Title: His Hands

Author: Mercury's Winter mercurys_winter@yahoo.com

Archive: Yes, ask first please.

Disclaimer: This is all in fun, no money is coming my way, Andromeda and it's characters belong to Tribune Entertainment.

Rating: PG

Setting/Season: Any Season

Spoilers: None

Comments/Feedback: Yes PLEASE! It's the only reason I write LOL Love it? Hate it? Let me hear about it!

Summary: No summary, it would ruin the story ;) *COMPLETE*

A/N: If you don't like angst, turn back now!

Still here? Cool, this piece is a little dark, hopefully it's not hard to follow. :-/



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Hands.

His hands. Hands that hurt, hands that helped. How long had he been staring at the lumps of flesh and bone, nerves and blood vessels that lay useless in his lap? His mind skittered away from thoughts of time, the concept no longer held meaning for him. His entire universe had constricted until it was filled with only this moment, this breath, this heartbeat. Nothing had come before and nothing would come after. He felt as though he were adrift, nothing for those hands to touch, nothing to anchor him from floating away forever.

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"You can't be back here Miss." The technician jumped into the path of the woman bulldozing her way down the hall.

"Stay out of my way." The woman growled as she swept past the tech.

"No one is allowed past the admissions desk. Hey!" He yelled at her swiftly retreating back. He jogged to catch up with her. "The patients in this wing are not to be disturbed!"

The woman ignored him, her pace never slackening as she reached a junction. She followed the hall to the right and disappeared out of sight. The technician, unsure what to do, reached for the nearest panic button that would immediately alert security to an intruder. He lifted the protective glass and stabbed his finger at the button, nothing happened. No sirens, no running footsteps, no panic from the panic button.

The tech glanced around wildly for anyone to help him. Seeing no one he set off in the direction the woman had taken, determined to stop her himself.

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He peered at his hands with a degree of clinical detachment. They were small, he knew they were unusually small. How he knew this didn't matter, he didn't care anymore. Apathy had him in its iron-clad grasp and would not surrender its hard-won prize. His hands slowly became blurred as his eyes lost their focus, the muscles exhausted from such prolonged scrutiny. Images briefly surfaced from the depths of his subconscious and obscured his vision, replacing the template of his hands with ghostly faces he no longer recognized. Feelings for these wraiths squirmed through his insides, love, admiration, respect, fear, pain, grief, all threatening to burst from him, tearing his soul to shreds as easily as they would rip his body asunder. He reached desperately for his Apathy, wielding it like a mighty hammer he crushed the invading emotions before they could destroy him.

There was no movement from the man as the internal battle was fought and won. No indication of how the war still raged even after the enemy had been defeated. Not a twitch, not a blink, nothing moved while his weary mind panted with exertion. Slowly his eyes focused again. They were still there, his hands. They were his constant, his sanity, they would keep the monsters at bay and help him win the war once and for all. His vision constricted again until there was no longer anything in xistence.

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The technician eventually caught up with the woman. She had stopped in the middle of the hall and stood staring at one of the many identical doors that lined each corridor in the extensive laboratory. She either hadn't noticed him approach or was ignoring his presence. He paused while his insides twisted with fear at the thought of confronting this woman who had apparently been able to single-handedly neutralize all of their security. Uncertainty gave way to righteous indignation at her effrontery and gave him the strength to face the trespasser. He closed the distance between them and grabbed her elbow, forcing her to turn and face him.

"You'll have to come with me." His voice didn't waiver as he feared it would. "I cannot allow you to interrupt our research."

The woman snapped out of whatever thoughts had been occupying her mind and shot the man an icy glare. She appeared to size him up briefly before wrenching her arm from his grasp. Before he could react, she had his right hand up between his shoulder blades and his face pinned to the adjacent wall. "What have you done with him?" She hissed, her lips inches from his ear.

Fear wouldn't begin to describe what the technician was feeling at that moment. His blood ran cold, his insides churned and he suddenly had to concentrate on the workings of his bowel. The woman increased the pressure on his arm and calmly spoke once more, "Answer me or I will tear your arm off."

"Wh-who?" The technician stuttered as he tried to mentally jump start his heart which had apparently forgotten how to beat properly.

"The man in that room." The woman punctuated each word by slamming his body into the unyielding cement wall.

