Author's Note: Story from a kinkmeme prompt (with very little kink in it) that I really latched onto. It was a very long and detailed prompt, so I'm not going to post the whole thing here.
A couple of notes: I have not yet played the Extended Cut, so this story ignores anything that happens in it. It also plays fast and loose with the canon ending, in ways that should become clear as the story progresses.
Shepard came to slowly, with the sickening awareness that everything hurt, and that she wasn't sure how long she'd been out. She groaned and opened her eyes. The light seemed odd, and her vision was blurry, but she thought there was a familiar face. "Garrus?" she croaked, hopefully.
"No, I'm afraid not." It was a turian voice, but lighter, unfamiliar. Shepard blinked several times, and the face swam into focus. She understood her mistake; the turian had similar coloring and the same markings, but had a narrower face, and no scars. "I'm Solana Vakarian. It's nice to meet you at last."
"Solana?" Shepard tried to make sense of any part of the situation. She tried to move, and groaned again. There was an IV in her arm, and all her limbs felt heavy and unresponsive. "Where the hell am I?"
"On a turian cruiser. It's largely been converted to emergency hospital facilities, since the end of the Reaper War."
"The war's over?" Shepard tried to focus. She had a hazy memory of being on the Citadel, with Anderson… and then in a white space, with a dead child… but none of that made sense. "What happened?"
"I imagine people are hoping you can explain that. The Reapers just… stopped. They were much easier to destroy at that point. I should summon the doctors to look you over." Solana reached for a call button.
"Wait—" said Shepard. "What am I doing here? And how long has it been?"
Solana checked her omni-tool. "I believe it's been two months, as humans reckon it."
"Two months?" Shepard stared at the ceiling. She hated the feeling of losing any more time in her life.
"As for what you're doing here, I believe I'll leave it to my father to explain that."
Solana left as the doctor, who turned out to be asari, entered. She checked Shepard over thoroughly. "You were very seriously injured, and surgery was performed in the field. Since then you've been in a coma, but seemed to be healing on your own," she informed her. "You have more extensive cybernetic work than I've ever seen before. The implants undoubtedly saved your life, though some of them appear to be overstrained." She sounded vaguely disapproving.
After she left, Shepard tested her limbs, cautiously. She could move, she found, but everything felt stiff and painful. She wasn't sure if that was the result of her injuries, or of problems with her implants. She didn't have a mirror, either, and wondered just how terrible she must look. A wave of loneliness washed over her. Why was Solana here instead of Garrus? Why was she on a turian ship at all? And where was that ship?
The sound of footsteps made her jerk her head toward the door. For a moment, she again thought it was Garrus, but the greeting she was about to make died on her lips as she realized this turian was slightly shorter than Garrus, with more faded markings. And, if she knew anything at all about turian body language, he looked exhausted. "Commander Shepard?" he said.
"Um, Mr. Vakarian?" she said cautiously. "I'm not sure what the appropriate title is."
"Yes, I'm Callex Vakarian," he said. His expression shifted slightly. "Let's leave titles aside for now."
"What am I doing here?" asked Shepard. "And if you and Solana are both here, where's Garrus?"
At that, his head dropped. "Missing. Along with the Normandy and the rest of its crew."
"What?" Shepard tried to sit up, and immediately regretted it, as every muscle in her body protested. She flopped back onto her pillows with a groan.
"Whatever the Crucible did entailed a large discharge of energy. A number of ships attempted to flee the discharge, the Normandy among them. We're just not sure where they ended up."
"We have to find them!" said Shepard, making a second, more cautious attempt to sit up.
Vakarian snorted. "I don't think you're going anywhere soon," he said, not unkindly. "As for why you're here… I was under the impression you have no living kin."
Shepard blinked. "That's right."
"So I stepped in. Welcome to the Vakarian family, Commander."
"What?" said Shepard blankly.
He stared at her. He blinked, rubbed a hand over his eyes, and went back to staring at her. She thought he looked almost as baffled as she felt. He said, "Garrus didn't..."
"Didn't what?" she asked sharply.
He sighed. "Well, this may be more complicated than I thought. May I sit?"
He sank into the chair next to the bed as if it were a great relief, but still maintained a very upright posture. "My son contacted me before the allied fleets' assault on Earth and asked permission to bring a spouse into the clan. He did not actually inform you of his intentions, then?"
