Disclaimer: I do not own Mass Effect this belongs to Bioware. Please enjoy.

Chapter 14: Apart again

The time after the destruction of the Collector base was interesting to say the least. The crew of the Normandy celebrated the defeat of the collectors and their own survival for about a week. Shepard allowed the Normandy to dock at Omega for some of the crew to go ashore and enjoy the interesting night life. Although Shepard never left the ship she would watch the flow of people drifting in and out of the ship either coming back drunk or sometimes not at all for a few days.

Shepard celebrated with her team in her own way, with Miranda and Jacob they all told the Illusive man where to stick it and now trying to evade the unrelenting power of Cerberus breathing down their neck…all while having a drink at the same time. With Samara, Shepard would simply talk and relax with tea or a few delicate snacks to pass time, Shepard knew that at some point Samara would leave to continue her journey but Shepard and Samara treasured every second they had together. Shepard and Jack plotted on how to destroy other Cerberus bases that Jack had found while searching the secret files, while they talked about where it would be good to hide out or exploring the galaxy even more. Jack had become a really good friend with Shepard and had really opened up around her…even though she still swore the most out of everyone. Shepard would spend her time with Grunt being more motherly than anything which seemed to irritate the tank bred Krogan more than anything but she knew he liked it. Shepard and Tali gathered data and parts from Omega that the Flotilla could use though Shepard restricted Tali to no Geth technology at all, while Legion would also help with the gathering of data from Cerberus sources but Shepard noticed the growing friendship that was happening between Tali and Legion…maybe peace could happen after all. Shepard found out that Mordin had family and talked about them instead of his experiments from his day in STG, which was refreshing for a change.

Shepard and Thane spent time talking and sending messages to Kolyat, Shepard mainly sent messages of that he better stay out of the assassination business and look after his father but it seemed Kolyat was warming up to her. Thane had began coughing a lot more than usual which made Shepard really worried about his condition, though Thane told her not to worry it was still written across her face and almost shone in her eyes. Shepard had given him a medicine that was supposed to help his breathing at least but she wasn't sure if he was taking it or hid it away somewhere she didn't know about. Most times she stayed with him in silence for most of the day in most part to make sure he was alright or when his coughing got really bad she would help him by easing his back. Thane had told her on a number of occasions that she acted like his departed wife but Shepard always reminded him that she wasn't there to replace her in any way but to make sure her dearest friend was safe.

Shepard not surprisingly spent most of her time with Garrus either in her room or down in the main battery watching him work his calibrations. They would talk about different weapon models that were coming out or talk about the time Shepard actually managed to handle his sniper and hit all three targets without missing. Usually it would lead to a friendly bet which Shepard would always win or they would end up making love which ended up having several occasions where Doctor Chakwas and Mordin were giving Shepard regular injections and medical checkups to make sure she wasn't pregnant. It wasn't something she was happy about doing she really wanted to settle down with Garrus but everyone constantly reminded her of the Reapers.

Then one day she did something she never thought she would ever have to do. The Reapers were closing in faster than anybody thought as EDI scanned the surrounding area. Apparently The Reapers thought that coming through the Alpha relay would have been a good move to surprise attack before anyone had a chance to prepare. Shepard was left with the choice of destroying the Mass relay or try to evacuate 300,000 Batairians all at once with one small ship, no one truly believed in the Reapers unless you were a part of Shepard's crew or Anderson who was back on the Citadel playing politician, so calling for help against what people thought was a myth was out of the question. The decision weighted heavily on Shepard's mind but Shepard made the choice to destroy the Mass Relay as they left the Batairian home world to burn in the shockwaves of the Mass Relay. Shepard wasn't seen for a few days after that.


Shepard lay on her bed with her cheeks damp and her blanket wrapped round her tightly like she was a butterfly waiting to be set free. Round her, her room was a mess of broken PDA's and data pads and torn up papers while there were several shards of broken glass on the floor of her cabin. Water stained the floor as her fish tank made faint dripping sounds as it emptied of water, apparently all it took to break her fish tank was a good biotic punch in the right spot to make the glass shatter realising the several litres of water it held on to Shepard. Shepard's feet were cut and bleeding and her hands were roughs while her lips were cracked and dry. Her marking from Garrus burnt as her fingers gently traced each tooth marking along her shoulder and collar bone.

"Why now…Why" Shepard cried out in her mind as she heard the lock on her door open (or rather get hacked into) and the doors fly open.

