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Fear and Grief

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Shepard wasn't sure what the alcohol in her glass was, but she was fascinated by how the blue colour almost glowed in the dim light of the bar. Purgatory was busier than normal, and Shepard had to admit that Joker was right. The people here were here to forget their problems. It was the same reason that she found herself at the bar and downing drinks until the ache in her chest eased enough so she didn't feel like she was drowning. The attack on the citadel, she didn't know where to start trying to get her thoughts together about it. Udina had started it all, and while Shepard had never fully trusted the man, she had never expected this of him. Who in their right mind would decide to make a grab for power in the middle of a war?

 

Kaidan had defended the council. He was on the Citadel when the attack broke out, and he had found and defended the council instantly. She was beyond proud of him, and his resolve. Kaidan was one hell of a soldier, he always had been, but staring down the barrel of his gun had killed her because she didn't know if he would pull the trigger or not. She had lowered hers, demanding that Garrus and Liara did as well. She saw Garrus hesitate – he had seen Kaidan's reaction to her on Horizon, he was naturally a bit wary – but he lowered the gun eventually. Kaidan didn't though, and that hurt her. He didn't trust her and it left her aching and breathless. He distrusted her so much that would consider shooting her.

 

Shepard finished her drink, and ordered another. Her mind was wandering, and she tried to force it to stay on Kaidan, to focus on that hurt. Or to focus on the rage she felt at Udina. She didn't want to think about Thane. She couldn't think about him here, she'd fall apart if she thought about him. She had went to the hospital the moment the council was safe and Cerberus had vanished. But she was too late. Her old lover was dying, and all she was able to do was stand by his side, with his son and pray. His last gasping breath echoed in her mind and Shepard closed her eyes tightly to avoid the tears that built up. A glass was put down in front of her, and she took a gulp, focusing on the burning it caused in her throat.

 

A deep breath later and she opened her eyes and took another drink. Behind her she heard a smash, and spun on her heel, her hand going to the pistol on her hip. A bar fight, nothing serious. Shepard sighed and finished her drink before moving to break it up. There was no need for soldiers to be beating each other senseless in their current situation. She didn't make it far before something hard hit the side of her head and she felt the room spin as she crumpled. A groan escaped her lips as she landed heavily on her hip and she blinked against the blood that dripped down her temple into her eye.

 

She felt the surge of energy as a biotic behind her let their powers loose and instinctively she flinched, expecting an attack that never came. A shield formed around her just as another glass was thrown her way, and Shepard watched it shatter in front of her against the barrier. The two soldiers involved in the initial fight were thrown across the room and held against the walls.

 

“You want a fight, boys?” Jack shouted from behind Shepard, and the redhead glanced over her shoulder to see the biotic woman glowing, the smirk on her lips manic and more than a little unnerving. Shepard was used to it, but Jack was still the picture of fierce, untamed power and it was a terrifying sight. The commander wiped the blood from her head on the back of her hand, hissing when a stinging pain shot through her, and tried to get to her feet. The mix of alien alcohol and a head wound made her struggle though and she slumped back down, watching with detached amusement as the world around her went dark.

 

.:.:.:.

 

Shepard woke with a loud buzzing in her ears and a pounding in her head that was so bad she was sure a horde of Krogan were about to break out through the back of her skull and spill out over her pillows. Shepard slowly opened her eyes, fearful of what the light may do to her already awful headache but was pleasantly surprised to find that the lights were dimmed. She sat up in her bed and flinched at the pain and the wave of nausea that hit her the moment she sat up. The commander caught a glimpse of her reflection then, and moved to her bathroom to have a closer look in the mirror. Along her right temple was a jagged cut, already surrounded by a vicious black bruise. Shepard stared at her reflection for a moment before she was able to put the pieces together and remember what happened. As she started to try and think back, the agony of losing Thane hit her again, and Mordin. She'd only just lost him too. This damn war had already taken so much from her.

