* * *
Dom had taken a long, hot shower and a short, but much needed nap
before heading back to the Institute to check on her ailing boyfriend with
a bag of books and games. Now that Seamus was feeling a little better, the trick was
going to be getting him to stay in bed and really get some strength back.
Dom would have liked to think that if Seamus could see how haggard
he still was and how painfully thin he’d become that he would take care
of himself, but she knew it was probably not what would happen if she
didn’t make him do it. Men
were so bad about that sort of thing, especially men associated with the
Institute and the Seaview.
Once she got back to the Institute, Dom stopped off at her
office, thinking she could probably take a few minutes to look through her
mail, as she had at home, and see if anything dire had appeared on her
desk while she’d been spending all her time in the Infirmary.
Flipping through things quickly, Dom could see that everything was
the mundane stuff that appeared on every desk across the country seemingly
out of nowhere. Thinking that
the pad of paper and mechanical pencil that she’d given Seamus to keep
him busy wouldn’t last forever, Dom picked up her bags of distractions
and started toward her office door. She
hadn’t even finished rounding her desk when Bea appeared in the doorway.
“I thought I saw you sneak in,” Bea said, smiling.
“I hope this means Seamus is feeling better.”
“Much better, Bea,” Dom told her, smiling to herself at
saying out loud that Seamus was starting to recover.
“But I’d better get back.
You know how men are.”
Bea nodded sagely, moving out of her path and walking up the
corridor with her. “Yes,
especially the ones that frequent these halls.
Is he up to visitors yet?”
“He’d probably tell you he was, but you’d better ask
Doctor Jamieson, Bea,” Dom cautioned her. “He doesn’t want Seamus to catch anything, not even a
cold, while he’s so weak and I don’t know how long he was planning to
keep him quarantined. It’s
been nice of you to look in on him like you have, Bea.”
“I hope Seamus hasn’t minded me peeping from the
observation window,” Bea said. “I
know how some men are about people seeing them sick.”
“He didn’t mind,” Dom assured her.
“I think he’s been sick so much in his life that he’s taking
all this in his stride. At
least he is now that he’s feeling a little better.”
“Well, we’ll just have to see if we can keep him a
little healthier in future,” Bea said. “You can rest assured that I will be keeping a very close
eye on him while you’re away. I’d
take him home with me, but I’m not entirely sure how Tom would feel
about me suddenly appearing home from work with young men packed for a
long stay at our house. He
might think I’ve taken to suddenly desiring toy boys.
Not that I’d exactly mind Seamus in my house if I were in your
shoes. He usually seems very... affectionate.” The rather sensual tone that Doctor Lorn’s voice had taken
on left very little doubt as to what sort of affection she thought Seamus
might have been giving her.
“Bea, Seamus had two closed doors and a fair length of
hallway between us when he was sleeping at my house,” Dom told her.
“Doors have been known to open,” Bea hummed, still
“Not the one to my bedroom, thank you very much!
Bea, if you had your way, I would have slept with half of the
Seaview by now. What sort of
woman do you think I am?” Dom asked in exasperation.
“The sort that isn’t having any fun, which is a pity,”
“I have plenty of fun, just not plenty of sex,” Dom
said. “And the last I
checked, the fact that he’s not getting any from me hasn’t exactly
made Seamus all that miserable.”
“No, he’s bearing up quite well, the brave thing,” Bea
mused. “You two do look
awfully sweet when you’re all cuddled together asleep, though.
And you’re going to have amazingly beautiful babies.”
Dom laughed and rolled her eyes, saying, “Bea, you’re as
incorrigible as he is.” Doctor
Lorn laughed too, then bade her good-bye as they reached the end of the
corridor. Dom continued on to
the Infirmary, but was alarmed to find Seamus’ bed empty and no one in
the room. Dom dropped her
bags and looked around a bit frantically, only to have Seamus come out of
the head before she could get too panicked.
“You shouldn’t be out of bed!” she admonished him, but rushed
to his side to make sure he had support on both sides.
He was holding onto his iv rack with his left hand, so at least he
had that to lean on. Still,
it did not improve Dom’s temper or concern that she would have to
reconnect tube trailing over his shoulder back to the oxygen by his bed
and turn that back on. He had also put on his own sleeping attire and Dom winced at
the thought of him squeezing the iv bag through his shirt sleeve.
