Shepard really needed a smoke.
She hadn't had the urge in years, but fuck, this was one thing that never should have happened. She was sitting in a wheelchair, bandaged from head to toe and in varying levels of pain with a synthetic looking arm, but there was no way she was missing this. Beside her, Liara sat, eyes betraying her emotions, only Shepard wouldn't tell her that. She just squeezed her hand. This was going to be hard on all of them.
The casket was brought out by Vega, Garrus, Wrex, and Jack. It was decorated in Alliance colors, and every member holding it was in a state of varied levels of sadness. Jack just looked fucking pissed. The person inside the casket was dear to all of them in some way or another. She had bandaged them all up, had made sure they wouldn't die. Physically and in spirit. She was the last person who should have made the casualty board.
When Shepard had heard from Miranda a few days after she woke up, she felt like breaking something. A feeling she had tried to master back in her early twenties. The pain hit her in the stomach, twisted it. She hadn't been there to save her, and Shepard always saved the day right? Wrong, thought Thessia. Wrong, thought EDI, Wrong, thought Dr. Karin Chakwas.
If Chakwas was here she'd actually probably tell Shepard that yeah, maybe she couldn't save everyone, but she did help end the Reaper War. You've saved countless people, Shepard. You always discredit yourself.
The casket was lowered next to the collection of photographs. Chakwas smiling in a medic's uniform, a data pad in hand. Chakwas with her long dead husband on her wedding day.
It was a little known fact that Chakwas had been the medic on Mindoir, the day the slavers came and severely fucked up Shepard's life. She had been sitting on a cold bench, trembling with rage and heartache in a huge N7 jacket handed to her by one of the soldiers. Chakwas had said, "I heard you like to be called Dee. Well Dee, can you look at me? The Lieutenant says you've got a nasty gash on your chin."
She had looked up to a kind, yet firm, face. She didn't speak until the end, her chin tingling with the medigel, and her arm in pain from when Chakwas had to pop the it back in.
"I'm going to kill them all." She had whispered in a voice that wasn't quite her own.
"Another day, Dee. Rest now, dear."
Shepard saw Chakwas periodically once she joined the Alliance. She had been on two other ships Chakwas had served on before the Normandy, and she admittedly didn't treat her very kindly. She had been a harsh reminder of Mindoir, and that was something Shepard was in no way ready to deal with. But she had been there, alway. Willing to bandage her, willing to listen in she needing to swear at the dumbasses she was up against during missions. On the Normandy, it had been Chakwas who'd helped open her mind about aliens, when she begrudgingly admitted her uncomfortableness she'd been trying to push down. She squeezed Liara's hand again.
Shot. She had been shot. One of the best doctors in the Alliance, and she had died from a shot wound. All because she had been too focused on everyone else's scrapes and bruises to notice the blood gushing out at a speed too frightening. She gripped the sides of her wheelchair with white knuckles.
The ceremony went on and on. A few family members of Chakwas's spoke, telling stories that were so Chakwas it made Shepard's heart hurt. Hackett spoke about her courage, her resilience. Damn that man made good speeches. She glanced over and saw tears trailing down Liara's cheeks. She heard sniffling coming from Tali's direction. She thought she was crazy, but she even saw Zaeed sitting as comfortably as he could while holding an assault rifle.
Chakwas had touched everyone in some way she supposed. Reaching up to rub her eyes, she was surprised to find tears there too.
The ceremony was over suddenly, people started expressing sympathies. She quietly asked Liara to wheel her over to the casket.
Chakwas looked up at her from her photographs, all smiles. Shepard gave a small quirk on her lips, as she placed a hand on the casket, scooting forward in her wheelchair and not really caring that her side was now in pain.
"Doc….you….hell, who am I going to split a brandy with once a year now? The bottle's all there and waiting for you." She whispered, voice cracking with the lump now in her throat.
She steadied herself, leaning against the casket slightly. Her dogtags hung down, lightly touched the finished wood. Liara squeezed her shoulder.
"Take all the time you need, Shepard."
Shepard. She ran a hand through her short hair, trying to find the words.
"I never really told you thank you, did I? I mean, I was a real bitch to you some of the time. And I'm sorry for that, you didn't deserve it. I was dealing with my own shit, and I took it out on you. Yet, you never took it out on me." She trailed off.
"You were one of a kind, Doc. I'll miss you, hell, we all will. The Normandy won't be the same anymore. I can guarantee that." The tears were really coming now, streaming down her cheeks before she could stop them.
As Liara wheeled her away a bit after, the word goodbye slipped from her lips as they approached the rest of the crew. It wasn't just a goodbye to Chakwas, it was a goodbye to everyone they had lost along the way. The ones Shepard didn't save, or couldn't save, no matter how hard she tried. The whole galaxy was now doing it's part to put itself back together. Cleaning up one reaper carcass one at a time, building cities, and making new connections. She would have to let go of them in order to make sure they didn't die in vain.
It was what Chakwas would have wanted