This was originally meant to be a one shot but it grew in the telling. Should be four-five chapters long, it's mostly written with a few sections to be fleshed out.
Thanks to my betas Rhi, Twiggy and Lindsey.
The first day of spring brought a shadow into Molly Hooper's lab at St Bart's hospital. Or rather, a man who looked an awful lot like a shadow.
He was already inside when she stumbled in with a cup of canteen dishwater (or tea, as they optimistically described it), ready to set up for the morning. All she could see was his back, his arms crossed behind him as he stared out of the window. Broad shouldered, swathed in black leather, precisely cut black hair, and a rigid posture. Beyond that, there was the trace of an unusual scent, one she'd never noticed in the lab before. Like a blast of Arctic air, fresh and cold and faintly herbal.
Chances were he was from Starfleet. Their archive wasn't far away and most of their medical assessments were performed here, rather than keeping a medical office of their own in the city. Daft buggers were always wandering in and assuming this had to be the right room because the lab was about the only place on this floor as well equipped as a Starfleet office. "Excuse me?" she asked tentatively. "Are you lost? This is Pathology. Doctor Cureton's office is down the hall—lot's of people get confused, it's—"
The shadow turned and the words died in her throat.
It was definitely a man, one who radiated an intense energy. He was perhaps a foot taller than her, and even below the layers he wore she could see the tight bands of muscle lining his body, that broad back mirrored in his chest. His face was set in a stern expression, hair swept back from a high forehead, cold eyes under a furrowed brow assessing the room. Assessing her.
His face was quite strange. Not bad strange. In fact, it was almost beautiful. High cheekbones, full lips and wide eyes with an unusual slant to them. His skin was so pale she could see the veins beneath, and against the black of his clothing it almost glowed. He looked like he hadn't seen sunlight in years, and perhaps a few extra pints of blood wouldn't go amiss, though he radiated strength. And those eyes…the only spark of colour on him, glittering with intelligence and at this moment watching her so intently it was like being pinned down by a spotlight.
She watched his nostrils flare and his head tip, just a fraction of an inch, as if he were considering something, but he didn't say a word. For the first time he unclasped his hands and let them rest at his side, though he kept them both clenched into fists, the leather gloves they were encased in faintly creaking.
One of them needed to do something, to cut through the tension. She cleared her throat. "If you tell me what you were trying to find, I can point you in the right direction." She was fairly sure her smile was more a nervous baring of teeth than anything approaching reassuring competence, but she did the best she could.
Finally, he spoke. "I assure you I am in the right place." His voice was…well, it was obscene. There was no other way to describe it, or at least no other way Molly's libido wanted to describe it at that moment. It operated on a frequency so low, it seemed to slip through her clothes and down her skin and she was quite certain it would feel delicious to be wrapped up in that voice.
But she digressed.
"Authorised persons only in the lab, I'm afraid."
"I have authority," he responded. "Miss…?"
"Doctor, of course. My apologies, it was wrong of me to assume. You're very young to have qualified." He seemed genuinely contrite—almost flustered.
"Don't worry about it," she said, smiling again to put him at ease. "I get that all the time. How can I help?"
"I've been sent to your facility as you have specialist equipment I need for a project my team are working on. The molecular retroactivator?"
"Oh. Of course!" She paused and then asked sheepishly, "Do you have all the paperwork?"
He nodded and retrieved documents from the inside of his coat, handing it over to her. The proximity brought another wave of that scent with it, definitely emanating from him, though strong as it was it didn't irritate her nose and throat like an overdose of aftershave usually did. Mint and something else, something softer and muskier up close. She kept her gaze on the papers and skimmed through them. All signed—by a Starfleet admiral, no less.
