Okay, so this got completely revised, and is over on my new profile (link on this profile). Here's the first chapter, the rest'll be going up there shortly.

December 1st

"Come on, Shep, let me help you up." Garrus stood, tense, only a second away from rushing forward to catch her as she rose on trembling legs. She was going to fall, he knew it.

"For the millionth time, I am fine, Garrus." She pushed him away, shuffling over to the bag he'd brought her civvies in.

Garrus chuffed at her, letting his annoyance show. "Do humans always get hospitalized for being 'fine?'"

She grinned back at him, and he found it difficult to hold onto his irritation. She'd been fussing at him for days about how careful he'd acted towards her since the final battle; if he was being honest with himself, he hated it as much as she did, maybe more. He had to admit finally that his little sprite wasn't invincible, that there were some things she might not survive, and that one day, he might have to live without her again. It hurt his heart to see her that way, and he feared sometimes that she would remain fragile for a long time.

"At least let me carry you out to the aircar. We don't have shoes for you, and I don't want you to catch a chill."

"Any excuse to get your talons back on me, huh?" She smirked, and that little spark of her normal fire was oh-so-good to see. Not such a long time, then. Just being foolish, expecting anything to keep Shep down for long.

"Sure, Shep. Not like I actually want to avoid seeing you die, for the third time. Eventually you run out of chances, you know."

"I know. I just wish the others—" Her face crumpled as she crouched by the bag, rummaging through her clothes without seeming to see any of it. She grabbed an article of clothing and pressed it to her face.

Garrus's heart broke for her again. "Hey, no." He knelt by her, pulling away the tank top she held pressed to her face and rubbing gentle circles on her back. "Shep, you did absolutely everything you could. No one expected you to really do it, let alone with such few losses. It's okay, Shep. Please." His subvocals rumbled, trying to comfort her. She couldn't put all this on herself, she just couldn't. It wasn't her fault. Why couldn't she stop hurting herself on it?

"Where are you taking me, anyway?" Shep asked, popping to her feet again. Her voice snapped briskly, almost back to her no-nonsense command voice, and her face had already dried. If he hadn't just seen her break down, he'd never believe it could happen. She held herself together so well, it was hard to remember she had more underneath.

"I found a place. Wait 'til you see it. You'll love it." He hoped she'd love it, anyway. He hoped it reminded her of Mindoir, but only in the good way. Sweet spirits, what if it reminded her too much?

"Well, if you're gonna spring me from the damn hospital, let's get to it before the doctors catch us." She wrapped a T-shirt around each of her feet. "You're not carrying my ass, though, so you better get used to that idea."

"I love you too, Shep," Garrus replied, rolling his eyes at her perpetual stubbornness.