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With a delicately wrapped present in one hand, and a digital invitation open on her omnitool, Shepard found herself unable to move. She was stood on the doorstep of a house, with the distantly-familiar warmth of Palaven on her shoulders. The house was unfamiliar, but it shouldn't have been. It should have been the house Shepard spent every week at, woke up in every morning.

Beyond the white-painted door sat Shepard's old crew. They were probably all dressed up, drinking champagne, and congratulating the happy groom. Shepard should have been with them too. She should have arrived with them if she hadn't been in the house already. She should've been congratulating the groom – her groom.

Shepard was still frozen on the doorstep, even the balmy sun couldn't thaw her. She couldn't bare to see Garrus. He had once been her best friend. They had spent long nights talking about their fears, their hopes. They had covered each on the battlefield, and bickered about who made the best shot. Then, somewhere along the line, they'd fallen in love. They had danced, and kissed, and planned their future. And now...

Now, Shepard didn't even know the name of his wife.

The wedding invitation had arrived a little over a month ago. Shepard had woken up to the beeping of her terminal, and found a message in her emails:

 

Garrus Vakarian and Clovia Terlinus would like you to witness the joining of their clans.

 

Attached to the formal invite was a small note from Garrus,

 

Shepard, it would mean a lot if you could come to my bachelor party (if that really is what it's called on Earth). I know it's been a long time and you're busy but you're still important to me.

I hope to see you. Garrus.

 

With that one email, Shepard had realised how distant she'd become with her crew. She could count all the people she'd been in touch with recently on one hand. In fact, on one finger. Liara was the only person Shepard had spoken to since the war, and that had only happened because they'd bumped into each other on the newly rebuilt Citadel.

Shepard had never wanted this to happen. It wasn't like she had left the celebration party with a vow to cut all ties. She had just been so busy the past year. They all had. Shepard had press conferences and meetings and hospital appointments to attend. Tali had a house to build. Liara had Shadow Broker business. Vega had to start N7 training. The rest of them had planets to clean, people to help, vacations to take.

Which is how she stood here, on Palaven, about to watch the guy she loved, marry someone else.

Taking a deep breath, Shepard let herself into the house. She followed the sound of chatter and clinking glasses to a small lounge, where she found her crew, all dressed up. No one saw her stood in the doorway, and Shepard took a few moments to admire them. They had aged a year, but they looked mostly the same. Joker had grown his beard out, Cortez was sporting a new hair cut, Traynor was wearing a dangerously low-cut top, which Vega was admiring.

Shepard felt as though she could order them back to The Normandy and set off to any planet that needed their help.

Shepard looked from crewmember to crewmember until she found Garrus. He was in his black tie outfit. With a sudden rush of sadness, Shepard realised it was the same one he'd worn all that time ago, on a wild mission. The same one she had later freed him of in her cabin. He stood next to Tali, a glass of bubbly liquid in his hand, nodding as Tali spoke to him.

“Last time I saw you this dressed up, we were celebrating the end of my clone,” Shepard said, a smile played on her lips.

The chatter had died down the moment Shepard opened her mouth. Everyone was looking at her with matching smiles on their faces. Shepard only had eyes for Garrus though. She closed the gap between them, and brushed some lint off his shirt. His mandibles flared out in a smile, and it hurt her chest.

“Shepard. Wow. You look...” Garrus paused as though collecting himself. He cleared his throat, “It's great to see you, Shepard.”

Shepard looked down at her dress. It was the same colour as Garrus's clan markings. She was no longer sure if that had been a conscious decision or not. A rush of heat ran up her neck, and she passed over the present she'd wrapped this morning. Garrus accepted it, and Shepard let go before his hand could accidentally graze hers.

“I wasn't sure you'd make it,” Garrus said. It was like it was just the two of them alone in the room. The rest of the guests didn't speak, they just watched silently, as though this reunion had been a long time coming.

“I'd never miss this,” Shepard said, her entire body ached to take his hand. She wanted to bury her face in his neck and let the world fall away. She wanted to go back in time and never ever let him go.

“Well, let's get our Commander a drink,” Tali said, clapping her hands together as though it would summon a servant.

“Actually,” Shepard said, resisting the urge to remind them she wasn't their commander any more. She forced her smile to stay where it was, “I can't stay. I just came to give you your present.”

Garrus's smile disappeared. Vega froze on his way to the champagne bottle, and Liara lowered the glass she'd picked up. Shepard glanced around the room, trying not to let her crew's disappointment get to her. The Reaper crew was all here: Liara, Tali, Joker, EDI, Traynor, Vega, Cortez. All of them looked suddenly sad at Shepard's goodbye.

