A/N: In Mass Effect 2, it always frustrated me that you couldn't answer the mails you received on your personal terminal: all these people wrote to you, Dr. Chloe Michel (from the Citadel), Admiral Hackett, the journalist Emily Wong, the volus Han Olar (from Peak 15 on Noveria), the Salarian Chorban (who was researching the Keepers), your mother (if you went with Spacer background) among others, and you can't write back! It's ridiculous!
And chief among all these correspondents, is your Mass Effect 1 love interest! Here's my attempt to remedy that situation for my Spacer/War Hero/Paragon/Sentinel FemShep (from my previous ME one-shot, "For the Lost").
Please read and review; any feedback is greatly appreciated! (And I have cookies!) Also, the title is meant to be "Re: About Horizon..." but the site won't let me use all that punctuation in the title.
"Plot a course for the Omega Nebula, Joker."
"Sure thing, Commander."
Alexandra Shepard stood on the bridge of the SR-2 Normandy, looking over the shoulder of her pilot, former Lieutenant Jeff "Joker" Moreau, watching his deft fingers fly over the ship's holo-controls. She soon lost herself in the mesmerizing dance of flickering lights, and... other things.
"Uh... you okay, Commander?"
The red-haired, newly reinstated Spectre shook her head in a vain attempt to disperse the burdening thoughts that clung to her. There were some that weren't so easily dispelled.
"It's nothing, Joker, I'm fine. Just... thinking." she lied.
"Anything to do with the fact that we're about to hit the Omega 4 relay? Or maybe because I just lost the entire crew?" The bitterness in his tone was almost palpable, as Shepard patted his shoulder.
"Hey... It wasn't your fault, none of us saw that coming. Please... try not to beat yourself up over it."
When it became apparent a curt nod would be his only answer, Alexandra turned and headed down the gangway towards the CIC. And with a single glance at Yeoman Chambers' empty station, the Commander stepped into the elevator. As it slid upwards towards the captain's quarters, Alexandra suddenly felt very vulnerable, very human. They had all been through so much, and now the end felt so near. Jacob had once said that the mission would suffer if anyone still had... distractions. Alexandra strode purposefully into her loft, determined to take care of her own "unfinished business".
Sitting at her private terminal, she opened the folder containing her incoming messages and read one in particular, for what seemed to be the millionth time.
I'm sorry for what I said back on Horizon. I spent two years pulling myself back together after you went down with the Normandy. It took me a long time to get over my guilt for surviving and move on. I'd finally let my friends talk me into going out for drinks with a doctor on the Citadel. Nothing serious, but trying to let myself have a life again, you know?
Then I saw you, and everything pulled hard to port. You were standing in front of me, but you were with Cerberus. I guess I really don't know who either of us is anymore. Do you even remember that night before Ilos? That night meant everything to me... maybe it meant as much to you. But a lot has changed in the last two years and I just can't put that aside.
But please be careful. I've watched too many people close to me die - on Eden Prime, on Virmire, on Horizon, on the Normandy. I couldn't bear it if I lost you again. If you're still the woman I remember, I know you'll find a way to stop these Collector attacks. But Cerberus is too dangerous to be trusted. Watch yourself.
When things have settled down a little... maybe... I don't know. Just take care.
At long last, the customarily courageous Commander Shepard had found the resolve to compose a reply.
Dearest Kaidan. No, that was too much. Dear Kaidan. Much better. Thoughts, emotions and words bounced around erratically in her mind, and she hesitated before the floodgates finally opened.
I've been wanting, aching to write back for days. Or is it weeks? How long has it been since Horizon? Two weeks? A month? At first, I didn't dare to so much as think about writing to you. I was just so angry. Angry at the Reapers, at the Collectors, at the Council, at Udina... I was even furious at Anderson because he had flat out refused to tell me where you were. "Classified", he said.
