THESSIA- 18 months since the end of the war
The flight to the asari home-world had gone by faster than the Alliance officer had predicted. Being a part of the Alliance for as long as he had, Kaidan never had a problem with space flight, but he often found himself restless if he had nothing to occupy his time.
Perhaps it was because he was on his way to Shepard's wedding, and his racing thoughts on the matter kept him busy, but traveling to Thessia seemed to happen almost too quickly.
Now he had arrived: the temperature was slightly chilly but there was no denying the beauty to be found on the planet. In the distance, Kaidan could see the sloped peaks of an asari city shining against the dark night. He and Hackett were alone in the skycar they had shared to get to the wedding. Most of the Alliance members in attendance had all flown in together on a large transport vessel the Admiral had procured for them strictly for travel to the former commander's wedding.
"So Admiral, I hear Shepard asked you to do the honors. Nervous?" Kaidan asked.
It wasn't the best time to start a conversation, seeing as how they had just arrived, but Kaiden was aware of how quiet he had been on the drive over and wanted to make up for it.
"It is my first wedding, but I'm not sure I'd go as far as being nervous. You live to have a career as long as mine in the Alliance, you learn to get over such things," Hackett answered with perfect posture as he made his was to the event's entrance.
"Well sir, I suppose that's something to look forward to."
"Try not to get into too much trouble, Lieutenant Colonel. Remember you're still representing the Alliance."
Kaidan snapped a salute, "yes sir," he replied dutifully before they went their separate ways.
Hackett made his way inside but someone caught Kaidan's eye before he could follow him into the building. Miranda Lawson was silently approaching a darkened corner of the car park, wearing a tight dress that clung to her body and left little to the imagination.
Kaiden had only known Miranda as the Normandy's XO when Shepard was fighting the Collectors. Since the end of the war, much to his surprise, they had become close friends after the former Cerberus operative enlisted in the Alliance Navy. He saw her on a weekly basis back in Vancouver, where they were both currently stationed by the Alliance.
He decided to say hi to her before stepping inside, however some part of him was curious to see where Miranda was sneaking off to before the wedding. The former Cerberus officer had been acting strangely for months, sneaking off and in some instances flat out lying to him, so he followed her silently until Miranda found herself in front of another woman in the car park.
Kaidan recognized Miranda's friend. It was Jack, another former Normandy crewman who had joined the Alliance following her tenure with Shepard. The tattooed woman was wearing an Alliance uniform that covered her body appropriately, for once. He knew from working closely with both of them that the two woman didn't get along.
Miranda leaned in close and whispered something in Jack's ear. Before Kaidan realized what was going on, Jack seized Miranda around the waist and planted a passionate kiss on her lips. He was surprised to see Miranda kiss her back.
Kaidan instantly understood why Miranda had been acting strangely and was desperate not to be spotted by either woman, fearing how awkward the encounter would be. He doubled back, not taking his eyes off the couple.
Kaidan was almost out of sight before his ankle rolled out from under him and sent him crashing down to the ground.
Jack's eyes shot open and she shoved Miranda away from her.
"Get off me cheerleader!" She shouted and faked a disgusted look as she wiped her mouth clean of Miranda's lipstick.
Kaidan shot to his feet and froze. His eyes locked on Miranda's mortified expression.
"Kaidan? What are you doing?" She asked.
He didn't think: he just ran off into the building, leaving Jack and Miranda behind in the car park.
He relaxed once he got inside. The ballroom was packed: he saw many faces he recognized from Garrus to Wrex. He even spotted Joker sitting quietly by himself in a corner.
He heard the door open behind him and Miranda stepped inside.
"Kaidan, wait I have to speak with you!" she called after him, but Kaidan slipped into the crowd and disappeared from Lawson's view.
He realized how poorly he had handled the situation, but he was committed to his mistake now, even if it meant avoiding Miranda for the entire wedding. He decided to get as far away from her as possible, so he headed for the far side of the room.
When he decided he was far enough away from Miranda, he let his guard down. An asari waitress approached him carrying a tray of drinks.
