There was an ambient bossa track playing over the stereo system when Kaidan let himself back into Shepard’s apartment, and there was a grunting from the downstairs bedroom.
“Shepard?” Kaidan called. He made a bee-line for the back room, but moved sluggishly–between all the appearances and charity gigs in the last several hours, he felt grimy and exhausted underneath his armor. In the back bedroom, Shepard was on the floor pounding through a set of push-ups at practically boot-camp speed.
Kaidan crossed his arms, and cleared his throat. “What the hell do you think you’re doing, Shepard?” Shepard looked up, kept himself suspended on his arms and threw Kaidan a brilliant grin.
“Almost done with my workout.” Beads of sweat were caught in the scars that were slowly healing from his face, and his white shirt had a dark ‘V’ from the collar to the navel. Kaidan’s pajama pants were actually starting to look tight on Shepard’s legs again.
“You just had an operation today,” Kaidan chided, deciding to gingerly lower himself to sit on the floor after noticing how clean the bed looked.
“A small operation,” Shepard panted, “And I got back hours ago. Even took a nap. You would’ve been proud of me.”
“Yeah, well…” Kaidan shook his head in defeat and tipped back prone on the floor, feeling the muscles in his back slowly relax against the floor. Now it was Shepard’s turn to laugh.
“You look exhausted.”
“I feel exhausted!”
Shepard came to his knees, shuffled over to Kaidan and stretched out again into push-up position over top of Kaidan’s body. The look he gave Kaidan had nothing of the hospital-bed determination Kaidan had been so used to seeing on his face.
“That’s what you get for packing your whole social calendar into one day,” Shepard whispered, chest still heaving with the exertions of his workout.
“Wanted to make sure I got to spend my time with you,” when Kaidan saw the way his lower lip trembled, his kissed it deeply and folded Shepard into his arms. Any breath Shepard had caught since putting his set on hold had been kissed out of him by the time Kaidan pulled back and ran his hands down his body. “Saw a lot of things that… made me think, today.”
“Like?” Shepard nuzzled into Kaidan’s hair, his hips pressing him down into the carpet.
“Just… kids and… people rebuilding. Bunch of bright new recruits at C-Sec. Feels like the war’s really over…”
“It is Kaidan.” Shepard kissed him again, “We did it. You and me.”
“Yeah,” Kaidan hungrily accepted Shepard’s kiss.
“So… you ditched your mom just to interrupt my workout?” Shepard said playfully, but there was a needy suggestion hiding just behind his eyes, and Kaidan caught it.
“Miranda called me said they’d be getting dinner together at Apollo’s,” Kaidan said as Shepard began unbuckling his armor with nimble fingers. “Said she’d bring her back here when she was done.”
“Haven’t seen her,” Shepard said, pulling off the chest-plate to find Kaidan’s bare chest beneath.
“Figured I’d come home early: been thinking about you all day.” Kaidan’s breath hitched when Shepard kissed a line from navel to collarbone. “Worried about you…”
Shepard gave him a skeptical look and settled back onto his chest, taking Kaidan’s face in his hands.
“See, couldn’t you just have left it at ‘I was thinking about you all day?’” The kiss he gave Kaidan was mingled sadness and love. “You don’t have to worry about me all the time.”
“I love you,” Kaidan let the words tickle at Shepard’s ear as he pulled him into his body. “Of course I worry about you.”
“You could pretend to not worry.” Shepard buried his face in Kaidan’s neck.
“I think we’ve done enough pretending.” Kaidan rolled them over, staring down. Shepard nodded and smiled.
“Alright, Kay. I worry about you too,” he squeezed Kaidan’s hand. “Although, seeing you in that armor puts other thoughts in my head…”
Kaidan scarcely heard, and instead was staring at Shepard’s taped hands.
“Wha–what’s this? You’ve been using the punching bag?”
“I didn’t have any other way to let go of my tension till you got home.”
“Come on,” Kaidan got his feet, “I’m taking this tape off you! You need to relax!” He led Shepard out to the hall.
“You need to take this armor off and relax, lover!” Shepard playfully pushed him into the bathroom. “I think we have plenty of time before your mom gets back…”
“Umm, actually,” came a meek feminine voice from the upstairs, “I’ve been here for about an hour… didn’t want to spoil your exercise, dear. So I’ve been in the living room… just… living…”
Kaidan’s eyes went wide.
“She’s definitely your mother,” Shepard muttered, adjusting himself and blocking Kaidan’s bare chest from view as Mrs. Alenko swept down the stairs with a sheepish blush on her face. “Mrs. Alenko… I’m… just so pleased to meet you…”
Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of Shepard being seen as a legend, of posters having photos of them and people joining up to be “just like Shepard!” But you know what I love even more?
