A/N: Hi guys. Before you jump on me: yes, I'm still writing Every One That Asketh as well as Mothers and Fathers. I've been focusing my efforts on EOTA lately, and there will be a new chapter soon. I've decided to go with larger updates less frequently, and haven't decided on an update schedule that will work for me yet. Long story short: third year of university kicked me in the rear. Done now, more time for writing. Anyway: have a one-shot. :)
If I Get Down On My Knees And Beg
"Shepard. Need me for something?"
"Have you got a minute?"
"Can it wait for a bit? I'm in the middle of some calibrations."
"Talk to you later, Garrus."
"I'll be here if you need me."
She forced herself to turn on her heel, knowing he was already back at his console, knowing it had been a lost cause, kicking herself mentally for trying anyway. She always made the rounds – said hello to Thane when she got out of the elevator, stuck her head in and waved at Kasumi, jogged across the hall to chat with Samara, headed over to check if Miranda needed to talk to her about anything …
And then her heart always jumped as she exited Miranda's office. Her feet always turned to the left. She always nodded at Hawthorne and Goldstein; she always nodded at Gardner. Every time, she'd turn left again, and walk down the hall to the main battery.
And every time, within ten seconds, she'd walk back out.
It was getting to the point where she didn't want to go back up to the CIC to choose their next destination. All she really wanted to do was go up to her cabin, throw herself on her bed, and cry.
Why wouldn't he talk to her? She knew the Thanix was notoriously difficult to calibrate, especially on a ship the size of the Normandy, especially with the oversized eezo core, but … but …
She slammed her hand into the elevator's close door button and stood there. It was the middle of a shift. No one needed to go anywhere. She always did her rounds in the middle of a shift because she always knew where everyone was.
She closed her eyes and dropped her head. She was just so mad. She didn't understand why the hell he wouldn't speak. Thane spoke more than he did. Grunt spoke more than he did. Hell, even Jack spoke more than he did!
For fuck's sake, what had she done? Why didn't he want to talk? He'd really opened up by the time they'd headed for Ilos on the old Normandy. They'd kept in touch – he'd gone back to C-Sec, had filed an application for Spectre training (they never really took you off the books once you'd been nominated) …
And then she'd died. And he'd gone to Omega.
Was that what was holding his tongue?
No, fuck, it couldn't be. He'd told her … what more could there be? What the hell was it?
I'll be here if you need me.
The fact that she came by every day to talk to him, sometimes more than once a day, didn't tell him that she needed him?
Oh, did she need him.
Did she ever need him.
She'd gotten awfully lonely over these past months, cruising around the galaxy, mopping up mercs, tying up everyone's loose ends, playing gopher for the Illusive Man … the nights were long when you were flying between star systems. There wasn't always something to do. She could only stare at resource reports and defence layouts for so long.
She'd started to think about him. She'd started to think about him as a close friend by the time he'd left the first Normandy. She'd gone to dinner with him a couple times when she happened to be on the Citadel between runs to geth outposts; they'd even gone to see a movie. She'd actually been on the verge of looking up turian-human relationship advice before Alchera – mostly for curiosity's sake: you know, was it even a thing that happened? Were turians and humans sexually compatible? How did you get around the protein thing? Was it a thing? Shepard remembered her xenobiology class at the Academy only vaguely, but remembered something about it really not being as big a deal as a lot of people thought it was … Also, what about relationship customs? Garrus was flirty enough, but Shep hadn't wanted to go to a fair, get her face painted, and have her best turian buddy hit the roof.
She hadn't gotten very far before getting spaced.
And now the bastard wouldn't even talk to her.
Maybe … maybe he knew? Maybe he knew and wasn't interested? Oh shit. Oh shit.
She sank to the floor of the elevator, eyes wide.
Was he trying to let her down easy? Give her the the "I'm here if you need me", keep her back during ground missions, but keep it professional and friendly?
Oh shit, what did that visor tell him? Didn't it tell him things about the heartrate of the person he was looking at? Oh shit oh shit oh shit. Her heartrate always skyrocketed when she walked in. Shit!
If he knew, why didn't he say something? Why was he stringing her along?
