A/N: I'm really, really sorry this wasn't up here sooner. I actually had this up on my Ao3 and Deviantart accounts last month, but I got a computer and forgot I hadn't put it up here yet. So, thanks to everyone that reviewed asking me what was up. You reminded me to get my butt in gear and post it. Hope you like the new chapter! First of all, thanks to my excellent beta OinkythePiggy. I actually had this finished in August, but I was fussing over it for a long time.
Anyway, this is a chapter is kind of slow, but it's setting up for some fun stuff next chapter and I had fun writing some parts of it. Hope you enjoy.
Garrus took a deep breath, or at least as deep a breath as he could manage, crammed into the back of a transport with a crowd of other turian soldiers. Not that he noticed the cramped conditions much. His mind was still far too busy reeling from the implications of what Solana had just told him. He hadn't handled that situation very well at all . As much as he protested he wasn't running away, both she and Victus had been right. Disappearing, and racing off to supervise a crash site, really wasn't actually dealing with the problem of what he was going to say to his father. It was more like moving it to the back of his mind by convincing himself that he had more important things to be doing at the moment.
Not that it was really working right now, since he kept coming back to that, even though the rattling of the ground transport should have been enough to shake all thoughts from his head. It certainly seemed like the other soldiers were experiencing something similar to that. Turian transports weren't exactly built for comfort and all good little soldiers learned that you just had to deal with it, and not complain, even when your ass was about to shake apart. For once in his life he would have been happy to put up with a ride like that, if only so he could forget what it was he was supposed to be worrying about for a little while. Unfortunately, for him, this stretch of road had apparently been cleared enough that the ride was only mildly uncomfortable and not teeth-rattling bad.
Or maybe he was just used to Shepard's driving.
"Spirits," he muttered to himself under his breath. Shepard. He was going to have to explain this to her eventually and he couldn't imagine how you were supposed to bring that up. 'Hey, sweetie, my xenophobic father is coming down soon! He might try to kick me out of the family for dating a human. Thought you ought to know. How was your day? Still playing with the doctors?' He reached up and rubbed his forehead. That sounded bad even in his head. He couldn't imagine how he was actually going to tell her.
"Advisor?" One of the soldiers that had been assigned as a guard detail for him when he went into less stable areas, despite his protests that there was nothing out there he couldn't handle himself, was leaning forward and giving him a look. "Is something the matter?"
"It's nothing," he said quickly and dropped his hand. "Just thinking about where we're headed." Which was about as much truth as he was ever going to give to anyone. The solider nodded slowly and leaned back in his seat. Garrus was left alone with his thoughts for the rest of the ride.
It was a distinct relief when the vehicle finally ground to a halt and everyone stood. The back hatch fell down to let in the distinct burning smell of a recent crash along with a slight breeze.
"Someone go find the officer in charge of the scene," Garrus said as he exited the vehicle. One of the other soldiers saluted him and ran off. Behind him, one of his bodyguards coughed at the taste of ash in the air. Garrus walked over to the crater around the crash site. There was already a team bringing equipment down into the crash itself, although he couldn't imagine they would find much that was useful. Maybe they could pull something off the ship's computers if they had survived reentry but everything else looked too mangled to be salvaged.
As he was shaking his head over it the solider returned with the officer in charge. She was a tough looking lieutenant. One he didn't remember ever meeting before.
"Advisor," she said with a nod when she reached him. "I'm Lieutenant Dainiteus. I've been placed in charge of this area."
"Lieutenant," he said by way of greeting then motioned towards the crash site. "Any information on what's going on down there?"
She glanced down towards where her team was currently carrying a box down into the crater. "The crashed ship has been confirmed as being the Relentless. We lost communication with her during the battles around the Crucible. We haven't received any communication from her since then and, because there were no signs of life support when a scout ship made a flyby, she was left in orbit until we could send a salvage team up to her."
"I see that worked out wonderfully for everyone involved," Garrus sighed, wondering how many more derelict ships were up there. He had probably seen the numbers somewhere, he was sure. Another entry in the endless amounts of lists that the war had generated. He had just been far more focused on things that could be done for those still living that he couldn't remember it off the top of his head. "So I assume you're trying to get what data you have off the computers?"
"Yes sir," the lieutenant said and gestured towards the ship. "We're going to see if we can locate personnel records first. With how spotty the communications, and access to archives, have been that will probably be the easiest way to confirm casualties."
It sounded cold and hard when you said it that way but Garrus was well aware the lieutenant was speaking the truth. His people might be fanatics about organization, and would have assignment lists stowed somewhere, but looking up the crew members of a ship that had been brought down was probably considered low priority. So he just nodded. "Anything useful so far?"
"Not a lot," the lieutenant admitted, "things are pretty fried down there. The techs said they might have something within the next few hours but that's as far as we've gotten. I sent a team down to see if there's anything else salvageable down there. Not that I have a lot of hope, sir, but I think we'll need all the supplies we can find before everything gets repaired."
The unspoken 'if the Relays get repaired' seemed to hover in the air. It was a worry that Garrus was sure every non-human on the planet shared. "Good idea," he said out loud, deciding not to hurt her pride by offering meaningless platitudes. "And I heard the Alliance was the first group that actually found the crash site?"
