Disclaimer: Standard stuff. I don't own 'em, and couldn't afford the medical bills, let alone the spare ship parts, if I did.
Notes: This started out as a single scene, just to see if I could write the POV of someone going through a really nasty flashback. It's something that happens all the time in fanfic, and the whole concept just makes me shudder. The idea of re-experiencing -- reliving-- something that bad…. Truth was, I didn't know if I could get into a character's mind that way, so I wrote this as an experiment. Then, darnit, Beka had to go and start talking and it sorta started growing.
This is a WIP, and I have a really bad track record-- just so you know.
Also: this is set pre- Magog world-ship. So let's say…mid-first season. Slight spoilers for 'Harper 2.0'.
This is my first Andromeda fic, as well as my first fic on FF. Any feedback (good, bad, or indifferent) is more than welcome. Please…? ::flutters eyelashes::
The laser-welder slipped.
Harper stood staring stupidly at his mangled hand, watching the blood flow. A vague thought—how stupid can you be? -- had time to flitter across his mind, then the agony hit.
Pain. Fire. Black and red and raw and massive.
He was vaguely aware of a strangled cry that made it past his seemingly otherwise frozen system. He dropped the welder and grabbed at his burnt and sliced hand. Tried to breathe against the darkness blooming behind his eyes. Tried, with marginal success, to bite back the scream coming from his throat.
And his thoughts were all flame and chaos and—
--pain. fire and acid andstinkofsmokeandvomitandpainpainpain , oh it hurts, please, please no more, hurts --
Vaguely he heard the door slide open. "Harper? What is wrong?"
Pain. Burning. Like acid in his hand. Ah, fuck, it hurts…His knees gave out, and he pitched back into the wall. Slid down until he was sitting.
"Harper, I heard your cry two halls down. What has happened?"
Eyes squeezed shut, ears filled with his own desperate keening, Harper didn't hear the concerned tone; didn't see the worried eyes. He only smelled the heavy musk of an alien pelt. Smelled the trace of acid and paralytic poison, sour on the too hot breath that was suddenly *much * too close…
"No…" A low gasp. A prayer. A moan of loss and defiance. Trying, trying desperately to fight back the mental images that threatened to carry him away…
"Harper! You're bleeding!"
No shit.He had time to think, then a three digit hand snatched at him. Scaly palm, long claws, yellowed with age and use. nonononono DON'T TOUCH ME!
He struck out, twisting the hand with his good one and lashing out with a foot, catching the monster in the thigh. Satisfaction when it cried out, part yelp, part growl.
"Don't. touch. me." He hissed. He pulled himself into a ball, cradling his hand, rocking slightly.
"Harper, I only wish to help…"
Harper pulled in tighter, unaware that he was growling instead of keening now. Stay away stay away…
The figure backed off, hands held up in a soothing way. "All right, Harper. I won't come near you anymore." It moved to the wall and hit the comm. port with one thick claw.
"Rev Bem to bridge. Beka, we have a problem. Harper is hurt, and he won't let me get near him. He needs you down here."
Harper felt his eyes try to close. Snapped them open. Beka was here. Beka was coming. She was safe. One of the few he truly trusted. When she got here she'd blast this mother-fucker into quark particles. He'd be safe then. He could rest then.
He heard the beast move and watched him as he stepped further away, toward the door. Harper relaxed slightly, watching with clouded, dazed eyes.
Hurry. Beka, please. 'cos I hurt and I'm so so tired, and I can't sleep not with the beast standing right there even though I know it's Rev Bem but he *smells* like them Bek, and all I can smell is blood and pain and is there acid on my hand 'cos I think there is and I *hurt* and I don't want to get lost like this so please please come and get me Beka please don't leave me here 'cos I'm *not* good, I'm *not*…
His body rocked in rhythm to his frantic thoughts, his breath coming in rough gasps.
He wasn't aware that his eyes had closed until the sound of the door opening caused them to snap open. Three shapes came through, not hesitating at the sight of the beast. One of them had arm spurs.
He whimpered soundlessly as they joined the beast.
"Over there, Beka. Hurry. There is too much blood, I think." Rough voice. The beast.
A shape passed the alien without a second glance and moved toward him.
"Ah, hell. I think he's hit an artery." Soft voice, familiar and safe.
He could barely see past the pain and the odd dimness in his eyes.
Who? Beast? Enemy? No…
"Harper?" She hesitated as he growled in uncertainty. "Rev, What…? Oh God, he's flashing?" She spoke to the others and he found himself growing relived as he placed the voice. Beka.
