The anguish in his eyes haunted her.
When she closed her eyes, she saw him staring at her with as much love as there was pain in his body, reaching out but not knowing if he could touch her, if he should touch her. When she went about her business, his presence was overwhelming, his biotics humming such a sad tune that her biotics would whisper of her ache for him, for his comfort. He had been in her squad for weeks now, and had taken residence in the observation deck. He didn't push things with her, didn't demand she make a decision, barely talked to her at all when she didn't initiate the conversation.
For her part, she rarely spoke with him.
It wasn't for lack of a want to
she wanted to be able to talk freely with him, to be able to use his shoulder and have him hold her like they used to be in another life, but things aren't so simple anymore. She couldn't just rush to his sleeper pod and drag him back to her quarters when she has a nightmare so he can kiss and caress them from her mind, so he could fold her in his arms and she could feel safe. Because things aren't so simple anymore.
Because there are the barrels of two pistols in the space between them.
Her breath came out in a huff that flipped her bangs out of her eyes. She isn't getting sleep tonight, that much was certain; he's waiting there behind her eyelids, and it makes the ache in her chest almost tangible. She slipped out of bed with ease and left her quarters. She hesitated only a moment before she pressed the button for the crew deck in the elevator. As the elevator shifts to comply with her input, she lets her body slump against the cool metal walls. She idly wonders when the lights in the elevator began looking like her interrogation cell back on Earth. Vaguely, she knows she shouldn't ask herself questions she already knew the answer to. The ride is mercifully short, and she pads off, still barefoot, heading to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. The dispenser gurgles as it prepares her drink, her favorite blue, chipped SR-1 mug sitting underneath it expectantly. She chewed at her bottom lip, throwing an inquisitive glace toward the observation deck.
The door was unlocked.
She frowned, remembering him mentioning he would lock the door whenever he was sleeping. It was never a problem for her- being the commanding officer, she could easily override his lock down of the deck if she needed to enter, but fact remained
he could still be up. She faintly heard the dispenser conclude filling her mug with her favorite beverage, so she clicked it off. She curled her hand around the mug and took an experimental sip. Warmth flooded her chest as the soothing liquid made its way to her stomach. Perhaps it was the lack of sleep, maybe it was her desperation for comfort, for acceptance, but her feet were already carrying her to the observation deck before she had time to talk herself out of it. Her hand hovered over the holo-lock on the door with indecision for a moment before finally opening the door with a soft hiss. The temperature is cooler in here, probably to help with his migraines, but she ignores the chill crawling through her. The only thing that lit the room was the starlight spilling out from the vast emptiness of space. She spotted him almost instantly, lying on one of the couches directly in front of the window, blanket cocooning his body, his chest rising and falling steadily, his expression troubled, even in his sleep.
Washed in this pale light, he stole her breath away.
She set her mug down on the table beside his makeshift bed as quietly as she could, easing herself onto the couch, by his feet. For a few moments, she contented herself with simply staring out into space, letting her thoughts consume her. His presence was comforting, even if he wasn't aware she was beside him, and it made dealing with things
a little easier
but the dead rested even less than she did.
"Had to be me
someone else might have gotten it wrong."
"Do not grieve for me, Shepard."
"You know it's the right choice, LT."
"Honey, your father and I love you so much
"Michelle, get Samus to the safe house! Go!"
She covered her ears with her hands, as though it would make the dead stop whispering. Mordin
they all died either protecting her, or helping her, and they all died because they were close to her. She herself died and lost two years of her life, of the life she and Kaidan could have had, the lives she could have saved if she had been better, had been stronger, faster even. She brought her legs up on the edge of the couch and curled into herself, fighting back the tears she swore she wasn't going to shed. She didn't deserve to cry, not after so many had given their lives to help her get to where she is today. The thought only made it harder to keep her sobs quiet, the dam finally breaking under the relentless stream of agony she was experiencing. She bit her lip, hoping her crying wouldn't alert him that she was there. She should leave
when she can compose herself enough to quietly escape, she should leave
She tensed when she felt strong arms gently pull her toward a warm body.
