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FemShep/Kaidan: Unsure Kaidan willing to try

Write something sweet, or sexy, or angsty, and work in this simple lovely phrase, by Kaidan to Shepard: "I think I could love you, if you give me the chance."

Re: FemShep/Kaidan: Unsure Kaidan willing to try


Okay, I'm off on holiday soon and I'm conscious of the fact I claim a lot of good Shenko prompts, but I swear, if this baby's still here in a week or so I am ON IT LIKE . . . A THING WELL KNOWN FOR BEING ON STUFF. PERHAPS SOME KIND OF SNAIL. I'M NOT SURE. BUT I WILL BE ON. ON LIKE DONKEY KONG.

Re: FemShep/Kaidan: Unsure Kaidan willing to try


Re: FemShep/Kaidan: Unsure Kaidan willing to try

I lol'd so hard at this but thank you because I second this prompt :D

captcha wth?: utryd James

Eezo Burns - 1/? [FShep/Kaidan]

AN: Okay anons. Firstly, an apology. Because I'm going to leave you hanging (off on holiday tomorrow). But I can't stop writing this in my head and I'm not a wait-and-see kinda gal so I need to get it down now.

Joel woke because the long, warm mass beside him on the bed. Joel wasn't the type to become so attuned to his lover that the slightest movement would wake him, but their bed bound athletics had only ceased a few hours ago and Joel wasn't properly asleep yet.

Besides. This wasn't the first time this had happened.

Joel was, in all honesty, beginning to tire of it. He sat up in the bed, propping his back up with pillows, and watched his soldier boy stoop to pick up his uniform, taut buttocks tensing with the muscle movement. Okay, he wasn't getting tired of that precisely, but just once it might have been nice to have a long, lazy morning abed.

"Where are you going?" He asked because he was tired. A beautiful man was a beautiful man, but Joel wasn't so blown away by a hard won smile that he forgot his own self worth.

Kaidan tugged his pants up and turned to kiss Joel on the cheek, but wasn't surprised when Joel turned his head away. "I've only got a week before my next posting. I should visit my folks."

Folks Joel hadn't met. Folks Joel had asked to meet. He sighed and laced his hands behind his head, watching Kaidan continue to dress. He realised, with a pang of irritation, that Kaidan wasn't going to say it. As always, the final word was going to have to come from Joel. Joel who instigated their relationship. Joel who resuscitated when Kaidan dragged it down into the dark. Joel who was now going to kill it. He sighed. "This isn't working out."

To Joel's eyes, Kaidan didn't flinch. For all Joel knew, this was no more distressing to Kaidan than trying to find his lost sock (it was under the sofa). What Joel didn't see was how Kaidan's throat went dry, how his palms went slick. Joel didn't hear the little voice in Kaidan's head crowing that he'd just lost another one. What Joel saw was Kaidan's face as he turned and the shrug of Kaidan's shoulders. "I'm sorry," Kaidan said, to his credit.

Joel nodded. He could have said more, maybe he did, but both men had known the relationship was dead for a while now. When Kaidan left, Joel cursed himself, wondered what he'd done wrong, why he couldn't open the soldier up and why Kaidan seemed to want to love him, but couldn't.

Don't feel sorry for Joel. In a few weeks time he meets another young man at his favourite coffee shop, a writer in fact. They get married after a year and a half together. Joel was worried at first because the spark wasn't there, the writer wasn't quite so good in bed and was a little softer round the edges. But bed skills can be taught, and sparks can catch, and few of us look like we have stepped out of a catalogue's pages anyway.

They moved to a colony but during the War were evacuated to the Citadel. There they adopted an asari child and she became their light and life. They ended up adopting a few more children, a pair of turian orphans. Theirs is a beautiful story, so don't feel sorry for Joel.

You may feel sorry for Kaidan though, currently walking down a grey and dismal Vancouver street wondering if he might be broken down inside.

But it's partly his own fault.

Eezo Burns - 2/? [FShep/Kaidan]

Shepard was pacing her office. Cabin. She hadn't made the adjustment yet, her mind still categorising this as Anderson's space. Strangely enough, she could think of it as a workspace more easily, but a cabin still felt oddly decadent. Most ships, the Normandy included, practised hot bunking. She didn't like it, per se, but she was used to it.

We join the hero of our tale - indeed the hero many tales - a month and change later. This is not because her life wasn't interesting before she met Kaidan Alenko, but she is a woman of remarkably singular purpose and it is only now that her new crew has really crossed her mind at all. And if I was to tell you her story, we would really be here far too long.

Shepard - she had another name once but it is mostly forgotten, the name of someone long dead and she doesn't like to remember - stopped pacing because a thought strikes her out of the blue.

What if all this unease and uncharacteristic discomfort was part of the Prothean beacon? She had felt Doom pressing in at her ever since it grabbed her in its field. Perhaps her sudden onset of nerves had less to do with the unexpected command of the Normandy and more to do with having the dying gasp of an entire race downloaded into her brain.

She groaned and gently bashed her forehead against the wall.

It was not in Shepard's nature to be melancholy for long. She chuckled to herself, laughing at her own fear, and drew her shoulders back, marching out from her quarters with her head held high.

That's how she caught sight of Kaidan working at a console, his face pinched in a frown of concentration. She hesitated just long enough for him to look up and catch her eye.

The connection had already been made, before Eden Prime in fact. Back when she had first stepped on board the Normandy and he greeted her with a smile and a handshake that was friendly and not at all awed by her reputation. It had blossomed to a spark more quickly than most - note, however, that for these two most things sparked quickly. They were both good looking. They were both funny, in their dry, cutting way. They were both kind. They both pulled people in, although Kaidan had spent a long time learning how to turn that off - and particularly memorably, Kaidan had blurted his attraction in front of Williams.

The Chief wasn't around, in fact the mess was pretty quiet, just the new quarian crewmate sitting reading something on her omnitool.

"Hey, Commander," Kaidan said, in his very pleasant voice.

She smiled automatically and drifted closer. "Working, Kaidan?"

He scowled at the panel. "Not really. Messing about with some shielding configurations, experimentally," he hastened to add. "Having a biotic barrier and a shield . . . it's inefficient, that extra omnitool processing power could be slaved to the amp for extra power for attacks . . ." he trailed off, aware that Shepard's eyebrows had been raised high and she was fighting a smirk. "Sorry," he said, a little shame-faced, "I . . ."

"You're a thinker, aren't you?" she mused, crossing her arms and leaning against the bulkhead. She regarded him with growing fondness.

"Well we can't all be blessed with your instincts," he retorted, hastily adding "uh, ma'am," when she gave him a look.