"Can I get you a drink, sir?" the asari asked politely.
"Uh sure. Thanks," Kaidan replied and randomly selected a drink from the tray: a purple, fizzy-looking cocktail.
Kaidan took a sip. It wasn't anything he had tasted before and he guessed it was an asari beverage. It wasn't bad, but it didn't hold a candle to the Canadian lager he usually consumed in his free time.
A ginger tap on his shoulder made Kaidan jump, spilling a bit of his purple drink. Fearing it was Miranda, he thought about running away again instead of turning around. He decided to risk it and spun around.
"Kaidan Alenko!" Karin Chakwas greeted him with a warm smile.
"Doctor Chakwas! Good to see you again!" he replied, trying to hide his relief.
The doctor still wore an Alliance uniform, sported her usual bob-cut silver hair and cradled a drink of her own.
"It's been too long, Kaidan. How have you been?"
"Good. Alliance promoted me and stationed me back in Vancouver. Life has been thankfully quiet for a change."
"Wonderful. I can't believe we're actually at Shepard's wedding."
"Yeah it is kinda strange, isn't it?"
"Indeed. I remember when we were back on the SR1 how often Shepard would sneak back into Liara's room in my med bay. How far they have come."
Kaidan glanced at the doctor's glass, "so what are you drinking, doctor?"
"Brandy. What about you?"
Kaidan inspected his fizzing drink, "I don't really know."
Karin raised her glass, "well a toast to Shepard and Liara, and to your new found peace, Kaidan."
Kaidan raised his drink, "and to you, doctor."
Chakwas brought her brandy to her lips and took a large sip. Kaidan looked over the doctor's shoulder and spotted Miranda pawing through the crowd towards him.
"Uh...I have to go. Good to see you again, doctor," he said frantically and didn't wait for Chakwas to finish her sip to respond before he darted off in the opposite direction of Miranda.
Kaiden made his way back to the dressing room hallways. Just when he thought he had got away again he heard the rhythmic claps of Miranda's high-heeled shoes walking down the hallway after him.
He opened the first dressing room door he saw and hid inside. When he turned to inspect the room he had taken refuge in, he was surprised to see Tali sitting on a couch on the opposite side of the room.
"Um...Kaidan?" Tali said, bemused.
Liara turned the corner in the room wearing nothing but her underwear.
"What did you say, Tali?" The asari asked before noticing Kaidan. When she did, she let out a startled cry and covered herself with her hands.
Kaidan slapped his hands over his eyes. "Sorry. Sorry. I didn't know anyone was in here. I didn't see anything...well, not that much."
Liara his behind the wall she had appeared from. "It's alright, Kaidan. You can open your eyes now."
He cautiously removed his hands from his face and looked around.
"What...what were you two doing in here?" Kaidan asked.
Tali let out a disgusted scoff. "What do you think?! She's getting her wedding dress on, you Bosh'tet!"
"And I asked Tali for a little help," Liara said from behind the corner.
"A better question is what you're doing here," Tali accused.
"Right. I was...hiding."
"Hiding? From who?" Tali asked.
"Miranda Lawson? Why?" Liara asked.
"Uh, not sure she would want me telling you guys. No offense."
"Sounds like you saw something you shouldn't have," Liara added.
"You could say that."
"Well now that you're here, Kaidan, I suppose we could do with a male's opinion," Liara said before stepping out from behind the corner wearing her gorgeous wedding gown. He had seen the asari get dressed up before but this was on a whole different level. Liara looked absolutely stunning and it made Kaidan question his previous aversion to engaging in a relationship with an asari.
"Liara...wow." Tali said, stunned by the asari's beauty.
"You look amazing," Kaidan added.
Liara blushed. "You're both too kind."
"Shepard is one lucky woman."
"Speaking of Shepard: I haven't seen her since this morning. I want to see how she's doing."
"What? No you can't!" Kaidan protested.
Liara was startled by the human's words. "What do you mean? Is she alright?"
"Yeah I'm sure she's fine, it's just...seeing the bride before the wedding is considered bad luck. To humans, at least."
