"Do I really need to do this?"
Leanna sat on one side of her corner couch with Kelly on the other, facing her.
"Dr. Chakwas suggested you might have some issues to work out, and as the medical officer on this ship she does have the authority to relieve you of command."
"Ok, but why are you the one doing it? Aren't we a little too… close for this?"
"Leanna," Kelly said calmly. "I'm the only one on this ship with a degree in psychology. I'm also a professional. Any relationship we may or may not have had will not affect my evaluation of you."
"I'll stop feeding your fish. Is that what you want, dead fish?"
Leanna pouted. She loved her fish, but could never remember to feed them herself. If Kelly stopped feeding them, they would die.
"Alright, you win. I'll do it."
Kelly smiled. "Well then, why don't we start at the beginning?"
My parents died in a fire. I was two, maybe three years old when it happened. It's the earliest memory I have.
I remember the fire, the smoke. I screamed out for my parents. I tried to find them, but before I made it to their door a fireman scooped me up.
I kept trying to tell him to go back, that my parents were behind that door. He wouldn't stop though. He kept running until he got me out of the building.
He got me to a fire truck, one of those old fashioned kind with the wheels and everything, and he set me down on the rear bumper. I screamed at him. I told him to go back and get my parents. He said he'd try, but as soon as he said it, the building started to collapse.
I cried. I cried for what felt like forever. Even as young as I was, I knew my parents weren't ever coming back.
So there I was, three years old and an orphan. I had no living family members so that made me a "ward of the state" as they called it. That meant they threw me in whatever hospital my parents' leftover money could afford, and that wasn't much. See my dad had sunk all their savings into colony expansion, and the First Contact War had just begun. Any money they might've had went up in smoke with their apartment.
So they stuck me in this Catholic orphanage, St. Helen's I think it was called, and just forgot about me.
Looking back, I guess it wasn't so bad. I ate three times a day. I got a decent education. Still, it wasn't enough. I wanted a connection, a family. Sure everyone there was nice and all, but it didn't feel like home to me.
I guess that's why I joined up with the Reds when I was 14. They made it seem like a family. I felt closer to them then I'd ever felt to anyone back at the orphanage.
On my 16th birthday, they made me a full member. I dropped out of school and left the orphanage. Some of the nuns tried to stop me, but I didn't listen. Some days I wished I had.
The next year and a half was tough. I never stayed in one place because no one really let me. Some days I could stay in the hideout, other days I stayed with various guys in the gang, often for "favors" as they called them.
So next thing I know, I'm 17 and it's December. I remember because it'd just started to snow. I'd barely eaten in a week and no one in the Reds was helping me out. I spotted this woman walking down the street with her purse in an easily snatchable position. I gathered what strength I had left, snuck up behind her and grabbed the purse. I took off as fast as I could, but after two and a half blocks, I was tackled from behind and knocked out cold.
I woke up in a jail cell. Turned out the girl whose purse I'd grabbed was an Alliance Marine on leave. She was the one who'd tackled me. She came in the cell to talk to me.
She asked me my story, why I'd done what I had. I told her as much as I could. She said she knew I was telling the truth. She also said that, since I was almost 18, if she pressed charges, I'd be tried as an adult; that meant serious jail time.
She offered me a deal: get my GED and enlist in the Alliance, and she wouldn't press charges. I leapt at the offer.
She kept in touch with me while I was in basic training, sent me messages with advice, words of encouragement and such. She even visited a few times. She came to see me at graduation. She recommended me for the N7 program. She was my mentor, my friend, my…
Anyway, once I finished the N7 training, I found out exactly where I'd be working. She'd put in a request for me to be in her squad, as her Lt. I learned a lot from her. Until… until she…
"It's alright Shepard. You don't have to continue. You've already told me once before."
"I know," she looked up at Kelly. "It just hurts to remember."
"Focus on the good times," Kelly hugged Leanna, "I'm sure she wouldn't have wanted you to hurt when you think about her."
After a minute, Shepard pulled out of the hug. "Thank you Kelly. Really, it was good to get it out."
Kelly smiled gently, "That's what I'm here for."