"Shepard" Garrus's voice sounded making her sit up in bed; Garrus froze as he looked at the state of her room and then the state of Shepard as she tried to hide herself within the sheet of her bed. Garrus's heart cried out at the state of his mate. He walked over to her and pulled her into a tight embrace as she began to cry into his chest. Garrus ran his talons through her hair but she only grabbed and clutched at his clothing even more than usual. Garrus looked round the room as Shepard cried.

"Something must have come through to make Shepard this mad" Garrus thought as he pulled Shepard's face up to meet his. He dried her cheeks with his glove as he touched his forehead to hers.

"If this is about the Alpha relay you did the right thing Shepard" Garrus tried to reassure her but Shepard shook her head and looked away from him, her breath was shaky as she tried to calm herself down.

"No it's not that, I know it was the right thing" Shepard told him, Shepard leant over the edge of her bed and picked up a dry and unbroken PDA. The screen flickered on with a bright orange glow as she pulled up a letter that looked official. Hesitantly she pasted it to Garrus to read, Garrus looked confused at her as he took the pad and began to read the letter.

Sender: Official Alliance Command Vancouver Branch.
Addressed to: Commander Zola Shepard, Alliance Navy.

We are getting reports in that the Normandy was seen fleeing the sight of the recently destroyed Alpha relay that was reported to have eliminated the Batairian home world killing the lives of 300,000.

Commander Shepard you are to report back to Earth and report to the Alliance Command in Vancouver to await trail for your war crimes and The Normandy, being an Alliance ship, will be impounded with Flight lieutenant Jeff Monroe to be held under guard. This incident has put the people of Earth on the edge of war once again with the galactic race and even though you send reports to the Alliance Command explaining your actions as you have always done we feel that this time it has gone too far.

We understand that you have Aliens on your vessel; you are to return them to their home worlds or the Citadel, anyone left on the Normandy when you return will be imprisoned to await trail.

You are given 14 days in which to complete this, if you do not comply with these orders we will assume you to be criminals of the Galaxy and of the Alliance and will be brought here by Alliance brass.

Alliance Command.

Garrus felt his chest and stomach burn with anger as he read each word, Shepard was a bloody hero and now she was being treated like a criminal. Garrus stood up and threw the PDA across the room.

"They want you to…are they that stupid" Garrus shouted as Shepard stared down at the floor in silence, she didn't have an answer but she knew that she would have to comply with the orders or else she wouldn't have a chance to warn Earth about the Reaper invasion.

"Shepard don't tell me you're going to do that!" Garrus stared at her face as she closed her eyes, her feet to sore to stand her mind too blank to try and argue. Garrus's mandibles flared in anger when she didn't answer or fight back, he ran his hands across his face as he let out a growl making Shepard's skin shiver with fear. Shepard had seen Garrus angry but never this angry.

"Garrus…I don't have a choice" She spoke as she turned her head towards him; Garrus's head snapped round as anger sparked in his eyes. He walked over and placed his hands on her arms making her look into his eyes.

"You do have a choice Shepard! We could run away and use one of Jack's hiding places" Garrus told her as a small smile spread on her face at the thought of doing that.

"But how long before the Alliance or the Reapers find us Garrus, we can't run forever" Shepard told him as she held his wrists. Garrus's grip on her arms tightens as he knew she was right…again, she was always doing the right thing or trying to help people no matter the cost.

"…I still have to go even if I don't like it" Shepard's voice began to crack as Garrus ran his talon across her jaw line and stared into her eyes.

"Why? Tell me Shepard" Garrus almost ordered her but Shepard merely wrapped her arms round his waist and hid her face in his chest.

"Their taking me away from you again" Shepard spoke shakily as Garrus's breath hitched in his throat.

"I don't want to be apart from you…not when I finally have you" Shepard gripped on to his clothing even more as Garrus wrapped his arms round her small frame and brought her close nuzzling her hair. Shepard felt her body shake as Garrus's warmth wash over her like the water did from the fish tank.

"I don't want to leave you either Shepard, I just got you back too" Garrus told her as she looked up at him. Shepard looked so broken and fragile that this was the first time he was afraid to break her. Garrus gave a heavy sigh as even a bad turian knew that orders were orders and even Shepard had .

