Come on, Shepard, you can do this. You're the first human Spectre, Hero of Elysium and Savior of the Citadel. You've faced innumerable odds, faced hard ships that would break other men and stood strong against everything the galaxy has thrown at you. And now your confidence is waning because you are worried about what will happen when you tell your engineer how you feel about her. It's been a month since we saved the Citadel and she still remains on your ship. She must feel something for you. Why would she stay? Is it because she recognizes the threat of the Reapers? Is that it?
Shepard looked back on his memories of his time with his favorite engineer. Each one as vivid as the present. The first time he met her in the back alleys of the wards. He watched as she stunned her assailants and he came in to end them before they could do any harm to her. Shepard reached out a hand to help her up asking if she was okay. Her eyes what caught his attention. They glowed behind her visor. They were captivating. Then her voice when she replied to his question.
She so readily gave him the information needed to prove Saren's treachery. Information that could have fetched millions on the information market. And even after that selfless act, she offered her services to him in the coming mission. He has so rarely seen such courage. When on his ship, he made a point to visit her often in engineering to check if she was okay and even learn about her people.
Here he sat in his quarters waiting for her to show up. The door opened up revealing Tali who rubbed her hands around nervously. "Y-You wanted to talk?" she said nervously.
Shepard smiled. "It's alright. I-I just wanted to talk... in private."
Tali walked up and sat down next to him on his couch.
"I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate you staying with us even after you fulfilled your duties against Saren."
"The Reapers are a threat to everything in this galaxy, including the Flotilla. I can better serve my people by staying here. M-My father understands."
"Regardless, I really do appreciate it. I-" He paused in his thought.
Tali looked on anxiously.
"I was waiting till after Saren and such to say this, but I wanted you to know that you mean more to me than a friend."
"Shepard..." she cooed. The words she finally wanted to hear.
"What I'm trying to say is-"
The deck jumped from a sudden impact.
"Joker what's going on?" he yelled.
"We're under attack by an unknown vessel!" he replied through the ship's comm. system.
"Come on, Tali!"
The two rushed to their feet. Shepard got to his locker and dressed up in his armor as fast as he could while Tali tried to stabilize some of the ship's system. Shepard held his helmet when he noticed the beacon system readying in the back of the sleeper pods' area. He rushed to it to get the beacon launched. Flames were starting all over the place. Tali rushed behind him with a couple of fire extinguishers. Shepard placed his helmet on and launched the beacon.
"Will the Alliance get here in time?" she asked.
"The Alliance doesn't abandon its people; we just need to hold on."
They tried in vain to control the flames.
"Joker's still in the cockpit," she added. "I'm not leaving if he and you aren't."
Shepard looked back to her. "Tali, go. Now."
"Aye, aye," she said sadly. "But what were you going to tell me?"
"I'll tell you when I get out of here."
She rushed to the closest life pod and waited just outside the door directing others into it. A crew member ran towards the pod, but an explosion caught her, killing her instantly.
Kaidan was the last one to get into the pod. Tali went in after him and the doors closed. She secured her harness and watch out of the view port as the Normandy struggled to moved. Please live, she thought. I need you.
She could hear Joker and Shepard over the radio.
"No I can still save her!"
"The Normandy's lost! Going down with the ship won't change that!"
"Yah, okay... Help me up. They're coming around!"
Tali watched as the unknown vessel closed in on the Normandy and fired another beam.
A life pod launched from the Normandy.
"The Commander is still out there!"
Tears came to her eyes. No...
Pain shot up Shepard's back from slamming into the column. The explosion from the Normandy set him flying backwards. He could hear a hissing. Out of the corner of his eyes he could see air leaking from his suit. No, no, no! He struggled in vain trying to stop the leak.
Not here! Not now! I-I still have a job to do. I still have to stop the Reapers. I still have to save the galaxy. I still haven't told Tali how I felt about her.
His lungs started to burn from the pain of the lack of oxygen.
Please don't let it end like this. Please. I need to tell her.
I love her...