Thank you for the kind reviews, I really appreciate seeing the feedback and am glad to hear that people enjoyed the first chapter! I will update when I can, college has me running around quite often but I'm sure I can spare time to get this fic finished. I've always wanted to finish a fanfiction, so I'm going to try my hardest to do so with this one. I'm going to be borrowing ideas from the Indoctrination Theory for the ending of Mass Effect 3 just because it's hard to accept the current closure Bioware has provided. That said, I realize they are currently working on better closure for the game and will talk or maybe release it next month. Even if that changes things, I'm still going off of the Indoctrination Theory, it would be awkward to suddenly change it over. Once again, thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy this chapter!
PS- if you find something to kind of be... well, sentences that don't belong in this fic, it's pure accident. I switched the plot a bit and apparently, despite rereading it a few times, haven't been able to catch all the inconsistencies. My apologies.
Chapter 2: Are You There?
A month had gone by and Meida was still asleep, unmoving. Three months now, all together, and there was still no sign of her regaining consciousness, aside from a small twitch or two. I slept here every night. The Alliance offered me my own room but I declined, asked for a small cot to be rolled into this room instead. It was uncomfortable but I didn't care, comfort wasn't something that I really desired at the moment. So, to pass the time, I would work on some reports that had to be filed or check the news… it's amazing how small the workload could get when there wasn't some sort of giant war to fight for.
I leaned back in my chair, looking away from the datapad I was currently reading through and thought for a moment. The war. The Reaper War. … it was odd how they seemingly just… up and left after the battle was over. After Shepard was knocked out, after Anderson was… well… they just left. I wanted to believe that that was the end of this stupid war, but I had major doubts… I'm just… well, everybody is confused about what happened, and many fear their return, believing that they had a lethal reason to vanish. The Citadel just loomed above Earth, hauntingly. I'm worried to even think about what I'll see up there.
I looked over at Meida, examining her. It could be possible she was the reason that they left… it very well could be, but as far as I know, Harbinger's laser had knocked her out. Hell, she's still knocked out because of it, it must have been that big of a shock for her brain. Poor Meida, she's lived a life filled with nothing but war, just simply because the galaxy figured she could fix all their problems despite not taking her seriously in the past. Despicable. We could have had the Crucible built much earlier if people would have just listened, but of course the Council dismissed every claim on "Reapers".
I have heard a human saying that goes, "those who laugh first laugh last." I guess it could be applied here. Morbidly.
The door to the room opened. I looked back to see who it was and gave a nod to Liara. She gave a small, grim smile in return before looking at Shepard. "She's still not conscious, I see."
"Unfortunately, no… though she has teased me a few times."
"…Do you think she'll-"
"I know she'll come back. Shepard's cheated death before, so it's hard to think she'd give up like this." I said this but I was equally as worried as Liara. I don't know if I was saying that to convince myself or not.
"Yes… you're probably right." The door shut after her as she walked closer to Meida. "She is quite the fighter."
"You could say that again."
"I'm sorry I haven't been coming down here as often as I should, my job can be… demanding." She sighed softly as she said that, it was easy to tell she was under an immense amount of stress. I still don't know how she's able to be the Shadow Broker, but she seems to enjoy it despite the toll it takes on her.
I gave a small shrug. "Jobs do that."
"Yes they do." Liara shook her head. "I have been digging around for information on the disapperence of the Reapers, odd how they just seemingly left of their own accord."
This perked my interest. "What did you find?"
"There isn't a lot of information out there, most of the things I have found are purely speculation, but I don't think there's much else people can make sense of. Some people believe that someone was able to directly make a deal with the Reapers or somehow… communicate with them and convince them to call this off, which is pretty farfetched. That, or some people also think the Reapers were somehow taken over within their mainframes. The latter seems the most plausible despite how slim the chances are that it even happened." She shook her head, worried. "Garrus, what happens if they do come back and Shepard isn't… awake yet? People listen to her more than they would listen to us."
"I'm sure Hackett would be able to be the voice of reason to everybody… that and I would help out as much as I can… even though I wouldn't be able to accomplish what she has."
"I just wish she would wake up soon."
"You and me both, Liara. You and me both."
