A/N: I'm not entirely happy with the way this came out. I started it a month ago, and got 1,500 words in before I lost all interest. Still, I didn't want to completely abandon the idea, so I pushed the rest out this evening in hopes that the plot bunnies can give me a break. I'm coming up with ideas faster than I can flesh 'em out! Anyways, this (pretty obviously) follows a Spacer Shep storyline.
When this takes place: This is Post-ME3. What's that you say? Something about none of this being possible? Endings? Ah, yes, "endings", those agonizing final ten minutes that negated all of my hopes and dreams... I have dismissed that claim and substituted my own reality. I won't go through my entire headcanon, as it's rather lengthy, but I'll just give you the briefs you'll need to know for the story: The Crucible wasn't that huge...um...thing, the Citadel had no part in defeating the Reapers whatsoever (therefore it stayed in place and in-tact), Anderson lived, Shepard lived, the Normandy never crashed, the Mass Relays are in tact, Miranda was kidnapped and taken aboard the Normandy because she's my third favorite squadmate, Arcturus Station is being rebuilt, the squad loved each other too much to go their own ways, and Turians can get drunk off of Windex. Bunnies and Unicorns on a strictly BYO basis.
Disclaimer: I own nothing except my own headcanon. All characters, settings, etc relating to Mass Effect are owned by Bioware, and Windex is owned by the Johnson&Johnson Corp.
Kaidan slowly blinked open his eyes, letting out a content yawn. He could really get used to this whole 'sleeping in' business. With the Reapers destroyed and the threat of imminent doom no longer looming over the Galaxy, they had finally earned the chance to relax.
Sort of. Though death wasn't knocking on the front door any more, the Galaxy was still in shambles. There was always rebuilding to be done, order to be brought, mercenary groups to be dismantled, Alliance missions to attend to, the list stretched on and on. Shepard had refused to sit on the sidelines and retire, declaring that as long as there was a Galaxy that needed aid, it was her duty to do what she could to help.
Kaidan recalled back a week ago when Admiral Hackett had offered Shepard the chance to retire or switch to a Political Representative position within the Alliance, giving her a slower paced, laid back lifestyle. The expression on her face had been priceless. Just the thought of her acting as a PR caused Kaidan to chuckle; he couldn't imagine her lasting two days without flipping a desk or threatening to punch a politician out of frustration and boredom. No, the Normandy was right where she belonged.
Shepard had given each of the crew a chance to leave, to return to their homes and start their new lives. And every single one of them had refused, providing a multitude of excuses, such as "This cannon won't calibrate itself, you know," and "Cerberus blew up my ship, I need somewhere to hang my 27 information monitors!".
Sitting up, Kaidan was disappointed to find the other half of the bed vacant, already neatly made for the day. Shepard was most likely downstairs, probably planning the agenda for the day. Swinging his legs off the side of the mattress, Kaidan decided he ought to head down and see what the day had in store.
The atmosphere around the ship felt…off, somehow, Kaidan determined as he exited the elevator onto the Crew Deck twenty minutes later. The first indication that his feelings were correct was when he spotted Tali off to the left arguing with a vacuum cleaner.
"Work, you little bosh'tet!" the Quarian cursed, yanking a handful of wires out of the poor machine.
Just as Kaidan was about to offer to help her, he caught a sight in the corner of his vision that caused him to do a double take. Were his eyes playing tricks on him, or did he really just see Garrus sprint by sporting a pink apron and yellow rubber gloves, bottle of Windex in hand?
Shepard scurried past Kaidan a moment later, not even seeming to notice the confused Biotic standing near the elevator as she carried a mop and empty bucket into the nearest bathroom.
"Shepard, the women's restroom is-"
"Thank you, EDI, I'm aware!" he heard the Commander shout before emerging with a water-filled bucket, still unaware of his presence.
"Shepard!" Kaidan called. That seemed to catch her attention, finally. Her strained expression melted into a smile, setting the bucket down as he strode over to her. Leaning up, she planted a quick kiss on his lips.
"What's going on?" he asked, motioning to the vacuum-impaired Quarian and frantically scrubbing Turian.
