This is exactly what I didn't want to happen, he thought, it wasn't supposed to be like this.
Shepard felt his heart race while looking at the love his life slowly but surely lose her sanity. Well, what little she had left. He didn't want her to discover their unfortunate circumstance, well not until he would have decided on what he would do about it. Those people had him and Jack there for a reason and he was in no rush to see what that the rest of that reason had been; if he was to go back they would have wanted more. They always want more, but with Jack here he had no reason to go back to the hell of their realities. He just needed more time, he always needed more time.
"Shepard," Jack asked still standing near the door, her eyes not wavering from the bed.
"Yes, Jack?" he replied.
"What the hell is happening?"
There were two ways Shepard could do this; he could tell Jack the truth and hope that she would understand and choose him. Or he could lie, at least long enough to give himself time to discover what he wanted to do.
"Shepard?" Jack questioned, this time her voice sounding of nothing but a whisper.
He wanted to answer Jack, he wanted to tell her everything that she needed and wanted to know, so that her mind would be at ease. But how could he give her the luxury of putting her mind to rest when all his had been doing was running constantly in the same circle. All he could do now was repeat the last two days in his head over and over again hoping for a way out.
"Commander Shepard," the voice called.
Shepard didn't want to wake up, it would have been just like it had been before, with him waking up into a world that asked too much of him. A world that bought him back solely to become a "hero"; which in his terms meant nothing more than a walking mat. He was too tired and honestly he had no more pride or strength to fight for the Alliance anymore. So he planned to lay there and sleep, at least until he felt well enough to care.
"Shepard we know that you are awake."
The voice now sounded familiar, but he didn't care. Shepard thought that it was evident that by him pretending to sleep the voice would have caught the clue to go away. After all, he did just save the world. The least they could have done was allowed him to pretend for as long as he liked.
"Okay, Commander. I guess you don't care about the well-being of you and your beloved Jack."
Shepard's eyes jumped open. It was one thing to mess with him but it was another to bother Jack, forget the fact that Jack could kill them with a flick of her biotics but once Shepard got his hands on them it would be nothing left for her to kill. Shepard looked into the face of the man who had been talking to him; and he now understood why the voice had sounded so familiar. It was the voice of his fallen comrade Kaiden Alenko. The voice that haunted him so well. Shepard jumped to his feet, expecting to feel the pain of the battle but he felt nothing, only incandescent happiness and relief. He grabbed Alenko into a hug. Shepard was happy to be able to see his friend again to hear his voice, to see him breathe. Well, Shepard was happy until he thought of the last words Kaiden had said before he decided to open his eyes. Shepard released Kaiden and threw his body onto the floor.
"What the hell gives you the right to threaten Jack, huh? Shouldn't you be dead?" Shepard barked.
Kaiden chuckled and picked himself of the floor.
"You of all people Shepard should know how hard it is to stay dead these days," Kaiden said dusting his pants off.
"What do you want Kaiden?" Shepard questioned.
"Wow, what do I want? How about a "hi" or "hello" or the infamous "Hey, long time no see," Kaiden cockily responded.
Shepard was unfazed, he was in no mood for jokes, or Kaiden's sarcasm. Kaiden continued to stare back, waiting for Shepard to react so he could avoid the question. But he reached no such luck.
"I have been sent here to give you two options for your future. I don't want anything, I just want to help," Kaiden replied.
Shepard looked hesitantly at Kaiden, what he was saying didn't sound as much of a threat and his face held some sincerity, but he wasn't buying, not too soon.
"Help? I don't need any help Kaiden, and as far as I can tell I have more than just two sorry options to consider."
"But you haven't even heard the option that I have to offer." Kaiden replied.
"And I don't plan on it. I believe that you are full of shit and a lunatic for dying and telling no one that you weren't actually dead," Shepard angrily responded before he started to leave.
As he started to head for the door Kaiden called out to Shepard.
"Have you wondered yet on why your eye doesn't hurt? Or have you wondered why you no longer have the wound from the Crucible? Or even why I am back? Look around Shepard you aren't where you think you are, you're with me in another world, another realm. Shepard do me a favor and look around. Your home is being threatened and some things aren't over yet, and it is up to you to stop it." Kaiden responded.
Shepard looked around. Kaiden was right. He had been in the hospital but this was nothing like Huerta. It was duller, quiet, and most of all empty. He felt no pain and all of this bruises and injuries had been healed. Kaiden was right. Shepard looked up at Kaiden.
"I'm not stopping anything."
Kaiden open his mouth to speak but was a quickly interrupted by Shepard's hand going up to stop him.
