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Quiet Devotion

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Thane had been surprised when he'd first caught wind that Cerberus, of all factions, were looking to hire his services... apologies, recruit him. Given the syndicate's history, he thought the news was questionable; and considering the same source had told him the rumours about the Commander Shepard still being alive were actually true, Thane couldn't help doubt the integrity of the original information. But then a woman resembling the dead Saviour of the Citadel blazed through Dantius Towers, apparently looking for someone... someone who wasn't his target. She was dressed in black armour with a N7 logo, impressive, if it wasn't a replica. Accompanying her were two more humans, very clearly wearing Cerberus uniforms. So perhaps his contact had been correct all along.

He was surprised he was the first person the commander recruited, and honestly, Thane was unsure what to make of the woman heralded as the Saviour of the Citadel; a woman who had sacrificed human lives to save a multi-species council, being a member of Cerberus. But she explained her mission before he agreed to join her, then later once he was settled, Shepard came to him in private to answer any questions he had... and to promise that if any of the Cerberus crew gave him grief, she wouldn't hesitate to throw them out the airlock. From the way she spat the faction's name, Thane didn't think she was joking. So taking a risk, he questioned her. He asked her why she was really with them, and where she had been since her supposed death. Thane didn't expect the answers he got, but he believed her.

Shepard had touched Kalahira's shore and returned, that alone made her remarkable. She was working with an enemy syndicate to help innocents, no matter how badly it affected her personally to do so, which earned her his admiration. She readily admitted she'd trust an assassin at her back, far more than the Cerberus personnel he'd previously seen her with, and he silently vowed to protect her.

With that in mind, Thane geared up every time the ship's AI advised of an ETA. Whether it was a potential mission or simply a supply run, he'd wait in the CIC near the galaxy map; 'meditating' to dissuade the yeoman's interactions with him, ready in the event Shepard needed him. At first she seemed surprised... whether because of his initiative, or the fact he'd already learnt her habit of checking the galaxy map before heading to either the hanger or docking area, he wasn't sure... that turned into a smile before asking if he was up for accompanying her. Eventually, Shepard would just lay a hand on his shoulder, or bicep, or forearm in silent thanks, before simply explaining whatever needed achieving.

So he accompanied her when she visited the Citadel, and watched how she faked a smile for the C-Sec officer when he announced the system listed her as dead. He saw how she shook her head as the the C-Sec captain overrode the issue, before telling the man to contact her if he ever needed help, as a way to repay the unexpected favour. Thane provided silent support when she met with the human councillor, he expected some sort of backlash from the man, but he literally greeted the commander with open arms. It was obvious the two were old friends, and he later learned that Anderson had once been Shepard's captain... though he pointedly ignored how cold she became when the councillor's aid entered the room, evidently, there was history there as well.

However, Thane did congratulate her when the other councillor's unanimous agreed with Anderson to reinstate her Spectre status, he even agreed to her suggestion of a drink to 'celebrate', and spent most of the night wondering why the liquid in her glass was almost the same vivid green as his scales.

Thane was with Shepard when she set foot on Omega for the first time, when she recruited Zaeed and Mordin. He was there when she infiltrated the station's gangs to reach Archangel. He was there when she ran to the turian who turned out to be an old crew mate and friend, and watched as the pair pressed their foreheads together, pushing aside the unexpected pang of envy at their closeness. He was there when the turian took a rocket to his face, and watched stunned as Shepard Charged a gunship to take it down. He was there as she knelt in her friend's blood, trying to hold the turian's face together, and took it upon himself to radio for evac. He'd previously learnt she trusted the pilot and the doctor, both old friends from her hunt for Saren, and Thane was certain Shepard would want their help to save her friend.

But he was the one the AI notified later on, whilst the turian was in surgery and the commander had been sat motionless on her shower floor for thirty standard galactic minutes. Thane had gone to Shepard's cabin for the first time that night. He tried not to sputter when the heat and humidity of her private bathroom hit his stricken lungs, he tried not to wince at the startling pink hue her usually pale skin had turned because of the scalding water. He'd helped her get dry, helped her dress in an oversize shirt he was sure had once been the pilot's, before he helped her to bed. Thane hadn't slept at all that night, waiting patiently in the Life Support Plant, in case Shepard needed him again.

