as if they had just given up ever trying to see anything again—anything but sadness, desolation, hopelessness.
It was the look that a dying man would give. Fathomless depression masked by a bulletproof wall of pure anger and hatred. A bulletproof wall that could not stop this particular bullet; the bullet coming out of the gun he had pressed to his head, as he closed his eyes for the last time. Shepard was devastated.
This was supposed to be her vacation. This was supposed to be everyone's vacation. Why did things like this have to happen to her?
Selfish, she thought to herself. She should be worrying about Garrus. Why were things like this happening to him? What could make someone give that... look?
Oh god, the look. It sucked the life out of her. She felt as if a thousand years of sadness had just entered her mind and then been swept away, a glimpse into what it must be like for some people. For him. She felt like hitting herself, guilty that the first thought that had came to her mind after witnessing that face, those eyes, was that her vacation was being ruined.
Realization started to dawn over Shepard, hazy, but it was there. The weird looks he was giving the valet. His quick recovery from near fainting to his usual perfect posture. His selfless question before entering the elevator, asking Shepard if she was 'Okay' with going on a simple walk with him, as if she was sacrificing 'the great nightclub' to please his humble being.
He wasn't sick at all. He was sick in a different way, a more alarming way than Shepard thought, or even wanted to think at about. He was always there for her to fall back onto, her crew mate with no problems. No drama. No worries. No matter what happened on the Normandy she was always entirely sure that she could trot down to his dorm room, ring the bell, and have him open his door and look at her with those cool blue eyes. His face expressionless and professional, yet serene and inviting at the same time.
"Shepard?" he would say. His voice was so smooth, with such a soothing metallic ring that Shepard could not help but drink up each and every word that came out of his mouth.
She cherished every time they spoke, no matter how mundane the conversation. She couldn't believe, or, she didn't want to believe, that a look like that had come out of Garrus. Her Garrus. He was the crew member she knew the least about, and yet without him on-board, everything would have fallen apart by now.
It sickened her as she noticed how selfish she had been towards him. She was using him, like a small child uses a stuffed animal to go to sleep. She had never bothered to care about how Garrus was feeling, only how he made her feel. She had never asked him how his day was, or how he felt about the last mission, or if he needed anything. He was an object to her. A way for her to offload all of her problems and stress into those cool blue eyes, those unfaltering blue eyes.
Garrus had continued walking down the expansive hallway while Shepard panicked inside of her own mind. Drifting to the left, he was heading for a set of four rather large windows, each with a bench for viewing purposes. He normally walked when he was upset, but right now he needed to sit down.
The bad drink, the valet, the coin, the music. And now this. It was too much for him. He let his posture slip, just this once, to bend down and put his head in his hands. He blew it as humans said. He failed. He had wanted to spend more time with Shepard, just a little more time than usual, and he couldn't even do that without screwing everything up. He couldn't do anything anymore.
Hopelessness washed back over him, like it did back at the entrance to the nightclub. He was sweating again, shaking, but he didn't cry. He never cried.
A brush at his side.
Shepard had sat down on the bench, next to him. Close to him. Her skirt brushing up against his leg as she leaned over, putting her head at his level. He could feel her eyes training on him. He took his hands off of his head, embarrassed, and crossed them, still resting on his elbows.
He didn't dare look at her, he stared vacantly out the window. He could see the gardens off in the distance.
"You, uhh... You don't like dancing very much, do you? Garrus." Shepard broke the silence.
"No. I don't," Garrus replied, still staring out the window.
Shepard tilted her view to where he was looking. She could see the very tip of the gardens, plants and flowers all blooming out in the middle of a giant artificial hulk of metal, rebelling against the steel walls which they were confined to.
"Why did you accept the invitation? Wrex didn't. Neither did Tali. It's not a big deal, really." Shepard turned her head back towards him, her eyes were filled with warmth and caring, but concern as well.
"I... I wanted to try something different. I..." Garrus gulped, staring at the floor. He didn't have much left to lose at this point anyways. "I wanted to get to know you more. I have known you for a long time now, but I still don't know much about you. You are an excellent commander, and you have taught me things that I would never have learned, had I not met you. I guess I-... I guess I find you, interesting. The most interesting human I have ever met, and I would like to get to know you more. I thought that if I went to the club and had fun, it would..."
"It would what, Garrus?" His eyes darted over to her face, seeing her expression, he sighed and straightened up a bit.
"I thought it would impress you." Shepard was shocked.
"Impress me? Why would you need to impress me? Garrus, you're the most hardworking member of my entire crew. I couldn't be more impressed than I already am." That was the truth, too.
Garrus wasn't saying anything, just looking at Shepard's face. His eyes were darting all over her features, occasionally hitting her eyes before shifting away again.
"Garrus, would you like to go out to lunch with me some time?" Shepard broke the silence with a question, a question she had never thought to ask until moments before, when she received that life altering stare. "I understand if you don't like dancing, that's fine. Not everyone does. I just think it's terrible that you're my best crew member, and I don't really know that much about you. If you don't mind, I'd like to get to know you better as well."
This was not the truth. Shepard was scared of what she might be getting into. She was scared of what may lurk behind those cool blue eyes. She was scared of that horrible life-draining stare as well. She cared about her crew mates, though, and Garrus was no exception. If something was bothering him, it was her job to find out.
Garrus was bewildered. "That, sounds... nice. Commander."
Shepard smiled at his response, grabbing his forearm and motioning back to the elevator. Garrus nodded and stood up with her, walking next to her back towards the lift. They stopped at the entrance to the elevator. Garrus glanced at the staircase beside the elevator.
"I think I'll walk from here, commander."
Shepard nodded at him and smiled. "Meet me at my quarters on the Normandy at... 12:30 tomorrow. Ok? I know a place you might like. They have good food, human and turian."
Garrus cocked his neck towards Shepard. His mild expression had returned, the aura of politeness and respect that tended to follow him had returned. A tint of fear was in his eyes, but they bristled with excitement.
"I'm looking forward to it, Commander."
Shepard chuckled and stepped into the elevator, turning around to face him.
"We're on vacation Garrus. Please, call me Jane." The doors shut, Garrus once again found himself staring at a faceless steel wall. Except this time there was no crowd of human dancers behind him, no horrific nightmares creeping behind his back. Nothing but a staircase, leading down to the presidium, and eventually the Normandy. Where his bed awaited him. Where sleep awaited him.
Edit: With these edits, I'm trying to preserve the 'feel' of the original chapters by editing the actual text as little as possible. I've mostly changed continuity errors, spacing, and grammar, in hopes that they read easier.
As always: Review, or be destroyed.