Leigha (redhoundstooth) wrote in redpaisley,
Leigha
redhoundstooth
redpaisley

[Fic] (UNTITLED!ME2 fic)

I'm not sure how many people I've told that I was working on a Mass Effect fan fic with the plot pairing being Garrus/Miranda, but this is basically the first chapter. It's been sitting in my hard drive for the last two months yet I still consider it as a second draft at best.

Author's notes are at the end. This is entirely unbeta'ed.

Title: (none)
Category: Mass Effect
Character(s): Garrus Vakarian/Miranda Lawson, generic nameless and faceless MShep, Jacob Taylor, Joker and Chakwas
Rating: T
Includes: Mild language
Word Count: 5,600+

Miranda despised Omega. The sight, the smell, all of it invaded her senses in a putrid manner. She was anticipating the decontamination process like it was a gift she will be treating herself to.

So when she helped Shepard and Jacob lug the turian, Archangel, onto the Normandy shuttle cruiser, she felt pure relief as the door closed away the hideous view of dirty streets that were marred by dark blue streaks of alien blood.

Turian blood. Miranda had it underneath her nails. It was dyeing her cuticles, and some stained dry in the dips of her palm. Her hands changed to a new color swatch instantly. The color fascinated Miranda, like acrylic paint, yet its rusty smell turned her off from further interest.

Not that human blood smelled like Earth’s spring flowers either, she thought.

Archangel’s blood was painting the inside of the shuttle where he lay, and Shepard and Jacob weren’t helping to keep it clean by constantly sliding their boot soles across the floor as they worked to keep the turian’s long body steady on the too-narrow benches. Miranda made a mental note to have Sergeant Gardner disinfect the seats when they got back to the Normandy.

“He’ll be lucky if he manages to survive those wounds,” said Miranda.

“Garrus better live.” Shepard replied imperatively. “Did Chakwas get the memo?”

“Yes, I sent a postscript mentioning that her patient will be Garrus.”

“Hope the doc knows how to handle aliens,” said Jacob. 

“She’s the best damn doctor I know. She was on my crew before, and if she’s with me again then that should give you some hindsight.”

Shepard didn’t bother to look at either of the two people as he spoke. His gaze set still on Garrus, watching for any life to reemerge in the fellow soldier.

A sign, even just a small sign—a cough, blink, anything, Shepard pleaded. He cursed the mercenaries that did this to Garrus, and he cursed the gunship pilot, Tarak, even more. For the hell of it, Shepard even cursed Omega. Of all the shitty ways to end a reunion between good friends, this had to be the worst in Shepard’s life.

Or his new life, he corrected himself. First scaring off Tali and now this.

Miranda sat with her back straight against the wall, watching Shepard’s expression grow dark with unfeigned worry. Was this Garrus really that important to him? His eyes were fixed on Garrus’ lifeless appearance and for a faint moment, Miranda wished she knew how Shepard was feeling. Such despair for one friend.

Still, she always believed that the bonds between colleagues—especially soldiers—were best kept at arms length. Being too attached to people served as a hindrance more than it does to help anyone excel 

=======

Seeing Shepard alive again was probably a good way, if not the best way, for Garrus to die happy. Garrus didn’t relish the idea of getting killed in such a violent way—taking a missile to the side from a large gunship all alone, but knowing that there was at least one friend for him in the bitter end was enough to ease all heartache that had been plaguing him for the last two years.

However, the damned gunship did not kill Garrus and his good friend Shepard ended up demolishing that said gunship. Just like the Shepard he knew. 

The damage that the missile and gunfire did his face was definitely not something he would have liked to leave the battlefield with, but that was the reality. At the moment, reality for him was a cybernetic module clipped into the left side of his head, with tiny LED lights that ensured signs of his saved life.

It had been half an hour since Dr. Chakwas left Garrus to rest by himself in the medical lab, fifty minutes since he regained consciousness. An ice-cold salve that the doctor dabbed at his mandible was what stirred him back to life. He never liked the cold, but seeing him flinch in response to the chilly medicine put a small smile on the doctor’s face, making her quip, “Good, you responded instantly. You’re still with us, Officer Vakarian.” Garrus blinked several times just to see the doctor’s face in focus. The last thing he remembered was being hulled to a shuttle by Shepard and two others, but after the inside of the shuttle closed in darkness, so did the rest of his mind. After sticking in the dim alleys of Omega for so long, the stark brightness of the room was difficult to adjust to, but it was a kind change for him. 

