Garrus bore down on her, and she stifled a scream.

"Fuck you, Garrus," she ground out between her teeth.

He gripped her hip firmly as it was crossed over her other leg, and pressed down. "Come on, Shepard, just ten seconds more."

Her hands were flat against the floor, but if she could get a grip her knuckles would be white against the carpet. She felt the back of her head pressing down against the floor and tried not to arch her back. In another time, another place, she'd be enjoying this, but right now, she was just in a fantastic amount of pain, and it was all she could do to keep her eyes open.

Garrus didn't seem to be having much fun either. He had taken this upon himself as another personal duty, and since he was just as stubborn as Shepard was, it was impossible to fight him. So here they were, on the floor of her prefab quarters in London, her trying not to cry out and instead cursing him and all of his damned turian kin, and he pushing down on her without apology or remorse.

"God fucking damn it, Garrus," she rasped out, unable to properly breath.

The stopwatch on his omni-tool beeped. "And done."

Garrus released her from his grasp and she gulped in air, shifting her right leg back to her right side where it belonged. He kneeled between her legs with his hands on his thighs as she breathed heavily, sweat beading across her forehead. She reached up and attempted to wipe it off with her forearm. Then she decided she liked her arm where it was and just left it there, covering her eyes.

"Why the fuck are we doing this again?" Shepard asked, her language going straight to shit as the endorphins from the pain flooded her body.

"Because," Garrus said slowly and deliberately, as if to a child, "you almost died. Again. This is the price you have to pay for being so damn reckless, Shepard."

"I saved the galaxy, you fuckin'..." Shepard trailed off, unable finish her thought. She kept breathing through her mouth. The literature had said that was important.

"Pointy faced turian asshole," he suggested. Shepard grunted something like an affirmative. She could practically hear him smirk, but she couldn't see it through her arm. "Hey, at least you didn't have to be rebuilt this time."

Shepard cursed under her breath. "Least when I was on that slab for two years I didn't feel anything."

It was stupid and cruel, joking about that. Probably made him uncomfortable. The filter on her mouth tended to give a little when she was in private, and disappear entirely when she was in pain.

"Tell me we're done," she said, before things could get too solemn. "Tell me no more."

She removed her arm from over her eyes and saw him check his omni-tool again. "Yep. All done."

Shepard sighed out a breath and closed her eyes, running a hand over her face. "Oh thank god-"

"With your legs," he added. "Now it's time to start on your shoulders."

Shepard's eyes flew open, hand still on her face. She'd never wanted to hit Garrus more than she did right then, but she didn't have the strength for it. And besides, it wasn't really his fault, even if the petty, vindictive part of her blamed him for putting her through all this.

Garrus sighed, shaking his head. "Look, Shepard, I don't like this any more than you do, but it's not like I have a choice here."

"I can take care of myself, Garrus," Shepard said, pinching the bridge of her nose.

"Yeah, right," Garrus said with a humorless laugh. "You could do all this by yourself. Or better yet, you'd go back to the hospital and have Miranda do it."

Shepard sighed. Yeah, that wasn't happening.

"Like it or not, Shepard," Garrus said firmly, "I'm the only one you'd trust to do this, and the only one who can make sure it gets done." He shrugged, shoulders rolling against his cowl, and his tone took on that smug, confident air she loved to hate. "Hell, I'm here all the time anyway. It's like I've got nothing better to do than lay my hands on you."

Shepard couldn't help it - she laughed, sending spasming muscle pains up her abdomen. "You're damn lucky you're so charming, Vakarian," she said, managing to lift a foot long enough to nudge his chest playfully.

After that burst of activity, she laid back and asked, "Garrus, you mind if we take a breather for a minute before we start again?"

"Absolutely," he said. "It's what the doctors recommended. Short breaks. Don't strain yourself."

Shepard huffed. "Yeah, no straining myself while I'm straining myself." Out of her half-closed eyes, Garrus grinned, which made her do the same. It was a good thing they both had the same shitty sense of humor, or it would never work out between them.

Shepard lay there, catching her breath, letting the residual pain and stress work it's way out of her body. Garrus knelt between her spread legs, waiting patiently.



"While I'm sitting her recovering from what you just did to me," she paused and Garrus actually rolled his eyes, "mind if I ask you something?"

"You ask that like I have a choice," he said dryly, crossing his arms.

"You do."

"Then yes, I do mind."

"So Garrus," she continued anyway, smiling when he smiled. "Why don't you call me by my first name?"

"Why do you ask?"

