A Woman Who

Chapter 36 of Valkyrie

Later, Kaidan lay beside Shepard, his arms behind his head. She slept so peacefully. He could only wish that she would always sleep this way – gently, happily. He wasn’t someone given to pride, but he had to admit he felt damn proud of the fact that he had made her happy.

Kaidan closed his eyes. This time a year ago if someone had told him he’d be lying in bed next to Commander ‘Valkyrie’ Shepard, he’d have laughed at them. He’d have been flattered by their optimism, but laughed all the same. And yet, here she was. It really made all those years of celibacy worth it, he thought, to get finally enjoy such a great woman.

And Shepard was a great woman. She’d been unafraid of his biotics – hell, their biotic energy was one of the things that had made this night incredible.

And he’d been her first. His head was still reeling about that one. It was hard for him to comprehend how *that * had happened. Clearly every guy in the Alliance – no, the galaxy, really – was an idiot. But out of everyone she’d ever met, she had trusted him - him . It made him realize that he trusted her, too, with, well, everything. He had no idea what the next few days would bring, but he planned on being with her until the end.

A sound from her made him open his eyes and turn his head. He rolled over and pressed his lips to the base of her neck. She sighed and arched her back against his chest. He wrapped an arm over her and pulled her close.

“Are you asleep?” he murmured.

“Not now,” came the soft reply. “Why? You want to go again?”

His heart beat a little faster even as he laughed. “Shepard, I’m only human.”

“Could have fooled me,” she said, rolling over to look at him. In the low lights, his eyes seemed almost to glow from within. “Biotic stamina, huh? I should have made Joker take the long way around to Ilos.”

“How long until we get there?” he asked.

She looked at the clock on the wall and frowned. “Four hours.”

“Did you get enough sleep?” he asked her.

“Did you really intend for me to get sleep when you showed up here?” She leaned up on her elbow and leveled an accusing glance at him.

“Ah, no, not really,” he confessed.

“I took a nap,” she yawned. “So for a night of not sleeping much, this was the best one I’ve ever had.”

“Me too,” he confessed. “So, ah, were you wanting to…?”

Shepard raised an eyebrow at him. “Did you have a request, lieutenant?”

“Well ma’am, we’ve got a few more hours until we reach Ilos.”

“So we do. Did you have something in mind?”

“A couple of things, yeah,” he said finding he’d begun to grin.

“Only if you’re up to it, lieutenant,” she told him.

“I’m…getting there, commander.”

She smiled at him slowly, then became a blur of blue-white light as she flipped over and pinned him to the bed.

“Can we just stop time here?” Kaidan murmured. Shepard turned to look at him. She was completely naked, her slim, toned body outlined in the soft blue lights of the room. He could almost feel his heart aching for her to come back to bed with him.

“If we could freeze everything and keep Saren from ever carrying out whatever plan he has to end the galaxy? Yeah, I could live with that.” She smiled sadly. “But on second thought, if we stop time with me naked, I might get a little chilly.”

“I’ll be warm enough,” Kaidan said, allowing a flicker of blue to trace the outline of his jaw. “God, I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of this.”

“Yeah,” she said softly, looking away.

“Hey, wait,” he said, noticing the change in her demeanor right away. “What’s wrong?”

She shook her head, grabbed a pair of undershorts from the closet and pulled them on. “It’s nothing.”

“Bullshit,” he said, surprising her. “Come on, Shepard. I can feel you pulling away. What is it?”

“I just…” She jabbed a hand through her hair and yanked on her bra. “I’ve waited so long to find someone like you. It just seems wrong, somehow, to do it like this.”

“To do what? Are you regretting that we broke regs?” He sincerely hoped that she didn’t. He knew that if he had any sense of decorum or protocol, he would feel some sense of remorse for tossing Alliance regulations aside. It clearly went to show that he had neither, because he didn’t regret a moment of this night.

“No,” she said, pulling on a her shirt. “Well, yes, but not you. I regret…” She shrugged her shoulders. “It seems I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to put up walls. Walls would have protected Mindoir. Walls would have protected Elysium. But it turns out walls didn’t protect me. They just left me distanced from people who might have been friends – from myself, even. I just wish I’d learned the lesson sooner. But, then again, if I’m going to learn that lesson at all, I’m glad it’s with you.”

“Not like I’m all that great a teacher anyhow,” he muttered, feeling a little embarrassed by her confession. “You know, I have no idea what this is going to mean in the future…”

“Let’s not talk about the future,” Shepard said, nervously. “Not until we live to see it.”

“Fair enough,” Kaidan said.

Shepard turned with a frown, pulling on her pants and socks, then began to lace up her boots. “I wish we could just start the night over again.”

“Me too,” Kaidan agreed. “It’s been a long time since I met a woman who…”

“Bridge to Commander Shepard.” Joker’s voice sounded over the comm, cutting off what Kaidan was about to say. “We’ll be at Ilos in five minutes. This is your wake-up call.”

Shepard frowned at the ceiling, then looked down at Kaidan and smiled. “You’re a sweetheart, Kaidan, you know that?”

“Sweetheart?” Kaidan chuckled. “What is this, Valentine’s Day, Shepard?”

“Could be,” she said airily. “Came early this year – or late. Whatever.”

“So I’m your ‘sweetheart’ this year, commander?” he teased.

“Are you questioning my feelings for my lieutenant?” she asked him. “Because last I checked, he had some rather ill-advised feelings for me, too.”

“Yeah, he did,” Kaidan said, sheepishly. “God, he really does,” he added, gazing at her. “Take care today, Shepard. I swear, if anything happens to you…”

“You’re coming with me, aren’t you?” Shepard frowned. “Your wound isn’t going to stop you? I guess I should have asked, but I assumed…”

“I’m coming,” he nodded. “Just let me get dressed. I’ll be right behind you.”

“Right behind me,” she chuckled. “As always.”

“As always,” he repeated.