A/N: This chapter's rather long by my general standards so I hope that makes up for the long wait. I've subscribed to theory presented by Greenmamba5 that turians have a subharmonic range used for a secondary communication which is denoted in italics in their conversation.
CHAPTER 19: BREAKFAST
Garrus let out a low growl of frustration as his hand slid down and away from the door. He turned to call the elevator and as the doors slid open he mentally went over what he planned for the day: breakfast with Solana, talk to Chakwas and maybe, if he was lucky, he could nail a few minutes with Anderson. He stepped off the elevator and turned toward the direction of the Crew's Quarters. He had a few minutes before he had to get ready to meet Solana and, knowing her, she would probably be late anyway. The doors slid open and his Turian nose immediately picked up the scent of booze, sweat and the stench of vomit. Apparently, the rest of the crew had continued the party after coming back from Purgatory. The hour was still early enough that most of them were taking advantage of the later-than-usual report time, sprawled out amongst the bunks and floor. Scanning the room for the doctor, he picked her out amongst the mess of humans in the room. She was examining one of the crewmen who was half hanging off a bunk.
Recognizing the familiar flange, she didn't look up as she reviewed the final scan of her patient on her omni-tool.
"Garrus," she replied evenly, absently nodding at the information the scan provided and closing the omni-tool.
"Do you have a minute?" he asked her hesitantly.
She rose, gathering her instruments and turning to face him.
"When will they learn?" she tsk'd in annoyance. "Yes, Garrus I have a few minutes. This lot won't be up for a while. Thankfully, none of them did anything stupid last night. They're going to all have a hell of a hangover though," she finished, shaking her head.
He looked around the room, scanning the snoring, grunting bunch, satisfied that none of them would ever repeat this conversation. He studied the doctor, trying to decide where to begin.
"Shepard told me what happened to her during her trial," he said bluntly, watching her face carefully for any reaction.
She blinked and crossed her arms.
"I see," she said simply, her face unreadable even by human standards.
The expertise of her profession had perfected her ability to mask her thoughts. He waited to see if she would say anything further, a frustrated growl building within him when he realized that she was waiting for him to continue. This conversation wasn't going to be an easy one.
"What happened to her?"
"Why would you think that I know what happened to her?" she shot back.
"Because you're human and Alliance. You've also known Shepard longer than any of us," he returned, thinking quickly.
Chakwas mulled that answer over for a second.
"Okay, but why not ask her? Why ask me?" She paused. "Unless….you don't want to her to know that you're asking," she concluded, locking eyes with him.
It was his turn to blink and cross his arms. Luckily for him, turian facial structure didn't leave much room for nuanced emotion. After serving with humans for so long, he had learned quickly that what someone said was not always necessarily what they were thinking. Turians' equivalent to this was in their subvocal range, which was as common as speaking among their species but generally outside of the human hearing range. He used this to his advantage now, unwilling to give the Doctor any more information than necessary.
Seeing that he wasn't going to say anything more, she stared blankly at him, her mind chewing on a variety of answers to give him. Finally, she decided on the most diplomatic and benign approach.
"Alright," she said smoothly, "what exactly did she tell you and when was this?"
"Over drinks…last night….at Ted's," he replied, streamlining the explanation. "She said that she never completed her court martial because she blacked out in the middle of it."
"Is that all she said?"
"Yes," he admitted with a low growl, his frustration becoming apparent. He was still reluctant to tell her about the vid he'd seen. The last thing he wanted was for Shepard to find out he was doing his own research.
"Garrus, Alliance regulations prevent me from discussing anything related to the Commander's health with anyone unless they are also medically responsible for her as well. Since you are not, I'm sorry I cannot answer your questions," she said firmly, but the look in her eyes said something else entirely.
He said nothing, studying her face, trying to decipher what she was trying to tell him.
"I understand, Doctor. I'll let you get back to the crew," he said, conceding and turning toward the door.
He paused as the doors slid shut behind him, turning over the words she said over in his mind. She was trying to tell him something, he knew that for sure – but what? Slowly, he began to make his way to the Main Battery. As he rounded the corner of the Mess, he noticed that the conversation level of the few crew members seated at the tables had fallen into low murmurs and whispers. They all had heard the rumors about Shepard and Vakarian but none of them really paid that much attention until now. Not only had the turian not come from his usual Battery but he was also dressed in civilian clothing, an extreme rarity for Garrus, who preferred his armor above anything else. The situation looked very suspicious, especially given the early hour. His thinking slowed his pace when he noticed a movement from the Med Bay window out of the corner of his eye. He looked over confused for second since he had just talked to Chakwas in the Crew quarters but quickly realized that it was Mordin moving around in the lab.
