otherwise known as the 5 times Garrus Vakarian crushed on the Commander, and the 1 time he finally realized it.
Glancing at her didn’t mean anything, right?
Because it was totally normal, or so he had told himself, to look at other people while they ate. He looked at Tali, looked at Samara, exchanged middle fingers with Jack, and looked – glanced – at Shepard. Took in her red hair and plump lips and rosy cheeks that were probably, most definitely, were very soft to touch and –
She shifted, and Garrus swallowed quickly through a piece of Levo steak that he hadn’t completely chewed through.
He choked a little, and shrugged off Tali’s concerned hand before lunging for the water.
And as he tossed back a glance, he saw her, from the corner of his eye, watching him, lips twisted up in now what he knew firsthand as a smirk.
He met her eyes. (Ignored his thudding heart.) Narrowed his own in a challenge.
But she merely looked away, so easily – because surely glancing at him didn’t mean anything, right?
The sound of a crash and a loud hiss of a very human swear caught his attention, if only because it was some ungodly hour in human standards, as he had learned being aboard a human ship for as long as he has. There was no mistaking the voice, too, and unlike her, Garrus was wide awake. So when Shepard stumbled into the mess with bedridden hair and drooping eyes, she only gave one look at him before she brushed past his shoulder.
Garrus merely tapped his fingers against the mug.
And so she began to affix herself with that human drug-disguised-as-liquid, Garrus couldn’t help it. He looked. Again.
He swore it was only because he wasn’t aware her fringe could really do that.
“Your hair,” he managed.
She only grumbled in response, before she brushed past him again – so close, it shot electricity down his spine – before collapsing into the chair opposite from her, blowing on that steaming, somewhat earthy smelling mug.
“It’s sticking up,” he continued, undeterred.
He watched as her eyes widened, and her hands abandon the mug to tug it back down into place. He knew the human tells of embarrassment – years of C Sec would do that to any officer – and yet he had never quite found the human thing of cheeks turning red, (blood, as it were) to be oddly endearing.
And when she wrestled her fringe to be normal again, and as she mumbled a half swear from lazy and half-asleep lips, Garrus found himself conflicted; almost wishing he hadn’t said something in the first place.
His fingers drummed against the railing, and honestly he didn’t know he was waiting for it. Didn’t realize the odd tranquility – relief? – that came with the familiar hiss and slide of the door behind him.
He flexed his fingers and turned, readying what he knew was a greeting that was a perfect blend of sarcastic, aloof, yet warm, and as he took a breath to unleash the line he’d been thinking of –
- the words died when he realized it was Joker.
The human raised an eyebrow. “Don’t look so disappointed.”
“I’m not-“ Garrus swallowed. “- Disappointed. Why are you back here anyways?” He said quickly. “Shouldn’t you be flying the ship?”
“Right?” Joker said. “You’d think that’s what a pilot should do. Hey,” he said suddenly. “Tell that to Shepard. Then maybe, just maybe, she’d let a human – who has flown several ships for her, by the way – actually do his job, instead of an AI.”
Garrus merely blinked as Joker scrunched his nose. It was an expression he didn’t typically see on Shepard, he thought, as his fingers resumed drumming the edge of the railing.
“Why don’t you tell her that yourself?” he said goodnaturedly, but the look that Joker gives him said so otherwise.
“You kidding? These days she’s only coming to see you.”
Garrus’s fingers froze.
“That’s why I came in here anyways, to get her to demand EDI to relinquish control back to me. And to tell her that imitating the Reapers isn’t funny. Well, it would be at the right times, but taking over the flying while parroting Assuming Direct Control isn’t really quality humour.”
And Joker was gone, but Garrus hadn’t been listening. He was still stuck on that first part, and truthfully he wouldn’t stop hearing those eight words over and over, on repeat, until the next day.
