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An incredibly fluffy, totally hokey mShepard/Kaidan drabble thing that took way too much time to write and was not proofread at all. Because damn it, I need a some sort of closure for these two and I have zero patience.
Kaidan’s wedding band was made out of stainless steel.
Theirs was always going to be an unconventional relationship, built upon an absolute life-or-death struggle as it was. The greatest obstacles were well behind them, but as the two men had quickly learned, the future promised a few challenges of its own. The new syndicates and shadow governments emerging from the ruins after the invasion didn’t compare to the old enemies in scale or power, but each mission could always be the last.
Saviors of the galaxy or not, they were still bound by their duty. Spectres didn’t retire, and they rarely died from old age. It wasn’t a happy thought, but both men took peace in knowing that whatever good they did wouldn’t one day be invalidated by a second coming of the Reapers. But all that was in the future, and if falling in love in the face of total annihilation had taught Kaidan Alenko and John Shepard anything, it was that only the present mattered. So in a dire attempt to install some normalcy into their lives together, one of them decided to move things forward.
It seemed soulless to simply buy a ring. Hard to believe any trinket in a glass case could possibly be a suitable representation for how Kaidan felt about John. Gold? Too generic. Platinum? The Normandy had chunks of the stuff lying around the cargo bay for utilitarian purposes. No emotional value in the something made out of the rocks crowding the lower deck. So… what then? Titanium? Tungsten? Two-tone? Fuck.
Kaidan was still scrutinizing his options with a creeping sense of hopelessness when he called his mom to tell her the news. When Shepard returned from his assignment in two weeks Kaidan was going to propose. It was through that conversation Mrs. Alenko solved her son’s problem by offhandedly asking if he had considered giving John the family ring.
“Don’t feel pressured if you’ve already picked one, honey.”
“I thought dad’s ring was gone,” Kaidan said quietly. He remembered that band with all the scuffs across the white gold finish. Not once in his life had he ever seen his father without it, not even when working with heavy machinery that could damage it further. He would have been wearing it when the Reapers moved in, but… they never found it.
“No, no. Not that one,” his mom corrected. “Your great pappy’s ring. We’ve just been hanging on to it until somebody had a girl, but you could give it to Jonathan. It’s up to you. My feelings won’t be hurt if you don’t.”
A couple days later Kaidan swung by his childhood home to take a look for himself. His great grandfather’s ring was traditional. Simple. Outwardly it looked like a dozen other rings he’d seen in the stores, and was in much better shape than his dad’s ever was. But it wasn’t about aesthetics, it was about the history. He saw an added meaning in giving Shepard a family heirloom after everything they’d been through: It was because of John, only because of him, that this ring would be worn by another generation of Alenko’s. It wasn’t just a show of eternal love, but also of eternal gratitude. Kaidan kissed his mom on her forehead and insisted, “It’s perfect. He’ll love it” every time she started up about not wanting him to feel like he had no choice. When he left a couple hours later Kaidan still wasn’t sure she was convinced he genuinely wanted to give the old golden band to his partner.
He had it all planned out. A twenty minutes’ ride from Kaidan’s place was Clowhorn Lake. There along the Northern shoreline was a wooden dock that jutted out over the water. The vacation house that used to be tucked in the nearby trees had burned down years ago — not during the attack, but probably from an electrical fire or something as the abandoned property fell into disrepair. Nobody had bothered to rebuild it, but the dock was still standing. The place fascinated Shepard, a Navy brat who grew up on starships. Unlike Kaidan, he grew up never knowing cool breezes whipping off the lake, carrying with it aquatic smells and the mist that cast the world into a cloudy haze early in the morning. Kaidan was going to pop the question on that old dock where Shepard could enjoy a tiny bit of natural beauty he’d fought so hard to save.
What ended up actually happening was Shepard arrived home a day late thanks to inclimate weather. An enormous storm system left most Sunshine Coast residents waiting out the downpour in their homes, and for two lovers cooped up after having not seeing each other in a month, there was really only one way to pass the time. All carefully laid plans went out the window. Lying in bed with Shepard in his arms, feeling spent and satisfied and not having recovered all his faculties from the rush of hormones just yet, Kaidan pressed a kiss to his partner’s temple and whispered, “Marry me, John.”
“Hmm. Took you long enough.” Shepard was still trying to catch his breath, and his skin was uncomfortably hot when he rolled over to curl into Kaidan’s side. “We’re not exactly getting any younger, you know.”
