Really, I'd been hoping that we wouldn't have to go through an awards ceremony. But, well… apparently it had to happen. Politicians, Military, families, and the Council all came for the event.
The Council had allowed humanity into their ranks thanks to all of our efforts, and Sabrina was very blunt about wanting Anderson to take the Council position. That decision left me pleased; I'd never really liked Udina and he didn't really like me… especially after the whole 'stealing the Normandy' thing.
But hey, the asshole screwed us over. Made sense that Sabrina would keep his greedy hands away from a Council seat.
One of the sadder things that happened was meeting Ashley's family at the event hall. Her sisters and her mom. The exchange between us was uncomfortable at first. Her youngest sister, Sarah, was almost the splitting image of the dead soldier if only a little younger. I couldn't look them in the eyes when I apologized for Ashley's death… Then they pulled me into a hug and thanked me before Hackett called for me and the rest of the crew.
Joker and I sat next to each other onstage, taking turns dozing off while various politicians and military made speeches for what felt like hours (and actually, it probably did take hours). Lucky for Jeff, no one made him shave his beard. Sabrina nudged me in the side when my name was called, causing a few of our companions to snicker at me. I childishly stuck my tongue out at them, Jeff ruffling my hair when we stepped forward together for our medals. We were asked to prepare a speeches as well. Jeff said one about the ships that had gone down when we saved the Destiny Ascension, and I spoke about the death of Ashley. Once we were done, gold medals were clipped onto our uniforms.
After the ceremony Hackett stopped me, pulling me aside with Anderson standing not too far behind him. "Officer Kogan, I'd like to offer you a chance to be transferred to another ship in the Alliance… as a pilot," the older man offered me with a confident smile. "You've shown remarkable ability on the Normandy and we don't want to see your talents go to waste."
"I'll have to think about it," I blurted hastily, giving them a small bow.
Anderson let out a chuckle. "Relax Kim," he told me, causing me to stand up straight in response.
Hackett clapped me on the shoulder. "Damian would be proud of you no matter what you decide, you know. Just let me know when you've made your choice."
Practically everyone on the Normandy had been given a medal, including Garrus, Tali, Wrex, and Liara. It made me happy that they were all still with us for now, although most of them weren't going to stay with us for long. Tali was going to return to her people. Sabrina and I had decided to take her back to the fleet ourselves before the Council sent us on our next mission. She'd been very happy with our offer, and I made her promise to watch Fleet and Flotilla with me before she left. The quarian readily agreed, and I continued to innocently crush on her. Garrus was going to return to C-sec and apply for Spectre training. However, he promised we'd stay in contact and give each other updates on whatever was going on. Wrex was going to go back to mercenary life, but agreed to keep in contact with us. After all, maybe one day he would join up with us again. Liara was the only one of the aliens Sabrina picked up that was going to stay with us on the Normandy… And I knew why. She still had feelings for Sabrina, which made me a bit disappointed. I knew that they'd never be reciprocated, and that Liara was just in denial.
That was going to hurt her a lot in the end.
When I'd finally found Sabrina… who was with Kaidan at the time, the Spectre pulled me into a tight hug with a cheerful grin on her face "Anderson told me that you'd been offered your own ship to fly! Congratulations! Are you going to accept?"
I shuffled my feet, shrugging at her. "I don't know" I told them honestly. It really was a big decision, and it kind of got thrown at me fast. I was going to think this through. Kaidan gave me an amused look as he crossed his arms.
"You don't know?" he shook his head in disbelief. "You're a great pilot Kim. You've demonstrated it a multitude of times." Kaidan complimented me with a smile "You should accept the offer. It's a great opportunity."
Smiling back at him I nodded my thanks. Now I knew what Kaidan thought, and getting opinions might help me make my choice. "I'll still need to think about it. I have some time," I explained.
Sabrina nodded at me understandingly and held me by my shoulders, looking me in the eye. "Well whatever you choose, I'm proud of you Keys."
I threw myself into another hug. "I love you Sabs. Do you know where any of the others are?"
