Shepard sat at her terminal, idly picking at the keyboard one handed while the words on the screen swam before her. Her burned hand, bandaged and idle on the desk beside her, had gone blissfully numb. The meds Chakwas had insisted upon were doing their job, but Shepard suspected they were augmenting the natural exhaustion of a hard fought day. Finishing her report on the rescue at Grissom Academy tonight was quickly becoming an exercise in futility.
The lock on her door cycled and opened, the soft click and hiss breaking up the background hum of a ship at work. Shepard didn't bother to turn around. There was only one person on the ship with standing permission to enter her room unannounced and EDI would certainly have given her a heads up if someone else managed to hack the door. "Garrus, how many heavies did Cerberus have on site today?"
Steps sounded behind her, followed by what sounded like armor pieces being placed on the floor. "Too many. Tell me you aren't working."
"You know I like to do these while the details are fresh."
"I know." Garrus came up behind her, leaning over her shoulder and brushing the side of his face against her cheek. "I also know you are under orders to get some rest."
"The doc can't give me orders. Just make recommendations."
Garrus snaked his hands around her. Swatting her hand out of the way, he dexterously finished her sentence, saved the file, and closed down the terminal. It never ceased to amaze Shepard how quickly he could type with so few fingers. "Never a good idea to cross the woman who is in charge of stitching you back together," he said, chuckling quietly. "Or the turian who is intent on luring you to bed."
Shepard shook her head, smiling in spite of herself. "And resting is all you have in mind?"
"I'd count getting you to sleep as a victory, yeah."
Shepard sighed and pushed her chair back. Garrus straightened and stepped aside, heading back to the pile of armor sitting by the door. Char marks covered much of what Shepard could see from her position.
"Everything in one piece?" she asked.
"Mostly." Garrus held up one particularly torn up shoulder guard. "The rest of it just needs to be cleaned."
Shepard stood and walked over, taking the guard piece and eyeing the damage. "When did that happen?"
"Turret in the courtyard, right after they dropped those smoke bombs. I got its shields down and Jack blew it up before it did any real damage."
Shepard nodded, taking the piece with her as she walked down the stairs to the lower portion of her quarters and making a mental note to check with requisitions on their back ups. She had a hunch they would be going through more than a few pieces of gear before all was said and done. Garrus followed, carrying the rest of his armor to the table below.
"It was good to see her," he mused, sitting on the couch and grabbing a cloth from the work desk.
"Jack?" Shepard asked, tossing the shoulder guard onto the table as she walked over to the wall locker that served as her closet.
"She's my second favorite mentally unstable biotic to take into a fight."
Shepard snorted, stripping down to her tank top and shorts one handed. "Cute."
"You were happy to see her too."
"I was. I like Jack. I'm glad she found something to care about. And joke all you want, I empathize with what she's been through more than you'd think." Shepard walked over to the table, picking up a second cloth and reaching for one of the armor pieces.
Garrus reached over and pulled the armor away from her. "No. You need to go to bed."
Shepard considered arguing, but knew it wouldn't get her anywhere. She strongly suspected Garrus and some of the others were actively plotting to ensure she didn't run herself too far into the ground. Leaning over the table, she put down the cloth and kissed his forehead, just above the ever present visor. "Fine. Don't take too long."
Besides the probable futility of arguing, bed seemed awfully inviting right now.
Garrus spoke up as she was pulling back the covers. "As much as she bitched today, I think Jack enjoyed taking down the Cerberus troops. Spirits know I did."
"Oh? Killing Cerberus troops on your do list?" she asked, climbing into bed and pulling the covers back up.
"The nonsense with the rachni. Trying to manipulate you. Actively sabotaging the war effort. Pretty high on my list, yeah."
Shepard watched the star field pass over her head, considering for a moment. "Don't forget ambushing marines, playing with reaper tech, and all the personal bullshit The Illusive Man put us through. I'm still amazed you didn't hesitate to join me when I was ostensibly working with known terrorists."
Garrus chuckled. "This was never a Cerberus ship. This was your ship. When I joined you the crew just hadn't realized it yet. Didn't take them long to come around."
Shepard smiled, looking over at Garrus. He wasn't facing her, intent on wiping down his breastplate. "I suppose not."
"You can talk anyone into anything if you put your mind to it. Like when…" Garrus looked up as his voice trailed off, catching her eye before quickly looking back at his work.
"Like when what?" Shepard asked.
Garrus shook his head. "Not important."
Shepard frowned, pulling herself into a sitting position as something in his tone caught her attention. "Garrus," she said, letting a bit of her Commander voice sneak into the word.
Garrus put down his armor, placing the polishing cloth on the table, still avoiding looking her in the face. "Just something I've been wondering about. I don't think it's important enough to discuss right now."
"Garrus," Shepard said, softening her tone and kicking the covers aside. "I'm pretty sure it's going to be a long time before we find the opportune moment to discuss anything." Shepard edged her way to the foot of the bed, lying on her stomach with her chin propped up by her uninjured hand. "And you aren't doing me any favors by keeping me up wondering what the hell you want to talk about."
