Standard disclaimer:

BioWare owns all rights to the Mass Effect world and characters. I borrowed them because the romance I got in game, while adorable, wasn't the one I wanted.
So I decided to write my own. This story follows the plot of the second game loosely, but I make changes to events and dialogue as it suits me.
This Shepard is a part Paragon, part Renegade Sentinel with Spacer / Sole Survivor background. Enjoy.


Garrus stared down the sight and splattered the merc's skull with a smooth shot, easier than breathing. That had become more difficult with each passing day. It had been two years, and the pain should've started to scale back, easing into something like acceptance. But it didn't.

Now he had nothing but rage to frame his emptiness like red dust carried away from a nuclear blast. A crater squatted in his core, and only heat remained, emanating outward until it threatened to devour him from the inside out. At this point, oblivion offered only the promise of relief.

More mercs charged the bridge, so eager to die. Using his visor, he calculated the trajectory of his shots and nailed two more, the fluid execution second nature. As they fell, their broken helmets bounced off, revealing their faces. Just kids, really, too young for this fucking mess, probably looking for a thrill, or maybe trying to earn enough credits for passage off the hellhole that was Omega. And such waste should've bothered him, but he had no more guilt to give. He owed it all to Shepard.

He'd never enjoyed fighting beside anyone more. She'd survived the battle of the Citadel—come limping over the wreckage—and he'd been light at heart in a way he couldn't articulate. She's indestructible, he'd thought, like some warrior goddess. The maws couldn't kill her on Akuze. Even Sovereign couldn't bring her down. But as it turned out, she was flesh and blood. Breakable.

If I'd been with her, he thought, replacing the thermal clip in his rifle. If I'd said to hell with what the Alliance wants, if I'd had her back. But it didn't matter now. He'd had been drowning for two long years, trying like hell to find some meaning in a universe that would carry her through so many trials, so many battles, only to let her die in one freak attack: one explosion too many, one unlucky break. And maybe that was the secret—that there was no meaning. It was all black to the bone, and everyone ended up as rotting meat. With a succession of rapid shots, he cleared the bridge, knowing it was only a matter of time. Exhaustion would slow his reaction time, and he'd make a mistake. The mercs had an infinite number of bodies to throw at him.

So much had gone wrong, everything, in fact. He'd failed her. Failed his team. And so it was no surprise, he found himself out on a ledge with no way out but down. Trapped. Everything had gone to shit from the moment he first got the news. Crouched down against the wall, he closed his eyes and remembered.


"I don't care," Garrus told Chellick. "I'm not coming back to work at C-Sec."

He'd already had this argument with his father, who was outraged over his application to join the Spectres. There was nothing the elder Vakarian could do about it, however. The documents had already been filed, and due to his service aboard the Normandy, they'd bumped him to the head of the candidate list.

"If you're certain," Chellick said in disgust. "I wouldn't want a loose cannon like you on my team anyway."

He sighed and headed from embassy row toward the transit terminals. If he was honest with himself, he didn't want to be a Spectre exactly. He hadn't wanted to leave the Normandy at all. Over the course of the mission, they'd become friends—or at least, he thought they had. It was somewhat difficult for him to read human faces.

"I'm sorry," Shepard had said. "I don't want this. I'd love to keep you, Tali, and Wrex, but now that we've stopped Saren, the Alliance is coming down hard. They want this ship back to spec."

Garrus had nodded. "Which means a wholly human crew."

"Unfortunately. I… I'm going to miss you." It had been the most personal thing she'd ever said to him.

They'd joked around a lot, and he'd told her about Dr. Saleon. She'd gone with him to the ship and asked him, are you sure, Garrus? When he said he was, she gave the kill order. Just like that. He'd never had anyone put so much faith in his judgment before, and it was a turning point. After that, he'd have followed her anywhere, fought any battle. For her. Not because it was the right thing, but because she was Shepard.

Serving under Shepard had offered the closest thing to complete fulfillment he'd ever known. As a leader, she knew how to motivate people: when to comfort and when to kick them in the ass. She gave people's problems her full attention, and her personal strength—well, she impressed him. He'd read her file, and anyone who could survive Akuze had to be made of damn fine metal. She broke the rules when necessary, but never with excess violence. Get the job done, whatever it takes, she'd said to him once, but never whip out your gun unless you're ready to pull the trigger—and never aim your gun if there's another alternative.

"Me too," he'd said at last. "When do we disembark?"

"0900 tomorrow, we'll return you to the Citadel. It's been a pleasure, Garrus."

And so now, it was all over. No more missions on the Normandy. No more easy acceptance. It mattered again that he wasn't a good turian, no good at following bad orders. He climbed on a shuttle, heading to Spectre training, despite his father's anger and disappointment. At least he was following his own path, if he couldn't follow her.

The weeks passed. Sometimes messages from her arrived, short ones, mostly. The Normandy had been deployed, fighting the geth—cleanup missions, unworthy of the ship and the crew. But the Council disseminated the idea that Sovereign hadn't been a Reaper after all. Garrus snorted in disgust and turned off the vid, the first time he saw the special report.

And then, then… one visitor changed everything. Joker. Jeff Moreau, the helmsman with glass bones. He stood outside, body tilted in his strange way. "Can I come in?"

"Certainly." He stepped back, puzzled.

