I am not the only traveler
Who has not repaid his debt
I've been searching for a trail to follow again
Take me back to the night we met
And then I can tell myself
What the hell I'm supposed to do
And then I can tell myself
Not to ride along with you
I had all and then most of you, some and now none of you
Take me back to the night we met
I don't know what I'm supposed to do, haunted by the ghost of you
Oh, take me back to the night we met
The Night We Met by Lord Huron
The mess hall felt so informal for such a gathering, and yet the lounge was too small to fit everyone, so they had no choice. Kaidan, Wrex, Liara, and Tali had boarded the Normandy shortly after it docked. After the auxiliary crews had left there was Joker, EDI, Garrus, Vega, and Chakwas. The mess hall barely fit them all at once.
And yet, regardless of the full space surrounding them, the Normandy felt hollow. Or maybe it was their hearts that felt hollow, each of them reflecting off the other and the empty space where Shepard should be.
Even though the Normandy was docked on the Citadel, there was no usual hum of activity from the outside. Garrus hadn't even looked at it yet, but the silence of rubble was like a pressure pushing in. As much as he'd previously been eager to disembark, now that the time had come, he didn't know how to walk away from the Normandy and not look back.
It wasn't quite at its final resting place yet. Hackett said they would arrange for its retirement docking to take place during the memorial, and a large amount of resources was going towards simply preparing a space. Joker would fly it in near the beginning of the event, and all the crew would then join the exhibition. Garrus wasn't looking forward to it.
Those gathered spent time discussing their plans for the new future and emptying whatever booze they could scrounge up from the last of the Normandy's stashes. Tali, of course, would be returning to Rannoch to build her planet. The prospect of doing so was helping a lot to ease the burden of all that had been lost. Wrex would be doing much of the same on Tuchanka. Bakara and other allies were getting a head start while he stayed on the Citadel, but he was itching to get back to his throne.
Kaidan and Vega both said they'd be happy under Citadel and Alliance instruction, respectively. It was hard to know exactly what military or Spectre operations would look like in a synthesized world, but there was no discussion of laying off troops.
Chakwas was contemplating retiring from space travel, but staying with the Alliance to work in hospitals on base or with the rebuilding efforts.
"Maybe I'll try to find a position working with babies," she teased. "That ought to be simpler than you lot."
"You can come work with all the krogan babies. That won't exactly be simple though," Wrex offered, and several of the group laughed at the idea.
"But then who would give this baby his meds?" Vega chuckled, tilting his head towards Joker.
"She may not need to. I think the synthesis has been changing my bones," Joker shared enthusiastically.
"Really?" Kaidan asked, looking up over his drink.
"My suit has been reporting increased immune strength every day," Tali added.
"Oh, synthesis effects on disease... there's so much to discover!" Liara chimed in.
"If she asks for samples, don't give her any," Wrex interjected. "I learned that from Mordin."
"You got a genophage cure in exchange. Doesn't that make you even?" Garrus pointed out with a good-natured shrug.
"Barely. It hurt." A few of them chuckled but Wrex was too busy throwing back his drink to care.
As much as Joker loved the Normandy, he loved flying more and admitted he wasn't likely to quit.
"If war isn't coming back, though that's yet to be proven, some cushy job chaffeuring officials ought to suit me just fine," he said casually, but then his brow furrowed. "I can find excitement somewhere else, right?" The others assured him he could keep himself entertained.
EDI was the true wildcard. She could go anywhere, do anything. Unsurprisingly, she said she'd like to join Joker on his adventures, maybe have a few of her own.
"Will part of you always be connected to the Normandy?" Tali asked.
"They may attempt to remove me, but I know how to remain undetected," she said thoughtfully.
"Would you want to keep part of yourself here?" Joker asked.
"I think I would. At least... for now," she concluded.
"Huh. My girlfriend having an affair with the Normandy..." he drifted off, looking up as he considered it. "That might be the coolest love triangle ever." Vega spit out his drink laughing, spraying Kaidan across the table who flailed and shouted as everyone laughed. Liara spoke again after things calmed down.
"Honestly, I'm jealous you can keep part of you here," she admitted. A few of the others nodded in agreement.
