Mass Effect: Milieu

Beacon of Hope

"Keela, she did it. Shepard actually took down a Reaper." Tali's voice echoed across the war room. The awe was undeniable. All the crew assembled watched the conference room doors. Shepard had just paged Admiral Hackett and Admiral Anderson to give them an update on Rannoch. Tali shook her head. "I still can't believe it."

"Well, not only did she kill a Reaper, she brokered a peace between the geth and your people, Tali. I would say that Shepard's…what's the human saying…on a roll." Garrus' mandibles flared briefly. Though is voice was rough, he too sounded a little enraptured with the Commander.

"This is a huge victory. Now, the quarians and the geth can help fight the Reapers. The combined strength of those two armies will be unimaginable." Kaidan stated from where he stood next to Tali. He had been on the ground team to help take the Reaper base. He had sat spellbound in the tank as Shepard faced down the Reaper.

What could he had said to stop her? Nothing. Shepard was a fighter. She wouldn't have listened to any of his protest. She had to do this. And the rational fact was the less people on the ground during the fight the better. He might not have agreed that it had to be her fighting, but then…he sighed and leaned against the war room map console. Placing his hands on the railing to balance himself.

No, he knew it had to be her. She was the only one with enough strength, cunning and fierceness to pull it off. He worried about her though. There was only so much responsibility a person could take before it devoured them. Shepard was handling it well so far, but…

"What was it like, Kaidan, seeing Shepard in action down there? Must have been something else." Garrus asked his eyes focusing on the map sectors spread out before them.

Kaidan bowed his head lost in the moment. "It was…spectacular and frightening at the same time."

"I thought as much, too bad the guns needed to be re-calibrated throughout the fight. I would have loved to seen her up against that Reaper." Garrus intoned selecting a section of the map to zoom in on. Kaidan turned his face away.

"Yeah, she was pretty great." He replied solemnly.

"Kaidan, what's wrong?" Tali inquired placing a hand on his shoulder. "I would have thought you would be thrilled."

He let out a breath inclining his head to look at her glowing eyes behind her breather mask. "It's nothing. Just the adrenaline fading and hunger. Burned up a bit more than I planned on." It wasn't completely what was bothering him. The physical aspects of the day were starting to take their toll, but he could deal with those…he sighed and pushed himself back from the console.

Tali watched him with those strange glowing eyes. "If you say so, Kaidan." She stated her attention returning to Garrus. The turian had pulled up a map of Pavalen and her outlying moons. Glancing at Garrus, Kaidan could have sworn that hope flickered in the depths of the turian's eyes as he stared at his burning home-world.

Kaidan was still processing the idea that Shepard had eliminated a Reaper. His mind had initially refused to compute the fact. He had been stuck in numbed shock. He had watched the whole thing. Still it had seemed more like he was watching a vid, than seeing her standing on that cliff facing going toe to toe with a Reaper. The more he thought about it, the more it bothered him. It was a huge morale booster for the troops of every species. Everyone fighting this war now knew one thing: the Reapers weren't indestructible. And that was all thanks to Shepard.

Yet, at what the cost? Shepard had done a wondrous thing. He just hoped she wouldn't get too…cocky? No, not quite the right word. Shepard wasn't cocky…she had faith in her abilities, not cockiness. Maybe, he had been spending too much time with his students. They would've gotten cocky.

The doors to the comm. room opened and a tired, but triumphant Commander Shepard stepped out. There were dark circles under her eyes and her pale skin was even paler. Her dark hair usually perfectly pulled back into a bun at the nape of her neck was slipping and wisps of stray hair framed her face. As soon as Shepard appeared the room exploded. The soldiers led by Tali and Garrus whooped, cheered and applauded their Commander.

Shepard looked around stunned. She blinked at the noise and confusion crossed her face for a moment. Then she smiled. A genuine smile of appreciation. The grin transformed her into something more. Kaidan saw it in that moment: she was a beacon of hope. The crowd cheered louder. As Shepard walked down the steps, they rushed forward to congratulate her and shake her hand. Peace with the geth and quarians, not to mention taking out a Reaper in the process. Yes, the soldiers of this war had needed this.

Kaidan crossed his arms, waiting. When she looked around the crowd of people, her eyes landed on him across the room. He smiled at her and jerked his head toward the exit. Lowering his arms, he turned and left the room, heading through the guard station with a nod to the privates on duty there and out to the elevator.

He knew what was bothering him about this whole idea now. It had hit him the moment Shepard had stepped out onto the war room floor. In that moment, it had felt like their time together was drawing to a close. His hand shook as he hit the button to call for the elevator. He stood for a moment pondering why it had hit him so hard. He was proud of Shepard. He loved her. That much he knew, even if Shepard didn't admit it yet herself, he knew she loved him. But it felt like he was losing her.

The door to the elevator opened and he stepped inside. "I can't lose her again." He whispered as the doors shut. The thought of her facing down that Reaper…the thought of losing her again had crossed his mind. Up until that point he hadn't really considered it. He hadn't allowed himself to consider the possibility. Shepard had survived once before, but this was different. He shoved his hands in his pockets after clicking the button to his destination. He waited for the doors to open. He didn't want to mess this up again. He wanted for them to be together. No one could replace Shepard, never.

He had tried to move pass her when he thought she had been dead. Yet, every time he thought about taking someone out or the one time he had he had spent the entire night comparing the woman to Shepard. It wasn't fair to her. So he had thrown himself into his work. The Alliance became his life.

The doors opened and he stepped out onto the landing leading to Shepard's private quarters. They had taken things slow, because he wanted more time, more memories with her. But, tonight, tonight he would make more memories. He wouldn't waste any more time. He wanted to be with her again. To kiss her, touch her, and love her. He wanted to show her that he had no regrets. He wanted her to have no regrets about their lives. If he lost her tomorrow, he would not lose himself again. He would be satisfied with the time they had together. It would hurt, and he would feel her absence, but he would live and fight another day. That's what Shepard would have wanted from him. And that's what he wanted to show her tonight.

He stood in the landing for a while, waiting patiently, and then the doors slid open behind him. He turned seeing her standing just outside the elevator doors.

"Kaidan? Did you need to speak with me?" She asked her voice tentative and the dark circles under her eyes were made darker by the lack of light.

"Yes and no." He replied huskily. Before she could reply, he quickly stepped forward wrapping his arms around her, he kissed her passionately. His hands roamed over her back as he clutched her tighter to him. Her form was supple and soft against his and he felt his pulse pounding throughout his body. He deepened his kiss, and she kissed him back. A little moan of pleasure escaped his chest as he stepped back toward her room. He pulled her along with him. Even as his hand hit the panel to open the door, he never stopped kissing her.

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