"Yes sir," the lieutenant nodded, "apparently they were already here when our people first arrived."
"I guess a fiery ball of doom would be a little worrisome for anyone," he couldn't help commenting, "Any trouble with them?" Not that he thought there would be, especially with what he had heard, but it never hurt to check.
"None at all, sir," was the prompt response. "They even sent a representative over." The lieutenant looked over at small group of other turians standing at the edge of the crater. Garrus wasn't remotely surprised to see the blue of an Alliance uniform there, talking with one of the soldiers. "…She's a rear-admiral sir," the lieutenant said, sounding slightly off in her subvocals. "She's related to Shepard. I'm not sure why the humans would send someone like that to a crash site. There's nothing here that's important to them."
That was one of the things that Garrus himself had been wondering ever since he'd seen the politely worded official notification asking if they would need any assistance in the matter. Of course the Hierarchy would turn the offer down, but the reports failed spectacularly at clarifying why in the hell a rear-admiral would be doing something like nosing around a crash site. Granted, he had no room to talk when it came to high-ranking military personnel being involved in frivolous things, but that was him. He didn't think Admiral Shepard was that sort of person.
Then again, this was the woman who had given birth to his Commander Lilliana Shepard. Maybe he shouldn't be that surprised.
"They're probably just being cautious," he said out loud. "Although that is why I'm here. I have the rank and the experience to deal with someone like that. Not that I expect any trouble but better to be prepared." There, that sounded good. Maybe when someone who had overheard his little chat with Sol and the Primarch started gossiping, the Lieutenant would remember this instead of whatever massive rumors were bound to come out of that. Oh, that would be so fun to deal with. Not to mention how much teasing he was going to get for this. Sol was not gentle once she got her teeth into something she found amusing.
"I see sir," the Lieutenant relaxed a little, apparently happy to have some sort of explanation about why one of the military advisors to the Primarch was there. "I can take you over…"
"It's fine," he said waving her away as she started towards Admiral Shepard, "you get back to your men. I can handle this on my own." The last was added with a bit of a glare over to the soldiers still accompanying him, but they ignored it with a level of professionalism he was almost envious of. At least they fell back a few paces once they actually reached her. Near enough to act if they needed to but not near enough to hear every detail that was said. Good. It would be easier that way.
Admiral Shepard had noticed him coming of course. By the time they reached her location she was standing in a pose that was something at a hair less than attention. "Vakarian," she said, giving a polite nod. Her voice was warmer than he had expected it to be which was a nice surprise. Evidently she really was past the initial 'I don't like my daughter dating a turian' thing. Which was good. Even if she wasn't completely wild about it at least they were just going to have to deal with one actively disapproving parent at a time. And he had better kill that train of thought now. He didn't want to think about his father at the moment.
Especially since it really had nothing to do with the matter at hand. "Admiral," he said with a nod back. "I didn't expect to see you out here."
She shrugged, "I happened to be in the neighborhood," she said in a overly clam way that made him fairly sure that was a lie. "And it is my duty as a rear-admiral to make sure that citizens remain safe. I think checking on the crash that comes shrieking down out of the sky into the middle of a city counts as part of that duty." It sounded rehearsed, like she'd gone over the words several times in her head already.
There were many things that he had learned about the older Shepard just by talking with her. Quite a few of them were actually fairly admirable. She just was far, far too honest to be one of the smooth talking political types. He could see where Shepard got it from, although her mother seemed to be a little more…diplomatic than his Commander could be.
"I see," he said, trying to keep the amusement out of his sub-vocals. Maybe Admiral Shepard couldn't pick up on it, but he was damn sure that his fellow turians would and he didn't want them thinking he was laughing at an important human officer. "Things must really be bad off at Alliance headquarters if even a rear-admiral is forced to do field work like this."
The scowl the Admiral gave him was serious enough that for a moment Garrus was sure that he'd messed up everything. Then her lip twitched and she smiled slightly. "Not that bad off just yet, Vakarian, and I know you're aware of that. I'm just the kind of woman who likes to be down on the ground with her men, not leading from the rear."
Given what Victus had been saying about her actions during the war, Garrus wasn't at all surprised to hear that. "So is this some Shepard family trait then? Because I seem to recall a Commander that insisted she had to lead every mission personally." Not that he thought it was a bad thing, not after what he had seen Lil accomplish, but he knew several turian officers that he had driven to distraction during his time on the Reaper Task Force because he had insisted on seeing operations out personally. After a certain rank a good officer was just supposed to focus on telling other people what to do. He couldn't really speak much for Alliance standards but he doubted they were all that different.
The Admiral crossed her arms. "What do you think? I've been told that my daughter might actually be a match for me when it comes to sheer stubbornness but it's not a bet I'm willing to take just yet." There was a slight quirk to her lips that spoke of it being a long standing joke with someone. It occurred to Garrus that before he wouldn't even have noticed that much subtly in human expressions if it hadn't been for his time on the Normandy and his relationship with Shepard. It wasn't something he had consciously tried to pickup but he was glad for the skill right now.
