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FILL: Baby Blues


Yeah, so... I will squee so very hard if someone makes Garrus knock Shepard up. Don't care how it happens; if they can bring someone back to the dead, then Shepard can have non-human babies. Want some fluffy protective!possessive!Garrus. Some awkard freaking out would be nice, too.

Bonus if you include Shepard trying to come up with a way to tell Garrus and failing horribly.

Another bonus if they have some sweet, preggers sexytimes. ;)

Hi, OP! This is not a perfect fill. I am sorry, but um... just hang with me, ok? Might end up getting there after all. :)

Life Always Finds A Way 1/Oh gosh, I don't even know.

Shepard’s cell (read: temporary detention unit) was legitimately and surprisingly comfortable.

It was small by civilian standards, but Jane Shepard was spacer stock and a single spacious room with a double bed and enclosed sanitary facilities was about as much as she ever hoped for. Someone had even given her a throw pillow that complimented the sheets; sheer decadence.

However, comfortable as her room was, she was still about ready to climb its soothing taupe walls.

Security concerns had kept her in the heart of Vancouver’s space base since the day she’d been taken into custody. Originally she’d had a similarly pleasant cell with a window that at least gave her some sunlight to stave off the seasonal depression that spacers were prone to when they moved from the constant light of an artificial environment to the varying day-cycles found planetside. There had even been a little bit of a view of the neighboring rooftop gardens where she could watch random children play.

That was, of course, before her medical fitness report had been compiled.

After that there were no windows. The Alliance Brass was legitimately concerned about the newshounds getting wind of some of the things in that report and moreover the window was judged to be a critical weakness in her security –which the Alliance, in the persons of Admirals Hackett and Anderson, was unexpected obsessed with.

Someone –some poor yeoman out there- had tried to compensate with paintings of grand sweeping landscapes with soft atmospheric perspective that faded into the distance like fog. The lights overhead were sun lamps to recreate shipboard conditions and to keep her from developing any immune deficiencies. There was even a chromotherapy unit in the bathroom, which was weird but what the hell. That obsession with her mental health showed even in the food she was served; lots of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, which meant she ate a lot of fish and people kept bringing her smoothies.

Shepard had tried (tried, tried, TRIED) to bear it all with patience and aplomb since she knew as well as anyone else that throwing a temper tantrum wasn’t exactly the way to reassure her superiors of her sound mental health, but at the moment no one expected even that bare minimum from her.

It wasn’t entirely their fault.

After all, it wasn’t like the Alliance infrastructure was often called upon to deal with high-profile, high-risk, and technically physically impossible pregnancies… like hers.

“How are you feeling?” Anderson was visiting on a daily basis as the med-techs fretted and chewed their mustaches over the final days of her gestation. She was eight and a half months along and no one knew exactly when the ‘blessed event’ was likely to happen. Her old CO had always taken a sort of proprietary interest in her career, even when he hadn’t been personally overseeing it… but ever since she’d gotten the news, their relationship had expanded in was that Shepard really didn’t have an explanation for. Her own parents were long gone, dead thanks to pirates in the traverse, so she didn’t necessarily mind having a surrogate father figure around for emotional support.

Admiral Hackett had assigned an entire team to oversee her care, but most of them had bedside manners than made Mordin look positively saintly.

“About as well as you’d expect.” She sighed and shifted in the bed that no one would let her out of. No matter what she did, she couldn’t seem to get comfortable. “Considering the fact that eight months ago I didn’t even have a functional uterus and now I’ve got one that mysteriously grew in on its own and has the entire human medical population wetting their pants over the potential ethical ramifications.”

Life Always Finds A Way 2/???

She’d figured out early on that many of the implants that Cerberus had installed into her were designed to self-heal, which only made sense considering the kind of damage they’d designed her to soak up. If she hadn’t, then the truly unique sensation of feeling a broken rib literally wiggle itself back into place with no outside interference would have been something of a clue. What she hadn’t known, what Miranda hadn’t told her and might well have never anticipated, was that the implants were also repairing those systems of Shepard’s body that Cerberus had either been forced to ignore or hadn’t gotten to before Wilson gave into his greed. Unfortunately, the implants seemed to be going about the process in their own way all together.

Much of Shepard’s soft tissue had been lost during her –reentry into what passed for Alchera’s atmosphere. That included large parts of her digestive tract, her kidneys, her liver, and both of her ovaries. Wilson had been forced to remove what remained in order to keep her hormones in balance. There was enough left behind for her to enjoy routine sexual activity, but not enough to make it more than a purely recreational activity –supposedly, anyway.

Whatever the implants were (and, mercifully, no one had actually SAID the words ‘reaper tech’ to her face yet) they couldn’t actually recreate her lost ova. Instead, they’d creating some kind of partial organic cloning facility within the shattered remains of her womb that had managed to conceive a fetus from sperm alone. That was not, however, what had the doctors shrieking and the Brass actually LISTENING to her for a change about the imminent Reaper Invasion.

Creating a child from a single male donor was not new science, witness Miranda’s creation. No, what had the medics up in arms was the fact that her implants had allowed a human woman to conceive a turian child.

“Don’t suppose the Brass has changed its mind about letting me contact the father?” Shepard asked wearily. She hadn’t told anyone, in so many words, who her child’s father was. Anderson, she suspected, could hazard a guess as could Admiral Hackett and they seemed content to keep mum about it. Unfortunately, neither of them were willing to risk the potential security risk contacting him represented…which almost annoyed the medics more than it upset Shepard. They were drooling over the chance to look him over as well.

“Too risky.” Anderson shook his head. “And not just because of the obvious. You have enemies, Shepard, who would love a chance to take a shot at you while you’re not at your best. Plus, we’ve sunk everything we have into… preparing for the worst.”

It was the greatest irony in the universe that all her recorded evidence, eye witness testimonies, and physical data hadn’t been able to budge the Alliance on the ‘Reaper Question’, but let her get knocked up with a turian’s baby and then suddenly people started worrying about the originators of the race whose technology made it possible.

A muscle spasm in her stomach made Shepard grimace. The lack of physical exercise was getting to her. It would take forever to get back into fighting trim and her body wasn’t shy about making its displeasure known.

“Are you all right?” Anderson’s eyes narrowed.

“Nah, it’s just a muscle cramp. It’ll pass soon.” She sighed. “They come and go.”

“Just how often have you been getting these ‘cramps’?” She hadn’t heard Anderson use that particular tone of tense patience since the first time they’d served together, lo those many years ago when she’d been a runny-nosed midshipman serving as a guard on his combat deck.

“I dunno.” Shepard shrugged, trying not to feel painfully ignorant. “Every ten minutes or so?”

Life Always Finds A Way 3/???

After that, things got busy in a hurry as Anderson lunged for the emergency medalert and doctors flooded into her cell. How the hell was she supposed to know that she’d gone into labor? After everything she’d heard and read and seen in the vids, it seemed like the labor pains were supposed to be more dramatic.

They were, as it turned out, more dramatic after all but only after labor had truly gotten going. What she’d been experiencing was sort of the first wave. Someone managed to patch her up with an epidural, but the pain was unreal and only made worse by the fact that her body wasn’t designed for the sort of tiny body she was attempting to bring forth.

Afterwards, Shepard wouldn’t remember a lot of the experience beyond people screaming at her, her screaming back, and Anderson shouting orders in the background. At the end, she was dimly aware of something slipping free of her body that was quickly whisked away from her sight. Some part of her wanted whatever it was they’d taken and she reached out, trying to say something, before she found herself pushed back down into bed with something cool pressed against her throat. After that.. darkness.

Shepard came to some undefined amount of time later. She looked around groggily and eventually figured out that she was in her same cell, but the people were gone… mostly.

Anderson was sitting next to her bed, but he wasn’t paying much attention to her. Instead he was focused on a sort of translucent box to his left that looking kind of like the sort of thing you’d see in a maternity… ward…

She lunged upright and slammed right into a wall of vertigo. Hands closed around her arms and Anderson lowered her back into bed.

“Shepard! Don’t try to sit up right away.”

“Where…” Why was her throat so raw? What was going on? “Where is?”

“I’ve got him.” Anderson assured her. “He’s right here. Lay still and I’ll give him to you.”

The bundle that he lay in her arms was impossibly tiny, but incredibly warm. She gently pushed aside the soft, soft blankets to reveal what was quite possibly the ugliest baby Shepard had ever seen in her entire life … and she’d seen some pretty ugly babies.

Human newborns, at least in Shepard’s opinion, looked like bright red angry little old men. Turian newborns resembled bedraggled little lumps of damp feathers, if this one was anything to go by and he resembled nothing so much as a damp duckling with a tiny smushed turian face in amongst the down.

Perverse tears prickled at her eyes as she gently ran her fingers over her son’s tiny soft crest and then along the curve of his tiny mandibles. The touch awoke something in that tiny body and he opened his eyes to look at her with strangely precise and intense attention. Her throat seized as she realized that he had his dad’s eyes.

“He’s gorgeous.” She whispered and smiled as a tiny three-fingered hand escaped the nest of blankets to close around her fingertip. “Hey, buddy.” She gently bobbed his hand up and down in the world’s tiniest handshake. “Welcome to the world.”

