IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THROUGH FIRE AND FLAME, I ADVISE READING SOME OF IT NOW. JUST FOR SOME LAUGHS. AND TO SEE THIS SHEPARD. THIS GUY MIGHT CONFUSE YOU IF YOU DON'T.

Ehem.

I'm Clyde Shepard, and this is my favorite fan fiction ever.

Ello' Lovelies. I just finished ME3. I despise the ending. Hate it so much. So, we are going to pretend that.. well, isn't the ending! Or, well. Sort of. It's going to be very altered.

If you don't want to be spoiled, look away now.

… Right now.

It's a variant of the control ending. Minus Shepard turning into goo. Shepard instead controls the reapers and throws them into a sun. So. Y'know. Shepard isn't dead.

The Mass Relays are rather borked, but not completely destroyed.

Now, before complaining. I know, it's all.. incredibly convenient. I kind of have to do it like this. The ending to Mass Effect 3 is so, so underwhelming in my opinion, and I can't really do much with it unless I want to write about how dead Shepard is. Or how much of a crispy husk he is. So, yeah. It is pretty terribly convenient. But, hey. I'm sure you wouldn't be still reading this if you weren't interested. So, on with the show, shall we?


Chapter 1: Commander Fantastic

'Told you so.'

The only words that rang in his head all throughout the Reaper War. He really didn't like being that guy. Everyone knows 'that guy'. The guy that's too loud at parties, always shouting whenever his sports team wins a game, no matter the margin. The guy that will always be the first one to point his finger at you when you do something wrong, and proceed to laugh like he has never laughed before. Like you had just turned a vorcha into a circus balloon and blown him so full of hot-air he floated to the atmosphere. Yeah, being that guy was not fun at all. So he didn't say it out-loud, really. The thought of being that guy was awful. God damn, his brain never heard the end of it though. It's funny, really. It was almost like he had seen this war coming. It's a shame nobody stood up and yelled Reapers over and over again. That would have been too convenient.

No crying over spilled milk, though. Least not milk this spilled. Sour milk, too. Nobody likes sour milk.

"We need word on sector 9. How many casualties? Damn. That's more than I'd like, but it'll have to do. Look, we have Commander Shepard here. We need word on the Normandy. Can you pinpoint where it fell?"

By now I'm sure everyones wondering what happened. Mid-war, the Reapers just.. glow blue and take off into the sunset? Literally? Didn't make sense to anyone. Barely made sense to him. Maybe he was on some really, really big pain-high. Is that possible? A Pain-High? So fucked up you actually got stoned from it? It's about as possible as whatever his eyes had seen. Or.. what they thought they saw. Anyway, that wasn't the point. Point is, everyone wants to know how the great Commander Shepard did it again, don't they? And where Anderson was, of course. He knew the answer to both. The latter much, much more simple. The first being.. a bit more complicated. Too complicated. He didn't really want to talk about it. He didn't want to talk about anything. He just wanted to.. to go home, really. Not Earth. Fuck Earth. Normandy. He wanted to hug Tali. Wanted his cute, quarian, three fingered alien girlfriend. And he wanted Garrus to be in the background making fun of him for having said girlfriend. Whatever. Fuck Garrus.

Shepard let out a chuckle, quickly followed by a wince of pain.

"Yes. Shepard. Hey- Hey! I really doubt Shepard is interested in talking to the council right now. Don't they need to worry about fixing the, I don't know, galactic wide destruction? Just get back to finding the fucking Normandy."

You tell em, sir.

Now, where were we? Oh yes. Reapers. God knows how he lived through that one. It was supposed to take his life. And.. well, it didn't. It did leave him thoroughly fucked up, however. He didn't remember much after that. Just.. lots of pain. And cheering. He definitely could hear cheering. Speaking of which, shouldn't he feel a lot happier about this? He defeated the fucking reapers. It's over. Had it not sunk in yet? Whatever the case, he felt like he should be celebrating.

Didn't Chakwas promise him a drink of something? Brandy, was it? Damn it. He could really use a drink. Or a nap. A nice, long, hard nap.

Maybe 8.

Possibly 10.

How long would it take for them to fix all the Reapers brought? Years? Hundreds of them? Fuck. What happened to the citadel when it became the giant 'Fuck You' to the Reapers? Could they even use it? Or is it the crucible for life now? Destroying the Reapers was supposed to make the questions stop. And now.. he was left asking himself the same things he did before. Like, the point of all this. He controlled the Reapers. Sent them into oblivion. And.. well. That should have been it, but.. he isn't controlling them anymore. If what the catalyst said was true, wouldn't synthetic life still destroy organic life? The solution isn't a solution. It was a band-aid. Yet.. if he did control the Reapers, that wouldn't be anything either, would it? Except he wouldn't be here right now.