"I'll take that as a warning," he said, hoping that none of his own men were near enough to wonder about this conversation. "And I won't ask anymore questions. Although I'm not sure what the rest of the crash team is going to make of you being here." He was very, very curious as to why Admiral Shepard was being cagey about her reasons for being here but he didn't want to push her either. Dealing with his father was going to be bad enough. He would rather not have to deal with an Admiral Shepard who had decided her daughter's boyfriend was getting a little too pushy.
"They probably think that I'm just another completely insane human," the Admiral said mildly, "I'm actually surprised they allowed you near me at all."
That brought his head up and choked back the first few replies he thought of to that little statement. "And why would that be?" he settled on asking. There was something behind that statement, he was sure of it. It didn't sound like a joke and, after her work on the Crucible, he was willing to bet she wasn't the sort to underestimate the non-human races. He just had a feeling that saying something like 'What did you do' wouldn't exactly be diplomatic.
However the Admiral just gave a slight shrug. "I had to deal with an intruder," she said with a straight face. "A few shots were fired. Luckily the only causality was a hover cam."
His initial alarm faded into a sort of exasperated amusement. "Ah. I wasn't aware that 'violence again reporters' was a genetic trait in humans. I assume whoever it was should be grateful that you have a little more self control than your daughter."
"You mean he should be happy I didn't punch him?" Hannah chuckled, "I was tempted, but I've figured out two things in my career. One is that a gun is usually a bit more intimidating than a pair of raised fists. Two is that companies really don't like things that cost them money. If I'd thrown a punch he might have found a way to wiggle out of his holding cell then screw up enough courage to come back. Whoever's holding his leash might even encourage it, since even a punch like that is great publicity, especially when it involves someone with a reputation like Lil's or mine. Destroy a piece of their equipment though? Suddenly sending someone back to bother me doesn't seem like such a good idea."
"You are a scary woman," Garrus had to admit, "and I really wish I had thought of that. It would have made things so much easier." It really was brilliant in a way. Employees could be replaced easily, but a good quality vidcam? What company would be willing to risk losing something like that? It would cost them actual money. "And I'm guessing the officer in charge of the scene considered your actions a perfectly understandable use of force. Otherwise you wouldn't even be talking with me without an escort."
"Perfectly understandable, huh?" Hannah shook her head. "I'm not sure if I should be relived or scared by that." Before Garrus could come backup with a reply. "Although I suppose we should talk about this mess now before someone decides to come over and make sure we're doing our jobs."
Garrus glanced over at the crater in reflex. He could see some Alliance vehicles far off on the other side holding a perimeter of some sort. Of course they would keep some presence of their own here, even when one of their allies was dealing with the clean up. If this had been Palaven, he imagined his own people would be doing the same. "Yes, we wouldn't want the rank-and-file to think we weren't complete and utter professionals, would we? It's not like we have anything else going for us." Admiral Shepard gave him a look that seemed all to familiar then and he decided that maybe, just maybe, he should get on with it.
"There isn't that much to tell. It's a ship that was all but destroyed in combat. There wouldn't have been anyone alive when it came down so you don't have to worry about that. Right now all that's left is seeing if we can pull anything off the hardware left inside, then figuring out what to do with the scraps. Most of it will probably go toward repairing other ships." At least that's what the rather dry salvage reports had been telling him so far. Maybe this would be different because it'd suffered so much damage but that wasn't going to be his call to make. "Unless there was something interesting that happened during the crash itself, I can't imagine that anyone but the techs will be needed here much longer." Not that we were even needed here at all, a tiny traitorous part of his mind whispered. While he was pretty damn sure that Hannah Shepard hadn't run here to avoid family problems, he was equally convinced that her reason for being out here was as bullshit as his own.
She gave a curt nod at his words though. "That's pretty much what we figured, but I'll let the Alliance know," she said, then let her eyes flicker up, towards the sky. "Although you have to realize this isn't going to be the last bit of debris that's going to come down."
He followed her gaze for a moment and found her watching him when he looked back down. "I suppose there is a lot of junk up there now," he said slowly, trying to match her level of casual. It had occurred to him, once or twice, that leaving that much wreckage there was going to have it's own set of consequences. Trashed ships had just seemed like a very minor concern when dealing with more pressing matters like, say, survival. "Normally I would say something about how we have other things to deal with at the moment but you seem to be pretty sure about this. You have intel that suggests it?"
Garrus didn't think that the Alliance would hide something that big and potentially deadly from their allies. Or at least, he would have thought that if he was the hopelessly optimistic sort of turian. As it was he wouldn't be surprised if they were hiding something, even from their own allies, that were currently sharing the planet with him. After all, he wouldn't put it past his own people to do something like that.
Thankfully all the rear-admiral gave him was a slight head shake. "Nothing concrete," she admitted, "but experience tells me that fate or luck or whatever you want to call it, tends to start dumping shit on your head the moment you think things are running smoothly. I won't deny the fact that we have more than enough to deal with on the ground but, like you said, there's an awful lot of space debris up there at the moment and we're having trouble tracking it. I have an uneasy feeling that at some point, more of it is going to come down, and I doubt it's going to remain polite enough to only fall on areas we aren't using."