"Relax, Kaidan. And it's Shepard. Really."

Kaidan shifted, a little uncomfortable with being teased and a little uncomfortable by the way his clenched soul seemed to relax around her in spite of the rules he carefully cherished.

The little quarian unfolded from her chair and trotted towards them. "I couldn't help overhearing. How were you planning on slaving an omnitool's processor to a biotic amp?" she asked. "Wouldn't you sacrifice amp stability? Not that I know much about biotics," she added, ducking her visor'd head.

Shepard smiled at them both. "I'll leave you crazy kids to it," she drawled, in a passable impression of a former drill sergeant of hers, though neither of the two got it.

She did think, as she left them, that if those two hit it off, things might be easier for her.

But she certainly wasn't hoping for it.

Eezo Burns - 3/? [FShep/Kaidan]

Previously, I told you it wasn't in Shepard's nature to remain melancholy for long. In later years, she comes to think of her days on the Normandy SR1 as 'the good old days'. Joker calls her on it once. Still, it is a good ship to be on. They laugh. Shepard is also not a woman who leads from behind. Her crew love her, love her in spite of numerous regulation infractions. Perhaps they love her because of it.

If things had gone differently - this is a refrain that Shepard hears again and again - she would have served under Anderson on the Normandy and likely been known as the ship's wit, much to Joker's chagrin. She still gets off a good few one liners, but mostly behind a gun, where she's too high on adrenaline to remember she's supposed to be their Commander.

Whatever was going on between her and Kaidan still wouldn't have been kosher, but it would have been Anderson's decision to stop it. As it was, it was hers, and she wasn't quite able to make that decision the way she knew she should. She liked Kaidan. A lot. He liked her too, she knew that.

One of her friends, in a rare peaceful moment grabbed on the Citadel, told her she was doing it again. Another broken bird she was going to repair and set free.

"He's not like that," Shepard muttered to the red haired woman sitting beside her at the bar.

"Sweetie, you told me his history and I was nearly crying."

"It's not my fault you're a sop," Shepard signalled for two more bright purple cocktails.

Jane folded her arms and sat back, regarding her friend as she accepted the drink the bartender gave them and knocked half back at once. A realisation settled over Jane and she leaned forwards. "Shit. You actually like him, don't you?"

Shepard glanced up, the corner of her lip curled in disgust. "Maybe," she conceded.

She did. She really liked him. She liked his stillness, the deep pool and the strong currents that ran underneath. She swore, every time she dipped her toes in, she could feel the tugging, like he wanted to pull her under. She just had to get deep enough.

Yes, he was a little scarred and ragged around the edges, but he still carried an open heart. He had stayed up with Liara the whole night after Noveria. Shepard knew he had, though she still didn't know what they'd talked about. Maybe they hadn't talked about much at all. Maybe they'd just sat.

And she liked fighting alongside him. Fighting was important to her. It was a dance driven by instinct and sometimes, only sometimes, it seemed like Kaidan might be able to keep up.

Jane whistled between her teeth. "I don't think I've ever seen you like this, Shep."

"Well," Shepard shrugged. "There's stuff I have to do before any of this. Save the galaxy, for one."

"Yeah, better start with the galaxy than the man," Jane said dryly. And they toasted to that.

Shepard would later recollect that toast in years to come on the Citadel, when the Citadel was much changed. At that point, Kaidan would be in a hospital bed, unconscious, and a camp of refugees would remind her of an unhappy period in her history. When this happens, she is prone to melancholy.

Interestingly, Joel is one of those who sees her that day and approaches to thank her personally for helping his colony evacuate. She doesn't know the significance of this, nor does he, he doesn't even know his former partner is lying in a hospital bed. That story is perhaps one more worthy of being told, a story of a soldier taking heart in the words of a civilian, rather than the story of one slightly ragged man being taught to love, but I never promised you a story that was worth the telling. I promised to tell you this one.

But still, Joel meets her on the Citadel in years to come.

That's all in the future. On this day, Shepard is drinking purple cocktails and wondering about still waters that run deep.

Re: Eezo Burns - 3/? [FShep/Kaidan]

Really love where this is going!

Re: Eezo Burns - 3/? [FShep/Kaidan]

That's one seriously funky narrator. :D Shall proceed to hang until vacation is over. /op

Eezo Burns - 4/? [FShep/Kaidan]

If things had gone differently . . .

There is, at this point, a Bad Day.

It is actually a bad 37.9 Sol hours, but that doesn't have quite the same ring to it. And it's not a Bad Day for everyone. (There will be a day in three years time that is a Bad Day for everyone in the galaxy, which is a story in itself.)

On an industrial colony, a young reporter tells her parents about the job she's just scored. They're not too happy, she's too young to be a war correspondent and war correspondents are frequently captured by mercenaries, but our young girl doesn't heed this.

On Earth, their point of origin, the young woman's eventual wife is sitting on a bench in a park, having a Eureka moment of her own - it's something to do with signal processing. You might understand it. I don't.

Back on the colony, a couple is walking through a gallery, hand in hand, talking animatedly about the art they see and arguing over a period in the 21st Century where hyperrealism becomes the fashion. They kiss. Their time is short, but they don't know. For them, today is a good day.

It's not a good day for everyone of course, even if it is not a Bad Day. Another young woman is having ink patterned under her skin. She often tells others, and often succeeds in convincing them, that her tattoos are because she likes them. But sometimes, the tattoos are a mark to show for something inside that is hidden. It is today. She doesn't cry or wince as the needles repeatedly pierce her skin, nor does she cry or wince when she thinks back to her latest betrayal.

A million miles and a million worlds away there is a woman who is both a million miles and a million worlds different from the tattooed criminal. She is beautiful, a perfect addition to the asari-made streets she stands in. She watches a young girl with a marked similarity to her playing in the park. She is crying, although no one will ever know.

But for our heroes, it is a Bad Day. And the thing is? Shepard doesn't even know it until it happens. Things don't go to plan, but when do they ever? She walks with booted feet on the sand and in the surf and feels out the situation with her instincts, what does she think needs to happen?

Call it fate, or pessimism, but Kaidan felt the situation more keenly. He had been uneasy ever since Shepard, Williams and Tali headed for the Mako, joking about a girl's day on the beach. Part of him had argued nothing back could happen with Williams there, he couldn't fault her skills with a gun and he had to admit that her attitude to Tali and Garrus and the other aliens had much improved and he didn't think that was all Shepard's zero tolerance policy.

His mood didn't improve when they reached Kirrahe and his men. Stranded, his mind kept whispering at him.

