Fandom: Mass Effect
Rating: Adult (language, and some smut in part 2)
mild spoilers for all three games
Beta: This one is unbetad, so sorry in advance for any mistakes.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, If I did the ending wouldn't have sucked.
Five times Kaidan Alenko sang to his Commander Shepard, and one time he didn’t.
(The First Time)
(The Second Time)
(The Third Time)
Dying slowly hurt like hell.
The first time Commander Shepard expired, it was a fairly quick process. Suffocating from a ruptured air tube, with an unexplored planet at your front and a world of regret at your back, wasn’t exactly the most peaceful way to go. However, it only lasted a few minutes at most, and at least the view had been spectacular.
Shepard drew in another agonized, rasping breath and felt something gurgle in her chest. This wasn’t anything like dying in space. Instead of boiling inside her armor, she was bleeding out on a frigid, metallic floor. Instead of empty lungs, burning in their desperation to take in more air, she was drowning in a sea of her own fluid. It was actually a blessing to be numb from the waist down, since every bit of exposed skin she could feel was burned, broken, slashed open, or riddled with bits of debris.
At least she wasn’t scared this time. After everything she’d been through: the threat of total extinction, the nights filled with either insomnia, or horrible nightmares; the friends she’d lost; the planets she’d seen burn, and the terrible choices she’d had to make; it was almost a relief for it to be nearly over.
The world of regret was pretty much gone too. Shepard had done the best she could with what she’d been given. She’d held the line, fought a good fight, and while she wasn’t exactly going out swinging, this was certainly close enough. No, Shepard had no more time for regrets. Well, she thought sadly, maybe just one.
The Commander had never gone looking for love. Romance had always been one of those things she’d, “get around to,” someday in a far off future that also included a desk job, a ginger cat, and maybe a kid or two. She’d had few lovers; even fewer boyfriends, and that had been perfectly alright with her, as that way it didn’t interfere with her career plan.
But then she’d met a dark haired biotic, with eyes the color of sweet caramel and a voice as smooth and smoky as her favorite whiskey.
Shepard let out a sharp cry as some of the rubble supporting her back gave way. The tiny movement vibrated harshly through her battered body, sending waves of pain shooting across every active nerve. Oh God, she silently prayed to anyone who would listen, just make the pain stop! She was ready to die, if it could just be over.
If only she could be like Thane and lose herself in a happy memory for a while. Instead of dying alone in some dark, unknown portion of the citadel, she could spend her last moments wrapped up in cotton sheets and in the arms of her lover. Kaidan would smile sweetly and kiss her lips. They’d make love. Because, despite all the bumps along the way: finding each other in the most forbidden of places; being separated by death and time and then distrust; Shepard couldn’t regret it. Those last few months with him finally aboard the Normandy again had been a heavenly oasis in a galaxy gone to Hell. No, Shepard’s last regret wasn’t in loving Kaidan; it was that she didn’t have more time to do so.
But Shepard was not a drell and could not lose herself in dreams. Although, she thought morosely, even if she were, her dreams had not been the most pleasant of places lately. It was probably better that she stayed locked in reality. It wouldn’t be long now anyway. Her strength was waning considerably with each drop of blood that hit the floor and it was getting so much harder to breathe. The numbness in her legs had moved up to encompass the bottom ridge of her ribs. Even the battered room seemed to thump in time to her heart’s struggling, halting beat.
Wait! Shepard was suddenly on alert. As blurry as her vision had grown, her hearing had become ever sharper. That wasn’t her heartbeat thumping thorough the rubble.
“I think I found her!” Large, hulking footsteps, the kind only made by a soldier trooping around in combat boots, rushed towards her. Shepard forced a tiny smile when the large man slid to his knees at her side.
“Damn, Lola,” he drawled, setting his helmet aside and staring down at her. “You are one crazy bitch, you know that?”
“Always with the flirting, Vega, “she managed to croak out. “But I know it’s all talk.” She hacked a tiny cough, tasted copper on her tongue. “I’m too much woman for you.”