"At least don't make me wait two years this time" Garrus told her as he placed his hand on her cheek and ran this talon under her eye as Shepard looked up at him. She smiled and nodded her head with that she knew that Garrus was…at ease with her going but he was defiantly not perfectly alright with it.

"Understood" Shepard responded they both laughed as Garrus pressed his forehead to hers.

"Well I wasn't going to give you this now but I guess I have to now" Garrus told her as he moved his hand and reached into his pocket, Shepard watched him carefully. Garrus pulled out a small devise and held it in his palm of his hand. Shepard's heart stopped as she looked down at the small round disc like object. Garrus pressed his talon to the switch as a small image of Garrus appeared holding the Widow rifle over his shoulder, Shepard thought she was going to cry again as she took the holo into her hands as her lips grew into the biggest smile she ever gave.

"Garrus you…" Shepard began to speak as she looked at the image flicker.

"Well I've never given you anything…and…" Garrus was cut off by Shepard kissing his lips and pulling him into a hug. Garrus pulled her closer as he supported her weight off her feet so not to make the wounds worse.

"I love it Garrus…and you did give me something else" Shepard pointed to the mark on her shoulder as Garrus felt a lump in his throat grow.

"Yeah well that's different Shepard…I wanted to give you something that meant a lot to me" Garrus told as he made her sit down on the bed. Shepard looked at him as she held the holo close to her chest.

"Thank you" She spoke as Garrus sat next to her and pulled her close. They both sat in silence for a while just holding each other listening to the sound of dripping water, Shepard seemed to have calmed down and her eyes were no longer red and puffy from crying.

"So how are we going to tell the crew?" Garrus said as Shepard sighed heavily and shook her head.

"I don't know…I guess I'd just tell them and expect the worst" Shepard told him as Garrus nodded his head, change of subject.

"Your name is Zola?" He asked as Shepard froze in place, she knew he would ask about this.

"Yes that my proper name, but I prefer Zo it's short and simple" She told him hiding her red face from him. Garrus laughed…he was going to have fun with this.


"This is bull shit Shepard!" Jack's voice almost shouted out so loud Shepard through that the crew would be able to hear her from the CIC. Shepard had gathered everyone in the briefing room to discuss the news that she had received, Joker was listening in from the cockpit over the radio. Mordin had noticed the cuts and scrapes to Shepard's feet when Garrus carried her down to the Crew deck to get some Turian medi-gel, so for now her feet were alright to wear shoes and stand on until she went in her room barefoot again. Telling her crew wasn't easy, but Garrus held her hand the entire way through making it a bit easier to hold the tears back.

"Don't you think I know that, Jack" Shepard told her with a bit of bitterness in her voice. Jack rested her hands on the table to stop herself from doing any more biotic punches anywhere else on the ship.

"I'm guessing it's something you can't simply say no to" Tali spoke as Shepard nodded, at least Tali understood while the others seemed to stay silent. Shepard bit her lip as she tried to think of what to say.

"What have they ordered you to do Shepard" Miranda broke in giving Shepard something to talk about instead of racking her brain or chewing her lip. Shepard gave a sigh as she looked round her team who seemed to be waiting for her to give an order for the next Collector battle, how Shepard wished they were invading the base once again.

"I'm meant to drop everyone off at their home worlds or the Citadel" Shepard told them as Jack hit the table in disgust while the others shifted in displeasure at this order. Shepard gave a grim smile.

"Vakarian…she's your sex toy, can't you tell her not to do this" Jack shouted at Garrus only to receive a glare and growl from Garrus, no one called Shepard…his mate a mere sex toy or referred her to anything less. Shepard touched his arm and as his eyes met hers, he saw that she was telling him that it was alright. Garrus rolled his neck and growled more to voice his displeasure.

"I've already told her…I'm not happy" Garrus told the team but glared at Jack who looked away. Shepard gave him a small smile before she turned back to her team.

"It doesn't mean that we stop fighting, we do whatever we can to tell the people or anyone who will listen that the Reapers are coming and that we should get ready for a fight." Shepard told them as that seemed to raise the spirits of her team.

"Hey come on guys we'll keep in touch" Shepard smiled her brightest smile as she spoke with her usually cheerful voice.

"So who's going where, Shepard?" Jacob asked as she gave him a lob sided smile.

"Mordin will go to Sur'Kesh, Samara will go to Thessia, Tali will go to the Flotilla and Legion will go back to the Geth." Shepard spoke out, giving out locations like a battle strategy.