And there was Wrex, of course. The big krogan's mood was worse than Kaidan's.

Just when the krogan seemed to reach his peak - fishing for a snack with his shotgun aimed into the water, the report echoing around the high cliffs - Shepard approached him. Kaidan was struck by how small she was, that biotic metabolism that kept either of them from gaining muscle too easily. Those same biotics could pulverise Wrex in an instant. He could feel his own prickling at the krogan merc turned to face her.

Their conversation carried, dancing around each other like a tango. Shepard barely blinked. She lowered her gun, not that she needed one of course, even when Wrex aimed his shotgun straight down her pretty little nose.

Kaidan could see Ash stepping up behind, gun drawn. If the krogan saw it there would be hell to pay, but from where he stood he couldn't move without tipping Wrex off. Be ready Shepard had said.

Abruptly, Wrex stood down, tipping his head to Shepard.

Kaidan could feel his heart hammering in his chest, could see Ashley's little exhale of tension, and the strong line of Shepard's shoulders as she watched the krogan retreat.

He wanted to embrace her, to tell her she had done the impossible and that he . . .

He . . .

But the Bad Day was only just beginning.

Eezo Burns - 6/? [FShep/Kaidan]

For a moment, let's look away from these two. If I'm honest, it takes them time to get to where they want to be - or where they're not sure if they want to be but pulled to nonetheless - and look at what is around them.

Shepard always considered herself lucky, she worked with so many great crews. Perhaps it's a little of luck, but I suspect there's something of her own leadership abilities in there too. I digress.

In the days and weeks following that Bad Day, a few things of note happened. The burgeoning romance between Adams and Tali, which had been a casual flirtation based on mutual respect, was abruptly derailed as a young woman grieved in earnest and an older friend helped her come to terms with it.

Garrus, the cowboy cop, considered how Saleon went down and Shepard's words to him. A child of a culture that was already so exposed to others, he turned those thoughts over and over in his mind as he tried not to look at the bare space.

The krogan found himself prickling with cold sweat. He had stepped aside, for Shepard, for Shepard's words. Krogans take time to make decisions, long lived species always do, and Wrex's had been building for years like a head of steam. But it had not played out as he thought. He had not died in pointless battle, but now found himself longing for something to fight for. Like these people. Like this crew. Like those few on the crew he could call friend.

For the young asari, there was no less confusion in her head than in the older krogan's, although it came from an altogether different place. Don't mock a girl's crush. Even a clever girl who knows nothing could ever come of it, can dream of the things she sees. And feels. But that's all it ever is, a little fantasy, and a pressing, knowing of their doom, gleaned from every scraping of Shepard's mind. How the human could stand it, Liara didn't know.

These people, all these people under this roof, are strong. I won't bore you with the platitudes (yes, yes, even the glass boned man in strong, oh how ironic) but they recover. They rise up and are strong when it becomes necessary to be so.

So when everything is taken from them, they are slapped down like errant children, they have all the faith in the world in Shepard and how she'll get them out. (The glass boned man just happens to watch a particularly sweet little conversation you might have heard from elsewhere . . .)

Shepard herself, well, she wasn't entirely sure. While she wasn't exactly offered a shoulder to cry on - and for some reason, that made her smile - she was at least offered a hand up. She caught herself staring into Kaidan's eyes and wondered how she'd got quite this far because she was convinced she was getting closer to the dead zone. She could see Kaidan's lips part as his breath hitched. Want was certainly something between them.

Right then, she realised she wanted more than just that quick intake of breath.

She was almost grateful when the glass boned man interrupted.

Eezo Burns - 7/? [FShep/Kaidan]

"This is a good crew, the finest I've served with. I don't want to mess it up."

Shepard raised her eyebrows, her heart doing an unexpected double tap as he advanced towards her. She regretted her crack about serving under people, regretted every teasing lilt in her voice and joke about his serious nature. Right now she just wanted him to hold her tightly and promise her it was okay and she could do this.

The voice in the back of her head sounded worryingly like that of her friend, you do like the broken ones, don't you?

Shepard did not take nerves, or criticism, well. Her response was to latch her arms around Kaidan's neck and lean in for a kiss, her breath catching as he half lifted her off her feet in an embrace. Somehow, his hands were at the waist band of her uniform even as he was guiding her backwards towards the bed. She was clinging to him like a limpet, she realised, just before her world up-ended and she hit the mattress hard, with no space to breathe as Kaidan landed atop her, kisses robbing her of respite. She rarely found herself quite so outpaced, a combination of her state of mind and his, perhaps.

Their clothes all but fell away, Kaidan keeping his head bent to nuzzle at her breasts and her neck while she grasped at his shoulders, her fingers making tiny indents on strong, hard muscles. Her thoughts blew about like sand in the wind, settling in dunes of unsteady conviction.

"Kaidan," she murmured, running her fingers down the thick cords in his neck. He responded by dropping his kisses further down, past her navel and against her hot core.

A part of her wondered what would have happened if she had sent him away, if she had put a stop to all this. Now she was down a soldier, irrevocably so. He could never come with her to fight Saren, she couldn't trust herself, couldn't trust him, not when he clung to her so tightly.

The sheets were considered too constrictive and kicked off the side as Kaidan licked and sucked, attentive to her moans and the tensing of her buttocks under his hand. She wished she could clench her hand in something, but settled for the pillows, her fingers flexing as he brought the tide closer to the sand-dunes in her mind.

Any last vestiges of sanity and rationality were eroded as surely as the wind and sea erodes a dune, to be rebuilt later, differently, bearing only a similarity to the beach that was seen before. That is how any good fuck feels, wouldn't you agree, dear reader?

But of course you probably don't want to know about that. Far more tasteful to fade to black, don't you think?

Eezo Burns - 8/? [FShep/Kaidan]

Oh . . .

Oh, you don't think?

Well, I'm not sure I quite understand, but as you insist, I guess I ought to continue.

Kaidan's tongue continued to flicker and probe, a little harder than she would have liked had she been able to tell him so. This was as much for him as for her, she had the wherewithal to realise that at least, and it was hardly unpleasant as Kaidan curled his index finger inside of her, the palm of his other hand sliding between her buttock's cheeks, one finger probing at the sensitive spots there, earning her hisses and easing back just a little in response. When she gasped and shuddered and beat her palm against his shoulder, he crawled back up the bed, pressing his lips against her cheek. She turned her face, trying to catch his lips and noticing how he hesitated for a moment before he responded.

It was an odd mix of hard and fast, soft and wanting. The fact that Kaidan was hard despite barely any touches of her hand was filed away, unconsciously so, to comfort her in future dark nights when she wondered how much this could have meant to him.

