It was raining in London. That, above all else was the one true certainty in the entire universe at this point. Continuity of life, seasons, everything. Everything was going to be allowed to live now, free of a cycle that bordered on eons beyond comprehension. A pattern of death that had finally broken free of the shackles that bound it and could change and evolve on its own terms, instead of live on borrowed time. The Reapers were utterly and completely defeated. They lay scattered across the broken wasteland that was once a promising and beautiful city. Through the combined efforts of everyone in the known galaxy they had held their own against an unknown, an utterly otherwise indestructible enemy. Through previously bitter enemies coming together with the help of Commander Shepard, they had won. Shepard had brought the galaxy together, and had singlehandedly brought the Reapers to their knees. She was the one reason any of them were still breathing. While there was a sigh of relief at finally being free of being dominated by giant machines stretched across the world, there was a single cry of pain that joined in the union of freedom. All around the rubble where Shepard had braved the blast of Harbinger's laser alone there were cries of anguish and tears of joy coming together as Alliance soldiers were reunited or allowed to collect the remains of their former squad mates and friends alike. Shepard was a hero, a legend. Everything was because of her, yet she was the one soul that was not here to witness all of the joy she had brought. To see the bitterest of enemies join hands as a sign of peace, a sign of respect to the woman that had been strong enough to will them all together. Through the downpour of rain there was utter happiness, expanding across the reaches of space down to the very city that had been Shepard's last stand. The remains of the Citadel scattered all across the world, Admiral Anderson's body had been recovered, as had remains of the Illusive Man. Shepard however, had yet to be found. Everyone had waited with baited breath for her to emerge from the sputtering conduit, the blue light slowly shivering and dimming, mirroring the hope that was fading in everyone's hearts. They were all hoping, waiting for her to emerge...
Life continued on, rain continued to pour. For once, the rain felt as though it was washing away all of the death and destruction caused by the Reapers, it was representative of new life as opposed to the misery everyone was feeling having not found their heroine amidst the rubble. One soldier stood in solitude among the wasteland, his arm pressed against his chest plate as he held onto the opposing arm's elbow, resting his gloved hand along his mouth. Everything around him was desperate joy, utter sincere and genuine glee. But he felt absolutely nothing. It was as though his very heart had been torn from his chest. His students stared up at him through their hugs and wails of joy. "Major?" One hazarded a beckon, his whiskey brown eyes opening slowly as he looked to one of them. A quick glance before he closed his eyes without a single response. Everything was over, the galaxy was saved. But the woman he loved was gone. His chest felt empty, he could feel his pulse beating through the thundering rain but that was about all he could hear. His eyes closing as he stood there, his dirt crusted armor becoming increasingly heavy as the weight of everything came careening onto his shoulders. His muscles grew stiff, trying to forget what just happened. Trying to fish through his memories and somehow miraculously resurrect Shepard from the very rubble itself. His jaw clenching as he bit back a sob.
"Kaidan Go. Please." She looked at him, her eyes darkening as she inclined her head. He desperately shook his head, taking a step toward her.
"You're not doing this alone Shepard. I won't let you." He spoke with a commanding voice, and she looked at him with a heavy tinge of regret crossing her features.
" She looked away from him; Kaidan's arm was grasped by the Turian Garrus, being pulled hard.
"Let go of me Garrus!" Kaidan cried out, yanking at his arm as Harbinger's laser ignited the scene before them. Shepard looked directly at him and she smiled. She smiled the way she smiled at him a thousand times before. When she told him how she'd liked the way his past had shaped the man he was, when she had seen him on Horizon the first time before he'd yelled fiercely at her, when she saw him before the Reapers had first hit, when she had seen him open his eyes after being knocked unconscious after Mars... Her beautiful smile was like a poison settling in his chest as he felt his eyes burn with tears. "Shepard! SHEPARD!" He yelled but she was already turning her back on him, venturing into the light with a blind confidence and a fearless stride.
It wasn't fair, it simply wasn't. The heroine, the legendary Commander Shepard had done the utmost impossible. Beaten every odd, fought every obstacle. Now to see all of her success become nothing but a memory was not only unfair, it was bullshit. Shepard was so much more than a hero to be remembered for all of her good deeds, she was a person who had a lasting effect on everyone. Who had won the hearts and minds of every species, who had built hope and garnered peace. The last memory he'd have of her was her back turned to him, running perilously into Harbinger's beam only to be torn to shreds by it. But even that hadn't murdered her, she still staggered to her feet, Kaidan had to watch helplessly, unable to get to her in time after Garrus had yanked his body with all of his strength Kaidan fighting him the whole way. He had to help his biotic students, but Shepard was the one who took more priority. The fact that Garrus had agreed to leave Shepard as well had been something that plagued Kaidan's mind.