"Well, Commander Harrison," she said, using the name on the forms, "the equipment's over here. I'll just run through how to use it…"
From then on, for a few weeks, Harrison was a regular fixture in the lab. He seemed to be the only member of his team in London, because no one else ever showed up, and he put in long hours to get his work done, even if he only appeared when the lab was empty of everyone but her. Sometimes he would ask for her assistance, especially when the equipment appeared to be malfunctioning. She'd used it all long enough to know its idiosyncrasies. He didn't speak much, though sometimes she was sure she could feel his eyes on her when he back was turned. Wishful thinking, most likely. He was preoccupied with his work.
On the sixth morning, she found a copy of Histopathology Journal next to his preferred microscope, open to one of her papers.
"Yes, that was particularly interesting, the way you observed the blood poisoning." His voice came from directly over her shoulder, a low rasp in her ear. She stifled a shriek and turned to face him, her cheeks burning. He was right there, inches from her, having crept up silently while her back was turned.
"I didn't realise you'd read anything of mine."
He offered a graceful shrug. "I'm an avid reader of the science journals. I came across a paper and was intrigued enough to search out more—some I'd already read though didn't make the connection until I found them again. Your work is exemplary, Doctor Hooper."
He hadn't blinked once while he was speaking and she was pretty sure her cheeks were on fire. "You can call me Molly, it's fine. Doctor Hooper was my mother. And my father."
"But you've earned the title—youngest forensic pathologist in a century, specialist registrar before the age of thirty, and am I to understand your main work is in the mortuary? A neglected area of speciality nowadays."
"People think it's weird. Creepy, even, but I'm fine with corpses. They don't mind my jokes. Besides, you can learn so much about life from the dead. Most of my papers started because of observations I made during autopsies."
"A strong stomach and an enquiring mind," he said, and his friendly demeanour shifted into the intensity he'd displayed on that first morning. "You're an intriguing woman, Molly." Her name was a whisper and a promise. He appeared to be about to say more—at least, she assumed speech was how he intended to use his lips as he wetted them—but a beep across the lab pulled his attention away. He straightened, the indifferent mask returning as he strode over to check his comms device. Then he left without another word.
The mask remained in place every day that he returned, but now she knew they had a common area of interest it was hard not to try to rebuild that momentary connection again. She'd mention a paper she'd read on the way into work, and he'd give the briefest possible answers. "Yes, I read it," or "That bored me." His ongoing disinterest—or rather, his deliberate, uncanny focus on his work—should have hushed her, mortification stilling her tongue, but it didn't. Instead, she found herself prattling on, anything to fill the tense silence. She offered up interesting tidbits from the latest autopsy, since he'd shown an interest in that (however briefly) and explained how various experiments had left their mark in the lab.
And yet, for all his apparent disinterest, she could still feel the weight of his stare whenever she wasn't facing him. It should have made her uneasy. It should have made her insist on someone else being in the lab with them. But she'd look a fool if it was her imagination, and he didn't make her feel the slightest bit afraid.
She hadn't been able to figure out what he was working on and hadn't tried too hard to, since it all seemed to be classified. Not surprising when it came to Starfleet. It did seem to be research comprised of two radically different parts, and she knew enough about the old cryogenic techniques to recognise some of the chemicals involved.
"They think this stuff can be used as an embalming fluid," she said as she helped him decant out some anti-necrotics. "I read a paper about how it can preserve tissue without being as chemically harsh as some of the common ones they use. Silly, really. Once you're dead, you're dead. Now the market's fallen out of cryogenics they're trying to find a new way of flogging it. Mind you, they were trying to revamp new interest in cryogenics too, but after that incident with that poor old lady…"
"Incident?" He only seemed vaguely interesting in what she was saying.
"Can't remember her name now, I was only a little girl when it happened. Some medication she'd been taking interfered with the drugs they used to put her to sleep. She had a rare cancer and wanted to be suspended before it killed her, then woken up if they ever found a cure for it. Unfortunately she metabolised the tranquilisers more quickly than they were being replaced, and woke up locked in the cryochamber. They only found this out when the monitoring equipment showed she'd suffered a heart attack in there from the shock. Her family kicked up a right stink about it and that was that. Nobody wanted to use preemptive suspension anymore."
