My first "Mass Effect" fic. Constructive criticism and reviews are very much loved. :) Hope you enjoy and thanks for reading!

Everywhere they went, people noticed her.

Kaidan couldn't blame them, really. Irien Shepard ran around in full armor with several powerful weapons strapped to her back and looked serious and intimidating. This was usually enough to get the interest of anyone who spotted her, and she was a familiar face, so once she drew the attention, she kept it. What human wouldn't recognize the hero of the Blitz, the savior of Elysium? What alien didn't know the woman who might be the first human Spectre? What male could ignore her strength and beauty?

He had no reason to be, but he was still jealous. She took care of every situation they encountered with ease, whether it had to do with their mission or with helping every random person they met. She could convince anyone to share their problems and fixed them. She took charge of situations so well that it left little for him and the others to do. He felt silly as they walked around the Citadel. He was like a bodyguard following her around – but even bodyguards are necessary to protect their superior, and as she had proved many times over in the short time they'd journeyed together, she could take care of herself.

He couldn't help taking advantage of walking behind her to look at Shepard without fear of getting caught in the act. She made her decisions with barely a moment's pause and never questioned herself. She was the most talented soldier he'd ever known. She was smart, beautiful, and had been quite the tactician and leader so far.

Kaidan wondered how long he'd get to serve under her. She had the best ship and best crew in the Alliance, and had already gathered several impressive aliens to join up with them as well. He didn't think he'd last long – he'd already made a fool of himself on Eden Prime when he'd been captivated by the beacon, causing her to have to save him and get controlled by it herself. He didn't really contribute much except a skill with electronics and locks that the new Quarian Tali far outstripped.

He didn't think he'd get to stay with her for long, but he appreciated every mission he went on with her. He tried to memorize the exact look on her face as she took careful aim at a faraway enemy, or as a geth exploded as it ran toward her, or when the happiness evident on her face as someone she helped thanked her profusely.

Kaidan couldn't help but notice the glint of happiness in her eyes as he made a joke, and the look and the little smile she gave him made him happier than he felt it should. He was over-interpreting things – she was just being nice to him, just as she was to everyone else.

He failed to notice that he was joining her on every mission. He didn't realize that he didn't even have to be called up to the airlock when they landed on a new planet – he went up automatically, knowing without thinking about it that he would be going. In all his careful scrutiny of her, he didn't notice how often she smiled just for him, and he missed the curious staring at him that she tried very hard to hide.

Kaidan didn't suspect anything as she asked him his opinion about the mission and agreed with what he said. He felt so comfortable with her that he told her all about his past – how he became a military biotic, his time on Jump Zero, the girl he'd loved while he was there. He apologized for talking too much, and she shook her head.

"I just wanted to get to know you a little better, that's all," she said with a smile unlike any he'd seen on her face before. "Thanks for the talk, Kaidan."

He couldn't help but smile back. "Well, you're welcome," he replied, then hurriedly added, "Ma'am." A thought occurred to him, and, instead of not acting like he usually did, he spoke his mind. "You make a habit of getting this personal with everyone?"

"No," she said plainly, shaking her head slightly. A lock of her blonde hair came out from behind her ear, and, suddenly daring, he moved one step closer to her then reached up to gently tuck it back in place. Her smile practically made his heart stop beating. "No, I don't. We'll talk again later."

He blinked and could barely form thoughts. "I'll, uh – I'll need some time to process that, Commander," he replied, stunned. "But yeah," he smiled back, "I'd like that."

"I'm glad," she told him honestly. "See you soon then, I guess." She turned and walked back towards the ramp leading upstairs, but not before looking back over her shoulder to give him that dazzling smile again.

That he noticed.