Her eyes had always been able to speak the truth. No matter what shape her mouth was forming, no matter the words that rolled off her tongue, he had always been able to decipher the facts from all the lies that spilled out from her. All by looking at those bright, clear eyes.
It wasn't that she was a bad liar – hell, she could win a bluffing match against a turian if she wanted to. It was simply that she didn't care if Kaidan saw through all the political bull her rank demanded she say. Above all else, she was a commander - his commander – and that was a rank where words and appearances meant everything.
She knew that.
That's why she was wearing a charming smile while her eyes narrowed into slits that demanded him to explain himself, his logic, why in the world he ever thought she would consider him again after everything that had happened.
He knew what she wanted him to explain, had known it would be the biggest hurdle to get over. Their conversation on Horizon had been something that played over and again in his mind; a conversation that he wished he could have taken back as soon as she had clenched her jaw and ordered Joker to pick up her squad. The glare that she gave him then, the glare that was given through a tight-lipped smile, spoke volumes.
Watch me, Kaidan. Watch me save humanity while you sit on your ass.
I can do this on my own. Without you.
Despite his regret at not going with Shepard, his wish to retract the hurtful things he said to her, he still found himself doubting her allegiance once they arrived on Mars. She and The Illusive Man had been in cahoots with each other for some time: it only made sense that she knew what he was up to. He had read her debriefings that stated that she and Cerberus were allies because their goals, at one point, were similar, but those interests ended at the Collector Base: she did things her way, made a sworn enemy, and that was that. But doubt still niggled in Kaidan's mind – the same doubt that had arisen months earlier on Horizon. She couldn't be gone for two years and still be the same woman; at least, not the same woman with the same loyalties. Cerberus brought her back, so she owed them her life.
And he knew that Shepard was good on paying back owed debts.
He would find out that he'd been wrong about her in many ways and he was thankful for that. But her loyalty to him would change, and those were the thoughts keeping him up at night. The thoughts of what was happening now pained him and the only way to stop it was to remember what had been before this mess began.
With little effort he could still see her wandering aimlessly through the halls, wearing a uniform that barely met regs, stumbling into him near the cafeteria. The nights where they'd sit at a table for several hours and talk about their lives, about their pasts, about hopes and dreams that would never come to fruition. He remembered her telling the story about the attack on Mindoir, the pain that broke through the typical impassiveness of her face. The moment when he first grabbed her hand in comfort; when holding hands became cradling her in the dark shadows of the night.
He remembered when the urge to kiss her, to drag her into his room and rip off her clothes, became nearly unbearable. The nights where he had to push himself away and return to his computer, tugging his hair in frustration while she gave an awkward chuckle, before he did something that could put both their hard-earned careers in jeopardy.
The night when they threw caution to the wind, when they finally came together while hijacking their own ship.
Their month of hard-earned shore leave where they took full advantage of the lack of regulations keeping them apart.
He could recall her funeral with perfect clarity. The empty casket beneath his hands, the hot tears that splattered onto polished wood and a hand-sewn flag. He remembered saluting the empty box, remembered joining Garrus, Tali, Liara, Wrex, and a couple well-known Marines in lifting her casket to her burial site. Dropping it in. Throwing a handful of dirt on top. Leaving gerbera daisies when nobody else was looking.
She didn't know how hard he took her death. She didn't know the months of depression he suffered through, about her picture that he carried in his pocket for over a year, about how he had gone to her small memorial wall on the Citadel for hours at a time whenever his job took him there.
She didn't know how much he still loved her, about how much he wanted to hold her again like those nights in the dark cafeteria when it was just Jane and Kaidan, two people with desperate needs who had finally found someone to confide in.
And now, looking at her face, he knew she would forever be in the dark about everything.
It was because of Horizon. All because of Horizon. Because he rejected her at a trying time and hadn't been there for her when death – a second death – was nearly a certainty. He hadn't been there at all.
But somebody else had. Someone who had been at her side nearly as long as he had.
The smiles shared between the two hadn't been missed. The same temptation that Kaidan had felt on those dark nights with Shepard could be plainly seen in those foreign, turian eyes. It had been impossible to overlook that something had happened between Garrus and Shepard. It wasn't hard to figure out when those feelings might have blossomed.
And he could have prevented it from happening if Horizon hadn't happened. If he would have kissed her instead of calling her a traitor. If he had told her he still loved her instead of inflecting that his love had fizzled out.
It could have been prevented if she had never died.
But now…now it didn't matter, did it? Now she was sipping from her cup of Citadel-grade coffee, staring at him coolly over the rim of her stark-white cup. She was daring him to say something, anything. So he did.
"There was something between you and Garrus, right?"
Those eyes crinkled into a smile while her lips tried to pretend to be downturned. "I'm sorry, Kaidan. I never meant to hurt you."
How does it feel, you son-of-a-bitch? How does it feel to be left in the dust?
"I get it. Why you cheated."
The wrinkles around her eyes grew more profound. "Doesn't make it right."
You don't understand a goddamn thing. You made your intentions clear. We were done before Garrus was ever in the picture.
He remembered the feeling of her fingers raking through his hair, the deep chuckle in her throat when he kissed her neck. How she'd squeal when his fingers brushed over her bare ribs. He closed his eyes to lock those memories in, because the Shepard in front of him was a far cry from the woman he was dreaming of.
"Is there still room for me?"
A stupid question, one that he cringed at as soon as he asked. But the memories of her were still fresh despite the years that had passed. The thought of holding her to him again was too powerful. The idea of feeling her skin brush over his, of sharing a bed with her, waking up next to her, seeing her smile because he walked into a room – it all made him want to try. Try harder than he ever had. Try so hard that he could make both of them forget the misery that lay in their wake.
She set her cup down, cradled it between her hands. Long strands of crimson, far longer than they had been on the SR1, shielded her eyes from him while she inspected the swirling brown below her. "Garrus has given me time to figure things out. To figure out if I wanted to go back to the way things were before."
He didn't know what she meant by those words. Couldn't see. Couldn't tell.
Now her head raised, her chin lifted, and she was a proud woman, the most renowned Alliance commander in the charted galaxy, and the first human Spectre whose actions helped more than the Councilors. This was the woman who stopped Saren, the woman who saved human colonies from the attacks of the Collectors. The woman who didn't need him to stop the mass extinction that was about to happen; the woman that could have done it all herself but had allowed Kaidan to come along for the ride.
Eyes shone bright with resolve, with confidence, and Kaidan's heart sank.
"I think it's unfair of me to keep him waiting."
With no hesitation she slammed a handful of credits onto the table: the amount was twice what it would cost for both of their orders. She gave him a lazy salute, "Major", took her cup and made off towards the nearby transit hub. Kaidan turned to watch her go, fighting the urge to knock her over with his biotics and pin her to the ground so he could confess all those things that she'd never know so that maybe he'd have a chance-
He fought the urge to punch someone in the face when he saw the distant outline of Garrus arrive in a car and open the door for Shepard. He tried to make himself stop glowing when she grabbed the damn turian's collar and pulled him over for a kiss once they were in the vehicle.
Then, watching her speed away, he wished that Cerberus had never found her. He wished that Cerberus wouldn't have been able to afford Project Lazarus, that the Collector's had never been in the picture, that there hadn't been any need for someone like Shepard to deal with humanity's problems.
He wished that she had never come back from the dead. At least then she would have been his to the end.
At least then it wouldn't be his fault that she was now gone from his reach.