Archangel

He's finally losing it. Two years of grief, pain and betrayal and somehow it still all comes back to her - Commander Jane Shepard.

It's all over. Trapped and alone, he's been biding his time picking off mercenaries one by one as they try to wear him down. He's thinned their ranks by a decent margin in the last eighteen hours when they wise up. Suddenly people pour across the bridge, no uniforms and no decent weapons even, just cannon fodder for his sniper rifle.

He narrows his eye, sighting down the scope, picking them off easily as they scatter into cover. One by one, he targets and drops them, blood spreading across the stained concrete floor into slick pools.

That's when he sees a familiar figure standing in the shadows. Tall, slender, human – and instantly recognisable. Someone he's not seen for over two years. Someone he never thought he'd see again.

His talons are shaking as he moves his sniper scope towards it, using the scope to confirm his instincts. The human levels their gun and starts to attack the mercs; killing them, protecting him. As he focuses on the human's face he gasps, rumbling deep in his armour-plated chest.

Commander Jane Shepard. His oldest and best friend. She's alive and she's coming for him.

His chest tightens, his breathing rasping in his throat as he automatically keeps sniping at the mercs. Between shots he watches her fighting her way towards him, everything about her bringing back memories; the way she handles her assault rifle, the way she dips to one knee to minimise her profile, how she rolls to one side, ejecting the heat sink, and instantly fires off more suppressing rounds as she comes to a halt. A couple of humans tag along in her wake and even that reminds him of old times. Missions with Alenko and Williams, saving the galaxy one more time.

He shakes his head, clacking his mandibles and forcing himself to concentrate on the enemy creeping towards him. He fires a few warning shots above Shepard's head, keeping the mercs behind her at bay.

Her footsteps are on the stairs but her scent drifts ahead of her. Any doubt he had is erased as he inhales. No-one else smells like her, period. He wants to turn, but he can't bring himself to move, his eyes relentlessly scouring the bridge for invading troops.

She strides into the room, flanked by her two new companions, their weapons lowered. "Archangel?"

She doesn't recognise him in his full helmet. She doesn't know that hidden behind a stupid nickname is her old friend. He nods without looking around, taking a moment to gather himself. He head-shots a merc stupid enough to try and peek out at him and then releases a shuddering breath. Lowering his gun, he leans back on the ledge casually, removing his helmet and clasping it tightly to hide his trembling talons. Her eyes widen in surprise and his mandibles shift into a wide Turian smile.

"Shepard," he rumbles. "I thought you were dead."

"Garrus!" She opens her arms and moves towards him with a huge grin. "What are you doing here?"

"Just keeping my skills sharp, a little target practice," he growls, enjoying the feel of her arms as she hugs him. He takes a deep breath, and the scent of human flowers that clings to her hair tickles his nose.

"You okay?" She asks as she steps back from him.

Garrus shrugs, his talons flexing on his helmet as he feels the stress seeping out of him. He doesn't trust his fatigued legs to hold his weight, so he stays seated. "Been better. But it sure is good to see a friendly face. Killing mercs is hard work, especially on my own." He kicks at the expended heat sinks littering the floor around him.

"We're here now. You're not alone anymore." Shepard lifts her assault rifle and taps it against her shoulder. "What are you doing here anyway?"

He glances behind him at the bridge, smiling to himself at how determined she is. He's missed it. Her. "Ever since you died, things got a little got a little crazy. First the Alliance started to deny the Reapers even exist, and then all the usual Citadel bureaucratic crap got too much. Figured I could do more good on my own." He snorts and points to the corpses littering the bridge behind him. "At least it's not hard to find criminals here. All I have to do is point my gun and shoot."

"Only you could manage to piss off every major merc organisation in the Terminus Systems." She shakes her head, the amusement never leaving her eyes.

"It wasn't easy. I reeeally had to work at it." He jokes, pleased to hear Shepard laugh again. "I am amazed that they teamed up to fight me, they must really hate me."

Shepard punches his shoulder gently, her gloved hand clanking on his metallic blue armour. "And since when did you start calling yourself Archangel?"

His mandibles shift into a grin. "It's just a name the locals gave me, for all my good deeds. I don't mind it, but please...it's just 'Garrus' to you."

She nods and then glances back at the two humans standing silently behind her. One, a tall, dark haired woman, is watching their exchange avidly, while Garrus notices that the other, a dark skinned male, has moved protectively closer to Shepard.

He finds it hard to look at her, his gaze sliding away from her bright smile, her soft eyes, to dart around the room, before being inescapably drawn back to her face. Even when she was with Alenko, he can't remember ever seeing a smile like the one she's giving him and for the first time in years, he feels warm again, inside.

"Well, we got here okay, but I don't think getting out will be as easy." Shepard tilts her head, waiting for his assessment.

He scans the area behind him again, still quiet. "No it won't. That bridge has saved my life...funnelling all those witless idiots into a narrow range. But it works both ways. They'll slaughter us if we try to get out that way."

The dark haired woman snorts in annoyance. "So we just sit here and wait for them to take us out?"

