Kaidan could not bury Shepard’s memory.
He had skipped the funeral. He had never seen her body. His last memory of her was the sight of her in full armor, demanding that he follow her orders and go take care of the crew.
His memories of her before that were much dearer – and more painful. It had taken some time for them to figure things out, but once they had…
He couldn’t bury those memories. To bury them would mean to think about Shepard, to pull those memories up and sift through them one at a time, then throw them into the grave with her like so many roses tossed onto a coffin.
And he couldn’t do that. He couldn’t face the memories and he couldn’t let them go, either. So he did what he could: he worked, and he planned, and he left himself a way out of any entanglements that might bring Shepard to mind.
As he packed for his next mission, Kaidan found little among his things to remind him of her. They had never exchanged any gifts, never had time to collect souvenirs of any of their times together. Kaidan was not an overly sentimental person when it came to trinkets and neither was Shepard.
So packing his things took very little time. Saying goodbye to his friends took even less. He had a few buddies left around the barracks – people he’d known from before the Normandy – people he could stand to see. They promised him drinks the next time he returned to the Citadel.
Kaidan had nodded politely, knowing that drinks was the last thing he wanted right about now. Anything that interfered with his control over himself was unwelcome at this point. Anything that could expose the raw man behind the mask had to be avoided. But he’d said ‘Sure,’ all the same, knowing that he wouldn’t be back for months. Maybe by then, he might not be quite such a wreck inside.
Beyond those few officers, there was no one else to say goodbye to. Joker was gone, the Normandy crew all reassigned weeks ago. Liara, Wrex, Garrus and Tali had left the Citadel one by one. In the end, it was only Councilor Anderson who saw him off. Briefly, Kaidan considered contacting Ashley. If anyone would be a welcome sight at the moment, it would be her. But then he remembered that he’d lost her, too. So it was just Anderson who clapped him on the back, handed him his full briefing in the form of an omnitool file, and gave him the name of the first colony he was to contact.
And so several months after arriving on the Citadel, Kaidan left it again, feeling just as alone and broken as he had the day he’d arrived.