It's Garrus's most pressing thought as he steps out of the cab and heads toward his building. He's hungry, and he probably should have stopped for food on the way home, because there's sure as hell nothing in his apartment. But he's also tired, and in this case tired wins.
It's a satisfied, accomplished sort of weariness, though. Bone-deep. The kind that only comes after a good day. And it's been a good day. Maybe not quite saving the galaxy at Shepard's side good, but good. Meticulous investigation and no small amount of planning meant the raid went off without a hitch. More than that, though, he's done things so by the book there isn't the slightest chance the bastard'll squirm out of the charges, no matter who his friends—known and unknown—may be.
Justice has been done. For a change.
Today, maybe even for tomorrow, the Citadel's a little safer, and a little less crime will hamper the relief and rebuilding efforts.
It's the least he can do.
But damn if it isn't hungry, exhausting work.
So as Garrus turns the last corner, he's thinking sleep now, food later, and it takes him a moment longer than it usually would to notice the loitering human, hat pulled low to disguise facial features. The shoulders tell him it's a man. The shoulders also say he's a soldier, though he's in civvies, and his posture's not threatening. Garrus chuckles to himself. You can take a soldier out of his armor or his uniform, sure, but you can't make him blend in. Turians know it. Humans really don't.
He finds himself wondering who the soldier's here to see—something illicit, maybe, with the hat and the non-reg clothing and the mostly unsuccessful attempt to blend in—when the human turns toward him.
Garrus recognizes the smell of the man—recognizes, but can't quite place—even before the face lifts to reveal Captain David Anderson (Councilor Anderson, now; maybe the attempt at subterfuge makes sense after all) under the hat's brim.
Shepard, he thinks, and he's not entirely able to sort out the sudden rush of emotion. For the first instant he's happy, thinking she's back, maybe. Or she's asked for him. But if that's the case, she'd have come herself. Or she'd have sent a message. Hell, she'd have mentioned something in the last message she did send; they've been in regular communication since she left and he stayed.
So the happiness dies almost as quickly as he feels it, because what he sees in Anderson's expression doesn't leave room. Not even a little.
He doesn't want to name the emotion that replaces joy.
Naming it might make it real.
Garrus has had time to learn the quirks of human faces. He's a cop in a place where he's just as likely to have a human in his interrogation room as anyone else. He's served on a human ship with a human crew under a human commander. Hell, by turian standards, he's an expert on human expressions.
Anderson's face betrays him. The man's going for stoic, for strong. Garrus sees right through it.
"No," Garrus says. Like it'll stop what's coming. What he knows is coming. But it's just a word. It's just one little useless word and it can't stop a damned thing.
Words rarely do.
"Can I come in?"
No, Garrus repeats, but not aloud. He doesn't quite trust his voice, anyway. He manages a curt nod, and is aware of Anderson at his back as he turns to open his door.
Anderson looks out of place in his apartment, amongst his things. Too small. Too human. Wrong. "I've done what I could to delay the inevitable, but it'll be all over the vids by tomorrow. I thought—she would have wanted—you stood by her in a dark time, Officer Vakarian. I thought you should hear it from me. You deserve that much."
And because Garrus still doesn't trust his voice, he only nods again. Crisply. Like a soldier. Like a good turian.
He wonders how good Anderson is at reading turian expressions.
Shepard would know. Shepard always knows. Knew.
He hopes Anderson can't tell.
Garrus listens while Anderson explains, while Anderson tries for concise and detatched and fails miserably. He listens and tries not to imagine. Listens and tries not to think of Shepard going down with her ship. (No, he repeats silently, over and over, as his imagination fills in blanks he doesn't want filled. No. No. No.) Shepard, spaced. Shepard, indomitable Shepard, gasping out the end of her life. It's not right. She should go down—should have gone down—guns blazing, screaming defiance, probably taking an inordinate number of hostiles with her.
He forces himself to breathe when he realizes his lungs are burning because he isn't.
No. No. No.
Then, just like that, he's not hungry anymore. He's not hungry and he's not tired. He's just cold. He's cold, and it hurts to breathe.
He doesn't start breaking things until Anderson's gone.
Garrus doesn't last long on the Citadel after that. He tries. Nothing he does seems to matter, though. For every criminal he apprehends, eight more crawl out of the ducts. Rules and regs and red-tape hamper him at every turn, forcing him to let two out of every three go.
For every lying, cheating bastard who saunters out of C-Sec as if they haven't a care in the world, Garrus's anger grows. Mostly he runs on rage. It's surprisingly good fuel. Oh, he eats and sleeps because he knows he has to, to keep going, but he hasn't been hungry or tired since Anderson stood opposite him with his human face wearing its human emotions saying you deserve that much.
He doesn't think about that day. He doesn't think about the week that followed. He doesn't think about the funeral. He doesn't think about Alenko's wounded eyes or Liara's tentative hand on his shoulder or the way Joker couldn't look at anyone. He tries not to think at all. He hunts. He hunts and gets held up and lets anger push him onward because something has to.
