Title: Damage Control
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Bioware.
Beta Reader: Marie-Fanwriter
A/N: As it stands right now Damage Control is a oneshot, will have a second part later from Shepard's POV. As she isn't the only clueless member on the Normandy who gets randomly hit on.
Timeframe: After Priority: Geth Dreadnought and before Priority: Rannoch.
Summary: Back aboard the Normandy, Garrus is faced with a bit of a problem. As it seems everyone on board, regardless of gender or species, has taken up Normandy's favorite pastime; hitting on Commander Shepard. And, of course, Shepard is her regular oblivious self.
Being aboard the Normandy was akin to being home to Garrus Vakarian. The near silent hum of the Drive core, the smooth curves and surfaces of the hull and interior, the tasteless rations and the cool chill -which was just right for humans but made him shiver if he stood still for too long- all of it was calming and welcoming. It did not matter if he was stuck under the Mako onboard the SR-1, working on calibrating the fickle Thanix Cannon on the state of the art SR-2, or tinkering with the same cannon on the Alliance upgraded SR-2; it was home all the same.
He knew it was because of her. The way she stalked the halls with her easy pace and smile. The way she leaned gracefully to the side as she calmly chatted up her crew like no turian (or even human, as he has learned) CO would ever do. The way her scent lingered when she could spare no more than an hour, a minute, or a second. How she would stop and sit and think where ever she felt like it.
Commander Shepard made it home.
So maybe he had let his guard down a wee bit.
It was just natural to relax when he heard EDI greet him in her slowly warming robotic voice. How he laughed with Joker over the comm as they both worked faithfully at their duties and Shepard would show up like clockwork to check in on him. Liara and Kaidan melded back into Normandy like they never missed a tour and Tali found her rightful place back onboard.
The crew members from all three of his tours on the Normandy had mixed seamlessly together. So, it was only after the weight of his family's well-being was lifted off his chest, and he really began to look around, did he see what was happening.
Because Shepard sure as hell did not.
Was it always like this? It seemed impossible that all of this would bloom overnight. This was the makings of a long process that Shepard was either just as oblivious to as he was, or she was doing deliberately.
He wasn't sure which answer was better, since one implied that the last hope for the galaxy was thicker than a krogan named Wreav, and the other meant she enjoyed toying with her crews' emotions.
Garrus could only watch in fascination as crew member after crew member blatantly hit on their commanding officer. It was like watching an elcor sing; funny as hell, but still left you cringing.
His original intention for coming down to the shuttle bay was to clean his weapons; a calming task. The smells of the cleaning oils and lingering crisp scent of overheated heat sinks were more therapeutic than scented candles or flowers. A weapons bench was available in the battery, but he was making an effort to socialize. Shepard has teased him that he was resident 'battery troll' and that she never had to try hard to locate him.
Clearly, he had taken this as a challenge. Yet, even with his new random movements, Shepard still found him easily enough. Sometimes, she would show up and quietly stand off to the side while listening to him talk to different members of the crew, then leave after flashing him a smile. His odd human still bewildered him on many occasions, and her new eavesdropping habit was one of them.
The hum of the elevator alerted him of a new arrival to the bay. The not-so-soft footsteps of Shepard gave her away as she came up behind him. Turning his head, he caught her eye as she made her way past him. She gave him a rare smile. Not the small touch of one at the corner of her mouth that she greeted the crew with, or the hard line of a smirk that she teased relentlessly with. No, it was a full one that touched her eyes and crinkled the skin at the corners; the one that was accompanied with an ease in her shoulders and a lighter bounce in her step.
A smile that made his own heart race with joy to see.
She gave him an acknowledging nod as she made her way to James Vega. Garrus had spoken with the man a few times. He was easy going enough that Garrus never worried too much about what was said in front of the marine. This was funny, since Shepard claimed she had to 'tip-toe' around the man's feelings, saying that he was too damn sensitive. Only Shepard would find that hulking man to be sensitive.
Hell, she said the same thing about Jack, too.
Watching them talk, Garrus understood. James was clearly too absorbed in Shepard to register anything but her. She was leaning on a wall of crates as James effortlessly pulled himself up on the bar conveniently stationed over his workspace. Shepard had rolled her eyes at Garrus the moment the man started to workout, but soon became too involved in the conversation to shoot him anymore looks.
