You Have to Say It
Garrus Vakarian lies in Commander Jane Shepard's bed, wondering how he ever got there.
Of course there was the simple answer. There had been the agonizing ride up the elevator. The shake in his hand as he entered the keycode to her quarters. The unsteady walk across Shepard's room and the stumble down the steps towards her sleeping area. The smile that crept across Shepard's lips as she looked up to see him. The warm embrace. The sex.
Hours before, Shepard had called him on the Comm, asking if he would like to "go over those firing algorithms". Garrus had dropped whatever meaningless task he had been working on, grabbed a convenient datapad and ran to her like a well-trained varren.
Their relationship - whatever it was - had started innocently enough. There had been a long standing promise of a single night together before going through the Omega-4 Relay. When the night finally came, it had gone better than either could have hoped. But they both knew the real reason for ever having such an affair: neither excepted to live through the next day. They would have their brief passion and then die at the Collector's base before any real consequence could arise.
And yet, they had lived. Everyone had lived.
The memory of it all still sent a shiver down Garrus' spine. Shepard had leapt from the edge of the Collector's base, an army of drones at her heals. As Garrus reached out from the hatchway, Time had seemed to slow. Shepard floated through the abyss, as bullets and flames streaked through the atmosphere about her; for a moment, she had been the very Spirit of Battle herself. That moment - that vision - is burned forever in his mind.
When Time resumed, they had landed into a mess of limbs upon the Normandy's floor, just as EDI sealed the doors and Joker turned tail back to the Relay. It took several minutes before either could move. Several more hours before they could be breathe a sigh of relief. Several days before they realized the implications of survival: they were going to have to deal with living. They were going to have to deal with each other.
Of course, Shepard, being ever a paragon of diplomacy, and Garrus, utterly failing at human interaction, had come to a silent agreement to deal with it by not dealing with it at all.
There was sex. That was it.
Shepard would call Garrus. Garrus would come running. There would be sex. Garrus would leave. And then they would pretend that nothing at all happened. Business as usual would continue on the Normandy II.
It has been nearly 3 months since the Collector's base, and nothing has appeared to change.
So now, Garrus lies here in a bed not his own, holding a woman not his own. He usually departs to his own bunk in the Crew Quarters much sooner, but tonight, Garrus allows himself this indulgence.
Shepard's breath is soft and low against his chest. She has been asleep for a few hours now, moaning, whimpering or even snorting now and again in her dreams. His mandibles twitch into what would be called a smile. She could easily sleep through the Reaper invasion.
In the low blue lights of Shepard's cabin, Garrus knows that there is something wrong with him. He shouldn't find Shepard's soft skin attractive. He shouldn't long to wrap her dark hair about his fingers. Shepard defies everything that a turian should desire, and yet somehow Garrus is sure there is nothing more beautiful than the soft, squishy human in his arms.
Shepard lets lose a timid gasp; her dreams clearly becoming more vivid for the moment. Without realizing it, Garrus pulls her into his arms and runs his talons through her hair. He gives a reassuring "shhh" and Shepard quiets once more.
Turians don't dream. Garrus has read about them, but still cannot quite understand them. The data files say that dreams play out all of your deepest desires and darkest fears. Garrus does not need dreams to tell him those; he already knows them, and to his shame, they both involve Shepard.
The next cycle finds Garrus out of his Commander's bed and passing through the CIC on his way down to the Main Battery.
"Garrus!" a cheerful, and unwelcomingly familiar voice calls out to him.
With a clench of his teeth, and a tick in his mandibles, Garrus turns around to see the smiling face of none other than Staff Commander Kaidan Alenko.
The human waves and struts over to where Garrus stands. He is dressed in too tight Alliance casual wear. In his right hand, he carries a bunch of pungent red flowers - some earth species Garrus has seen around the Zakara Wards a few times... roses? maybe.
"Alenko," Garrus acknowledges with a nod.
Kaidan reaches out and takes Garrus' hand in his own to shake. Garrus has always hated this ridiculous human greeting; they have too many fingers and the gesture is strange and intrusive. He drops his hand in relief as soon as Alenko releases it.
"I just heard the Normandy II was docked here at the Citadel," the Staff Commander explains. "Took me nearly a half hour of bribing Joker to let me on," he says with a faint chuckle.
Garrus bites his tongue.
"Garrus, I..." Alenko begins, but stops to shift uncomfortably as he notices the crew staring at them. "Garrus, is there somewhere we could talk?"
With a nod, Garrus leads Kaidan to the Comm Room; frankly, he doesn't think the crew needs to hear this either.
When the door seals behind them, Kaidan lets out a long sigh. "Thanks Garrus."
Again, the turian only nods in acknowledgement.
"I'm here for Shepard," Kaidan explains at last. "I want to fix things with her... maybe even rejoin the Normandy if the Alliance clears it."
"Yeah?" Garrus asks, not know what else to say.
Kaidan shakes his head, "Things went so wrong on Horizon. I would have never meant for it to be like that. Before she...left, I loved her. I thought we had something together. And then she just vanished for two years."
"She died," Garrus corrects in a low growl.
