Thanks to everyone on Tumblr who sent me plot ideas, JoAsakura, twofacedjanus commanderlurker. This was what it came out as, after it had marinaded in my head for 24 hours.
Do you know how pale and wanton thrillful
comes death on a strange hour
unannounced, unplanned for
like a scaring over-friendly guest
You've brought to bed
- J. morrison
Shepard stood in the corner of Kaidan's apartment, he was watching Kaidan as he slowly placed the folded flag on his dining table, just staring at it. Kaidan ran his fingers over the cloth and took a long stuttering breath. "It was a nice memorial." He said to the room, "You would have liked it."
Taking a step out of the corner Shepard said 'Kaidan?' With the smallest of hopes that Kaidan would maybe hear him now. But when Kaidan just turned and walked away, right past Shepard, he hung his head. Kaidan had not heard him, and why would he? He had been yelling at him for days, and he hadn't heard him then.
Kaidan poured himself a drink and came back to the dining table, Shepard walked across the room and stood right on the other side of the table, staring at Kaidan. He looked like shit, bags under his eyes and a frown that wouldn't seem to stop. "Now what am I gonna do with this?" He pulled a pair of dogtags up from his pocket and placed them on the flag. "Fuck." On instinct Shepard reached for his dogtags, and found them around his neck, but as he leaned in over the table, he could see that the dogtags on the flag were his. Maybe he still had them cause he liked to remember himself with them? That tought scared the shit out of him, cause what if he forgot to be him? He gently touched his dogtags and like he had expected his fingers went through the metal and down halfway through the cloth before he pulled his hand back.
Leaving the table, Kaidan went to the bathroom and opened the medicine cabinet, and shook some pills out in his hand, swallowing them before he went straight through the room, and Shepard's shoulder on his way to the bedroom.
Shepard stood for a while and looked at the flag but then walked over to look at the view, he wished that he could see the colors of the sunset, but everything seemed like it was hidden behind a veil, like something clouded his eyes and all the colors bleeded out to these vague greyish nuances instead.
Walking into Kaidan's bedroom he sat down on the empty side of the bed, laying down on top of the covers, vaguely wondering how the laws of physics only worked sometimes. He turned and looked at Kaidan who was fast asleep. 'I'm sorry,' he whispered. Reaching out he wanted to touch Kaidan's cheek, but again his hand went right through, it was an oddly soft sensation like running your fingers through the water from a boat or something. But when Kaidan woke up with a scream, he pulled his hand back. 'Oh God, I'm sorry Kaidan, I'm so sorry!' He stared down at his offending hand, and to his surprise he saw his hands were trembling.
Kaidan sat up in his bed, gasping for air. He looked around in the dark room but saw nothing. "Just a nightmare." He whispered to himself.
Shepard had learned that no matter how badly he wanted to touch Kaidan, it always had the same outcome, his hand went though with the same feeling of sticking your fingers in lukewarm oatmeal. And every time it greatly unsettled Kaidan, which was not what Shepard wanted, so he had stopped trying to console his lover, or communicate. He was just watching from across the room, following Kaidan around like a depressing shadow.
He would listen to Kaidan speak on the phone with Liara, and crying in the dark. Kaidan did a whole lot of crying, and the sound disturbed Shepard every time, he logically knew he didn't have a heart anymore, but it felt like someone reached inside him and squeezed. All he wanted was for Kaidan to stop crying.
When Kaidan left for short whiles, Shepard would amuse himself with trying to throw stuff and grab stuff. He was sure that it was just a matter of mastering it, like laying on the bed instead of sinking through. Just like he was walking on the floor, and not hovering two inches above. And if there was something he knew about himself, it was that once he set his mind to something, he'd learn it.
Shepard danced with joy the first time he knocked over a chair. Finally! He was just about to do it again when the door opened and Kaidan came in, but he was not alone. Shepard walked back to his corner to see who had come home with Kaidan, and a smile spread as he heard the voice.
"So Major, where do you want your groceries?" James called from the hall, trying to balance a box full of food, and kicking his shoes off too.
"Just in the kitchen, that would be great." Kaidan called from the bathroom. "Thanks James."
"Don't mention it." James grinned, "So when is Liara gonna be here?"