James flirted with Shepard in such a blatant manner that one would assume he was only doing so for fun. Shepard was clearly taking it at face value. She would laugh at a dirty human joke that was lost on Garrus or give the man a small glare every time he would call her 'Lola.'
She couldn't hear the change in pitch when he called her by her pet name; one that only a turian could hear and was near universal signal in all species that showed affection. But surly she saw his clear need at preforming in front of her; at showing off, what many on the ship claimed, his well-toned human body.
But Garrus was still no master at reading humans. Maybe the man held affection for her in a strictly platonic level? It was possible.
When Kaidan found his way down, Garrus couldn't help but cringe as the man caught sight of Shepard. If Alenko had a reason to visit the shuttle bay other than to locate the commander, it was hard to tell as he quickly latched on to Shepard and Vega's conversation. The three talked easily about Shepard's six month imprisonment. She never said much to him about it; just it was six months of pure, unadulterated boredom that would have had Legion crawling up the walls.
"Honestly thought you were a stick in the mud back then," Vega said as he wiped sweat from his brow.
"I was bored," Shepard answered with an exaggerated slump of her shoulder. "What was I supposed to do? Get hammered and dance naked? Start a few fights?"
"Yes and yes."
Alenko cut in, "You know she had to be on her best behavior. With all of brass watching her every move she couldn't risk acting too rash." It had to be some type of special human biotic skill of his to be able to interject 'morbid' and 'gloomy' into a fairly upbeat and pleasant talk.
Shepard didn't miss a beat. "Although, dancing naked would have either helped pull the sticks out their asses or shoved them up higher." She gave Kaidan a small grin that made him glow.
Vega looked between the two before he said, "Also didn't know you two knew each other. How come you two never talked?"
Shepard's smile turned tight as she clearly fought with keeping it on her face. "I didn't even know Kaidan was there."
Alenko had the good sense to look apologetic. "After Horizon…." Maybe he figured Shepard needed some time to forgive him for his behavior? While it clearly stung Shepard, she had said she understood Kaidan's doubts and would rather have him voice them than keep them locked up. "… I needed time to process the whole you working for Cerberus thing…." He sighed like it was a weight on his shoulders. "I just had to figure out if you were still you."
The horrid sound caught their attention. Garrus had removed his gloves to work on his rifles, so when his right hand had clenched around the barrel of his gun his talons dug into the metal of the workbench and produced the ear splitting noise. His head was bent low as he glared at his scattered mods, hoping that they would not read too much into it.
A merry laugh rung through the quiet of the bay and Shepard called out, "Damn Garrus, everything alright over there? Is your baby being difficult today?"
His mood cooled as her teasing voice drifted to him. Lifting his head up only a fraction, enough to meet Shepard's eyes, he gave a noncommittal grunt and said back, "Nothing a turian of my caliber can't handle."
"Good to know the head of the turian Reaper Task Force can handle cleaning a few rifle mods; should I add that to your file?"
"Only if you add everything I'm good at."
Her face flushed as she laughed again. "I don't think there's enough room for everything, but I will add how thorough you are with your calibrations and how well you scope and drop." Seeing that her mood was back up he flashed his teeth at her and stretched his mandibles. He was smiling and she understood.
Vega and Kaidan were not as lucky, as they both seemed put-off from their exchange and his display.
Shepard, on the other hand, jumped right back into their conversation. "You know you didn't even give me a chance to explain; on Horizon, in Vancouver, and hell, even on Mars." Her eyes grew serious as she finally gave voice to things that clearly still hurt her. "Sheesh, you'd think I stabbed you in the back at some point with how you were acting."
"Cerberus was a stab in the back." His soft voice was firm as he evenly met her eyes. Vega took the hint and slowly backed away to give them space. He clearly had no interest in leaving, just moving out the way in case things began to escalate.
Shepard did not bother with her controlled commander persona, she looked at him as Charlotte Shepard, and the hurt and rage was oozing from her. "And I get that Kaidan, I really do, but to not even hear me out? To say insane shit like 'what if Cerberus was controlling the Collectors'? Hell it wasn't even just me there; Garrus was right there too. If you were pissed at me you could have asked him." She waved in Garrus' direction. "But you just let your emotions cloud your judgment."
