Goddamit I didn’t think I’d end up writing this.
I don’t usually obsess over couples in fiction. I am not a practised shipper, but SHAKARIAN. I can’t, my heart might actually explode.
I did a bad, bad thing when I was playing Mass Effect 1. I didn’t realise that if you took the elevator you could get to a second level of the Normandy, so I never talked to any of my companions except Kaidan. I regret everything. But the bottom line is I didn’t get to witness the beginning of Garrus and Shepard’s relationship and I had no idea how awesome he was.
So Shepard romanced Kaidan, then Shepard died, and then on Horizon Kaidan didn’t seem exactly thrilled that someone had put Humpty Dumpty together again. You could feel Shepard’s hurt after he rejects her for being a Cerberus dog (no pun intended). So in the spirit of ‘screw him’ my Shepard went about starting relationships with everyone on the crew, just to see who was the most interesting, with the thought that she’d go back to Kaidan in the end.
Shepard is a total BAMF on any given day, but when it comes to relationships, Shepard-with-a-second chance-at-life does not mess around. She is straight to the point. Jacob was easy as hell to win over, but boring. Thane had something going for him, especially with that photographic memory thing. But Garrus – the second Shepard threw out that ‘reach and flexibility line’ he was thrown off balance and he had me intrigued.
Initially his response “There is no one in the galaxy I respect more than you” was like cold water to the face. Really, that’s all this amazing woman gets? I respect you so I guess we can rub our naughty bits together. Thanks for your enthusiasm, Garrus.
I thought about calling it off.
But I stayed because the next time Shepard speaks to him, that cocky attitude that I loved about him so much was crumbling. And nervous, rambling Garrus – that was entirely new. Up to that point he was cocksure and smooth. A nervous Garrus is one who is afraid of messing things up and making mistakes.
His rambling about whether a Turian-Human relationship could work, why Shepard would choose him of all people when clearly the rest of the crew is ready and willing, these are all things that someone would have running through their head if they felt themselves getting invested in a relationship. This is someone who is careful not let themselves want something they can’t have.
Then there are those awkward, awkward lines.
Garrus: I’ve never considered cross-species intercourse. And damn, saying it that way doesn’t help. Now I feel dirty and clinical.
He’s out of his element and has no idea what he’s doing, but he wants to get it right. And he’s making you smile while doing it.
Suddenly, replaying that line about ‘no one he respects more’ doesn’t sound so bad. It’s one of the best compliments he could give Shepard, really. Who wouldn’t want to start a relationship on the basis of mutual respect? It may not be dead-to-rights sexy, but it’s a solid foundation for a lasting relationship. And Shepard already knows that no matter what, Garrus has her back.
But in comes the cincher just before you are about to hit the Omega 4 relay. Garrus admits in a moment of vulnerability that he wants something to go right for once. It’s a sentiment I think anyone can relate to, and between these two, who have already been through hell together and are about to go back again, it’s pure sunshine.
He could die, she could die. The entire crew could die. So many things in Garrus’ life have fallen apart. He wants one thing good in this world to hold onto as he walks through the fires of hell and the good thing that he chose is Shepard.
Fast forward through the rest of the series. The moment when Garrus asks Shepard how she feels about him, if she is as committed to him and he is to her is amazing. Knowing that the stress of the war is taking its toll on Shepard, he is the one companion who goes the extra mile to take her mind off it, bringing her to the top of the Citadel to blow off some steam taking pot shots. He has her wellbeing at heart. And then, from the moment Shepard says she is a one-Turian kind of woman, he’s Shepard’s boyfriend, not a whatever-other-LIs-have in ME, and he is not afraid to say it.
The bottom line is Garrus is there for Shepard whenever she need him most. Their romance is soft caresses, understanding, and support. When she’s having nightmares, when she’s being overrun by Mercs, when the stress of the war is starting to weigh on her, Garrus is her rock and he never stops worrying about her.
Zaeed: Weaponized wall fixtures, Shepard. Wave of the future in home defense.
Garrus: Shepard, sweetie … love of my life. Indulge your crazy boyfriend. I need to know you’re safe.
Shepard: *laughs* If it’ll make you feel better, honey.
Zaeed: Oh, go get a room. God knows this place has enough of them.
One of the best things about Shepard is that she is a force to be reckoned with, a one-woman cannon ball, but she also has heart-wrenching moments of doubt and weakness, and rightly so. It is an almost impossible task in front of her. Right before the mission on earth Shepard is at her lowest, but there he is – Garrus, the one who always expects the worst – to pick her up, remind her how far they’ve come, and make her laugh a little. Shepard says the one thing we’re all thinking “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
Here are two people who fully understand that entire worlds are at stake and that the chances of either of them are coming out alive are miniscule. The two of them have to go on fighting – there is no one else who could take their place – but what they have to risk to destroy the Reapers is the one thing that they’re fighting for and the one thing can’t bare to loose: each other. By the end of Mass Effect 3 the bitter sweetness is enough to break you.
Garrus: James told me there’s an old saying here on Earth–may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead. Not sure if Turian heaven is the same as yours, but, if this thing goes sideways and we both end up there–meet me at the bar. I’m buying.
Shepard: We’re a team, Garrus. There’s no Shepard without Vakarian, so you better remember to duck.
Garrus: Sorry, Turians don’t know how. But I’ll improvise. And Shepard, forgive the insubordination, but your boyfriend has an order for you–come back alive. It’ll be an awfully empty galaxy without you.
Shepard: Goodbye, Garrus. And if I’m up there in that bar, and you’re not… I’ll be looking down. You’ll never be alone.
If one of them doesn’t come through this war, you know that it’s going to be almost impossible for one to live without the other.
I don’t feel like I really need to say more.
There is no Shepard without Vakarian.