I'm such an awful person for doing this.

All characters belong to Bioware. The angst is mine. Dedicated to James' abs.

"How long?" A strained voice billows into the darkness behind her eyelids. She is asleep but not dreaming, swathed in a state of near-consciousness, consistently falling short of complete sensory awareness. That she registered the voice at all is surprising, a welcome change from the dead silence that has slowly been sinking her into a murky abyss.

But she knows the voice, even in the vast tomb that refuses thoughts to form properly, she recognizes it. And that, in itself, feels like a blessing. Memories flicker on and off, a glimpse of a hand enveloping hers, three fingers clutching her five. His face. Her words, 'I love you, Garrus Vakarian.'

And then the voice is speaking again, and she can hear it so clearly now.

"Please, Shepard—Jane. You have to wake up. You did it, you beat the Reapers…the whole galaxy owes you their lives. There's a celebration brewing out there, we're just waiting for you to start."

A pause.

"There's still a lot to get done. But you should have seen it, Shepard. The Citadel being pulled out of orbit," a small chuckle, "for a minute there, we thought we'd lost it…Spirits, I can't imagine a worse fate—the Citadel making it out in one piece only to crash-land on earth, lucky we had ships to spare. My people and the quarians went and hauled it back to its proper place. It was…quite a sight. We're still here, Commander, awaiting orders."


"I never knew you had so many acquaintances, Shepard. Nearly all of them have sent gifts…flowers mostly, some of which I'm certain I'm allergic to," there was some humor there, "I also went out and found a replacement Widow for you. Not that you'll be needing it all that much now, with everyone getting along so nicely. But well, I know how much you liked yours. It would be unfair to have a fellow sniper go without."

Again, silence.

"My…father and sister wanted to come see you. I suppose father must be wondering why I haven't made it to Palaven yet and Solana wanted to wish you well. I told them it wasn't the time. This…this isn't you, Shepard—Jane. When you wake up, then you'll meet them. Oh and that scene in front of the Primarch…when we kissed? I suppose it might have been seen as a little forward, but he mentioned it to father. No hiding it now," he made a low sound, a throaty sigh, "to be honest, I'm glad for it. And he did take it better than I expected. Still, I need you by my side now. Don't keep me waiting."

For a long time there was no sound. And slowly, she felt herself plunging back.

"Jane Shepard," he was urgent this time, "you have to wake up. I'm begging you. We've been waiting all along—I'm still waiting." The grief in his voice cut like a knife, "You said it once, remember? No Shepard without Vakarian? We talked about heaven, but the doctors say you're neither here nor there. Can you even hear me? Spirits I…"

"It's okay," Shepard mumbled, slightly tripping over the words as her senses kicked in with a vengeance. The sudden influx of stimulus made her dizzy, "I—I'm fine. You worry too much, Vakarian."

She let out a slight chuckle, "You said something about a new rifle?" She turned to the empty space beside her bed, furrowing her brow.


She had heard his voice not even a minute ago. Her eyes scoured the room; it was what one would expect of a typical hospital room, four white walls, shiny white floors. The stench of disinfectant hung in the air, and she wrinkled her nose at it. She shifted in bed and felt something odd clinging to her side; she peeled back the sheets and gasped.

A feeding tube? She paled, realizing she might have been in the hospital for longer than she'd thought. "Garrus," she called, pleadingly—as pleading as he'd been when he'd asked her to wake up.

Well now she was wide awake and he was nowhere to be found.

The door to the room opened with a swoosh, and she almost blurted out his name again, certain it had to be him. The woman in hospital uniform met her frantic eyes and said something Jane didn't quite catch until she repeated it again, "Calm down, miss," she placed a hand on her chest, trying to ease her back into the bed.

Shepard resisted. She'd had enough of lying down on that bed and where were her flowers and her Widow and her turian. She voiced these things at once, and the woman called for assistance over her comm. Again, she was urging Jane to calm down. After a brief struggle, it appeared that she would comply, and the woman seemed to take this as a sign to release her.

"Sit tight," she said, pulling the covers over her. Shepard got a good look at the woman—she was young, early twenties probably, and her blond hair was pulled back in a bun. She gave a measured sigh, "Look, I…know this must be very strange for you. But for the time being, we need to keep you calm."

Shepard nodded weakly, "Just…tell me where I am."

The nurse smoothed her fingers over the bracelet on Shepard's wrist, "This is Kingston memorial," she told her, "you're on earth. Vermont, to be more precise."

Jane exhaled, feeling a weakness crawling across her brain. But she had to ask, "Garrus. He was just here, I heard his voice."

The nurse gave her a puzzled look, "I'm sorry. No one has come by for a while…" her words trailed off, and she looked visibly thankful for the doctor that came in through the doors.

"What do you mean? How long has it been," Shepard demanded, the monitor beeping with the same urgency as her voice. "How long have I been here?"

"Commander, I will thank you to keep your tone civil," the doctor said sternly, "your body won't handle the strain."

Jane forced herself back down on the bed, "How long…"

A needle-stab on her arm made her squirm under the sheets, too weak to protest. Her head was swimming before long, and she felt the dab of something along her eyelids. The blond nurse was wiping the tears from her eyes.

'Five years' was the last thing she heard before everything faded again.