Jeff Moreau wasn't completely insensitive no matter how hard he tried to act like it. It wasn't like he couldn't tell just how hard it was on his Commander to be on a Cerberus vessel given what had happened to her on Akuze. Yeah, that hadn't slipped by him at the time, that Hackett wanted Shepard to look into the deaths of scientists and they all had just 'happened' to be involved with what had happened to Shepard's squad on Akuze. And they had all been involved with Cerberus either with or without Alliance oversight.
Everything they'd been through two years ago had made it hard to work with Cerberus again, but they had rebuilt the Normandy, and they had found Commander Shepard and brought her back to life. He hadn't been allowed around for a lot of that. Cerberus had really only recruited him a year after Shepard's death. And he'd been plenty suspicious, and he was still damn wary, but then Shepard had found Garrus, and she'd apparently talked to Tali, and Garrus had even joined them in their mad quest to stop the Collectors.
So that was good, Garrus was a decent guy for someone who had a stick up his ass, and it meant that Shepard had another familiar face around. And it seemed like they were making headway on the whole 'stop the Collectors' thing which was good because Shepard was taking the whole 'brought back from the dead to save the galaxy' thing very seriously. She was wound so tight he was almost hoping Garrus would make a move on her just so she'd relax. And if that wasn't the craziest thing he'd ever thought in his life he'd eat his new leather pilot's chair.
So when he saw exactly who'd been on Horizon he knew Shepard wouldn't be in the best frame of mind when she got back on board. Sure enough, she had that awful carefully blank expression on her face, the one that made her look more like a mech than a woman. And then, in his effort to lighten the atmosphere he remarked it was good to see Lt. Alenko again. Shepard hadn't really had much to say to that…she'd made some remark that Kaidan looked like he was doing well and left the bridge as quickly as she could. Joker shook his head, he'd break his leg doing it but sometimes he wanted to kick his own ass.
Kaidan was an idiot if he thought Shepard had bought into the Cerberus mentality. Normally Joker wouldn't think Kaidan Alenko an idiot, he had after all, managed to romance Commander Shepard. Half the universe was afraid of her, and the other half had a healthy respect but none of them had the nerve to treat her like she was a woman instead of a Spectre. They didn't even seem to see the Commander as a woman. Joker wondered again if there was some sort of cosmic joke on him that there were only a few other people who remembered Shepard had a first name, let alone a girly one. But Kaidan had noticed, and Joker would have had to be blind to not see how the two of them looked at each other. He'd even covered for them once or twice when Hackett had called and Joker knew that Kaidan was with Shepard in her quarters.
With a sigh Joker pushed himself out of his chair, "EDI I gotta go talk to Garrus."
"Mr. Moreau undue stress upon your legs may result in stress fractures, shall I call Garrus Vakarian to the bridge in lieu of you searching him out?" EDI's voice wasn't concerned, not totally, and it made a good point, but…
"Nah, I don't want it getting back to Shepard that I went to talk to him about Horizon. Commander's upset and I can't help if I don't know why," Joker shook his head and prepared to make his slow way down to the deck where Garrus was always working on the rail gun calibrations.
Joker was fuming by the time he got back to the bridge, "Shit, shit, shit," He scowled as he eased himself into his chair.
"Are you in pain Mr. Moreau? Shall I summon Dr. Chakwas?" Again, EDI didn't sound unconcerned but it was in the AI's best interest to keep an eye on the health of the crew.
"Where's Shepard right now EDI?" Joker wasn't sure about the ethics of the stunt he was about to pull and he really wasn't going to let anyone know he'd done it.
"Commander Shepard is currently nearing a state of inebriation down in the lounge. Kasumi has gone to play cards with some of the crew elsewhere," EDI brought up the image on Joker's secondary screen.
Joker frowned darkly as he took in the sight of his commander sitting at the bar, pouring herself drink after drink of tequila. "Shit," He said again. "I guess you were listening to my conversation with Garrus?"