"Got an early morning call from Admiral Hackett," Shepard sighed, "He's requested that we chauffer a special guest from Arcturus Station to the Citadel."
"So now we've gone from saving the Galaxy to doing fetch quests to becoming a taxi service? Who is this guest, anyways?" For all the chaos scattered about the ship, it had better be someone as important as the Asari Councillor, or Hackett himself.
"It's…um…Rear Admiral Hannah Shepard."
Kaidan raised an eyebrow. "So you mean to tell me that you've got the entire ship running frantic because of your mother?"
"Hey, you don't know her!" Shepard protested, crossing her arms stubbornly.
"Well, I can guess she's not going to analyze each wall and point out the specks of dust that you missed," he laughed as he watched Garrus do just that, squinting at the panel he had been hastily scouring before drowning it with another dose of Windex.
"You're right. But my mother… Well, she likes to pry into my personal life, and she's very cunning in doing so, so maybe if I can distract her enough with shiny walls, she'll forget about digging in to…other issues."
"Other issues?" Kaidan stared at her suspiciously.
Shepard let out a nervous chuckle. "Yeah, about that… When you talk to her, it's probably best if you avoid the subject of, 'I'm the one sleeping with your daughter,'."
"You mean, you haven't told her?"
"It's not exactly something you just spontaneously bring up in a conversation. Especially when your mother is a high ranking officer and your relationship goes against the regs."
"Commander, we're getting ready to dock," Joker's voice rang through the comm, interrupting their discussion.
"Alright, team!" the squad-turned-cleaning crew turned their attentions towards their Commanding Officer. "I want you assembled, presentably, in the CIC in three minutes!" Flashing Kaidan a quick smile, Shepard turned and scurried off into the elevator.
Kaidan stared pensively at the airlock, awaiting the Normandy's newest guest. Somehow, Shepard had managed to arrange the crew in an orderly fashion, standing in an organized line down the bridge of the ship as she herself stood waiting in front of the airlock.
"You know, Garrus," James whispered as he stood beside Kaidan, "pink really suits you. Brings out your eyes."
The Turian snorted. "Thanks, Vega, maybe I'll keep the apron on next time."
Their banter was halted abruptly by the opening of the airlock. In strode Admiral Hannah Shepard, her footfalls echoing throughout the now hushed ship.
"Admiral," Commander Shepard was the first to break the silence, greeting her mother with a proud, military stance and brisk salute.
The older woman seemed taken aback by the formal approach, a look of surprise crossing her face. Her expression quickly warmed into a smile as she enveloped her daughter in a crushing hug.
"It's so good to see you, honey," she whispered, her voice laced with emotion.
The scene caused Kaidan to look away, feeling slightly guilty. He'd only spoken with his own mother once in the week since they'd destroyed the Reapers, and he couldn't even remember how long it'd been since he'd seen her in person. He made a mental note to plan a trip to Vancouver during his next shore leave.
"Well, don't just stand there!" Hannah Shepard's exclamation pulled his mind back to the situation at hand, "Show me around!"
The Admiral seemed almost giddy with excitement as she was introduced to each crew member, laughing at something Joker said, raising her eyebrows quizzically upon meeting EDI, briefly eyeing Miranda's choice of outfit before giving the woman a polite smile and handshake, seeming genuinely interested in Tali, blinking in confusion as Javik blinked his four eyes back, politely nodding to Garrus, and saluting James back.
Kaidan stood tall and gave a formal salute as the Commander and the Admiral came to a stop before him.
"Major Kaidan Alenko, second human Spectre and talented biotic," Shepard introduced. Despite her best efforts to remain stoic, he still caught the hint of a smile playing in her eyes.
Resisting the urge to squirm out of her gaze, Kaidan couldn't help but feel as though he was being analyzed as Shepard's mother stared at him, her face betraying nothing of her thoughts. Quick as a flash, the moment passed, and she gave him a warm smile.
