Garrus groaned as he crouched behind the wall, clutching his wounded side, hoping to slow the bleeding as he caught his breath. It was hard to believe that it’s come down to this. Hurt. Cornered………….Alone. Garrus clenched his free hand into a fist at the memory of what happened……...the pain still fresh and raw at the thought. His entire team, gone in nearly one fell swoop, the few survivors dead minutes later. He felt sick to his stomach…..he failed everyone……...it was a joke to think he could be a leader…..a once brave, confident man reduced to nothing more than a husk of his former self, the only able to feel the sting of all the pain, regret, and anger. What was he thinking he could do this? Suddenly, the familiar face of a friend long dead ghosted through his mind, slowly starting to ebb away at his anger and frustration.
“Shepard……” Garrus whispered the name of his deceased Commander, a heartbroken tone colored the well known and loved name as it left his lips. He remembered how after she died, he wanted to help people, without all the red tape of C-Sec holding him back….he wanted to do something for the weak like she tried to do. Garrus chuckled bitterly at his own thoughts and shook his head before looking up at the ceiling, as if trying to see Shepard, wherever she was.
“I guess I really screwed up, huh Shepard?” He asked the heavens, hoping Shepard could hear before shaking his head. “I’m sorry I let it come to this…..but I guess it’s what I deserve for trying to rival the greatness of the famed Commander Shepard.” As Garrus said this, he started to picture Shepherd sitting in front of him, her (thin/full) lips curled and pursued in a pout, her (e/c) eyes that always seemed to look beyond what was in front of her narrowed in on him, shaking her head, causing her (h/l), (h/t) (h/c) hair to sway wildly back and forth, vigorously denying it. He pictured her crossing her arms and saying ‘No way! There are millions of people who are far better than me in both skill and moral…...they just don’t know it quite yet.’ Garrus could remember how whenever someone tried to compliment her on her abilities or her accomplishments or anything, she’d deny it and say that she was no better than anyone else, that there were people far better than her, though at the time, it seemed impossible. He could still remember her saying that to him for the first time. It wasn't long after they had confronted Dr. Saleon-Shepard had offered a deal that if he cooperated with them and allowed them to search his lab, he could live, which was far from what Garrus had planned to do. Even still, Dr. Saleon refused to cooperate, even pulled a gun on the Commander. Garrus quickly pulled out his gun only to have the Commander beat him to the punch and shoot the crazed doctor in the heart with a pistol. Garrus was starting to become irritated with this. First, the Commander almost lets the doctor get away, then, she shoots him before he could! It was supposed to be him who killed the doctor, it was his mission and he should’ve been the one to finish it. He was acting childish and angry throughout the search of his lab, muttering things about the Commander that he was sure she couldn't hear. However, apparently she could hear every little comment he made, but never mentioned it until a certain comment piqued her interest. It was a little side comment Garrus had made; something about how “the great Commander Shepard saving the lives of psychos” or something like that, he couldn't remember now, but never the less, the Commander found it interesting. She stopped searching and stared at him, waiting for him to notice her eyes on him. Eventually, Garrus looked over at her and noticed her stare.
“What?” He asked. “Did you find something?”
“Not really…..Garrus, are you bothered by the way I do things?” Shepard asked, looking a little uncomfortable. At the time, Garrus had no idea why, but now, he knew it was because she was scared of losing a teammate. He sighed and shook his head, thinking it wasn't smart to insult the 1st human specter.
“No, it’s just…...why should the great Commander Shepard try to save a rat like Dr. Saleon?” Garrus had said that with his words sounding more like an insult than a statement, but surprisingly, the Commander didn't notice, or didn't care. She just laughed and shook her head, a bittersweet smile painted her face with a sort of humbling sadness that took Garrus by surprise.
“Heh…….’Great’ huh?” She repeated, as if mocking herself. “I’m definitely, in no way, ‘great’.”
“Hard to believe that when it’s the 1st human spectre saying that.” Garrus countered, earning a soft, sad smile from his (h/c) Commander.
“Sure, but I’m no more special than, let’s say, the first Turian specter. I’m sure that there are millions of people of all species that are far greater than me…...I just don’t think they know it themselves yet. And others…...” The Commander trailed off for a second, looking Garrus straight in the eye, a mysterious glint swimming in her (e/c) orbs. “Are closer to achieving that greatness than most.” The Commander turned away without another word and continued looking while Garrus stood there, dumbfounded, though not by her words, but the way she said them, and with the look in her eye. He could feel that she was talking about him, but he didn't believe it himself. Garrus sighed at the fond memory before applying some Medi-gel to his wound, doing his best not to move as to not cause himself any further pain.