‘Business as usual’ was already a stretch when he was busting crimes daily with C-Sec; when it became the bandit attacks and wave after wave of firefights, though, Garrus never knew if he was in over his head.
But it was comforting to be lead by Shepard, who knew what she was doing, and he could follow her orders without feeling off.
In fact, it felt right.
He’d never really identified that before.
And the thought played in his mind, festering like a fire, and it’s not until a snipe that’s a little too close to his position than he would’ve liked shock him from his thoughts.
Shepard was holding the smoking pistol, too.
“Earth to Vakarian,” she barked over the comm. “Are you taking a nap?”
“No, Shepard,” he responded, and to prove it, he whipped out his rifle and began to scope out the next bandit to show their face.
“Well good,” her voice crackled into his ear. “Because they had a target on you, and you’re not allowed to hit the dust before-“
He couldn’t help it; his heart did an awkward flop and he has to bite his lip, turn up the volume of Fleet and Flotilla, to just maintain concentration.
A sigh blew into his comm. “-Before the end of this mission.”
He watched as the bandit in his scope dropped clean with a splash of red; the shot rang out like a pleasant accompaniment to the soundtrack oozing into his ear.
“Get a room,” was Miranda’s only addition.
Of all the crew, it was Samara’s expression that caught him off guard.
It wasn’t until the rest of them had filed out after their mission debrief, after Samara tapped him on the wrist as Grunt was the last to leave, Shepard in tow.
It was one simple word.
A cross between mortification and embarrassment shot through his spine, and at first he merely flanged in astonishment before he found his voice again. “Hea- no, I’m not eighteen Samara.”
The Justicar merely shrugged, and it was times like these that Garrus sincerely wished that, if they were to have one resident Asari on board, it should’ve been the younger one who would at least not be so upfront about it.
“My apologies,” she said, with no change in her voice at all. “I assumed. Humans and Turians are quite close in lifespans…”
He couldn’t help the involuntary flare of his mandibles as Garrus gawked. “Shepard isn’t eighteen either—“
But Samara merely gave a smile that was less reassuring and more chilling, and once again Garrus had no idea if the Asari was merely teasing or being completely serious.
“Well your voice shows it, you know?” She said conversationally. “I’ve met enough Turians in my lifetime to identify the sound. You may want to be more subtle though, especially around the crew.”
And then she was gone, or maybe Garrus was just standing there. Processing. Blanking.
What did she even mean?
Shit shit shit shit shit shit.
He didn’t know when it’d hit him like a pile of bricks but it did, and it did literally right in front of her – when he was going to go off on some other funny anecdote because it was what he did, what Vakarian did to Shepard, fireforged friends who went through hell and back and may be on the verge of something and –
He, probably – definitely? – liked her. Romantically.
Terror shot up his spine – it was very clear to him that Shepard had come to him with the proposition of blowing off steam. And him, like an idiot, rolled with it. Didn’t even know, shit – since when – was that what Samara meant, did Miranda know before the two of them, was Joker kidding, were fringes ever cute –
– Was glancing ever just glancing –
And the words tumbled out of him before he knew what he was saying, and the insecurities spilled revealing things he didn’t even quite know he felt, and suddenly he was questioning whether she was okay with it all because he’s a turian and she’s a human and they’re friends, best friends, and it could be awkward and bad and they need each other and, really, do they even fit together properly?
But she touched his face, thumb careful along his scar.
“I want you,” she said.
And he was flying. His heart picked up and his throat caught and he knew his mandibles flared, as they do involuntarily, as his mother’s do around his father. Twenty emotions played at his heart and he wanted to do nothing more than to pick her up and spin her around but he refrained, disguising this utter elation with a terrible joke that even made him cringe, and he has no way to recover from the smirk that twisted up her lip as she backed away with a coy, “I’ll let you get back to work.”
“Right,” he droned.
Shit, shit shit fuck, I think I may really like her.
“’Cause I’m in a great place to optimize firing algorithms right now.”