how the crew reacts to discovering shepard’s alive
liara wonders—gladly—how it is that such a simple, single individual can manage to surprise her, proving that what she knows is not always what she has known. on her own in the reflected face of eternity, she sheds her quiet tears.
tali removes the mask. it seems the most fitting way. she doesn’t breathe in or out, but the air against her face makes her shiver. all is raw and true, a moment in precious time, and she is naked with relief.
miranda sits. she anticipates her own moments of weakness, like this one, as her knees threaten to give beneath her. ‘had me worried for nothing, as usual, shepard,’ she says, but there is no one there to hear her speaking to herself.
‘damn right,’ joker says. saves him the trouble of having to go to a funeral for the same person twice. wasn’t planning on doing it. once was more than enough. he takes off his cap and rests his bare forehead against a cool wall. happiness can make you feel more alone than ever, somehow.
james balls one hand into a fist, but it doesn’t connect with the wall. it stops half a centimeter before contact. his knuckles rest, final, gentle, on something solid, something strong. he stares down at his feet until they start to blur. the older you get, the better you’re able to define sacrifice. ‘shit,’ he says, his voice cracking. hasn’t happened since he was thirteen and scared. he’s grateful, so why the hell does he sound so pissed?
jack tilts her head back, laughing like she’s choking on sobs. you know what, the two are the same damn thing. real emotion that comes outta you and you can’t stop it, and you don’t know what the fuck you’re feeling, but it’s there. you’re alive. shepard’s alive. the galaxy knows how to get a few things right. she flips off the sky. whoever’s up there, watching, probably nobody but the fucking stars, knows the truth. what a badass motherfucker.
wrex bellows a warcry, fist pumping the air. he feels it in his gut, his heart, his quads. like dust and sand; like the ground beneath his feet trembling as a thresher maw tears fresh tunnels into the shaking earth. commander shepard’s an earthquake. the warcry turns to laughter and the sky swallows the sound.
grunt breaks an old ground transport vehicle by pounding it to pieces with his big, bare hands. finally, breathless, panting, he drops to his knees, saying a name like believing in it can keep it alive forever. ‘shepard!’ he shouts himself raw. ‘shepard! shepard!’
kasumi pulls back her cowl. the sun is bright. it stings her eyes.
zaeed leans back and lights a cigar. ‘biggest goddamn hero,’ he says, blowing a ring of smoke, letting his old scars give him hell for a little while.
chakwas pours two drinks. she has them both; shepard won’t mind. she thinks, the biggest pains in the ass, the worst patients you ever treat, always manage to hang on.
kaidan double-checks the transmission. triple-checks it. he doesn’t believe it. he has to believe it. and he’s believed it all along. shepard’s screwed with his magnetic poles of hope before, kaidan’s hope. there’s no true north. there’s no gravity anymore. he thinks he’s floating but really, he’s down, down, closer to the ground. he puts his head in his hands. but he’s not, he’s not crying. he doesn’t know. you know. turns out, he’s always been a believer.
garrus misses a target for the first time in long enough that it might as well be the first time ever. it’s so far left of center that he’s stunned. turns out, he’d stopped believing. thought he was getting ready to live as only half of himself, missing one side of his face, missing one side of his heart. but it all comes back to him. sudden pain. he needs some time. he’s in the middle of some calibrations. have you ever seen a turian cry? no? then be grateful. because it’s too damn ugly, and it’ll ruin your life.
the others, bare whispers in the wind, what furrows the waters upon the shore, what echoes, musical, in the hollows of seashells, know it isn’t time. they are the light on the waves, the breath in the foam, waiting across the sea, the promise of rain and the shiver of clouds across the sun. it is not time. it is not time. not time.