Garrus tried not to imagine a massive flaming hunk of metal coming down straight into the middle of a refugee camp somewhere on Earth. Unfortunately, his brain refused to turn off his rather excellent imagination. It was all to easy to picture what kind of carnage that would cause, especially in light of what they had just been though. "Not exactly a pretty picture," he said out loud. "And normally I would be willing to do anything to avoid having more people killed. I just think that 'gut feeling' might not be accepted by our collective leaders."
"Probably not," the Admiral Shepard agreed, "but they might listen when I tell them that we had little to no warning of this coming down and that it's going to happen again unless we get some sort of system in place. Probability means it's going to hit a populated area sooner or later and if it gets out that the military knew but did nothing…" she trailed off ominously.
"You know," he couldn't help but drawl, "for someone who seems to hate dealing with politics, you're becoming eerily good at it." Not that he really thought she had a choice in the matter. Even in the middle of a war, that tended to be one of the things that was either sink or swim. "I'll bring it up to Victus when I see him again. He'd probably be willing to back you up anyway but, when you put it like that, I think even our generals will be willing to see something is wrong."
"Good," Admiral Shepard seemed to relax a fraction of an inch. "Having turian support will count for a lot in an official meeting. It might make people finally start to come up with some ideas on how to actually expedite the clean-up, instead of just clearing their throats and saying that while something needs to be done they aren't sure what." Garrus was going to reply to that but then the Admiral smiled slightly. "And if you can pull that off I'll even forgive you for calling me a politician. That is a deadly insult."
That made him blink and he bit back the first reply because he wasn't sure how much of that was a joke or not. Instead he cleared his throat. "I'll be sure to remember that." That got him a small smile at least. He just wished it was one he could see on his Shepard's face.
Almost as if she had been reading his mind, which was a terrifying thought, the Admiral spoke up again. "So I take it my daughter has said pretty much the same thing?"
"Not in so many words, no," Garrus said, trying to keep his composure. "But the feeling was definitely there. A very strong feeling." Not that Shepard had really needed to say it to him. Not after all they had been though together.
"Somehow I'm not surprised by that," the Admiral's voice returned his attention to her. "Although, speaking of Lil…have you been to see her today? I've been so busy doing the run around for the Alliance that I haven't had the time."
"That's, ah, pretty much been the same with me," Garrus said, feeling obscurely guilty that he hadn't. He locked his hands behind his back to keep from fidgeting. Strange that a human would make him feel like a recruit again, and over something he had no control over. It was one thing to know that Commander Shepard understood when it came to how much his duty was but that didn't mean he didn't feel guilty over it. He would have been out there earlier if they hadn't got the message from field command about a ship coming down and a human admiral poking around the site. It was probably better not to let her know that though. "Time-wasting meetings, listening to every officer that feels the need to ramble on about things they know nothing about…you know how it is."
"Believe me, I do," Admiral Shepard sounded bitter about that. Garrus was curious about it but filed it away in the 'things to ask later' corner of his mind. He really, really didn't want to make her regret giving them her indirect approval. "I'll see if I can make time to get out of here later but I'm not sure I'll be able to make it before it gets too late. Could you tell her I'm sorry, if that happens, when you see her?"
"Ah," Garrus fumbled for a word to that, startled by her absolute certainty that he would be going, "Sure, that I can do." He wasn't sure if she was joking or not when it came to Lil. Or if she was trying to tease him in her own way over their relationship. And he was usually so good at reading people too. This was just one of those things he really, really didn't want to mess up. His bad habit of over thinking every damn thing when he was this nervous still hadn't gone away either. "So I take it that means you're not going to be sticking around here much longer?" Which seemed to be something safe to say after that at least.
"I do have to go back to my own job," the Admiral agreed. "I've already missed one meeting already. I try to dodge anymore and Hackett will never let me hear the end of it." She looked almost disappointed at that.
"Ah," he said out loud. "I take it that meeting happened at the same time our ship decided it was tired of fighting with gravity?"
He counted it as a small victory that Admiral Shepard actually looked startled for a moment before she shrugged. "It…might have been. But having me there would just have been a waste of time. Overseeing this made much more sense.
Of course they both knew that someone of her rank would never have been called out to something as relatively simple as this but he nodded anyway. He had been tempted to find ways out of useless meetings himself. He'd just never been able to come up with something good. "Of course. After all, nothing could possibly compare to fireworks like that."
"Are you mocking me, Vakarian?" she said, but with no venom behind it. Then she shook her head. "In any case, I think I need to be heading back over to the Alliance if you're sure you don't need any assistance over here. There's only so long I'll be able to stall before they'll start to lose patience with me and demand a report."
Given how often he had seen Lil grumbling as she struggled though her own reports, he was more than willing to believe the Alliance was every bit as demanding as his own military was when it came to paperwork. Turians might claim they had the most 'efficient' military force but he was willing to bet on it being something like 'best organized'. Efficient only seemed to work half the time. "We wouldn't want that," he said out loud. "Far be it from me to get in the way of wading though something as enjoyable as writing reports. You can head back. I doubt anything exciting is going to happen. If something unexpected does come up, we can deal with it. If we can't, I'm sure you'll hear about it." Garrus wasn't an absolute expert in politics but you didn't have to be to realize that, even with everything else that was going on, someone in the Alliance would be keeping an eye out on the turian craft that had arrived so spectacularly in the city.