Liara had left after another hour or two, having to return back to her duties. Anybody could tell that she was frazzled over Shepard being in a coma, as she was a close friend of hers. Hell, Shepard was able to turn her squad from mere acquaintances to a family. There's nothing that we wouldn't do for each other. Meida just had that effect on people… and I wish she could just come back and see how much people treasure her.
I lifted my datapad again, fully ready to read more reports from Palaven when I heard a soft noise, a small hum. I quickly ignored the device and looked at my mate. That was definitely her.
"Meida?" I stood quickly, by her side in an instant, grabbing her hand, placing my other on her cheek. "Meida are you there?"
Nothing was said back, though her body tensed immediately when I touched her, and her heart rate accelerated. "Meida! Please…"
I was excited, nervous… scared. This was the first time I had heard her voice since the war, and I would give anything just to hear her again.
I waited there for what seemed to be a good fifteen minutes, watching her intensely before letting out a loose sigh, dropping my head and accepting defeat, before, instantaneously, she quickly sat up right, taking in a quick breath of air, eyes wide with fear, panic, and her head quickly scanning the room frantically. Her heart rate was off the charts, hands pulling away from mine and rubbing her arms, looking at the IV in her wrist before looking at me. Her breathing was short, hands trembling.
"Meida…?" I tried to remain calm. Spirits, it was so hard because I was so enamored with that fact that she was awake for the first time in three months. I wanted to touch her, but I forced myself not to… just in case.
Her green eyes stared into mine before she broke down, hunching over as a strangled sob came from her lips. "Garrus…" She remembered me, that was a good sign… I would have shown my happiness if she weren't, well, crying. That would be inappropriate.
I carefully sat down on the edge of her hospital bed and pulled her close to me, ready to take her in my arms once more. "Shh… it's alright, you're safe now."
A small huff, a wheeze, came between sobs. I could feel her hands cling onto my arms for dear life. This was a side I never saw of Shepard… and all I wanted to do now was make everything right. She shivered in my hold, crying out her emotions.
She calmed down not too much longer later, her head resting on my chest. "Garrus… I…" She pulled away and looked up at me, her beautiful eyes turned red. "Where… why am I here? Why am I… alive?"
"Hmm… well, you're in the Alliance HQ… well, the part that actually lasted the attack from the Reapers, not sure how but it did… Hackett thought it would be best if you were some place more familiar than a hospital. …" Meida looked terribly confused. "…and I'm not sure why you're alive, Meida, but spirits be damned if I didn't say I was grateful that you're here with me right now."
She looked down. "I don't… know… I feel like I… …why…"
I knew I should have called Dr. Chakwas immediately upon Shepard waking up, but I felt that it was only fair that I tell her what had happened first. "…you were in a coma for three months. You got blasted by Harbinger while sprinting to get to that beam that'd transport you to the Citadel. The Alliance thought you were dead." I let out a small sigh. "I had dashed after you, after you were trying to get there, but the laser stopped me. Before I knew it the area was covered in rubble, people were ready to call you dead or M.I.A., and me and James were scouting the area frantically trying to find you."
She let out a shaky breath. "You found me…?"
"Under a pile of rubble."
A thick silence clung onto the room, Meida's brows furrowed in absolute confusion. "I never once left Earth?"
"Never… as far as I know."
Shepard quickly looked up at me once more. "Is Anderson alive!"
This… this was not easy to answer. I gave a slow shake of my head in disapproval. The laser had completely decimated him.
"I see…" Her voice was soft. "…Garrus I-"
The door opened abruptly, a flustered Chakwas entering the room and frowning at me. "You were supposed to tell me when she woke up, Mr. Vakarian." She walked over to Meida, leaning over her and let a big grin settle on her lips. She's just as happy as I am that Shepard finally woke up. "It's good to see you awake again, Commander."
Meida watched Dr. Chakwas, slowly relaxing which let the beeps get softer on the monitor. "Doc, why was I in a coma?"
"I see Mr. Vakarian spared no time in telling you what had happened." Chakwas looked at me briefly before looking down at her omni-tool. I couldn't help it, the look on Shepard's face when she had awoken… I couldn't just keep that from her. "Your body sustained a large injury from Harbinger's laser, and went into shock. Mr. Vakarian was the one who found you, essentially saving your life."
"James was looking pretty hard too, Commander, so I can't take all the credit." I shrugged, not really comfortable with all the credit Chakwas was giving me. "EDI was also a big help, trying to find your vitals, but then she had to go help Joker after the crash landing.
