What If I Lost You?

Battle raged around them, sending the picturesque valley into fiery chaos. Bullets flew from one end of the battlefield to the other and then back again as gunshots were aimed at every combatant present. Amid the flurry of deadly projectiles, she ducked and dodged attack after attack, keeping her head down until she reached satisfactory cover and could fire back. Her two companions followed closely behind, staying low and covering her as necessary.

She leaned out of cover just long enough to shoot down three of their assailants. The closing Husks dropped dead. Right as she was about to switch targets, a Banshee made a screaming entrance. Ducking back in an instant, she quickly reloaded and set to shooting, not stopping until the creature's barrier went down. Which would've been enough had there not been four Marauders directly behind it. Right when she was about to duck back down, her shields dropped with enough force to throw her off her feet. And, almost immediately, the Banshee prepared to send a deadly attack her way.

Suddenly, the sound of a familiar voice crying her name pierced her hearing in place of the aptly-named monster's screech. Which was immediately followed by the voice's owner pushing her out of the way of the oncoming attack. And taking the hit himself. The attack deactivated his shields as well, the biotic after-effects slowly wearing him down, but he kept it steady just long enough to empty his rifle on the source of it. The Banshee was down before a second attack could even be considered. …revealing a Brute charging in directly behind.

She was barely back in a position to move when the beast rushed in faster than any of them could react. Without thinking, she grabbed her gun back and unloaded the entire heat sink on the Brute, forcing it to withdraw from him. Then, when it turned to her, she sent out every force at her disposal to take it down for good, not stopping until it, too, was dead. Now free to do so, she turned her attention to the man that saved her life. The Brute had thrown him so hard that he wasn't getting up. And he was right in the Marauders' line of fire. Frantically, she signaled to her other squad-mate to take them down, opening fire herself. Once all four were out of the picture, she gave the order for her companion who was still fighting to scout the area while she tended to the injured one.

She dropped to her knees as she rushed to his side. "Don't worry. You're gonna be alright." She started to ready the medi-gel but found there wasn't any—their entire supply had been spent in the devastating preceding firefight. Slowly drifting into panic, she attempted to call their ship for a medical evacuation instead. The signal didn't go through. No, no, no… She almost started trying to hack her own COMM to boost the signal.

But his hand stopped her. "I think we both know that…" He groaned, clenching up in pain. "…that's not gonna work."

She didn't want to believe it was true. But it was. Hesitantly, she turned to try tending his injuries herself. The second she pried his arm away from his abdomen, though, she found why he wasn't getting up: the wound there was deeper than it appeared, cut straight into his spine and ceaselessly releasing a stream of blood. Fighting back the realization that there was no coming back from this unless something was done immediately, she pressed both her hands against it, putting on as much pressure as possible to at least stop the bleeding and ignoring the wince that pressure received. "You're not allowed to die on me. That's an order."

He scoffed. "Appreciate the thought, but…I think this one's out of both our hands."

She turned her gaze entirely to his eyes. For a moment, she was lost in them, unwilling to look away for the fate of the entire galaxy. When another surge of pain flooded through him and caused that connection between them to break, she couldn't bear the thought that this meant she would have to live the rest of her life without those eyes, that voice, his touch—"No." Completely forgetting her hold on his fatal wound, she took hold of his face, forcing him to lock his gaze on hers. "You can't leave me." The words, just the thought that they were necessary, caused her vision to blur. "Please, I can't do this without you."

He smirked. Weakly but still enough to make her smile under the tears. "Sure you could. …not as stylishly, of course…"

She couldn't hold back a small laugh. Just like she couldn't hold it back when the tears started to fall.

He quickly fought off the pain enough to take hold of her in return, pressing his hand to her face to brush the tears away. "…I love you. I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner."

That was when she lost control entirely. She brought herself as close to him as she could get and kissed him. He returned it with all the strength he had, and even when they pulled away, neither of them let go. "…I always knew."

He smiled as he leaned into her.

She smiled back, clinging to him. "Just like I always loved you. …and I always will." For one perfect minute, she let this truth be all that mattered, let this embrace with him be all that existed.