… The bastard. He knew, he had to know, and he didn't care, he didn't fucking give a fucking damn! He knew, all this time, because he could see, and he just flirted with her, and made it worse, and he had to know how her heart jumped every time he looked at her, but he kept brushing her off—
She leapt to her feet, smacking the open door button, striding out with her longest, sharpest, heaviest Commander step, her eyes set as hard as stone, her hands never forming fists, her hair falling forward around her face. Goldstein looked up as she walked past the mess, Hawthorne raising an eyebrow as Goldstein shrunk down into her chair. Hawthorne glanced to the side as he heard Shepard pass, and recoiled from the force exuded by her rapidly-retreating form. Gardner had his back to her and didn't look, though Hawthorne would later swear he saw him flinch.
All three looked at the battery door and swallowed. Whatever Garrus had done, he was probably going to regret it.
Shepard hit the battery door panel and it slid open. Garrus turned around.
"Shepard. Need me for something?"
The tiniest moment of silence. Then, Shepard's voice, loud and angry and terrifying and Goldstein was pretty sure everyone on the deck above them would hear.
"YES I DO, YOU SON-OF-A-BITCH!"
The door slid shut.
Garrus recoiled slightly, blinking at Shepard, who had drawn herself up to her full height (a respectably taller-than-average height for a human female, but still a head and a half shorter than him), and whose furious eyes had him pinned against his console.
"Ah, Shepard—" His voice didn't quite want to work. "Shepard, throw me a line here—"
She stepped forward, and he could swear she gained another six inches. So this was the N7 marine who'd come top in her class. Who'd gritted her teeth and defended Elysium with nothing but a paperclip and some string (figuratively). Who'd grown up in the slums of the Los Angeles megametropolis, running drugs and skirting the law. Who'd talked Saren into shooting himself, then asked yours truly to go and shoot him again.
He suddenly understood Thane's nickname for her. He swallowed. He wondered how long it would take Gardner to clean up whatever remained of him. Or maybe she would just throw him in the compactor. Either way.
"You self-righteous vigilante bastard, you piece of god-forsaken husk shit, you overconfident egotistical … TURIAN!"
Her heart rate was through the roof. Her breath was coming in fast, deep gasps. He now also understood why the Urdnot shaman liked her so much.
"Shepard, I don't know what you're talking about." He was trying to remain calm. Five minutes ago she'd been perfectly normal. And while the insults were starting to get under his plates, he'd witnessed enough good people crack under ridiculous pressure that he was prepared to give Shepard the benefit of the doubt for another couple minutes.
"You know perfectly well what I'm talking about, you smug, self-important, flirt! You know exactly! You know why I come in here every day to come and talk to you and all you do is BRUSH ME OFF! You know! You know! You bastard! You know and you won't fucking talk to me, you fucking asshole, you stuck-up bastard!"
"I have had better, longer, friendlier conversations with Grunt, the month-old krogan born in a test tube who thinks killing anything is the best fucking thing since sliced bread! I have had more meaningful, deep, thoughtful conversations with the psychotic biotic in fucking hold who gets high off killing! And the number of people they've both killed outnumbers the number of conversations they've ever had in their fucking lives! So WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU! WHAT DID I DO? WHAT – DID – I – FUCKING – DO?!"
He could see tears beginning to form in her eyes. She was beginning to shake. Her hands were curling into fists, blood rising to her skin, her voice beginning to quaver.
"What did I do? What did I do to deserve this? Iwas your friend! Why are you stringing me along? Why don't you just tell me, like you used to? Or are you too fucking afraid of me, the stupid Cerberus clone, the marionette that saves the galaxy?! WHY WON'T YOU TALK TO ME?!"
She sank down to her knees, her head in her hands, the angry energy draining, her voice still strident with anguish.
"If I have to get down on my knees and beg, Garrus Vakarian,I will! I will! Please, oh please, oh please, please talk to me … please, Garrus, talk to me, I can't stand it anymore, tell me what I did, tell me what I did wrong, if you don't want me to love you I'll stop, I tell you I'll stop, I'd rather die but I'll stop because I need you to talk to me, oh God, oh Garrus, oh please please please…"
She was weeping now. He could hear it in her voice.
