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Just Once

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Alenko stumbled across the debris littered in the ruins of London. Shepard had tried to send him away before the final moments, but he refused to get on board the Normandy. They were both marines; they knew the risks; they had said their goodbyes. He never made it to the beacon though. That Reaper, Harbinger if he had to guess, cut him and the others off. A building partially collapsed on his position, and everything had become fuzzy, hazy. The only sound he could even hear was the shrill cry of the coming banshees.

That had been what seemed like hours ago, before the battle turned.

Before the Citadel began to rain fragments of itself onto Earth.

The majority of the once grand space station still orbited the planet, largely intact, but there was no mistaking the origin of the debris, steaming as it cooled from its atmospheric reentry. Bits and pieces looked like the tower from the Presidium, where they had once stood ground against Saren, against Sovereign.  Of all the strange and twisted irony.

Still, there had been little reason to expect, or even hope, that Shepard was on that part of the Citadel. No reason to start scouring the debris, looking for her any signs of her. Yet, he did anyways. Because of that little subroutine he added to his Omnitool all those months ago – an effort to try and keep track of her during this hellish time. He couldn’t always be right at her side, but if he could at least know where she was. That was better than not knowing.

The tiny beep grew steadily nearer, his heart pounding in his chest. If she fell through the atmosphere…

No, she’d be fine. She had to be fine. He couldn’t go through it. Not again.

The mark was just in front of him, somewhere in the middle of metal and rock.  His hands burned as he shifted the rubble, as best he could, praying that if she was under it, it wasn’t hurting her. Eventually he spied the scored armor plate, dark gray with its red and white stripe. With a flick of his wrist, the remaining debris began to lift from its position, Alenko ignoring the searing pain that shot through his skull. She was worth any amount of pain right now.

There she was, covered in burns, and soot, and blood. Her eyes closed, and no signs of any movement.

He sank to his knees beside her, reaching out to touch her face, as he felt warm trails streak down his cheeks. He dared not speak her first name. It would be too much. He had to keep himself together, however unlikely it would seem. “Shepard…”

She gasped, before sputtering into a fit of coughs. Fresh blood touched her lips, shining against the dark stains of the burns. He wanted to reach out to her, cradle her, but she looked so fragile in this state. He didn’t dare. Eyes fluttered, but they never quite focused. “K-k-ka…”

“Shh… don’t speak. Save your strength.” She’d be alright. She’d fine. His hands began to administer an emergency broadcast over his Omnitool. Someone would hear it. Someone would get here in time to help.

Another coughing fit hit her, more red dotting her lips. She brought one hand to his arm with his ‘Tool, the movement stilted and sluggish. With a bit of aid from him, she managed to type out a message for him. How bad.

For a moment, his mind flashed back to one of the many nights in her bunk. Their bodies lying naked and entwined with one another, as they talked about anything that crossed their minds. His hand laced with hers, so he could pull it close and press kisses against it. “Have you ever had to lie to someone? Out in the battlefield doing triage? Tell them they were fine when they weren’t?”

“What brought on this morbid question?”

There was a tiny laugh, her body shifting against his. “I’m just curious.”

“Just once.”

She was making him a liar today, but he managed to smile at her through his tears. “You’re going to be fine.”