This idea has been rattling around in my brain the last couple days and I needed to get it out. A future part of Mind Over Matter, a canon-divergent AU.
It happened so fast. Too fast for him to react. Too fast for him to stop it before it was too late.
She had been so confident.
“My barriers are solid.”
She had been so persistent.
“If you want to try this, we’re doing it.”
She always was.
He should have known better.
“Doctor Chakwas!” He couldn’t stop the panic from flooding his voice.
Troubled green eyes scanned him, took in the sight of Shepard cradled against his chest, limp and heavy in his arms.
“Set her down there.” Decades of experience kept the doctor calm, but Kaidan could see the question in her eyes.
He set her down slowly, reluctant to let her go, sure that if he did he would only hurt her more somehow. An emptiness settled in his chest, cold from the loss of contact, tight with fear.
“We were training,” an explanation tumbled from his lips, his voice shaky “she – I wanted to try…”
Chakwas’ omni-tool scanned over her.
Kaidan couldn’t tear his eyes from Shepard; a tranquil expression befell her porcelain features, as if she were simply sleeping. As if he hadn’t done this to her.
As if just moments ago she hadn’t been cloaked in swirling tendrils of violet, doubled over as the vortex of energy attacked her nervous system. As if the attack hadn’t immobilized her, forcing her upright and rigid, trapped and helpless as his biotics continued to leech her energy. As if she hadn’t collapsed to the floor in a heap, unconscious yet spasming in pain. As if he hadn’t had to gather her from the ground, scoop her up in his arms and carry her to the med bay.
“This was your doing?”
If he were able to look away from Shepard, he would have hung his head in shame.
“She was helping me learn to reave.”
No response. For what felt like ages, the silence stretched on.
Kaidan was frozen; he couldn’t move. He wouldn’t. Chakwas worked around him, injecting medi-gel, scanning Shepard, injecting more medi-gel, scanning again.
Finally, an answer.
“She is going to be fine, Lieutenant Alenko.”
Kaidan cringed at the formality, akin to his mother using his middle name.
“Although I suspect an apology will be in order. I’ll leave you to it.”
Med bay doors hissed shut behind the doctor.
Kaidan found a stool behind him, pulled it alongside the cot where Shepard lay. His hands enveloped one of hers.
She was cool to the touch, clammy. The usual rosy tint to her cheeks had vanished. Beads of sweat appeared like dew across her brow. Rogue strands of hair clung to her forehead.
His eyes fell shut and he dropped his head.
How could I be so careless?
A twitch of a fingertip in his hand alerted him. Kaidan’s eyes sprung open in time to watch Shepard’s eyelids flutter, then slowly, sopainstakingly slowly, they opened.
“Shepard?” Her name was a whisper on his lips. His hands squeezed hers.
Her head rolled to the side, a small, lazy smile pulled at the corners of her lips. “Hey, Kaidan.”
He felt her hand tighten around his own. Her grip was weak, but it was enough.
“Guess you figured out how to reave, huh?”
Her smile barely reached her eyes before her lids fell heavily over the pools of forest green.
It wasn’t until that moment that Kaidan realized he had been holding his breath.
“Addyson, I’m so sorry. I never – ”
Shepard’s other hand raised in the air. “Don’t.”
Her eyes opened again, clearer, brighter than before. The color was returning to her face.
Kaidan breathed a sigh of relief, removed his hand from atop hers and brought it to her face. Slowly, delicately, he brushed the sweat-slicked strands of hair from her forehead. He brushed his hand through long copper locks. He stroked her cheek with his thumb.
Shepard caught his hand in hers, brought it to her lips, placed a kiss to the back of his hand and held it tight against her chest.
He spoke quietly, “I never want to do that again. What I did to you…I won’t. I am sorry, Addyson.”
“Kaidan, I’m fine.” Her fingers wrapped tighter around his palm. “You just reaved.”
Determination gleamed in her eyes. The same almost feline ferocity he had come to know as commonplace had returned. And something else, something new. Admiration.
“Do you know how damn impressive that is?” Again she pressed her lips to the back of his hand, lingering. “You don’t have to use it on me again, but the day will come that you’ll want to use it on someone else.”
Kaidan shifted in his seat. Images of Shepard afflicted by the attack churned his stomach. Feeling the energy leave her body to feed his made his skin crawl. But she was right; an annoying habit of hers.
He wished he wouldn’t have to. He wished they didn’t have to prepare for a war like this. He wished he hadn’t asked her to help him, that he hadn’t hurt her.
Kaidan captured her hand and copied her actions, bringing her hand to his lips. His lips pressed against the back of her hand, his eyes closing briefly.
He wished he could keep her safe. He wished he could promise her a happy ending.
But he knew the odds of a happy ending for either of them were slim. He suspected she did too.