…Is it OK for me to call you that, too? I always meant to ask and never found the time. I’m asking now, I guess. I’ll just do it until you correct me.
I’m here now, back with the Alliance in London, I think now. They’ve moved me around so many times, I’m not exactly sure. You’d probably know where I am better than I do. No one’s told me anything and I doubt they would if I asked, so I haven’t even tried.
As soon as they took me off that shuttle, the dog and pony show started up. They tried keeping my arrival quiet, from what I could tell, everyone acting very skull and daggery about everything, but at time like this, they would have had an easier time challenging a hanar to an arm wrestling match. Press from every news outlet was swarming the supposedly private landing pad, their drones buzzed around our heads lip crop dusters trying to get a glimpse of me. Me. I didn’t get this much coverage after I got back from Torfan. The man I was ten years ago would have killed to be so infamous (literally). Too bad all this wasn’t for anything I did. Not by choice, anyway.
I don’t have to tell you that. You were there. If I’d known it was going to turn out like this, I’d have turned down Hackett’s mission in the first place. I know I wanted to get back in good standing with these people if only to make them listen to me, but I get the feeling none of this is going to matter.
I’ve got a guard on me or a bodyguard. I can’t tell who he’s supposed to be protecting, but even I wouldn’t want to mess with him if I didn’t have to. He’s pretty damn big, like he needs to lay off the steroid or start up the cardio. Maybe both. I mean, I could take him; I probably wouldn’t look too pretty afterwards.
I’m genuinely surprised people would be so upset about a bunch of dead batarians. Of course, there’s the part where they’re still tying me to Cerberus, which is going to follow me for the rest of my life.
Enough bitching about that. How are you feeling? Have I mentioned I miss you? Sharing a bed with you has spoiled me forever. I hate sleeping alone now. The bed’s too damn cold.
It’s selfish of me, but I wish you were here. There’s barely enough space for me in this shoebox they’ve got me staying in, but I seem to remember you like things cozy. Getting those two sleeping bags on our trip was such a waste of time. You were in mine for the whole trip. Though, those nights could get a little chilly as I recall, but we didn’t have trouble finding ways to keep warm.
I told myself I’d make this brief and keep it clean and it’s on the verge of no longer being either. I just wanted to let you know I was thinking of you. Always am.
Russ/Your siha (that looks so weird when I write it. I’ll leave that to you)
I’m starting to think they take some kind of sick pleasure in my suffering around here.
The trial for what happened to Bahak was a farce. They had all that evidence: the helmet cam footage; Kenson’s own crazy words; the research data; all of it backed up my testimony. We spent a month going over it and today, the last day, they decided to throw everything out and say we have bigger concerns. Other than being a giant waste, I was ready to say fine as long as it was over. But if that’s the case, then why am I still here?
I’m a military prisoner, based on what grounds? It’s hard to be considered AWOL and defecting to a terrorist faction when you’re fucking DWOD. It’s not even like I wanted to work with Cerberus. As soon as I was able I tried talking to anyone who would listen and we both know how that turned out, but you know all this. I don’t have to explain it to you. I just wish someone would listen.
They could hold me hostage anywhere else just as well as they do it here. My guard gorilla could even come along. Right now I’d take anything that would give me half a chance to see you. You could shimmy through some hidden vent to get in and out of the place without being seen, though you strike me as too dignified to do that. But if you say you did, I believe you. You’re probably the one person I don’t think would ever lie to me.
I should have gone with my plan to become a pirate. The only reason I didn’t was…was that I wasn’t sure if you’d come with me or not. That, and it would be hard to keep an eye on your condition if we were a pair of wanted men. The only solution would be to kidnap Mordin and I’m not so sure I could handle him. How about you?
I say this every letter and you’re probably sick of hearing it, but I miss you like crazy. I hope you’re well. I haven’t gotten anything from you yet and I’m starting to worry.
Write me back whenever you can, even if it’s just a few lines. Let me know you’re doing alright.
Are you getting this?
They haven’t been letting my message through. I can’t fucking believe this. I’ve been talking to myself this whole time? They’re sitting in my outbox. I can see them They just won’t send!
I checked my spam folder. For every letter I tried to send, there’s a kickback saying that port’s blocked on the network and that I need to speak to the admin. I’ll fucking talk to the admit. Even prisoners in real jail can send mail. I expected some Alliance rat to read or censor them, but for them to be blocked outright? I’m not taking this shit. Anderson and Hackett lied to my goddamn face. They really are trying to sweep me under the rug.
(Handwritten on lined paper, well creased, with frayed edges)
Solitary confinement. I’d say I deserve it for the ruckus, but it was equal to the shit they pulled on me. I don’t see anyone, they aren’t allowed to talk to me. Anderson, too, not that I want to see his fucking face right now. Yup, I’m still mad.
The guy they’ve got guarding me isn’t so bad. They took my terminal and he hooked me up with this paper, all without talking to me somehow. I’ve got a few weeks to kill, so I figure I’d write you some more and just give you everything when I see you.
Man, I made such a mess. Breaking shit, yelling. It was like I was in the Reds again, ruining some unfortunate asshole’s good time. Behavior unbecoming of an officer is what Hackett said when he found out, but honestly, I don’t give a damn. Good thing I was disavowed a long time ago, huh?
I couldn’t care less what anyone in this thinks of me, but if it gets me out of here sooner, I’ll play ball.
In those last few weeks, Shepard lived as if half dead. He spoke when spoken to, without opinion or passion. He ate his meals without complaint. Vega, his bodyguard, gave him looks from time to time that spoke of his skepticism regarding Shepard’s sudden reform, but he never questioned Russell to his face.
It took some doing to achieve this state. It was like he was a passenger in his own body, his mind partially cut off from his disagreeable surroundings. His own form of battlesleep, though his current situation could hardly be considered a battle when compared to what happened next.
Spending the rest of his sentence quietly and robotically complacent until the higher ups decided he was no longer useful would have suited Shepard just fine.
It was only natural that it came to a screeching halt in a way that was the complete opposite of all that.
There was nothing like a rain of fire, bricks, and glass to wake him up. Everything was back to his brand of normal in seconds. He needed to be on his feet--move move move! Hustle hustle hustle!--with no time to think. His actions were reflexive until he was bent over catching his breath in the Normandy’s drop bay, leaving Earth behind.
He was free. Everything still came down to him for some unfathomable reason, but he could do things his own way and in his own time. He’d go to the Citadel like Anderson wanted, like he had to, but his duties to the galaxy came second. He had letters to deliver and tracking down the only person who might be able to help him came first.