The Communications Room was full with the team Shepard had gathered from across the galaxy waiting in anticipation for her orders. When the inevitable ructions began over who would lead the second of three strike teams into the Collector Base, Garrus found it all too easy to blot out the noise, choosing to focus his attentions on Shepard instead.
She still hadn't said anything leaving Lawson to explain the gist of the plan. In fact she wasn't even facing the conference table, but remained staring out at the constant night and the ominous form of the Omega 4 relay glowing red in the distance.
"No, Miranda. I need you with me," she announced suddenly. The room fell silent.
"Shepard, I…" Lawson began to protest.
"Your biotic abilities are far superior to mine. I need you with me."
"And the other strike team?"
Shepard looked up at him then, not a shred of doubt in her expression. "Garrus will lead it," she said.
Garrus turned over in his sleep, lost in the memories of the suicide mission.
"Shepard," he said, catching her at the exit torn open when the Normandy crashed not really knowing what to say next.
The 'fire' blazed in her eyes, burning with rigid determination as she swept her bloodied fringe from a gash across her forehead. This was Commander Shepard. She'd brook no defeatism now. It was either get it done, or die trying.
"Good luck," he managed finally and watched as the corner of her mouth lifted into a knowing half-smile.
"See you on the other side," she said, smacking a heat sink into place on her pistol before jumping through the airlock, Grunt and Lawson right behind her.
Another time Garrus might have sarcastically told her there were too many connotations to be derived from those parting words. Today however, he simply knew Shepard was covering all the bases.
Time was a blur of adrenaline, bullets and death beyond that point. His dreams slowly morphing in and out of focus around orders given and received.
For an instant Garrus was stood once again upon the floating platform, Shepard and Mordin beside him, bearing witness to the birth of a new reaper, born of tens of thousands of liquefied human sacrifices.
His mind finally took pity on his limited reserves and the images faded to black, though through the darkness the sound of Shepard's voice still reached out to him. From times long gone by to more recent breathy sighs of passion, to a final whispered confession, one he could barely make out as if it had only ever existed on the edge of consciousness: "I honestly don't know what I'd do without you."
Garrus opened his eyes.
Exhausted, he soon began to register the familiar sounds of the battery. The pulsing thrum of the Normandy's guns, the bleeps of the continual diagnostics programmes he had running on the main terminal following repairs. Everything he could no longer ignore which only added to his restless irritation.
They would be arriving at Palaven today, and not that he wasn't grateful to have this opportunity to return home - Spirits knew it had been a miracle they'd all survived to return anywhere - but he couldn't settle, his heart and mind in an unusual state of disquiet.
He pulled the thin covers aside and sat round on his bed wondering if somehow moving might help. Stretching out his aching muscles as he stood he checked the very early hour on a near data pad. He was almost certain that no one would be around if he ventured into the mess hall for a drink. The ship had been running on a skeleton crew since they'd returned through the Omega 4 relay, mainly because most were still in recovery after escaping the Collector Base.
Running a hand over his face tiredly he palmed the door release, his stride faltering instantly to find Shepard stood just the other side of the opening door. Her eyes were wide with surprise though whether because the door had just opened unexpectedly, or she'd been caught standing there Garrus wasn't entirely sure. Either way it didn't hide the fact that she also looked tired. Her hair and clothes dishevelled as if she'd been tossing and turning in bed all this time too.
For a minute they just stared at one another both lost for the words to begin explaining what they were doing or why they were there.
In the end it didn't matter.
Caving to temptation Garrus reached forward grabbing Shepard by the hand and yanked her through the doorway into the main battery, marvelling at the fact she came without hesitation, her warm free hand instantly finding the sensitive nook at the base of his horn-crest and pulling him down into a fierce kiss.
Seconds later Garrus had just enough wherewithal left to blindly punch in a locking code on the closing door before they collapsed to the floor in a tangle of need – his empty bed, feet away, forgotten.
Shepard piloted the shuttle to the co-ordinates specified by the Turian landing control. The architectural surrounding everything she'd envisaged. Utilitarian and beautiful in equal measure, the blazing early afternoon sun gleaming off every surface turning the near distance into a sea of liquid metal. On powering the engines down she sat forward in her seat taking the opportunity to look at the towering structures in greater detail. Without an enviro suit or any other kind of protection doing so outside would be impossible. She was mostly surprised by the vegetation, each variant appearing as durable as the buildings about them, but instead of green the foliage was either silver or a fiery red.
"What is it?" Garrus asked, surprising her. He'd been a silent presence beside her all this time having not spoken more than three words together since meeting her in the CIC earlier.
"I'm reminded of Jon Grissom's description of Palaven, 'The only thing on this planet that isn't silver are the Turians.'"
Garrus rolled his eyes, asking, "Wasn't he also the one that claimed we were all made of steel?" Not waiting for a reply he gathered himself together and headed into the back of the shuttle. He was right of course – not that Shepard was going to say as much, his mood seemed too unsettled.
She chose to change the subject instead as she unbuckled herself and followed behind. "Is anyone going to be here to meet you?"
"Not sure, Sol maybe." He threw his two large packs over his shoulder as he replied and picked up his rifle case before turning toward Shepard and the shuttle door.
"So," Shepard began feeling horribly awkward. It was clear something was troubling him, but she didn't know how or whether she should even ask. "I guess this is it," she offered lamely.
"Yeah," he said his flang undeniably solemn. He didn't say anything else and for a second Shepard thought he really was just going to leave, but he paused as he reached for the door release. With a heavy sigh he shook his head and looked down at her. "I'm not sure I can do this."
"What do you mean? You can do anything," Shepard encouraged.
"I can't help feeling," he growled with frustration as he struggled for the words. "The last time we said good-bye… you…"
"I?" Shepard responded, confused, then the realisation struck like a bucket of cold water down her spine. "I died," she muttered, that fact alone nothing new. Garrus's concern over a repeat occurrence just because he dared leave was however.
"I struggled with the knowledge that I might have done something to prevent it for a long time Shepard. If I'd been there – "
"If you'd been there I would have ordered you to abandon ship with all the others and you would have done as I asked."
The way he looked at her made her think otherwise. "I'm not a good turian in that respect. We both know what's coming; maybe now's not the right time for me to—"
"Now is the only time we have, Garrus; for that very reason," Shepard cut in, "and you have more to do with your life then worry about what might have been or what could be." He looked down at the floor disparaged, till she reached up, her slender fingers coaxing him to look at her again. "I made you a promise, don't make me break it," she pleaded. God knows there's nothing I want more than for you to stay.
With another heavy sigh he rested his forehead to hers, resigned that regardless of his fears she wouldn't have the situation any other way. For a minute Shepard just breathed, drawing in his presence, making sure to commit everything she could to memory. For all her reassurances, she knew the likely hood of them seeing each other again was remote.
"Stay in touch," he said, dragging himself away and before he had chance to reconsider he pressed the door release and dropped out of the shuttle onto the landing pad.
At distance it was hard to distinguish the gender of the turian stood waiting for him though Shepard was certain it was Sol as Garrus had predicted. She touched his face, assessing the scars he had never let her see, appearing angry at first though Garrus took it all as stoically as Shepard could have guessed he would. Suddenly Sol just threw her arms round him and hugged him tight, a hug he returned one handed laden down as he was.
"Stay safe," Shepard whispered with a faint smile, watching the tender scene unfold till the shuttle door closed.