Garrus watched for each subtle movement Kaidan Alenko made. He kept note of where, and how far the man's feet ventured. He took note of his expression, watching for any sudden shift, any hint of resolution to do something incredibly stupid. But mostly, Garrus took note of the man's fingers, waiting for the slightest twitch. Whether Kaidan planned on bluffing this out, or even contemplated a warning shot, it didn't matter. Garrus would not be offering a warning shot of any kind. Not when the man had his gun to Shepard.
Garrus until this point hadn't particularly harboured ill-feelings toward his former comrade. During service aboard the SR1 together, they'd never developed a friendship, but neither had they an animosity. Two different people. A respect was there, the fellow soldier kind. One, that had promptly disappeared after events on Horizon, Alenko's rebuking of Shepard, so insistent and proud on being 'an Alliance soldier to the bone.' Garrus did not view this ignorance as respect worthy. Nor did he Kaidan's treatment of a former Commanding officer.
"Garrus," Shepard spoke low, ensuring him to be the only one to hear. "Holster." She'd seen the turian in combat enough times, to know when intent flamed his eyes.
Her order stumbled a second of his focus. He met her face, saw she was serious, gave her a look of his own
"Now," she whispered, sternly. If everyone was going to walk away from this, she knew all were going to have to keep it cool. No friends, no ex-lovers, No emotion of any kind. Kaidan looked angry as hell, though she knew he wasn't an angry person by nature. It was more likely confusion, and frustration causing those brown eyes of his to speckle in hate. She wondered for a split second if he did hate her. She knew he distrusted her, but hell, he must really distrust her. Certainly enough to have his gun aimed. Garrus, though he wasn't acting improper in taking defence of his Commanding officer was an angry person by nature, not unreasonably so, but Shepard knew more than most his temper had often led to the clouding of better judgement. She also knew if Kaidan was to die by his hand, Garrus would not be living well with it. Neither would she. Mars wasn't that long ago, and in-fact the slight bruising on Kaidan's face could still be seen. He'd almost died, due to in-action on her part. That was not going to happen today.
Garrus gave her a slight shake of head, indicating he would not be holstering his weapon. He ignored her angered glare as he turned full attention back to Kaidan.
Shepard inhaled a frustrated breath, making mental note to rebuke the turian later. She turned focus back to her fellow Spectre. "Kaidan. I'm not doing this with you. Move. Now."
"Explain yourself," he gritted, in a tone of authority. "And maybe we'll talk about that."
Shepard was careful not to let anger reflex in the tightening of her hand. "Udina's tricked you all. Cerberus are right behind us. If you let him open that door, we're all dead."
"Please!" Udina scoffed, looking up from his console. "I'm not the one with Cerberus taped to my résumé."
"He's...got a point, Shepard," Kaidan stated, trying to retain the stern in his tone, though, Shepard detected the uncertainty, hoping she could work with it. And, fast.
Garrus held a disbelief at the man. Had Alenko not been involved in a relationship with Shepard? To what depth, Garrus didn't know, not having held any interest in his human Commander's sex life aboard the SR1, as every other crew mate seemed to. It was just kind of known that Kaidan and Shepard were a 'thing' of some kind. Still, whatever 'affection' Alenko claimed to ever have for Shepard, was obviously not enough to take her word over a well known crooked politician's. If Garrus hadn't held Kaidan in the highest regard before, he certainly thought him entirely a jack-ass now.
"We've mistrusted Shepard before, and it did not go well for us," the asari Councillor jumped in, a little to Shepard's surprise. The turian Councillor nodded his agreement, even more to her surprise.
Kaidan wore a look of contemplation. Shepard thought it amusing, he'd probably be swayed more by the Council than her. Amusing, but somewhat depressing.
"Kaidan, come on," she remarked, getting tired. "Would I do this if I weren't certain?"
"I... don't know, Shepard. Like you said, we don't really... know eachother anymore."
So much for not bringing emotion into it.