Life Always Finds A Way 4/???

The name ‘Buddy’ stuck and it was all Vega’s fault.

Technically his name was Alexander Shepard, since his mother knew exactly nothing about turian names and had an active terror of accidently naming the poor kid something like ‘Tits McGee’. However, Vega was present (as he always was with the exception of the time in which she was actively giving birth) before she settled on a name and apparently didn’t have the brain capacity necessary to rewrite Alexander’s proper name over the term of endearment his mother used when she was talking to him.

Unfortunately, the medical staff followed his example and before long the name ‘Alexander’ only lived on in a very hastily cobbled together birth certificate that had to be ratified in a closed session of Parliament.

Buddy was disgustingly healthy insofar as his personal fleet of doctors were concerned. There was literally nothing about him that made him different from any other turian infant, according to what literature they could drum up. Moreover, Shepard recuperated from childbirth with disturbing ease. The same implants that made the birth possible quietly went about the business of restoring her lost muscle mass with no help from anyone. She was back to 45% combat readiness within two weeks, 75% in three, and five weeks later she was better than ever.

Turian infants started out very small and Buddy was no exception. His starting weight came in at just under five pounds, which made him very small by human standards but rather large by turian ones. His baby feathers dried into a fluffy coat of down that made him look like an oversized owlet for the first week or so, but then they promptly fell out to reveal his shiny silver hide. Fortunately, that was normal. The down apparently provided radiation protection while his first set of scales grew in. He put on a bit of weight and lost his scrawny appearance, which had his nurses in raptures. Apparently turian babies also took a bit to get to the ‘cute’ phase, but when they did…

Unfortunately for the casual visitor, Buddy was not as social as a human baby would have been and expressed his objection to strangers not only through copious wailing (that sounded like something inbetween a parakeet and a warbling cat), but also through the liberal use of the full set of needle sharp teeth that he’d been born with. Shepard couldn’t really blame him. As time went on and it became clear that they were going to be stuck in that same cell for the foreseeable future, she felt more and more like biting someone herself


“Commander.” Vega snapped a pretty impressive salute as he entered her quarters. As prison guards went, he was fairly easy to live with; more bodyguard than jailor.

Shepard glance up from her recliner, where she’d been sitting in the light of a sunlamp with her feet up and Buddy curled up on her chest between her breasts and basking in the heat like a tiny iguana. “You’re not supposed to call me that anymore, James.” She told him.

“Not supposed to salute you anymore either.” He countered with a cheeky grin. “The Board wants you to come right away.”

“Sounds important.” She sat up, holding her son in place with one hand. “They say what it is they want?”

“Uh-uh, just for me to come get you.” He paused. “You might not want to bring Buddy in there. Not everyone on the Board had clearance to know about… you know.”

“Well, fortunately for me an able-bodied babysitter just presented himself.” Shepard grinned nastily as Vega backed up, hands held high. “Too late to complain and I can’t leave him alone. Man up, Vega. He’s not due for lunch or a diaper change for at least an hour.”

“That’s great, what do I do if you run over an hour?” He groused, but settled down and let her unload Buddy onto his broad shoulder.

Life Always Finds A Way 5/???

“Feed him and change him, Einstein.” Shepard tossed some necessary supplies into the disturbingly cheerful yellow baby bag that Anderson had passed onto her as a gift from one of his lady friends, the one who ran Grissom Academy and had been one of the researchers who compiled her initial medical report. It was covered in little green cartoon crocodiles, which Anderson thought was unbearably ironic. “I’ll pack you some extras in case you mess up.”

“Bottles I can handle.” Vega muttered. “So of course I get stuck with the alien baby who eats meat paste.” For all his complaining, he actually didn’t object to having to carry the criminally adorable diaper bag. Apparently Vega was either just that secure in his masculinity or felt that it was cancelled out by the presence of an actual baby. He draped a downy blanket decorated with stars over Buddy so that he just looked like an undefined baby-lump. Fortunately, sun bathing knocked the kid right out for hours at a time. If Vega was very lucky, he wouldn’t budge until it was time to give him back.

The hallways were buzzing with activity and if anyone noticed the misplaced infant on Vega’s shoulder, they thought better of mentioning it. Anderson met them in the hallway and led the way to the defense committee.

The reason for all the activity became clear all too soon as Anderson gave her a quick debrief on the situation. Shepard felt a sharp curl of mixed trepidation and anticipation. Part of her, the mother, wanted to take Buddy and run. The rest of her, the soldier, knew that running wasn’t going to do a lick of good and that if she wanted there to be a galaxy for her son to grow up in then she was going to have to fight for it.

So fine. Game on.

“Major.” Anderson drew up short and Shepard’s eyes immediately went looking for the owner of the… ah. Kaidan. “How did it go in there?”

Kaidan drew up short and shrugged. He looked… good. Actually, he didn’t look like he’d changed much at all beyond putting on a bit of muscle. There was a faint crackle in the air as he drew near and their fields bounced off each other. Ugh. There was the reason why you could never train a biotic infiltrator. One biotic always knew when there was another in the room.

“Hard to tell.” He sighed. He sounded tired. “I’m just waiting for orders now.”

“Major?” Shepard deliberately echoed Anderson. That was new. Last she’d heard, Kaidan was a lieutenant commander. They’d have had to jump him several ranks for him to be a major now.

“Uh, yeah…” Kaidan shifted his stance. “Sorry if I didn’t tell you…” He started.

“I’ve been out of the loop for a bit.” No point in fussing about it. Kaidan didn’t owe her any updates about his life anymore than she owed him ones about hers.

“The committee’s waiting.” Anderson hinted none-too-subtly.

“Excuse me.” Shepard brushed past Kaidan and tried to ignore the familiar scent of his cologne. Her hind brain had never quite figured out that it was a scent she should recoil from, but for once she didn’t feel drawn into his presence. Instead she just missed the hot metal scent of expended heat-sinks and gun polish.

As they left she overheard a snatch of conversation. “You know the Commander?” Vega asked and Kaidan replied in a wistful tone that kind of made her want to bite something, “I used to.” There was a pause and then, “Wait, is that a baby?” “Uh, yeah… wait, sir, don’t! He…” There was a yelp of pain and then Vega finished lamely, “… bites.”

Shepard ducked her head to hide her sudden nasty smile. “That’s my boy.” She murmured and pretended like she didn’t see the face Anderson made in her direction.

Life Always Finds A Way 6/???

… and just like that, everything went to hell. One moment she was addressing the defense committee trying to drum it into their thick skulls that they were looking at a knock-down-drag-out fight to the finish and not some sort of little border skirmish then the first dreadnought appeared in the sky of Vancouver.

“Major, Major! Do you read me? ANY one?” Anderson was barking orders into his comm unit as Shepard tried to keep pace. Her ears were still ringing from the concussion blast that taken out the windows in the conference room and slammed her into a wall, but she could make out most of what he said.

“I’m at the Normandy!” The connection was lousy, but for the first time in a long time Shepard was glad to hear Kaidan’s voice. “I’ve got Lieutenant Vega with me. We’ll try and find a safehouse to drop the baby at…”

Ice knifed through her guts and Anderson roared into the comm. “Belay that soldier! Get aboard the Normandy. No stops! VEGA, hold onto him!”

The response was only static and garbled syllables. “Shit. There’s a jamming signal.” Anderson muttered and shot a look in her direction. “Vega knows better.” He told her and Shepard had to believe him.

Shepard had never been happy to see husks, particularly, but it was very nice to have something she could unload a gun into as she fought her way forward and shoved down the churning worry in the pit of her stomach that she’d make it to the Normandy and extraction, only to find out that Kaidan had abandoned her son in a safe house somewhere where she’d never find him. That thought consumed all rational thought processes that weren’t immediately necessary for her and the Admiral’s survival.

So when she passed an empty air duct in the fire gutted corpse of an apartment building she did not hear anything nor did she pause to double back, which didn’t matter since there was no one there in the vent at all.

Whatever jamming signal it was that the Reapers used, it was damn effective. Shepard and Anderson found another radio, but the frequency didn’t last much longer than Anderson’s mobile. Either that, or the Reapers knew to look out for the radio towers.

Shepard swore every creative swear she’d ever learned as a burning pod slammed into the earth next to where she and Anderson had bunkered down and… yes, OF COURSE it was full of batarian husks because WHY NOT.

“Whoever designs drop pods for the Reapers could maybe do with a hint that not every damn thing needs to be on fire or explode.” She snarled as she picked off yet another batarian husk as it tried to scuttle into a bit of cover somewhere around her 2 o’clock area that gave it a good line of fire right into the spot where she was hiding. She followed it up with a powerful warp that sent the little bastard flying.

“They’re like cannibals.” Anderson muttered. He was stuck with a handgun, but was making it count. Moreover, he had a stash of concussive rounds in his pockets that he used sparingly but to great effect. “See? They’ll tear bits off of their fallen and use it for protection.”

“Charming.” Shepard growled. “So humans get turned into mindless shock troops, but the batarians will rip each other apart before they even hit the ground. It’d be funny if they weren’t smart enough to use guns. I think I’m offended.”

