Their home was beautiful. A small ranch, much older than most homes in the neighborhood, but well taken care of. There were wild flowers growing along the walk way up to the patio that spanned the front of the house.
She stepped onto the patio, straightening her jacket and running her hand over her hair one last time before she reached out a hand and knocked on the door. A few moments later he opened the door.
"Ms. Laurens?" Garrus Vakarian asked.
"Yes," she responded.
"Welcome." He nodded to her before stepping aside and allowing her into their home.
There house was a buzz of excitement. People were coming and going, moving from one room to the next like a tornado, and in the center of the storm was Jane. She was perched on the couch in the living room, her back propped up against one arm rest and her legs resting on a fat pillow.
"Please excuse the chaos," Garrus said from behind her. "We had a bit of a mishap over the weekend and we're trying to get everything cleaned up."
Mishap? She thought to herself. This was something she'd have to ask about. She mentally added it to her interview notes.
"I could come back," She offered politely, though she really hoped that he didn't take her up on it.
"No, really, it's okay. You made this appointment weeks ago," Garrus waved her offer away. "Besides, I don't see it getting any calmer around here any time soon."
"I'm sure you're right. Babies tend to cause a stir," She agreed with a smile.
"So does getting shot at."
She wasn't an expert at turian facial expressions by any means, but the sparkle in his eye's let her know he was smiling. Was he joking about getting shot at? He and Jane were both soldiers, perhaps that was what it was about. Maybe he was comparing the upcoming arrival of their child to preparing for a fight.
"You're joking, right?" She asked.
"Not so much," He continued on into the house, moving into the living room and leaving her staring, dumbfounded, at his retreating back.
Hearing her name being called brought her back to reality. She looked around, trying to find who'd called her.
"Over here," The voice called again. "The invalid on the couch!"
She saw Jane smiling from her spot in the center of the chaos. Garrus had joined Jane, moving the pillow and replacing it with his lap. As she watched them, he ran a finger up the bottom of her foot, causing her to jump then lean forward to swat him. It seemed so domestic, something any couple would do. Is this the same couple that had saved the galaxy? Was that the same woman who'd ended the reapers? It was hard to believe that barely a year ago they'd been standing on a beach saying their vows. She'd been there, of course, but she'd been an assistant at the time. This was her first major story, her first chance at the 'big time.' She was so nervous her hands were shaking.
Taking a deep breath she worked her way across the room, dodging as someone came through carrying a cot and almost knocked into her.
"Vega!" Jane barked. "Be careful!"
The man carrying the cot turned, again barely missing her, and apologized before he went on his way.
"I'm really sorry about him," Jane leaned forward and stuck out her hand as she came closer.
"I'm Jane," Jane introduced herself and shook her hand. "And you've met my husband. You look familiar. Where do I know you from?"
She was just about to answer when Jane cut in. "Were you at the wedding?"
"Yes, ma'am," She smiled. She couldn't believe that Jane had remembered. She was a nobody, just a little assistant running around behind her supervisor, carrying his water and a note pad at the time.
"I thought so. So, what's your name?"
"Sara Laurens," She answered.
"Sara," Jane said. "Pretty name. Why don't you have a seat."
Sara looked around the room. There was the couch against the wall, which was occupied by Jane and Garrus, and that seemed to be the only piece of furniture. She looked into the kitchen and saw the stools tucked under the island counter top, but before she could take a step to retrieve one Jane spoke up again.
"Vega!" She barked and the man who'd been carrying the cot earlier came running up from the basement.
"Damn it, Jane," He huffed, out of breath. "Would you stop barking at me."
"Of course, I'd love to. Here, let me just get off this couch and walk over to the door way and calmly call you," Jane's tone was dripping with sarcasm. She started to swing her legs off her husband's lap, but he quickly grabbed them, bringing them back.
"Stay," Garrus growled, barely audible over the noise of carpenters in the kitchen and whatever was going on in the basement.
"You know the more you yell the more you'll raise your blood pressure and heart rate, and that's what got you into this position," Vega said. "If you want the doctor to revoke your bed rest orders, you should at least try not to stress the baby out more."
"Low blow," Jane responded. "Where'd you put the armchair? Sara needs some place to sit."
"I'll go get it." He walked out of the room, heading into the hallway that Sara assumed led to the bedrooms.
He returned moments later carrying a large chair. With a grunt he set it down across from the couch.
"Okay, I'm off to the basement to make sure everyone gets settled. Holler if you need me, you know how to do that, right?" He asked sarcastically.
