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Running from Grief

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Garrus knocked back his third shot of the night as he looked over at the human female keeping pace with him. Kaya Shepard had an obvious family resemblance to her recently deceased twin. Her ebony skin had an underlying glow that highlighted her cheekbones and drew attention to her heart shaped face. Like her brother she sported the rare genetic mutation that gave people with her skin color bright blonde hair and blue eyes. She kept her natural curls short and close to her scalp for ease of care. Her frame had an elegant flow to it for a human. Unlike many of the paler members of her species she had ample hips and curves that suggested more of a physical presence when compared to more slender females. Her full lips and strong nose gave her an air of strength on most occasions. The current situation however belied most of her natural presence, making her seem more on edge than anything else.


Garrus had met her at Darkstar that night as he did on most nights to grab a drink and talk about their days. His work in Zakera Ward was bland compared to the time he had spent with Shepard on the Normandy and he had halted his application for spectre status a month after the commander’s death. The council had swept the reaper threat under the rug after the memorial service and had started publicly denouncing Shepard and his concerns earlier that week. That’s what had Kaya going.


She angrily downed another shot of whiskey as she growled out another protest. “First they use my brother as a recruitment sign then they call him paranoid. I’m fucking tired of this Garrus.”

The turian’s mandibles flared as he replied, “Same here Kai, it’s like he never saved their asses at all. Makes me sick.” Kaya huffed in agreement as she waved down the bartender for a refill.


The odd pair continued their conversation until a drunk human male stumbled up to the bar and into Kaya as he began to fall over his own feet, spilling her drink down her front in the process. Kaya hissed as the cold liquid soaked into her hospital uniform. She didn’t wait for the human to apologize, opting instead to close her tab for the night and start for the door. Garrus followed her out to escort her home, not trusting his fellow citizens to leave the woman alone.


It wasn’t that Kaya was in any danger. Most people on the Citadel recognized her from the footage of the memorial service making her a high risk target for any pickpockets or hustlers. Honestly the opposite was true. Kaya received too much attention in her opinion. Too many sympathetic glances were sent in her direction. Too many whispers followed her through the crowds. She had gone from a life of anonymity to being the only surviving family of a celebrity and the target of paparazzi looking for an easy paycheck.


The added attention had proved disruptive enough to increase security at Huerta Memorial and Kaya had taken to operating primarily out of emergency rooms to avoid extra questions from her patients. Garrus had taken to walking her home after their drinking sessions to deter gawkers. Humans didn’t always trust turians as it was. Slap one in a C-Sec uniform and hand him an assault rifle and they damn near avoided his gaze completely. The break from nosy civilians usually allowed Kaya to get home without incident. They just happened to be unlucky on this particular night.


They were only two blocks out from her apartment when they got ambushed by a reporter for some tabloid. The asari fired had to have been lying in wait as her mec was already recording and snapping stills when they bumped into her. “Doctor Shepard! Doctor Shepard! Is it true that you’ve turned to romance to cope with your brother’s death? How long have you been seeing your mystery lover? How does he feel about you spending time with Detective Vakarian?”


Garrus’ subvocals rumbled in warning as they continued on past the asari. His icy glare seemed to cow the woman but failed to deter her from asking one more question. “What would your brother think about your current romantic situation?”


Garrus’ snapped and whirled around to give the asari a piece of his mind when Kaya put a hand on his shoulder. “Ignore her Vakarian. She’s not worth the headache.” The two had almost reached her door while the asari tittered on. Garrus didn’t let his fists unclench until the elevator door closed behind them, guaranteeing a few moments of quiet.


His subvocals reflected his concern for her as he said, “I hate that they hound you like that.” She sighed as she met his eyes with her own. “I’d like to think that they’d leave me alone eventually. I’m just tired of being followed everywhere.” She leaned back against the wall as her eyes fluttered closed. “Sometimes I wish I could just get away from here, go somewhere where no one cares who I am. What I wouldn’t give to just be judged on my patient outcomes alone.”


They reached her floor shortly after that. Garrus saw her to her door and exchanged a good night before he left for his own apartment. He couldn’t help but think she was onto something when she thought of leaving as he rode the elevator down.


Kaya locked her door as Garrus left the apartment. Every day she stayed on the Citadel was a reminder of her brother. Her colleagues and her brother’s old crew were the only people with the decency to keep things running as usual. Her time drinking with Garrus usually proved a welcome distraction and as a substitute for similar talks she used to have with Jordan while he was on shore leave. She missed the times the two of them had been out just relaxing.


When they were children the twins had been inseparable as they roamed the streets of Boston’s undercity. Even when Anderson had helped them out of poverty at age fifteen they had stayed together as much as possible by going to the same schools and taking part in the same extracurricular activities, only parting ways when Jordan went off to boot and she started undergrad. They had maintained comms as well as the Alliance allowed over the years. Both of them excelled at their chosen careers even if their actions were fundamentally different.


Living without her brother felt like having a hole in her chest and Kaya had been forced to take leave for a month after the news came. Her coworkers had understood and shown up to the private ceremony to support her along with all of Jordan’s squadmates. Each member of the Normandy’s crew had given her support in their own way.


Wrex took her mind off of her loss by asking her questions about her gorriest ER experiences. Tali had followed that with new medical studies and theories about tech in the health field. Chief Williams had acted the part of a sister and a crying shoulder by putting herself in Kaya’s shoes. But the most helpful members had been Jeff, Liara, and Garrus.


She had gotten drunk later in the night with the three of them and they had swapped story after story about Jordan and the random shit he got himself into. Jeff talked about meeting him while he was in flight school and sneaking out to bars where Jordan would try to get him a date, calling him the “best damn wingman a guy could hope for”. Garrus mentioned a time he jumped out of his skin when a rachni popped out of a ventilation shaft “He let out this high pitched scream as he shot the thing in the face. Never knew he had a thing against giant bugs,” he laughed.


After talking some more Garrus helped Joker back to his quarters leaving Kaya and Liara alone. The two women talked about the person they cared most about, about how he did the same goofy shit to brighten their days and how he was always there when they needed him most. They parted ways that night feeling more like sisters than acquaintances.


After that night the crew went their separate ways. The only ones left on the Citadel to support Kaya were Admiral Anderson and Garrus and the two men seemed to have come to an agreement about her wellbeing. David would show up intermittently to take her out to lunch or talk about her work and Garrus would always meet her at the bar for a few drinks and her walk home.

In truth Kaya had started to feel something for the turian. She wasn’t sure what to call it but she always found herself turning to him when she needed support. She laughed a little to herself as she thought back to the reporter that had followed them. Secret lover my ass. I’m happy with him being a friend.