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the effect of you

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grade one

The first time he sees her, she’s flying across the playground like a wild beast. She shouts and hollers and launches herself at Kaidan Alenko and takes him down with a cry of victory. Her hands are every which way, and Alenko shrieks as she musses his hair and smears dirt on his cheeks. 

And then she’s running off, laughing as the teacher chases after her. 


Garrus only stares, hoping that she never flies at him. 

grade four

"Girls will give you cooties,” Joker says. “Trust me.”

And everyone does. Joker is the trustworthy sort. Nine years old and enough power to sway the entire grade four boys population into shrieking whenever a girl comes near. Everyone trusted him because he was the only boy to take the swings over the top bar – ever. 

That had to count for something. 

Shepard is the first to say anything, cornering Kaidan and Garrus and Joker on the playground with Ashley Williams. Both of them are snarling and wondering why no one will play tag with them. 

“Cooties!” Joker yells.

“Cooties,” Garrus and Kaidan explain forlornly.

“What are cooties?” Ash asks. 

“They’ll make you turn green and you’ll explode and then you’ll die,” Joker’s hands have wrapped around his own throat, and his tongue pokes out. “No one wants to explode and die!" 

Shepard looks less than enthused. She glowers at each of them, "that is the dumbest thing I’ve heard. You can’t explode and then die." 

Joker points at her, "shows what you know.”

“You’d die when you explode – dummy.”


Garrus laughs, because she has him there.

grade seven 

She punches him in grade seven, right there in front of the Phys. Ed teacher like she doesn’t care a bit. It has nothing to do with her temper, but everything to do with his. 

The teacher gives them both detention.

Garrus thinks it’s unfair, but Shepard revels in it.  

His nose is bleeding everywhere – still – and his eye is swollen. Shepard is holding an ice pack against her knuckles and staring at him with fire in her eyes. There are several desks between them, but he has no doubt in his mind that she’d be able to launch herself clean over all of them if he said the wrong thing. 

“So,” Shepard breaks the unnerving silence. “You still think I fight like a girl, Vakarian?”

Garrus glowers. He’s never been one to back down from a challenge, “oh yeah, Shepard. Definitely.”