A/N: I wrote this as a fill for a prompt on the ME kmeme. I usually write about couples, but it IS hard to decide between Garrus and Thane, so I decided to write the fill...
Thank you to Spyke1985 for beta reading, correcting mistakes and adding a few lines here and there.
Disclaimer: I do not own Mass Effect, nor the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.
"Commander, scans indicate a possible dust storm forming in the area," the pilot's voice crackled over the shuttle's speakers. "Shall we abort landing and return to the Normandy?"
'Shit. Just what we needed.' Shepard rubbed her forehead with her gloved fingers.
"No, if we don't land now it might be too late to come back later." She sighed. "We'll just have to hurry up, finish this damned mission and get our asses out as quickly as possible."
The speakers shut off and the noise of the engine's hum filled the cabin again.
"That is... unfortunate," Thane remarked.
"Yeah. Let's just hope that the only reason communications from the mine stopped is some relay burning out, nothing more," Shepard said, shaking her head as if even she didn't believe herself.
"We can't possibly be that lucky," Garrus snorted, shooting an amused smirk at her.
She smiled at him then leaned back against the shuttle's wall, crossing her arms in front of her chest. Sitting across from her teammates, she watched with pride and affection as they checked their weapons with cool confidence.
She couldn't have asked for better companions. They were both incredible snipers and powerful fighters who had saved her ass on more than one occasion. She took them along on as many missions as she could, and a kind of easy routine had developed among them. They got into position and moved along from cover to cover like a well rehearsed dance troupe, communicating without words, knowing by instinct if one of them needed backup or rescue.
The fact that both were really, really easy on the eyes didn't hurt either.
She found Thane intriguing from the moment they met, and their long talks had a profound effect on her. She took every chance to visit him in Life Support, to hear his amazing velvety voice and look into those big black eyes. He was so calm, so confident and yet... So lonely. Her heart ached for him when he shared the terrible burden that he had been carrying with her: his life, the death of his wife, his guilt about her and his son... She longed to reach out and touch him, hold him, take away his loneliness and... Her own.
But, there was also Garrus in Main Battery, her best friend and trusted confidant. She wasn't sure when it was that her feelings for him developed from simple friendship into something more; the kind of crush that made her palms sweat and her heart race when he looked at her with those beautiful, piercingly blue eyes. She couldn't get enough of his silky voice, his dry humor, the way he carried himself, and the way he understood and supported her when nobody else did. And recently she started to feel that maybe she meant more to him, too, and considered her more than just an old friend.
'Dammit, why can't life be easy at least once in a while?' She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to chase away the confusing feelings that kept her awake last night, and – if she was honest with herself – many nights before that. Instead, all the doubts and desires just bubbled up to the surface, and the same scenarios played over and over in her mind again.
Suddenly she got a feeling that she was being watched and when she snapped her eyes open they were met with Thane's intense gaze. The way he looked at her made her stomach tremble and she felt the blood rush to her face and paint it red. She stole a quick glance at Garrus to see if he had noticed anything, as if she owed him to stay loyal.
'God, I'm such an idiot. I'm behaving like a shy schoolgirl,' she berated herself. 'Snap out of it! Concentrate on the mission... Mine... Cerberus supplier... Gone silent... Investigate... Right.'
They landed on a barren patch of land close to a ravine, across from the mine. The facility was cut into the side of a mountain, a long bridge and dozens of steps connecting it to the other side. The planet was dry and desolate, with scarce vegetation clinging to life here and there in small clusters.
The team made its way across the bridge, looking out for any sign of trouble, and when they found none, they descended the stairs. The entrance door had been locked with some kind of encryption. Shepard hacked the code, and they entered with their guns at the ready. The hallway was empty and clean except for some blood smeared on a wall close to a doorway.
"That's not good," Garrus remarked.
"Shit. Something did happen here. Keep your eyes open!" Shepard barked as she continued on, all senses on full alert, the hair on the back of her neck standing up.