"Shepard. I'm taking the shot," Garrus' voice came low.
A curl of panic filled her stomach. "No. Stand down."
"There's no time," he growled. "You did your best. We're out of options."
Garrus usually followed his commander's orders to the letter. Not because she was his commander, but because he trusted her, he respected her, because he'd come to value her judgement over his, but one thing his commander lacked in taking consideration for, was herself. In this case the consequence of disobeying her order compared to the potential consequence of obeying was nothing. He respected her, he really did, but it would be the protection for his friend over respect for his superior that would win out.
He let out a sigh. "He's not going to back down. Sorry, Shepard..."
"Major!" Shepard exclaimed, to the surprise of all present. Even more to their surprise, she threw her pistol to Kaidan's feet. "There. I'm unarmed. You hold all the power here. The power to save these lives, or have them killed. Make your choice, Kaidan. Make it, and damn well live with it." She heard the pulse in her head as they waited what couldn't be more than a couple of seconds for Kaidan to act on these new circumstances. He must know she wouldn't be so stupid to unarm herself if she was really about to betray him.
"I better not regret this," he uttered
Shepard, Garrus, and Kaidan sat (Though certainly not side-by-side) in Capitan Bailey's office. There are certain procedures needing to be carried out, when the shooting of a Councillor has occurred. The soldiers gave statements fast, none of them desiring to be in the room with one another longer than necessary. Shepard was mad. Garrus was mad. Kaidan was mad, and a little confused. But they were soldiers, they maintained as much professionalism as could be expected.
"Okay," Bailey continued. "So then you took the shot, Shepard?"
"Yup," she replied tiredly.
Kaidan reserved a disbelieving scoff at her apparent uncaring. Udina was an ass sure, and a traitor as it turned out, but still, there was a certain respect that should be held over a man's death.
"Everything seems above-board anyway. That should be all I need, I don't want to be keeping you all here longer than necessary. I'll get in touch if I need anything else." He nodded them off, watched them scrape back awkwardly from their chairs and towards the door. "Oh, one more thing I gotta ask this, sorry, Shepard. For the record, I need an agreement with all witnesses. Major, Vakarian, in your opinion was there anything improper in the way Commander Shepard carried out the shot on Udina?"
"Absolutely not," Garrus remarked.
"...No," Kaidan confirmed, a little hesitantly.
"Good. Thought as much. Alright, see you around," said Bailey, before the three left.
"Well..." Kaidan muttered in the hallway, facing Shepard "Guess, I'll see you around."
She managed a slight nod, giving him all of a seconds eye contact.
He hesitated leaving, wanting a moment with Shepard. He was surprised Garrus wasn't picking up on this. He sighed figuring he'd go find her later, there was a lot to talk about. "Garrus," he nodded, before walking off.
"Alenko," he replied, flatly.
When Kaidan ventured out of hearing distance, Shepard turned to her turian officer, crossed her arms, and leant to one hip. She crinkled her nose in a way Garrus knew was suppose to depict human anger. He found it amusing how anyone was suppose to find this intimidating. "And what was that?" she scorned.
"Shepard, If you're going to call me up on disobeying your orders, you needn't," he remarked.
"Oh, needn't I now? And why's that?"
"Because, you're not about to persuade me there were any other options."
"It's not my job to persuade you, Garrus, it's my job to give orders, and I kinda expect- well I would hope my crew would give me the obedience and trust to follow through. I told you several times-"
"If you think I will stand there with my weapon holstered, whilst someone's is aimed at you, you obviously don't respect me very much."
"My respecting you, clearly isn't the problem here. I need to know I can trust you dammit."
"You don't know that?"
"Trust, that when situations like these arise, yes granted rare as they may be, I can rely on your support of whatever judgement I make."
"And you have that support, but no-one could have foreseen how something like that was going to go down. Sometimes you need to use your instincts."
"And what would have happened hmm? Garrus, seriously. How would you had felt if you'd taken his life?"
"A damn shade better than if he'd taken yours."