"Miranda, Jacob, Jack, and Thane will go to the Citadel. Miranda you should be able to use your contacts to help but also the Citadel will be a good place to hide from Cerberus for all of you. Thane I want you to check into the hospital" Shepard's eyes darted over to the Drell who was trying to fight off a cough that was starting to come up, Thane went stiff as Shepard gazed into him with her ice blue eyes. Thane bowed his head in accepting his order but Shepard knew he would want to talk about it later on.

"Grunt, you will go to Tuchanka and train like I know you can" Shepard told the Krogan who slammed his fists together with agreement, Shepard couldn't help but laugh. Shepard knew he was ready to take on Wrex for the throne if he wanted but something told her he wouldn't do that mainly because that would require not to fight. But Shepard suddenly felt a heavy weight hit her chest as she gripped her hands into a fist while a growl rose from her throat just low enough for Garrus to hear.

"Garrus will go to Palaven" Shepard spoke but everyone could tell her voice and her heart was heavy as she struggled to say the words. Garrus looked at her sending signals that he wasn't happy with her decision but Shepard stood her ground even though she felt the lump that used to pledge her throat return with vengeance. The air was thick with silence as everyone watched the staring contest that was happening between the two lovers. Garrus didn't like the fact that he had to leave her thousands of light years away but he knew that she knew that he would practically kill everyone who spoke of her as a war criminal.

Garrus in the end gave up letting her rank get the better of him as he nodded in agreement even though he didn't like it one bit. Shepard gave a small smile before she turned back to her team.

"Alright, everyone get ready…let's not keep the Alliance waiting." Shepard spoke as everyone slowly walked out of the room. Tali walked over to Shepard and placed her hand on Shepard's shoulder; Shepard looked into her masked friend and gave her a smile saying she was alright but Tali pulled Shepard into a hug.

"It'll be alright Shepard" Tali spoke to her with her heavy accent, Shepard smiled and hugged her back knowing that Tali was one of her best friends and saw through Shepard's act tough image as much as Garrus could.

"Thank you Tali" Shepard told her, Tali walked out of the room as Shepard looked up to the ceiling. Garrus stood behind Shepard giving a wave to Tali as she left.

"Understand Joker?" Shepard asked she heard Joker give a groan and sigh.

"Not happy about this Commander, couldn't we just use one of Jack's hiding places" Joker responded over the radio as Shepard gave a small laugh and looked over her shoulder towards Garrus.

"No choice Joker, which planet is closer?" Shepard asked as Joker mumbled something about it not being fair and EDI should scramble Shepard's brains. Shepard smiled as she shook her head.

"I can still hear you Joker" Shepard spoke as she leant over the table in front of her.

"Sorry Commander, nearest planet is Sur'Kesh…guess we'll be dropping Mordin off first" Joker spoke as Shepard's smile dropped from her face. Sur'Kesh wasn't far away from Palaven so she knew Joker would select that planet next but she didn't want to be apart from Garrus so soon.

"Seems so" Shepard said as she logged the radio off and leant over the table her head spinning from what was going on.

"Hey" Garrus stood behind her and pulled her body close his making her back go flush against his chest, his hands rested on her waist while his fingers slowly rubbed her stomach. Shepard blushed but she smiled and placed her hands on top of his.

"Don't worry so much" He told her as she smiled and laughed leaning against his body feeling his breath on her head and on the back of her neck.

"Can't help it" Shepard told him as she felt a rumble sound his chest making her purr in return. Shepard hadn't gotten used to the fact that she would even purr let alone growl but it was like her body was responding to Garrus's whenever purred or growled himself.

"I'd better go tell Mordin he's first to be dropped off" Shepard told him as Garrus nodded; Shepard turned in his arm and gave him a kiss on his scared mandible before she walked out of the door.


The next few days were hard for everyone. Mordin was the first to go and Shepard was happy at least to see that he was happy to be home and that he wanted to study Melon's research, he also promised Shepard to keep up to date with her health and send her packages of new dextro-amino stims every now and then, all Shepard had to do was convince people that she had developed a health problem that needed constant medical attention. Shepard gave Mordin a quick hug before he left but before the door closed Shepard saw the look of sadness cross his face as it did hers…she lost a second father.

Samara was next to go and though she promised to keep in touch, Shepard had a feeling that she wouldn't be able to. Shepard and Samara left with just a simple hug and smiles; there was no need for tears.