"I think we'll manage," Jane sniped back while motioning for Sara to take a seat, which she did.
She pulled out a small omni-tool from her briefcase as well as a note pad before setting the case next to the chair.
"Do you mind if I record the interview?" She asked.
"Do you mind if we do?" Garrus asked in response.
"Not at all." Sara knew they'd been having trouble with reporters and journalists slandering them and tearing down their relationship since they'd announced their engagement. The announcement that they were expecting their first child had only ramped up the smear campaign that some news programs were heading.
"I understand you've had some trouble with reporters and journalists in the past," She explained. "And I want this to go as smoothly for you as possible. I promise you will receive a copy of the final piece before it is put to print, and it will only be printed if it has your consent."
She'd received a call from Admiral Hackett a few days prior explaining that he was tired of the lies and innuendos flying around the press about the 'two best soldier's the galaxy has ever known'--to use his words exactly, and that if she thought that she would get to add her name to that list she was sorely mistaken. What the Admiral didn't know, of course, was that she has always been a strong supporter of their relationship. She was younger than them, both having been born during, or soon their after, the First Contact War, or Relay 314 Incident--it's title depended on who you were talking to--while she had only learned about the War in her history classes in school. She knew about the animosity between their races, but she didn't understand it. It was old news, buried under years and years of headlines, and as far as she was concerned that was where it could stay.
"That's nice to hear," Jane smiled. "But you'll forgive me if I don't believe it. Your actions will speak for you, Sara."
"Nope," Jane shook her head. "I'm retired now, I'm not Commander Shepard anymore. Just call me Jane, or Mrs. Vakarian--though that makes me feel old. Lets just stick with Jane."
"Wow, that's a strong opinion to something so simple, Jane. Is there any reason why you're shucking your title within the Alliance military?" Sara asked after setting her omni-tool to record.
"Nothing specific," Jane answered. "I'm proud of what I did. I'm unbelievably proud of the people I served with, of what we accomplished..."
"Of destroying the reapers?" Sara cut in.
"Yes, of that. Though I didn't do that alone. That was something the whole galaxy did. We joined together to take down a common enemy. I may have helped get everyone in the same place at the same time, but I am, by no means, the sole destroyer of the reapers."
Jane paused for a moment to take a breath and reached toward her husband, wrapping her hand around his and squeezing before she went on.
"I know that's what I'll be remembered for, I know that the books will write me as some reaper killing hero, but that's not who I am. I guess that's why I want people, now, to stop using my rank. I'm just a person, no different than you are. What I did was important, but what I'm doing now, to me, is just as important if not more so. I'm starting a family, I'm rebuilding, just like the whole galaxy."
"I would say," Sara continued. "It definitely sounds like you're rebuilding. Is this just normal remodeling? Getting ready for the baby? Nesting as some would call it?"
Sara gestured around to the construction crew as well as the Alliance soldiers who were walking in and out of the house.
"No, we are not remodeling in that regard, by choice, this is in response to a small mishap over the weekend," Jane answered.
"Can you talk about it?"
"I don't see why not," Garrus answered this time. "We were attacked. Apparently it's not just the news and gossip magazines who don't appreciate our relationship or that we're starting a family. Sadly, a turian supremacy group--yes, we have them too--decided to take matters into their own hands."
"They attacked your home?" Sara couldn't believe what she was hearing.
"Yes," Garrus answered while his wife nodded away next to him.
"What did you do?"
"Defended ourselves," Jane explained.
"You defended yourself," Garrus cut in, turning his gaze to his wife. "And it's why you're stuck on bed rest. Not exactly your brightest idea, Jane."
"And what should I have done?" She shot back. "Curl up in a ball and hope you and Vega made it back here before one of them got in the house and shot me?"
"There's a big difference between 'cowering in a corner' and 'hand to hand combat with an armed terrorist'," Garrus pointed out.
"I'm not living that down any time soon, am I?" Jane looked honestly embarrassed as her husband glared at her.
"When I can close my eyes without reliving that moment, that's when we can drop it," Garrus patted her shins as he spoke.
Sara bit the inside of her cheek to keep from grinning as she watched the two bicker. It was obvious that Garrus wasn't happy with what had happened, but that was no different than any other relationship. They were bickering about what he thought was a poor choice she'd made, and that was completely normal. What made it abnormal was that the poor choice happened to be made in a combat situation, something most couples didn't find themselves in.
"I apologized," Jane went on.
"Yes, you did," Garrus sighed. "Doesn't make the nightmares go away, though."
"You? Nightmares? I thought that was just a waste of perfectly good sleep," Jane's tone was teasing.
