Hello! For the flower asks, please for Kaidan and Shepard, if you would be so kind: ulmus, oats and lily. Thank you and have a nice evening. Love, String.
Thanks so much for the prompt! This was lovely to write. The best thing was listening to some wonderful piano music while writing to give inspiration :)
Oats: The Witching Sound of Music
Ulmus: Royalty, Strength, Age
Kaidan Alenko x FemShep
Takes place between ME1 and ME2.
She’s locked in a world of her own, hiding in her safe place far from reality. The aged ivory keys are cool under her slender fingers, music flowing from their tips as a haunting melody whispers across the room. The notes are as ethereal as Shepard herself, skin pale and almost translucent in the light of the moon behind her.
She doesn’t notice Kaidan’s silent arrival in the room, her mind captured in the moment, lost to everything around her. He doesn’t mind, resting his hands behind his back as he leans against the doorframe. It’s a rare moment for him to catch Shepard with her guard down, swaying rhythmically in her seat in time to the ebb and flow of the song. She’s wearing nothing but his shirt, a red-checked ancient thing that swallows up her slender frame.
He’d fallen fast asleep after a night of passionate lovemaking, sated and content with the warmth of Shepard’s lithe body safely tucked next to him. It seemed sleep had eluded her, however, given she’d snuck downstairs to lose herself to the music. Here in this haven they’d created for themselves, she was able to do so, to be the woman behind the Commander with no fear of reprisal or judgement.
Deep in the countryside, the cottage had been in his family for generations. The battered upright piano with its yellowed keys is often used to plonk out merry tunes by drunken guests with little finesse. Kaidan had never thought to experience a concert-level performance from its rickety frame.
Shepard, of course, proved to be the exception.
Oh, he knows she plays the piano. She’d casually mentioned it one late night when they’d stood watch together, swapping stories of their youth to pass the time. Naively he’d assumed it was the usual childhood stuff, not the exceptional talent currently coaxing the most extraordinary noises from the ancient piano. He’s also well aware of her love of classical music, always playing when she’s enjoying some downtime in her cabin.
Shepard leans back, her eyes closed as she continues focus exclusively on the piano. Her hands rise and fall to the tempo, notes rising to a crescendo. Her face contorts with emotion, her breathing rapid, eyes firmly closed. White-blond strands of hair escape the unruly knot on top of her head from the vigour of her performance.
Kaidan is transfixed by the majesty of Shepard’s performance, a captivating mix of strength and vulnerability. The music has weaved its own spell around them both, Kaidan given a unique glimpse into the very essence of the woman he’s fallen so hard for. She’s alive but broken, fighting but hurting, brave but terrified. He’d not realised it possible for simple notes to convey so much, but watching her bare her soul the only way she knew how, he understands.
The notes are down to a whisper, Shepard’s face so close to the keys she could kiss them. Kaidan’s almost sorry for it all to come to an end. He could watch this woman forever and learn something new about her every time. If music puts her on the path to healing, then he’ll give her as much time as she needs.
With a final sigh, the music ends, Shepard’s hands lightly resting in her lap as she takes a steadying breath. Kaidan doesn’t move a muscle, not wanting to startle her. He doesn’t need to announce his presence - she already knows he’s there. A slight smile pulls at her lips as her eyes open, her features soft and relaxed in the dark of the night. It’s hard to imagine this beautiful, winsome creature as the hard, ruthless Commander Shepard. What Kaidan’s seeing is the true person underneath the uniform and the legends, the person she could have been if the ravages of war and duty had never been. His heart breaks a little to know that, all too soon, her peace will be shattered.
But that’s for another night, he vows, as he walks towards her.
‘Let me guess. Beethoven?’
‘Actually, no. Debussy’s Clair de Lune if you must know,’ Shepard replies laughingly, Kaidan capturing her hands in his as he helps her stand. ‘I’ll play you Beethoven next time.’
‘I look forward to it. I had no idea just how talented you were.’ Kaidan savours the press of her lips against his, before Shepard quietly rests her head on his shoulder. ‘It’s two in the morning. Did the piano help?’
‘As a child….well, I have to be good at everything I turn my hand to. Success is the only option, including this. But playing - when I’m at the keyboard it’s freedom in a sense, you know?’
He knew, all too well. Being bad at something doesn’t compute with Commander Shepard.
‘It was bliss, truth be told,’ she continues, resting comfortably in his embrace. ‘Thank you for bringing me here. Not just for the piano - all of it. It reminds me of the sanctity of life, of living. Of everything that matters.’
Another crack appears in his heart, hearing Shepard so exposed.
‘I’m glad it’s helped you. That I can help you in some way.’
‘More than you ever can know. I love you Kaidan.’
The world outside fades to nothing as Shepard lifts her face to his for a kiss, this time not breaking away. They stand, bathed in moonlight, the witching soul of music which Shepard created reverberating in the air, cocooning them in a world of joy and pleasure. Both of them forget the terror of the universe outside, a needed respite against the deadly battle they were locked in on a daily basis. For just one night, at least, they are just a man and woman, deeply in love.