The idea of Shepard was the first thing Kaidan fell in love with.
The second was her voice, clear and calm as she said his name.
Then he turned and he felt himself fall again as she smiled softly, shaking his hand.
He kept a mental list of every time he fell in love with her again that stopped abruptly on Horizon.
She asked me to stay and I said no.
He restarts his list on Earth as he sees her run towards the Normandy, but still turn back to look to Anderson.
She didn’t ask me to stay, she just knew I would.
She knows ballet. He catches her doing short plies while brushing her teeth, counting in silent French to herself in the mirror.
She loves vegetables. She eats salads whenever she can and trades with settlers for the best of their gardens. But never fruit, she hates fruit.
Shepard does accents when telling him stories, she takes long showers with orange blossom shampoo, and she has a small N7 tattoo on the base of her neck that she explains away with tequila and Jack.
Kaidan continues his list with the things you learn when your lover is beside you and not dead or gone or in a gray place where you love them and can’t have them.
He stops being in love with the dream and starts falling in love with the citrus scent that lingers on the pillow after she’s left him to rest.
Kaidan finds himself running diagnostics on her armor in the middle of the night.
“Run it again EDI,” he said firmly.
If EDI had been human, Kaidan imagined her taking a hard swallow before continuing, running her hands through her hair to hide her obvious frustration, “Major, Commander Shepard’s armor and life support functions are working correctly.”
“Can we just do one more test?” Kaidan rest his face in hands, “I want to perform an atmospheric stress test.”
“Major, you seem very concerned over the state of the Commander’s gear. Commander Shepard performs all of her own review of her armor,” EDI stated plainly, “Do you have any concern over the state of the maintenance I’ve performed?”
“EDI, how many times a day do you examine the safety devices protecting the cockpit?”
“Point taken. I will start running the tests.”
When she was gone, he would play a game to see how long he could go without seeing her in a crowd.
Now that she is here and real and he can touch her, he runs through an inventory of prayers and poems over every inch of her frame. He kisses a devotion to the small of her back and sings a silent benediction to her skin shimmering in the starlight pouring over her.
Kaidan lives in lists and inventories, memorizing the curve of her neck arched while cataloging each weapon she uses and collating their pasts for the intersecting lines of a shared history. It is a library of a love that he didn’t realize could exist in a life he formerly saw as small.
There aren’t enough minutes for the gaps he needs to fill in.
He is sure there is a lifetime of memories he needs to create with a woman who always had the decency to lie about her chances.
But in her bed, she rests her head on his shoulder and doesn’t cry about the children who won’t fill their home or the gray hairs she doesn’t need to plan for.
He doesn’t beg for more time, he pleads for her strength and when he kisses her, Kaidan feels like he might one day have it.