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By Kethrielle

Romance / Scifi

Chapter 1

"His sacrifice will be recorded in the history of the Ninth Platoon. Something any father would be proud of."

There was something in his voice, something he held back, and she was sure she knew what it was. However, if he was going to be polite enough not to dress her down in front of her crew and Wrex, she would accept the kindness for what it was; but she would still give him an opening to say what needed to be said.

"Yes, sir. I'll be in my quarters later, if you wish to discuss anything else."

With that, she straightened to attention for a brief moment before nodding to Garrus and the Primarch and moving up the stairs towards the war room's exit. She stopped to talk to Wrex, wanting to be sure he had truly dropped the matter before leaving him and the Primarch alone together. After a brief exchange, she left, reassured that nothing would blow up in her absence.

Her next stop was the cockpit, and then it was on to her normal round of crew members, stopping diligently at each deck, speaking to anyone who wished to speak to her. She left the crew deck for last, and after speaking with Liara, she grabbed a meal from the mess hall, and took it up to her room. She was barely holding together, and knew that once she had managed to escape to the loft, she wouldn't be fit company for her crew until morning.

Primarch Victus watched Sheppard speak with the Krogan clan leader, then leave the room. When he was certain she wouldn't be returning, he used his omni tool to contact Garrus, his mandibles pulled tight against his face and his subtones ringing with displeasure.

"I believe your Commander will be withdrawing her support because of this last mission. Or maybe she just wants to yell at me about the decision I made to keep the existence of the bomb from her. Either way, I find I'm rather disappointed that she doesn't live up to your stories of her, Garrus."

In the main battery, Garrus frowned at the comm speaker.

"That doesn't sound like Sheppard. What exactly happened, Primarch?"

When Victus had given him the full story, Garrus thought it over, his subvocal tones humming thoughtfully.

"No, Sheppard never goes back on her word, and she usually isn't one to get hung up on things she can't change. I don't know what she wishes to discuss with you, though. There was something... off... about her on the ride back, but I don't know what it is. She seemed tense, anxious." Garrus frowned at the computer displaying the firing algorithms for the Normandy's main gun, and wondered if he should go speak with her. She hadn't wanted to talk about it before, but friends didn't give up when one was upset.

"Well, whatever it is, it can wait or she can speak to me in public or skip it. I won't be making a personal visit to her quarters." The Primarch's tone made it clear that he thought Sheppard's suggestion was inappropriate. Garrus just laughed, however.

"It isn't common in the Alliance, but Sheppard has always had an open door policy. Any of her crew can come to her anytime for any reason. It wouldn't work for everyone, but it works for Sheppard. And she always says what she means. If she invited you, she meant it. But you don't have to go, she won't force it."

With a harrumph that showed what he thought of that policy, Victus closed the comm. He was sure Vakarian was wrong in his assessment of the Commander's motives, but there was one thing he was correct about: there was no reason that Victus had to take the Commander up on her invitation to chat, and he certainly had no intention of doing so.

Except he couldn't sleep. Victus had worked as long as he could, then turned in for the night, skipping the prepared meal in favor of a dextro ration bar in the room he'd been assigned on the Normandy in order to avoid having to speak with anyone on board. He had taken the rations, locked himself in the room, turned off all but the most urgent of incoming alerts, and sat on the bunk (human shaped, naturally, and horribly uncomfortable; as career military, though, he'd slept in far worse conditions) and stared at the walls, while memories of his son played endlessly through his mind.

After several hours of this, though, his firmly suppressed grief had simply transmuted to anger, and he was soon pacing angrily around the small room, kicking at the bunk each time he passed it. He had to get out of this room, and find some way to cool his anger. Checking the time on his omni tool, he discovered it was deep in the night watch; the human crew were bound to be either asleep or on duty, Garrus had undoubtedly retired for the night, and though he was sure a shouting match with Wrex would do wonders for his pent up tension, it would probably be counterproductive in the long term for alliance he hoped to gain.

Finally, with a vicious grin, he decided to take the Commander up on her "offer" after all. He certainly felt like yelling at someone, she was as good a target as any. If she didn't expect him to wait this long to take her up on her offer to talk, then he might even manage to wake her up - an added bonus as far as he was concerned. With quick, decisive strides he left his room, boarded the Normandy's elevator, and punched the button for the loft.

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