Shepard leaned against the counter and waved the bartender down, pushing her empty cup forward once she had his attention. No words. She didn’t feel like talking, and dark, seedy bars were great for that. No one expected her to provide conversation or answer questions, and right now she needed that.
She needed to be left alone. Shutting herself inside her cabin had apparently served as a beacon that she was open for personal business and her terminal kept beeping, her omni-tool buzzing, and none to few had actually ventured to her doors.
Being alone in a crowd had been the best option.
The bartender refilled her drink, with only a slight quirk of his mandibles. Judging, but silently. She could deal with that.
The next refill, he simply said, “Your funeral.”
She scowled but didn’t drink. Not right away. Passing out would bring her back to the ship, where there would be questions and things she didn’t want to deal with. Not yet.
"Of all the places I’d have thought to look for you, I would never have guessed here."
Shepard didn’t turn as Kaidan sat down on the stool next to her. Still not sure what to say to him, how to welcome him back to her crew. How to address the three years worth of silence that had built up between them. Horizon. The coup. Where they stood. If they stood anywhere.
"I’ve only been here about thirty minutes, and you’ve been ‘out’ for three hours, but that’s your fifth drink."
She scowled at her glass.
"Look, Shepard. You don’t want to talk? That’s fine. I’ll talk for the both of us. But this?" For emphasis, he confiscated her drink. "This is way too much."
He downed it in a smooth gulp as she finally met his eyes.
Her own burned with the desire to shed tears, but she stifled it away. Except Kaidan could see. He could always see.
It wasn’t even them. Well, a little bit them. But so much more. The war. The toll. The number of friends she’d have to bury before the Reapers were gone. Before they could claim victory standing on the ashes of the fallen.
Kaidan’s drill sergeant expression melted away as she continued to look at him, fighting her own inner war. “You don’t need the bottom of a bottle, Shepard. You need this.”
He pulled her into his arms.