-1- London - Nov 7 2186
It’s been raining almost non-stop for over two months, casting London into a foggy twilight. Almost like the Earth is trying to wash away the stains of the war. At least the grey weather matches her mood. Overhead, lighting backlights the dark ominous clouds covering the sky, as Kaidan shields her with an umbrella and a nurse pushes her wheelchair to the waiting shuttle. From street level it almost looks ordinary; People are about and the street lights lit in the stormy twilight. Even a deli across from the hospital is open, serving emergency rations instead of fresh sandwiches, but one could not see that from this distance.
Shepard knows this normality is just an illusion, she has seen the ruins herself. Most of the windows of this London hospital had been covered up in hasty repairs, but her and a few other patients help each other out onto the south balcony at least once a day. From the higher vantage point, Ivanova could see farther to the ruins of the once great city and beyond, to the Conduit tower remains.
The shuttle’s engine sputters to life while Ivanova fastens the safety straps. Resting her eyes one last time on the hospital before the shuttle door closes off her view. The shuttle shudders as it prepares to lift off, Kaidan holding her hand his smiling helps ease her anxiety. The craft lifts off with a shake and sudden jolt to port, sending a bolt of pain down Shepard’s left side. Grumbling in a low tone, “The pilot could learn a few things from Cortez.” A gentle squeeze of her hand and a twinkle in his eye tells her Kaidan agrees. The turbulence lessens as the shuttle settles into its flight path, Ivanova snuggles up to Kaidan and closes her eyes in contentment.
Kaidan holds her while watching London recede out the window, “Just rest Iva.” Kissing the top of her head. She likes how he pronounces her pet name as “e’vah”. Within five minutes he can hear her breathing slow and her body relaxing into sleep. While adjusting the blanket over her legs, to help keep her warm, he’s amazed how much better she looks than just a few weeks ago. Reaching a hand into his jacket pocket, reassuring himself the ring box is safe. He was going to ask Ivanova to marry him before they left but Dr Jensen ruined the moment. The thought of the doctor taking him back to that morning.
Shepard and Kaidan were waiting for the doctor to review the latest scan results before he would release her for transfer to Vancouver. Ivanova wasn’t too happy about being treated as a “special case” and was a little angry with Kaidan for pulling strings, but she calmed down once he told her they’d be able to see each other nearly every day. After, they moved onto small talk, Kaidan slowly moving the subject to their future together. That’s when the subject of children came up and when the doctor intruded into the conversion, “I over heard you two speaking. I’m sorry to say that I’m not sure you can ever conceive Commander. The extraordinary experience you had in the Lazarus project plus the trauma you endured in the war.” Shaking his head, “It’ll make pregnancy very difficult if at all possible. It’s, of course, too early in your recovery to be certain.” Ivanova was crushed by the news and nothing Kaidan said could comfort her.
He wants a life with Shepard, children or not, there is always adoption or even the artificial womb option. Continuing to gently stroke Ivanova’s shoulder, as the shuttle passes the terminator into night, Kaidan soon follows Shepard into sleep.
A few hours later, morning sunlight streams in from the window awakening her, while Kaidan is sleeping in the adjacent seat. Sitting up to look out the window, careful not to wake him, she can see the outskirts of the city. Vancouver, like London, is another lesion on her soul with collapsed towers, shattered glass, streets littered with debris, and even a Harbinger type Reaper wreck in the bay. In a forlorn sigh, “So much death and destruction that I couldn’t prevent.” Luckily the quarians and Hackett’s Crucible team had construction ships to make modular buildings before the winter weather claimed more lives.
The shuttle lowers altitude approaching their destination. They could hear the pilot talking with ground control and knew they were close to their destination. Both turn back to look out the window, the University of British Columbia grounds have been cleared for temporary housing and the new UBC Medical Center survived the war mostly intact. Now that they were closer, Ivanova could see more of the fruits of the reconstruction effort. “So, you’re in charge of recovery for all of British Columbia province?”
Nodding his head toward the window, “More actually. All of the Pacific Northwest from Oregon up to the border with Alaska.” Turning back to Shepard, “The Reapers concentrated most of their attacks in the metropolitan centers. They sent in husks and other ground forces farther out, of course, but the bulk of the damage is in the cities.” Seeing the pain in her eyes, “Shepard, we did everything we could.” Taking her hand into his, “Iva, you stopped the Reapers. Forever.” His big brown eyes melting through her agitation, bringing out a small smile. Out the window they can see the approaching landing pad and medical staff ready to help transfer Shepard into the hospital.
-2- “Victory Day” - Sept 2187
“How do I look?” Kaidan asks with a crooked smile and his arms spread wide. His uniform is fit and proper on his frame with the Alliance and Spectre emblems designating his continued dual rank status.