“Sorry, but when nature calls, she’s very insistent,”
Seamus told her with a smirk as he let her guide him back to bed.
“Which would be what the catheter was for,” Dom said a
little impatiently as she reconnected his oxygen.
“And don’t tell me that Doctor Jamieson removed it, then left
you on your own to deal with things.
You promised to behave when I was gone!”
“I behaved. A quick trip to the bathroom is not exactly jogging around
the grounds and that’s the only time I even thought about getting out of
bed,” Seamus replied defensively.
“And the catheter?” Dom asked with a narrow look.
“In the trash where it belongs.
Geez, you’re leaving me all alone in another week.
I’d think you’d be happy that I can at least manage basic
bodily functions before you abandon me,” Seamus pouted sullenly,
crossing his arms over his chest.
“Poor abused baby. How
do you stand it?” Dom said, giving him a little kiss on the cheek, then
pulled his blankets back up over his legs and checked to make sure his
oxygen was flowing freely. “At least you didn’t yank out your iv or oxygen.
I suppose I should be grateful for that.”
“The catheter was bad enough,” Seamus said with a
shudder and grimace. “After
getting rid of that, I didn’t feel like dealing with the disgusting
process of pulling out a nasal intubation.
Gives whole new meaning to the words ‘nasal discharge.’ Yuck, really! I’ll
let someone else get their hands all nasty.
Unless you’re a big fan of mucus, you’d better make yourself
scarce when Doctor Jamieson finally does it.
Then again, you haven’t exactly run screaming from the room when
I was hacking up all the gunk that was in my lungs, so you might not mind
it that much.”
“Try handling a hagfish.
Now there’s some mucus for you,” Dom said.
“Where is Doctor Jamieson?”
Seamus shrugged, seeming unconcerned.
“Don’t know. He hasn’t been around for a couple of hours anyway.
See? I must be just
about good as new or he wouldn’t leave me on my own.
Maybe I should shake off the rest of this stuff,” he glared at
his iv, “then I could take a long, hot shower and sleep in a real
“Oh, you don’t like the sponge baths I gave you?” Dom
asked with a grin, stroking his hair.
Seamus’ brow knit. “Where
was I for that? Damn.
I swear I sleep through what should be the best times of my
life,” he grumbled, then seemed to think the whole thing through.
“You know, I am feeling a little grubby...”
Dom laughed softly, shaking her head at him.
“We’ll talk to Doctor Jamieson about his helping you shower
when he gets back.”
Seamus got an appalled expression on his face.
“I don’t shower with the guys, thank you very much.
And this is totally unfair! You
get to ogle me in the buff and I get nothing.
At least tell me you weren’t disappointed by the view.”
“I wasn’t in charge of anything below the waist and
I’ve seen everything else before,” Dom replied with a giggle.
Seamus sat up a little and ran a hand through her hair.
“Aw come on. You
didn’t sneak one little peek? A
little preview so you’d know what you have to look forward to later?”
“Oh, so I would have been impressed, would I?” Dom asked
in return, failing to fully fight down a smirk.
“I don’t have a big ass, so obviously I like loose pants
because I need to accommodate something else,” Seamus said with a
“You are feeling better, aren’t you?” Dom giggled,
only to get a very enthusiastic kiss as a response.
It was strange, kissing someone with oxygen tubes coming out of his
nose, but Seamus’ ardor made up for the odd feeling.
“I’ve never slept as well as I have this past week,”
he told her, then kissed her passionately again.
“I think we should sleep together from now on,” he breathed
into Dom’s mouth, but she held him back from kissing her again.
“I’ll bet you do,” she told him a bit crossly.
“Just sleep,” Seamus said, looking a little hurt.
“I know how you feel about sex and stuff.
It’s just, this is the first time I can remember not having
nightmares. It’s been so
nice, waking up calm, feeling good instead of all shaken up.
I bet maybe I wouldn’t get sick as much if I actually slept all
the time like I have this past week.
That would be a good thing, right?
I promise not to hog all the blankets.”
Dom felt the angry expression leak off her face, feeling
equally bad about her accusation and about what Seamus had just said.
“You have a lot of nightmares?” she asked, stroking his temple
gently, not wanting him to be upset.