"Ah yes, that incident." But his interest was still elsewhere—no longer on his work, but somewhere in the middle distance.
"Well, you wouldn't catch me dead in a cryochamber." She chuckled at her own joke, then winced at how bad it was. He blinked at her, and she stumbled over her words to apologise. "I'm sorry—that was a stupid joke—people always tell me not to—I mean, my sense of humour is—"
He interrupted her by laughing…no, tipping his head back and roaring. She watched him, dumbfounded, until he'd got himself under control.
"It wasn't that funny," she said, defensively, fidgeting through the creeping realisation that he was probably laughing at her rather than with her.
"I thought it was." The look he gave her was almost fond, a complete U-turn from his attitude of the last few weeks. "I don't have much cause to laugh in my life, Doctor Hooper. Thank you."
When he left the lab that night, it was the last time she saw him. The next day the news was full of the explosion at the Starfleet archive. Actually, the air in London was full of bits of the archive, and she was ushered away from St Bart's while the authorities combed the city for clues and any other devices. Then his face was all over the news.
Molly never did find out what had happened. She did the right thing and reported his lab access to her superiors, but the paperwork he'd provided seemed legitimate even under scrutiny, so she wasn't in any trouble. Guards were posted at the hospital just in case and she was grilled on exactly what his work had entailed—it turned out, building the explosive that had levelled the archive, but how was a pathologist supposed to know that? She never could figure out how the anti-necrotics fitted in. The admiral turned out to have been part of the plot too, in some nebulous way that was never explained. Then, some days later, it was announced Harrison had been captured in San Francisco and the alert was removed. There were vague murmurings of a trial, but impending war with the Klingons took priority in people's minds.
Sometimes Molly remembered the way he'd looked at her the first time he'd turned around, and how attentive he'd been about her work. She'd be halfway through a daydream where he wasn't interrupted by his comms device after he'd whispered her name so softly, and remember who she was imagining was bending her over the lab table.
"Oh Molly, you silly girl," she muttered to herself. "He was only keeping you distracted."
She wasn't sure what woke her that night. Certainly no sound she was aware of; her flat seemed utterly still in the darkness, though the scent of lavender after rain chased her into consciousness. Just an odd dream, one where that deep voice had been wrapped around her—strange to think of him, it'd been months…
In the corner of the room, one shadow loomed amongst the others, and it peeled away to move towards the bed. Before she had the chance to scream a hand was over her mouth.
"Sssssh," he urged. That same voice, intimately soft in the darkness, but no less chilling for it. "There is no need to scream, Doctor Hooper. No need and no point." A chink of moonlight glinted off the phaser in his other hand and she whimpered, nodding. She wasn't sure why she was nodding, what she was agreeing to, but he seemed to know, guiding her up and out of the bed. "Dress," he instructed, indicating a pile of clothes on the chair. "Quickly, or I'll dress you myself."
She hurried to the chair, fumbling with the cloth as he maintained a pretence of politeness with his back turned. Sensing when she stilled, he turned, moving so quickly she couldn't follow it with her eyes in the darkness. He was behind her, one hand over her mouth and one around her body, arms pinned to her sides. She had no idea where the phaser had gone, but it didn't matter. This close, she could feel the strength in him. He didn't need weapons to overpower her.
"I'm sure you have questions," he murmured into her hair. "I'll do my best to answer them. For now, we're going on a journey. Have you ever been into space, Doctor Hooper?"
She shook her head, her lips brushing against his fingers with the movement. For some reason she'd always imagined him as being cold, but now she was surrounded by heat. She felt him exhale, the breath warm against her hair and skin, bringing goosebumps in its wake, and the arm around her tightened just a little more, pressing her flush against him. That cold scent, with its undercurrent of soft musk, flooded her nose.