“Ain’t that the truth?” He placed a finger behind his ear and spoke into the semi-darkness. “It’s Vega. I’ve got the Commander, but she’s hurt bad.” Shepard coughed again. “Oh Shit,” he exclaimed as blood and sputum splattered across his knees, “real bad.”
“Sorry about that,” she said between gasping breaths. “Guess I’m not exactly at my best right now.”
“Don’t you worry about that Lola,” he told her, flashing an indulgent smile. “After what you just pulled off, you have a right to be a little messy.”
“So, we won then?” She hadn’t heard any gunfire for a while, but that didn’t necessarily mean the war was over.
“Not a Reaper in the sky!” he crowed. “Don’t know how the hell you did it, but a lot of folks are going to be using your name as a battle cry from here on out.”
“I hope not,” she said with a grimace. “I’d like to think there will be peace for a while. Otherwise, I’m dying for nothing.”
The Lieutenant’s eyes widened. “Don’t talk like that Lola. The Major’s gonna be here any second to patch you up. You’re going to be good as new, and kicking my ass again in no time.”
Shepard couldn’t help the small whimper that left her mouth. “Kaidan made it?” Tears burned the back of her eyes at just the thought of him being so near.
“Not a scratch on him,” Vega confirmed. “Half the time I think he’s just as loco as you.”
They both flinched at the screeching sound of metal being heavily pushed aside. Another set of footsteps, slightly lighter than the Lieutenant’s had been, quickly made their way into the room.
“Speak of the Devil,” James quipped, as the Major slumped to his knees beside them. “You got your kit?”
Kaidan took off his helmet and all but threw it aside in his haste to open the bag he was carrying. Shepard burst into hysterical, blindingly painful tears. She couldn’t hear the commands he issued to Vega. She didn’t feel the sting of the medigel syringe, or the burn of the compression bandages they wrapped around her abdomen to try and staunch the bleeding. One look at Kaidan’s sweaty, grimy, three-day-old-beard covered face and she was falling all to pieces. He was seriously the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.
“Don’t cry, Baby,” he crooned, reaching up to smooth some medigel into a gash under her hair. “We’re going to get you out of here.” He turned to the Lieutenant. “She needs a real doctor and she needs one now. Call for an immediate medical evac. If they tell you no one is available, tell them we have Shepard.”
“Copy that.” Vega stood to do what he was told. A second later he let out an excited whoop. “Esteban! I thought you were gone for good when we saw that reaper take your shuttle down…what are you doing flying an ambulance?…. Listen, we need transport, like yesterday…no, ten minutes is too long, man. We’ve got Shepard and I don’t know if she has that long…alright, I’ll meet you in five.”
Vega finished his call and knelt back down to address his commanding officers. “Cortez is on his way. I’ve gotta go down a level to meet him at the landing zone. You alright with her by yourself?” he asked Kaidan.
“There’s not much more I can do at this point except monitor her vitals,” the Major answered him. “I’m a sentinel, not a doctor, but even with my level of medical training, I know she needs blood and she needs oxygen. I don’t have either. If by some miracle that shuttle’s still fully stocked, bring the backboard and the respirator with you when it gets here.”
“Yes, sir.” The lieutenant leaned over to lightly lay a hand against Shepard’s upper arm. “You hang in there, Lola,” he told her. “I don’t want anyone else to be my N7 trainer.”
Shepard forced a slight smile through her tears. “It’s been an honor, James,” she managed through gritted teeth. “I know you’ll make me proud.”
“Count on it.” He affirmed, before grabbing his helmet and stomping off into the darkness. She watched him go with a heavy heart, pretty sure she’d just said goodbye. Her chest convulsed with another broken sob that turned into more violent hacking coughs.
“I need you to calm down, Shepard,” Kaidan told her urgently. “You’re having trouble breathing as it is.”
