A Ring

Fandom: Mass Effect - Shakarian

1431 words

Selene stepped out onto the patio, raising an arm to shield her eyes from the sun. Fully expecting it, she still winced when her bare foot touched the scorching hot sand. She moved with haste across the beach, sighing in relief when she practically fell into the lounge seat.

“You smell funny.”

Settling into her seat and rolling her eyes, she huffed, “Thanks, honey. Love you too.” She leaned over and handed Garrus his drink.

He accepted it with a laugh. “Just an observation.”

“It’s probably the sunscreen. Have to lather the stuff on or I burn easy.”

“If you’re gonna get burned alive, why are you wearing something like that?” He motioned to her swimsuit. “Not that I’m complaining, of course.”

“Well it sounds like complaining.” Shepard bantered. “By all means, I can change.” A smirk curled her lips as she took a sip. Garrus didn’t humor her with a reply, only made a noise in his throat. “Just enjoy this while it lasts.”

Garrus side-eyed a couple of other humans further down the beach as he said, “You do realize that we’re the saviors of the galaxy, right? We could ask for beach front property, and your government would give us a plot no questions asked.”

She scoffed, “Wouldn’t that ruffle the old vet’s feathers. A turian claiming prime real estate on Earth’s coasts.”

“I’m here to please.” He turned his head to her.

“You wanted to see Earth. This is the most expensive resort on the planet. We have a piece of beach reserved for just us. I’m here in my best swimsuit. And you’re still complaining.” Both laughed, enjoying the free banter thoroughly.

After the war, they were both extremely grateful for some down time, the entirety of the Normandy crew was. Once cleanup was done, and repairs were in full swing, everyone wanted some shore leave to breathe the air of their homeworld.
Selene had followed Garrus to Palaven at first, honestly wanting to distance herself from Earth. Just until the remains of the Citadel no longer hovered over her, like some kind of nightmare. She got to meet his father and sister, and helped them reastablish a home. At first, Solana was much more welcoming of her than the eldest Vakarian, but over the weeks, he warmed to Shepard as well.

Eventually, the comrades-in-arms, and friends, agreed that they would meet again, and truly celebrate life. The agreed destination… Earth; where the reapers had first attacked, and where they were forever defeated.

“Tali wants to hit the bar again tonight.” Selene said, tapping at her omnitool.

“She’s become a real alcoholic. I blame that party you threw a year ago.”

“You’re just being an ass to be an ass now, aren’t you?”

“I would never.”

Shepard snorted, finishing her drink and setting the glass down in the sand.
“Unless…” She crossed her arms on the arm of the chair as she turned to Garrus. “You just get jealous.”

“Of what?”

“The countless men, and women, I have swooning over me whenever we go out.” She quirked a brow.

He reciprocated the action with a brow plate.“You’re forgetting that… ah, what’s that saying you humans use?” He tapped his chin thoughtfully. “We’re ‘in the same boat?’”

Shepard chuckled, nodding in acquiescence. “Guess you’re right. That krogan woman really was all over you last week. The scars are finally paying off.”

Garrus didn’t let that deter him, his mandibles only drooped in mock dreariness as he sighed, “Yeah, seems so.” He mirrored her position, leaning in towards her as well. “Though I had to turn her down. Had to tell her I already have an honorary krogan in my life.”

Selene smirked, inching closer. “That so?”
His voice dropped an octave. “Sure is. Caught myself the most badass and beautiful woman in the whole universe.”
Shepard couldn’t help the creeping blush and laugh that bubbled up out of her. She leaned in to peck his mandible before leaning back into her seat. Pulling up her messages again, she continued, “I’ll tell her we’ll meet tonight.”

Garrus leaned back, pleased with himself. “Just have to fend off the hoards of humans that are trying to get you to autograph their foreheads, or worse.”

“Hopefully that’s all they want, but luckily, you’ve equipped me with the perfect weapon to use against said hoards.” She lifted her left hand and wiggled her fingers. The sun made the tanzanite gemstone shimmer glamorously. “Wards off anyone that’s honorable, and leaves a good dent in those who aren’t.”

Garrus chuckled heartily, but his smile was warm. His tone was no longer as mischievous. “Well, after you got me that black widow rifle, I had to repay you somehow.”

Selene smiled back, her eyes soft. She lifted herself from her chair, and then seated herself back down into her lover’s lap. Her hand reached up to trace along his marred cheek. She placed her lips to his mouth, and whispered, “I love you, Garrus.”

“I’d hope so.” She smacked his chest, but still grinned. “I love you, too.” He kissed her back, enjoying the moment while it lasted.
She pulled away, having him trail after her until she was out of reach. “How about I go swim for a bit, and then we go back to our room to… calibrate… Then we get ready to go get shitfaced with our friends.”

Garrus rolled his eyes, sighing, “Really, it’s the rest of you who have the calibration obsession. I don’t know where I fit into it.”
“Is that a no?”

Another sigh, “You know me,” He grasped her hand and pulled her close again, nuzzling her neck, purring softly, “I always need my equipment calibrated.” There was a silence, a seagull shrieked somewhere in the sky. Eventually, Shepard couldn’t hide her wicked grin. “…Yeah… that was bad…”

“A real 'savor the last shot before popping the heat sink,’ hm?” She patted his hand.
Garrus just groaned. Selene laughed softly as she stood and stretched, and began on her way down the beach. He watched her as she walked, smiling back on those fond, if horribly embarrassing, memories. They’d come a long way since that night.

It’s hard to believe how much had changed, how much HE had changed. Hell, even Shepard. War and heartbreak shaped them anew, and even if Selene sometimes looked so lost when someone said the wrong thing, and it’s so utterly heartbreaking, he’s thankful for the last 3 years.

Without that hell of a war, he never would have left C-Sec, or met his squad, for whatever little time they had, or had the opportunity to travel the galaxy… or meet the most wonderful, gorgeous, honest-to-spirits best damn woman in the universe.
His eyes traveled to the glinting gem on her hand, and his mind wandered to that prime real estate on the beach they could buy. It didn’t have to be Earth, it could be Palaven, even Thessia or Rannoch. He’d follow her anywhere. Afterall, there’s no Vakarian without Shepard either.

Then, his visor lit up with an alert he hadn’t seen in months. He didn’t even have the chance to call out to her, barely out of his seat when Shepard went stock-still. Her back arched, and her fists clenched, every muscle in her body tensed. She fell to the sand.

Garrus couldn’t hear anything but the blood in his ears as he skid to her side. Convulsing, her eyes wide and blank. Her pulse skyrocketed, and then plummeted, and then repeated. He shouted her name. Human blood smells like iron, it stuck to the arms that held her, made them sticky and slick at the same time and made the sand below them blossom like a rose.

By the time the savior of the galaxy was shipped to the nearest hospital, the doctors announced her dead on arrival. He was shown the device that was fired into her, from long range. Presumably from a passing skycar.

Experts explained how it worked, how it disabled her amp, how it was specifically made to target every piece of Cerberus machinery in her body. It cycled each and every part through overload and useless repeatedly. The cybernetics implemented to rebuild her were set to actively destroy her body, eat away at anything and everything. She could not be saved, not even by another few billion credits.

Tali and Liara wondered why they were so late. Kaidan told them not to worry. James insinuated something scandalous.

Garrus carved another name into his visor.
A new ring around his rifle barrel.