I wrote this a while ago and it hasn't been beta'd because I never intended to publish it.
When I started writing this though I just couldn't stop so it ended up a lot longer then I thought it would.
It's very rare to see Canada referenced so much in a video game so I wanted to take advantage of that and write a Canada Day Shenko fic. It's kinda over the top sweet and corny Shenko at some points but those are the types of feels I was desperate for after the endings and the extended cut. Yes I know Kaidan's father is assumed KIA in ME3 but for the purposes of this story he lived.
Anyways I hope you all enjoy whether you're Canadian or not!
Kaidan had been talking about Canada Day and the planned celebrations for weeks. It was good to see him so happy and Shepard had to admit his excitement was rather contagious.
After first contact and the establishment of the Alliance parliament, the celebration of individual national holidays had taken a backseat to planetary ones. However in the months since the end of the war people were taking any excuse to celebrate something. Normally she wouldn't complain, it was just that everyone wanted "The Great Commander Shepard" to speak at their event and there were few things she hated more than public speaking.
Shepard heard the front door open and looked up from her stool in the kitchen to see Kaidan come in, covered from head to toe in dirt.
"What happened? You're absolutely filthy!" she exclaimed.
He chuckled, self-consciously rubbing the back of his neck. "Sorry sweetheart. The tractor got stuck in the mud and I uh, slipped trying to get it out."
With Vancouver in ruins and countless refugees to shelter lodgings were hard to come by. Shepard didn't doubt that their status as the saviours of the galaxy could have gotten them any apartment they wanted, but they'd opted to stay out at Kaidan's family orchard. Fewer reporters and well wishers bothered them here, and the peaceful beauty of the Canadian countryside could almost make you forget the Reapers had ever invaded.
"Go throw your clothes in the wash and I'll start the shower for you." she told him, her stern tone betrayed by the smile currently threatening the corners of her mouth.
She turned, shaking her head as she walked towards the bathroom. Commander Shepard, housewife. Even if it was only temporary she still got a kick out of the idea.
Shepard hadn't taken more than a few steps before Kaidan grabbed her from behind.
"Kaidan! You're getting dirt all over me!" she protested.
"Exactly, and now you need a shower too." There was a familiar mischievous glint in his eyes as spun her around. He rubbed his face all over hers, smearing mud across her forehead and cheeks.
Shepard was unable to contain her laughter as she threw her arms around his neck. "You're incorrigible!".
He leaned in and kissed her, a frustrated sigh escaping his lips when she broke away.
"We don't have time, we're due in town in a few hours remember?" she said apologetically.
"Forget it, let's stay in and celebrate just the two of us". He pulled her close again and Shepard was hard pressed to continue resisting.
"Nice try but your parents are expecting us to meet them for dinner." She pushed him away once more and pointed to the bathroom. "Shower. Now."
With a mock salute and a sarcastic "Aye aye Mam!" Kaidan finally gave in.
While he showered Shepard washed her face then headed to their bedroom to change out of her dirty clothes. She tossed them into the laundry hamper and stood there in her underwear, contemplating her reflection in the full length mirror. Her scars had mostly healed but the physical and emotional cost of the war still very much showed in her gaunt cheeks, pale skin and tired eyes rimmed with dark circles. Shepard wondered for the millionth time if she should start wearing more makeup.
Kaidan came in and walked up to stand beside her, his arm circling her waist as he kissed her cheek.
"You're beautiful Shepard." he whispered.
She felt a blush creep up her neck and reached for the clothes she'd laid out on the bed.
"You're not wearing that are you?" He asked, raising an eyebrow at her choice of outfit.
"What's wrong with good old fashioned jeans and a t-shirt?" she replied defensively.
"Well for starters if you walk around downtown Vancouver in an Alliance issue t-shirt you're going to attract a ton of attention. Secondly, I already picked something out for you."
Shepard frowned as he pulled a gift bag out from under the bed and handed it to her.
"What's this?" she asked, eyeing it suspiciously.
"Just open it, you'll see."
She reached into the bag and pulled out a white t-shirt bearing the slogan 'I heart Canada', the little heart filled with the image of the old Canadian flag, and a ridiculous looking top hat made of felt and checkered with red and white maple leafs. Shepard burst into laughter and it was several minutes before she could breathe enough to speak again.
"You have got to be kidding me! Where did you get these?.
"Aww come on sweetheart, it'll be fun! No one will expect Commander Shepard to be mingling with the 'common folk' and besides, we'll match!" Kaidan replied happily, pulling another set out from under the bed. He put the hat on and Shepard was struck with another fit of giggles at the sight of him wearing nothing but that and a towel.
She reached up and cupped his freshly shaven cheek in her hand. It had been a long time since she'd seen him so happy, besides he was right it would be fun.
"Ok, you win."
His face lit up and he pressed a kiss to the palm of her hand before turning to rummage through the dresser for a clean pair of jeans.
An hour later they met Kaidan's parents by the harbour. Ships had long since been replaced by shuttles and other such spacecraft but before the Reapers, people had kept smaller pleasure boats here.
Kaidan kept a firm grip on her hand as they waded into the sea of red and white clad people.
"I thought we were going to dinner?" she asked.
"We are dear." Mrs. Alenko answered.
Shepard glanced up at Kaidan, a confused expression on her face, but he simply winked and gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. They continued to zigzag through the crowd, eventually stopping in front of a small stall. The Alenko men left their women sitting at one of the picnic tables and went to line up for food.
