"Yes?" She asked.
"Commander, I have the asari Councilor on the line." Traynor's voice caused her to cringe.
"I'll be down in a moment, Specialist!" Shepard snapped.
"Aye…Commander." Traynor sounded hurt. Shepard sighed. It wasn't Traynor's fault, but right now, she had no idea what she was going to say to the asari Councilor. No words formed in her mind. She was lost. She had never been at a loss for words. She had delivered the news of death before to family members. But those were not lost home-worlds, not millions of deaths at once. One person's family was easy to deal with, but this…this…
A scream of frustration burst from her. She shot up from her chair and swept an arm out tearing everything from her desk; computer, lamp, books, vid screen, picture of Kaidan, her medals and her old dog tags. Everything crashed to the floor in a heap including her. Heavy tears of guilt and shame rolled down her freckled cheeks. A deep sob wracked her body. She couldn't take it anymore. Too many people were dying! Too much was riding on her! She was just one pitiful useless human! What was everyone expecting her to do!
"What do you want from me?" She shouted at the air. "I can't do this! I just can't." Defeat registered in her voice and her shoulders hunched over, as another sob ripped through her frame. Her breath was ragged and tears continued to slide down her face in unrelenting pools.
"You can do this." Strong arms wrapped around her shoulders and pulled her back against a warm body. "You know you can." The arms tightened holding her closer. "I believe in you, Shepard." Kaidan said as he softly kissed her ear. "I'll never stop."
"Kaidan, I…" She hadn't heard him come in. She didn't want him to see her like this. This wasn't Commander Shepard. This wasn't how…"What are you doing here?" She asked defensively as she tried to pull away from him. He tightened his grip and his voice remained at her ear.
"Joker. But that's not important." She tried to pull away again. "Stop it. I don't need you to be strong all the time, but unfortunately the rest of the galaxy does. That's why I'm here, Shepard. I want you to know…I'm okay with seeing this. I want to see this. I want to know this side of you." He kissed her neck. "I'm here for you." He breathed. "Breakdown, get upset, just let it all out. I'll still be here in the end."
Shepard twisted in his arms catching his eyes. Sincerity was written all over him. Shocked, she realized if anyone understood how she was possibly feeling it could be him. Tears still spilling down her cheeks she threw her arms around his neck and buried her face in his shoulder. Kaidan clasped her tightly to his chest. Sobs shook her lithe body. Her fists balled into the front of his shirt. He clutched her to him like a drowning man holding onto a life line.
Several minutes passed as he held her like that until the sobs stopped and she thought she might be able to stand again. She might not have been ready to face the asari Councilor just yet, but she would be.
"Thank you." She whispered wiping at her face. Kaidan stood pulling her up with him. He steadied her, his hand at her elbow.
"Do you want me there when you talk to the Councilor?" He asked gently, pushing a strand of hair for her eyes.
Shepard shook her head. "No, but thank you. I'll be okay."
"I'll be here, waiting." He promised leaning forward to plant a quick kiss on her lips.