"Soon." Kaidan said as he walked out from the bathroom and to the kitchen where James were hauling stuff up from the box. "look." Kaidan said, hand on his hip while looking at James, "I really appreciate you guys doing this for me and all.. but.."
"No buts." James said with a smile, "That's what friends are for."
"Yeah." Kaidan echoed.
Shepard watched them preparing a meal, laughing, joking, listening to bad music in the radio. And he had never felt as isolated as he did right in that moment. He did not belong here, but he didn't know how not to belong here either. He just wished that he could have been in the kitchen with them, he would have smacked James over the head for making stupid wife jokes. And Kaidan would have kissed his cheek and told him to go watch tv and let the men cook. Shepard smiled to himself while he wallowed in his misery. He would have liked that a lot. In the end he went to the kitchen, and jumped up to sit on the desktop furthest away from them, just watching.
"Damn it's cold." James rubbed his arms. He turned to look out through the window, but it didn't look like rain outside. "Is it just me?"
"No." Kaidan admitted, "I think my thermostat must be broken or something. Those cold spells comes and goes all the time. Last night I had to go get a second blanket cause I was freezing."
"In September. That is.. yeah you definitely needs to have your thermostat looked over." James grinned.
And just then the doorbell rang. "Oh that must be Liara, You set the table, I'll let her in." Kaidan said, leaving the kitchen and walking to his front door.
"Kaidan" Liara cheered and wrapped her arms around him, holding him tight for a long time. "How are you holding up?"
"Better." Kaidan said with a little smile. And even Shepard who was hovering in the kitchen with James could hear the lie on his lips.
"I brought you a gift." Liara said and handed Kaidan a flat present.
"Thank you!" Kaidan smiled, and stepped aside so Liara could come in, she hung her jacket while Kaidan walked back towards the dining table unwrapping the present. "Oh." He sighed as he saw what the paper hid. It was a picture of the entire crew of the Normandy from the party that Shepard had thrown in his apartment on the Citadel. "Thank you Liara." Kaidan said, looking up at his friend, his eyes brimming with tears. "Thank you."
"You are welcome." Liara said softly, stopping in the middle of the room, turning around towards the corner where Shepard usually hid, shrugged and then went to the kitchen to help James.
Shepard was still seated in the kitchen, watching as Liara, Kaidan and James sat down to eat, they talked about silly old stories and how civilian life treated them. "To the Commander." James said and raised his glass.
"To John." Kaidan said raising his glass to the others. "May he finally have found his peace."
"Amen to that." James said, taking a hearty sip of his wine.
Shepard smiled, and saluted them at the table.
Liara stopped eating and looked over towards the kitchen, and for a brief second Shepard felt like she looked him right in the eyes. He slid down from the kitchen desktop and walked over to stand behind Kaidan's chair, looking at Liara. He hardly dared to hope but none the less he said 'Can you hear me?' He licked his lips mostly out of habit, 'Liara?'
Liara shuddered but otherwise didn't react to Shepard's request, so he just sighed and left the chair and in frustration kicked the sofa table, which was very unsatisfactory when his foot went straight through the metal sides. 'Fuck!' he growled.
James had an early morning so he went home, but Liara stayed a little longer to help with the dishes. She and Kaidan stood in the kitchen and talked about nothing. Suddenly Liara wiped her hands off in her skirt and turned to Kaidan. "I know you're gonna think I'm crazy, but I think that.. uhm.. that.. You have a strange vibe here."
"What do you mean?" Kaidan asked.
"I don't know, I just feel watched." Liara said in a near whisper.
Shepard got up from the sofa and walked over to the kitchen counter. 'come on Liara' he said, and for the first time he was actually exited, what if he could make them understand that he was here? He had tried so many times with Kaidan, but either he got spooked or he didn't hear or see anything.
"Yeah I'm thinking my thermostat went haywire." Kaidan said with a shrug.
"Well that could be it." Liara answered, but couldn't help but to look over her shoulder an extra time before she resumed washing the dishes.
Shepard had not lain down next to Kaidan since he had heard him tell James that he was freezing. But he was getting increasingly frustrated with being a silent spectator. Once he had managed to flip a light switch, but Kaidan hadn't thought anything of it, he probably couldn't remember if he had left the light on or off in the bathroom. Shepard felt slightly cheated out of his big accomplishment.
