Mass Effect: Each Story Has A Million Tales.

Summary: "There is always more than just one side to a story- and more than one lesson to learn. Follow Garrus Vakarian as he stands by a promise that he means to keep, contemplates the true meaning of life, death, and the ultimate sacrifice, and as he confronts someone who should have been behind him all along. Follow Adelais Vakarian as he mends a broken bond, and as he comes to terms with a terrible loss of his own. Follow Kolyat Krios as he navigates through a very dangerous place, only to find another- under the guidance of someone who may or may not be there at all. And follow Commander Joleen Shepard as she goes through her past and present, only to find herself in the middle of a battle for her future." (Garrus' Story: 'The Promise-Keeper.' Adelais' Story: 'The Old Soldier.' Kolyat's Story: 'The Wanderer.' Shepard's Story: 'The Missing.')

Warning: "This is a heavy one- some swearing, angst, implied adult situations, adult situations, a few character deaths, violence, and blood. All the big ones this time. Remember, this is my Shepard, my feelings on the game and what should have happened and will happen, with my own opinions and storyline, so no nasty comments. Got it? Good." (Commander Joleen Shepard: War Hero, Earthborn. Soldier. Paragon. Romanced Kaidan Alenko in the 1st game, Garrus Vakarian in the 2nd and 3rd. Shot and killed Udina during the Citadel Coup.)

Disclaimer: "I do not own Mass Effect. Don't make me say it again."

Author's Note: "Just so you know, the name 'Adelais,' is Latin for 'Noble.' I thought it fit perfectly. The name 'Carissa' means 'the most beloved one.' Again, I just thought the name fit."

N._.S._.S

Chapter Twenty-Six: The Old Soldier VIII.

"You would have told your mother."

It's a statement of a simple fact more than anything else, really. Adelais already knew the answer that was coming. He folded his arms as he stares into his son's suddenly evasive, ice-blue eyes- the eyes that mirrored Carissa's, and the eyes that had haunted him since her passing months ago.

If Garrus told him that it wasn't true, it would be a lie; Adelais knew that for a fact.

It would make him feel a hell of a lot better, sure, for Garrus to say that it wasn't true- that he'd trusted neither Adelais himself nor Carissa, neither one more than the other.

But it would still be a lie.

"If I had a choice between the two of you? Yes," Garrus said, cautiously, averting his gaze from Adelais' as he spoke, "Because she would have listened. Given me a chance to explain."

She would have listened.

Adelais sighed in defeat near-silently and turned away, arms still crossed. He stared into the bright fluorescent lights above his head, determined to fight the sinking, aching feeling deep inside him.

Given me the chance to explain.

Carissa's eyes flashed in his mind- her gaze was more piercing, more knowing, than his had ever been. She'd always been the one who listened... whereas Adelais had always jumped to conclusions, instigating arguments... and ultimately just causing more trouble.

Spirits. No wonder Garrus never even trusted him.

Adelais had never given him reason to.

"Do you remember that game you and the other children played?" Adelais asked; suddenly inspired as the piercing gaze of his late wife suddenly winked and vanished.

He can sense Garrus' surprise, and hear it in his voice, as he answered. "Catch the criminal?"

"Yes, that one. You always wanted to play the police officer," Adelais chuckled a little, turning his head to look over at his son. The surprise was still clear in his son's ice-blue eyes as he inclined his head- an invitation for him to continue. Adelais did so, relieved to have finally found a common ground.

"I remember that you, your sister, and all the other kids had arguments over who got to be what. I got so many complaints from the other children's mothers that I thought your mother would go crazy listening to them all."

"Seriously?" Garrus said, calmly. His eyes had softened a little, as if something within him had relaxed.

"Yes, seriously. I couldn't believe it, either," Adelais answered, gently.

"I didn't know."

Adelais just shrugged. "I never assumed you did. You were only a child then."

"What did she tell them?" Garrus asked, suddenly curious.

"She told them you were copying your old man."

Garrus gave him a light chuckle, light blue eyes glistening a bit. "And?"

"Most of them just laughed and agreed."

They were standing side-by-side now. Adelais hadn't even heard Garrus approach him. "Well, they were right," Garrus admitted. "Especially after you finally taught me how to shoot right."

"You were old enough to learn."

"I was six," Garrus protested, half-amused.