Then, in one second, that peace was shattered when his hand fell away from her.

Fear suddenly clutching her heart, she quickly turned her full attention back to him. His eyes were closed. If he fell asleep now, he wasn't likely to ever wake up. "No, stay with me." She reached up to nudge him so he would stay awake. But as she did, she realized something else was wrong. …his heart wasn't beating against hers. "…no. No, no, no, wake up!" When she received no response, the tears she'd fought back started to come free again. "Please, no, don't do this! Come on…!" Desperation took over, clouding her judgment until she lost awareness over her actions. All she knew was that she still didn't let go of him. …she didn't think she ever could. Finally, she broke down and cried. Like she never had for years. When the tears began to make her throat dry and her lungs ache, she gave all she had left into a single scream of pure grief and collapsed there against him. "GARRUS!"

Commander Shepard started awake in a panic. Instantly, she started consoling herself at 1000 miles per hour—That didn't happen. That never happened. It wasn't real! But her violent heartbeat wasn't slowing down. Still, the horrible images her mind had conjured raced through her vision, extending to all her senses. She could still smell the blood, taste it in the air, hear a heartbeat fade to silence, feel it stop pounding entirely, see the emptiness of a…dead body…

She couldn't take it anymore. "EDI!"

"Yes, Shepard?" the AI instantly answered.

"Where's Garrus?"

"Asleep in his bunk. I detect no signs of distress."

Shepard sighed with relief at those words. "Thank you." EDI didn't even answer before logging off. When she was once again alone in her darkened cabin, the commander fell back against her bed, attempting to find some rest. The man she loved was safe two decks below her. He wasn't about to die for her. …not to say it wasn't possible. He obviously cared about her, and if she was inches from death herself, he'd gladly take the shot for her. But he didn't. I won't let that happen. Still, she couldn't shake the fabricated memory of how they clung to each other until he stopped breathing, how he made a confession of how he felt about her into his last words, how she kissed him for…the last time…

…then the grief that overtook her when she lost him…and with him her will to fight…her very will to live—

NO! That was it for her. Without even thinking it over, Shepard threw her covers aside and walked over to the elevator.

The next morning…

Garrus Vakarian slowly woke up to find himself in the Normandy's main battery. He smirked to himself as he remembered how that had happened—all the times he'd sworn to drag himself to the crew quarters only to spend hours upon hours working on the targeting systems until he all but collapsed on the floor by the console (or, one particularly uncomfortable night, on top of the console itself). Ever the concerned girlfriend, Shepard had finally caved from teasing him about his "night-long calibrations" and set up a makeshift bunk at the back of the battery itself. All things considered, he made good use out of it.

Guess I better get back to work. Garrus sighed and started to get up. He froze, though, when he noticed something holding him down and felt the weight next to him. Curious, he turned to see what was occupying the usually empty space. He then had to go to great lengths not to start laughing.

At some point in the night, Shepard had found her way across the barely-lit crew deck to the battery and crawled into the bed with him. She was currently fast asleep, holding tightly to him as if she couldn't sleep alone.

He smiled to himself for a moment, gently stroking her hair. Then he reached to carefully push her arm off of him so he could get up without disturbing her. That plan quickly fell through when he realized just how tightly she was holding on. Cybernetics had combined with years of soldier training and a lovesick desperation to form a seemingly impenetrable hold. Returning to his plan to start working as soon as possible would automatically wake her. Well, great. How am I supposed to get out of this one?

For a moment, he resorted to laying there beside her without even attempting to get back on his feet. In that moment, he took in the sight of her. Auburn hair hung loose over her shoulders in soft curves, her usually bright lavender eyes closed by much-needed rest. Garrus himself had never thought of many humans as attractive until he met her. Just lucky like that, I guess.

As those thoughts took hold, he almost questioned simply waiting it out, spending as much time lying here alone with her as he could. Of course, he instantly dismissed that when her hold tightened further, going from affectionately constrictive to downright uncomfortable. "Uh, Shepard? You can let go now."