Garrus felt it tough to swallow when he learned exactly how much damage was done to him, and how close he was to dying. Chakwas noticed his eyes dropped to stare absently at their shadows lingering on the floor, but he said nothing.

At first he insisted on seeing Shepard right after Chakwas bandaged his face but she was firm in her recommendation (‘recommendation’ was what she called it, Garrus called it martial law) and she cut him off in the middle of his excuse to leave by promptly walking out the room, leaving him to mumble sourly over his denied request.

He thought he was going to be uncomfortable being on a Cerberus ship, even if Shepard was still the one giving orders but after learning that Joker and Dr. Chakwas were aboard as well, he banished the idea. Even though he was never particularly ‘great buddies’ with either Joker or Chakwas, it was better than being in the company of xenophobe strangers—maybe extremists—and Shepard being his only companion. Shepard would probably do his best to make Garrus feel more relaxed, but he was still a military commander, a Spectre, who had dozens of others to attend to on the ship alone and countless others across the galaxy.

Garrus could not deny that the two people who accompanied Shepard at Omega piqued his curiosity. For a split-second, he wanted to see Kaidan and Ashley by Shepard’s sides.

But Ashley was dead, and Kaidan he hadn’t heard from him since the memorial held at the Citadel for the commander. That was the day when the galaxy began to look darker, because one of its brightest stars had been snuffed out.

He recalled the Cerberus pair were proficient in biotics. It seemed like anybody could be a biotic now, and he briefly wondered how Kaidan was fairing with his L2s these days. They were strong, but Shepard was stronger. The male—Jacob—certainly had some standardized military training before and if Garrus could guess, Jacob was once part of the Alliance. The woman named Miranda really didn’t look much, but her looks deceived Garrus in the end. They had fought side-by-side on Omega, split up from Shepard and Jacob for a short while. He was unsure of where exactly she learned how to fight; he never heard of Cerberus being the armed forces type.

Still, Jacob and Miranda were Cerberus and as far as Garrus knew, they were still shady strangers. He could only trust Shepard’s judgment but he couldn’t trust them.

Garrus brought one of his fingers to his bandage, tracing over the material that he could not feel through his gloved hand. The same hand swept along the holes and cracks of his armor. Great, it’s not like being a vigilante ever really helped the numbers in his bank account add up extra zeros at the ends, so he was going to have to look like trash for a while.

A faint hum reverberated throughout his head, and like a paranoid child he shivered rigidly, like he had forgotten there was a piece of tech lodged onto him. Just another thing to remind him of how often he screws shit up.

Sulking about failures wasn’t going to get him to where he wanted to go right now, and right now he wanted to check up on Shepard. Garrus inhaled some air and pushed himself off the bed, not caring about whether Chakwas would be upset about returning to a med lab one turian short, or even the crewmembers that paused their work to gawk at the turian-who-lived walking out of bed like his injuries were merely flesh wounds.

=======

Jacob shook his head in disbelief at how he was actually getting used to seeing dead people come back to life.

“Nobody would give me a mirror. How bad is it?”

Shepard wasn’t showing it, but before Garrus had shown up he was halfway filled with dread from the likelihood of Garrus’ worst-case scenario. He knew death was unavoidable, hell he died, but he didn’t think Cerberus would shell out funds to bring back one turian, even if Shepard asked the Illusive Man himself.

But here he was, standing before him like he had just woken up from a catnap. If Garrus could take this situation easy, then Shepard had all the reassurance he needed from him.

Stealing ships, fighting geth, saving the galaxy, and now the two of them could add resurrections and facial scars to the list of things they had in common like good friends could. Those things, and dry humor on grim topics like dying.