Liara was, in some ways, also a wildcard. She was in the process of regaining her Shadow Broker network, but wasn't in a rush. Much of that information was valuable because of corruption, and since the synthesis, things felt a lot more harmonious. But would it stay that way for the rest of her lifespan?
"It's just the post-war honeymoon phase," Wrex shrugged. "Some turian will mess with a krogan someday and we'll be back at it."
"I don't know, Wrex, the synthesis is more than just a lack of war. This honeymoon phase might be longer than you think. At least longer than my lifespan," Tali mused, relaxing back into her seat.
"Gracias a Dios for that," Vega agreed.
"One benefit of not living a thousand years," Chakwas grumbled in agreement.
"As well as not having to watch half your friends die before you," Liara pointed out.
"Sometimes that happens no matter what your lifespan is."
The words seemed to rattle around the emptiness of the room in the silence that followed. Garrus almost regretted them as soon as he spoke them, not because he felt it was too heavy a truth for the moment, but because of the wave of pity he felt flow back to him. He scoffed quietly and dismissed himself, making up an excuse of checking one last stash spot for more drinks.
The battery doors opened to let him in, but he didn't hear them close as he reached into a cubby and retrieved another old, cheap bottle of booze he'd nearly forgotten about. He turned, stood back up, and saw Vega leaning in the doorway, not looking at him.
"What, Vega?" Garrus sighed. "I wouldn't expect the 'look on the bright side' talk to come from you." Vega snickered.
"Nah, it won't. At least not now," he admitted. "I was just thinking... all of you had a lot more history with the Commander than I did. I mean, I knew who she was as long as anybody did, but I was grafted in at the end of her story."
"Nobody feels you're out of place, being here," Garrus assured him.
"No, I know, you're all good." He stood up straight and faced the turian, looking him in the eye. "I've been working with you for nearly as long as I have the Commander. Maybe it's just the booze talking, but... I want you to know you're the best turian I've ever worked with."
"Yeah, well... I won't ask how many you've worked with," Garrus chuckled, and Vega did too.
"You never said what your plan is," he pointed out.
"Ah, I'll be on the Citadel for a while," Garrus shrugged and rubbed the back of his neck. "If I hear from my family, I'll eventually make it back to Palaven... outside of that I don't have many ideas."
"There's a lot of people waiting for word on their families," Vega remarked. Garrus looked him over carefully now, but the human seemed lost in his own thoughts. He opened his mouth to speak, but something stopped him; he felt off somehow. Vega began shifting as if he felt it too, and they both realized the others in the mess hall had grown quiet.
They were all standing now, looking at something on the table. Garrus began walking towards them without thinking about it as autopilot seemed to take over. As he got close the others parted to reveal what had sent the trepidation through them all. He sucked in a breath, choking on his protest.
There were two long plaques before him, one displaying David Anderson and another with the Commander's name on it.
"It was a gift from Admiral Hackett, for the Normandy," Liara said quietly.
"They're not declared dead yet," Garrus breathed.
"It needs to happen, Garrus," Kaidan murmured. He lifted the plaque for Anderson as though it were the Admiral's coffin, and stared at it as he gave a heavy sigh. His eyes returned to Garrus expectantly and the turian ignored him, his mandibles flaring as he was unable to look away from her name.
"Now, when we're together, is the time to do it," Chakwas encouraged him.
Time seemed to slow and stretch as Garrus wrestled with himself. It felt unreal, confusing... he couldn't possibly do this. He squeezed his eyes shut against the pain that seemed to ambush him.
A soft hand landed on his shoulder; it was Chakwas. If it had been anyone else he might have shoved it away, but instead, it brought clarity. It needed to happen, as Kaidan said. If nothing else, it would complete the Normandy.
He steeled himself against the confusion, the hurt, and suddenly was numb.
Just like my father.
Autopilot took over once again, and before he knew it he was holding the plaque in his hands. He looked up at those around him and felt an urge to cry for help, but he didn't know why.
Kaidan nodded, turned, and led the way towards the memorial wall in the hallway. The rest followed and Garrus trailed behind as if pulled by a current downstream.
No words were said, but everything was felt. Kaidan placed Anderson's plaque on the wall with all the respect he had within him, then stepped back and saluted. The other Alliance crew did as well.