Shepard tried to think how she could have possibly missed a proposal. Her memories were really pretty good up to that hellish battle in London, though. They'd talked about being together, more than once; he'd asked her if she was a one-turian woman; but... he surely would have asked directly if he wanted her to marry him, wouldn't he? Garrus wasn't usually terribly oblique about that sort of thing. Had he lost his nerve? Not found the right opportunity? Changed his mind? Her eyes prickled, and she closed her hands into fists, letting the pain of that ground her. "No. No, he didn't."
"I may have acted hastily, then. No." He shook his head and continued in a low voice, as if talking to himself. "No matter. Declaration of intent to the clan leader is sufficient to form an obligation."
He leaned forward, fixing her with pale eyes. "You are—or, at least, were to be—a member of this family, Commander. You are therefore under my protection. Assuming you would have accepted the offer of marriage, that is."
Of all the ways Shepard might have imagined a proposal of marriage, none of them involved such a stiff and formal declaration from a prospective father-in-law she'd never met before. She tried to imagine how Garrus himself would have said it, and her eyes prickled again. "Yes," she said, feeling as though she were delivering her answer to the wrong Vakarian. "I would have." I will, yet, she told herself."Wait..." Her brain finally processed something he'd said before. "You said he asked permission. That means you gave it? For a human spouse?" Her voice rose a little, making her disbelief plain.
His mandibles flickered. "I'm not a bigot, Commander," he said, rather frostily. "Such a relationship may be unusual, but is hardly unheard of. And your service to galactic civilization has been exemplary. It would do honor to any turian clan. Certainly I gave my permission."
Shepard had to fight the urge to laugh out loud. Or cry. Or do both at once. "I'm sorry," she said, irritated that her voice cracked a little. "It's a lot to take in."
She thought his face relaxed a little. "Of course," he said. "You are still recovering, after all. It would be more fitting to take you to the family estate, but..." he grimaced "... it happens to be ashes. In addition, I have other responsibilities here."
She was about to ask where "here" was, other than a turian ship, when the asari doctor returned with a forbidding expression, insisting that Shepard needed rest. She wanted to argue, but once her visitors were gone and the room was darkened, she quickly went to sleep.
Shepard woke from restless dreams about the Normandy crashing on some uncharted planet. Everything still ached. She fidgeted her way through a bland breakfast and won grudging permission from her doctor to use an omni-tool to access an extranet feed. She had to know what the hell was going on out there.
The galaxy was a mess, but the fragile alliances she'd built seemed to be holding, for the present. The Reapers had simply deactivated, and their legions of husks along with them. The latter were being burned en masse. Many of the Reapers had been destroyed, too, but efforts were underway to dismantle and study some of the rest. Such work took second place, though, to the massive tasks of healing the injured, feeding the survivors, and getting everyone back where they were supposed to be. The geth were being particularly helpful. Shepard stopped and frowned. Why had she been convinced that the geth were all gone? No, they were still here, bringing the mass relays back online, building shelters.
She herself, she discovered, was listed as MIA. There was a great deal of speculation in the media about what might have happened to her and where she might be, with a number of stories insistent that the Alliance was concealing her, and that she should come forward to Answer Questions as soon as possible. The hysterical tinge of some of these made her feel a little ill. Perhaps it wasn't so bad to be where she was, under Vakarian protection. At least it was quiet and no one was bothering her.
She hadn't imagined Anderson's death. His body had been found in London, near the conduit beam. She frowned again. There'd been a huge memorial service. She hated the idea that she'd missed it. Admiral Hackett was still alive, showered with honors for his command of the battle. She'd taken Ashley and Javik with her as her ground team at the last. Ashley had survived, also covered in honors, regularly giving interviews (including the statement that she had no idea what had happened to Shepard). She couldn't find any reference to Javik in the news reports. She wondered if he'd died, or quietly disappeared, or if the Alliance was attempting to cover up his very existence.
Garrus had argued with her about that choice, wanting to accompany her, but she'd wanted him on the Normandy in her absence. There was no one better to man the Thanix cannon during a fight, in her opinion. He'd acquiesced, reluctantly. And Tali and Liara and Joker were still on board, some of her closest friends... she'd known any of them might die. She'd been prepared to give up her own life. She hadn't been prepared to survive, alone, with the fate of her entire crew unknown.