EDI's response was typical of it, "My monitoring devices make me incapable of 'not listening' but I did not accord the conversation any degree of importance as it did not concern our mission or the welfare of the ship."
"That's where you're wrong," Joker wondered why he was even having this conversation. "Shepard is the reason we're all here. None of the people she's recruited would have come along if it weren't for her. She's the linchpin of this whole ship and if something happens with her then we're all in a giant mess."
"So Shepard's emotional well-being is as important as the well-being of the ship as a whole," EDI responded, a strange tone in it's voice. "Then the conversation you had with Garrus Vakarian is of the utmost importance as is Shepard's method of coping with her emotions."
"Yeah, and Garrus said that Lt. Alenko called Shepard a traitor to the Alliance, Captain Anderson and to him," Joker knew he sounded bitter but then if Shepard was a traitor then what was he? He wasn't like Shepard who'd been actually clinically dead not to mention a hunk of wasted flesh. Shepard had been dead for nearly two years before she got woken up. It wasn't like she'd been given a choice in the matter, she was pretty much indentured to Cerberus until this mission was done.
"I do not understand why Lt. Alenko would call Shepard a traitor to him," EDI's voice called Joker out of his less than cheerful thoughts.
"It isn't something you'd understand EDI and it's definitely not something I want getting back to the Illusive Man," Joker shook his head. "Shepard was tight with all of her squad before the Normandy was destroyed. To have one of them call her a traitor is painful."
"Are you referring to the romantic relationship between Commander Shepard and Lieutenant Alenko," EDI inquired. "It was suspected but never proven by the Cerberus operatives watching the Commander."
"They were close," Joker admitted, "I think Kaidan was the only one who ever really saw the Commander as a person rather than a soldier."
"You are positing the theory that people, the crew as well as the general populace, see Commander Shepard as only the Commander and not as Grace Lee Shepard," EDI wasn't quite asking but it wasn't making a certain statement either.
"Yeah, I mean I know her pretty well, we've been through a lot, but I'm crew and a lot lower rank and she's pretty conscious of how much distance she has to keep between her and the crew," Joker shrugged. "Kaidan, he got closer to her than anyone, they were on Eden Prime together before she even became a Spectre. And she had to make a choice between him and Ashley and she chose him. That leaves…marks."
"So it Lt. Alenko's words are more hurtful to Shepard than the same words coming from Garrus or Tali Zorah," EDI's voice was speculative.
"When Shepard saw Anderson on the Citadel he still had faith in her, helped her retain her Spectre status, told her he'd do his best for her with the Council," Joker said quietly. "The LT pretty much did the opposite of Anderson."
"Then Shepard's emotional distress is acute," EDI responded. "The Commander has taken a bottle of the Earth alcohol known as tequila and she is making her way to her quarters, is this an escalation of her earlier efforts to achieve intoxication?"
"Yeah," Joker groaned as he pushed himself up from his chair for the second time in two hours. "I'd better go and talk to her." Before he left the bridge Joker sighed and looked at EDI's console, "If you want to help, find her something that she can accomplish, some people to save or a mission where she can beat the crap out of pirates and rescue civilians. And not something where she has to stress about crashing the Hammerhead. She's gonna need to do something solid to help people after this."
"I will begin scanning my files for a situation matching your suggested parameters," EDI responded and if Joker hadn't known better he would have said the thing sounded eager.
"Good, don't tell her like now, or anything, wait until tomorrow before putting it on her screen," Joker limped out of the bridge and toward the Loft.
"Hey Joker," Shepard's face was tired as her door opened. "You all right? Whatcha need?"
"Just needed to get away from EDI for a little while, thought I'd see if you'd put me up for a bit," Joker shrugged hoping Shepard's protectiveness towards her crew would win out over her desire to get drunk alone.
