A/N: Harper one shot. This story could fit pretty much anywhere in the Andromeda timeline. Hope you enjoy. Thanks.
Abruptly, Harper sat up, violently waking from his fitful sleep. The terrified scream that that was attempting to tear its way through his throat, died before it had a chance to spring from his lips. It left him as a harsh gasp that failed to convey the terror behind it.
Hands shaking, breath coming in erratic rasps, he hastily scrubbed at his face and scalp. Rancid fear clinging to his soul and body in a sheen of sweat. Heart daring to pound out of his chest, palms pressed against his eyes, he tried to block out the petrifying images, smells and tastes of his past life.
It didn't work.
He tried, desperately, to squash the sobs that threatened to overtake him. Grabbing his pillow and squashing it to his chest, he wrapped his arms around it, burying his face in the familiar smelling sheet, inhaling the good memories associated with it.
Still, the visions crashed through him, danced underneath his eyelids, swelling the intense panic and debilitating horror that wrenched him from his sleep. He felt broken, smashed into a million parts and each miniscule piece was kinetic, trying to escape his gravity, his fear.
Turning in his bunk, he lay on his stomach, hastily grabbing the sheet and pulling it up to his neck, pillow clasped around his head. He laid stock still, eyes wide, willing himself to calm.
He imagined the comforting vibrations of the Maru transferring from her hull, running along the metal walls, sweeping through his bunk and caressing his skin. Closing his eyes, he permitted the sensations to enter his body, and pacify his errant molecules. He imagined the warm feeling of his home filling the empty spaces, flooding through him and finally embracing his soul.
Cheek pressed against the smooth sheet, he took a deep shaky breath and blew it out loudly. Again, he concentrated on the feel of his home, using his senses in the present to override the vivid past. He focused on the oxygen filling his lungs as he took another placating breath, the feel of the sheets slipping over his bare skin, the sound of the engines, the taste of the clean air. He tried to let the familiar environment rock him back to sleep like a lullaby.
Slowly his body relaxed.
But his mind continued to race. Afraid to return to the cesspool that was Earth, and the experiences that awaited him there, he sat back up. Pulling on a shirt, he leapt onto the deck plate, his bare feet making no sound.
Padding to the galley, he yawned, intent of finding a Sparky and staying caffeinated enough to stay awake through the night. He'd give sleep another try the next day. His flannel pajama pants whispered as he walked causing the only sound in the otherwise tranquil ship.
He quickly found a Sparky and sat on one of the galley stools. The pop and fizzle of the aluminum tab snapping open sounded like thunder as it echoed throughout the Maru.
Within moments, he heard the telltale grumbling of his boss, a thud, a curse and finally, the uneven footsteps of Beka heading toward him. She appeared from the captain's quarters, hair tangled, half dressed and half asleep.
Without a word, she ambled toward him, sat on the adjacent stool and placed a warm hand on the back of his neck as he hunched over the fizzing container of his favored drink.
That one gesture did more for him than any amount of deep breathing could ever do. The warmth of her touch quickly spread, easing the cold lump of terror that had been present with him since the moment his dreams had turned into the personal hell of his memories.
Elbow propped on the table, head lying in her hand, Beka yawned loudly, not covering her mouth due to laziness and the hesitance of breaking the physical contact with her friend.
"Nightmare?" she asked softly, her voice rough from sleep.
He only nodded, afraid his voice would waver or the dam of tears would break.
Again, no words, just a quick shake of the head was all he offered.
She moved her hand from his neck to his shoulder and gave him a comforting squeeze.
"Coffee," she announced, while standing and heading toward the cabinets. Minutes later, she sat back down beside him, a steaming cup in front of her and one in front of him for when he finished his Sparky.
They sat together in companionable silence for several hours, Beka offering what she could in friendship and cups of coffee, allowing Harper to face his inner demons on his own terms but with her unwavering support.
It was their ritual.
It had been for years.
Finally, he turned to her, his blue eyes clear, his expression peaceful, his spirit revived.
She reached out and ruffled his spiky blonde hair, a small smile in return. Without a word, she hopped off the stool and walked back to her quarters for some needed rest.
Harper, feeling whole again, went back to his bunk, not fearing the torment that came to him in his sleep, knowing that whatever awaited him there was no match for the person down the hall.
Hope you enjoyed it.
Please let me know what you think.