Even once her friend had recovered from his surgery and was fit for missions, Thane remained at Shepard's side... sometimes working alongside Garrus, but never relinquishing his place on her team, refusing to abandon his roll as her protector.

Which meant Thane had the honour of escorting Shepard... apologies, Ms Gunn... to the most prestigious ball of the criminal underworld in order to aid Kasumi. Being the envy of most of the men and many of the women, as he walked in with the commander on his arm. Shepard was a striking woman on an average day, but dressed in a figure hugging leather dress, he auburn hair artfully pinned up and her stunning green eyes rimmed with khol... she was breath taking.

He was also the one who accompanied her through the jungle of Zorya, though only after assuring her several times that the humidity would not agrivate his condition. He took a double dose of his nebuliser to ensure his words were no more than a white lie, and was rewarded by witnessing Shepard not only rescue the enslaved refinery workers, but also managing to shoot down a gunship with an incredibly aimed missile from the heavy weapon he'd originally questioned her bringing. Obviously it had been invaluable, since it helped earn Zaeed's loyalty.

Thane accompanied her to Korlus, expecting to recruit a krogan warlord, only for them to return to the ship with a tank bred warrior. He hadn't been with her when she released him, but he had been the first one to see the angry bruise already forming on her delicate throat. The krogan who lumbered into the Mess Hall not long after was the obvious culprit, and Thane silently vowed to grant him a slow painful death the moment the opportunity arose... but then Shepard had laughed as the krogan threw an arm around her shoulders, loudly congratulating her on nearly taking out his kidneys... Thane decided the krogan could live since it seemed the commander was alright, though he thought it might be prudent to keep a close eye on her if they ever ran into any more krogan; he'd had a feeling there was some sort of history he didn't know about.

As usual, Thane was by Shepard's side when she headed to the prison ship; Purgatory, in order to obtain a powerful criminal biotic by the name of Jack. He instantly hadn't like the almost lecherous attention the warden paid to the commander, and was on high alert as they made their way through the ship. He hadn't been at all surprised by the turian's betrayal, and neither was Shepard. However, he doubted either of them expect Jack to appear the way she did. He almost expected the two women to come to blows when they eventually spoke, but it quickly emerged that Jack hated Cerberus perhaps even more than Shepard did... Thane knew immediately the pair would become friends, he just wasn't sure how much that should concern him.

He was with her on Horizon, and for the first time lost his composure. When the human male, who had originally hug Shepard after the fight against the collectors, began to throw around accusations, Thane had a hard time remembering his breathing exercises to remain calm. But when the man accused her of being a traitor, even after Garrus had vouched for Shepard, and threatened to 'expose' her to the council... granted, it was more fool him, since the council already knew of the commander's activities and Anderson was sent regular reports, and even some sensitive Cerberus intel. when Shepard could get hold of it... Thane couldn't stand by and listen the man disparage the commander.

So he stepped forward, passed Shepard to almost shield her, before grabbing the man by the throat. If she hadn't moved between them, physically turning her back on her old crew mate; one of her hands closing around his wrist whilst the other gently rested on his chest, Thane would have crushed the man's windpipe without remorse. As it was, his expressionless gaze softened as it met her vivid green eyes, and after old a warning squeeze, Thane let the man drop to the floor. Without any real thought, his offending hand found Shepard's hip as she called Joker for evac, which she didn't seem to mind. The male glared at him furiously from where he lay on the dusty ground, though to Thane's slight surprise, his actions earned him a smile from Garrus.... the first since making the turian's acquaintance.

Thane went with her Haestrom to help and recruit her old friend Tali, barely containing his smile as he watched their enthusiastic hug once the quarian agreed to join. He accompanied Shepard back to Illium to recruit Samara, and was by her side when she thought her old friend Liara had been caught by the bomb at the Dracon Trade Centre. He hadn't minded when she seemed to instinctively hold his hand as she stared at the billowing flades, and he done his best not to show how the acrid smoke affected him, when he raced after her into the building. He'd held on for dear life as she weaved them in and out of traffic chasing a disgraced Spectre, and stormed the ship orbiting Hagalaz, though was ashamed that he'd been knocked unconscious by debris hurled by the Broker. However, Thane was with Shepard when she properly met Feron; the drell who had helped recover her body, though he pointedly didn't notice the tears in both their eyes when she pulled the male into a careful hug.