Shepard seemed to have a way with charming people, and definitely not just with his own race. Jacob figured that the commander and Garrus probably could have gone further back than Saren; he wished Miranda saw their interaction now, maybe to loosen her up from thinking that Shepard isn’t everything the galaxy mainstreamed. From what Jacob had seen and known so far, still brief, Shepard was going to impress outer space all over again.

Jacob exited the room with a salute. Garrus and Shepard were alone, and he could finally ask the question that had been itching his plates. Reuniting with Shepard was great, but seeing two people with Cerberus uniforms next to him… he cringed inwardly at the possibility of seeing the same logo on Shepard’s armor. It didn’t help that Shepard was wearing a crewmember uniform with it on right now.

No matter what, he was still his friend. Probably his only friend.

---

“So Archangel was Garrus after all.”

“It is a rather strange turn of events, Joker. Honestly, I never expected that the first patient I would stitch up in this mission would be a turian, let alone Garrus.” Chakwas crossed her arms and took a step closer to the helmsman, leaning against an inactive comm. panel that faced cattycorner to him. Joker’s entire form was completely saturated with orange glow, which he was rather taken with because it meant that there was no indication of an intruding

“If it wasn’t for you Doc, he would have actually turned into a real angel. Now if you think about it, angels are more like real cops than anything—especially C-Sec cops because, well, they’re pretty much the ones who have eyes over all of us. They’ve got eyes on the ones that have eyes on us. Reminds me, aren’t turians supposed to have an acute sense of sight? Like—!”

“Joker.”

“Sorry! Sorry…” he sank into his chair to avoid her, ‘I-know-how-to-make-your-legs-a-little-less-for-wear’ glare. 

Chakwas shook her head before speaking, “I admit that I’m a little curious about Garrus’ whereabouts between Omega and the first Normandy’s destruction. I remember Kaidan mentioning that he sent a message to Garrus about what happened, but Kaidan never heard back. And that was the last I’ve heard about Garrus.”

“Well Garrus was at the memorial,” Joker rubbed his fingers on his chin in a pensive fashion. “We all talked a little, but he didn’t say anything. Guess that’s what it takes to make him speechless and not talking about how grim and evil criminals are or how unfair the justice system is. Man that got old fast. 

“I too was there, but I cannot recall ever seeing him then.”

“He kind of kept himself as a wallflower.”

“Shepard’s death must have been devastating for him.”

Joker’s face suddenly went stoic and, much to Chakwas’ chagrin, he said a little darkly, “It’s kind of different when you’re the last person to see that someone before they die. 

A tepid and uncomfortable flush settled over the doctor; she was beginning to regret having this conversation with Joker. She hadn’t realized that he still dwelled on the two-year-old pain. At all. It was the first time Joker had ever mentioned the crash in such a disdainful manner.

His statement was miniscule compared to what her ears have heard from other remaining SR-1 survivors. Most of the topics that were brought up when Chakwas continued keeping in touch with them was how unfair the Alliance and the Council were for downplaying something so disturbing. “Complete bullocks,” she recalled someone saying. 

Still, Joker did have his moments when life switched its lenses and the clearer picture was exposed, and he couldn’t afford to crack puns.

A sharp feeling, one that was more familiar than she would have cared to know, was brushing shoulders with the inner wounds she had worked so hard to keep closed in the last two years.

Survivor’s guilt. A long time ago, she conceived the notion that she would never walk away from it. She was cursed with it, starting with her age and career.

Lukewarm silence filled the cockpit. Then Joker reclined in his seat and heaved a heavy sigh. “Doesn’t matter now though,” he began, “I mean Shepard’s back so it should make us all feel better. Makes me feel better, even if it all might end the same way in a month or maybe even a week.

“Ah, makes me wonder if I’m really just asking for all this trouble. It’s cool though, Doc. I got you and Shepard so I can keep doing this kind of thing. And…” Joker shook his head, unable to know why he was about to say, “And now that hardass Garrus—literally hardass—is back, it really will just be like old times right? Just with a logo of evil stamped on all our backs now. Don’t get me started on that VI though. We’re a new look but the same great taste.”

---

“Are you still unconvinced?”

