There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it.
The morning Garrus lost his mind, he woke up to find Shepard sitting next to him. She looked exhausted.
"Hey, Garrus," she said.
"Shepard?" He tried to sit up, got tangled in his sheets, and fell back to his pillows. Shepard's smile grew. "What are you doing in my apartment?"
"You're about to get some bad news. Sorry about that."
His omni-tool chimed with the new-message alert - once, twice, three times. Still groggy, he flipped the display up and scrolled through his messages.
"Wait," he said. "You can't - what is this?"
"Be safe out there, Garrus."
She was gone.
"Not possible," he told the space where she wasn't. "You're not -"
By the time he got dressed, it was all over the extranet.
Garrus left right after the funeral.
Kaidan tried to talk to him - he even went so far as to grab Garrus' arm, to pull him back as he walked out the door. One look at his face and Kaidan let go, backing away with his hands raised in surrender. He went to the corner where Liara sobbed, Tali's arm around her shoulder.
Garrus walked away.
They could share their grief. He didn't have anyone to share his madness.
If Garrus still cared, Omega would have terrified him. As it happened, it just disgusted him.
He got a hundred yards from the shuttle bay before he ran into his first crime: a robbery, two vorcha against a batarian.
His rifle was still in its case, but he had his pistol.
Two perfect headshots later, he knew he'd come to the right place.
Without the artificial daylight of the Citadel Wards, it was easy to lose track of time. Omega existed in perpetual twilight, and Garrus found he could move easily in the shadows, slipping into view long enough for his enemies to glimpse what killed them. None of them knew his face; he only took off his helmet to sleep or eat, and that he did rarely.
It was a strangely pure life, for a place as filthy as Omega.
He dreamed of Shepard exactly four times.
Forty-seven days after he came to Omega, Garrus woke up to find Shepard sitting next to him again.
"Hey," she said.
He rolled over and squeezed his eyes shut.
"Garrus, wake up."
No. No. I'm already crazy, don't you see? I'm on Omega. My life expectancy can probably be measured in weeks, at best. You can't make me any crazier.
"Dammit, Garrus, get up!" A hand collided with his cowl. "They're coming."
"Who's coming?" The first burst of adrenalin hit. She sounded so present it stung.
"Blood Pack. You really messed up their last shipment. Now get up! They're maybe five minutes out." The urgency in her voice got him moving, more out of habit than any real alarm.
"Come on, Garrus." She shoved him toward his armor. "Get the lead out."
As far as hallucinations went, this was a fairly pleasant one. Impending death was something he'd gotten used to a while back, and Shepard was there.
"So. Is this how it's going to be now?" Shepard didn't reply. "The last time you showed up, it was to tell me you'd died. Now you're here, telling me I'm about to die. Am I just special, or have you made visits like this to everyone else?"
He could have sworn he felt warmth when her hand touched his arm. "I mean it, Garrus. Move."
Humor the hallucination. He got into his armor and reached for his rifle.
Shepard stood at the door, and the sight of her was a punch in the gut.
He'd chosen this back room because of its anonymity - broken crates, stained walls, a vague musty odor. No one who ever came here wanted to come back again, or remembered it once they left. A safe haven for a vigilante. Dark and quiet.
Not now. She wavered under his gaze, like a candle flame caught in a sigh.
"You've got questions, I get that, but we have to run." She nodded at the door. "You ready?"
"Oh, I'm ready," he said, feeling lighter than he had in weeks. For all he knew, someone could have shot him in the head while he slept and this was his brain's way of shutting off the lights. As far as dying went, this was fairly painless.
Painless, at least, until she smiled at him. "Then let's go," she said. "I've got a safe place for you, but we have to hurry."
Shepard took him on a roundabout, tangled path through the Gozu district before climbing up into a disused ventilation shaft. After that, they slipped from alley to alley, narrowly avoiding a Blue Suns patrol when the mercs came laughing out of a dive bar. Shepard pushed him back against the wall and held him there, a cool hand over his mouth. His armor dug into her chest, but when he tried to shift, she shook her head.