"C'mon in," Shepard stepped back with slightly looser grace than he'd seen from her before and Joker judged she was definitely on her way to being wasted. "Got tequila if ya want some. Or I can run an' get ya somethin' else from the bar."
"I'm good," Joker deliberately left off her rank. "Like all the models," He nodded towards the display cases half filled with model ships. Her fish tanks were a storm of colorful fish darting here and there in search of food.
"Why're you really here Jeff?" Shepard apparently wasn't so drunk that she was buying his thin excuse for being away from his favorite place on the ship.
"Wanted to see how you were," Joker sat down across from her. "Garrus told me what Lt. Alenko said to you. Want me to kick his ass?"
"Did you know I've got Irish ancestors?" Shepard's response was not what Joker was expecting, "I've got a grandmother from Ireland, grandparents from Japan, and a grandpa who was Lakota." She tugged at her auburn hair as Joker watched and pulled the corner of her almond shaped eye up and down to point out her mixed ancestry on her face. "My grandmother, she passed these old stories and beliefs down to my mom and then to me, about reincarnation, Tír na nÓg and the old gods…" She shook her head slowly and poured herself another drink as Joker watched.
"Yeah?" He asked cautiously, "That's kinda cool." Privately he wasn't sure what that had to do with how she was but if she was as drunk as he thought, her thoughts couldn't be too organized.
"I kinda bought into some of it," Shepard sipped her drink and leaned back against her couch, a sigh escaping her lips. "Especially the idea of reincarnation, that souls get…recycled you know?"
"Cosmic recycling?" Joker asked with a half-smile, "Doesn't sound too far-fetched, that's what folks mean when they say someone has an old soul right?"
"Yeah, the idea is that you can be a new soul, or an old one, or whatever, but when you die you get a choice," Shepard looked at him from under eyelids at half mast, dark eyes that saw everything and cared about it all. "You can choose to be reborn, or you can choose to stay in Tír na nÓg for a while, rest and learn and then be reborn, or you can choose to just stay. But it's always your choice."
"Huh," Joker blinked as he looked at her. What had Cerberus done when they'd brought her back? How had that messed with her beliefs? And then to have Kaidan call her a traitor, "So I guess you chose to come back and help us all out again."
"I dunno Jeff," Shepard shrugged. "Half the people I meet are convinced I've been brainwashed by Cerberus. Even Tali was a little concerned at first. Garrus is more of a 'whatever gets the job done' kinda guy. But…Kaidan, I mean Lt. Alenko—"
"Kaidan was a wreck when you got killed saving me," Joker told her firmly. "He was…I don't have the words for it. I heard he was drunk for the better part of the first year you were gone." He shook his head and cautiously settled a little deeper onto the couch. "I know what you meant to him, mean to him, and I know what Kaidan is to you. You don't have to pretend to me that you weren't in love with him. That you're not still in love with him."
"If I'd been given a choice…" Shepard swallowed the rest of her tequila and set the glass on the coffee table with a sharp crack. "I dunno Jeff, Kaidan was… he was the only one I let in ya know? And then this… Sometimes I don't know who I am. How can I expect him to look past Cerberus to see that I'm the same?" She shuddered as she poured another shot of tequila and looked Jeff in the eye. "How can I expect him to ever… ever trust me again? I'm just some reclaimed soul in a patched up body full of biotics. They even removed my scar. I look the same and I think the same but I don't feel the same."
"Grace," Joker decided there wasn't much that would get her attention but her actual name might do it. "You gotta give yourself a break," He took a deep breath as she threw back the shot and swallowed but didn't pour another. "Liara may have found your body and Cerberus rebuilt you but you are the same person. According to EDI that was the whole point. If you weren't the same woman, with the same ethics and standards and crazy then you wouldn't be who we all need. But it's been two years and nothing around you is the same. They throw Cerberus uniforms at you to wear around the ship and two years ago we were killing people in Cerberus armor."
