Summary: Dylan is worried about Harper's abillity to cope with the recent events in 'The Widening Gyre'. (Spoilers up to and including 'Pitiless as the Sun').
Thanks to: Nora Charles, for a wonderful and hilarious beta-read.
- Finally, he thought, finally he had some time to just sit down and rest, the last couple of days had been a little stressful. A little? Make that a lot, since he still had to worry about being ready for the ever advancing Magog worldship.
There were, however, Dylan mused, a few things on the positive side too. Some of the repairs were going well, better than expected. Like the command deck. No matter how annoying his manic engineer could be, he had to admit that Harper had outdone himself, though he suspected Rommie had encouraged whatever ideas Harper had had. They had taste alright, if the command was a small sample of what they could do with repairs, he was looking forward to seeing what else they could come up with.
For a moment it struck him that he should probably be worried what Harper would come up with and talk Rommie into. But it was hard not to get caught up in Harper's child-like joy of creating and tinkering. Dylan leaned back in the chair and dozed, a little smile lifting the corners of his mouth.
Dylan's smile broadened as he recalled leading their visitors onto the command deck, expecting to find it under repair. He had been surprised to find it even better looking than before. And Harper welcoming them, delivering this present with one of his broadest and sunniest smiles - a smile you could drown in. Then he'd continued to make advances toward the Major, making Dylan's stomach knot - Dylan suddenly sat bold upright, his thoughts weren't supposed to turn that way. Why should Harper's smile make him warm inside? And more important, why the hell was he suddenly jealous because Harper had showed interest in a woman - not that it was unusual - far from it.
He tried hard to analyse his way out of it. His engineer did appeal to his protective instincts, though he didn't really need it. Wait, actually he did - considering how many times that big mouth of his had gotten him in trouble. He had felt protective toward Harper, especially lately - after Harper had been infected. The last thought sent Dylan into full brooding mode. It was almost eerie how Harper coped. He'd been devastated at first, but he seemed to have accepted that he should enjoy every day as it came.
Dylan sighed - he really needed to talk to Harper about his...condition - he hoped he'd be able to keep his own emotions out of the conversation. He still wasn't sure if he was simply feeling over-protective toward Harper - or if he... Talk to Harper first thing in the morning, then deal with the knot in his stomach later. He decided to get ready for bed, hoping he'd get some sleep.
"Dylan?" Rommie sounded...strange.
"Yes?" Dylan pulled the shirt he slept in down over his head.
"I...probably shouldn't tell you this...Harper won't like it, but..."
"Yes, Rommie?" Worry and impatience sneaked into his voice. If there was anything wrong with Harper...
"Harper is sleeping in an access tunnel again, he has spent a lot of time in this tunnel, especially some nights." She paused, uncertain if she should continue.
"Rommie, please tell me what it is." Dylan sighed, Rommie had a strange sense of loyalty toward Harper, especially concerning private matters. If she was considering sharing such information, something must be wrong.
"Some nights Harper wakes from nightmares, he worries about his...problem, the Magog eggs." Rommie sounded as worried as he felt. "He keeps waking up, sometimes screaming. You know he's slept in the access tunnels from time to time, but since you came back from the Magog worldship, he's done it more often."
"He feels safe in the tunnels?" Dylan couldn't think of any other explanation.
"I believe he does, at least in this one."
"The location?" Not too far away, shouldn't take too long. The access tunnel was actually very close. Dylan lifted an eyebrow, -why this one? he wondered. "Where's the nearest entry?" Well, so much for talking to Harper in the morning.
Harper shifted in his sleep. His eyes darting under closed eyelids, sweating and breathing hard. Dylan suspected his dreams were worse than he could imagine. He'd seen victims of Magog raids, knew what happened to them, and he knew that Harper knew better than anyone. This must have been one of Harper's greatest fears, considering his childhood, his having lost family memebers very much the same way.
In the low light of the access tunnel, Harper looked sick, looked worn out. Dylan felt the knot in his stomach tighten, biting his lower lip. Harper was curled up, body tight like a spring. Dylan sat next to him, close enough to touch.
