They fall back into their usual patterns so easily. Kaidan can’t believe it actually, as he kneels down beside Shepard inside a prefab unit that’s still standing, med kit out, frantically trying to manufacture yet another suit patch with his omnitool. Bullets zing past outside, some of them Cerberus, some of them Garrus and Vega, who are holed up on the opposite side of the street and a little farther down. There’s nothing quite like the angry chatter of the marine’s beloved Revenant.
“Sit still,” Kaidan orders as Shepard shifts, anxious to get back to the fight, eternally kinetic regardless of whether or not he’s using his amp.
“I’m fine,” Shepard calls over the din, and hefts his shotgun as proof. It’s only Kaidan’s firm hand that keeps him seated. He’s mastered the art of one-handed patch jobs.
Shepard sounds happy, happy, as if turning himself into a biotic projectile and flying into a hoard of centurians means all is finally right with the world.
“You’re not fine,” Kaidan argues, as a grenade detonates near the doorway, sending shards of metal screaming through the air. Shepard knocks him to the side, shielding them with his back and a flare of biotic energy. Kaidan swears.
“Your shield emitters are fried – again – and you’re overclocking your amp.”
Shepard grins, though the dust collecting on his faceplate almost makes it hard to see it. “You worry too much.”
“Someone has to!”
He finishes the patch. Garrus has the main body of Cerberus troops pinned down for the moment inside another prefab at the end of the street. Vega lobs a few grenades, cackles with glee when they detonate and send streams of red gore billowing out the shattered windows.
Everyone around me is insane. Whatever Cerberus wants from Benning, as far as Kaidan is concerned they can have it.
Shepard gets to his feet and peers briefly around the edge of the doorway before ejecting a used thermal clip and tapping at the back of his neck. There’s a look in his eyes that fills Kaidan with dread.
“You need to let your amp cool down before you do that,” he warns.
The smirk Shepard tosses him makes his heart skip a beat, and damn him for knowing it would. “What exactly do you think I’m going to do?”
“What you always do.”
“It’ll be fine.”
“Why do you always say that?”
“Because you’re watching my back.”
Kaidan opens his mouth to argue. Close it again. Because he’s right. It’s what Kaidan does. From the day they first set foot on Eden Prime to now. The stabilizing force to Shepard’s demagogic nature. Watching his six. Yanking enemies off his flank. Priming Shepard’s target so that by the time he reaches it, his biotic energy can shatter it into pieces.
They intuit each other’s actions in ways that seem uncanny, each knowing what the other will do often before they know themselves. Two years, two lives, and the end of the world haven’t changed any of it. They’ve picked up right where they left off.
Same patterns, different context. Because now the stakes are higher if they fail.
And he doesn’t mean their mission.
Shepard cups the side of Kaidan’s helmet with one hand, his features softening ever so slightly behind the faceplate. Because he understands. He knows. “Kaidan. As long as you’re here I know I’m coming home.”
Kaidan lets that wash through him, swallows. “Right, so this is where you butter me up. Tell me you can’t do this without me.”
Shepard tilts his head, sounding almost confused. “I can’t.”
“Right. Says the person who led a suicide mission with no casualties. I wasn’t there to bring you home then.”
A fiery blue corona erupts around Shepard’s body, sending a seething push of dark energy crackling into the air. “When I was with Cerberus it didn’t matter.”
It takes Kaidan a moment to digest this. Remembers when Garrus tried to reach him after Horizon. He’s Shepard, Alenko. But he’s different. Something’s…different. His thoughts fly back to Mars. To the Illusive Man. You were a tool. An agent with a singular purpose.
Anger boils somewhere down deep, and his own corona blazes to life. By then Shepard is already gone, a plume of blue trailing in his wake as he flies like a missile through water. And Kaidan is already after him. Because it’s what he does. What he’ll always do.