As he watched the salarian work, he stopped, staring at the scientist. The turning pieces of information that preoccupied his walk gently clicked into place as realization dawned and his eyes grew wide.
Sera sighed softly, slowly pulling her hand away from the door, knowing that he wasn't coming back. She carefully walked down the steps toward the drawers that held her clothes and chose an appropriate outfit to wear. Given what the plans were for the day, she decided that her Alliance uniform was the best choice. She saw the time on the clock next to her bed and panicked, realizing that she needed to get moving or she was going to be very late and her mother would voice her disapproval. Approving her reflection in the mirror, she decided to put her hair up in a loose bun, leaving a few strands down to frame her face. A touch of make-up accentuated her sapphire blue eyes but the natural flush of her cheeks and lips were enough on their own.
As she rode the elevator the CIC, she clicked open her omni-tool, pulling up the information Traynor had sent about the florist. Searching for the right arrangement, she quickly thumbed through the images finally settling on small bouquet of calla lilies. They were rather expensive since Earth flowers were rather hard to come by but, for her father, the cost was unimportant. She placed the order as the elevators slid open and the chatter from the random crew members enjoying their final hours of shore leave greeted her. She smiled at them making her way to the airlock, absently noticing that Joker was not in the cockpit.
[Joker is 'sleeping it off.']
Shepard came to an abrupt halt.
[Joker became quite inebriated last night, Commander. I had to carry him back to the ship.]
Shepard held back a laugh and raised an eyebrow at EDI's explanation, waiting for her to continue.
[By the time we arrived, he had sufficiently expelled the alcohol from his system and has been sleeping ever since.]
"Are you okay, EDI?"
[Yes, Shepard, I am functional. I have cleaned the vomit from my mobile platform and it is currently being sterilized.]
Unable to hold back any longer, she barked out a laugh and chuckled as she imagined the sight of Joker throwing up on EDI as she carried him back to the Normandy. It must've been one hell of a party she missed out on.
"Yes, EDI?" Sera replied through her laughter.
[What is so funny?]
"Nothing, EDI. Just remind me to tell you about it some other time. I'm kind of in a hurry at the moment," Shepard explained, collecting herself and doubling her pace to the airlock.
[Noted, Commander. Do you require anything else?]
"Uhmmm… no, not right now. Just make sure that everyone reports in and notify me if anyone's missing."
After catching a transport, Shepard walked through the doors of the Phoenix restaurant once more. It certainly wasn't as she remembered it from the night before. The dark intimate ambiance was now replaced with an open, glowing airiness that still maintained the elegance that it exuded during its night cycle. The wait staff was now dressed in stark white, fashion forward uniforms and the early morning, urgent chatter of diplomats, politicians and high ranking military personnel filled the air. Sera quickly scanned the sea of tables, looking for her mother and Anderson. Spotting them near the back of the restaurant, she made her way toward the table, sitting with a small huff.
"Nice of you to join us," her mother greeted her drily.
Sera eyeballed her mother, biting her tongue as a turian waitress approached the table. She ordered a cup of coffee and then contemplated the plethora of offerings on the menu in silence. It was quite extensive, given all the races that occupied the Citadel, and there was a section for each one. After reviewing the menu and making her choice, she put the menu aside and sat back in her chair. She stared at her mother, absently chewing on a nail, trying to decide how to confront her about the events of last night.
"What, did I grow a third eye or something?" Hannah baited her daughter with a smirk.
Sera's brow furrowed and her eyes lit up with a fierce indignant blue flame.
"No, I just want to know what you thought you were doing last night," she said bluntly, confronting her mother.
"What do you mean? I didn't do anything that shouldn't have been done," Hannah shot back, meeting her daughter head-on.
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Sera challenged, not ready to back down.
"Really, Sera, do I need to draw you a map? It's so simple. The feelings you have for each other are more than obvious. All you needed was a push in the right direction."
"Push? More like a shove..." Sera retorted.