"I had better, Advisor" was the reply from the admiral. He thought from her tone of voice that she was half-joking, but there was enough steel behind it that he really didn't want to chance it.
"Of course, Admiral," he said, which caused Admiral Shepard to chuckle.
"I suppose I'll be seeing you later then," she said as she left. Garrus was sure they were both thinking about the hospital, and the little room that held one of the most precious things to them both, when she said that.
After Admiral Shepard left, there was still the task of trying to explain, to the officer in charge, just what the hell a human admiral had been doing here. Not every turian knew the finer points of human command structure but all of them had been intelligent enough to realize that someone that high-ranked shouldn't have been troubling themselves with something this petty. He hoped his bullshit explanation about her having been coming from a different Alliance errand, and just deciding to do a surprise check on her men, held water. Most of the common soldiers seemed to accept that, after all it was the Advisor saying it and you were supposed to trust those above you, but he had a feeling the officer only half-believed what he was saying.
"So you're heading out now, Advisor?" she asked him after he was done briefing her and had received the latest report about what they had found down there. Which was really just more lists of causalities when it came down to it.
"Yes," he said quickly. There really was nothing more for him to do here. He wouldn't have minded actually helping the engineers take the ship apart, and dig though the data banks, but he had a very strong feeling that everyone else wouldn't like that. After all, it went against the entire turian command structure. Not that they would actually question it, or really try to stop him, but it would probably make everyone else he was trying to work with uncomfortable. It would also probably piss off the older Generals but that would just have been a bonus. He just didn't want some poor solider to pay the price because of his interference. Better just to move on. He also wanted to see Shepard again. Check to make sure she really was doing all right. Miranda had said she would tell him if anything changed unexpectedly but he didn't know what she would count as 'unexpected'. "I was only here because there was a high ranking human officer present and, since I have the most experience working on a human ship, it was felt that I would be the best at dealing with things before a …misunderstanding occurred."
The officer seemed to relax for a second and nodded. "Understood, Advisor," she said. "Honesty, I'm not that good at dealing with humans myself. I worked with some of them during the war but I don't think I ever had to deal with someone that high up. At least now I know I won't have to worry about causing another… Incident."
Garrus gave an encouraging little click in his subvocabls. "I doubt you could have done that badly. Humans aren't that complicated. They just…take some getting used to is all. It's not that hard to talk to them."
He caught a transport out in the direction of the hospital as soon as he was able to escape from the crash site. The report he sent to Victus was very brief and to the point. Not that there was much for him to tell, really. Just something saying 'Okay, I didn't pick a fight with Commander Shepard's mother and nothing sinister is going on.' The next report would probably be a much more detailed one from the officer once the techs had finished pulling all the data they could. Which meant his mind was free to remind him that he still had other, very pressing, things to worry about.
Like the whole 'hey my xenophobic father is coming' thing. Which he still had not come up with a good way to tell Shepard about. He wasn't sure he even wanted to mention it to her, not when she was still recovering. Of course, I really don't have a choice. The thought drifted into his head and he gave a small annoyed grunt. One of the guards, who he was still getting tired of dragging around, gave him an odd look. He hadn't realized that he was leaking his anxiety into subvocals, and Garrus quickly cleared his throat as he clasped his mandibles tight to his face to avoid having them quiver in embarrassment. You would think he would know how to keep his emotions under control this late in the game. Advisors were supposed to be completely in command of themselves. Examples of what a good turian was. And then there's me, he thought to himself as they finally arrived at the medical area. Damn, we're down to the dregs, aren't we? It was a very sobering thought.
Shepard was asleep when he finally reached her room. She was propped up slightly, eyes closed and her breathing even. He slid into a chair next to her bed using every ounce of stealth he knew to keep from disturbing her. Now that she actually had a chance to rest, and there wasn't the risk of the Alliance coming up with some sort of crisis that only she could solve, he didn't want to be the one to wake her up. There was still a part of him that wanted to shake her awake, just to prove to himself that she was awake this time, that she wasn't still trapped in a coma.
He held back that urge but he couldn't stop himself from reaching forward to brush his fingers across the back of her hand. Even though she was awake, even though he knew she was fine, her hands still abnormally small and pale with the wires and tubes that had helped keep her alive leading away from it. At least her color was better than it had been then. He didn't like to think about how washed out she had looked when they'd first brought her back. There had been a few seconds, ones that had seemed to stretch into an eternity for him, when he hadn't been sure she was even still breathing.
He was jerked out of those dark memories when Shepard's hand twitched under his talons and suddenly her eyes flickered open. Damn. And here he thought he'd kept it light enough that his touch wouldn't even register. It had been so long since he'd last really touched her that he must have underestimated how sensitive human skin was.
"Garrus?" she muttered her voice sounding unusually thick. She blinked at him. "When the hell did you get here?"
"Just now," he said. After a moments consideration, he just curled his fingers around her hand. She was already awake. He didn't see what the point in pulling back would be. "Sorry, I wasn't trying to wake you." There was a tiny part that acknowledged that, even though he wanted to see Shepard, when he had walked in and seen her just sleeping he had been relieved. After all, it was kind of hard to explain things that complicated and talking about feelings had never been his strong suit.
