Somewhere in the Eagle Nebula
Shipboard clock: 18:45
The very second the medbay doors slid open, Kera Shepard leaped from her chair in the empty mess hall like a coiled spring.
Dr. Karin Chakwas had emerged. Instantly, Kera noticed that the doctor's formerly pristine and chalky white surgical garments were spattered in more than a few places with was blatantly obviously Turian blood. The eggplant-colored blood was, in its own way, more eye-catching than the more familiar appearance of crimson red blood.
Or, maybe it was mostly/all because of which Turian that blood had come from. Or had hard he'd been hit to get it to come out of him.
Seeing the purple streaks across Chakwas' apron sent frigid shivers racing up the length of Kera's spine. She involuntarily shuddered inside, biting her lower lip. There was no point in reading Chakwas' expression, though; Kera knew from experience that Chakwas wasn't so easy to read. Especially when she was fresh off an operation.
No matter how it had turned out...and that was its own kind of torture. Kera had been here for multiple hours, and all of them had stung like wasps.
Outwardly, though, the Commander managed to easily maintain her composure, and addressed the doctor directly: ". Is Garrus alright? "
The words came out in a partial tumble, slightly quicker than normal, but that couldn't be helped. She'd been sitting out here for over 2 hours ( if her Omni-Tool was accurate, that is ), and not a full minute of that had gone by without her sitting on a bed of pins and needles, so to speak. That nasty prickly sensation had been running through both her legs all along- nothing but a physical reminder of what she'd been waiting to find out.
For better or worse, she had to know, and now.
Chakwas' expression stayed impassive for roughly another quarter second. Then, the older physician's mouth formed into a smile. Not a wide one, no, but just enough of one to signify that she had good news. Not a festive kind of smile, but a " Its going to be ok ", kind of smile.
Kera knew that one. It was all the answer she needed, except-
" Yes, Commander. He is. ", she confirmed.
" Blood loss was extensive, as was underlying tissue damage. However, I was able to close the wounds, and he is breathing on his own. "
It was only then that Kera understood that Chakwas had always had good news; the Commander had simply been too tense to realize it until now. She'd built the disaster up herself, obsessing about the worst-case scenario. Figuireviely biting her nails, waiting to find out how the situation would develop, and praying that it would do so for the best.
Well, it had. The relief was like a fountain of icewater coming up through her core. After all, now she knew...that Garrus was going to be ok. He wasn't going to die, at least not from what the Blue Suns had thrown at him. It hadn't been enough to stop him.
Exhaling, Kera's gaze drifted off to the right, as she automatically tried to collect her composure. If it'd been anyone other than Chakwas, she'd have been concerned about a loss of image...
" I've treated the full extent of his injuries for now. ", Chakwas continued. " But, he remains heavily sedated, and they won't wear off for at least another full shipboard hour. Aside from that, though, his condition has improved, and I can officially declare him to be out of the red, though I will have to keep him uncer observation in case any complications arise. However, if you want to see him now , you may. "
She gestured toward the medbay, whose doors remained completely sealed.
" I- "
" Well, that's-"
Words had suddenly gotten jammed in Kera's throat, like leaves in a gutter. She knew what she wanted to say, but her emotions were stirring the pot and making it hard to get the message across- which was infuriating. On a more regular basis, she had a higher level of control than this.
Not that Garrus getting put in the medbay with injuries on this level was regular. For them, at least.
Maybe its good Garrus can't hear anything...I sound like a clown
Exhaling, the Commander met Chakwas' gaze. The doctor was calm as ever; she wasn't one to get worked up. Neither was Kera, actually, on a daily basis, but it certainly wasn't daily that someone she cared as uniquely about as Garrus Vakarian was laid up in the Normandy's medbay with significant injuries.
" Doc, thank you. I cannot overstate that. ". Finally, Kera got past the blockage, successfully expressing her gratitude. " If there's anyone on this crew I can call indispensable, its definitely you. "
" Commander, I think Mess Sergeant Gardener would take offense to that. ", Chakwas admonished.
" Or, of course, Joker. "
That the Normandy needed her head mess hall chef, or her helmsman went without saying, of course, but there was also a distinction to be made.
" You and Joker are my crew, Chakwas. ", Kera specified, putting a hand up. " Everyone else is the hired help. Cerberus' choices, not mine. They're my responsibility, but they're not my crew. "
The doctor raised a set of silver brows. " I'll be sure to tell Gardener you said that. You'll find lead in your salad tonight. "
" Of course I will. "
Shaking her head, still with that slight smile, Chakwas stood to one side. " Unworried about danger as always, Commander. But, I've kept you long enough. "
" Please, go keep Mr. Vakarian company. "
He looked so...calm.
