Title: Day After the Wrath

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: Season 3

Spoilers: Day of Judgement, Day of Wrath; teeny tiny one for Exit Strategies

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

Summary: Episode tag for DOJ-DOW. Rommie POV

A/N: My first episode tag. Hopefully I'll be doing more if this goes over well. Rommie's reaction at Gabriel's first death gave me the inspiration for how she reacts in this story so remember, she's not *that* out of character ;-)

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"You're the air that I breathe."

"Literally." Rommie warmly reiterated the word spoken by her counterpart days ago. She felt buoyed by her captain's faith that she was "back to normal". Not that she had doubts about the Persied's ability to cleanse her system of any remnants of the Balance of Judgement's programming. She had seen their reports and had watched over the entire process; they were extremely thorough. No, her apprehension had come as a result of her *own* programming. She had been concerned about her captain's reaction to how easily she had been overtaken by the rogue AI. It was a liability not present in her organic counterparts. They could not be so swiftly trapped in their own mind, forced to commit unspeakable acts and callously harm the ones they loved.

Rommie mentally shook herself to derail the route her thoughts were taking. Dylan forgave her, knew she did everything in her power to stop the Balance. He didn't blame her, he accepted her, vulnerabilities and all.

Rommie was grateful that Dylan either didn't notice or ignored her sudden attempts to maintain her composure. They chatted pleasantly for another few minutes, mostly about mundane things such as the next week's duty roster and how long it would be before the ship would be back in dry dock.

Eventually the well of idle banter ran dry and Rommie politely excused herself. Not having anywhere specific to be she found herself wandering the corridors. To a casual observer, it would have appeared as though the android were searching for something, inspecting every inch of the ship in her quest.

After completing two circuits of--herself, Rommie stopped. In front of her was a door like almost any other on this level. She found herself wondering why she was here, in the crew quarters, in front of this particular door. Before she had a chance to find the answer the door slid open and a bundle of energy smacked right into her. Had she been human, the force would have knocked her to the floor. Instead, the unknown subject of her unrecognized search bounced off her metal body, windmilling his arms comically to keep his balance. He failed and plopped onto his posterior with a muffled huff and an audible click of teeth.

Wide eyes gazed up at the android and for a fraction of a second she thought she saw fear in them. Her artificial heart sank and she knew why she was here.

"Rommie?" Harper said as he rose to his feet, wincing and rubbing his tail bone. "Whatcha doin'?"

The android regarded her engineer for a moment. Gone was any trace of fear, he gazed at her with open curiosity. "I was coming to see you." She said bluntly. It was the truth, even if she hadn't recognized it until now.

"Oh yeah?" Harper's face lit up in a cocky grin that threatened to become a full fledged smirk. "Ya just can't resist the ol' Harper magnetic charm, can ya? Draws 'em back for more every time."

Rommie opened her mouth, fully prepared to launch into yet another lecture on military etiquette and rules of personal interaction when she caught the twinkle in Harper's eye. She felt herself relax and enjoy the harmless teasing. A smile touched her own mouth and reflected in her eyes. "Yes Harper, you are irresistible."

Rommie watched with amusement as Harper's jaw dropped open and his eyes widened in amazement. It didn't last long though, his countenance quickly turned to one of exaggerated concern. "Are you ok, Rommie?" He placed his warm hand on her cool forehead and in a horrible accent cried, "Zhou muzt be running zhe fever, lucky for zhou, zhe docta izh in!"

Rommie laughed at his antics, amazed at how much she had taken him for granted as of late. Her laughter tapered off as it occurred to her how close she had come to loosing him to the 'Balance'. How it had almost been her own hands that had sealed his fate.

Harper noticed the change in her demeanor immediately. He closed the distance between them and laid a comforting hand on her bare arm. Genuine concern laced his words, "Hey, doll, *are* you ok?"

For a moment reality shifted and she was trapped in her body once again, helpless to stop the monster inside her from threatening her engineer. Terror at her own helplessness froze her momentarily. Then just as quickly, the vision was gone and Harper was staring at her, waiting patiently for an answer. "I thought I was." she whispered.

She realized she was trembling, the vibrations moving from her body to the hand still on her arm. Harper's concerned expression turned to worry as he led her into his quarters. "I think you ought to sit down for a minute." He steered her to his desk/workbench and sat her on the lone chair.

Kneeling by her side he gazed expectantly at her. "What can I do Rommie? Do you need something fixed? Are you low on energy? Name it darlin' and I'll do it."

Rommie stared at him dazedly. "I know, Harper, I know you would do anything for me, that's what scares me."

"Huh?" Harper's eyes scrunched up trying to comprehend the android's words. "Rommie, you aren't scared of anything."

Rommie chuckled mirthlessly, "Oh, yes I am. I scared of going insane, I'm scared of loosing my crew, I'm scared of being taken over by murderous AI's and I'm scared of..." Her voice trailed off, her feelings too raw to be put into words. She lowered her head, ashamed of the spectacle she was making of herself.

"What Rommie?" Harper placed his fingers on her chin and gently raised her head until she was looking at him. "What is scaring you right now?"

"I'm scared of the fear I saw in your eyes. I'm horrified that it was me that put it there. I betrayed you, I hurt you, I...I..." Tears welled in her eyes and tracked unimpeded down her face.

"Oh, god, Rommie no! You didn't do any of that! I know you weren't in control, well, not at first, at first I thought you took a swan dive off the deep end. But as soon as I looked into your eyes, I knew it something was wrong, I knew you, the *real* you, could never hurt me."

"But what if I couldn't get through to the 'Balance'? What if I had killed you? What if..."

"BUT," Harper interjected, interrupting her hypothetical diatribe, "You didn't. You put your own life on the line and convinced a psycho to let me go. You were willing to sacrifice yourself to save me. You protected me over and over again, just like you've always done because I'm your friend and you're mine. That's what we do, we fix each other, remember?"

Rommie nodded, feeling every bit the lost little girl she must have seemed at the moment. Who would have thought that she, a powerful warship, would need reassurance from a scrawny, annoying, brilliant, endearing, precious mudfoot.

Harper brushed her cheek with the back of his hand, wiping away her tears. "I meant what I said Rommie, I do love you. You are one of the dearest things in my life and I would do anything for you, even accept the fact that you don't feel the same way."

Rommie watched as Harper's sad eyes reflected his words. Her breath hitched as she let out a strangled sigh. There was nothing she could say that would ever take away that particular sadness. She loved him back but it wasn't the kind of love he craved and to mention anything would merely increase his torture. Instead she gave him a slight smile and dried her eyes on the handkerchief he pulled from his tool belt.

Harper studied her for another minute before he determined that she was going to be alright. He nodded, eyes locked with hers, silently communicating his understanding of her feelings. Abruptly he yawned and stood stretching, "As long as I've got you in my quarters, care to join me in a some wanton reproduction?"

Rommie rolled her eyes and snorted, "Harper..."

The look he gave her was the picture of innocence. "What? I just meant we should try and *reproduce* that conditions that the 'Balance' used to gain control of you so we can prevent it from happening again." Harper's eyes sparkled, "Jeez Rommie, get your mind out of the gutter!"

Rommie eyed her engineer skeptically before allowing herself to laugh. Harper grinned and held out his arm invitingly, "Shall we my dear?" Rommie linked her arm through his and the two friends set off down the corridor to their favorite machine shop.

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THE END