Hannah shrugged her shoulders while Anderson chuckled at the unfolding exchange between mother and daughter.
"Push…shove…six of one and half a dozen of another. Someone had to do it and it certainly wasn't going to be you!"
Sera glared at her mother and huffed crossing her arms over her chest, silently admitting defeat.
The turian waitress appeared again with the coffee Sera ordered and took her breakfast order. Once she left the table, Hannah took the opportunity to speak first.
"So, what happened last night?" she asked with a hopeful yet mischievous glint in her eye.
"Not what you're thinking," Sera snorted and then sighed, knowing that her mother wasn't going to let up until she got a satisfactory answer.
"Damn," Hannah swore as Anderson barked out a laugh.
That got Sera to smile and she told them about the brief conversation she and Garrus had which led to a truce of sorts between them. Then she told them about the games of the pool and the two new holes in the Ted's wall. Hannah and Anderson promptly burst out laughing, causing a few of the patrons to turn heads and stare at the loud outburst.
"Oh yes, he's never going to live that down," Sera promised with an impish grin.
Once their chuckling had subsided, Anderson cleared his throat and took a sip of his coffee.
"Now that things have settled between you, are you going to tell him?" he asked cautiously.
"Yes," Sera said simply, "he knows that I need a little more time and he's willing to wait. Not only do I want to wait for the right time, I want to pull the data from the facility and read it myself."
"Are you sure you want to do that, Sera? I don't know if that's such a good idea," Hannah replied, looking at her daughter, worry and concern etched into her face.
"Why not? They're my records and I want to know all the details. The Dalatrass already blindsided me once. I'm sure as hell not letting that happen again," Sera said fiercely.
"That's my girl," Hannah said proudly.
Talking to Mordin was going to have to wait since he had spent whatever spare time he had talking to Chakwas.
He turned and headed for the Battery for a quick change of clothes before heading out to meet Solana. After changing, he paused at the console and did a quick check of the calibrations he ran on a nightly cycle. Satisfied with the results, he called up his private messaging account. A quick search found the messages he had sent to Shepard all those months ago. He couldn't bring himself to permanently delete them then and now he was happy that he didn't.
There were only three messages, but the lack of response between each one had discouraged him from writing any more. He had had no idea what would happen to Sera when it came time for her to turn herself into the Alliance. As a turian, he more than understood the concepts of honor and justice, but knowing what she done for the galaxy, the consequences she faced went against the very grain of his turian spirit. He couldn't be sure if she wasn't responding because she didn't want to or because she had no choice. Now that he knew that it was latter rather than the former, he sent them to her again with a renewed yet reserved hope for their relationship, however it might turn out. In a few quick strokes they were gone and he left the Battery before he could reconsider anything.
A little while later, Garrus walked through the doors of the Phoenix restaurant and scanned the tables for his sister. Much to his chagrin, she was nowhere to be found. He knew that she was going to be late and didn't know why he bothered to try to be on time. He selected a table near the entrance and off to the side and settled himself into a chair. A young, pretty turian waitress approached the table with a menu.
"Good morning, sir," she purred, "would you like something to drink?"
He blinked; was she hitting on him? He couldn't be sure; it had been so long since he'd paid attention to any turian female.
"Uhmmmm… yes," he said roughly, "coffee, please."
"Of course," she replied, her tongue elongating the last syllable and her undertones trilling something he hadn't heard in a very long time.
Was that? Did she just….? Yes, she did, you idiot! That female just came on to you! Moron!
He sat back in his chair and watched her saunter away from the table. He cocked his head slightly to the left, giving her retreating form a once over, his gaze lingering on her waist. Suddenly, his view was obstructed by vibrant purple hue. He blinked and focused as he raised his eyes to meet a familiar ice blue pair.
"Brother," she said simply, her undertones trilling her disgust at his open gawking. Horny.
"Sol," he replied, "late as usual. Did you get your morning lay?"
"Yes, yes, I did," she said smugly, making herself comfortable in the opposite chair.
"How is Chellick these days?" Garrus hummed.
"Overwhelmed, stressed out trying to figure out what to do with all the incoming refugees," she said, her undertones laced with worry.
"Must've been a long night for you two then," he chided, I win.
"It was. We barely slept at all," she gloated, Fuck off. "At least I don't have to resort to leering because I can't remember the last time I got laid."
