I came so close to Tali's suicide in ME3.
So because of the paragon/renegade lockout issues I ended up with an exiled Tali (instead of shaming the quarian fleet into keeping her, which my Shepard wanted to do so badly lmao). So she wasn't an admiral, so in ME3... I couldn't make peace between the quarians and the geth.
I (Shepard) chose the Geth, at first. Because they had a right to defend themselves. I told Tali to try and call off the quarians and let Legion upload the data or whatever he was doing.
At this point you get about, what, three chances to change your mind before the data uploads.
The quarians refused. Cue first opportunity to change your mind.
I stuck with it. No, Legion, keep uploading.
Then Tali begged the fleet some more. Nope. They're going to keep firing.
Stuck with it...
and then Tali walked up to Legion and just. starts pleading. I can't remember if she tugged his "sleeve" or just pawed at him or wrung her hands but. The sight of Tali absolutely desperate just. hurt my heart.
My Shepard and I couldn't go through with it. Tried to stop Legion from uploading, had to kill Legion.
Wasn't until after I finished my playthrough that I learned that if you commit to the geth, Tali commits suicide.
ME3 broke my Shepard. Afterwards, she had a mental breakdown, dealt with suicidal ideation for years, and basically became agoraphobic in the aftermath. She had to hire two krogan bodyguards because it'd be the only way she'd feel safe enough to go outside to go for a walk because she was so scared of people reaching out to her for help again, help she couldn't give. The krogan kept strangers away from her. Let her go out without having people need things from her.
But if Tali died? Jesus. I can't think of how my Shepard could have become any more fucked up but it would've happened. My Shepard had already broke at that point and spent Thane onwards on the brink of a mental breakdown, but if Tali died... I can't imagine how much worse it would've been.
She was already bursting into random bouts of crying on the ship, couldn't talk to crew because she was terrified she'd burst into tears while talking to them. She was pulling away from Garrus and he was having more and more difficulty reaching her. She was starting to act suicidal on the battlefield and endangering herself and her squad by trying to fight brutes hand to hand, and more than once would get cornered by two or three and almost die before Liara or Garrus hauled her out of the fire.
(She and Garrus would have a blowout fight over this after Leviathan, after that scene where Shepard's on the ground and the brutes are encroaching and almost killed her. Shepard thought Garrus was overstepping his authority, as their relationship had always managed to keep "work" separate. Garrus was like THIS IS TOTALLY UNNECESSARY CAN YOU STOP TRYING TO KILL YOURSELF?)
At that point, in my headcanon, Garrus and Liara were in talks behind her back with Admiral Hackett about removing her because she was losing it -- Hackett was refusing to sanction it because the galaxy needed to believe Shepard was in charge, many people would only negotiate with Shepard but nobody else, etc -- basically so much hinged on Shepard being in command of the Normandy.
But Shepard's mental health was spiralling and Liara and Garrus were pushing Hackett more and more to relieve her from duty and were seriously considering mutiny.
Luckily the next major trigger -- Thessia -- instead of sending her further down the spiral made her so pissed off that she was basically spending her time raging and throwing things instead of crying. Which, well, for her, was an improvement. Garrus and Liara could work with that -- get her to spar with EDI so she couldn't hurt anyone, get her to work out to exhaustion. She still did suicidal shit on the battlefield, but her anger gave her an extra edge she hadn't had before.
But if Tali had died? They might have actually had to pull the trigger. They might have actually had to mutiny. And at that point, both Garrus and Liara knew, it'd be signing her death warrant. Shepard would almost certainly attempt suicide if she was removed from duty. Fighting the Reaper War was the only reason she was keeping herself alive, so it was obvious what would happen if they took that reason away from her.
But at that point it was, well... battle arithmetic. She was endangering herself and others on the battlefield. It was getting to the point where Garrus and Liara had to choose between her life and the lives of her comrades-in-arms.
And, well -- when they had to flee during the Aralakh Company mission and Shepard was fighting Garrus and trying to run to Grunt as he dragged her away with all his strength, all Garrus could think was that the day where they pulled the trigger was getting closer and closer.
It was a huge relief when Shepard finally stopped fighting Garrus and ran with him. It gave him some hope that maybe she'd come around before they had to do it.
And luckily... the war ended before they had to make that choice. But it was a very, very near thing.
If Tali had committed suicide? They might have had to make that choice a lot earlier.
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(Do You Love Me?)
Quite a proposal.
"Would you be willing?" Arjuna trailed a hand up her arm, calloused fingers pausing at the crook of her elbow before sliding back down to loosely circle her wrist. The gesture was soft and familiar, and it served to root both of them in the present when it would be very easy to dip into a comfortable nap instead.
Rem hummed questioningly, half dozing already. The sight of Arjuna's bare hands was a rarity, and she wanted to keep looking at them for now.
"If we were to marry." He didn't beat around the bush, rather saying it so assuredly that she had to sit up a little. Heedless, he continued, "It would not have to be like the weddings you have probably seen in films. Should you prefer it, we could simply go without ceremony and ask for your goddess and my father's blessing."
