It's been months, but I'm finally back with a Shenko story! This is part 4 in my "Shepard's Loyalty Mission" series, and in order for it to make the most sense, it should be read after "Justified," "Demigod," and "Loyalty." I'm so sorry it took me so long to get this part finished, but I hope you enjoy. :)

A million thanks to my beta HeavenlyMuse, whose amazing editing skills made this "Joker/Kaidan bromance" and all my fics a thousand times better than they would have been otherwise. Thanks for reading!


Joker-

Hey. I just wanted to thank you again for coming to talk to me on the Citadel last week. I've had a lot of time to think about what you said, and I didn't realize what an idiot I was being. Seeing Shepard again, after everything that happened... I thought I'd moved on. Then she showed up and I felt like everything I knew was wrong. I was so scared of what would happen to me if I lost her again that I pushed her away before I got fell in love with her again. I tried so hard to get over Shepard for two years, and now that she's back, I don't really know what I should do.

I've been thinking a lot about what you told me, about being sure about my feelings for Shepard before I make any crazy declarations of love I can't take back. I still don't know exactly what I should do, or what's the right thing to do, but I do know that I miss her, and if I learned anything these past two years, it's how that is never going to change.

You'll probably tell me it was a bad idea, but I sent her an email and tried to tell her what I'm thinking. I hate to bother you; I'm sure you're busy figuring out how to stop the Collectors and the Reapers. But I know you and Shepard are close and I was hoping you could tell me if she read it. I'm starting to think I screwed things up so badly that she won't ever respond to me. I know I'd deserve it after what I said to her, but I'm still hoping it's not at that point yet.

Anyway, sorry again. Hope everything's going all right.

Kaidan


Kaidan-

You're an idiot and that email you sent her was terrible. No offense, but damn. Shepard and I just talked and she's pissed. I don't even know how you screwed it up that bad. You told her you still won't work with her, but she's supposed to look you up when she's done fighting the Collectors? Thanks for being so damn helpful! "I'm not going to do anything to help, but if you somehow manage to live through this suicide mission you're going on, give me a call and maybe we can hang out sometime."

You both need some time to deal with this. It's not every day your girlfriend comes back from the dead, and she has a lot more to deal with it than you. Leave her alone for a while, give her some time to figure out what she wants and forget about all the dumb things you've said to her. If you're lucky, she'll come back around eventually. Just try not to get your hopes up too much yet.

But if it helps, I forgot to mention last time I saw you. I saw a picture of you on the desk in her cabin. So, there's that.

And as for being too busy – please. You really think I've got that much going on that I can't read or reply to emails? I've got enough time to read all of Shepard's messages; I can definitely make time for my own. Shepard's been helping our salarian scientist Mordin out on Tuchanka lately, apparently his friend got kidnapped by krogan, so I've been bored as hell up here in the ship. Wrex is down there too, apparently he's been getting all the krogan together as one big happy family. Faaaantastic.

How's the Alliance treating you? I assume "terribly" but hoping for "bad, but not as bad as usual." What can I say, I'm an optimist.

Joker


Joker-

Can't say I'm surprised at either of your reactions. I wasn't sure about sending it, but I thought I should be honest about everything. She knows me well enough to know how much I care about her. Or she did, anyway. Maybe after enough time has passed, she'll give me another chance to explain. I don't deserve it, I know, but I still have to hope she'll want to talk to me again after she's done with Cerberus. I hope you guys know what you're doing, working for them. No matter what any of you say, they're not trying to help you, they're using you for whatever their ultimate goals are. Funding Shepard doesn't even come close to making up for all the horrible things they've done.

The Alliance is... pretty much what you expected. We have so many problems to deal with – and that includes all of you – that it's hard knowing where to start, or what will actually help. We're not like Cerberus. We have responsibilities and can't just do whatever we want without considering what kind of impact it will have. I've been on the Citadel since Horizon, doing reports and meetings and endless paperwork. Even with my promotion, I'm still kept out of the loop on what's going on. No word on a new assignment yet, but I'm hoping for something soon; after being on Horizon for a few months, I was just getting used to seeing the sky again.

Good to hear that you're doing all right, and that Wrex is okay too, though I wasn't expecting to hear that name again. Have you heard from any of the others? I know Garrus is with you, but you know I didn't keep in touch with the old crew, and I don't know how to start talking to them again after so long.