"And I wasn't allowed to be angry?" His eyes flashed as he raised himself to his full height. "You were gone for two years. Do you know how hard it was to move on without you? Then you show up like nothing happened and, Jesus Shepard, I was happy, and sorry I'm not a turian and just can't drop everything and act like nothing happened." He took a deep breath and went on. "But how was I supposed to know you were being rebuilt for those two years and not just working your way up Cerberus' ranks?"
Act like nothing happened?
"By asking!" Shepard yelled as she threw her hands up in frustration. "That's my whole damn point! And no, Garrus' didn't just jump on the 'Shepard Saving Universe' bandwagon. I showed up and helped him out of a jam; the same thing I did with you! Only difference was he fucking asked me what the hell was going on and listened." She was seething now; her eyes wide with rage, her face flushed and her body tight, ready to pounce.
Spirits, Garrus could not take his eyes off of her. He was openly staring at her now. Yeah, a few other crew members where sneaking glances her way, but only he was doing so in such a brazen manner.
Kaidan was not about to back down. "But I wasn't the only one with doubts, was I?" Shepard's temper cooled as she was reminded of Tali's and Liara's hesitation. "You're acting like I'm the odd one out."
Garrus prickled as Kaidan took a step towards Shepard as her anger gave way to uncertainty. It took all he had not to jump up and race to her side. This was something she needed to deal with and he knew she would not like his interference.
"How do you think I felt? I was dead Kaidan. I lost two years of my life and I found out I could only count on one-"
He cut her off. "No. You can count on me." His hand touched her elbow for a moment before he rubbed the length of her arm. His head dipped towards her. "You can always count on me, even if I tend to be a little thick headed; I'll follow you anywhere, Shepard."
"Nagging me all the way?" She gave a tired smile as his head touched her.
Taking a deep breath, Garrus controlled the urge to rip the two of them from each other. That gesture did not mean the same to humans as it did to turians, he reasoned.
Plus, he was not too sure if she still wanted him. The most they've shared since he came back aboard the Normandy was a short kiss. Yes, she did come daily to visit him, but that was how Shepard always was.
"Someone has to be a voice of reason with the amount of trouble you get into." He hugged her. He held her longer than was appropriated, longer than Garrus liked. Long enough that Vega gave a loud cough to show he was still present.
She pulled away and smiled at Kaidan; the smile touched her green eyes.
He was shaking. Over and over he reminded himself that they weren't turians; that they did not know how many lines they just crossed. That Shepard was not his mate and he was not even sure if he could call himself her boyfriend. That as much as he wanted to, and by the Spirits he wanted to, he could not spring up, grab Shepard and show them she was his. To take her up to her cabin and remind her who it was she gave herself to. Who she belonged to.
No, this was Shepard; if anything he belonged to her.
"Keelah Garrus, why are you growling?"
Tali had slide into his sight. Her hips were cocked as she rested her hand on one side and her shotgun was flung over her shoulder with ease. Her glowing eyes narrowed under her mask as she bent slightly towards him.
"Shit, Tal, where you pop up from?" He regained his senses as he looked up at the young admiral.
"Elevator." She waved her shotgun and her bright eyes crinkled in a smile. Reaching down with her free hand, she pulled a ruined mod from Garrus' grip. "Is there a reason you're destroying poor helpless mods?"
Leaning back, Garrus couldn't help but feel a little silly at his actions. He rubbed his fringe as he gave her a sheepish smile.
Tali rolled her eyes… well he thought she did, as her head bobbed the same way Shepard's did when she rolled her. "You're a strange one, Vakarian," she said as she turned with her hips and walked away. It took her a moment to find another chair and join him at the workbench.
He took the chance to glance at Shepard. Her and Kaidan were still talking. Vega was gone (maybe he left when Tali had showed up?). Tali followed his gaze and the light on her mask twinkled with her laugh. "Oh, I get it." Turning to him, her shoulders bunched as she leaned on the table and the small light flashed with her one word, "Jealous."
"I'm… I'm not jealous." His protest sounded weak to his own ears.
