Shepard leaned against the docking bay railing, looking out at the Normandy. Her body ached, sore from dancing into the wee hours. Her head throbbed in time with her heartbeat, and her ears rang from the raucous music. She couldn’t remember the last time she was this hungover, and she relished the discomfort. It was so mundane, so ordinary compared to everything else going on with the war. She didn’t want to chase it away with painkillers.
She took a deep breath, bright lights of the Citadel stinging her eyes.
“Time to get back out there, huh?”
Shepard felt Ashley’s arm snake around her waist and sighed as she leaned into her. “At least we threw one hell of a party.” She bit her lip, gaze drifting away in thought. “Probably the last one.”
“No. You’ll find a way to beat the odds.” The conviction in Ash’s voice made her heart ache. “And when you do, hero-woman, I’ll be waiting.” Shepard grinned, draping an arm around her shoulders and squeezing gently.
They stood in silence for a long moment, listening to their crewmates’ chatter as they embarked. Shepard traced slow circles over Ash’s back. She didn’t want this to end.
Ashley leaned over and kissed her cheek, breaking the spell. “I wouldn’t have missed any of it for the world. It’s been a damn good ride.”
She felt Ash start to move away. She caught her by the waist, pulling her so close that she could feel her warm breath on her lips. “The best.” Shepard kissed her, soft and tender, a promise.