Garrus found himself searching through rubble for his best friend for the third time in his life, and it was three times too many. The first time was when she had lost her first child, the second was after the Reapers, and now right after they were getting Shepard back to herself she was gone again. He had hoped to have his friend back, he missed their late nights on the Normandy drinking together, stumbling about the ship as they tried to make it back to their quarters, having the crew find them asleep on the mess hall's table, completely hung over. But those days where gone, and here he was shifting through the burnt remains of his house, looking for the body of his best friend.
"Don't worry Garrus, she has survived worse than this." Tali assured him and put a hand on her shoulder. "The humans have a saying, 'A cat has nine lifes.' Wrong kind of cat, but it still appears to hold true."
Garrus sighed as he lifted a fallen wall and pushed it out of the way. "How many lifes can she have left at this point?" he said, not cheered up by her sense of humor. "I'm sorry, love, I'm just worried." he said and put a hand on her waist.
"I know, I am too." she said and they continued searching.
Kolyat watched them from a distance, searching through what remained of the kitchen area, Irikah clinging to his leg with each step. "Where are they?" she asked, looking at the burnt table she had eaten at for most of her life.
"I don't know, but we will find them." he promised her and moved over to the sideways table, his fingers running along several strange round indents. "Bullet holes…" he muttered and looked back over to the other two. "Garrus, Tali, I think I found something." he called and they ran over. "Bullet holes, right? So they much been fighting someone?" he asked Garrus. The turian had more experience with this sort of thing, being with C-sec for so long.
Garrus knelt down in front of the table and rubbed a talon over the marks. "These are from an assault rifle." he said and moved to the other side of the table and brushed his fingers against a few drops of red. It flaked off onto his talon and he lifted it to his nose. "Human blood... not enough to be a serious injury." he assured the two drell. He stood up and looked more at the scene. "It looks like they were pushed back by the stairs." he said, pointing out more bullet holes along the railing. He lifted a slab of drywall away from the door that led to the basement and with Kolyat's help they got the jammed door open.
"You think they went into the bunker?" Tali asked, looking down the dark steps.
"It's what I would do; the bunker isn't on any blueprints so the attackers wouldn't know it was here." Garrus said and slowly started down the steps, his pistol at the ready.
He reached the bottom of the stairs when a shot rippled his shields. "Easy, it's me." he said, his eyes adjusting to see Shepard and Thane against the back wall.
"Only concessive rounds, if I wanted to do more than take your shields down I would have." she said and he rolled his eyes.
"I know I am amazing, but you don't have to quote me." he said and helped her on her feet, taking note to how much she leaned against him.
"Well, do you think the amazing Archangel can carry me out? They shot my new foot." she said and accepted when she was lifted bridal style.
"I can carry you if you need, Siha." Thane said beside her, his left hand clutching his right shoulder.
"Shut up, you're hurt." she said and twisted so she could give his forehead a kiss.
"Nothing serious," he said but accepted Kolyat's help who had come down shortly after Garrus. They all went up the stairs to the remains of the house, Uz following at their heels.
"We found them, everyone is alright." Garrus said as Tali swooned to them, using her omni-tool to scan them for injuries.
Irikah wormed past her and flung herself into Kat's arms. "Mommy," she cried, clinging to her.
She hugged her daughter back and watched Tali over the girl's head. Tali rolled up Kat's pants leg to reveal her mechanical leg. The toes twitched of their own accord when she reached her fingers inside and pulled out the bullet. "It doesn't look too damaged," Tali said, setting to work giving the wiring a patch job.
Kolyat saw to his father, helping him slide the jacket off his hurt shoulder and looked for an exit wound. "No good… the bullet is still inside." he said and pulled out his pocket knife. Thane took a deep breath and let his eyes glaze over. Once Kolyat was sure he was deep in a memory he stuck the knife in, using it to pry the bullet out. It clattered to the wooden floor just as Garrus handed him a first aid kit.
"Always keep it under the sink, Irikah stays after her mother in the tending to get hurt department." he said and helped Kolyat wrap up Thane's shoulder.
Once Thane was patched up Kat pushed Tali away and got to her feet. "Do you see now?" she said, getting in Garrus' face. "What these people are capable of? The lengths they will go to?" She was shaking, her arms trembling around Irikah wrapped up tight in her arms. Tears gathered in her eyes, but she refused to shed them. "Do you see now why I did what I did? It appeased them, it kept them away from you." she was nearly shouting now. "Irikah could have grown up in a home, had something of a family, so long as I stayed out of the way."
"She deserves her mother, you, the real you!" Garrus snapped back.
"The real me? The real me is a murder and a whore." she barked.
Garrus hit her, not hard enough to actually injure her, but she would have a bruise and it was enough to turn her head. "The real you is a brave, selfless, stubborn woman who refuses to see that she has so many people willing to come to her aid, to help her." he growled. "Now you know these people, you know how they think, we can fight them." Kat still hadn't looked back at him, her head still turned, eyes down casted. "So… what do we do, Shepard." he said, making her look up at him.