“You know what my life has been like,” Seamus said,
looking a little ashamed. “When
I’m awake, I know everything’s okay and I’m safe, but when I’m
asleep, all the dark and bad comes back and wrings a little more fear and
pain out of me. This past
week, that hasn’t happened. I’ve
had these nice, comforting, beautiful dreams that don’t suddenly twist
in something terrible and I been waking up happy instead of screaming.”
“This happens every night?” Dom asked as she brushed
back his hair.
“Most nights,” he admitted with a sheepish nod.
“I never heard anything while you were staying at my
“Yeah, well, it wasn’t a good idea to do a lot of
screaming on Earth when I was growing up, so you’d teach yourself to
keep it in. Lots of people
had nightmares. I mean in the
camps and stuff, life was pretty much one big nightmare, asleep or awake.
On the Maru, I woke up with Beka standing over me a couple times,
looking real worried. She had
a cabin, but there was just one bunk area for everyone else, so I’d
probably woken somebody up thrashing around or whimpering too often and
they complained to her. After
it happened a couple times, I’d try to work myself so hard that when I
finally collapsed in bed, I’d be too exhausted to dream. That worked pretty well, unless I got sick.
Then she wouldn’t let me work, at least not to the point of
passing out exhaustion, and the nightmares would come back.
Rev and Vexpag and Trance, they probably thought it was just fever
dreams, but Beka knew. She’d
even ask me if I wanted something to knock me out cold sometimes,
something that would keep the dreams away.
I have enough problems, though, and I didn’t want to get hooked
on anything. So when Beka
thought I was getting worn too thin, she’d get me blind, stinking drunk.
I’d have killer hangovers, but I wouldn’t dream and I’d get a
lot of rest.
“Then, on the Andromeda, I didn’t need to worry about
waking anybody up. I only
pushed myself too hard when I got tired of not sleeping very well.
Then I got infested and everybody kept telling me to rest and take
care of myself and stuff. I woke up screaming a lot, especially early on.
Rommie knew the dreams were real bad, I guess, ‘cause when she
knew I hadn’t had a good night’s rest in a while, she’d come down to
my quarters and sit on my bed and hold my hand and stroke my hair when
they started, then leave once I was quiet again. I woke up a little one time when she was doing it, but I
don’t think she knew. It
explained why when I thought I couldn’t take anymore, the dreams would
stop for a while and I could rest and get a little strength back.
I thought the angel on my shoulder was back.”
Dom gave him a quizzical look.
She’d been sitting by him, playing with his hair, keeping him
calm while he talked, not interrupting, letting him get it all out.
“I know it’s silly, but when I was a kid it was like...
whenever I was in real danger, whenever I was so sick that I could hear
the grownups mumbling about where to bury me where the Magog couldn’t
dig me up to eat my body, I’d feel... I don’t know, like someone was
there, holding my hand and petting my head like Rommie did later on. Like this silent force was giving me strength to live though
another beating from the Nietzscheans or be to be still and quiet enough
for the Magog not to notice me where I was hiding or to keep breathing
just a little longer when I was so sick and so tired and my body just
wanted to give up. I’d feel
it sometimes when I was older. Not
so much, but sometimes. Like
I said, really silly, right?”
Dom stroked his face then kissed him softly on cheek, then
said, “Not silly at all. And
maybe we can work something out with sleeping arrangements.
I don’t think I’d mind being your angel.”
Seamus reached up and cupped her face.
“You are, you know. You
are my angel. I always thought so, even back when you picked me up off the
beach and carried me into your house.”
Dom smiled and laughed softly as she shook her head at him.
“I couldn’t even lift you, much less carry you anywhere.”
Seamus gave her a narrow look, but smiled a little as he
said, “You’re not fooling me. You
try to come off all small and helpless, but I’ve gotten to know how
strong you are. Tyr would
tell me that I chose my mate wisely.
He’d say our kids would be better off with your good genes
balancing out my crappy ones.”
“Oh, we’re having kids now, are we?” Dom asked, but
she was couldn’t help but keep smiling. Seamus talked like that from time to time, like they hadn’t
only been dating for a short time, as though they were going to be
together forever. Dom found
the thought of that more and more appealing the more they spent time
“Yep, dozens of ‘em.