Kaidan pushed into her, supporting his weight on his forearms, his forehead once more touched to her shoulder, his lips at the valley between her breasts, his fists clenched tightly beside her body. Shepard couldn't notice, but we can, and we can know those clenched fists were to keep him from gathering her close to him and whispering silly, useless words. Things like they'll never take you from me and I love you I love you I love you.

Things he couldn't say. When he came, it was painful, like a fire ignited in his gut, burning him as sure as an omnigel spill, conducting energy like a thread of eezo. He slumped, rolling down beside her and couldn't protest when she rolled with him, splaying her hand over his chest, hooking her leg over his hips, resting her cheek against his shoulder.

Kaidan slept. Shepard could feel his chest rising and falling beneath her. He slept as though he'd just gone ten rounds with a krogan, even snoring, softly. Shepard dozed, the storm her body had felt retreating from the shores of her mind, leaving her capable of forming a plan.

A strategy really. Kaidan couldn't come with her to Ilos. He would put her first. Wrex would come. Garrus too, he'd be useful. She'd leave Tali and Liara too. Liara would be pissed to miss whatever Prothean goodies were down there but the asari lacked a killer instinct. Tali too. If Shepard was honest with herself, she knew the two were close to gaining it, she'd seen it before, she'd seen that realisation in herself, but for now those two weren't ready. Garrus and Wrex, then.

At the end.

A shiver passed over her and she rose from the bed, stealing on silent feet to her abandoned uniform. She glanced back at Kaidan as she dressed, redoing her hair. She perched on the side of the desk and contemplated him, wishing she could spend longer here, comfort his mind as well as his body.

She was still the problem solver, when she watched him sleep in this cabin. She still viewed him as a problem to be solved. I ask you, how can two people ever find love, when they start off so fundamentally unequal?

While you ponder that, Kaidan woke with a start, aware of empty space in the bed beside him, the odd unpleasantness of that sticking. When he realised Shepard hadn't gone far, but had dressed, he hesitated, a little smile on his face. "It's been a long time since I've met a woman who, uh . . ."

But the glass boned man returns, to interrupt, and Shepard returns to her jokes, and Kaidan returns to his closed fists that will not embrace.

Because it was only just beginning.

Eezo Burns - 9/? [FShep/Kaidan]

Time passes. Battles are won.

Well, a few days pass and one particular battle is won. Our heroine is hurt, but not badly, and enjoys several days of bed rest on Arcturus.

Shepard had plenty of friends who came to see and congratulate her, including her tall, red headed friend Jane who shook hands with Kaidan and almost managed not to let him know that she and Shepard had discussed him at length over drinks. He laughed when Jane left and he and Shepard returned to bed.

In this time, when a man called Steven Hackett is barring their door through bureaucracy, orders and his fearsome reputation, stories are told.

You know this is my business, but I won't detail them all. They were private stories, meant for their ears and no other. She tells of how she left that planet she is so famous for, how sometimes she worries that what she saw there, what she did there, had changed something inside of her.

Kaidan kissed her temple and brushed hair from her face. "I don't think you have to worry about that."

She shifted under his arm and worried at her bottom lip with her thumb and forefinger. So Kaidan kissed the fingers and then the lips and they returned to the soft and tender love making they had been excelling in.

He told her how he felt when she left him on the Normandy, his rage at her then. She sat cross legged on the couch, naked, save for some surgical tape supporting her ripped up muscles and contemplated him for a moment. She chose to tell him the truth. "Because you weren't honest with me, Kaidan. Or yourself."

"Oh?" He was still playful, sauntering towards the kitchenette to fetch more icecream for her and another banana for him.

Tapping the spoon against her knee, Shepard nodded. "I've learned," she began cautiously, "that if you have to fight for survival, you need to fool yourself about your chances, about what's waiting for you. People survive because they want things." She glanced up as he returned, banana in one hand and cardboard tub in the other. She accepted the icecream and watched him crack the stem on the banana. "But if you have to fight for a goal, for a belief, you don't have the luxury of self deception. You need hold that belief in your heart, in your head, in your bones, or you'll fall. You can't want it, because you already have it."

"So what do you believe in, Shepard?" he asked, biting through the tip of the yellow flesh.

Shepard probed her icecream with the curve of her spoon. "I believe in life. In living."

"How's that different from surviving?" Kaidan asked.

Because I live and you survive, she didn't say. She was working on that part. Instead she flicked a glob of strawberry shortcake ice cream onto a well formed pectoral muscle. "Oops," she said in a flat tone, "should have gone with the ice cream, Alenko, makes for much better ammunition."

So stories like this were told, to unravel the soul and reveal it to one other person. I won't say that these were stories never heard by others because that would be a lie, but they were still important. The self-imposed exile had to end and they returned to the Normandy, short a few crew members who were still debriefing their own governments, and the sex had to take a back seat. The stories were still told, however, and they began to contemplate how they could continue this in future.

Until, one day, there was no future.

I don't like telling this part. I know, because I know this story, that it is important. But I also know, because I know this story, that before rejoining the Normandy, Kaidan watched Shepard in the shower one morning. She was singing some salarian pop song, one of those high pitched, rapidly trilling ones that most humans can't stand, and she was washing her hair. I know the thought that crossed his mind, right then. He thought: She sees my demons, and she is not afraid of them. She sees my demons and she is stronger than they are. Then he joined her, and laughed at her taste in music while lathering soap over her breasts.

Eezo Burns - 10/? [FShep/Kaidan]

When the future ended, she pushed him away. He was a problem to be solved, later. She went to the next problem, to the glass boned man. She walked through the burning ship, feeling the eezo ignite in her system.

She solved that one last problem and saved the glass boned man. As she was jettisoned out into the cold clutches of space, her thoughts were not with Kaidan or her long dead family or of anything romantic.

Her thoughts were of her training, of space faring legends who'd survived being spaced, of zero gee situations and her physical limitations. Her very last thought was no declaration of love, but simply a muddy, oxygen starved attempt to reposition herself so her suit's beacon wouldn't be drowned out by the Normandy's dying gasps. That was how she died.

And for Kaidan? So much in him that had begun to grow, to do more than simply survive?

This is the part I don't like telling.

They come from all corners of the galaxy to grieve for her. After everything she'd had been through, she had not been a woman to merely survive, and it showed in the small, unpublicised ceremony which mourned her.

Kaidan hated every moment of it. He hated how they all treated him so gently, how they all knew what was written so plainly on his face. Even those who had never met him clasped his hand and spoke in low tones. Liara offered, in a hushed voice, to meld with him if he wanted, something asari often did to share memories of loved ones.