Garrus was standing not far from the rubble mound that Kaidan had subdued as his own, staring up at the sky with Tali's hand in his own. Kaidan wanted nothing more than to murder that Turian now. He'd fought with everything he had to escape Garrus' grip, and while the Turian explained later that Shepard had ordered him to do it, he never indicated why. Kaidan also felt jealousy scorching his heart. Garrus was able to be with someone he cared about, Kaidan was left alone. "Major Sir
is everything alright sir? You didn't answer Operative Johnson's hails." Someone was standing next to Kaidan, staring at him with a youthful exuberance and an ignorant look of concern etched onto their face. Kaidan stared at them, one of his students. He couldn't even remember his name at this point. He was grime filled, and the rain had matted his hair against his face, his bangs covering his eyes. Kaidan only nodded slowly, not even able to find his voice, he didn't trust himself to speak at this point in time. His throat felt hoarse, he'd exhausted everything shouting at Garrus trying to get him to release his grip so that he could charge after Shepard and get her to safety. There had to be another way, any other way. His warm russet eyes shifting back toward the rubble he hadn't moved from his vantage point yet, the water causing his hair to fall to his eyes, everything felt so numb. His mind filling his senses with memories of Shepard's touch, of her beautiful and soft skin trickling against his
"Hey there." He spoke with a soft rumble in his voice, sneaking up on Shepard as she stood staring out of the window of the observation deck. She looked so lost, his body encasing itself over hers as she opened her eyes in surprise. Her pervious stance and expression softening as Kaidan's eyes locked into hers against the reflection of the glass. She smiled, looking a tad bit abashed as his brow arched toward her.
Just checking in." She spoke, a soft timid response as his hands wrapped around her waist, his chin propping itself up against her shoulder.
you uh, you left, without waking me." He flared his nostrils against her neck, causing her to incline her head back against his skin; she chuckled gingerly to his confusion.
"Didn't have the heart." She said genuinely, with a soft sigh, her hands resting against his own he held her there in his grasp he seemed all the more amused.
well, next time
wake me." He teased, chuckling while his lips brushed against her neck, pulling her body with his own to sit on the couch behind them. Her body resisting at first, only to succumb to his taunting after a few moments, sitting comfortably in his lap he smiled toward her. Her legs crossing over his own she looked into his eyes, snuggling her head against his neck with a throaty chuckle all her own.
"It was just nightmares." She explained tenderly to him, his fingers trailing along her back as he held her tight in his chest. "I didn't want you to worry."
"Too late." He responded with a smile, his lips finding and claiming hers she smiled and nodded.
" She rasped, causing him to squeeze her tight against him.
"Don't be. I just want to help you, but I can't if you won't let me." He explained, his thumb grazing against her cheek, her soft skin.
Kaidan released his arms, dropping one to the side as he continued to stare out into the destruction. He held out his palm, water trickling down his armored fingers and rolling down his dirt smeared wrist. He'd lied to his students, everything was not fine. Not even remotely. The woman he loved was gone. She was legendary, but legends weren't mean to breathe in the world they created. She was more than that to him, though. She was a woman, his woman. The one woman in the entire world that would face the unknown with brimming confidence and regret whatever decision she had made, taking responsibilities and burdens by herself. She was so strong. There were days where Kaidan believed she had forgotten how to be anything else. She had to be strong, powerful and dangerous. But beneath her pragmatic gaze, and her diplomatic silver tongue was still a woman. A woman he had fallen head over heels in love with for years. She never broke his heart, not intentionally. Death was not a card he could play to his favor anymore. He had grieved her in the past certainly, but she had beaten even death itself and had come back to him. Except she wasn't here now, she had broken her promise to him. One they were finally able to solidify. That was his single saving grace, he had at least gotten to say goodbye this time. It didn't make anything hurt less, but at least she knew how he felt upon meeting death a second time. She had charged into that beam with no regrets, holding nothing back. Why, why had she fought so hard to do it alone? His chest heaved as a scowl dug onto his brow. His eyes forcing themselves shut as his body began to convulse. His shoulders slouching forward as they shook violently, a silent sob raking through his spine.
"Hey Kaidan." Her voice was a tender whisper as she approached him, standing in the FOB there was a false sense of safety, enough to where her guard was down and her steps were gentle.
"Hey, there you are." He rasped toward her, a smile forcing itself to his lips. She looked about as confident as he felt, which wasn't saying much to begin with. All of the doubt that had clawed its way through his mind was fastening into his voice.
"You ready?" She asked with a curious tilt of her head. One he found absolutely adorable, but now simply wasn't the time.
"Absolutely, for anything
" He paused, sighing in an almost defeated fashion before he found his voice to continue. "Bring it on."
"And Biotics division? Your students?" Shepard asked politely, she always had a knack for asking about anything in his life. She had a heart of gold, always so caring and worried about anything in the galaxy. It made his heart swell with pride as well as turmoil. He was proud of his students, and he admired her concern for them as well despite never meeting all of them. But she was burdening herself with things that shouldn't be on her mind, it worried him to find her so perturbed by other people's issues.