?" he asked sleepily, nuzzling into her neck. She didn't answer him, afraid she would start crying even harder. All he heard was a faint sniffle in reply. He frowned, his worry overriding any apprehension of their relationship because at the moment, she needed him. He winced, his migraine making it difficult to stay sitting up- the room began to spin, nausea setting in. "Come here
" he murmured as he lie on his side, pulling her down with him to curl around her and bringing the blankets over her as well. She went rigid, and he silently cursed; he didn't think of the implications his actions had, but he didn't want her think he was trying to take advantage of her, not ever. "The migraine
makes it hard to sit up right now." The tension in her body eased somewhat, and he felt her nod before she cuddled closer, hesitantly placing her hands on his chest. Her fingers felt like ice through the fabric of his shirt. "Now
what's wrong? Let me help, please
" he opened his eyes again, his breath catching at the ethereal glow the starlight gave her; her blonde tresses fell around her like a halo, her pale ivory skin bathed in the soft light, her normally sapphire eyes almost ice blue, sparkling with unshed tears.
His angel, always.
" she chewed her lip as her throat tightened again. His expression softened, and he reached up a hand to stroke away her tears, waiting patiently for her to talk. "I
everyone around me gets hurt
and I don't know how I can keep everyone safe and end this damned war
" the tears were falling; unbidden, cascading down, some slipping over his hand still holding her cheek, and in that moment, the tension between them didn't matter to him- she was breaking before her, and all he could do was gather her in his arms to try mend her once she had completely shattered. With a faint shudder, she came apart in his arms, sobbing quietly into the crook of his neck. She wept for her lost loved ones, she cried for the people still struggling to survive, she sobbed for the people she couldn't save, and she shed tears for her, for them, for everything keeping them apart, hoping her tears would just wash it all away. He clutched her closer, his fingers weaving through her hair, his lips peppering kisses into her soft locks, murmuring words of comfort, words of endearment, not knowing if he was helping or hurting the situation.
Neither were sure how long it lasted, but with a final sniffle after what felt like an eternity, Samus pulled back, scrubbing at her eyes frantically. "I'm sorry
" she whispered, her voice hoarse from crying. He shook his head, instantly regretting doing so- his migraine hadn't left him quite yet. Waiting for the dizziness to subside before he chanced speaking, he gave her a reassuring squeeze.
"There's nothing to apologize for," he paused a moment, closing his eyes. "But
I owe you several apologies
and much more than that
" she frowned when his face twisted into a look of pain, his eyes still closed. He felt her fingertips slide from his clothed chest upward, gliding up his neck to hold his face in her hands. He leaned into them, his eyes still closed. If he looked at her now, he would lose all of this nerve. "I should have never doubted you. Ever. And that's all I did from the moment we met up on Horizon," he let out a shaky sigh. "I shouldn't have ever let you leave my arms that day. Before then, I had dreamed every night of what I would do if I was given another chance to be with you. I was given two- Horizon, and the Citadel. I squandered both because I couldn't break away from an idealistic standpoint long enough to look at the big picture
" his voice cracked, as it was now his turn to fight back the tears pooling at the corners of his eyes. "I didn't want to see that everything around us was falling apart. So I pinned my mistrust in everything else on you. That should have never happened
" he could only whisper, mortified that a few tears managed to leak out from his tightly closed lids. His migraine was only getting worse, the pain near excruciating, almost enough to make him black out. His breathing was shallow and quivering because his chest ached from trying to breathe under the weight of his guilt. His eyes burned because they had forgotten how it felt to shed tears.
Everything hurt because nothing was right.
" her expression softened, knowing that he was hurting both physically and emotionally. His face was ashen and despite his body feeling so warm, he was shivering slightly, his hands shaking as they reached up to grip hers. "It's okay
" she cooed to him, squeezing his hands gently.
I'm so sorry
" he breathed, letting go of her hands to hold her against him again, trying to anchor himself so he could attempt to calm himself. He felt her run her fingers through his hair as she wrapped her other arm around him.
"I know, Kaidan
" Her voice started to sound muffled, as though he was underwater and she was calling out to him from the surface. He felt the dread hit his gut; he was blacking out from the migraine, and he knew it. But he still had so much he wanted to say
so many things he had to atone for
he opened his eyes, though he realized a second too late that he shouldn't have. His vision was growing fuzzy, distorted. He opened his mouth to try and form the words while he still could.
