AN - Took this world and the next but, happy birthday, Enaid :) I wish you a wonderful year and, more than that, that things get better little by little. It's just a silly piece, not supposed to make much sense. Post-epilogue.
There had been one thing he and Jane had agreed before deciding on adoption. If they ever went through with it – meaning, if they survived, if they got even close to a stable durable relationship and if they chose a kid without the entire galaxy dying due to sheer horror – they would attempt to be present parents.
The kind that goes to parties and waves at their kid on the stage - even though he or she is dressed in a burlap sack and playing a husk - and assures the person by their side that their kid is the smartest in the entire universe, don't you agree and seriously, I'm not staring at you like this because I want you agree or else.
Present, caring parents. Normal parents.
It was a pretty ideal. Even if the day either of them classified as normal, Garrus would need to check for dementia.
"Did you bring your Widow to your kids' parents' meeting?"
So not crazy just yet.
"You're in your uniform. Want to tell me you left the Carnifex home?" His wife fell silent, looking, to everyone who knew her, reluctantly ashamed. It was unfair; she lived and breathed that uniform just as he ignored any necessity to be out of armor. But all was fair in love and war, said the human proverb. "Yes," he pressed amusedly. "That's what I and every other sensible individual in the galaxy call hesitation, Shepard."
Jane shrugged. "I didn't bring the Disciple."
"It's in the shuttle, isn't it?"
"Right next to your Phaeston, you deceitful bastard."
"Well," he paused, attempted to remember whether or not she was right and decided it simply didn't matter. "I didn't say I didn't come armed."
Any amount of time next to each other meant they would slip easily into what Tali called 'Their Space'. And 'Their Space' was used for types of conversation which worried or (and) freaked out most people – also in Tali's opinion. It explained why the comments about weaponry had their spectator's eyes widening and his breathing quickening to the point of an asthma attack. The man dressed primly in a black suit, one hand over his chest like the imaginary ailment needed the reassurance.
There was a long moment of silence as they realized they were acting like – on the lack of a better term – a pair of children, better understandable to those who knew the couple. A silent evaluation of whether the present situation would require any kind of reverence towards this creature. Garrus didn't think so. Jane was slightly more civil.
The former Commander coughed lightly into one hand and sat on one of the empty chairs. And he followed into the one next to her, both with their back straight and suspiciously bulgy pockets indicating the presence of the referred weapons. No wonder they weren't invited to neighboring parties. People were probably afraid they'd use the kids as target practice.
Which they never would.
Well. The screeching kid from 20-B was pure temptation.
"You said this was an emergency," Jane started, wasting no more time. Emergency was a heavy word to use in her presence. On a regular basis it involved no less than huge amount of explosives and end of the world issues, not school related problems. But she was worried, Garrus could see, her hands gripping both arms of the chair with a little too much strength. Then again, so was he. "Where are my kids?"
"They are fine, Mrs. Vakarian." Her eyebrow twitched. Garrus swallowed a snort. The Principal innocently ignored any visible annoyance from the armed woman questioning him. "We had an incident earlier on. Involving your… turian girl. It seems she found it appropriate to beat up a boy of her class. Kick his… lower region more than once. Of course, we needed to participate this event to her parents so they'll be aware of the reasons for her suspension."
Excuse me? Who's suspended again?
Garrus was aware he could be confrontational. It was engraved in his genes, he had told his father consistently, stronger than himself. But it wasn't practical. While he drew himself from his seat to yell at the Principal, Jane was already standing, moving towards the closed door with full intent of leaving.
"Yeah, not happening. Not before I speak to Salei and understand what the hell happened."
The man had more balls – was it balls? He could never get these damned sayings right – than Garrus would ever give him credit for. He actually left his desk to stand in front of the vanguard, likely ignoring – or ignorant – of the way she could smash him against the wall.
"Mrs Vakarian, I cannot allow you to!"
She looked at the man up and down. He was taller but that didn't really matter; the way she stared up at him would make anyone feel two feet tall. The man deflated like a balloon full of hot hair. "Who are you to stop me from talking to my kid right now?"
"The principal of this school!"
Was he pulling up record with Shepard? Huh. Stupid. Very very stupid. Hero, Admiral, Captain of the Normandy, Vanquisher of the Reapers and all evil, Savior of puppies, kittens, virgins and other assorted innocents, etc., etc., ad nauseam. It'd be easier to pull rank with the current President of the Systems Alliance and, if he thought about it, Hackett had a curriculum which would make any matriarch green of envy. Garrus didn't bother to hide his emerging grin – not wide but wide enough to show he was enjoying the spectacle – and crossed his arms, leaning back into his chair. Confrontational he might be but nothing made a better show than Shepard bringing people down.
Priorities. He had them.
"It's Admiral Shepard," Jane corrected carefully.
She has a Carnifex, human. And no one to ask on whom she uses it. Do you really want to go there?
The man swallowed slowly and stepped back, returning to his chair before that blue glint on her skin turned into all-out flare and wall dents appeared.
Yes, their patterns of thought were generally the same.
"You can address me as Vakarian," Garrus informed, interrupting the casual way Jane was cracking her knuckles. Seriously, did no one have proper life-preservation instincts nowadays? "Admiral sounds badass. Councilor sounds ridiculous. And what Jane means is that you can't allow or disallow us from doing anything."
Hardcore Delusion 101, lesson one. You can definitely convince Admiral Shepard of anything she doesn't agree with.
Lesson two. Ah yes, Reapers. We have dismissed that claim.
"We're going to speak to our kids and get why this happened," he continued, waving a hand absently. "They're smart enough not to cause trouble without a reason."
"But your child just."