Liara arched an eyebrow. "I see."
"That makes no sense," Tali added.
"Well Shepard is human. If that's true, Kaidan, would you mind checking up on her for me?"
"No, not at all. I wanted to see her before the ceremony anyway. Good luck out there, Liara. You look amazing."
"Thank you. And good luck avoiding Miranda!"
"I have a feeling I might need it. Oh - and see you later, Tali."
"Bye Kaidan. Make sure you knock on Shepard's dressing room before you barge in," Tali warned.
Kaidan peeked his head out the door to make sure the coast was clear. When he saw no signs of Miranda, he made his way into the hallway and began searching for Shepard's room.
As he walked down the hallway, knocking on each door, he realized he should have asked Liara for directions but was too embarrassed to do so now. Suddenly a fierce voice broke the silence.
"Hey Eyebrows!" Jack called from behind him.
Kaidan's heart skipped a beat. He wouldn't try running this time, so he simply turned to face the angry woman.
"Um...am I Eyebrows?"
Jack pinned him up against the wall.
"Whatever you think you saw out there didn't happen, got me? It would be a shame if I had to kick your ass on Shepard's big day."
"Yeah it's fine, Jack. I wasn't about to tell the whole damn party."
"There's nothing to tell. I was just talking to the cheerleader before I went inside. That's all."
Jack eased up and freed Kaidan.
"What the hell were you doing spying on us anyway?"
"I was going to say hi to Miranda."
"You always sneak around behind the backs of people you mean to greet?"
"Not really. I'm sorry."
"Don't let it happen again. See you around, Eyebrows." Jack said and began to walk away.
"Wait, Jack!" Kaidan called after the biotic.
Jack turned halfway around, arching an eyebrow. "Yeah?"
"You have any idea which one of these rooms Shepard's in?"
Jack lifted one of her inked arms and pointed at a doorway on the right end of the hall. "That one. Tell her I said hey." Then she left Kaidan alone in the hallway.
Kaidan raised a fist and knocked on the commander's door.
"Hello?!" Shepard's voice called from inside.
"Shepard: it's me, Kaidan. Liara asked me to check in on you."
Shepard opened the door wearing her wedding dress with a frustrated look on her face.
"Thank God someone finally came." Shepard said.
Shepard turned around, revealing the unzipped back of her dress.
"I can't get this damn thing zipped up. Help, please."
Kaidan chuckled as he took hold of the zipper and secured the back of the dress.
"There. All better." He said.
Shepard spun around to face him.
"Thanks, Kaidan. So how do I look?"
"Great! You and Liara are gonna blow people away out there."
Shepard smiled at his compliment. "So what did you need?"
"Oh! Liara just wanted me to check up on you."
"Yeah. So, you doing okay?"
"Uh...yeah I'm fine. Could you do me a favor, though?"
"Could you find Garrus? I need him. Tell him it's urgent." She asked as she eyed her reflection in the mirror. "You really think this dress looks okay?"
"Yeah! Oh and Shepard, I know we haven't had much of a chance to catch up, but I wanted to tell you something."
"I know you're done with the Alliance and I respect that. Hackett might not like it but I get it, you've done more than enough for the whole damn galaxy, let alone humanity. They promoted me since you resigned and well...I actually have a little pull now. I guess what I'm trying to say is if you or Liara ever need help for whatever reason, call me."
"Thanks, Kaidan. I hope I don't ever have to take you up on that offer."
"Me too. Alright, I'm off to find a turian."
Back out in the hallway, Kaidan could hear the sound of the party heating up. The rhythmic thump of dance music was so loud he felt it in his chest. He was itching to get out there. He hadn't had a chance to let loose since the Citadel and despite Hackett's warnings he could care less about representing the Alliance that night. He was there for Shepard, and himself, not the Systems Alliance.
But he was determined to keep his promise, to find Garrus and send him to Shepard as she had asked. He was a little hurt that Shepard would rather see her turian friend than him but he understood: he was Shepard's best man after all. Garrus and her had always been close. Hell he half-expected to attend their wedding one day, the way the turian and Shepard used to chat day in and day out aboard the SR1.