She groaned softly, shifting positions without even waking. She did loosen her hold again, but she still had a forceful grip on his arm, too hard to let him move.

"Commander?" Traynor's voice suddenly came over the intercom, "You're needed in the CIC."

Garrus groaned to himself as he realized he had to wake her. Spirits, she's gonna kill me. "Shepard…" He reached over to gently shake her.

Shepard only ever woke up right away, though, when she was coming out of a nightmare. When she was actually resting peacefully, she took as much of it as she could possibly get. This being one of those times, she was too content with her current position to change it. "…five more minutes…" she moaned, half-awake.

"Don't you think I would if I could?"

The answer interested her enough to bring her to open one eye. When she found the pleasantly familiar sight of her turian boyfriend returning her gaze, she couldn't resist a smile before closing it back. "What'd I tell you about waking me up?"

"In my defense, you're kind of in my workspace."

"I couldn't sleep alone."

"Bed too big for you?"

"Shut up."

"Commander," Traynor came back to the PA system, "I'm afraid it's urgent."

Shepard groaned, burying her head in the pillow. "Can't the galaxy just leave us alone for one hour?"

"Sadly, no," Garrus sighed, forcing himself up, "Now you have Reapers to kill…"

"…and you have calibrations to tend to."

For that one, Garrus playfully pushed her out of the bed.

She tumbled to the floor with a sharp cry. After she pulled herself together, she tossed a brief glare over her shoulder at him.

He just smirked at her. "Like I said, this is my domain."

"The whole ship is my domain, Vakarian."

"Well, if you're gonna get all technical about it…" That teasing spark she loved so well still gleaming in his bright blue eyes, he held his hand out to her.

She looked at him for a second before granting him a small smile and taking him up on the offer.

Once she was back on her feet, he reached the edge of the bed and moved to get back on his.

She stopped him before he could, pressing her foot to the bedside next to where he was sitting to bar his way then, with a mischievous smirk he'd pretty much gotten used to by now, moving to sit down on his lap. The second they were locked together, his hand slowly making its way into her hair, they pulled each other closer—

"Commander!" Traynor cut back in, "We need you in the—"

Shepard snapped then. "TRAYNOR! Just how urgent is it?!"

Traynor took a few seconds to answer, shocked by the sudden outburst from the usually levelheaded commander. "…uh…on a scale of one to ten, one being 'maintenance mishap,' ten being 'life or death'? …I'd say about a six."

"Then it can wait five minutes! I'll get there then!"

"…yes, ma'am."

Garrus blinked at her in astonishment. "Shepard, are you sure you're OK?"

Shepard sighed for a moment, looking off to the side as she pondered how to answer. When the only viable answer came back as the whole truth, she brought herself to meet his eyes again. Knowing full well he could see the worry buried in hers, she came out with it: "…I had a dream last night…I watched you die."

Garrus was too shocked to respond. Other than, naturally, the sudden softening of his gaze.

Shepard sadly looked down at her hand as it found its way to his. "When I woke up, I couldn't tell if it was a dream or not. I was so afraid it wasn't. Even when EDI told me nothing had happened and you were alright, I started thinking…what if, someday, it wasn't a dream anymore? What if I lost you? And when I came down here and saw you, I realized I…I don't think I could take it. I can't do this without you."

"Shepard…" he finally spoke, his voice soft and calming even as his piercing gaze and his grip on her hand both sharpened, "…I'm not going anywhere. Not unless I'm following you. We're in this to the end."

She kept her eyes on him for a moment, pondering his words. Then she pulled her hand free from his so she could pull him in to kiss him.

He gladly returned the embrace, bringing her ever closer as he did.

When she pulled back, she smiled brightly to him. "I'm holding you to that, Vakarian. In the meantime, I say we make as much out of our time together as we possibly can."

He smiled back. "Deal."

But just when he thought she would get up and leave him to work again, she wrapped her arms around him and adopted a thoughtful look. "Let's see…I told Traynor 'five minutes' one minute ago, right?"

"…right."

She smiled even brighter, that mischievous spark returning to her eyes. "Now what can we do in four minutes?"