I’m gonna talk the Admiral into adding daycare to the
Institute’s grounds so that I can check up on ‘em all when your off
doing the marine biology thing. Either
that, or he’s gonna have to let me work from home.
I don’t want’em running wild and getting into trouble like I
used to. I’ve already got
it all worked out so that every time I get paid I’ll save money for a
bigger house and college funds and stuff,” Seamus told her with a
serious expression and a nod.
“You’ve really thought a lot about this, haven’t
you?” Dom asked, rather surprised that he had.
“I’ve got the whole thing all planned out,” Seamus
told her, making a sweeping motion with one hand as if it would display a
picture for her to see. “First,
wedded bliss. Real bliss, not
arguing sorta bliss like the O’Donnells.
Then lots of kids, ‘cause you told me that Catholics don’t
believe in birth control and I am not
abstaining from sex once you tell me its okay.”
“I see,” Dom said with mock seriousness.
“What are we talking here, once or twice every night or...”
Seamus pulled her closer again and kissed her.
“We are talking whenever and wherever I can get you alone and in
the mood for as long as you’re willing to indulge me.”
“Doesn’t leave a lot of time for socializing,” Dom
“Socializing,” Seamus scoffed, making a derisive sound.
“Highly overrated.” He
kissed her deeply again, stroking her back.
A throat was cleared rather pointedly from the vicinity of the door
and Dom drew back from Seamus to see Doctor Jamieson shake his head and
come the rest of the way into the room as Harper lay back in bed.
“Hey, Doc,” he said, but didn’t look in Jamieson’s
direction, keeping his eyes on Dom’s face as he softly stroked her arm.
Jamieson came over, shaking his head.
“Do I need to keep a chaperone in the room?” he asked as he
picked up Harper’s wrist and started taking his pulse.
“What for?” Seamus asked in return, still not looking at
him. Dom knew that Doctor
Jamieson still made him nervous, but at least he was coping better than
when he’d first fallen ill. “We’re all consenting adults, right?”
“Physically,” Jamieson muttered under his breath, started
to move to bring his stethoscope to Seamus’ chest, then saw his t-shirt
and went tight lipped.
Seamus seemed to catch the expression and said, “I got
cold,” as if that were a viable excuse.
Jamieson gave Dom a look of disapproval.
“Don’t blame me,” she said.
“I wasn’t here when he decided to get dressed.
Everyone told me things would be fine without me if I went home for
a shower and a nap.”
“Dressed?” Jamieson asked, lifting the sheets and
looking beneath, then angrily back at Seamus.
“I thought I could leave you alone for a few hours without you
doing your best to wind up back on the critical care list.”
“Come on,” Seamus whined.
“It’s just pajamas. I
wanted to feel a little human again, not like an up and coming medical
cadaver. I’m in bed,
resting, right? It’s not
like I took off or anything. And
I am feeling lots better.”
Jamieson was frowning deeply, but said, “Well, if you’re
feeling so much better, let’s get you a nice, big meal and start putting
some weight back on you. Or
are we going to have a repeat of yesterday?”
Yesterday, Seamus had tried eating some solid food with disastrous
results. Apparently his
stomach wasn’t feeling like going back on regular duty and had expelled
the meal quite forcibly. This
morning, before Dom had gone home, he had managed to eat a little bit of
dry toast and some cereal, which was encouraging, but Dom intended to be
well out of the way if Jamieson fed him a regular meal.
Seamus looked suddenly dismayed.
“How big a meal are we talking here?
You keep giving me meds that are making me queasy.
I take no responsibility for what happens if you feed me some big,
heavy meal while I’m getting pumped full of whatever’s coming through
this!” he declared, lifting his left arm and making the iv tube wave
around a little. Dom grinned
a bit. Seamus must be feeling
better if he was arguing with Doctor Jamieson.