Kaidan moved to the side and Garrus didn't know how he got there, but suddenly he was standing right in front of the wall, the plaque with his lover's name in his hands.
No. This feels wrong. This doesn't make any sense.
He lifted the plaque and put it in the place he felt it wasn't supposed to be and suddenly started breathing again. He didn't know when he'd stopped. His mandibles flared at how the Normandy immediately felt hundreds times more empty, the pressure from outside immensely more heavy. He could've sworn he felt Shepard's presence, like he had the day of Cynosure, but this time the feeling of it leaving was stronger than it coming. Turning to face the group, he didn't see the Alliance crew once again saluting, his eyes searching for something else lightyears away. Panic was swelling up within him but no one else seemed to realize.
"Have you gone through the things in her cabin yet?" Liara asked, having stepped forward as the others began sharing handshakes and some hugs.
"No," he breathed, his hands clenching into fists as he fought to get grounded again. "Will you... help me with that? Not now... later."
"Of course. Do you want me to show you the housing you'll have here, at least until the memorial?" she inquired.
Liara checked in with the others and Garrus went to the battery to grab the bag he'd already packed with his few critical possessions. His movements were forced and mechanical, and he repeatedly reminded himself that he would come back, at least one more time.
This isn't the end, he thought, but as he walked towards the bridge to exit the Normandy, he felt just as much despair as he did when the hangar bay doors closed.
Garrus shoved off from the desk and jolted out of the seat in Shepard's office area.
"This stupid thing isn't meant for turians," he snarled, giving the chair a shove that knocked it on its side. Liara didn't jump, but her face was twisted into a grimace as she looked at him from her spot near the wardrobe.
"Garrus, this is still Shepard's cabin," she scolded. He turned his back to her, leaning against the wall with one hand as his mandibles flared.
"I'll apologize when she gets back," he snapped, squeezing his eyes shut.
The memorial was in two days. He'd put off coming back to the Normandy for as long as he could, but tomorrow there would be a crew coming in to do a deep clean and prepare it for it's new assignment: simply being on display. In the coming months, there were plans to open up a high-priced opportunity to let some people walk through, with informational signs and tour guides, like a museum. The crew was doing their best to be happy about the prospect; none of them felt right about having it flying, and all the proceeds would be going towards rebuilding efforts.
"There are worse fates for decommissioning," Liara had said, and Garrus couldn't help thinking that Shepard had gotten one of those worse fates.
There'd been no word, no sign, not even a trace of her, or Admiral Anderson, discovered in the 4 weeks since Cynosure. Not even ashes with remnants of her DNA. So, in 2 days, she would officially be declared killed in action, undoubtedly followed by some heartfelt speeches from Hackett and a few of the other officials that were lucky enough to either be alive, or freshly instated within their position.
Councilor Tevos had returned to the Citadel in a fairly timely manner, arriving as soon as the Reapers fixed the relay in the Athena Nebula, where she had been when the Cynosure hit. Councilor Valern and Councilor Sparatus had both been declared dead, replaced by Councilor Jonarth and Councilor Camilio, respectively. Primarch Adrien Victus had also been declared dead, and his place filled by Primarch Fausna. There were even rumors of a new human councilor being appointed, to take Udina's place. Garrus imagined Hackett at least had an idea who it might be, but he of course was tight-lipped.
Most of the races' important officials were still being sorted out, though none of them openly admitted it. Dignitaries were either turning up alive in areas that had previously lacked communication, or their bodies being pulled out of rubble every day. There'd been a scramble to assign the highest of executives, but it was unspokenly clear that there was very little framework beneath them, and so most were simply a face and a name to hold the place until they once again had access to enough resources for them to be useful.
Due to the Vakarian family prestige, Garrus had received word fairly early that both his father and sister were alive and being taken care of. He didn't know when he'd be able to actually speak with them. While communication lines could reach nearly everywhere now, most of the bandwidth was being reserved for high-priority transmissions. Systems for connecting families together were in place and doing their best, but he knew he would've waited a lot longer if it weren't for his own prominence in the war, and his father's closeness to the Hierarchy.