"Wake me..?" she stared at him in confusion long enough that he was about to get worried but then she spoke again. "I was asleep? " she said with enough force that he could just about feel her frustration. "But I was just talking with…" she growled to herself and he felt her hand curl into a fist. "God damn it, I'm getting tired of that."
"Hey," he said as gently as he could. This was one of those times where he wasn't sure what to say to her. He knew Shepard, knew she didn't want pity, but he couldn't just say nothing to her when she had that sort of look on her face. "It's only supposed to last for a little while, right? I'm sure no one who comes in here is going to say anything to the great Reaper Slayer if she decides to drift off in the middle of a conversation. Anyone that does complain probably isn't worth talking to."
He hadn't expected her to take that calmly, but she surprised him by chuckling. "Right. I'll be sure to tell that to someone like Hackett if he comes by."
"Go ahead," Garrus said mildly. "I mean it. If someone can't take the hint that maybe, juust maybe, saving every living thing in the galaxy and eradicating a race of nightmare machines is a little exhausting, then they aren't worthy of being in the same room as you."
"Very gallant, Garrus," she said mildly, but pinned him with a sharp stare he just knew meant trouble. "If you want to be any more noble, you can do something useful…like convincing someone I'm not that fragile and can handle being connected to the outside world." He must have given her a blank look because she sighed. "I mean I want my omnitool back. I'm getting tired of hearing everything second-hand."
He stared at her for a moment. Not that he was completely unaware someone was holding back on handing Shepard her omnitool, but he hadn't realized she would start taking issue with it so soon.
Then again, this was Shepard he was talking about. He probably should have been more surprised that it took her this long to bring it up.
"You know," he said, when he finally found his voice again. "most people would be using this as a chance to relax. Let everyone else worry about the galaxy for once, Shepard. You can't even get out of bed."
"That doesn't mean my brain's asleep," Shepard said, in a stubborn voice that he knew all to well, "and I don't appreciate being coddled. A ship crashed into the city and I didn't even here about it until Vega accidentally let something slip." She pulled her hand away from his, "I'm not that weak, Garrus. I'm not so fragile that a bit of bad news is going to break me."
He wondered who in the hell had let that little piece of news slip to her. It wasn't going to help Shepard much if she started hearing about every disaster that happened outside the hospital. They were supposed to be keeping things quiet for her….although, judging by the look she was giving him, that was exactly the problem. Resting quietly wasn't exactly a trait she was remembered for.
"I'm not worried about it breaking you," he said. Shepard didn't like being confined to bed and she was staying awake long enough that now she was bored, with too much time to think. "I'm worried that you'll feel like you have to do something about it. You try to take the responsibility for everything and when you're trapped in a bed that's a little hard to do."
"So I should just sit here like a good girl?" she snapped back. "At least when the Alliance had me locked up, I still had limited access to the outside. Now, everyone seems to be working together to keep me more out-of-the-loop than when I was in prison."
Garrus knew that at least half of her venting was a distraction from how helpless she was. He didn't even want to think of what it must be like for her now. She could clear a battlefield by herself and now she could barely even sit up. If he was in her position he doubted he would be able to keep his temper in check either.
"Well, since you're not in prison maybe I can get Miranda to hand over your omnitool," he said soothingly, "but only if you promise me you won't try to play hero again until the doctors give you the okay to get out of bed."
Shepard gave him a look. "Do you really believe that I would…"
"Yes," he said, cutting her off, "I do think you would do that. You would find some way to do the impossible again, no matter what happens to you in the process. Remember when Dr. Chakwas threatened to tie you down in the infirmary because you wouldn't rest like she ordered you too?"
"That was once Vakarian," she snapped back, and tried to sit up, only to slump back against her pillow. "I can't even walk right now. Even I'm not stubborn enough to try jumping out of bed and dancing around just yet."
"If you can even call what you do dancing," Garrus couldn't help but drawl, although he quickly sobered when he saw the look on Shepard's face. "And you know that isn't the point."
"I get it, all right," Shepard said. "You're trying to make sure I don't have to worry about anything." She gestured around the room. "But then I end up trapped in here, wondering what in the hell is so bad that you don't even want me to know about it. That's not really relaxing."
Garrus knew he could say a lot about how there wasn't anything really that bad going on right now. At least nothing a galaxy saving hero needed to be concerned about. He just knew her well enough to know that words wouldn't make any difference. This wasn't something that could be solved so easily. Honestly, in her place he would feel much the same. It didn't matter that he hadn't been trying to hold anything back from her, she hated being in a vulnerable position. He imagined that finding out everything, even her own body, was out of her control at the moment wasn't exactly the most pleasant sensation. Platitudes weren't really going to help even if she believed them. She was probably more likely to become more sure than ever that they were keeping something from her.
"And if we use that argument against Miranda, we might actually get her to listen to us," he said instead. Shepard looked over at him in surprise.
"So you're actually going to help?" she said, "and here I thought you were going to be part of the 'keep Shepard sheltered' brigade."