He's afraid of what'll happen if he slows down, if he stops. If he thinks.
The day he realizes they're trying to diminish her—diminish what she fought for, what she did, how she saved them all—Garrus punches a wall so hard he nearly breaks his hand. It doesn't help. His rage, his disgust, his fury are beasts writhing and coiling in his blood, in his bones.
He resigns, mostly so no one'll look for him when he doesn't show up for work.
He's on the next ship that has room for him, without once looking back.
He doesn't tell anyone he's going.
There's no one to tell who'd care, anyway.
Hunger is different on Omega. It's not about sustenance. It's about greed. It's about vices. It's about whatever you want whenever you want it, and to hell with the consequences. It's about scratching itches and greasing palms and getting away with murder.
For Garrus, it's about justice. And action. He can't get enough. He doesn't need drinks or drugs or dancers. He needs death. And Omega is happy to feed that hunger, too. Omega doesn't play favorites.
Every time he wakes up clutching his throat because he's dreamed he can't breathe, he finds another criminal to thwart. No one questions his methods. No one sets up obstacle courses of rules and regs.
He doesn't care about the new name he's given. Hell, he's glad. Being Archangel lets him leave Garrus Vakarian in the room with the closed door where all the other things he doesn't think about live.
What he does care about is the squad he collects. He resists the change, at first. He resists caring. It's too heavy a reminder of the things that drove him to Omega in the first place. He doesn't want the responsibility. He wants to hide in the shadows and shoot things that need shooting.
But he lets them in anyway.
And then he lets them down.
He's not going to go easy, but he's been dying since he barricaded himself in his stronghold. He knows it, accepts it even, but coolly, clinically. Dying by degrees. Inevitably.
And he'll be damned if he doesn't take out as many mercs as he can before the end.
He doesn't remember the last time he ate. Doesn't remember the last time he slept. It's only this, now. Scope. Breath. Shot. Death. Name. Scope. Breath. Shot. Death. Name.
Erash. Monteague. Mierin. Grundan Krul. Melanis. Ripper. Sensat. Vortash. Butler. Weaver.
A death for every name. No matter how many times he cycles through the chant, it's never enough.
Erash. Monteague. Mier—Shepard?
He blinks. He's tired, he knows that. He's starving. He's dying.
And Shepard's in his scope. Her bright hair. Her familiar features. New scars. She never did like wearing a helmet. He'd overheard Alenko giving her a hard time about it on more than one occasion. She'd come up with a different rationalization every time.
It must be really close to the end, for him to be hallucinating so vividly.
Because Shepard's dead. Anderson told him so. And Anderson wasn't lying. He'd witnessed the ugliness of truth all over the Councilor's face. When he opens the door to the room where he's stashed all his memories—Vakarian and Shepard and the Normandy; that day, the funeral, his fist losing a fight to the wall—he's certain Anderson wasn't lying.
But once that door is open, he remembers it all like it was yesterday.
He doesn't know if he wants to break things, or run, or call out.
So he lifts his rifle again, hoping a concussive round will shatter the vision.
Hoping it won't.
She looks up at him when the blow hits, her shields shimmering. It's her face. More than that, the annoyance is her expression. He doesn't know how, but he knows it's her. Alive. Alive, and here, on the day he thought he'd die. On the day he'd almost been okay with dying.
He sees her directing her squadmates—no one he knows, and he's alarmed to recognize Cerberus sigils—and then she raises her pistol and shoots a merc.
Alive, and here, and helping him.
Just like old times.
He doesn't know how, and he doesn't care. He only knows he doesn't want to die now. So he shoots mercenaries with renewed vigor, and waits.
He hears the door open, but he's not ready to turn, not ready to look at her.
Her voice says, "Archangel."
He's still half-afraid she's a figment of his imagination. His heart pounds. His stomach twists. He takes a moment to shoot a final merc, less because the man needs to die and more because he needs the moment of clarity the shot affords him. He needs to catch his breath.
It is her voice. Under the blood and dirt and sweat, it's her smell. When he turns away from the wall, hoisting himself to his feet using the rifle as a crutch because he's afraid his legs won't hold him otherwise, it's her face, curious but remote, assessing, taking him in. She doesn't know him. He takes off his helmet, slowly. He supposes if he is seeing things, if she's really a merc his imagination has twisted into Shepard's familiar form, she'll shoot him in the back of the head as soon as she gets the opportunity.
She doesn't. So he sits because he can't stay upright, and hopes his voice won't betray him when he says, "Shepard. I thought you were dead."
She throws her arms wide and cries his name—she's happy to see him; her expressive human features hide nothing—and just like that, he is Garrus again. One word—his name—and a smile from her are all it takes. It's Shepard, his Shepard, and he'll walk into hell at her side, if she'll let him. Archangel will stay, fallen with his men on Omega.
And even though this causes a pang of guilt, even though his voice wavers with exhaustion when he speaks, even though they've still got three bands of mercs to fight through to get out and the odds are not in their favor, for the first time in more than two years he's hungry and tired and it's a good day. It's a damned good day.