It starts. This fic has two parts and 32 planned chapters. 7 are already written, eighth in progress. Yes, I am a slightly obsessive Thane fan. Yes, this is my first time writing a Mass Effect fic. Yes, I probably got some characterization wrong. Yes, there are almost certainly other errors. But I'm proud of this piece and want it out there. Here goes.

Anyway. Chapter 1. In which Thane gets scolded, Irikah makes breakfast, and Kolyat is a jerk. Fun fun.

Chapter 1 – Home

He quietly closed the door behind him, leaving the midnight downpour outside. He didn't turn on any lights as he hung his jacket by the door and walked down the front hall, through the dining room, carefully up the stairs in the living room, and stopped in front of the first door to the right of the staircase. Hadn't woken anyone so far… Good.

He reached for the doorknob, but the door opened before he could touch it. He looked up immediately into tired sunset eyes. "Thane, it's two AM," she said, rubbing an eye.

"I'm sorry. I thought I was being quiet." Thane put a gentle hand on her shoulder.

"You were. I was getting a drink."

"Oh." He stepped aside, hand falling from her shoulder. "…I'll wait for you in bed."

She nodded slowly and shuffled past him, yawning. He smiled and shook his head, walking into the bedroom and stripping down to his boxers before climbing into bed. Yes, she would scold him for leaving his clothes in a heap like that, but it was as she'd said: two AM. That was something to deal with when the alarm went off in six hours.

She was back in a few minutes, still obviously drowsy. Predictably, she glared at his clothes on the floor, but merely muttered something as she got back into bed. Thane rolled over and smiled at her, but she scowled back at him. "You're picking that up in the morning."

"It is morning, Irikah."

"You know what I mean, smartass."

He wrapped his arms around her in response. She sighed, defeated, and snuggled up against him as her eyes closed. As always, Thane waited until he was certain she was asleep before letting himself doze off.

He slapped the alarm and glared at the glowing red "8:00" as he sat up. Six hours of sleep… But if he didn't get up now, his schedule would be thrown off, and he wouldn't get a good night's sleep for gods knew how long. Besides, he'd suffered worse.

Irikah stirred beside him, sunset eyes meeting black as they looked at each other. After a moment, she gave him a drowsy smile. "I'll get breakfast if you get your clothes."

Thane returned the smile. "I knew you were going to say that."

"Then why didn't you do something about it?" She threw off the blankets and threw her legs over the side of the bed, then stood. Her blue nightgown hung, languid, from her slender shoulders, but the color was a perfect complement to her turquoise scales.

He stood, as well, turning and taking hold of the sheets. "I'll make the bed. You can get dressed and get to work on that breakfast." Dodged the question.

She frowned at him, but grabbed a blue-flowered sundress and some undergarments from the closet and went into the bathroom. Thane smiled as he made the bed. "You realize that's a summer dress, don't you?"

"I'm not leaving the house today, darling."

"I'm just worried about you catching a chill. It's almost winter."

"Did you not hear what I just said?"

Thane shook his head, still smiling as he smoothed the sheets. "I'm taking my clothes down to the laundry room now."


Still smiling as he threw on his own outfit – a black turtleneck and slacks – before scooping up his still-damp clothes and proceeding to drop them off in the laundry basket downstairs. He emerged back into the living room just as Irikah was coming down the steps. "Go wake Kolyat, dear," she said. "He'll be late for his first class."

Thane's smile dropped off his face. "But…"

She looked at him with an expression that clearly spoke of pity. Both sets of her eyelids blinked as they stared at each other. "Thane," she finally said, voice quiet, tone comforting, "you're a soldier. Fear isn't a familiar feeling. Not until it comes to your own son."

"Fear is very familiar to a soldier, Irikah. You move on in spite of it." He realized too late that he'd just dug his own grave.

"Then move on in spite of it." Knew that was coming.

Thane stared at her a moment more before finally turning with a defeated sigh and climbing the stairs. He went to the door on the left and knocked. "Kolyat? Are you awake?"

A curse was the answer. "Gods above, this is just what I need first thing in the morning. Yes, I'm getting dressed, now go away."

Thane winced. "Alright. I'll see you at breakfast."

"Don't remind me."

Thane turned and trudged back down the stairs. Irikah was waiting for him, arms open. He practically fell into them, wrapping her in his own embrace. "What happened to making breakfast?"

"I set the table."

"You waited for me."

"Yes, and you needed it. Go sit down. I'll be done before too long." She let go and slipped out of his arms.

"Do you need any-"

"Sit. I'll cook. You burn everything."

"I do not. How do you think I survived when I was single?" He frowned at her.

She shook her head slowly as she looked at him. "I honestly have no idea. Your microwave was probably your best friend."

"This is just a 'the husband can't cook' stereotype."

"It's true. Now sit down so that I have time to make something before you and Kolyat starve to death." She kissed him on the cheek and vanished into the dining room, on her way to the kitchen.