"No. I am not fixing shit for any of you people, I have done everything and anything that you have asked for. It's never enough. You have taken my life, everything I loved, and my sanity and you think that I am going to do it again? No. Screw you and your damn horse you rod in on, I'm done Kaiden. Done."
Shepard stood staring at Kaiden silently waiting for a response. Kaiden raised his eyebrows in response.
"Oh, are you done," Kaiden said leaning against the wall. "Nice speech Shepard, really it wasn't your best but it is one for the books."
"I am not joking Kaiden!"
"And I don't think you are Shepard! That's the part that I don't get. Man I knew you were stubborn but I never took you for stupid. Have you processed anything that I have said, huh? Anything?"
Shepard met Kaiden's glare.
"I said your home is in danger Shepard, that means you and Jack and that beautiful home that you two were creating is gone. It's dead. Joker, Garrus, Ash, Chakwas, Liara, and everything gone. Disappearing as we speak if you don't do something. You have two options Shepard…it's up to you if you want to hear them," Kaiden looked back to Shepard with agony in his eyes.
Shepard could see that Kaiden had become affected by the task he had to get Shepard to make. He could see that his tough guy exterior was not going to help what the situation was, and most importantly he wanted to make sure Jack was okay.
Shepard nodded. "I'm listening."
"Good. First you should know that Jack is here. She has not yet woken up and she is not going to, not until they are ready-"
"Who is 'they'?"
"Who 'they' are right now, doesn't matter. Just know that they have the power to wake her up or not. They also have the power to keep you and I asleep. Anyway, she is the key here Shepard. You for once are just a token. We need her to agree to wake up, back to the real world. We need her to set things right."
Shepard chuckled. "You really think that Jack is going to 'set things right'. We are talking about the same person right, the same reformed sailor-mouthed convict with a buzzed haircut and pony tail? That Jack?"
Kaiden stared at Shepard waiting for his joking to subside.
Kaiden rolled his eyes. "Yes, that Jack. She has the ability to fix what's left after the war. The problem is, she wouldn't want to take on the task. And that's where you come in. Give her one of your hoorah speeches, a smile, and a seal of approval and after some time she will decide to do as told. And option two, you tell her nothing and she can stay here with you. She can live a content life here with you in this realm. You guys can have everything you ever wanted and will ever need here. Away from the danger and the harm of the real world. You guys can finally have the life you wanted."
"Wait, why Jack of all people? And why do you say that she has the option to have a life here with me as if it is the only option. As if she and I living in the real world is impossible," Shepard replied.
"Shepard," Kaiden looked into Shepard's eyes "this is your only option. This is the only world for you, as of yesterday you ceased to exist in that world. It seems like Jack and you in the real world is impossible because it is impossible. The Crucible killed you. As of yesterday Shepard you are dead."
Shepard stepped back, now feeling sick to his stomach. He remembered the Crucible throwing him back onto Earth but he also remembered waking up. Kaiden couldn't be right.
"I can't be dead," Shepard whispered. "I woke up."
Kaiden nodded his head, "You did wake up, but you died from your injuries moments later. It would have felt as if you went back to sleep."
Shepard couldn't grasp his head around the situation, a week ago he had been getting a tattoo from Jack, he had been dancing with her on the Citadel, playing next to her within the Arena, and just yesterday he was standing in QEC talking to Jack about starting a future with her. Now just as quickly as it came, it all ended just as fast. He wouldn't be able to call Jack his own and he damn sure wouldn't be able to have a life with her. Not anymore.
"Now that you are dead the citizens will turn on everything you and I have believed in. The Alliance will be rendered helpless and the Council will be worse. Eventually everyone will turn their back on the only leadership worth bringing the governments together. Wars will break out and civilizations will be lost. Jack is the only one to save it because who better to trust than the one Commander Shepard himself chose to call his own. Jack will be seen as a reflection of you and your word. Everyone will gladly follow behind her. You have the options to have Jack go back into the world and move on. Or stay here and create a life with her. The choice is up whether you let her go or not. Just know that each choice has its own consequence, just one sacrifice will be bigger than the other."
Kaiden turned and walked out the room leaving Shepard with unanswered questions. Shepard ran after Kaiden only to find the hall empty.
Shepard was knocked out of his trance only to see Jack continuing her melt down. He needed to claim her down, he needed to reassure her that everything would be okay. He made a mistake and allowed Jack to go back to the room and now this was his mess to clean up. He knew what he needed to do, no more running around aimlessly; Shepard now found the path he wanted go on. This choice had now been way easier than it was when he was given his two options. He would try what he thought would be best. He would tell Jack nothing about the war and destruction that would soon consume their worlds, he would tell her nothing about the deaths, he would tell her nothing more than what he wanted her to know. Shepard decided that he wanted Jack for himself and a life for them both.
He decided that he would lie.