kaidan and ashley both give great hugs. after a while, they develop a habitual greeting: whenever they spot each other from opposite sides of the room, they run toward each other, and ashley launches herself into kaidan’s arms. he spins her in a circle, puts her down, and they fist-bump.
(they try it once with kaidan jumping into ashley’s arms. it works just as well and she brags about it for the rest of the week.)
kaidan blurs in and out of consciousness, but that thought is constant and certain.
she’s standing behind the AI as kaidan smashes into the shuttle, once, twice, she’s walking towards him and as he fades out he hears her voice. stay with us, LT.
he can barely think i’m not an LT anymore before he’s gone.
she holds his hand on the normandy, and he hears shepard’s voice low and concerned and liara’s voice higher and frantic and it’s too much for him, but she is there, and she squeezes his hand. stay with us, k, she tells him.
i told you not to call me k, he thinks, and he gets another squeeze.
and i told you i was stubborn.
warmth and peace wash over him and he drops into darkness again.
the medics are as gentle as they can be on the sprint from the normandy to huerta. but kaidan hurts everywhere, feels like he can’t breathe right, feels like his skull is splitting open and his eyes are bleeding and he wants it all to stop.
he wants to let go. it hurts too much.
don’t you dare. she’s keeping pace with the medics.
why are you here, he thinks.
i’ve always been here, LT. i always will be.
he feels her standing watch by his bed as a team of surgeons goes to work. he starts drifting off again, and she moves in close. he thinks he can feel her breath on his face.
now fight, she whispers in his ear.
and because he never could say no to her, his last conscious thought is i will, ash.
Sometimes I sit and open the old leather-bound book you pressed to my chest all those years ago. My thoughts wander back through the waves, the white sand, the little flyaway hairs at your forehead, dancing back and forth with the too-warm breeze. I loved you then.
I think about the wedding we were going to plan. The kids we were going to have. The way I’d play jazz music to the baby curled up under your stretched skin. The way you’d smile in that hospital room, clutching my hand.
Sometimes I sit and close the old leather-bound book you pressed to my chest all those years ago because I can’t bear the burden that you put on me. Light as a ghost, and heavy as all of our unborn children. I loved you then.
Messages sent to Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko from Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams.
“Hey, thanks for the save back there. I owe you one.”
Messages sent Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams from Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko.
Warning: Omni-Tool will soon be offline.
“Was told they were gonna shut off your omni. Talked to Shepard. Gonna keep it around for a bit.”
“Went through your locker today. Someone had to. Shepard couldn’t. Found some old hairbands. Wearing it like a bracelet. Found an old sandwich behind some poetry. Typical you.”
“Kept your journals. Hope you don’t mind. Couldn’t let them go.”
“Just thinking about the future. Would have taken you back home. The view of the English Bay is beautiful. I know you would have liked it. Water usually pretty cold, though. I’ve got a feeling you’d dive in anyways.”
“Ash, I found your audio books still downloaded to my old omni-tool the other day. Listened to some of it. Never really understood the guy before now. No wonder you were crazy about him. I think I was just jealous that he got more attention than me.”
“Read some Tennyson from your journals today. Didn’t completely get it myself. Figured you liked it though. Pages covered in scribbles. I’ve missed your handwriting.”
“And ask ye why these sad tears stream?/Why these wan eyes are dim with weeping?/I had a dream–a lovely dream,/Of her that in the grave is sleeping.”
“…Guess I got some of it.”
“Garrus and I stopped by your memorial plaque the other day. Still as good as new. Got to talk about old times. I miss you.”
“Thinking about that message you sent. I owe you one. What were you gonna give? Cause I know what I would’ve taken.”
“Went dirnking with shaepard. The alcoashol doesnt ehlp mucvh. Can stillf eel the hole in myu chesst.”
“Hangover doesn’t help much either.”
“Ash. Sometimes I still forget you’re gone. Maybe it’s the way I clutch your journal to catch your smell. Maybe it’s the hairband snapping on my wrist. Maybe it’s how I can’t stop listening to your audio recordings. Don’t want to forget your voice. Can’t forget you.”
“Not like the recordings help much. You don’t sound like you in them.”
ahhh!!! this is super cool. more Wilenko with #4, high fantasy/medieval?
song: i’m not that girl, from “wicked”
looked down on for becoming a knight, shunned by all but her family. ashley watches as other knights rescue their damsels, all golden hair and blue eyes and flowy dresses, and she shakes her head, knowing that will never be her.
she wields her sword better than most, but it would still be nice, she thinks, to have a lover waiting at home.
then word comes of a dragon, holding a neighboring kingdom’s darling captive in a tower, and of course men come from miles to stage a rescue. ashley has nothing else, and so she rides hard and fast and beats them all.
when she’s slain the dragon and scaled the tower, the darling she sees is no swooning woman but a lean dark man, shackled to the wall, muscles straining, hair long and mussed, and eyes burning with revenge. he relaxes when he sees a knight climb through the window, and as she wordlessly frees him, he rubs his wrists and asks her:
“to whom do i owe thanks?”
“i’m… probably not what you were expecting.” she takes off her helmet, and his eyes widen.