Bah. I posted this on tumblr and figured "what the hell? FFnet needs fluff too after that fiasco!"

Kaidan stood at the front of the still thirty-percent busted room, trying to resist the urge to thrust his hands in his pockets and rock back on his heels like Shepard was so wont to do. She never stopped fidgeting, always moving, always finding something more to do . . .

Garrus let Tali walk to the left as he joined James and Joker behind Kaidan, casting a look almost of longing after the quarian as he did. "You ready?" he mumbled, distinct doubled voice rumbling as he tried to keep it quiet.

They wouldn't have had an actual ceremony. As soon as he'd proposed in the hospital when she was recovering, almost six months after the assault on Earth, she'd wanted to pull in a civil servant and throw all the ceremony out the window and get it out of the way. But someone in the media had put everything together after they'd interviewed her and suddenly rumors that Shepard was engaged had hit the media (along with the rumors that it was anywhere from him to Hackett to Garrus, which they all knew was stupid because Hackett was actively involved with Shepard's mother, and Garrus was going after Tali).

She'd finally grown tired of getting asked about it and finally just admitted that yes, for God's sake, she was engaged, and it was Major Kaidan Alenko, second human Spectre, which had been mostly predicted as many assumed he was the only individual really capable of netting her.

He wet his lips when he saw Kasumi slip back into one of the chairs, dodging a pile of rubble, her lips drawn in a smile under her hood. As soon as they'd learned that Shepard, the hero of the galaxy and basically the only person who'd saved all their asses, was engaged their plans to just get a civil servant to do it and go out for sandwiches afterwards in a small break during the rebuilding process had been killed. Someone – he thought it was likely a conspiracy between almost everyone except themselves – had thought that marrying off the two human Spectres in a (for a time of rebuilding) large ceremony would boost morale, and because they were both as married to the Alliance as they were about to be to each other they'd quietly acquiesced and Shepard had suddenly been thrown into the middle of planning a wedding she didn't particularly want –

- until she'd thrown the datapads they were trying to make her look through at her mother, Tali, Kasumi, Traynor and several other female members of her crew (tactfully avoiding his own mother), told them to do it themselves because she no longer cared, and stormed off to the firing range in the shuttle bay.

And now it was really happening.

Kaidan wet his lips again. If Kasumi was back, it meant that it would only be seconds now. He could only assume what trouble Admiral Shepard had gone through to get her daughter into whatever "contraption" she said that they were insisting on putting her in, when she would rather just be in her dress uniform.

He finally cleared his throat quietly and glanced back at the turian behind him. "Ready enough."

Joker shifted on his crutch, only necessary because he'd be on his feet for longer than he usually was. "Better damn well be."

His first notice that Shepard was coming in was Admiral Shepard's quiet slip into a seat on the front left next to Hackett, and her encouraging smile up at him. It was followed quickly by the people in the back – political dignitaries, high-ranking and surviving members of the Alliance and other militaries, people she'd directly helped during the war, members of her old crews – standing, the aliens following the humans' lead. Kaidan stared at the aisle, anxiously awaiting anything.

He finally saw her, hands in front of her and nervously playing with the ring on her left hand, and she met his eyes and smiled radiantly up at him. His breath, only just deciding it was safe to return, decided that a tactical retreat was once again in order.

He'd seen her in a dress once, and he'd known she'd worn it to get a reaction out of him, when they met on the Citadel after the attempted coup. And this . . . simple, tight to her body, flaring out at the middle of her thigh to the floor and a train that he knew she didn't like, something that seemed both alien and perfect for her, all at the same time. But what he loved more than the dress or how her long hair had been piled on top of her head in a way so different from its usual regulation bun was the way her face had lit up as soon as their eyes met, the shadows he so often saw lurking there vanishing in a heartbeat.

As the actions of the humans encouraged the crowd to sink back into their seats, Kaidan reached out his hand and Shepard took it, her smile widening. "You, ah . . ." he started, voice stopping in his throat.

"Galaxy in the balance," she whispered, and he managed to grin around the lump in his throat. "You ready?"

"Better be."

They turned to face the civil servant in charge of the public spectacle, and Kaidan ignored him in favor of staring at Shepard as her mind obviously wandered from the ceremony. He watched her, eyes tracing the new scars on her neck and currently-bare arms, her hand warm in his, barely cognizant of the people around them as so often happened when they were together off a battlefield.

And after this spectacle another, this one a public celebration as if they were old-world royalty, and they would expect Shepard to dance at least once. And she would scowl and they would beg and she would finally stand up and fumble her way through it and then go back to her second favorite pastime of feeding her biotic metabolism, and her second least favorite (after dancing) of playing with dignitaries and politicians and people who wanted to thank her and name their children after her. And at some point, if he didn't keep an eye on her, Wrex and Vega and Garrus and probably Joker would try to break her off from the party to get her drunk, and she wouldn't refuse. If he was lucky, she'd only have a little, and if he was very unlucky she'd make an absolute idiot of herself and possibly lose all their money to Wrex again.

Their money.

How was he supposed to feel about that?

Shepard squeezed his hand and he snapped out of his reverie, unsurprised that she had been paying partial attention. She smiled, and when she replied to the officiant's question with a quiet, easy "I do," he thought his knees would give out under him. He repeated her answer without hesitation when asked, Joker discreetly fishing out the small metal bands and passing them to him without either of them dropping them. He slid the ring onto her finger next to the one he'd given her months earlier, murmuring out the promise to never leave her side again that he'd told her so often, Shepard following his actions and promising that in her own way, which included promising to love him more than anything (except for her Graal shotgun). And when the officiant told him to kiss her it had been all he could do to not sweep her off her feet and out of the makeshift hall and to where they could be alone and instead just kiss her, both of them forcing themselves to step back long before they would otherwise have done so for formality's sake.

"Well, Mrs. Alenko," he murmured as he gripped her hand. She grinned back.

"Mr. Shepard."

And with that, they started down the makeshift aisle and towards the light of a day they thought they'd never reach.