That one hurt and she saw it when his mandibles tightened against his jaw. She had crossed that invisible line. The unspoken one that said she had gone too far. She looked down at the table.
"Sorry," she said softly, her undertones reinforcing her apology.
He clicked his acceptance of her apology with a slight nod.
"Contrary to your belief, Sol, I do remember the last time and there's a reason why it's been that long," he began, finally telling his sister the whole truth. There was no sense in keeping it from her now. He knew that he had a made a promise to Shepard, but since she had told Liara, he didn't see the harm in telling his sister. Considering the chaos the galaxy was in, he didn't know when he would see her again anyway. "Do you remember when I came to visit you and Mom at Helos and told you about the Suicide Mission with Shepard?"
She nodded, recalling his surprise visit and how happy they were that he was alive. She also remembered their shock at his face. Looking at it now, she briefly wondered why he had never fixed the scars or his clan mark.
"Well," he paused, "there was something else that I didn't tell you."
Now she looked at him, her eyes glittering with curiosity. The turian waitress suddenly appeared between them, setting his requested cup of coffee on table. Sol asked her for the same and ordered something akin to an omelet with a heavily spiced meat filling. Garrus ordered the same but with a side of dough-like bread and a gel-like syrup. The waitress gave a curt nod at Solana and flared her mandibles suggestively at Garrus before leaving their table.
Sol clicked her disgust again, Whore.
Garrus chuckled, "A female hits on me and you think she's a whore. Am I that bad?"
"No, you're not. She doesn't have to throw herself at you though," she said. Some class would be nice. "Anyway, you were saying?"
He nodded, accepting what she said and cleared his throat before continuing the conversation.
"Shepard and I were uhmmm…" He struggled to think of what to call their current relationship. "…together," he finished weakly.
"Together?" she blinked.
Mated, he huffed. He should've known better than to use a human term.
"What?!?" she squeaked in surprise. Sol knew her brother but apparently not as well as she thought.
He simply nodded, confirming what he said and its implications. He braced himself for the coming onslaught of questions.
Sol was silent for a few minutes as what he said sank in and the implications began to unfold. There were a lot of questions she wanted to ask – what did it feel like, was it everything that others said, were human females the same as turian females, was this a phase, did he have a fetish now? She sat back in her chair and looked at her brother, suddenly seeing him in a new light. For as long as she could remember, he was just her brother. He cared for, protected, defended, harassed, pranked, fought with, picked on and most of all loved her. Now, they were adults with their own lives, rarely talking anymore except via messages or omni-tool calls. Had things changed so much? When did they grow up? Her mandibles slowly flared into a turian grin as she realized that those questions didn't matter.
Garrus quirked a brow plate at her silence. He picked up the hum in her subvocals as she mulled over what he just said and, though nearly imperceptible, the tiny movements in her features. He was fully prepared to answer her questions to a point. However, her silence mildly surprised him, so he slowly drank his coffee and waited.
"I'm happy for you," she said simply.
"Wait," he coughed on his coffee, "what??"
"I'm happy for you," she repeated, "are you still 'together'?" she asked, trying to use the human term correctly.
"Where are the questions? I know you; the questions should be pouring out of you like data-starved salarian. I mean I appreciate that you're happy for me, although that might be a little premature right now but come on, we both know you better than that, Sol…"
"You're right," she conceded, "I do have questions but I just realized that none of them matter. What do you mean 'premature'?"
"Things are … complicated at the moment," he vaguely explained, "but hopefully not for much longer. She's nothing like any other female I've ever known, Sol."
"Well, I hope it works out for you both. I can't think of anyone who deserves it more," she said sincerely. "I do have one question though. What about the chirality? Isn't that dangerous or are you both non-allergic?"
"Well," he started, "I was tested when I became part of the Normandy crew under Cerberus. Chakwas, the ship's doctor, insisted that everyone have a full medical work-up. She wanted no surprises. My allergy levels tested extremely low so that it wasn't concern for me. When things became serious between Shepard and me, Mordin tested Shepard. She never told me the results but I have to think that they weren't a concern considering what happened."
"Mordin Solus. He's a salarian scientist that we picked up on Omega. He was running a clinic and working a cure for a local plague," Garrus explained, giving her a quick bio.
"Did he work for STG?" she asked, recognizing the name.
"Yeah," he said slowly, "how did you know that?"
