Title: In the Calm

Rating: PG-13

Characters: F!Shepard, Thane, Samara, Miranda, Garrus.

Summary: In the hours before the Omega 4 Relay, Shepard has doubts she can't quite express. She visits her companions to get their perspective, and finds an unexpected reason to go on. Involves: Shepard, Thane, Samara, Miranda, and Garrus.

Author's Note: This 4-part story was inspired by the LJ community me_challenge random word prompt 'Patience'. I don't own any of the characters. Please read and review! :)

In the Calm

Chapter 1 - Thane: Patience

The assassin sits at the table within his quarters. Lost in memories, he doesn't hear when Shepard enters the room, crosses over to him. He only realises she is there when her hand touches his shoulder.

"Thane," she says, "Have a minute to talk?"

"Shepard," he turns around. "I'm sorry, I was-''

"- some place else," she says, smiling. He blinks,

"Yes," he says, and wants to ask how she knew. But she's still talking, walking over to the window to look out at the engine core.

"Everyone's nervous about making the jump," she says, "It's perfectly normal."

She's worried, he thinks to himself, looking at her back.

"This is something no one has ever come back from," she continues. "We may never come back."

That's what I hope, he thinks. But then he realises that, unlike him, she has something to live for. He's heard the rumours about her and Garrus, and he's seen the way she looks at him. He remembers what that feels like. All too vividly.

"I do not fear death," he says, and she turns around to face him. She's silent for a moment, then leans forward and grips the back of the chair.

"I do," she says quietly. "But I fear failure even more."

Thane is silent. Blinks. One set of eyelids, then the other. She turns away, her hands behind her back.

"If we fail," she says to the window, "It's more than our own lives. It's the lives of every sentient being in this galaxy. It's the Citadel, Noveria, Palaven. Captain Anderson, Executor Pallin, Captain Bailey. It's goddamned everyone in this galaxy, and it's all on our shoulders."

Thane does not know what to say. He doesn't have the same concerns weighing on his soul. Should he die in the course of their mission, it would be a good death, and well deserved. Should he fail, he gave his body to the attempt and could do no more. He doesn't know how to comfort her.

The universe is a dark place, he wants to tell her. We may not be strong enough. But she doesn't understand the limits of the body. She thinks her soul alone should be strong enough.

Her hands clench and unclench where they're held behind her back.

"Everything has its time," he says. And mine is long overdue. "Perhaps this is ours."

"I refuse to accept that," she says, turning sharply around. Her hair momentarily obscures her eyes. "If I believed that, I would have nothing to fight for. The Collectors must be stopped. We must stop the Collectors. That is our mission."

Thane bows his head. Her reasons are different to his. He seeks peace, she seeks victory.

She stares at him for a long moment. He doesn't look up. Footsteps stalk past him, the door hisses as it opens.

He remembers how she feels - but it is a memory, nothing more.