Chapter 1: Lost
The rain was unrelenting, kissing my skin as I silently walked down the paved sidewalk while Earth's moon showed brilliantly in the distant sky. It was weird, being here, on this planet I had heard so much about from Shepard, somewhere where the weather changed frequently. Palaven wasn't like that, and I doubt turians, or me for that matter, could live in a place where the climate could change as rapidly as the Earth circled the sun.
Obviously these humans were just recovering from the attack, my presence not really causing any curiosity that would have stemmed if I had come here before the Reaper invasion. Ruins of buildings invaded the sidewalk, providing a minor obstacle course as I continued to walk along. Children cowered in the alleyways and women begged. I gave them a little money, but not enough to give them provisions for the next day. I can only imagine this is what Palaven looks like right now… or maybe even worse.
I walked over to a small staircase, one that lead to Alliance headquarters and placed my hand on the door before looking behind me. Smoke still spread, permeating my senses. What a damn waste. I shook my head, looked forward, and twisted the door knob.
"Hey Garrus." Kaidan greeted while leaning against the wall, his attention not really there but I replied anyway. It was easy to be distracted nowadays.
"Kaidan. …I assume she hasn't woken up yet?" She hasn't been awake since the attack two months ago. They said she was comatose, but her vitals were stable. I've been an emotional wreck but I never showed it. I'm sure Kaidan doesn't like that I'm not showing my feelings, considering he still loved Shepard as well.
"No." He sighed, finally really looking at me for the first time since I walked in here. "Not yet. Dr. Chakwas is in there checking her vitals again, but to be honest, I think she's just as antsy as we are."
I walked over to a nearby desk and looked down at a datapad that was left there. There was some mention of twitching but that was about it. I looked back at him. "It's hard not to be, considering Shepard has done so much for us."
"Garrus, I've been meaning to ask you," Oh boy here we go, he was putting up his 'big boy' pose now. "How… have you been feeling? I know that you and the Commander were…"
"We're boyfriend and girlfriend," it was still hard for Kaidan to say, but… I gave the poor guy a break. The Commander had, after all, cheated on him with me. …though, Kaidan did practically call it off on Horizon. I'm sure he still feels that guilt. "It's hard to reply to a question like that. …the girl I love, admire, look after, fight with, and serve for is unresponsive. I mean, the answer's pretty obvious, I'm scared as hell right now but cling onto hope."
He remained quiet. I decided to look down the hallway and then back at Kaidan. "Why is she here in Alliance HQ anyway? Shouldn't she be in a hospital?"
"They wanted to keep her somewhere… familiar."
"That hardly makes sense because the Normandy is far more familiar than…this."
"Explain that to the higher-ups. …though, you know what happened to the Normandy."
Yeah, it went down in flames when Joker tried to out-maneuver a Reaper. Him and everybody else made it out okay enough… for Joker standards. I think he had a few broken bones from it. I could feel anxiety wash through me the minute Chakwas walked out of the room, coming back to the lobby area that we were in. Her face was neutral, I guess that's better than grim.
"Any luck, doc?" Kaidan asked, just as curious as I was.
"Nothing yet. The Commander has sustained heavy injuries, as the two of you know. I'm rather surprised she's alive at all… and I damned thankful for it too." Dr. Chakwas mentioned, rubbing her hands together a bit nervously. "I'm worried… it's been… a little while since she's been conscious."
It almost felt self-defeating to be here… well, not here considering they had just moved her to Alliance HQ, but… with her. The Commander. Shepard… Meida… …some days hope felt like a hard thing to cling onto while my memories screamed of our time we had together. …time that I may never be able to relive with her. "Can I go in the room?"
"Yes, ofcourse." Chakwas nodded. She looked at Kaidan and began to answer some of his questions, but I was nolonger paying attention. I walked down the hall and took the door on the left, opening it before walking in. My eyes found her, her body wounded and casted. I had found her after the attack, after everybody was willing to give up… I found her. Her face was burned badly, down to her neck, her arm… she took a direct hit from the laser on the right side of her body. It looks like Chakwas was able to take away the facial scarring on her though. I wouldn't have cared if she didn't, though she is beautiful, but I love her, even if she had scars that wouldn't pull me away from her. I'm glad she cleared it up though, it will probably help Shepard recover easier, when she wakes up, knowing her face isn't a mess.
I pulled a chair beside her bed and took her hand that wasn't wrapped in a cast, holding it gently in mine. "You know, Shepard, I feel like I've been your little errand boy for a little while now. … Running around town, getting your mail, checking it for important stuff, doing some of your job…" I chuckled softly, my thumb rubbing the back of her hand. "Not that I mind, ofcourse, I am just a random turian you picked up on the Citadel anyway, looking for a job that provided more closure than C-sec." The beep the heart monitor sounded rang in the room, a pleasant, normal beat that made me feel comfortable. To know she was alive. "I'm just saying I could use your help again, and your guidance. You know I screw up when I have to take on missions on my own. … though now the missions are mainly about rebuilding London." Beep. Beep. Beep. "People talk about you a lot. In fact, I leave the room and you're the first thing I hear about when I step outside. Some people love you and they send gifts, Shepard." Amazingly, even one person found flowers that weren't destroyed. Probably the last flowers left in London.