“That Shepard can pull this off? Jacob, you’ve asked me that at least five times since we left Freedom’s Progress,” Miranda said, pulling out a stirring rod from an open drawer for her coffee. The ship clocks read 0023 when Jacob stopped by her office and reported Garrus’ condition. She was glad that Archangel was okay, but still miffed at the blue blood that refused to be rid from her nails no matter how hard she scrubbed in her shower.

“And at least five times, you never answered me,” he said plainly.

“Because my opinion hasn’t changed. I’m not going to put all of my faith in just this one man. It’s still early in this mission, we can’t conclude anything just yet. 

A long time ago, Jacob noticed that whenever Miranda was frustrated, her accent hung extra thickly on her words. It was sexy from a far-standing point, but on the receiving end it could ruin any man’s day, and it was just too damned early to have a dispute with Miranda of all people.

Maybe she was still annoyed about her suggestion rejected about having the mod-chip installed in Shepard’s head? Jacob couldn’t remember how they started debating.

“So you won’t acknowledge Shepard’s leadership prowess because he couldn’t keep all of us intact? I’m not feeling you about this one.”

“I don’t doubt his abilities as a leader, but I don’t see Shepard as someone that can keep everything steady. We’ve invested so much time and credits into putting this man back in the galaxy and already he’s wayfaring head-on carelessly. So far we’ve only acquired one person out of the few dossiers we have, and he was severely injured,” she ground out.

“Accidents happen, Miranda. Shepard was only doing what he knows as a leader—doesn’t matter if he stumbled on trying to keep everything intact. And Garrus turned out fine—I think he toured part of the ship right after coming out of the medbay on his own two feet. If all of the people we recruit later on are as tough as he is, then everything might turn out better than we think.”

The XO tossed the stirring rod in the sink with a little more force than intended, “We cannot afford to keep performing cybernetic implant surgeries on every person that boards this ship.”

“Like I said, accidents happen.”

“Jacob, I wish you wouldn’t completely overlook the loose stones. 

“If we can all walk across the path without getting our ankles sprained and our toes—or for others, claws stubbed, then why waste time trying to fix all gaps when we have to move forward?” 

She opened her mouth to retort, but no words entered her mind to form a disagreement. She hated when the soldier in him took over his logic, but he was making a valid point. They were running out of time. Though Miranda would agree that their rate of progress wasn’t lagging, the truth was that they did not have a lot of time to begin with.

Jacob withdrew his discordant tone, assuming that Miranda saw where his stance rung from. It wasn’t that he enjoyed giving Miranda comeuppance for the superiority complex tendencies that she utilized, but it was a good feeling to get across her way and take over sometimes. “We’ve all got eyes, Miranda. And we’re all going to use them to see things through,” he said firmly, “you’re not the only one that has to work hard. If it gets that tedious, the Illusive Man can understand a report turned in an hour late.

“Go ahead and tackle all of the little, second-important things first if you want, but we haven’t even seen the bigger picture yet. I’d rather look around for a clue of what’s coming for us so we have some kind of outline. We have that bug thing—the seeker—from Freedom’s Progress. Could start there.”

“If we had gone to recruit the salarian doctor first like I suggested to Shepard before, then we might have had some study about the Collectors already.”

“And then Archangel would have been holed up and dead—killed by those mercs, and Shepard would have disregarded trying to recruit him, maybe never knowing that was his friend under that helmet. Let the commander do whatever he wants. I mean you should see the way he looks now, a hell of a lot happier than when he first woke up and you shot Wilson in front of him without even saying ‘hello’ first.”

Again, Miranda stayed silent.

“Everything will fall in place Miranda. Just don’t question the way the current moves, you do that a lot.”

The soldier saluted her and left her room straight-shouldered. Jacob’s words were echoing in her head. She briskly shook them out of focus when she pulled up Archangel’s document and filed it under “RECRUITED”, and made a hopeful wish that the list would add up as soon as possible.

---

The commander wasn’t surprised Garrus had asked about the Cerberus affiliation. Knowing Garrus, he had to be ready to hear lip. And Garrus was in no position to not ask—he was truly an alien within these confines. Tali came to mind when Garrus reminded him about Kahoku and Toombs—his voice generated the same disapproving tone as Tali’s when she denied the chance to come along back on Freedom’s Progress. The rejection still felt fresh to Shepard, but he was satisfied that Garrus was willing to stomach the consequences. 

