Disclaimer: All is property of Bioware, and not me.

Author's Note: This is my idea of Post ME3, this is my Shepard dealing with PTSD and Survivor's Guilt. Because I think the emotional baggage Shepard must have at this point is phenomenal. It will delve into her past. But for any recovery to be whole, one has to return to their roots and begin the healing where the trauma began.

I write on the assumption that the reader has at least played the games. I do not go out of my way to explain the universe of Mass Effect and I make absolutely no apologies for spoilers. If you haven't yet, play the games first. Otherwise…enter at your own risk.


Character Bio/Background: Kelandra Mae Shepard, Colony born, Sole survivor, Engineer. ME1 Half Paragon/Half Renegade, ME2 Full Paragon, ME3 Full Paragon with Renegade tendencies. Romanced Liara all three games.

Summary: Sometimes a thing gets broke, can't be fixed. And sometimes it takes a will of steel, and a stubborn streak beyond the capacity of what the human body was made to endure, to pick one's self up and go on.

Chapter one

It's not just about surviving the next mission anymore. It's not just about fighting for the safety and survival of her friends. It's all she's ever done. Fought. Fought to live. Fought to kill. Fought to survive. But when she looks down at the sleeping form of angelic blue figure tangled innocently in her sheets. A new thought enters her mind. Survival isn't enough anymore. Safety isn't enough anymore. Now she must fight for a future. For herself. For her bondmate. For all those little blue children she promised. Fight for life. Life and love go on.

But her mind wonders why? Why does she continue to live when surrounded by so much death. The death of her friends. Her family. Her comrades in arms. Each beat of her heart marks a death, and each has a name. Ashley. Wrex. Mordin. Thane. Anderson. Her Mother and Father. Her friends, family on Mindoir. Those she couldn't save on Akuze.

Something foreboding, imminent, unchangeable plagues her nights. Keeping her awake, unrelenting to let her sleep. The Collectors are dead. The Geth at peace with the Quarians. The Reapers destroyed. All she's fought for is done. Then why this sense of things left undone? Of life coming to a close?

Why do Life and Love go on?

She looks down at Liara, amused by her beauty and innocence. Even at one hundred and nine years. To the Asari, that's barely out of Maidenhood. It's no wonder she still has a small trace of innocence left to her.

"I will always love you." She leans down and kisses Liara's forehead. She slowly, gently eases out from under Liara's arms, and slides out of bed. Sitting on the edge of the bed she pulls on her black panties and navy cargo pants, and begins to lace her boots up. Standing she looks around for her bra. It's amazing how one moment they were discussing the past and the next a tornado of passion was released upon her cabin. Even her model ships, that she prized and meticulously placed in their case, had been knocked around. The sliding door to the head was off kilter and slightly off its hinges. And there, lying in a puddle of water escaping from the shower was her bra. Hopelessly soaked.

Groaning she carefully goes to her foot locker and digs around for a sports bra. She usually has one on. But knowing that Liara was coming. Shepard decided to have a little fun and wear the dress that was gifted to her from Kasumi. Which involved wearing a dress bra instead of her normal sports bra. It also involved heels. Which Shepard forgets about until as she turns away from the locker with a tank top in hand, she trips over one of the black stilettos. For being the hero of the Citadel, and the Destroyer of the Collectors, Kelly Shepard has all the grace and dignity of a donkey when it comes to clumsy moments. She also swears worse than any sailor known to history.

Swearing profusely and laying tumbled along the deck and half up the few short steps to her desk, she forgets to keep quiet and let Liara sleep. A soft blue glow permeates the darkness revealing Shepard lying on the stairs and illuminating Liara sitting up in bed, the sheet tucked close to her chest.

"Where are you going? What happened?" She climbs from the bed, a creature of boundless grace and beauty. Shepard is reminded of Greek Goddesses from ancient history in the way the sheet drapes from Liara's hands to flow behind her in a mesmerizing train.

"I didn't want to wake you. I was going to the armory. You know, to clean my guns, oil my armor. You know, stuff." Shepard's attempt at nonchalance is not working on Liara, and she sees straight through it.

"You couldn't sleep again, could you?" Coming over Liara helps her to stand. "Was it another nightmare?"

