ot3: just like old times

UPDATE: JUST LIKE OLD TIMES: TOUCHSTONE
At AO3 and ff.net

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AUTHOR’S NOTE: For those familiar with my work, it won’t come as a surprise that most of my stories are interconnected. I like to make sure they stand alone, but because of the nature of this story, I feel like I have to point you at Something Like Home (AO3, ff.net) if you haven’t read it. It is Garrus’ POV, takes place in the same continuity as this story, fills in the blanks between Aratoht and Menae, and I don’t intend to rehash that time period in Just Like Old Times since I covered it so thoroughly in SLH. (The second part of this chapter is a SLH moment, though it will stand alone and probably fill in some gaps for those of you who haven’t read SLH.)

TOUCHSTONE

Garrus wanted to lose himself in fixing something physical, tangible, but even the familiarity of the tools in his hands and the guts of the skycar open to reveal its malfunctioning parts wasn’t enough to completely clear his mind. In some ways, it was too easy. A wire here, a bolt there, some time spent tweaking the electronics; he needed more of a challenge. He wanted something hard, hard enough to stump him, hard enough he’d have to use every resource he had to figure it out.

Something hard enough to distract him from the decision he had to make.

On a sigh, he stripped some ancient wire and replaced it with a graft from his newer stock. It should have worked. Everything else looked good. But when he connected it all up and reached for the ignition, the engine refused to start. The car lay as sullen and silent as it had before he’d ever started working on it. He paced around the perimeter, before leveling a sharp kick at the still-open engine. 

The car didn’t start. His foot hurt.

“Unfortunately, physical violence rarely works with electronics. They’re much too fussy. Try massage.” 

His mother leaned against the doorframe, smiling. He hated that his first thought was: is she leaning because she feels bad? Is she tired? Should I call someone?

She didn’t look sick. In spite of the diagnosis, she didn’t look different at all. Her smile was the same smile she’d always had for him, and her eyes were bright and lucid and alert.

(Watch for fatigue, the doctors warned them, watch for clumsiness, watch for lapses in memory.)

“How are you feeling?” he asked, rubbing his hands along his legs as much to clean them of grease as to give their nervous energy somewhere to go.

His mother’s smile turned sad. “Like I wish people would stop asking me that question.”

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