She gave a squeal that made her light flare. "You are! That's so sweet!" She was leaning fully on the table as she giggled. Shepard was giving them strange looks now as Garrus tried to push the excited woman back down in her seat.
"Tal!" She plopped down with a laugh and her eyes were just small glowing arches.
Rubbing his fringe he let out a haggard sigh, "Mind keeping your voice down? Sound does carry down here."
"How else would you be able to eavesdrop?" Spirits, he would never hear the end of this. It looked like he picked up some bad habits from his commander.
"Eavesdrop on whom?"
A chill went through him as Liara's voice came from behind. Turning he saw the Shadow Broker was tilling her blue head at them. She looked expectantly at Tali and Garrus could only shoot her a warning look.
"It's nothing," Tali waved as she dismissed the question. "What brings you down here Liara?" That was a good question, since she almost never left the crew deck. "Looking for Shepard?" There was the same teasing in her voice that she had used on him. Liara shifted awkwardly on her feet as her face took a violet hue. Evidently, Liara forgot her original question.
Garrus could only wonder; when did the little quarian get so good at reading us?
"Um, yes I was. But she appears to be busy at the moment."
Garrus gave a huff. "Not really. They're not talking about anything important."
"And how would you know that?" Tali leaned closer as she whispered. Liara had her attention on Shepard, judging if she should go over, so she did not catch Tali's words.
He gave Tali the blankest stare he could muster.
Her mind made, Liara headed over to Shepard. Garrus tried his hardest not to listen, he really did, but the moment Liara stepped into Shepard's personal zone, and Kaidan stiffened, he couldn't help it.
It was the same as on the SR-1; Both Kaidan and Liara preening for Shepard's attention. Was he the only one with enough sense no to openly hit on their commander? Not that he wanted to back then. But now….
It was hard to tell Liara's intentions. The young asari always had an awkward vibe to her that could easily be misread. So it was hard to tell what it meant when her shoulders brushed Shepard's or she shot her a shy glance.
Kaidan's bolder moves were easier to read.
"Bosh'tet, Garrus. Have you been watching this?" Tali was slack-jawed… how did he even know that? Was it from how wide her eyes were? Or how her hand had come up to touch the edge of her helmet? "No one is that dense." She paused. "Well, maybe Shepard…." They watched as Kaidan laughed harder than needed at a joke Shepard made and bumped his shoulder into hers. "Yeah, definitely Shepard."
Wordlessly, Garrus looked back at his rifle and continued his maintenance. Tali turned back to her gun, only to pause. "Hey, why don't we go get something to eat? Some freeze-dried paste sounds yummy right now." She reached over and began to assemble his rifle.
The M-29 Incisor sniper rifle Shepard had given him. It was a powerful and pricey weapon that was only acquired for her through Miranda and the Illusive Mans funds and connections. While it was meant for Shepard, as she was damn fine shot with a sniper rifle (he took a bit of pride in that), she had immediately given it to him. She complained that it too much for her- a clear lie on her part- and that her M-98 Widow was more than she needed with her cloak active.
He batted her hands away.
"I'm not hungry." Still, she reassembled his weapon and placed it in the armory along with her gun and the mods.
"Come on." She tugged him along to the elevator.
If he had glanced back, he would have seen a pair of soft green eyes following him.
"Oh Spirits." Garrus cocked his head at the turian curse Tali gave. Sitting across from him the quarian shook her head as she looked to her right. Glancing over, he caught sight of Shepard walking Liara to her room just as Allers, who was at the same table, saw her too.
"Commander Shepard!" The reporter waved the commander over with a wide grin. Shepard walked over and stood next to her.
"Need something, Allers?" She said with the typical tilt of her head.
"No, no, just wanted to see if you want to sit and chat."
"Off the record?"
The smaller woman laughed, "Of course."
It was always strange that the reporter would wear such little clothing to him. It did not seem very professional.
Shepard gave a sweep of the table, nodding at both him and Tali, as she sat across from the reporter; one chair down from Tali.
Then the flirting started again. Garrus was surprised by how amused he was considering how heated he was earlier. Maybe he though Kaidan still had a chance with Shepard, while Allers was hopelessly, as the humans say, barking up the wrong tree.
