ME3: Return Home

I finished my 3rd playthrough of Mass Effect 3, and loved the Tali romance so much that I really had to write a fan-fic. I wanted to see them reunited, so I made it happen. First shot at any sort of romance so cut me some slack. There are two more chapters to come. One from Tali's end, and the final from Shepard again.


3. Reunion


Earth was already recovering. There was no way to clear the larger rubble and most of the buildings were beyond hope, but there were noticeable improvements. It had taken Shepard over a month to recover to  the point where he could move without any debilitating pain. As stubborn and determined as he was, he had been up and at it halfway through week three. His injuries  forced him to take it extremely slow, but Shepard was never one to stay down for long. Shepard was in Corporal Howard's office on a call with the Western Hemisphere  recovery team when an Alliance marine burst into the room. With a tinge of frustration, Howard asked him, "What is so damned important, son, that you couldn't knock?"  Catching his breath the marine coughed out, "The Normandy, sir. She's here."   "What?" Shepard and Howard answered in unison, jumping from their seats. a little more loudly than intended, Shepard asked him, "Where? When?" Startled by the  reaction, the marine stammered for a second before responding. "In orbit. Just now." Howard jumped in, "Details, boy," as they started out the door toward the  shuttles. As they walked, the marine filled them in. "Well, just about 30 minutes ago we got a really fuzzy transmission. We spent some time cleaning it up, and sure  enough it was her." "They said they were on their way in, but unable to land. Apparently, their mass effect fields are pretty beat." This was the moment Shepard  had been waiting for for so long. Anxiously he asked, "Have you heard anything else yet?" The marine shook his head, and genuinely apologetic said, "Sorry, sir. We  haven't been able to get a direct message to her. All we know is that she is requesting a shuttle, engineers, and supplies to make necessary repairs."  Howard turned to Shepard and smiled. "We can do better than that, Commander. You're going to be on that shuttle" Shepard grasped his hand and just said, "Thank you." "Your crew will be glad to see you," Howard said, "Now get out of here." Without another word Shepard turned and took off toward the shuttle port.   Shepard sat motionless as the shuttle approached home. He had anticipated this but had never really thought about what it would be like, and now as the moment drew near, he found he couldn't He just sat in silence as the shuttle slid up next to the Normandy.  The last shakes of the shuttle faded as soon as it docked. Shepard stood, took a deep breath, and grabbed two cases for the engineers. One thought ran across his mind  as the doors hissed open. "Here I am. I made it." The doors locked into place and Shepard took a quiet step forward. Everyone was standing there, but made no moves.   His features were roughened and masked with injuries, making it difficult to recognize him. He took a few steps forward and noticed  from movement from Garrus. He looked into his face and Garrus' eyes lit up. Before Shepard had a chance to react, the Turian had taken the cases from his hands and  embraced him. The rest of the crew stood, confused. Why would Garrus be so attached to this stranger? As Garrus backed away and held Shepard's shoulders the rest of  the crew slowly saw it too. "Holy Shit, Commander!" Joker spoke first. A smile grew on Shepard's face. "It's me." Everyone rushed forward to see the commander again,  and he greeted each one of them with another embrace. Before long he became restless, and once he had seen everyone he glanced around. His smile diminished. He turned  to Garrus and and began to ask, but was stopped before he could get the words out. "She's in Observation. Go."    Shepard crossed the threshold into the observation deck. Tali, hearing the door slide open, didn't move. He took another step into the room and his eyes fell on her  slight figure. Her tender frame was huddled together, legs curled inward and arms wrapped around them. She seemed so small and feeble. It was heartbreaking to see her  like this, but nothing had ever been so beautiful. Shepard coughed gently and she lifted her head to see who was there. Seeing his shape filling the room, she slowly rose to her  feet. Still partly asleep, her head hung as she shuffled toward him. As she reached him, she touched his chest, and quietly asked, "Why did you leave me?"    "I would never leave you." Shepard answered. "I never will"   Solemnly she asked again. "Then why aren't you here with..." Shepard interrupted her with a hand on her face. As she sighed and leaned into his hand, it slowly slid  down to her chin, and he softly pulled it upward. Tilting her eyes towards his, "Tali, I'm here, now." Looking into his face she saw his eyes, strong but exhausted, and  realized it was the real Shepard in the flesh before her. "Shepard!" She finally fumbled out, in overjoyed disbelief. "Kee'lah, your alive!" Her knees became weak and  Shepard's arm found their way around her as they both sank to the floor. Tali wrapped her arms around his solid back and pressed her body to his. They were together again. They were both  home. 
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