When the mercs were gone, she stepped away. Garrus let out a long breath. She'd had real weight when she leaned against him.
Before he had time to wonder more than what if, she was waving him on.
"Not much farther - just stay quiet. More patrols."
He nodded. Talking wasted breath he could use for running, and he had no idea what he would ask if he had the breath to spare.
They ran in silence. Once or twice she made them double back and hide, and every time a merc patrol passed, talking in low voices about some new troublemaker.
After the second near-miss, Shepard grinned at him.
"You know they're talking about you, right? Starting to make a name for yourself, Garrus. Should have known you'd start trouble if you went off on your own."
"I didn't start trouble," he fired back in a whisper. "Those scum did. I'm just cleaning up."
"I know, big guy. Just giving you a hard time." She peered around the corner. "Ready to keep going?" She waited long enough for him to nod before she was up and moving.
They didn't stop. Shepard pushed him to go faster, always faster, goading him when he started to slow down. Garrus felt his pride rise to the bait, and put on a last burst of speed to catch up with her. For the last two blocks, they were neck-and-neck.
She stopped so suddenly that he blew past her, and had to jog back to stand at her side.
"I know it's not much," Shepard said, "but it's home."
They stood at the foot of a bridge, staring up at an abandoned apartment building. Garrus nodded, too focused on catching his breath to pay much attention to what Shepard said. She wasn't breathing hard, or even sweating.
"Come on," she said. "Time to get you settled in."
His footsteps sounded large and hollow on the bridge. The door's lock had been hacked and he could hear the ancient machinery scraping in protest as he shoved it open to let her in.
The inside was dark. Not long ago, something had crawled here to die, and the sweet smell of rot filled his nose. He coughed and covered his mouth.
"Sorry about that," said Shepard. She moved farther into the room, picking her way carefully into the gloom until she disappeared completely. "I didn't have time to clean before I had to come find you. Took me forever to find this place. Apparently there's a shortage of abandoned but semi-livable buildings here on Omega. Who knew? Had a time limit too. Blood Pack had picked up your trail. Where's the damn - oh, here it is. Cover your eyes, Garrus."
"What?" he said, trying to follow the path of her conversation. When the lights came on, dim and flickering, he hissed and blinked.
"Told you to cover your eyes," Shepard smirked at him from across the room. "Oh, wow, that's nasty. Don't look in that corner."
When his vision cleared, he simply stared at her. She'd be gone soon, and he wanted to get his fill before she evaporated.
She didn't disappear. She waited, hands on her hips, eyes never leaving his face.
"Spit it out, Garrus," she told him.
"Yeah, I did."
"But you're here."
"Yeah." She crossed the room to stand an arm's length away. "I'm here. Don't ask me why, or how." She shuddered. "How hurts too much."
He looked away.
"Garrus? You good?"
He barked a laugh. "No, Commander, I'm not." There was something bitter in his throat. "How could I possibly be okay? What do you want? Why are you - why did you come here?" To me?
Shepard was silent for a long time. Garrus waited. Now she'd disappear.
She folded her arms, a grin haunting the corners of her mouth. "I'm here to help," she said. "If you're going to clean up Omega, you're going to need a hand. Besides," the grin slipped sideways and dropped away, "it's not like I have anything else to do."
It took most of a day, but they made the building habitable. Shepard got rid of the horrible thing moldering in the corner while Garrus cleared out the old clothes and rotted food from the rooms upstairs. The furniture that had been left behind was mostly broken or missing pieces, so he piled them into the garbage compactor - which, for a miracle, was still working.
When he was done, everything was very quiet.
"Shepard?" he called, unsure if he wanted her to answer. Something shifted below him, metal on metal, and then there was nothing but silence.
He found Shepard at the foot of the bridge, staring back the way they had come. She was drawn and pale, more tired than he could remember her looking.
"It's a good position," she said. "Snipers on the balcony, proximity charges there and there. We can move those old crates so they block entry from either side, so the only way enemies can come at us is from the bridge. It'll funnel them into scope." When he didn't reply, she started to turn around but stopped herself. "What do you think?" she asked.