Rem vaguely remembered the extravagant descriptions of Rama's wedding from her father's readings of the Ramayana when she'd been little. The foggy recollection, while still somewhat fond, merged with other half realized details about this whole situation:
Arjuna wasn't breathing, he was so focused on waiting for her response. And she, honestly, didn't have an answer for him right then.
"... you're already married." Rem pointed out, shifting to ease the mild cramp in her neck. "Ulupi would still be alive and around, right? Weren't you two -" She cut the question off before it could fully leave her mouth, shifting again to rest her temple against Arjuna's shoulder to hide her expression. "Wouldn't she have an issue with it? Nagas don't die of old age, last I recall."
Above her head, Arjuna let out a tiny sigh. It stirred the curls of her hair, briefly tickling her scalp. More than anything, it cemented the fact that she was currently awake and having this conversation for real.
"She may still be alive, it is true," Arjuna said, at last, gently squeezing her wrist. Rem suspected that the gesture was more to comfort himself at the moment, but didn't protest. "We parted from our vows more or less as acquaintances once Aravan was born. After I left, Ulupi shared her life with Chitragada in Manipur, so I am admittedly less inclined to believe that she would protest our union if it should happen."
Privately, Rem was glad for the fact he left 'if' in his statement. That he was, consciously or not, waiting for her opinion on the subject.
"Don't suppose there's a way to ask, since the world's been bleached." Rem mused, looking down at their almost joined hands. Arjuna let go when she moved her wrist in his grip and didn't resist at all when she carefully tangled their fingers together. She felt his hum of affirmation reverberate through his chest and watched his thumb stroke a warm line over the back of her hand, just shy of her command seals.
"It is unlikely I'm afraid. Unless she were to arrive here, which Sion has all but debunked the chance in her earlier explanation." Arjuna set his chin on top of her head, gently bearing down so that it felt like he was curling around her.
"What brought this on?" Rem asked. Tipping her head up to look at him, she noticed his brows draw together as he met her stare. With her free hand, she lightly thumped his other shoulder, intending to lighten the mood with the gesture. "That building tenth diamond in our bond stat got you thinking or something?"
He looked away which surprised her a little. The corner of his mouth turned downwards and his hand briefly tightened around hers before easing off. Rem waited for him to speak, blinking slowly as the silence continued to grow.
"Arjuna, you know I was just teasing, right? You don't have to say if it makes you uncomfortable."
"I wanted to ask." He cut her off quietly, gaze focused anywhere but on her. "A considerable amount of time has passed since you first called upon me, and I find my thoughts often return to the possibility of what may happen at the end of this journey. Good or bad, I... I wanted to say the words before any chance of doing so was lost forever."
Rem said nothing at first, weighing the moment against what her initial impression had made her feel. A part of her understood what he was trying to say. Even more, she understood why he'd wanted to say it. But still, the greater part of her wanted to hold off. Not for anything he'd done - they only argued for the banter most times, unless one or both of them were angry. But for her comfort more than anything else.
"...not right now," Rem admitted softly. Arjuna stiffened a little, though he kept his grasp around her hand loose. She was grateful for it.
"I don't... I don't know if I want to get married, Arjuna. It's not something that I've ever seriously considered. I didn't like it when mom joked about it, and I've avoided thinking about it since." She studied their hands, somewhat amused that she now had more scars than he did. At least so long as he was stuck in this form, as a Servant, and couldn't be hurt in the same ways she still had to worry about. "And while we're still trying to save everybody's asses, I don't know that I can give it the thought it deserves or give you a straight answer."
"And I don't want to do that to you," Rem added. Bringing his hand up to her mouth she kissed one of his knuckles briefly, choosing not to think too hard about how he gradually relaxed once she let those words settle between them.
"I appreciate your honesty and consideration, Rem." He said softly. Dipping his head, Arjuna kissed the crown of her head and lingered there as his other arm wrapped around her so that he could properly hold her close. Then he chuckled, tickling her with his breath once more. "To be completely honest, I was afraid you would outright tell me no. Worse, that you might shelve me from your teams like you did after London."
"That was different," Rem countered amusedly, lightly bumping his chin with her head. "I didn't have you up to snuff back then, and I felt bad about watching you die."
"I know." He squeezed her hand again, tone bordering on fond. "That does not mean that I liked it in any capacity."
"You're a spoiled peacock, Partha." Rem stated matter-of-factly, relaxing against him once more now that the tension seemed to have passed. "Don't think your charm and doe eyes will win me over every time."
He huffed, untangling their hands to nudge her head up so that he could attempt to steal a kiss. She let him, reaching up and curling her fingers into his hair just the way he liked best so that he purred against her lips.
"I'll just have to win you over in other ways, I suppose." Arjuna mused, a contented smile softening his features as he studied her.
"Good luck." Rem shot back dryly, then tugged him down for another kiss.
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