The other man didn't sit. Neither did he pace. "You won't have heard. They're keeping it quiet for now. But an enemy ship attacked the Normandy while we were running quiet."

"Not geth?"

Joker shook his head. "She went down on Alchera, Amada System, Omega Nebula." And his rote recitation masked something awful.

"Casualties?" he asked, low.

A terrible sickness rose in him, and he was glad Moreau couldn't read turian expressions, because he didn't know what his face might be saying. His mandible twitched in anticipation of pain.

"Pressly didn't make it. We lost nineteen more crew. And Shepard. She died saving my ass." Staccato sentences, like it hurt him to breathe in between each word, like his lungs were filled with glass.

No. No. He couldn't process the words. He wanted to blow Joker's head off because he was here, and he was to blame, but in the end, he just gave the man a numb nod of acknowledgment. Moreau left him alone with his grief. At least he hadn't found out from fucking Emily Wong. He tried to imagine what Shepard would do. How she would handle it. Doubtless, she would be brave. She would soldier on.

But he couldn't.

After that, he couldn't bear staying on the Citadel. Spectre training seemed pointless; it hadn't saved her. He'd wanted to get as far away from her memory as possible, go somewhere her footsteps had never trod. Omega. It was a cloaca of a station. If he wanted to find criminals there, he only needed to peer down his scope.


A new barrage of gunfire roused him. It had been days since he'd slept. The shots glanced just above his fringe, closer than he'd like. He was getting sluggish. It wouldn't be long now. The mercs sent another wave of shock troops designated to make the suicide run in hope that a few of them survived. Sheers numbers would overwhelm him soon.

Then things got interesting. A trio of commandos unloaded on the mercs from behind. Not a single shot fired in his direction. By their armor and weapons, they had credits, and they had skill, plus an interesting mix of biotics and artillery. He aimed a few rounds at them, mostly for show. He was curious enough to let them pass. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and all that. Through the scope, he identified one man's breastplate as Cerberus. The other had a face only a mother could love, scarred from years of combat. And the third? Smaller. Helmet in place, and completely armored, but he'd never seen any like it before. Not standard gear.

This new group fought hard, threshing through the mercs, and soon, they climbed the stairs. He waited in the middle of the room, well away from the windows, rifle in hand. The Blue Suns had to be frothing; they'd failed to kill him, again, even working in concert with the Blood Pack and Eclipse.

The two males flanked the smaller figure, but the way they stood slightly behind made him think they were subordinates. Then she removed her helmet, and time stopped. He knew this face. Scars marked her, but he knew her. Only it couldn't be. She was dead, two years gone. And he'd finally lost his mind.

"Archangel?" Her voice, unmistakable.

Maybe Joker got it wrong. For the first time in more than seven hundred days, something like hope stirred in him, life returning to the ashes. And then he realized: she has no idea who I am. From his armor, she knew he was turian—and that was all.

He pulled his own helmet off, but it took him another moment to find his voice. "Shepard. I thought you were dead."

"Garrus!" Her arms opened as if she'd give him a hug, but they'd never had that. No touching, no intimacy. So her step faltered, though her smile didn't. "What are you doing here?"

"Just keeping my skills sharp, a little target practice."

This couldn't be real. She couldn't be here. Maybe he was dead already.

As usual, her blue eyes saw too much. Read too much. Unlike most humans, she had some facility with turian expressions. "You okay?"

No, he thought. Not even close. My world's been spinning off its axis, and I expected to die here, alone. And here you are in my darkest hour.

He voiced none of it. "Been better. But it sure is good to see a friendly face. Killing mercs is hard work, especially on my own."

Shepard cut him a knowing look, lofting her machine pistol. "Well, we're here now. You're not alone anymore. What're you doing anyway?"

"I went off the grid," he said. "Figured I could do more good on my own. At least it's not hard to find criminals here. All I have to do is point and shoot."

"Only you could manage to piss off every major merc organization in the Terminus Systems." Her words sounded light, but her tone didn't match. Tension.

"It wasn't easy. I really had to work at it. Frankly, I'm amazed that they teamed up to fight me. They must really hate me."

"Since when did you start calling yourself Archangel?"

"It's just a name the locals gave me, for all my good deeds. I don't mind it, but please..." He shook his head. "It's just 'Garrus' to you."

"I don't mean to interrupt this touching reunion," the scar-faced man growled. "Wait. Yes, I do. We've got mercs massing for another run at our position. What do you intend to do about it?"

"Kill them," Shepard said.

And they did. Like a well-oiled machine, they fought in tandem as they always had, and their enemies died en masse. First the rest of the Blue Suns, and then the Blood Pack struck. They tried to come in through the tunnels he'd blockaded.

"I'll take care of it." She checked her supply of heat sinks and signaled to the Cerberus dog, who fell in at her six. "Zaeed, stay here, and keep Garrus alive."

"You sure you want to split your forces?" he asked. "You may run into heavy resistance down there, and I've managed to survive this long."

Her blue gaze lingered. "I'm positive. I'm not taking any chances with you."

It was a hard fight, but in the end, she sealed tunnels, and came back up, blood-spattered but triumphant. Hard not to stop firing and just watch her. Hard not to demand explanations, but discussion could wait. They had to dig themselves out of the hole he'd made before there would be time for talking.

Just when he thought it was all clear, just when he thought they'd finished the bastards off, a gunship appeared in his sights, and blinded him with heavy rain.