Kaidan chuckled, humoring her despite himself. "More than ready, eager. That's youth for you." Continuing his soft bitter chuckle he rolled his shoulders forward, suddenly feeling uncomfortable in his armor. "Guess we're old soldiers 'ey Shepard?" He inclined with a smile. She looked so tired, he felt so exhausted. The weight of the galaxy bearing down on them over the years was enough to make them feel like elders standing amidst the young. They weren't quite so old, but with all of the stress and grief, it felt like a life time had passed them by.
Shepard smiled, shifting her stance, shuffling her feet with a nod. "Yeah, I guess we are."
"Comrades-in-arms." Kaidan replied, feeling a warm fuzzy feeling slither through his veins. He had fought so hard to finally just be with Shepard again. Even if she hated him, even if she wanted nothing more to do with him he just wanted to be near her. To be able to finally classify himself on her level, to be able to fight at her side was something he'd never thought he'd been able to do again. He frowned despite what his heart was feeling, the logic finding its way to dampen his mood as it usually did. "We know the score
we know this is goodbye." He couldn't bear to look in her eyes anymore, shifting his focus to the street beside them, his shoulders lurching forward.
She took a bold step forward, catching his gaze and keeping him spellbound beneath her hope. "When this is over, I'm going to be waiting for you. You better show up." The sheer amount of confidence in her voice shook him free of his depression. He stared at her, directly into her strong eyes. Her immovable center, completely and utterly confident in her abilities, there was no doubt, no fear residing in them. She had either accepted her fate, or had deluded herself into thinking she was going to make it out alive. And the crazy part was; he believed her.
He shook his head in exasperation. Anything to be with her, he would do absolutely anything. "Don't get me wrong, I'm going to fight like hell for the chance to hold you again." His hands clasping around her shoulders, trailing down her arm for a brief moment before he stepped back, already he could feel his eyes watering in fear. He sighed, trying to collect his thoughts. "But listen...I
I want to say. I mean, looking back I-I have a few regrets but not many. That's pretty damn amazing right?" He paused. His tone was utter bewilderment. He was practically asking her if having a few regrets was acceptable. She didn't answer, merely humored him with an inclination of her head, following his gaze as he peered out into the darkening sky. "Messed up kid that I was, never would have DREAMED of the life I've had
" He emphasized dreamed, she was the embodiment of all of his wishes come true. Staring back to her with a meek grin he continued. "And I owe a lot of that to you, you know
She smiled, but the look in her eyes had shifted from fearless to sad, perhaps even remorseful. "It's been quite a ride." She whispered, almost as though she was afraid to admit she was about to face the end of it all, the end to the Reapers, and the end to all of the chaos
"It sure has." He replied his brow quirking curiously as she hadn't lifted her gaze from the floor. "But, how are you doing? Scared?" He struggled to figure out what to say to her, uncertain if there was anything he could say at this point. This was goodbye, and he was wasting his precious few minutes discussing about his Students and his past, he hadn't even thought to ask Shepard how she felt.
She snorted, practically laughed at his question. Which he denounced as stupid anyway, but she still found it in herself to answer it. "Damn straight I'm scared. But that fear's going to keep me alive long enough to strike these bastards right through the heart." Her tone and eyes darkened, contemplating exactly how she was going to do just that. She was terrified, quaking in her armor, but she still found it in herself to have no regrets, no compromise.
Exactly." He tried to sound reassuring, to tell her that everything was going to be fine. He failed ultimately, but he hoped that she at least got the gist of what he was implying.
" Her core was cracking before him. She looked away and with one final sigh began to walk away, her body turning away. "Take care Major." She was still holding onto whatever professionalism she could muster. Perhaps it was for his own benefit, being as he was always the cautious sort and had never been one to breech protocol and ruin his career. But fuck everything at this point, the Alliance needed Shepard, and he needed her. He also needed her to know just how much she meant to him.
His arm shooting up to block her retreat, a look of surprise playing onto her features as his hand pulled hers to his waist. His fingers trailed against her skin, brushing along her cheek as he held her there in his arms. Something he'd dreamed of doing ever since he'd fallen for her on the original Normandy. When everything was easier to stomach, and much less was riding on their shoulders. Now with the end rearing its ugly head, he just didn't give a damn anymore. Screw regulations, protocol and the whole rest of it. Shepard was a woman who deserved to be treated with as much love and affection as he could muster. His lips claimed hers, his hand gripping her arm tight against his body as he pulled her closer. It took only a few brief seconds, before he had to force himself away from her. Any longer and he'd have clung to her form and never let her go. Sucking the air back into his lungs he looked into her eyes, and there he could see the fractured vulnerability seeping through. His own whiskey brown eyes were diluted with water as he fought back his tears. His voice was a soft gentle murmur as he spoke to her, staring directly into her eyes trying to convey every emotion he had ever felt for her. "I can't lose you again
- - -
I can't lose you again
I can't lose you
I can't lose
Kaidan's voice rang through Shepard's mind. Her own voice mixing in with his, making her determined to make it out of this mess alive. She simply couldn't lose. She'd come too far, sacrificed too much to simply crumble and give up. Everything was riding on her, her face was pressed against the cool metal of the Citadel and she did her best to recollect what just happened. Glancing behind her Anderson's slumped over corpse was a vivid reminder of what she'd done. She didn't remember blacking out. She only remembered Hackett calling to her, telling her the Crucible hadn't fired. She staggered to her feet, her fingers finding the holographic display, typing frantically trying to figure out through her cloud of confusion just what needed to be done. Something triggered, some miraculous sequence had been entered, and the Citadel began to shake beneath her feet. She'd certainly done something, a vibrant splash of red cascading over her eyes as she let out a sighed and pained breath of relief. Finally, something was going right for a change. Finally something was in her favor.