We. She said we, like nothing had changed and they were briefing for a mission on the Normandy. We, like they were still a team and she hadn't -
"I'm sure it's fine."
"Garrus." There was a warning in her voice. He closed his eyes. "You can't do this alone."
"Do you see anyone else who was on the Normandy?" His voice clattered against the bare walls.
He heard Shepard take a step toward him. "None of them would have abandoned you. They were your friends, Garrus."
"They were your crew. There's a difference. After you were gone, there was nothing holding us together."
She made a rough, dismissive noise. "The fight belonged to all of us. I know they didn't leave you. You left."
Garrus turned, snarling, to find Shepard a hand's length away. "Why did you leave?" she asked. Her voice never wavered. "Why did you give up on being a Spectre, Garrus? What made you come here?" She swept her hand out toward the skyline.
His hands clenched uselessly and fell to his side. "You left," he said. It was only half an answer, and Shepard knew it.
"I didn't do it on purpose." When he tried to look away, she grabbed his chin and pulled him back to meet her gaze. "If you're trying to paint this as you bringing justice to Omega, I'm not buying it. Why did you come here?"
He tried to pull back but her hand tightened painfully.
"You got a death wish, Vakarian? You want to go out in a blaze of glory?"
She read the answer in his face. Her mouth quirked, and she looked away.
"Take it from me." When she looked back at him, her eyes glittered. "Fire is no way to die."
Shepard let go of his face and walked back to the end of the bridge. Garrus touched his chin. The phantom sensation of her cool hand lingered.
A minute later, she said, "Did they give me a nice funeral?"
"I don't want to talk about that," he ground out through clenched teeth.
"Then our conversation options are pretty slim. You won't talk about fortifications, you won't talk about why you're here, you won't talk about me being dead."
"Stop it," Garrus growled. Shepard laughed. The sound spiraled out of her mouth, all jagged lines.
"No, really. What else is there to talk about? One minute I was getting Joker into the escape pod, the next I couldn't breathe."
"Stop it!" he shouted. "Whatever you are, whatever happened to you, I don't want to hear it."
"Well tough shit, Vakarian. I've got no one else to talk to." She scrubbed a hand over her face. "Like it or not, you're stuck with me."
The silence closed around them. Shepard shut her eyes. Garrus stared at her, looking for signs of death. If there were any, he couldn't see them.
"Do turians believe in ghosts?"
The word came through his translator as spirits, but he knew that wasn't what she was asking.
"No," he said. "Once you're gone, you're gone."
"So this is something new for you, huh?" She folded her arms and cocked her hip. The posture was so familiar his throat closed. "Congratulations, Vakarian, you're the first turian to be haunted."
Anger twisted in his gut. "This isn't funny," he snapped, the dual tones of his voice fraying. "You're dead, Shepard. You're supposed to be gone, not hanging around here with me in this hole. What did you have to come back for?"
"I'm here to help you," she said. Garrus grated out a laugh.
"Help me? There's nothing to help. We failed. No one listened. They're blaming it all on the geth. Sovereign nearly destroyed the Citadel and no one believed us. And everyone else, they just went back to their lives. I tried, but I couldn't, not knowing - " He grabbed his head, talons digging into his skin. If he could dig deep enough, he could tear out his guilt and his fury. His head would be quiet again. "The Reapers are still coming, and without you, no one will listen, Commander."
"Garrus, Garrus." The gentleness in her voice was unbearable. Shepard was brave and kind and loyal, but she was only gentle when someone was hopeless. "Look at me."
"You want to know why I came to Omega? I came because I wanted to make sure when the Reapers came, I'd done all I could to make sure life was good for people who deserved it. I'm here to clean up." His voice was savage. "I'm making it brighter before it all ends."
It was all so pointless. He wanted to scream but when he opened his mouth, nothing came out.
Somehow, Shepard was standing in front of him now. He felt her hands on his, pulling them away before they could do real damage. She held his hands against her chest, and said his name until he opened his eyes.
"You're not alone, Garrus," she said. He slumped down, his head pressed against her shoulder, and after a long pause, her hand came to rest on the side of his face. "I'm here."