As the two of them bickered about what constituted a decent meal,
Dom relaxed a little. It was good to have Seamus back to something approaching
Dylan sat at the desk in his quarters, his head resting on
his hands, listening rather than watching the playback of Barris’ visits
to the Andromeda. He didn’t
know why he was even doing that, but he was at a loss as to what else to
do at this point. Rollan and
his associate wouldn’t go away. Barris’
ship remained where it had been for the last few days, unmoving, despite
the fact that Barris hadn’t returned to the Andromeda since he had
threatened to torture Harper. The
Divine only knew where Harper was or what terrible things were being done
to him at the moment. Beka,
Trance and Rommie were still missing as well, all attempts to communicate
with the Maru failing utterly. Dylan
sat there, wishing over and over that he had opened fire on Barris’ ship
the instant it had come into range.
“You are watching recordings of me?
How flattering,” Barris’ voice came from on the other side of
the desk. Dylan didn’t look
up. He wanted to leap over
the desk and throttle Barris, pound him into the bulkhead walls as Tyr
had, but he sat there, unmoving, not speaking, thinking that perhaps
Barris would leave if ignored. “The
smaller vessel left some days ago with more than half your small crew. You must be feeling very taxed at the moment,” Barris said,
showing him that wasn’t the case. Dylan
still didn’t respond. “Captain
Hunt, you should admit that you need me and my crew, especially now.
You cannot run a vessel this size with only two people.
Or do you plan to sit here in the middle of nowhere for the rest of
“Yes,” Dylan said, finally looking up.
“Yes?” Barris asked, seeming confused.
“Yes, the Andromeda and I will sit here in the middle of
empty space for the rest of my life,” Dylan snapped, so far beyond
frustrated and annoyed that he didn’t know a word to describe what he
was feeling. “If it’s
that or have to deal with you endlessly, I’ll take that.
I’ll give Tyr one of our transports or a slip fighter and send
him off to rebuild his clan or whatever he wants.
I’ll stay right here if that’s what it takes to keep you from
hurting anyone else. I’ve
got no family here. You’ve
beaten and kidnapped and threatened to torture a loyal friend because he
believed in me and what I was trying to accomplish.
I’ve utterly failed him, so it’s better if no one else is
around to suffer a similar fate for trusting me.”
Barris stared in confusion at him.
“You would punish yourself this way over one, pathetic, broken
“You don’t know the first thing about Seamus Harper if
you think that’s what he is,” Dylan said, then lowered his face back
into his hands. Barris’
stare was almost tactile as the alien stood in front of his desk, seeming
to wait for him to do something. Dylan
wondered how long the alien was willing to wait.
“You... you can’t just sit there!” Barris stammered
out after a few minutes. “You
find solutions to things. You
change the order of the universe to your desires.
You have a destiny. You
can’t do this!” Barris declared, sounding upset, possibly alarmed.
Dylan didn’t care. It was time that Barris got a taste of his own medicine.
“You think I’ll bring back your pet if you do this.
I won’t,” Barris declared, his tone challenging.
Dylan sat silently, figuring he could see Barris’ expression on
the monitor playback later. He
had the distinct impression that Barris was beginning to look a little
frantic. “You’ll change
your mind. You will.
You’ll see,” Barris all but ranted, then everything fell quiet
“He’s gone,” the Andromeda told him.
“I know,” Dylan said, then leaned back in his chair and
rubbed the bridge of his nose.
“We aren’t actually staying here until you die, are
we?” Andromeda asked.
Dylan smiled a bit despite how dismal he’d been feeling a
moment ago. “Of course
“You had me worried,” his ship told him.
“Let’s hope I worried Barris,” Dylan replied as he sat
up. “He’s been calling
the shots for too long. It’s
past time someone gave him a dose of his own medicine.” Frowning, he looked back at the screen playing the internal
sensor logs of Barris’ visits. The
Magog Worldship was coming. They
couldn’t stay here indefinitely, not if they were going to protect the
galaxy. Why had Barris been
so upset by the possibility that Dylan might sit the whole thing out?
Or was it something else entirely.
Dylan rolled back the log to Barris’ first visit.
Barris had said then that Dylan was a pivotal point in history.
Why did that matter to Barris?
Did he want to change the future?
“Or the past?” Dylan muttered to himself.
“Dylan?” the Andromeda asked, still sounding concerned.
“Nothing,” Dylan said, shaking his head.
They had tried to change the past before at Witchhead, but had
found that they had been part of events all along.
Dylan rubbed his chin, unable to let the idea go.
What did Barris want him to change?
Why was Barris being part of the crew important to secure that
change? What was really going on?
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