But most of all, I was angry at you, Kaidan. Because you didn't come with me, because you didn't let me explain why I was with Cerberus, because you didn't give me the benefit of the doubt, because you actually believed I would've dropped off the ladar for two whole years *on purpose*.
Alexandra sighed deeply as she buried her face in her hands, feeling so very tired. This was hard. Of course, she hadn't expected it to actually be *easy*, but... Jacob had been right all along. This had to be done and so she kept going.
But as time went by, as one mission followed another, I began to understand. Two years have gone by. Every time I think about it, the shock of it is still fresh. I keep expecting to find everything unchanged, but... You see, Kaidan, after the attack, when I got spaced, I really, truly died, and until Cerberus got its claws on me, and revived me, I simply slept. I slept while the rest of you moved on.
All this time, I was hoping when I shouldn't. Two years have passed (I know, I keep repeating that, but it still hasn't sunk in), and the signs are there to see. Tali's... well, she's still Tali, but she *feels* older, like she's shouldered some invisible responsibility. Perhaps it's the invisible mantle of her father's legacy weighing down on her. And Garrus is... it breaks my heart when I look at him, and it would sadden you too, Kaidan; the last two years have been far from kind to him. And Liara is on some blasted crusade to hunt down the Shadow Broker, I'm not even sure what that's about.
Anyway, that's why I don't hate you anymore for "going out for drinks with a doctor".
And now she steeled herself for what promised to be the most delicate part...
You asked me to watch my back, to not trust Cerberus. I tell you, here and now: I don't. I'm grateful that I've been given a second chance, but do you think I've forgotten about Kahoku and his men? About their experiments on rachni and creepers? You know me, Kaidan, the Alliance is in my blood. I have to admit though, it's good to have Joker, Garrus and Tali with me. Most of my squad isn't affiliated with Cerberus, but those that are… I'll be keeping an eye on them. Especially, Miranda, the black-haired woman you saw back on Horizon. As for Jacob, the other Cerberus operative, I've been talking a lot with him lately: he used to be Alliance, too, and some of what Cerberus does gets under his skin. Suffice it to say I'm absolutely certain he's on my side now, not theirs. He reminds me of you, sometimes, he's got that unmistakable, indefinable quality the Alliance military distills into you.
She braced herself. This was it: no turning back now.
The reason I'm writing now and saying all this, Kaidan, is because we're about to go through the Omega 4 relay, and I couldn't do this without getting a few things off my chest. I just wouldn't be able to remain focused. My only hope is that you don't hate me for it. After all, you were just starting to put the pieces of your life back together, and if I don't come back from this... but I still *need* to say this.
I love you, Kaidan.
I've always loved you. That magical first night we shared before Ilos is engraved in my memory. My last thought, as I was thrown from the wreckage of the first Normandy, dizzy from the lack of oxygen, was of you, and how the last words I spoke to you were the harsh "Kaidan. Go. Now." And when I woke up, cold and frightened, on that Cerberus bed, my eyes searched for you.
On Horizon, I thought my heart would burst; at the very least, it must have skipped a beat or two. The hardest part was seeing you, and not being able to hold you, comfort you, touch, kiss you, or say anything at all without being analyzed, scrutinized, even dissected by the others, particularly that Cerberus witch (at least that's how I saw her at the time). I realize now, albeit a bit late, that it shouldn't have mattered.
Because I want nothing more than for us to be together. All I ask is that, when (and if) I return from the Collector base, we meet and, at the very least, talk things over. There will still be the Reapers and the Illusive Man to contend with, but if there's even the smallest hope that you still love me, as you've lead me to believe... Well, let's just say a few Collectors won't stop me.
Here's hoping to see you soon. Yours,
At long last, the Spectre backed away from the desk, turning to gaze at the holo of Kaidan Alenko that stood beside the console. After a few minutes of staring at the picture she had filched from a news archive (from that broadcast about the SSV Normandy SR-1 two years ago), Alexandra let out a shuddering sigh and made her decision.
For good or for ill, she sent her message into the depths of the extranet.