Grunt was the next to go, Shepard gave him a hug before he left as Grunt did his usual game of telling her that he didn't like it and trying to get her off. But Shepard smiled and patted his shoulder; Grunt looked at her before the doors opened reviling Wrex and a few more Krogan come to welcome their clan member home. Grunt reached up and held Shepard's shoulder before she spoke something that she never thought she would hear. I'll miss you mother, Shepard's heart went into her throat before she watched Grunt get off the Normandy.

Tali was next to go. Shepard and Tali broke down into tears before she left but Tali assured Shepard that she would show her how to hack into a terminal and send private messages that couldn't be traced. Shepard would hold her to that but she told Tali that she would be fine and that the Admirals had to listen to her now because of her victory over the collectors.

Legion was next and Shepard and Joker were praying the Geth wouldn't fire at them as they neared a Geth ship. Legion told them that it would be safe but considering Shepard had killed hundreds if not thousands of Geth before she died she didn't like her chances. But she was proven wrong as the ship let them dock to allow Legion aboard, Shepard told Legion to be good and to show what he managed to do against the old machines to the other Geth. Even though Legion hadn't been with Shepard very long she liked the fact that she could call a Geth her friend and not have to kill it.

Miranda, Jacob and Jack and all of the Normandy crew were next. Shepard wanted all the crew to get off at the Citadel not that she wanted to but she didn't want the Alliance to put them all in jail and the crew eventually understood. Jack walked off the ship but not before she swore in Shepard's face and gave her the tightest hug she possibly would every give, Shepard was surprised but smiled giving Jack a few credits and told her that she might be able to find work in the Alliance working with young Biotics. Jack looked like she hated the idea but said that she might give it a try.
Shepard and Miranda parted on good terms, even though they had a rocky start she and Miranda became really good friends almost like sisters. In turn she also said goodbye to Jacob who ruffled her hair before Shepard threatened to chase him and shave his head.

After the others left, Thane appeared from the elevator and Shepard's eyes began to water. Thane approached her and stood before her with his hands behind his back.

"I suppose this is where I get off" Thane spoke as Shepard nodded slowly as she tried to blink away her tears. Thane nodded and started to leave, no she couldn't let him leave with an image of her looking at the ground blinking back tears as if she had just fought with him.

"Thane" Shepard spoke with a crackly voice making the Drell turn round as she wrapped her arms round his neck and pulled him into a hug. Thane looked down at her as he wrapped his arms round her.

"I will be fine Siha" Thane spoke but Shepard just looked at a part of his leather coat that was very interesting. She felt his hand run along her arms to pull her away, Shepard backed off and looked at the ground.

"I'll miss you Thane" tears ran down her cheeks as she looked down at the ground refusing to look at him. Thane's fingers gently tugged at her chin making her look up; as Shepard looked at Thane he gave a smiling face making Shepard smile in return. Thane moved closer to her and pressed his lips on her forehead, Shepard's skin tingled as she looked in shock as Thane pulled away.

"Be safe Siha" he told her as she smiled and nodded.

"You too Thane" She told him before he stepped out of the door on to the citadel. Shepard heart felt like it was being crushed as she watched her best friend leave. After the doors closed she ran to the main battery to be with Garrus, who later asked about the rashes that had appeared on her arms and forehead. Shepard blushed making Garrus vow to kill Thane.


It had been a few days after everyone left and the ship felt like an empty carcass, she ships engines droned on while consoles stood idle. Only Doctor Chakwas and Gardener remained aboard the Normandy along with Shepard, Joker and Garrus. Shepard tried to put off going to Palaven as long as possible but as she counted the days towards when her time limit was up the more depressed she became.

One night she just stared at his markings studying them how they flowed across his face, how they looked so simple compared to others she had seen and how they faded into his scars. Shepard touched her face and gave a huff of decision as she crawled out of bed making sure not to wake Garrus. Shepard walked over to her office desk and pulled out a blue marker pen and walked into the bathroom, the lights lit with their harsh lighting as she closed her eyes suddenly to get used to the light. Slowly her eyes got used to the light as she walked in front of the mirror and looked at her face.

"I hope this works" Shepard told herself as she uncapped the blue marker pen.