She just needed to get out of here now. Despite the massive injuries her body was sporting she began to limp down from the center of the Citadel. Somehow her body had managed to drag itself back through the piles of dead corpses, finding the draw of the blue light far too appealing to not enter. But then the Citadel began to explode and she didn't quite have the strength to hoist the rest of her fleeting body through the aura that was beckoning to her. That blue light, sparking and sputtering as it was felt more like her own life failing her. She could feel the pounding in her chest, everything felt tight and she was completely bewildered with how in the hell she was even limping despite feeling like death. The Illusive Man was gone, Admiral Anderson was gone, the Crucible had activated, but that blast of Harbinger's laser had crippled her to a point of just wanting to lie down and never wake up again. Whenever she stumbled or crashed to the floor she could hear Kaidan's shivering voice calling to her. She felt guilty, completely and utterly so. Having made a deal with Garrus that if they got as far as the beam he'd take Kaidan with him and protect him
"Promise me something Garrus." She said without even so much as a sideways glance toward Garrus. Her arms across her chest as she leaned against the panel in the main battery, something was certainly brewing behind her neutral mask.
"Sure Shepard, anything you want." The Turian shrugged absently, uncertain of what Shepard was going to ask him, he supposed he owed her more than a few favors though, saving Palaven, rescuing the Primarch, saving Tali
"If things don't go well, if this plan with the Conduit goes south, if we don't even make it that far
if you see me fall. I'm going to order you right now, take Kaidan with you and run." She spoke with an authoritative tone that was not to be questioned. Garrus blinked, entirely bewildered.
You don't know what you're asking Shepard." Garrus stared at her, concern etching its way onto his usual calm demeanor. "Besides, we're going to make it." She smiled, although it felt more like she was simply humoring him.
"I'm already living on borrowed time Garrus. You and Kaidan are what keep me going. You know I'm taking you both with me in the end. Look I know you think this is crazy, but just promise me if we even reach the Conduit, you'll do it for my sake. I need to know that he's safe, that you're both safe. If you even consider me your friend you'll do this, no questions." She said with a somber tone that lingered in the air, a stroke of melancholy trickled through the atmosphere.
Of course Shepard, whatever you say." Garrus didn't even look at her, his eyes falling to the floor as she pat his back and headed toward the CIC without so much as a second glance.
She could deal with dying again, she was already living on borrowed time
But the fact that Kaidan still had so much to live for, or if she made it out of this alive and he didn't
She wasn't strong enough to not have him in her life. She needed Kaidan, as much if not more than he needed her. Everything in her body was in so much pain though, the Illusive Man's psychotic mind control trick had torn her flesh from her side and she was bleeding against the slick metal of the Citadel that was igniting in front of her eyes. Everything felt so damn familiar. She was going to be killed here again, probably spaced and left to rot alone and cold once more. She'd suffocate in the reaches of space, not something she ever wanted to relive
The horrible nightmares of it all, how they were going to come crashing down on her head and she would be forced to die like that once more.
"What am I looking at?" Shepard asked curiously, standing before a blank monitor after being informed by EDI that there was data on this supposed terminal that she'd find interesting. She was hesitant even going into Cerberus' base, after nearly being vented in the hanger, having found out that the troops throwing their lives carelessly at her had been nothing more than indoctrinated captured civilians, she was reluctant to even so much as think of what could be found on this terminal.
"Project Lazarus, your reconstruction." EDI clarified with an even monotone. Her omnitool lighting up, pressed against the door trying to crack its encryption. Shepard felt her heart stop, her fingers reaching out and touching button to activate it without thinking, without preparing herself for what was to come.
"It can't be done. It's not a matter of resources." Shepard blinked in surprise, the monitor flashing to life. A scientist standing before a holographic image of The Illusive Man argued, his voice exasperated trying to prove to The Illusive Man that it was not simply possible to bring Shepard back to life.
"It's always a matter of resources. We're not losing Shepard." The Illusive Man disputed back, his voice dismissive not allowing anything other than success to hinder his plans it seemed.
