Mass Effect: Milieu

Life Support

"It wasn't for him, Commander, the prayer was for you." Kolyat's words hit hard and reverberated around her brain. Thane's dying prayer had been for her. She sat in Life Support perched in the window seat staring at the far off stars passing her by. The galaxy would never know what a brave and honorable soul had just passed away.
At least he wasn't alone in the end.
It was the least she could have done for him. Thane Krios had been a confidant and friend. She had liked Thane, there was something smoothing and calming about him. He had been reliable and despite his illness an excellent fighter. She stared out the window into the inky void spotted with cold pinpricks of white light. She had never really thought about her mortality before. She had been dead. She didn't remember it though. A black fog of lost thoughts and memories was what she alike it too. When she had awoken on that lab table, confusion and pain were the first memories. She didn't know what she was doing or where she had been…she knew nothing.
Looking back even now, a shiver raced down her spine. She hoped there was more to death than the black void of darkness her mind kept conjuring up.
"Couldn't sleep."
Shepard started almost slipping from the window's precarious seat. Kaidan stood watching her with warm glowing eyes. The door behind him was swishing closed, quietly.
She looked back out over the vast galaxy. "Nope, just thinking."
"What about?" He moved closer to her, leaning up against the table across from her. He crossed his arms and regarded her intently.
Exhaling, she turned her face toward him meeting his eyes. "About Thane."
"Ah," Kaidan replied uncrossing arms. "What about him?"
"He died the way he wanted too. He died a hero. Another friend lost to this war." She whispered the words heatedly. Shaking her head, she spat, "It's all because of me too. They might still be alive, if I…" She knew it wasn't true, but it felt better saying something, anything… "Ugh!" She growled, standing up and pushing away for the window. It seemed the galaxy mocked her.
"Shepard, I don't remember you being this self-pitying." Kaidan remarked the teasing tone of his voice was more than she needed right now.
"I'm not, it's just…" Her eyes burned. Shit, not now. "Mordin and now Thane…Kaidan, people I care about have a way of dying on me." She turned her back on him. The darkness surrounding the ship greeted her. Hugging herself, she quickly dabbed at her eyes.
I almost lost you on Mars and the Citadel. She thought, she would never say the words aloud though. She kept telling herself and everyone else that she wouldn't have pulled the trigger. Her stomach tightened at the thought of keeping her gun trained on Kaidan for those brief few minutes. No, she wouldn't think on it…it didn't help the past was the past. Kaidan was alive and on the Normandy with her at this very moment.
"Hey," His hand was on her shoulder, strong and firm. "Talk to me, Shepard." She sighed, closing her eyes. She savored the slight warmth that radiant from the spot he was touching. Maybe it was wrong of her to want something of what they use to have back. The galaxy was at war. Her friends were dying and here she was thinking about how good and right it felt to have Kaidan's hand on her shoulder. And how almost three years ago he would have trusted her unconditionally back at the Citadel.
James is right I do want to see him and talk to him. I do want him near me. I'm not scared…
She knew she was lying to herself. Just having Kaidan here whole and intact was more than she thought possible. Especially after Mars.
"It wasn't for him, Commander, the prayer was for you."
She shook her head. "I'm fine, but the concern is appreciated and noted, Major."
"Shepard." His hand slid down her arm; gently grasping her upper arm he turned her to face him. "Don't lie to me." His warm eyes met hers and she swallowed the lump of sorrow in her throat.
"I'm seriously fine. Just tired." She stated. He scowled at her, his eyes roving up and down her face.
She met him eye for eye. Finally he sighed and looked away releasing her arm, he stepped back. "Alright, Shepard" He said nodding. She stood still neither closing the gap between nor widening it.
After a several awkward minutes of silence, Kaidan finally broke it. "Why are you in here of all places?"
She glanced at him, depositing herself in the window seat again. "This is where Thane stayed." She said resting her head back against the windowsill.
"You two where close?" Kaidan asked and was there a hint of…jealousy in his voice. Shepard smiled knowingly at him.
"We were friends, Kaidan. He was dying when I meet him. I had never met a drell before, he was exotic, different, but if you must know…I wasn't attracted to him in that way. Curious about him and his people? Yes. But it was nothing more than that." She pulled her knees up to her chest wrapping her arms around them she hugged them to her chest. "It's strange thinking back to the team I had with me to take down the Collectors. Everything seems so, otherworldly like it happened to a different person not to me." She shook her head and regarded him with huge wide eyes. "Sorry, I'm rambling."
Kaidan had pushed himself up onto the tabletop. He sat watching her, with a look of fascination on his chiseled features. His hands braced on either side of his legs. "Shepard, I just can't wrap my head around the idea that you were dead. I mean, it's not that I don't want to believe you…just I don't know if I can. I mean, for two years, I thought…" he choked and his fingers clench the edge of the table tightly.
"I know…I still don't understand all of it myself."
"It's not just that…I…" he blinked shaking his head, "Let's talk about something else. I asked about Thane. I talked to him a little at the hospital. He seemed like a nice guy."
Shepard nodded. "He was once you got pass that blockade he put up. It was good to know that he died a hero…though that Kai Leng bastard is going to pay." She snarled the last part. "He was doing well; it was possible he could have lived another six months or so, but now…" She bit her bottom lip and turned her head away.
Kaidan relaxed and smiled. This was the Shepard he knew. No tough Commander front, but a human being. That little quirk of biting her bottom lip when she was upset. "Hey, Shepard, I'm sorry."
She closed her eyes and continued to face the window. "I know, but it's not just Thane, Mordin too." She chuckled. "You would have loved him. Never shut up, but he could sing." She sucked in a deep breath. Kaidan watched her, and as he did two small tears trickled out from under each of her eyelids. He blinked.
Commander Shepard didn't cry. But in that moment all doubt of who he was seeing was washed away with those tears. He knew he wasn't seeing Commander Shepard, he was seeing Vaina Shepard. Not the kick ass marine, vanguard, fighter, Savior of the Galaxy, Hero of the Citadel, Star of Terra Medal recipient, the Hero of the Elysium, Vaina Shepard. No, this was the human being buried beneath all the armor, title, awards and rank. This was the woman he had once loved; sitting, remembering and mourning two lost friends.
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