Kaidan


Kaidan-

I'm not surprised at all that the Alliance is being useless. After how they treated all of us after we lost Shepard and the SR1, I don't expect anything but incompetence from them. But hey, that is one of the few good things about Cerberus – not much paperwork! Mainly because I don't think they want a paper trail of what they've been doing, but it still makes life easier for me, and that's the important thing, right?

We've got a few of the old gang around here. Garrus is here, like you saw on Horizon, but he got even more introverted and pissed at the world in the two years we were all separated, so he's an even bigger barrel of laughs than ever. Chakwas joined up with Cerberus like I did, I think she was like the rest of us and sick of the Alliance talking shit about Shepard and treating the rest of us like we were insane. Shepard just got Tali to come with us again, too. She's the same as ever, just maybe a little more sure of herself. She grew up, I guess. She asked me about you, actually. Couldn't believe you weren't here; I think she assumed that wherever Shepard was, that's where you'd be.

We got another couple crazies on board. I swear we're over the doctor-recommended limit, but Shepard keeps finding more of these people, I don't know how she does it. One's an asari Justicar named Samara, and if you've never heard of those before, look it up so you can understand how nuts they are and sympathize with me on this one. Shepard also tracked down this drell assassin, Thane. He's a real find, too. Leather jackets, hand-to-hand combat skills, mysterious, depressing home life he can't manage to fix – the works. Shepard's been spending a lot of time with him trying to help. You know how she is.

Hey sorry but I gotta wrap this up, the Illusive Man's calling and I'm sure there's some bullshit heading my way.

Joker


Joker-

Glad to hear that a few of our old friends from the SR1 are okay, though I can't say I'm happy to hear that so many of them have joined Cerberus. It's good that Shepard has some people she knows she can trust around, and I hope some of you try to convince her that working with Cerberus isn't the way to go, since I can't.

I know you've been working with them for a while now, but they don't have your best interests at heart. Your "boss" leaking my whereabouts to the Collectors just to draw them out is insane, and I can't believe that you've kept working with him after he did that. I know you got a lot of information on the Collectors, but do the ends really justify such extreme means? I'd hate for Shepard – or any of you – to get caught up in the problems the Illusive Man is making for himself. I can't say anything specific, but I'm sure you realize the Alliance is doing their best to find and stop him.

I read up on Justicars like you asked, and I get why you're nervous. I'd be scared to say anything around one of those just in case it broke some rule in their Code I didn't know about. And that assassin sounds pretty interesting too. I guess Shepard thinks so, anyway. What's his story? Are they talking a lot? Can you tell if anything is going on between them? What kind of regulations do you have on Cerberus ships? I hope you'd tell me if something happened between Shepard and anyone else, even though it's probably none of my business.

A little news from me – I've been assigned to the Citadel on a "semi-permanent basis" as some kind of advisor because of my "extensive knowledge about the geth and first-hand experience in the Terminus Systems." What I got out of that is that I'm stuck here answering questions about Shepard until they decide I actually don't know anything that can help. At least I'm getting my money's worth out of this apartment instead of letting it gather dust like usual.

Hope you're doing well.

Kaidan


Kaidan-

Hey, don't worry about it. I've got your back when it comes to you and Shepard. You two drove me crazy on the SR1, but you two being obnoxiously happy is a lot better than Shepard being all sad and quiet all the time. I talk to her and help when she lets me, but the only one she was ever comfortable opening up to was you. I hear a lot of "I'm fine, don't worry about me" and "dealing with the Collectors is the important thing right now" instead of what's actually on her mind.

I hate to admit it, since it's gonna kill my reputation as the guy who knows everything about everybody, but I don't really know what's going on with Shepard and Thane. I'd love to tell you there's nothing to worry about, but they're spending a lot of time together, doing a lot of talking. He calls her "siha," whatever that means, and don't bother looking it up, the translator doesn't catch it and I can't find what it means on the extranet, I already tried.

I know that news is gonna upset you, but You don't want to hear this, but you did break up with her. And I know you'll fight me on the word choice there, but you told her you were moving on and that's the same damn thing. So really, if she wants to make out with a scaly lizard man – and I'm not saying she does! – then she gets to. I'm still rooting for you, buddy, but there's nothing you can do here. So try not to get too freaked out about it.

And before you even think about writing anotheremail to her... don't. Just don't. You're far enough in the hole already.