He reached out and reclaimed here hand. Even though he couldn't really feel that much through his gloves, the contact was still soothing. "You know I always have your back, Shepard." Granted this was a small, small, thing compared to everything else they had been though but he wasn't about to force her to deal with it alone. "And besides, I shudder to think of the damage you would cause if I left you alone, bored, annoyed, and restless."
"Damage? Me?" Shepard actually cracked a smile at that. "Even though I'm confined to a bed?"
"I'm sure you could find a way," Garrus flared his mandibles in a grin. "You've never let the phrase 'impossible' stop you before now. Better for us to be safe than sorry."
Either the promise of being able to have an omnitool was making her feel better, or Shepard was starting to feel tired, but she relaxed slightly. "I'm going to hold you to that promise. But if I don't see an omnitool here soon I'll start to raise hell again."
"Duly noted," Garrus drawled, then drew his mandibles in. "Now, in all seriousness, how do you feel?"
She looked as if she wanted to say something else, but finally sighed. "Same as yesterday I guess," she shifted a little, "I still feel like hell. It's not as bad as it was before, but it's still there. Still getting tired without doing anything, still can't sit up on my own." He felt her hand twitch, and the one he wasn't holding curled into a fist.
"You're recovering," he pointed out, "even Miranda is saying you're improving faster than anyone thought would be possible." There was a moment of silence after that, and the soft beeping of the machines that surrounded them seemed to give life to his words. Yeah, there were fewer of them around than before, but they were still present. He tried to not mention them, tried to ignore them, but you couldn't shut them out completely.
"I know what the doctors are saying," she said and sighed. "I just don't feel it from where I'm laying."
"Shepard, would any recovery speed but 'magically instantaneous' really be fast enough for you?"
She seemed to pause to think for a moment. "No," she admitted at last. "Just ignore all the grumbling, Garrus. I'm just a bit…."
"Frustrated?" he finished for her. "I doubt I would be any better if I was in your position, Shepard. I get it. After everything we've been though, I know when you're just venting, and when you're being serious." He flared his mandibles in a grin and tried to keep his voice neutral. Shepard wasn't…fragile exactly. At least not anymore. Physically she was still very much recovering but at least she didn't look like she could fade away at any second. Now she was just…exhausted he supposed was the right word for it. Not just the whole falling asleep in the middle of the conversation thing either, although that did have him concerned. He couldn't even bring himself to be surprised by it though, not after the war and knowing first hand how little sleep she would try to get away with.
Maybe it would be a good idea to wait a bit to tell her about the whole 'dad is coming to visit' thing. At least for another couple of days. She would probably have her omnitool back by then, and maybe feel a bit more in control.
"..Thanks," Shepard said, derailing his train of thought. He was actually happy about that. It was easier to lie to himself when he wasn't thinking too hard about it. "For being here," she continued. "Even when I'm being a pain in the ass."
"Considering how often you've put up with me being just as bad? This is nothing Shepard. I always have your back, remember?" He'd told her that many times before, but he felt like saying it again. It was a promise he'd made to himself a long time ago, when she'd pulled him out of the ruins of Menae. He was through being away from her side, wondering if him being there could have changed something. Now he was going to fight to make sure he could stay by her side.
Even if, a part of him realized, it meant fighting with his own father over this again. Ah well, it wasn't like that was anything knew, even if he had come to terms with the old man recently. He felt his mandible draw tight to his face as he considered just how badly his own father would erupt when he found out about Shepard. All Garrus could hope for was that it took place somewhere away from her. He didn't want her feeling responsible for the actions of a single, stubborn, turian.
"Garrus?" Shepard was looking up at him a frown on her face. "I'm grateful for you being here, but are you all right? You're tense." She gave his hand a small squeeze.
"It's nothing," he said quickly, very much not wanting to talk about it. Thankfully he had a way to get around that conversation this time. "Just remembered I have a message from your mother. She's going to try coming by later, but well, she isn't sure that she'll be able to get away." He said it as lightly as he could. As if he was just announcing the weather.
It took Shepard a good second to figure out what he had said, and then the look on her face was highly entertaining. It always impressed him how expressive and flexible humans could be. Her eyes widened for a moment, then her eyebrows pinched together a little in a way he was overly familiar with as she frowned slightly, but then she just smirked a little at him. "You talked with Mom?" she said instead. "Outside of this room? Willingly? I didn't know the two you were so buddy-buddy. And here I was worrying that the two of you wouldn't get along."
"Ah yes, we have so much in common. Meeting over your hospitable bed was such a great bonding experience," Garrus couldn't help saying. "I wouldn't say the two of us are fast friends just yet, but at least she seems to have decided I'm not completely and utterly evil."
"Baby steps, huh?" Shepard shifted a little, and he let go of her hand to readjust one of the pillows behind her head.
She gave a little nod in reply and settled back again. "So what, you and Mom ran into each other…somewhere? Because it couldn't have been in the hospital, not if she told you to give me that message."
He gave what he hoped looked like a nonchalant shrug. "We just ran into each other when we were checking on that ship crash site from earlier. Since you came up in the conversation, she just asked if I would pass along the message."
"…What crash site?" Shepard tried to sit up again, and this time actually managed to proper herself up on her elbows. Garrus immediately jumped up and hovered over her.