"At ease, Major," she instructed, holding out a hand which the Biotic then politely accepted in a handshake. "We met a few years ago, if I'm not mistaken…"
The funeral. Kaidan cast his eyes downward, recalling the painful memories of that day. He had met the Admiral, only briefly, but she had seemed to understand his unspoken pain more than anyone else. Though he never mentioned his feelings for her daughter then, he'd gotten the vibe that she could see there had been something different between them.
But she gave no indication of that now. "I've heard so much about you recently, it's a pleasure to see you again." She flashed him a small grin, which he returned with a nod as they moved down to greet the final crew member.
"Liara!" Hannah greeted warmly, circling the Asari in a hug. "It's been too long."
"I am delighted to see you again, Hannah," Liara extended her hand to the woman, holding a bouquet of flowers.
"Yellow lilies? These are my favorite, how did you know?"
"Oh, just a lucky guess."
"Wait," Shepard intervened, "you guys know each other?"
The Admiral nodded. "We used to have lunch every Wednesday, until research with Mars called Liara away."
"We shall have to continue our tradition," the Asari grinned.
"Suck up," James muttered under his breath, quietly but still loud enough for Kaidan to overhear him.
"Let's plan on it!" Turning back to her daughter, Hannah inquired about seeing the rest of the ship, then returned to her conversation with Liara.
With a wave of her hand, Shepard dismissed the rest of the crew, then began walking towards the elevator, mother and Asari chattering along in tow.
Kaidan glanced up from his chair as he heard the elevator open on to the Crew Deck.
"I'll admit, I'm more than impressed," he heard the Admiral say as she rounded the corner, walking alongside her daughter. "The Normandy is absolutely astounding! You're lucky to have such a nice frigate."
Beside him, Vega quickly stood to attention as the two women entered the mess hall, which Kaidan then did himself.
"Now, now, boys," the older woman laughed, taking a seat at the table they had been occupying, "no need for such formalities. Think of me just as your Commander's mother, not Admiral Shepard."
"With all due respect ma'am, I think that would only serve to scare us into stricter obedience," Vega chuckled, losing his stance and reclaiming his seat.
"Can I get you a cup of coffee, ma'am?" Kaidan asked her, noticing his own cup was in need of a refill.
"Oh, stop with all that 'ma'am' business, just call me Hannah. And yes, I would love a cup, if you wouldn't mind."
"Not a problem, ma- Hannah." Rubbing the back of his neck, he strode over towards the kitchen area.
Shepard met his eyes and flashed him a smile as he passed. Ensuring that her mother wasn't watching, he reached out and gave her hand a squeeze in response before continuing to the coffee pot. Why she wanted to keep her relationship status hidden from her mother, he wasn't sure. She seemed like a nice enough woman, reminding him of his own mother in a way. But if she didn't want her mother to know, then she must've had her reasons.
"I must say, honey, you sure have your men whipped around here," Kaidan listened to the conversation from the kitchen, "or maybe they like it rough."
"What? You've got quite the gallery around here. You can't tell me that you haven't at least entertained the thought of, oh, letting off some steam every now and again?"
"There are rules against fraternization, you know that."
"Never stopped your father and I."
Sparing a glance over his shoulder revealed Shepard staring down at her sitting mother, arms crossed and a blush hinting its way to her cheeks. Vega was smirking, arms linked behind his back and legs crossed and resting on the table, clearly enjoying the show.
"Hey." The sudden arrival of Garrus pulled Kaidan's attention back to the drinks he was supposed to be arranging.
Grabbing the coffee pot, he turned to the Turian. "So, what do you- Garrus, what are you doing?"
The alien looked up questioningly. "Getting myself a drink, like you are. Is there something wrong with that?"
"That's not a drink, that's Windex," he motioned to the half-filled wine glass in Garrus' hand.
"And it's delicious, almost like a fine, Turian wine," he continued pouring the cleaning solvent into his glass. "And this bottle is way too awkward to drink from, what were you humans thinking, inventing a spray nozzle for wine?"
Kaidan shook his head, returning to mixing his coffee. Unsure of what Hannah would enjoy in her drink, he decided to wing it and make it the way Shepard preferred, which contained more cream and sugar than actual coffee.