"Sir Shepard is clinically brain dead. After that much trauma, that long with no oxygen
We cannot overcome nature." He emphasized a point of trying to tell The Illusive Man the cold hard facts. Shepard was as dead as could be, there was no way in hell she was coming back to life.
"Operative Lawson disagrees. She is now in charge of Project Lazarus." The Illusive Man pointed an accusing finger at the scientist in question, almost as if declaring said scientist a buffoon.
I didn't realize it was that bad." Shepard murmured, completely beside herself. She could feel her spine stiffen, her body growing heavy as the sudden weight of the world crashed into her. Three years ago today she was dead, entirely dead. The world around her felt as though it was spinning, the haunting images of the black void of space tickling her eyes as she struggled to scream, to even so much as breathe as the vacuum of space sucked the air right from her lungs.
"I thought you were just on life support. Clinically brain dead
" Kaidan's gentle tone burst through her eardrums and she glanced over her shoulder at him. Trying to engulf the overwhelming emotions that were determined to reach her face, to snag on her voice, not now
she couldn't fall apart now.
"Looks like." She said with a dismissive sigh, fervently shaking her head trying to make the images vanish. Kaidan drew closer to her, his russet eyes staring at her curiously. She could feel them ogling her in wonder despite facing the monitor. She shivered; she just wanted the memories to fade.
"What was it like? I mean
if you remember or
how do you feel?" She could hear his boots clang against the metal floor. He was taking a cautious step back. She could feel the tears trying to well in her eyes, she willed them away. Not now, please don't fall apart now
"I'm still me." She took a step away from the monitor, her voice growing low with a defensive tone. "I doubt I'd have been able to turn against Cerberus otherwise." She shifted uncomfortably in her armor, her feet shuffling against the floor not able to even so much as look Kaidan in the eye. "I don't remember anything. Maybe they really just fixed me." Her voice growing hopeful before the barrage of darkness began to creep into her conscious, a shudder working its way down her otherwise spine of steel. "Or maybe I'm just a high tech VI that thinks its Commander Shepard
" Her tone softened, her shoulders slumped forward as she stared down at the floor. "But
I don't know I-"
"You're real enough for me." Kaidan interrupted her. He attempted to try to reassure her, but her doubt was already winning. She glanced over her shoulder again, her eyes catching his, he must have seen the vulnerabilities slithering through that otherwise unbreakable gaze of hers. He stepped closer to her, glancing toward EDI who was still minding her own business, decrypting the door. His hand resting against her shoulder tentatively she went rigid. His arm wrapping around her waist she didn't pull away, simply squeezed her fists at her side fighting with every ounce of willpower she had to stop her emotions. "You're real Shepard. You're absolutely real, and you're all mine." His voice was a gentle husky tone, his breath along her ear, tingling down her neck. Her eyes catching his gaze as he released her frame, smiling softly toward her. She found her own smile, feigned and forced as it was before nodding in agreement, finding the strength again to resume watching the footage of her reconstruction...
The bitter irony of it all made her want to laugh. She struggled to the light, her saving grace. Falling into it with a huge gulp of air hoping she'd make it through. She just wanted to be with him again, his smiling face the last image she had seen before her world went black and the Citadel erupted in her ears as it plummeted to Earth.
- - -
She'd promised to be here, she said she would be waiting for him. Kaidan stood on that hill, quiet and feeble sobs running through his body as he waited patiently. Everyone had given him space, a wide berth in case he decided in this final hour to reveal that he was indeed one of those L2s and rip everyone in half. He still had his students to think about, they were watching him stand alone on that hill, his arms wrapping around his body as he hugged himself close; wishing more than anything that Shepard would come back, that she could be the one to hold in his arms instead of air. Everything felt bleak and painful despite the amount of joy radiating from everyone around him. The Normandy was docked a good stretch away, and even Joker and EDI had not said a word to him since Shepard limped through that beam. Garrus had yet to even acknowledge his existence despite Tali's quiet glares. He didn't need their compassion, their condolences. Everyone was at a loss for losing Shepard, but everyone on that god damn ship knew he had lost the most in seeing her go through that beam alone. He shivered to himself, slicking his soaking hair out of his eyes he sighed. Never lose hope, any minute now
But he'd been standing on his vantage point for so long. Long enough to where his armor was chaffing, long enough to where the students behind him were whispering concerned and horrified rumors alike. Kaidan's heart plummeting into his chest cavity, everything about him felt numb. His skin was cold as he finally turned away. The red rims around his eyes had darkened as fresh tears streaked across his face. Shepard was everything to him, and to have her back only to have her be stolen from him again
She was a legend already, but he loved her for the woman that she was. The woman no one else had even come close to seeing. The pain would never fade, and despite finally saying goodbye, he just couldn't bear the thought of having her stricken from his life again. Not after she made him promise to wait for her, not after she told him she'd be there for him. Damn it Shepard, why did everything have to be so complicated with you? Why wouldn't you just let him help you? Damn her stubbornness to the point of obnoxiousness. He wanted to scream, to cry, and to weep to fall to his knees and abandon everything, absolutely everything
He never allotted himself that way out that he had originally claimed he would those three years ago. He was regretting it fiercely now. Everything hurt, and yet he felt dead inside. He had to be strong, but he just couldn't find it in himself to move on. Why did he do that to himself? Why did he have to fall in love with a woman who was so much larger than life, so damn selfless that she sacrificed herself to save the entire galaxy? The entire galaxy that was probably going to be engulfed in war and violence within the next few years anyway, why did she do that? Kaidan didn't want a heroine, he wanted the woman who had stolen his heart right from his chest back, he just wanted his beautiful Shepard to be breathing again, anything to prove that she was not lost in space forever...anything
"Major Alenko sir!" One of the recruits called to him, shattering his concentration he finally turned, struggling to find an even neutral tone.