With a cheery laugh Sabrina directed me to where Garrus, Tali, and Wrex were and I walked over to talk to them. Garrus was the first to notice me, waving a talon in the air at my approach. "Kim, good to see you," he greeted with a nod.
Tali waved at me also with a friendly smile in her voice "Kim! Good job out there, Joker was just here. He was telling us about when you took the final shot at the Reaper."
Wrex gave me a toothy grin. "That must have been fun."
"It sure was!" I confirmed, grinning at them confidently. "How was taking down Saren?" I questioned the male aliens, as they were the ones Sabrina had dragged with her to take down the rogue Spectre. At my inquiry their moods noticeably darkened. Tali turned her head to the side and I awkwardly spoke up. "I'm sorry, did I say something wrong?"
"Let's just say it wasn't as fulfilling as I thought it would be." Garrus told me "He wasn't entirely himself this whole time, so…"
Wrex shrugged. "It was like killing anyone."
Tali tapped my arm and I looked over at her "Shepard told me that Hackett offered you a promotion. Congratulations! You deserve it."
At that, Garrus and Wrex offered their congratulations and I quickly shook my head. "How does news even travel this fast? Look, I don't even know if I'll accept it or not. I know it's a great offer and everything but I'm used to co-piloting, you know?"
Garrus nodded at me understandingly "I get that. Shepard taught me not to do something unless I was completely sure that it was the right choice, so you shouldn't just jump into anything when you're not sure that you want."
"Take the job," Wrex told me, crossing his arms and giving Garrus a glare. "How is she going to get better if she stays a co-pilot the rest of her life?"
"Whoa guys," I cut in, stopping the two of them before an argument over what I should do could take place. "I'll consider your words, but Tali's is the opinion I will consider the most."
All three of us cast our eyes onto the quarian, who raised her hands in defense. "I-I think you should do what you think is right," Tali stuttered. I tackled her for a hug, Garrus smiling a toothy turian smile at the two of us while Wrex shook his head and chuckled.
"So the vote's three to two! Three points for following my heart, and 2 points for me to take the job!" I announced, releasing Tali who I could feel was smiling at me fondly while I looked up in thought. "So far, no one's told me to stick with co-piloting. Maybe it's a sign. Maybe I'm just destined for greater things," I shrugged.
The four of us chatted for a short while longer before I went to talk with Liara. I didn't ask her for her opinion on things, mostly we just made small talk before I found it too awkward and made a lame excuse to escape.
Then I spotted Joker leaning against a wall, and went to join him.
"I ran into Ashley's family earlier." Jeff told me, "Heard she might be getting decorated with salarian and turian medals. Imagine that, huh?"
"Yeah…" I smiled weakly "I think she'd be happy. I know that at first she found it kind of awkward with all the aliens onboard, but she really grew to like them."
We stayed silent for a moment before Jeff spoke up.
"Shame that Tali, Wrex and Garrus aren't staying with us." Jeff sighed "I like Tali. Wrex is okay too I guess. Garrus… Well, he still kind of has that pole up his ass," he shrugged.
I rolled my eyes at him, leaning against the wall next to the pilot and shoving him lightly. "Come on Jeff, Garrus is cool. He actually joined us for karaoke remember?
Chuckling at the memory, Jeff shot me a small smile, laugh faltering. "So I heard that you got an offer to fly your own ship," he commented nonchalantly.
"Seriously, I don't understand how this news travels so fast," I exclaimed. "I'm thinking about it, okay?"
The pilot nodded and changed the subject. "You know, originally my speech was going to be about us," Joker told me sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head. "But Anderson told me that it had to be more about heroic stuff, you know?"
I froze at his confession for a moment before poking him in the side with a grin. "I want to hear it, tell!"
Joker laughed, shoving me back. "Okay, okay. I was going to open with something like… The first time Officer Kogan here walked onto the bridge, I was wondering how a teenager got onto the ship. And then she told me she was my co-pilot."
I snorted, rolling my eyes. "So funny Jeff. Hilarious."