After no further disapproval from Liara, Garrus eventually turned and looked throughout the room. The asari was going through Shepard's clothes, packing them away into a duffel bag. Garrus had wanted to avoid that task, so he had set himself at her terminal to try and retrieve any personal information. Shepard's message center had been seized by the Alliance and Citadel Council for security reasons, but Garrus knew she had a few sentimental images and documents kept there. He'd transferred them to a spare omnitool left in her cabin, then realized with frustration he didn't know what to do with it past that point.
When she'd been spaced, the only thing Garrus had held onto was indignation that she and the Normandy were taken from him. Now, he didn't even know if he should truly be mourning her. If she was everywhere, as Liara had theorized, wasn't she still around him somehow? His own sadness confused him, and that was maddening. Thus, the tossing of the chair-- and it really was uncomfortably small for his anatomy.
He tried to think of something else to do and his eyes landed on the model ships.
"I'm going to leave these here," he announced, gesturing to them, desperate for some semblance of functioning. Liara glanced up from folding a shirt.
"That's not a bad idea," she replied. Garrus tried not to think about people on tour walking into her cabin, but if they were going to anyway, he might as well leave the models to add a personal touch to such a personal space. Maybe it would even be worth getting some new fish, as the old ones hadn't survived the crash and had been tossed out on the planet they were stranded on.
The exclusivity of a privilege such as seeing her cabin was the only way he'd agreed to such a thing; anyone willing to pay the ticket price was likely to be respectful. And they'd be under armed supervision.
"I thought... perhaps whatever commendations or awards they give to Shepard at the memorial could also stay with the Normandy. They could have a nice display up here," he said.
"Or in the hangar bay if they run out of room," Liara said with a smile, and Garrus gave a mirthless laugh. She continued, "I heard Shepard's mother died. Hackett offered you the next of kin rights?"
"Yes. I don't really want them," he replied, fidgeting with the omnitool on the desk.
"Of course not, that would mean facing the idea that she's gone in front of the entire universe," she said casually, tucking a bundle of socks into the bag. Garrus ignored her implication that he was in denial. He didn't know how to explain it in a way that made sense anyway.
"Hackett said if I refused, they'd be offered to you or Joker... I feel better having most of this be a joint decision," he admitted, rubbing the back of his neck.
"I'm happy to be involved," Liara said gratefully. She pulled out Shepard's little, black, formal dress. She sighed wistfully and held it close. "She didn't get to wear this enough." Garrus's mandibles flared and his breath caught in his throat. He turned away again.
"Please..." he whispered pitifully, but he didn't even know what he was asking; there was no request he could be granted that could make this easier. Liara placed the dress into the bag, seemingly unaware of his plea.
"Do you want to work in the bathroom?" she offered. "There's a box there, you can just toss everything in, you don't have to think about it."
That sounded doable. It was just toiletries, right? Garrus walked into the bathroom and reached for the first few items he found on the sink. Mouthwash, in the box. Shepard hated that stuff anyway. Some kind of face cream, in the box. Soap and a washcloth, in the box. Hairbrush...
Spirits, her hair!
Strands of gold were still tangled in the bristles, and Garrus remembered when Shepard explained to him that losing small amounts when brushing (or at any time, really) was normal. It wasn't uncommon for it to snag on his face plates when they slept together.
The way that brush seemed to make her feel alive was surreal. It felt as if he were about to simply go back out of the bathroom, call "heads up" and toss it to her, then watch her catch it. She'd thank him, then pause her dressing to brush her hair and pull it together, her lean arms stretching up and behind her. Garrus loved being the one who saw her with her hair down the most, but he'd grown to appreciate seeing her neck exposed as well. He wouldn't have ever thought about it if he hadn't had the opportunity to discover how much she loved being touched there.
All these thoughts and more would cross his mind as he watched her tucking her hair neatly up as if it were effortless (it wasn't; Garrus tried once and failed miserably). Then she'd toss the brush back to him, smiling as he caught it, and go back to her wardrobe to find pants, or perhaps a necklace...
"Are you sure you don't want to keep anything of hers with you? Like even a necklace?" Liara called from the living area. Unlike other times, he was returned back to the present without turmoil.
"The blue one that's made of fabric with the white pendant," he replied automatically, putting the hairbrush down. "I need that one." He stepped out to meet her by the stairs. Liara handed him the necklace he'd described, and he thanked her as he placed it into a small box.