Speaking of which. Where exactly.. is here?

Shepard stood up. Much too fast for his damaged brain to handle, staggering to almost as soon as he got up, crashing into nearby equipment, falling with zero grace to the hard, hard ground.

"Commander Clyde Shepard, dropping by!" He yelled out in a haze of dizziness. "Don't know who's god damn idea it was.. to.. to fuckin.. shit, my head hurts."

"Shepard?"

He looked up from his pile of shit he was laying in to look at.. well, he couldn't really tell. Nobody he recognized, that's for sure. He was an old man. Grey. Kind of.. looking like a white Anderson. He slowly made his way to his feet, clutching the side of his head in a desperate plea for it to stop pulsing.

"Yeah, that's me. So.. sorry sir, I barely have a fucking clue what is going on here. Can you fill me in? Please? Pretty please? Don't make me put the cherry ontop."

The old man looked like he was about to slap Shepard. And then possibly laugh. Definitely slap though. This guy was new to being around him, clearly. He tried to stand up, but pain in the.. well, everything, prevented him from straightening all the way out. He settled on a hunched position, looking up at the far-too-serious face of the elderly military man.

"We found you. On Earth. We.. don't really know how you got there, per say, but you were talking about the Normandy. And your crew. I thought you were in your mind, so we've been tracing the Normandy's signal ever since we picked you up."

"Ah, I see.. well.. don't let me stop you then. I'm gonna.. sit then. Sit. Yeah. Can I sleep? Please?" Shepard pleaded with a lousy attempt at a laugh that caused his head to lurch in agony.

"Well, we'd like some.. answers, Shepard. Like.. Captain Anderson. And what exactly happened."

Ahh. Anderson. He let out a sad look, wiping his hand across his forehead. He really didn't want to talk about anything. Didn't he just save this entire galaxy? And he didn't even deserve a nap? Jesus. The shit he does, and a man can't even get some peace and quiet. Thoughts of Anderson smashed his head like a wave. The grief of seeing his friend die next to him before he could see the Reapers turn into piles of smoke started to set in. This wasn't the time to be grief-sticken, though. These people wanted answers. Lots of them. He slowly started to sit down and lean back against the wall, his tired eyes gleaming up at the military man.

"Andersons gone." He said sadly. "Killed in action."

The room went deathly quiet. Almost the instant he said it. If this was any other situation, he could swear they did this to him on purpose to make this exchange of information as awkward as organically possible. He really doubted it, though. Anderson was a big name, and probably a good reason why any of these people were even alive at this moment.

"I.. I see." He said quickly, trying to hide the sadness welling behind his eyes. "Well, about what happened to the Reapers—"

"That is going to have to wait. " He said waving his hand. "Far, far too long to explain. And far, far too much pain in my brain to fathom it all,"

"But, Commander—"

"It's not something that can be perfectly explained. Just.. let it go."

Not satisfied with the answer he had gotten, it looked like he was going to protest again, but the rest of the crew shot him some dirty looks. He turned silent, gave a strong nod, and walked away. Maybe he did have some sort of sense inside him. He silently thanked all the people in his vicinity thankful enough to shoot the man a cross look. It didn't look like he was going to get to sleep, however. The ship was returning to being noisy. He groaned, slowly standing up again, before looking around at the crew. He wasn't the only injured they had picked up, it seemed. Lots of people were bandaged. Broken. Even boarder-line dead. Something he saw this time, though.. compared to all the times he saw people in the med-bay on the Citadel.

Smiling.

People were smiling.

And finally, everything seemed to settle in to him, He leaned against the wall and a smile of his own graced his face. He fought the urge to start laughing. The overwhelming amount of good feelings he felt was almost enough to drive his pained legs into jumping. Not quite there, however. He closed his eyes, letting the joy flow into him like a really cool glass of water after weeks in the desert. He ran his fingers through his hair, as though to make sure everything was still here. He almost wanted to go around and make sure this wasn't just an alternate universe that he had died and went to. That might lead him into a psych-ward though. So, he would settle for this.

How much did they need to fix? How much was needed to repair after all this? How many casualties did they suffer, and was it worth it? He didn't know the answers. The council, god help them, were going to flay him alive with their.. words. He didn't want to be a part of the politics of all this. He needed to find Garrus. And go get a really, really big drink. Speaking of which, didn't they say they were tracking the Normandy?

He picked himself off the wall, slowly limping towards the person who looked like he had the most authority.

"Hey. You. With the.. brown hair and the stupid looking mustache."

"Wha-What? Who—"

"Yeah, yeah, whatever. Look. Where is this ship headed?" Shepard asked.