He must have looked thunderous because Liara backed away quickly, apologising, and spent the next three weeks devouring every piece of literature she could find on human grieving rituals.

Some distant family were weeping too, though they had rarely seen Shepard and were never quite sure if her reputation was a boon or a curse to them. Anderson was crying openly for the whole ceremony, and Hackett was a stone-faced gargoyle, his pain collapsing in on itself, like a black hole sucking in all the light around him.

Wrex did not show. He would mourn her in his own way, but he was living now. Garrus did. Tali did. Both brought their customs. The Williams family were there. So many people.

Kaidan saw Joker sitting, still bruised and black eyed from his ordeal, and he had to leave.

One man followed him out. He was a tall man with a closely shaved head and a small scar that cut into his scalp. He didn't know it but would have been Kaidan's type entirely. John Doe, so called in an orphanage on Earth and the name had stuck, knew Shepard better than most.

"She breaks your heart, doesn't she?" John asked as Kaidan reached a railing that looked out onto a river. The water was flowing fast, dark and deep. Kaidan said nothing, staring into the rapids, his fists closing on the rail.

"Yeah," John continued, strolling towards Kaidan. His dress uniform was not very well pressed, but the N7 insignia was bright. "She always did, you know? We met back in Rio. Used to be a bit of a game between us, pulling out on the tiles. She was way too damned good at it."

"What's your point?" Kaidan grated out, not looking.

"My point is, don't forget her," John said firmly. He folded his arms, leaning against the rail. "Don't let her become the stone around your neck, she wouldn't have wanted that."

Kaidan choked back any number of childish retorts that begged to be shouted. He managed a curt nod and an excuse before he left. John sighed, watching him walk off, only looking away when Jane came up beside him. "Well?" Jane asked softly, laying a hand on her old friend's arm.

John shrugged. "Shepard really liked him?" he asked. The two old friends returned to the wake, grieved for their loss, and tried not to think about the man who had left early.

As for Kaidan, he spent some time at the bottom of a bottle, and with his ghosts and demons. I hate that story, and I have told it before, so I won't tell it again.

And as for Shepard?

The krogans believe there is a void where souls go.

And sometimes . . .

Sometimes the void gives back.

Eezo Burns - 11/? [FShep/Kaidan]

The woman Kaidan met and embraced on Horizon was not the same woman he had been grieving for. She didn't know that yet, wouldn't know that for some time. She began to suspect it when she was standing in a puddle of flammable liquid, panting as she stared down at a scarred mercenary who had just defied her and endangered lives.

She had wanted, at that moment, to leave him to fry. But she couldn't. She'd been given a second chance at life, a chance that no one else in the galaxy would have been given. Could she really waste it doing what she wanted when she knew what was right?

On Horizon, a sticky, humid planet that buzzed with the biome's equivalent of horseflies, she didn't know this yet. She embraced Kaidan tightly, closing her eyes as she buried her face in the crook of her neck.

Kaidan suspected it already, but for all the wrong reasons. Clone. Cyborg. Figment of his broken psyche. And then good sense settled in. Perhaps she was the same person, he'd just never seen her truly before. His Shepard would never have worked for Cerberus. His heart wasn't broken because he didn't care about this woman, didn't care that she'd come back, didn't care that she didn't tell him she had come back from the dead . . .

No sireee, Kaidan Alenko was just fine, thank you. He didn't need anyone in his life.

Suffice to say, that first reunion didn't go so well.

For Kaidan, this was his cave in which to sulk. Although grief and self pity had kept him from making many friends of late - to put it indelicately, our handsome hero had been spurning the few advances made on him - he found himself thinking of her over and over again. He would lie on his bunk and stare at the ceiling and remember the feel of her body against his, cushioned by their armour and barriers, the sticky, unbearable heat of Horizon pressing down on them. The memory was fuzzy, brief and imperfect.

For Shepard, she retreated to the Normandy to lick her wounds. Not a woman to sulk she found herself . . . sulking. It had been two years, or the blink of an eye for her, and yet the world had changed.

She had changed.

Sitting with Garrus, trying not to look at the scar on his face she hadn't been fast enough to stop, she heard an opening for a flirtatious joke and for a moment the words were on her lips. Because what the hell, she thought. It's not as though I've got someone waiting. And if there's one thing our girl is good at, it's turning the charm on when necessary.

Perhaps in another reality, another world, she makes that joke. Perhaps it goes down well, perhaps Garrus stutters, perhaps it's the beginning of something beautiful. Perhaps it's a mistake to be corrected in future. Perhaps it's the best mistake she ever makes. I don't know, because our Shepard only smiles and nods and stretches and makes a less racy joke. The changes are already taking place.

Life is short, a flicker of a flame. When flames are blown out, they rarely catch again.

I don't know. Maybe it's all those on the Normandy who need a parental figure to help them. Maybe the perspective shift would happen to anyone who died. I'm not about to find out in the name of artistic integrity.

Shepard read and re-read Kaidan's message a hundred times. She questioned Cerberus a little more than before, a lot more after they burned her once or twice. She put those thoughts aside and looked ahead, to the Collectors, her vulnerable crew, the need to survive.

She couldn't fix Kaidan, because he was not a problem.

Eezo Burns - 12/? [FShep/Kaidan]

The thing about humans is . . .

Well, the thing about humans and aliens . . .

Now I think on it, the thing about humans, aliens and synthetics . . .

Let me start again.

The thing about hearts is . . . they can repair themselves. For the past two years, Kaidan's loss had shadowed his heartbeat, providing an echo of pain to pulse alongside his life force. And yet, after only a few days of knowing Shepard was back in the world - or had never left the world, he wasn't sure - his heart began to ease.

He found himself grinning at news reports, stories that just had to be about her. Now don't worry, Kaidan's not about to turn over a leaf all at once, but he did, at least, accept Anderson's offer to mentor some young biotics. It would make my job far too easy if the joy of teaching innocent, impressionable, dangerous young souls how to control the rage within them taught him to control his own fears and opened his heart to love and he and Shepard lived happily ever after. Presumably in some cabin in the woods. Mainly on a bearskin in front of the fire. I've never been very clear on this 'happy ever after' concept.

He enjoyed thinking about her out there in space, doing what she did best. Her cheeks flushed with exertion, a triumphant look on her face as she stared down the barrel of a gun. These composites of memory and fantasy were far more pleasant company than Shepard's wraith, but they came with a side effect of an increased laundry bill.