"EDI's alive?" Meida looked at me, confused. I gave her a peculiar look, though in her defense, she obviously had missed quite a bit, you know, due to the coma.
"Yeah she's fine, she's with Joker right now but I'm sure she'll come in and see you after everybody knows that you're awake." I figured she'd tell me why she thought they were dead in a little bit, so I didn't question her now, not with Dr. Chakwas in the room.
The doctor looked at Meida inquisitively. "Are you feeling alright, Commander? No headaches, pains aside from your healing wounds… actually, I think most of it has healed while you were unconscious." She grabbed Meida's arm, the one that was previously burned, and examined it. "Your scars have healed up nicely."
Meida frowned. "How bad did I look?"
I traded glances with Chakwas before looking back at Shepard. "…half of your body was severely burned."
"Which is why your skin is a little pink right here." Chakwas chimed in. "Don't worry about it, I've helped heal your scars before, Commander."
"It's too bad that the Reapers weren't destroyed after this… mess." The doctor looked at Shepard. "They just up and left. Terribly strange and also very terrifying."
"Wait, but the Reapers are still alive?" Meida looked at me now, terribly confused.
"They left about an hour after you tried to get to the beam." I sighed softly. "I don't know if you could call that a victory or not."
Chakwas' omni-tool disappeared and she let out a small, loose sigh. "Many think that Harbinger and the rest left to go make more Reapers. They have plenty of samples from every species now, after all."
Meida tensed, her hands squeezing my arm a little. "We have to stop them."
"I agree with you, Meida, but you need to heal first." Even in this state she was willing to go kick some more Reaper ass, spirits she was such a determined individual.
"Yes, you do. Commander, you have suffered multiple injuries and need to go through rehabilitation for a month or so… I can't imagine you'll be able to walk normally quite yet."
"So I'm just going to lay here and let Harbinger restock his team? Doctor, you have to realize—"
"That you have plenty of time to kick his ass, Commander. And give it another kick for me for what he's done to us." Dr. Chakwas smiled a little at her. "That said, I believe you should rest. You know your turian boyfriend refused to leave your side for most of the time. You've got a keeper there, Commander."
Meida looked up at me, a small smile slipping on her face before looking back at Chakwas. "That's definitely a true statement."
Dr. Chakwas chuckled softly and nodded. "I'll let you two enjoy a little 'alone-time' for a bit, but I have to inform our crew that you're awake now. So many have been worried about you, Commander. Heavens, even Wrex kept sending me messages asking if you were okay or not."
"She leaves strong impressions on people." I chuckled lightly, rubbing her arm.
"That she does." She smiled at Meida. "I'll check up on you in a little bit, and get some light food for you. I'll see you two later." I watched her leave the room, shutting the door after her before turning my attention back to Meida.
"So, my calibrating turian never left my bedside, hm? I wonder what you did for entertainment." Meida leaned her head against my chest once more.
"Oh… I only did a few repairs here and there, calibrated some stuff, same thing different day."
"You never cease to amaze me, Garrus." She gave a weak chuckle before looking solemn once more, her body still as she thought for a moment. "I'm not sure what's really real right now. This feels real but…"
I looked at her, confused. "You need to share something?"
She gave another brief pause before shaking her head. "No. I don't think anybody would believe it—"
Why was she so shy about this now? We had only done the unbelievable together these past years, and now she thinks that I won't believe her? I couldn't help but laugh a little at the thought. "Why would you even think that? Meida, do you even remember everything we had gone through? Reapers, protheans, collectors, you coming back to life… please don't tell me you're serious."
Meida looked forward while I waited for an answer. I had a feeling that more had happened than what we were lead to believe. More 'behind-the-scenes' work or something like that. "Meida you can tell me, I'm not going to call you craz-…. Okay that's a lie because you are pretty crazy. Crazy enough to get somebody like me to follow you. By the way, I should inform you that I'm attracted to crazy people."
She smiled again, a small chuckle coming from her as she looked at me. "How do you do that?"
"What?" One of my talon'd fingers stroked her blonde hair, I couldn't help but be smug that I got her to laugh a little. It's good to know that somebody finds me funny.
"How do you always know what to say?" Eyes back on me. I seriously could get lost in those orbs. "You make everything feel so small once you say something, like you know how to turn a bad situation into an optimistic one."