“Concentrate on that.” Anderson darted out of cover and knocked a cannibal clean off the ledge it was standing by and into a multiple story drop. “And not on what their process would do to a Krogan.”

“Not a mental image I needed!” Shepard shuddered and then swore as she realized she’d just fired her last round. There were no more heatsinks and no cover available for her to salvage any from the battlefield ahead of them. It was all biotics from there on out. “I’m out, Anderson! Conserve your ammo and cover me while I cool my amp down between shots!”

“Will do!”

Life Always Finds A Way 7/???

What followed was five minutes of the ugliest biotic combat Shepard had ever engaged in and that included some of the battles she’d fought in the Collector Base itself. She unleashed carefully aimed shockwaves to do maximum damage and sent cannibals flying about like ragdolls… but no matter how many she took down still more took their place. How many husks had they crammed INTO that thing.

Her vision was starting to waver and her amp felt like a miniaturized star when a blessedly familiar voice rang out across her comm channel and the Normandy swooped in overhead.

“The cavalry has arrived!” Joker whooped and unleashed a torpedo into the heart of the cannibal nest. Shepard had never been so glad for an airstrike in her entire life.

.. but nothing compared to the faint glimpse of Vega and the blanket wrapped lump cradled in his arms she caught as Joker maneuvered the Normandy into a position where she could jump into the shuttle bay.


“Commander…” Kaidan had that look on his face, the one that said he was manfully holding back from asking any of the hundred-thousand questions that he was well within his right to ask. Personally, Shepard had always thought it made him look sort of constipated, but had first refrained from saying so because he was her lover and later because she wasn’t interested in picking fights.

The first thing Vega had done after the shuttle bay doors had closed was deposit Buddy directly into her arms. Kaidan had lunged forward, presumably because he assumed a bite was imminent, but stalled out halfway through when Buddy’s plaintive wails transmuted instantly into whistles and chirrups of pleasure.

“Shepard, what’s going on?” He finally settled on as broad a question as possible, but his eyes were on Buddy who was balanced across his mother’s thighs as she checked him for a messy diaper or other visible signs of trauma.

Vega had been deliberately vague about how they’d gotten to the spaceport, but the singes on Buddy’s blanket and a bullet hole in his diaper bag very nearly sent Shepard into a fit of hysterics that would have impressed any suburban soccer mom in terms of violence and intensity. It was only by dint of masterful self-control and obvious lack of damage on her son that she managed to restrain herself.

“Anderson decided to stay behind and coordinate a resistance movement on Earth.” She reported, deliberately vague since she knew Anderson wasn’t what Kaidan was asking about. “We’re being sent to the Citadel to find reinforcements.”

“I got that, Shepard.” He bit out. “I meant; what is so important about the baby? We’ve got no business dragging an infant onto a military vessel, Shepard, a turian infant at that! I don’t know how much you know about babies, but what I know could fit into a book this big.” He held up a thumb and forefinger held a bare centimeter apart. “Vega won’t tell me. Says its classified and Anderson about near tore my head off through a comm link when I suggested we find him a surrogate. Now he’s crawling all over you like you’re his mother when he’s bitten anyone else who gets close. Including Vega!”

“Kaidan, unfortunately it is classified.” She looked up and wondered how exactly she’d ever found Kaidan to be so compelling. He was handsome, yes, and supportive so long as you were the person he was subordinate to. Things got iffy if he had another master …but seeing him lose his cool in such a self-entitled way for the second time started to drive home a lot of the reasons she’d decided to let the relationship die. “Moreover, it’s not actually any of your damn business and getting in my face isn’t going to change that.”

“It’s not my business?” Kaidan’s voice went dangerously quiet. “Well, I’m making it my business Staff Commander Shepard. Tell me what’s going on and that is an order.”

A/N: That isn't actually Kaidan bashing. Just me airing something I didnt like about ME3. Kaidan DOES outrank Shepard.

Life Always Finds A Way 7/???

It was probably a VERY good thing that her hands were quite literally full with her son because Shepard felt her limbs jerk with the need to reach out and strangle Kaidan Alenko. “You’re pulling rank with me, soldier?” She growled.

“Uh, hate to interrupt…” Joker’s voice broke into the tension-filled room like a ray of light. “But Admiral Hackett is on vidcom. The connection is shit and I don’t know if it’ll last, so… I’d hurry. He’s asking for the Commander.”

Admiral Hackett’s timing was, as usual, hovering somewhere between inspired and awful. Time was brief and he got straight to the point about a besieged research facility on Mars. His eyes dropped down occaisionally to the shape Buddy made on her shoulder and maybe it was a trick of the reception, but she had the feeling that his expression softened when he saw the same lack of damage on him that Shepard had just confirmed.

“One more thing, Admiral.” She hated asking, but… well, hell. Apparently it was necessary. “I need a field promotion to Captain, sir.”

“… there a problem with your current rank, Commander? You haven’t had it back for more than fifteen minutes.” Hackett’s gaze didn’t exactly flicker towards Kaidan’s shadow over her shoulder.

“Apparently so, sir.” Shepard said tersely. “I hope you realize I wouldn’t make it a problem if it wasn’t already one.”

“I see.” He nodded and looked… tired all of a sudden. “No, I should do this anyway. You’ll be negotiating for the Alliance if you make it to the Council. You’ll need to be doing it from a position of authority. All right, Admiral Shepard.”

She went still as death. “Sir, I think that might be excessive.”

“Don’t ‘sir’ me, Admiral.” Hackett’s smile took a turn for the nasty. “You asked for the rank you need to get your job done. Don’t bitch now that I’ve given it to you. Hackett out.”

Silence not until that of the grave reigned in the shuttle bay before Buddy broke it with a plaintive squeak. She shifted him on her shoulder into a more comfortable position and slowly turned to face the other marines in the bay. They goggled at her for a moment before they both snapped into salutes.

“Kaidan, I am going to get you for this.” She growled.

For his part, Kaidan actually looked… “I am so sorry, ma’am.” He said in a small voice that brought home the fact that, to a certain degree, Kaidan did know her, that she loved her work as a marine, and knew what being catapulted into what amounted to a diplomatic desk job would do to her.

Somehow that made what happened on Horizon sting all the worse.


Hitting the Mars research facility was… difficult. Kaidan had been ready head the ground team and leave her behind, but Shepard was damned if she was going to let herself be shuffled out of combat like a good little girl. Her greatest utility was on the battlefield and not in a boardroom. Besides, she needed to be front and center to find out just what it was that the researchers had found. Finding Liara was an unexpected boon and she was, perhaps, the only reason why Kaidan survived to make it all the way to Huerta.

Things on the Citadel didn’t go easily and it made her very glad that she’d decided to leave Buddy behind on the Normandy in Joker’s care –something the pilot resented. Loudly.

She hadn’t expected the Council to bend over backwards in order to help her, but she hadn’t figured on quite that level of ass-covering. It was as if basic military strategy had flown out of their heads, if indeed it had ever resided there, and nothing she could say or do could get it through their heads that the general idea was to kill the bad guys BEFORE they got close to your home ground instead of bunkering up and waiting for the Reapers to attack at their leisure.

Sometimes, Shepard suspected that she was the last sentient creature in the galaxy with a functioning brain –and wasn’t THAT a depressing thought?

Life Always Finds A Way 8/???

Her break came in the unexpected form of Sparatus, the turian councilor, who looked so burdened by the fate of Palaven that she couldn’t even find it in herself to twit him about dismissing the “Reaper” claim so casually.

That was how she ended up on Menae, trying to hunt down an elusive Primarch, and trying not to think about what she was going to do if it turned out that she’d never get the opportunity to introduce Garrus to his son. Then again, if he died he would never be able to give her shit about her promotion. A net win, perhaps.

So of course the stubborn bastard showed up just as she was speaking to General Corinthus.

“I’m on it, Shepard.”

… and there he was, like nothing had even happened. A feeling she didn’t care to name rose up in her throat and choked her as he came closer and said her name in a voice turned husky by emotion. Garrus took her hand in both of his and just… held it as they looked at one another.

“You’re alive.” Was the only thing she could think to say.

“You know me.” He grinned. “I’m hard to kill.”

… but that was all the time they got. After that it was Reaper ground forces and the laborious task of not only finding the new Primarch, but convincing him to take the position, and THEN extracting him from the veritable hell hole that Menae had become.

Liara arrived in the shuttle bay not long after Cortez landed them. Buddy was with her and judging by his exhausted bleating, he was not happy. Liara looked haggard and terrified as she rushed foreward. Shepard spared a glance in the direction of the turian delegation, who were all occupied as Garrus gave them a crash course in adapting Alliance-issue armor maintenance drones for turian gear. No one seemed to have noticed.

“He won’t stop.” Liara thrust Buddy into her arms and the noise quieted a little as his little nose started working and he caught the familiar scent of his mother. Turian babies, it turned out, were extremely myopic and operated mostly by scent. Buddy’s bleats faded off into a somewhat more familiar squeak of distress as he pawed at one of her breasts. He didn’t really have the nursing instinct, but she suspected that her breasts still smelled like food to him even if it was food that he couldn’t digest and would just pass through his system as waste.