Garrus chuckled to himself as he shook his head, in spite of the smile that had started to show through. It still almost didn't feel real…...knowing that Shepard has been dead for over two years now. It still felt like she was going to pop up somewhere and tease him for thinking she was dead. It was hard to believe it when he first heard about it. He wasn't exactly sure how to react to such a thing….he’s still not quite sure, even now. The only thing that Garrus knew for sure that the kindest, bravest woman that he had ever had the honor to know…..and the greater honor of calling her a dear friend….was gone…….and she wasn't going to come back anytime soon, if at all.
“Heh…..I guess this is how Shepard felt after Ash died.” Garrus thought aloud. He could still remember the brokenhearted expression she wore for days on end after what happened at Virmire, it almost looked as if someone had destroyed her very soul. She had managed to stop Saren from creating an army of krogan to help destroy life as they knew it, all while saving a lot of people that day; she saved the salarian general Kirrahe and most of his squad, Kaidan, she even saved Wrex from making a huge mistake that could end up with him losing his life…….but even with all the lives she saved, she still lost someone who she once called a sister-like friend…….she couldn't save Ashley no matter what she tried or thought she could do to do so. Shepard blamed herself for the loss of her teammate, and to his knowledge, Garrus believes she still does, and Kaidan just made it worse those first initial moments. He blamed the Commander for not saving Ash, spitting hateful accusations at her for what was mere minutes but felt like hours. The others attempted to stop him but, to everyone’s surprise, Shepherd-of all people-told them to stop, and let him continue until Kaidan had nothing more to say. All the while, the Commander didn't speak, she didn't say a single word to interrupt her teammate’s harsh words. She just stood there, silent, listening carefully to everything he had to say, watching him with saddened eyes. When Kaidan was finally finished, the Commander was silent for a long time before looking straight at him with the most heartbroken expression anyone had ever seen her have, and sincerely apologized, then walked away without another word on the subject. Everyone could see the dumbfounded expression on Kaidan’s face….obviously expecting to be kicked off the team for insubordination. No one saw Shepard for hours after that, which worried Garrus. He looked around for her, combing through nearly the entire ship for her. Eventually, he found her hidden in the storage bay by the Mako, a half-empty bottle of whisky in one hand, her knees pulled halfway up to her chest as to rest her other arm on them, looking off into the distance with tears welling up in her glossed over eyes as a few stray locks of her (h/c) hair fell in her face…..it looked as if she’s been holding back tears for a while now….and was still fighting against the urge to so even now.
“Commander?” Garrus called out to her, his voice seeming quiet and hesitant to even him. Shepard jumped slightly and looked his way before quickly looking away again to rub her eyes with a quiet sniffle.
“Oh…..Garrus……...sorry. I didn't see you there…..didn't expect anyone to find me either, actually.” There was another sniffle as she looked up at him again, obviously doing her best to force a smile for him. “Is everything alright up there?” Garrus didn't say anything to her immediately, but instead chose to sit down next to her. He was amazed that Shepard could do something like this…..the thought of always having to put her crew before anything else, even her own feelings and health….even as she’s on the verge of tears over something that wasn't her fault.
“I was actually about to ask you the same thing…..Kaidan was pretty harsh in there, and I wanted to make sure you were alright.” Garrus said as he looked at his Commander, watching as she tried to play it off as nothing.
“What are you talking about, Garrus? Of course I’m alright. I see people die all the time…….it’s become a common sight around here now.” She assured him, however, sadness started to color her tone towards the end, giving herself away.
“Come on, Commander, after all we've been through together, I can tell when something’s wrong……...You just lost a close friend…...There’s no way that doesn't hurt in some way.” The moment Garrus said that, Shepard pressed her free hand to her forehead and chuckled quietly and bitterly.
“Am I really so obvious?” She asked him, still forcing that smile.
“Yes, you are. You want to talk about it?” Garrus asked, trying to peer into his Commander’s face when she suddenly removed her hand and let her head fall back against the Mako’s tire with a nearly inaudible thump, her forced smile now twisted into a bittersweet one as she looked upwards.
“What’s there to say, Garrus? How do you explain the feeling of knowing you played a part in your best friend’s death?” There was a pause as Shepard downed a swig of whisky, looking down at the bottle afterwards as tears began welling up in her eyes. “She was her Commander…..I should’ve been able to save her……..heh, this reminds me of something in the Skyllian Blitz.”
