It had been a hell of a day.
Kaidan slumped into his sleeper pod and lay back, hands behind his head. Better to call it the day from hell, he thought. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt so exhausted, yet so unable to sleep.
They’d just returned from their first mission. Nihilus was dead; Jenkins was dead; that William’s girl’s unit was dead; half of Eden Prime’s main colony was dead. And yet, all he could think about was the one person who wasn’t dead: not quite – though she hadn’t moved in hours. Shepard was lying in the med bay – just a wall separated his sleeper pod from her medical bed.
He had stayed by her side as long as he could. At first, he assisted Doctor Chakwas in making sure that Shepard was stabilized, in trying to find any information about Prothean beacons that he could dig up from the extranet. There had been little to go on.
When Shepard finally appeared to have settled into a strange, deep sleep - not quite a coma, but not quite a normal rest - the doctor had shooed him out of the med bay.
“Get some rest, Alenko,” she’d said. “You’ve been in here for hours.”
So now here he lay, resting.
Resting was harder than helping, he thought. Resting meant he had time to think back to the events of the day, to play over and over again that horrible moment when he thought he’d lost the commander.
Kaidan turned to his side and closed his eyes, but the face of Shepard stayed in his mind. He imagined that he could still feel her, too. She had been so warm and soft in his arms when he’d rolled her onto her back. Without her biotic barriers, without that steely look in her eye and that set to her chin, she’d looked so…young. To look at her on the battlefield, you would have thought that she could never be stopped. The woman had blazed a trail through the decimated colony. To see her fall so suddenly was an unexpected as it had been terrible.
And it was all his fault. He had triggered that beacon, he had set off whatever it was that had ensnared Shepard. And though Williams had told him it wasn’t his fault and the captain had told him it wasn’t his fault, Kaidan just could not shake the knowledge that it was, in fact, entirely his fault.
Jenkins was dead, the beacon destroyed, and the commander might well die in a medical bay, her mind destroyed by his idiotic interference.
She had to wake up, he thought to himself. He didn’t know how he would stand it if she didn’t.
Kaidan didn’t remember when he had fallen asleep. He only remembered waking, feeling instantly restless. He got out of his sleeper pod, set it to self-clean for the next person’s shift, and went to grab a coffee from the mess hall. Ashley Williams sat at the table, a bowl and a mug of cold, black coffee before her.
“Hey,” he said.
“Hey,” she replied. She poked at whatever was in her bowl. Protein surprise, it looked like. “So…” she said.
“So…?” Kaidan asked.
“You told the captain I should stay?”
“Thanks.” She poked at her bowl again. Kaidan watched her for a moment. Poor kid, he thought. She looked as if she hadn’t slept a wink. He probably didn’t look much better.
“You gonna be okay?” he asked.
“My whole unit’s dead and I’m only here because one of your team died, too!” she exploded, slamming a fist on the table. “Your commander is in the med bay in a freaking coma! Of course I’m not okay!” Kaidan just blinked at her outburst. The girl sobered instantly, then frowned into her bowl.
“She took a head shot for me,” Ashley murmured. “Pushed me out of the way when that geth… I thought she was dead. Biotic barriers though. You two are freakin’ crazy.”
Kaidan smiled a little in spite of himself. Biotics did not make one invincible, but you’d never know that to watch Shepard in action. She was precise and tactical: watching her fight was like watching someone go through the motions of a dance. She’d only needed one pistol after all - and her biotics and a a few grenades.
At the thought of the commander, Kaidan sobered again. He looked to the medbay, remembering again why it was they were out here, waiting.
“Any word on the commander?” he asked the chief.
“Chakwas promised to call me the moment she woke up,” Williams replied. “Last I heard, the commander is holding steady, but still out cold.”
“When was that?” Kaidan asked.
“An hour ago.”
“I think I’ll go check in on her,” he said. “You know, see if I can offer any medical help.”
“Medical help?” Williams murmured as the lieutenant walked away. “Huh. Is that what they’re calling it these days?”