Her dark thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of Solana Vakarian, who hesitated in the doorway. "Would you like to get out of here?" she asked.
"Absolutely," said Shepard. "I didn't know I could."
"I got permission. I thought some time out of this room would do you good. Consider it physical therapy, although I'm sure you'll have real therapy soon enough."
Shepard's legs still weren't working well, so Solana fetched a wheelchair. Shepard felt odd being pushed around, but the turian woman didn't seem to mind. In spite of her own faint limp, she steered the chair deftly through corridors and to...
Shepard burst out laughing. "Your idea of physical therapy is to take me to a shooting range?"
"Commander." Solana's teeth flashed in a grin. "This is a turian ship. Of course we consider shooting to be physical therapy."
Shepard had to admit that the turians might be on to something. Breaking down and assembling a pistol was good practice for her hands, clumsy at first, but rapidly regaining the habitual motions. And she felt a lot better once she had demolished some holographic targets.
"Nice work, Commander," commented Solana, a fair shot herself.
"Thanks. Um." Shepard hesitated. "Most people call me Shepard. If I'm... part of the family, you could... call me Jane." Hardly anyone actually used her first name. Except Garrus.
"All right," said Solana. "If you don't mind. We just hadn't been properly introduced, since my little brother doesn't see fit to tell me anything any more." There was an edge to her voice that made Shepard tense.
"Um," she said, searching for some kind of defense. She really had very little idea what kind of relationship Garrus and Solana had, she realized.
"Sorry, it's not you," Solana said. "I'm worried about him, that's all."
Shepard exhaled. "Yeah. Me too."
"Dad told me Garrus never actually made the marriage offer."
Shepard looked down at her hands, wound together in her lap. "Yeah. I don't know. We'd talked about staying together, but..." She trailed off. "Maybe he changed his mind," she whispered, not wanting to believe it.
Solana snorted. "Doubtful. If he asked Dad for permission, his mind was made up, and he's far too stubborn to change it. They're just alike in that respect, which is the problem they've always had with each other."
Shepard looked up, intrigued. "He used to complain about his father, but he didn't say a lot about the rest of the family. Except, during the war, that he was worried he couldn't reach you. I knew he had a sister, but I don't know if you're younger or older."
"Oh, he's the baby of the family," said Solana, folding her arms as she leaned against the wall. "And a worse tease of a brother I could never hope to have. He used to sneak around following my friends and me, and save up jokes to tease me with later on. With our parents present, if you please. Little brat. It was a sad day when he got too big and too skilled for me to beat him at hand-to-hand."
Shepard could tell that her tone was affectionate, in spite of the words, and smiled. "You should meet our friend Tali some day. He used to tease her all the time, too."
"He'd grown out of the worst of it by the time he started his military service. We had more in common then, and became much closer."
"Solana," Shepard said, wanting to ask the question that had been starting to bother her. "How did you even find me? The Alliance doesn't seem to know where I am."
She shrugged, her mandibles flicking out. "You'll have to ask Dad about that. He's the detective. We'd evacuated Palaven, and were fit enough to join the war fleet. Once the dust had settled, he started making inquiries. We knew the Normandy was missing and... he said he was determined to find one of you."
"Oh." Shepard blinked, oddly touched. Her eyes felt a little wet. "I have to say, I'm surprised by everything your father has done. I... thought he and Garrus didn't get along."
Solana hesitated, mandibles twitching. Shepard was used to reading that as a sign of agitation, and thought she wasn't far off the mark. "They... don't. Didn't. They'd seemed to be better, the last few months. But, look... that's between the two of them. Like I said, they're too much alike in a lot of ways. Our father is not a bad man, Shepard. Jane. Asking for permission to bring a spouse into the clan is a big deal. Especially a non-turian spouse. Plenty of turians don't bother to get clan approval, even if they're with another turian. There are less formal ways to set up relationships. For Garrus to ask, it had to be really important to him. Dad wouldn't take that lightly. And after giving permission, he'd view his obligation to you as binding. He's strict, and serious, and is not always the easiest parent, but he takes his duties very seriously. "
Shepard remembered Garrus's story of his father blocking his Spectre training. For the first time, she wondered what the other side of that story looked like.