"Tell me the latest discoveries on the Synthesis," he prompted casually, walking back into the shower area.
"Well, there's been a lot of work on chronic illness. They haven't found volunteers for all of them yet, but the ones they have tested have shown improvement across the board. The salarians have been doing a lot of that work," Liara said, going through some books by Shepard's bed and arranging them neatly.
"How much improvement?" Garrus asked, tossing a few other toiletries into the box of things to be disposed.
"It's small, but continuous. There are noticeable differences every few days and some suspect the rate will increase. I think the most fascinating aspect has been the way inorganic and organic beings have been assimilated," she stated.
"You mean the synthetic beings are more organic now?" he asked curiously.
"It's hard to explain..." She pressed her lips together as she thought of the best description. "Synthetics are not being eliminated, and neither are organics, they are both more similar. I've heard it's like being able to translate DNA into code, and vice versa."
"So... we could dig through EDI's code, formulate DNA from it, clone that, and then put her code into a brain?" Garrus asked in amazement.
"Or take my DNA, for example, translate it into code, and create not just a VI, but a fully formed AI of me!" Liara exclaimed. With a small chuckle she continued, "Of course, that's only the current theory... there's a long way to go before it's confirmed, or even tested..."
"We already know that a cloned Shepard isn't Shepard," he pointed out. "Some things don't exist in the DNA." He thought back to when their pland for shore leave took a detour due to one of Cerberus's bad ideas. That was definitely one of the most unexpected experiences the Normandy crew had faced.
"Yes, but many more don't know that. And who knows, maybe our ability to clone more perfectly will improve," Liara shrugged. He thought about the hair brush.
"Don't tempt me," he grunted. "There will certainly be those who have moral and ethical issues with such a thing, which just means more red tape."
"True. And, with organic and inorganic races becoming more similar and more advanced, there likely will not be a need or desire for transition," she confirmed.
"What about the "shared mind" thing?" Garrus went into the shower and picked up the shampoo bottle. Without thinking, he opened the top, and immediately was overcome with the scent so familiar to him. He expected it to hurt, but to his surprise he smiled.
"I'm hoping that's finally been officially discredited," Liara said with exasperation. "I can see where the idea has come from, but it doesn't take much investigation to realize none of us are suddenly capable of knowing everyone else's intimate thoughts."
"As fun as that would be," Garrus grunted.
"The new ideas and faster thoughts are more equitable to like a... supercharged intuition with new levels of clarity. But my Shadow Broker network will still be able to reach areas my mind can't."
"Too bad I'm washed out of C-Sec. Sounds like a good time to be working investigations." Garrus finished in the bathroom and returned to Shepard's desk drawers.
"Even more so with the sensitivity to emotions. That research is a little less clear... There's definitely a much greater capacity to determine the intentions of others," Liara said, sitting on the bed and watching Garrus as she gave herself a break.
"Do you mean people won't be able to lie?" He paused, stared at her for a moment, then scoffed. "Well that's just no fun at all."
"That's still unclear," Liara explained, smiling at his slight humor. "It's not exactly easy to test impartially. Results so far have been... mixed."
"Did you hear Chakwas got to deliver a baby?" Garrus asked, looking at the asari pointedly.
"She did?" Her eyes were widened slightly.
"No, I was just checking to see if you could tell I was lying," he replied, casually returning to sorting through the a drawer. Liara chuckled.
"Well, I was prepared to believe you," she admitted with a shrug. "Although I can tell you're feeling better than you were when we first got here." Garrus didn't meet her smile. He'd had to force himself into the elevator and had felt sick when the door to Shepard's cabin opened.
"It comes and goes," he grunted. He moved away from the desk, leaning back against the wall behind him. "Turians are supposed to be used to casualties like this. I watched Victus handle the death of his son with barely an ounce of privacy aboard the Normandy, and it was quite a bit more graceful than my own process," he admitted.
"No one will judge you, or tell you that coping with Shepard's loss isn't complicated," she assured him. "We've all had questions and sleepless nights."
