-A/N- After some reviews that opened my eyes (read: took me apart at an embarrassingly basic level) I re-wrote this chapter. No doubt I'll eventually re-write it again, but until then, enjoy the first chapter of my noir fan-fic!


"Spirits, how much did I drink last night?"

In the darkness of a run-down apartment, softly illuminated by the Citadel's artificial light, Garrus Vakarian emerged from his bed, groggy and dreary from... something. Any memory of last night escaped him; if he was lucky, he might have only some new bruises from an encounter in the hallways outside.

Garrus peeled back his covers and swung his feet out of bed. One landed on an emprty Tupari bottle, earning a mumbled curse and a kick from him as he shakily rose to his feet. After getting up, he staggered over to the corner of his room, where his day clothes were lying in a crumpled pile, and dressed himself in the battered suit.

Moving to his kitchen, he snatched a gritty dextro-protein bar from a cupboard and settled down at the small table in the centre of the room, electing to regain full consciousness in comfort. He wanted to crawl back under the covers and return to the comfort of sleep, but instead steeled himself for the day that lay before him, opting to remain in a contemplative quietude.

His gaze ventured to the window over his bed, and as he stared out at the Zakera ward skyline punctuated by the purple glare of the Widow nebula. It was a shame, he thought, that something so beautiful could overlook the wretched hive that was the Citadel; he could see it, but no-one else could. Everyone was preaching something, but they were all dealing under the table - politicians and fraudsters, nationalists and foreign banks, upstanding traders and smugglers. And they were all in it together. As far as he could see, the only honest people on the station were the keepers.

Minutes passed, and he had finished a bottle of Tupari, scrunching it up and throwing it to the foot of his bed, when his omni-tool flared into life with a shrill beeping noise, signalling the end of his morning's silence. The sudden burst of noise caught him off-guard, making disabling his alarm more of a task than usual as his hands fumbled for the off-switch.

The irritating noise had not gone unnoticed. Sounds of rustling covers came from behind him as his stare snapped onto the other side of his bed.

The recollection hit him like a mass accelerator round.

"Something wrong, Nihlus?"

In his bed laid a naked female Turian, her… supportive waist and other areas barely covered by his bed sheets as she tilted her head in an inquisitive manner. He mentally chuckled, incredulous that she had actually fallen for that one when they had first met. They had been at the bar in the Dark Star Lounge last night, and she had seemed ditzy. He'd told some little lies to achieve his goal, nothing his mother would ever approve of, but impersonating a known Spectre seemed (and turned out to be) a sure-fire way of getting a happy ending.

Without missing a beat, he replied. "Gotta go to work; you know – Spectre stuff." Suddenly realising his predicament, he continued. "Look, you can, uh, see yourself out right?"

"Sure, but when will I see you again?"

Hesitantly, he attempted to defuse the situation before it went up in his face, "Um," he paused. "…Next month. But as a Spectre, I can't stay in the same place for more than a few days. So you can't come back here alright? I'll call you."

Gaining a nod of agreement, a wave of relief washed over Garrus. He decided now was probably the best time to leave; his shuttle was leaving soon and he needed to get to his new job. He stood and moved towards a closet on the far side of the room, grabbing a frayed jacket and hoisting it over himself.

Briskly pacing to the front door, he made his exit by ambling through the sliding metal and allowing it to shut behind him. After stepping out into the relative filth of the apartment block, he guided his head to rest on the back of the door, eyes on the ceiling.

That was close, his brain chided him, you can't keep doing this.

Setting off down the corridor, and with a grimace, his conceded, "Today is not going to go well."

Taking note of the environment, he felt repulsed at the disgusting conditions the building was left in. I'll have to bring this up at the tenants' committee meeting, he remarked, realising the state of the place was all too ordinary.

In the Zakera ward, there were thousands of apartment blocks like his: high rise and low cost; dingy rooms with poor lighting; hostile inhabitants and more than one crime scene under investigation. The hallways had a permanent coating of grime, and the lingering stench of a dead body behind a locked door convinced most to keep walking before they became a witness – or worse – a statistic.

That was all the motivation he needed to press on.


-A/N- This chapter has gone through a lot of revisions, so please – be gentle. Other than that, tell me what you think! I'd love to hear it.