Figures, is all he had time to think as a mako came barreling over the top of another tank, heading straight for him and Kaidan. Time slowed and he froze, the shadow of the vehicle falling over him. Kaidan gave him a shove that finally galvanized him into motion and Garrus dove, desperately. He heard a massive explosion roll over him, tossing him to the side. Ears ringing, vague, sluggish thoughts formed as he slowly figured out that something was wrong. Pain seeped into his awareness as he looked down to see the entire left side of his hardsuit was toast, bits of it just flaming embers over charred grey plated flesh. His medigel dispenser was fried.
His side was wet with blood, staining the outside of his armor cerulean and he gasped in the agony that followed the realization that he was pretty seriously injured. He cast his gaze around for Shepard and she appeared at his side as though in answer to his silent call. Her lips pulled back from her teeth in a fearful grimace at the sight of the holes in his armor, the glowing fiery edges still smoking in places. Dazed, he felt someone pick him up and help him walk to the mako that tried to end him, and he sat heavily in its shadow, As bullets rained against its armored bulk, he wondered how many ironies he would have to endure today.
Over the ringing in his ears, Garrus heard Shepard's voice, "Normandy, do you copy?"
Kaidan plopped down next to them, ripping a medigel pack open and spreading it over Garrus' wounds. He nearly blacked out from the pain of feeling the human's hands run over his burns and deep lacerations. Kaidan smiled grimly as the bloodflow ceased under his ministrations, he patted Garrus on the knee before spinning to pick off husks and marauders with his rifle.
"I need an evac now!" Her voice had a desperate edge as she scanned the skies for her ship. Garrus shook his head, trying to clear it enough to think, to talk, a permanent fog seemed to have clouded his mind.
He was being lifted again and he heard Shepard mumble something under her breath that sounded like "I'm sorry." His heart started to pound in his chest as he saw the docking bay of the Normandy gaping open in front of him. Something...wrong was happening, something that shouldn't be, panic floated just under his consciousness. He was being passed to Alenko, who'd turned at a word from Shepard, "Here, take him."
Garrus wrenched his confused and hurt gaze around to Shepard, who looked at him with shame making bright circles on her cheeks. She grimaced in fear as she took in his shocked and horrified countenance, "You've got to get out of here."
Finally, words occurred to him, though not the screaming diatribe that rushed through his mind, "And you've got to be kidding me."
She seemed to hear what he was thinking, because she shrank from him guiltily, "Don't argue, Garrus."
"We're in this to the end." He ground out hoarsely over his mental scream of 'You promised!' His mind was shaken from the burgeoning feeling of betrayal that had taken root in it, thoughts flitting about like the tag ends of trash that burned in the air around them.
She took a hesitant step toward him, and then another and he wanted to step back, would have if he'd been able to move under his own power and she stopped, steeling herself to be able to stand firm under his accusing glare without crumpling, "No matter what happens here today...know that I love you. I always will."
She meant for him to live, to go on without her. Impossible, she knew it was impossible. How could she do this to him after all they'd been through? He put the truth of it in his eyes as she reached for his face, cupping her hand with his as he made one last heart wrenching plea, "Jane, I...love you, too."
She stepped back and he reached for her, the words, the damning words on the tip of his tongue. He knew if he spoke them she would stay. Her eyes begged him to stay silent and for an awful instant, he almost said them just to prove that he could, to use the power he had over her to prove the great Commander Shepard wrong. But damn her, she knew him so well, used him so very well. He tasted blood in his mouth as his teeth pierced that offending organ to keep it still.
Her lips formed a silent 'no' as something in him shut off, some vital thing that had something to do with her and he realized he was growling, low and cold. Shepard reeled back from whatever she saw in his face, her eyes despairing, but still she turned and he watched her retreating back as she ran for the beam, shown to be a coward at last.
He was empty. And as still and empty of spirit as a statue, he was vacantly staring after her long after the shuttle bay doors had closed. The strength to stand had found him again and Kaidan left him there as the Normandy flew away from the beam and Shepard, who'd abandoned him at the end, had always planned to abandon him at the end. He was sick with the magnitude of it. Sick and empty.
Vaguely, he was aware of events happening around him, but he had nothing to give, least of all attention. Someone led him gently to the medbay, where the rest of his hardsuit was removed, his wounds treated, though he felt them not at all any more. There were no solid thoughts in the chaotic soup of his mind, he balked mentally anytime he let himself approach the subject and the object of this aching betrayal he felt in his soul.
His face felt stiff from where his mandibles clenched so tightly and he forced them to relax, glad he still had mastery over his body, if not his mind. He went on to force every muscle in his body to go limp as he lay on that cold medbay bed. The ceiling held his fascination for the time being, safe in its banality. He felt his body rock with some external impact on the hull and for a moment, green light flickered over the panels above him, the exact color of her eyes.