Kaidan was having a nightmare, but for once Shepard had nothing to do with it, since he sat on Kaidan's dresser looking over at the closet, wondering if he could open the doors in the same manner as he had flipped the switch.
"Don't leave me," Kaidan whimpered in his sleep.
Shepard slipped down from the dresser and leaned in over sleeping Kaidan, 'I'm right here' he whispered in Kaidan's ear. Kaidan seemed to ease up some as if the nightmare had settled.
James had come by again, and this time be brought a bottle of wine and a couple of tickets to a theater. "You need to get out of here Kaidan." James said, handing the tickets to Kaidan, "You've been cooped up here for far too long, man."
Kaidan stared at the tickets in his hand, and then up at James again. With a sigh he nodded, "It's just hard." He said softly, "I had imagined this differently, I had -"
"I know." James said, placing a hand on Kaidan's shoulder, "Me too. It's unfair and Shepard deserved more than anyone to be here. But he's not, you are. And you need to stop shutting yourself in, I'm not asking for miracles, just that you come see a stupid movie with me, that's all. You know, maybe have fun?"
Kaidan grinned. And Shepard had to look away from them and out the window, he missed that laughter so much it almost felt like tiny needles on his skin to hear it.
"So what do you say Major?" James asked, putting the bottle down on the dining table.
"I don't know." Kaidan mumbled.
"I promise it's not Blasto." James added.
Kaidan laughed again, "Okay then."
"That's a yes?" James asked smiling widely.
"It is." Kaidan said almost shyly.
Shepard left the livingroom and went into the bedroom, he wasn't sure if he was angry or jealous or what he was. But he couldn't stand to hear them any longer. And when they turned the lights off and left for the theater, the bottle of wine still standing unopened. Shepard went back into the livingroom, and with a scream he hit the bottle, and when it flew across the room and shattered on the far wall, he felt both liberated and more hollow than ever. He went back to his corner and slinked down on the floor, wrapping his arms around his legs, and waited – for what he didn't know, but it felt like he had to wait.
When Kaidan came home he went straight to bed and didn't notice the bottle. But this night Shepard gently laid down next to Kaidan as he slept. 'Kaidan' he whispered. 'I love you'. He wrapped an arm around Kaidan and noticed how Kaidan shivered, and pulled his covers up higher in his sleep. To Shepard's surprise Kaidan mumbled, "John."
'Yes' Shepard whispered back, feeling tears of happiness sting on the insides of his eyelids.
Suddenly Kaidan sat up in his bed looking around the room with wide frightened eyes. "J-John?"
'Yes,' Shepard answered sitting up his face so close to Kaidan's that their noses almost touched. 'Yes! YES!' He screamed, but Kaidan didn't hear him.
Kaidan looked down at the folded flag which had fallen out of the closet. He dialled up James cause he didn't know who else to call. "James?" He said when he heard a sleepy voice in the other end. "You gotta come over here, there's something wrong." He waited patiently while James woke a little more int he other end. "Like what?" He asked, "Like pictures being moved, lights flickering, and now Shepard's flag is torn out of my closet." James backed out of the room, not seeing Shepard that was standing right next to the flag stomping the floor in frustration. "I'm freaking out." Kaida finally admitted, "Laugh all you want.. but, could I come over?"
Shepard tore out of the room, reaching out to pull Kaidan's arm, but only managed to get the same oatmeal feeling as always when his hand went through Kaidan. Kaidan yelped and pulled his arm close, "Okay, see you." Kaidan said, and turned the corner and fled out the hall, slamming the door after him, never hearing Shepard screaming at the top of his lungs to stay.
'Don't go!' Shepard wailed left alone in the dark again. This was not what he wanted. He didn't want to scare Kaidan, he just wanted to talk to him. Tell him that he loved him, and missed him, and that he was right here. But maybe he had gone about it all wrong? Maybe he should be content just watching, knowing that Kaidan was alright? One thing was sure, he had to stop scaring him, what if he left and never came back? Shepard didn't know if he could leave the apartment, he had never tried.
Kaidan didn't return for two days, and when he finally did Shepard could have cried of happiness. He took a step towards Kaidan out of habit, but stopped dead and his arms fell down by his sides, how would he even go about hugging him? Also he had promised not to scare him anymore.
"Are you here?" Kaidan asked softly out into the apartment.
