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There's Something About Shepard

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The room on the opposite end of the house stood empty for months. With enough alcohol to kill a krogan and a handful of large boxes, Joker stumbled into the cold, dark room, squinting against the blare of light after flicking the switch on.

Her mail sat on the bed, unopened, the most he could do when he returned home from his assignment to the Normandy SR-1. His dream job. Correction: their dream job. But the dream twisted into a nightmare, one his mind refused to wake from.

He dropped the boxes on the floor of her room, lifting his cap to run his hand through his shaggy hair underneath. Where did he even begin?

Mayson’s room reflected her vibrant personality, all bright colors and orderly, but not without its clutter. The two of them liked their movies, antique posters from old space movies covering her walls, at war with the flowery yellow curtains that blocked out the streetlights. Action figures lined her shelves, mixed in with pictures of her family and friends.

Doddering over to the thin set of shelves where she kept her books, he picked up the middle picture frame with a shaky hand. With an arm hooked around his shoulder, the two of them grinned up at the camera, her in her poofy courthouse wedding dress, him in his tuxedo shirt.

And another two shelves up, this one from before their fake marriage. Him in his uniform as he graduated from the academy, her in yet another dress on his arm. That was the first time they pretended to be something they weren’t.

“Let’s give them something else to be jealous about,” she said, leaning over to peck a quick kiss on his cheek. “That’ll teach those fuckers to underestimate you just because you need help walking sometimes.”

The picture frames clattered from his hand, the glass shattering as it hit the ground. He cursed, bending down to gather the bigger shards of glass. One nicked his fingertip, earning a sharp yelp.

He stuck his ailing finger into his mouth to quell some of the blood flow, his other hand throwing the glass into one of the boxes. He picked up the academy picture first, Mayson’s smiling face now under splintered glass.

“The Normandy’s lost! Give up, Joker! I’m not going to lose you, too!”

“Mayson!”

Joker’s brow furrowed, hand rubbing at his temple at the sharp edge of memory. Obviously, he needed more alcohol, his current intoxicated state not sufficient at keeping the memories away.

Of how he sat, helpless, as she sent his pod away, an explosion launching her out into the void of space like she was another piece of debris from the ship. Of how he screamed until his throat gave out, how he attempted to find a way to steer toward her. Of how he never seemed to shake the thought that she didn’t have to die, if only she didn’t come back for him, if only they’d gotten to the pod a few seconds earlier.

The Alliance took his wings; grounded him. He felt confined to that empty coffin they buried in remembrance of her. 

“Do you ever think about what you would do if you didn’t have the Alliance?” She sat in the copilot’s chair, one she claimed for her own aboard the ship, her legs tossed over the arm rest while she worked on her datapad.

“I’d go fly with someone who’d take me.”

She nodded, a haunted glaze besetting her eyes, one she gained since her time on Feros. “I’m thinking this might be it for me, my last tour. I don’t know that I can keep doing this. I thought this was my calling, that I was made for this job, but…” She leaned her head against the back of the chair, earth brown eyes pleading as she stared in his direction. “What ExoGeni did down there, it’s forcing me to reconsider a lot of things.”

Fuck. He sunk onto her bed, the picture of her smile still cradled in his hands while he stared down at it. Tears pricked in the corner of his eyes as he whispered, “I’m sorry, May. I’m so sorry.”

She remained frozen in her broken frame. Happy. Oblivious. Trapped beneath his fractured feelings.

“In case something happens on Ilos, I just wanted to say, it’s been an honor working with you.” Mayson curled under the blanket she’d brought up to the cockpit from her quarters, into his side as they shared his chair. Her forehead rested on his shoulder, her legs over his lap, her arms hugging his waist. He kept a protective arm over her to the best of his ability while he steered the ship.  “But hey, at least I managed to keep things interesting, right?”

Joker chuckled. “It always is with you.”

She cracked a smile at that. “Any regrets?”

That I never told you I loved you. Joker’s thought falls short in the cold room, the light burning his retinas, the alcohol leaving him sluggish.

He could try again tomorrow. Tonight, her ghost danced too close to living once again.