"I want a bigger gun the next time we go up against one of those bastards."
"No arguments here Shepard. Some grenades would be nice too."
"Damn Garrus, you sure do know the way to a girl's heart." Olivia shot him a cheeky grin, grateful yet again that at least one of her squad, not forgetting Joker, was with her. She didn't trust Cerberus, and The Illusive Man even less, so having familiar, trusted faces around her went a long way.
It had been, an adjustment, to say the least, when she had awoken and discovered that not only was she not dead, but that two years had passed while she "slept." Her old crew was gone, dispersed to the far reaches of the Milky Way; some of them, one in particular, she couldn't even find a whisper of.
Her new crew was just as good, if a bit more unconventional than her last one. She knew they would do everything and more to stop the Collectors, but it wasn't the same. Not without -.
Olivia shook her head, forcing those thoughts out of her mind. She was still on a mission, still had a job to do. Anything else could -no, had to wait.
"Shepard, I am detecting increased activity in the settlement. Without the Collector ship in range, the swarmers have dissipated and the remaining colonists appear to be waking up."
"Good to know EDI, thanks. Let's go find those colonists; maybe they can give us some more details about the attack and the Collectors."
"Yes, yes. Need to take readings. More data is needed. Would like to study, need to study."
"Just try not to bowl these people over with your enthusiasm, Mordin, these people - oh my holy god."
Olivia felt the adrenaline high she had been riding kick her off and drop her into a black hole. Two years they had told her, two years had passed, but to her it was only a month ago.
Olivia watched as he crossed the courtyard, his long legs eating up the distance between them. He looked as she remembered him: strong, solid, real. But as she watched him draw near, she noticed that he was not, in fact, as she remembered him. His face was a mixture of wariness and caution; there was no sly grin, no grin at all actually. No, there was a seriousness and stiffness about him that was unnatural and so unlike him.
"Kaidan." She made to step forward to embrace him but held back at the last second, suddenly unsure and anxious.
Olivia blinked at the formal, almost curt reply and took a further step back. Always so sure on the battlefield but when it came to personal relationships, she was hopeless even in normal situations, and this was anything but normal.
"What are you doing here?"
"A question that you should be answering. I heard rumors, but I couldn't believe they were true. I see that they are. Not only are you alive, but you're working for Cerberus."
"I'm not working for them Kaidan."
"Really?" She saw his jaw tighten; saw the disbelief, the barely contained rage.
"I am not. They are a resource, nothing more. I need their resources to investigate the Collectors and how to stop them. They're the ones taking the human colonies Kaidan, you saw it for yourself. But it's more than that. Kaidan, the Reapers are behind it all and neither the Council nor the Alliance will do anything; the Council flat out refuses to believe that the Reapers are real and that they pose a significant threat to the whole galaxy if they're stopped. So, yeah, I'll take whatever resources I can get."
"If that's true, why didn't you go to the Alliance, to Anderson?"
"I did Kaidan and ran into the same problem. Anderson believes me, but the Council has tied his hands. He also hinted that I'm persona non grata as far as the Alliance is concerned. The Council grudgingly gave me back my Spectre status so I can have free reign in my investigation, but they restricted me to the Terminus Systems. So, tell me Kaidan, what would you do if you were me?"
"I wouldn't have turned my back on everything I ever believed in. I'm an Alliance man, Commander, and I respect it too much despite its flaws to stoop to working for terrorists.
"And in all this, did it ever occur to you to send a message saying you were alive? You managed to let the Turian know; I guess I didn't even rate an email."
Olivia was struck dumb and speechless, totally unprepared for the viciousness of his attack. She couldn't believe this was happening. So many times she had envisioned their reunion, but this scenario had never entered her mind. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Garrus stiffen, his mandibles flaring with outrage, but she waved him back.
"I didn't know how to find you. None of your contact information was active. Even Anderson couldn't tell me how to reach you."
"Couldn't? Or wouldn't because of your connection to Cerberus? You've betrayed everything you once stood for."
He might as well have slapped her as he spit those words at her. Honestly, she would have rather he had done that instead. A punch would have hurt less.
"I would be dead, still dead, Kaidan if Cerberus hadn't put me back together. They may have done that, but I'm still me. I'm still the same person, the same person you -."
"It's been two years, Commander, two years. Things have changed."
Olivia had been about to reach out to him, to touch his hand, but his words froze her. She blinked heavily, wishing that she had kept her helmet on. That way no one would see the tears that were threatening to spill.
"Perhaps two years for you Kaidan, but for me it was only yesterday. For me nothing has changed," she said softly, acutely aware that Garrus was right behind her. Waves of hostility were battering her from both sides, tiring her more than the battle with the Collectors and Praetorian. Still, she knew that if she didn't do something, somebody was going to end up with bullets in them.
Kaidan eyed her coolly with a detachment that dug into her heart. Olivia searched his face, desperate for a glimmer of the man she loved, but there was nothing, nothing but a hard mask. Swallowing heavily, she stepped back, conceding ground to him. Unprecedented that. Commander Shepard was renowned for standing her ground, for holding the line.
"There's nothing I can say, is there, that will make you believe me. I'm sorry for that."
Olivia didn't wait for an answer. She turned away before she lost the battle against the tears pushing at her eyes, walking quickly back toward the shuttle.
"Mordin, get your samples and data wrapped up. We're heading back to the Normandy in ten." Olivia slapped at her comm link, signaling Joker. "Joker, prepare for our return; we're done here."
In her rush to get away, it didn't occur to her why Garrus didn't immediately follow her; didn't see him step up to Kaidan, or hear the words that happened between them. EDI would remedy that for her later, much to her dismay.
A/N: Yeah, I know the Horizon meeting has been done, but this just wouldn't leave me alone.