But Shepard didn't attempt to answer, he just walked back into his corner and watched as Kaidan turned around on the spot looking for something he couldn't see. And then went to the bedroom and picked up the flag. He reached up on the upper shelf to take the box which contained Shepard's dogtags, he opened it and took out the dogtags running his fingers over the embedded letters. "I think I'm going crazy." He mumbled to himself.
A day later Kaidan invited James over, and showed him the ruined picture frame, and the wine on the wall. But James had just laughed at his ghost stories, and with a warm smile said that he was welcome to sleep over on his couch any time if the boogeyman got too much.
While James laughed, Liara believed him.
Shepard was back to just spectating, he had not even entered Kaidan's bedroom at night, he didn't want to wake him or scare him. He felt oddly cold and heavy, and he wasn't even sure he wanted to move. He just wanted to stay here and look at Kaidan, to remind himself that Kaidan was going to be alright. He hardly reacted to the doorbell ringing or to Liara's voice, even if he recognized it. Had he not been so withdrawn he would have joined them at the dining table out of curiosity. But he didn't, he just watched them greet and carry a box over to the dining table.
"Are you sure you wanna do this Kaidan?" Liara asked.
"Yeah." Kaidan nodded watching as Liara unpacked the ouija board, it did make him feel slightly silly, but he knew something was here, and even in James thought he was being ridiculous, Kaidan was gonna try to get answers any way he could. Even if that meant sitting here with a damn plastic pointer feeling like a kid.
Liara filled their wine glasses and turned on the candles, before she turned off the light in the room. When Kaidan shoot her pointed look, she just shrugged and said "What? It's for the mood."
"Fine." Kaidan had sighed, and settled with wine in one hand, and the other hand on the pointer.
Liara cleared her throat, "Is there anybody here?" Nothing happened, so she tried again, "We wish to make contact with the spirit which resides here in this apartment."
Shepard slowly got to his feet and walked over towards Kaidan and Liara, looking down at the damn ouija board but wasn't sure he should do it. He had promised himself not to scare Kaidan anymore.
"It's not working." Kaidan chuckled half embarrassed that he had even believed it for a second. And took his hand off the pointer.
Liara took her hand off the pointer too, but just sipped her wine, "Maybe it's slumbering? Or busy?"
Shepard bit his lip and pushed the pointer, the first two times his fingers went through, but the last time he managed to push it a little.
"What the!" Kaidan shied away, and Liara's smile widened, "Come on, put your fingers back on it."
"No way!"Kaidan's hand curled up.
"Okay I thought you wanted to talk with it." She shrugged, Kaidan didn't miss her victorious grin when he placed a finger gingerly on the pointer.
"Are you still here?" She asked out into the room.
Shepard gently pushed the pointer towards 'yes' it was a lot easier when they touched it, not that he knew why, it just was.
"Why are you here?" Kaidan asked.
Shepard sighed and spelled y-o-u
"Me?" Kaidan shivered a little, completely creeped out.
"Why are you scaring Kaidan?" Liara asked.
S-o-r-r-y Shepard spelled out, hesitated cause he honestly didn't know what to say.
"Well stop it!" Kaidan said with a childish tone. "I need you to stop it, okay?"
"Well it said it was sorry." Liara cut in.
Shepard smiled and wrote o-k-a-y
"So what's your name?" Liara asked.
"Hang on Liara," Kaidan took his finger off the pointer, "I don't care what its name was, or how it died or anything, I just want it to leave me alone."
Shepard pushed the pointer with a ferocious pace, j-o-h-n-s-h-e-p-a-r-d and then to 'yes'
"Stop!" Kaidan pushed his chair away from the table, "Liara stop."
"I'm not doing anything." Liara held up her hands and the pointer continued without any hands, but much, much slower and sluggish. K-a-i-d-a-
Kaidan suddenly shoved the entire board off the table, sending the pointer flying. And Shepard just stood there and stared at it on the floor. He should have expected that.
"Fuck." Kaidan raked a sweaty, nervous hand through his hair.
"What if it's really him Kaidan?" Liara asked, "It would make sense."
"Don't be an idiot." Kaidan huffed.
"Okay then, let's ask it something only Shepard would know." Liara said, smiling feeling all smart as she bend down to retrieve the board and then got up to get the pointer.
Kaidan placed a finger back on the pointer and sighed, "Alright, tell me something only Shepard and I would know."
