A/N: Wrote this at three in the morning after going on a six-hour gaming spurge. In retrospect, probably not a good idea.
Thanks to katamariape, for introducing me to the game.
Black, White, and Shades of Red
There were two lessons when it came to vigilantism.
Lesson one: there is good and evil, there is no "neutral" or "in-between." You are one or the other.
Lesson two: evil is something that has to be corrected. Quickly. Not always quietly. Often brutally. Regardless, it was sometimes necessary to do what it takes rather than do what was considered morally right and the experience changed Garrus in ways he couldn't have previously imagined.
This morality probably had something to do with being a turian; generally turians were obligated to look out for innocents, like solitary guardians watching from the shadows. Every one of them did what they believed was morally right, though Saren was proof that sometimes the best of intentions had sour outlooks. Up until now Garrus thought he'd seen everything, been in every situation, and that his experiences made him stronger. He could recognize what was good and evil and deal with it accordingly. Such was the philosophy that directed his life.
He wasn't sure if Shepherd was something that needed to be corrected.
Maybe this was an intervention. Whatever it was, Garrus was certain that he had to act, for every molecule in his body was demanding him to do so. For now he stared out into space, contemplative. Once the viewport had been inhabited by a solitary asari justicar whose corpse now lay in some distant part of the galaxy, but he could still feel her presence lighting every corner of the room.
The door opened. This was it.
'Shepherd,' he said, turning.
And there she was. Shepherd, a human female who he'd been to hell and back with and yet he would've preferred to stay in hell rather than be at her side.
It wasn't as though he didn't like her; he just wasn't sure if he trusted her. Maybe it was the scars that lined her face like a broken pot or it could've been the red glint hidden behind her hollow and intense gaze.
'Garrus,' she responded.
'We need to talk.'
'Now you want to talk? If this is about calibrations – '
'This isn't about calibrations.'
'Then what is it?'
Garrus paced. He was going to have to choose his words carefully. 'The ship is quiet. I'm used to working in noise. Any kind of noise. Shouts, screaming, gunfire, background chatter, the methodical clank of the engines shaking the entire ship...And these last few months, the sound of Mordin singing in the laboratory or Jack making some obligatory threat.'
'I like it this way,' said Shepherd, folding her arms. 'I'm free to hire better crew.'
'A Cerberus crew or an Alliance crew?'
'I'll go with whoever makes me a better offer.'
Garrus paused. 'Do you think the mission went well?'
'No. We defeated the Collectors and took their ship for ourselves. I think that says something about our success.'
'What about the others?'
'You mean the rest of the team?'
'True. The team swore to follow you to the bitter end and they did that; I'll give them credit. I'm just...a little conflicted at the moment.'
Shepherd's expression was flat and emotionless. This wasn't unusual; he would've been surprised if she looked shocked or appalled.
'Why?' she asked.
'Because you sent them to their deaths.'
'You call it sending them to their deaths. I call it doing my job. They sacrificed their lives for the greater good, just as Williams did back on Virmire.'
'That's it? They sacrificed their lives so you could secure the ship and auction it off to the highest bidder?'
'You said yourself that we should keep the ship and use the technology to defeat the Reapers,' Shepherd reminded him.
'…I did say that,' Garrus agreed. 'But what you're planning isn't exactly what I had in mind. You want to use it as a weapon. I wouldn't put it past you to turn it on your own enemies or even against the Alliance or Cerberus. The question is who's going to piss you off next and how will you kill them.'
At this point, Shepherd was either livid with anger or smug; with that deadpan expression he couldn't read her at all. Whatever would happen, he had the feeling that if he didn't watch his back, he'd end up as another corpse that littered the ground wherever Shepherd went.
And then there was the team. All of them; Tali, Thane, Mordin, Samara – all of them. At first Garrus had found it strange to be working with a new team, but he came to like them. Then there was Tali. A friendship he'd been able to renew after two years of not even speaking to her, as if nothing had happened or interrupted it. Thane, quiet and unsuspecting, haunting the life support room and spending the majority of his time alone. Of course, there were exceptions. Like Jack. Garrus was more accustomed to killing criminals like her, not working with them.
Dead. All dead. Like his followers on Omega. He momentarily flashed back to when he found their corpses littering the ground of their headquarters before he relived the deaths he'd seen on the Collector ship. Their bodies ripping apart like paper, while Shepherd looked on – indifferent and unconcerned.
'They didn't just sacrifice their lives,' Garrus continued. 'You killed them.'
'I didn't,' Shepherd denied immediately. 'They let themselves die by not being good enough to survive. They knew the risks.'
Garrus shook his head. He paced around the room, keeping a bench between them. 'I should've seen the warning signs from the start. Ruthless, they called you. I never thought you would go so far as to be tempted to establish yourself as a dictator or leave your whole team to die.'
'Hey, I saved your ass!' Shepherd snapped. 'You should be thanking me!'
'I wish I'd died with them,' snarled Garrus. 'But if I had, I wouldn't be able to confront you now. Speaking of which, why did you save me, Shepherd?'
She didn't answer. For once, she appeared to be at a loss for words.
'Yes,' said Garrus. 'That's why.'
'…Are you ending it, then?' Shepherd demanded. He could sense a temper tantrum on the horizon and Shepherd's "episodes" usually ended with someone dead on the floor.
'What do you expect me to do, Shepherd? Do you want me to lay back and watch you manipulate your enemies before shooting them in the back?'
'Sometimes you got to shoot them from behind to get the job done.'
'What if your enemy was a child or a man who had done you no wrong?'
'Are they standing in my way?'
Garrus paused. 'There's no reasoning with you.'
'So are you ending it?' Shepherd asked. She turned to the window. 'After giving you the biggest opportunity of a lifetime, you're going to end it? I don't think so. I know you, Garrus. We have something in common: we don't like rules and if we work together, we won't have to answer to any rules, laws, or anyone ever again. How can you even think about passing that up?'
Garrus walked up behind her.
'I'll end it before it can start,' Garrus revealed.
He aimed a pistol at the back of Shepherd's head.