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Garrus Vakarian had never given much thought to humans. They were an increasing reality on the Citadel, to be sure, but there were very few of them in C-Sec, most of them in support positions—and Garrus tried to ensure that his path crossed that of C-Sec support as rarely as possible. The last thing he needed on any given day was any more red tape. As for outside of C-Sec … well, even when he wasn't officially on shift, he was still working cases, so there wasn't much to his life outside of C-Sec.
When he did think about humans, it was generally with little curiosity. They were vaguely asari-like in looks, but without the ridges that covered an asari's skull. Instead they had strange threads of various colors that hung down from their head. Garrus found the concept of hair mostly strange, all things considered—who wanted part of your body constantly drooping off your head?
It was the first thing he noticed about the one calling herself Shepard: She had no hair. Looking closely, you could see that her skull was covered with little dark sprouts, like a tiny black forest growing from the top of her head, but otherwise she was completely shaven. And tiny, just a little bit of a thing, really. But she carried herself like someone much taller, cutting through crowds as though she expected others to recognize her—and get out of her way. To Garrus's surprise, mostly they did.
The other human accompanying them on their task, a male named Kaidan, must have seen Garrus's confusion as they followed in Shepard's wake, and he let Shepard pull a little ahead of them so he could speak softly. "She's a hero in the Alliance. You've heard of the Skyllian Blitz?"
Garrus blinked. "That was her?"
"I know, you expect someone—bigger. But trust me, she can handle herself."
"I'm sure she can," Garrus responded, more to placate the human than because he believed it. Someone that small? How did she even hold a weapon? Although she had done fairly well in the Med Clinic, he reminded himself. Some of the best shooting he'd seen in a long time. He wouldn't mind going up against her in a range sometime, see how she stacked up. Garrus was usually on top of the leaderboard in the annual C-Sec shooting competitions.
Kaidan accepted his response at face value, and they continued following Shepard.
As they did so, Garrus's respect for her grew. She obviously was aware of her stature as a potential drawback in speaking with people, but she used it well, knowing when to keep her voice soft and respectful and seem like someone who needed assistance and when to be louder and more assertive. She made the big krogan Wrex back off, staring him down with her brown eyes, so large in her delicately constructed face. There was a lot of determination behind those eyes, Garrus was coming to understand, and that made a surprising amount of difference. He remembered hearing about her now. The Skyllian Blitz, and after it Torfan, had been quite a testing ground for the humans, and this Shepard, then fairly green, had made some tough decisions unflinchingly at a time when tough decisions needed to be made.
And she was going to do something about Saren. First among all those Garrus had spoken to, she believed what he told her and took seriously the threat that a rogue Spectre working with the geth represented to the galaxy. Just maybe the Shepard who had taken charge on Torfan would be able to track Saren down.
When she was made a Spectre, given her own ship to command and the charge to go after Saren, Garrus decided not to let her go without him. This was his project, one he had clung to despite all the attempts of his superiors to get him to drop it. He wasn't about to let some human sail off into space on his mission, not without him along to be there when she brought Saren to bay.
He caught up to her as she strode down the walkway next to the lake—she kept a fast pace, especially for the Citadel, but Garrus's long legs matched her easily. "You'll need a team."
"I know it. And I've got no time to recruit one." She left the words hanging in the air.
"So? What about it?"
"You asking to come aboard, Garrus?"
"Yes, I am, Commander."
Without breaking stride, she looked up at him, her brown eyes studying his face. "You going to have a problem taking orders from a human?"
"Only if I disagree with them."
The brown eyes blinked, once, registering the reply, then she said again, "You going to have a problem taking orders from a human?"
Garrus took a beat to consider that. The choice was there, laid out as plainly as if she had drawn him a diagram. He would have to follow orders whether he agreed with them or not. That had never been his strong suit, as any of his former superiors could have told her. But he wanted Saren, wanted to nail him as badly as he had anyone since that damned Dr. Saleon had disappeared right out from under his mandibles. And if this was the price … He gave brief consideration to promising to follow orders and keeping his intention to go rogue if needed in reserve, but he had the uneasy sense that Shepard would have seen right through that. At last he nodded. "No problem, Commander."