“That’s not going to do you any good.” Shepard murmured, although there had been times when she desperately wished he COULD breastfeed. Her body had insisted on treating her pregnancy like it was completely normal… which meant that her breasts were almost always tight and swollen. The doctors swore up and down that it would stop eventually, but it seemed to be taking its sweet time. “He’s hungry, I think, and probably could use a fresh diaper.”

“Are you sure? I tried to feed him but he wouldn’t eat.” Liara produced a tube of high protein dextro babyfood from one of her pockets and a fresh plunger. Where she’d been keeping them, Shepard wasn’t entirely sure, but at least she hadn’t been hiding a diaper anywhere on her person.

Liara loved Buddy… in theory. She was also sort of terrified of him, like he’d break if she breathed on him too hard. It was pretty clear that Liara was still firmly in her maiden phase and wasn’t about to go matron on Shepard anytime soon. Still, she had cheerfully taken over babysitting duties (to Joker’s vast relief) and had somehow managed to install a fairly high end bassinet into her quarters that doubled as a miniature life-pod with locator beacon.

“He’s just being picky.” Shepard considered making her discreet way back up the elevator, but she was only halfway out of her armor and had no excuse for abandoning the Primarch’s group right out of the gate. She had time, she thought, if she stood out of sight and worked quickly. Liara could change him without any help and at least part of Buddy’s problem was that he’d gotten lonely.

Life Always Finds A Way 9/???

Unfortunately, she hadn’t counted on the fact that Adrien Victus, the new Primarch of Palaven, was a father himself and was thus rather more sensitive to certain sounds than the unmated males in his squad.

He found her seated on storage crate with Buddy tucked into the crook of her arm while Liara hovered. She didn’t notice right away, being rather more occupied with getting the business end of the feeder tube into his little mouth than she was with watching her surroundings. Buddy was having a marvelous time as complicating meal times was his favorite activity practically ever.

“A refugee child, Admiral?”

Shepard was very proud of herself. She didn’t jump hardly at all and forced herself to look calm as she met the Primarch’s gaze. “Not exactly, Primarch. It’s somewhat complicated.”

“This war has complicated a lot of things.” He crouched by her side and offered his hand to Buddy.

Buddy considered the proffered digit and sniffed deeply. Whatever he smelled didn’t seem to agree with him and Shepard blinked as her son gave a tiny hiss and snapped at Victus’s finger. She pulled him out of range with the ease of rather more practice than she liked to admit to.

“Sorry, sir.” She tried for an easy smile, but only managed ‘strained’. “He’s a biter.”

“No harm done.” The Primarch shook his head, but sounded strangely pleased. “It’s because I’m an unfamiliar male and I don’t smell like family. Cradle anger. My son had it too. It’s considered a good sign among my kind. He’ll grow up brave and strong… although that means he won’t take to an adoptive family well, I’m afraid, if he’s already bonded to you.”

“We’ll cross that bridge if we get to it.” Shepard told him. She didn’t have any plans on putting her son up for adoption, but… there was a war on. No one could say for sure what would happen.

“Primarch, Shepard, I…” Garrus rounded the corner and froze in place as he took in the sight before him. The noise he made bypassed both his translator and Shepard’s completely. “Shepard.” He said at last and she couldn’t make heads or tails of what that tone meant. His voice was husky, sort of like he was angry, but sort of like he wasn’t. His gaze had zeroed in on Buddy and she could see biometric data scrolling across his upgraded visor.

Then it happened. Victus moved to stand and Garrus’ attention snapped away from Buddy and he hissed at the Primarch before slamming his mouth shut with both hands and recoiling away.

Victus blinked slowly, with his hands held up, and looked from Garrus to Shepard and then back. “I’ll be with the others, Garrus.” He said with a subtle undercurrent of humor in his voice. “Perhaps you two should… talk. Dr. T’soni. Would you accompany me?”

Just like that, they were alone. Garrus sort of staggered to her side and dropped into a crouch in front of her. His attention was consumed by Buddy’s tiny existence and, to her surprise, Buddy was staring right back. Some sort of communication passed between the two turians and Garrus reached out with a hesitant finger to trace the outline of Buddy’s tony cowl. Ever more wonderous was the fact that Buddy did not attempt to bite him. Instead, the child stared at his unwitting father for a long moment before he opened his mouth and issued forth the most demanding little yap she’d ever heard him make.

Garrus’s eyes darted up to Shepard. “Shepard… can I…?”

She nodded, not trusting her voice and just sat there trembling as Garrus lifted Buddy out of her lap. He held the boy up in the air and then pressed his face into Buddy’s midsection, breathing in as deeply as he could. He pulled away with confusion and something like joy warring on his face. “Shepard, I don’t understand. He smell like…” He gulped. “Like he’s mine.”

Life Always Finds A Way 10/???

Her cheeks were burning and she just knew that her face was bright, bright red. “He…” She swallowed. “He is. I can’t talk about more than that here.” She let her eyes dart left towards the Primarch’s delegation. “I’ll debrief you later.”

“Just…” Garrus looked down at his son, who was sort of dangling from the front of his cowl and snuffling into his father’s throat, memorizing his particular scene. “His name?”

“Ah.” Shepard felt her blush reach critical mass. “Look, Garrus, I’m crap at turian names and… uh… it’s Alexander. It’s human, but…” she cut herself off as she felt Garrus cup her cheek (an ironic mirror to the gesture she often used to shush him).

“It’s good.” He said softly. “I like it.”


Later, Garrus stared at the reports and photos stored on Shepard’s omnitool like they were hiding the secrets of the universe. Maybe they were.

“Reaper tech?” He said hoarsely. “Those sons of bitches put Reaper Tech into you?”

Shepard looked up from where she’d been laying under the sun lamp, trying to read through a mission report while Buddy napped. Garrus had swapped out their omnitools and was seated by her feet with her legs in his lap.

“We don’t know for sure.” She told him. “… but it seems likely.”

Garrus closed a hand around one of her ankles. “I am going to kill every Cerberus soldier we see from now on.” He replied conversationally then he shook his head, as if to clear it. “Why didn’t you contact me?” He traced the bones in her ankle with one talon. “I… I would have wanted to be there.”

“I wanted you there too.” Shepard growled low under her breath, remembering the way she’d been stonewalled. “The decision was made that there was no way to contact you that was secure enough. Personally, I think they were afraid of hierarchy interference. A human woman giving birth to a turian child? There was a lot of fighting behind closed doors as to what his nationality was going to be, since they had to worry about setting precedent.”

“I bet you just loved having to sit through that.”

“You’re assuming they included me.” Shepard rolled her eyes. “No, I was still under house arrest. Gestating, I suppose, like a good little woman ought in their eyes. No extranet, no exertion, nothing. Apparently getting pregnant makes one less dangerous not more. No, the only reason I know anything about it was because Anderson kept me updated.”

“Your politicians have clearly never encountered a new turian mother.” Garrus shuddered. He paused and then smiled. “So. Admiral Shepard.”

“Oh no, you don’t, Vakarian.” She leveled a finger in his direction. “If you give me shit about my promotion then I’m going to make you tell me about why the Generals all have to salute you.”

“Touche.” He murmured and reached for Buddy, who chirped a bit in his sleep as his father transferred him into his cradle and moved the sun lamp to cover him. Then Garrus turned to her with a very familiar and welcome expression. “So. Here we are.”

“Here we are.” She agreed and then squeaked as he abruptly scooped her up into his arms and carried her across the room to the bed.

Later … much later, Shepard was just on the verge of falling asleep held in the circle of her lover’s arms as one incredibly important thing suddenly occurred to her.

“Oh shit” she whispered and Garrus tensed as her alarm startled him out of his own half-doze.

“Wha…” He blinked the sleep out of his eyes. “We under attack?”

“No, no.” she gulped. “Garrus, we didn’t use a condom.

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Life Always Finds A Way 10/???

A/N: sorry for the delay. This segment (short as it is) was being a recalcitrant little puke.

Dr. Chakwas very nearly killed her.

As it was, Shepard was forced to sit meekly through the most blistering lecture on safe-sex that she had ever had to suffer in her entire life. Worse, she knew that she deserved it.

The universe, however, was kind and neither the pregnancy test nor a series of very invasive medical scans turned up any evidence that anything had… um… taken root.

“Actually, quite the opposite.” Dr. Chakwas frowned at her scans. “Near as I can figure, your reproductive system has gone dormant. It’s still functional, it’s just… not.” She frowned. “I’m not sure exactly why that is. It might have to do with Buddy’s recent birth. You’re in good shape, but your body is nowhere near ready to safely produce another child. It might just be recuperating until conditions are once again ideal.” Her eyes narrowed. “You will not, however, be taking that for granted, Admiral. There are dual-chirality prophylactics in the NQA cupboard. They are there in order to be used.”

“NQA?” Garrus turned a questioning gaze towards Shepard who shrugged.