He pointed it out to himself, several times, that it was all for nothing. Shepard was working for Cerberus, had lied about her whereabouts, was not the woman he had once known.

Hackett met him personally after that little business on Arvuna, in Hackett's personal offices. "Congratulations, Major Alenko," he said.

Kaidan thanked him by tasting the whiskey Hackett had cracked out. It was good stuff and Kaidan savoured the strong, earthy tones. It wouldn't have been his choice, but it was clearly one of Hackett's favourites, considering the old, well worn label, and the startlingly expensive brand name.

"I know it hasn't been an easy few years," Hackett said, sitting with his hands clasped around a crystal tumbler.

Kaidan hesitated, shoulders stiffening. He gazed into the dark amber pool in his hands. He'd heard it said his eyes were the colour of whiskey. He wasn't sure if that was true or not, but he'd always had a vain liking of the analogy anyway. "I've tried not to let it affect my work, sir."

"You haven't succeeded," Hackett said frankly. "You've thrown yourself into your work, Major. Tried to drown yourself in it. It's a mark of your own ability to survive that you've come out with a few promotions."

Something about that niggled at Kaidan and he frowned at Hackett. In the window behind the famous admiral, Alliance ships soared through the stars. It seemed a very perfect moment, to Kaidan, where he came to the serene realisation that Hackett knew about Shepard, knew how much Shepard had meant to him. He took another drink.

Eezo Burns - 12.5/? [FShep/Kaidan]

"Have you heard from her?"

Kaidan shook his head, still staring out the window. "Other than Horizon, and all of that was in my report."

Hackett nodded. "Major, I'm asking as someone concerned for a friend."

"Then you should call me Kaidan," Kaidan said, without thought for consequence.

Hackett's grey eyebrows drew downwards over steely eyes. But he smiled. "Kaidan. Have you heard from our girl lately?"

"No. I sent her a message. She didn't reply. Mad at me, I guess."

Hackett murmured something that was not quite an agreement. "We've recovered some tech from the Cerberus cell she is a part of. And some anonymous tip-offs to raided Cerberus bases. Those bases are quite often . . . decimated."

Kaidan grinned.

"You know, from what we can tell, Cerberus resurrected her." Hackett stared at his hands as he turned the tumbler around in them. "The kind of money they put into it . . . I'm fond of her. As an admiral, I appreciate how she can be used as a tool, but I like her too. She's a good kid."

"She's not really a kid," Kaidan pointed out.

Hackett snorted. "To me, you're all kids." He sighed, reaching forward to clink his glass of Kaidan's. "I'm not sure I could spend that much money bringing her back, not when there's so much else that could be done with it."

Kaidan's first reaction was that he would. He'd have paid anything to get her back. But truly, he understood what Hackett meant.

A few months later he heard the reports, that a batarian relay had been destroyed. The reports said Shepard had done it, that she was handing herself and her warship in for questioning.

She had good reasons. Kaidan knew that as surely as he knew his name.

Eezo Burns - 13/? [FShep/Kaidan]

It was not a politic time to be a friend of Shepard. Kaidan didn't care. He made himself quite an outcast in the officer's mess for standing by her.

He made a few strong friendships with those who felt likewise. He exchanged a few communications with some of her former crew, knowing Shepard would want them available when she made it out of detention. (And it would be when, he knew that in his bones).

He didn't know it, but his letter to Tali arrived not more than a few days after her mutual, but still heart breaking separation from one Kal 'Reegar. She smiled behind her visor when she read it and redoubled her cries for peace to her people.

His letter to Garrus reminded the turian he wasn't alone in his fight for Reaper defence. Kaidan's letter to Liara was possibly responsible for the Shadow Broker's leniency that week regarding the betrayals and lies that were an every day part of her life.

Kaidan knew none of this. He was kept close by the Alliance and although his answers in Shepard's tribunal were often curt and to the point, they never wavered from the truth. Shepard did what she did because the Reapers were coming. Shepard deserved to be released. If the thought ever crossed his mind that he could visit her, it was in dreams and late night fantasies.

When he saw her in the flesh for the first time since Horizon, he regretted his choice to stay away. She was changed. Gone were the gamine eyes and sarky twist to her lips. Her wide eyes met his with weariness and fear behind them.

I would like to think Kaidan above such white knight thoughts, especially when regarding a woman who could take on a Reaper and live, but he wasn't. His throat went dry and his fists wanted to clench and to pummel anything that had made his Shepard frightened. He was at least smart enough to realise that would be pointless. Anything Shepard feared would be enough to pulverise him.

She could never know that, he realised, exchanging strained pleasantries as Anderson and Vega watched on. She had to have someone to believe in her, completely and utterly, to believe she could defeat the Reapers . . .

He nodded to Vega as Shepard was led onwards. Someone had to believe in a woman who worked with Cerberus, in a woman who killed hundreds of thousands of batarians. Whatever half formed thought in his head, some understanding of the nature of belief, was chased away by the need to survive as the Reapers landed.

I asked you before, could two people find love if they weren't truly equal? Maybe Shepard was doomed from the start, after all, she was born with that little something special, and then she lived through such a series of trials and unfortunate coincidences, how could someone match that? How could someone who had spent so much of his life keeping his light under a bushel, hope to be her equal?

I suppose it starts when, yet again, their future is stolen from them.

And this time, it was Shepard left standing, her heart fighting with the scream in her throat, every fibre of her being protesting and shouting.

No. Not now. Not now.

Eezo Burns - 14/? [FShep/Kaidan]

Not that you or I would know, but when the Void spits you out? It doesn't quite give back everything. From Shepard, it took her anger. All her rage at the parts of her life she'd thought unfair was gone, replaced by a fiery need to be better than she had been before, to be good, to be true, to be a hero worthy of her rebirth.

What did it take from Kaidan?

From Kaidan, it took his fear. He woke in a hospital bed, staring up at a ceiling with a splint holding his neck steady and fast to the bed . . . and he felt no fear. He felt no concern for his wellbeing, or for the encroaching darkness that he knew with certainty was out there in the galaxy.

Kaidan was ready to fight.

The doctors were surprised by his recovery, fast by anyone's standards, but particularly for a biotic. Their complex neurological systems often took more time to recover from such situations. The Major's quick and close friendship with the drell suffering from Kepral's was odd and remarked upon by members of staff, but hardly worth more than a second thought. The occasional visits by the Commander Shepard were dissected and discussed at great length by Huerta Memorial Hospital's staff. They weren't the ones to notice the bruises under Shepard's eyes, or the soft slouch of the hoodie over her shoulders, as though it was a size too large . . .