"I know that now - I've seen the evidence, and I'm sorry for doubting it," Kaidan admits. "After I heard about the Omega-4 Relay, and saw the presentation to the Council, it... it brought so much back to me. I think she needs me here now. "
Garrus' throat tightens and his hands curl unconsciously into fists. "Shepard needed you at Horizon," he responds, fighting for patience.
The Staff Commander nods, "I know. It should have never happened the way it did. I tried to contact her once afterwards, but it just never..." his fades off for a moment. "I loved her, Garrus. Even if she died, I thought she would have come to find me - contacted me somehow. It hurt like nothing else when she just appeared on Horizon after all that time."
What about when she died? Garrus longs to shout. "She tried. They told her your location was classified," he says instead.
"Jane Shepard doesn't 'try'; she 'does'", Kaidan says with a low chuckle. "And now, with all the evidence with the Collectors, and Cerberus, and all that..." he pauses for a moment.
"I forgive her."
Garrus' fist makes contact against Kaidan's cheek, before either man realizes his control is gone.
The smaller man falls to his knees, cradling his throbbing face against his palm. Kaidan is clearly shocked, but shakes off his surprise as he rises to his feet. Garrus strikes out again, this time making contact with the Staff Commander's nose. There is an awful cracking noise, as Kaidan stumbles backwards and onto the ground. This time he is clever enough not to rise.
"Get up." Garrus commands, voice cold and low.
Kaidan shakes his head. With trembling fingers, he touches his nose and lips. His finger tips return dripping red; the turian has broken his nose.
Garrus revels in the moment. The sight of red blood upon his hands usually leaves him at ill ease - of course, it's too often Shepard's. But now, it flows from Alenko and no bastard has deserved it more.
With a growl, he reaches down to hoist Alenko up off the ground. With a single talon at his throat, Garrus pins the Staff Commander against the cold steel of the Normandy's walls.
"You don't deserve her," the words seethe from between Garrus' teeth, "you never deserved her."
Kaidan only coughs and sputters as he attempts to removes the claws around his neck. The blue glow of biotics flares from Kaidan for a moment, before Garrus reaches his free hand to tap at his Omni-Tool. The glow falters as Garrus jams the biotic's implants.
"You had one chance to make it right. One chance to show that you were worthy of the only good and beautiful thing in this shit-hole galaxy." His claws squeezed tighter. "And you screwed it up on Horizon."
Alenko's eyes widen in shock of the accusations, or from his struggle to breath, or both.
Garrus' mandibles twitch as he leans in closer, "You've never even seen the scars, have you? You don't even know how she suffered. How she bled. How she woke up alone and confused and went off searching for a worthless scum like you." He gives one final tightening squeeze. "You never saw her cry..."
"Kaidan!" a gasp leaps out from behind Garrus. He turns his head slightly to see the shocked form of his Commander Shepard rush forward and pry his hand off Alenko's neck.
Garrus drops the Staff Commander to floor, and walks away with a word. It would destroy him to see Shepard tending to one so very unworthy. He tramples the forgotten flowers for the only taste of satisfaction he can hope for.
An hour later, the first new sound to greet Garrus in the humming Battery is the dull mechanical thump as the door behind him lifts and opens. It is quickly followed by the light and even click of Shepard's stride. The finale comes in the rustle of fabric as she leans against the far console, and crosses her arms before her.
"Where's Alenko?" Garrus asks, not bothering to turn towards her.
Shepard uncrosses her arms, unsure of how to proceed. She gives a small cough, clearing her throat as she rubs at her shoulder. "He's down in the Med-Bay," she says finally. "Turns out Chakwas will get to use that fancy facial reconstruction unit more than once," she says with a small smile.
Garrus doesn't laugh - doesn't give his little smirk, or even let his mandibles twitch. He just keeps tapping at the console as if the universe will end if he doesn't finish this calibration in the next five minutes. A suffocating silence falls between the pair.
"Garrus," Shepard tries. "We need to talk..." she sighs as she places a hand upon his shoulder.
With a sudden pull, Garrus shrugs off her grasp; he can't stand to have her so near. "Don't bother Shepard," he mumbles. "I know how this works." He turns to meet her gaze. "I've known from the start what I was enlisting into. I don't need some let-down speech. Go have fun with Alenko; I'm not going to abandon the mission just because you found a new fuck-buddy."
He is more than a little surprised at the look of hurt that skitters across Shepard's eyes. He had been expecting an awkward "thank-you" or a silent departure; instead, Shepard leans back against the console and crosses her arms, steeling herself.
"But you're upset," she states the obvious.
"You deserve better than that," his answer is simple, but revealing enough.
Shepard gives a little scoff at his reply. "Why would I deserve anything?"
"You've saved the galaxy twice now... and you brought me back from the edge thrice over, Shepard," he leans lower over the control panel, tapping faster and faster now at the keys.
"You'd have found your way out sooner or later without me, Garrus."
"I...I don't like seeing you hurt," he mutters, so low she can barely hear it.
"And why's that?"
What the hell sort of question is that? "You're important to me - to everyone on the Normandy," Garrus snaps at her as his ire rises. Why does she keep prodding at him? Why won't she just leave him alone?