“You can't stay?” Garrus asked.

“Not even for one drink?” Traynor asked.

“No, I've got a meeting in London tomorrow. Without mass relays it'll take me a while to get there.”

“Jeff and I are travelling to Earth tomorrow, you may join us,” EDI said.

“Yeah, it'll be just like old times. I'll fly and you can come in to complain about whatever politician is pissing you off this time, and EDI can ask you invasive personal questions,” Joker said, prompting a round of laughter from everyone.

Shepard laughed softly. As appealing as that sounded, Shepard couldn't bring herself to agree. She couldn't spend another moment here. It was a thousand times harder to see Garrus than she'd expected. She'd rather carve her own heart out with her omni-knife than see him in that outfit and know he's someone else's now.

“I can't-”

“One drink,” Garrus interrupted.

“It's been a year since we've all been together, Commander,” Traynor said.

“I'm not your Commander any more,” Shepard said.

“Right, so we aren't breaking any rules by ordering you to drink, Lola,” Vega said.

Shepard could see this going on for a while. Everyone looked like they were preparing their own arguments in their head. Perhaps this had been their plan all along. They had sat around preparing reasons for Shepard to stay – if she ever were to arrive. She wasn't in the right state of mine to argue. One drink wouldn't be so hard, it would be nice to catch up with everyone. Maybe she could even learn about Garrus's soon-to-be wife.

“One drink,” Shepard conceded.

Vega put a drink in her hand as soon as she took a seat between Liara and Cortez. Slowly, the conversation was beginning to start up again. Of course, it was mostly focused on telling Shepard what they'd all been up to over the past year. Shepard was grateful to see her crew again, but she didn't want the spotlight on her. She wanted to blend into the guests, let the focus edge onto someone else so she could hide her sadness, her heartbreak.

She should've been happy for Garrus. Instead, she was wallowing in self-pity and turning this happy event into something twisted. Shepard looked up and found Garrus watching her. He raised his glass slightly, as Tali described her house. Shepard raised her own glass and the moment his eyes dropped hers, she downed her champagne like it was vodka. As Tali described the beautiful view of the sunrise from her living room, Shepard poured herself another drink.

 

– – –

 

Shepard's one drink had become five or six, maybe ten. She couldn't really remember. The room was spinning slightly, and she was laughing a lot more than she had in the past year. Vega was talking about shots. Shepard had a flashback to her party in Anderson's apartment – Vega pouring everyone four shots of questionably coloured liquid, and making them take every one.

Just as Vega returned to the living room with a bottle of asari vodka, Garrus walked over to Shepard. Wordlessly, he wrapped his hand around her wrist and gently removed her from the living room. No one noticed, they were all too busy trying to dodge Vega's vodka.

“Where are we going?” Shepard whispered, as they crept through the kitchen, trying not to be seen.

“I want to show you something,” Garrus said.

Shepard tried to ignore the thrill that was running up and down her spine at Garrus's touch. His skin was as rough and as warm as she remembered. She wanted to pry his hand from her wrist and place it on her hips. She wanted to drag him into a kiss, and apologise for ever letting them get this far apart, but she didn't. Instead, she freed her hand from his, and followed him through a back door in the kitchen.

They came out onto a small porch, leading to a roughly-kept garden. Garrus sat down on a cushion covered bench on the porch and patted the seat next to him. Shepard joined him, and looked out across the garden towards the setting sun. She kicked off her shoes, and rested her bare feet in the grass. Garrus turned to admire the view, and Shepard stole a quick glance at him, soaked in sunlight.

“You gave me this,” Garrus said, gesturing at the sun. It had finally touched the horizon, setting the sky ablaze with purples and oranges and deep reds.

“I gave you... the sun?” Shepard asked, smiling.

“Something like that.”

Since arriving, Shepard had grown used to Palaven's heat. As the sun began to set, the air cooled, and goosebumps rose on her skin. It was as warm as a late-summer day in London, but Shepard still shivered in her dress. Before she could refuse, Garrus had removed his jacket and hung it over her shoulders.

Shepard knew she should take it off. If the roles were reversed and she was marrying Garrus, she certainly wouldn't approve of him wrapping his jacket around some other girl's shoulders. She didn't take it off though, she nuzzled further into it. The collar smelt like Garrus, like metal and soap. He smelt the same, but fresher. There was no recycled air on Palaven.

