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Title: Our Time
Author: IzzGidget
Artist: Payroo
Pairing: Shakarian
Disclaimer:  Copyright shit ain't mine, yo.  
**Author's Note**: I started this fic BEFORE the Leviathan DLC came out, so please pretend like it doesn't exist while reading this.

bigobangcover
Art py Payroo
 
   Shepard sat out on her balcony, glaring down at the traffic that whizzed by the Persidium.  A datapad was tossed angrily on the coffee table, its screen blinking innocently.  She heard the balcony doors whispered open from behind.
  “Still sulking, are you?” Garrus asked, as he came to sit next to her, hiding a white box behind his back.
  “I am not sulking,” Shepard grumbled.
  “Jane, we've been together for over thirty years – I can finally say I am confident in my ability to read your emotions.  You're sulking.”
  Jane sighed, leaning into his shoulder.  It was pointless to argue.  And she really was sulking.
  “I know, I just...I can't believe they want me to retire, Garrus,” she said mournfully.
  Retirement was not a word mentioned in the Shepard-Vakarian household.  It's slightest mention brought wrath down on anyone fool enough to mutter it's syllables.  Shepard's two children could attest to this.  And yet, here she was with a message from Alliance Command, broaching the forbidden subject:
                                                Admiral Shepard,
                  In light of over 40 years of service as an officer and hero of the Alliance Military,
we would like to meet with you and discuss any plans you may have fore career
retirement.  As a greatly respected member of the military, we want to assure you
the greatest comfort in your golden years.  Of course, there must also be discussion
of sensitive information you may have accumulated through out your career.  Merely
a review in protocol.  Please contact Officer Marshall Walters, extension 45D6 at the office
of Veteran Affairs at your earliest convenience.
                                                                        Thank you,
                                                                              Office of Veteran Affairs

  “It's not like they're forcing you to retire,” Garrus offered, “just to consider your options.”
  “What options?” she growled.
  “A private beach and a bottle of scotch to start,” Garrus answered.
  Shepard gave a small smile at the memory, but quickly faded back to sulking.
  “They could've at least waited until after my birthday.”
  Shepard had now reached an age where another year older came more with dread than anticipation.  She was sixty now, and could feel it in her bones.  There was an ache that even the Cerberus implants couldn't hide.  Her deep red hair now held streaks of silver, and crows feet crept across the corners of her eyes.  Her right leg would sometimes ache, right above the knee where her prosthetic started, a permanent reminder of what her decision at the Crucible had cost.
  “How about I make it up to you?” Garrus asked, reaching for the box.
  Shepard gently took hold of it, smelling strawberries.  Lifting the lid, she peaked inside to see a strawberry Danish from her favorite bakery.    Next to it was a little card that read “Happy Birthday” in Garrus's looping print.  She smiled, always more fond of smaller, more intimate gifts, than big flashy ones.
  “Are you trying to placate me with pastries, Vakarian?” she teased.
  Garrus grinned.
  “If the Reapers knew your weakness for breakfast sweets, this would've turned out much differently.”
  She elbowed him playfully.
  “That's no way to talk to your former CO.”
  “No, but it's the perfect way to talk to your wife,” he retorted, kissing the top of her head.
bigobang[1]
Art by Payroo
  