"Oh Garrus, please, I need you to tell me, tell me something, please if there's nothing then just tell me and I'll stop and – and – and I can go away and leave you alone and not love you anymore and we can just work together and you don't have to love me and you don't have to believe me or trust me or care about me, you can even leave if you want, if you – if you hate me I can let you go, I can leave you on the Citadel, or on Palaven or whatever, just please tell me I can't live like this anymore I need to know!"
Her last sentence came out in a single breath, and she nearly retched on her final words, sobbing on the floor, her head curled under her arms, her whole body shaking.
He was stunned. He stepped to her side and knelt down, putting an arm around her.
"Shepard…" He said, softly, leaning over near her ear. "Shepard, I don't hate you."
She sobbed harder, gasping for breath in between. She made a wretched sound like a cross between a hiccup and a death rattle, and he wrapped his other arm around her and put his forehead on her back.
"Shepard. Listen to me." A slight quiet in the anguished weeping. "Shepard, I don't hate you. I've never hated you. I will admit it took me some time to figure out this whole Cerberus thing—" Her breath hitched and she moaned, painfully, before the moan was cut off by another hiccup-sob. "But, Shepard, you're not a clone, I know you're not, a Cerberus clone wouldn't care. And that's why you're not a marionette either: you care, you care about all of us, you care about some of us enough to come shout us down…" Another moan, this one dissolving into more sobbing.
"Shhh, Shepard." The shush came out as more of a hiss, but he trusted she would understand. "Shh. It's okay. Can I move you?" A little nod from under her arms. He swept her up – she was so much lighter to carry without her armour – and laid her on his cot, where she gathered herself into a fetal position and rocked slightly, burying her face out of his sight again.
"Shepard. Come on. Look at me. Apparently I have some explaining to do."
She shot the most piercing death glare he'd ever seen out of one eye between a crack in her entwined arms.
"Yes. I know. I get it. I'm sorry, okay? I'm sorry I haven't been talking to you. You deserve better; you're right." He shook his head, kneeling beside the cot. "I've been … thinking. A lot. About Sidonis. About revenge. About you, and about friendship. I … didn't want to talk yet; I didn't think I was ready to talk." He put a hand on her shoulder. "I didn't realize I was hurting you this much. I'm sorry. I thought you were busy and wouldn't notice. I should have known better. I should have said something to you, maybe asked you to help. I don't know. I'm still not sure how much I want to talk about my life, but I guess there are other things to talk about other than me."
She spoke; her voice was gravelly and nasal and wet. "Garrus Vakarian," she said, "you are an idiot."
His mandibles fluttered in a tiny smile. "Yeah," he said, "I guess I am. Oh, and Shepard?"
"Shepard, was there anything in that … um … tirade … that you would rather I not have heard?"
Utter silence. She met his gaze from behind her arms, though, and so he waited.
Finally, quietly: "No."
He arranged himself on the cot beside her, somehow, awkwardly. He was actually about half on the floor, but oh well.
"Okay. I think you need a nap. I'm not sure how good turians are at being pillows, but you're welcome to try. I usually nap about this time anyway."
"No saying I can't retroactively start a tradition."
"You'd better talk to me from now on."
He wrapped an arm around her; she began to uncurl and move a little closer to him.
"Can I talk about Gardner's idea of adequate nutrition for active soldiers?"
"What about Joker's less-than-workplace-appropriate extranet bookmarks?"
"What about my calibrations?" A sharp pain in his shoulder. "Ow. No. Okay. Point taken. But, you know, I do have to do a lot of them. And—"
"I thought you were taking a nap."
"Oh, don't humans chat during naps? Damn that cultural divide."
"I love you too."
Shepard coughed slightly, then began to cry again, softly, gently. Garrus moved her head slightly so it was in the crook of his (slightly-bruised) shoulder, then put his other arm over his chest and his hand on her waist.
"R-Really?" she managed between sobs.
"Yes." He squeezed her slightly.
He held her until she fell asleep, and then he held her until he dropped off, too.