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Birds Gotta Fly

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Shepard wasn't quite sure how it happened, but one moment Garrus was holding her hand, mandibles flared in what she privately called the sexy smirk, and the next he was in the Presidium lake.

Thank God he was in civvies and not in full armor because the man did like wearing his armor everywhere, but he'd somehow managed to fall in head first. She shucked her shoes and dived after him; when her head popped above water, she could see that he'd managed to right himself, but his cowl had already filled with water and his arms were thrashing and churning desperately.

"Shepard," he gasped, choking. "Shepard, help."

She reached him in one stroke, and slid her arms around his cowl from behind, intending to turn him onto his back. However, her water rescue training hadn’t counted on turian physiology. There was zero buoyancy as she pulled him back, and he started sinking faster, pressing her down into the water with him.

She kicked free and pushed his head up and out. The move emptied his cowl partially, which helped, but the wild panic she had never expected to see from Garrus didn't. His flailing kept splashing water in his face and into his cowl and interfered with her movement while causing him to bob and sink in a unpredictable rhythm. She winced as one of his spurs stabbed her leg, and dodged as an elbow went by her head.

“Garrus!” she shouted. “I’ve got you, but you need to stay calm!”

She could see the effort it cost him, but he mustered his discipline--and trust in her. His breath remained uneven as he stilled and sank further down, but at least his arms and legs were no longer working against him.

With Garrus in control, it was easier to give him a boost up. Shepard half-pushed and half-pulled him towards the lakeside, maneuvering between swimming, keeping Garrus’s head above water, and tugging him higher as necessary. It was slower work than it should have been and by the time Shepard hoisted Garrus onto the tiled bank, sodden and bedraggled, they were both heaving for breath. Garrus spit out a mouthful of water and coughed weakly while Shepard let herself flop onto her back and reached for his hand.

A burst of applause broke out, and Shepard opened her eyes to see a small crowd gathered around. A turian, one of the groundskeepers, grinned and stepped forward, offering her a hand to sit up.

"Hey, you guys, that was great! We saw the whole thing."

Shepard stared at him. "You saw the whole thing?” she asked. “A man almost drowns and none of you bother to go for help?” Her gaze took in the rest of the bystanders. “What’s the matter with all of you?”

The turian rubbed his fringe, bewildered. “Uh, wait, uh, you guys okay? I thought you were filming a vid. You’re Commander Shepard, aren’t you? I was hoping to get an autograph.”

Shepard glowered, and it must have been warning enough. The group dispersed quickly, and the turian looked as abashed as a turian could look as he grabbed his clipping tool from the ground. “You want me to get anyone for you now? Honest, I thought everything was under control. I mean, the Presidium lakes are only six feet deep, right? Because turians can't swim?”

She smiled weakly at him and waved him off, leaving her alone with Garrus in the relative Presidium silence. She slowly turned her head to look at him, still sprawled face-first on the ground. "So, you could have just put your feet down?"

"Shepard, love of my life, let’s agree to never speak about this again."

"I'm sorry, what was that? Your voice is a little muffled there. Anyway, I was thinking, this could definitely be my new favorite spot on the Citadel. So much nicer than any sushi place.”

One blue eye opened and glared up at her. “Fine, we won’t talk about either of those things. Ever.” His eye closed again, but he reached out for her hand, wrapping his fingers around hers. He sighed. “Thanks. Again.” She leaned down and tucked her cheek into the soft spot on his neck.

“Always.”