She sputtered a bit more, gagged on the blood coating the back of her throat. “I thought I was never going to see you again,” she whimpered, more tears dripping from the corners of her eyes. “I thought I was going to die alone.”
Kaidan gently palmed her face, careful not to put too much pressure on her wounds, before leaning down to touch his forehead to hers. “I’m here now and you’re not going to die.” He kissed her bloody lips. “I’m not going to let you.”
White hot agony ripped through Shepard’s chest as another coughing fit took her by surprise. Something near her ribs popped. Her vision faded to a spotted gray blur.
“No, no, no, no, no!” Kaidan’s pleading voice sounded miles away. Her lungs refused to expand. Her head listed limply to the side. “Wake up Commander, that’s an order!”
She felt her upper body forcibly lifted from the floor and propped up at an angle against the Major’s chest. The edges of her broken bones scraped against flesh already raw from too much trauma, but when she opened her mouth to scream, her lungs miraculously opened. More blood and mucus dripped from her lips to pool on the metal floor. Her stomach emptied its meager contents in a violent, pinkish rush.
Shepard relaxed back into his arms and took a few more deep gasping breaths, before trying to speak again. “You’re giving me orders now?”
Kaidan rubbed his face against her grimy hair and Shepard could feel his whole body shudder. “When we’re not on your ship, I outrank you,” he breathed. “Don’t you dare do that to me again. I swear to God…” his voice broke.
“Sorry,” she whispered. “I’m not sure if that’s an order I can follow.”
“It is,” he insisted, before gently adjusting her position so she could see his face.
More agony ripped through her when she met his gaze. Tears were pooling in his red rimmed eyes, ready to spill over. Maybe it would have been better if he’d never come, she thought. There was nowhere else she’d rather be, but now he was going to have to watch her die. If their situations were reversed, if Kaidan were the one slipping away in her arms, she didn’t think she’d ever recover.
“Just stay awake,” he ordered her. “Stay with me just a little bit longer. We just have to get you to a ship with trauma unit. You’re going to be okay.”
“It’s so selfish,” she told him, “but I’m really glad you’re here.”
“Me too.” He smiled and a tear escaped his lower lid. It left a streak in the grime before getting lost in the scruff of his beard.
“You need a shave,” she said, wishing she had the strength to reach up and touch the dark stubble.
“Yeah,” he chuckled. “Once we get out of here I’m going to need more than that, like a hot meal and an ever hotter shower. What is it you want most?” he asked, probably trying to keep her engaged in the conversation, keep her with him.
“I’d like a ginger cat,” she whispered, thinking of that list she’d made so long ago when all she’d had was time, “and maybe a desk job.”
Kaidan huffed. “You’d be bored inside an hour.”
“Maybe,” she agreed, “but I’d really like to have the chance to see. I’ve had enough of war.”
“You’ve still got a bit of fight left in you,” he insisted. “Don’t you dare give up on me now. Tell me what else you want. Dream for me.”
Shepard debated telling him the third thing on her ancient list. When she’d added that item it had seemed more like a task to check off, than a true desire. But now, with tomorrow seeming so impossibly beyond her grasp, she’d give almost anything for it.
“A baby,” she finally told him, throwing whatever caution she had left to the wind, “with whiskey colored eyes and a dimple on his chin.”
Kaidan lowered his face again and Shepard could feel moisture dripping into her hair. “Jesus, Love,” he said brokenly. “You’re killing me.”
“I don’t know much about being a mom,” she continued, “and I never really thought a lot about having kids before, but I think you’d make an excellent dad. You’re too good a man not to be.”
Tears streaming down his face, Kaidan again looked into her eyes. There was a fire in his gaze that made her heart shudder. “Don’t you think we should be married first?”
Shepard’s head fell a little heavier against the curve of his arm. Her eyes fluttered and threatened to close as dizziness began to creep over her again. “Is that a proposal, Major?”
He flashed her a watery smile. “Marry me Shepard,” he pleaded. “I’ll give you as many babies as you want. I’ll buy you that damned orange cat and we’ll live happily ever after. Just stay awake, okay?”
