The thing that John could never get used to having was the full head of hair, or the grey that came with it. It had become a habit for him to run his hand through it when he was thinking, angry, confused, anything. Kaidan always got on his case about it, but he didn’t care. The texture of it always helped calm him down and bring him back to reality.
It had been 40 years exactly since they both retired from the military, and a month before they had gotten married. The thought always brought a smile to his face when he pictured the look on the pastor’s face when Shepard cried, “Fuck this, I do!” and grabbed Kaidan, pulling him into a deep kiss.
As the wind blew snow all around him, John smiled and thought of their wedding day, brushing his fingers through his hair. He was waiting for the 10 AM bus to come at his corner, which he stood at exactly 9:55 AM, as per usual. The hovercraft landed and allowed him on; the bus driver waving away the money that Shepard tried to hand him, as he always did.
The bus took off and Shepard sat in his seat in the middle, where he had perfect view of all the scenery, amongst the usual stragglers going in late for work. Today, a young girl sat in front of him, peering behind her to look at him as her mother spoke to someone over her omnitool.
Shepard smiled at her slightly, holding a small package in his lap. The girl eyed him carefully, and then spoke up.
“Are you Mr. Shepard?”
“My friends said your house is haunted. Is that true?”
He shook his head in no.
“Did you really stop a reaper on your own?”
The barrage of questions came almost nonstop, but Shepard was grateful for it, even if he refused to speak. He’d taken a vow of silence since the incident, using a notepad to communicate with others, but mostly using gestures.
“What’s that package for?” the girl asked.
Shepard took out his notepad and wrote down the answer quickly.
“A picture of what?”
Somebody I love.
More than the world.
“Mr. Shepard,” the girl said as he got up to leave. “Why don’t you talk anymore?”
I don’t know— it just doesn’t feel right anymore.
With that, John hurried off the bus before she could say anything else. The cemetery gates loomed before him, but he went on, undaunted, dragging his feet through the snow as he brushed his coarse hair back. The wind nipped at his exposed ears and nose, but he took no mind to it.
He let his pace soften as he approached the gravestone he was looking for, an exact replica of the dead man. Shepard refused to let them use a hologram, insisting on stone. It felt wrong to see him like that, moving about and speaking in a voice and body that wasn’t there anymore; the stone gave the old man some finality.
Placing the gift on the ground in front, Shepard looked up at the stone’s face. His fingers immediately sought his hair, tears falling down his cheeks. A shaky breath escaped him as he closed his eyes, punctuated by slight sobs. John would never get over the fact that he was dead.
Kaidan Shepard was dead— had been for 20 years and always would be.
John turned slowly away and forced himself to leave the cemetery, clutching his hair so tightly he felt as if his entire scalp would peel off if he made a wrong move. He’d never been so emotional in all the years he visited, but today was different. Today was the final day he would see that damned statue ever again.
From the pocket of his tweed jacket came a small Colt .45 that had belong to his great-great grandfather. With one last stroke of his hair, he pulled the trigger.