"W-Well. I belive it's a planet called Se'Los. Remote planet. Not much contact with life, really. We're tracing the Normandy to check for survivor's. Looks like it crashed there after the Crucible went off. Now, my mustache—"

"The Normandy crashed?" Shepard asked with a tone of desperation.

Obviously eager to get back to the point about his mustache, he looked like he might not answer, but he let out an irritated sigh. He looked a bit stressed.

"Yeah. The signals strong, so the ships working. This ship was schedueled to go over the Destiny Ascencion and receive orders, but it looks like the Captain doesn't feel like not giving the savior of the galaxy what he wants. Now—"

"ETA?"

"Not long, we should almost be there. If you would—"

"Fantastic, Mr Mustache. Don't worry what the ladies say, I'm sure your boyfriend absolutely loves it."

"Wha—"

Blocking out the yelling retorts from the official, he slowly hobbled his way back over towards his wall. So. The Normandy crashed. Survivor's were a maybe. That didn't sit right. The galaxy was saved, sure.. but, his friends. His loved ones. What became of them? Please, let it be good.

He didn't want to live in the new world alone.


'Remote' would have been a polite way of saying it, if it was some kind of insult.

They had trouble finding a landing position through the thick forest. They had floated above the planet for what felt like forever until they had finally dropped down. They were eager to find the Normandy. Probably to get all the sick and injured people on the ship to a proper medical place to get them all patched up. He didn't want to keep them waiting. They insisted Shepard stay in bed, but that wasn't going to happen. This was his ship, after-all. And his friends, and his crew. Like hell was he going to sit here because of a few bruises. So, he slowly.. well, very slowly, got off the ship and hobbled away through the brush. So, maybe the doctors had a point. Marching through the forest to look after a ship.. probably not the best idea.

He had the Normandys coordinates on his omni-tool, however. He had stripped off all of his armor, too. Which, since this place was.. largely an unknown, also a pretty terrible idea. Bad ideas were just rushing to him now adays.

He finally got a chance to think outside the noise, though. He had done it. Commander Shepard, no longer just Savior of the Citadel and Destroyer of the collectors. Now he was the savior of the.. galaxy. Everything. All organic life. And to think, someone on the streets on earth said he'd never amount to anything. A lot of people told him that, actually, back in the streets. They were right. Just.. y'know. Saving worlds. Galaxies, even. Childs-shit, really.

He looked on his Omni-Tool. He was close.

So, what the hell now? The galaxy wasn't going to stay peaceful. The Krogan were going to breed like damn hamsters. The Quarians and the Geth were.. sharing Rannoch. And who knows what the Rachni were going to do now. And all the mercs he had Aria get him. This.. that. Shit. And fuck, The Mass Relays. They still obviously worked, but the catalyst kid said they weren't going to. Does that mean.. all of them? Or maybe if they went into a Relay they were gonna get turned into smoke. That sounds about as pleasant.

Speaking of Pleasant.

The Normandy. In its.. not so greatest moment. It was crashed. Fucked up, to put it bluntly. And beside the wreckage, he could make out some silhouettes. Familiar ones, too. He slowly kneeled down. He was being a bit childish, now. Sure, he should probably tell them all they were going to get out, obviously, but what fun would that be? The Reapers are gone. No random lasers to snipe him now. Time to fuck around with every sore and painful nerve in his body.

"So.. He did it." Joker said with a bit of a sigh.

"Yeah. Yeah, he did." Garrus said.

"What a hell of a ride," Joker said with a bit of a wince. "Damn, think I broke something."

"I'm a bit surprised. I thought your entire skeleton was supposed to fracture on an impact like that,"

"Yeah, Me too. Looks like just my legs though. And my hip. Maybe a rib too. Okay, a lots broken. "

They didn't say anything for a bit after that. The silence made him want to scream.

"Wonder how the bars in heaven serve there drinks," Garrus said up to the sky.

"Despite everything.. Despite everything he did, and everything he accomplished, I'm still pretty sad he's gone, y'know? I'm sure everyone's going to think it was worth it. One man for the entire galaxy, but.. I still feel like it's not a total win. Like.. we lost the fight, but won the war."

Tali, who had said nothing to this, turned around to look at Joker a bit. It looked like she was going to say something, but decided against it. She was sitting a ways from the other two, staring over the field of forest like it wasn't really there, but she was admiring it anyway.

"Shepard would have wanted this," Tali said. "I'm sure he would have wanted it like this."

"Yeah.. He was always a bit of a showoff." Garrus replied.

"Here here." Joker said toasting a fake cup.

Tali even let out a sad chuckle. "Just a bit of a showoff?"

"Well, I was being polite. Shepard did say he would be watching me if I lived and he didn't. I can't talk too much about him. Who knows what he'd might do."

"I'm pretty sure heavens gonna send him back, truthfully." Joker grinned. "I mean, really. You don't just 'get used' to Shepard."