Ivanova turns from the mirror where she’s been adjusting her own outfit to face her husband. Running her eyes from head to toe, “I don’t know Rear Admiral Alenko.” With special emphasis on the word rear, “I can’t say until I see the back.” A suggestive smirk turning into a laugh as Kaidan turns shaking his butt. Wrapping her arms around him and kissing his cheek, “You look as handsome as the day I married you.”
“Speaking of which.” A slight rolling of his eyes, “It’s been three months. Do you think the press will finally forgive us for not inviting them to the wedding?” Making a few final adjustments to his uniform.
In a matter of fact voice, “Hmph. Fat chance. Well, you know my solution was to punch al-Jalani in the face.” Brushing a piece of lint off his shoulder, “We could try that tactic again.”
Both are still laughing when Garrus knocks on the door frame, “Are you two finished preening yet?” Crossing his arms, “You can’t spend the whole time hiding in your office.” The pair look at each other, with a knowing smile, before turning to follow Garrus out of Kaidan’s office toward the elevators, “Besides, now is as good a time as any to make your appearance; Javik and Liara arrived a few minutes ago. Wrex and Grunt are having a drinking contest and James is ready to run interference with the press.” Turning to look at Ivanova as the elevator door closed, “I also believe Admiral Hackett is looking for you Commander.”
The elevator arrived before Shepard could ask Garrus what was the meaning of his last statement. As the doors opened they could see that the Victory Day celebration was in full swing on the rooftop patio of the Keefer Memorial Building. The structure was named after Mayor Jason Keefer, who helped champion the formation of the Alliance in 2149 and was instrumental in establishing the first Alliance Training Academy in Vancouver. At twelve stories, it was small enough to avoid direct attention by the Reapers and it’s location, on the outskirts of the metropolitan area of the city, let it survive with only minor damage. It was a multi-use building with the first five floors retail and office space and the remaining seven residential. On the roof was a large open patio with a retractable roof. Since the war, the building has become the headquarters and housing for the local recovery and reconstruction teams.
“Hey Lola!” James’ distinctive voice drowns out the din of the party. He’s wearing a two-sizes-too-small, grey t-shirt with a depiction of Shepard standing on top of dead Brute, she’s pointing an assault rifle at it’s head, above in bold letters “Shepard’s Day”.
“Just where did you get that t-shirt Vega?” An exasperated voice mixed with a little bit of self-consciousness. Now that she looks around she can see others are wearing the same type of t-shirt and even “Shepard’s Day” banners mixed in with the others. Officially it’s still called “Victory Day”, at least for now, but even the press have been calling it “Shepard’s Day” about fifty-percent of the time. She’s embarrassed enough to be made a icon of the war when so many others paid a higher price than she. Yet no matter how hard she tries, the term is beginning to take hold.
“What, you don’t like it Lola?” An unconvincing pained look on his face, “I even made sure they got your biotic barrier right.” Pointing to the blue glow in the picture.
Giving him an evil eye before turning to Kaidan, “Remind me to have his N7 rank revoked.” Pointing her thumb at Vega but a smile betraying her serious tone. A local reporter, Kent Winslow, spotted them before any further conversation on James’ culpability on the t-shirt design could be discussed
“Commander Shepard?” Kent quickly strides over cutting off Kaidan and Ivanova’s escape while activating his omnitool recording device, “Is it true you’ve been asked to represent Humanity on the Citadel Council?” His eyes intent.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” She wasn’t lying, the question was a surprise to her. “I don’t know where you got that information.” She tries to skirt past him but he’s not so easy to evade.
Keeping pace with Shepard, “But would you serve on the Council if asked?” Seemingly oblivious to the harsh look that Kaidan is giving him.
She stops trying to evade and faces him directly, “I have not considered it. Besides, Admiral Hackett is the acting Councilor until the elections.”
“There are rumors that he’s looking to step down to focus on his Alliance duties.” His expression clear that he’s not finished with the impromptu interview, “Moving on, You made a very impassioned speech earlier today about the efforts in restoring the Geth and the recently revealed,“ Consulting his notes, “Enhanced Defense and Intelligence AI aboard the SSV Normandy. Do you think it’s wise to advocate for the reactivation of these AIs after we just won a war against hostile AIs?”
The mention of the Geth recalled memories of Legion, “We would not have won this war if it wasn’t for the Geth or the Normandy’s EDI AI.” Choosing her terminology carefully as nothing about Legion or EDI’s mobile platform had been made public. “It’s true. There may be dangerous AI’s again someday. But there could also be an aggressive organic species that’ll threaten us as well. I’d rather have EDI and the Geth at our side when, or if, such a day occurs.”
By this time other members of the press have spotted them and seem eager to ask their own questions, nearly storming the small group. Shepard squeezes Kaidan’s hand as a rare sense of being trapped sets in as the group surrounded them. James spreads his arms making a bit of a safe zone, “OK people back off! This is not a press conference, so give the Commander some breathing room.” Moving to create a clear path to the private VIP-only area on the west balcony that overlooks English Bay.