  That night, they held a private party with their close family and friends.  Since saving the galaxy, very few things in Shepard's life had been kept private, but birthdays were still one of them.  
  Most everyone from the old crew was there: Tali, Joker, EDI, Vega, Traynor, Kaidan, Jack, Jacob, even Grunt and Liara.  But time had changed things over the three decades since they'd walked through Hell together.  Tali was now married to Kal'Reeghar, with two kids of their own, part of the first generation of Quarians not completely bound by exo-suits.  Joker was still flying the Normandy, but his disease had continued to progress and he now walked with a cane.  He still liked to make cracks about his 'long, hard stick'.  EDI had been taken out in the blast in the Crucible, but Joker wasn't about to give her up.  Together, with Tali, they'd gotten her back, and she hadn't left Joker's side since.  Vega was now Commander of his own ship, the S. S. Midway.  After the war he passed his N7 training with flying colors and had been on the fast track to promotions ever since.  Traynor had left the military and now worked for the Galaxy News Network.  She was partners with a lovely woman named Katja, who was a reporter.  Kaidan and Jack ended up being unlikely business partners, founding and running one of the top biotic academies for humans.  How they'd managed to not kill each other was beyond anyone's knowledge, but they seemed to compliment each other.  Jacob lived a quiet life on a Terminus colony with his wife, heading up the local militia and chasing after his young grandchildren.  Grunt was still fighting and breeding, though he stopped counting his kid and kill count when they both hit over 75.  Liara's position as the Shadow Broker didn't allow her much of a life outside her work, she still sent Shepard occasional tips on missions, and visited when she could.  However, her closeness to Feron had certainly grown.
  Seeing all these familiar faces inevitably brought back memories of the ones they'd lost: Thane, Legion, Mordin, and the list had only grown with time.  Just a few years after the war, Admiral Hackett contracted a rare form of cancer that took him within the year.  Dr. Chakwas simply died of old age, safe and warm in her bed almost fifteen years ago.  And Samara had passed on seven years ago, content in the peace she found helping her daughter restore the monastery.  
  But it did not do to dwell on those who had moved on.  That was one of the harder lessons that came with age.  And it filled Shepard with a sense of pride to see those holes filled by the hopefuls of the next generation, including her own daughter, Amelia.  Biology never did cooperate for Garrus and her, despite plenty of practice, but that didn't stop them from having a family.  At twenty-six, Amelia was the eldest of their two children, a human, petite and blonde with laughing blue eyes and a mischievous smile.  She specialized in inter-species sociology at school and currently worked for the Galactic Counsel Group, a sort of UN peace force that handled inter-species conflict.
  As they sat enjoying dinner and drinks, Shepard leaned over to her daughter.  
  “So, any new man I should be aware of?” she teased.
  Amelia rolled her eyes, but smiled just slightly.
  “None that have stuck, but you know I've always got my eye open,” she answered.
  “And I'm always looking for target practice,” Garrus chimed in, so protective of their daughter it was on the verge of cliche.
  “Not if I shoot him first, Daddy,” Amelia quipped.
  Garrus grinned, mandibles flaring.
  “That's my girl,” he chuckled.
  “What about your brother?  Has he mentioned anyone special?” Shepard asked.
  “Why don't you ask him yourself?” came a flanging voice from behind her, slightly higher in pitch than Garrus's.  
  Shepard spun around in surprise.  A young Turian, still in his military uniform stood behind her, grinning.  His plate and leather skin was the color of rust, darkening to a deep red on his face and fringe.  White colony marks were etched on his face, matched with fiery orange eyes.
  “Arvis!” Shepard gasped, jumping from her chair and pulling her son into a tight hug.
  “Happy Birthday, Mom,” he told her, returning her embrace.
  “I thought you couldn't get the shore leave!” Shepard said.
  “Got it at the last minute, but I wanted to keep it as a surprise.  Besides, you're impossible to shop for,” he teased.
  Shepard laughed and gave his fringe an affectionate scratch before turning to her husband, a mock frown on her face.
  “How long have you known about this?” she asked.
  Garrus held up his hands in defense.
  “He only told me a week ago, promise.”
  She gave him a disbelieving 'humph', but was unable to wipe the smile off her face.
  Arvis joined in the festivities, exchanging 'hello's with old family friends and asking to be caught up on latest lifetime events.  

  As the night carried on, the conversation broke down into smaller, more intimate groups.  Shepard sat at the bar with Kaidan, reliving some particularly fond memories of Ashley and the Mako when Liara came up to them.
  “Shepard, may we talk?  In private?” she asked.
  “Sure, Liara.  Kaidan, excuse me for minute, will you?” she asked the former Lieutenant, as she followed the Asari to a shadowed alcove.
  “I'd ask why all the secrecy, but I know who I'm talking to,” Shepard teased, as she took a seat across from her friend.
  When Liara didn't even smile, Shepard's instinct kicked in and told her that it was important.
  “What is it?” she asked.  Becoming the savior of the galaxy hadn't come without a list of enemies, a list that she was now systematically checking in her head when Liara solemnly handed her a datapad.
  “Glyph picked this up from one of my sources with the Fleet Quarians.  It may be nothing, but it is certainly worth looking into,” she said.
  Shepard clicked open the only file, it was a transmission log from a Fleet shore party to their home ship.
  Life after the Reapers had not gone smoothly.  There were a lot of changes that had taken place, and many of the decisions and alliances made by Shepard's team had changed the face of the galaxy forever.  One of those was the forming of peace between the Geth and the Quarians.  Shepard's actions at the Crucible had rendered the Geth in-operational for a time.  But the Quarians weren't called tech masters for nothing and soon had them up and running again.  However, despite best efforts, some still refused to except them as allies.  As small fraction of the Fleet believed that nomadic space life was  the proper evolution of their species and culture, and that resettling on a their home world with the very  people who forced them off to begin with was taking a step backward.  Over time the conflicting ideas erupted into a civil war that destroyed several civilian ships of the Migrant Fleet and resulted in high casualties on both sides.  Eventually, the anti-geth faction broke away to form the Fleet Quarians.  As a whole, they were considered extremists, and not recognized as the majority of the Quarian species by the Council.  Recent years had made them reclusive and cold toward Citadel space.  Mostly they stuck to the Terminus Systems, running black market salvage operations.
  Shepard tapped the file to play:
  Hadrin: Recon Team Leader Hadrin to Ship Nerezza, we have reached the planet surface.  Harsh environment confirmed, using maximum shield boost to prevent risk of suit breaches.
  Nerezza: Copy that Team Leader.  Please remember mission parameters – probes indicate that there is a  massive Prothean complex beneath the site of the towers.  Your objective is to gain entry to the towers and signal for a salvage team once the area is secured.
  Hadrin: Understood.
* * * * *
  J'haoul:  Nerezza, this is second-in-command J'haoul.  Demolition drones have gained entry to the complex, recon team is moving in.  
* * * * *
  Nerezza:  Ship Nerezza to Recon Team, radio silence has been active for two hours.  Checking in on your status.
  Hadrin: (static)
  Nerezza:  Ship Nerezza to Recon Team – Hadrin do you copy?
  Hadrin: Keelah! (gunfire)  Get back!  Get back!
  Nerezza:  Recon Team, status report!
  Hadrin:  Mission has been aborted!  Repeat – mission aborted! J'haoul, watch your back! (gunfire) RRRRRRREEEEEEEERrrrrr!  AAAAUGH – gkk! (gunfire)
  Nerezza:  Status update!  Someone give me a status update!  What's going on down there!?
  Soldier:  This is..fuck does it even matter? We found hostiles!  Repeat – hostiles!  They (gunfire)  they appear to be Indoctrinated!  Requesting immediate shuttle evac!
  Nerezza: Keelah...
  Soldier:  Repeat – requesting shuttle evac now!  We are (gunfire)  coming up to planet surface.
  Nerezza:  I'm sorry.
  Soldier:  What?
  Nerezza:  I'm sorry.  Orders are to abandon the mission, we cannot help you.  It is too great a risk to the Fleet.  
  Soldier:  You're fucking kidding me!  Help us, dammit!
  Nerezza:  Keelah se'lai, soldier.
  [end]