"Prior to you deciding we should live a 'normal' life, that was the case. But then we decided to get married and have a child and I haven't had a peaceful nights sleep since."
Sara sat back in the chair and watched the two of them as they interacted. She'd come with a neatly drawn out plan of action, she had questions she wanted to ask them, questions her readers had sent in, but as she watched Jane and Garrus Vakarian tease each other about sleep patterns and bottle nipples--how'd they end up on that topic?--she found it hard to interrupt.
It was hours later, all of her questions were answered, and yet she was still there. At some point they'd moved from the living room to the kitchen and she and Jane were sitting on the stools at the island while Garrus was preparing dinner.
"He's an unbelievable cook," Jane said. "You wouldn't expect it, especially with the levo/dextro thing, but it's true."
"Jane, stop," Garrus said from his spot at the stove. He was stirring a pot of sauce and didn't even look up at them. "You'll make me blush."
"Really? Wait, complementing your cooking? That's all I have to do?" Jane gasped.
"You have no idea how long I've been trying to get this man to blush," Jane said to Sara. "I mean, have you ever seen a turian blush? I haven't. All my years in space, all my time among aliens, I've never seen a turian blush. I've seen asari blush--they're so much fun to tease--even seen a krogan blush, but a turian? Nope. Not even a hint of a blush. Not even a smidge of embarrassment. They're un-embarrassable."
"That's not a word, Jane," Garrus chuckled. "And that's not true. You've embarrassed me. Remember when you made me dance with you?"
"No blush," She said.
"Sorry," He apologized, but was smiling.
"Maybe it has to do with their lack of facial expressions," Sara said, thinking out loud.
"Huh?" Jane turned to her. "What do you mean?"
"Well, they use sub harmonics to express feelings because they have so few facial expressions, maybe the blushing thing is the same. Maybe you've made him 'blush' tons of times, but because humans can't hear the sub harmonics, you never knew."
"Garrus," Jane turned back to him, her tone accusatory. "Is this true?"
"I plead the fifth," He carried a pot of boiling noodles to the sink, drained the water off them, and returned the pot to the stove top.
"I really need one of those implants like Vega has," Jane grumbled. "You're having emotions that I don't know about. There is embarrassment being had right under my ears!"
"Over, actually," Garrus corrected her. He was plating up dinner now. "Most emotions, like embarrassment, shame, and unease are vocalized in a range higher than human ears can hear."
"Bah!" Jane threw her hands up. "I can't believe I never thought of the sub harmonic thing."
Garrus came over, chuckling quietly as he placed two plates of fettuccine alfredo in front of them. As he was placing Jane's plate, he leaned down, nuzzling his face against her hair. Jane reached up, wrapping her fingers around his cowl and kept him in place as she tipped her head back and pressed her forehead to his. Just before she released his cowl she sat up and kissed him then let him retrieve his own dinner.
They sat like that for hours, even after the food was eaten, just chatting. Sara felt more like a friend over for a visit than the journalist she was. At the end of the evening, she gathered up her briefcase, her omni-tool, and her notepad, said her good byes and promised to stop by again before slipping out the front door and walking to her sky-car.
A month later, Garrus and Jane were cuddled on the couch flipping through a magazine on his datapad when they came to an article written by Ms. Sara Laurens.
They both held their breath as they read through the article. She answered every question that her fans had written in with about their relationship and the upcoming arrival of their son. At the end of the article, she wrote a note to her readers, it was simple, yet profound.
"Garrus and Jane Vakarian can be called many things. Turian, human, sniper, biotic, Commander, C-sec officer turned vigilante, reaper killers, saviors of the galaxy, but if you strip every one of those titles away all you're left with is one. The most important one.
One day, I will have children, and I will, like every other parent, tell them the story of how I met their father--or if I'm so lucky as to bond with an asari, their mother--but I will never have such a fantastical tale of love conquering all as Jane and Garrus Vakarian. And I hope that when my daughter picks someone to look up to as a role model, that she picks Jane. I know when she asks me to tell her a story about a knight saving the princess, I will tell their tale, though the knight will carry a sniper rifle, be wearing blue armor, and an ever present blue visor, and the princess will be able to save herself.
To all those who wonder if their relationship is true, the answer is yes. To all those who claim that theirs is a marriage made for the press, I challenge you to spend a day in their home. There is nothing made up about the love they feel for one another. There is nothing fake about the way they look at each other when they think the other isn't looking.
To the Vakarian's, who so graciously allowed me into their home, I say "Thank you."