Shepard had made her rounds of her crew following the debacle that was Thessia. The weight of that failure falling squarely on her own shoulders, something only she could bear. She was leaving the crew deck, having talked to Liara last, no matter how bad she felt for Liara's loss, she just could not understand why the young Asari seemed to act like she was the only one experiencing this. Earth had fallen first, Palaven right behind it, that Thessia could have joined them, seemed to be something that the Asari seemed to think impossible. Shepard stepped into the elevator and tapped the indicator for the loft, she wanted to be alone. Standing in the middle of the elevator she closed her eyes, letting the thoughts racing around her head take over. She had failed Earth, she had failed Palaven and now she had failed Thessia. She hadn't been able to stop Kai Leng and now the war would be lost if she couldn't take down Cerberus as quickly as possible. Turning around, she struck out, her fist connecting solidly with the back wall of the elevator, the sudden pain snapping her back to the present.

"Commander, I would ask you to refrain from attempting to damage the ship," came the soft tones of EDI, the AI who for all intents and purposes was the Normandy.

"Sorry EDI, just a little pissed off right now and had to do something," she replied waiting impatiently for the doors to open at the loft. Stepping off as they did, she tapped the code to open her cabin and stepped into the large room. Taking in the fish tank and the models as she walked over to her personal terminal, tapping a code she logged into her email. The first one on the list stood out over all the others.

Evacuating Thessia
From: Asari Military Command

Good. You opened this message. This isn't actually asari military command. They're busy tending to what's left of their planet.

So you survived our fight on Thessia. You're not as weak as I thought. But never forget that your best wasn't good enough to stop me. Now an entire planet is dying because you lacked the strength to win. The legend of Shepard needs to be re-written. I hope I'm there for the last chapter. It ends with your death.


Shepard saw red, throwing the terminal across the room in a shower of sparks. "THAT SMUG SON OF A BITCH!" she screamed, throwing her medal case across the room after the terminal. Shepard tore through her quarters, breaking anything she could get her hands on, none of it seeming to abate the anger she felt.

Kaidan stood talking to Adams, Donnely and Daniels in Engineering, he was worried about Shepard, but figured she would approach him if she wanted to talk. The fact that she had just nodded when he told her they would get Kai Leng the next time, in itself was worrisome.

"Major Alenko," EDI's voice came over his personal comm.

Startled, as the AI rarely used personal communications when they were shipboard Kaidan stepped away from the engineering team and walked to the stairwell overlooking the small storage area under engineering. "Yes EDI," he responded.

"I am concerned for Commander Shepard, she is currently in her cabin doing a relatively thorough job of demolishing it."

Kaidan took a deep breath, "Thank you EDI, I'll check on her."

"Thank you Major, you seem to be one of the few people who can get through to her sometimes."

Kaidan nodded to the air, and walked through the door that led out of Engineering and headed toward the elevator, tapping the control that would take him to the loft.

Shepard ran out of things to throw and break, she had sat down on the sofa in the private portion of her cabin, having gotten a bottle of Tequila from the cabinet, she had forgone a glass and the accoutrements that went along with Tequila and was drinking deep swigs straight from the bottle. She was already a third of the way through the bottle when the chime at her door sounded. She chose to ignore it and continued drinking.

Kaidan sighed in frustration when the door didn't open at his signal, "EDI can you please override the Captain's cabin."

"Of course Major," came the reply.

The door slid open after a few moments, revealing what appeared to be a complete disaster area. "Thank you EDI," he told the AI and stepped into the room, hearing the door swoosh closed behind him. "Shepard," he called softly.

Shepard glanced up toward the door. "I'm not in the mood to deal with you Kaidan, so just turn around and go back out the way you came in," she replied sharply, her voice slightly slurred as the Tequila was beginning to make itself known in her system.

Kaidan walked over and picked up the terminal on the ground, setting it back on her desk, he noticed the broken screen still had a message on it, though it was distorted through the cracks. He quickly skimmed the message. "Ah, Kai Leng. I should have known," he muttered under his breath.

Kaidan moved back toward the wall where Shepard's medal case lay broken on the floor, he carefully picked them up and placed them back on the desk before descending the three steps down to Shepard's private area. "Shepard," he said with a sigh, taking in the bloody knuckles on her right hand as well as the bottle of Tequila resting against her leg in her left hand, from the looks of it she was getting close to halfway through the bottle. Settling on the couch next to her, Kaidan reached across and tried to take the bottle from her hand.

"Oh hell no, this is mine and I intend to finish it," she said darkly, pulling the bottle away from Kaidan.

Kaidan shook his head, "Shepard, getting drunk and dealing with a hangover when we head to Sanctuary is not going to help anyone, neither is you getting alcohol poisoning," he replied, once again reaching across to take the bottle out of her hand, this time succeeding.

Shepard stared at her lover, "Maybe the galaxy would be better off if I did kill myself," she said dejectedly. "Maybe it would be better off if Cerberus had left me dead."

Kaidan put the bottle on the table, taking a deep breath to contain his own emotions. "You don't believe that Shepard," he said quietly, taking the bloodied hand in his own. "You know none of us could do this without you. You should remember that you don't have to do it alone though, we are all here for you. I am here for you," he spoke quietly.

Shepard stared out over her cabin, her eyes not seeing anything in the room, focused on somewhere else. "I think you're wrong Kaidan, the entire reason I was brought back was because that arrogant son of a bitch knew that I was the only person who could carry the weight. So it all falls on me, the victories, but more importantly the failures," she told him, her words starting to slur more as more of the Tequila worked its way into her system.

Kaidan tugged on her arm, pulling her slowly into his lap, and curling both arms around her, tucking her head under his chin. "You're right and you're wrong Shepard. Yes you're the one we need to lead us through this, but you don't have to do it alone. Just because you can do it alone, doesn't mean you need to kill yourself by doing it alone. Let me help you, let your crew help you, we are here to support you, so you don't have to do it alone."

Shepard closed her eyes, tears she had been trying to keep inside silently seeping down her cheeks. "I don't know what to do next Kaidan. I lost the Catalyst, what do I do next," she whispered against his chest.

Kaidan took a deep breath, "We go to Sanctuary, we find Kai Leng and we pry the Prothean VI from his dead hands. Most importantly we do it together."

Shepard moved to look at Kaidan, "You really are here aren't you," she said in a quiet voice.

Kaidan nodded, "We all have reasons to succeed in this war, we just need to remember that it's the personal ones that matter the most. Mine is you and my family. So do you have a reason to see this war through?" he asked hesitantly.

Shepard looked deep into Kaidan dark eyes, "Yeah I think I do," she whispered, leaning forward to brush her lips across his before laying her head against his chest once again. "I fight this war for you Kaidan, you are my anchor in this storm," she said quietly, she snuggled deeper against Kaidan's chest, her eyes closing as the alcohol finally over took her system and she dozed off in his arms.

Kaidan sighed as he felt her breathing even out to those deep slow breaths of sleep. Gently so as to not wake her, Kaidan stood up and carried her to her bed, pulling her boots and pants off so she could be somewhat comfortable, and sliding the think comforter over her. He turned to leave when he felt her touch his hand.

"Please stay, help keep the nightmares away," she pled softly, her eyes barely open and heavy.

Kaidan nodded, kicking off his own boots and quickly stripping down to his boxers. He helped her sit up so he could get her out of her uniform shirt then moved around the bed, where he climbed in behind her, and pulled her back against his chest. "I'll always stay," he whispered against her ear. He felt her relax at his words, her body curved against his as she slowly descended back into slumber. It wasn't long after that he followed her.