“I never thought I'd see this again,” Garrus said, watching the sun dip lower and lower.

“I felt the same, first day back on Earth,” Shepard admitted. She placed her empty glass by her feet and settled back on the bench.

“I remember leaving Menae when you came to get me. Right then, I thought I'd never see Palaven again. I thought I'd never see the sun again,” Garrus said.

“A lot of people felt like that,” Shepard said, “My first normal day back on Earth, I woke up early just to watch the sun rise. The best part of it was looking out my hotel window and seeing dozens of people doing the same thing. All of them watching the sun come up on a new day, realising how close they came to losing it.”

“You gave them their future back,” Garrus said, leaning back on the bench.

He turned away from the view and looked over at Shepard. His scars were healing, fading as fast as his relationship with Shepard. She met his eyes, and felt her heart enter FTL travel. She was going to pass out from the sudden rush of life inside her.

How had it come this far? How had Shepard gone from sleeping by his side to celebrating his marriage to another woman? How could she have let him go?

“It means a lot that you came, Shepard,” Garrus said.

“I told you, I wouldn't miss this for the world,” Shepard said. Before she could stop herself, the champagne pushed her to continue, “You deserve to be happy, Garrus. You deserve this. I wish you the best for everything you do, everything that happens from here.”

"You'll be there for it, Shepard. Don't disappear again, we miss you,” Garrus said.

Shepard knew she should get up. She knew she should leave Garrus's house and leave Palaven, but she couldn't. The view was so nice, and she was so warm, and Garrus was so close, she could feel his breath on her cheek. She could be happy here. In another life, she was happy here. In another life, she hadn't let Garrus and her crew fall by the wayside, she had let herself follow her own happiness rather than continuing to help people who owed their lives to her.

But this wasn't that life. In this life, she had chosen to keep helping people. She had chosen to let her crew live their lives without her, even if it killed her every single day. Even if listening to Tali describe the house she'd built without Shepard, and to Traynor talking about her new girlfriend, and to EDI and Joker discussing their plans to marry, broke her heart into a million pieces because she wasn't part of those moments. She had made her choices and now she had to live with them.

“I can't promise that,” Shepard said, her voice breaking.

“You can.” Garrus reached for Shepard's hand, wrapping it in both of his. He held her hand like he had all those months ago. It was as if they'd never broken up, as if their time apart was just a mere blip of nothingness. He squeezed her hand, “I need you in my life, Shepard, I... You're my best friend.”

“You're mine,” Shepard said.

She thought of the future she had given Garrus. He had a fiancé, he had a future with children and grandchildren and a big house with a garden. He had his planet and his home, and no more wars to fight. He was free of the battle, free of Shepard. She couldn't ruin it for him now. She reminded herself, she'd let this happen.

Shepard pulled her hand away and Garrus released her. She resisted the almost overwhelming urge to place her hand on his cheek, and instead said, “I'm going to go top up my drink.”

Garrus nodded as Shepard picked up her glass and shoes. She rose from her seat and shed his jacket. When she reached the back door, Garrus said, “Shepard? Thanks again, for giving me back my sky.”

Shepard smiled at him, and entered the house. She placed her glass on the kitchen counter and glanced out of the kitchen window. Garrus was still sat on the bench, the sun had finally disappeared. Shepard memorised the view, before she crept out of the kitchen and out of the house. She was out of time now. Garrus was getting married tomorrow, she'd left it too late to stop him.

Shepard was halfway up the path leading away from Garrus's house, when the door opened behind her and light spilled across her retreating feet. She didn't stop, she couldn't stop. She just kept walking, leaving her friends behind, leaving Garrus behind.

“Commander!” Joker called after her, “Commander, stop!”

“I'm not your commander any more,” Shepard said. She stopped anyway, and half turned back to see Joker running towards her with EDI's support.

“That's not true,” Joker said, when he reached Shepard, “You'll always be my commander. Even if I get promoted above you, you'll be my commander.”

“What do you want, Joker?” Shepard asked. She was aware of how small her voice sounded, how close to tears she was. Maybe it was the champagne, or maybe it was being reminded of everything she'd lost.

Why had she come here? It had only made things worse. She'd come this close to kissing Garrus, this close to confessing she'd never stopped loving him, never could. She had almost stolen the future he had for her own selfish reasons.

“You can't leave,” Joker said, frowning.

“I have to.”

“No, you don't have to!” Joker exploded, throwing his arms out so violently he almost smacked EDI in the face, “You don't have to leave, there's no meeting in London tomorrow, don't bullshit me!”