Shepard's alarm sounded as Garrus flung his arm towards the holo clock, Shepard had weird taste in music but it did the job in waking people up. Garrus sat up and stretched his arms and back hearing cracks from each limb, Garrus really hated this bed. He looked over towards his mate; Shepard had her back towards him as her body looked ridged. He ran his hand along her arm and down her legs making note that her legs were sensitive due to all of the chafing his skin put her through, one thing he had noticed from most of their night Shepard's waist and head were a lot more sensitive than she tried to let on.

"Commander approaching Palaven" Joker sounded as Shepard didn't move or make any noise.

"Commander?" Joker asked again sounding worried.

"I've got it Joker, I'll tell her" Garrus spoke as he rubbed Shepard's shoulder, Shepard breathed heavily as something fell out of her hand.

"Alright Garrus," Joker logged out as Garrus reached over to pick up what had fallen, he picked up the small pen and thought it odd that Shepard would be holding a pen while in bed, but then out of the corner of his eye he spotted something on Shepard's face. Leaning back he gently rolled Shepard over on to her back and his heart leapt into his throat as his breathing hitched, Shepard's face was now adorned with sketched on clan marking exactly like his. Garrus traced the lines that were wonky and untidy across Shepard's cheeks and nose, Shepard began to awake from her sleep as Garrus kept on looking at the clan marking on her face. How they moved with each wrinkle in her skin and how they looked so beautiful on her tanned skin, and then when Shepard opened her eyes the ice blue orbs shone beyond the clan markings. Garrus thought she looked so beautiful with his clan markings on even if they were just drawn on.

"Garrus what's the matter?" Shepard sat up and rubbed her eyes when suddenly she was pulled into a kiss and the tightest hold Garrus had ever given her. Shepard kissed him back as she remembered what she did last night and smiled to herself. Garrus pulled away and placed his hand on her cheek running his thumb along her markings.

"Shepard, you didn't have to do that" He told her as she smiled and touched her forehead to his.

"I wanted to, sorry if I got them wrong" Shepard gave a lob sided smile as Garrus pulled her close to him. Shepard wrapped her arms round him and smiled as Garrus hand his talons through her hair. But Shepard could feel the tension in his body as she pulled back and looked into his eyes; Garrus looked at her as though his heart was being ripped out. Shepard tried to smile as she touched his mandible.

"How long before we reach Palaven?" Shepard asked as Garrus gently rubbed her wrist leaning into her touch.

"Not long" Garrus told her as Shepard nodded. Shepard pressed her forehead to his as she let the warmth wash over her like a tide of the sea washing up onto a beach. She took hold of his hand and held it gently within hers wrapping her many fingers with his. Garrus held her hand and nuzzled his forehead against hers. Silence wrapped round the two as they both held each other in this embrace, wishing they had more time, hoping that they would meet again. They were bond mates and nothing was going to come between them even if they were thousands of light years apart, even though Human and Turian couples were rare neither one of them expected to find peace in each others arms.

They felt the Normandy fall out of the FTL and both gripped each others hands; Shepard released some tears as she let out a sad growl. Garrus pulled her close but Shepard didn't break down as she heard Garrus doing the exact same cry as her, instead she embraced him with all her might.

"I guess we better get ready" Shepard told him as Garrus nodded and let her go, Shepard watched him stand and start to put on his undershirt before he put on his armour. Shepard stood up and started to get ready, each one not speaking to each both knowing that if they did they might just argue, make love or break down.


"Hey Garrus, it's been good having you aboard" Joker cried out from the cockpit. Garrus waved towards him as they approached the airlock.

"Even though I was beating everyone with the stick that's up my ass" Garrus shouted back as Joker spun round in shock.

"Who told you" Joker questioned as Shepard appeared from behind Garrus and smiled towards Joker, her face freshly washed of the markings and dressed in a track suit with N7 stitched on to the front.

"The obvious answer…the girlfriend" Joker spoke out as he spun back to face the console, Shepard laughed as EDI popped up out of nowhere.

"Mr. Vakarian, I know that it is Alliance orders for this doing, but I think for Commander Shepard's state of mind it is best if you do not go" EDI spoke as Shepard looked shocked at the glowing ball, Garrus gave a turian smile and held Shepard's hand gently.

"I would do if I could EDI but I have to follow orders…even hers sometimes" Garrus joked as Shepard punched him in his arm; even though the armour hurt her knuckles she gave a smile.

"Understood" EDI logged off knowing that she was defeated.

