Saren was dead. No three little words placed together had ever sounded so smugly satisfactory. And with Anderson now a part of the Council, things weren't looking quite so grim.

Jane Shepard, Commander in the Alliance Fleet and Spectre, strolled with her chin up to the nearest restroom and proceeded to puke up all her insides.

Nerves, maybe. More probable was a bout of some kind of flu. Perfect timing considering that she needed to begin planning just how the galactic community was going to deal with the Reapers. Knowing her luck, she'd probably stumbled across some long forgotten bacteria or virus on Ilos while trying to save the galaxy and would inadvertently be the cause of its demise.

That was three weeks ago. Life, it would seem, was never meant to be as simple as a galactic-wide threat of killer bacteria.

The Normandy was effectively diddling around the Mu Relay as Shepard was four days behind her self-imposed deadline for a contingency plan. The idea of a contingency at this point was laughable; they'd need a better plan than just, "try to find any viable entry points into dark space" before they could even begin to consider things like contingency plans. Despite what Joker thought, dropping phrases like, "cripple mutiny" when they were alone in the cockpit did little for her mood.

After she told Pressly of all people that he could take a nice, long dirt nap for all she cared, Shepard began to suspect she had a problem. Kaidan's answer was naturally Doctor Chakwas. Of course it was. The good doctor had taken a shine to Alenko and as a result, she'd been dosing the lieutenant with hefty prescription muscle relaxers for his migraines. Shepard wasn't exactly certain on the legality of that matter, but trusted Chakwas' judgment enough to realize the doctor was enough of a hard ass to neither compromise the mission or the health of her patient. Without them knowing and willing, at any rate.

But after a complete physical, the only thing that bitch could think to say was, "Crackers and ginger ale should help with the nausea. When you're tired, sleep. And try not to vomit up your multivitamin."

"Run that by me, again," Shepard said. Her white-knuckled grip on the examination table was doing little to soothe the heart that was trying to tear its way through her ribcage.

"You have the blue strip right in front of you," Doctor Chakwas replied. "It's rather simple, Commander."

Shepard grimaced. "Yeah, yeah. When a man and a woman get together and they really, really love each other, they make a wish and a sometimes a fairy comes down and a miracle happens."

"If that's the story you're sticking to, who am I to say any differently?" The doctor went to the sink and began to wash her hands.

"Son of a bitch!"

Chakwas just continued to scrub her hands pink.

Jane Shepard did not cock her pistol. Jane Shepard did not leap from the table to beat the doctor's head against the bin for biohazardous waste. Jane Shepard stifled another obscenity as she rubbed the bridge of her nose.

"Can I still fight?" she asked.

Chakwas raised an eyebrow. "I sincerely hope not. With the career path you've chosen, every time you go out on the field you have the risk of fatality and that's when it's just you."

"People die all the time," Shepard snorted. She tugged at the paper thin gown that insisted on leaving far too much in the back exposed. "I could just be walking down the street on the Citadel and a ship could fall on me."

"A ship landing on you is something of a freak accident." The doctor shook her head. "A geth rocket launcher is something more deliberate. Commander, please tell me you recognize the difference."

"Well, what do you want me to do, Doc?" Shepard pushed her hair back behind her ear and then scowled as it fell forward the second she pulled her hand away. "You think the geth or the Reapers would accept a nine month time out from their galactic genocide extravaganza while I take the time to squeeze out a kid?"

"People die and worlds keep turning, Commander," Doctor Chakwas said. Her tight jaw coupled with the fine lines around her eyes would have made her unwavering stare intimidating had Shepard not been on her last nerve. "If you leave, the Normandy will continue."

It struck a chord somewhere. After all, that's what trillions of sentients did on a day to day basis in no particular order. Grow up, go to school, get a job, fall in love, continue the species. A monotonous, seemingly never ending cycle hardcoded into their DNA.

Did she really want that? She'd be a horrible absentee mother. Not to mention the fact that the whole reason she was fighting was so that she as well as everyone else could have a future, period.

But what if they screwed up? What if there really wasn't a future? That's what that bastard had said. Your words are as empty as your future. If there really wasn't any hope left, wouldn't it be better to just do all those things you had no right to with what little time you had left? Shepard snarled.

"I'd never be where I am today if I believed that." She hoisted herself off the examination table. "Where are my pants?"

Doctor Chakwas nodded to a folded pile on the floor. "There are other alternatives that we haven't discussed, yet."

"Yeah, I know." Shepard stepped into her pants and pulled them up over her waist. "You'll excuse me if I just want to go and break a few things and then take a nap first."

"Perhaps it would help you if you discussed things with the father first," the doctor suggested.

Shepard felt her nostrils flare. "To hell with the father."

Christ, she didn't even want to begin to think about what would happen if Alenko had any idea. Mister family man with his dad in Vancouver and his mom sending vid mails telling him to wear a sweater on Noveria because it was bound to be cold. Shepard shook her head.

Who knew what they were supposed to be. They'd tried a couple times to figure it out on the Citadel, but they'd been careful then. Maybe that meant the damage had already been done by that point. When you've already lost someone and are about to go into a mission that you don't expect to walk away from, things like condoms seem like minute, irrelevant details.

It had seemed more important to let her hands have the opportunity to explore the curve of his muscles and to be able to smell him on her body afterwards. A funny thing, how her mind knew that if she really tried, she could probably break Kaidan with half a thought, but he made her feel so completely and utterly safe beneath him.

The past few attempts had lacked that initial intensity. Nothing like impending doom to sexually charge a situation, Shepard supposed. But now they were back to the chain of command and Lieutenant Baby-Daddy was probably bad for crew morale.

There was no way she could have that baby. Not now. Probably not ever.

"I need to think," Shepard said. "Can I get back to you on this?"

Doctor Chakwas nodded. "Of course."

Shepard tossed the gown back on the examination table and threw her top on over her head. With a halfhearted grin aimed at the doctor, she turned and left.

She concocted a generic bullshit response of exhaustion coupled with dehydration. Alenko faced her with those dark eyes of his, one eyebrow cocked and his jaw clenched. One thing she could always rely on Kaidan for was to wear his emotions on his face while being respectful enough to keep his mouth shut. The man was smart enough to realize she was lying, although she was willing to bet he had no idea about the specifics. For now, they could make a game of tossing regs in each other's face and as his superior, he knew his place.

A delay of the inevitable, maybe. But by the time he caught on, it'd be too late one way or the other for any of his input to affect her. Right now, the most important thing was to crawl into a sleeping pod and get a full eight hours minimum. Zombies didn't make for good commanders and the Normandy needed her damn contingency plan. She didn't owe him any answers.