He was with her when they went to Tuchunka for Grunt as well as Mordin, had chuckled when he'd witnessed her reunion with the krogan leader: Wrex, and winced when she'd headbutted one of her friend's rivals... though he hadn't been at all surprised. Thane was with Shepard when they headed once again to Illium for Operative Lawson, and returned to Omega for Samara. He'd travelled with her to Aeia for Jacob, Pragia for Jack, and the Migrant Fleet for Tali. He'd accompanied her to the Citadel to help Garrus, and watched as she not only stopped him committing murder, but woke him from his battle sleep.

It had given Thane pause. The scene both remindimed him of his beloved Irikah, and made him confront the feelings he had developed for Shepard. Because throughout it all, during the quiet times in between missions, they had talked. He'd discovered she was open and honest, kind and compassionate, as well as determined and uncompromising in her principles. She had been curious and asked questions, listened to the answers, and had been considerate of his views even when they differed from his.

She had intrigued him, he' been drawn to her. At first Thane had presumed it was mutual respect and then friendship, a novelty in his line of work, but it had grown. During the time he had spent with her, Thane had come to realise what Shepard really was... a Siha. A warrior angel of the goddess Arashu. His respect had become a certain reverence, but the way his heart had pounded when she wilfully stepped in front of Garrus' scope... Thane had realised then that what he felt for Shepard had no longer been platonic.

And the way she had lingered, her gaze soft and words comforting, when he had finally revealed the truth about his family. The way she had offered help before he'd even finished explaining about his son... the mere fact she had reunited him with Kolyat after so long, prevented his son from making a grave mistake without thinking twice about it... it had made Thane wonder, it had made him hope.

Considering he had been with her through Horizon, and then the Illusive Man's ploy on the collector's ship, when he had heard about the dead reaper, Thane couldn't control the sense of dread that had washed over him. So he had finally told Shepard how he felt the night before the mission, which had turned into the first night they kissed. Her lips had been the sweetest thing he had ever tasted... until he had tasted her lips after the mission, where he had thought he'd lose her a dozen times. The mission to help Legion; the geth Shepard had somehow befriended, hsd been almost a vacation compared to what they had been through, until they had discovered the Normandy had been attack, with Jeff the only survivor.

Thane had gone to Shepard's cabin whilst they were on route to the Omega Four relay, he had confessed his fears and admitted that his feelings for her had far surpassed merely caring for her. He loved Shepard... his Siha... Thane hadn't expected her to share the same depths of feelings, but had almost fallen to his knees in front of her when she had said she loved him too. Perhaps it had been selfish, he had been a dying man long before he met her, but Thane had dedicated the last hours before the mission to worshipping Shepard like the goddess she was... and if by some miracle they both survived not only the relay, but the mission as a whole, Thane had silently vowed to ask his Siha to be his wife.

So when they had all survived, the crew had been rescued, and Jeff had piloted them back safely through the Omega Four relay, Thane had dropped to his knee in front of Shepard... as per the most popular human tradition... and had asked her to marry him in the middle of the CIC, in front of their friends. He hadn't expected Shepard to vid-call her old captain the moment she had changed from her blood stained armour, and asked him to marry them immediately. Though when he had considered the lives they led and his own prognosis, Thane had understood and had fully embraced his Siha's enthusiasm. That night he had made love to his wife... a week later they were torn apart.

During her incarceration... apologies, her 'voluntary' stay on earth after the Alliance's 'request', so she could 'discuss' her death, resurrection and subsequent involvement with Cerberus... Thane had tried to contact his Siha numerous times. Vid-calls, extranet messages, even archaic pen and paper. He and Kolyat had ended up vacationing on earth, just so he could feel somewhat close to her. Time has always been against them, but when his steadily deteriorating health had resulted in him acquiring a room at the Huerta Memorial Hospital, Thane had began to record holo-messages for Shepard. He had wanted his Siha to know how much she was loved.