"My child just did what any smart fully-developed kid would have done. In Turian schools, we categorize this as personality development methods. And I'm pretty sure there are, at least, half a dozen kids who still don't talk to Jane after she learned bad moods equaled biotic throws. I won't have my kid being trampled over by a snotty little brat just because you have your sensitivities over her knowing how to hit the lower region." The turian chose to ignore the Principal's mumbled repeatedly, she did it repeatedly, as in, more than once. As in, several times. Good girl. "By the way, Jane."
"Wasn't me. I told her to hit the face. A black and blue nose is more visible than bruised balls."
Innocence. Shepard couldn't pull it off.
"Who else would teach her human anatomy?" Jane closed her eyes for a moment, a weary hand rubbing her face. "Hackett's going to kill me if they ever enlist."
"That's not worrying. What's worrying is Salei's rank in the hierarchy going up. If she ever makes Primarch, dad's leaving the grave to disown me. By the way, time to get them into the discussion." In but a moment, he rose from his chair, taking two steps to the side. The door opened with barely a whisper upon his touch and in came the two kids who had been leaning against it.
The first was turian, barely half his size, identical blue markings on her lighter skin. The second was human, black haired like her adoptive mother but of definite Asian ancestry – whatever that meant. They might have been able to look ashamed – as much as anyone raised by the Vakarian couple would be – if they were alone. They weren't.
The bundle of fur barked, growled, rolled over their bodies and ran over the place before trying to jump onto his wife's lap. There, it proceeded to slobber, redecorating the nice carpet with a good layer of mud while scaring the living shit out of the Principal.
"W-w-w-w-hat is that?"
Who was afraid of a varren nowadays? Garrus gave him a look, conveying how weird the idea was without words. After the war, after reapers, husks, marauders and who knows what else, a varren was akin to a puppy. Man had probably spent the entire war inside a hole.
There went the theory of how only the best of a race survived an apocalypse.
"Here, Urz. Stop upsetting the kind gentleman." The varren stopped sniffling a way to kill the man without use of his teeth and sat carefully by his owner's side, his head particularly close to Jane's fingers, just in case she felt like petting him. Garrus had never managed to understand how their family pet ended up being a varren. Or how they got a pet to begin with. They already had Joker. "Which one of you brought…wait, whatever." Specter mentality at its best, never bother with useless questions. "Urz's here, stuff seems fine, let's move it along." She lowered herself until the small turian's eye level and stared. "Did you do it?" It was a goddamned scary stare; came with practicing on Reapers. It was credit to the strength of his kid how she didn't even blink.
"Were you provoked?"
"They said tha—"
"I asked my kid, Principal. I bet she knows better than you."
Salei didn't bother to glare at the man. She knew by experience that the one that mattered was both he and her mom; the others' opinions would never sway them. Just her words, nothing else. He was raising his kid well, he truly was. So proud.
"Yes, mom," she replied with the barest hesitation. "But."
"No buts. What did we say about provocations?"
"Don't reply to them when with witnesses?"
Shame Turians had some problems with whistling. Vids suggested humans had a predisposition to accept innocence if the obvious guilty party whistled.
"What I said," Jane corrected, turning her 'you're so screwed' glare back onto him. "Not your dad."
"But mom, they tried hitting Laura! They ganged up on her! I couldn't let them do that."
Everything paused. Everything. Jane fell silent, Salei quieted, Laura looked to the floor on her corner and Garrus turned to the man, not even bothering to think on anything calming, soothing or that would stop him from chopping a snotty little brat with an omni-blade.
"You censored that part." Sounded like a growl. Felt like one. Was one. Who had tried doing what to his kid? His little girl? What?
The Principal's chair moved even further back, further enough to make a passable attempt to meld against the wall behind it. And then fell to the ground when Garrus beat both hands against the table.
"I want that kid suspended. And the next time you don't listen to whatever my kid's saying and assume her as guilty, I'm going to strap you naked to the target posts over at the Citadel's shooting range and have Urz drag your barely living corpse all over the trashiest locations of the Wards."
"Admiral! Your husband is."
She likely knew what he was doing. Exactly why she was standing, grabbing her things, holding her hands out to the children.
"Not with witnesses, remember? Garrus. I'll be outside with the bratlings. Come on, girls, momma needs some chocolate."
And leaving without sparing a look at the spineless sample of a man.
He cracked his knuckles and grinned.
The Principal fainted.
"Daddy? Can I try out your Widow when we get home?"
Laura attached herself to his side as soon as he reached the hall, her clawless hand reaching out for his arm and a look that was just. Too. Damned. Cute. Reminded him of the moronic kids that had tried harming his little girl. Reminded him of his sister. Reminded him of not leaving his brat with his sister because she taught bad things and Laura would end up walking all over him pretty damned soon. The answer to her question was so obvious it hurt.
"Not before you finish your chores, you won't."
Thank the Spirits for Shepard and her invulnerability to human sweet eyes. Laura grimaced at her mom, Salei rolled her eyes, obviously relaxed and firmly out of trouble before running ahead, tugging her sister with her. And he allowed his eyes to follow his girls, resting his arm around his wife's shoulders as Urz kept a vigilant eye on the small family. Peace. This was peace and his reward, strangeness and all.
"Has anyone told you we're pretty weird parents?"
Her arm circled his waist companionably. "Every now and then," she replied with a soft grin which really became her. "Kaidan mentioned last dinner he was around. But considering his kid, I'm not taking his opinion on parenting."
Don't growl, don't snap, don't diss.
"What's wrong with his kid?" He asked instead, hoping any bite was barely audible over the words.
"Biotic charges everything with her head. Aethyta claims it's the quarter krogan coming out to play."
Don't laugh, don't laugh, don't laugh, be nice.
"What do you think?"
"They melded while stoned and the kid paid the price. Liara agrees."