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Consequence of Sound

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Shepard smiled as she headed down the hall to the main battery. Talking with Garrus always improved her mood, especially after dealing with Miranda. While the Cerberus operative had grown on her, meetings were still rather unpleasant. But checking in on Garrus was always pleasant, especially lately. The way he got all flustered and awkward when he remembered their conversation about “relieving stress” was so cute it made her chest clench. If someone had told her at the beginning of her career that she would have a crush on an adorable turian, she would never had believed them.

The door hissed open. Garrus turned immediately and spread his mandibles in a smile. But instead of a greeting, a series of click and shriek sounds exited his mouth. Grik!reek. Shepard jumped with a small scream.

“What the hell?” she exclaimed. Garrus looked surprised. He opened his mouth again but all she heard were more unintelligible noises. She put her hand up to her ear, realizing the problem. “Damn, my translator must be malfunctioning. Can you understand me?”

He spoke, still incomprehensible. Kre!n.

She groaned. “Just nod your head if you understand me.”

He didn’t nod, just spoke again. Krk!nreeinrkg!kree. He frowned, looking distressed. His translator must be broken too.

“Shit. We should go to medbay and get this checked out.” She stuck a finger in her ear and wiggled it, despite knowing that it was useless.

Garrus looked at her, eyes wide with concern. Griknkee!rikeeeekrak.

“Hey.” She gently grabbed his hand and looked into his eyes with a soft smile. “It is okay. Chakwas and Mordin will be able to fix this.”

He nervously smiled back and allowed her to lead him by the hand out of the room. He was making clicks to himself, which was not unexpected given his talkative nature. It was weird to not be able to understand him. Shepard was so used to his constant commentary, and his voice was such an integral part of how she thought of him, that is was jarring to be reminded that they were actually incapable of speaking the same language. His soothing voice was just the way her translator interpreted his natural way of speaking. And this was apparently his natural way of speaking.

Shepard dropped Garrus’s hand when the reached the stairs and pointed to the medbay. He nodded.

Dr. Chakwas was performing a check up on a crewmember that Shepard did not recognize.

“Chakwas. We have an emergency.”

Chakwas looked away from her patient. “Condoms are in the cupboard.” The crewmember shot the doctor an alarmed look.

Shepard blushed and Garrus looked at her with concern. “No. Seriously. Our translators aren’t working.”

Kri!gneetriiii! Garrus helpfully added.

Dr. Chakwas and the crewman started and stared at Garrus. “What the hell was that?”

“Yours isn’t working either? Damn. That probably means none of them are.” Shepard sighed. “This is really not good.”

Kri!neet. Garrus exclaimed loudly, making everyone jump. He muttered something that was probably an apology. Shepard felt bad for him. It must be extremely frustrating to not be understood.

“Commander, there seems to be something wrong with Tali down in Engineering.” Joker’s voice came through the intercom. “Ken and Gabby say she keeps making weird noises and is getting increasingly angry.”

Shit. It really is all of them. “Copy that Joker. It seems that the translators are malfunctioning. If you could make an announcement to the crew, that would be great.”

The glowing blue orb that represented EDI activated. “Commander. I would recommend that I translate the announcement into the turian, drell, salarian, asari, quarian and krogran lingua francas in order to avoid panic. My language processing does not seem to be affected.”

Thank god for AIs. “Yes, EDI. That would be great.” A thought occured. “EDI, tell Garrus that we will get this sorted out soon.”

“Of course Commander.” EDI said, and produced a series of clicks. Garrus looked startled, but relieved. He responded, with a wry smile.

“Officer Vakarian says that he is disappointed to hear that because he hates talking to you and this is the perfect excuse to avoid your annoying voice. I believe, however, that he was being facetious.”

Shepard grinned and punched Garrus on the shoulder. To her surprise he grabbed her hand and looked at her seriously.

Kritn!eetragtineee!gnit. He said, with a soft smile. Shepard blushed and stared into his alien eyes.

“Officer Vakarian said that talking to you is the highlight of his day.” EDI’s voice surprised her. Garrus jumped and turned to glare at the glowing ball, speaking sharply.

“I was apparently not supposed to translate that part. I apologize.”

Shepard laughed, warmed by his words and by his embarrassment. “Okay, EDI. Can you tell Mordin to come down here?”

“Dr. Solus is already on his way here.” EDI replied promptly.

Right on que, the medbay door hissed open, revealing a very animated Mordin.

Chipibiatchapipimipabii. The sound coming from Mordin’s mouth was high and filled with short syllables. He paused briefly before continuing. Tipichamibibipia.

“Dr. Solus is fascinated by this issue but is not sure what has happened. He has some hypotheses, however, and should know more in a few hours.” EDI informed them.

Mordin nodded sharply and headed back to his lab. Shepard sighed with relief. Morning would figure it out. He always did. “EDI, I am going to check in on everyone. To see that they are doing okay.”

“I will be there to translate for you.”

“Thank you.” She looked at Garrus, who was still standing around awkwardly. “Tell Garrus that I am going to check on the others. He has the afternoon free.”

EDI clicked at Garrus and he shrugged. To Shepard's surprise, he followed her towards the hall after she left the medbay.

