Part 2, Chapter 11 of Valkyrie

There had never been enough time.

When Kaidan thought about Shepard – and he avoided doing so as much as possible, in spite of the fact that there was enough on the station to remind him of her wherever he looked – that was the one thing that kept running through his head:

There had never been enough time.

The first day back, he collapsed into bed after his meeting with the Council and slept dreamlessly for over twelve hours. When he woke, he’d been disoriented. For one glorious moment, he wondered if he could catch Shepard before she had to get to a meeting.

Then he remembered, and it was like being crushed under a sheet of ice.

He got through that day by speaking as little as possible, by keeping as busy as possible. Anderson had a million tasks for him, it seemed, and Kaidan eagerly took on every single one. He avoided the crew, avoided the team. That day and the next and then the next he managed not to speak to any of them. They could have left the station and he would not have known.

He heard rumors about them. Joker, it seemed, had made a decent recovery, thanks to Doctor Chakwas’ care. The helmsman had been grounded, though, deemed unfit to fly. Joker had last been heard complaining to Anderson that he needed to be given a new berth or he would go crazy.

So go crazy , Kaidan had thought when Anderson relayed the story. I certainly have.

Liara had sent Kaidan numerous messages via his extranet account and even by an actual messenger at one point. She kept begging to see Kaidan, to talk with him about Shepard. She kept repeating that they needed to go pick the body up.

Kaidan simply couldn’t speak to the asari. He had held Shepard’s body mere hours before the Normandy exploded with the commander on it. He wanted to keep his last memory of Shepard as untainted as possible. To see her blasted corpse…

He simply couldn’t bring himself to think about it, much less to picture it. He knew he couldn’t stand to see it. After what had happened to her, there wouldn’t be much left, he figured. Perhaps it was cowardly of him, but he would rather let her remain in his memory as the woman she was, not as a burned shell.

And so he ignored Liara, just as he ignored everyone else. The only person he had seen in the last week was Garrus. The lieutenant and the former C-Sec officer ran into each other as they crossed paths on the Presidium one day. Garrus asked Kaidan if anything was being done to track down the mysterious ship that had attacked the Normandy. Kaidan had replied that Alliance command was having trouble authorizing a search given how little intel they had about attack. Garrus had gotten angry. Kaidan had nearly lost his temper in return. In the end, he walked away, leaving the turian shouting after him. Kaidan had not seen Garrus since.

The funeral was tomorrow and Kaidan knew everyone would be there. He simply hoped that he could find a place to hide in the back row and somehow numb his mind to his surroundings enough to get through the ordeal. This past week, he had been ignoring the thought of her funeral as much as possible.

Instead, he’d been trying to kill time. He now measured his days in increments, viewing minutes the way he used to view targets. He would line up shots and knock them down, one by one. Filing a report was a thirty-minute bullet. It would kill a half an hour. Following up on the request for more intel about all unlicensed classes of ships and cruisers known to the Alliance would take much longer. Given how tight-lipped the top brass were about what ships they had in their databases, that task was like a grenade, taking out a whole afternoon.

So Kaidan set up his ammo and took out the days minute by minute, hour by hour. At the end of them, he dreaded the quiet of his room back at the barracks. In the time between waking and sleeping, there was no protection, and then his mind would wander. Then he would think of her.

As he lay in bed, waiting for sleep to come, he thought of how she smelled, of the scar on her cheek. He thought of the electric hum of her biotics and of her rare smiles. He thought of that indescribable something she had about her that caused a crew of hardened soldiers to follow her into an impossible mission. He thought of the way that after all his years of training and solitary control, she had crept under his guard and caused him to fall for her so hard that he hadn’t even realized how much he felt for her until she was gone.

He had known her for less than a year. He had been her lover for less than a month. As he drifted off to sleep each night, he kept thinking one thing over and over and over:

There had never been enough time.