"It's not a pleasant thing to say, but I honestly feel it would be easier if there was a body in the ground," he mumbled. "Sometimes... it feels like she's here, right next to me. Others it's as if she's far away and I need to fight to find her. I don't know how to love her when she's neither." Liara picked up the bag on the bed and hefted it over her shoulder, and Garrus rose to his feet as she approached.
"I'm sure you know how to love her no matter the circumstances," she insisted, placing her hand on his shoulder. His mandibles twitched but he didn't have an answer.
"Thank you for securing that stuff," he said, rubbing the back of his neck. They'd already agreed that Liara would just store most of Shepard's things somewhere safe. Garrus wanted to keep traveling light but didn't know what else to do with the personal effects.
"Of course. Let me know if you ever want to pull any of it back out," she replied.
"I'll see you before the memorial. I'm going to... sit here a little longer," he told her.
Liara nodded and they exchanged a warm farewell before she took her leave. Garrus wandered into the living area with heavy steps and collapsed onto the couch. He looked around him; it didn't look much different. Shepard held onto so little, and most of her small decorative items they'd decided to leave.
He thought of other moments he'd sat there before, each of them better than this one. Relaxing as Shepard worked on her terminal. Looking over war memos when she awoke from a bad dream. The way she laughed when he would make light of past or upcoming missions to ease the tension. The first night he'd seen sensuality in her eyes.
Garrus's eyes drifted over to the bed, the eight pillows, more than half of them with a cover made of a specific, durable fabric. One of them was exceptionally plush. He hefted himself up and walked over to the bed, kneeling on it and running his hands over the familiar texture.
He wondered if he should do something about the set up. It wouldn't be too difficult to determine that most of the bedding was suited for turians. Although, he realized very few others would know that while Shepard enjoyed the softness, she only used the one pillow. Her bedding had changed drastically when he became a regular there, and while it was subtle, he felt exposed thinking about leaving it as it was.
He didn't have a solution for the conundrum. Something about the bed and the lack of answers drew him in; he slid his arms forward, lowering himself onto his stomach with a low groan. He didn't bother to orient himself properly and laid across it diagonally, his feet hanging off the edge. His hand reached up and removed his visor, leaving it nearby on the bed as he adjusted some pillows. His eyes landed on the plush one and he hesitated, then pulled it under his head, breathing in deep as he pretended he knew how to relax.
Shepard was standing before him.
"You're here," he breathed.
"How do I know you?" she asked, her eyes narrow and piercing into him.
Swiftly the scene around them painted itself. Official silver buildings surrounded them, muted conversations floating in the air among the mist of the fountain. Low light gave an eerie look to the decorative trees scattered throughout the courtyard. The Citadel, the Presidium, the entryway to the Council embassy; or what it used to be. Shepard was alone, and... different. Less scars. Less weight of the world on her shoulders.
Garrus looked down and at the same time brought his hand to the side of his face. A C-Sec uniform, and no scars warping his skin. His eyes darted back to Shepard's and it was like he was seeing her for the first time. He took all of her in; her armor was basic and common, her posture beneath it rigid, like someone who still had something to prove. Secure and perfect, her blonde hair was bundled elegantly on the back of her head, the way it always was when she was out on business. Her bright blue eyes demanded answers and he would willingly spill them at her feet.
"Ah... you don't," he muttered, too thrilled at the idea of seeing her again to be concerned with confusion. His heart was pounding in his chest. "But we need each other."
"Welcome aboard, Garrus."
She gave a nod, all business, and then walked past him. He turned to follow but the sound of the fountain became gunfire as the gloomy Citadel transformed into balmy Virmire, sand and water around his feet. Shepard was behind a rock wall and he instinctively ran for cover beside her. He watched her wait for the break, then lean out and fire her pistol twice. He reached for his gun but felt only air. Confused, he looked down; he had armor but no weapons.
"I'm unarmed; give me your rifle," he huffed. Shepard ignored him and stepped out from cover, receiving two hard hits in her hip and shoulder before she could fire. She wasn't bleeding, but in slow motion she began to fall back as if hit with incredibly high caliber rounds, her eyes wide and mouth gaping. Water burst up and out as her body crashed down.
As soon as Garrus could move again he lunged forward, pulling her head back to air as he heaved her behind the rock. Shepard's wet hair clung to her neck and shoulders, her body limp.
