He couldn’t believe his ears. He’d heard rumors but… that was her voice! He never let himself truly believe that she could be back amongst the living until he heard that specific husky timbre which seemed to creep into her vocal cords after she’d tired herself out from a long battle. Or after a night spent together.
Kaidan pinched himself - the resulting pain proved he was awake, that this wasn’t some sort of dream. Stepping out of the shadows, away from the pre-fab buildings, he approached the mechanic, along with Shepard and crew.
“Commander Shepard - captain of the Normandy, first human Spectre, and savior of the Citadel. You’re in the presence of a legend, Delan, and a ghost,” he said to the mechanic beside him.
“I love you. I’ve missed you so much these last two years. Your hair is so much longer than it used to be, almost down to your waist. Did I ever tell you that it reminds me of dark chocolate and cherries, with how rich a brown it is and the little streaks of red that explode whenever the sun hits it just right? Your eyes are like drowning in pools of honey, and when they’d sparkle every time I made you laugh, it made me feel as if I’d been given the world’s greatest treasure.”
“Kaidan!” Shepard grinned, laughing, and jumped into his arms, hugging him tight. He pulled her close and he realized she still smelled the same - like warm, toasted, sugared almonds. His eyes closed and he buried his nose in her hair, running his fingers through it. “God, it’s so good to see you again,” she murmured in his ear. “How are you, really?”
”You still fit so perfectly against me. It’s almost as if you never died. You sound the same, smell the same, smile the same. The glimmer in your eyes still makes me think of chipped diamonds set in umber. Don’t leave me again… don’t leave me again… dontleavemeagain. I love you too much to let you go this time.”
“That’s it? That’s all you have to say? It’s been two years and all I get is a ‘hello and how’ve you been’? Why didn’t you contact me and let me know you were alive? Do you have any idea what I’ve been through the last two years?” Kaidan inwardly winced as the words he wanted to say were drowned out by the hurt he’d been wallowing in during her absence.
Oh god - the way her eyes were shimmering with tears, he expected her topaz eyes to melt and leave tracks of gold down her cheeks. Damnit, that wasn’t what he meant to say. Hurting her was the last thing he meant to do, even if he was having a hard time coming to grips with the fact she was standing in front of him.
“Hell, do you even remember the night before Ilos? That night meant everything to me. I loved you, Shepard. Did you even feel anything for me in return or was I just a convenient way to scratch your itches while we went after Saren?” Kaidan shut his eyes tight, not wanting to see how his words affected her, and rubbed his fingers over his temples. “I just can’t… how can you work for Cerberus after everything we saw? You’ve betrayed the Alliance. You’ve betrayed me… us… everything we believed in.”
Stars exploded behind Kaidan’s eyes as his head rocked back from the force of her punch. While the ache was worse now, he opened his eyes to see Shepard cocking her fist again while tears flowed freely down her cheeks.
“You bastard! You should know me well enough that I wouldn’t be working with this organization unless there was a damned good reason and that reason just made off with the majority of these colonists. And as far as how I feel about you? I fought til my last breath hoping against hope that you’d make it through this alive. The thought of losing you…” she choked out, then shook her head as if tamping down the emotion, “Well I guess I shouldn’t have bothered. This is all about how you feel and how I’ve supposedly wronged you, never mind the fact that I missed you so much it hurt but Anderson wouldn’t let me have your contact information.”
He kept making things worse. Why wouldn’t the words he wanted to say come out instead of these hateful accusations? His father would kick his ass if he saw the way his son was treating this woman.
“Even with all that,” her voice softened, hoarse from holding back her emotions, “I’d love to have you back on the Normandy. I could really use someone with your expertise on the ship.”
“No,” he said, before he could even think about it. “I know where my allegiances lie. I’m Alliance first. I’ll never work for Cerberus.”
“Joker, send the shuttle. I’m sick of this place,” Shepard uttered as he watched her turn and walk away from him. Kaidan swore the skies were mocking him, choosing that moment to open up, the resulting downpour soaking him within moments and almost hiding her from his view.
Kaidan stared at his message center. It had been days since he sent out the apology letter, asking for forgiveness and another chance, and he wondered if it had been too little, too late. He hadn’t let himself think about it at the time, but Garrus had been by her side when he last saw her and the turian wouldn’t have been there if he didn’t believe in what Shepard was doing. Keeping in contact with Anderson, he’d since learned that Tali’zorah and Dr. Chakwas were also on board, besides Joker, and all signs pointed toward her not being a Cerberus puppet as others had feared. Damn he’d messed up.
Opening up his inbox, his heart stuttered as he saw a reply from her:
I appreciate the gesture and the apology, but I can’t let myself go down that path. Not now. I can’t be with someone who doesn’t believe in me and right now I need that more than anything. Once my crew gets back from their last days of allotted shore leave, we’re off to traverse the Omega 4 Relay to destroy the Collectors once and for all. It’s called a suicide mission for a reason - our chances of returning are slim to none.
Take care of yourself, LC.
Tears leaked from the corners of his eyes as he squeezed them shut. His throat burned and felt as if it were closing up. He knew she was good at making the impossible possible, but no one had ever returned from the Omega 4. He didn’t know which hurt worse - knowing that she might never return, or that he’d damaged their relationship enough to the point where he was no longer what she needed. He understood perfectly - nothing in his actions had shown anything other than complete and utter distrust and disbelief.
“God, not sure if you’re listening or not, but keep her safe. We need her for what’s to come. I… I need her.”