"Isn't it a bit early to be getting drunk, Gar?" he asked as the Turian placed a novelty umbrella into his drink, complete with a slice of a lemon-resembling fruit on the rim.
"Happy hour is every hour," Garrus responded as the two returned to the mess hall table.
Sitting back down, Kaidan handed a cup to the Admiral, who accepted it with a 'Thanks'.
She beamed at him as she took a sip. "Almost perfect! Were you given a debrief on exactly how I like my coffee prior to your 'mission'?" she teased.
"Ah, no…" Kaidan shrugged, "just a lucky guess?"
"Uh, Commander?" the intercom suddenly crackled to life, blaring Joker's concerned voice. "We've got a problem down in the shuttle bay. It seems Kei-9 and Javik have gotten themselves into a…disagreement. You should probably get down there before someone punctures a hole into the side of the ship."
"Javik and a dog?" Shepard shook her head, her expression a mix of confusion and exasperation. "Sorry, mom, I guess I've got to handle this. Will you be okay up here?"
"Oh, don't worry about me. I think I've got some rather excellent company," her mother nodded towards the two men and a turian sitting across from her. With a shake of her head, the Commander waved a quick goodbye and sprinted off towards the elevator.
Well… This was certainly turning into an awkward day. Of all the things he had expected to do today, being hit on by Shepard's mother certainly hadn't been anywhere on Kaidan's list.
"So," Hannah was the first to break the silence, "what do you think of her?"
James rocked back in his chair with a lazy grin. "Lola's one heckuva fighter, that's for sure. Don't think I could ask for a better N7 mentor."
"A legend is what she is," Garrus added, raising his Windex cocktail in a mock toast.
Kaidan realized they had all turned to him, waiting for his own answer. "She's…" he racked is brain for the right word. Amazing? The most beautiful woman in the Galaxy? Sexy? Perfect? The love of his life? Somehow, those adjectives didn't seem very appropriate for the situation. "…an admirable leader," he eventually responded, sipping his coffee in an effort to appear as casual as possible.
"Pretty hot, too, huh?"
Kaidan choked on his drink, barely managing to keep from spitting it across the table in surprise. Was it just his imagination, or had the Admiral been staring directly at him when she'd asked the question?
James' laughing drowned out the sound of the Major's coffee woes, luckily, as he replied, "I'll say!" It took all of his efforts not to shoot the boisterous soldier a glare.
Hannah squinted at Kaidan, causing him to glance away uncomfortably. He wasn't sure why she had taken such an interest in analyzing him, but it was somewhat disturbing.
"I guess I hadn't really thought about that, ma'am," the Biotic stuttered, still refusing to meet her eyes.
"Oh, come on, Major," she urged. "Surely you've had some thoughts in that territory? Being around her, every day for months? She's mentioned you quite a bit in her past emails, too."
Garrus saved Kaidan from responding, downing his entire glass of Windex and slamming the glass to the table with a bang! He slid his glass in front of the Major. "Alenko, be a bro and fill me up, will you?"
Shooting the Turian a questioning glance, he walked over and poured more of the window cleanser into the glass. By the time he returned to the table, they group had, to his relief, moved on to discussing Vega's induction into the N-Training program.
"What is that that you're drinking, Garrus?" Hannah inquired as the Turian took another sip.
The alien finished his sip before answering, "I think you humans refer to it as 'Windex'?"
"Hmm…" the woman shot him an odd glance, before turning back to the other men across from her. "So, any good gossip you want to share? Military secrets, mission summaries, anything about my daughter's personal life that she'd be mortified to have her mother know?"
Another loud bang sounded as Garrus downed his second glass, sliding it towards Kaidan in an extravagant matter. "Refill, please."
Once again, he renewed Garrus' beverage and delivered it back to the table.
"Javik is a real hoot, whether he knows it or not," James chuckled, apparently engrossed in a conversation about their odd companion. "He can read pheromones and stuff, and doesn't quite understand what subjects should and shouldn't be spoken of when around others."
"Oh?" the older woman's interest piqued, "Like what?"