Sorry to hear you're stuck on the Citadel. I would say that, you know, it's a fun place, and you won't get bored there like you had to be on Horizon colony. Except now, you'll be stuck in meetings, and your superiors will ask you the same questions over and over, and you'll be writing reports about nothing. But at least you won't get bored when you're not working?

I get what you're saying about the Illusive Man. Funny story. He sent us into a trap recently. Not a, "hey this is dangerous, you should probably go check it out" kind of trap. The kind where he knows things were waiting to ambush us and he didn't bother giving us the heads up. Shepard was pissed, of course, and really let him have it, but she told me that she may be frustrated, but she doesn't really have a choice. We've got so much left to do, and nobody else out there is willing to pay the bills and get us what we need to deal with the Collectors, so we're pretty stuck.

And hey, sorry it took me a while to get back to you. Everybody on the crew apparently has issues that only Shepard can solve, isn't it convenient how that works out? We've been working on getting everybody some therapy so we can get through Omega 4, and none of these problems are the kind that can be solved by talking it out, so there's been a lot of violence. Big surprise where Shepard's concerned, I know. We were on the Citadel recently but I didn't have a chance to slip away. Maybe next visit we can get some drinks and bitch about how insane our lives are. Just like old times, right?

Joker


Joker-

I know you're right about Shepard and Thane, whatever's going on between them. I can't do anything from here, and as much as I want to ignore you, I know your advice not to email is smart. I wish I could talk to her, but I know she needs time. I just have to hope she'll be willing to hear me out when she's done dealing with the Collectors.

Speaking of which, the Illusive Man sent you into a trap? But... you still work for him? I already got into this with Shepard so I'll try not to harp on it too much, but he's not the only option you have. I know how you feel about them, but the Alliance can help. They may be frustrating sometimes, but at least they aren't trying to kill me. As far as I know, anyway. I guess I could die of boredom sitting behind this desk another day. All this paperwork really makes me miss the Normandy. It's hard for things to be boring when you're saving the galaxy, and Shepard always made things interesting.

I've been getting interrogated on Shepard's location and plans for a while now, but I had yet another meeting about her yesterday. This time I got dragged into Ambassador Udina's office, and Admiral Hackett was there too. I've been asked about her so many times by so many different people that I think I can answer the questions in my sleep. "I haven't spoken to Shepard since I saw her on the Citadel after Horizon colony." "No, we didn't discuss her mission, it was personal." "I know nothing about her current whereabouts or plans." "I am not a spy for Cerberus." I don't know how they come up with this. They talked to me for two hours, asking me about her in every way they could think of. Whatever you guys are doing out there, the Alliance is getting worried. Not sure if that's good or bad for you, but I'll do what I can to keep you safe. They haven't asked me anything about you, so I'm hoping they still don't know I'm talking to you again. As far as I know, this account is still secure.

Looking forward to catching up with you in person next time you're on the Citadel. Hopefully you won't have to yell at me this time.

Kaidan


Joker-

Hey, I haven't heard from you in a while. I know you're probably busy with whatever mission you're on, but you're usually quicker than this with your replies. I know I over-analyze too often, but I'm still getting a little worried about you guys.

Hope to hear from you soon and that everything's all right.

Kaidan


Kaidan-

Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. Things haven't been good here.

Shepard's insane.

No, seriously.

She found a geth on a dead Reaper – well, kind of dead anyway – and decided to take it home. So we now have a geth. On the ship. An actual geth. He's named himself too! He's a talking killer robot! And he has armor made from Shepard's old N7 armor, which isn't creepy at all. And of course he and our AI are getting along great.

Did I mention Shepard's keeping the geth in the AI core? HOW does this make sense? It doesn't. Like I said – she's insane.

To add to that, this crew has way more issues than the gang from the old Normandy. Thane's son tried to assassinate somebody, but Shepard stopped him and hopefully those two are making up. Our crazy Justicar Samara has an insane daughter and Shepard helped kill her. Then Tali's dad apparentlybetrayed the Flotilla before he died, and Tali was about to get exiled for some reason or another, I don't know, I wasn't paying close attention until Shepard did one of her famous power speeches and got her out of it without getting her dad in trouble. Miranda's genetic-engineering dad tried to kidnap her sister... who might also be her clone? I don't know, I didn't really understand what was going on with her, and I'm too scared of Miranda to actually ask.

