A/N: So this pestered me, it had to come out. I did promise irregular updates but my muse appears to be having other ideas and wants to take this further. Bit short but this was always meant to be a bits and pieces type thing.

'I can't come with you,' he looked down at their entwined fingers, their hands resting between their thighs as they sat on the steps of the gun tower.

'I know,' she sighed, wishing it could be different but knowing it never would be. She dropped her head onto his shoulder, the hardness of his armour belying the softness she knew was underneath.

He was a warrior, a soldier, an Alliance Marine. She knew how important that was to him, it was his life and if she forced him to give that up he would eventually come to blame her for it. He had worked so long, so hard to reach the point where he was confident in himself and his abilities, to reach a point where he belonged. She couldn't take that away.

'You could come with me,' he spoke into her hair, knowing it was an idle wish, she couldn't walk away any more than he could.

It was in her nature to fight, to be the saviour everyone needed. She would suffer, become angry and frustrated if she came back with him. She would regret giving up the opportunity to defend the galaxy, humanity. Eventually she may come to resent him for being the reason. That would be harder to live with than her death, having to watch the love in her eyes turn to resentment, hate.

'You know I can't.'

'Yeah,' he rested his head on hers, his fingers tightening their grip, knowing they would soon have to let go.

They sat in silence, each alone with their thoughts but together in body and spirit. Both wanted to surrender, to accept the consequences that came with giving up the life they knew or the life yet to come. But neither could. It wasn't in their nature to surrender their beliefs, their futures. They knew they would have to walk away from each other and hope their paths brought them back together.

'What if I help you, though,' he lifted his head.

'What if I send you reports, information,' she met his eyes. 'We would need to set up a secure network, something that can't be traced.'

'We can work together, I can get others onside, get Anderson to help,' he lifted his hand and cupped her face, his amber eyes meeting hers, shining with emotion.

'I can help to take down Cerberus from the inside,' she slid her arm around his waist.

'I will be there waiting for you. Come back safe.'

'You'd better believe I will,' she grinned and he chuckled as his lips met hers.

Some kisses are remembered for their intensity, some for the rushed moment of passion and some just for their tenderness. This kiss they would remember as the moment they found each other, the moment they reaffirmed possession of each others hearts. It was a kiss that stopped time, that shut out the world around them.

'I love you, Shepard,' he whispered, his voice husky, his eyes moist.

'I love you, Alenko,' her voice broke as she struggled to hold back her own tears.

With a last, lingering look they stood up and walked away. Him to a life he loved but now cursed, her to a life she hated but now promised hope. Both to an uncertain but possible future.