::ll:: All these toys belong to Bioware; I just smush them together and make kissy noises. ::ll::

A/N - Howdy! Sorry for the vague synopsis thing above. This started out as one idea, then I just decided to incorporate other bits of ideas to make a big ol' pot of ideas. I don't know how it's going to turn out.

This isn't, or at least, I don't think it's a fix it fic. I'm trying to keep as close to canon as possible following the ending of ME3. Honestly, I didn't HATE the ending like most of the internet did. I mean, I didn't like it, but then I had decided back in January that I'd never like any ending purely because it was an end to the trilogy. Also, just in case future people read this (I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords. Your mandibles are to die for), I'm scribbling before the Extended Cut DLC comes out, just in case it renders this story useless. :)

The only huge thing I'm changing is the Normandy not crashing on some random planet. For those interested;

Red/Destroy Ending - In my mind the Catalyst is a filthy little lying liar who lies, trying to convince you to go with the other two options and while all the Reapers still bite it, the Geth, EDI and the Relays suffer no long term damage. I could write an essay explaining my thinking so for simplicities sake, I'm going to be super vague with these bits and try to keep mentioning them to a minimum, at least for now.

My main motivation, if that's what you want to call it, stems from Liara having to wait to years for Shepard to return in ME2, what if the tables were turned and Shep was the one left in the lurch? Also, I wanted to try and play about with melding, in the non sexy sense.

Plus, y'know, I want my blue babies, dammit.

It's because of this, my main focus isn't on the ending itself, it just seemed the easiest place to insert this story into the main line. Although depending on how things go, I might take the opportunity to explore the Galaxy post-Reaper.

Again, tell me what you think, especially if it's awful. Otherwise I'll just continue to fill your life with rubbish dribble and no one wants that. Help me to help you to help me to help you to help oh god I've gone all cross eyed.

ALSO: I am once again struggling with the Rating, Categories and Title for this fic, so if you've got any suggestions I'd love to hear them.

So ja, that's enough from me. On with the show :)


v-v-v-v-v-v

She fired the last few shots from her pistol, cracking the casing of the Crucible. Small explosions sputtered inside the contraption. Shepard could only stare, enraptured.

This was it.

For the past three years, everything she had fought for, died for., it all ended here. She'd be lying if she said she wasn't a little bitter. After all, she had given more than most to save this galaxy and all who inhabited it. And what had she gotten out of it?

Her death had caused more problems than she could have imagined. While the council had never fully trusted her, not that she thought they ever would, others had turned their backs in disgust or in fear. Her friends. The Alliance.

Liara.

Nearly losing the Asari had almost destroyed Shepard, worse than the Collectors ever could. However, by some luck, be it the planets aligning, Spirits or some Goddess, whatever you wanted to call it, they had found each other again. There were times, especially near the end where Shepard had very nearly given in. After Earth, Palaven, Thessia, her only saving grace had been Liara, once more pulling her back from the dark places.

As the war wore on, she found it difficult to care. She had felt numb, hopeless. Death just became a number, a constant companion. But then she thought about Liara. She thought about her, them, together, safe. She had joked about little blue children before but beneath the veneer, Shepard was deadly serious. For once she could imagine a life outside the Alliance. Just nice. Just happy. That thought had given her something to live for.

So it was only natural the universe demand she die, again. That was what Shepard truly resented. She had given so much, so that everyone else could live and be happy. But what about her? Where was her happily ever after?

She pictured Liara, now, alone. She had seen what her death had done to the Asari first hand. Even now that they were together again, Shepard still felt the occasional pangs of her pain and grief. During their melds, the two years of Shepard's absence were walled off tightly, a cold bitter corner in Liara's otherwise warm and loving mind. Neither Human or Asari were to blame for it, of course, that fell solely on the Reapers. But those two years were still there, a poisonous lump of hurt that Shepard worried would never fully disappear.

She couldn't do that to Liara. Not again.

I'm always coming back.

Shepard broke out of her reverie.

She was always coming back.

She looked at the Crucible. Her part was done. If she stayed, she would surely die in the explosion. But she had no reason to stay.

I'm coming back.

Shepard set off back down the walk way at a stunted pace. Her ankle gave an angry twang as her hip threatened to buckle. Something was sprained. A good few somethings were sprained, or worse. Clenching her teeth, she overrode the elevator controls and hopped down onto the quickly descending platform. Shepard gasped as pain shot into her spine. Great. Now she could add back pain to her list of maladies. Maybe I'll get a bingo.

She hobbled past two bodies and let out a heavy sigh as she regarded Anderson. I'd take you if I could but I can't stop. Not now. I promised.

Shepard heard the explosions overhead, growing in size. Continuing down the corridor, the stench of rotting corpses filled her nostrils. She gave a small wretch at the smell, aided in part by the sharp pains ricocheting around her body.

The light from the beam grew brighter as the Commander moved closer. She increased the urgency of her shuffling as heat from the explosions tickled the back of her neck. Shepard's last movements were a sloppy half stumble, half jump as the explosion caught up with her, propelling her off her feet and sending her clumsily somersaulting into the beam, praying it was two-way.