“No Questions Asked. It’s for things no one needs to ask you about; birth control, certain sanitary supplies, and some common medications that are too mild to abuse.” She told him. “Technically, Alliance regs forbid fraternization on ship, but there’s no real way to enforce that. Our tours of duty are too long to risk someone turning up pregnant when there’s no way to get them back to civilized space in time.”

“Huh.” Garrus frowned. “So wait. Your military makes rules that they know you’ll break?”

“Not exactly, but…” Shepard paused. “Well, I guess so.” She shrugged. “It keeps things down to a minimum, but it doesn’t exactly prevent things from happening. I don’t think you realize just how crazy humans can get when sex is involved. It’s not pretty and I don’t really blame the Alliance for wanting to keep it down to a dull roar.”

“I’ll take your word for it.” He cocked his head. “I haven’t noticed any crazy behavior from you yet. None that didn’t exist before our relationship anyway. Should I brace for impact?”

“Nah.” She grinned. “I vent my insanity in other directions.”

“Good to know.”

“Commander.” Dr. Chakwas broke in to hand Shepard a datapad. “Will we be returning to the Citadel after this mission?”

Shepard accepted the pad and gave it a quick once over. It looked to be a medical inventory. “That was the plan; stop by the Citadel then onto the Annos Basin for the War Summit.”

“Then perhaps there’s an opportunity here…” Dr. Chakwas began to outline a plan she had to trade surplus supplies they had on hand for more relevant sorts of materials that they had in smaller supplies.

Garrus caught her gaze over Dr. Chakwas’s shoulder and nodded his head towards the elevator. Buddy was still asleep in his bassinet, but it didn’t do to leave him on his own for long. She nodded back (and tried to make her heart quit doing weird things like float right through her ribcage at something so incredibly mundane as Garrus tagging her out of parental responsibilities for a bit. Was it like this for every couple? She could barely stand the constant onslaught of feelings, but there Garrus was; watching her six be it in battle, wading through politics, or apparently in parenthood.) and did her best to give Dr. Chakwas her full attention.

It wasn’t easy.

Life Always Finds a Way 11/?

Garrus made it all the way up the elevator and into Shepard’s quarters before the reaction finally broke through his carefully maintained barriers and his knees buckled.

“Oh sweet spirits.” He groaned and collapsed onto the couch.

“Do you require medical assistance, Legatus Vakarian?” EDI inquired ingenuously and her hologram flickered with silent laughter as he glared at her.

“Don’t you dare breathe a WORD of it to Shepard.” He growled. “She does not need to know.”

“By which you mean that she would restrict you from active duty if she knew the true nature of your rank within the turian meritocracy.” EDI’s hologram blinked with deceptive laziness. “I have been researching your military structure. I find it curious that turian generals must serve under a senatorial officer. I have not been able to discover why one of your subordinate officers was promoted over you as Primarch.”

“If I tell you, will you promise not to tell the Commander?”


“Primarch Victus holds a higher civilian rank than I do. It’s different from military rank. There’s also a minimum age and length of military service requirement.” Garrus sighed. “I also excused myself from the line of succession. I don’t ever want to be Primarch. Satisfied?”

“I am.” She paused. “Do you require any assistance?”

His eyes stole towards the bassinet where his son lay sleeping. Spirits. His son. He had a son. A son whose existence he hadn’t suspected until the moment when he rounded a corner and literally ran straight into him.

“Ancestors have mercy on me.” He muttered. “I don’t think so, EDI, but… keep an eye on me?”

“Of course.”

Garrus forced his hands to stop trembling and got to his feet. Alexander was impossibly tiny in his cradle and he had to bite back the possessive rumble in his chest. A son. His son. Alexander’s soft baby scent was an unmistakable mixture of his family and Shepard’s sharp, sweet perfume. Garrus jumped slightly as Alexander shifted in his sleep and rolled over onto his back. His tiny mouth stretched open wide in a sleepy yawn.

Alexander blinked awake and snuffled the air. Catching Garrus’s scent, which had to still be somewhat unfamiliar even if he had the birth instincts to recognize it, he opened his eyes. At his age, he couldn’t make out much in the way of detail or color. All that would come later, but he could recognize the general silhouette of his parents. His expression seemed dubious as he looked up at his father and Garrus had to chuckle.

“Sorry, Buddy. I’m the best you get.” Tentatively, he reached down and caressed the shell of Alexander’s crest. It was impressive for an infant and gave a hint as to what he would grow into. No matter how tiny he seemed, he was larger than usual and would probably grow to be very tall indeed. He hunted for any evidence of Shepard in his son’s face. Buddy had his father’s scales, his father’s eyes, the promise of his grandfather’s crest and mandibles, his aunt’s hands, his grandmother’s mouth… but there was something in his face that spoke of his mother.

He’d been through the medical reports. Nothing of Shepard had gone into the formation of their son. Maybe he was just seeing what he wanted to see.

That was when Alexander bit him.

Garrus blinked. It didn’t hurt, but… cradle rage wasn’t something that ran in the Vakarian clan. ‘Careful, sir. He’s a biter.’ Hadn’t he heard Shepard saying that to Vitus? Garrus snorted as the infant cheerfully went on gnawing on the tip of one of his talons, blunting his sharp baby teeth on the tough keratin.

“Nevermind.” He chuckled. “You definitely take after her.”

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Life Always Finds a Way 12/???

“Is there something you’d like to discuss with me, Legatus?”

Garrus froze. His hands went still over the thanix canon console and he turned to see Victus (it was hard to think of him as ‘Primarch’) lounging against the hatch with that look on his face. The one he got when he’d caught a whiff of a story and meant to hear the whole thing out.

“The child.” Victus let the hatch slide close behind him. He was deliberately speaking the turian high tongue. It was about the only way to have a private conversation on a ship with such close conditions. Sound carried on the crew deck. Someone had ripped out the soundproofing, maybe looking for Cerberus bugs, and hadn’t replaced it before the Normandy had been shoved back into service. “He smells like he’s yours.”

“He is mine, sir.” Garrus fought the urge to snarl. Logically, he knew his friend and leader was no threat to his… to his family, but it was hard to tell that to the parts of him that were only barely removed from the days when his kind hunted in packs and killed foreigners on sight. The knowledge was new, too new for him to control his reaction to it all the way.

“Do you need time?” Victus asked. “I can give you time, if you need it.”

“No, I…” Garrus turned away. It was customary for a new family to sequester themselves for the first few months after the birth of their first child, namely so that the father wasn’t put in a place where his instincts would overwhelm his better sense and end up with him accidently mauling someone. “There’s no time to spare. Not for her. Not for me. We’ll do the best we can and it’ll have to be enough.”

“So she is the mother then?” Victus didn’t sound particularly surprised, but then he’d met Shepard and knew that there were few things brave enough to stand in her way when she wanted something. “Our intelligence suggested something of the kind, but no one believed it.” He snorted. “No one believed in the Reapers either, so I suppose it goes to show.”

“It’s all a bit difficult to swallow, sir.”

“Is it? Difficult, I mean, for you?”

“Finding out I have a medically impossible son with my human lover?” Garrus shook his head. “Not in the ways you might think, sir. I… Shepard once told me about something human marines do; they make lists of everything they want to do before they die. She calls it a ‘bucket list’; things I want to do before I kick the bucket.”

“Odd way of putting it.” Victus took a seat by the small weapons bench that someone had installed into the foreward battery. It took up the space where Garrus used to hang his hammock, which would have put him in an awkward position if it hadn’t been for Shepard’s invitation to share her quarters.

“I told you… about us. Before.” It had been a battlefield confession; the sort of thing you don’t want to die without anyone ever knowing about. So Victus knew about his relationship with Shepard and hadn’t disapproved. “There were things I wanted to be able to give her. Impossible things. Alexander is… he was pretty much at the top of my list. Now I can’t help wanting to give her the rest… and there are things we haven’t talked about yet.”

Shepard didn’t talk about her past much not even with Garrus and he suspected that he knew more about her background than anyone else alive. What little he did know fell somewhere between merely unfortunate and outright tragic. The things he wanted to share with Shepard -family, hearth, and home- were fragile dreams that he could scarcely allow himself.

“We’ll survive the Reapers.” Victus told him quietly. “There will be a future. Don’t ever let yourself believe otherwise.”

“Yes, sir.” Garrus mustered up a salute from somewhere. “Damn straight.”

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Life Always Finds a Way 13/???

Huerta memorial was as slammed as ever. For once, it was easy to fade into the crowd and just be one of twenty other servicewomen wandering around in standard shipside fatigues.

Shepard moved through the crowd, listening to bits and scraps of the conversations going on between the people too busy to even notice she existed. Some of it was just noise; tiny windows into the life of a civilian. Some of it she bookmarked for later in the interests of the war effort. All of it helped her distract herself from her reasons for being in the hospital.

Kaidan was awake when she entered –and talking to Udina, which wasn’t awkward AT ALL but hey whatever. She and the Councilor nodded to one another as they passed in the doorway.

“Hey.” She took a seat by Kaidan’s bed and wondered, not for the first time, what it was she thought she was doing. “You’re looking better than last time.” Taking a moment to look out for nurses on the prowl for contraband, she pulled out the bottle of whiskey she’d bought on impulse at the Sirta foundation kiosk. “Gotcha a little something. If you get caught with it, I will deny all involvement.”