Allers would lean forward to show her chest and coyly tip her head as her voice turned seductive. From Garrus' seat he was able to see the way the reporter would accidently brush her leg against Shepard's as she crossed and uncrossed them.
The fact that Shepard was clueless was plain hilarious.
"Maybe we can have another off-the-record interview… in private next time."
"Sure, sounds reasonable."
Tali's head fell into her hands as her light flashed erratically and her shoulders shook with every flash. Garrus could not help but let out a bark laugh once he realized she had turned off her speakers to silence her hysterical laugher.
Allers gave a small pout that made her already overly round human cheeks puff out even more. "I mean, we could keep the cameras on if you want…"
Shepard's face scrunched up as she asked. "Then how is that off the record?"
The pure confusion in Shepard's voice sent him over the edge as both him and Tali fell face first on the table. His mandibles hurt as they stretched wide and his roar of a laugh startled the mess hall.
"What the hell is wrong with you two?" Shepard barked as she folded her arms, not happy to be out of the loop. Allers only sighed as she shook her head and left.
Tali tried to recover first. She made a sweeping motion with her hand, only to fall over in another fit once she realized her com was still off.
"Nothing, nothing," she managed with a wheeze. She looked at Garrus. "Inside joke."
Shepard was not pleased and was clearly set on getting an answer. Only then Traynor sat down between Tali and her, while Engineer Daniels took the one next to Garrus and Donnelly took the reporters seat.
"What's with all the ruckus?" Gabby asked as she began to cut into an oddly gray piece of meat.
Seeing that Traynor now blocked Shepard's view of Tali, she leveled her hard gaze on Garrus and asked, "Yes, Vakarian, what is all this ruckus about?"
Garrus meet her commander look and was shocked at how little it affected him anymore. Staring down the angry commander use to give him a gnawing sense of dread, but now he could only think how cute she looked, with the hard press of her glossy lips and the straight line of her brow as she glared at him.
His head titled to the side as his flanging became soft, almost a purr. "It's nothing, Commander." His tone was lost to even Tali as Shepard gave a light blush. As much as he wanted to tease her, he held back. If it was just Tali with them then it would have been different. But with the three new humans, he wasn't about to say anything that would have them think they could speak to the commander the same way.
She let it drop as Traynor began to talk to her. While the two engineers had brought trays of food, Traynor had brought a data pad. It was placed between the two of them as she talked about how they were finally making progress with the still undeveloped areas of the ship. Shepard had braced an arm on the surface of the table as she leaned over the screen; her short dark locks of hair brushing against the skin of Traynor's forehead. Slowly Traynor began to fidget as she became all too aware of how close the commander was. Her skin was flush and her eyes would dart to Shepard's and linger on her face far too long.
"Maybe you can even cover that missing panel by my door; it kind of freaks me out." Shepard admitted with a laugh. "Sometimes I just stare at it like a Collector is going to come waltzing out at any moment."
"S-sure." Then after her eyes shifted to Shepard's shoulder, "I can see your cabin being kind of… lonely. I mean with how big it is and not having anything else on the deck."
"Yeah," Shepard sighed. "Lonely." Her green eyes flickered to Garrus and he felt his body tense at the softness in them.
"If you ever want company…" Traynor trailed off as she pulled back from Shepard and gently bit her lip. Shepard grinned at Traynor.
"I'll keep that in mind."
The girl's face lit up and Garrus actually felt bad for her.
With a sharp tug on his cowl, by the somehow now standing Tali, Garrus was sent stumbling out of his chair. Once steady on his feet Garrus narrowed his eyes at the small woman. She yanked on his arm before he could question her. "Bring your ass; I need back up with the other admirals anyway." Tali's voice was firm and he knew she would keep dragging him along even if he put up a fight.
Plus, she had a freakishly strong grip….
He was too far out of range to hear Traynor coo, "Aw, they make such a nice couple."
Or see Daniels and Donnelly exchange knowing glances at the slight panic on Shepard's face.
"Shepard-Commander has acquired a large amount of potential partners. All of whom she has failed to acknowledge."
"She doesn't realize she's being hit on."
"Illogical. The rate at which these encounters occur are enough for a probability timeline to be established with an error of 27.89056%."
"Really? When is the next one happening?"
