Drink after drink. Shot after shot. McCauley tried to keep pace, but Garrus was Turian. Strengthened livers were one of the more useful differentiations his species had taken on; only it wasn't being used to separate Shatha acid from nutrients anymore – nowadays it was an easy win in drinking games.

"Dyuu wann summ mohrr, Garrussss?" McCauley slurred.

"Neil, you're drunk. Go home."

Cole, the barman, chimed in. "Garrus, can you get him to his car? I think autopilot can do the rest."

"Are you sure? He's not very… lucid right now."

"It's Saturday tomorrow, right? You don't work Saturdays, and neither does he. I'll cut you a deal: get this guy outta Ms. Contari's club, and your Thessian Sunrises for the rest of the night? On the house."

"Deal."

Turning in his stool, Garrus lifted McCauley's arm over his shoulder, and with a grunt, got him up and moving. There were some struggles, and McCauley nearly pissed on a gaggle of passing Salarian tourists, but the two made it to Amanda after some wobbling on the way.

"Heeeeey babyyyy." drawled the human, falling to his knees and… hugging the skycar?

"Neil, get up. Now."

"Calmm down, Garry. I'll ju–"

His body convulsed as he spewed, green liquid with a stream of red hurtling out of his innards. Taken aback, Garrus hesitated before taking McCauley's keys and opening his car.

"Alright Neil, get in." His tone was more like a parent than a partner.

"Naaw, sawnig…da teenz don' like tha kine-a wearwuuf…"

Garrus cringed. The poor guy was delirious, puking blood and unstable, and he was packing him up and sending him on his sorry way.

Yeesh. I need a drink.

Garrus straightened and looked back up at the Lounge's bright lights. Elsa had probably finished her set by now, but he judged he could still stay and enjoy the rest of his night without her show.

You gotta talk to her sometime, Vakarian.

After returning to the bar, Garrus rounded off his night with several more Sunrises, all of them 'gratis'. Probably some sophisticated human word meaning free, in some fancy dialect to confuse the poor. It was symbolic, really, another tactic used by high society to keep their lessers in the figurative dark.

It was getting late, and Garrus knew it. With a grim slowness, the turian rose from his chair and began to depart. Unlike McCauley – whose best reaction to alcohol was to sit in a puddle of his own bile and piss, rambling on – Garrus' drunken state was more subtle. More personal. He became a different kind of man.

Stepping out of the lounge with the uncertainness only drink could afford, Garrus took the right out of the doors and headed through Tranquillity Lane on his way home. Maybe if he got back quick enough, the tenants' committee would get off his back; his 'disruptive behaviour' of coming back drunk five times a week for the past few months had been waking up the rest of the building. Who would they turn him in to exactly? The same witless pricks that ran every slum up and down the Citadel: the Palus mercs.

C-Sec weren't the cops in Garrus' neighbourhood, Palus were. Palus would prosecute 'crimes', 'settle civil disputes' and offer 'protection' all for the low cost of half your income. The bastards in green and white hardsuits had made a name for themselves, and their human-only policy made them popular with upstanding citizens like crime boss Elias Kelham. They were like the villains in a bad mob vid, but they were very much real, and very much criminals. The cop in him clocked it a year ago, but the deadbeat in him didn't give a shit. All signs pointed to the district politicians hiring them for the odd wetwork job in exchange for them standing back while Palus harried the hard-working voter.

Muggings, heists, assassinations, you name it; Palus had their grubby little fingers in it.

As the pristine white blocks of the diplomatic estates became the grubby grey-purple of the Zakera he knew, Garrus took a detour from his usual route home. It could've been the booze, or a simple curiosity that led him astray; he'd never bothered to look around the area, preferring to keep his eyes down and his face intact.

What he saw was unsurprising. Same filthy streets. Same criminals: pimps, burglars, racketeers and the like. Same venal creatures marching past, chins held high, arrogance oozing from their smug faces.

Same shit, different street.

Awaking form his musing, Garrus found himself striding down an alleyway. Covered in dirt, shit and smelling like a Vorcha's corpse, it was the kind of place you'd expect to see a beating from angry debtors or Palus doing the two-step on some poor Salarian's teeth. Tonight the turian wasn't so lucky; instead he was treated to something more… carnal in nature.

"Get away from me, you creep!"

"Creep? Baby I'm hurt. I'm just looking for a good time; besides, you don't wanna argue with me and my boys do you?"

There she was, a beautiful young Asari being manhandled by the rent-a-clown with a big gun, looking to take more than her money. The two jostled and shook in a grapple as the young maiden attempted to escape.

Without realising it, Garrus had stepped forward.

"Step away from the lady," he ordered.

The two stopped and stared, shocked to see a passer-by intervening. The moment lasted for the briefest of seconds, before the merc snarled, "What're you gonna do? Arrest me?"

"As an agent of Citadel Security," he barked, inching closer, his hand moving to his Stinger, "I am placing you under arrest. Anything you sa–"

The crack from a rifle butt bouncing off Asari skull reverberated against the alley's dingy walls as time seemed to slow. In a split second, Garrus' sidearm was raised at the merc, target sights peacefully drifting over to his head.

Click.

Once again, the click was all he could hear.

This time was different: everything was slower, like the big scene in an action vid; the colours toned down, imbued with a pale blue tint that made the grubby streets appear frozen; everything felt in place – in the right place.

And for a few moments came a strange kind of harmony.

External sounds returned to his world as he helped the girl up, returning him to the reality of the situation. He didn't know why he'd done it - he'd always hated injustice, was that it? It didn't matter; from that moment he was dead in that town.

"Thank you, thank you so much. He thought I was some–"

"Yeah, yeah. Just get out of here before more show up."

The asari scurried away, almost falling in her haste. Out of the corner of his eye, Garrus saw her duck around the corner and back onto the street.

Breathing deeply, the turian stood tall, turning to venture deeper into the alleyways, moving towards the sound of a military jog headed his way.

Time to face the music.