“Ha ha. You’re funny, ma’am.” Kaidan grimaced as he reached for the bottle, but accepted it readily enough. Poor guy was covered in a black and blue mosaic of bruises. “Thanks for this. Maybe we can crack it open later.”

“We’ll see.” She managed a smile and got one in return. “How are you feeling?”

“Better than I could have.” Kaidan settled himself back down on his bed and crossed his hands over his stomach. It was actually more of a fight to keep her eyes up where they belonged than Shepard really cared to admit to. Either there was a shirt shortage on the Presidium or one of the doctors was having some fun at Kaidan’s expense. “I’d be ready to go, except the doctor wants to keep me around for observation… wait, why is that funny?”

Shepard composed her face and waved it off. “It’s nothing. Nothing at all. Please continue.”

“I see your mind hasn’t gotten any cleaner since the old days.” He chuckled and shook his head. “Strange how reassuring that was. I thought I’d never hear you crack a dirty joke again.” His eyes darted over in her direction before snapping back to where he’d been keeping them trained on the wall. “I…” His smile died like someone hit the kill switch. “Shepard, I need to ask you something.”

Ah. She nodded and accepted that it was always going to be that way with Kaidan. He wasn’t the accepting type; always questioning even if he asked the same question in different ways over and over. Eventually that boy was going to learn to trust, but life hadn’t taught him the value of that particular lesson yet. It might never. “Go ahead.” She told him. “I’ll answer what I can.”

“That’s all I can ask for, isn’t it?” He shook his head. “I’ve heard rumors about your time out from under Alliance oversight.” An interesting way of putting it, but perhaps it was telling that he wasn’t throwing Cerberus in her face again. “Was there… something between you and Garrus?”

Shepard fought down her first defensive response and her secondary neutral one. Instead she took a breath and said, “Yes. There is.” Saying that was burning a bridge and she knew it, but –maybe she’d learned something Kaidan hadn’t over the past few years. Sometimes the only way out that you could leave for yourself was the route straight ahead. Anything less was holding back.

Kaidan’s shoulders dropped… not much, but enough. “I see.” He looked away. “Udina offered me a position as a Specter. I’m thinking of taking it.”

Life Always Finds A Way 14/???

“You’d be good at the job.” Shepard told him and meant it. Whatever meaningless personal bullshit lay between them, nothing was ever going to change the fact that he was a good soldier who she was proud to have served with. She hoped he knew that, but she couldn’t think of any way to tell him so without reopening old wounds. “It’s a big decision. Take the time you need.”

“You know, you’re the first person who’s told me that?” He sighed. “You never were the pushy type, were you, Shepard?”

She smirked. “What are you talking about? I’m the pushiest dame you’ll ever meet. Ask Councilor Sparatus.”

“Not when it counts.” Kaidan lay back and closed his eyes. “Shepard… if I’d gone with you that day on Horizon. Do you think…?”

“Maybe.” Shepard shrugged. “No one can say for sure, but… Kaidan.” She fought to find the words that would get what she needed to say across and would draw the least amount of blood. “I’m happy. With Garrus.” She swallowed. “I’ve never… not like I am now. I didn’t realize I could be.” Shit. She was perilously close to crying. “You are one of the finest soldiers I’ve ever served with and we’ve been through a lot together…” Her eyes opened automatically as she felt a warm rough hand on her arm. He’d reached out to touch her.

“… but it’s over.” Kaidan laughed softly and smiled. “I get it. Garrus is a lucky man.”

“I don’t know.” She confessed. “I think I’m the lucky one.”

“Nah, he worships the ground you walk on –has ever since we picked him up in the Lower Wards and you tore a strip off him for firing into a hostage situation.” Kaidan withdrew his hand and settled back into a more comfortable position. “He’s been good for you. You seem… more like you now. Back on Horizon… it was easier to believe that you might have gone rogue back then. It’s different now.”

“I…” She swallowed on a lump in her throat. God damned emotions. Krogans had it good. They dealt with personal trauma and stress through one easy outlet: violence. Lucky bastards. “Yeah, Horizon came at a bad time. I hadn’t been… awake for very long. Everything was still raw and new. It hardly seemed real.”

“Shit.” He groaned. “I’m sorry. I should have –you deserved better than that. Even just from a friend. I –I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you. I let my temper get the best of me and… I’m just sorry.” The right side of his mouth quirked up in a half-smile that had once made her want to kiss him every time she saw it. “Clean slate?”

“Clean slate.” She agreed. “I don’t blame you, you know. For not joining up. The Illusive Man was not the kind of partner you could easily rely on. He very nearly got my team killed on more occasions than the Collectors. I went into it prepared for that, but… like I said. It was an incredibly tense situation.” She paused. “Kaidan. About becoming a specter… it’s not like serving in the Alliance. You can’t expect nearly the same level of support and the Council will casually dismiss evidence that would stand up in court no problem. You were there when I pled my case before them back in the day… just think real hard before you make a decision. The Alliance may not be able to grant you the same privileges and authority that the Council can, but they’re far less likely to dismiss information that they don’t want to hear.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Kaidan told her. He turned to look out his window. “To be honest… I was actually thinking about that; convincing the Council that Saren was actually a traitor. You have no idea how mad it made me when I heard that they ordered C-sec to investigate him and then didn’t give them the clearance to actually do it. God, what a cover up.”

Life Always Finds a Way 15/???

“No joke.” Shepard groaned, thinking back to several of the conversations she’d had with the council on that subject. “I’m not entirely positive that Councilor Tevos doesn’t still think he was innocent. When I… came back, she justified their dismissal of the Reaper threat by saying that Saren was a compelling and charismatic individual who could easily sway the Geth to his way of thinking.”

“Uh… are we talking about the same turian, ma’am?” Kaidan cocked an eyebrow. “Saren had… well, let’s call it a personal aura, but listening to him talk was like hearing wonderland logic; it sounded ok if you didn’t actually pay any attention to what he was saying, but when you actually analyzed his argument it flew apart at the seams. Can’t see that being terribly persuasive to a synthetic.”

She just shrugged. “It wasn’t, generally, from what I understand. The heretic geth… had their own priorities and following Saren was just part of that deal.”

“Heretic…” He frowned and tilted his head. “Damn, I can’t wait to hear the story behind that statement. Life’s going to be a lot more interesting with you around again, Shepard.” He opened his mouth to say more but was interrupted by a beep from one of the machines hooked up to his IV. “Damn. I’m sorry, ma’am. It looks like I’m about to get hit with another sedative… for my implant, you know? You might want to go now. I’m going to be pretty loopy here in a couple of minutes.”

“I’m going.” She pushed herself to her feet. “How about next time I visit I skip the hooch and just bring you a shirt, huh?”

“Might not be a bad idea, ma’am.” Kaidan’s eyelids were already getting heavy. “It’s actually kind of chilly in here and the nurses keep opening the door so there’s a draft. Don’t know what it is they want that someone has to check on me every five minutes…”

“Sleep tight, Alenko.” Shepard chuckled and closed the door behind her. She walked out of the patient wing with a new bounce in her step.

Clearing the air felt… good. Liberating. She’d lost too many people over the years to lose another friend to interpersonal drama. Moreover, it felt good to have her boundaries re-established. Things might never be the same between her and Alenko, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. She’d learned the hard way that she and Kaidan made better friends than lovers.

Still, her steps stilled as she passed the giftshop kiosk and a wicked smile flickered across her face when she spotted a new listing in the catalog. She made her transaction quickly and retrieved her purchase from the desk clerk.

Thane was still hanging out by the window, enjoying the view, where she’d left him earlier in the day. They’d never been particularly close, but they’d had some fairly decent conversations. She had the feeling that Thane Krios didn’t make friends easily and that she might count among those rare few.

He looked up as she approached and smiled at her. The expression lacked his old vitality and made her heart ache a little because she could fight a lot of things… except disease. “Siha.” He greeted her, using that word he still refused to define. “You look like you have something on your mind.”

“Can I ask a favor?” She handed him her parcel and grinned as he blinked at it. “The human biotic we talked about earlier? Can you give that to him when he wakes up?”

“Of course, siha.” Thane squinted at what she had given him. “If you feel that it’s… appropriate.”

“You’re a class act, Thane.” She told him, trying very hard not to smile at his disdain. “I appreciate it.”

Life Always Finds a Way 16/???


It took Kaidan a while to realize that there was someone in his room as he floundered into wakefulness. He blinked and the cobwebs in his brain mercifully flew away. Being a biotic had it downfalls, but the enhanced metabolism was good for something other than making him into a human garbage disposal unit at least.

A drell was sitting by his bed reading an old fashioned paperback book. There was an oxygen tank leaning up against his chair… ah. He’d heard that there was someone suffering from Kepral’s syndrome around, but he’d never encountered the man in person.

“Uh, did you need something?” He asked groggily and the drell shut his book.

“I was asked by a mutual acquaintance to give you something.” The drell had what Kaidan’s mother had once called a ‘whiskey and cigarettes’ voice. Kaidan wondered if that rasp was a side effect of his illness. “Commander Shepard left this for you.”