I paused, collecting my thoughts. "Shepard… Meida, please… wake up. I… I don't know what to do without you here. Life just kind of goes on without you right now and I don't want to leave you here alone… spirits I dread to think that you'll wake up in a room completely by yourself, terrified. I just… please, can you wake up?" It was a hopeless request, even I knew that, but… as I said, I didn't have much else to cling onto at this point. I moved my other hand to swipe away some hair that was on her face. "I need you Meida." I could hear the rain against the window. "Meida, you've always been…what's that human item… my umbrella, someone who shielded me from the storm. ..I want to return the favor, I want to shield you, to protect you. I want to give you everything you deserve but I just need you to respond."
They said that it's good to talk to comatose patients, that it could arouse their awakening or something like that. At first I thought… it was silly, but I was also an emotional wreck who was too angry to think clearly. Now I talk to her every time I'm here, hoping that, one day, my words will reach her. My efforts have been futile so far but damn it I would keep trying.
I felt her hand twitch in my own, my eyes quickly darting down before looking at her face. She wasn't awake, her eyebrows were furrowed but… she wasn't awake.
Another twitch but no response.
The door opened and Kaidan walked in, looking at both me and Shepard I'm sure. I don't know, I was too busy trying to get her to wake up to really care.
"Dr. Chakwas says that she's been responding to words a bit more, with… you know, twitches."
I stroked her hand still, watching her. "It's better than before."
"Yeah it is." Kaidan walked over to the bed, his attention focused on her. "Hey… Garrus, I… should have said this before, but I was too jealous to really mention anything." I remained quiet, willing him to continue. "I just wanted to say… thanks for taking care of the Commander when I didn't. I was a schmuck to her when she needed me the most, and she didn't deserve that."
He had that right, but it wouldn't be very fair of me to kick him while he was down. We had enough on our plates so worrying about petty mistakes from the past really didn't matter at this point. I gave a curt nod, my eyes not leaving her, her fingers flexing just ever so slightly while I held her hand.
She didn't wake up that night.
That didn't mean I lost hope, though.
"Shepard, I…" I looked around the battery awkwardly, unsure of how I wanted to express my feelings, or if… well, I truly wanted to. My heart felt like it had been ripped out of my chest and emotions weighed down on me heavily.
Meida looked at me worriedly before walking closer to towards me, placing a hand on my back comfortingly. "Garrus you can tell me anything that's on your mind." She had said it so simply, peacefully, as if all the other matters in the galaxy were non-existent. That's what I loved about her, she was able to cast away stressors and ask how her squad was after every mission despite the fact that she had so many other things to worry about rather than making sure her squad was sane.
I could accurately say that despite this, I knew Meida had her own problems such as haunting memories from Akuze. She told me she never suffered from the memories, but I knew she was lying. I knew that all the deaths that happened around her during our missions hurt her as well, but she'd never say a damn thing.
I played along.
I let out a sigh and let my head hang; the email I had received from my sister Solana was… …. "Shepard… my mother…"
Shepard remained respectively quiet for a moment before her hand dropped from my back; a frown crossing her lips. "Oh no…."
She knew exactly what I was going to say before I even got to the punch line. I looked at her, my mandibles pressed in tightly in an expression of sorrow. "She passed away this morning."
Showing emotion like this was difficult for me, usually I mourned for losses alone, not so others can see… but I just didn't want to be alone right now, not when I felt so… vulnerable. I felt a hand press itself against the bandaged side of my face, before sliding down and wrapping around me. She hugged me, pulled me in close, and my arms automatically reacted and held onto her. Some may think it's weird to show emotion like this to your Commander, but… I didn't care, not right now. I held onto her like my life depended on it. "Spirits I wanted to see her one last time… I'm such a bad turian… I should have been there for her."
"I'm sure your mother understood, Garrus… you're not a bad turian." She said softly, looking up at me once more. Anybody could say that to me and I wouldn't believe them. I ignored general turian policy and went around doing my own business, not caring about the repercussions as much as just getting the job done. My father didn't like that.
However, when I looked at her, her beautiful green eyes looking at me, I could believe her. I could believe anything she told me. Shepard could say anything and I couldn't disregard her words… she made me feel like a good turian even though I knew that was far from the truth. My forehead pressed against hers, hoping to find some sort of comfort, some sort of normalcy in this screwed up universe.
She closed her eyes, remained quiet and just… stayed there with me. She was the only anchor that kept me level. After a small while, I finally lifted my head and looked at her, her eyes looking right back into mine.
"When's the funeral?"
"…mmm, Shepard, we have other things to worry about, with the Collectors and all-"
"That's not what I asked, Vakarian."
I sighed and let go of my hold around her, looking back at my console. "Two days from now."
"I'll tell Joker to route the Normandy to Pavalen." She watched the console before looking at me once more. "Garrus, you need to see her… before we… do this mission. You need to be there with your family." She lifted her head up and pressed her lips against my left mandible before pulling away. "I'm sorry… that this has happened, Garrus, I know you did everything you could to help."
"Thank you… Meida. For doing this."
"You know I would do anything for you." She gave a small sad smile, looking at me, before she left the battery.
Commander Meida Shepard was not a selfish person. And she had followed through. She didn't want to intrude on the funeral with me but… I practically begged for her to, which is odd. … I just couldn't face the situation alone, especially when relations with my father were fragile. Thanks to her, I was able to remain appropriately stable and get through the day of the funeral. She even placed a rose, a flower from Earth, on my mother's casket.
It was the most beautiful and lonely flower I had ever seen.