Joker pushed himself up and moved to the wall locker pulling out the Cerberus uniforms Shepard had been wearing around the ship. "Here," He found an outfit that looked like the stuff colonists wore to work in. "This looks more like the kid from Mindoir." He sat down on the nearest flat surface to rest his legs and ignored the fact that it was her bed. "You've been acting the same Grace, and you can't if you're going to survive this. Act like you want to," He suggested quietly, "I know you downplay a lot of how pissed off you get with things. You wouldn't have made Commander if you didn't know how to play nice. But these people need you and maybe its time you unleashed a little of your temper on them. It ain't like the Illusive Man can fire you or anything. He needs you more than you need him."
"The habits of a lifetime," Shepard shrugged and moved to sit next to him on the bed leaving the tequila on the table. She looked at the clothes he'd hung on the wall locker door, "You're right about the clothes though." A sigh escaped her, "As for my temper… Alliance military doesn't exactly encourage complete bitch syndrome in its female officers. So I keep that…reined in out of habit. I can dress someone down with the best of 'em but…"
"But being known as a ball busting bitch can be just as detrimental as it is helpful, so you gotta keep the balance," Joker agreed. He'd seen her eyes go near black too many times when she was talking to the council to think she wasn't doing anything but holding in her temper. "Maybe we can call up the council and then disconnect them, just to relieve some stress."
"Oh I was so close to telling them to shove their Spectre status up their collective ass," Shepard's upper body fell backwards on the bed even as her head turned to look at him. "But Anderson was vouching for me, believed in me even though… So I couldn't lose my temper and let him down. But you're right…I may not tread as lightly with the Illusive Man. I don't like him, I don't like being manipulated like we were on Horizon and I really hate being blindsided."
"Yeah, cheap trick to not tell you Kaidan was on Horizon," Joker agreed. "You gonna be okay?"
"Yeah, I think so," Shepard sighed. "I'm doing okay for a reclaimed soul."
"Here's something to think about," Joker wasn't a philosophical person by nature but he was just going to go with this idea and hope for the best. "Maybe you aren't…reclaimed or whatever. Maybe when Cerberus started to rebuild you, the…gods or powers that be or whatever, maybe they did give you that choice but they added another option on. Come back to the same place and help us again. You don't think Cerberus is really that great that they could send out a grappling hook to your actual soul do you?"
"Cerberus couldn't find a soul if they had Lucifer himself bargaining for them, and I'm not sure that isn't the Illusive Man's real name," Shepard muttered and Joker started laughing.
"Well there you go," He grinned and creakily got up to leave.
Her voice stopped him and he turned to look at her again, "Yeah?"
"Thanks…" She smiled sadly. "Not just for…well the company but…for remembering my name." She shrugged, "Not many people do these days." She looked down and then dark eyes fixed to his like a blow to the chest, "I'd appreciate it if…every now and then… we could hang out and you could call me Grace. I need a friend and you're the best I've got. Garrus is great but he's…"
"He's a turian with a stick up his ass," Joker laughed. "I can do that Grace. That is my pleasure."
"Thanks," She pushed herself up from the bed and grabbed the clothes he'd picked out, shoving the Cerberus uniforms to the back of the wall locker. "Gimme a few and I'll help you back down to the bridge."
"No offense but I don't think the drunken sway will keep me from getting fractures," Joker grinned as he leaned carefully against the wall.
She entered the bathroom behind her desk and spoke through the door, "You wanna know what sucks about being rebuilt instead of reborn?"
"Sure," Joker wasn't sure what she was getting at but she sounded better than she had in ages.
"All the damn stuff they put in me to keep me functioning? I can get drunk but unless I keep drinking…I'm sober again in half an hour." Shepard sounded really, really irritated by that little fact. "Remind me to punch Miranda in the face for that one. They brought me back from the dead and unless I spend a fortune in tequila I can't even get completely drunk for more than an hour." She emerged from the bathroom in the colonists outfit as Joker thought of it and tugged the top into place.