"And don't hold back on the gossip." Liara chirped, earning herself another pointed glare from Kaidan.
Shepard stood and thought about it for a while, and then slowly spelled out n-e-v-e-r-f-i-n-i-s-h-e-d-t-h-e-m-o-d-e-l-o-f-s-o-v-e-r-e-i-g-n-y-o-u-d-i-d
Kaidan bit his lip as Liara pushed the paper where she had written down the letters, and drew a line down where the words would end. "Never finished the model of Sovereign, you did." Kaidan read out loud. He looked over at Liara "That's true, the model John had in his display case was made by me."
"What's Kaidan's middle name?" Liara asked.
John frowned, that was the lamest question ever, but still he faithfully typed out b-a-l-t-a-z-a-r
"Your middle name is Baltazar?" Liara laughed.
Kaidan blushed with anger and embarrassment, still he smiled, "Yeah it is." He looked around the table hoping to see something, "John is that really you?"
the pointer went to 'yes'
"God!" Kaidan held up his hand to his mouth, "Are – are you okay?" He asked knowing that it was possibly a really dumb question.
Shepard thought about it for a while and then settled for the question mark, cause he didn't know.
Kaidan and Liara looked at each other and then burst out laughing, not because it was funny, but because it was absolutely mind-blowing.
For a while Kaidan had revelled in his newfound knowledge, that if he just tuned in right, he could feel John's presense. And for a while he would come home and talk to John like he would anyone else, tell him about how his day had been. Knowing that John was listening. Spending his nights with the ouija board, having one sentence conversations with Shepard.
Shepard placed a finger on it and spelled h-e-y-y-o-u as Kaidan sat down.
Kaidan laughed happily sipping his newly made coffee "Hey there yourself." He said out into the room, not sure where Shepard was.
Shepard had noticed that Kaidan would act different when he came through the door, he wouldn't run straight for the ouija board to see what message Shepard had, he would still say 'hey John' and he would glance over towards it, but then continue to the kitchen and make coffee, sometimes he would sit at the dining table with his computer and work till he was so tired he almost fell asleep on the keyboard.
Shepard had promised that he wouldn't scare Kaidan, so he would just mill around feeling miserable. He wished he could ask him what was wrong.
Shepard had given up on Kaidan wanting to talk anymore, not that he understood why, they had been talking like in the old days, hadn't they? In the end he had given up on it and returned to his corner, spectating Kaidan trying to figure out what was happening. Sometimes he was afraid that Kaidan had decided to move anyway, that he'd be left here alone.
Later that week Kaidan finally sat down at the ouija board with a beer and sighed deeply, "John?" He asked, "You around?"
Shepard stirred from his sluggish inactive state, and slowly got up and moved over to where Kaidan sat. 'yes' he said
"We need to talk." Kaidan said sadly.
Shepard just left the pointer on 'yes' it was too much work to spell out his fears.
"You need to move on John. You need to go to where ever it is you're supposed to go." Kaidan said clutching his beer, "I need to.. I have to.." Kaidan sighed again, "This can't continue."
Shepard didn't touch the pointer, he just turned and looked out the window on the bleak night. 'Suppose I can't blame you'. He said, knowing Kaidan wouldn't hear.
"I miss you." Kaidan said, "But I miss you here with me, as a person." He took a deep breath, "I miss the feel of you, the sound of your voice, the smell of your horrible aftershave. I - "
Shepard turned around and slowly spelled out i-m-i-s-s-y-o-u-t-o-o
"I am in hell." Kaidan mumbled. "I buried you, and I need closure John. I need to move on. And I can't move on as long as you linger here."
Shepard stared down at the pointer and was tempted to write okay, but he didn't. He just waited for Kaidan to speak again.
"I need to feel alive again." Kaidan whined, taking a sip of his beer. "I miss intimacy."
i-u-n-d-e-r-s-t-a-n-d Shepard spelled, but he didn't really.
"I can't do that with you breathing down my neck." Kaidan mumbled miserably, "I miss you so much it hurts, but this -" He gestured towards the ouija board, "just keeps old wounds open."
Shepard didn't answer, he just looked at Kaidan with sad eyes feeling colder than ever. He just listened to Kaidan's heavy breathing. He wished he could grant Kaidan his wish, but he didn't know how. He didn't know how to do anything but stay here, it wasn't like he had heard someone else calling for him. In the end he just swatted the pointer off the ouija board, watching Kaidan as the pointer flew across the room.
