“Hey, hey-” Kaidan reached for Shepard, his fingers groping at her right hand desperately. “Don’t do this again.”
Shepard eyed his hand, wrapped so protectively around her own, and breathed out an almost inaudible sigh. Kaidan watched her expression harder, her deep blue eyes glazed over in that way they always did when she had her guard up.
He knew that look so damn well.
“Don’t shut me out again,” he pressed, pulling her closer. She didn’t resist, but the look on her face told him that she was uncomfortable, almost coiling away from his touch. “What happened on Thessia…Shepard, it wasn’t your-“
“Don’t.” Her head snapped up, and her eyes were suddenly alight with anger. “Don’t lie to me, Alenko.”
Kaidan sucked in a sharp breath, eyes narrowing. She hadn’t called him ‘Alenko’ in years…
“What the hell are you doing, Alenko?” Shepard screamed, her anger deafening over the comm. He flinched at the sound, fumbling over the dome-shaped bomb with clumsy, panicked fingers.
“I-” Kaidan paused, sucking in a breath to steady his working hands, “I’m just making sure this bomb goes off, Commander. No matter what.”
Shepard swore. “You need help, Lieutenant. I’m coming ba-“
“No!” Kaidan shouted over her, pushing himself up off the ground. His eyes flickered upwards, having heard gunfire over the roar of the Normandy’s engines. Sure enough, his eyes found a small army of geth on the approach - barely being held back by the handful of Alliance marines who had been left to guard the bomb.
“Sh-Commander,” Kaidan said, darting behind the bomb to conduct the final calibrations. “You have to get to Williams, she needs-“
“Shit.” He cursed, ducking further behind the bomb for cover, having narrowly avoided being struck by gunfire.
“How bad is it, Alenko?” Shepard sounded panicked, her voice low and rushed.
“I’ll get the job done, ma’am.” Kaidan said, deflecting the question. His gaze was fixed on the battle before him; the geth outnumbered them three to one. The Normandy’s forces wouldn’t hold out much longer. Already the ground was scattered with bodies, all of them human.
“…I’m coming back for you. No arguements.” Shepard said, after a small moment’s hesitation.
“There’s not enough time, Commander!” His omni-tool flashed orange, initiating the final steps to arming the bomb. He breathed a small sigh of relief; this would be over soon.
“To hell with that, LT!” Ashley screamed over the comm., having patched herself in. Her breathing was heavy and laboured, the sounds of intense battle drowning out the gunfire on Kaidan’s end. “You’ll get torn apart down there!”
“And you’re already getting torn apart up there!” Kaidan shouted back, equally as infuriated. “Commander, you’re already on your way - just grab Williams and go!”
Shepard’s breathing was the only sound. It was quick, desperate; as though she couldn’t suck in enough air. “Williams-“
“It’s been an honor, Ma’am.”
“No!” Kaidan shouted, but Ashley had been cut off. He slammed his fist into the ground in frustration, having never felt such anger in his thirty-two years. Vaguely, distantly - amid the sounds of his crewmates dying and the violence surrounding him, he heard her.
Her voice was soft; nothing like he’d ever heard from her before. And it was vulnerable; so very human.
Her broken voice in his head was so quiet, he almost didn’t think it was real.
“I’d never leave you, Kaidan.”