1. shackles

Sometimes, he feels like he's chafing so badly under the red tape that it's going to just keep rubbing and sawing away his skin until there's nothing left but bones; nothing left but the framework that his father gave him. By the book, his bones say, you do things right or you don't do them at all. And no matter the blood and skin you pile over that, the bones are always there.

When his military service ends and he joins up with C-Sec, his superiors are more than willing to pin him under their thumbs in his father's absence. You're a damn Vakarian, one harshly reprimands him, and you've been riding on that name so long that you're going to drag it down. Do things by the book. Do it by the book or don't do it at all.

Garrus doesn't give a damn about the book, and it one day it lands him in a shootout alongside Commander Shepard at Dr. Michel's clinic. Afterwards, he learns that she's going after the rogue Spectre he's been trying to nail for days. He pleads to join her, to escape this world of regulations and limits and follow something other than his legacy for once.

When she accepts his offer with a handshake, he feels the weight lift from his bones, and realizes that his heart has been the one leading him all this time.


2. drive

Shepard hangs back with her arms crossed, irately eying the vehicle. "I told you this would happen."

"I didn't believe you."

"There's a reason I endure being the butt of all your driving jokes, Vakarian. They're all true."

Still flabbergasted, Garrus shakes his head and sticks his arms out towards the wreckage, looking back at her. "Shepard, it doesn't move off of the tracks. Crashing it should have been impossible."

She smirks proudly. "When has that ever stopped me?"

He sighs. Glancing up again, he surveys the damage once more: the fake, miniature Mako had been totaled against the pillars of the ruins, which had been carefully sculpted to resemble those in real Sur'Kesh tombs. He winced as he wondered how much the amusement park had paid to create this ride. "Point taken."


3. grave

"I would have liked to meet her," Shepard whispers hoarsely. Her arm bumps Garrus' as she reaches for his hand, twining their fingers together.

Garrus rumbles thoughtfully. "She would've liked you."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah." his voice cracks. "You piss off my dad."

She laughs, a quiet, subdued sound, and leans her head into his shoulder. His fingers clench tightly around hers, a shrill vibration humming in his chest. He turns to bury his face in her hair.

Shepard wishes she knew how to tell whether a turian was crying.


4. heat

Garrus looks at her like she's sprouted another head when she tells him that she loved the cold. She remembers his pointed words to her on Noveria all those years ago, how he'd headed straight for the cafe at the Mezzanine on Port Hanshan and ordered something warm to drink. The sweltering, humid skies of Virmire had suited him much better, allowing him to dance around his human allies who grew sluggish from the heat.

"It made me feel alive," she added, looking up through the skylight of her cabin. "The nippiness and the shock it gives your body. I loved it."

Garrus taps a finger on the armrest. "Hmm. Speaking in past tense?"

Shepard is quiet, her eyes never leaving the stars shining through the skylight. She smiles thinly. "Space is freezing."

They sit in silence for a few moments. Garrus' gaze follows hers to the empty vastness above, and she wonders if he's thinking what he is-that it isn't just above, but below, behind, everywhere. Always. No matter where you are, surrounded by nothing but a frigid vacuum.

There's a sudden tug on her arm. She wordlessly makes room for him to sit next to her, leaning into his neck while his arm drapes around her. "You're warm," she faintly notes.

He hums again. "You know I hate the cold."


5. whisper

"Garrus," she chokes feebly, her arm outstretched. "Garrus..."

The shuttle is pinning him flat against the floor, a cobalt blue pool spreading beneath him. He scrabbles for a purchase on the sleek metal floor, its surface marred by streaks of ash and blood spatter, and he's speaking back to her, but his gnarled visor is flashing rapidly and hers must be too because hardly anything recognizable is making it through the translator. His eyes flit between hers and the metal spike jutting through her, nailing her down to the floor.

Her world spins, arm growing heavy enough to drop down. It makes a light splash in her blood as it flops. Shepard grins, suddenly mirthful. "A couple of regular shish kebabs, huh?"

"Shepard..." she glances up and sees that his visor has rebooted. Garrus' mandibles are slack against his soot-covered face as he reaches for her, looking like he'd be willing to part with his entire lower half if it would let him drag himself over to her. "Sh...shep..."

Shepard shakes her head.

Garrus stops, eyes lidding, and lets himself drop to the floor. They listen to the symphony of gunfire around them. Bullets thudding into flesh. Screeching tire wheels. And the lyrics, the shouted orders from each side. Her hand twitches uselessly for her pistol. A reflex.

"Garrus." She reaches her hand out again, her fingers splaying across the floor. The metal bar pulls at her innards. "Meet me there?"

His laugh sounds like a gurgle as he reaches his own hand out for hers. They manage to touch fingertips.

"On your six," he whispers.