Kaidan noticed. Thane noticed. They discussed these things at length, and agreed between them that something must be done. Thane agreed, to himself at least, that Kaidan must return to Shepard. Kaidan agreed, to himself at least, that he was going to help her best by supporting her across the galaxy, as a Spectre, as his own Spectre.

Shepard agreed with no one, not even her own body, and found sleep evaded her at every opportunity. As is the way of things, not many noticed this and those that did had their own problems to worry about, such as a long communication gap with a certain recalcitrant quarian who really ought to have replied by now, unless something was wrong with the fleet.

But enough about Garrus and his worries. Another story. Another day.

In our story, there's another man. A villain, in fact, although I haven't talked about him much. You did keep asking me about Kaidan and Shepard, after all. This villain is, in the true great tradition of villains, a misunderstood character who tried to do all he could, until the claws of something dark twisted into his mind. He was still a clever man, though, who had been cherry picking assignments for Kaidan, keeping him close to the Citadel, to the politics and the backstabbing and world of distrust.

When it came time to make the move, this villain was rewarded when Kaidan destroyed three Cerberus agents without breaking a sweat in order to reach the endangered Council. Udina clapped a hand on Kaidan's shoulder, "good to see you, Major," he said, a little breathlessly.

Kaidan dismissed it. "To the elevators," he said, guiding his precious charges towards the hallways. In his mind, there was chaos, how Cerberus had got this far was beyond him, they would have needed high-level access codes, Spectre level . . .

Cerberus pressed them relentlessly, pushing them, herding them almost. Kaidan was not one to appreciate feeling like a sheep.

So when their exit shuttle went down in flames, he set his jaw and turned around, refusing to be corralled like a beast.

Only to see the last thing he expected exit the elevator shaft.

The void does not return you whole.

Eezo Burns - 14.5/? [FShep/Kaidan]

Kaidan could see Shepard's face square in his crosshairs, her lips parted, one cheek showing off the beginnings of a bruise, a strand of hair blowing in the breeze. "Shepard, what's going on?" he snapped, lowering his gun.

"Shepard's blocking our escape, she's with Cerberus!" Udina called out.

Kaidan could see Shepard's eyes flash. Garrus and Vega's weapons did not lower.

"Hang on," Kaidan snapped at him, circling to block Garrus' lethal rifle. "I've got this. Everybody calm down." He directed that at Vega, though he wasn't surprised to see the soldier was going to follow Shepard's lead, regardless.

Shepard licked her lips. "I can explain this, Kaidan," she said, her eyes darting about the scene.

The void does not return you whole.

"Come on, Shepard," he said, a hint of pleading creeping through. "A gun drawn on the council, it kind of looks bad."

Immediately, Shepard let her weapon drop to her side, motioning for Vega and Garrus to follow. She began her accusations, so similar to what Kaidan had heard lately, the backstabbing and betrayals of politics.

He didn't care. Even as Udina began sputtering. The void had taken all his fear and left him with just . . .


He lowered his gun, offering her a smile as he did so. "I'd better not regret this," he warned, feeling more like someone contesting a family dinner than someone with his finger on the trigger.

Shepard swallowed roughly, blinking, "You won't."

Eezo Burns - 15/? [FShep/Kaidan]

And so, almost three years later, our stubbornly crossed lovers are once again serving together on the Normandy.

Things are different. I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that. You could have figured that out by yourself, from the way Kaidan quietly but indelibly carved out an office in one of the observation lounges, no longer content to let others make the decisions. Or you could have known from the way Shepard, when looking over the data Traynor had gathered on Gellix, with the events of Mars still fresh in her mind, turned to Kaidan and said "do you fancy it?"

And then, instead of acting like a gleeful child, Kaidan simply looked over her shoulder at the outlay and said "looks like fun." And both of them, like adults, did not let themselves show their trepidations.

In the shuttle, while EDI sat peacefully by, Shepard talked a mile a minute about the mission ahead of them. Kaidan sat in his seat in the Kodiak, legs stretched out in front of him and crossed at the ankles, arms crossed over his chest, every muscle in his face fighting the smile as Shepard continued pacing, occasionally steadying herself by placing a palm on the hull when the shuttle shook.

It was, frankly, adorable, to watch her stress about rescuing Cerberus scientists. It was so adorable, Kaidan almost stopped feeling guilty about his previous behaviour which had made her so concerned about taking him on this mission.

You know already that there is a particular ex Cerberus agent on Gellix, one Jacob Taylor, who Shepard knows quite well. You might already know the story about how Shepard finds him sprawled on the loading dock, bleeding out. You probably don't know - but might imagine - how her lips thin as she stops to pump medigel into the wound and how Kaidan knelt to cover them as they worked backwards towards the shelter.

You might know how Shepard feels about Jacob Taylor. How she used to sit in his workspace and push at his boundaries, delighting in making him uncomfortable with her flirting and laughing whenever he tried to flirt back. Those times, she was closest to the young woman who had died and who hadn't returned from the void. They were like old friends from the start, easy going soldiers who had seen enough in the world to lose faith in humanity but never had. Although she'd always watched him watch Miranda, she'd longed for him to notice the slender thief who wanted to catch his attention. She hadn't heard from him since she'd left Earth, and that had worried her.

Now she could see why.

Kaidan shadowed her throughout the base, wondering again why he hadn't joined her a year ago back on Horizon. These scientists were not evil, they were scared, frightened, misguided possibly . . . even the one Shepard chewed out for some past transgression. Despite this, she was mostly quiet as they walked through the base. She even looked away from two children being herded into a shuttle by a pair of harried looking scientists.

She was murmuring to herself under her breath, head counts, ammo stores and capabilities, strategies and thoughts whispered as she continuously scanned the room. Whenever her gaze passed the med bay, her mutterings paused.

Kaidan approached and laid a hand on her shoulder, making her jump. "Go catch up," he said. "EDI and I will scout the perimeter."

Eezo Burns - 16/? [FShep/Kaidan]

Shepard regarded him for a moment before she nodded, grit her teeth, and marched into the medbay. Kaidan hesitated, glancing once at Brynn still working away at her console, a similar, strained expression on her face as on Shepard's. EDI was wandering the room, probably seeing more than he would, and besides, there was nothing on this perimeter that could help them. There was only way off this rock and there was a Cerberus ship blocking it.

So, he followed Shepard instead. It was still strange watching her interact with friends she had that weren't ones he had too. There was a kind of jealousy attached to it, to the affection she had for others, but a small jealousy, one he could laugh at.

Up until Jacob said "The Normandy's your real love."

