Okay, this is an attempt at Ashley/Garrus. Tried to make it believable, but have no idea whether that worked or not.
In truth I'm even more ambivalent about this one than the other writing I've done, because I'm not sure I really have a handle on Ashley's character. Ah well, I'm posting this anyway in the hopes it will amuse someone here.
As ever feel free to tell me the extent of the fail.
Anyone guess what poem they were talking about? :)
Chora's Den was loud, annoying, and filled with the kind of clientele Ashley had little to no patience for.
There was nothing wrong with a nice, honest bar, but this here was to her eyes a overrated wannabe club afflicted with delusions of class, while still maintaining a certain sleaziness. Not her haunt of choice, by any means.
Unfortunately, their commanding officer was still busy talking to the proprietor of this establishment, so leaving wasn't an option yet.
And Ashley was getting bored. Unfortunately the only other member of her squad currently present was the turian C-sec officer Shepard had picked up not too long ago - Garrus Vakarian, wasn't it? - so there wasn't much conversation to be had either. After all, what would she talk to him about?
The other customers hanging out here weren't providing much in the way of distraction either, just a mix of some humans and aliens mingling. One giggling asari was dragging a drunk-looking turian past them, and she frowned at the dazed way he was regarding her. Well, alien morals - or rather, their lack of them - weren't her concern. Her eye fell on one soldier in Alliance uniform, obviously in the process of intense flirting with another asari, this one particularly scantily-clad and advertising herself as desiring company.
Her stomach actually lurched. Really, the depths some people would sink to...
There were some religious nutcases back on Earth who regarded aliens as either barely above animals or a mockery of Creation and equalled physical relations with them with bestiality, which of course, only proved that every species was susceptible to being afflicted with idiots. Even humanity, sad as it was to admit that. But as wrong as they were in anything else, they got this one thing right: this was just wrong. She knew of course that that sort of thing happened, people being what they were, but that didn't make it acceptable in any way.
Ashley snorted in disgust.
The turian beside her cocked his head in interest, trying to determine what had caught her attention.
"Oh." He twitched those strange mandibles in what she had learnt to translate as amusement. "I see. You disapprove?"
"So you think that's normal?"
Garrus appeared slightly confused, eyeing the scene again to make sure he hadn't missed whatever had set his squad mate off. "Not sure what you mean. We are talking about the Alliance officer and the asari commando over there, aren't we?" At her curt nod, he continued. "It's just some soldiers relaxing and easing tension. Don't humans-"
"Oh, no" she quickly cut in, realising he'd probably misunderstood and was taking her for a prudish, backwater human. "Of course humans do that, too." And then some, she added mentally. "It's just, they're not even the same species."
"Ah, I see." He again twitched those creepy mandibles, his tone now holding the amusement he had tried to suppress.
That annoyed her. "Don't get condescending with me" she snapped. "It's just not natural."
The turian shrugged, a gesture he probably had picked up from the humans. "I don't know about that."
"So that kind of thing doesn't bother you?"
That got her a level look out of strange blue eyes. "Probably not what I would consider for myself, but as long as it doesn't affect anyone's performance in duty, what does it matter?"
Ashley stared at him, incredulous. "That's all that matters to you? Performance in duty?" She shuddered. "You don't care about morals at all?" Well, she shouldn't have been surprised. He was an alien, too.
"I didn't say that." he replied, unperturbed. "I was just saying that as long as it affects no one else, I have no grounds for disapproval." His gaze turned sharp. "You obviously disagree."
Damned alien, turning her words around like that.
"It's just wrong." she insisted.
The turian cocked his head to one side. "Is that because of your religious or personal beliefs?"
Her eyes narrowed in anger. "Are you trying to mock me, Vakarian?"
He blinked, and the only emotion she could read in his stance was honest confusion. "I'm not. I was just trying to determine whether your opinion on that is due to religious dogma or personal view. No insult or disrespect intended."
She believed him, too. Not his fault if she was a bit touchy on the subject.
"The latter." she admitted grudgingly.
He nodded carefully, and just as carefully didn't say anything.
Oddly enough, that annoyed her even more. "Just say it."
A cautious look, and another shrug. "I was just thinking that if you allow yourself to be offended by what others are doing even if it doesn't break any laws and doesn't affect you directly, you'll be very busy with having to take offence all the time. It wastes your time and accomplishes nothing."
Before she could snap at him again, he lifted a clawed hand to stop her.
"Just speaking from my own experience here." He looked away, absently watching their commander. "The Citadel is the central meeting place for so many different species here, every one of them with their own set of strange customs and values and morals. It's a culture shock. You either learn not to let it bother you or you go crazy. There were, and still are, things that don't agree with my own sense of wrong or right. Not the same things that bother you here, obviously, but that's beside the point."
He was acting like she was some green recruit fresh out of basic training who never'd left Earth, she thought with a stab of resentment. Still, Ashley found his honesty strangely disarming. "What does bother you, then?" she asked.
"Dishonesty, the easy way everyone else seems to be able to lie, the way promises don't seem to mean anything to most non-turians." He waved a claw dismissively, seemingly losing his patience. "Never mind."
They were both interrupted by Shepard coming back to them, having concluded the conversation with the club's owner.
It was just as well, as Ashley really wanted to get out of here. She wouldn't admit even to herself that Garrus had given her something to think about.