"That wasn't going to-" she sighed, cutting herself off mid-sentence. Garrus watched her close her eyes and rub a thumb between them. She was strained, clear as day, not even opting to hide it as she usually did.
Garrus realised the insensitivity of what he must have said. "Shepard, I'm sorry. I don't... mean to upset you,"
Shepard looked back to her friend surprised.
"Can't be... the easiest thing." he soothed.
"Here if you wanna...ahem...talk."
"Well, you know, staring down... a gun."
"...Not that I don't appreciate it Garrus, but I do stare down my share of guns. It's kind of an occupational hazard."
"Right... that's the spirit," he said, punching her on the shoulder.
"Uh...huh," she shook her head at his weirdness, before catching on. Did he think she had some kind of feelings for Kaidan, still? Of course it stung to have him stand off with her like that, but no more than it would if it had been Liara, or James, or anyone she'd worked with. "Garrus... you do know that... erm, I don't-"
"Hey, er, sorry to interrupt," Bailey said, exiting his office. "It's Krios, Shepard, I just got word there's been some... complications."
"Complications?" asked Garrus.
"Yeah, I didn't understand the medical gibberish, but it doesn't seem good anyhow."
"Alright," Shepard nodded, "I'll go see." She uncrossed her arms, and looked to Garrus, before heading off "I'll talk to you later."
"Make sure you do."
Shepard took a slow stride through the hospital corridor, feeling apprehensive. Wondering how bad Thane's complications were exactly, postponing finding out. Screams filled the hallways, young and old. Whoever these people were, and whatever their injuries, they were technically the 'lucky' ones. Cerberus had taken many lives today.
"Commander Shepard," an unfamiliar voice called.
Shepard turned to see an equally as unfamiliar face. "Can I help you?"
"Oh, you probably don't remember me. It's Dr Michel. You and your team helped stop Fist's men, at my clinic all those years ago?"
"Oh right, of course. Yeah I remember. Everything okay?"
"Yes fine, I won't take up too much of your time, Commander, but I was wondering, Dr Chakwas and I have been keeping in touch. She did mention you've been taking a lot of casualties, and an extra pair of hands wouldn't go amiss...?"
"Oh... isn't this place understaffed?"
"No, staff isn't the issue, Commander. It's supplies, although thanks to the intel you've been sending back to us, we've been running a lot more efficiently. Even on a day like today I don't feel much use. I'm sure I could be much more helpful on a war ship right now."
"Well, yeah, that's fine. I don't mind. I'm sure Chakwas will be happy for the assistance."
"Oh good. I'll get my supplies."
"Alright, you know where we're docked."
"Oh... one second, Commander," she hesitated.
"Tell me... is Garrus still with the Normandy?"
"Um... yeah, sure is."
"Oh excellent. I look forward to seeing him again. I must admit, I missed his visits to my clinic on the wards after he joined your team." She let out what could only be described as a giggle. "Even now, remembering some of his jokes still tickles me."
"Mmmm... he's a real hoot. So anyway, we're docked for the night, security lock. Feel free to go over whenever."
"Oh... Yes. See you later on Commander. Thank you for this opportunity."
Shepard nodded, and proceeded down the wailed filled corridor. She took in a deep breath, and entered the small hospital room. She was taken back by the sight of her old team-mate, not because he looked in a bad way, but because he didn't. He looked as fit and healthy, as when she'd first recruited him. To look at him, you would never think...
"Commander, Shepard," the younger drell in the room greeted.
"Kolyat," she startled, "Sorry, I didn't see you. I'll come back later."
"No, my father wishes you here," he said quietly, head bowed. "There... won't be a later."
Thane let out a few pain filled coughs, before able to relay his words. "Yes, Shepard. A moment of your time would be appreciated," he joked.
She faked a smile, and walked to his bedside. His coughing delayed conversation. Shepard was not use to seeing people this way. The feelings reminded her of re-uniting with Garrus. Him, coughing, and gurgling on the floor, having taken a rocket to the face. Her telling him to hold on, waiting anxiously on the Normandy, until he walked to her. This was different. She couldn't tell Thane to hold on, he would not be walking away from this.
