Garrus was the one to approach the Major with the idea. In his hands, a plaque: Noah Lee Shepard, it read. They were to add it to the wall to commemorate his sacrifices.
“But why?” Kaidan had asked, eyes fixed on it. “He isn’t dead.”
Still, his peripheral didn’t miss that look on Liara’s face, nor the way Garrus shifted his weight from one foot to the other.
“Major— …Kaidan,” Liara spoke softly. “You saw what happened out there.”
“No! No, we didn’t!” he shouted, shocking both Liara and Garrus. For the normally so calm and collected Major, any kind of outburst was…
Well, these weren’t normal times anymore, were they?
He sat himself back down, pinching the nerve between his brows. “We… We didn’t see everything. We don’t really know for sure. We have to…”
“Kaidan,” followed by a gentle blue hand resting on his shoulder. “It is… difficult. But you know as well as anyone else that Shepard would want us to move forward. We cannot remain here any longer. We must return to Earth. And maybe once we are there…”
“In the meantime,” Garrus stepped forward, holding the plaque out to Kaidan. It was a cruel thing. A cruel idea. He didn’t want to recieve it, but he did, the metal cold on his human skin. “Think of this as a way to remember.”
So later on, as the crew stood behind him and waited patiently, Kaidan hesitated. His feet, one moving after another, felt like lead. The plaque turned over in his hands once more, thumb running up and down the etched name; Cdr. Noah Lee Shepard. The Hero. His lover. The Major’s breath hitched as his body finally found the strength to lift his arms toward the wall. This whole thing felt so final. He didn’t like it.
“I’m not putting this up.”
“Kaidan—” Tali said softly, breath barely above a whisper.
“No. Not until I know for sure he’s gone.” With that, he forced a smile, grasping the plaque with a new resolve.
“Major, I know how you must feel, but—”
“Let him be selfish just this once, Traynor,” Tali said with tears in her voice, understanding just how he felt. “I know he’s not gone, too. We’ll look for him together.”
“We all will,” Javik stepped forward, surprising everyone. “He was more than our Commander. I don’t think any of you would leave a friend behind.”
“No,” Joker piped up, still sore about having to leave him the first time. They all were.
“It’s settled then,” Kaidan choked, pulling himself back a few steps. “Yeah. Once we know for sure. Then we can. But… until then, I’m keeping this as a reminder. That I won’t rest until I find him. And I will.”
They stayed silent for the most part over the next hour, staring at the names of the lost. Legion. Thane. Mordin. Ashley. And now EDI…
One by one the crew members left in opposite directions. Some taking a well deserved nap, others getting right back to work. The only two that were left in the end were Kaidan and Joker.
And finally, Joker allowed himself to cry.
Kaidan didn’t say anything, but felt tears coming on himself. He thought he had cried himself dry after being put on the evac shuttle, but…
“I miss her so damn much, Kaidan. I could kill him for this, but… I gotta trust him, you know? There really must not have been any other way. Otherwise he would have… I know he would have…” and with that, he too disappeared.
Kaidan examined Anderson’s name closely before leaving himself, a tiny flicker of hope shining bright within him.
‘Sorry, Admiral. You’re going to have to wait a little bit longer.’