“....................When I first started fighting in the Blitz, I had started to make a few friends with the other soldiers, one in particular named (f/n). She was an amazing soldier. Confident. Upbeat. Strong…...at the time, I didn’t think anything could kill her…..then, one day, she was surrounded by the enemy and my commanding officer “abandoned” her in a sense. I know now that he knew that more soldiers would die to save her-if they even could at all…but I didn't know any better. I was so angry with him, I cursed at him, not caring if I was decommissioned for insubordination...but instead, he apologized, and told me to save that anger, bottle it up, and use it as firepower in the fight…..to fight for (f/n).” There was another long pause. “I just hope Kaidan is smart enough to do the same, since I know he won’t listen to me now.” Garrus opened his mouth to say something, anything at this point, but nothing came out. What could he say after that story? ‘Sorry that life’s a bitch and you should just move on?’ Just then, the Commander sighed and continued speaking, tears now starting to create delicate, thin streams down her cheeks. “Everything Kaidan said…..I deserved to hear every single word, just as my old commanding officer did…..the only difference is….there was a way to save Ash, and I left her to die…...I’m no Commander………...I’m a failure.” Garrus could feel his heart breaking as he hears her say that as she wrapped her arms around her knees, pulling them close so she could rest her head on them to hide the tears and nearly inaudible whimpers. He had no clue of what to do in a situation like this, it was a completely new experience for him. Instinctively, he moved his hand, letting it hover over her trembling form….only to have him pull it back to wait, silently and patiently, for his Commander to stop crying. That was the one thing he always regretted. Not being able to be there to comfort her….to be a little closer to Shepard, only to have Kaidan-of all people-take that place. Still, maybe it was for the best. With both of them being human and close in rank, it posed few problems down the line for their relationship to blossom………….a far better chance for success than a Turin and human relationship. Garrus thought himself a fool for thinking that he and the Commander could be something more, even if it was for a split second. Even still…..he had wished that he could’ve at least seen her one last time before she died.
Garrus suddenly shook his head and stood up with a slight groan, determined not to further wallow in the bittersweet memories of his fallen Commander. He had to focus at the task at hand, not reminisce about the good old days. If he didn't stay sharp, then it was only a matter of time before one of the mercs that were constantly coming after him had his head to show their corrupt leaders. Garrus glanced through the scope of his sniper rifle, watching as a new group of freelancing mercs fortified the barricade at the end of the bridge. Overall-at least from what he could see-it seemed to be more of a group of thugs than mercenaries. Light, old, or battered armor-if they had any-and light weight, cheap looking weapons that were probably bought at the nearest pawn shop or stolen from someone-alive or dead alike probably. The group seemed to radiate stupid confidence, as if they believed they’d get out of this alive, the type of confidence Garrus was more than prepared to squash. However, one of the mercs, caught his eye. A woman, clad in (f/c) armor among two other freelancers-a woman in white and a man in black. He could only see them for a split second, but it was clear that they weren't the average freelancer looking for work. Even in a criminal filled dump like Omega. The woman was wearing heavier armor-the kind that real soldiers wear-and a breather helmet with dark tinted glass with at least one or two military grade weapons by what he saw before she disappeared behind the wall of the barricade. It was too soon to inference anything else about her or her two companions, but one thing was very obvious-this woman was trained to kill…….and that made her a threat Garrus could most definitely could not allow to get into his makeshift bunker. If so….well then, he might just be done for. Things suddenly became silent. Garrus could feel his muscles tense and his fingers twitch over the trigger as he readied himself for another wave of hell. Suddenly, mercs and freelancers poured onto the bridge, many of them only to be faced with a bullet between the eyes. Garrus shot as many as he could, but for some reason, the merc woman, who had stayed in the back of the pack, seemed to dodge his shots with ease. Whenever he’d try to shoot her, she’d just roll out of the line of fire and cloak herself for a few seconds only to appear on the other side of the bridge. Garrus had to admit that for a girl in such heavy looking armor, she could move a lot faster than most people and easily made it inside along with the few other survivors. Garrus immediately crossed the room to the window that overlooked the bottom floor, firing at practically anything that dared to move. Barely having the time to notice that the woman in heavy armor and her two accomplices had disappeared yet again. Garrus had barely gotten the chance to get rid of all the mercs on the ground floor before a bullet came barreling past him and into a spot on the wall where he just was, now less than an inch from his body. He looked across the way just in time to see the helmeted head of a merc before it disappeared behind the barricade across the bridge again.
