Many a planet, many a town still bears the scars of the war that are only slow to heal but life is coming back, irrepressible in its fragility.

Many a town also sports a new feature now: a statue of a man, in a uniform or a military hardsuit, standing determined, gazing towards the stars, holding a weapon or raising it in defiance, in all possible variations of the posture. Speeches and celebrations are held there annually, but above all, it is an easy landmark, a popular meeting point.

A little boy is running around the pedestal, squeaking as his mother is chasing after him, the setting sun bringing out red sparks in her long hair. When he spots a man approaching dark-haired like himself, he makes a beeline for him, to be met by strong arms and hoisted in the air. Seated on the broad shoulders, he keeps squeaking and hooting as his parents meet and kiss in the shadow of Commander Shepard's statue. Hand in hand, they start walking towards their home, a family among many others.

On their way, they never look at the statue, no-one really does. Heroes on pedestals never walk among the mortals, and if there is a likeness, no-one ever looks for it.

A/N: So this is it, the end. Originally, Shepard was not meant to survive. I had in mind an artsy, heart-wrenching ending to the EDI story – and I was unable to write it. Shepard deserved the life he never had.

My huge thanks to everyone who faved, followed or reviewed, through all this time, and especially to those who haven't given up on the story.