There was still no sign of life in the next room, but plenty of blood on the floor and walls, and spent heat sinks scattered everywhere.
Thane noticed a PDA on the floor, picked it up and handed it to Shepard. She scanned the entries with a frown on her face. Could this have anything to do with what happened here?
That stuff in the cave? Incredible find! Do you have any idea how many credits we can get for these on the black market? We're gonna be rich, man!
I know, right? But keep your mouth shut about this. We don't want to tip off some idiot about our little secret. In the meantime I'll contact the guy I know from the Blue Suns and see if they are interested.
They found the first bodies in the mess hall. It looked like some were caught by surprise, but some were gunned down trying to escape or hide.
"Senseless, indiscriminate loss of life," Thane said in a low voice.
"Yeah. These bastards were definitely after something. And I don't think it was slaves," Garrus noted, checking every nook of the room, looking for something - anything to make sense of the carnage.
Suddenly a side door swished open and he yelled, "Heads up!"
Shepard ducked behind a low wall on instinct, narrowly escaping a bullet to the head. She got into position, but before she could even aim her rifle Thane had already shot the merc right between the eyes.
"Blue Suns," Garrus growled, then took another trooper out with a well aimed shot.
"Yeah. What a shock," Shepard snickered while she peppered the next group with Cryo Ammo, leaving Thane to shatter them with his Locust.
"Yeah!" she yelled triumphantly as they exploded into tiny, icy fragments. Her blood pumping, she waited for more victims to come through the door, but everything was quiet for now.
They searched several more rooms, but all they found were a few more bodies, some work logs, and a couple of credit chits. Until they came to a big storage area and heard somebody screaming at the top of his lungs.
"Dammit, Rakus, if your men are so incompetent that they can't even stop a few intruders, go do it yourself! We don't have time to fart around here, you idiots! We have to get to that fuckin' cave before the storm hits. Where's that fuckin' map?!"
"Nice guy," Garrus said quietly.
"He must be the mercs' leader," Shepard whispered as they sneaked behind some crates and got into position. Once settled down, she switched to her beloved Widow. "All right, Garrus, you take the trooper on the left. Thane, you've got the one in the middle. And I'm going to have fun with the one on the right. Then we'll deal with the rest. On my mark..."
They readied their rifles, focused on their targets and slowed down their breathing... "Mark!"
A loud bang shattered the air, three heads exploded, and there were three less mercs to worry about.
The next moment all hell broke loose. Gunfire erupted from all directions, each shot concentrated on their location. They scattered behind different covers to minimize the possibility of providing an easy target and returned fire. Thane threw a group against the wall with his biotics and Shepard finished them off with her assault rifle. Garrus made a few more headshots, and soon the only enemy remaining was the leader. After Garrus overloaded his shields, Thane threw Warp at him, and Shepard pumped him full of lead he wasn't going to be a problem anymore.
Then everything went silent. The team emerged from behind the crates and started to survey the aftermath of the battle.
"Okay, so they came for some mysterious stuff in a cave. We have to find that cave and see what the hell that stuff is. That asshole mentioned some map - let's see if we can find it," Shepard said, looking around the room.
"This might be it," Garrus announced, picking up a PDA from under a dead merc.
"Lemme see. Yeah, I think you're right." Shepard took the pad and uploaded the data to her omni-tool. "Okay, let's go."
Once they exited the facility, Shepard radioed the shuttle.
"Johnson, we're heading to a cave about half a mile south of here. I'll let you know when we get there."
"Commander, are you sure? The storm is almost on top of us."
"We'll be fine. Just stay put and I'll contact you later. Shepard out."
"Famous last words," Garrus snickered.
"We won't let a little dust storm stop us." Shepard winked and headed out.
Garrus and Thane exchanged exasperated glances, then fell in step behind her.
"Amonkira help us," Thane murmured.