When he spoke again, his voice had gained a rasp. "Then tonight will be quite the adventure for you."
He took a step forward, manoeuvring her body so she had no choice but to walk ahead of him. They moved through the flat in silence, her front door already propped open so he didn't have to release his hold on her. Once in the corridor, he headed to the left and the stairs upwards. She was on the top floor of the building, and there was nothing further up but the roof.
Now was the best time to mention she was afraid of heights, but she doubted it would matter to him.
The stairs led to a terrace, ostensibly available to use as a garden area, which no one in the building did. She felt the chill of the air as soon as they stepped out into the night, though it was about the only thing she was feeling, the numbness of lost sleep not quite chased away by adrenaline yet. The terrace appeared empty, but she felt him reach into his coat and retrieve a small device. He aimed it in front of them and the air shimmered, a cloak dropping away to reveal a small jumpship. The doors slid open and he guided her in, strapping her in place before he slipped into the the pilot's seat. Moments later, they were in the air, watching London drop away below.
The journey didn't last long, not that Molly saw much. She kept her eyes shut and counted sheep in her head, ignoring the hum of the engine and trying to get back to sleep. This was a waking dream, that was all. She'd dreamt about him, thought she'd woken up but hadn't, and was still safely tucked up in her flat. He was locked away somewhere and she'd never see him again, and that was a good thing.
It wasn't to be. When the engine cut out and she peeled her eyes open, it wasn't to a view of her bedroom ceiling, but to the artificial lighting and grey walls of a shuttle bay.
"Welcome to the SS Botany Bay," Harrison said beside her. "Rescued from imminent deconstruction in a Starfleet scrapyard." His words betrayed a fondness for the ship, which was the opposite of how Molly felt. She didn't want to go into space—she'd had the opportunity to join Starfleet at medical school and decided she preferred terra firma. She stayed put as he unbuckled himself and exited the jumpship.
"Where are we?" she asked.
"On the edge of the solar system, cloaked and quite well hidden from Starfleet. Not that they're looking for us. As far as they're concerned, this ship has been destroyed."
Not the answer she'd hoped for.
He opened the door on her side and held out a hand for her, his expression very clearly indicating she either needed to comply or he'd be carrying her. She clambered out to save herself the indignity.
He led her out of the shuttle bay and down a corridor to an elevator, the interior of the ship eerily quiet beyond mechanical humming.
"Where is everybody?" she whispered as the electronic display beside her indicated they were climbing up through the ship.
"We are everybody."
His words made her falter, as he swept out of the lift and left her scurrying in his wake to keep up, down another silent corridor. Already Molly was beginning to feel penned in by the strip lighting and endless plastic. They stopped in front of a door which only opened when he passed a palm over the biometric scanner. Inside, she found a gleaming lab. She gaped around at all the equipment. Not all of it was new, but there was so much of it. Stuff the budget at St Bart's could never stretch to.
"I've spent some time ensuring we have what we need," he said, ushering her inside. "Your sleeping quarters are through there." He indicated another door.
"I—I don't understand. Why am I here?"
"You're here because I need your help."
"I won't help you," she said quietly. And she meant it. Now the adrenaline had caught up so it was the only thing fuelling her, so she tiptoed a fine line between exhilaration and exhaustion, so fine she could feel the tremor in her hands. She was afraid of this man and she knew what he could do to her without breaking a sweat, but none of that mattered. She'd seen the chaos he'd wreaked: on London, on San Francisco, on innocent people. If she had to draw line in the sand, this was it.
"You already have, Molly. I am here, after all, instead of locked in the cryochamber Starfleet think I'm in. Thank you for the invaluable information, by the way. I was able to find the chemicals I needed to ensure I woke of my own accord."