Thane followed her as far as the dining room table, which he sat at the head of. He leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes, ignoring the sounds and smells from the kitchen to think. He was… tired. Not just from lack of sleep. Tired in his heart. And frightened of what came next. He'd be home for at least a few days. Tomorrow was the weekend. He hated being home on weekends. No school to take away the tension. Nothing to get Kolyat out of the house. He wanted it to spend time with his son, wanted it so badly that it hurt, but the anger was overwhelming. Twenty years of pain. Twenty years of missed birthdays, holidays, graduations… All the things a father should be there for.

He remembered exactly which birthdays he'd caught, which ones he'd missed. Fifth, sixth, twelfth, eighteenth. Four out of twenty. And not a single first day of school or graduation. Preschool, grade school, middle school, high school… He'd missed the first day of college, too, and would likely miss that graduation. And so many Origin Days and Weeks of Thanks, everything.

He heard the footsteps before he felt Kolyat's glare. He sat up and opened his eyes as his son took the seat to his right. Neither looked at the other for the longest time. Thane finally worked up his courage and glanced Kolyat's way. "So how is… How is school?"

"Shut up and leave me alone." He didn't even look up.

"Kolyat, that was uncalled for." Irikah set a full plate down in front of him. "Apologize to your father." She left again to get Thane's plate and her own.

Kolyat waited until she was seated across from him to speak again. "Why should I apologize? It's not like he gives a damn."

"Kolyat, that's not true." Thane set his fork down the instant he picked it up.

Kolyat glared at him. "Yeah? Prove it."

"If I didn't care, I wouldn't be talking to you."

"If you did care, you'd stay home for more than two days at a time."

Thane drooped. "Kolyat, you know I can't do that. It's my-"

"Your job. Your ever so important mystery job. We have no idea what the hell you do, what you are, where you go, nothing!"

"All I can tell you is that-"

"You're some weird kind of soldier, somehow. And your explanation for keeping all your secrets? 'It's for your own safety.' Yeah, right. Smells like fish to me."

"Kolyat, stop it!" Irikah looked about ready to jump out of her seat and slap the man.

He glared at her. "Why should I? You have no idea, either. You don't know what he could be doing behind your back. Why the hell do you still trust him?"

"Because he's my husband, I love him, and I know he loves me."

Kolyat stared at her for a long moment. "…Why don't you find a real husband? One who actually cares enough to be there for you? One who doesn't leave you staring out the window and crying?"

Shock fell over Thane's face as he looked at his wife. "Irikah, you-"

"Thane, it's not your fault. I know you would be with me if you could. I just can't help missing you."

A long moment of silence passed among the three before Kolyat abruptly stood with his plate. "I'm eating in my room." He stormed off.

Thane stared down at his own plate. "…I'll save this for later. I'm not hungry."

"Thane…" Irikah put a hand on his arm.

"He's right, Irikah. You have… no idea what I could be doing…"

"Thane, don't. Don't beat yourself up like this."

He silently stood and took his plate into the kitchen, wrapping it and setting it down in the refrigerator. He sighed. "Irikah, go back and eat."

"Alone?" She wrapped her arms around him from behind.

Another sigh. "It'll get cold."

"It's been cold, dear."

"You have to eat."

"So do you. You haven't had a decent meal in ten days."

"You don't know that." He looked over his shoulder at her.

She reached up and stroked the folds of red-scaled skin at his throat. "I know you weren't sitting around long enough to eat anything nice. That's not like you. When you have something to do, you don't stop until it's done. I'm surprised you haven't starved."

"…I'll eat later. Go heat up your food. I'll be in the library."

Irikah kissed the back of his neck and let him go. "I'll be after you in a few minutes, you know."

"To have the same conversation we always have when this happens?"

"You know it helps."

Thane shook his head and walked away. Up the stairs, second door on the right… A couch, a coffee table, a window on one wall, bookshelves lining the rest. Hundreds of books. Never time to read any. Irikah loved them, though, so he kept buying them. He sighed as he sat back on the couch, looking at the book left at one corner of the table. Landscape photographs. It was a human work. The pictures were mostly of Terra. There were a few of Rakhana's deserts, though, and even some of Palaven. Palaven… The thought of the turian nation sent a chill down his spine. It could all boil over at any-

"Dear, you have that look on your face again." …Gods, he hadn't even noticed her.

"What look?" Thane watched her as she sat beside him.

"That look that says you're nervous about something."

"…It's the weekend, Irikah. Kolyat's going to be home. What do I do?" Forget Palaven for now. He had more immediate concerns.

"Talk to him. You have a little time."

"And then, I'll leave again, and whatever bit of progress I've made will be wiped away."

"If you say that, then that's what will happen." She leaned on him. "You have to try."

"I do try. I've been trying. He's still angry with me." Thane sighed and shook his head. "I've run out of things to say. The first thing he does is ask me questions that I can't answer. Then, he takes off on me for it, for being gone… He's told me not to come back more than once, Irikah."

Her hand rested on his. "Just try, Thane. Try."

Feedback would be nice, but my number one hope is that you enjoyed reading it. If I haven't bored you to death or driven you off, then I've done my job, and I'm happy. Thank you for reading. Ferret out.