“There's no meeting, Joker. But I'm not staying. I made a mistake coming here,” Shepard said, turning to fully face Joker and EDI.

“It's a mistake to see us now, is it?” Joker asked.

“That's not what I meant.”

“Then what did you mean? Why is seeing us so horrible for you? Why is coming to celebrate Garrus's wedding so painful?” Joker demanded.

He knew. He knew the answers to all of those questions but he still wanted Shepard to say it aloud. He wanted her to confess the one thing she daren't tell herself. He wanted her to rip Garrus away from his wife for her own selfish reasons.

“You know why.”

“Look, you can stop this,” Joker said, hobbling closer to her, “You can stop this stupid clan bonding or whatever it is. All you have to do is tell him. Tell him how you feel and he'd call off the wedding, you wouldn't have to suffer like this.”

“I left him, Joker!” Shepard shouted, hoping to god the music was too loud for anyone else to hear her. She stepped away from Joker, away from Garrus's house. “I left you all, because I was too busy to look up. I always had something more pressing to do. This is my fault and I have to deal with the consequences.”

“That doesn't sound like you,” Joker said.

“He's right, Commander,” EDI said.

“I'm not your commander,” Shepard interrupted.

EDI continued as though she hadn't spoken, “You never accept bad situations, if anything, your sole job as Commander of the Normandy was to fix situations worse than this.”

“This is different,” Shepard said.

“I don't see how this is different,” EDI said, thoughtfully, “You cured the genophage which was much harder and had greater resistance than this. You saved the rachni, and finally got the geth and quarians to work together. This, compared to those, should be easy.”

“EDI, it's not the same,” Shepard said.

“No, she's right. It's not,” Joker said. Shepard was shocked to hear him agree with her, until he continued, “Because this would benefit her.”

Shepard opened her mouth to reply but her voice failed her. Joker hobbled closer to Shepard until he was practically in her face. He looked sad, sadder than Shepard felt, but he somehow managed to transform that sadness into anger, “You'll go to the ends of the galaxy to save someone else, but when it comes to your own happiness, you won't move an inch.”

“That's not true. This isn't about my happiness, it's about his. He's happy with his wife, I can't break that apart for my own gain,” Shepard protested.

“Oh please!” Joker waved a dismissive hand, “Anyone with eyes can see this is a bonding of benefit not of love.”

“He could love her,” Shepard said.

“He doesn't. Ask anyone back in that party, and they'd tell you the same thing. He's mentioned his wife, like, twice all night. The rest of the time he's talked about you, we all have. None of us could wait to see the elusive Commander Shepard again after so long, and you're just going to leave because you're heartbroken?” Joker shook his head, “And you claim you don't wanna be selfish.”

Shepard bit back her reply when the light from the door was blocked momentarily. Garrus was stood in the doorway, looking confused by the argument happening in front of his house. He walked up the path to meet them and stood just behind Joker, far away from Shepard.

“What's going on?” Garrus asked.

“Shepard was leaving,” EDI explained.

“Shepard's leaving?” Cortez was in the doorway now, followed by Vega, Liara, Tali, Traynor. They had all come to watch her leave, again. All of them seemed to have sobered up faster than was possible.

“You can't leave,” Tali said, “I haven't thanked you for Rannoch yet.”

“Don't go, Liara was just about to start singing,” Traynor said, which prompted Liara to elbow her in the ribs.

“I wasn't, but I will if you stay,” Liara said.

“I've not ordered a stripper for Scars yet,” Vega said. He wiggled his eyebrows, “You don't want to miss that.”

“You can't leave,” Cortez reiterated.

“I have to,” Shepard whispered. She spoke quietly but they all heard her. Their playfulness disappeared as though she had physically punched them all. They became sober and solemn, all the fight leaving them.

Joker pointed at Garrus suddenly, “Tell him!”

“Joker,” Shepard warned.

“Tell him or I will!” Joker said.

“Don't!”

“You're not my commander any more,” Joker said.

Even though she'd been saying it all night, hearing it aloud was like a knife to Shepard's gut. She wasn't their commander any more, she was just a desk jockey with no friends. She had given her soul to the reaper war and now that it was over, she was left with nothing. Instead of relaxing with her friends and focusing on her own life, she'd ran back to Earth to bury herself in paperwork and interviews and meetings with boring people.

She'd let the Alliance use her. She'd saved every single person in this galaxy, and still they wanted more from her. Instead of protesting, instead of demanding some free time, she'd let them use her, drag her up and down the galaxy like a show dog, let her put out tiny fires like they were just as important as the reapers had been.