"No, No you don't." Tali said with more of a happy chuckle this time around. She unconsciously brought her hand to her visor, looking like she wanted to brush tears away, but forgot about the material in the way.

"What happens now?" She said questioningly.

"Rebuild, I guess." Garrus said. "We have to undo what the Reapers did. No civilization has ever made it this far, remember. I guess it's time somebody finally moves forward."

"I'm gonna go make sure everyone knows Shepards name, if they didn't already. I want his name in the history books. Everyone should know why they are still here."

"If everyone doesn't know already, I'd be pretty surprised. I don't even think he needed to destroy the Reapers for everyone to know about him. You don't forget white-hair very often." Garrus replied. "To Shepard!"

"To Shepard," Joker said.

"To Shepard.." Tali said with the return of sadness.

He had to fight the urge to cry. He had to remember something disgusting. Like Varren. Or vorcha. Or both. He was too incredibly touched. And if he greeted them with tears in his eyes, Garrus would never live it down. He slowly stood up, grinning ear to ear, before hollering.

"Tali, for the love of god, didn't I tell you to stop calling me Shepard?" He yelled.

All of them whirled around to see the grinning Shepard slowly move towards them. Joker, who was already in considerable amounts of pain, had to try and crawl on his elbows to get a better view. Garrus, who was standing, did a double take. And then a triple take, as though he had seen a ghost come out of the trees. And Tali..

Tali..

"Say it with me now. Clyde. C-L-Y-OW!"

Hell hath no fury like a Quarian scared. She had ran over. And instead of hugging, or kissing, or anything lovers are supposed to do, she was hitting him. Lots. Fiercy. Slap up-on slap rained on his shoulders. His head. And his back. It didn't stop when he used his arms to shield his sore face, but his sore arms weren't appreciative of this treatment. Slap up-on slap hailed on him like a storm. Garrus spluttering out whats and hows like some sort of baby, Joker hollering things he couldn't hear over the resounding sound of suit on skin.

"Stupid, idiot, moronic, overly dramatic, stupid, foolish, show-offy BOSH'TET!"

"Ow, Hey, Ow! Wh-Why! Y'-Y'know I'm in a lot of pain here—OW!"

"Pain? You want to know about pain? How about spilling your heart out because you think your idiot boyfriend is dead while he sits there and listens to you! How about watching an explosion come from the place you think your idiot boyfriend is nearly kill you!"

"Ow, OW! Come on, I was—h-HEY! WATCH WHERE YOU SLAP!"

"Like I care you idiot! You honestly think I can cry, I can cry so damn much and then have you come here and waltz back in like you did?"

"W-Well I was just so-Ow, Come on! How was I supposed to interrupt that!"

Joker and Garrus seemed content to watch the onslaught continue. Garrus had run over, helping a laughing joker to his feet, amused at his expense. Even Garrus joined in on the laughter, now that the shock wore off. Shepard. Alive. He had done it again. Somehow, someway. He just keeps doing it.

"Can you—Stop hitting me, lord in god!" Shepard pleaded. Just as Tali went over for another smack, Shepard charged over, wrapping his arms around the small Quarian girl, who still was not satisfied, wriggling desperately to free her arms. To hug back, or to continue inflicting punishment, he was unsure. Better safe than sorry.

"You idiot! Do you have any, ANY idea—"

"Yes, I do. If it's even half of what I felt.."

"And you didn't even come back right away! I was so worried you idiot!"

"I know."

"No, you don't! And I can't even wipe all the tears because of this stupid mask, and I'm crying because it's your stupid fault, and—"

"I know."

"Stop saying that you idiot!"

"Did I ever tell you how cute you are when you are angry?"

"Flattery will earn you death!"

Shepard laughed. Heartily. And it didn't stop, either. He had let go of her, who promptly wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him like he was about to fade off in the distance. He fell backwards, his sore body not ready for this amount of weight being thrown on it. He crashed the grass, a loud 'Oof' leaving his body. Garrus, holding up Joker, still laughed at his expensive. And all the noise had attracted the rest of the ship searching for the Normandy. They had come up-on an amusing sight. Shepard. Collapsed on the grass with a Quarian girl fighting between the urge to hit him and hug him, with a Turian and a Human overseeing it and laughing.

They don't call him Commander for nothing.


I hope you all enjoyed that. If this response is good, I'll probably continue it. This is my first shot at getting back into writing, so bare with the obvious typo's here. I tried editing it, but my lord, I am terrible at it. Anywho.

Yes. I am that dissatisfied with the ending of ME3 that I started writing this. Takes a lot to get me so motivated. And yes. There was spoilers. If you read this and didn't expect spoilers, you are a silly, silly person.

Love ya faces. PM Me, and all, review, whatnot!