"You know what I am, you won't follow me anymore." she said quietly.
"Yes we will, we all will." Tali said from behind her, causing Shepard to turn and look at her. "We will take what they did to you and use it against them, reveal what they really are, those bosh'tets."
"Siha," Thane said, back on his feet and watching her.
"Let us help you." Garrus said firmly.
Shepard smiled, "Alright… Let's get packed, we leave in five." she said, handing Irikah to Kolyat and went into the bunker with Garrus and Thane to get the artillery packed up.
"We'll take two cars, Thane, me, and Kolyat in one car, Garrus, Tali, and Irikah in the other." she said as they packed. "They'll be monitoring any communications, it won't take them long to figure out their bomb failed." She stripped a sniper down to its parts and back again, thankful for the familiar act to keep her calm. "I know where we can go… for now at least." She slid her bag of guns over her shoulder and the boys followed suit.
"How am I supposed to know where to go if you won't tell me?" Garrus asked.
"Same code we used to get around Cerberus, S.P.A.C.E. will know of it, but they wouldn't have been able to crack it, not yet anyways." she said simply and Garrus nodded.
They loaded up the cars and Kat gave Irikah a tight hug. "Why can't I go with you?" she whined.
"You will see me again when we stop, till then be good." she said instead of answering. She handed her to Tali, who strapped her in the back, and went to her own car.
"Why aren't we taking Irikah with us?" Thane asked.
Kat started the car and started down the driveway. "Because if they go after us they will go after the car with me in it." she said simply and turned onto the main road.
"Shouldn't Kolyat be with them too then?" Thane asked, glancing at his son in the rearview mirror.
Kolyat crossed his arms and glared at Thane from the backseat. "I can handle myself." he grunted.
"Your father is right, and you would be if it didn't make it too tempting of a target, you are safer with us." she said and sped up, heading towards the interstate.
"Should I bother asking where we are going?" Thane asked.
Kat let out a breath of air through her nose. "Well mom always did want to meet you…" she said and explained when she saw Thane's confused look. "My mom is really… technology challenged, most wouldn't even call her terminal functional, and my step-dad is even worse, living close to off the grid like that is a good place to bunker down, at least until we can think of a better plan."
"Makes sense," Kolyat piped up. "No communications for them to hack into and spy on us."
Thane nodded his agreement, but inside he was slightly worried about meeting them, remembering her mother's original reaction to finding out that he wasn't human.
Driving with two drell was boring, they both just sat their quietly, off in their own little world of memories. She sighed and picked up her phone as the sun started to set. She called Garrus "Hey, it's getting late." She said as she switched lanes, sliding past another person. Behind her Garrus did the same in his car, keeping close. "Was thinking the same thing, see you there." she said, responding to what he said on the phone before hanging up.
"You're tense." Thane pointed out, taking in her body language.
She glanced over at him and leaned over to kiss his cheek. "I'm always tense." she said as she settled back into her seat, setting her eyes back to the road.
"Not always." Thane said, taking her artificial hand in his.
She gave him another glance and sighed, "They haven't tried to stop us at all yet, just seems too easy." she confined in him. She looked at Kolyat, fast asleep in the back seat. "I don't know if it should put me on edge or be relieved…" She gripped Thane's hand tight. "I never meant to drag all of you into this…"
Thane watched her, reading the emotions behind the mask she wore. "So you planned on staying in that state? Making our daughter grow up without you?" he asked.
"She was safe," Kat snapped at him, an apologetic look crossed her face and she looked away from him. "Besides I'm just a whore from the streets, I wouldn't make a good mother."
"You were that, it is not who you are now." he said, rubbing his thumb over the back of her hand. "Just like you were their puppet before and now you're not." he looked up from her hand and to her face. "Siha, you need to let go of your rage and fear and let us help you, you know we aren't going away."
"I've been trying," she barked at him, trying to keep her eyes on the road, but couldn't stop herself from glancing at him every few seconds. "I've been trying ever since the collectors, that's the whole reason I turned myself in, that's the whole reason most of the crew would see me go from nice to bitch." she scoffed. "Yes I know how they saw me; cold, heartless, probably thought I was just faking the kindness… And at first I was, hell talking to you started out as just going through the motions like they taught me…" she gave a slight smile. "And then you called me your Siha… It took a strange drell with his own baggage to see past all of it and saw how much pain I was in."
Thane was quiet, and instead of talking he leaned forward and laid a tender kiss on the tense muscles in her neck.
"I'm still trying…" she said quietly. "It's hard, but I am trying to get past… well my past." She pulled off the next exit and they traveled through the small town in silence, Garrus close at their tail. She took them through the town and into the outskirts, finally pulling off when they came across a rundown building.
Garrus pulled off behind them and they all exited the car. "Not my first choice." he said, looking at the rotting building.
