A/N: 500 word challenge! I often let my stories spiral out of control and was looking for a way to really limit myself. Thanks, T.A.M. for the suggestion! If anyone has any 500 story suggestions for me, feel free to PM me. Maybe I'll take them on!


Kaidan's too practical to believe in a higher power.

He should have flowers. Normally he'd have flowers. Hard to find flowers. It's hard to find anything real in the Citadel. Strange, all things considered. Synthetics have practically been obliterated.

He's never seen the Citadel like this. The artificial light is on the fritz. The sky shifts from its typical bright and blue to black. There are no stars. He misses the stars. Most of the power has been redirected to the hospital. He carries a flashlight. Everything has fallen apart. The population of the Citadel is near decimated. Hospital staff is bare bones.

The surviving and grateful population has rallied around Shepard. They're calling her a savior. The only Shepard he's ever known has been a blood and flesh woman. He questioned it for a while. He questioned her role with Cerberus. He wasted so much time on doubt.

He wonders what it was like to have pulled her from the rubble. Is it her? Is it possible? Years ago he told her he preferred adventurous women. Not long after she made her choice. It wasn't him. He accepted it.

His steps are too loud on the hospital floor. His ears have been ringing for days; too many explosions by his ears. People keep having to repeat themselves. Will he lose his hearing?

He wants to hear her voice. He would like to hear it clearly. The staff recognizes him: Major Alenko. They step aside. They thank him. He nods and echoes the sentiment. Have they saved her?

Kaidan steps into the hospital room. She's there on a hospital bed. Battered, blackened, burned, bruised, bloody but not broken. He loses all feeling until he's a black hole. He wipes his eyes. How long since he's slept? Is it a hallucination?

She's hooked into machines that beep, life signs indicated by green waves. A white, plastic ventilator breathes air into her. She's always been strong, unmatchable, unstoppable.

Kaidan's numb. He pulls the stool up to the bed but doesn't sit. It doesn't feel right to sit. It doesn't feel right to stand while she lies unconscious. Her robe is too thin. He touches the material experimentally. He matches his breath with the fall and rise of her chest.

Her lip is split. There are gashes everywhere. He searches her with his eyes and looks for something unharmed. He can't find it. Her face is swollen. Her jaw looks broken. He looks more closely and finds wire.

He reaches out to her but stops himself, his hand wrapping around the metal hand frame instead. Her knuckles are red, raw, his white and pale.

He tries to speak but chokes. Outside the sky flickers blue and then black. He's glad the emergency power supply has been reserved for the hospital. "I didn't believe it until now. You prove me wrong. Every time."

Shepard opens her eyes. Blood fills her sclera like a rose. She finds him, her voice thin. "You look like shit."