“Okay,” she breathed, but her closing lids betrayed the lie. The numbness in her body was creeping up again, reaching about halfway up her chest. Her breaths grew ever shallower, despite the fairly upright position Kaidan held her in. “Will you do something for me?” she asked.
“Anything,” he agreed.
“Sing for me?” She wanted his angelic voice to be the last thing she heard.
He smiled against her skin. “Any requests?”
“Not really,” she whispered. “Just pick a song that tells me you love me.”
“Alright,” There was a slight pause, as Kaidan took a minute to compose himself. Shepard felt his shuddering breaths puff across her cheek. “This one always makes me think of you,” he said, and then his gorgeous baritone began to echo through the broken room.
“You were my one more chance
I never thought I'd find.
You were the one romance,
I've always known in my mind.
No one will ever touch me more,
and I only hope that in return
I might have saved the best of me for you “
The beautiful, crooning words reached right into her soul and Shepard tried to smile, but the muscles would no longer obey her command. She wanted to reassure him, to let Kaidan know that he had only ever given her the best of himself. Even when it had hurt, even when she wanted him to make different choices, he’d never compromised in his beliefs. And toward the end, when she was ready to collapse from the weight of the galaxy crushing in on her, it was Kaidan who held her up, kept her standing. Truth be told, it was just as much him who saved the Galaxy as it was her. If Shepard was going to live to get any medals pinned to her chest, she’d have given them all to him.
“And we'll have no ending if we can hold on.
I think I've come this far because of you.
Could be, no other love but ours will do.”
Hot tears dripped onto Shepard’s face from above and mixed with her own, before sliding to the floor. Even so, Kaidan didn’t stop his song. The sounds were becoming more muffled as her strength waned even further, but she strained to hear the last verse, desperate for just a few more moments with him.
“No one will ever touch me more
and I only hope that in return,
no matter how much we have to learn,
that I might have saved the very best of me for you.”
His voice trailed off with the last note and Shepard sighed, grateful to have been loved so very much. Every muscle in her body went limp as the last dregs of her strength leached away. Kaidan moved quickly when her head sagged over his arm. She felt the floor at her back, the rubble once again digging into her flesh, but it no longer hurt.
“Shepard!” Kaidan’s voice sounded far away, as if he were screaming through a tunnel. He tapped her cheeks, but she couldn’t respond. “Don’t do this, Baby. Stay with me!” He let out a great, heaving sob and Shepard felt a stab of regret flare through her cloudy mind. She wanted to tell him she loved him. She wanted to wrap her arms around him and never let go, but she was out of time.
“I can hear the shuttle team,” he cried into her ear and just as he said it she could feel their stomping footsteps vibrating through the floor. “Just hold on for a few more minutes. Shepard, I’m ordering you not to die. Do you hear me? We’ve made it too far for us to lose it all now.” His voice trailed off into gasping, incoherent tears. “Please!”
He gathered her into his arms again, rocking them back and forth as he wept bitterly into her hair. She felt her battered lungs slowly emptying and didn’t have the strength to fill them up again. The shuttle team finally raced into the room, shouting and carelessly throwing bits of debris around in their haste. Shepard’s last thought, as everything faded away and her heart pumped out its final halting beat, was that dying slowly really hurt like hell.
* That is the saddest thing I have ever written. I was bawling as I wrote it. I hope it worked for you. I suppose I’m sorry either way.
* Before you show up on my doorstep with flaming torches and pitchforkes, remember we have two more chapters to go.
* Kaidan sings “Best of Me,” by Michael Buble' and I suggest you listen to it with caution. This one always makes me weep, especially now that I associate it with the scene you just read. I wish I could have included all of the lyrics of the song in this chapter, as I really think they fit Kaidan to a T, but I didn’t want to overdue it.
* Thank you so much for reading and being so encouraging. You guys have reignited my muse to write!