Garrus didn’t know why he let himself be dragged along on these little side trips.
Saving the galaxy was slow work, apparently. Stopping rogue spectres took a backseat to mining resources for the Alliance on out-of-the-way planets whose atmospheres were toxic to at least one but usually all of their squads’ biologies. And somehow, he always got folded into the backseat, even though he was unquestionably taller than whoever was riding shotgun.
"I need you back there, big guy," Shepard always said. Pained looks meant nothing to her. "If something happens to that gun in the middle of a confrontation, you’re the one who’ll get it up and running again fastest."
Yes, the squashed back compartment had the best access to the damn gun, but it was also the worst place to experience Shepard’s driving. Garrus wasn’t sure he’d call it driving, actually. Driving usually involved avoiding obstacles, not running into them head-on with a wordless shout of delight.
And driving definitely did not involve climbing near-vertical cliff faces, just to find out what had pinged their radar.
The Mako could do it, but it was slow going. The incremental twitches left and right to give their oversized tires the traction they needed really unsettled Garrus’s stomach. Shepard and Tali were oblivious. In fact, Shepard had musicon. Her gloved fingers drummed the steering wheel. It wasn’t quite as synthesized as the crap they played in the clubs on the Citadel, but it was damn close.
”Shepard, what is this?” he asked, trying to keep the groan out of his voice.
She turned the volume up. Just a tick. “What, you don’t know this? The satirical pop crap of the early 2000s?”
"We don’t dig that deep into human music history." He shuddered.
"Well, you have been missing out.”
Tali, who had been quiet until that moment, piped in with, “It’s good. Different.”
Grinning, Shepard elbowed the quarian. “See? Tali’s got good taste.”
And then, to Garrus’s horror, Shepard started singing. If you could call it that. He wouldn’t be caught dead belting that at the top of his lungs, but Tali joined in, too, her filter adding another odd level of synth to the music.
She wasn’t like this with Kaidan and Ashley. Sure, they had their moments of levity, but she always seemed more determined to maintain rank with them. Technically, though, he and Tali didn’t have a rank on the Normandy. He wasn’t sure whether he liked the blurred lines or not. It was a big adjustment.
The Mako rocked. Shepard was bouncing in her seat a little, her voice pinched with laughter as she sang. Tali was full-out giggling now. Garrus heard one of the tires skid.
"Shepard," he barked, unable to take it a moment longer, "you are the designated driver, and we’re on a mountain, so do you think you could—”
You always knew when the Mako was about to lose its battle with gravity. The stomach shifted in a peculiar way, right as the front wheels lost their grip on the mountainside. And Garrus’s stomach, which had been restlessly turning anyway, suddenly lurched.
Shepard stopped singing. “Fuck,” she sighed.
It was a long way down. Here and there, they hit an outcropping of rock, and Shepard tried to steer the Mako back to its ascent, but the fall left Garrus too disoriented to do more than hang onto his harness and smack his head on the ceiling; he was sure Shepard wasn’t doing much better. The hull of the vehicle screeched, and finally, they skidded to a stop at the foot of the mountain, upside down.
For a long moment, everything quieted—even the radio had stopped—but then Tali snorted. “That’s the third time this week, Shepard,” she said. “You’ve filled your quota.”
If Shepard had a retort, it was cut off by the squeal of the radio coming back to life. “There’s a place downtown where the freaks all come around—”
"Dammit, Shepard," Garrus said, his voice a little strained from the whole hanging-upside-down thing, "if you don’t shut that garbage off, I will shoot it.”
Shepard did not turn the radio off. She and Tali both turned—with no small effort—to look at Garrus. Behind her helmet, his visor revealed Tali’s grin. Shepard didn’t smirk or smile, but she raised one amused eyebrow.
"Garrus," she said, in the faux-lecturing tone he wasn’t sure he hated, "this is part of my culture. I don’t go around trash talking the Turian Imperial Anthem, do I?”
"You’re seriously comparing two-hundred-year-old club music to ‘Die for the Cause’?"
"Yes," she said with tones of great dignity, turning back to wheel. "It’s vital for morale.”
They were halfway up the mountain again before Shepard broke, slumping over the dashboard with a fit of laughter. How she could drive without looking at the slope in front of her was a damn mystery, but they made it to the summit this time, and she and Tali ejected themselves, still chuckling, to take a good look at the clump of heavy metal waiting for them.
Garrus stayed folded up in the backseat, contemplating his aching fringe. This was still better than C-Sec. Shepard was weird, but at least they got along. Saving the galaxy was not the race he’d expected it to be, but at least they were doing something.
Even if that something was falling down mountains no less than three times per week.