Garrus was silent a few moments more before standing up and walking over to the bed. He sat on the edge, next to Shepard, and reached up to take off his visor. "You can talk anyone into anything. I believe that. Angry krogran. Battle-hardened mercenaries. Stubborn politicians. I've watched you manipulate them into whatever course of action you've set your mind on without touching your weapons." Garrus ran one of his talons over the inside frame of his visor. Shepard wordlessly placed her injured hand on his leg, encouraging him to continue.
Garrus looked at her. "But you didn't talk me out of shooting Sidonis." he said, simply.
A tumble of potential responses ran through Shepard's head. She slowly sat up, perching on the edge of the bed next to Garrus. "Is that…do you regret shooting him?"
"No." The sharpness, the finality in his voice surprised Shepard. "Not remotely. Too many good men ended up dead because of him."
"So," Shepard frowned, trying to figure out exactly where this was going. "You want to know why I didn't work my magic on you? Talk you out of exacting revenge on a guy who, really, had it coming?"
"You wanted to. You started to. You stood in my shot and warned him that I was watching." Now that he had broached the topic, Garrus seemed hell-bent on saying everything he needed to say. "I remember thinking 'she's actually going to do this. She's going to talk circles around the two of us until I give up and she's probably going to make me think it's for the best.'" Garrus looked at her. "Then you just…stopped. Stepped aside. I could tell it bothered you, afterwards. We barely spoke on the shuttle ride back to the ship."
Shepard studied her feet on the floor, thinking back to that evening. "We never really discussed it. Just, confirmed it was finished and moved on."
Garrus nodded. "It shouldn't be a big deal. It isn't. But I still get caught up in wondering why. Pity? Did you decide I was too stubborn or stupid to follow what you were trying to prove or…" Garrus trailed off, shaking his head. "And then I start wondering, did I disappoint you, did I…"
Shepard pivoted, moving from her spot next to Garrus to straddling his lap. Carefully, she took the visor out of his hands and placed it on the bed. It was so easy to forget, how close to the surface insecurities were for all of them. Bringing her good hand to the side of his face, she forced him to look at her. "I'm sorry, that we never debriefed on the whole thing. We should have talked about it."
Garrus leaned in, resting his forehead against hers and wrapping his arms around her waist. "How did you put it? There was never an opportune moment."
Shepard chuckled softly, closing her eyes and looping her arms around his shoulders. "Yeah. For the record, I think I could have talked you down."
"Probably" he conceded, his breath warm on her face.
"It is a kind of manipulation. One I'm very good at. Comes from moving around a lot as a kid, I think. I had to learn to make people like me in a short time. It's a small jump from that to 'make people listen to me.'"
Shepard opened her eyes, leaning back a bit to watch him. "I don't think you realize how fucked up I was when I woke up to find two years gone and my survival reliant on a terrorist organization. I was cut off from my friends, from the alliance, from the council. The Illusive Man had me backed into a corner. He knew it, I knew it, and it felt like there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it."
Garrus watched her in silence, his arms still firmly wrapped around her waist.
"Their biggest mistake – their only mistake – was pointing me to you" Shepard continued, smiling. "Once you were here, the situation didn't seem so impossible. I was able to take command of the ship, get the crew on my side. None of that would have happened if I didn't know someone had my back. That someone believed in me."
"Shepard…" Garrus started, his mandibles twitching slightly in surprise.
Shepard kept talking, forestalling whatever he had been about to say. "By the time we found Sidonis, I had stopped thinking of you as just part of the team. I had stopped thinking of you as just a friend. You were my partner and my sanity and when I realized what I was doing. Trying to manipulate you instead of trusting you. God, Garrus, if one of us almost disappointed the other that day, it certainly wasn't you."
"You were doing what you always do, Shepard. What you thought was right."
"And I stopped myself because it wasn't my call. Because I trusted you implicitly. And as uncomfortable as the situation made me, I had to show you that I had your back too. No matter what." Shepard brushed her lips against his mouth, hoping she had made herself clear. For all her gifts with words, it was difficult to articulate something she had taken so long to come to terms with.
Garrus eagerly responded to the kiss, pressing his mouth against hers and brushing his tongue against her lips as his hands moved up her back. Using his longer frame to his advantage, he carefully turned them both to the side until Shepard's back was on the bed, her feet dangling off the edge. Only then did he break off, backing up so he was standing at the foot of the bed.
"I hadn't considered the situation from that perspective before" he mused, leaning over to run his hands down her sides. "Your partner and your sanity?"
Shepard exhaled with a small laugh, shifting slightly to make sure his discarded visor wasn't getting crushed. "Yeah. I guess I'm still pretty fucked."
Garrus grinned down at her, sliding his hands to her hips and stopping as he hooked his talons in the elastic of her shorts. "Could be" he mused, canting to his head to the side in question.
Shepard quirked a brow at him, but angled her hips up to allow him to slid the clothing down her legs and onto the floor. "I thought I was supposed to be resting?"
"You are. I'm under no such orders. I imagine there are a few things I can do to help tire you out."
Chuckling, Shepard reached for Garrus and tugged him down for another kiss. "And you're ok? We're ok? With the Sidonis thing?"
"More than ok" he whispered, obliging her with a kiss as his hand stroked the inside of her thigh. "Thank you."