  Shepard silently handed the datapad back to Liara and covered her panic by taking a long swallow from her drink.
  Setting the now empty glass back down on the table she worked up the courage to ask, “How recent is this?”
  “Five days,” Liara answered, absently stirring the straw in her own glass.
  “And you're sure it's real?  It's not a mistake or some kind of hoax?” she asked, trying to keep the desperation from her voice.
  Liara sighed, “The Fleet is very self-contained.  I do not get much information from them despite my resources.  Their silence with the Quarian government of Rannoch makes it hard to reaffirm anything.  My Fleet source says that the news was quiet even amongst the Fleet itself, they covered up the loss by saying there was a technological malfunction.”
  “So even they don't want to face the possibility of some rogue Reaper hiding out somewhere,” Shepard said.
  “Can you blame them?  No one will want to hear this, Shepard.  Hell, I didn't want to hear it.  But if there's even the slightest chance...”
  “We need to act immediately.  I understand, Liara,” Shepard said gravely, “But the Council will want proof before they do anything drastic.  We'll need more than this.”
  “I know, that's why I came to you.  If anyone can find out what really happened there, it's you.”
  “So you want the Normandy to do an investigation.”
  “Yes.  Like you said, we need proof before we proceed.  And if it turns out to be nothing more than a wild chase – well, I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't breath a sigh of relief.”
  Shepard swirled the melting ice in her empty glass, still trying to swallow the whole conversation.
  “Alright.  But let's wait until tomorrow before we break this to the others.  I'd like to finish my birthday in peace,” Shepard said.
  Liara put her hand on Shepard's shoulder.
  “Shepard, I am sorry.”
  Shepard gave her best smile, but could feel the tiredness at its corners.
  “I know.”

  “She asked you to do WHAT?” Garrus growled, pacing back and forth across the living room later that evening.
  “Look I know how it sounds,” Shepard pleaded, “but if there's even the slightest chance that there are Reapers still out there – we need to know.  I need to know.”
  Garrus sat down hard on the sofa, rubbing his hands across his face, tiredly.
  “I know you do,” he admitted.  “I just...never mind.”
  Shepard put a hand to the scarred side of his face.
  “What is it?” she asked, with the knowing look of a wife, instead of a commander.
  Garrus sighed, placing his hand over hers.
  “It's the same thing as always, Jane.  When are we going to stop?  When does someone else get to watch over the galaxy other than Commander Shepard?”
  She sighed, it was a question that he'd asked her before, even before she'd gotten the retirement letter.  And while at first she played it off as a passing discussion, now it was now an issue he'd begun to take seriously.  And the awful part was that she tried her best not to think about it.  It's not that she felt the need to be the galaxy's savior, it wasn't exactly the world's best job, but it'd been a part of her identity for so long.  What else would she do?  She glanced at the letter, neglected on her desk.  All that talk of a drunken retirement on the beach had been great when the Reapers were breathing down their necks and they were walking into certain death, but then they'd actually gone and survived. 
  But Garrus's piercing gaze told her he was looking for an answer.
  “Don't worry,” she said, and kissed him lightly.  “Our time will come.”
illus_(1)[2]
Art by Payroo

On to Part 2!!

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