Kaidan just sat there for a long while untill he picked up the ouija board from the table, and then the pointer from the floor. Carrying both things into his bedroom and stuck it on the shelf with the flag. He closed the doors and leaned against them for a while before he pulled his army bag out from under the closet and opened the dresser, tossing in some random clothes. He tried to ignore the cold in the room, knowing that Shepard was watching.
The door slammed and Shepard stood alone in the dark.
When Kaidan returned his apartment was turned inside out, everything was thrown across the floor, the chairs was on the tables, glass from plates, lightbulbs and mirrors were everywhere. Kaidan almost just turned on his heels and left, but instead he stepped inside the darkness. "John?"
Shepard sat on top of kitchen desk, watching Kaidan. He wanted to be angry, he wanted to destroy everything around him, furious that his love was not enough for Kaidan. But he didn't want to hurt the man himself, he could never do that.
"John, stop being a child." Kaidan sighed. And went to the bedroom to find candles and the ouija board which for some reason had not been tossed. Kaidan wondered if the closet doors might be too heavy to open for a ghost. "Alright, lay it on me." He said taking the chairs down from the dining table, brushing all glass and broken trinkets aside to place the ouija board and candles. He then went to the kitchen to make coffee, while Shepard jumped down from the kitchen table and walked over to move the pointer to 'no'.
Kaidan came back and looked at the board with a sigh. "Come on John, this is not doing anything for any of us. If I am what is holding you here, I am telling you that you don't have to look after me, I'm okay." When the pointer didn't move Kaidan sighed again, "Why did you destroy my apartment?"
f-u-c-k-y-o-u came the swift reply.
"John for the love of..." Kaidan growled, "This is ridiculous, you are just as thick-headed dead as you were alive."
y-o-u-l-e-f-t Shepard wrote, watching Kaidan intensely.
"I did," Kaidan nodded. "I meant it John, you have to move on, you're not meant to be here."
Shepard stood for a long while and thought about it, and then wrote h-o-w-d-o-n-t-k-n-o-w
Kaidan frowned, "You don't know how to move on?" He wet his lips and nodded, "So there wasn't like a bright light or something?"
Shepard moved the pointer to 'no'
"Maybe, maybe you're waiting for something?" Kaidan asked.
M-a-y-b-e Shepard wrote. And then paused before he wrote y-e-s because that was what he thought too, that maybe he was stuck here till something specific happened, he refused that this was it. That there was nothing besides curling up in a corner watching Kaidan as life went on.
Kaidan ran a finger gently over the bottom of the ouija board, "I need to tell you something." He said "I started to see someone, I can't – I mean it's no life being stuck here talking to ghosts."
Shepard felt like someone reached inside him and turned him inside out. And for a moment it felt like he couldn't breathe, even if he knew that he wasn't technically taking a breath anymore. W-h-o he wrote out.
"Does it matter?" Kaidan said.
Shepard moved the pointer to 'yes'.
"Well I better get around to cleaning this place up." Kaidan said, picking up the pointer and closing the ouija board, ending the conversation.
'who?' Shepard yelled, 'who are you fucking goddammit!' But Kaidan didn't hear him even if he was right in his face, screaming from the top of his lungs.
Kaidan had not taken the ouija board down again, and had ignored Shepard when he had flickered the lights or changed the channels on the tv.
Shepard could see his smile when someone specific called, he could hear it in his voice. This was who Kaidan was fucking. Kaidan had maybe been home once this week, but otherwise leaving Shepard to his own demise. Shepard had even followed him into the bath, where the sprays went right through him as Kaidan showered. He had raised his hand to run a finger down Kaidan's spine, but instead he had touched the lovebite on Kaidan's shoulder and walked away. And if Kaidan had felt it, he didn't acknowledge it.
Kaidan and James came stumbling through the door, James halfway carrying Kaidan who was dead drunk. They were laughing and slightly out of breath. Shepard watched them as the tumbled into the bedroom kissing. At least he knew the answer to his question, curiosity got the better of him and he went to stand in the door to the bedroom, watching them in bed. How Kaidan's hands would run down James' sides, pushing his shirt up. When James reached for Kaidan's beltbuckle, Shepard left and went into the bedroom, his sadness and anger so thick he could almost touch it as were it a separate entity. When he heard Kaidan moan softly and the bed creak, he turned on the tv to drown out the noise. 'cept it didn't help. He knew all the sounds which Kaidan made, by heart. And he hadn't realised how much he had missed them before now.
