"I'm glad we're taking the time to do this,"
and I nod and try to look casual while my heart sets a furious pace in my chest.
Apollo's is slow today.
Just a few other tables occupied.
And that's the way I like it.
If I'm gonna come clean...
I don't want an audience.
And I do want privacy.
So much so
that I got here half an hour before Kaidan did:
just to ask for a table for two
in the most secluded spot in the cafe.
"I could use a...sanity check,"
and I try not to stare as he rolls back his sleeves
and picks up the menu,
the muscles in his toned arms shifting.
Tearing my gaze away, I chuckle a little
and it sticks in my throat
and I cover it with a cough
and that hitches too-
but he doesn't notice.
Or if he does, he doesn't show it.
"Things have been pretty crazy,"
I manage at last.
what are you drinking?"
"If you're trying to butter me up,
it might take a nice steak sandwich, too."
I lean back in my chair,
cross my arms,
appraise him with all my attention.
(Trying to be suave.
And probably failing.)
He glances down for a few seconds and scans through the choices provided.
"Shot of whiskey...
and a good old Canadian lager.
Think they have it?"
I frown down at the menu.
More likely they have Batarian shard wine."
Kaidan leans forward,
deep in thought,
resting his elbows on the table.
"At my parents place, in Vancouver?
Drank more than a few beers out on the balcony,
looking over English Bay."
He turns his head,
He glances back towards me and focuses again.
"You know, Shepard...
my life flashed in front of my eyes on Mars.
And there weren't enough moments like this.
With people I care about.
you plan a career,
and suddenly the world's ending, and
it's too late to...
to find someone."
My chest tightens.
My mouth is dry.
I stare at him.
He looks uncomfortable for a second and my stomach churns.
"We've been friends a long time, Shepard.
Have you ever known me to be with anyone?"
there was that doctor,
back when I was...
back when I was dead.
But it hadn't been serious.
And it hadn't been long-term.
"I dunno if I'm just patient
I don't know.
Maybe what I've never found-
what I want...
is something deeper with someone I already...
I can't look at him.
I can't meet his eyes.
I stare at the table in front of me.
Kaidan lets out a short breath, his voice low.
"That's what I want.
What do you want?"
My hands are sweaty.
My knee bounces up and down.
And I finally raise my eyes
and meet his gaze.
is that what you're saying, Kaidan?"
My voice is strained-
"It feels right,"
And the tension flows off of me.
I can almost feel my shoulders lift
as he eases my burden.
waiting for those words.
You and me.
"to have someone to turn to,
when things get grim.
Someone to live for.
We're both leaning forward,
our words uttered soft and quiet
and so, so full of meaning.
It feels good.
It feels right.
You and me.
How many nights, spent alone?
How many hours-
spent thinking of him,
never working up the nerve to approach the topic of feeling-
because I'm a fucking Commander,
and we just-
about these things.
We don't ever fall.
We watch others fall.
We force them to their knees.
We make them beg.
We leave soldiers behind.
We stand aside in the name of justice.
We don't feel-
we don't fall.
Yet here I am.
Me and Kaidan.
You and me.
Having already fallen without a single warning;
having tangled myself in something personal,
something others can use against me.
I'm not a fucking superhero.
Everyone wants me to be.
I just don't think that I can.
Kaidan reaches across the table and takes my hand,
pulling me back into the present.
You and me.
Fuck the rules of falling.
Fuck the alarm bells inside of my head,
fuck the expectations people have for me,
fuck the goddamn Reapers.
He's holding my hand
and right now...
I've never felt more alive.
And I admit it.
"You and me.
I like that...a lot."
is kind of an understatement.
I have a tendency to belittle the things that matter.
Downplaying things like loyalty,
Treating them as if they mean less to me
than they actually do.
It's like my own unintended code-
a code that most don't understand.
But the light in Kaidan's eyes
and the softness of his voice
tells me that he knows.
That he's broken the code.
Cracked right through.
You and me.
that makes me so happy."
Something in his tone shifts, then.
From honest and open
"And there are benefits to that happiness."
My heart leaps straight into my throat.
Play it cool, Shepard.
I arch an eyebrow.
I ask, stretching the word out slightly.
His smile slides wider,
slipping into a smirk.
Kaidan Alenko is flirting with me.
And for a few precious moments,
all is right in the world.