“Damn snipers.” Garrus growled as he moved back to his original spot against the outside wall. He fired at the snipers, taking them down one by one until they all fell. The deafening sound of gunshots rang all throughout the building as Garrus strained to hear anything else that could save his life, some indication of where the other mercs were inside the building. His mind was only set on surviving another day at this point, not caring who he had to kill now. Eventually, as the last merc fell, silence once again settled over him. Garrus scanned the bridge again, listening very carefully to every little sound that he could hear. Eventually, he heard something behind him….the sound of an old thermal clip being kicked and now rolling across the floor. Garrus spun around, coming face to face with the woman freelancer and her two friends. He was just about to shoot when the woman threw up her hands, her companions readied their weapons……..and a long forgotten, wonderfully familiar female voice rang through the air, shouting, “Wait! Wait! Wait! Don’t shoot!” Garrus froze at the sound of the voice, staring at the mercs in the doorway. The woman in the (f/c) armor seemed to be staring at him being the mirrored glass of her helmet. She slowly made a move to step forward, snapping Garrus out of his trance-like state, realigning the barrel of the gun with the small slot of the mirrored glass of her helmet. The woman didn't flinch at this, but stopped, taking a slight step back, as if more for his sake than her’s.
“Calm down…….we’re not here to kill you, Archangel……..we want to help.” The same, familiar voice assured him……..Shepherd's voice. Garrus was almost certain his old Commander’s voice was coming from the merc woman in front of him. ‘No….’ he thought, his mind racing at the tiny shred and flicker of hope that had started to rekindle deep in his mind. ‘It can’t be her……..There’s no way it’s Shepard…….she’s dead!’ Garrus was unsure what to think….he wasn't even sure if he was sane anymore. All he could do was stay there, frozen in shock and confusion at his own thoughts, desperately trying to sort out his thoughts. The woman made a move again, this time, with her hands moving up to her neck to take off her helmet. Garrus, while still slightly in this dazed state, readied to shoot again, and, again, the woman stopped, but this time, she didn't say anything when she did. She just stilled, her companion’s fingers on the triggers, but not making a move for a weapon herself. He could feel the intensity of her gaze, fixated on his own, and even though he couldn't see the eyes behind the glass, it was the feeling of those eyes….Shepard’s eyes…..staring down at him. He couldn't imagine anyone else’s eyes that could cause him to freeze up like this….no matter how many times his rational mind screamed at him that it couldn't be her. Then, ever so slowly, as if not to frighten away a small creature, she removed her helmet…...shook out her (h/l), (h/t), (h/c) hair……..and opened those big, (e/c) eyes that seemed as if could see into one’s very soul opened………………….revealing the face of a woman who he had so longed to see. Garrus dropped his gun a bit, his jaw nearly hitting the floor…….truly amazed by what he saw…….wide eyed and slacked jawed as he stared at the figure of a woman long dead….but not as a ghost, or as a fleeting memory, or an illusion…...but alive, breathing, walking the earth again………
“My name is (y/n) Shepard, Commander of the Normandy….and I need some help with a problem of my own that I think you could help solve.” Shepard said softly, with an equally sweetened smile, still trying to ease all his worries. He almost couldn't believe what he was seeing…..was it really her……..Commander (y/n) Shepard, alive again?
Even after two years, nothing much seemed to change about her appearance. Her hair was (longer/shorter/same as) the last time her , deep scars that looked as if they were glowing almost seemed to have been carved into the soft (s/c) skin, right under her eyes that still shone with kindness, and her (thin/full) lips upturned in a smile. It was really her…….Garrus finally fully lowered his gun, letting the barrel rest on the floor as he sat down, feeling as if his legs were going to give at any moment, then slowly removed his helmet as well, watching as Shepard’s expression colored with surprise.
“Hey Shepard, been a while, hasn't it?” Garrus asked as calmly as he could. Now it was Shepard’s turn to be frozen, even if it was for a few seconds before she started grinning ear to ear and extended her arms out as if she wanted to hug him, walking forward to grab his hand with one and lightly smacking his upper arm with her other in a friendly greeting.
“Garrus! It’s so good to see you again!” She exclaimed happily before a sly smile tugged at the corners of her lips. “Got yourself into quite a lot of trouble without me, I see.” She laughed a bit at her own words, and eventually, Garrus couldn't help but smile and chuckle too. He missed being able to hear her voice, to see her smile…...it made him feel as if all the shattered pieces of his broken life were being put back together.
“Heh….Shepard, you have no idea……….I’m glad you’re back.”
“So how about after this, you buy me a drink? For old times sake?”
“Sure I could go for a dri-hey wait! Shouldn’t you be treating me to a drink??”
“Good! It’s settled! You’re buying me a drink!”
“Shepard…..you aren’t listening to me…….”
“Hey! I’m saving your ass here…………...again! I deserve a drink for this!”
“No buts! Now can we kick some ass so we can get on with this and head to the bar?”
“Shepard loves her drinks doesn't she, Jacob?”
“I’m just worried about if we’re going to be able get her back to ship after the supposed “drink.”
*Unbeknown to the group, a girl is hidden behind some boxes in a dark corner, watching everything with stars in her eyes and cat-like smirk on her lips whispering “get some Garrus!”*