As expected, I am utterly obsessed with the Mass Effect 3 demo and the ten seconds of Kaidan we get to see. Apologies for not updating Afterparty in a while, but I've been scribbling out these demo-inspired 500 word drabbles while I'm feeling the inspiration. :) These do not take place in my "Shepard's Loyalty Mission" 'verse. Hope you enjoy. :)

You're alive.

But some days, you can't quite make yourself believe that.

You teach graduates of the Ascension Project. The Alliance put you in charge of spec-op biotic soldiers. The Council made you a Spectre.

You still can't believe that. You're not Spectre material. She- yes, she is. Not you. But when they offer, and Anderson nods and gives you a look, and you realize how tired he looks, what can you say but yes?

It keeps you busy.

Your squad is full of men and women you're honored to serve with, but there's a distance that prevents you calling them friends. They go out after missions and you'll join them sometimes, but you never have much to say. Sometimes they talk about their girlfriends, wives, children, and you sit there, trying not to be consumed by regret.

You go to meetings, teach, coordinate missions, travel to the Citadel, space stations, remote colonies, hostile territory. Some days, you wake up from a nightmare and don't know where you are.

It doesn't really matter.

You haven't taken shore leave since two years ago, and it can't get much worse than that, so you decide to visit home. Your mother is ecstatic and your father stoic but proud, and you hoped that being home would make you feel something, anything. But it's all so small after what you've seen and you feel nothing but numbness and relief when you leave.

You try to avoid having much time on your own. You put in long hours so you can pass out once your head hits the pillow, and most of the time, you're too tired to stay up thinking.

But sometimes you'll lie awake for hours, tossing and turning as you think of your mistakes, while "never" and "can't" and "I'm sorry" echo in the emptiness of your dark apartment.

You go through the motions; you've gotten good at that. No one thinks anything is wrong with you because, technically, nothing is.

Nothing's really right, either.

You drift on, feeling directionless. The Reapers are coming, you know, but only Shepard can stop them.

You wonder if she's happy. You hope she is. You try not to, but sometimes you imagine what you'd say if you ever saw her again.

And then you do.

You're back in Vancouver – something big is going on, and you've just finished with Alliance command when you see Anderson. You greet him like the old friend he's become when you see a familiar face.


She turns. "Kaidan?"

She approaches, beautiful and confident as ever, but something's changed. You always felt like she was the sun that everyone in the galaxy circled, but her light dimmed, her presence in the room unnoticed by most.

You tear your attention away and reply to Anderson, but they're called away and you smile at her as she leaves. She keeps eye contact, but doesn't return it.

You hope she will, eventually.

You leave Alliance HQ feeling happier than you have in years.