So there's been a lot of fun family bonding time on the SR2 lately. I guess when you're getting together all the biggest, baddest people in the galaxy, you're also gonna get the reasons they're so big and bad, and they usually aren't pretty. I just wish we weren't getting dragged all over the place trying to solve their issues, while I sit on my ass in the ship and worry about Shepard getting killed doing something stupid.

Things have settled down though a little bit, and it seems like almost everybody's happy, finally. Or as happy as some of these murdery psychopaths can be. I've been talking to Shepard a lot lately, though. You know her – she's great at fixing everybody's problems except her own. Like, the ones she's got with you and how she's not over you yet. She didn't mention you specifically, but she's still got that picture of you on her desk, so I can only imagine. She's still talking to Thane, but I think you're safe there. They're not saying any of that romantic sappy crap like you two were always were, so there's one good thing in all this.

Anyway, I've gotta go. Shepard has decided that even the robot needs help with his problems, so we're going straight into a geth base to, I don't know, get ourselves killed. Again, Shepard is insane. It's like the whole universe held a meeting and came up with a list of ways to make my life suck, because I don't know how things could get any worse.

Ah, shit, I really shouldn't have said that.

Joker


Joker-

Sounds like I'm missing out on a lot, not being with you guys. I guess you have a point about everyone having problems on the ship, but I can't blame you for not wanting to handle them all. What you said, about worrying about Shepard when she's gone... I do too, all the time. Sometimes I wish I would have gone with her when she asked, because at least I'd be there backing her up. I'm a soldier, and I know I can't ally myself with Cerberus, no matter how much good they're helping you do, giving you the ship and everything else. It's just hard hearing about all the danger Shepard's in and not being there to take care of her.

Not that I think she needs to be taken care of, of course! And it's not that I don't want to hear about what you're doing. But I'm sitting behind this desk with a stack of pointless paperwork in front of me, as always, and hearing about everything that's going on... I can't help it. I miss being there with her.

And I'm glad she's talking to you, even if she doesn't mention me. I miss her so much, all the time. I always have. I just hope she'll talk to me again, after you guys make it back from going through Omega-4. And even if she doesn't ever want to see me again, I hope she's happy and safe. Take care of yourselves, okay?

Kaidan


Kaidan-

Have to make this quick. Crew got abducted by the Collectors while Shepard and the rest were out on the shuttle. I'm the only one that didn't get taken, and only because I hid in ducts like a coward and unshackled our AI like an idiot, though she saved my ass so I can't complain about her too much anymore. We're on our way to the Omega-4 Relay now to head through it and get everyone back. I'm just hoping that all this shit we went through to prepare for this was enough, or else we won't be able to find them, and forget getting back ourselves.

Final thing before I have to cut this short. My last confession, or something. I spy on Shepard's cabin sometimes, and I saw her sit and stare at your photo for a while. She misses you. I thought I should tell you now, just in case we don't come back from this.

I'm hoping we'll get the chance to team up and kick some Reaper ass after we get back. But if not... I know we've had our problems, but I'm glad we got past all that. It was good working with you.

Joker


Joker-

I don't know if you'll get this before you go through the relay, but good luck. I hope you can get everybody back alive and make it through safe yourselves.

And thanks for what you said about Shepard. It means a lot.

Be safe out there.

Kaidan


Kaidan-

Never thought I'd get to write back to you, but we're alive! I seriously can't believe I'm writing this, but the whole crew's safe and somehow the whole squad made it through. Shepard included. Worst thing anybody got was shot a few times, which is pretty standard. Garrus survived a rocket to the gut, again. Lucky he's a turian, he's a tough son of a bitch. Oh, and Shepard almost fell to her death jumping to the shuttle. But we're all fine other than that!

She blew up the Collector base – and you are not gonna believe what they saw in there. I'll have to tell you in person, I don't want to miss the look on your face. Once we made it out, she immediately called and said some things to the Illusive Man that I wish you could have heard. EDI and I would have high-fived if she had hands. Shepard walked out of that room with a huge ass smile, and I haven't seen her look so happy in ages; not since she came back, at least.

We're heading to the Citadel now. I heard something about "getting loud and spilling drinks," but as far as I know, they don't have any solid plans other than getting drunk enough to forget we all ever worked for Cerberus. I'll call once we dock, and I swear to god you better get your ass up here the second I do. It's past time for you two idiots to see each other.

Joker


Joker-

Glad you all survived. And about Shepard – I couldn't agree more. Especially about the idiots part.

Talk to you soon.

Kaidan