Mass Effect (c) Bioware

A black ring box's hinges snapped open and shut as the top of the box was played with by the hands of a worried man. Kaidan Alenko stared at the box with a diamond ring inside as he toyed with it absentmindedly. He was in a hospital waiting room, where he had held vigil for the last few hours.

Shepard had required surgeries, and she was recovering from one done the day prior. He wasn't even sure she would awake that day, or the next, or the day after the next. But he had promised himself to be there when Shepard awoke. Kaidan had had enough of almost losing her; so he had got a ring to make it permanent. He was going to propose to the commander that saved the Milky Way.

By now reporters had seen the second human spectre buy a diamond ring and rumors had already been slung around that he was going to ask Commander Jane Shepard to marry him. Worry bubbled in him that made him forget the giant wedding that could come; what if Shepard didn't survive all the surgeries? What if she lost too much blood? What if it wasn't possible to save the savior?

The hospital he was in, one that had miraculously survived the Reapers while being situated in Ireland, was bustling with activity. He was not the only one waiting for a loved one. Other people, wives and husbands and children and family and friends of soldiers waited for status on their beloved. These people were of all races, asari, turian, salarian, quarian, and other races that had helped defend Earth in the final push. Every now and then Kaidan was approached by one of these people waiting. The people offered their thoughts for Shepard and expressed awe just for being in the same hospital as Shepard.

Kaidan accepted these with kind reception, but he almost instantly forgot them when alone. Jane was the only thing on his mind. The biotic did not pay attention to the hustle and bustle; to him, the world was silent. It would remain silent until his girlfriend's status was given.

His luck came. A nurse entered the room and called out his name. "Kaidan Alenko?" He looked up to see a nurse in the doorway to the rest of the hospital. "Shepard is awake now and she's expected to make a full recovery. I told her you were here and she asked you to come in."

The major heaved a deep sigh of utter relief. He deposited the ring box into his pocket and stood up. "Thank you so much. You have no idea how happy I am to hear you say that."

"Come on. I'll lead you to her room." Kaidan followed the nurse out of the waiting room and into the rest of the building. They didn't have to walk for long; her room was just nearby the nurse's station, so they could keep a close eye on her. She opened the door and allowed Kaidan to enter before leaving.

Shepard's room was undoubtedly one of the best in the hospital. There was only one bed, occupied by the person Kaidan had been waiting for weeks to talk to. Shepard was still bruised and battered, but looked considerably better. Color had returned to her skin and she was no longer soaked in blood. She had a few scars and stitches here and there, but otherwise she was in excellent condition considering what had happened. Her green eyes locked onto Kaidan and a grin graced her face.

"Kaidan."

"Shepard...don't ever pull a stunt like that again." he remarked, his previous worry still etched on his face. He took a seat by her bedside. Shepard's eyes did not lack the signs of exhaustion, but she still managed to smirk at him.

"I'll try not to. I'm happy to see you, Kaidan."

"You don't know how happy I am to see you, too." He leaned in and the two exchanged a kiss. Pulling away, he exhaled. "So how are you doing?"

"Eh, got a few burns, some scars and some blood loss, but I'm alive. I'd call that perfect. How about you, Kaidan?" she asked. Her boyfriend shrugged.

"Been waiting for you for hours. Would've gone onto days if I had to. But right now I'm great. Just seeing you makes me happy."

"Happy to see you, too. So what's new with you?"

"Nothing much. I mean, some governments and the Alliance have been giving me awards by the bucket full, same for you. And for everyone on the Normandy. I think I lost count for the ones you have."

"Figures. Right now I don't care about awards or medals or merits. All I care about is being with you. Being with everyone who made it. I'm glad you're here." she said. Kaidan nodded and held her hand.

"Everything went better than expected."

"Except for EDI and Anderson..." Shepard muttered sadly. He frowned and then tried to smile again.

"About that...Joker had a bad feeling before you went to Earth. He told Edi about his worries, and she suggested he save a copy of all her memories in a disk. After she was destroyed, Joker still had her memories. So the engineers are rebuilding her. With some luck, she'll be okay." he said. She beamed, relieved.

"That's great. I felt bad when Edi died, but the Reapers had to go. She's being rebuilt...maybe I'll be able to see her again soon enough. Though I still really miss Anderson." Shepard brushed a red hair out of her face, and with some effort, pushed away her melancholy for a moment to grin at Kaidan. He remembered the ring in his pocket and took a breath.

"Shepard...I've almost lost you over and over again. I lost you for two years. I almost lost you at the Collector base. I've almost lost you countless times, and I almost just lost you again. You've risked your life so many times for everyone. I'm tired of always worrying if the next day, you'll be in my arms. So it's time..." He retrieved the box from his pocket, knelt down on the ground beside the bed and looked up at Shepard. "Marry me, Shepard."

The commander stared, speechless. Suddenly everything flashed before her. Her start with romance with Kaidan, Saren, dying and coming back, Cerberus, the Collectors, the Reapers, and everything that led up to this moment. Danger was no longer present, and she was finally free. And a proposal had come in the end.

She took the ring and placed it on her finger and kissed Kaidan again. "Of course I'll marry you. I love you, Kaidan." The two embraced and when they pulled apart, Shepard leaned back in the bed. "So we're getting married. How 'bout that? Goes against regs, but fuck the regs, we're spectres who just saved the galaxy. Plus it didn't stop my mom and dad."

"Of course. But, uh...press already kind of knows. They saw me buying a ring and assumed."

"That's just lovely," Shepard remarked sarcastically, "a press-filled wedding. So what, is this going to be bigger than any royal wedding?"

"You know it. I should just prepare myself for migraines. Lots and lots of migraines."

"Well, I guess wedding planning starts in the hospital. I've got to send some extranet mails out..."