"I'm not an optimist, believe me. That's actually a trait I picked up from you, so I should ask you the same thing."
Meida shook her head, smiling a little before her expression returned to a much darker one. "After I was hit by Harbinger, I had thought I had survived it long enough to run to the beam that takes you to the Citadel. I saw… myself beating these indoctrinated beings before getting in. And Anderson, he was talking to me." She slowly placed two fingers by her ear before lowering them.
I watched her, listening to her without saying a word. So, after being hit, she was still fighting.
"I got to the Citadel, and it smelled awful. Dead bodies were everywhere. Anderson made it up as well, talked to me the entire time, told me where to go. … he said he was behind me but he got to the… room first. I got there, found him working on a console." She rubbed her arm a bit nervously. "And then the Illusive Man was there. He was indoctrinated, looked part human part husk. Hell of a sight. He kept saying that he was an updated being or whatever, that humanity could survive now by controlling the Reapers. Then he took control of both Anderson and I.
"The power was immense, I could barely move of my own free will and my vision felt… off, it felt like tentacles were touching me, moving me. The Illusive man made me point my gun at Anderson, made me shoot him in the stomach." Her voice quivered here, she was in a tremendous amount of pain. "The Illusive Man kept talking. Talking about how he needed to control the Reapers for the betterment of mankind. What a load of bullshit. He walked behind Anderson, his gun behind his head. I shot him before he could kill him. I killed him.
"And then I remember… Anderson and me sitting down, staring down at Earth, talking about the scenery… and him telling me 'you did good, child.' Praising me… for all my work." Meida took a deep breath, the memory obviously hard for her to bear. "And then he died."
I rubbed her arm gently, trying to make sense of it. Meida doesn't talk crazy, she would know the difference between a dream and reality normally but… this particular vision really clung onto her. "I'm sorry, Meida."
The Commander gave a small nod before continuing. "I was bleeding in the same spot I had shot Anderson, which I don't understand. Hackett then said something to me, said the Crucible wasn't firing.
"So I struggled to get to the console, practically dead. I didn't make it but… the floor levitated from below me, pulling me up to a weird room. A weird room with a beam in the middle. I stood up, nolonger feeling the pain as strongly as I did before… and a ghostly child looked up at me." Ghost child? "Said I as the first organic to ever reach this place, said that synthetics were created to bring order to the chaos." She scoffed. "Gave me three options. I could control the Reapers like the Illusive Man, I could merge DNA between both synthetics and organics by jumping into the beam, or I could destroy all synthetics and end the Reapers once and for all." Her eyes found mine, her lip quivering. "I destroyed the synthetics, EDI, the geth… after everything I went through to ensure their survival, I ended it. And then I had a vision that the Mass Relays were destroyed, that you and the rest of the crew wrecked on some random planet… that you were able to live in a paradise."
"There's no such thing as paradise when you're not with me, I doubt I'd be able to really enjoy my life if you died again." I watched her, perplexed. "What makes me wonder… well… Meida, you said that you saw a ghost child? What does that mean? That and well, EDI and the geth are fine as far as I know, so I wouldn't worry about that."
She shook her head. "Garrus, I have no fucking idea, but I can tell you that I'm scared. Why are these visions so strong? If you weren't here, I'm positive I would have thought that that had really happened. I don't think the war is over, and I don't think we should really celebrate the Reapers leaving, not yet."
"Meida, war follows us everywhere so I think I would have a hard time accepting the war being over. I just don't get, maybe you can help me with this, why did the Reapers just pull away? Just leave? That's no random act of kindness, I can guarantee that."
A silence passed after the question was said, we were both unable to figure out a logical reason as to why this would have happened. She gave a soft sigh and shook her head. "I'm scared."
"Scared of what? Besides the obvious, ofcourse."
She looked down. "Garrus, was I indoctrinated? Does that sound crazy? I mean, just thinking about it makes me upset, I never reacted this way to the thought of indoctrination before."
"It does sound pretty crazy but… you know what, let's not think about this now." I lied back on the bed, gently pulling her down with me. "Whatever happens, just know I've got your back, Shepard."
She laid on me, giving a small chuckle. "You don't have to call me Shepard, Vakarian."
"It's habit, what can I say?"