"What?" His voice thundered in his ears, it was hostile and dangerous. He felt on edge, ready to be swept away by his emotions. The student who had called him one final time fell into a hushed tone, their shoes scuffing against the pavement.
N-Nothing sir. We were just worried that you
" The kid squirmed beneath the Major's savage glare. He just wanted to be left alone. He simply wanted time to mourn Shepard. Except this time it would be final. Her body was gone, her life extinguished, why the hell did she not allow him the same courtesy? It hurt; he even contemplated taking his own life at this point. He couldn't live without her, why did she think he could? Had he not proven to her how much she meant to him? How every moment without her was a moment not worth living? He scowled, not trying to further frighten his students he finally picked his helmet off of the ground, slinking it beneath his arm he proceeded to walk away from the mound of rubble he had been standing on for what felt like an eternity. He was remorseful, and regretted taking even a single step away from the scene, his heart pleading with him to stay; his mind telling him to move on. He could never move on, the hole that woman left in his heart would never be mended. He could never fix what was broken again
- - -
Soft droplets of water cascaded down her face, pouring into her eyes, her nose, running down her lips across her neck, soaking into whatever was left of her armor. It was a cleansing bath, enough to shake her from the darkness. Her body winced and shivered, her spine feeling as though it had been cracked against a bed of nails. Her head felt as though it was being crushed in a vice. Her lungs were clotted with smoke and soot alike. Shepard opened her mouth, life pouring into her lungs she gasped as air filtered through her body. Her blood pumping once more, her heart beat drumming through her ears as everything around her began to come into focus. It was raining, pouring against her blood soaked head, her weight shifting against the debris. What happened? How did she get here? Small clusters of rock chipping and crumbling off of her as she attempted to move despite what her body was protesting. Everything still felt like death, it even hurt to breathe, to see. Blinking her eyes she wondered how on earth she even held together. The dim blue light that she had fallen into was gone, the image of the conduit's once proud towers had tipped over, nearly crushing her in the process. Through some dumb luck, perhaps even some miraculous fate she was alive once more. She simply settled on just breathing. Labored and exhausted as she felt, she could feel the rain on her skin. She could hear the shouts of joy, yet in her heart she felt nothing but grief. Anderson was gone, he died
by her hand. She had shot him, a man who was more like her father had died up there in space, thankfully not alone
But still he was gone. Shepard gasped, a vice stringing around her barely beating heart causing her to yelp. The sound wasn't even human, simply meek and strangled as she tried not to think about whether or not Kaidan was alive. Garrus had promised her he would save Kaidan, he'd sworn to her. She rested her head against the rocks, not a very comfortable position but still it was enough to get her to calm down. Garrus wouldn't break his promise, she trusted that Turian with her life. She resided herself to simply getting free of this concrete trap, she'd figure out where she was later, and hopefully she would find out where Garrus was and see if he had indeed kept his promise after all.
- - -
Kaidan clasped his hand on one of his students, giving him one of his best reassuring smiles despite the doom that had swallowed his heart whole. It was hard to praise someone for fighting their hardest when no one had truly done anything to stop the Reapers, it had all been on Shepard, she had somehow managed to get everyone
absolutely everyone on board and yet she was still the key to activating that damn crucible. And she had, and the Reapers were gone, and the mass relays were intact, and everyone was going home. Everyone but her, damn it just wasn't fair! Kaidan tried not to dwell on it, but it was all he could think of. One of his other students looked behind him, a gasp of surprise catching in his throat making Kaidan turn and look back. "Operative Maxwell what's wrong?" He had calmed down quite a lot, but just looking back at the destruction he felt himself choke back another cry of pain, wincing and squeezing his helmet hard against his side.
look." Operative Maxwell pointed out over the horizon. There were pieces of the crashed Citadel that blocked the view where Kaidan was standing. Feeling utterly defeated he complied, grumbling the whole way back up the hill.
"What on earth are you going on about Maxwell?" He ground his teeth, following the male's wide eyed gaze his heart stopped.