“I don’t work for them. It’s complicated, I know,” apprehension crossed Shepard’s face, “but that’s why I’m glad you’re here Garrus,” said Shepard, “if I’m walking into hell, I want someone I trust at my side.”

“You realize this plan has me walking into hell too… hm, just like old times.”

Though Garrus considered Omega more of a hell than any place he’s walked into with Shepard.

“Anyway,” he started saying, “I’ll settle in and see what I can do at the forward batteries. I’ll be there if you need me.”

As he turned to leave, Shepard called out to him, “You should probably get some sleep though, Garrus. I’m not trying to plug the ‘you’re ugly’ joke in again, but you really do look like you’ve just left hell.

“And oh, before you head to the batteries, go see Miranda, the one I left you with when we took care of the Blood Pack.”

Garrus stopped in his tracks to look at Shepard over his good side.

“She’s our XO, and she wants to ask Archangel a few questions. Probably for a report,” Shepard spat, like one would if he tasted something bitter. 

Mandibles twitched but Garrus stayed silent. What ever happened to getting some sleep? His painkillers were beginning to wear off…

“Miranda won’t bite. I’m still in charge here, so I wouldn’t let her anyway. But it’d be nice to update anybody on, ‘where in the galaxy is Garrus Vakarian?’ though.”

“Why would anybody go looking for me?”

“I wanted to go looking for you. When I asked the Illusive Man where you’ve gone after I died, he said that you fell off the grid. Glad Archangel changed that. 

For a super-soldier who was completely ruthless towards his enemies, Shepard was awfully kind. No wonder strangers randomly approached him and asked for his help whether it be to recapture someone’s pet varren pup or to infiltrate a heavily armed mercenary hideout. Garrus felt happy that Shepard sought for him. Shepard does need the best, Garrus noted.

The turian sighed in defeat. “I’ll talk to her. Only because you’re giving the order.”

“I really don’t know her much yet, but who knows: maybe she might be sympathetic to scarred warriors, and she’ll let you pass out on her bed. It’s bigger than what the crew uses in their quarters. Hell, I think it might be bigger than mine.”

“Shepard, really.”

“Just trying to put a smile in those shark teeth,” he said with a childish smirk in his face.

“Remind me what sharks are again in the morning, I can’t remember for the life of me. And if I did think you were being funny, I don’t think I would want to smile right now. Can’t stretch out my mandibles much, you know.” 

=======

Miranda could hear the sound of a keyboard typing in her head, even though she had long left her desk to rest on the couch next to the window. There were still some more work to do before she turned in for the night, maybe she really wasn’t as tired as she thought, even if the tap-tap-tap she was imagining in her head was proving her otherwise.

She just began to notice her hands still felt a little bit sore from the fight in Omega. Shepard took her aback when he was so quick and casual to sacrifice their lives when he volunteered them as faux-freelancers. She didn’t suffer any significant damage, much thanks to her shields, but it was a shame that Archangel didn’t possess any biotic defenses at the time.

Frankly, she wasn’t surprised that he had taken a hit like that. Not that she didn’t see any strength in him—holding off the Blood Pack with him showed her a glimpse of what kind of team Shepard had two years ago—but any soldier who was waging a one-man army against three band of mercenaries for over twenty-four hours straight would have gone sloppy, even herself, and those mercenaries had to resort to a bloody gunship to take him down.

It was not the first time Miranda had seen a turian lying on the ground soaking in his own blood (occasionally in the past, she had been the cause) but it took a few headshakes to realize that Archangel had actually gone down when he did. In the past, she had heard about his lethal methods of dealing with piss-poor criminals.

By hearsay she was told of an instance where he lured groups of felons in a small public lot and unleashed a nightmare in the form of incendiary shots, and by the end of the fight, the lot was no more.

Every tall tale of the deadly Archangel flipped face down in Miranda’s head when she knelt over his bloody form and scanned for his vital signs with her omni-tool, careful to avoid touching the dark blue puddles of his blood with her white suit. He was dying but Miranda kept her mouth shut. Between Shepard and Archangel’s expressions, it was hard to tell who was more worried.