The shadowy form moved in closer and he flinched. Beka. He forced himself to remember. Beka. Not the beast. Not the enemy. Not.
"Harper? C'mon, Seamus, it's okay. You're okay. Work with me here."
He slowly forced his eyes to see what was actually there. Blue. Bright and concerned. Beka. Beka's eyes. Beka's voice. Beka. Beka meant now. Beka meant safety. Beka meant sanity. …
"Beka?" he whispered hoarsely.
"Yeah, Seamus. You back with us?" Her tone was edgy, frightened. For me? he wondered confusedly. For the first time she reached out for him, one hand stroking his shoulder and arm, the other reaching down… "Seamus?" The concern was back. He realized that he hadn't answered her.
"I'm here. I'm good." He pulled in a shuddering breath and tried to straighten up, but his body was shaking too hard. "I'm good. I'm okay—" he gulped in air, shaking harder, not sure if he was trying to convince Beka or himself, unaware that the words had run together in a panicked, breathy chant. "I'm okay, I'm okay, I'm good—"
"Harper!" Beka broke in, before he could get lost again. "You're bleeding. That's not good, kiddo." He looked down and saw her hand pinching his wrist, slowing the blood flow. She had his blood on her hands and shirt. He weakly tugged against her grip.
"Bek—" he swallowed against a dry throat and tried again. "Beka, you're gonna ruin your clothes."
She grinned at him. "Better'en ruining my resident engineer." She stood up slowly, drawing him up with her.
"Your res—resident genius." He corrected, watching his hand bleed, but not feeling it. It could have been attached to someone else's body. Other then it was shaking just as hard as he was. Why was he shaking?
"Genius? I think you're deeper in shock then I thought." She looked away, talking to someone outside his field of vision. "No, Rev. You'd better hand that to… yeah. Dylan, it should be okay for you to come up now…. No, Tyr! Just go tell Trance to get med…"
He lost track of the words. It was too hard to focus on them. Instead he just listened to the tone—commanding and worried, and frightened and holding it back. He looked away from their clasped hands and brought his good hand up to her cheek. And why the hell was it shaking so badly? He'd never get the damned coolant pipe fixed if he couldn't keep his hands steady…
She looked up at his touch. Eyes all for him.
"Don't worry 'bout me, Boss, it's just a flesh wound."
She blinked. Then laughed, eyes suddenly bright with memory. "You know, it's never a good thing when you say that, Harper." Her eyes fell back to their hands, and Harper saw that she was holding his wrist so tightly he could see her knuckles had gone white under the blood, which was still flowing pretty freely despite her pressure.
Something soft and warm was draped over his shoulders. Instinctively he pulled it closer with his good hand. When he fumbled another set of hands caught the blanket and settled it more firmly around him. He blinked owlishly at Dylan. "Hey, bossman. I think it's gonna be awhile 'til I get that feed-line installed."
Hunt didn't smile. He simply nodded and said, "It's not a problem, Mister Harper. Don't worry about it right now. Now we need to get you to medical. Can you walk?"
What? Walk? And go where? Didn't he have a coolant pipe to mend? Why did Beka and Dylan want him to go for a walk? And why the hell was it so cold in here? His teeth started to chatter as Beka and Dylan got him moving. Maybe the thermal regulators were out. Used to happen all the time on the Maru. Maybe that's what Beka and Dylan wanted him to fix. Sorry, but he couldn't do it right now. It was too cold, and he was way too tired… and hadn't he been bleeding?
They had made it to the hall, Beka encouraging him from his front and Dylan at his back, when he glanced down to see if he was still bleeding.
He was. Profusely. All over a good blanket. "Ah, shit. No. Beka, it's g-gonna be ruined."
She took one look at the problem, then shushed him, still guiding him down the hall, still barring down on his wrist. "Shh, Harper. It's fine. No problem. Don't worry about it, okay?"
"What's he think is going to get ruined?" Dylan's voice, spoken over his head.
Beka grimaced. He saw it. "The blanket." She answered over his shoulder. "He's upset because he's bleeding all over it."
"He's upset because he's getting blood on a blanket?" Dylan's asked, obviously confused.
"Blankets are hard to come by in most of the places he's lived," Beka said, impatiently. "Drop it."
Dylan nodded, and kept his mouth shut.
"What?" Beka asked, glancing up from their joined hands to smile at him.
"Th-think you scared him, Boss."
She grinned. "Do ya?"
"Ye-yeah." He shuddered. "That tone could send, send Tyr running."