"No." Shepard says straightening her tank and grabbing her Navy Working Uniform blouse hanging on the back of her chair. "I just couldn't fall asleep. I was hoping a few practice bouts with Vega would clear my head."

Liara's expression darkens, "The last time you had a 'practice bout' with Vega you came back with a bloody nose, split lip, and a cut clean through your eyebrow."

"This time I'll remember to duck." Shepard jokes as she buttons her blouse. She pulls Liara in close for a quick passionate kiss. "You fret too much. Go back to sleep." She turns and walks out of the cabin and enters the lift.

Liara watches her go. Knowing that restlessness is not what is wrong with her bondmate. Shepard is hiding something from her. Instinctively she knows this. But how to find out what and get Shepard to open up to her, is a mystery she cannot fathom.

Shepard punches the controls to the armory.

"Shepard," EDI's voice sounds in the lift. "I am still able to respond to verbal commands for the lift."

"Sometimes things need to be punched EDI." Shepard growls.

"More of the things that are human nature?" EDI's voice is inquisitive, "Is there anything I can do for you Shepard?"

"Is James awake in the armory?"

"Yes Shepard. Though it is in my messages that would prefer you not spar with Vega again. Shall I alert him you are coming?"

"Screw Chakwas." The lift slows and stops. The doors open with their nearly inaudible swish.

"Commander." James calls from his little alcove in the cargo area. "Come for another show?"

"Your ears need to be in tune to the scuttlebutt more Vega. Liara and I are, and will always be, together.'

"It never hurts to flirt Shep." James huffs and groans as he pulls reps on the chin bar. "Come for another round of ass whoopin' then?" He drops to the floor and twists his torso side to side to loosen up.

Shepard slides her blouse off again and tightens her boots, ensuring the laces are tucked tightly beneath the blousing straps. Getting tripped up by them once was enough to learn to check. She settles into her stretches.

"I'm getting better at ducking. Plus, surviving the Reapers makes me a lot faster and nimbler than your mass can keep up with."

James laughs as they step out into the middle of the 'dance floor' in truth it's the middle of the cargo hold. "Ever gonna tell me what's keeping you up at night Shep?"

"Have I ever told you Shep is more annoying than Lola was?" Shepard dodges his question by faking a left hook to come in with a right uppercut. James dodges easily, taking a quick jab to her face. Twisting she lets his fist slide by, inches from her nose.

"Can't a girl have a nightly brawl to keep up her strength?" Shepard parries his next jab to her face. Knocking his arms repeatedly away with the sides of hers, keeping his off to the side. One punch after another, forcing him to block and retreat. She is a flurry of movement, giving no quarter for him to attack. Shepard takes advantage of her smaller physique to dodge under his next swing, jabbing three quick, hard punches to his abdomen. The first two bounce off tense muscles as his fists find her back. She allows him two strong blows to her back in order to hit the soft spot just between his core muscles and his sternum. She is rewarded by his gasp for air and then stumbling back.

Thinking she has bested him she comes in for two more quick jabs to his chest again. He quickly grabs her right arm twisting and pinning it to his side as his right fist punches twice into her gut, driving her to her knees.

His hold on her arm keeps her from falling to the ground completely. Instead it causes her to twist painfully as she falls, hanging from his hold. She scissors her legs between his and jerks. Dumping him onto his back. They both get tangled as they go down. Her arm is pinned wrong and she hears the tell tale wet pop as it dislocates.

Biting back a yell, she quickly rolls herself onto his chest, bearing down with all her weight and might on his windpipe. He gasps, chokes and a fleeting look of panic crosses his eyes. His grip slacks and she pulls her arm free, cradling it to her chest. She grins demonically and presses down harder. Her good arm and fist punching any part of him she can find to keep him from removing her leg from his neck. She's done it, beaten him. Won. Her victory is almost complete, his death is imminent. This Reaper monster will not survive to torment her.

She vaguely hears a woman's voice scream her name, before she is lifted bodily from on top of James and suspended in mid air. Paralyzed in a haze of blue. Screaming she claws at the barrier. She can hear the screams of the dying, smell the burning flesh and smoldering ruins that was London. She can see her friends, loved ones. Each burning in blue fire. She can hear the wailing metal grind of the Reapers and she is helpless to stop them. With one last mighty scream, a guttural sound of pure panic, she passes out. Engulfed in blue fire, Harbinger laughing in her head.