"And a damn good sniper. Better than me- almost." Adelais answered.

"Guess you didn't have as great a teacher as I did."

Adelais quickly glanced over at Garrus in astonishment, who understandably avoided his gaze.

"I guess not," Adelais finally responded, softly.

Garrus' eyes were thoughtful as he stepped forward; beckoning to Adelais to follow.

"I have something to show you."

N._.S._.S

"Very impressive."

Adelais stood up after inspecting the complicated Battery and its running power (both of which were incredibly, incredibly well-managed) and gave his son an approving nod. "Very, very impressive," he said, again. "I doubt anyone else could have gotten this right."

Garrus gave him an appreciative chuckle. "Thanks. But you should have seen the Thanix Cannon before the Alliance dismantled it- that was my best work by far. Took me a month alone to get the materials, another week to get it integrated into the Normandy's system correctly, and another two months to get it up and running in time to face the Collectors. Luckily EDI knew what she was doing."

"EDI?"

Before Garrus answered, a voice over the intercom interrupted him.

"That is not an accurate assumption."

"Was that an AI?" Adelais asked, now overly impressed.

"An unshackled AI. She has a body now," Garrus affirmed with an approving nod. "Courtesy of Cerberus. And," he added, "I'm impressed you knew that only by voice."

"I was in the military myself, once upon a time," Adelais reminded him, bluntly, as EDI spoke again.

"If not for Officer Vakarian's efforts with the Thanix Cannon, then the weapon's functionality would have been severely decreased, and would not have been able to destroy the Collector Ship." EDI's voice said.

Adelais looked over at Garrus and folded his arms, giving him his best "care to explain?" look.

Garrus shrugged modestly when the intercom turned off. "Okay, so it might have been my idea. We didn't have a gun big enough to face the Collector's, so I improvised."

"Improvised? With a Thanix Cannon? Is that what you call improvising?" Adelais demanded, truly stunned. "I've heard of entire teams taking years to build a Cannon like that, but you did it in two months?"

"I had help," Garrus reminded him. "Although Joleen and Thane mostly got in the way."

"Oh?" Adelais asked, casually.

Surprisingly, Garrus didn't hesitate in his answer.

"They came down here every few hours to make sure I got some fresh air and sleep," Garrus explained, calmly, folding his arms and leaning against the wall closest to where Adelais stood. "Or to call me out. I was always on her six," he said, eyes growing distant as he spoke, as if suddenly lost in a powerful memory, "It was always me and someone else."

"Always?"

Garrus shrugged again. "Except when she needed me out with a separate team. I was the leading man in the Collector Base," he said, humbly, "I guess getting my entire team killed back on Omega wasn't enough to convince her I wasn't much of a-"

Garrus caught himself right then and gave Adelais a suspicious glare.

Adelais gave him an approving chuckle. "If you don't want to tell me, Garrus, then you don't have to."

Still looking stunned, Garrus just shook his head and continued.

"Didn't lose a man in the Collector Base," Garrus continued, warily eying his father for his reactions as he continued his story, "Thanks to Shepard, anyway."

"Maybe in part to you, too?" Adelais commented, sincerely.

Garrus shrugged once more. "Maybe."

Adelais folded his arms again and shook his head. "I'd say you did your part."

"Yeah, well. She was the one giving the orders."

It was time.

Adelais gave him a slow nod. "Garrus," he finally said, quietly, "What happened with Sidonis?"

"He wasn't my friend." Garrus answered, looking away.

"I could figure that out on my own."

"He was a traitor. He betrayed my team on Omega. Got every single one of them killed," Garrus continued in a surrendering tone. "I asked Shepard to come along when I eventually found him."

"Revenge?"

Garrus paused then nodded a bit. "Yeah. Revenge."

Adelais gave him a cautious look, hoping he wasn't prying too far again. "And what happened? Obviously you didn't kill him."

"Shepard stopped me. She protected him by stepping into my line of sight. Wouldn't let me take it."

The older Turian looked started for a moment. "Oh?"

"She's always right," Garrus continued, easily, as if admitting what his father already knew lifted some kind of weight off of his shoulders- which it probably did. "Always."

"You love her," Adelais replied in amazement.

Garrus chuckled easily at that. "If you knew her like I did, you would too, dad."

N._.S._.S