Hackett watches the reporter’s live broadcast on the large holo-display above the open bar. A grimace crossing his face, wondering who the leak is that feed Winslow and that he got to Shepard before he could talk to her himself. As the mob presses in, Shepard’s face changes. He’s seen the look before, not just on her, it’s a face any soldier would recognise. Before he could offer assistance, James has cleared a path with his massive arms allowing safe passage for the Commander and Rear Admiral to enter the VIP area. Kaidan is comforting Ivanova, who is visibly by the crowds, easing her anxiety. The two have been rather aloof since Shepard’s release from the hospital and their secret wedding, something the press won’t soon forgive. He can't begrudge their desire for privacy. Checking the time, he’s got about an hour before the fireworks display, so decides to let her cool off a bit before talking to her about the Council position.
A few hours later, the patio party is winding down. Kaidan and Admiral Hackett are talking by the balcony and a group is watching Wrex and Grunt continue their drinking contest over at the bar. “You’re looking a little green there Wrex, I think the kid has you beat.” Garrus ducks out of the way of Wrex’s backhand.
“Careful there Garrus,” Shepard warns as she shivers under a blanket, “A Krogan never forgets. Even one as drunk as Wrex.” Winking at the two Krogans.
Grunt knocks back a drink, setting down the empty glass next to the collection on his side of the table. “You better get inside where it’s warm Shepard. You’re shaking as bad as a Pyjak on Noveria.” Watching the bartender pour a drink for Wrex. “Kaidan! Stop bending the Admiral's ear and take care of your woman.” His bellow is loud enough to draw the attention of the entire area.
As all other conversations on the deck cease and everyone turns to look at her, Ivanova feels she’s going to die from embarrassment. Kaidan smiles, walking over and wrapping an arm around her, waving goodbye as they head into the building. A short elevator ride later they are in his office where Shepard and Kaidan are snuggling under the blanket on his couch. Ivanova is still shivering from the cold weather, “You really caught a chill.” Holding her close and rubbing her arms gently. After a few moments of silence, “So, Hackett wants you to be councilor, huh?”
Ivanova is luxuriating in Kaidan’s body heat and the smell of his cologne, “Well, that reporter was right. With the fleet getting back on its feet and merc’s harassing the new colonies, he’s overwhelmed. He asked me to take over as the temporary Councilor.”
Kissing the top of her head, “He told me he wants you to run in the election.”
“And I told him to forget it!” Her flare of anger quickly dissipates, “Sorry, it’s just. . .” Letting out a frustrated sigh, resting her head on his chest.
“It’s just that you refused a promotion, even forced them to let you retire from both the Spectres and Alliance.” Stroking her hair with a hand, “Now that you’ve recovered you're just spinning your wheels and your sense-of-duty is starting to itch again.”
Nodding her head accepting his analysis, “It’s only until next year.” Playing with a button on his shirt, unfastening it with practiced ease, “Do you think I should? I told him i had to talk to you first.” Her hand moving down to the next button, voice pensive yet borderline apprehensive.
Kaidan takes a deep breath his hand sliding down the small of her back, “Yes, I think you should. I hate that I’ve been so busy with my duties. This will keep you occupied while I work down here. Besides, you'd be on the Citadel only three days a week."
Slipping her hand under his freshly unbuttoned shirt feeling his hard and firm chest, “That would mean, I’d outrank you again. You’d have to do everything I say.”
A pleasurable moan escapes, "I think I’d like that, Councilor Shepard.” Closing the subject by kissing her, Shepard finished removing his shirt and runs her hands along his abdomen making him shiver and give a throaty laugh. The two slowly undress each other until their clothes lay in a pile. Each sighing in pleasure as they make love.
-3- Email Log - Dec 10 2187
From: Councilor Ivanova Alenko
To: Adm Hannah Shepard - CO SSV Whitehaven
I’m so excited! Remember that flu I told you I thought I had caught? I hope you’re ready to be a grandparent because it turns out I’m seven weeks pregnant! You should have seen the look on Kaidan’s face. It was priceless! We’re both totally shocked, we just assumed after everything I’d been through that we couldn’t.
The ezzo test came back positive, not a surprise with all the exposure I’ve had, so the baby will be adept. So far everything looks fine they say, I go in for weekly tests so I’ll keep you posted. We can’t tell yet if its a boy or a girl, but we’ve already picked out names; David or Lindsay. We’ll know in a few weeks but Kaidan is hoping for a boy.
We’re going to tell Kaidan’s mom tonight when they come up to the Citadel for dinner. Kaidan wants me to stay here since Huerta has the best equipment.
Lucky the elections will be over by June as the baby is due late July or early August. Now maybe everyone will stop hounding me to run for the Council. To be honest, I had considered it. Sure the politics still drive me crazy at times, but the war really brought all the species together. The new council is not like the old one. I think I could do some good if I stayed, but I’m looking forward to being a mother too. I have a few days to decide.
Mom, you be careful out there hunting Mercs and write back soon.