Propped up in the surgical bed, Garrus was very obviously sound asleep. The Turian's eyes were closed, and his head had lolled off to one side- the way your head tends to do when you've nodded off. A mosaic's worth of colorful cords and cables snaking off Garrus' bared chest was feeding information about his vitals to the claptrap of monitoring readout displays mounted alongside the bed.
Chakwas had done good work; Kera could only see the outlines of those vicious wounds that had been torn into Garrus's flesh by the Mantis gunship's mass accelerator cannon. A few hours ago, they'd been weeping enough of that purple liquid to coat Kera's palms ( and considering she'd clamped them down as hard as she could over where Garrus had been hit, she knew that was undeniably true ). The doctor had been particularly successful at closing up the shredded section of Garrus' jawline, which had taken a hefty helping of shrapnel and gotten carved up essentially to where the bone was visible.
Kera had seen exposed bone wounds before. None of them had gotten to her like this, though. What had happened to Garrus was...unrivaled. Unrivaled in more ways than one, that was certain.
She'd been...helpless. Garrus had been lying while surrounded by his own blood, and Kera couldn't help him. It was much more than battlefield medicine could hope to handle, and Kera had recognized that his living or dying was completely out of her hands.
Needless to say, killing the Blue Suns who'd wounded him most definitely wasn't out of them, and Kera had been able to make a difference in that regard in a very loud way- her deft act of sabotage against the local BS cell's A-61 Mantis gunship that had blasted Garrus so badly had left it meat on the table against her follow up salvo of ML-77 rockets. The enemy craft had disintegrated into a churning, mishmashed vortex of flames and debris, plummeting to the filth-smothered metal ground of Omega.
As it fell and burned, and even before the thunderclap echoes of the blast had finished fading away, Kera had stowed the smoking launcher, and practically dived to Garrus' side.
She remembered the immediate moments that followed, even though it was all a perplexing blur of noise now. The gurgling rasp of Garrus' breathing as he fought to draw in air, the gravelly grinding tone of Zaeed's own voice as he administered what medigel he was carrying...or the booming of Kera's own blood as it hammered in her ears. All her memories of that event were like that-alive, aggressive, and vivid...
...and looking down at the slumbering Turian in front of her, they all came back. She knew how it ended, but that moment when the shots had struck Garrus-
Garrus had so very nearly died back there. In a wretched slum. Because of some tinpot gang's mad thirst for power. That he'd been willing to stand up to it wasn't his fault, as Kera saw it. It was a strength-
Garrus...there's nothing I can say.
I mean, there's so much I want to, but...I..
Kera's teeth came down on her lower lip. She looked over to the left, where the windows of the medbay were, and now realized they were all shuttered. Chakwas had already taken care of that. She was taking excellent care of Garrus, in more ways than one.
The Commander turned back to the Turian, grateful for how alone they were. As much as she was also busy fighting off the emotions that were rising within her.
There was a chair already placed by the side of Garrus' bed, and Kera took it. Slowing descending onto the seat, she found it was exactly close enough to the bed so that she could easily reach out and grasp Garrus' hand, without having to extend her arms much.
Chakwas really had thought of everything.
Breep beep...breep beep. Breep beep.
The monitoring machinery and hardware beeped and squawked. Kera did her best to ignore it, and focused on Garrus' face instead. That one that she knew so well, with its sharply angular lines, and those cobalt blue lines painted at bold angles. Somehow, said lines were still discernable and actually even quite distinctive, damage notwithstanding.
However, the effects of the spray of white-hot shrapnel was still sharply evident- where Garrus' jawline had been, was now covered by an industrial-grade field graft of some kind, which had sealed itself over the Turian's heavily plated skin. That Garrus was alive at all was, of course, saying something: God had decreed it wasn't his time to go.
That being said, the way the surgical dressing covered a significant portion of said jawline had Kera biting her lip again. That shrapnel had really taken a bite out of Garrus...
None of my own were ever hit this hard...till now.
And it had to be you, Garrus.
After meeting him for the very first time back in the Presidium's Council's Chambers, Kera wouldn't have been utterly shocked to have wound up at a point like this. And yet, it here it was.
Putting a hand out, she put hers over his. He wouldn't be able to register it, not in his current state. But, the Commander could sense the way Turian skin always was to her: not smooth, not at all, but soothingly textured in its own way.
Besides, it was him who's hand she was grasping. Immediately, a thoroughly relaxing sensation began to make its way through her.
Garrus Freaking Vakarian.
He was worth so much to Kera, she couldn't even begin to put it into words. She should've told him how she felt toward him long, long ago.
His survival was her being given another chance. Or, at least, another chance to work her way back up to the point of being able to tell him. That because there was always something worth fighting for, and he was one of them to her.
To being able to tell him, that he was everything to her.