"Shepard, you shouldn't.." he started to say, but she gave him that familiar stubborn look.
"What crash site?" she repeated, "and why were both you and Mom there?" He could hear it in her voice, that instinctive worry about what a rear-admiral from the Alliance and a turian that, despite what he thought about it, was a very high-ranking turian were doing meeting over something that routine.
Damn it. Maybe he shouldn't have mentioned any specifics. "You'll only get an answer if you lay down. You aren't going to get out of bed any faster if you push yourself like that."
He thought she was going to argue but after a piercing look she lowered herself back down into the pillows. The machines stopped beeping so alarmingly then. "Fine. Spill it Vakarian."
"First of all, I wouldn't really classify it as a crash," he said quickly. "More like space debris deciding that thought it would see what Earth was like – very up close and personal."
Shepard looked confused for a moment, but she was smart. He saw it click in her eyes then, and she nodded thoughtfully. "They call it a ship crash, but it was already a wreck before it came down?"
"Yeah," he said, "but I guess 'destroyed in battle first' didn't sound nearly as dramatic. It's turian, too, by the way. Not much the Alliance has left to do. I'll be surprised if the newscasts even remember about it by tomorrow."
"Okay, it was a turian ship," she said. "So that's why they sent you." Was what she said, but he heard the confusion of just why it was him that went in her voice. She kept talking though, "but that doesn't explain what my mother was doing wandering around. Was it a turian ship carrying state secrets or something?"
"Ah, no, not this one," he said, "it was a normal vessel. I was only there because your mother was there. It makes the soldiers feel more at ease when someone high-ranking shows up to deal with the human rear-admiral. I didn't want...something happening because there was no one familiar with humans on-scene." Then he shrugged. "Your mother, on the other hand, really didn't seem like she wanted to tell me why was there. All she said was that she happened to be in the area and decided that investigating the crash was more useful than…whatever the hell else she had been doing. She did say she might have been dodging Alliance meetings, but I really didn't feel like pushing her for anymore information beyond that. Might have made things a bit more tense than they are now." He didn't add that Shepard would probably be able to figure out her mother's motives better than he could. He had some guesses, of course, but he didn't think it was that big of a deal.
"Knowing Mom, you wouldn't have gotten anything out of her even if you had pushed. Once she doesn't want to talk about something, that's pretty much it," Shepard said with an air of conviction and experience.
"That sounds so familiar," he couldn't help drawling, "I wonder where I've seen that before."
"Shut it Garrus," she said, but grinned all the same. It was a bit more strained than he was used to, but at least she was calmer now. Although now she was giving him a scrutinizing look that suddenly made him feel like he was on a battlefield again. "All right, you've listened to my complaining. Now it's your turn. You've been acting off since you got here."
"Ah, I'm sure that's your imagination, Shepard," he said quickly in response to that. He hadn't realized that he was being that obvious. And here he thought he could have been a decent actor if he tried.
"Bullshit," she said flatly, "you have that look you get when you see a report that you don't want to talk about. Something else happened, didn't it?"
Since Garrus hadn't even known he had a look like that, he flicked his mandibles in surprise a for a moment before he swallowed. "It was nothing.." he started to say, only to realize how bad that particular choice of words was when he saw the way she frowned.
"Don't say 'nothing important.' Do you really think that's going to work on me?" she said flatly. "Didn't we just get through with the 'please don't hide information from me' discussion? I'll just come up with worse-case scenarios until you tell me the truth."
There was a ton of things that sprang to mind when she finished speaking. Any number of things that Garrus knew he could say instead of bringing up the whole deal with his father. He was tempted to use one of them. Although, even if it was going to worry her, maybe it was best just to get it out into the open. They had faced everything from Reapers to Collectors together. They could probably deal with one crusty old turian if they were prepared for it.
"Your mother was worried that there might be other space debris coming down," he found himself saying instead, despite that resolve. "There's an awful lot of it up there after the battle, and not all of it is going to be nice enough to stay where it is." And that was probably going to be a bit more stressful than knowing his father was coming. He really should have learned when to keep his mouth shut by now.
"If we get all that coming down, then it won't just be confined to uninhabited areas," Shepard was saying, the worry in her voice almost making him wish. Damn. "We have to…"
"You have to rest. Focus on getting out of bed before you try to take on the galaxy again," he said, cutting her off. "Your mother is already taking care of it. She wants me to bring it up with Victus, and then hopefully the two of them can convince the…well, the Council-that-is-not-the-Council that we really should be doing something about it."
"You really think they're going to listen to that?" was the very dry reply.
"Your mother seems to think we can shame them into it," he shrugged at the look Shepard gave him in response to that little statement. "Don't worry, I think with as many various races as we have stranded here right now, at least someone will be logical for once."
Shepard didn't seem to fully believe that and Garrus couldn't blame her. Especially after all the crap she'd been though. He just hoped he could get her to forget about this fairly soon. Or at least distract her from worrying about it. Which, since it was Shepard, wasn't going to be easy.
At least it was something he could focus on. That way he wasn't thinking of anything else. Like what was going to happen when he finally saw his father again and why it was easier for him to tell his girlfriend about potentially deadly crashes than it was for him to tell her that his father was coming to visit.