He had no idea how long he'd been sitting there, just staring at nothing - brooding. Wondering if he should wake him. Suddenly Harper jerked violently in his sleep, arms stretching out as if he was trying to keep something away. Dylan reacted without thinking, reaching out for him and pulling him close, putting his arms around him. Harper fought it, thrashed, still caught up in the dream. "It's ok," Dylan said calmly into his ear, "they can't get to you here. They are gone."
Harper hit him hard in the chest, as hard as the embrace allowed him anyway, still fighting Dylan's hold. Then all of the sudden he stopped, face buried in Dylan's chest, fingers clenching Dylan's shirt. Harper drew a deep, ragged breath. Then another, steadying himself.
"Dylan?" it was barely above a whisper.
Dylan loosened his hold on him, putting a hand on the back of Harper's neck, caressing the warm, sweaty skin. "Yes?" He didn't dare move, concerned about Harper's next move.
"Am I still dreaming?" the voice was muffled, face still close to Dylan's chest. "'Cause this sure as hell is gonna be weird if I'm not." Another deep breath. "Embarrassing."
The heat of Harper's breat into his thin shirt, and the warmth and weight of the compact body in his lap made Dylan shiver. It was hard to think straight with the blood leaving his brain, his own body reacting to Harper's. He felt guilty, how could he think like that with Harper in the state he was in?
"You were dreaming," he said, "humiliating?" Dylan finally asked, fearing the answer a little.
Harper didn't give any, but he didn't let go of Dylan either, hands still clenched in his shirt, if possible trying to get even closer. "Stay?" he asked, still not looking up at Dylan.
The need in that single word sent Dylan even deeper. "Not here," he answered, hand still on the back of Harper's head.
"Why not?" Dylan could almost feel the frown against his chest. Harper's body tensing a little.
"I'm too big to sleep in an access tunnel - and too old." Times like these he felt even older.
"There is that." A hint of humour almost sneaked into his voice, making Dylan hope that he'd see the usual charming, almost flirtatious smile that normally greeted him. It was hard to tell with Harper, when it came to flirting, since he more or less flirted with everyone. Dylan was caught between wanting to offer his quarters and being afraid of violating Harper's privacy. Dylan sighed, to hell with privacy, he'd violated it the moment he'd woken Harper.
Harper allowed Dylan to help him out of the tunnel, making Dylan understand how bad off Harper was, he wouldn't have accepted a shoulder to lean on otherwise.
Once in Dylan's quarters Harper seemed to relax a little. "I need a bath," he said, tugging at his sweaty t-shirt.
"Help yourself," Dylan answered, nodding toward the head. He kept a watchful eye on his engineer all the way to the door. He felt uneasy as it slid shut behind Harper, depriving him of surveillance, of control.
Dylan went to find a shirt for Harper, who couldn't possibly sleep in the one he'd been wearing. Maybe he didn't need it, a little traitorous voice in the back of his head whispered. But that would be going where they shouldn't.
Harper came back out again, hair and skin still moist. The little voice suddenly wondered how it would feel to touch the skin, kiss it. Dylan hid his expression behind his usual calm façade.
Harper stopped in the middle of the room, seemingly a little lost. He still wouldn't meet Dylan's eyes.
Dylan handed the shirt to him, which turned out to be much too big, covering more than Dylan liked, though it was a weird turn-on to see Harper wearing a piece of his clothing. "Get in bed," Dylan said finally.
Harper nodded, still eerily silent. It unnerved Dylan, it was normally impossible to shut him up. Harper pulled off the towel he'd wrapped around his waist. The shirt covering enough. He slipped under the blankets, closing his eyes immediately, taking a few deep breaths.
Dylan stripped off his trousers and slid in next to him. Not too close, but no too far away either. Harper seemed to have fallen asleep quickly, Dylan hoped that whatever nightmares he might have wouldn't be as bad as the one in the tunnel. It was weird the way Harper seemed to relax here, at least enough to actually sleep. Dylan lay very still, watching how the lines of Harper's face softened as his sleep became deeper. With that image on the back of his eye lids, