Missing You

Kia Purity

Canned Disclaimer: Mass Effect/Mass Effect 2 belongs to Bioware. Rest of the stuff came out of the dark corners of my demented mind.  Much thanks to a friend (JackMackerel) for editing help! ;_;
Canned Disclaimer, part two: My Shepard is actually a straight up Paragon. The renegade bit that mysteriously showed up in ME2 is something I still can't figure out. I blame Horizon for this.

    Haunted by the day Normandy was attacked and the last time he had spoken to his beloved Commander, never realizing that it would be the last time he would ever get to see the red-head again.  Constant nightmares were his companions at night to the point that he stopped trying to sleep at night which pushed him to the brink.  Fearing that he was suffering from PSTD, his family and friends had persuaded him to go to a psychologist.
    The only one thing he had left of her was a worn book, containing nothing but fairy tales.  Puzzling, as seeing how she had never mentioned anything about it during the time she was still alive.  Their relationship had barely began before the attack-- hell, they actually consummated their relationship a month before the attack.
    The omni-tool beeped at him, reminding him of his appointment with the psychologist.
    Kaidan hesitated before he made up his mind, shutting off the alert and left the room.

    "Have you slept at all last night, Alenko?"
    He took a long sigh, looking at everything but the psychologist.  "No."
    "How long has this been going on?"
    "I don't know anymore. What day is it again?"
    The psychologist quirked an eyebrow before shaking his head. "Well. You may need to be prescribed some sleeping pills then."
    "That may help..." Kaidan paused. "Will it make me avoid the nightmares?"
    "Nightmares? Can you describe them?"
    He winced as the memories flooded back to him with each variation of the nightmares; suffocation, burning, explosions, freezing.
    "My Commander... dying in many different ways and I'm never able to save her."
    "How do you think she was originally killed?"
    "As far as I know from what Joker -- the ship's pilot told me. She had gotten him into an escape pod but an explosion threw them both apart. He was the last one to see her alive."
    "So she died in the explosion?"
    "I don't know. He said that she was spaced. They're still searching for the debris."
    "Perhaps, your nightmares are trying to figure out an answer for her death."
    "Maybe... just maybe."

    After receiving the pills, he was back in his room listening to the various messages left by family, friends, and even some of the Normandy's survivors..  The messages varied from genuine concern about his mental state to pleading with him to get the hell out of his room and live. There was just no way these pills would help him get over the loss of losing her.  He was also a little surprised that the psychologist hadn't asked about the nature of their relationship.
    That should have been goddamn obvious with how often he spoke of her more than the ship exploding, Shepard meant everything.  With a low growl, Kaidan nearly pitched the pill bottle against the wall but wound up slamming the bottle on the desk instead.
    "Hey, buddy! We need to go out for drinks together just like the old times!"
    Old times.
    For some reason, that thought of drink brought up a conversation that he was having with Shepard about what they were going to do for their one week shore leave.  Shepard had expressed an interest in going back to Earth, just to feel the dirt under her feet one more time.  He had asked her if she had ever had any alcoholic drinks before.  With a laugh, she said that she admitted that she never gave a thought to actually consuming alcohol because it seemed that she was on duty all the time.
    Only if there was a way to rewind the clock so he could save his beloved Shepard and prevent her from being gone so suddenly like that.  Resigned, he popped a pill and laid back on the bed, staring at the ceiling.

    The sun shone sharply in his face as he grimaced and squinted as he looked up at a blurry figure standing over him.  Where the hell was he? Who was this person standing over him?
    "Hey, you. What are you doing, sleeping in the rubble like this?"
    Kaidan sat up. "Where am I?"
    The figure laughed. "You really don't know where you are? What, did you get your head hit or something? We're on Earth, silly Alliance guy!"
    He did a quick body check, realizing that he was indeed, wearing his uniform.  He took a better look at the person before him-- a rather young looking freckled teenager girl with her red hair in pigtails with tattered shirt and pants.  Even better question, did the pill do something weird to him, why was he sleeping in trash with a girl standing over him.
    "Who are you?"
    "I should ask that of you!" The girl crossed her arms, leveling her sharp blue eyes at him. "You're lucky that the other Reds didn't find you."
    "That's better. I'm the Red Ghost."
    "That's not a name..."
    "Of course, it's not. It's a nickname 'cause I'm good at spotting trouble and disappearing. You don't want to see how good I am with a sniper rifle." She grinned, dimples showing.
    "You've got one hell of a mouth on you, Red."
    "Useful for talking my way out of trouble."
    Kaidan realized that he was having a major deja vu moment because of this girl, as if he had seen her before.  Was he hallucinating?  Damn pills.
    "What is it, Alenko?"
    "You just remind me of someone."
    "No way." Red laughed bitterly. "As far as I know, I'm the only pale red-head with freckles in this area. Well, naturally occurring that is. The rest of 'em are dye jobs."
    "The person who I knew was a natural red-head too. Even freckled too."
    "Hm. Sounds like you like her a lot." Red started walking away from Kaidan, towards the alley exit. "Anyone would be an idiot not to know that you're obviously in love with her."
    "You're strangely perspective!" He followed after Red. "It wasn't like the relationship was even out in the open..."
    "You are using past tenses."
    "She died when our ship got attacked."
    "When was that?"
    "Six months ago..."
    "That's weird, I haven't heard anything about that. That's like, a pretty big thing. What was the ship's name?" Red remarked.
    The two had made their way into a busy main street in the city as Kaidan looked at Red, puzzled.  How could she ask such a question like that? The ship was pretty damn famous-- in both The Battle for the Citadel and later, Normandy's destruction.  Just how out of touch was this girl?
    "Never heard of it."
    "Really. This is Earth, right?"
    "Yeah." Red nodded. "We're in New York, for what it's worth."
    Kaidan paused as he glanced at the various posters scattered all over the buildings with several different messages for recruitment, entertainment, and social messages. While they looked new, the style and font hadn't been used in a long time, and a lot of the posters advertised concerts for bands that had long broken up, for tools and VIs long obsolete.
    "I haven't seen some of these for a while..."
    "You're weird, those were just put up yesterday."
    A cold feeling had crawled up the back of his spine.
    "Red? Yesterday? What year is it?"
    "Um, let's see... I'm fifteen so it should be 2169 CE."
    Holy shit.
    It was as if someone took his desire to wind the clock back a little too seriously.
    "Around this time... I should have been in brain camp... no, it was shut down, oh shit." Kaidan muttered to himself. "I don't believe this at all."
    "You're talking weird. Must have hit your head harder than I thought. I better get you to a hospital. We're going to have to really avoid the other Reds."
    "I don't see how that's going to be possible-- oof."
    Nice. A migraine just hit him. Worst possible timing.
    "I can't just tell you to strip." Red snorted at the odd look coming from Kaidan. "What? I mean for changing clothes. Ah, hell, I'll just take you through the back alleys--"
    She took his hand suddenly and the two raced through the never-ending alleys until the sun got brighter and they were showered in light.  Finally, they stopped at a beach. What the hell? Weren't they going to the hospital for his head?  Kaidan tried to make sense of it. She dropped his hand and ran towards the ocean, laughing wildly with her pigtails thrashing.
    "This is my favorite place." Red smiled, kicking off her worn tennis shoes. "Aaah, the warm sand... it's a wonderful reminder that I'm still a human on this planet."
    "That's an interesting way to put it, Shepard."
    "And now how did you know my name, hmm?" Shepard spun around, her grin tinged with suspicion.
    Kaidan felt more awkward. "You're the only red-head I know who can kick ass and talk her way out of trouble."
    "Ha! I'm not dead, Kaidan!"
    Suddenly, his Shepard he knew and loved was wearing a white dress, her hair cut in accordance to Alliance regulations and just as she looked before she died.  Though, she didn't die in a dress.
    "But you're not here. You're just not here."
    "I know. I'll be back, I promise you."
    "Don't promise me the impossible."
    Shepard tilted her head at him, giving him the familiar smirk. "Because I'm Shepard. Not even Death can stop me."
    "These sleeping pills are weird."
    "You'd have gotten here quickly if you didn't go for so long without sleep." Shepard shook her head. "A soldier isn't effective if he's dead on his feet, you know that."

    Kaidan groaned when he woke up, coughing.  Blech, it felt like he had sand in his mouth... but of course the way the dream ended on the beach was pretty damn strange.
    Slightly disoriented, he reached out to his private terminal, attempting to send a message to his Commander before reality sank in.  It was just a dream, she was still dead, wasn't she?

    "Did you actually sleep last night?"
    "Yes, finally. Not a nightmare this time, but..."
    "I found myself in New York in 2169. I've never been there before. Hell, I couldn't have been there at that time because I was with my family after brain camp."
    "Of course."
    "I saw my Commander as a fifteen year old girl. Rough around the edges, not quite the person who she would be later. She seemed determined to protect me from the gang that she was in."
    "She was in a gang?"
    "Right before the Battle of the Citadel, Shepard was approached by someone from her gang, wanting her to do him a favor and get an old buddy out of jail. She refused, because she wouldn't bend the law, even as a Spectre. First I've heard of that."
    He paused for a moment, gathering his thoughts.
    "I asked her later about it, she gave the same reason why every Earther kid I've met who's been in a gang. Shelter, protection, a sense of family... she was an orphan. Didn't even remember her first name. She wanted to get out of it as soon as possible, joined the military upon turning eighteen. Didn't like the methods."
    "Fascinating. Go on, please."
    "Where was I... right, I didn't even know where I was, she just took me by my hand and led me through this maze of alleys. I mean, she said she was taking me to a hospital because she thought I hit my head hard when she found me. We wound up at a beach instead and the look on her face was... priceless. She really loved beaches, her next favorite thing being her... book of fairy tales. Soon as I said her name, she changed back to... my Commander."
    "Wait, you didn't call her by her name before?"
    "No. She told me that she was known as the Red Ghost. Fitting enough."
    "She received medals for Elysium, correct?"
    "Yes. That's her, always looking out for other people. I just wish that she had let me look out for her."
    "If she hadn't, you wouldn't be here now."
    He swallowed hard upon hearing that, after remembering how Shepard had done just that on Vimire.  Ashley Williams would help the Salarian troops create a distraction and he was tasked with arming the nuclear bomb.  When Williams got into trouble, Shepard told him that she was running off to save her. It didn't work out, and he was forced to arm the bomb prematurely.
    He didn't expect the commander to suddenly come back for him. She wouldn't stop blaming herself for it because it was the choice she had made. Even though fraternizing and favoritism was severely frowned on, Shepard was guilty of that.
    Maybe he should be just doing that, fighting as hard as she did?
    "That wasn't the first time she saved you, correct?"
    "Did she ever tell you why she chose to save you?"
    "Williams told her to go, that she could handle it. Shepard really believed her and I was surprised to see her come back for me."
    "Was that before or after the two of you initiated a relationship?"
    Kaidan nearly choked.
    "W-was I that obvious?"
    "Just with how you talk about her constantly as if she seems to be the center of your world."
    Quite a good way to put it, actually.
    "Yes... at first, it was casual flirting. You know, shouldn't have happened, it's fraternization. It wouldn't have progressed that far if we hadn't gotten screwed over on getting to Ilos to stop Saren. The Council believed that he was going to attack the Citadel -- just not in the way that it actually happened. I comforted her back on the ship because she was pissed that we were stonewalled like that. There was almost a kiss but we were interrupted with a message for her."
    "I take that was when Captain Anderson staged a distraction and overrode the ship's lockdown?"
    "Yes. We were finally free to get to Ilos to resume the hunt for Saren. I came to see Shepard in her office to see how she was doing. I don't think I've ever seen her so vulnerable before. She said this would be the only time she'd be justified in breaking the law, since, well, the fate of the universe was hanging on it. She asked me to stay with her that night, so I did. I guess we just let things happen. I mean, it's not like we would actually still have careers after what we did."
    "What happened when you two found out that you still had careers?"
    "We both decided we'd keep going along with it, but we'd try to keep it low-key..." Kaidan sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. "...she's gone now. Also, it was worst kept secret at this point. We barely had more than a month together before..."
    "It's alright. It takes time."
    "Does it, really? I'm sorry, I should go."
    Just like that, Kaidan left.  Back to square one - if he ever left it. This damn counseling wasn't helping at all. In fact, it made it worse, adding more weight to the grief drowning him...

    The sun was in his face. He was still on the beach, and Shepard was still there, arms crossed and smirking that childish smirk.
    "Good to see that you're serious about getting some sleep."
    "It's not like I can just call you!"
    "Kaidan, I told you that I would be back soon." She caressed his face. "It will just take time. A year and a half, maybe."
    "What do you mean, a year and half?"
    "There is something going on..." she paused, not sure what she was going to say next. "The Reapers are still out there. Is anyone really going out of their way to stop the threat?"
    He sighed, shaking his head. "Everyone seems to think that you made it up. That Saren was the only real villain--"
    A dark look crossed Shepard's face. "Made it up? The evidence's out there!"
    "I know that. I don't know why they just want to deny it."
    She sighed, allowing him to hold her.  Still felt warm to him, her heart beating at a steady pace.  It was too damn bad this was just a dream.
    "Kaidan... don't look so sad."
    "I can't help it. This is a dream, when I wake up, you won't be in my arms like you are right now. I don't want to leave you. I need you."
    "I won't break my promise to you, Kaidan."
    Suddenly a giant wave crashed into them. Kaidan sunk under, thrashing about, before the ocean slammed him back onto the beach.  Shepard was no where to be seen, and he was left to scramble in the surf, desperately calling her name...

    "GODDAMMIT!" He roared, punching and kicking his bed until his knuckles were black and blue. "WHY?! WHY CAN'T I STAY WITH YOU LONGER?!"
    Glowing with biotic energy, he was dangerously close to laying waste to his bedroom.  His hand went up to his face as he ground his teeth, the energy dissipating.
    He stopped going to the psychologist's office, having felt that he said all that he could say on top of it being all so fucking useless. Bit by bit, he forced himself back into his routine, trying to numb everything out. The dreams had stopped. He tried everything he could - remedies, music, everything - to return to the beach.
    Time blurred. Days, weeks, hours, seconds. He kept trying to convince himself it was just those damn pills' side-effect. He took an old battle buddy's advice, going on a date with a corp doc to the local bar, but he barely could take a sip of the local ale without the guilt eating at him. It felt wrong, It felt like he was betraying her.
    He couldn't move on... then the rumors started.

    He found himself on the beach again, but it was raining hard, and massive waves crashed everywhere. Lightning sparked everywhere, thunder roared. A lighthouse barely penetrated the inky night. So even paradise had its moments of darkness.
    "Hey, I told you, I'd be back."
    She was back in her N7 armor and her blue eyes were burrowing into him like always.
    "I thought the dreams were finished."
    "Are they now, Kaidan? I left the dreams because I would distract you... I AM back. I promised that, didn't I?" She closed her eyes. "I'll see you soon."
    Just like that, he was forced awake from the dream, slightly shaken, wondering why he kept dreaming.  Had the rumors of Shepard being alive brought on the dreams again?  And if it was true she was with Cerberus now... the very thought made him sick to his stomach.
    He wished Horizon was another nightmare, half-expecting to wake in his bed covered in sweat and laughing it off.  He was sent on this damn colony from Ambassador Anderson to install the new cannons after the previous abductions. Those insect swarms were the worst, and that was after he'd taken a good, long look at those Collector freaks.
    Then he saw her. Shepard.
    All the emotions he bottled up exploded. He held her tight, beyond ecstatic that she had a pulse, that she was breathing. It faded when he got a look at her face, a horrible scar ragged on her cheek, revealing some sort of hellish glow.  Her eyes even glowed like a dying sun.
    Scars didn't glow. What the hell did they do to Shepard?! After all those years and now she's back, acting as if nothing happened? As soon as she said "Cerberus", that was the last straw. She never blinked once, staring at him with those hellish eyes. When he walked away, he wished she had punched him, chewed him out, ANYTHING.
    He swore she was trembling when she asked him to join her. She needed him.

    The beach was completely flooded. There were waterspouts in the distance, the lighthouse was gone, and the sky and wind spun, threatening to tear Kaidan away from the beach. He barely could stand, and there was Shepard, standing there with her eyes glowing an angry red, in that stance of hers she did before she killed someone.
    Shepard turned her back on Kaidan, her arms now crossed as if she was holding herself together but failing.
    "I TOLD YOU TO LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!" Kaidan screamed. His eyes blurred. Water or tears, didn't fucking matter. Why the fuck was he still dreaming?
    "You... STUPID IDIOT!" Shepard spun around.
    Her hair was a completely soaking mess, strands clinging to her face and her facial expression strongly suggested she was crying from either anger or sorrow, he couldn't tell.
    Kaidan stiffened slightly. "W--wh--"
    "Alenko. Just shut up." Shepard shot her index finger out. "YOU UTTER FUCKING IDIOT!" Even past the thunder and the wind, her voice rang clear. She was absolutely drenched, masking any tears she shed from those eyes. "I'VE BEEN DEAD FOR TWO WHOLE YEARS, AND THAT'S WHAT I GET?!"
    "P-people fake deaths all the time! What if Cerberus cloned you?! What if you were just some damn impostor?!" Even Kaidan knew he was grasping at straws.
    "Bull. Shit." Shepard snapped. "Tell me, for someone who saw me die, how can someone fake a ruptured suit, allowing the stars to cook me from the inside out? How can someone fake gravity pounding their bones into mush, how can someone fake their skin melting away from reentry, how can someone fake being turned into a goddamn glorified Popsicle on some no-name planet?"
    She stomped over to Kaidan as if she was going to either slap or punch him but instead, her hand just whiffed past his face.  He wanted to just grab her but she moved quickly.
    "What the hell did you mean I never contacted you? What do you think these dreams were all about?"
    "This isn't real, this is just some fucking side-effect of some damn pills an idiot shrink gave me..."
    "...I knew it was a mistake falling in love with you. Promised myself I'd never fall in love when I was a kid. Should have stayed dead. I don't want my heart torn out twice in a row."
    Shepard tore her N7 chestplate off, revealing a hole in her chest.  Kaidan stared at it, a faint blinking light where her heart should have been.
    "You already tore my heart out." She paused, glancing down at the hole. "That's... just another goddamn machine Cerberus stuck in me." She snorted. "Heartless. They WANTED to put a control chip in me! I'd rather die before that happens! I'll speak my mind and save people, my own personal safety be damned. I have nothing to live for anymore..."
    "You can't mean that."
    "I hoped the same thing at Horizon, but after that, I've been lying to everyone I've been okay. Every goddamn night, I'm bawling like a little girl in my goddamn quarters and I have to pretend I'm some damn saint to the rest of the crew. Damnit, it hurts!"
    "I'm sorry."
    "I don't believe you."
    "Damnit, I am!" He grabbed her and crushed her mouth with his.

     Kaidan's eyes stared up at the ceiling.  He sighed.  He felt like the universe's biggest jerk right about now.  He forgot how Shepard tried to keep her emotions hidden away, like she was afraid to show people her true self.  Didn't stop her from being friendly with the crew, though.  He did remember seeing her frustrated with the Normandy's lockdown, keeping them from going to Ilos -- one of the rare moments.
    "As long as Cerberus has its grips on you... we can't be together."
    He got over to his personal terminal and hammered out a form of an apology message, even suffering through several re-writes when he thought that some of what he said sounded awful, cheesy, or too angry.
    Why did relationships have to be so complicated?

    He was back on the Citadel, suffering from indignity of his nosy friends who had heard about what happened on Horizon.  Damn that mechanic for running his mouth off about how he dumped Shepard like wildfire.  Not to mention that Al, the daft horndog of the group had been annoying him as of late.
    "I can't believe you'd dump such a sexy red-head like her! Did you at least nail her?"
    "None of your business."
    "Relax, Kaidan, relax. Don't mind him, you know how he is." Steve waved Al's latest remark off as if it was nothing more than a buzzing fly. "Are you alright, though?"
    "No, I behaved like an asshole. She didn't deserve all the abuse I hurled at her. I don't even want to talk about this anymore."
    Kaidan downed his drink just to forget about her eyes.  Sorrowful blue eyes and angry red eyes...
    "Oh, hey, did you see the latest news about some shootout at this one guy's house?" An Asari was speaking with a Salarian behind the group as they walked past.
    "No! What happened?"
    "They say that a certain red-head Spectre was involved!"
    Kaidan's eyes rolled.  What the hell did Shepard do this time?
    Al was tapping at a spare personal terminal in front of them and he let out a low chuckle.
    "Speaking of your commander... what a boob-ful view!"
    Kaidan gave Al a long and a hard stare before he got over to the personal terminal and his jaw could have hit the floor with the speed of light.  It was a snapshot of Shepard looking a little embarrassed and uncomfortable in that tiny black dress.  The dress definitely showcased her curvy body with a bit of oomph with her breasts.
    "Are you sure you guys are really broken up?" Al jeered. "'cause I could take her off of your hands."
    Kaidan twitched, slightly glowing with blue biotic energy. "No, she's mine."
    "Just checking!"
    Steve groaned. "Don't get so bent out of shape."
    Kaidan suddenly went silent, slightly shocked at his outburst. Thinking about it, a part of him hoped Shepard would answer his message, but at the same time, he had set up an escape plan in case her answer wasn't favorable.  Why did he have to do that?

    The beach seemed to be calm, indicating that the worst had passed and there were beams of sunlight leaking through the clouds. Shepard was sitting in the middle of unidentifiable debris, wearing her Alliance blues.  She seemed to be looking off in the distance as if she was waiting for something.
    When Kaidan looked closer at a large piece of the debris, he realized that it bore Normandy's name.
    "I got your message."
    "You haven't answered it."
    She stood up and turned around to face Kaidan. "Part of it is because it made me cry again. Also, because... I just don't know what to say."
    "You never had a problem explaining what's on your mind."
    "Right. Love changes everything. When I was so sure of myself before, I find myself stumbling now." She nervously played with her hair. "I still want to keep going. I want to see where we go."
    He sighed sadly. "Cerberus is in the way."
    "I know. That's why I want them to burn in hell."
    Kaidan looked at Shepard's face, wondering when the scars had faded away.  At least her eyes were still blue...
    Shepard kicked at the sand with her bare feet. "First thing I woke up, my thoughts were about you. I kept asking about you and being told that you were somewhere. Pisses me off that we never got our shore leave together."
    The shore leave that they had planned together, a week at the beach, wasn't it?  That seemed to explain why the beach was frequently chosen as a meeting place in the dream.
    "We never did decide on which beach to visit, didn't we?"
    "I was thinking maybe where my childhood home was before... or maybe some place a little more warmer and exotic." Shepard laughed. "I was actually thinking about my childhood home more when I mentioned it."
    "Explains why we're here now."
    "About that... remember me saving your butt from that Prothean beacon?"
    On Eden Prime, when they were hunting for the beacon, fighting their way through surprise Geth troops.  Kaidan wasn't sure why he was drawn to it in the first place.  Shepard saw what was happening and pulled him away, only to take his place.
    "Is that why these dreams are happening? I thought it was the sleeping pills this entire time."
    "Yes, but it's better this way. More private." Shepard finally smiled. "Miranda has been reading my messages."
    "Speaking of private..."
    Kaidan pulled Shepard close to him, kissing her.

    Shepard sighed, burying her face into her pillow and trying to hold back her tears.
    "I miss you."