Garrus shut his reflexively, he did not want to think of...her, didn't want to think past the next breath that he'd never expected to take. He felt an irrational hatred towards the air going in and out of his lungs, then shook himself mentally as that line of thought led to places better left untouched for now.
He was violently rocked to and fro as a loud, grinding crash all along the hull tried to toss him in the air like a ragdoll. He didn't even try to stop himself from falling off the bed and he slid down into a heap as the lights above him failed, flickering out. Then there was darkness and silence, he counted it blessed.
"So, you napped through the whole crash landing?" James passed him another rock, which he flung away from the ship.
"I wasn't asleep." Garrus straightened for a moment, popping his back.
They were digging the debris away from the ship's base, trying to free the landing gear so that when they did get off this rock, they wouldn't have to damage the ship further yanking it out of the ground with mass effect fields. Plus, EDI informed them that there was a pretty big tear in the hull under there. It would need to be welded by hand.
"Then what were you doing, lying on the floor, in the dark?" James smiled at him, but the smile faded under the cold stare that was all he got in return.
Garrus softened his icy glare somewhat, it wasn't the marine's fault that everything about him reminded Garrus of Shepard. He couldn't even sleep in the ship any more, her presence was everywhere, saturating every room, every hallway. He could barely stand it. Ruefully, his eye was drawn to the scattering of tents in the valley they'd found themselves. What he'd started out of pique, they'd done to follow his example, unaware of his motivation.
He wondered what they'd make of the real reason he'd quit the ship for the outdoors. Probably shock and horror. He didn't care, his reasons were his own and when they pried, because that's what she'd taught them all to do, pry, he shut them down, maybe a bit more vehemently than was necessary. For the most part, they respected his privacy, skirted around him when he was in his fouler moods. Even Javik steered clear, kept his manner carefully ambivalent.
In typical fashion, this planet was levo, which meant he was stuck eating nutrient paste, along with Tali, who was battling illness from a suit tear she'd acquired during the crash. As much as he hated being around them, they needed him and he wouldn't abandon them as callously as she had him. There were things that needed doing, so he did them. Hunted for them, cleared vegetation for them, but he felt a growing resentment build in him.
They'd gotten long range scanners running the other day and Garrus watched with as much surprise as the rest of them as an image of the mass relay they'd thought destroyed, the one that had spat them out onto this backwater planet, seemed to be getting repaired somehow. It was difficult to get the picture to zoom in any further, but Garrus thought that maybe he saw dark shapes out there, flitting around it. It was a bad sign, seeing as the only beings that knew how to build or repair relays were the Reapers.
Only time would tell, so he left it for now. Even if the Reapers had won somehow, he doubted they would bother with this planet.
Three days since they'd landed here, and it would probably be quite a few more before the ship was spaceworthy. He remembered the aftermath, how confused everyone had been, how they'd turned to him for leadership. And he'd turned them to Kaidan. Joker had thrown himself at Garrus, angry words flying like little birds, just as ineffectual as the brittle fists that tried to pummel him. Garrus let the man work himself to exhaustion, then held him as he bitterly wept. He kept his mouth shut, they could keep their illusion. And if he seemed a little reluctant to talk about Shepard, well, he knew they'd just assume it was because he was hurting.
And he was, but not in the way they thought. Sometime between the crash and making camp, his numb, sick, emptiness had kindled into rage. It burned in his guts, a secret fire that he kept well hidden. Sometimes it threatened to make him do foolish things like set fire to her ship, and he had to go into the wilds until he was calm enough to restore his stoic mask. But there was many a tree out there with rips and tears in its bark from his talons.
Night fell and he made his way to his little camp, far from the others, out of sight of the hulking ship. Garrus sat on a log and poked at the embers of last night's fire, feeding it with wood and leaves until it flared into life, orange and red, just enough light to see by and nothing more. He sat back, letting the warmth of the fire heat his plates, mind as blank as he could make it. It was getting easier to master his feelings, at least outwardly, easier to fool himself that he felt nothing.
Laughter and the low sounds of conversation drifted to him from the area the others had pitched tents and he felt a fleeting warmth for them, the survivors of this cataclysm who still found reasons to laugh.
"Garrus, I have an update." EDI's voice in his ear, slightly crackling over the comms.
"Give it to Kaidan." He sighed, would they not leave him in peace? How much more would he have to do for them?
"I did, he said to forward it to you." She seemed to hold her breath as he thought it over.
"What is it?"
"Comms have been re-established with the fleets, travel through the relays is still unavailable, but there has been a large data packet of backlogged messages that has just arrived. There is one for you."
Garrus hoped it was his family, how he would like to hear that they were safe, on their way home. Eagerly, he said, "Patch it through."