"Once this exchange is completed between Shepard-Commander and Copeland-Ensign the next encounter will occur in three minutes and two seconds with a margin of error of three seconds."
Three minutes and three seconds later.
"Ah! You're right!" Tali giggled.
"We do not understand how this trend is lost on Shepard-Commander."
"It's called being clueless."
"There are plenty 'clues'."
"It's also called 'being Shepard'."
Garrus sighed at the conversation as he leaned back on the metal wall. He was standing on the curving walkway around the center if the war room. Tali was in-between him and Legion and she seemed far to use to seeing Shepard both flirt and be hit on in return.
"I swear she is following you Garrus," Tali reasoned as they all watched their commander.
"It's a war room and we're in the middle of a war," Garrus laughed. "Now if she shows up in the men's bathroom…"
"EDI has locked Shepard-Commander out of that section of the ship, as she would frequent it despite the objections of the current occupants."
"Oh, keelah, I remember that!"
Garrus joined Tali in a laugh. Shepard did have strange boundary issues.
"Do these encounters bother Garrus Vakarian?" Legion had bent forward to angle his eye… er, light on Garrus.
"No, not really. It's not like she's doing it on purpose, after all." At least he didn't think so. But Legion was right; it was happing way too much for her not to have a 'clue'. Garrus held the geth's gaze before a thought hit him and he wondered how far along the geth was. Was he at the same level as EDI? "Does it bother you, Legion?" Tali turned to watch as Legion's metal plates expanded and contracted as he looked at Shepard.
"Why?" Tali pressed.
"If what was said is true, then the outcomes of these events will be most unfavorable for Shepard-Commander. As she will feel negative emotions at inadvertently harming members of her crew."
Tali's shoulder sagged as she was clearly frowning. "I didn't think of that…"
Neither did Garrus.
He watched as Shepard gave a small laugh; her bright green eyes glittered as her voice danced around the room. For a moment her eyes caught his and her eyes seemed to glow even brighter.
The need not to disrupt the crew with open displays of affection was still there. Only the counter need of stopping the not-so-finely veiled attempts at seducing his commanding officer was greater.
… This was something Garrus never though he would have to deal with. Sometimes working with humans and asari was more trouble than it was worth.
The mess hall was filled to the brim in one of the rarer moments where near the whole crew happened to congregated together to eat and talk. Even Joker and EDI's platform had left the ship on auto-pilot to join the crew.
Thinking back to the last few encounters he had with the commander- the looks and smiles she shared with him- he tried to reason she would not… not….
Ugh, his stomach was a ball of twisted knots. Only Shepard could make him feel so damn vulnerable just by thinking of her.
Food was a poor idea in his state, so he had taken to leaning near the hall to the battery, looking as nonchalant as he could as he waited for Shepard to show. For a while he feared she was done with her rounds and had finally retreated to her cabin for the night- not that he didn't like the idea of following her up and joining her- but he was pleased to see her round the corner with both Legion and Tali with her.
A low chuckle left him at knowing the two most likely lured her to the crew deck. It was short lived as Alenko called her over to him as he stood near Joker's seat.
Shepard faltered in her steps as she caught sight of Garrus. For one moment it looked like she would keep going and join Kaidan. And he knew that it would hurt; far more than it should, but hurt none-the-less.
With a dismissing nod at Alenko, she said a few words to Tali and Legion and joined Garrus.
"Hey." Her full attention was on him as she sifted from side to side. Hands behind her back, not at parade rest, but something far more endearing; green eyes soft and hooded as she smiled gently at him.
Without a second thought he leaned down and kissed her. A small pleased gasp escaped her lips and he fought the urge to deepen it. With one hand at her waist and the other cupping her head he pulled back, meeting her eyes with his.
"And what was that for, Garrus?" She laughed as he touched his forehead to hers. She placed her hands on the cowl of his armor to steady herself.
He could see the stunned mess hall in his vision as he smirked at her. "I believe you needed that."
The look she gave him screamed, 'you cocky bastard.' "You know me so well." Shepard closed her eyes as she enjoyed their contact for a moment longer. Blissfully unaware of the amount damage control he had just done, and he was going to keep it that way.
Shepard was always worth the trouble in his book.