Miranda stood up from the couch, stretching her arms above her head. She heard the sound of footsteps drawing closer to her door. Probably Shepard coming by to check on her—

No. It wasn’t Shepard.

“I, uh, I’m here to answer any questions you have for me,” Garrus told her sheepishly, “Shepard sent me. Told me to go see you right away after I was up and about. He said it was about business matters.”

Hadn’t it been less than a day since the medics finished surgery on him? Miranda looked at him from head to toe and again. The damage on his heavy armor looked worse in her brightly lit room. He was wounded down to his inner plates, and yet he was standing in her office for business.

“I’ll start with introducing myself. My name is—” 

“You’re not fully healed,” she interrupted.

“I’ve been through worse,” he lied, and she was not fooled.

Miranda decided to give up on sending him back to the med room. He did get up and make his way here. “Have a seat,” she said.

Garrus quietly took the chair in front of her desk. Miranda strode over to her desk and turned her laptop on from ‘sleep mode’. An orange hologram popped on, obscuring their view of each other. He was scratching underneath the back of his fringe, shifting around the small chair to find a more comfortable position. This ship really was more human-focused in its design than the last one.

He knew he needed more rest. Part of his shoulder was still extremely sore and the pain was not subsiding any less since he forced his body to become functional prematurely. His eyelids felt heavy; he was about to fall asleep but he willed himself to keep his mind awake for this moment longer. 

“Garrus Vakarian,” she said while looking at her screen, “reported to be last seen over two years ago at the Citadel, correct?”

“That is correct.”

He wasn’t going to ask how Cerberus knew that, or why a non-human’s whereabouts were of concern to them.

“Before joining Commander Shepard in his quest to hunt Saren Arterius, you were a C-sec investigator. After defeating Saren, where did you go from there?" 

He yawned before replying, “I returned to the Citadel to help with reparations and to reinstate myself in C-Sec.”

She was typing something that he couldn’t make out with his tired eyes. He figured that she actually wanted more elaborate answers than the simple sentences he was spouting, but the need for sleep that he had been putting off for the last several days had caught him by the fringe and was beckoning him to drag his exhausted body to the floor of the main battery room and pass out.

Garrus lifted his eyes to look past Miranda’s head. A bed, a big bed. He sighed to himself, mentally scolding Shepard for teasing him so. 

“When the commander was listed as, ‘killed in action’,” her voice reached his ears; she had no idea how unsettling she made him feel to hear her say that so casually, “Did you stay working at C-Sec afterwards?”

“I left my badge on Executor Pallin’s desk some time later after that,” his tone had a grim tinge. 

“No one said a word?” 

“I didn’t tell anyone.”

That must explain why no one had heard from Officer Vakarian in that duration of time until now. Miranda nodded her head at him, typing away word-from-word.

Finally he found a comfortable position on the chair, reclining his head back to face the ceiling. He really just wanted to fall.

Asleep.

Right now.

Miranda stared down at her keyboard. Her fingers were numb and weren’t focused enough to even finish the report, so how he actually found enough energy to come see her after a battle and major surgery was a little beyond her.

Little by little, she was seeing some of Shepard’s influence on the turian. The nonchalance towards a near-death experience, the eyes-straight-forward attitude, it was there in Garrus. A mock-up. 

Whatever Shepard had instilled in Garrus, she could only hazard a guess at how much Shepard’s death tolled on him. She had to admit, she was clueless on how it must feel to have a mentor, a person to look up to as a hero—she had never reached for anybody far enough to let them steer for her. She’s done everything on her own—

A man’s face flashes darkly in her mind.

A subtle twinge stung Miranda, sobering her exhausted shape. A familiar bitterness crept up from behind. 

Yet in the grand scheme, she has never begun anything on her own, nor has she had anything as her own.

Her hands left the desktop and slipped underneath the table to rest on her thighs. While looking at the keyboard, she started, “The commander was very important to you at that time, wasn’t he?” she asked him. 

“What makes you think he isn’t this time?” he said without looking at her.