The last break she'd had was before the reapers were destroyed, back when the Normandy was grounded and she had thrown a party. That was the last time she'd had a break, the last time she'd taken a moment for herself.

She wasn't going to let this keep happening. Even if she couldn't have Garrus back, Shepard was going to take one stupid moment for herself in this stupid galaxy.

“Give us a moment,” Shepard said, looking only at Garrus.

The crew shared looks between themselves, but eventually began to head back inside. She wasn't their commander any more, but they would always follow her orders. Or maybe they had just heard how tearful she sounded, and decided they didn't want to see her cry.

Joker was the last to leave. He pinned Shepard with an angry, determined look as EDI practically dragged him away. She watched him leave, if only to avoid looking at Garrus.

When the door to his house was firmly closed, Garrus walked closer to Shepard so he didn't have to raise his voice, and said, “You were going to leave without saying goodbye.”

It wasn't a question but Shepard nodded anyway. She was afraid that if she opened her mouth, she'd start sobbing. She wanted to cry. More than that though, she wanted to fling herself into Garrus's arms, she wanted to wake up in bed to his soft voice telling her the past year had all been a horrible nightmare. She had never let him go.

“Why?” Garrus asked.

Shepard cracked, she couldn't hold it in any longer, “Because it hurts. It hurts to see you again. It hurts to know you're marrying someone else. It hurts to realise... to realise you aren't mine any more, and I'm not yours.”

“Shepard-”

“I have to go.”

“Why?” Garrus repeated. “Just tell me why it hurts. If you tell me, I'll stop it.”

“You can't stop it. I won't let you.”

“Shepard, please,” Garrus begged, “Just tell me what it is you need to say, don't let this moment be our last. You're my best friend in the galaxy, and you need to tell me.

The confession was on her tongue, the truth was almost out. She bit her lip to physically hold the words in. She thought of what he'd said, about her giving him his future. She couldn't take it off him. He didn't love her – or he wouldn't be marrying someone else. He had moved on and she had to too. She couldn't drag him back in time and force him to get over her all over again. She couldn't do that to him, not after everything she'd already done.

Shepard turned to leave. In a second, Garrus was by her side, clinging to her arm like if he let go she would float off Palaven and into space. He pulled her closer until he could press her hand to his chest.

He stared at her, his face lit only by the streetlights. His eyes searched hers, desperate for the truth.

“I won't let you go until you tell me.” Garrus squeezed her arm tighter.

Shepard looked up into his face, into the same face she had touched and kissed hundreds of times. She looked up at Garrus, who had woken next to her, smiled down at her, laughed at her jokes, danced with her, and been with her through the hardest times in her life.

A tear spilled down Shepard's cheek. “I should never have let you go, and now it's too late. I'm sorry, Garrus, I'm sorry I have to tell you like this, after a year of being apart, on the night before your wedding.”

“I'll call it off,” Garrus said.

“No. It's horrible for me to do this. I shouldn't have let it get this far, it's my fault, you shouldn't be punished for that.”

“I don't love her, Shepard. And I can't marry her now. I can't bond with her knowing you have feelings for me,” Garrus said. He stepped closer to Shepard.

She pulled away from him and he let her. She was colder now, shivering on the streets of Palaven. Garrus didn't follow her when she stepped back. He watched her, like he was watching the sun dip below the horizon, knowing it wouldn't come up tomorrow.

“I won't marry her. It was never about love, I thought... I thought I didn't need it, but I do,” Garrus said.

“You have to marry her.”

“It's already done, Shepard. Even if you leave now and never come back, I'll march into my house and call off the joining.” Garrus took one small step towards Shepard, as if she were a scared animal that might bolt.

“Your future-”

“My future belongs to you.” Garrus took another step forward. “You gave it to me, and you own it completely. If you tell me you love me, I'll leave Palaven for you. If you tell me, I'll follow you to the edge of the galaxy. I'll go to hell and back again for you, but you have to tell me you love me. You have to say it out loud.”

“I...” Shepard couldn't.

“Say it, and everything will be okay again. I'll call off the joining, my dad will be mad but he's always mad at my choices.” Another step. The gap between them was shrinking. “He was mad when I left C-Sec, but that proved worth it. He was mad when I helped Cerberus, but that was worth it too. He was mad when I left Menae to follow you, and he'll be mad when I leave this bonding to follow you. But he's always wrong. You are all I need. Just say it, please.”