Kaidan's mother smiled and reached for Shepard's hand, patting it gently as she spoke. "Enjoying yourself so far?"
"This is really something! We never had anything like this growing up on Mindoir." Shepard answered.
"We always made a point of celebrating Canada Day when Kaidan was young. With his father being posted all over the world it was one way for us to keep a small piece of his roots alive in him."
Shepard smiled, picturing an excited younger Kaidan.
"Speaking of my son, have you two talked about having children of your own?"
Kaidan might look like his mother but he certainly hadn't inherited her forwardness. She'd caught Shepard completely by surprise and the younger woman's jaw hung open in shock.
"We uh - I don't think -" she babbled, feeling herself blush for the second time that day.
Naturally, Kaidan chose that moment to return.
"Did I miss something?" he asked, setting four cold beers down on the table before taking the tray of food from his father.
"Just wondering when I'm going to be a grandmother darling."
"Mom!" Kaidan groaned, sliding onto the bench next to Shepard.
Mr. Alenko chuckled and handed Shepard one of the containers. She lifted the lid to find some strange concoction of french fries, cheese and gravy. It looked like something she'd once seen Grunt throw up after he'd had far too much Ryncol.
"What is this?" she asked Kaidan, leaning in close so his parents wouldn't overhear.
"It's called a Poutine. We figured since this was your first Canada Day we'd go all out."
Shepard eyed her food warily, still not entirely convinced it was really edible. Seeing her continued hesitance Kaidan stabbed one of the fries with his fork, twirling it to gather the strings of cheese, and held it up to her mouth.
"Say 'ah'!" he teased her. Shepard smacked his arm playfully but obediently opened her mouth. The wave of sheer deliciousness that assaulted her taste buds was completely unexpected.
"Oh my god that's amazing!" she exclaimed, suddenly eager to devour every last bite.
They chatted about everything from the weather to the reconstruction efforts while they ate. When they were finished they cleared away the trash and headed towards the pier. The four of them walked along the docks, Kaidan's arm draped lovingly around Shepard's shoulder and his fingers intertwined with hers, until they came to a massive stage surrounded by people dancing.
The band started playing 'Magic Carpet Ride' by 20th century Canadian classic rock band Steppenwolf and Mrs. Alenko pulled her husband into the fray. Shepard watched them, laughing and clapping happily until she noticed the look on Kaidan's face.
"No! Just no, you know how bad of a dancer I am!" she said, horrified.
Kaidan ignored her protests and before she knew it they were in the middle of the crowd dancing next to his parents. At first Shepard was sure everyone had to be staring at her but when Kaidan spun her into a dip all her worries vanished. They continued dancing until suddenly she heard a sickening crack and felt pain stab through her left knee. Kaidan caught her as she fell, his handsome features marred by concern.
"Shepard! What's wrong, are you ok?"
"I think I overdid it. I guess my knee wasn't as healed as I thought."
"You should take her back son, she needs to rest." said Mr. Alenko.
"No I'm fine, I just need to-"
"I'll take her to the house." Kaidan said, cutting her off and setting his omni-tool to save the key code his father was sending him.
"We'll meet you there later darling." his mother said, standing on her tip toes to kiss him on the cheek before leaving with her husband in tow.
Kaidan smiled as he hoisted Shepard up into a piggyback.
"Come on love, let's get you home."
Shepard was silent all the way back to the car and merely stared out the window for the duration of the drive to his parents house. When they got there Kaidan carried her up the stairs and settled her in one of the lounge chairs on the balcony, tucking one of his grandmothers quilts around her to ward off the cool evening air. He kissed her forehead and went into the kitchen, returning a few minutes later with an ice pack for her knee.
"How bad does it hurt?" he asked, turning on the porch light.
Shepard tried to blink back her tears but one managed to escape. Kaidan kneeled next to her and wiped it away with the pad of his thumb, cupping her cheek in his hand.
"I'm so sorry Kaidan! I know how much you were looking forward today and now I've ruined it." she sobbed quietly.
"You haven't ruined anything sweetheart."
"Still, I'll find some way to make it up to you I promise."
Kaidan shuffled nervously and looked away. "Well, there is one thing that would definitely make this the best Canada Day ever."
"Anything, just name it." she breathed.
He faced her again, his expression filled with emotion as he dug into his pocket and produced a dainty little silver ring. The stone in the centre was the same deep emerald green as her eyes and offset by two smaller sparkling diamonds.
"Marry me Shepard."
Shepard blinked rapidly, mouth agape and heart leaping out of her chest. It was several seconds before the shock wore off enough for her to process what was happening. When she finally realized this was real her hands immediately flew to her mouth, unsuccessfully trying to muffle the high pitched shriek of delight that escaped her lips.
"Yes! Of course!" she finally managed to reply.
Kaidan breathed a sigh of relief and leaned in to kiss her, the first firework exploding over English Bay as their lips met. Shepard lifted the blanket and scooted to one side, making room for him beside her. Kaidan tucked the blanket back around them and Shepard rested her head on his shoulder as he wrapped his arms around her.
"I love you." he said, gently leaning his head against hers.
Shepard snuggled closer to him. "I love you too." she replied, smiling from ear-to-ear.
They sat there quietly, completely oblivious to the fact that Mr. & Mrs. Alenko had returned early and witnessed the entire exchange. The latter dabbing her eyes with a tissue as her husband guided her away from the patio door, leaving Kaidan and Shepard to watch the rest of the Canada Day fireworks display.