I'm coming back.


The quiet of the battlefield was punctuated by the soft, steady hum of the transport beam centred at its foot as sounds of distant struggles were muffled by the walls of the surrounding crater. Garrus Vakarian sat up in a daze.

Growing up he had always been told that Turians didn't duck because it was an evolutionary weakness. My ass. It would've come in handy ten minutes ago. He nursed his narrow waist gingerly, flinching as he felt an ooze escape the tender flesh. The only non-plated part of his body and it takes the first chunk of shrapnel it can get. Typical.

Taking stock of the rest of his body, he was relieved to find only small gouges out of his plates. Blood had been drawn and he was sure his fringe had been chipped, but all in all, he was doing a damn sight better than the poor bastards that surrounded him. It was with a sinking in his gut he realised he was most likely the only living thing on the field.

He remembered Harbinger, the beams. Shepard. Spirits, Shepard. He had watched as she had taken what looked like a direct hit before the Mako to his right exploded violently under fire of its own, sending him flying. Not like this. We were so close. She can't just die. Not now. He shuddered, looking up to the sky.

He was distracted as the transport beam that they had fought so hard to reach began pulsing, the hum grew louder, stronger. He squinted, only to recoil slightly, startled by what he saw. A body flew out with force, careening through the air, like a ragdoll, before landing with an audible thump in a pile of rubble. He barely had time to process the sight before a red wave of electricity swept the land, washing over anything and everything. It tickled as it brushed his skin. He sat for a few more seconds, unsure if he was slowly going insane, before a cough spluttered into a moan from the rubble. He jolted into action, regretting it instantly as his waist flaring in pain. Garrus set off with renewed tentativeness.

Someone else was alive. That was good news. And right now, he'd take all the good news he could get.


Shepard landed unceremoniously on the rubble, noting the audible crack and stab of pain in her torso. There's still a few bones in my ear that you've haven't mangled yet. There was a warm trickling and loud ringing that seemed to encompass the right side of her head. She attempted a chuckle, which came out as a strangled groan. Of course not.

Her vision blurred as a ball of red light illuminated the sky, hurtling out in all directions. For the second it passed over her, Shepard felt calm, relaxed. It had been an age since something hadn't been hurting inside her. It was nice. She could get used to this. As quickly as it had appeared, it was gone, and the pain seeped through once more.

She was vaguely aware of a figure standing above her, examining her through sharp blue eyes.

"That's the ugliest chicken I've ever seen." She rasped, her voice hoarse.

"Says the bald monkey that's more purple than pink at the minute?" he chuckled. Shepard only gave an exaggerated sigh.

"We've been through this Garrus; I'm not a monkey. I'm an ape-"

"- Monkey's have tails. I know."

"So are you going to be a gentleman and haul your old CO's ass up anytime soon?"

"It wouldn't be the first time." He finished, offering a claw. Stumbling to her feet and down onto solid ground, she looked up at Garrus, before giving an awkward hug. He returned the embrace delicately, not wanting to cause further damage. They stood for a minute, before the Turian broke the silence.

"Did you do it?"

"I think so. I mean, I shot it and it exploded. That's usually a good sign for me."

"I can't argue with results." He said as the pair parted. Shepard glanced around her surroundings.

Aware she was only armed with a dud pistol, Shepard was relieved to find her Claymore shotgun, which had been blown from her hand in the final assault, suffering little else than some chipped paint. The pair made their way back to the rendezvous, hoping the others were already there.

It was foolish to think everyone she had cared about survived, but a small part of the Commander clung on to the hope that they had. She only took on the best. And they were the best for a reason. Garrus stopped her from getting swarmed by her thoughts. He gave her a side glance.

"How're you feeling?"

"Like I just downed a yard of Ryncol. Again." The Turian only laughed.

"Say what you want about Cerberus, but at least they put out top quality products. I wouldn't be surprised if you were rigged to win back the cost of that Lazarus Project through drunken bets alone. That was some night."

She smirked at the memory. In truth, it actually didn't feel that different from her Ryncol induced hangover. Touching her side, she was relieved to find the blood had become sticky and congealed. She was also aware of an unnatural heated thrum coming from her abdomen, as a faint orange glow emanated from it, in addition to smaller pockets of synthetic warmth that radiated throughout her body.

Her cybernetics were in overdrive, healing her body at several times the speed it would take a regular human. Even in the short time she had been talking to Garrus, Shepard felt markedly better than she had landing in the rubble. As long as she didn't do any further damage or lose any more blood, she would make a full recovery with Doctor Chakwas' help.

She grimaced at the thought of the Doctor. At that moment, Shepard was never more thankful for the Hippocratic Oath; otherwise she was certain the good doctor would throttle the Commander for taking so little care of her body.

The pair gingerly made their way up the side of the crater, as the noise of a nearby battle became clearer. People were still fighting. People were still alive. Hope flickered through Shepard, giving her a burst of adrenaline as she cleared the crest and moved towards the sound.

I promised you. I keep my promises.

I'm coming back.