 

She couldn't remember getting back to her cabin, but slowly memories of the fight came back to her. Had Jack brought her back here? Did Jack even know where the Normandy was docked? Shepard knew that Joker and EDI were in the bar too, had they perhaps gotten her back to the ship? Groaning, the commander threw water over her face and forced herself to breathe through her nose as silent tears slipped past her defences and dripped off of her lashes to lazily roll down her cheeks. Her grief for Thane and Mordin was a physical ache and she knew that she could feel like that. She couldn't miss them, or think on it. She had a war to win.

 

Sighing to herself, Shepard roughly wiped her eyes and moved to her shower. She took her clothes off, leaving them in a pile on the floor as she stepped under the hot spray of water. It was soothing, and as it poured down her back, Shepard tilted her head back to soak her hair and let the water spill over her face. One by one, she let her muscles relax, lazily rubbing soap over her body.

 

His eyes had watched her closely, taking in every detail, each bead of water as it fell from damp hair and rolled over her neck and down her bare chest. She knew that he would forever remember this moment, he would know exactly how she looked and felt and sounded. The pressure was intense, but they were about to fly through the Omega relay and there was no telling if they were going to make it. Shepard couldn't say for sure if she loved him or not, but she did know, with perfect clarity that she needed and wanted him that night. Her thoughts of Kaidan haunted her, and she had written a message to him, telling him that she was about to go through with her mission. She had told him that she regretted Horizon, and that she loved him, she had always loved him and that she always would love him. It was a message that she never sent. She couldn't bring herself to send it, and so when Thane came to see her and admitted that he was scared, she gave him comfort, and took comfort from him. Siha. He had called her Siha that night as they're naked bodies were tangled up in her sheets. He had called her Siha as he had died too.

 

Shepard left her memories of her first night with Thane in the shower and, wrapped in her towel, she moved from the bathroom to see her terminal flashing with new messages. The commander moved to it and opened her inbox to be greeted with a message from Thane and she took a physical step back from the desk. Her hand hovered over the button, she didn't know what was in the message, and she wasn't sure if she wanted to read it. It felt like forever while she stood, staring at her screen but her curiosity grew too strong and Shepard opened the message.

 

Siha,

I write this with a heavy hand, knowing you will read this letter when I am no longer able to share my thoughts. I am dying, Siha. Perhaps because of the differences between our species, I can hope that time will treat you with kindness and dim the hurt of my passing to faded recollections that a drell would forever remember with perfect clarity.

Selfishly, however, I could not leave this world without leaving a piece of me behind that would never fade.

I once accepted my fate. Nothing remained but a shell destined to die. I only had to choose the when and how of my passing. I had refused to be confined to a bed, gasping horribly as my life beeped away to machinery I had no use for. I thought of my Irikah, broken, bloodied, and betrayed by my absence. Of Kolyat, small and afraid, bravely pushing at his eyes to stem the flow of tears I had entrusted to him to cry... for both our sakes.

The expectation to move swiftly to my end vanished upon uniting with your cause. You awoke me, Shepard. My heart quickened its sluggish beat if only to remain at your side and protect you with everything that I am. I was content to simply watch, take the time left given and praise all I know for allowing me to walk my final days with hope and certainty that I am worthy of more than my cold isolation, solely because you believed.

I love you. If all else whispers back into the tide, know this for fact. By grace given me by the Goddess Arashu, I bid her divine protection to you, my warrior-angel, my Siha, to succeed in your destiny. To light your path through the coming darkness. To give you hope, when all seems lost.

I will await you across the sea.

Thane

Tears filled her eyes, and her fingertip reached out to trace the words. I love you. His words. A dying letter, one he had written long before the attack on the citadel. She collapsed then, her outstretched hand gripping the side of her desk as she sunk to her knees. Grief crippled her and she couldn't breathe. She was downing in her agony and fear and she had never felt more alone. A man that she had loved; her friend; her lover, was gone and he would never come back to her.