"Looks good," Joker grinned. "And yeah, that is totally something Miranda should get decked for. Though I appreciate that I won't have any additional fractures tonight."
"Yeah," Shepard smiled slightly as she slid her arm around his waist and helped him walk, easily taking the bulk of his weight. "Yeah me neither."
Joker settled into his chair and tapped EDI's console, "Find something for Shepard?"
"I have sent several options to her private terminal," EDI's voice responded with a tone of satisfaction. "She may fight pirates, rescue people or a combination thereof and she will not be required to fly the Hammerhead."
"Awesome, she hates that thing," Joker grinned and stared at his own console before making a decision. "EDI can you open a com line to Kaidan Alenko?"
"He is en route from Horizon, but my systems are capable of reaching him," EDI didn't sound wary but it's tone did have a healthy amount of curiosity. "Your body language indicates you are going to engage in combat with Lt. Alenko."
"I'm going to verbally engage in combat," Joker corrected. "Physically I'd get my ass kicked and broken."
"I will open a com line to Lt. Alenko," EDI complied with the request. "Will this help the commander…feel better?"
"I helped Shepard feel a little better, sometimes she just needs to talk I think and since Kaidan isn't here…" Joker shrugged, "But this will make me feel better and maybe it'll get Kaidan to pull his head out of his ass."
"The com line is open, Lt. Alenko is on the line," EDI sounded almost…satisfied, Joker put its tone out of his head as Kaidan's face filled the screen.
"Joker," Kaidan exclaimed, "Where are you? The line is really bad."
"Attempting to clear the signal," EDI did something and the screen and sound cleared up by fifty percent. "Optimal resolution has been achieved."
"That's good EDI thanks," Joker said absently, "He's not gonna need more than that." He directed his attention to the screen so he could glare at Kaidan thoroughly. "As for where I am? I'm exactly where I should be, with Commander Grace Lee Shepard."
"They got to you too?" Kaidan sounded worried and irritated.
"No," Joker shook his head. "Alliance grounded me. When Cerberus approached me I initially told them to take a flying leap out an airlock. Then they told me they had Shepard. They were…" He wished his voice would stop breaking every damn time he thought about it. "They were gonna bring her back. She was dead. Dead because of me LT and they were bringing her back. So I was gonna be with her no matter who she worked for. I owe her."
"She's working for Cerberus, she isn't the same Shepard we knew Joker," Kaidan protested. "How could she be?"
"Geez man, did you think maybe she didn't have a choice?" Joker shot back, "She was dead two years Kaidan, two years they searched and worked and you know who found her? Not the guy who was in love with her, and not her Captain, and not her pilot. Liara found her. Found her and stole her from the Shadowbroker who was going to sell her burnt up corpse to the damn Collectors. So Cerberus was the only game in town. Liara did her best. And Grace has been doing her best since she got brought out of a coma into a combat zone with no coffee in between."
"Grace?" Kaidan's face darkened, "She never lets anyone—"
"Call her Grace?" Joker interrupted, "Yeah that just started tonight, because she needs a friend LT and you turned your back on her. Hell Anderson believes in her and you don't. Do you know how much that sucks for her? She was dead. Dead Kaidan. We lost her. And she's back through some miracle of science and she's the same awesome kickass Commander I couldn't save and you turn your back on her?"
"Is she?" Kaidan argued, "Is she the same? Because the Shepard I knew wouldn't ever work for Cerberus, wouldn't ever let a crewman call her Grace and she definitely—"
"What?" Joker shook his head, "Try to get drunk and curse the biotics that won't even let her get tipsy for more than half an hour? Buy model ships and a hamster and fish so she isn't alone in that damn cabin? Ask her pilot to call her Grace so that she can hear her own damn name?" He rolled his eyes, "We're not 'fraternizing' LT. I'm just trying to be a friend because she needs someone who knows her and Garrus is great but he isn't up for the job. And Anderson is stuck on the Citadel. And you basically told her to go fuck herself LT. She chose you instead of Chief Williams and she risked her neck for you and she risked her career for you and you…"
"I can't believe she's the same," Kaidan shook his head, "How can she be?"