But he had heard those lower deck rumors aboard the original Normandy about Shepard's...orientation...far too often to ever imagine that Shepard considered their friendship to be romantic. And as their quest against Saren went on, he noticed Shepard spending more than her fair share of time in the med bay.
So no: he wasn't surprised when he got the invitation to her and Liara's wedding. In fact, given the state of their relationship when he last saw the two of them, he was surprised it hadn't come sooner. But he imagined Shepard's injuries played a part in the delay.
As Kaidan made his way to the ballroom, lost in his thoughts, he didn't notice Miranda striding quickly towards him from behind. Her high-heeled shoes clicked on the tiled floor.
"Kaidan!" she called.
Before Kaidan could reply, Miranda placed a stern hand on his shoulder and spun him around.
"I've been trying to talk to you all night."
"Have you?" Kaidan asked, trying to act coy.
"Listen, what you saw out there...it's private okay?"
"Yeah I know. I already had a little chat with your girlfriend."
Miranda shushed him. "Keep your bloody voice down."
"This is why you've been so weird the past few months? How the hell did I not see this?" He said "I don't know what you're so ashamed of. I mean, you do realize you're attending a lesbian wedding? Sort of. Plus, last I checked, nobody's really cared about all that stuff for years."
"I'm not ashamed that I'm gay, Kaidan!" Miranda replied, sounding offended.
"Then what's your problem?"
"It's Jack. The two of us historically have been very public with our opinions of each other. We just think it might make us look...foolish if we were seen together."
"If you dislike her then why are you with her?"
"Opposites attract, right? I don't dislike her. Not really. In fact I've always found her rather...attractive. But if we came out it would make us look like we were acting like school girls at each other's throats because we didn't understand the feelings we had for each other. Plus could you imagine the Alliance's response? I mean, we're stationed in the same bloody city. My reputation in the Navy isn't the best, Kaidan. I already have Cerberus on my record: I don't want to add this mess on top of that. Please just keep it to yourself."
"Okay I guess I can understand that. My lips are sealed, Miranda."
"Thank you, but forget my "girlfriend". It's not what I wanted to talk to you about."
"No. as you know the alliance is bringing all new recruits into the staff housing back on HQ in Vancouver – the staff housing where I currently live – and I'm getting bumped."
"Well...this is awkward. We're friends, right? I mean you and Jack are about the only members of the Alliance in Vancouver who hasn't spat at me for working with Cerberus since I joined."
"Yeah, of course."
"Well I tried looking for a house, apartment, anything really and I found nothing. What I'm trying to ask you is...can I move in with you? Just for a little while until I find somewhere for myself. I mean, you have that place your dad left you, right?"
"Wait – you've been trying to ask to be my roommate?"
"Well...yes. I know I can be severe and a bit controlling, but I'd really appreciate this."
Kaidan let the surprise of the question wear off before he thought it over. He did like Miranda – in fact he had a bit of a crush on the woman up until recently – and she had been a good friend to him since the war ended.
"Sure. Yeah. It was getting lonely in that big house all by myself anyway. Not that I mean to prod, but why not ask Jack?"
"I thought about it. But that's a bit serious, don't you think? I mean the girl just learned how to have a decent haircut. I don't want to ruin things by getting too serious. And I haven't really ever been in a real relationship myself."
"Say no more. I'd love to have you."
"Thank you, Kaidan. It really means a lot to me. Come on, let me buy you a drink."
"Thanks, but I have to find Garrus. Shepard's sent for him."
"Oh! Well I think I saw him on the ballroom balcony."
"Thanks. And I'll meet you after the ceremony and we can fly back to Earth together. As much as I love awkward silences with Admiral Hackett."
Miranda chuckled. "Deal."
Then Kaidan was off again, sprinting through the crowded ballroom, running past the other former Normandy crew members. He saw the balcony door and sprang towards it.
Notes- Thanks for reading! This chapter was beta'd by the awesome K.E. Strokez