"Well, there was this time when we were all in the lounge, sharing drinks and whatnot after a successful mission, when he asked about 'human mating'. Apparently, he had read-"
"Whew!" for a third time, Garrus slammed his empty glass to the tabletop, and moved it in front of Kaidan while calling, "Bartender, please!"
Kaidan had just about had it with the Turian. He was about to snap at him to get his own damn drink, when he caught the Turian's warning wink. Finally, it hit him what was going on. James hadn't gotten the memo to keep quiet about the relationship, so every time the Admiral would bring her daughter's love life up, Garrus would make a point to redirect the topic and give Kaidan an excuse to leave.
This cycle continued for about half an hour, until Garrus was wobbling in his chair.
"And then," he slurred, raising his glass while leaning involuntarily to the right. "And then I..." He never did finish that sentence, as he collapsed to the ground while emitting a sound that could only be described as a cross between a cat's purr and white noise static on a comm unit.
"Docking in the Citadel," Joker announced at the same moment.
Hannah rose, glancing concernedly at the passed out Turian. "Will he be alright?"
"Yeah, the doc'll see to it that his hangover isn't so bad," Kaidan waved it off, accompanying the Admiral and Vega as they made their way to the elevator.
The doors opened to reveal a battle-torn Javik, scraped, scuffed, and bruised on various parts of his body. He briskly made his way past them, evidently heading for the med bay without a word.
Shepard was also in the elevator as the other three clamored in, although she didn't show the slightest sign of an injury.
"Javik vs. robotic dog. Robotic dog wins," she explained to their questioning expressions.
Upon arriving at the airlock, Hannah turned to enclose her daughter in a final hug. "It's been great seeing you, sweetheart," she whispered.
"You, too, mom," Shepard replied, her voice sincere.
Pulling back, her mother looked her in the eye. "I want you to know that I love you, honey, and I'm so proud of you and happy for you. Know that I'll support you, no matter what, alright?" Her voiced was thick with emotion, tears playing at the corner of her eyes. "And I fully expect to see you at breakfast tomorrow morning." She shot Kaidan a smile, too, much to his surprise. Quickly, she then took her leave, presumably to prevent breaking down into a crying mess of a mother.
Vega whistled as the airlock closed. "I like your mom, Lola. She's a hoot." With that, he turned and made his way down the bridge.
Kaidan walked over to stand beside Shepard, who was still staring at the now-closed airlock. With a sigh, her hand found his and entwined their fingers, resting her head on his shoulder.
"Well, that didn't go as bad as I'd expected," she laughed quietly.
"As long as you don't ask Garrus." He lifted her hand to place a kiss on her palm, but stopped short once it reached eye level.
Shepard removed her head from its resting point to glance up at him. "You okay?"
"Have you been wearing that all day?"
Retracting her hand from his grip, a look of panic crossed her face as she eyed the silver engagement ring on her finger which she evidently had forgotten to remove that morning. "Any chance she didn't notice?" she asked, glancing up at him.
Kaidan thought back to earlier that day, when the Admiral had first stepped foot on board. Her daughter had saluted her, much to her surprise… Or maybe the salute wasn't why she halted in shock. "Actually, I'm pretty sure that's the first thing she noticed."
"Well…" she sighed, "at least we're getting free breakfast out of it tomorrow. And don't think you're getting out of that." She playfully nudged him with her elbow. "You've met my mother, so I think it's perfectly acceptable to say 'Your turn'."
He placed an arm around her shoulders, pulling her close so she could once again rest her head on him as they walked down the bridge.
"I've been meaning to head down and see them some time," he admitted as they came to a stop in front of the elevator. "How 'bout we both take a trip to Vancouver?"
"I'd like that." She turned to face him as they entered the elevator, linking her hands behind his neck.
"But first things first," he pressed the button for her cabin, circling his arms around her waist as the doors closed, "what the hell happened in the cargo bay?"
Loved it? Hated it? Want to see more random fanfics? Want me to abandon all writing and go live under a hole? Leave a review and tell me! Advice and criticism is always appreciated!
Also, if anyone has the sudden urge to draw Garrus in an apron and/or with Windex, you will forever be my hero.
Thanks for reading!