"Shepard!" he called, supporting her head. Her eyes were open, staring off at something unseen to him. Her lack of response sent a shiver down his spine. A shadow fell over them and he turned to see a shapeless enemy looming in the distance. Staying crouched with Shepard leaning against him, he grabbed for her pistol and took aim.
Through a scope, Virmire became the alleys of Omega, sand and sun replaced with rust and warehouse crates made into barricades. Shepard was jumping over one such barricade and charging towards him. Relief and excitement washed over him like a familiar wave and he embraced it, dropping his rifle to meet her.
"Garrus!" she said, grinning and throwing her arms out. Relief and excitement was evident in her steps, too. Before they met, the whirring of a propeller grew in volume, eventually becoming deafening until the impact struck him and he slammed into the ground, chest heaving, begging for Shepard to bring him back to life he had left to live, with her.
The blood on his face dried as Shepard hooked her hands into his armor, dragging him over dirt and ancient stone. Hazy sunlight beat down through the dust and pollution and the ground shook. The guttural screeching of a Reaper seemed to come from all around him.
His eyes met Shepard's and for a moment everything was still and silent. Her face seemed to hold so many emotions at once, he wasn't sure which to respond to. The urgency and determination? The concern? The love?
Before he could decipher whatever she was trying to communicate, a wild, primitive shriek erupted through the ground as it shuddered from the disturbance. Somehow Garrus knew that somewhere, Kalros was taking down that Reaper, and he began laughing.
Shepard pulled him to his feet and he couldn't stop the laughs from escaping him. He didn't know if he was marveling at the surreal, but effective, battle strategy or that they had survived so much. Shepard was staring at him as if he'd gone mad, her brows furrowing but a small smirk upon her lips.
Garrus reached out and took her hand, and then the cacophony softened into music with a rhythm he'd long since memorized. They were on the Silversun Strip in their best clothes, her body pressed against his as he pulled her close. The expression of protest and surprise she wore was burned within his mind as one of the best moments of his life.
His laughing softened to a purr as they fell into a rhythm all their own, one that undoubtedly made their audience blush and grow jealous. They both knew they were invincible.
Until they weren't.
Shepard fumbled a step. Garrus compensated and kept them in time. Then she stumbled again and he paused, her form crumpling onto the floor in front of him. The music and the audience faded away, and Shepard threatened to as well, her shapes and colors becoming less defined. Garrus knelt down in front of her and could see she was crying.
"Why aren't you really here?!"
They both choked out the words, the other's voice echoing their own. Shepard raised her hands to her head, grasping at it as she writhed. Garrus tried to reach out to her, but his hand stopped before he got close and he had no power to fight it.
"It hurts so much," their voices echoed. Garrus's hand went to his own chest as the heartache ripped through him and Shepard curled up into a ball, sobbing. They were powerless as the waves of pain washed over them.
A sound like a clear chime suddenly resonated through them both and the pain was numbed. The two of them stood, close, but untouchable, their physical forms nebulous. The tone sounded again, and Shepard was replaced with Garrus's own reflection, though the voice he heard next was hers.
"You need to go on your own."
His mandibles flared and he dropped his head. The numbness was accompanied by a sense that someone had just scooped out everything within him, making him hollow. Another emotion came, but this time from outside of him: anger. It seemed to swell up like a tide and he searched for its source in the blackness around him. He saw a faint green light that grew and then surged forward, similar to what he'd heard others describe as the Synthesis Wave. It rushed past him, then retreated back into nothing, then rushed forward again like an ocean traveling through space at the speed of light as the anger surrounded him.
Garrus lurched awake, pushing himself up from the pillow and the bed, his heart pounding in his chest. His mandibles flared and he fought to steady his breath, forcing his hands to release their vice grip on the blanket. His eyes darted around the room, still, and to forever be, too quiet for him. His hand reached for his visor and placed it sloppily as he snapped to an upright position.
Garrus began moving like the place was on fire, ignoring pieces of white fuzz clinging to his face. He snatched up three of the turian pillows on the bed and swiftly stuffed them into the now empty wardrobe, shutting it tight. He went back to the bed and picked up the especially fluffy one, swept up the small box he'd packed for himself, and fled from the cabin.