Kaidan walked towards the elevator warily, wishing that he didn’t have to go down and check on his locker. The elevator took forever, and he really wasn’t in the mood to be stuck in there by himself for however long it took to go one floor down into the cargo hold. Too bad he needed to deal with his gear before heading to bed.
To bed. He frowned. He’d be sleeping next to the repaired sleeper pod, the one Shepard had broken, while she would be sleeping elsewhere.
She was now no longer just his commanding officer. She was the commanding officer.
When the Council had named Shepard the first human Spectre, Kaidan had been standing right there. He’d been impressed and yet a little saddened. Was it just him, or did she sound slightly frustrated when she volunteered to go after Saren? He had figured someone else would bring the rogue agent in. Now Shepard was being given a hasty battlefield promotion and sent out to do the Council’s dirty work.
He didn’t like it.
He also didn’t like that Captain Anderson had been taken off the mission. Kaidan didn’t blame Shepard for that, not one bit, but it didn’t sit well with him that a soldier like Anderson would be retired under such circumstances. That the Alliance would do such a thing to Anderson – well, it just meant that Shepard was that much closer to the axe herself should things go wrong. And there was a lot of room for things to go very wrong.
If he were honest with himself, there was another reason Kaidan didn’t like all this. It meant that Shepard had moved into the captain’s quarters – away from the sleeper pod next to his. The move was probably for the best, given way she’d exploded that pod just the other night due to a nightmare, but the move seemed symbolic of something else. She’d just stepped that much further away from him.
Kaidan had to admit that he found Shepard attractive - hell, he’d found her more attractive than any woman he’d met in a long while. He had done his best to keep his interest in check, but he had hoped that when this all ended, he’d have the guts to ask Shepard out for a date. He’d been keeping an eye out for good restaurants on the Citadel. He had no idea what kind of food she liked, but he knew she like food. Kaidan chuckled to himself. The woman ate like a krogran: she put protein rations away like no one he’d ever seen.
But now the mission was going to continue – and without Anderson to oversee it. That meant Shepard would need to focus all her time on the mission. She wouldn’t have time for casual chats in the mess hall about biotics and the mission and just whatever bull came to mind.
Kaidan frowned. This was unkind of him. He saw the importance of stopping Saren and that was far more important than anyone’s personal feelings.
He just worried about Shepard in all of this, he told himself. She was in a weird spot now – he saw that the moment she stepped out onto that platform to be named a Spectre.
Spectres typically were kept secret, but Shepard’s promotion had been done with all the fanfare the Alliance could throw at it. And that put Shepard in a strange position. She was no longer merely an officer, but neither had she been discharged from the Alliance. She now stood somewhere outside the ranks and outside the law, but the ties remained to both. Someone could get hanged with no support and yet ties all around them, he thought.
So as far as Kaidan was concerned, whatever thoughts he’d entertained about Shepard beyond the mission had to be set aside. He valued her as an officer, a fellow biotic, and a friend. He would have to be content with that.
Kaidan stepped into the elevator and punched the button. He didn’t want to be content with that, but he would have to be.
“Hold it, please.” Kaidan recognized the voice instantly. He’d heard that low, determined voice over the comm just a moment before, giving an impassioned speech about the need to stop Saren.
“Commander,” he said, stepping on the door to hold it open for her. Shepard slipped into the elevator with a thanks. She looked tired, Kaidan thought. He told her so.
“Ah, yeah,” she said, running a hand through her hair. “Not much sleep. But the cabin upgrade should help with that.”
“Where’s our first stop, ma’am?” he asked. Maybe if he called her ‘commander’ and ‘ma’am’ enough, he’d stop thinking of her as “Shepard” in his head.
“Feros,” she said decisively.
“Not the asari?” he asked.
“The archaeologist is out on a dig. She’ll likely be there for a while. On the other hand, if the geth have attacked a colony, they may not be able to hold out long. We’ll go to the colony first.”
“Always saving colonies,” he chuckled, thinking of Eden Prime.
Shepard’s eyes narrowed. “Yes,” she said curtly and faced the wall.
Kaidan blinked. “Did I say something…out of order, ma’am?” he asked, cautiously.
Shepard’s face softened and she gave a small sigh. “No,” she said. “It’s…nothing.”
They both stared at the wall. Kaidan had the impression that glaciers probably moved faster than this elevator. Back when there had been glaciers, that is.
“So, you’re a Spectre now,” he said, breaking the silence.
“Looks like it,” she said.
“That’s a big honor,” Kaidan observed.
Shepard frowned. “It’s a PR stunt,” she said, that same cold-as-steel tone in her voice again. “But I’ll use whatever tools I can to get the job done. If the Council wants to play like they aren’t responsible for Saren, that’s fine. I’ll find him anyway.”
Kaidan looked at her and said without thinking, “You okay, commander?”
Shepard looked at him as though the question surprised her. Then she shook her head.
“I’m sorry, Kay – Alenko. I don’t mean to be taking this out on you – on anyone. I’m just tired and I – we – have a lot of work to do.” She paused. “But thanks for asking. That’s good of you.”
At that moment, the elevator reached the docking bay. Kaidan perversely found himself wishing that the ride had been longer.
“Of course, ma’am,” he said, holding the door open for her. “You know I’m here for you.”