Kaidan would probably consider himself a romantic. Space, the final frontier, the thrill of adventure and travel was without a doubt a very appealing idea since childhood. Sure Jump Zero changed a lot of that, the mystique of space now reminded him of stony faced wardens and a nasty turian overseer. Still, he loved the idea of it all. What he admired and valued about space. . . he saw a lot of that in Shepard. It would be painfully cliche to say he fell for her at first sight but the sensation was similar. He had heard the stories, everyone had. He’d even admit to being a little jealous that Joker had the opportunity to meet her already. She was the type people would write about, the type he used to read about and lot of those hopes and ideologies translated to their first meeting. At the side of Captain Anderson, dressed in light armor, sidearm still equipped, she was the picture of an Alliance soldier. Ginger hair cropped neatly under her chin and blazing emerald eyed.
“This is Rhia Shepard. She’s to be my right hand during our following campaign. She answers to Commander and you’ll both get to know her very quickly.” Anderson said, eyeing Joker suspiciously, the pilot seemed particularly floored at the sight of the Commander.
“Good to meet you both,” she responded in perfect authoritative cadence. “I like to exhibit an open door policy so any questions or criticisms of my actions under my command can be taken directly to me.”
Kaidan was impressed and a little starstruck. The Captain and Shepard left quickly, beginning their tour of the ship and Kaidan was left with Joker.
“Never thought I’d see her again.” Joker mumbled to himself, shaking his head in disbelief.
“You know the Commander?” Kaidan asked, cringing internally at his own eager tone.
The pilot had the gall to look smug, “sure we’ve met a couple times.”
Kaidan wanted to reach across the console and wipe that smirk off his face.
Their first real mission together, Eden Prime, was a disaster. Jenkins dying, the geth . . . so much had gone wrong and he was watching her for signs of stress. However Shepard never flinched, Jenkins death rattled him, especially so early into the mission, but she remained focused.
“We’ll see he gets a proper burial, Lieutenant. I promise.” She told him, patting him once on the back.
A gesture of comfort or familaiarity, he wondered. He appreciated her words and they continued on, the mission going from bad to worse.The horrors of Eden Prime were plenty, husks, senseless murder, geth and the possible meddling of a Spectre named Saren. None of it was encouraging for their chances of success. Still she pushed forward, helping the survivors where she could, but not missing a single beat as she pummeled enemy after enemy with her biotics. And when she saved him from that beacon . . . his heart shrank in horror. He was being careless, got sloppy around foreign alien tech and just as it began to scrape against the corners of his mind, he was yanked away. Watching in unmitten terror as her body trembled and shook with the force of it’s probing before collapsing to the ground. The rest happened quickly. Ashley and him called for the shuttle, carrying her while he cradled her neck in his hands the whole ride to the Normandy. Diligently he hovered over her, wracked with guilt as she rested fitfully. Chawkwas had to force him to leave the med bay, and even then he hung around the doors. The moment Chawkwas said she was stirring he snuck inside, hiding behind Anderson. Shepard opened her green eyes as the phantom of a bad dream was blinked away, sitting up slowly. The way she looked at him when Chawkwas explained what happened, made his heart pound- forgiveness with a clear intention to calm him. He still apologized profusely.
“Don’t worry about it Alenko, I made the right choice.” She said with a crooked grin.
He knew then. Stupid, romantic heart be cursed, he loved her. Following her promotion to Spectre they talked often and she often sought him out for advice. Kaidan got lucky and his unrequited love wasn’t so unrequited after all. One night over drinks she planted a sloppy kiss on his cheek, tipsy but not enough so for her actions to be forgotten the next day.
“You’re a good one, Kaidan Alenko. Now I just have to work up the nerve to do that sober.” She giggled, her cheeks flushed with drink and hair falling in her eyes.
Kaidan could taste his heart in his throat.
From Therum, to Noveria to that incredible night before Illos he was entirely and completely hers. Military command restricted their affections to fleeting caresses and loaded glances but in his heart he knew. This love was worth dying for. That said he never expected Shepard to be the one to make that sacrifice. She was the hero of the story, she had to live on in honor of their fallen love, not the other way around. When Shepard was spaced, after insisting he get on the escape pod while she rescue Joker, Kaidan had a sick realization. The stories were wrong, love wasn’t worth dying for at all, it was worth living for and without it . . . life seemed entirely and wholly worthless.