We stumbled over unanswered distress beacons and derelict ships often in the out-of-the-way corners we traveled. The salvage fees and reward money kept our enterprise afloat, for now. We must have enjoyed a fair amount of sympathy on the Citadel because the rewards for completing search and rescue missions seemed out of proportion with the actual rescuing that we did. Mostly what we found was a lot of dead bodies and an answer to the question of what had happened to them.
I suppose that these answers meant a great deal to the loved ones left behind but I doubted that the government generally paid so much for them. Joker must have been getting information on the last known vicinities for some of these ships because he never seemed surprised when we happened upon yet another in a system of which I'd never heard. Then again, little seemed to surprise my sarcastic pilot.
Things progressed. I added a justicar to my crew, I separated Jack and Miranda in the mess or the restroom every couple of days, and I contemplated opening Kaidan's message. I cursed the down time we spent in transit between planets and systems where mass relays could not speed things along. I had altogether too much time to dwell on the loneliness and frustration I felt.
Just when I had thought my life could get back on track, Kaidan in my arms once more, the man I loved had pushed me away without a second thought. No matter what I'd said he'd grown angrier and colder, finally slamming shut the door to our reuniting. I didn't know what had happened to him in the two years I'd been dead. He'd never been so judgmental and inflexible before. In fact he'd prided himself on leaving his options open in all situations. Obviously, I was no longer an option and I couldn't bring myself to read another condemnation. With a heavy sigh and some grinding of teeth I decided that being alone in my quarters wasn't helping. I shoved Kaidan's picture into a drawer and stalked out to the elevator.
I stepped into the Combat Information Center, that grandly-named aft half of the bridge that housed the galaxy map. I'd intended to do some more calculating to see whether we could afford a few days of shore leave for the crew on some garden planet. Full spectrum lights we had but everyone was looking peaky from too much time in deep space. A little sunlight with their R&R would do them all good. No sooner had I set foot on the deck, though, than Yeoman Chambers piped up. "Thane was up here...looking for you", she said with a smirk. How did that woman make something so neutral sound so suggestive? Before I could give an unprofessional response, though, my omni-tool pinged. I glanced down to see a brief note reading, "A moment, please. Thane"
"Thank you, yeoman", I said frostily. I turned on my heel and pressed the elevator control again, thankful that I'd avoided the temptation snap at her. She irritated me to no end but she also reported her assessments of me and the crew directly to Cerberus. I turned to the life support equipment room, lost in thought about the evaluation I'd like to submit on Kelly Chambers. The words "intrusive" and "dirty-minded" would have featured prominently. If she'd told me one more time that she'd checked my messages for me I didn't think I could be held responsible for my actions. My control was frayed enough without her provocation.
I realized that the door had opened and Thane stood before me, patiently waiting for my attention. "Come in," he said simply and gestured gallantly. How could he make such archaic gestures seem so natural? From anyone else I would have taken the half bow as a joke or an insult. I smiled a little and took my usual seat, or what had been until I'd begun staying away from this room. Thane's placid face reminded me of the reasons I'd spent so much time here to begin with and of why I'd consciously stopped.
"I am unsure what I've done to displease you," he began, "and normally I would respect your wishes to not see me." I felt about a centimeter tall. I'd been so concerned about my own turmoil and reputation that I'd shoved Thane aside as rudely as Kaidan had done me.
"I'm so sorry, Thane. You didn't..."
He raised a hand to stop me. "You owe me no explanations, Shepard," he said. "I did not ask you to come here from anger or confusion, at least not at you." For the first time, his face clearly showed emotion. Something was very wrong, to upset his equanimity so badly. "I do not wish to intrude or to add to the burdens that you carry but I do not know to whom else I can turn."
He told me that he had learned through his contacts that his son had taken up the family business and had contracted for his first assassination. Thane had tried to protect Kolyat from exactly this by leaving him behind with Irikah's family when he'd gone to seek revenge for her death. He had dreaded the thought that the slavers who had killed his wife would find a way to take his son from him as well. He had reaped the guilty like a mighty blade, his grief and fear making him that much more vengeful and swift. Even so, by the time he'd found and executed every one of those responsible and returned his son had refused to have anything to do with him. Clearly angry teenagers were not solely a human phenomenon.
Thane had wandered the galaxy for years, selling his skills with no clear purpose, trying to keep Kolyat from learning how his father had spent his life. Hearing that his sacrifice had accomplished so little after all must have torn at Thane's heart. My reservations about our growing friendship vanished as he struggled to ask me for help, fighting his pride and his own reserve.
"Where and when?" I asked. "Whatever you need, let me know and I'll be there." The relief that showed on his face reinforced my decision. If I could take the time to investigate decades-old wrecks I could certainly act to help a friend protect his son.
"He's at the Citadel," Thane replied. "And thank you."