“You just going to follow me around all day?” She asked.

He shrugged and she imagined what he would say if they could actually understand each other. He would say something sarcastic, like ‘If I follow you around, my chances of getting to shoot things is a lot higher.’ or something. She hoped this whole thing gets sorted soon. Whatever else was going on between them, she liked being able to talk to her best friend.

Shepard pressed the buttons to the elevator and he looked at her quizzically.

“I am going to see Tali first.” She pantomimed Tali’s helmet and swayed her hips exaggeratedly. “And then Grunt.” She set her lips wide and shoulders up and pretended to headbutt him. Strangely, despite knowing that he could not understand, she felt the need to speak slowly and clearly, as if that would help overcome their biological incapable of learning each other’s language.

Garrus seemed to understand and laughed at her impressions. He muttered to himself as the elevator headed down to engineering. Shepard watched him, frowning. He was an alien. She knew that, obviously. But she hadn’t really realized just how alien. Without this little piece of technology, they would never be able to communicate. His mouth could not make human sounds and human mouths could not make turian sounds. They would never have been able to be friends if it wasn’t for their translators. Why did she think it would be possible for them to become more than friends? Even if they manage to be sexually compatible to some extent, what then? She wanted more from him than just a quick fling. He meant too much to her. But would a relationship even be possible? The elevator door opened, shaking Shepard out of her thoughts.

Tali was clearly upset when they entered Engineering.

Shishaassefffissssiffsh. She hissed at Shepard, throwing her hands up in the air.

EDI’s orb blipped into visibility. “Miss vas Normandy is glad that you are finally here, Commander.”

Shepard reassured her that Mordin was working on things and that she should just relax until then. After delivering similar reassurances to Grunt, EDI informed her that Mordin wanted to see her.

Garrus got off the elevator at the crew deck, probably bored. Shepard missed his presence immediately. Despite the jarring sound, she was even enjoying just listening to him mutter to himself. Turian language did sound very interesting. And, weirdly, she was starting to hear some of him in it. His sarcastic charm was somehow present even when he was making high pitched clicks and shrieks. It shouldn’t be surprising at all, given that this was what what he really sounded like. He was an alien. But she liked him anyways.

When she entered the lab Mordin was leaning over his lab table, chirping. When he saw her he beckoned her closer, still chirping.

“Dr. Solus wants you to know that he believes he can fix the issue. He wishes to know if you would be willing to be the test subject.” EDI’s sudden voice surprised her.

She couldn’t exactly let someone else be the test subject. “What exactly is the issue? Before I let you play around with my brain.”

EDI relayed her message and Mordin chirped in response. “The issue appears to be electromagnetic interference that we passed through. It is mostly harmless but has been known to interfere with translators in the past. Dr. Solus proposes a simple jolt of similar electric frequency should restart the device.”

Good. No brain surgery. “Sure. You can test it on me.”

Mordin nodded sharply and gestured towards the chair nearby. As she sat down he chirped eagerly.

“Dr. Solus warns you that this may hurt a little.” Oh shit.

It hurt a lot. It was several seconds before her vision cleared and she was able to focus on Mordin’s smiling face. Her ears rang and her eyes ached.

“Did it work?” Mordin asked, cheerfully. “Might need another shot.”

“It worked!” Shepard exclaimed as he brought the device towards her again. She grimaced. “I understand you.”

“Great.” She grimaced. “Let’s get the rest of the crew fixed up.”

Shepard spent the next hour with a pillow over her face in her quarters. Eventually the headache had receded enough that she figured she should go check on her crew. And she knew who she was going to check on first.

As she entered the main battery for the second time that afternoon, she smiled. Garrus was sitting on his cot, head in his hands.

“You okay, big guy?” She asked with a smile.

He looked up immediately and his mandibles fluttered. “Thank the spirits. I can understand you.”

“Hopefully, or this headache was for nothing.” She sat beside him. “It is really nice to be able to understand you too. I am sorry to tell you, but turian sounds distressing.”

He looked faux-offended. “Hey. At least we don’t sound like a drowning varren. Damn. Humans are weird.”

“A drowning varren?” She looked incredulous.

“I am just calling it like I hear it.” He chuckled and then abruptly stopped. He frowned. “Having second thoughts about . . . blowing of steam?”

Shepard was startled. “What? No.” She covered his three fingered hand with her five fingered one. “I already knew we are different species. It was a harsh way of being reminded but . . . no. You are stuck with me.” She looked away. “Unless. . . you are having second thoughts?”

He gripped her hand. “No. Never. You. . . .” He frowned. “You are a weird looking, and sounding, alien.”

Shepard raised her eyebrow.

“But. . . you are Shepard.” He smiled. “And I want to try it with you.” He looked away. “You could be a hanar and I would want to be with you.”

Shepard smiled and reached and hand towards his face. Turning him back towards her, she leaned in and gave him a gentle kiss on the mouth plates. It only lasted a moment before she stood up.

“I should probably check on the rest of the crew.” She gave him one last smile before opening the door and heading out.

Garrus sat alone and touched his hand to his mouth.

“I really have to do some research.” He said to the empty room.