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Soldiering On

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You’d think after all these years of being in the military, and seeing death all around me; that I’d get used to it.
Truth is, I don’t. I haven’t really got used to it.
Every single death haunts me in every dream I have… every nightmare. I see Kaidan, I see children on Earth who have died due to the Reaper’s attacks… I still hear their screams and yet, through it all, Garrus is right there beside me.

He holds me close, tells me that things will get better and I believe him. I just don’t know when it will happen.
I see Thane sometimes in my dream. It’s been about a week since Kai Leng brutally murdered Thane.
I watched him die. Garrus watched him die, and we could do nothing to help him.

His son is the only family member he had left, and despite donating blood… the hospital couldn’t save him.

I wanted to lash out at the reporters that want to start shit by spreading lies or getting anything to start a story.
I’ve been pushing people away, hiding in my quarters on the Normandy to avoid the questions and plan our next move.

I want to find Kai Leng. I want to make him pay. I want to watch him die.

I want to do a lot of things.

But a part of me is telling me to move on. Telling me that this is just part of what I signed up for – death always follows in war.
I was always told to keep moving on… but I can’t.

I’ve lost too much. I’ve gained so much and lost so much at the same time and I don’t want to lose anybody else. Especially Garrus.
I want to push people away, to save them… but I can’t. I don’t know what to do.

I keep daydreaming, lost in my own mind, I need to keep soldiering on, like nothing has ever happened.
I have a job to do. The universe, the galaxy needs me. It needs a Commander with a clear head.

A three-fingered hand on my shoulder pulls me out of my trance. I know who it is.

I look up at him, as he brings me a cup of coffee and sits down beside me.

“Athena, You can’t keep doing this. You can’t keep act like nothing has happened.”

I hate myself. It’s not that I don’t want to act like what has happened, has happened, but… I don’t want people to see me as weak, if I start crying.
I don’t want to lose hope. I don’t want to lose anything.
I haven’t slept in days.

“There is so much we need to do, Garrus. So much and yet it feels like we’ve only just started in this war,” My voice betrays me and I let the tears fall. “I have to carry on, because it’s what I’ve been told to do. If I show any sign of weakness, than others will lose hope and…”

I take a sip of the hot, fresh coffee and it makes me feel a little bit better. I need to get some food down me.

“You’ve been avoiding some of us, especially me, for days, Athena.” Garrus tells me “Why?”

I sigh and look at him, and he’s never seen me so sad. The last time I was this sad was when we had to part after the suicide mission with Cerberus and he was called to Palaven and I was called to Earth and then my whole trial started which lead to everything that has happened up until now.

“You are the best damn thing to ever happen to me, Garrus Vakarian. And I don’t want to lose you. That’s why. I thought that if I left you alone, you’d be better off… but it’s a stupid idea.”

Garrus laughs a little and I finish my coffee. He pulls me into his lap and he wipes away my tears.

“Shepard, you are the bravest person I know. You’re a hero, and you’re allowed to feel what you feel. But you need to realise you aren’t alone. We’ll get through this… together. All your friends are right by your side, and I’m here for you. You can talk to me.” He says, cupping my face and I lean into his touch.

“We lost Kaidan. I don’t know how we all managed to survive the suicide mission, and now we’ve lost Thane. The end of the war is in sight, but we’re not there yet, How many more people are we going to lose, Garrus? I worry about you and your family, I worry about our friends…” I ramble on, clearly losing my mind,

“Hey, I’m not going anywhere, Shepard. You and me are a team. There is no Vakarian without Shepard.”

“There is no Shepard without Vakarian, either.” I reply and we hug,

“You’re not alone, Shepard. You just need to remember that sometimes, instead of soldiering on like nothing has ever happened.”

“Sometimes I forget, because I was always told to carry on, back when I didn’t have you guys…” I admit.

“And now you’re so powerful that you can do whatever the hell you want.” Garrus reminds me.

We’ll need to hold a Memorial Service for Thane sometime in the future, maybe when we get shore leave. I’ll get permission some time soon, I’m sure of it.
I may be a Commander and can do whatever I want, but I still have to answer to the Alliance.

“Garrus?” I ask, after a short few minutes of silence.

“Yes, Athena?” He responds.

“I love you, you know that right?.”

“Oh I know.” he replies “But your boyfriend has an order for you.”

I grin.

“You want me to get some sleep, don’t you?”

Garrus and I laugh as we hold each other, and I tell the others that they will have to answer to Garrus whilst I’m asleep.
I wake up almost sixteen hours later, refreshed and raring to go, and with Garrus by my side.

And for once, no dreams. No nightmares and I don’t want to think about when they will come back.
And we’ll be okay. Garrus has my back, and I have his and we’re going to save the galaxy.