A/N: This is my second prompt attempt and the second of two fanfics I've got online right now. I had thought one was enough, but this one grabbed my brain and won't let go, so here we are. This isn't so overtly twisted and fucked-up as Amor Delirus, but it's definitely not sunshine and roses. Please let me know what you think. Special thanks to my awesome beta, faebee. :)
Where do I take this pain of mine
I run but it stays right by my side
So tear me open and pour me out
There's things inside that scream and shout
And the pain still hates me
So hold me until it sleeps
Even through her steady, subdued weeping, George's last words hovered in Winona's ears. She wished she was in shock --wished for dull numbness to take her, even if only for a little while, but thought and awareness remained steadfastly--horribly--sharp. There was nothing she could say, nothing she could do but try to focus on Jim, this little warm bundle of brand-new life beside her. Her son, one of her only living reminders of George. His elder brother was safe at home, and oh God, how was she to tell him of this? He was only two; would he even understand that his father would never come home? He at least might keep a few memories of George, but Jim would never know his father, would have no real knowledge of how kind and wonderful and brave George was. And that thought was enough to make her want nothing more than to curl up, sleep, and never wake.
Some of that longing must have telegraphed to her doctor, who appeared at her bedside with a silver hypospray. "I'm going to give you a mild sedative," she said. "The baby will be fine if you sleep for a while."
All Winona could do was nod, too tired and too grief-stricken to refuse, or to understand why she might want to refuse. And when the hypo touched her neck she drifted into darkness, blessed darkness without memory or pain.
Incredibly, unbelievably, the collision with that inferior little vessel had actually managed to damage the Narada.
Hell, it had done more than damage--Nero didn't know it, and Ayel wasn't about to tell him--but the Kelvin's impact had literally crippled the Narada. It had, through some wild stroke of ill-luck, knocked out the warp drive entirely. It was a minor miracle the thing hadn't breached and taken the entire ship out, but Nero didn't need to know that, either. There were a great many things Nero didn't need to know, and hadn't been told since Romulus had burned. Ayel was loyal to his captain without question, but he also feared him--this Nero was no longer the man he had known, the mining captain he'd served under for nearly a decade. This Nero was an unknown entity, vacillating between screaming rage and a thoughtful, silent calm that was almost worse. When he was in such a mood there was no knowing what he might think or do, and neither Ayel nor the rest of the crew were about to ask.
He sat now in his command chair, staring at nothing, his eyes almost vacant. The body of the slain Starfleet captain still lay at his feet, red blood already going rusty and sticky on the metal deck plates. It splattered Nero's hands, too, strange dots and crazed lines that seemed almost like a tattoo, and dripped thickly over the blades and handle of the T'eraln. Ayel didn't dare ask for orders--in this mood he wasn't at all certain his captain wouldn't turn around and use it on him.
Finally, abruptly, Nero spoke. "Take out those shuttles," he said, standing. "As many as you can reach."
"Weapons system is offline, sir." That was Onen, the navigator. "We can fire, but there's no guidance."
He glared at her, dark eyes gone murderous, and Ayel froze when his grip tightened on the weapon. Onen was their only navigator; without her, they'd be helpless even if they did get the warp drive back online.
That realization must have penetrated even Nero's half-mad rage, for he turned away. "Capture them, then," he said irritably. "We still have tractor beams, don't we?"
"We do," Onen assured. "I'll pull in whatever's in range." She too seemed relieved when her captain left, her eyes meeting Ayel's for a brief moment. There was almost no way this would end well; whatever crew they caught would surely be slaughtered. And that…Ayel didn't know what to think about that. These people weren't Vulcans; they were merely humans who'd had the great misfortune of running smack into the Narada and her infuriated captain. Ayel and the rest of them were not soldiers; until quite recently none of them had killed another person in their lives. Some of them still hadn't--not everyone had fought the Klingons who'd tried and failed to take over the ship. Only Nero had outright murdered, when he'd killed the entire Senate that fled before Romulus was consumed. The rest of them…Ayel didn't know how they would take this. He still didn't know how he would, and he almost hoped Onen wouldn't manage to capture many of them after all.