"Well then, maybe I should practice it."
"No n-need," he said, "You practice it enough on me. Man, it's cold in here."
Dylan squeezed his shoulders. "It's not cold, Harper. You're going into shock."
"Oh." Shock? Whatever. He shuddered again, and this time his vision went gray. "I'll fix the heat next, bossman."
He sensed another one of *those* glances pass over his head.
"That's fine, Harper. No rush."
"Good. 'Cos I'm not feelin' so hot." He stumbled as his legs gave out, and blackness rushed in. "Sorry." He managed to whisper as Dylan caught him before he could fall. He doubted that they heard him over Dylan's shout for Tyr, though.
Hands grabbed for him, and as he passed out, his last thought was that Beka would be pissed that he hadn't made it to med-deck first.
The boy on the bed lay very still.
He was so pale that he appeared gray against the copper colored sheets. Except for the PIV lines inserted just under his collarbone, and the deep, even breathing, he could have been a corpse.
Beka ran a hand, still stained with dried blood, over her face, and sat up straighter in her chair next to Harper's bed.
It had been so damned close this time. It had been a good thing that when he finally gave in and fainted from blood loss, he had been in the hall just outside med-deck; because, by that point, he had barely enough blood in him to keep his brain functioning.
His stitched hand lay at his side, swathed in medical foam to keep it stable for now. Trance's rough sewing had done a good job of closing the severed artery and stopping the bleeding. But there was little that she could do to mend the tendons, bones, and burned flesh. Dylan had all ready made arrangements to meet with a surgeon at Verga. The man had been sent the scans Trace had done of the wound, and had assured them that he could repair the damage -- for a not so modest fee, of course.
Trance had told her that Dylan hadn't even blinked at the amount. Hadn't hesitated. Just agreed and made the appointment for Harper.
It was a weird thought; one of her crew needed outside medical attention, and she wasn't scrambling to scrounge up enough ready cash to buy it. She wasn't plotting the route to Verga and attempting to find a last minute hauling job for cash. Wasn't contacting anyone and everyone involved in the black market to see if there was any jobs waiting for them when they arrived. Wasn't disparately haggling with the doctors, trying to find a balance between what her people needed and what she could afford to pay for. Wasn't struggling to keep her rag-tag crew alive until the Maru could get them there.
And it made her anxious, not knowing just how much the surgeon would cost, or what exactly Dylan had in mind to trade to get the money, or if they would be beholden to Hunt for providing him.
Or if Harper would come out of the other side whole, and with a working hand.
She closed her eyes and leaned back in her chair, trying to let the worry and fear go for now.
But it was hard. She'd never had the money to just… not fret about things like this, before. It had always been hand-to-mouth for her.
It was so different. So different from when she had just inherited the Maru. Back when it was early days and she was struggling to find a way to make an honest living, knowing *exactly* what the cost of a dishonest one was.
Harper would understand. He had been there, almost from the beginning. He knew what those first years on the Maru were like. Knew what it was to not have any room to maneuver; to be surviving from one job to the next, fighting with the competition for them-- sometimes literally.
Maybe it was just the whole situation that was making her think about those desperate days.
She had spent the morning playing trade host with the Perseid, trying to make a half-ton of three-hundred-year-old scrap circuits look like they were worth something. Smiling, conning. All the tricks of a scavengers trade. Then getting the call from Rev, and finding Harper stuck in a flashback. --He had had a lot of those when she first met him. They were less frequent now, and they seemed to be weaker. Or at least he broke out of them faster now.
Or maybe it was just sitting here, next to an unconscience Harper, her clothes stained with his blood, and worrying about finding a surgeon, that was making her nostalgic. Her own kind of flashback.
After all, wasn't this almost the same position she had been in when she decided to take the boy on?
Her first real crew member. Oh, there had been a few others in the months before she met Harper, but no one who had a long-term exclusive contract with her. Even Tev, although she had been with her awhile, had been a free agent. Harper had been the first to sign with the Maru; the first to sign with her. The first to take his chances with a rusty old ship, and a captain who was so new to the job that she still squeaked around the edges.
"Beka?" Dylan's voice. She hadn't realized he was in the room.
She turned and smiled at him. "Hey."
"How's he doing?" Dylan moved over to the bed.
She shrugged. "Okay, considering. Sleeping. I think Trance gave him enough sedative to down a pissed off Kless'o Lion."
Dylan smiled tightly, turning his attention to her. She watched him look her over.