“Comm…” Something mulish in him revolted and broke free of his usual control. “Admiral Shepard.” He corrected the drell and tried not to examine his motivations for doing so very closely. The drell just nodded and handed him a folded fabric square wrapped in plastic and sealed with the same aerogel lock that had been on the bottle of whiskey Shepard had smuggled in for him. “Thank you.” He added as he broke the lock and shook the square open to reveal a novelty t-shirt.

It was dark blue and had ‘My Friend Visited the Citadel and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt’ written across the front in white block letters.

“What the hell, Shepard?” He chuckled and felt something break loose in his chest. It was a figurative pain, but it felt… good. Like a bone that was finally healing straight. He pulled the shirt on and turned to his drell visitor to ask how it looked… but the chair was empty and there was no sign that the drell had ever been there at all.

He hadn’t even heard the door move.

Life Always Finds a Way 17/???

“What the hell is that?”

Urdnot Wrex; Lord High Pumba of Tact and Discretion.

Shepard rolled her eyes as her former squadmate squatted down next to her and peered down at the tiny bundle in her lap. He squinted, like Buddy would stop being a turian if only he stared hard enough. “That’s a baby, Wrex.”

Up until that point, she’d been watching her marines do combat drills… or rather, she’d been watching Vega bouncing the rest of her soldiers off the walls and just generally having a marvelous time. The more she thought of it, the more he seemed like an older human Grunt.

“I know it’s a baby.” Wrex fixed her with one reptilian eye. He kind of reminded her of a crocodile when he did that. “Why’s it a turian baby? If I’d known you were in the business of making impossible babies, I’dve put my name in the hat after your trial on Tuchanka.”

“Yeah, I don’t think Garrus would have been too happy about that.” Shepard cocked a brow. “Mind telling me how you know about Buddy?”

“Buddy, huh?” Wrex snorted and sat down on a crate next to her. “Can’t give details, but you’d be amazed what people will leave out around a krogan. It’s like they think we’re too dumb to read or something.”

“Can’t imagine where they got that impression, Wrex.” She replied blandly and was rewarded by a booming laugh.

“Well, maybe we cultivate the image.” He held out a finger to Buddy and laughed when the predictable happened. “Mean little runt. Must get it from your side of the family.”

“Laugh it up, Wrex. If he’d been human he wouldn’t have any teeth at all to bite you with and he’d cry a lot more.” Shepard dandled her son on her knee. He seemed to enjoy the activity and it let him flail his little arms around to get some exercise. “I can only imagine what you’d say to that.”

“I find that hard to believe.” Wrex fell silent as Vega finally left the mat (much to the relief of the other marines) and found a seat next to Shepard. He didn’t fight too hard as Shepard handed him over and prepared to take her own turn, but after a second he made a face and handed Buddy back.

“Yeah, Lola, you don’t pay me for diaper duty.” He grimaced.

“One wonders what it is I do pay you for.” She replied, but took Buddy back. “Big strong guy like you? Brought down low by a baby. That’s sad, Mister Vega.”

“So when is he old enough to potty train?”

Shepard just shrugged. Honestly, she had no idea but luckily that wasn’t a question she was going to have to deal with for a good long while. “No idea what’s involved, Vega. I’ll figure that one out when we get to it.”

“That’s weird, Lola.” Vega stripped off his shirt with casual abandon and proceeded to make liberal use of his towel. “I mean, you’re with Scars and all. If I ever felt the need to know how a turian does his business you’re the person I’d ask.”

“…” For a second, Shepard found herself completely bereft of words. Slowly, she sat Buddy back down on her lap and turned at the waist to stare at Vega. “What on earth makes you think I know anything about what Garrus does in the bathroom?”

“Huh, I just heard you two were pretty serious, that’s all.” He shrugged and looked confused.

“You’re going to have to explain to me how those two things are related.”

“Well, it’s like the ultimate relationship test, no?” Dear lord, the boy was being serious. Shepard felt a sudden wave of sympathy for every woman Vega had ever dated. “Being in the same room when somebody…”

“Thaaaaaat’s enough.” She held up her hands in surrender and squinted at him. “Has it ever occurred to you that there’s a reason you’re single, Vega? How did we even start talking about this?”

Life Always Finds a Way 18/???

“Uh, no idea, ma’am.” Vega looked around quickly, possibly for an avenue of escape. “Oh hey, look. There’s Esteban. I should go… talk… over there. Bye!”

Shepard rolled her eyes and turned to Wrex, who shrugged.

“And here I thought our youngsters were dumb.” He rumbled. “Everyone knows the ultimate test is if you bring her the head on an enemy. If she stuffs it and mounts it in her nest then you’re in.”

“I…” She shook her head. “I’ve got nothing to say to that, Wrex.”

As it was clear that she wasn’t going to be getting a peaceful workout, Shepard took Buddy back upstairs where things still made sense. Later on she conned Liara into babysitting and dragged Garrus down for a little sparring (actual sparring, not the other kind of workout).

Training with Garrus was just this side of brutal. Even with her Cerberus enhancements, Shepard had to push herself to the limit just to keep up… not that that was a bad thing, really, but when Garrus had boasted about his ‘reach’ he hadn’t been kidding. The man had an arm like barge pole and agility was about the only thing she edged him out in.

Afterwards, when they were cooling down, something occurred to her. Her conversation with Vega and Wrex had been itching away at the back of her head (thanks for nothing, guys) and there was something she was morbidly curious about all of a sudden. “Hey, Garrus.” She tried to frame her question in a way that wasn’t completely weird. “Is there something that turian males do to…” She trailed off as she realized that it was impossible. Couldn’t be done. “Wait no, nevermind. Forget I asked.”

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Life Always Finds a Way 19/???

A/N: Had to recuperate from a lost save file, but I think I came back stronger than what I had before!

Tuchanka was… rough. On everyone involved, but not the least for Primarch Victus. Shepard hadn’t been a mother for very long, but… seeing Tarquin fall. If she closed her eyes she could still feel her amp burning like a miniaturized star as she forced a Pull long before her amp had cooled. It had been instinctual; a snap second when her hindbrain insisted that it wasn’t the young Lieutenant falling, but Alexander in a few years.

If that was what they called ‘maternal instincts’ then Shepard was going to start hunting for a gift receipt.

She’d barely pulled him free of the blast and even then, he’d taken damage. Last she’d seen him, he’d been in an induced coma in medbay… which was, technically, where she was supposed to be as well.

Her implant still hurt like a motherfucker. No better way of phrasing it, but she’d had worse. It meant she was grounded for a bit while a dose of nanites repaired the fragile synthetic neural net that allowed her to harness her biotics, but… at least she’d managed to save someone. The bulk of the 9th platoon had given their lives to disarm the Kelphic Valley bomb, but there had been some survivors.

No thanks to Cerberus. Damn the Illusive Man and his delusions of grandeur.

She rolled her shoulders as the elevator deposited her on the crew deck, but when she stepped out of the carriage she stepped into a wall of turian rather than an empty corridor.

Primarch Victus stabilized her with one hand as she staggered back and shook her head. “My apologies, Admiral.” Something about his tone gave Shepard pause. He almost sounded… no way.

“I should have been watching where I was going.” She stomped on her suspicions. Turians might be a bit more lax when it came to personal barriers, but they had a working relationship that was too vital to jeapordize… only… only he hadn’t let go of her shoulder yet and Shepard wasn’t entirely sure how she felt about that. “No harm done, I hope.”

“None.” Primarch Victus turned his head slightly in the direction of the MEdbay. “Admiral… Shepard. I never… thanked you. For rescuing my son.”

“Don’t thank me yet.” Shepard winced. “He’s still in rough shape. I… my thoughts are with Tarquin, Primarch. If anyone can pull him through, it’s my medical team. Dr. Chakwas is the best trauma surgeon I’ve ever worked with.”

“He was conscious briefly. The outlook seems good.” The Primarch’s hand was still lingering on her shoulder, like he’d either forgotten it was there or couldn’t quite make himself let go. Something trembled in the air unsaid and as he opened his mouth, a soft footfall interrupted them.

It was Garrus.

The two turians looked at each other, communicating on some level that Shepard couldn’t quite tune into, and Victus let his hand fall. Something eased out of Garrus’s stance. It wasn’t aggression or suspicion or any emotion that Shepard had a word for, but whatever it was had evaporated like it never was.

“I must return to my post. If you will excuse me?” He nodded to Garrus. “Admiral. Legatus.”

She cocked an eyebrow as Victus used a word to address Garrus that caused her translator to cough up blood and segue into latin. Apparently it was another piece to the puzzle of Garrus’s rank if the suddenly poisonous look he was aiming at the Primarch was anything to go by.

Victus just nodded graciously with a certain vindictive glint in his eye as he stepped into the elevator.

Shepard blinked in surprise. Again, something had just happened and again it had flown clear over her head. She turned to Garrus who was standing abashedly behind her, practically vibrating with a nervous energy.

“Can we talk?” He stepped in close. “In private?”

Life Always Finds a Way 20/???