He didn't return to the bedroom before it had been silent for a while and he assumed they were sleeping. He stood at the foot of the bed watching them as they slept. On one side he wanted to break James' fucking neck, but on the other he sorta understood it. He could certainly see what James would see in Kaidan, still he felt betrayed.
The next morning they got up and made breakfast, talking, kissing and joking about. Shepard was sitting in his corner just watching, listening. James was complaining about how he was locked out of his apartment for weeks because of some construction. And Kaidan smiled while promising him that he could stay with him.
Shepard grabbed his dogtags and rolled them between his fingers. Why was he torturing him so? He knew that he was here, watching. One thing was knowing that Kaidan had found himself someone to fill the void, but another completely to see it.
James had complained about cold spots and weird things happening in the apartment, so in the end Kaidan confided in him. James had laughed, and he had laughed even harder when Kaidan had gone and got the ouija board. "Just you wait." Kaidan had said. And then placed the pointer, "John?"
Shepard stood right by Kaidan's side and pushed the pointer to 'yes'.
James looked up at Kaidan in alarm, who just shrugged. "You're still here." Kaidan just stated.
Shepard left the pointer on 'yes' for a little while, till he moved it to v-e-g-a
"Damn." James looked around the room like Kaidan had used to. "Loco? Is that really you?"
"It is." Kaidan said.
James shrugged at the insanity of it. "You want a beer?" His question was meant for Kaidan, but the pointer went to 'yes'. James smiled oddly disconnected, "But of course Commander." He shook his head as he went to the fridge and got three beers.
That night they put out three plates on the dining table, and true to it Shepard sat down at the empty plate and watched as they chatted and laughed, then James suddenly turned and looked at Shepard with a sad gaze. "You do know that I'm gonna stick by him right? I promise you that I am going to keep Kaidan happy."
Shepard looked from James to Kaidan who just smiled lovingly at James.
"I'm going to take him far away from here and start over, just him and me." James said and reached a hand out for Kaidan's across the table.
"I'd like that." Kaidan said softly.
Shepard looked at them both, and something shifted inside him. Kaidan truly didn't need him, and he trusted James to be true to his word. And to his surprise he didn't want to go with them. Shepard ignored the weird tickle, like goosebumps on his skin for a long time, just listening to James and Kaidan talking shit about different towns that the other suggested.
Shepard heard a voice behind him, it sounded familiar so he turned in his chair. 'Ashley?' he asked unsure if he really saw what he thought he did. And then someone else came to stand at his other side, he looked up and to his surprise a very familiar face looked down at him. 'Mom?'
'It's time to go, honey'. Hanna Shepard said with a loving smile.
'but why now?' Shepard said, blinking ghostly tears out of his eyes, 'where were you before?'
'waiting for you.' Hanna said cryptic. 'you had to let go of this life first'.
'Of Kaidan?' Shepard asked.
'Yes.' Ashley said. 'See you promised you'd wait for him, so that was what you did.'
'Oh.' Shepard said, recalling their last conversation before the push towards the beam. 'I did, didn't I?'
Hanna nodded. 'come on, there are some other people waiting for you.'
'Okay' Shepard said standing up. 'Can I say goodbye?'
'Sure honey'. Hanna said.
Shepard got up and walked around to kiss Kaidan's cheek. And to his surprise Kaidan felt it, and turned his way, gingerly touching where Shepard's lips had touched him. I wasnt cold, it was warm and left him with the urge to cry and smile at the same time.
Kaidan looked over at James and mumbled "He kissed me." He took a quick sip of his beer, "I mean I felt it, it was his lips I'm sure!"
James nodded, but didn't know what to say to that.
"I think he said goodbye." Kaidan whispered. "It feelt like goodbye."
"Maybe it was." James said with a smile, "Maybe he -"
"Yeah.. " Kaidan said with a soft smile, "I think he got what he came here after. "
When Shepard left, he didn't even feel the urge to look over his shoulder, he knew that it was going to be alright, and that was good enough for him.