What it all boiled down to wasn’t about heroics, or the impossible odds and how he beat them. It wasn’t the promotions, or medals, or the honorary Krogan status.
It was about something that seemed so much smaller than all of those things, smaller but somehow much larger where it counted.
It wasn’t about the bravado, or about the hero seen on every flyer around the galaxy after the war was over. It wasn’t the advertising, or how he was Commander Shepard and which stores were his favorite stores on the Citadel, because all of them were his favorite just like none of them were.
No, it’s not about shops, or flashing lights. It’s not the shiny armor or a hero’s reputation that spans the galaxy and will inevitably span generations. It’s about the man underneath all that. It’s about the flesh and muscle. Not the cybernetic implants or quick reflexes honed through years of service, but the creases in the corner of his eyes when he smiles. It’s the way he rubs the back of his neck when he’s embarrassed, which isn’t all that often, though maybe more often than people might suspect. It’s about having someone in his life who knows just how often he hides a blush behind the gesture.
His whole life had been about the bigger picture. There were always goals to meet and expectations to exceed. And at the end of that long list was a galaxy that needed saving. But when you’re done saving a galaxy the only thing left to save is yourself.
Bones will knit back together and the scars will eventually fade. His knee will still hurt when that cold Vancouver rain rolls in off of the Pacific during those wet winters he likes more than he thought he would. But then it’s not really the winter, or the cold he likes; it’s spending those mornings in bed with his better half and a mug of hot coffee, the kind that doesn’t seem likes it’s going to burn through his esophagus after a long swallow.
It’s less about the big things and more about the little things, like grilling some steaks on the deck and watching the sun set over English Bay. Or celebrating anniversaries and birthdays that he didn’t think he’d ever see; about laughs and smiles, and sometimes tears, because hey, it can’t be sunshine and roses all the time.
It’s about stepping back and taking a deep breath and realizing that he finally has the space and time to breathe. To really pull it in and let it go; to regain that clarity he hadn’t realized he’d lost. It’s the realization that it’s more than just the hero image seen by billions.
It’s about the man behind it all. The flesh. The blood. The heart that keeps beating.
It’s not about the big things, not really. It’s the little things that really make the man, and it’s that man that makes the hero.
Funny how those things work. How the little things seem so tiny, except that they’re not really, not at all.
Those little wonders.