He had half-expected her to question him further, but after another sharp look at his face she nodded crisply. "Welcome aboard, then, Garrus. Glad to have you."
"I'll get my gear and meet you on the ship."
He stopped by the C-Sec offices to turn in his resignation—a resignation his superior tried to look like he was sorry to be accepting, which he completely failed to manage—and to retrieve his gear from his locker.
A couple of fellow C-Sec officers were changing in the locker room when he came in. Clearly they had heard, because their conversation all but ceased as he pushed open the door.
Garrus nodded to them. "Laedrus, Medrin."
"Is it true?"
"What? That I'm leaving C-Sec to join Commander Shepard's crew? It is."
"You're going to be serving under a human?" Medrin laughed. "Does she know you don't take orders?"
"If she's going after Saren, which she says she is, I'll take hers."
"Wait." Laedrus got to his feet, coming toward Garrus. He was a big guy, and he made himself bigger, puffing out his chest, as he got in Garrus's face. "You're joining forces with a human to go after a turian? One of your own people?" His tone left no doubt as to what he thought about that decision.
Garrus put his half-filled bag down, straightening to look Laedrus in the eye. "I'm joining forces with a Spectre to go after a criminal. Saren's dirty, and he's only going to get more dangerous."
Laedrus opened his mouth.
"I'd think twice before you call me any names, Laedrus. Remember, I don't work for C-Sec any more. I don't have any regs to break, and nothing to lose."
"You think Shepard won't throw you in the brig?"
"She might, although I doubt it. But it would be worth it."
Laedrus took a moment, then backed away—slowly, and with a swagger, like he'd meant no harm all along. "Well, don't come running back if your human Spectre turns out not to have what it takes."
"Wouldn't dream of it. And don't think you can climb aboard with us when we come back with Saren's head in a jar."
Laedrus and Medrin both laughed at that, and Garrus offered a faint chuckle to join them, letting them think he had been kidding. Whether Shepard could actually succeed in tracking down Saren, much less take him down completely, or make the decision to kill him rather than bring him in, remained to be seen, but at least he would be out there, flying through space, making a difference, instead of stuck here watching his life go by and helpless to do anything to change it. Who knows, maybe when this was all over, he'd re-apply for Spectre status of his own.
"You heard she recruited a quarian, didn't you?" Medrin asked.
"Better keep your gear locked down. You know how quarians are. Oh, yeah, that reminds me—she's got Wrex, too. Good luck with that." Laedrus laughed unpleasantly. "Forget crawling back here begging for your job back—the krogan'll take you all out two days out into space. He's probably been paid to."
"At least we're getting him off the station. Hasn't C-Sec been trying to get rid of him for months? Never managed. Now here's Shepard, and she's done your job for you," Garrus pointed out. "And so quickly, too."
"Weren't you in charge of getting rid of Wrex, Garrus?"
"Nope. That was Drellius."
"Oh, yeah. Wrex put him in the hospital."
Garrus nodded. "Better to have a krogan on your side than against you."
"A krogan's only on your side until someone else pays him better to be on theirs." Medrin looked genuinely concerned. "Watch your back."
"Oh, I will."
Garrus finished emptying out his locker, tossing the last spare clip in on top. "Well, boys, watch out for pickpockets. I'll be out there saving the galaxy."
"Saving the galaxy. Listen to him!" Laedrus shook his head. "Come on, Medrin. Time for our shift to start. Let's go do some real work."
"Yeah. So long, Garrus."
"So long." Garrus shouldered his bag and left the locker room. He strode across C-Sec to the elevator and punched the button that would take him up to the docking bay, where the rest of his gear had already been delivered. When the elevator doors slid closed behind him he let out a long breath, feeling more free already, and he hadn't even left the Citadel yet.
When the doors opened again at the docking bay she was standing there waiting for him, her arms folded across her chest and her foot tapping. She smiled when she saw him, letting her arms fall to her sides. "I was sure you were going to be late. Now I owe Kaidan forty push-ups."
"Maybe next time you won't bet against me."
"Maybe I won't. You ready to get out there and find Saren?"
He followed her onto the ship without a backward glance.