Someone coming wearing a “Shepard” t shirt or buying magazines that praise how cool Shepard is and when the crew see them absolutely pissing themselves laughing. I love shepards LI buying a Shepard VI and joking about replacing them. Or the whole crew buying clothes with shepards face on them or with slogans saying stuff like “I’m with Shepard” Or buying mini Shepard dolls and making them fight or kiss each other while real Shepard softly screams in the back ground
Also Shepard having to go out in bad disguises to not get recognised and have mission requests or fans constantly interrupting them
I just love Shepard being famous and the crew not getting it cuz “this Shepard? They spilt juice on their visor this morning you can’t be serious!”
Simply put, this is one ballsy and entertaining film. Though more derivative than Blue Ruin, I would cite Jim Mickle’s Cold in July as the definitive thriller of 2014. The three lead actors are charismatic and unusually likable, in addition to working oddly as a perfect trio. Michael C. Hall and Sam Shepard, especially, are enigmatic. Easily one of the most enjoyable film going experiences I’ve had this year.
The plaintive sound of a little voice woke Shepard as instantly as only a soldier trained to be battle-ready at the first murmur of threat could be, but instead of rolling off the bed into a crouch and grabbing a gun, she pushed herself upright with one arm, already reaching to comfort the shadowy figure beside her bed with the other. The dim light from the hallway reflected off tear tracks on Rose’s face, and the last drowsy vestiges of sleep vanished.
“Bad dream, sweetheart?”
The nightmares came fewer and farther between, but no one in the house was safe from them. Sometimes Shepard still woke gasping, clutching at her throat, haunted by the echoes of voices in a dark wood. Sometimes Garrus still woke her after dreams of his own, running the pads of his fingers over her face, her shoulders, the curve of her spine, as if making certain she was there, was real. The girls dreamed of things so much worse than boogeymen under the bed or monsters in the closet; they’d seen the monsters up close, and the boogeymen had destroyed their lives. Shepard counted it a win that the bad dreams had gone from a nightly occurrence to something much less frequent.
Rose shook her head, her sleep-wild curls shifting from side to side. Voice still thick with tears, she said, “I did, but—”
“You want to climb in here for a bit?”
“No, listen!” Rose cried, her voice breaking on the last syllable. Shepard swung her legs over the side of the bed, hooking her hands under Rose’s armpits and pulling her up on her lap. Instead of snuggling in, Rose squirmed backward, lifting her chin and dragging the back of one fist over her damp cheek. “I think Tyr’s sick. I was scared and I was gonna sleep with her, but when I—she was talking, and um, keening? That weird turian noise, anyway. And her eyes were open, but I don’t think she saw me, ‘cause she wasn’t talking to me. I never saw her have any kinda bad dream like that.”
Telling himself he was only going to close his eyes, Garrus settled back in his favorite chair, only to be startled out of a deep sleep what felt like mere moments later. The darkened window and the groggy state of his head told him he’d been asleep much longer than he’d intended. In a different time, he’d have been awake instantly, alert to whatever danger had roused him. Now, though, he hardly stirred, listening to the sound of Shepard bustling in the kitchen, enjoying the scent of whatever she was concocting. He smiled fondly, remembering the days not so very long ago when she’d been terrified of turian cuisine, and not much more comfortable cooking for herself.
Though he heard Shepard banging pots, listening to music and humming along, he didn’t hear the children. No laughter, no vids, no sound of exuberant game-playing or shrieking teasing. Tyrra was the quieter of the two, and sometimes managed whole hours of near-silent entertainment. Rose, on the other hand, was never quiet. She even slept noisily, murmuring to herself and to whomever kept her company in her dreams. A quiet Rose was a Rose up to no good, as they’d discovered the day they found her dangling from her bedroom window (“I was just pretending to fly and then I got stuck!”), or the time they’d found her industriously and quietly decorating the walls of the upstairs bathroom with a set of scented markers (“This is a boring color! I was making pictures of all of us having fun!”), or the time they only realized she’d escaped the house entirely when the perimeter sensors started shrieking (“I was on an adventure!).
He was about to rise and go looking for them when the sound of shuffling footsteps in the dark betrayed tiny invaders. Relaxing into his seat, he closed his eyes again, pretending to sleep. A thump was followed by a hiss of annoyance and Tyrra muttering beneath her breath about stupid furniture and dark rooms and sharp corners.