“Ah,” she looked at him, then looked away, “Fair enough,” she answered. Though she could only guess what he meant.

He regarded the change of tone in her body language. Looks like the night was creeping up on her too. He really couldn’t tell. If anything, he was only half awake in this check-up. Half of the time he looked her in the eye, and the other half his eyes would dart back longingly on the bed.

“Rest assured,” she said in short pauses, “he’s still calling the shots for this mission. We—Cerberus—are just funding the equipment. Though, I do wish he’d be a little more careful when we did our best to put him back together. We’ve done so much already, for Shepard.”

Garrus straightened his posture, looking at her squarely in the eyes as she spoke.

She continued to speak, “Right now, you’re the only thing from Shepard’s past that can withstand being in the same league as him. Cerberus can only do so much but I’ll admit that we can’t provide the comfort he had with you and his other companions from before.

“So if… you need anything, Garrus…” the name was a different taste on her tongue, “feel free to come to Shepard and have him tell me.”

She really didn’t know why she was saying all of this script-like.

“If you’re comfortable, then Shepard is comfortable. We need him in top shape at all times,” she finished quickly.

His good mandible twitched slightly. This was the strangest interview he had ever done. Even the oral exam for C-Sec admissions wasn’t this lukewarm.

“That… sounds easy enough,” he said slowly.

“Excellent. Now, word is that you have experience in gunnery maintenance…?”

“Yes—I’ve already told Shepard that I’m establishing myself in for that position. Assuming that you’re okay with his decision.”

“He knows you more than anyone else on this ship,” she nodded, “if he’s confident with you, then we have that problem out of the way.”

Garrus yawned, nodding and agreeing.

She still spoke to him, “I can end this interview now, so that I have a shorter report to write and you can catch up on rest. You look like you need it, a lot.

“And, well you probably already know my name but I didn’t properly introduce myself: My name is Miranda Lawson.”

“Miranda.” He repeated it in a low rumble. Human names always sounded uniquely cool to Garrus. “Yes, hello Miranda. We met at Omega. You were coming to me with the disguise to shoot me but with the real intent to recruit me. Then I bled everywhere in front of you,” he deadpanned. It was not until he finished speaking that he realized just how stupid that joke was.

Blaming it on Shepard, Garrus assured himself.

Miranda gave a small smile at Garrus’ attempt to lighten the clammy atmosphere that this business meeting generated. Conversing with turians had always required a little more work for her; facial expressions in Garrus’ species weren’t as vividly illustrated unlike humans or asari. Most of the time they looked stoic to her.

“Alright Miss Lawson,” he said suddenly, “I’m fit for duty whenever I’m needed.”

One of her eyebrows lifted questioningly, “I would say otherwise, but if you really think so then I won’t argue.”

Garrus heaved a sigh heavier than he intended. It hurt to keep his head upright from nodding off. With the small fraction of energy he had left, he used it all to stand up from the chair and dismissed himself from her room. They parted with a drowsy, ‘see you in the morning’ and called it a night.

Miranda shut off her terminal screen and rested her head on her desk, counting tiny sheep that pranced on a grassy plain in her head.

Thirty sheep later, they bumbled away, letting sleep cloak her conscience.


Author's Notes:
Honestly, when I was outlining what I wanted to come about with this story, the pairing really did look romantic in its bloomed form. What I'm having difficulty with is how to show the growth from being awkward co-workers to a pair who would give anything to keep each other in their lives. With Shepard/Garrus, it's very easy to articulate the steps their romantic relationship takes from being friends to lovers because they have a history. Garrus and Miranda do not.

I have a few ideas I could throw in here and there, but I want to make sure I don't completely rehash the game. I'm looking over some of the other drafts I have like the one for what's supposed to be the second chapter, but I had to backspace half of what I had in it because it really was just rehashed parts. This would be good though, because it will mean I have more space to put more ideas in.

Anyway, I know a few people have this journal on their watch list (and right now I'm so happy it's really just a *few* lol), and I'd like your opinions on this. Feel free to point out any mistakes, whatnot. Constructive criticism is something I can't be afraid, so give some.
Tags: fanfic!masseffect, fanfic!romance
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