Nero's mood was not improved when he saw the internal damage along his route to the cargo bay. That damned little ship had shaken about his vessel far more than it rightly should have, especially given all the much-vaunted technology that had been given to them by D'Spal. The fact that much of the actual structure was already repairing itself was beside the point.
His crew scrambled out of his way, nobody wanting to catch his eye while he had the T'eraln in his hand. Fortunately for everybody he ignored them; the only blood left in his wake was the sticky, tacky red of Captain Robau. Unfortunately, that would probably not remain the case once he'd found the shuttles. Somebody was going to pay for this.
The Narada's hold, like the rest of the ship, was massive. This was one of several docking bays, where once upon a time shuttles full of ore had buzzed to and fro. Their payload was long gone, replaced by stores of weapons and dark boxes stacked from deck plates to the shadowy ceiling far above. The light in here was dim, asmost of the power was being conserved for the main areas of the ship, throwing strange, twisted shadows over everything.
He was immensely disappointed by their haul--only three shuttles. The tractor beam too must be in sorry shape, he thought grimly--how had such an insignificant ship done so much damage? The warp core had to have ignited, or it couldn't possibly have wound up this bad.
And yet, he thought, as several of his crew hammered at the shuttle doors, he couldn't help but admire that young man who had been willing to sacrifice his life to use his ship as a battering-ram. It was an act that was almost… Romulan, and coming from a human was also quite surprising. The few humans Nero had known he'd known quite briefly, and he would not have credited them with such suicidal bravery. And, grief-stricken and half-mad though he was, he had to respect that.
He had less patience for the Starfleet personnel who tried to rush his crew, phasers flaring. What they thought they'd accomplish, he didn't know, and he didn't stop his crew when they fired back with lethal shots, rather than stuns. None of these people were upper officers--none of them were worth his time, and he ignored them as he approached the third, the one that remained sealed tight. By its markings it was a medical shuttle, which meant it was probably of little interest, too, and he watched idly while his people sawed patiently away with welding torches.
The door fell apart with a dull clang, landing hard on the decking, but no phaser fire issued from the craft. Instead a woman in white, a woman with short dark hair and the biggest eyes Nero had ever seen, emerged with her hands raised.
"We are a medical craft," she said steadily. "We mean you no harm." He could tell she was trying hard to block out the chaos beyond, the flashes and screams. The Narada crewmen looked at him, uncertain if they should fire on an unarmed woman, and still didn't shoot when Nero pushed impatiently past her.
There were several more medical personnel inside--nurses, technicians, trying to form a barrier around the single hospital bed. With even greater impatience he raised his weapon--
--only to be halted cold by the fitful, piercing wail of an discontented newborn.
He froze. This was not a sound that belonged on a ship--one he had certainly never expected to hear on this ship, not now, not after the end, after Mandana had burned with Romulus. It was loud, and it was irritated, clearly unhappy at being banged around so in its first moments of life.
He lowered his weapon, shoving a nurse out of the way, and stopped again. It was a baby, a baby not yet an hour old, beside its unconscious mother--a human woman, short and slight and golden-haired, like Mandana. Her hair had been so unusual for a Romulan, for his dark-haired race--he had wondered if their child would inherit it. He would never know, now.
One blood-sticky finger reached out to touch the child's smooth forehead, and almost amazingly it opened its eyes--incredibly blue eyes, the bluest he had ever seen. It stopped squalling, too, though that might not be a good sign. Nero didn't know enough about babies to know.
For what seemed a long time he stared down at it, until he turned swiftly away and found the dark-haired woman still immobile, facing his uncertain crew.
"You," he said, "you're a doctor, aren't you?"
She nodded, wordlessly.
"Take her to medical," he said. "The woman and baby, too. Kill the others."