"Kind of the point." Kat muttered as she popped her trunk and pulled up the fake bottom to where her guns were. "What do you think? Snipers and pistols? Assault rifles won't do much in close quarters and shotguns may do too much."
"Tali is already grabbing the same thing." he said and they shared a slight smirk at how their minds were similar.
Tali came up to them; a bag of guns slung over one shoulder, Irikah fast asleep on the other. Kat glanced their way, before turning back to her pistol. She disassembled it and reassembled it quickly; going to do it again, but Thane rested his hand on hers. It was something she did when she was nervous, Thane knew it, and he wasn't going to let her off that easy. She swallowed and slid the gun in the back of her pants. With a deep breath, she turned around, arms up to take Irikah. Tali smiled and allowed her to take her child. "L-let's get inside." she said, not looking to see if they followed her through the crooked door.
Uz was the first to join her, followed by Tali and Kolyat. "Garrus and Thane are hiding the cars." Tali said, noticing Kat's eyes watching the door.
Once everyone was inside Kat set Irikah down in an overstuffed chair they had covered with a sleeping bag. Without her daughter tying her arms up she went to pacing around the room. "Kat, sit down, some of us are trying to sleep." Garrus said from the sofa when her trips past him hit double digits.
She glared at him, and went to say something, but Thane cut her off. "Siha, why don't you play?" he asked and pulled her violin out of one of their bags.
"You brought that?" she asked, taking the instrument from him, running her fingers over the strings.
Thane nodded, "I thought you might need something to keep yourself busy." he said as he handed her the bow.
"Going to play me a lullaby, Shepard?" Garrus chuckled from the couch.
"Shut up and sleep, you overgrown lizard." she muttered, but she was smiling, if only just a hint.
Garrus put a hand over his chest. "Ouch, that hurts." he pouted.
She rolled her eyes and started to play, just a low slow tune, it was relaxing. She didn't know how long she played, but eventually she ran out of songs she knew and had to stop, too tired to compose things on her own. Only Kolyat was awake, keeping watch at one of the windows, a sniper in his lap. When she stopped he looked at her. "Finally going to get some sleep?" he asked.
"Sleep? What time is it?" she asked, blinking in confusion.
He checked his omni-tool, "Nearly five in the morning." he said, yawning himself, he had been on guard shift for about two hours.
"Five? Shit we need to start packing up." she said and shook Garrus from his spot by the couch, having given it up for Tali. "Come on, we need to start packing up and getting ready to move." she said when he gave a sleepy grunt.
Kolyat sighed through his nose and helped her wake everyone up. Once awake they moved quickly to pack, following Kat's lead about needing to move.
She tossed the bags in the trunk and headed for the driver's seat, but Kolyat snagged the keys out of her hand. "You aren't driving, you're dead on your feet." he said, jumping out of her range when he noticed she had balled her hand into a fist.
"Did you not sleep well, Siha?" Thane asked, putting a calming hand on her shoulder. Kolyat wondered how he could approach her, even when she was mad, without fear of her.
"She didn't sleep at all." Kolyat corrected, earning a glare from Shepard.
Thane sighed, "Kat, get in the back, I will drive." he said, holding his hand out for the key.
"I'm fine," Kat said, reaching to snag the key when Kolyat gave it to Thane, but he pushed her and pinned her to the car.
"No, you're not." he said, giving her that look that she knew meant he saw through her façade.
She snapped out of her trance and realized all at once that her mouth was open like an idiot without any defense. Training kicked in and she diverted the subject with humor. "You know, in a different situation this would kinda be hot." she said, giving him a naughty grin.
He chuckled and leaned in, giving her a kiss. She immediately took advantage of it, deepening the kiss and pulling him close. Somewhere behind them Kolyat told them to stop snogging face and after a second she realized he had gotten in the passenger's seat. She ignored him and ran her hands down Thane's muscular arms, she always loved how built he was. Her arms went down to his wrists and she slowly slipped them down to slide the keys out of his hand, but he curled his fingers tighter, stopping her from being able to take them.
"Nice try," he said against her lips and pulled back. "Now get in the back and get some sleep." he said as he opened the door.
"Fine…" she caved and slid into the backseat. "Head towards North Carolina." she instructed and laid down, her arm going over her eyes, the other resting on her stomach. "Wake me up if anything happens, and I mean anything."
"Of course, Siha." Thane said as he slid into the driver's seat and started the car.
A/N: So it's a short chapter, but at least I'm back. I apologize for the break, I had to get a lot of personal shit in order that was making it hard to slip into Kat's slightly unpleasant mindset difficult. Thank all of you so much for sticking with me. Oh and if anyone wants something else to read, go check out my story "Contact" it is of my paragon, and yes Kat is my renegade.
I also tried to explain her actions a bit better in this chapter about what she had gone through and why she is such a bitch.
Please review and let me know this story still has a pulse!