The technician heard whimpering and shamefully realized the sound was coming from him. "Who? X-253? We haven't done anything to him! He was in a catatonic state when we, ah, acquired him from the Mandau Pride, we've been trying to help him."

The pressure forcing him to become one with the wall eased slightly and the woman's voice took on a confused tone. "What?" She rasped.

Words tumbled form the tech's mouth as he struggled to appease the insane woman. "This is a mental health lab, we experiment, ah, that is, we study beings who have been traumatized. When the Mandaux told X-253 that his ship was destroyed, he completely shut down. Not being any use as a slave in that condition, he was sold to our lab. He has not responded to any of our treatments, not even our more, ah, invasive procedures have worked. He is scheduled to be euthanized tomorrow."

"You unimaginable bastard." The woman's body literally vibrated with barely contained rage. "His ship wasn't destroyed, *I* am his ship and *I* am taking *MY* engineer out of this nightmare." She brought her lips to touch his ear and she whispered, "and his name is Harper." The words chased themselves through his mind in the seconds before a blinding pain flared at the base of his skull and he slid to the floor unconscious.

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Without meaning to, he strayed from the safety of detached nothingness. He saw past the only things he had ever noticed about his hands before, that they were small and useless. Fine white lines took shape, some thin and straight, some stout and jagged. Had they always been there? No, couldn't be, there was nothing before. A stinging sense of dread stabbed his heart, freezing it in between beats. More lines appeared, snaking their way across the hills and valleys of his safe haven.

Panic mounted its valiant steed and pranced through his mind cleaving a path of destruction. His vision doubled and then trebled as his soul once again clung to its hammer. Swinging with every ounce of strength, he smashed his hammer down upon his hands, determined to return them to their rightful state and himself to the blessed void.

To his horror, it was not the offending vision that shattered but his hammer, his Apathy, his saviour splintered in a blinding flash of light. He closed his eyes against its brilliance, attempting to once again hide from what it revealed. His weapon gone, the war lost, he stumbled through the light until he could go no farther. He crumbled to the ground and gave in. He opened his eyes.

And saw his hands. His real hands, not the ones his mind used to keep itself safe. These hands were covered with lines, white and pink and tan. Scars of the life he had lived before he went into the void. The true hands that could not save his friends, that could not fix them no matter what miracles he proclaimed they could accomplish.

His hands blurred again, this time from the tears that were filling his eyes and tracking unimpeded down his cheeks. He blinked furiously to clear his vision. He had to see his hands, had to see his failure written in them in the scars he would carry forever.

When he could see clearly again, he saw his hands but they were not alone. They were cocooned in two equally small, but unblemished ones. His breath caught in his throat and his heart fluttered like a bird in a gilded cage. He studied these new hands, unsure of their meaning. He flinched as though he had been struck when one of them moved; its thumb softly stroking one of the lines on his wrist. He watched it fearfully, unsure of its intent.

Moments stretched into an eternity as the strange hand continued its ministrations. Shock began to wear off and the sensations the movement caused began to register with the man. He slowly became aware of other senses. He could hear soft murmurings, kind and gentle like the ocean on a calm day. He could smell harsh antiseptic and fear which nearly caused him to shut himself away again. He took a deep shuddering breath, underneath the fear, far below the medicine, he could smell something familiar, the soft perfume of family, of love and security. He could feel breath on his cheek that stirred the fine hairs of his lashes. The sensation waxed and waned with the gentle voice.

Calmed by the new sensations, he returned his attention back to the hands that were now entwined with his own. Cautiously, he studied the tips of the delicate fingers and followed them to the _mocha colored hands. From there he let his gaze travel up bare arms to shoulders covered with a leather vest. The voice, still gentle, became insistent as the man hesitated. Finally gathering the shattered pieces of his courage, he tilted his eyes to the face before him. His heart stopped its fluttering, felt as though it stopped all together. He breathed one word before his chest constricted and the tears fell in earnest, ushering in great sobs of relief, pain, grief, love and loss. "Rommie?"

The android watched as the man before her dissolved into her arms, his body racked with sobs. She rocked him gently, still speaking softly and reassuringly. Her own tears falling quietly from her cheeks, to mingle with his on hands that were still clasped. "I'm here Seamus. I'm here. I've come to take you home." She tightened her grip and promised that she would never again let go of his hands.

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THE END