Six months had then passed, the reapers had finally invaded and Earth had been hit. Thane had been beside himself as he watched each news section, desperately searching for any news about his wife. Then by some miracle, Kolyat's boss; Captain Bailey had received a messaged from Shepard, which meant Thane had a way of contacting her at last. Though another two days had passed before he had received a reply, however, since his Siha had chosen to visit in person, he hadn't been upset. The feeling of Shepard being in his arms again had settled his soul; he was only completely when she was with him, and it had broken Thane's heart to admit his health had deteriorated too much for him to join her.

He had worried that would be the last conversation he would ever have face to face with his wife, but Shepard had made visiting him as much a priority as she could with the weight of the galaxy once again on her shoulders. Thane had composed her beautiful love letters daily, and had hoped to show his Siha the depth of his love before time finally caught up with them. He had been gifted with the opportunity to see his wife twice more in relative peace, before the inevitable finally happened... but to fight beside her once more, to help her once more with her battle, it was more than Thane had thought to wish for. What was more, his Siha had been with him at the end. He had worried he would not see her again before Kalahira claimed him, but Shepard had held him tight, silent tears rolling down her porcelain cheeks, as she recited the old prays with Kolyat from the book Thane had translated for her. His Siha had never looked more beautiful...

Thane didn't expect to see Irikah waiting for him at the shore line. But there she was, his first wife and first love. She was the mother of his son, the Siha who had awoke his soul, and she would always remain in his heart. But the love he had shared with Irikah was pale in comparison to the love he had with Shepard; the Siha who had set his soul free. So with head bowed, he approached his first wife, a thousand apologies on his tongue that died the moment his Siha with sunset coloured eyes pulled him into her arms.

“I know,” she said, softly. “I have watched over you, Thane, and I know.”

“Irikah, I...”

“Hush...” she soothed. “I love you, Thane. But I know your heart does not belong to me.”

“I have never...”

“Stopped loving me, I know. But what you share with her is stronger,” she said, smiling kindly. “Do not worry, I will wait with you until your Siha with forest eyes crosses the sea.”

And so they waited. The gentle tide lapping at their bare feet, as they looked out at the beautiful, perpetual sunset that caressed the horizon and set the sky alight with a myriad of pinks, oranges, purples and even golds. Irikah's hand entwined with his, a comforting reminder he was not alone in his vigil. Before long, others joined them. Mordin and Legion, who busied themselve collecting colourful shells as they waited. Then came Anderson, and Thane bowed respectfully to the man he knew his Siha held dear.

Time had no real meaning on Kalahira's shore, but it didn't feel like he waited long before Irikah lightly squeezed his hand.

“She is here...”

His gaze followed where she pointed, and his breath caught in his throat. Shepard was a vision, haloed by the soft sun, her fiery hair set ablaze in the warm light. Thane paused long enough to to raise Irikah's hand to his lips, kissing her knuckles as not only a thank you, but a final goodbye to his first wife... Thane somehow knew he would not see her again.

“Go...” she urged, smiling serenely. “Your Siha is waiting.”

Unable to hold himself back any longer, Thane ran through the surf, scooping Shepard up in his arms the moment she was in reach. Tears rolled silently down his cheeks as he laughed, happy and relieved to hold his wife again. She faired no better, and he could taste the salt of her tears as his Siha pulled him into a lingering kiss.

“I missed you,” she whispered.

“I promised I'd be waiting for you,” he smiled.

Finally setting Shepard on her feet, Thane wrapped an arm around her shoulders and guided her to the white sand shoreline. He wasn't at all surprised that Mordin, Legion and Anderson were waiting for them, however, Thane had expected his Siha to run and greet them. Though instead, her arm snaked around his waist before squeezing gently.

“Speaking of promises...” she said, quietly. “Do you know if there's a bar around here? I told Garrus we'd wait for him with a drink.”

Thane smiled in understanding, and kissed the top of her head. “I'm sure we can find one, Siha.”