A single bloodied form was limping over the rubble. They couldn't even so much as walk, making quite a mess of the otherwise simple task. The charred and bloodied armor was so destroyed it was impossible to make out who it was. Kaidan's helmet fell from his grasp as he stood there dumbfounded. It wasn't possible. As the figure drew closer he had to rub the water from his eyes. She
she was alive? Shepard was alive? Kaidan's heart was pounding in his ear drums as he saw further signs that it was indeed Shepard. He doubted what he was seeing, her bloodied form was barely even holding together. Her bodily fluids spilling against the soaked earth yet still she found the strength within her to continue on. Her face was in a form of a scowl, clearly defined bruises evident even as far back as he was he felt himself shaking. Without a single care in the world he rushed forward. "Shepard!" He called, and her head lifted up to his hails. His form racing at her, one of her eyes was bruised and bloodied, barely even able to see out of. The closer he drew the more of Shepard he could see.
" Her voice was a rasped whisper as she did her best to get to him faster. He was sprinting to the best of his ability toward her, the rain smearing his vision as he fought with everything he had to reach her in time. He just needed to get to her in time. He just needed to save her. Her body collapsed finally, his arms were there to catch her. He could feel how utterly exhausted and defeated she felt. The tears that were fighting their way through all this time were threatening to slip down his cheeks as he just held her close to him. Everything felt real again. Despite feeling utterly grotesque and sticky from the humidity, despite shivering in the cold of the downpour he could feel the warmth of his blood again, the hitch in his voice. He cradled her against his chest, slowly their bodies both slid to the ground, Shepard's out of lack of anything left, Kaidan's out of desperate fear. He was finally holding her again, but he could hardly believe it. His russet eyes meeting hers, finding she could barely see from one of them he didn't even care. He just held her close; fighting back his emotions to devour her mouth with his she looked near death. That realization hit him hard in the heart as he shook her gingerly, trying to keep her awake and cognitive.
I-I thought I lost you." He croaked, no longer able to hold back his tears. They spilled from his eyes, mixing in with the rest of the pouring rain as he wept, cradling her frame closer into him refusing to let her go. He looked into her eyes, or rather the one that was able to actually see. She was smiling softly, his hand brushing through her dirt and blood coated hair, his fingers trailing along her damaged skin. She was a complete an utter mess, and yet she was the most beautiful sight he had ever had the privilege of seeing. Her hand weakly rested along his jaw line, stroking his cheek, she felt so cold. His hand resting along her own he held her fingers against his exposed flesh, biting back the tears as best he could. He had never been one to so openly weep before, but after nearly losing a woman he would die for, would do anything for twice in one life time he could no longer hold back. He was panting, his breath hot, contrasting against the frigid air as he tried to maintain whatever professional manner ultimately giving in and simply stroking Shepard's beautiful alive head of hair, picking out some of the larger pieces of rock and clumps of drying or dried blood wincing whenever he saw her struggle for breath.
"Did...Did we win Kaidan
?" Her voice was struggling to come to his ears, making him lean forward to hear her soft whispers. She was slipping away and he panicked. Medigel, he had to have some! Where was his damn Medigel?! He needed a doctor, a medic, a fucking miracle at this point. He wasn't going to lose her, he just wasn't going to. That was not a god damn option right now. He wasn't going to think about life without her, he felt his heart breaking apart in his chest just moments ago. Now everything was alive and everything just made sense. He gritted his teeth, there was blood on Shepard's hand, her blood; it was trickling down to his neck and he did his best to keep his composure despite the waterworks. He humored her with a choking laugh, nodding softly to her inquiry.
you did it Shepard. You did it. Just hold on, a little while longer. Shhh its okay
Stay with me
" He whispered tenderly to her, gripping her fingers tight in his own he scooped her up in his arms, cradling her broken body against his own he held her tight. "Stay with me Shepard. I showed up...don't leave me now." His forehead rested against her own, his eyes trying to keep her from vanishing forever. He felt like he was fighting an uphill battle. She looked so entirely exhausted, she needed medical attention desperately. Kaidan broke the gaze, searching desperately for anyone in the area. Everyone was just a smudge in his mind as he fought with any logic he had, begging it to come and tell him what to do. His mind was unfortunately silent at this point, utterly shocked and stunned at just having Shepard in his arms again. But she was slipping away, he was going to lose her and damn it he just wasn't ready to watch her go. His sense telling him to simply calm her down, to get her to stop talking, to stop wasting her breath on asking him unimportant questions and to just have her breathe. He needed her to keep breathing; he wasn't going to accept anything else. His voice whispering softly to her, breath still coming out in soft desperate hisses trying to silence her voice. He loved her voice, but right now that was the last thing he wanted to hear. It was strained, and there was so much blood coming from every pore of her body. He could hear the rattled wheeze of her lungs; he could feel the shaking of her limp body. He kept stroking her hand soothingly, uncertain if he was trying to reassure himself or her at this point. He needed her to be alive; he needed her to keep fighting even if it meant fighting death itself.
