Horizon 8: Rain

Part 3, Chapter 33 of Valkyrie

The sky seemed to be weeping, shedding tears that Kaidan would not.

As he walked away, he felt the fall of raindrops on his cheeks, and he willed himself not to look back.

He *wanted * to look, wanted to see if Shepard looked hurt as he felt, or if she really was as impassive and heartless as she seemed. He wanted so damn badly to go back to her, but he forced himself to walk on.

She was behind him now, he told himself. If he hadn’t been able to put her memory to rest before, it was because he hadn’t known that she was alive – or what she had become. She was with Cerberus. She’d become a terrorist.

The woman I loved and thought was dead was actually alive, left me, and became a goddamn terrorist.

How was a guy supposed to *deal * with something like that?

He couldn’t, he realized. And he wouldn’t. He wouldn’t deal with it at all. He’d just walk away.

And he wouldn’t look back.

Shepard stood there in the plaza, her mouth hanging open, her eyes filling with tears. She felt like there was a hole in her chest where her heart used to be. It was as if Kaidan had just ripped it out from her ribcage and gone walking away with it in his fist – gone walking away without looking back.

“Shepard,” Garrus said after a long, uncomfortable silence. “We…”

“Right,” she murmured, utterly dazed. “Right.”

She blinked and gazed at the sky beyond the defense towers. Lightning roiled through them, speaking to the gathering instability inside of her. She felt a drop of rain on her face, then another and another. For a moment, she thought they were falling tears, but they weren’t. She now found that she couldn’t cry. She felt utterly numb.

“We need to stay,” Shepard said, dumbly. “We need to help these people…”

“We can’t help them,” Miranda pointed out. “We need to report back to the Illusive Man.”

“That prick can go to hell!” Shepard shouted, flaring suddenly. “We need…”

She broke off and stared at the scene that surrounded her. Collector bodies were strewn everywhere in the plaza. Beyond, the colony lay silent.

Kaidan has this under control , she thought. No doubt he would call in Alliance forces for a rescue operation. In fact, if the Illusive Man was as good as his word, Alliance forces might already be on their way. And she had no desire to meet with any more Alliance soldiers just now – not after what had just happened between her and the one who had once trusted her.

Once loved her.

Shepard swallowed, fearing tears at any moment, but strangely, they still did not come. The only thing that remained in her was hurt and a growing anger.

“You’re right,” she said numbly. “We can’t do anything more for this colony. We just need to stop this from happening somewhere else.”

“Right,” Miranda nodded. “We should go.”

Shepard nodded and pressed the button on her suit for the comm link. “Joker, send a shuttle to pick us up.” Under her breath, she added bitterly, “I’ve had enough of this colony.”

She strode from the plaza at a breakneck speed. She walked as fast as a person could without breaking into a run. Given her upgrades, she easily outstripped Miranda and even the long-legged Garrus had trouble keeping up with her. Her eyes kept flicking between the road before her and the dot on her holographic display that registered as Kaidan. She saw that dot go further and further away from her, then drop off her radar entirely.

She wanted to turn around, wanted to walk back to him and somehow persuade him to come with her – or at least let her explain.

But she didn’t turn. She couldn’t. She simply couldn’t bear to hear him call her a traitor again.

You betrayed the Alliance. You betrayed me .

She scowled as rain drops fell heavily against her face.

She wasn’t a traitor, she thought. She wasn’t . She could scarcely see for the torrents that now poured from the sky, but still she walked on, fury filling her, solidifying into a raw, roiling anger in her gut. Raw anger fueled her steps, led her back to the Kodiak shuttle. Raw anger kept her silent all through the ride to the Normandy, radiated off of her so powerfully that Garrus and Miranda didn’t say a word, didn’t even look at her.

Raw anger carried her through decontamination, gave her the strength to tell Joker to set a course for somewhere, anywhere but here. Raw anger made her snap at Kelly, made her tell the yeoman to shut the hell up and tell the Illusive prick that she would meet him in the debriefing room when she was damn good and ready, that she was going to take a shower and feed her fish and she would use her biotics to systematically rip the genitalia off of anyone who dared to talk to her in the next twenty-four hours.

And raw anger led Shepard back to her room, ignoring her cracked ribs and growling stomach. She marched right up to her desk where Kaidan’s picture flickered to life, gazing up at her in a way that she now could only see as distrustful and cold.

Shepard took a gulping breath and collapsed into the chair. She was soaking wet and leaving a puddle on the floor, but she didn’t care. She felt like a tempest was welling up inside of her and yet, as she stared at Kaidan’s picture, searching his deep, brown eyes for some sort of answer, she found that she still couldn’t cry.

Shepard glared at the picture for a moment more. Then she slammed it, face down, onto the desk, and a vicious crack splintered up the back of the plastic frame.