Kaidan saw Shepard's curls shake as her whole body twitched with a suppressed wince. She continued her conversation, smoothly, and when she said her goodbyes she laid an affectionate hand on Jacob's shoulder before heading back into the main holding bay. Her eyes grew unfocussed and she began muttering again, staring around at the people they had to evacuate.

"I don't think it's true," Kaidan said, coming to stand beside her and resting his gauntleted palms on the rail.

Shepard blinked and looked at him, eyebrows drawn together. "What?"

"What Jacob said in there." He half shrugged. "About the Normandy."

"Ah." Shepard sighed and folded her arms, leaning against the rail. "You don't think so?" she asked, quietly, almost bitterly. "Might explain a few things about my love life."

Kaidan elbowed her. "Well you do have bad taste," he said, smiling at her as she rolled her eyes. "You have a thing for commitment phobic, slightly dented, old biotic soldiers who are incapable of love . . . I've noticed," he finished, looking away, feeling a familiar flush creep up his cheek.

Shepard giggled and promptly bit down her bottom lip, checking around to see if anyone had noticed. She stepped closer. "The dents give you character," she assured him, brushing her knuckles over his breastplate. "And . . . as for the rest?" She cocked her head. "I think you're more than capable."

Men and women both have a habit of thinking this when they feel guilty - and sometimes they go so far as to believe it - Kaidan just felt, again, that he didn't deserve her. He leaned closer, and anyone watching them right then would have come to exactly the correct conclusion (EDI did), and he sighed, his breath rustling Shepard's bangs. "I think I could love you, if you give me the chance," he murmured.

Shepard seemed to swell with delight. She turned her hand so her palm was resting on his breastplate and she tapped her fingers off the metal. "I may hold you to that, after we get this lot out of here," she said.

Kaidan nodded, trying to control the rapid beat of his heart. "Sure," he said, with only a waver in his voice. "Any idea as to how?"

Shepard's grin was contagious. "A very big gun."

Eezo Burns - 17/18 [FShep/Kaidan]

Who knew all it took to kindle the flames of romance was a good steak sandwich and a beer? Well, that and many painful hours of introspection, coming to terms with loss and the loss of control, realising that you can't fix people nor change them, but that they change in themselves and you must be fluid enough to account for that while never compromising ones own beliefs . . . well who's telling this story, you or me?

It's a steak sandwich and a beer.

After that, it was like they'd never had their unfortunate, void filled break. There are some things that even commitment phobic, broken soldiers and compulsive problem solvers can do very well, even if they're a little rusty and finish quickly to begin with.

The fires of a romance are strong, I suppose.

Days pass. The lovers grow closer. They fight together, Shepard dancing on the battlefield with a partner who will finally keep up with her . . . or close enough, anyway. And Kaidan told her things about his family, and met her friends, and picked up after her when she fell asleep at her desk, exhausted, and although the world was ending, he thought it probably wasn't because he loved her.

In fact, on what felt like the last night of the world, when Shepard quietly, with a waver in her voice, asked him to sleep in the crew quarters so she could focus, Kaidan ignored her. He knew that the last thing she needed was to go over their slim odds and the lives lost.

And to have another nightmare.

He cracked out the whisky she'd bought him and headed up to the loft, noting the people he passed on the way. There was an odd sense of peace on the Normandy. The crew had all the faith in the world in Shepard, even if they knew this was the end.

If it was, and it likely was, he intended to go down in a blaze of flames.

If he'd had any lingering doubts about coming her, when she met him at the door, they vanished with the way her eyes softened around the edges and the line of her shoulders dropped. "Can't sleep either?" he asked.

She sighed, a self-effacing shrug of her shoulders. "No." And she stood aside to let him in.

It put him in mind of the first time they'd slept together. Perhaps that was appropriate, as it may be their last. She looked in need of reassurance, like she wanted to be held and told it would all be okay. She'd said as much once before to him, but then he hadn't been able to do even that for her.

Now he could. He knew her well enough to support her without feeling as though he was undermining her. Maybe he knew himself well enough to know he could fulfil those promises.

Either way, when she rested her weight in his lap, her palm cupping his face, and told him she loved him, Kaidan said it right back.

They had both spoken of their first night together, and it was on both their minds, but with the vagaries of love and time, the memory was a little fuzzy. They had forgotten the desperation they'd felt then and the too-hard graspings at one another.

This time was very different. Maybe that's just experience and knowing a body. What do you think?

Eezo Burns - 18/18 [FShep/Kaidan]

Kaidan wasn't so old that he could lift Shepard from the sofa. His back didn't even protest. Her lips met his, her arms loosely wrapped around his neck. Her hands dropped to his waist, tugging his shirt up as he dropped her onto the mattress with little ceremony and less grace. She laughed and finished divesting him of his shirt, wriggling out of her hoodie as she did so.

Kaidan was only too eager to help her from the bonds of her uniform, his fingertips grazing the skin above her waistband, where she was especially ticklish, and he chased her as she squirmed away from his grasp, landing on the deck with a thump. She scooted backwards on her bum as he tugged off one of her boots and then circled her legs around his waist and tugged him down with her.

With her prey ensnared, she found him agreeable to further removal of clothes. He had her down to her skivvies when she realised the dock was cold under her skin and she popped upwards so quickly she left him fumbling on the deck. "Come on then," she teased, dancing out of his reach as he tugged off his socks and got up too. He caught her round the waist, backed her towards the bed, and laughed as they found themselves too lost in each other's eyes to realise they were falling to the sheets.

She had a particularly dark freckle on her upper arm that he had been glad to see Cerberus had not changed. It was a favourite of his and he ran his thumb over the pigmented skin as he kissed her neck.

Over the course of the past few months they'd had the quick and dirty, the hard and desperate, the loving and tender. Tonight, they just wanted to take their time and enjoy. Like the last evening of a holiday, where you dig your toes in the sand while the surf washes over your ankles and the sun sets on the end of the day. For the longest time, they did nothing but kiss, Shepard's palm resting on Kaidan's forearm, his hand on the small of her back as their bodies lay together, legs entwined.

This night was slow and memorable. And it was theirs. This night is not one I'll tell you about. I won't tell you about the long, strong strokes of Shepard's fingers, of Kaidan's clenched fists and ragged gasps, or the one sharp intake of breath as Shepard's back lifted from the mattress and Kaidan's eyes screwed closed and how they curled up under the sheets, holding on to each other on the last night of the end of the world.

As for next. What happened next? Next, they fight the final battle. They fight it together. Next she goes through something horrible. Next his belief is tested. Next, there is a good day.

But you didn't ask about next. You asked about then, when they burned so brightly, in the dark, dark night.

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