Warning: Dark. Really dark.
The box had sat, untouched since its arrival, in the corner of his apartment for at least a few months now. He'd tossed an old blanket over it, stacked some other things on top; it hadn't helped. The weight of it—of what was inside and what it meant—was pulling him under, pulling him down, and he no longer remembered what it felt like to breathe.
Turians don't swim, Shepard.
Piece by piece, he extracted it from where he'd buried it. Just a box. No markings or writing. Deceptively innocent. Grabbing the half-empty bottle from where he'd left it the night before, Garrus sank down to sit next to it on the floor. The Citadel day cycle was creeping towards dusk and the room fell deeper into shadow as he finished the liquid that remained in a few rough swallows.
He ran his talons over the lid, lifting it slowly before letting it drop to the side.
The scent of her overwhelmed him; a ghost waiting to be released, clawing at him in the darkness.
With a snarl, he pushed the box away and staggered to the kitchen where another bottle of ryncol waited; patient, welcoming, forgiving. Garrus took a long pull, gulping it back until the burn was too much.
He crept back, hesitantly, the bottle clutched against his chest. The smell lingered and he dropped to his knees before it.
Before what was left of her.
Nuzzling his face into her hair as she lay sprawled across his chest
Her model ships were packed on top, and Garrus lined them up in a neat row on the window ledge before sliding the pane of glass open just wide enough for him to push them off.
One by one, they plummeted out of sight and into the scattered splashes of neon lights below. He saved the Normandys for last.
He hadn't known he'd loved her until she was gone and the ruin of his heart had wept itself dry
Then the SR-2;
She'd come back, dragging him away from the edge of his own destruction, with love and hope in her eyes
The ryncol soothed away the pressure that was building in his chest and he sat for an eternity in the darkened room before pulling the box towards him once more.
Her old helmet that she'd recovered from Alchera.
A picture frame—mercifully turned off—that he knew had once displayed a picture of the two of them.
Shepard laughing, pulling his arm around her waist, as she stood on the tips of her toes to look taller
A collection of everyday things, each one breaking him a little more; pushing him, floundering, down below the surface.
Her hairbrush; a drell prayer book; one of Joker's hats, her winnings from the only time she'd ever had a good night playing Poker.
She let them win; he'd never had the heart to tell her that he knew
A datapad, her personal one. Garrus brushed a digit over the engraved letters of her name in the lower left corner.
Her name plaque, cold and impersonal, pressed into place by Liara when he couldn't move; paralyzed by its finality
He'd thought there was nothing left, until his taloned fingers brushed a scrap of fabric tucked down in the very bottom. Drawing it out slowly, he forgot to breathe.
A traditional turian handfasting cloth, used only for the most formal bonding ceremony.
Unbreakable… except in death.
This one, knotted with tiny gems of cobalt blue, would have cost more credits than he'd ever possessed in his life.
That she'd wanted… with him… He'd always hoped, but she'd never even hinted…
Her hands, forever too cool, pulling him close as she brushed her lips against his mouth
His chest seized, his heart contracting in sharp jerk that wrenched a wail out of him at last. There were no tears—his physiology made weeping impossible—but he gasped desperately for air all the same. Keening loudly, Garrus buried his face in his hands and mourned the woman who should have been his bondmate; should have been his wife.
It had cost him a ridiculous sum to find a driver who was willing to break the rules and take him up here—not that it mattered. Seeing the Presidium spread out below him again was worth it.
His favourite place on the Citadel.
Garrus opened his last bottle of ryncol and drank deeply before raising the bottle high in a silent toast; the edges of the clumsily-tied handfasting cloth around his wrist fluttering in the artificial breeze.
"You lied, Shepard." His words were slurred and soft. "Said I'd never be alone. But here I am."
He drained what was left, letting the bottle drop down from his fingers; watching as it toppled, end over end, down into the desolate emptiness.
She was gone and she'd left him and there was no coming back this time. Only one way forward from here.
He closed his eyes.
Turians don't swim, Shepard.
A/N: A birthday gift for the amazingly talented Reyavie, who sees beauty in the darkness as much as I do. ;) Hugs and happy birthday, my friend. Er, apologies again for the rather depressing birthday present.
Thank you, as always, to Josie Lange for the fastest beta reading ever. Your advice made this so much better. Thank you!