"You should really go get cleaned up, Beka. He's going to be fine; you don't need to sit with him." Dylan spoke in the hushed tones everyone seemed to use around injured people.
"I know." She answered. "I just… don't want to leave right now."
Dylan sighed. "Trance could stay with him for awhile. Or Rev Bem."
Beka shook her head. "Trance is trying to rig an air flow system around that broken pipe. With a hammer, which Harper is just going to *love* when he's up and about. And I really don't think the Rev is a good choice right now."
Dylan nodded slowly, looking confused… hesitant.
She sighed tiredly. "What?"
He looked at Harper again. "What…what was that with Rev Bem? What happened to him?"
She rubbed at her dry eyes. "That was a flashback." She had been expecting this conversation, and had not been looking forward to it. "I know you have a general idea of what earth is like now. Well, Harper spent a lot of years there, and sometimes the things he's seen and done…they sort of overwhelm him and he gets…a little lost."
"Like those times just after the Perseid downloaded into him?"
"I thought the attacks were caused by his being…overloaded. Well, that and the files from Brandonburg Tor."
"It wasn't. At least, it wasn't *just* the files; although they didn't help." She sighed. "You know, it had nearly been a year since his last one before we saved that damned Perseid."
She couldn't help the guilt that welled up every time she thought of that whole mess. It had been her decisions straight down the line; she'd told Harper to bring the pod into the bay; she'd told him to open it—she'd even told Harper to get close enough to the Perseid to clean his head wound, for god's sake.
And Harper had paid for her act of charity. By getting his mind overloaded with information, and almost having that same information ripped away by a bounty hunter with interesting tastes in torture. Not to mention the horrific nightmares and viscous flashbacks. Oh yeah, it had been a real thrill ride for her engineer.
"Did it happen often? The flashbacks?"
The compassionate tone didn't fool her one bit, she knew what this was. This was a Captain looking for weaknesses in his crew. Looking for flaws; rooting out things that could put the ship in danger.
She recognized it because she had done it often enough herself.
"No. It wasn't often. It just… happened sometimes. Usually when he was overworked and stressed out and way too tired. Or when he was getting sick. Then, sometimes, something would get to him – he'd hear a noise, or catch a smell—and whamo, he be gone. He was always embarrassed as hell when he came around."
Dylan nodded again, looking at the figure in the bed with sympathy. "PTSD."
"'Post Traumatic Stress Disorder'. It's a human aliment. Something that happens when you go through something very bad. Even a mild case can leave you stressed and irritable. In more severe cases it can cause nightmares, anxiety, and flashbacks like you've described."
She blinked. It was a common thing, in this day and age. She didn't know many who *didn't* have a few monsters hiding in the back of their minds. But it was odd to think that it had a name. "Well, that certainly fits our Harper." A cautious hope bloomed. The kid didn't deserve to live like this. "Was there a cure?"
Dylan snorted ruefully. "Time. Distance. And a lot of really cheep alcohol."
Fledgling hopes died. "Ah. So the traditional methods were applied."
"Yep. With about the same results."
He spoke with an almost personal authority. She wondered if this was a slipstream he had traveled himself. Or if someone close to him had.
"So I guess even the blessed commonwealth didn't have all the answers, huh?" She was surprised by the slight bitterness in her tone.
Dylan wasn't. "No. Not even close." He stretched, rolling his head on shoulders that had become noticeably tight. "I'm going to take a shower and go to bed. I suggest that you do the same."
She knew it was more than a suggestion-- or would have been, if this was still a commonwealth ship and he hadn't learned that he couldn't just order his 'crew' about like puppets.
"Give me another hour or so, then I'll head that way. I couldn't rest right now, anyway."
He nodded, accepting the compromise. And she was relieved, because she was really too tired to argue tonight.
Then again, he probably was too.
Dylan stepped up and took a long look at Harper. Just stared at the boy.
Then muttered: "He's going to be fine. We'll see to it."
His eyes met hers briefly, an unspoken assurance. Then he was gone, moving quietly out of the room.
Captain Dylan Hunt Esq. is on the case, all lesser beings beware.
She snickered. Her thought, but it was Harper's voice.
Divinity, she was tired.
But he was right. Seamus would be fine. *She* would see to it. She owed him.
She leaned back in her chair, listening to the steady breathing, and drifted, lost in the past—the year she had inherited a broken-down ship, a bunch of debts, a shit load of family enemies… and a quest. A quest she and a boy had held in common.
The slave-boy and the pirate Queen… it could almost be a fairy-tale.
For a very warped child.