"It's not all that bad. Let's wait for a crack in their defences and take our chances." He sees Shepard raise an eyebrow and he shrugs back, his mandibles widening. "It's not a perfect plan, but it's a plan."

Shepard shakes her head, her smile undiminished. "Garrus, how'd you get yourself into this mess?"

He turns away from her, looking back over the bridge. "My feelings got in the way of my better judgment. It's a long story. I'll make you a deal; you get us out of here alive and I'll tell you the whole damn thing."

She moves to his side, her assault rifle levelled at her shoulder, as another wave of attacks commences. He feels almost dizzy, smelling her, seeing her; it's like the past two years have disappeared. There are changes, a mess of scars on both cheeks and her hair is shorter, but it's her.

Garrus keeps sniping across the bridge, conscious of her standing so close that he could touch her, but he keeps his eyes on the enemy. He frowns down his scope. "Hmm they've reinforced the other side...heavily. But they're not coming over the bridge yet. What are they waiting for?"

The room shakes as an explosion rips through the building, heat sinks rolling across the floor. Shepard stumbles to one side, lowering her gun.

"What the hell was that?" The dark haired woman shouts.

Garrus flips open his omni-tool, a growl rumbling through his chest. "Damn it. They've breached the lower level. Well, they had to use their brains eventually. You'd better get down there, Shepard. I'll keep the bridge clear."

She shakes her head, laying a hand casually on his shoulder. "I didn't come all this way to let you die. We'll split up two and two -- keep one of my team here with you."

"You sure?" He asks. "Who knows what you'll find down there."

She glares at him, and the steel in her voice when she speaks reminds him what makes her such a great Commander. "Miranda, stay with Garrus. Keep him alive for me."

"I'm not so sure splitting up is a good idea..." Garrus hears the dark skinned male start to complain to Shephard as they walk away.

He watches them until they're out of sight, two humans, soft and fragile, heading away from his protection, leaving him with the other woman – Miranda. "Who's that guy anyway?" His voice sounds gruff to his own ears, but it's not something a human could pick up on.

"Jacob. He's good, he'll help her." Miranda, replies, using her biotics to overload an engineer's shield.

"Hrmph," Garrus drills the engineer in the forehead with a single bullet. "I've heard that before."

"It's Jacob's job to look after her. Emotionally and physically. She's a hefty investment." Miranda sprays covering fire to keep the mercs back before ducking behind the wall to let her shields recover.

Garrus knows enough about humans to tell that she would be considered beautiful, but there's something to her scent, a darkness, that makes his nostrils flare. Or maybe it's the Cerberus logo on her skin-tight white uniform. As for the comment about this new guy Jacob taking care of the Commander...

He levels his rifle and takes out three mercs in quick succession, his breath burning in his throat. "I've never..." Bang. "Known anyone need..." Bang. "To take care of Shepard." Bang.

Miranda replies, her voice as cold. "You've never known her resurrected before. None of us have. That's why Jacob's there for her to lean on."

Garrus rumbles deep in his chest, not looking away from his sniper scope, his mandibles held tight to his cheeks. While he doesn't like Miranda, he accepts that she's right. He can barely process the idea of Shepard being alive; he can't imagine how she must feel coming back from the dead to all of this.

It feels like an eternity, but it's been less than five minutes when Shepard and Jacob reappear. He doesn't take his eye away from the scope, but he senses that she's moved to his side again.

"Only the Blue Suns left," she says. "I say we take our chances and fight our way out."

"I think you're right," he nods, lowering his rifle. "Tarak's got the toughest group, but nothing we haven't faced before. Besides, he won't be expecting us to meet him head on..."

He's interrupted by a loud chopping noise behind him and he sees a huge shadow fall across the room as a gunship hovers at the window.

"Heads up!" Miranda shouts.

"Archangel!" A voice booms into the room as he dives towards cover. But he's too slow, or the gunship is too fast, and he feels painful thuds across his body as bullets rip through his armour. Falling to his knees, he's crawling towards cover when he feels a scorching heat and something slams into his face.

He can hear them fighting but he can't move. He can see his blue blood pooling beneath his cheek, but his body won't respond. Shepard stands above him, a grenade launcher held tight to her chest and fury on her drawn features. He hears more mercs assaulting the room, but things go grey for a while and it somehow seems unimportant. It's warm where he is, he doesn't want to go back to the pain and the cold.

"Garrus!"

He's been resigned to death for so long now. He lost his team; he allowed himself to get pinned down. He didn't mind, he'd been doing the right thing. But now...now he knows that she's alive, that she needs him, he doesn't want to let go.

Garrus claws his way back, forcing the mist to clear, homing in on her voice as she murmurs his name. With a gasp, he opens his eyes and looks at her, kneeling beside him. He draws a shuddering breath, reflexively pulling his rifle closer.

"We're getting you out of here Garrus. Just hold on," her eyes are wide with fear. "Radio Joker; make sure they're ready for us. He looks bad."

Then it's all too much. His eyes slide closed and darkness swallows him.