He grinned at me cheekily. "Right? And then I was going to talk about how you started to grow on me and the rest of the crew, and how you kind of helped remind me how to have fun. Oh, and how determined you were to be friends with me."
"Aww," I gushed. "How sweet."
"Come on CP, let me finish," Jeff groaned. "All this sentimental crap is making me embarrassed."
I tried to keep myself from grinning. "Fine, fine, I'll wait until after you're done to make fun of you."
"Oh, thanks so much," he sassed. Jeff averted his gaze to the ceiling. "And if you hadn't yelled at me to shut up by that point, I would have talked about how you helped the rest of us see Shepard as more than just a commander, how you helped bring some us together… You know, with your post-getting shot in the knees cooking and just you… being you," he stumbled over his words closer to the end, and I placed a gentle hand on his shoulder.
"Starting to make things up now Jeff?" I teased lightly. He gave me a sad smile and shrugged his shoulders.
"Yeah, figured you'd notice that," he sighed, running a hand through his hair with a bit of frustration. "Guess I'm just thinking about things and realized how much I'm going to miss you when you go."
"We are best friends," I offered softly.
Jeff nodded. "We are best friends," he agreed, a tinge of sadness in his voice.
I felt a stab in my heart, and pushed myself off the wall. "I'm going to go talk to Hackett," I told him, pointing towards the crowd of people.
Jeff nodded, and didn't speak as I left. It didn't take me too long to find Hackett, he was standing with Anderson by the stage.
I knew what I was doing.
"Admiral Hackett!" I blurted, clumsily saluting. He and Anderson smiled at me, amused. "Oh, and Captain Anderson! Hi!"
"Yes Officer Kogan?" Anderson chuckled. I lowered my hand and looked at Hackett, my posture stiff as I prepared myself to speak.
"Um, Admiral Hackett, sir," I started awkwardly. "I've decided to stay on the Normandy."
Hackett nodded, completely understanding. "Just know that if you ever change your mind, the offer's always there."
"Thank you," I replied, feeling like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. "That's all I wanted to say."
Anderson stopped me from leaving, placing a hand on my shoulder. "Kim, can I ask why you're staying on the Normandy?"
I looked him in the eyes. "We made progress," I explained confidently.
My ex-captain's eyes softened, and he nodded. "I'm glad."
"Me too," I laughed lightly, rubbing the back of my head. They dismissed me and I quickly left, wanting to let Jeff know as soon as possible. He wasn't by the wall anymore, and I scanned the crowds to see if he was talking to anyone. Garrus and Tali were standing with Sabrina now, and I could see Wrex and Kaidan too. I turned around and crashed into Ashley-
My heart throbbed painfully.
No, it wasn't Ash. It was her sister, Sarah.
She smiled at me, shy. "You, um, thank you so much for talking about Ashley in your speech," she thanked me. I nodded, my eyes wide. "The guy you were talking with before, the pilot I think? I saw him heading towards the balcony," she told me helpfully. "I-if that's who you were looking for," the girl stuttered.
I gave her a quick hug. "Thank you," I told her softly, giving her a huge grin before running off to catch up with Jeff. Pushing through the doors, I was hit by a blast of cool night air, and could see the stars sparkling overhead. Joker was sitting on a bench in the center of the balcony, and I approached him.
"This seat taken?" I asked him with a smile, pointing at the other side of the bench.
"Done working out the new ship details already-?" Jeff began.
"I didn't accept the offer." I cut him off quickly, sitting down. "I was considering it. But hey, I need to make sure Sabrina's safe. She's the only family I have left." I explained hurriedly. A light blush dusted my cheeks and I averted my gaze. "…And, we're a team," I added softly. "Plus, I highly doubt any other flight officer would be able to deal with you," I stated firmly.
Jeff froze, eyes widening. He adjusted his hat and looked away from me, trying to hide a smile. "So I guess I'll be seeing you on the Normandy then, CP. Just… Let's aim for less deadly situations when we're flying."
Closing my eyes, I smiled and nodded in agreement. "Sure thing Flight Lieutenant."
I loved this job.
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