Nero didn't really have any idea why he'd spared any of them. Keeping a human woman and a baby--a godsdamn baby--on the Narada was not a good idea, but it seemed like one at the time. Something in him wasn't yet distorted enough to murder a child, and for such a young child it was necessary to spare the mother as well; a Romulan sickbay certainly wasn't equipped to deal with a human newborn, even if any of his own medical staff had known how.
And…Mandana was still too fresh in his mind to allow him to kill a mother, any mother. Though he'd almost certainly deprived this child of its father, he could not kill it, too. Fate had robbed him of his son, his wife; he would not give it these two as well. Especially not when this woman looked so disturbingly like his wife in human form--no, he could not hurt her. Not now and, he suspected, not ever. Which would undoubtedly cause problems, but time enough for that later.
He at least washed his hands before he visited sickbay, ridding them of Robau's blood. His own personnel must have assisted the human doctor in getting her patients settled, for both mother and child were asleep in one of the beds when he entered.
The Narada's sickbay at lest looked more like that of a regular ship, without the exposed piping and various cobbled-together computer systems. It was of a decent size, too, since mining accidents had the potential to be devastating--a large, clean place, brightly lit, smelling faintly of antiseptic.
"Do you have everything you need from the shuttle?" he asked, without preamble, and the doctor nodded again. She was hovering very close beside her charges, a guardian who could do no more than be there. Yes, she was afraid, but far more so for the woman and the baby than for herself--interesting. Another human who seemed quite free of cowardice, though those huge eyes did serve to make her look perpetually startled. Perhaps she was not really human, or not wholly.
"I'm not going to hurt them," he said, shoving her out of his way, though rather more gently than he would have with anyone else--this doctor needed to stay alive, and in one piece. And strangely--how very strangely--he really did mean it. What in all seven hells he was to do with them, he didn't yet know, but he couldn't hurt them. "The child--is it a boy or a girl?" It was sleeping soundly, small red face scrunched up, the only part of it visible in a bundle of white blanket.
"A boy," the doctor said, speaking for the first time. Her voice was low, somehow soothing--probably helped with her profession, really. "She named him Jim." Not a woman of many words, this doctor.
"And her name?"
"Winona." No, not many words at all. She hesitated, and then, "What are you going to do with them?"
Them, he noticed. Not us, but them. Still far more concerned for her patients than herself. She upped his impression of humanity a little.
"I don't know yet," he said, reaching out but not quite touching a curl of Winona's sweat-damp golden hair. "You needn't worry. I won't hurt them. That's why you're here."
He felt her dark eyes on him--cautious, a little disbelieving. She hesitated again, but was ultimately unable to avoid asking, "Why not?" Curiosity--humans were famous for it for a reason.
Now Nero did let his finger touch Winona's hair, her temple, trailing along the ridge of her brow. She was so deeply unconscious she didn't so much as stir. "Because the universe owes me," he said softly. "See to it that they are both well. My medical staff will give you anything you need."
The doctor's discomfort was palpable; clearly she feared something quite different now. Disgusted, Nero turned on her, barely remembering to grab the collar of her shirt instead of her throat. He yanked her forward until her forehead was level with his nose.
"Don't even think it," he said, more softly still. "When I said I wouldn't hurt her, I meant it."
She twitched--startled, terrified--and staggered when he released her. "I want to know when she wakes," he said, and then he was gone, out the door to prowl the labyrinthine walkways of his ship. What did that damn bitch take him for? Did she really think he was some sort of rapist?
Well, you did just kill most of her crewmates.
So what? Killing was…killing. It happened, especially around Romulans. That, however, would not. An increasingly large part of him wanted very much to keep Winona, but not as…as…some sort of slave, some kind of prisoner. She wasn't Mandana, she would never be Mandana, any more than baby Jim would be his dead child, but…all accounts balanced somewhere. He would not be forever deprived of a family, and while he was sane enough still to know Winona would be far from amenable to the idea at first, surely she would grow used to it in time. Humans, like Romulans, were adaptable creatures; sooner or later this insanity would work. He really did believe it, too.
Poor Winona will not be happy when she wakes up. Standby for creepy Nero interaction.