oh hay mass effect fandom. i'm a sucker for garrus, i can't help myself. mild pre-shipping i guess. dunno i suck at pairings so this is probably as good as its gonna get.
Long Way Down
Out of the entire crew of the second Normandy, Garrus was the one who knew the Commander the best. She had told him herself that she needed him watching her six, needed someone she trusted at her back. Especially considering who was funding this mission.
It killed her to work with Cerberus, though the casual observer wouldn't be able to tell how badly. They were the ones responsible for the slaughter on Akuze, just to name one of the many atrocities they'd perpetrated. He'd stood by Shepard as she allowed Toombs to kill the scientist, watched as he then turned the gun on himself. Garrus couldn't begin to understand how a group that considered themselves pro-humanity could commit such horrors against their own people.
But he trusted her to know what she was doing, what she was getting herself—and him—into. And as much as it killed him to say so, Cerberus was the only one taking the Reaper threat seriously. He'd watched up close, as the Council wrote Sovereign off as a geth war ship. As they used his commander's death as a propaganda tool. It drove him away from his Spectre training, away from Citadel space.
Toward vigilantism and nearly his own death.
He'd been almost delusional when he spotted her running up the bridge. Holed up for two days and running on nothing but stims was beginning to take its toll on him. The woman wore looked like Shepard. How dare this freelance filth wear his commander's face.
Just as his cross-hairs lined up and his finger began to squeeze the trigger, the doppleganger turned her gun on her fellow mercs. The surprise was enough to make him miss the shot; the slug bounced off of her shields. He watched through the scope as she and her two companions made short work of the others on the bridge.
It was all too familiar—he had to be hallucinating. The decision could have cost him his life, but he held his fire and allowed the trio to enter the building.
That was her voice, no mistaking. She wanted him back on her squad. It was a reason to live again, all wrapped up on a silver platter for him.
And then his death wish caught up with him, in the form of a gunship.
Someday, he'd have to thank Joker for the quick evac—it was one of the only reasons he'd survived.
It was almost like old times again. Almost. The second Normandy was just different enough to cause some serious cognitive dissonance. He supposed it was fitting—both he and Shepard had changed a fair bit as well.
The crew was kind enough, considering the fact that they were Cerberus—he imagined that Lawson and the Illusive Man had chosen crew members most likely to be sympathetic to aliens, considering Shepard's taste for a mongrel squad. It surprised him to hear that the Illusive Man had been the one to forward the dossiers to Shepard. Perhaps he valued skill over species—more likely it was part of some sort of larger manipulation.
That seemed to be Shepard's thinking, considering the way she held Lawson and Taylor at arm's length. Quite odd for the woman who normally went out of her way to socialize with her crew.
Even with Jack and the others, there wasn't the camaraderie she'd had with Wrex or Ashley. Perhaps it would come with time, but for now, most of her time was spent in the company of Joker, Dr. Chakwas, or Garrus himself.
As as such, Garrus was the one who'd been elected to go find her. After they left Horizon, she took them to the Citadel, declared a day of shore leave, and disappeared. That, on its own, was surprising—she never went ashore without at least Garrus at her back.
Though truthfully, he couldn't blame her. Seeing Alenko on Horizon, she'd lit up—and was promptly shut down. Hard. Garrus had almost lost his temper. After all they'd been through, he couldn't, he couldn't look past the fact that she was working with Cerberus. Wasn't even willing to hear her out.
Garrus had only seen Shepard shut down like this once before—after Toombs' suicide. But then she'd simply shut herself in her quarters until they arrived at their next destination, then emerged as though nothing had happened.
This... this was a different beast all together. Garrus didn't know what to expect when he found her.
He certainly didn't expect to find her in Chora's Den, reeking of alcohol, and shit-talking a group of pissed off turians. Well, maybe he half-expected the first two, and the third was only mildly surprising to be honest. Normally, he'd let her handle herself, but considering that she was in civilian attire, only had a pistol, and was drunk off her ass, Garrus decided to intervene.
"Shepard." He tapped her once on the shoulder with a talon, already prepared to dodge the messy swing she sent flying at him. He caught her by the wrist, tugging just enough to throw her off balance and send her falling into his arms. As she flailed, he held tighter, careful to keep her hand from her holstered pistol. He glanced to the turians, nodding once. "Gentlemen." His tone made it clear that the dispute was over.
It wasn't until he'd steered her out of Chora's Den that Shepard finally managed to break free of his grasp. Luckily, she'd calmed down a fair bit, but her mood was still foul. "I coulda taken 'em."
Garrus scoffed. "Shepard, I doubt you could even take on Joker right now."
"Fuck your face, Garrus. Fuck it. You don' know what I can 'n can't do." Considering how much alcohol she must have imbibed, her motor functions didn't seem too badly impaired—she only wobbled slightly on her feet. Her speech wasn't quite slurred, but a slight accent seemed to be shining through. Odd—perhaps a leftover from her childhood on Earth?
