"Jungle World: Day Two"

Over the static filled com channel Kaidan can hear the pain and weakness in the voice of his love, "I don't see. . . I'm not sure how to. . . " He hears a thump just before the channel goes completely dead.

"Shepard!" Kaidan awakens with a start from a dream, nightmare really. With his heart pounding rapidly and covered in sweat, Kaidan knew he wasn't getting any more sleep tonight. Every ship in the fleet overheard Hackett and Shepard in those final moments of the war. Everyone heard the last words from Shepard -the final words. Shepard somehow activated the Crucible, with communications cut no one knew how he did it, but the plasma explosion from the Citadel/Crucible vaporized the nearest Reapers. That's when Joker lit up the drive trying to get ahead of the blast radius. In the rear monitor, Kaidan could see the Citadel was still intact, the Wards were still visible so maybe the blast wouldn't destroy everything. He hoped that somehow Shepard had found a way to survive, yet could sense it was a lie.

Sitting up, his sweat covered chest glowing in the moonlight streaming in from the cracked observation window. Blinking away the tears from his eyes Kaidan looks around the moonlit room, the glow is enough to safely navigate around the other sleeping survivors. A quick check of his Omnitool reveals its 0230 hours. Muttering to no one, "Well, two hours sleep must be enough, right?" Watching the view of the nocturnal jungle outside the window while stretching out the kinks in his neck and back, he wonders for the hundredth time if they'll get back to Earth.

Taking a shaky deep breath, Kaidan pulls away from the window. Thinking to himself, I must stay strong for the crew. Shepard would want me to take care of them. Absently rubbing his temple to sooth the looming migraine he walks down the hall to the men's room. Looking at himself in the mirror, bloodshot eyes reflecting back at him and splashing water on his face to wash away the tears. "Well, Major, let's get started." Activating his Omnitool, Kaidan checks the note he wrote last night: "Day Two Tasks":

0700: Adams: Normandy status meeting
0730: Garrus: Inventory, security, and rationing of the remaining food stores. Both Dextro and Levo based
James & Javik: Continue Jungle survey and begin search for edible fruits, plants, and animals
Tali & Samatha: QEC repair estimate
Cortez: Repair estimate on Kodiak for aerial surveys and possible flight to for rescue
Chakwas: Update on the wounded and Jokers condition
Liara: Inventory of Normandy supplies

Still looking at his Omnitool while entering the mess hall, Kaidan nearly bumps into Dr. Chakwas, "Oh, Major. I didn't think anyone else was awake."

Shaking his shoulders, "I couldn't sleep. Too much to do. Thinking about Shep. . . " His voice cracking before he could finish.

"I know Major. Shepard was a great man and he loved you very much, we all saw it." Tears beginning to sting his eyes again. Chakwas gently grabs both his shoulders, "Remember that."

In a half-sob, "We did try to be discreet."

Chakwas looks into Kaidan's eyes and issues her signature motherly laugh, "It was adorable to see you two scurry about. We didn't need Javik's senses to see you two were in love."

Glancing toward Med-bay, Kaidan knows he needs to keep his mind occupied on the tasks at hand, clearing his throat, "How's our patients?"

A dark cast replaces the motherly smile, "Allers passed about an hour ago. Her internal injuries were too severe." Kaidan recalls the sight of the cargo hold she used as a room and studio. It was almost completely crushed, the bulkhead support beam had snapped from the force of the impact. "At least she didn't suffer for long, Doctor."

"As for Joker, he'll be fine. The crash cracked his right femur and three ribs but didn't puncture a lung. Though I think he's more upset that EDI is offline than he is about his injuries."

"I need Tali and Samatha working on the QEC. I can't spare anyone to work on EDI. I hope he understands." rubbing his temple out of habit.

Taking Kaidan's water cup from him, Chakwas pours a shot from the flask she was carrying. "Here drink this, it should help relax you a bit."

Kaidan can smell it's brandy, "You know Doc, I prefer whiskey."

With a firm look on her face, "Finish your drink Major, then you should try to get a little more rest. Doctors orders."

Kaidan has seen that look before and decides it's better not to fight. Finishing the drink, he stands and turns toward Observation, "Yes, doc. I'll try."