An ME3 AU in which, for various and sundry (and, to be honest, stupid) reasons, Shepard and Garrus never got together in ME2. I've also played around with who's on the Normandy when, mainly so Victus, Kaidan, and Kal can form a "GET ON WITH IT ALREADY, THERE'S A WAR ON" support group.
Originally written as a fill on the kmeme.
I've done a lot of research on humans.
At first, it was just to figure out what the hell I'd gotten myself into. I'd been arguing with Pallin - again, still- and this human female arrived in time to watch him hand my ass to me - again, still, whatever.
Not the most auspicious of introductions, but she let me join her team. Even if she hadn't, I would have found a way to go with her, because no one was taking Saren down without me there.
So I started researching humans. Being on a ship full of them meant I had ample opportunity to observe them - and to observe her.
You have to understand. She was already a legend when she came up those stairs, even if she wasn't a Spectre yet. She'd survived horrors that made even krogan pause, and her head was filled with ancient blood and destruction.
I knew her name, and her history - what was public, that is. She wasn't much older than me, just a year or two, but I remember how forceful I tried to sound, how authoritative and proud. I tried to sound like a good turian.
Which, of course, I'm not. I didn't know that then. Turns out I had almost as much to learn about myself as I did about humans.
Nothing about the mission was easy. Sometimes, I still dream of Ilos. But we won, and brought home a warning.
And then Shepard died.
I didn't hear about it until much later. Liara sent me a message, Tali sent me a message, even Wrex sent me a message (even though that one consisted mainly of variations on the phrase "Alliance bullshit"), but she was gone, and words were dust.
They said she suffocated when her suit ruptured. They said she burned up in the atmosphere.
They said a lot of things, but all I heard was Shepard is dead.
The plan was always to join up with her again, after I became a Spectre and wrapped a few things back home. Back then, I still thought it was just about finding the right leader, and being willing to follow her anywhere, to whatever end. It was a good plan.
The plan. I always had a plan. Even after she was gone, even though it was a hasty one, I still had a plan. Destroy evil. Save people. Leave the galaxy brighter and cleaner than how you found it, because there's already enough darkness and filth out there. It's your job to clean it up.
After Sidonis, the plan shortened drastically. Build a pyre with your guilt and your failure, Garrus, and ignite it.
Bit poetic for a turian, but like I said, I'm not a good one.
Turns out, not even death can hold onto Shepard long.
This time, I understood things a bit better.
No matter what Kaidan said on Horizon, it was still her. And when we got to the Omega-4 relay, I went to her cabin. I had a plan then too - offer comfort, silence, wine, myself - but the sight of that closed door scared me away. I was still too much like that turian she'd met on the steps in the Citadel, too brash and too young, for all that I was older than her now. She'd never fraternized before; why should it be with me?
Then we lived, and we won, and she was gone for six months.
I got promoted, and when I yelled, people listened to me. Heady stuff, especially for a failed C-Sec officer whose sister wasn't really speaking to him. I got a task force, and we worked.
The humans have a saying, something about being forged in the fires of battle. The thing is, the forging changes you - your shape, your strength. I was no exception. The raw potential Shepard saw in me was honed into a weapon. I can say, with no small amount of pride, that when the Reapers came, burning my home, my world, I held the line against the fire.
And when I saw her on Menae, I had a plan.
It goes without saying my plan did not include being waylaid by Primarch Victus on my way to the main battery.
"You look terribly pleased for a turian who just left Menae in flames." There was no reproach in his voice, only a simple statement of fact. I had to fight not to duck my head all the same. Only one rank and a few names separated us now, as easy as it was to forget that fact.
"I'm glad to be going where I'll be of use," I retorted. "If anyone can bring the fight to the Reapers and free Palaven, it's Shepard."
"Your faith in her is touching." The Primarch folded his arms and gave me a long, measured look. It was a trick of his to unnerve people into telling the truth, and just because I was familiar with it didn't mean I was completely immune.
"I've been through hell and back with her, twice. If she hasn't earned my faith by now, there's no way she'll ever get it." The Primarch's mandibles flared in a question no human would recognize. I stared back without blinking, and that was answer enough for him.
"She's earned more than your faith, Vakarian." I shrugged carefully, and the Primarch huffed out a laugh.