"Because that was the point," Joker really wanted to reach through the screen and strangle the man. "Cerberus spent billions to bring her back so that she was exactly the same because that's who we all need. No one else is even trying to stop the Collectors. No one else cares. But she's lost two years and everyone she ever cared about and woke up to find the galaxy even worse off than she'd left it. So we need her to save all our asses, again. And this is what she gets for it? For coming back from the dead?"
"Fuck Cerberus," Joker snarled, "She isn't working for them. She's got the ship and she's got a crew that believes in stopping the Collectors the same as she does. She's using Cerberus so she can save the damn galaxy and you're too blind to see it. You're right, our Shepard wouldn't ever work for Cerberus."
"So you admit it," Kaidan's face was resigned, sad as if he had hoped Joker would convince him.
"Yeah, I admit that Shepard has Cerberus working for her," Joker snapped. "She's not toeing the line and saying sir yes sir to the Illusive Man. She's not experimenting on people. She's saving them." He shook his head, "She's gonna save the galaxy again and if she's alive at the end of it I hope to god she finds someone to stand with her. It won't be me because she scares the hell out of me even though she is a friend. But she needs someone who believes in her. And you made it damn clear that it won't be you."
"Do you think I don't want her back?" Kaidan's voice said everything his face couldn't, anguish and anger wrapped in adoration. "She was everything to me. I barely existed these last two years, and then she's just standing in front of me, perfect and wonderful and she's with Cerberus? It was like a dream and a nightmare at once. And damn it I fucked up."
"Then fucking fix it LT," Joker told him. "Do something but you nearly broke her with that 'traitor' talk and if the damn Reapers and Akuze and Mindoir couldn't break her that's some pretty heavy damage you did. If nothing else you gotta tell her what you told me. Think about it. But do something. Because if you don't give her something to live for? The way this is going? She's going to end up getting herself killed. Do you want to lose her again?"
"No," Kaidan's voice sounded as broken as Shepard's heart. "No, god no I don't want to lose her again. Even if we never… the universe is a better place with her in it."
"Then tell her that man," Joker sighed. "You know what she called herself tonight? A reclaimed soul. Like she was some piece of junk they fixed up and put a shiny new uniform on."
"She believes in reincarnation," Kaidan sighed. "I'm not surprised she's thinking like that."
"Well I headed that off at the pass but do something man, or we're gonna lose her again," Joker shook his head. "I gotta go. We're gonna try and hit some pirates tomorrow, give Shepard something to hit and some folks to rescue. She'll feel a little better afterwards."
"I'll, I'll write to her," Kaidan said quietly. "I just…why didn't she send me any word that she was alive?"
"She's got a picture of you on the desk in her cabin," Joker told him. "And she's only been alive for the past…year, and awake for two months of that. And we've been a little busy." He shrugged, "I wonder if she was thinking she'd die again and why put you through the grief a second time."
"Yeah that'd be like her," Kaidan sighed. "All right, I'm going to do some thinking about all of this, and I'll write to her. I owe her an apology at the very least."
"Yeah you do," Joker agreed shortly. "If you need us for something just get in touch with Anderson or Hackett, they know how to find us." He disconnected the line and sighed looking over at EDI, "Well we tried right?"
"I have found three additional locations for Shepard to 'beat down' pirates," EDI told him. "I posit that she will feel better tomorrow evening."
"Yeah I hope so EDI," Joker sighed and began to take the helm again.