A sense of foreboding struck him as he listened to the static and silence that filled the first ten seconds of the recording, then a choked sound that had his blood racing through his veins. Her voice, barely audible, whispered thickly, "I'm sorry, Garrus-"
With a hiss of pure outrage, he clawed at his visor, ripping it off his head and crushed it in his talons, throwing the sad remains of it into the fire. He panted heavily, blue flames at the edge of his vision as he struggled with the sudden painful need to kill something. Even dead, she couldn't leave him be, the anger twisted like a knife in his guts and he writhed where he sat, with no outlet for his pain.
She was sorry, she said, not sorry enough, too cowardly to face him in those last few moments. She could never be sorry enough. He wished he'd never met her, would have that part of his memory burnt out if he could. The whole of the last four years could be wiped out and he would be downright gleeful for it. He was growling, could feel the vibration of it in his chest even if he couldn't hear it over the pounding blood in his ears.
As his awareness turned outward, he realized he was staring at his wrist, where under the fabric of his underarmor lay an almost obscenely offensive symbol of his devotion to her, a piece of her that he didn't want any more. Slowly, he reached for the sheath at his spur and pulled out a wickedly curving knife that was made from a thresher maw's tooth. With his teeth, he tore at his sleeve until the coppery wristlet lay bare to the sky. He turned his palm up, filling it with light from the moon of this dirtball, a flash of unwelcome memory of Shepard doing the same on Rannoch running through his mind. He looked up into the sky, hoping she was watching as he slid the sharp serrated edge of the knife under those cunning metal loops, rejoicing as each broke and popped loose.
The last tie severed, the wristlet dropped to the ground, a ruin of sentiment and lost dreams. He kicked it viciously into the flames, watching it melt with satisfaction. Methodically, because that was who he was, a man of methods and plans, he gave the fire everything he ever got from her, he ripped the Normandy's insignia from his armor and tossed it in, a book on Earth composers followed and the knife, which didn't so much burn as stare back at him accusingly from the heart of the licking flames. He was even tempted to see if his Black Widow would burn, though it was probably not wise to throw a firearm into a fire.
He contented himself with taking it apart and flinging those parts into the woods around them. When the last piece left his hands, he felt a sick sort of peace fall over him. She'd been exorcised from his presence for now, he might never be able to completely wash the stink of her from him, she'd changed him too much for that, but this was a start. He settled down onto the ground and watched the merciless stars twinkle in the firmament.
"Just leave me at the damn fueling depot, I'll catch a ride from there." He stared the pilot down, aware of the shocked faces around him as he jabbed a finger at the aforementioned depot on the map.
"You don't want to come to Earth to see if-" Kaidan spoke up from behind him.
Without looking away from the cowering man in front of him, he said, coldly, "I don't have to explain myself to you, Kaidan. I need to get to Palaven, a detour to Earth will delay me for too long."
Liara lifted a hand as though to rest it on his arm, but he shot a look at her sideways and she pulled her hand back like he was going to bite her. Like an animal. He felt the anger coil in his guts. After all he'd done for them and they wanted to treat him like he was some kind of defective. She whispered, "Shepard could still be alive-"
"No. She's dead. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you'll get over it and move on." He watched his cruel words sink into the flesh of her crew like arrows dipped in poison and regretted, almost, saying them. It was the barest, basest truth that he could gift them with, he would allow no more illusions on this score. Time to grow up, people.
Brave Tali put a hand on his shoulder, her voice a mix of horror and sadness, "Garrus, don't...leave us this way."
An echo in his mind of his voice saying pretty much the same and he felt a pang of grief below the anger as he looked down into her mask. He looked around to his crewmates and saw the same fear in their eyes. He put his hand over hers and ducked his head, "Tali, I have to go. Please."
He felt their unquestioning acceptance, if not their understanding and love for them trickled through his weary heart. He looked each one in the eye as he stepped toward the airlock, "You know how to get in touch with me, all of you. If you ever need anything, I'll be there."
Their relief was palpable, the connection that flowed between them was strong, it would stay strong. If it was the only thing that survived Shepard, it was enough for him. He crossed the threshold into the damp, lowlit corridors of the fueling depot, pondering heavily the loss of the people behind them on that ship. Memories kept crowding the forefront of his mind, too painful to contemplate for any length of time. And in every single one, her voice, her face, her eyes. A old human saying, probably one he'd heard from her, surfaced in his mind. Forgive and forget.
He could never do the first, but he was going to do his damnedest to do the second.
A/N: If I've broken your hearts, I'm sorry. But fear not! Stay tuned for more! Will Garrus find peace? Will he ever forgive the dead woman who left him to live, without her? Is she even dead? Who knows. I certainly don't. Well, maybe I do. But...spoilers and all. Suffice it to say; This is not the end, there is never an end. Thanks for reading, everybody and if you leave a review, critique or what have you, I'll do my best to reply.
PS. This won't be any of the standard endings, but elements will be taken from them combined with my own hash of existentialism and transcendentalism.