"I see," he said, but before he could clarify what, exactly, it was that he saw, Kaidan rounded the corner and stopped short when he saw us.
"Vakar - Garrus - oh, God, Primarch Victus, I didn't mean - " I'd never seen Kaidan so badly wrong-footed before. In all the time I knew him, he was nothing but capable and controlled, and it was a bit satisfying to see him fumbling. I wasn't just a bad turian. Sometimes, I could be a bad person.
"Major Alenko. Kaidan," I said. Kaidan gave me a grateful look, and out of the corner of my eye I saw the Primarch melting back into the War Room. There was a flicker of movement from the vid room, and Liara stepped out, talking over her shoulder at Shepard.
It was my first time seeing her without armor in more than six months. She was paler and thinner, her scars just suggestions, but her hair was still the same, and so was the brisk way she handed the datapad back to Liara.
"Primarch Victus," I heard her say. "We need to talk."
Kaidan was talking at my elbow, something about my old spot in the main battery still being open, and I had to shove down a flash of annoyance. He hadn't been there. He'd cut off all of us on Horizon, and now he wanted in on those memories?
Not a chance, said the loud, eager young turian in my head, the one I could never shut up. He abandoned all of us, not just Shepard.
I was older now, and kinder, if not more patient.
"Thanks, Kaidan," I said. I hadn't looked at him. I was still watching Shepard. "I think I'll go get settled in."
She turned her head, the fine bones moving high under her skin, and I understood why humans licked their lips.
Nothing like a war to distract you from the might-have-beens. Unless that war brought you face-to-face with the biggest if only of your entire life.
Garrus Vakarian. Who apparently now had generals saluting him. Wonders never ceased.
There weren't words in any language I've encountered that could describe how goddamn happy I was to see him. Palaven burned above us, Earth burned beyond us, and still, his hand when he gripped mine was steady as always. I could hear every time he'd ever said right behind you, clear as if he was whispering it in my ear, and I couldn't say a word. Every once in a while I get lucky and the right words come, but that wasn't one of those times. Time, like words, was in short supply. And we had work to do.
The work never ended. Datapads were slowly boxing me in from every angle, which was Traynor's subtle way of making sure I answered all my messages before I hid in my cabin. Every one of them asking for my help, cries in the dark that I couldn't ignore.
Kaidan walked toward us, another clutch of datapads slung in the crook of one arm, his shoulders hunched. I knew that posture all too well; it was how Kaidan looked when he tried to apologize and didn't think it was working. I'd seen a lot of those shoulders lately. I nodded at him and risked a glance - just one - past him. Nothing obvious.
Of course, Liara followed my gaze, which was following Garrus' retreating back as he wound his way out toward the elevator - and, presumably, the main battery. She waited until Kaidan had walked to the other side of the room, then turned to face me, arms folded.
"Garrus has become quite -" She paused, considering, and then gave me an obscure little smile. She tended to do that a lot whenever Garrus was mentioned.
If she wasn't my best friend, I would have thrown Liara out the airlock years ago. There were days I thought I might do it anyways.
"Yes, he has," I replied, and smiled when she sighed.
"You didn't let me finish."
"It's fairly obvious. He was always meant for something big." I held out a hand and even though she was pouting, Liara handed me her datapad.
"Bigger than calibrating your cannons?"
"You do realize someday that joke's going to get old, right?" Liara gave me her mock-innocent look. "It's not all he did around here."
"Of course not," said Liara, in her best matriarch voice. She patted me on the arm and I had to clench my teeth. Damn asari, can't they ever just come out and say what they mean? She gave me that little smile again. "I'm sure he'll be even more useful this time around."
I could feel the headache building behind my eyes. Teasing was the last thing I wanted. I could count the hours I'd slept since we'd left Earth on my fingers and toes, and it was getting harder to get Chakwas to hand over the stims. One more day, I'd plead, and she'd give in. For now.
I rubbed my eyes. "I'm just glad he's here," I said, and regretted it immediately. It was the truth, and as a rule I told the truth whenever I could, but I wasn't ready for just how much I felt. Liara's face went soft in a way I couldn't watch.
I waited for her to make some smart-ass comment, but then her hand brushed mine, lingering long enough to squeeze. "Me too," she said gently.
AN: Thank you for reading! I'm slowly adding my other ME fics here, and decided to start with this one. I would love to hear what you think.