Garrus fools himself into thinking the soul bond is something he can ignore.
The bond accelerates his understanding of her language. By the third vision he’s following along like a native, but nothing he learns changes his first impression. Farming is boring. He respects the profession, but it’s not for him and neither is a person who does it. It’s supposed to be impossible for a soul bond to be wrong, so he assumes that at some point in the future she’s going to get tired of it and pick up something a little more compatible.
Only the first time is quite so immersive. In subsequent visions he still feels and experiences everything she does, but he’s aware of himself as a separate person. It’s weird to feel an emotion as if it’s his, especially when his true feeling is the complete opposite. Like swimming. He’s been fully immersed once and almost had a panic attack. His bonded would live in the water if she could. Garrus wonders if she feels the same dissonance with his activities.
He doesn’t give up right away. The visions are regular, occurring about once every two weeks each way, and always around the same time of day. Once he catches on, he starts trying to show her how exciting spacefaring careers are. He doesn’t go out of his way to give her contact information the way most soul bonded do, but he does make sure he looks at himself in a mirror a few times so she can see his colony markings.
She doesn’t acknowledge any of it. If anything, his visions get even more bucolic. His bonded is determined to show him that she’s happy where she is and doesn’t care if she ever meets him. It stings. However much Garrus doesn’t understand why it’s her of all people, they’re still bonded. That’s supposed to mean something. He tries a few more times, but her rejection doesn’t budge. The hurt shifts to anger. If that’s what she wants, he’ll give it to her. He won’t care anymore. He’ll live his life and she can live hers.
Four months later he finds out just how wrong he is.
Garrus wakes in the dead of night. He barely orients himself before he’s with her.
It’s daytime. The sun is bright in the sky; it’s a beautiful day. She’s running just behind her brother, and it’s important that she not fall behind, but she can’t help but look back to their family pod. The warning sirens are wailing.
“Jane!” Jason snaps, and she realizes she’s slowed. Her heart is beating fast in her chest, too fast even for the dead run she’s been in. Garrus still isn’t used to the feel of sweat on her skin. Jason grabs her arm and pulls her along. “We can’t stop,” he says. “For Mom and Dad.”
Fear and worry. She wants to go back.
Jason changes their trajectory, aiming for the building that stores the harvesting machines. The doors are never locked during the day. There’s screaming now, close enough to be heard over the sirens.
Inside the warehouse is dim, the ceiling high above and the air degrees cooler than the sunlight. The harvesters loom over the two of them, the silhouettes dark and familiar. Jason leads them to the aisles in the back with high shelves and piles of tools and smaller machines waiting to be repaired. There’s a bit of space between a couple of overturned wheelbarrows, and he pushes her towards it.
“You’ll fit there. Don’t come out until I come get you.”
What? She starts back up out of the crouch she’d entered. “Mom said to stay together!”
Jason shoves her back down again. “I know what she said. But if we hide separately, they might not find us both.” His face is grim as he looks down at her. “I’m older. Dad put me in charge, so do what I say.”
She bats his hands away. “If you don’t have to, I don’t either. I’m not splitting up!”
Jason slaps her.
It’s shock, more than hurt, that renders her speechless. Garrus knows they don’t hit each other. Not like that.
Jason inhales sharply, and for a moment seems unsure. It passes, and his face hardens again. “For once in your life, can you just listen? There’s no—” he breaks off as the outside sounds suddenly get louder. He pushes her back again, crowding her with his body so she has no choice but to move. Jason’s lips are pulled so tight they’ve paled at the corners. “Stay,” he says. “No matter what.”
“No,” The words are just above a whisper as she reaches for him. “Jason, no.”
Jason slips out of her range. “I’m sorry,” he says, not quite meeting her eyes. And, “It’ll be okay. You’ve got someone out there.” Garrus feels her recoil at that. Jason ducks down as he peers back toward the entrance. And then he’s gone.
She sits frozen. Does she… no. She’ll only draw attention if she moves now. Jason will be all right. They’ll both be fine. She just needs to stay still and quiet.
There’s a crash, and a shout. Batarian. And then a human cry of pain. She can’t help it, she starts forward. She’s only halfway out when a batarian appears at the head of the aisle. It has a gun in its hands, and it shouts when it spots her. She swings her legs around and kicks at its knee. Its hardsuit absorbs the hit. It laughs as another batarian appears and grabs at her hair. The pain makes her eyes tear as they haul her out.
They drag her over to where they have Jason on his hands and knees. He shakes his head at the sight of her, over and over. The batarian holding her hair yanks her head up and motions up and down her body. The other batarians follow with their eyes, and her free arm goes across her torso, clothing suddenly feeling too thin. The batarian lets go of its grip on her hair and strokes down its length. She tries to shy away and the batarian digs its fingers into her arm to keep her in place.
Jason tenses, and mouths something at her when their eyes meet. Garrus doesn’t understand, but her body is already moving. She twists forward and then back as hard as she can. She feels something crunch as the back of her skull connects with the batarian’s face. The hand on her arm loosens and Jason is surging up from the ground, shouting for her to run. he has something sharp in his hand and then he’s on top of the center batarian and it’s making horrible gurgling noises.
The batarians are furious, all shouting at once. She gets no more than a step before she’s hit with a jolt of electricity. Her whole body convulses, and she pitches forward. She lands half on her side, facing Jason and the batarians, and she can’t look away from what happens next. Jason is on his feet, whatever’s in his hand dripping blood. He lunges at the nearest batarian.
It raises its gun and shoots him straight in the chest.
The bond fractures.
Garrus is there and he isn’t. He feels his bed under him, but he can’t help but still see. The way the dark red stain spreads over Jason’s chest. The pool that slowly seeps from behind his back. He can’t help but hear her pleas for Jason to get up as they start to drag her away. The raw grief as she begs the batarians to let her go, she has to help him, he’s her brother, they can’t leave him there.
He feels his mouth move with hers as she dissolves into nothing but denials.
He comes up out of bed in a rush, knocking aside the person shaking him. His sister falls to the floor, where she stares at him in outrage. He stares back, unable to quite grasp that he’s back in his room.
“What is wrong with you?” Solana asks.
Nothing. Nothing is wrong with him.
Garrus puts his head in his hands. What can he say? He can’t help her. Millions of light years separate them and he can’t even try to alert someone. He has no idea what system she’s in. He didn’t want to know, and he’s found out, in the most brutal way possible, that the bond doesn’t give a damn. It doesn’t matter if he cares. She’s part of him whether he wants it or not. His bonded is terrified and hurt and he knows, he knows, that if she dies like this he’s never going to stop feeling it.
“Nightmare,” he says after the silence has gone on too long.
“Your eyes were wide open,” Solana points out, in the way only an annoying younger sister can. “It was scary.”
He can’t deal with her right now. He snaps at her until she huffs her way out, then sits in the dark, praying for another glimpse. For anything to tell him that his bonded isn’t captured. He’s supposed to feel it if she dies, but that’s not good enough. Those were batarian slave raiders. Being killed might be a mercy.
Garrus still awake when morning comes, still helpless. The only thing he knows for sure is that she’s alive. Not nearly enough. When he gets another vision he’ll figure out where she is and help her. Somehow. He won’t care about what other people will think about his bonded being human. He’s never going to let popular opinion sway him like that again. He’s never going to feel helpless like this again.