Shepard choked and gasped, trying to keep the air in her lungs. He could barely feel her pulse. "Kaidan...I
I'm so sorry
" She gurgled, her soft fingers barely able to stroke his chin as he held her tight. The tightness in his chest increased tenfold, she was apologizing now. But why? He wanted to know why, but damn if he was going to lose her over it. He simply shook his head, trying not to roll his eyes and scoff at her sudden regret. His hands holding her close to his body, his thumb kept pressing along her exposed wrist. He could still feel her pulse, her heart was still pounding. His breath uneasily huffed from his mouth trying to keep his own composure under wraps as well as keep her from falling to pieces. He could see the fear slowly working its way into her eyes, her expression growing more desolate as the seconds passed. His hand that was supporting her back dug against her spine possessively. She wasn't going to leave him. He wasn't going to lose his reason for living. He wasn't going to lose his heart and every bit of happiness that he'd ever known. "You
you were so brave Kaidan
" Her voice was thick with blood as her throat heaved; dribbles of spit tinged red ran down her cracked lips. She did her best to draw breath, but each moment was growing more difficult. Kaidan became all the more frantic, trying to keep her here with him.
"Shepard...please just hold on." His worried expression became blurry in her eyes as she felt her hand drop from his face, everything was going dark again and she fought with everything she had left to stay tethered to this world. The blackness was engulfing her eyes as she began to wheeze, the air becoming stale in her lungs no matter how hard she gasped for breath. "Shepard!" Kaidan's voice felt as though it was a thousand miles away, her eyes glossing over as the world was slithering from her grasp once more. She could hear him shouting again, but the words became nothing more than gargled whispers in the back of her mind. Her head rolling against his arm limply, not even her neck was able to stay still. Her entire body was growing limp as she could feel her numb agonizing form being hoisted from the ground where she lie, Kaidan's strong arms carried her with ease. She didn't have the strength to fight him, didn't have the strength to even so much as open her eyes. The darkness was so familiar, and yet it became so frighteningly scary. The constant haunting image of that small boy whom she had been unable to rescue running rampant through her mind, the images of all of the friends she had lost because of this stupid war. It was almost too much for her to bear, the weight on her chest was enough to make her groan and cry in protest. Except her mouth wasn't working, her body wasn't responding. Everything hurt to a point of endorphins releasing themselves into her blood stream, it just felt numb. She couldn't feel her finger tips down to her toes. She could just about float away, feeling weightless and free. Thane was right, it was freeing to know that one no longer had limitations placed on one's life, except Kaidan was going to be alone if she yielded to the tantalizing darkness. She wasn't afraid to die, but now she simply felt guilty for thinking her life didn't matter to anyone, she'd been dreadfully wrong. The horror running behind Kaidan's whiskey brown eyes confirmed otherwise. He looked so lost, uncertain of what to do with her as she was dying slowly in his arms. Finally, she simply fell into the black, uncertain of if she was pushed or if her mind simply told her it was time despite what her thundering heart demanded.
All of the pain came flooding back into her body as she tried to move. Everything was blotchy and she could only see out of one eye. She began to gasp and pant, trying to figure out where she was, what happened. Slowly the world was coming into focus as she couldn't rightly even move. One of her hands reaching out into the darkness of the unknown room, yet something warm and comforting stopped her from pulling at the air. She looked through her one good eye to see a hand clasped around her wrist. She tried to speak, but her voice felt as though it had been set on fire, her vocal chords vibrating but no sound came. Her mouth was also dry, like she had just swallowed a wad of cotton. Kaidan's familiar face came into view. His hand resting along her wrist pulled her arm back to the position at her side. It was then that Shepard realized she was laying in a bed, devices and machines of all kind strapping her down. She swallowed hard, trying to recollect anything, but nothing was coming to mind. Her mind felt black, dark and lost she looked toward Kaidan again, her one remaining eye, the one not covered by apparent bandages searched earnestly for any confirmation of where she was, trying to ask him things that her mouth could not. "Relax Shepard. Please relax...For me. Everything is going to be alright." He reassured her with a stroke of his thumb down her cheek, even her face felt numb. She ran her own fingers against it once his had departed, it was also swollen. Fantastic, she felt like an utter mess and Kaidan was here, she felt so embarrassed.
" She was able to croak out, although Kaidan's finger lightly pressed against her lips to silence her protests.
" He cooed toward her, his smile was of genuine joy and pain in equal measures, and Shepard willed her free arm to reach out for him, he caught her hand and ran his thumb along her knuckles. Glancing down from her hand to her face he chuckled meekly and kissed her palm. "I'm here
I'm not going anywhere. I promise." Running her fingers against his cheek he smirked. "I love you, so fucking much." He choked, closing his eyes and leaning forward to kiss her forehead. Shepard could only nod in agreement, the sedatives working their way through her body she felt herself growing numb and warm, despite her best efforts of trying to fight with the medicine and the machines alike she drifted off into a forced state of sleep. But for once, she wasn't terrified to close her eyes. The nightmares were over, and finally she could simply just rest...