Shepard wanted to believe him. She wanted to believe it would all be okay if she said it. Thoughts of his future swam in her head, everything she was taking from him. She was going to be sick, she was going to cry. She swiped angrily at her wet eyes.

Garrus was stood in front of her with one final step. He held both of her hands and bent down to bring his face close to hers. He blocked out everything around them until it was just them in the galaxy, just this moment. They were hanging on a wire and one way or another they were going to fall.

“Say it,” Garrus whispered, “Say you love me.”

“I love you,” Shepard said. It all came spilling out like a running tap, “I will always love you, whatever happens here. I've loved you from the moment we reunited on Omega, I've loved you every day since then, and I'll love you every day from now on. I just want what's best for you, even if that isn't me.”

“You are what's best for me. You're the best thing in this galaxy, there's nothing without you.” Garrus cupped Shepard's cheek with one hand, a tear spilled into his palm. He leaned down, brought his mouth centimetres from hers, “I love you.”

Shepard closed the gap between them. She threw away all her worries, all her fears. There was nothing but her and Garrus and this kiss. His mandibles brushed her cheeks, she stood on her tiptoes to wrap her arms behind his neck. He pulled her closer, desperate to hold onto her. She broke the kiss to bury her face in his neck, and his smell. Soap and metal, and Palaven and home, and everything that was right in Shepard's life.

“Your dad...” She whispered.

“Will forgive me when he sees how happy I am,” Garrus promised.

“Your wife...”

“Didn't love me either,” Garrus whispered into Shepard's hair.

“Your future...”

“Is yours.” Garrus pulled back to look into Shepard's eyes, “It always was. You just had to tell me you wanted it.”

Shepard smiled a wet smile, and Garrus brushed another tear off her cheek. She glanced around Garrus's shoulder, just in time to see the living room curtain fall back in place. Shepard made a mental note to buy Joker a present, maybe a new ship or the galaxy's biggest glass of beer. She'd give him anything he asked for, because he'd stopped her from walking out on the love of her life – again.

She looked away from the house and back to Garrus. She rested her palm against his healing scars, “I love you, Vakarian.”

“I love you, Shepard.” Garrus moved to kiss her palm.

 

- - -

 

Three months later, Shepard found herself on the doorstep of a house on Earth, unable to move. She was frozen, hand poised in front of the door ready to knock. She couldn't bring her hand down, not yet. Her omnitool beeped with a reminder of the event she was about to attend, and she flicked it away.

A ship door closed somewhere on the street, and she heard someone walking up behind her. A second later, Garrus's hand dangled a set of keys in front of her face. Shepard took the keys and spun to face him.

He flicked his mandibles with amusement, “You had to buy him a ship?”

“I had to,” Shepard confirmed.

“I mean, it's a little unfair,” Garrus said.

“Unfair?” Shepard asked.

“You didn't get me a ship when I was getting married,” Garrus pointed out. He crossed his arms and leaned back, pulling his mandibles together in the turian equivalent of a pout.

Behind him the sun was setting, and Shepard allowed herself a moment to admire the view. Not just the sun, but the way it played on Garrus's skin, making him glow like an angel – or an Archangel, as she was sure he would point out. She laughed at the thought and Garrus arched a brow plate.

“I got you something better,” Shepard said.

“Engraved cutlery is not better than a ship,” Garrus said.

“I meant me!”

“Oh,” Garrus paused. He looked thoughtful for a moment before shrugging his shoulders with exaggeration, “I'd rather have the ship.”

Shepard punched him in the shoulder and he laughed. When he didn't stop laughing, Shepard went to punch him again. This time he was ready for her, he caught her hand and pulled her off-balance enough to make her fall into him. He caught her,and she glared up at him.

“I tell you what,” Shepard said, untangling herself from Garrus's arms. She didn't pull completely away, just enough to get some leverage and bring her face closer to his, “I'll get you a ship next time you get married.”

“Now that's incentive,” Garrus said.

Shepard leaned up to kiss Garrus, and he leaned down to meet her. The second their mouths touched, the door swung open behind Shepard.

“Are you coming in, or do we have to wait forever?” Joker asked.

Shepard pulled away from Garrus and held out the keys to Joker's wedding gift. He took them with a confused look on his face. Garrus wrapped an arm over Shepard's shoulders. The two of them walked into Joker's lounge, where the rest of the reaper crew was sat. This time, there was no need for updates on what they'd all been doing, because Shepard had seen all of them sometime in the past week.

She wasn't letting anyone get away from her this time.