"Docking now Commander, Hey Garrus looks like you'll have company" Joker spoke out as Shepard looked towards the door while she counted down the last few seconds she had left with Garrus. The docking claps attached themselves to the Normandy as the door to the airlock and out of the ship flew open, the first thing that hit Shepard was the sudden heat wave, she thought she was going to melt but as the heat hit her skin she found that she was slowly adapting to it. Shepard remembered the Mordin said that she might be able to withstand the atmosphere of Palaven but it was still freaky that she could. Outside the ship stood three more Turians; one had a pale face with white markings running down his face, his mandibles stuck out a bit unlike Garrus's were his were flush against his face. His armour similar to what Garrus used to wear back in his days at C-sec but instead of blue and black it was red and green. The other two stood a bit further back from the first and if Shepard hadn't seen their clan markings she would have thought they were twins.

"Vakarian, good to see you" The first Turian said as Garrus saluted him.

"General Victus, glad to be back" Garrus lied and Shepard knew it his mandibles were twitching like no tomorrow as if he was grinding his teeth.

"Commander Shepard, thank you for looking after our solider" General Victus spoke as Shepard automatically saluted him which seemed to surprise the general, she might have been a different spices to him but she knew the chain of rank were important to the Turians and she would be damned if she disrespected her mate's race.

"My pleasure general, it was an honour fighting with a solider of such high calibre" Shepard spoke as Garrus gripped her hand tighter as General Victus smiled and nodded.

"Come on Vakarian, your father wishes to speak with you about your adventure, say your goodbyes and such" General Victus walked off as she and Garrus turned to each other.

"I'll try and send messages this time Garrus, I promise" Shepard spoke to him so low only they could hear. Garrus smiled and brushed away a strand of her brown hair from her face and tucked it behind her ear.

"Just promise it won't be two years this time" Garrus told her as she smiled and gave a light laugh.

"I promise…won't be easy but I promise" Shepard looked up at him and touched his scared mandible lightly making him lean into her touch as he gripped her shoulders. Shepard gave him a smile and started to walk back into the ship thinking that if she went now it would hurt. Then her hand got pulled back as she spun round and came crashing into Garrus's arm as he brought her into a hug and kissed her so hard she though she was going to faint. Shepard kissed him back as she wrapped her arms round his neck, the tears started to fall again as they pulled away breathless and looked at each other. Shepard stood on her tip toes and pressed her forehead to his, Garrus nuzzled her as she did.

"I love you Garrus" she whispered to him as her voice cracked while her damp cheeks glistened in the sunlight outside the ship. Garrus dried her cheek and eyes as he brought her close to him, his armour digging into her skin as she tried to hold on.

"I love you too Zo" He spoke making Shepard's heart stop but she smiled. They let each other go as Garrus stepped off the ship; Shepard watched him go as her hand slipped into her pocket and gripped the holo he gave her while she knew that he had the holo of her in his sack that carried most of his things. Garrus turned round and gave her one last look before the doors closed and the engines started up, the docking clamps unshackled the Normandy and Joker started to fly away from Palaven. Shepard collapsed to the floor as she felt her heart beat so much she thought it was going to come out of her chest, tears flew down her cheeks but she made no sound to cry instead she pulled out the holo and looked at the small image of Garrus in her hand.

"Commander?" Joker sounded from behind her as she looked behind her, seeing Joker out of his chair and hobbling towards her. Shepard stood up and looked at him; Joker looked at Shepard and held out his arms. Shepard smiled and walked up to him as Joker pulled her into a reassuring hug, Shepard hugged him back as her tears made damp marks on his shirt, one thing she had never noticed about Joker, he was nice to hug.

"I'll be alright Joker, come on let's get this over with" Shepard told him as she gripped his shoulder lightly. Joker nodded and hobbled back to his chair.

"EDI, set coordinates for Earth" Shepard told her.

"Setting coordinates" EDI responded as Joker's hand blurred across the console.

"Approaching the Relay, Commander" Joker told her as she nodded.

"Take us through Joker" Shepard told him as she watched the ship activate the FTL drive and the stars beginning to shift like a kaleidoscope, Shepard smiled at the beauty of space and how peaceful it all seemed knowing it wouldn't last long.

All the while Shepard was thinking of all her team, her family, the Reapers and everything that she had to do before she got to Earth. But one thing did cross her mind, the room that she used to call a prison was now her home and now she was journeying to a completely different prison…one that she knew she would really hate.

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