Disclaimer: The Mass Effect realm doesn't belong to me. I'd've found myself a nice turian otherwise.

Watch the Arms

Part One: Friends

"Oh, shit!" Joker swore before he could control it and sensed – more than he saw it – the exact moment Shepard silently stiffened just a few steps behind him. They'd just gotten through the Apien Crest Relay on the Trebia System and the fight going on around them was, to say the least, brutal.

He surreptitiously watched Shepard for a second and, if he hadn't known the Commander for so long, he would never be able to tell just how much the scene before them had affected her.

"Take us as close to that moon as possible, Joker," she ordered as if there was nothing wrong. "And after we deploy in the shuttle, get the Normandy to a safe distance. I don't care if the stealth systems are engaged. I rather not risk an encounter face-to-face with the big bad killing machines..." she patted his shoulder lightly and then turned on her heels to leave the cockpit.

"Hey, Shepard," he called before she could leave and saw her look over her shoulder. "I'm sure he's okay."

Her lips twitched just a little as she nodded and, then, she was off. "EDI, tell James and Liara to suit up and meet me by the Kodiak in five."

"At once, Shepard!" came the AI's answer through the speaker just before the door to the CIC closed with a hiss.

The silence in the cabin after the CO's exit was heavy. For a few minutes Joker just shifted through panels while commanding the ship around; just doing his work. After Cortez announced they were off, he took the ship just a little further away, near the orbit of Caelax, and kept an eye on the sensors. All he could do now was wait for them to do their thing and come back.

He didn't know how he could tell it – while the Normandy was a Cerberus vessel, there was that irritating blue holographic interface always watching him, but the Alliance had disabled it – even so, he knew that she was silently watching him.

"What is it, EDI?" he decided to ask just to get rid of the awful sensation of being surveyed, and also to end the creepy silence around them.

"How did you know that Shepard was thinking about Garrus?" the question – and the fact that it wasn't completely unexpected – actually put a little smile on the pilot's face.

"Besides he going back to Palaven being the last thing we heard from him?" he shrugged not sure of how to explain that to the AI.

"Shepard's armor did show some distress and off-readings, but I had not made such a connection..." her voice showed something like unrest and curiosity – what still amazed him.

"Oh, come on! That wasn't even that hard to figure out!" he shook his head. "You, better than anyone else, know just how close those two became before we got grounded." Joker added with a bit of irony and some measure of debauch, but then he sighed sobering up at the memory of the planet on fire. "And, even if they weren't an item, he's still one of her closest friends. It's only natural that she'd be worried about him..."

"I see," she said quietly and then fell silent for a few seconds. "So, you are saying that you knew what she was thinking about because... you are also worried about your friend?" at that, Joker actually startled. He hadn't thought of it like that. At the time he just concentrated on how hard it should be for Shepard and on doing – saying – something to comfort her.

"Yeah. I suppose you're right..." he muttered leaning against his chair.

He could only hope they'd be safe and, as it was, he made a silent prayer that his turian friend could, somehow, join them again.

A/N: Hi, there! This is my first English written fanfic, so I hope you forgive any weirdness. This chapter is really, really short, but they might increase as time goes by and I'm feeling more comfortable with the language issue. Next chapters will be on-line soon. Please, Read & Review.

See ya!