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It was hard for Allie to find things to occupy her mind that didn't have anything to do with the Reapers or the war they brought with them. Every channel on the TV was filled with news reports about recovery efforts, casualty lists, and relief organizations scrounging for donations, supplies, and volunteers. The Alliance had to set up a screening protocol on her omni-tool to filter out media requests, which numbered in the hundreds.

Every day, Allie would lay back in her hospital bed and close her eyes, wishing for just a moment's respite from the reminders of the war. If she wasn't being assailed from the outside with news reports on the TV, gossip in the halls, and messages on her 'tool, her mind beat her up with memories of her friends dying and nightmares filled with Reapers and their minions.

Once the Normandy made it back to civilization and her friends found her in the hospital, her days were much more cheerful. They regaled her with tales of their crash landing on a previously undiscovered and unexplored moon, the struggle to find food and water they could all eat, Tali and Traynor working to get EDI back online, and how Kaidan managed to keep everyone focused and calm while delegating the tasks that needed to be done to get the Normandy airborne again. They talked about the things they did to fill their time – crafting bows from saplings and vines and pathetic attempts to fletch their own arrows; reading the same books and articles dozens of times; seeing the same movies often enough to be able to quote them line for line.

Still, the hospital had visiting hours to adhere to, even for the Savior of the Galaxy, and it was in those moments after her friends left for the day Allie found her mind wandering again to the war she'd successfully ended and miraculously came out the other end, pretty much unscathed.

The Sol relay, like all the relays in the galaxy, was heavily damaged, so her friends stayed nearby for a few months. Kaidan was the first to leave – he went to the family orchard to help his mom out there. Allie wasn't surprised he left quietly – it was four days with no visit before Garrus finally told her where he'd gone. She was a little hurt he hadn't said goodbye, but not surprised. After all, there really was no reason for him to stick around and she had no one to blame for that except herself

A few weeks later, Garrus and Tali left, having secured transport on an outbound turian freighter. Wrex and his remaining troops found passage back to Tuchanka on whatever ships were headed that way. Joker, Steve, and Sam remained on earth with the Normandy to help oversee repairs. Liara also stayed on the ship, more to secure her vast information network than anything else. James requested a temporary transfer to Major Coats's company to help with recovery and rebuilding and Javik, having nothing better to do, tagged along to help.

The friends that stayed behind tried to keep up their visits, but with their other, new duties, it was difficult. Allie understood – there was an entire galaxy out there to rebuild – but it only meant she was back to having time on her hands to think about the war all over again.

Did she wait too long to hit Cronos Station?

Could she have moved faster on Mars and prevented Dr. Core from erasing all that data?

Could she have done more to keep Kaidan from getting hurt?

What if she...? Why didn't she...? Could she have....?

Her brain would race from one thought to another and before long, Allie found herself on the wrong end of a panic attack, pushing the call button for a nurse and hating herself for feeling weak and inadequate. Sure, therapy helped. Meds helped. But it wasn't enough.

She found herself talking to Liara a lot more often. The young asari still managed to be Allie's most frequent visitor and listened with a sympathetic ear as her friend cried and vented about the things that troubled her. They both knew Allie needed another distraction, but she wasn't cleared yet to leave the hospital, so Liara started sending her messages with silly videos of puppies and kittens, of people rebuilding, of articles with new recipes she thought Allie might like to try. Anything to give the commander something positive to focus on.

One day, when Allie's 'tool pinged with a new message, she smiled, wondering what Liara sent her this time. Her heart hammered in her chest when the message held a picture of Kaidan and an accompanying article about how the Second Human Spectre was getting his hands dirty, helping overhaul and restore the damage the Reapers left behind in Vancouver.

His hair was a mess but his 'biotic bump' was still there. She was surprised at how long his hair was and the beard... she chuckled at the memory of his constant 5-o'clock shadow and wasn't surprised he finally grew out some facial hair. If she had to be honest, it looked good on him. His t-shirt was soaked with sweat, a testament to the hard work he was doing, but he was smiling. A real, smile, too – one that made his eyes crinkle and shine. It had been a long time since she'd seen him smile like that and she was happy he found a reason to smile like that again, regardless of what that reason might be.

Allie sighed and thanked Liara for sending the article her way. And in the days that followed, she found that if her anxiety started flaring, looking at that photo of Kaidan was enough to help get her mind back on track again.