Her faint laugh stings his ears. "Oh, I'm sure a few of the crew would be upset if I disappeared tomorrow, but I didn't see anyone else throwing punches at Kaidan."
Garrus remains silent.
"How am I important?" she digs deeper.
"You're the only thing that's right," he gives in.
Shepard shakes her head; it's not enough. "Say it, Garrus," she urges in a whisper. "You have to say it."
How dare she? She had no idea what all this meant. She couldn't even begin to understand. And-
"I love you!" he shouts at last, words breaking free from the pitted anchors of his stomach. "I love you," he bellows again, his hands shaking as he stands over her. "Whatever the hell that means from a turian to a human, I love you." As the fires burn out of him, Garrus' proud chin droops towards his chest. He won't look at Shepard now - can't stand to see the pity in her eyes. Or would it be disgust? Either way, he couldn't bare it.
Eyes closed in shame, Garrus misses the tearse forming in the corners of the great and fearless Commander Shepard's eyes. "Garrus..."
"No, Shepard. It's fine." The words cut at his throat. "I just wish you would pick someone better than Alenko. The guy's a fool; you can't trust him to watch your six in a shootout." His mandibles twitch in frustration. "If you need a human, at least pick someone loyal. Someone like Anderson, or even... even Jacob would be better."
Shepard's brows turn up and she coughs back a slight laugh, "Anderson's a little old for me, don't you think?"
Garrus shakes off the question without answering. Age differences in relationships were not an issue in turian society. Her observation is just another insurmountable difference between their cultures.
"Garrus..." she sighs, "Garrus, look at me."
Too used to following orders, the turian turns towards the small human, and is puzzled by the expression upon her face. He can't recognize it at all.
"Garrus," Shepard tries again. "You have to let me say this," she says as she reaches up and gently draws his face down towards her own. He doesn't fight her this time. When at last their eyes meet, Shepard leans forward to press their brows together.
"Garrus," she whispers, "I love you."
And his heart bursts. This must be a trick or a dream or some cruel joke. He holds for a moment, waiting for her to break out laughing, but it never comes.
"No," she orders, calm and commanding as ever, "just listen."
Garrus swallows back his shock and nods in agreement.
"I asked Kaidan to leave," she explains.
A wave of relief washes over Garrus, as he nods his understanding, his thanks.
"I love you," Shepard murmurs again, "Whatever that means, from a human to a turian, in this Battery, on this ship, a trillion miles for our homes with the Reapers on our tails...I love you."
"Shepard, I - " Garrus begins, only to be cut off.
"Shhh," she breathes, "Don't say anything." She presses her lips against his mouth in one of those strange human kisses he is coming to enjoy more and more.
With that, Shepard takes his hand into hers and silently leads him out of the Battery. She has too many fingers and it feels strange to have them interlaced his own, but Garrus does not protest - he follows with equal silence.
A few members of the ex-Cerberus crew mill about the deck, but all fall into stunned silence as their Commander leads the turian towards the elevator by the hand; the pair daring any of their subordinates to comment. There had been rumours - the standard scuttlebutt that Shepard and the turian were more than just friends - but so far it had stayed as rumour.
They pause only at the elevator - the wait and the endless ride up to the Loft feel suffocating to Garrus. When at last they reach her rooms and the door is locked red behind them, Garrus remembers to breathe again...and chokes once more then Shepard leads him to her bed, releasing his hand only as she sits and removes her uniform.
Garrus watches with wide eyes as Shepard lies back against the cool sheets. Her eyes flutter for a moment as she runs a tracing finger along her collar bone and then down between her breasts, to rest upon her waist. She sighs and it is nothing short of a sacred chorus to his ears.
"Make love to me, Garrus," she asks with a husky whisper.
Garrus freezes. Make love to her? They've been intimate many times now, but he's never made love to her. They've had sex, blow-off steam, fucked, and so on, but never made love. Garrus swallows the knot in his throat. Does he even know how? He's never loved like this before. Pushing the emotion out of his heart and into his hands seems impossible.
When he doesn't move, Shepard reaches up to take his hand in hers. Her hands are so soft - so fragile. Garrus' talons could easily rip them to shreds, yet Shepard's touch is unwavering. There is trust there that Garrus cannot even begin to imagine. She places his hand upon her chest, and presses it lightly there. Immediately, Garrus can feel her warmth seep into him. He feels her heart beat, calm and steady, a counter rhythm to his own frenetic pace.
"Please Garrus," Shepard murmurs, "make love to me."
Still not knowing how to fulfill her request, Garrus settles upon worshipping her instead.
Its several hours later when Garrus can breathe again.
The Council, the Crew, and the entire Citadel will likely shun them for their choices. His father will never speak to him again. Yet as Shepard - Jane - pulls herself closer and whispers "I love you " into his ear, Garrus Vakarian knows he regrets none of it.
This was meant to be a one-shot, but I have some ideas for a bunch of shorter episodes I may add to it.
As a note, I actually do like Kaidan... but it's Garrus' POV, so hey, he can come off as a huge jerk, no?