"The Councillors are safe, Thane," she assured. "They have you to thank for that."
"That makes me glad," he uttered.
"Where is the man who did this to my father?" Koylat, asked angrily.
"He... got away," Shepard said. "I'm sorry, but believe me Thane, we will find him, and when we do-"
"No," he coughed. "I do not wish to be avenged. Take lives as necessary, do not seek them out. Koylat, my desire is for you to keep up your lessons with the priests."
"I know Father...I intend to," he smiled. "I have a prayer I would like to read to you."
"That would please me greatly," he said.
As Koylat recited the prayer, Shepard watched Thane struggling with his last few breaths. It was wrong, just so very wrong. Men, and women die in service regularly, and it is always, always tragic, but Thane had given it up. He'd wished to spend his remaining time in peace, with his son. A man had taken that from him, taken the very little he had left. Rage filled Shepard, like it hadn't in a long time.
"He's... gone," Koylat whispered.
Shepard lowered her face, "Goodbye... Thane."
"Commander... Are you going to try and find the assassin?" Koylat asked.
"I... know it's not something your father would want you involved with, Koylat." she said. "He wanted peace for you."
He nodded. "I don't plan on seeking him out. I will respect my father's wishes. I'm asking if you are going to find the man?"
Shepard glanced back to her former team mate, and recalled the visits she would make to the life support room. He was one of the most listenable persons she'd ever come across. Hours would go by, before she'd even noticed. He would discuss his memories, his values, Koylat. He thought about things, the deeper things. Something that didn't come naturally for Shepard, but she loved listening, thought he was pretty damn remarkable. His physical abilities were equally as impressive. He'd saved her life many times, and she his, though not this time...
The Spectre swallowed back tears, the pain in her throat mocking her of her humanity.
"Commander?" Koylat spoke.
"We'll find him," she assured, managing to keep her tone straight. "Believe that."
He nodded, and seeing his eyes water up, Shepard discerned it was time to leave, she went to touch Thane's shoulder, but didn't think she could hold it together to do so. She gave Koylat a nod, and left, charging down the corridor, needing to get out. All the screams she'd by now numbed herself to, hitting her hard. So much pain, so much death, and so so much more to come, if thing's were not handled... perfectly.
Keep it together.
She made a retreat to the rest-room spotting Khalisah Bint Sinan al-Jilani arrive in the elevator across the corridor. Here to make profit on the days tragedy no doubt. Shepard was in no right mind to have her words or actions recorded for the Galaxy to see right now. They needed faith. Faith they were following something much more than human. They weren't of course, but they didn't need to know that.
She locked the rest-room door, and leant herself over a sink, looking to the mirror in front. What is it about looking to your reflection when you're on the edge of losing it? Almost willing yourself to tell you what your suppose to do. She took sight of the dried blood on her arm, rinsed it under the hot tap, watched the redness drain away. There was a sickening soothing about it. Just washing away ones sign of injury. Marks will almost always heal, and you'll never think of it again. Whatever happened that day, your body no longer cares about. If only the mind was so easily forgiving. She knew she'd carry Thane's death, as she would with Ashley's and Mordin's, for the rest of her life. It wouldn't always hurt this bad, sure, but there'd be a prick now and again. Whenever she met a drell, whenever she saw a krogan child, whenever she recruited a new gunnery chief. Perhaps that's how it should be. Forget the cost, and you'll soon find yourself squandering the outcome.
The woman took a deep breath, and straightened up. The tears beneath her eyes had disappeared now, gone back inside with the rest of her undealt sorrow. She knew, of course, it would all come out and bite her in the ass one day, but hopefully that day would hold off until after this war.
Thane deserved better, and she swore she would find the man responsible, but for now, she was going to:
Pick herself up
Dust herself off
And go get sloshed as hell.