No Perfect Solution, But It'll Do
They were stuck on that damn planet for three months.
From what Dr. Chakwas was able to tell, synthesis was a –a game changer, at the very least. A miracle, possibly, but it only went so far and didn't change the most basic facts of life –such as levo/dextro incompatibility and the fact that the Normandy was stuck on a levo planet with only four months of dextro rations.
In the end, they limped into the Sol system with twelve units of fuel to spare. Mercifully, they were met by mobile refueling stations and emergency crews with crates of rations and medical supplies.
Garrus never thought he'd see the day when a tube of nutripaste would taste better than the best steak he'd ever had, but even that paled with the most important gift he received that day.
"Commander Shepard is alive." Joker replayed the transmission over the loudspeaker for the entire crew to hear. "I repeat, the Commander was recovered from the Citadel and is recuperating in Vancouver."
Up until that moment, Garrus had felt like his body was sheathed in diamond-hard ice that kept him upright and working, but nothing more than that. The news broke over him like a wave and it was all he could do to stay on his feet. Arms wrapped around him (whose he couldn't really say, but he could hear Vega swearing in some language that the translators wouldn't even touch and Liara ordering someone to grab a chair), but the only thing he could really focus on was the sound of Joker calmly plotting their course to Earth outloud.
Afterwards Liara shut him up in the main battery with the guns that no one needed anymore and probably fourteen different spy cameras to monitor him. That was fine. It was good. He needed the quiet. To plan out what he'd say, how he'd approach her, … how he was going to break her goddamn legs for leaving him behind.
He spent the next two days vacillating between frustrated panic and irrational anger, but both abandoned him when his shuttle set down in front of the makeshift hospital sitting in the middle of a ruined city. He was met by a harried orderly who tried to run him off until the nearest Turian guard snarled at him to show some respect to goddamn Garrus Vakarian. The orderly was more helpful after that.
Shepard was being kept in the most secure section of the hospital: an honest-to-god bunker, with an honest-to-god round-the-clock squad of bodyguards.
Admiral Hackett escorted him inside, droning on about what-the-hell-ever, but all Garrus could see was the clean zone in the center of the bunker surrounded by beeping machines.
"She's awake most of the time, but not mobile." Hackett told him, as they drew near. "Her vitals are strong and she sleeps a lot. Her implants seem to be… repairing themselves, much like what's been going on for most everyone else who was exposed to the Crucible's detonation. However, it's been going much more slowly for her. There's not been much that we've been able to do except keep her comfortable and hydrated while this synthesis takes its course."
It was really no surprise to find Miranda in control of Shepard's recuperation and about as warm and welcoming as a Varren with one pup.
She'd finally ditched her skintight white catsuit for a pair of researcher's scrubs and looked surprisingly good in them, less like she was shoving her gender in the Galaxy's face and more like she more important things to do. "You have five minutes." She promised him in a voice like death. "If her stats even wobble, I'm throwing you out and you can wait in the yard with that damn dog."
"What dog?" Garrus looked wildly at Hackett, having missed the reference all together.
Hackett grimaced. "There's this varren…" He explained. "Urdnot Wrex dropped it off and it's been making Operative Lawson's life miserable. It waits outside and if no one checks on it, it howls. We can't figure out what it wants."
"You mean Urz?"
"… it has a name?" Miranda sounded like she'd bitten into something rotten. "Well, it's your problem now, Vakarian. Your five minutes have begun."
Her eyes were shut as he approached. She lay on a makeshift cot with a pale green surgical sheet tented over the majority of her body. Only her head and bare shoulders were left uncovered. Green light played gently over the portions of her skin that were visible as the energies of the Crucible worked to repair the damage done to her body. It said something about the level of damage that the light was still there. It had clung everyone in the Galaxy (near as Garrus could figure) for hours after the detonation, but Joker had been sheathed in the light for weeks.
At first they'd thought that it was a side effect of his being in the comparatively less shielded cockpit. It wasn't until Dr. Chakwas was able to repair her diagnostic equipment that anyone realized that the light was changing them. By the time the lights faded for good, Joker's bones were not only healed… but solid. For the first time in his life, he was able to walk without pain although the limp was being stubborn about fading.
Moreover news was trickling in from around the galaxy; disease had stopped in its tracks. Drell who had been in immediate danger of dying from Kepral's syndrome were suddenly breathing without assistance. Oddly though, Quarians found they still required their suits. Allergies were untouched, but almost every species found itself with regenerative abilities that rivaled those of the Krogan or Vorcha.
Garrus stood paralyzed by her bedside, unable to make himself disturb her rest. He couldn't remember the last time he'd seen her sleeping peacefully –if ever. However, the choice was made for him as her eyes fluttered open and she turned her luminescent green gaze towards him.
"Hey." She croaked in the most awful voice a person could possibly imagine. "…'bout time you caught up."
Something broke loose in Garrus's chest and rippled up his throat like broken glass in reverse. Surprisingly, it was a laugh. "Well, Joker had to challenge the blast wave to a race and ended up crash landing us on this planet in the middle of nowhere. Took us a while to make it home."
Shepard's shoulder twitched and he realized she was trying to reach for him, but couldn't make her arms work. Instead, he gently smoothed her sweat-damp hair out of her face. "There, there." He crooned. "It's going to be all right."
Her mouth quirked. "Garrus…" She coughed (a suspiciously damp sound) and then exhaled gustily. "They won't give me a mirror. How bad is it?"
Garrus leaned back and made a show of critically surveying her face. Frankly, she was a worse mess than she had been even fresh off a Cerberus operating table. This time, the major difference was that the cracks in her cheeks were glowing green instead of orange and –while they appeared to be closing- there were already scars.
He leaned in close and pressed his forehead against hers. At that distance he could hear the labored sound of her breathing and the faint hum or her implants as they repaired themselves. If he held still, he fancied that he could hear the steady beat of her heart. Finally he let out the breath that he felt like he'd been holding since the second she charged into Harbringer's line of fire, leaving him behind her pinned down by Reaper ground forces. "Well, hell, Shepard. You were always ugly. I'll just slap some face paint on it and no one will ever notice."
A/N: Originally published in the ME3 section of Mass Kink, link found here: .?thread=7463294#t7463294
The sequel is Vis Insita.