“Yeah, sure.” It was incredibly rare for Garrus to make a request of her. She could count the times he’d done it on one hand –and a turian hand at that. She allowed him to tug her into the battery and stood quiet as he closed the hatch behind them and locked it. “What just happened out there?” She asked once she was sure that they were alone.

“I, uh…” Garrus stepped back from the glowing red aerogel panel on the door, but didn’t quite turn to face her. It wasn’t a great sign that he felt like he couldn’t face her, but at least he wasn’t doing that thing where he paced restlessly back and forth making it clear that he was talking about something he absolutely didn’t want to be. “It was nothing inappropriate… if you were a turian woman. It would look bad – to a human.”

“So I wasn’t imagining things. The Primarch of Palaven just hit on me.”

Garrus coughed. “Uh, not exactly. He was… it wasn’t something that cheap. Courting is a better word.” He paused and shifted. “More like, he was testing the waters.”

Oh god. Just when she thought she’d beheaded the Interspecies Awkwardness monster once and for all, two more grew back. “Garrus. It’s my understanding that you and me? We’re pretty serious. I don’t understand what I could have been doing around the Primarch to make it seem like we aren’t.”

“It’s not like…” He shook his head. “No, Shepard. He knows we’re serious and respects that. If you’d… shown willingness then it wouldn’t have just been you that he was pursuing. Does that make sense?”

“I don’t… oh… OH.” Shepard felt her ears go hot as the full implication set in. She had noticed that Victus and Garrus were close, for lack of a better term, but she hadn’t quite realized that they were that close. “Oh.” She ducked her head and rubbed the back of her neck, trying to banish the stubborn flush to her skin. She tried very hard not to bring prudish human sexual baggage into her relationship with Garrus, but springing the possibility of a high-stakes threesome on her was pushing it a bit, she felt.

“Turians families don’t really have the same structure as human ones.” Garrus hurried his explanation along trying to skip past the embarrassing bits as quickly as possible. “When we say ‘clan’, it’s more than a loose network of smaller family units. There’s, uh, a reason why our names and clan paint descend through the maternal line.”

“So your families have multiple fathers?” She hazarded a guess and Garrus nodded.

“Mothers as well. Large clans often raise their children in small crèches, so that the wives don’t have to leave the workforce longer than they care to. I guess it’s a holdover from the pre-spaceflight era. There are a lot of predators on Palaven; very large, very fangy.” He flexed his fingers for emphasis. “Our population would have never expanded if the young had only two parents to rely on even after the industrial revolution. My clan is very small. There’s… well, it takes a certain kind of personality to willingly put up with my father and they aren’t exactly thick on the ground in the home system.”

“Okay. I think I follow. What was going on between you and Victus then? I caught some tension.”

Garrus flinched. “Tension is about the right word.” More nervous fidgeting. “I was warning him off and he took me about as seriously as I deserved to be taken.”

“Beg pardon?” Ok, THAT she had a problem with. The rest of it she could bundle up into a mental footlocker labeled ‘to be dealt with LATER’, but Garrus feeling bad for a perfectly normal reaction? That was not about to fly. Not now. Not ever. “Garrus, I may come from a different background than you do but there’s nothing wrong with warning someone off a person you’re involved with.”

Life Always Finds a Way 21/???

“Look, no, Shepard.” He held up his hands, forestalling her angry rant. “It’s not what I did. It’s how I did it. My behavior… look. Victus has been overlooking a lot and I’m grateful to him for it. Turians don’t handle surprises well… especially fatherhood. Actually, we don’t handle it well even when we have the normal amount of warning.” More pacing. More fidgeting. Shepard was starting to get a second hand adrenaline buzz off of him. “Victus… he’s a friend. More than a friend, really. If you and I weren’t together, we might have made a go of it. If it were just a matter of your personal preference or mine then there wouldn’t have been an insult. I didn’t run him off because his advances were unwelcome or because you seemed uncomfortable with him.”

There was a revelation coming. She could feel it and forced herself to remain silent. Garrus was working at trying to phrase it so she’d understand, which was something coming from a turian. His entire race was infamous for their inability to convey feelings with anything remotely resembling ease. The fact that he was willing to try when he obviously did not want to was an enormous gift and Shepard was learning how to accept that.

“I told you before that I’m not a very good turian.” Garrus confessed at long last. “A good turian would looked at Victus and seen a good and noble man that they would be honored to share a nest with; one who needs us. If I were a good turian, I’d be trying to explain that to you so it would make sense.” He looked down at his hands. “… but I’m not a good turian. I’m selfish and greedy. What we have is so damn new and-and exciting that I don’t want to share it with anyone else. I don’t want to share you with anyone else. He took a breath and finally looked at her. “Ever.”

Shepard bit back every last thing that was on the tip of her tongue and stomped her first five impulses into a stain on the figurative concrete. The species divide was staring her right in the face and this was not an instance where she could go off half-cocked.

Her initial reaction was the sort of guilty joy that any human woman would feel when her lover finally admitted to true and lasting feelings for her, but from his behavior, Garrus wasn’t feeling something that he thought he could be proud of. There was a field of emotional landmines between them and she knew she had to step carefully or risk hurting something that might never be repaired.

“Good.” She told him softly, stepping into the circle of his private space. Turians tended to be very conscious of their personal territory, which was pretty much whatever was within arm’s reach. Entering his space could either be a challenge or submission, depending on how she approached him. “I don’t want to share you either, Garrus. I play for keeps.”

“I…” He threaded his fingers through her hair and touched their foreheads together. Turians believed that their spirits rested in the forehead and the way he was touching her was more than a stand-in for a human kiss. “Shepard, I know humans don’t bond for life. Not easily. Not right away, but… I’m not going to be able to let you go again later.”

“Garrus.” She chose her words carefully. “I’ve lost a lot of people in my life. For the most part, I’ve been able to carry on –not because they didn’t mean anything to me, but because I could afford the loss. Maybe not easily.” Now it was her turn to hem and haw and fidget. “I couldn’t do that with you; just pick up and move forward until the bleeding stops. You make me stronger than I could ever be on my own, but losing you… it would put me in the ground.”

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Life Always Finds a Way 21/???

‘Shepard.’ For once EDI directed her voice into Shepard’s personal communicator rather than the local loudspeakers. Shepard liked to think that gaining a body had done something for EDI’s interpersonal skills, but really it probably had more to do with the fact that Buddy was passed out in his basket on the floor of her workstation. Even EDI was not about to face the consequences of interrupting nap time, especially now that she had body that could be put in the way of an irritable fanged baby. ‘Doctor Solus has lifted the Medbay quarantine. Eve’s autoimmune complications have been solved and she has requested your presence. I believe she would like to meet Buddy.’

“I’ll bring him down.” Shepard had to smile. She had only been able to speak with the complicated krogan woman once or twice before Mordin realized that part of Maelon’s genophage work had seriously compromised Eve’s immune response when it came to foreign bacteria and the like.

The female shaman had come down with a fairly nasty cold that she’d picked up from one of the ensigns shortly after her arrival onboard, which had forced Mordin to declare the Medbay off-limits until he was able to bolster Eve’s natural defenses against disease. Dr. Chakwas had set up an emergency triage station in the crew quarters in the meantime (and was enduring the situation extremely well for someone who’d just been booted out of her own territory, in Shepard’s opinion).

Buddy twitched and yawned as Shepard picked him up and tucked him against her shoulder. He stretched a bit and settled back down into a doze.

Shepard was able to make it down the elevator and through the communal crew area without causing too much comment. The crew was actually fairly used to seeing Buddy by now and they weren’t exactly your standard Alliance crew to begin with –being self-proclaimed lab rats, grease monkeys, dirtside security forces, and shipyard mechanics for the most part- so they had fewer sensibilities for Shepard to enrage. Theories about Buddy’s presence were varied, but the prevailing opinion seemed to be that if
Commander Fucking Shepard wanted to wander around with a carnivorous infant then they weren’t about to tell her she couldn’t.

Still, some of the ensigns liked to coo whenever Buddy came into sight. Shepard didn’t mind too much, but she didn’t have time to indulge Buddy’s adoring public at that very second.

“Ah, Shepard. Glad you could make it.” Mordin greeted her without really looking up from his work.

“Commander.” Even nodded (vaguely reminiscent of Wrex’s way of greeting her back on the SR1). Her eyes flickered towards Buddy and she held her hands out in a mute command.

“Mind his teeth.” Shepard warned her.

Buddy blinked sleepily as Shepard handed him over and yawned. Eve settled him into the crook of her arm and the pair shared a long evaluating stare before Buddy evidently decided she was an all right sort, yawned again, and went back to sleep.

“You may be on the hook for babysitting duty from now on.” She chuckled.

“Krogan children will do something similar.” Eve commented, looking very comfortable indeed with a baby in her arms. She was going to make a great mom. “They know who will tolerate misbehavior and who won’t. It’s a matter of dominance.”

Shepard coughed. There were quite literally only three people aboard the Normandy who Buddy wouldn’t bite; Shepard, Eve, and Joker strangely enough. (“I have brittle bone disease and a little sister.” was his cryptic explanation.)

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