"Commander Shepard? Garrus Vakarian. I was the officer in charge of the C-Sec investigation into Saren."
Tall, like all turians, with the same mask-like features and sharp eyes. Paler than most, with a savage slash of thick blue running across his face. Shepard fought down the instinctive urge to take a step back as he approached, towering over her, and internally cringed at that bit of subconscious racism.
He's a person, just like everyone else here. The First Contact War's been over for a long time.
Turians had been the bogeymen of her childhood, a menacing alien threat that her parents and the other officers on base had talked of in grim, serious tones. As she'd gotten older, she'd learned better, but had never managed to shake an atavistic unease around them.
"Anything I should know?" she asked Vakarian.
He shook his head sharply, mandibles flaring briefly, startlingly outward. "Saren's a Spectre. Everything he does is classified; I can't touch him. But I know he's dirty - the things I can reach just don't add up." His teeth showed when he spoke.
"I think the Council's ready for us, Commander," interjected Alenko.
Vakarian gave her a nod and stalked past them. "Good luck, Shepard. Maybe they'll listen to you."
She ran into him again at the clinic in the wards, when he put a bullet through the head of the man holding the doctor hostage. After the fight was over, the doctor told her about the quarian she'd sent to Fist, who might have the evidence she needed to make the Council listen to reason. She thanked the doctor and thanked Vakarian and spun on her heel to continue the chase.
Vakarian. She halted and turned to face him again, saw that he had stepped forward to follow her.
"Look, this is your show, Shepard. But I want to bring Saren down as much as you do. Let me come with you."
Unthinkingly, the words burst out of her. "You're turian. Why do you want to shut him down so badly?"
She was instantly ashamed. Vakarian froze in place a moment before taking another step forward, but didn't call her on it.
"I couldn't find anything but circumstantial evidence against him, but the story's there for anyone to read between the lines. Saren is a traitor to the Council, and a disgrace to my people!" His voice had risen, the alien flanging almost drowning out the syllables, and his head tipped forward, eyes narrowed.
But the frustration in that tone was familiar, and that drive was something she could admire. She took a long look at him, reminding herself that underneath his sharp teeth and strange eyes, Vakarian was a man like any other, with guts and conviction and damned good aim, and that no one ever conquered a fear by running away from it. She met his eyes again and gave him a curt, professional nod.
"Then welcome aboard."
AN: This was originally written for a prompt on the Mass Effect Kinkmeme on LiveJournal. Thanks to whoever prompted this, and the people who read it there!