" his speech slurred, and he knew he didn't have much time left to stay conscious. So did she; she had been there for him when he blacked out from a migraine before, when they were together. She pressed a finger to his lips to silence him, knowing talking would only make it worse.
"Rest, Kaidan. Everything's going to be okay," she watched as his eyelids finally grew too heavy for him to fight, his entire body going limp as the last of his consciousness slipped from his fingers. For the longest time, she simply lie there beside him, fingers brushing over his cheek, watching over him. It was silly- she knew he wasn't going to get nauseous or injure himself, but she couldn't tear herself away. Seeing what his guilt has turned him into, seeing all of the pain he has hidden from the galaxy for the last three years finally manifest and literally reave the energy from his body shed some light on his side of the situation, and she finally understood. He hadn't changed his feelings for her ever
everything he had known in the world had spun on its axis within the course of three years; the level of immature blindness government can stoop to, the fragility of existence, even the finality of death had lost the meanings he had attached to them when they had first met, and none of them were a solid entity he could point at and demand answers from. There was really no other face he could associate all of it with but her- at the end of it all, she was the common denominator in the one equation in the galaxy he couldn't solve because it demanded to be divided by zero. While she had tried to make sense of readjusting to life again, he had to accept that everything he ever knew was a lie and had to watch it crumble around him alone. How could she condemn his actions, his projecting onto her, when she knows he's only ever felt human around her?
They had both been lost.
"Sleep well, dearest," she smoothed his hair away from his eyes, the action softening his features from the deep frown he had held since he had awoken to her crying. "Rest, and know I love you
" she murmured sincerely before pressing a kiss to his forehead. She heard him sigh softly, but he otherwise didn't regain consciousness. She doubted he was even aware enough to know what she had said, but at least he was getting rest, something she knew he wasn't getting enough of, if the heavy bags under his eyes were any indication. She carefully slid from the couch and stood, plucking her mug from the desk as she tip-toed out. Drinking the now considerably cooler tea, she contemplated how she was going to resolve things between her and Kaidan officially, to actually tell him that she forgave him and that she loved him, when an idea hit. A smile playing on her lips, she hurriedly cleaned and stored her mug before heading back to her quarters. She had, after all, left her omni-tool on her desk.
Hours later, Kaidan awoke. His eyes opened groggily, surveying the observation deck. His migraine had gone, at least, but his body ached. It always did when he regained consciousness from blacking out, though he supposed it was better than another migraine. He blinked the remnants of sleep from his eyes before he recalled the night's events. He snapped to a sitting position, frantically looking next to him for Samus, but only the empty space beside him greeted his eyes. He frowned in thought, wondering when she left and why, when he noticed his omni-tool pinging on the table beside him. Curiosity getting the better of him, he reached over and plucked its resting place. The holo display flickered to life and he opened his messages, feeling the air leaving his lungs when he saw that it was from Samus. He smiled warmly when he read the subject out loud to himself.
" he chuckled quietly despite his fear of what her message could say before opening it, opting to read the rest silently to himself, preferring to think of it in her voice rather than his.
'A little less configuration, a little more "Yes, dear," okay? Samus'
She had a knack for making him forget how to breathe, he'll give her that. It was something she had told him jokingly on the old SR-1, when he had always checked the ship's configurations on an almost daily basis. After the fight with Saren, they had both relaxed on the regulations a little more when it was just the two of them in engineering. She needed his help reaching for something in the cabinet, and he was still fixing something when she had said it. It was a little joke between them after that for whenever something had been bothering him, her way of saying that he needed to relax and that she loved him without actually saying it. In light of the current situation
it felt strangely soothing to have her tell him that, even if it was in a message. He leaned forward, his forearms on his knees as he thought about how he was going to go forward, when a thought occurred to him- in all the time they had been together
he had never taken her on a date
Samus had been tightening the last buckle on her uniform when her omni-tool beeped to inform her she had a message.
I don't know about you, but I could sure use a little breather. Next time we're out on the Citadel, let me buy you dinner. We should try Apollo's. It's that little restaurant in the courtyard overlooking the Presidium.