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And a Star to Steer Her By

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For a while, after she died, he was haunted by her in his dreams. Her screams as she was pierced through by the arrogant beams of her killers. Her groaning as she jettisoned off into the voice. He remembered how he watched, aghast, hand plastered to the cold window of the capsule, watching as his love tumbled away to her death, his tears her only remembrance.

He wanted to die with her.

But for some reason, he kept on, kept going. He was assigned to crud work, which he hated. So he hated it right back. When the Alliance turfed him out for poor performance, he moped around in bars, soaking up bad ale and bad music in equal quantities. He was down to his last few hundred credits when he received the email from Cerberus. Join us. We have what you need.

It was a measure of his desperation and hopelessness that he accepted their offer. He spruced up. He even shaved for the occasion. Cap in hand, heart in mouth, he rocked on up to their base, and presented himself. He was assessed. Tested. His reflexes were as good as ever, months of drinking hadn't dulled his flight capacity. His legs had weakened further in full gravity, though. He didn't care. He only wanted what they said they could deliver. He even agreed to their "upgrades".

They told him of their project, Lazarus. They thought they were winning him over. They didn't know he'd already been lost. We'll bring her back, they said. We'll make her better than ever. You'll never know the difference. Fools! She was his love, his heart's ease, his sailor's port. The other side of his soul. Of course he'd know the difference!

But it was enough that they were bringing her back, back to him.

And when it was done, and he saw her, resplendent and waiting, he cried for the first time since she'd died. Oh my love, he thought. Never again. Never again without you.

He catalogued her differences, he commanded her; skillfully, he guided her. She soothed him. She responded to him as to no other. He rejoiced in his ability to meld with her, to anticipate her. She let him know exactly what she was thinking. She gave him all of herself, and more. He was complete again, whole.

He'd never been happier.

"She's beautiful," said Shepard as she crossed to stand next to him, looking up at his ship.

He nodded. She was. And she was his.

"And all I ask," he murmured, "is a tall ship…"