Grunt was going through puberty, Jacob had discovered the location of his long-missing father's ship, and Jack needed closure at Pragia before she could focus. There were mercenary bases to destroy, geth infiltrations to investigate, and planets to explore. While I made time to talk to Thane and the new easiness between us meant that I was less distracted by my growing interest in him, neither of us seemed to be in a hurry to get more physical.
I was intensely aware that I still had one more piece of unfinished business that stood between us. It took me two weeks, but finally I mustered the nerve to face this last concrete connection with the love that I had lost simply by being dead for a couple of years. As the Normandy cruised through yet another nearly-empty system I dragged myself to my cabin.
After a stiff drink, I settled in at my terminal, the bottle and glass beside me. I took a deep breath and opened the message. “I'm sorry for what I said on Horizon,” it started. I hadn’t even gotten through two sentences before the tears began. Oh, no, I thought. Poor Kaidan. Poor me. Could we be a bigger pair of idiots? Could we even be a pair any more?
As I read about his abortive attempts at starting a new life without me I couldn’t decide whether to be homicidal toward the woman he’d dated or fly off in the shuttle to hunt him down and hug him to death. I took a long pull straight from the bottle. The tentative tone only increased my upheaval. Did I even remember the night before Ilos? What the hell did that mean? He wanted to meet, if I survived this suicide mission.
Gee, thanks, I thought. See you if I’m not dead. I laid my head on my desk and sobbed, grateful that I’d at least opened this mess when I was alone in my quarters.
It seemed that Kaidan’s response on Horizon had been as turbulent as my own, despite his direct responses at the time. He’d called me a traitor and accused me of betraying him personally. I tried to decide if it was fair of me to hold what he’d shouted in a moment of shock against him. While his message hadn’t retracted everything he’d said he had clearly reconsidered his snap judgment of my situation. I hadn’t made a very good case for myself at the time so I supposed that I could understand his confusion. How could he know that I’d spent most of our time apart essentially dead, just as he’d thought I’d been, and the next few months trying desperately to find him without inside Alliance information?
That may well have been, but I’d also been going about my business in the mean time. I had accomplished things, recruited team members, kicked ass and taken names like I always had. I had spent my down time wondering and searching but I’d also been continuing with my life. I’d worked hard to ignore the emptiness I had felt. When we’d finally confronted each other on Horizon the reopened wound stung all the more and the barbs he’d thrown had been like salt. Was I really sure that I wanted to go back down that path, to reopen the door when it may still be slammed shut in my face?
I realized that I wanted to talk to Thane. If anyone could have given me the calm that I needed to think through my feelings it was the stable man who had helped me handle so many other turbulent internal conflicts. But I could hardly run to him and confess that a large part of my pain arose from the fact that I was developing deeper feelings for him. That I knew Thane shared my interest moved such a conversation from awkward to cruel. I could not treat his feelings so lightly despite my own need for a sounding board.
I threw myself a little pity party, mourned the lack of iced cream, and then cleaned myself up to get back to work. I would not allow my heavy heart to drag down the rest of my team. I needed to consider what this message meant for me and how it might have changed things if I had opened it immediately. I couldn't be fair to Thane and Kaidan at the same time and I needed to decide if the possibility of resurrecting the love I'd already mourned was worth throwing away the one that was just being born. I couldn't guarantee that either of them would do more than break my heart yet again but I could consider which choice was the best to mend it.
Being back from the dead myself I wanted to extend the same chance to my relationship with Kaidan but there was so much pain between us now that I didn't know if we could move past it. In any case, he'd been pretty clear that he didn't expect to hear from me until we'd stopped the Collectors. It felt almost like a condition of our reuniting: save humanity again and I'll give you another chance.
That rankled, especially as Thane had already demonstrated his acceptance of my history and my actions without judgment. He had given me the rest of his life to do with what I would and was offering his heart to go with it. How could I turn my back on that? He was dying and our time together may be even shorter than the Kepral's Syndrome would allow him if things went badly on the other side of the Omega 4 relay. Yet I thought that chance worth taking. Love doesn't come with guarantees for anyone. It would certainly be better than knowing I threw away a chance for some happiness because I couldn't move past a memory.
Joker called me down to the bridge when one of our probes found yet another mysterious signal. It was time for me to set aside my emotions yet again and kill something. At that point, it sounded like the perfect next step in my day. It had to be better than sitting in my cabin torturing myself.