Kaidan laughed at that and ceded it was true, though he did spend much of the evening proving to his new fiance he still had plenty of life in him.
The relief that John liked the ring was overwhelming to Kaidan, who hadn’t realized until then just how worried he’d been about it. He went into the whole spiel about going to six different stores hunting for the perfect piece and that nothing measured up to the ring sitting in his mom’s jewelry box that she’d never even told him about. But while explaining that there was more to the wedding band than just gold and an obvious oath of commitment, something changed in Shepard’s eyes. Kaidan pressed him on it until he finally gave in.
“I can ask my mom, but I’m pretty sure we don’t have anything like this,” he answered as he held up the heirloom, admiring it. “You put a lot of thought into finding the right one. I want to make sure you get the same.”
Mentally kicking himself for putting the pressure on Shepard because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut, Kaidan tried to assure him there were no outlandish expectations. He would be happy with whatever John got him, it didn’t need some big emotional connection. But Shepard just waved him off before pulling his dog tags over his head, undoing the ball clasp, and threading the chain through the ring. When he put the necklace back on it dangled beside John’s tags, which is where it would probably spend most of it’s time in his possession. Military dress code didn’t allow for jewelry, especially rings. Too many ways to catch it on something and rip off a finger.
Just as well, Kaidan thought. It needed resizing anyway.
“You’re going to have to give that back before the wedding.”
“I know,” Shepard said as he smiled down at the gold hoop, then at Kaidan before leaning in for a kiss.
A couple of months passed. Life and work went on as normal. Kaidan was in the middle of a ten week stint aboard a turian frigate, providing his “biotic expertise and tactical advice” to a fledgling cabal unit. In other words, he was talent scouting for potential Spectre candidates at the behest of the Hierarchy. Years later it was proven that Joker was right all along: Only an idiot believes the official explanation.
The mission parameters required a total communications black-out, which Shepard knew full well. That was why the major was surprised when the Sangra Mar neared a comm buoy and his omni-tool lit up, signaling an e-mail from a secure channel.
Sorry to ping you, but it’s important. You got a metal preference? -J
“Are you kidding me?” Kaidan huffed without any real venom. The soldier in him couldn’t help but frown on the breech of protocol, but in the end his affection for Shepard quashed out any irritation he might have felt. If John was having half as much trouble finding a ring as he did, then some sympathy was warranted. It was extremely against the rules, and Kaidan had to flash his Spectre authority to the captain to break operation silence, but he sent a reply.
I trust you to pick. Now shut up before you get me in trouble. Miss you. -K
He watched his device’s interface roll an upload icon until he got confirmation the message was on on the ‘net. Kaidan sighed, wishing so much that he could have answered in person. Just six more weeks.
They’d been watching a movie, some flick titled Vaenia about a pair of asari in high society. It reminded Kaidan of the black-and-white human classics, beautiful women leading glamorous lives, falling in love, all that. The film didn’t appeal to him beyond being something to watch while he rested his head on Shepard’s thigh and enjoyed having his back scratched through his shirt.
“So I’ve got a question,” John started, sounding apprehensive. So relaxed that he was on the verge of falling asleep, the best Kaidan could manage in response was an encouraging hum. “You know how you said you didn’t care what your ring was made out of?”
A jolt of concern brought Kaidan out of his sleepy lull. While it was true that the ring itself wasn’t anywhere near as important to him as the man it came from, he had assumed there was some unspoken baseline standard. He’d forgotten completely that when it came to social graces John tried, but he didn’t always grasp the obvious.
“I said I trusted you,” Kaidan gently corrected. Hoped that he hadn’t made a mistake.
“Well, I spent a lot of time thinking about this.” That did begin to set Alenko’s mind at ease, “I had an idea that seemed really great at the time, but now I’m not so sure. I might have over-thought the whole ‘deeper meaning’ thing and lost sight of the actual ring itself.”
Kaidan asked if he could see it, and Shepard stalled until he sat up and practically ordered his fiance to get it. With a sigh and a swear, Shepard disappeared into the bedroom. While he waited Kaidan dug the remote out of the couch cushions and muted the movie. It didn’t bother him much that he was going to miss the ending. He couldn’t relate to Vaenia on any level, certainly not enough to be more curious about the conclusion than whatever John was about to drop in his lap.