"He said that he recognized our family name and introduced himself. He said that I should be extremely grateful to have such a brother," she said, puzzled. "What did he mean, Garrus?"
"Uhmmm." Garrus cleared his throat. "Well, I may have sent them some Collector tissue samples they needed for their research from that suicide mission."
Solana's eyes grew wide and her mandibles hung slack from her jaws in surprise.
"You did what!!?" she yelped, Idiot! Mom will kill you!
"You better not tell her!" he snarled. "She doesn't need any more stress."
Solana knew he was right and said nothing more for a minute until she remembered.
"Garrus, I gave you so much crap about leaving me alone to take care of Mom. I wasn't alone, was I?" she said softly.
"Don't worry about it, Sol," he grunted. "I deserved some of that anyway. It's in the past, leave it there. So, where did you meet Mordin?" he asked, moving the conversation along.
"A couple months after you left for Palaven, Mom was improving at Helos and he recommended another medical research facility that was more specialized that could better maintain her treatments while conducting research. So, when she was stable enough to move, we transferred her there."
"Why didn't you tell me this before now?" he accused. How could you?
The turian waitress appeared once more setting their respective orders on the table. The siblings fell into an uncomfortable silence as the waitress placed everything before them and refilled their cups.
"Is there anything else you'd like?" she asked both of them, but only looking at Garrus.
"No thanks," hissed Sol. Back off!
The startled waitress nearly dropped her tray and stared at Solana, who only glared back. She shrank away from the table, leaving the two siblings alone once more. Solana could feel her brother's glare burning into her and composed herself to continue the conversation.
"Garrus, I'm sorry," she apologized, "things moved quickly and you were trying to get the Hierarchy to listen to you about the Reapers. I thought maybe Dad might have told you."
"Well, he didn't," Garrus growled, frustrated that his own family couldn't communicate with him. "So, what is the new facility that she's at now?"
"Actually it's on old Salarian Research Complex. They opened its use to all of the Council races. It's now an inter-galactic medical research headquarters of sorts. All of the top medical minds from across the galaxy collaborate their work for the benefit of each other. It's called Chimera."
"I see. Is it helping? How is mom doing?"
"She's doing quite well, all things considered. Moving her there was the best decision. They've been able to stall the degradation and she's much happier. They don't know if it's permanent or temporary but either way it gives them time to do more research," she paused for a moment. "Dad really didn't tell you anything?"
"No," he grumbled, "he didn't. Probably because we were too busy trying to the get the Hierarchy to pay attention. After he finally got the Primarch to listen, it still took a good amount of persuading and negotiating to get what resources he would give us, and even that wasn't enough." Idiots
They descended into a brooding silence as they finished their breakfast. Both worried about the war, knowing whatever the outcome, the galaxy would never be the same. Solana was proud that her brother was part of Shepard's crew, playing such a pivotal role in the survival of the galaxy. She silently prayed to the Spirits that they would all live to see the end of it. Garrus watched the worry gather in his sister's eyes and decided to change the subject.
"So now that Mom is well taken care of, what are you going to do?" he asked in between bites.
Solana quirked a brow at her brother, noting that he was trying to divert her attention, still trying to take care of her.
"Well, I finalized the paperwork already for Chimera. I was thinking that I would help with the research, since I already have medical training, and keep an eye on Mom, but after talking to Chell, I'm not so sure about that now…" she trailed off uncertainly.
"What did Chellick say?"
"There are so many injured soldiers and civilians flooding into the Citadel and the hospital is beginning to overflow with patients. I think it would be better if I stayed here to help where I can."
Garrus thought about her suggestion for a minute as he finished his coffee. He couldn't find anything wrong with what she was proposing. The Citadel itself was pretty removed from where the real fighting was taking place and he was relieved that she hadn't thought about going back to Palaven. Chellick would definitely protect her and keep her safe. Their mother was in good hands and, if something went wrong, Solana would have a multitude of ways to get to her as quickly as possible if needed.
"I think that's a very good idea," he nodded, "when are you going to start?"
"As soon as I get the things Mom needs…" Sol began.
Garrus didn't hear the rest of what she said, his focus shifting to a familiar trio of Alliance uniforms exiting the restaurant behind her. How could he have not seen them when he entered? Solana noticed her brother's attention shift and followed his line of sight.
"Isn't that…" she started.
"Shepard," he finished.