Garrus walked beside her, their pace slow, but at least they were heading in the right general direction. His mandibles twitched in amusement at her words. "I think I know better than most what you can and can't do."
She moved to stand before him, grey eyes meeting his. "I c'n stick my whole fist in my mouth. Betcha didn' know that."
Silence met her declaration. He wanted to laugh, but her expression was so deadly serious that he didn't dare. It took him a moment before he managed to respond. "No. No, I did not know that." He prayed that she wouldn't demonstrate, but a small part couldn't help but be mildly curious.
Luckly, she seemed satisfied by his response, and continued walking. "C'mon. 'M startin' t'sober up."
He assumed that meant that one, she was done drinking, and two, they were heading back to the Normandy. But instead, he found himself with her on a bench in a secluded area of the Presidium, each with a bottle—hers was a human colonial whiskey, while his was a Palaven ale.
Suddenly, the human phrase 'assuming makes an ass out of you and me' clicked for him.
Garrus knew that Lawson was probably panicking back on the Normandy, but he really couldn't bring himself to care too much—it wouldn't be long before C-Sec showed up to usher them away. He'd done the same thing countless times when he'd been stationed on the Presidium. They'd be heading back soon.
Shepard needed this. Right now, she wasn't a commander, or a Spectre, or the savior of the galaxy. She was simply a woman, a drunk woman, spilling her heart to her friend. To say that he'd never seen this side of her before was a huge understatement.
"He was my first boyfriend," she mused, idly shredding the brown paper bag her bottle was wrapped in. A half-hearted chuckle escaped her. "Kinda pathetic, huh? I mean, don' get me wrong, I've slept with other guys, but I'd never been in a relationship before." She paused, a light frown on her face. "Were we even in a relationship? Hell, I barely know what one is."
Garrus shrugged. He knew the question was hypothetical, but he felt the need to say something. To let her know that he was here for her. "It's rather subjective—everyone has a different definition, I imagine."
"I guess. I dunno, it was complicated. Regs 'n shit." She took a short pull, grimacing only slightly. "We actually only did it once. Before Ilos. One a' those 'for tomorrow, we may die' deals."
Garrus nodded mutely and took a large drink. Shepard was already almost done, while he'd barely been sipping his. Someone had to get them back to the ship, after all. But something told him that he needid more alcohol in his system for this conversation. He said nothing, simply letting her continue.
"It was... weird, bein' that intimate with someone. I didn' know how to deal with it. He told me he loved me—after the Citadel. Talked about wantin' a future, after it was all over. The idea that he was lookin' that far ahead just kinda freaked me out." She shook her head and turned sideways, leaning back against her turian compatriot. Garrus barely managed not to fall off his seat—he hadn't been expecting that.
She was silent for a moment, and when she spoke again, her voice was quiet, her words more precise. "I still have to remind myself its been two years, not just a month."
Garrus winced. Her death was a rough topic still—the crew had fallen apart and he'd personally spent a week straight absolutely obliterated out of his skull. Even now, he constantly had to fight the urge to reach out and touch her, just to make sure he was real. Her weight against him was reassuring, letting him know this all wasn't a hallucination while he was laying in a pool of his own blood on the floor of a warehouse on Omega.
Even if it was—he could definitely think of worse things.
She turned her head, laying her cheek against the shoulder of his armor—it had to be uncomfortable, considering the height difference, but she didn't seem to mind. Her free hand reached for his, hesitating at first, but then grasped it tightly. "Thank you, Garrus. For being here. For trusting me."
His breath hitched—she had to be drunk. He'd never seen her this physically familiar in public with anyone. But he gave a light squeeze in return. "More than anyone in the galaxy, Shepard."
A soft exhale escaped her, her body sagging only slightly. She lifted her head to look at him, a soft, almost sad smile on her features. "You know, I--"
"Excuse me." A sharp voice interrupted her, and both of them turned to see a young turian in the familiar blue and black C-Sec uniform glaring down at them. Garrus recognized him, but couldn't put a name to the face for the life of him. "Open alcoholic beverages are not permitted in public areas of the Presidium." Practically quoted from the textbook. God, it was almost like looking into the past.
Both of them sat up, and Garrus silently put the lid back on his bottle. Shepard, however, ever defiant, finish the remains in one long pull. "How convenient," she rasped, after swallowing. "I was just finishin'."
Laughing to herself, she tossed the bottle in a waste receptacle. "C'mon, we should be gettin' back. Miranda's probably had an aneurysm by now." Without waiting, she started off towards the nearest rapid transit station, only stumbling a tiny bit.
The officer turned his glare on Garrus, who simply shrugged in lieu of an apology. He stood, bu before he could follow after Shepard, the other Turian imposed himself in front of him. "With all due respect, Officer Vakarian—you've fallen far."
Garrus looked past him, silent for a long moment as he watched Shepard's retreating back. Then, mandibles spread in the turian approximation of a smile, he neatly sidestepped the young C-Sec officer that reminded him so much of himself. He was right—Garrus had fallen far. He spared a quick glance back over his shoulder as he walked.
"And I've still got a long way down."