After a few moments Shepard returned with a small felt box, but he’d clearly misplaced his confidence. When he plopped back down next to Kaidan he looked as though he’d rather be doing anything else but this, and he was already backpedaling.
“Look… it’s stupid. If you don’t like it, don’t worry, I’ll get a real one-“
What Kaidan meant to do was press the back of his finger to Shepard’s mouth to staunch the nervous stammering, but he wound up smacking his fiance a little harder than he’d intended. With an apologetic grin he commented, “You sound like my mother.”
With all that build up Alenko was expecting a real eyebrow-raiser, like a yahg’s tooth with a hole drilled through the middle or something. Rather, what he pulled out was an attractive silver band with two narrow grooves tracking the circumference, between which was crosshatch etching. It was a bit more ornate than the one he’d given Shepard, but not to the point of being ostentatious. It was a perfect fit, though Kaidan didn’t recall having his finger sized.
“This is really nice, John. Platinum?” Even as he asked, Kaidan suspected it wasn’t. The metal was professionally brushed and polished, but it had a familiar grain.
“Some of it. The rest is… um. Okay, do you remember those tags I had in a shadowbox back on the Normandy?”
Kaidan remembered those dog tags well. He had a set just like them. One proclaimed everything he was, bearing his name, rank, date of birth, blood type, nationality; all the essentials with the added line of “BIOTIC - L2 CLASS” engraved in the refined steel. The second declared where he belonged back when they were issued, stamped with the silhouette of the Normandy SR-1. But his were still intact, shoved in a box somewhere years ago when Kaidan couldn’t stand having the reminders around and lost in the mess of his bedroom closet. Though Shepard’s had been mounted and framed, it appeared no restoration work had ever been performed on his old ID. They looked like they’d been through hell, charred steel compromised by heat and atmosphere, a jarring reminder of a horrific event casually sitting on the commander’s desk.
Absently he thumbed the ring as he realized what he was holding. “You had them melted down?”
“They had to plate it with platinum to get enough to make a ring, but yeah, that’s them. I guess the thought behind it was, why not take this throwback to the absolute worst day of my life and make it into something that represents the best day instead? And, you know, all the ‘no matter what happens, I’m always with you’ stuff. Sorry, Kaidan. I’m not really… good… at this.”
Shepard’s pauses were caused by Kaidan taking him by the chin and planting small kisses on his lips until, finally, he stopped talking.
For the umpteenth time Kaidan brushed an imaginary piece of lint from his jacket. Intellectually he knew his uniform was perfect: every crease was pressed, his cap was on straight, the officer’s bars were polished and smudge-free. Still, he couldn’t help the compulsive adjustments. In a roundabout way it was good they had decided upon a military ceremony. Checking himself against dress code gave Kaidan something to focus on other than how tight his stomach felt. Besides, he could pull off formal Navy attire better than he ever could a tux. Made him feel a little less out of his element.
Kaidan shot a sidelong glance to the man at his side. Shepard was the definition of composure standing there in his dress blues, clean shaven with eyes ahead and back ramrod straight. The dauntless hero who never publicly flinched in the face of the Reapers wouldn’t break down over a private ceremony with less than two-hundred spectators, but Kaidan could sense what was going on beneath the surface. Shepard was practically radiating electricity. Not enough to distort gravity in any significant way, but enough that the subtle bleed of his biotic aura strummed at the major’s nervous system.
“You ready?” he asked, voice low enough that only John could hear.
“Yep.” Perhaps realizing how clipped he sounded, Shepard took a deep breath and rolled his shoulders. “I’m so nervous I could piss myself and I’m sweating through this suit, but I’m ready.”
Kaidan grinned in spite of himself. That was another part of code, that you weren’t supposed to smile while in uniform dress. Not that anyone was going to dock the galaxy’s heroes for it, especially on their wedding day.
“We’ll be fine,” he assured Shepard just as their handler, a petty officer who was a full head shorter than either of them even in her heels, appeared and wished the couple luck. And though at that moment Kaidan realized he suddenly couldn’t remember how to start his vows, nor which foot to step with first when they started walking, and — Oh, God, do I have the ring? Yes, left pocket — a small, quiet part of him was completely tranquil. The coordinator stood along the wall and counted down on her fingers to them 3, 2, 1…
The doors opened into the wedding hall, and in perfect unison Kaidan Alenko and John Shepard stepped forward. Right foot first.
They were going to be just fine.