Another ME-related drabble in a first person POV of Shepard post-ME3…
Shepard is recovering in Vancouver after the battle in London and the defeat of the Reapers.
Part of her recovery is the assignment by her therapist to find a way to come to terms with everything that’s happened so she writes about it. Written as a first-person narrative.
I think I managed to fluster my therapist today when I told her I was feeling homesick. She got a bizarre look on her face and then checked her notes repeatedly before she asked what I meant. She was obviously ruffled as she continued before I could even open my mouth to reply. She didn’t mean to offend; she was just curious how I could be homesick when I’d grown up bouncing from one ship to the next. I mean in her eyes I hadn’t really had a home, per se.
I don’t think people who weren’t raised on space ships understand how those who were can be homesick. I guess it’s understandable, even if I don’t quite understand it myself. They wonder how a child or anyone really, misses a place called home when they never stayed in one place long enough to make one?
Sure I didn’t have a yard or a bedroom with a ‘keep out!’ sign hanging on the door. I didn’t get a dog or learn how to drive a car when I turned sixteen. Instead I played in ship ducts and made secret hideaways where the adults never went. I learned how to fire a pistol and tune up the shuttles. I fell asleep not to the sound of crickets and wind, but to the creaking of bulkheads, the subtle sway when the inertia dampeners kicked in. No matter what time it was there was always activity around me. If you were still enough and listened hard enough you could always hear the muffled thud of boots on the metal decks, the sound of voices carrying through the cabin walls. I was never alone even when I was by myself.
But it’s more than that.
I tell myself it isn’t the physical place I miss, though maybe it is a little bit.
When she asks me to describe what home is to a kid that grew up following her parents from spaceship to spaceship my mind doesn’t focus on any of the frigates I lived on during my youth. No, it immediately settles on the sleek, fast ship currently being repaired only a few miles from where I now sit. Tell me about the Normandy, she says and I note the spark of interest in her eyes.
There’s something about the Normandy. The moment you set foot on her it’s like she’s alive beneath you. Terminals are constantly streaming data. There is always a report to read or messages to send. A soft chime would draw my attention to a new correspondence at my private terminal putting me in contact with people in another system. The galaxy was at my fingertips. We could go anywhere.
And it wasn’t just the ship. It was the people too. There was always someone working in the shuttle bay, whether it was Cortez tuning up the Kodiak’s drive core or Vega tinkering with an assault rifle. In engineering Adams would be taking scans and readings while Donnelly made some crack about climbing through the ship’s ducts and how if EDI is the Normandy then… well you get the idea.
You could find Garrus in the forward battery and while he was forever calibrating the guns he never hesitated to extend an offer to meet me at the bar for a drink. Chakwas would wave through the plate glass windows as I passed by the medbay, the half-empty bottle of brandy a reminder of good times shared. Kaidan would be reading in the starboard observation or drafting reports in the crew quarters. He always had something to do but he would pause long enough to make some lame attempt at flirting, which would make us both laugh and then agree to meet later, in private, to work on his flirtation skills.
When sleep eluded me, as it often did in those last few months, I could make my way to the bridge and sit in silence as Joker worked his magic. Watching the best pilot in the Alliance fly the best ship in the fleet was something I never grew tired of and honestly Joker’s humor and taste in music kept me sane. He was the one that stuck with me through it all. I would go to hell and back for Jeff. He has already done the same for me.
We talked about the “good old days” and laughed when we realized our mad dash to find Saren and stop Sovereign has become those “good old days”. Days when we had fought the geth instead of allying with them, when we hadn’t known what Reapers were let alone how much sacrifice it would take to stop them. We relived our crazier missions through the old mission briefs and helmet vids and argued over my refusing to tell him who really was behind the wheel of the Mako. No matter the uniform he had always been my pilot and even though we both had regrets when it came to Cerberus our temporary allegiance hadn’t been without its benefits.
If you had asked me two years ago what I thought of having a Cerberus-built AI installed on the Normandy I would have told you that I wanted it gone. Now though, well I’d be lying if I said EDI was just another AI to me. She’s an integral part of my crew and she’s a good friend. Does that sound weird? Having an AI as a friend? It might have sounded weird to me once but not now.
Those are the things I love about the Normandy. That’s home to me.
Here the apartment is so quiet, so removed from the hustle and bustle of everything. Even the detention center was livelier. Sure I was under constant guard and contained to my room for the majority of the six months but there was always something happening. I’m not saying I’d rather be in lock up but at least there I could watch the shuttles come and go. I could listen to the people passing back and forth outside my door.
Here, when I’m alone, there’s nothing but the occasional creak of the building settling or the soft hum of rain on the window panes. The sounds are soothing but they’re not the sounds of home.
I lean back with a sigh and realize by the look on my therapist’s face that I’ve said too much. I’ve given her insight into my personal life that I had tried to keep hidden before. She’s entranced by the Normandy, by my description of this famous ship, but she’s not dumb. She’s learned a lot about the woman sitting in front of her from what I said and some things I didn’t.
I could have tried to stifle my response, to not let all my feelings out in a rush but I don’t think I would have been successful. I miss the Normandy. I miss her crew.
Note: I hope no one feels like I’m copying them with this. I know there are several of my fellow Tumblrs doing similar ME-related, journal, first person POV writings and I don’t ever want them to think I’m riding on their coat tails.
**Timeline notes - The timeline in this chapter has the events of Mass Effect occuring in 2183. The defeat of the Reapers happening in 2187. Almost a year has passed since then as recoveries from major injuries don’t happen overnight. I know it might not be perfect, but that’s what I’m going off of. :)