It took her a moment for her to remember that conversation, months prior, where they'd discussed the woman who'd woken up from cryosleep. "You took cancer medication? But the things that woman must have been taking were toxic—they'd do you more damage without the cancer to target than—"
"My body can handle it." He seemed utterly unconcerned, and for the first time Molly realised she might be dealing with a psychopath.
"Listen, John…" She'd never called him by his first name before, but if she tried to appear friendly, if she appealed a little to his humanity, there might be a way out of this for her.
"My name is not John," he cut her off, with no little amount of venom. "That identity was created for me by the traitor Marcus. My name is Khan Noonien Singh."
She paused to process that before speaking again, wondering if more than psychopathy was at play here. "Well, Khan," she said softly, "you really ought to know that some of the cancer medications they were using twenty years ago did absolutely horrible things to the human body, especially if you were dosing yourself for a long time. The kidney damage alone could kill you."
"Unlikely. I'm an augment."
"I was genetically engineered, gifted from birth. Enhanced strength, enhanced intelligence, enhanced healing. Superhuman, if you prefer, and I was not alone. We ruled the world until we didn't, and then they locked us away to sleep. Frozen, for three hundred years."
She didn't have a response for that. Mainly she was trying to maintain her grip on the desk so it wasn't so obvious her knees were about to give way.
It took an immense amount of effort to keep speaking, more than she thought she'd be able to dredge up. "Then why do you need me?"
"I need your mind, Doctor Hooper. I need it here, in this laboratory, to rescue my crew." He nodded to a notebook lying on the worktop, full of scribbled notes. "Your work will not cause harm to anyone on Earth but your abstinence…" His level stare made it clear how ruthless he could be, and how little sleep he would lose over it. "I do not wish for Starfleet to know I am awake, but people die all the time and their deaths go unsolved. Would the oaths you took when you became a doctor allow you to condone that?"
The sound she made was somewhere between a hiss and a sigh. "I can't believe I was ever fooled by you." She blinked back tears and stared down at the notebook, aware of how still Harrison…Khan…had gone in her peripheral vision. She flicked through the equations and calculations, frowning at the notes. "That still doesn't explain why me. This—you need a biochemist. Not a pathologist."
"Your experience is more than adequate. And I admit those may not be the only needs in play."
Her tears vanished, chased away by a white hot spike of fear. "I will help you. I'll comply with whatever you want—you don't need to do anything to—"
He slammed his hand down on the desk, nostrils flaring, and she cringed away, almost knocking over a stool as she moved. At her movement he pressed his lips together so hard they turned white, mirroring the knuckles on his hands where he pressed them against the wood. He took a deep breath and continued in a low voice, his words careful and measured. "I'm sorry. Your words upset me and your fear is pungent—it makes it harder to control my own emotions. I think rest would be beneficial and we can continue this conversation tomorrow."
With his hands still balled into fists, he bolted from the lab, and before she could react the door had shut behind him, trapping her inside.
She didn't want to sleep, had no intention of it, but neither did she want to stay in this room. Instead she ventured into the suite he'd indicated before, spartan lodgings that were at odds with the chintzy mess of her flat. More plastic and hollow lighting, and no windows. Not that she wanted to look out into the vastness of space. No, what she wanted was the London skyline, but for now she'd have to make do with curling up in the bunk, respite for her shaking limbs. When the adrenaline eventually faded, so did she.
A/N: I know, I know, not much alpha/omega stuff yet. Hints at best. That's because sometimes I think that dynamic can be a bit dubcon, where you have two people meeting with the hormones flying around, especially when one is a villain like Khan. He's not on the side of angels but Molly is, so I felt like I needed to explore how they would be attracted to each other and compatible beyond biological imperative*. Only the backstory kind of...exploded.
Apologies if I got any Trek canon wrong, it's not my area of expertise and I will endeavour to fix any problems pointed out to me.
*Not shaming anyone for writing and/or reading those stories where they do meet and bang immediately. I've read and enjoyed them, but apparently my brain refuses to cooperate when it comes to writing them.