A week later Joker was scrolling through his messages when a new one popped up from Shepard. It had been forwarded from Shepard's private account with a message from Grace at the top, "Jeff, I know you had something to do with this. My Kaidan was always stubborn unless someone kicked his ass to make him look at things in another way. Thanks for having my back, Grace. P.S. Poker with Garrus, Donnelly and Daniels tonight?"
Joker scrolled down and read the message with a smile, it looked like Kaidan had gotten his head out of his ass.
I'm sorry for what I said back on Horizon. I spent two years pulling myself back together after you went down with the Normandy. It took me a long time to get over my guilt for surviving and move on. I'd finally let my friends talk me into going out for drinks with a doctor on the Citadel. Nothing serious, but trying to let myself have a life again, you know?
Then I saw you, and everything pulled hard to port. You were standing in front of me, but you were with Cerberus. I guess I really don't know who either of us is anymore. Do you even remember that night before Ilos? That night meant everything to me... maybe it meant as much to you. But a lot has changed in the last two years and I can't just put that aside.
But please be careful. I've watched too many people close to me die - on Eden Prime, on Virmire, on Horizon, on the Normandy. I couldn't bear it if I lost you again. If you're still the woman I remember I know you'll find a way to stop these Collector attacks. But Cerberus is too dangerous to be trusted. Watch yourself.
When things settle down a little... maybe... I don't know. Just take care.
EDI's voice broke into Joker's calm mood, "Shepard's stress levels are decreasing. She has read the message no less than twelve times." The AI sounded almost confused, "Surely she has comprehended the meaning in Lt. Alenko's message. What purpose does rereading it accomplish."
"It's a people thing EDI, you wouldn't understand," Joker smiled.
"I would like to understand though," EDI was being persistent and Joker shook his head finally deciding to give her an answer.
"She rereads it for the same reason she has his picture on her desk," Joker shrugged. "She wants to remind herself of him. Reading his words makes her feel better. Gives her hope," He looked at EDI's console. "Sentient beings need hope EDI, without it, we wither and die. Shepard gives everyone on this ship hope that we'll defeat the Collectors. Kaidan gives her hope that this isn't all she's good for; he makes her realize she's loved. She needs a reason EDI or she'll just wither and die when this is done."
"Lt. Alenko is the Shepard for Shepard," EDI summarized a bit awkwardly.
"Yeah, you could say that," Joker agreed.
"Lt. Alenko keeps Shepard from feeling like a reclaimed soul," EDI tried to clarify. "He is…a reminder that she is not only the Commander. She is Grace."
"Yeah," Joker leaned back in his chair and contemplated his friend, pleased with what he'd accomplished. "And she'll live to fight another day. We did good EDI. Even you."
"Thank you Jeff," If EDI's voice was dry and almost sarcastic Joker could ignore it in favor of contemplating the poker game. And hey, maybe they'd all live through this. Stranger things had happened after all.
Author's Note: So the letter from Kaidan is word for word from the game. Don't want to take credit for that one when it isn't mine.
I started thinking about this the first time I saw the scene at Horizon and really wanted someone to kick Kaidan/Ashley's butt. I know they both come around in the end but I never really saw anyone notice the emotional toll the entire mission and circumstances of her resurrection took on Shepard. I mean this is someone who's pretty much been through the ringer her entire life and I don't see her as letting many people get too close. To my thinking Kaidan's the only one she's really loved since she lost her family and I think the idea of him not trusting her or not caring about her anymore would be the last straw.
I also see Joker as being a lot more of a friend to her than the game portrays. They've been through a lot together after all and he's one of the few people who stays with her from beginning to end. I'd like it if you could romance him but he's like Varric, awesome but untouchable. So within the constraints of the game, Jeff and Grace are friends. In my little world at least.
Oh, and I know Shepard's version of the legend of Tír na nÓg isn't exactly right. I figure she doesn't have a background in myths and legends so she (or her grandmother) might get a few things wrong. And the idea that Tír na nÓg is the afterlife is a fairly common misconception.