"Because we've been together for..." Shepard was too tired for math. "A long time, now. And before that, we were friends. Good ones."


"So, in a private moment, man to woman, friend to friend, you never called me by my given name." Shepard sneered at him. "Hell, even when you're inside me, you still call me Shepard."

Garrus' brow plate flexed up and down. "Charming."

"Shut up, I'm tired." Her decorum disappeared when she was under pressure or too weary to give a damn. "Now answer the damn question."

Garrus flexed his mandibles and looked up at the ceiling for a moment, then back down to her on the floor. "What is it?"

Shepard blinked. "What?"

"Your given name. What is it?"

"You don't know?"

Garrus actually looked sheepish, eyes wandering. "You never said, and I never asked, and then after a while it was just too embarrassing to ask."

Shepard actually stared at him, mouth slightly agape. She propped herself up on her elbows (with some effort) to regard him better. Garrus was always hard to read - his face was made out of metal and chitin, for god's sake - but she could usually tell when he was screwing with her. He had to know her first name. He wasn't an idiot, it took like, one extranet search. Right?

She stared at him for about eight seconds, face unchanging, and then Garrus made a noise she hadn't heard before. A sort of sputter or squawk, quickly stifled as he slapped a hand over his mouth. His shoulders started to shake.

Shepard's eyes widened. "Oh you fucker," she said, actually managing to pull up a leg and kick at him. It glanced off his chest. "You piece of shit."

Garrus was openly laughing now, a loud, flanging laugh that reverberated throughout the room. "I can't believe you bought that!"

She tried to kick at him again, but he caught her leg and set it back down on his left side. "Okay, okay," he said, fighting back more laughter, "none of that, you'll hurt yourself."

"God damn you, Garrus," Shepard said, grinning like an idiot anyway. "I can only hope you don't lie to my face every day."

"It took some effort," he admitted, scratching behind his head, "but it was worth it. And come on, Shepard, like I don't know your name."

"Then why don't you say it?" She asked, ruining the mood. Her smile dimmed. "I mean, I think we're that close, aren't we?"

Garrus gave her a serious look, but kept his tone light and soft as he stroked her leg. "Always thought you hated your first name."

"I do." Shepard swallowed. Why was she swallowing? What was there to be nervous about? "Doesn't mean I don't want to hear you say it, sometimes."

He looked down at her with half-lidded eyes and she felt a warmth building in her stomach. "Tell you what," he said, leaning over and bracing himself over her with his hands. "I'll say whatever you want when we're finished."

Shepard smiled and licked her upper lip, and took no small amount of pleasure in how his brow plates shifted. Never let it be said that she didn't have power over Garrus Vakarian. "I think I need a little incentive first."

He leaned closer. Shepard saw that look in his eyes, the spark. He lowered himself down, weight ghosting just over her. He nuzzled against her neck.

He whispered her name.

Shepard wanted nothing more than to wrap her legs around his thin waist, her arms around his thick cowl, and arch up into him until he gave in and tore both their clothes off. She got as far as bending her knees before she realized that was going to be a lot of work, and settled for putting her arms around his neck and stroking underneath his fringe.

He pulled away slightly, pressing his forehead against hers, and closed his eyes. He hummed low, and the feeling of the sound so close to her made her shudder.

"Dirty trick," he said quietly.

"I can do dirtier," she shot back.

He slid his knees up just a tad, enough that he could raise his hands from the floor without falling on her. He took her hands in his and gave her that look he'd had way back on top of the Presidium.

She sighed, and immediately regretted it, feeling like a stupid lovestruck teenager again. But she said what she meant to say anyway, because to hell with it.

"Got a real weakness for you, Vakarian."

He grinned. She grinned back. Shepard sometimes felt like they spent too much time just smiling at each like idiots, but she'd always dismissed that thought. She had earned the right to act like a simpleton in private. They both had.

It lasted a moment, another precious moment that made her think that peacetime wasn't so bad. Then he pulled away, folded her arms across her chest, and pulled across and to the opposite side.

"I'm going to press on this for twenty seconds," he said, all business again.

Shepard swallowed and nodded. The pressure began, and her language went straight into the gutter. Again.

"Oh fucking shit," she hissed. She had to keep breathing. The breathing was important. The damned pamphlet said so.

When they had said the words 'physical therapy' and 'Garrus' in the same sentence, she really hadn't imagined it being quite so unpleasant. In fact, her mind had conjured up all sorts of interesting scenarios, none of which turned out to be true. But, she supposed, it could be worse.

She could be doing it with anyone else.