The reaper core exploded in a flash of blue light. At once, the entire wreck began to shake as the winds overtook it. Shepard turned to regard the limp form lying at the foot of the console.
"Shepard, Cerberus will want to keep that Geth for study!" Miranda spoke hurriedly, brushing her long silken black hair out of her blue eyes, "We need to take it!"
"No we don't." Garrus Vakarian replied, scanning the room with his assault rifle, "It's a Geth, and we have enough trouble."
Shepard ran forward and hoisted the synthetic sniper over his shoulder. Miranda grabbed its other arm and together they dragged it down the catwalk.
Garrus grabbed Shepard's arm, "John?"
"We don't have time to argue about this! Let's go!" Miranda said.
"She's right." The Spectre told him, keep them off us.
Garrus nodded understandingly and followed them, gunning down any husks he saw.
John Shepard opened the door to his private cabin. The comforting light of his fishtank greeted him. He immediately began stripping off his armour, placing his kuwashii visor on his desk. He made to walk to the bed, but froze, staring down at the Turian, who had seated himself comfortably in one of Shepard's armchairs. "So…" Garrus muttered, "You and Miranda, huh?"
Shepard licked his lips and glanced guiltily at the fish tank, not quite willing to meet the Turian's eye, "You knew?"
"Not until the reaper." Garrus sighed, "The two of you've kept it well hidden." He looked up at his friend, "But the Shepard I know wouldn't have saved any Geth, deactivated or not."
"I want to know why it has a piece of N7 armour on its chest. It saved us, Garrus."
"Don't give me that. You saved it because Miranda thought we should. After I realized that, a whole load of other things just started making sense."
"Like the way the two of you spoke when we were saving her sister." The Turian reminded him, "Like the fact that she's out with us on nearly every mission we go on."
"Her biotics complement the sniper-infiltrator tag team you and I have going." Shepard said, loosening the straps on his shoulder pads, "That's it."
"No it's not." The Turian shook his head, his mandibles twitching, "We have more powerful biotics on the team. Thane would be a much better fit. Or Samara. Even Grunt could fight in close-range and keep our enemies from closing the distance with us. But you always take Miranda."
"Maybe I'm trying to keep an eye on her." Shepard reasoned.
"I have no doubt you are," Garrus chuckled darkly, "but for all the wrong reasons. She's extremely pretty by human standards…" his sharp grey eyes met Shepard's own, "But she's designed to be."
Shepard collapsed on the couch, watching his friend carefully. Garrus sat stock still, awaiting the human's reaction. Their eyes met in a silent battle, each trying to get the other to give in first.
Shepard lost. Giving up all pretense, he said, "You didn't see her after the mission with her sister. That whole shield she puts up was gone. She was…" Shepard shrugged helplessly, "vulnerable. Human…"
"Looking up at you with those soulful innocent blue eyes," the Turian wheedled, "Wearing the skintight black catsuit with her raven black hair tangled across her shoulders, her head cocked at just the right angle, moist lips parted slightly with that look in her eyes…" he spoke in a high-pitched girly tone, "Oh John… if only things were different…"
"Stop it." Shepard warned.
"Do you want to know what I saw just a week before we rescued her sister?" Garrus asked, his voice returning to normal.
"Do tell." Shepard grunted through gritted teeth.
"I saw her watching the whole exchange between you and Williams. Cataloging facial expressions and body movements the same way I used to do during C-sec interrogations. Marking down what was said, and what wasn't. She read both of you like a pair of children's books."
"What are you implying?"
"You know damned well what I'm implying!" the Turian spoke harshly, knowing that he could get away with it. No one else would ever have tried. He and Shepard had been through hell together. The two of them had defeated Saren Arterius, Sovereign, and more Geth than any sane person could count. They knew each other inside and out. He was the only member of Shepard's crew which the Commander did not see as a subordinate in any way.
"This whole thing is the illusive man's plan, shepard. That's why she was assigned to your team. He wants you on his side when shit hits the fan. They know you, John. A lot better than you do. They knew about Ash, they knew about what your reaction would be. Don't you think it was a little convenient that she found out about her sister right after horizon? She's seduced you." Garrus declared.
Shepard sat in stunned silence.
"You know what she's a part of." The Turian continued, "I suspect you remember what happened on Akuze? You and Toombs? That was Cerberus. The Shepard who hunted down Saren Arterius wouldn't be playing their lapdog. I noticed that behavior only started after we rescued her sister, too. You've gone soft, and you've lost sight of the fact that we're walking a very fine line here. Wake up, John."
"She hasn't done anything to screw us." Shepard said angrily.
"Yet." The Turian replied, completely unafraid. He stood up and began walking to the door of Shepard's cabin. When he was level with the glass barrier, he paused and turned, "If that Geth goes to Cerberus, I'm getting the hell off this ship. You aren't the same Shepard I fought beside two years ago."
"I have it under control, Garrus." The human promised quietly, staring at the floor, "I know what I'm doing."
"I don't think you do, Shepard. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and that's a nice ideal, but you need to keep an eye them."
"Getting into bed with Miranda isn't the same as getting into bed with Cerberus."
"Is that your brain speaking, or is your penis doing some wishful thinking?" Garrus asked. His friend didn't answer. The human was sitting on his chair with his head in his hands, staring at the floor.
"The Geth stays aboard. Let her look at it under Mordin's supervision. Anything the bitch needs can be shipped in." Garrus said.
"Don't call her that!" Shepard warned, taking the bait hook, line, and sinker.
"Why not?" Garrus demanded, "That's what she is, right? The Illusive man's private lapdog. And now you are too… both of you. I wonder what she did to get so close to him…"
"I swear to god, Garrus," the human growled angrily, rising from his seat, "If you don't stop it I'll-"
"You'll what?" Garrus' face spread into the Turian equivalent of a grin, "Fire the one only friend you have in the galaxy? After all we've been through? Look at yourself, and the way you're standing."
Shepard glanced down. He had risen to his feet, his face was contorted in anger, and one arm had been raised in a threatening stance. The hand fell limply to his side as he examined his own reaction.
"She has a hold on you Shepard," the Turian told him grimly, "As sure as Sovereign had a hold on Saren. I don't much care if you bend her over a table and fuck her till she's blind, but make sure it's you doing the thinking for yourself. Don't lose sight of who the enemy is."
"The enemy is the Reapers."
"And after we're done with them?" Garrus asked, "We both know that the Illusive Man is on your list. Make sure she isn't going to get in our way."
Shepard had fallen back onto the couch, gazing blankly into space. He was caught in the middle of a deep self-examination. "I'm not indoctrinated." Technically it was not a question, but Shepard made it sound like one.
"No." the Turian agreed, "Not the way Saren was. But you can't deny that she doesn't have some control over the decisions you make."
"How do I fix it? I don't want to give her up."
"I'm not saying you should." The Turian told him, "But don't lose sight of who is charge. If you stray again, I'll be there to catch you. Everyone needs a watchdog, John. Even you."
This little aside popped into my head after playing through the derelict reaper level of mass effect 2. Contrary to what this story might suggest, I am a pathetically huge Shepard/Miranda fan. I'm also a huge Garrus/Shepard Bromance fan, and I find that conflict between the two relationships an interesting one. So depending on the reception for this one, I might turn it into a two or three-parter. To that end, if you read it, please leave a review. Even if it's just a few words.