Garrus stumbled into Shepard’s quarters. He had claimed them as his own after they crashed. No one had objected to it; they had all know about his relationship with the commander.
The crew had been drinking down in the lounge and for the first time since that final battle, he had joined them. As the evening went on, he had lost track of how many drinks he had downed.
His head spun as he tried to make his way down the steps that lead to the bed. Looking up he had to blink rapidly and tried to shake his head, immediately regretting that action.
Lying there on the bed was a figment of Lexa Shepard. He knew it could not be real. The last thing they had seen in the sol system was the Citadel ripping itself apart, with the love of his life on board. His memory raced, against his will, to those moments after Lexa had vanished into the Reaper beam. He and James raced back with the others to the shuttle. They hurried through the wreckage, the Reapers surprisingly ignoring them as they ran. Cortez had the shuttle up and running again and they piled in following Lexa’s orders to return to the Normandy. She had known they would be needed up there in case the reapers turned on the Crucible and Citadel. That was why they were mostly safe, having crashed on the distant planet.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have had that last drink,” Garrus grumbled to himself.
“Oh my dear, sweet Garrus,” the figment cooed while rising from the bed, “I’m so sorry.”
Garrus step closer, unable to resist the image his mind was creating. She drew him in just as she had when she was alive, even if she was just a figment. He knew that she was dead and even that did not stop him from leaning into the hand caressing his mandible. He clenched his fists at his side forcing himself to not reach out and touch her, wanting to enjoy her presence for as long as he could. He could pretend that she was here for just a little while, but more than that would be far too disrespectful to her memory.
“You didn’t follow my orders, not that you ever did,” he snorted, closing his eyes. He then whispered the words that had been rolling around in his mind since they had crashed, “You died.”
“Sort of,” she said with an airy laugh. “I had a choice to make. This was the only way that I could guarantee what would happen… Guarantee your safety.”
“What happened, can you tell me that?” he snapped the words coming out harsher than he had intended and he turned from the figment staring instead at the model ships she had collected one of the few things in the room that reminded him of her.
He had loved her and she was gone, again. She was dead, again. Now here he was her memory haunting him, again. He had gone through these same motions and emotions last time she died.
However, he was not asking about what happened to her; he wanted to know what happened to the rest of them. They had all noticed the differences when they had crashed. Joker had done his best to outrun the blast but it still hit the Normandy tearing her apart. Luckily, the majority of the ship was still intact due to Jokers quick thinking and impressive skill. The strange thing was what the blast wave had done to the people. The Doctor was at a loss to explain what had happened. They all seemed to have cybernetic components. EDI had no logical explanations either as she now had organic components added to her cybernetics.
“Synthesis,” Lexa spoke the single word with awe and amazement.
Garrus grunted softly as he clenched his fist repeatedly. He could feel the cybernetics working. He felt stronger but it still just felt wrong. He knew that some of the others had easily accepted what had happened but he could not see how this was better than what the reapers had been. The only chance that he could have accepted it was if Lexa was actually alive here with him.
The figment of Lexa wrapped her arms around his waist and leaned into his back holding him tightly. He looked down at the delicate hands that were resting on his chest. His brow plates pulled together when he noticed the green data markings on her skin. He was confused why a figment of his imagination would be different from what he knew she truly looked like.
“Don’t worry,” she whispered, “you aren’t losing your mind. This is my way of keeping my promise.”
“You’ll never be alone,” she continued in the soft tone.
“Never,” he breathed remembering the last words that they had said to each other. He bowed his head as the grief that he had tried so hard to hold back, washed over him shaking him with silent tears.
He shifted slightly to rest a hand on one of hers and was surprised when instead of sliding through the figment his hand wrapped around the digital fingers. Confused once again, he looked over his shoulder at the woman he had loved. He could not tell if what he saw was real or just his mind playing tricks on him. She looked and felt so real, except for the soft green glow about her.
“Never,” she repeated with the half smile that he loved so much. “I couldn’t keep my body but at least this way I could still be here,” she tapped his temple lightly with a finger, “with you; if you’ll still have me that is.”
His mandibles fluttered and he opened and shut his mouth trying to find the words to say. He was not even certain he understood what she had even said.
“I love you, Lexa,” Garrus said softly turning slowly to face her. He looked closely at the image of Shepard in front of him. She looked so much like what he remembered but now that he was aware of the digital differences, he saw them in sharp contrast to her pale skin; green markings running across and through her in patterns of digital code. “How?”
“I’m not certain on the details, but it feels a little like when David and Legion brought me into the digital network.” She smiled looking up at him with digital green eyes. “My mind still feels like me but movement is fluid like electronic code. It took some time, but I found my way here. I found my way to you. I don’t want to be a burden or force myself on you, but… like I said if you’ll have me I will stay with you.”
Garrus reached a hand up to stroke her cheek, but paused. It was a lot to take in. Her standing there asking if she could live within his mind. He knew he could never say no to her, but he still had his doubts that this was not just a drunken hallucination. If only for this moment he wanted to be happy. Slowly he nodded his head before closing his eyes and lowering his head so that their foreheads met, in the same sign of affection they had shared so long ago.
“Of course I’ll have you,” he whispered softly, opening his eyes enough to see her reaction.
Lexa tipped her head slightly so that her lips brushed against his mouth.
Garrus kissed her back, still trying to wrap his mind around what he had just agreed to. He knew he would do anything for the woman in his arms. He would not send her away especially if this was the only way he could keep her.
Stepping back and watching Lexa, Garrus could not help when his mandibles fluttered into a soft smile. “I love you,” he whispered, his voice thick from emotion and remains of intoxication.
Garrus took her hand and moved to the bed. The pair lay down and he pulled Lexa close to his side. She snuggled up to him wrapping a digital arm around his chest. He knew this was a figment but there was just something real to her. He would take that for now. He would keep her close and in the morning he would find out whether she was real or not.
His eyes slowly closed as he drifted off and for the first time since they had gone to Earth, he slept, really slept.
Disclaimer: Mass Effect is property of Bioware. I do not own the characters. No money is made on this fiction.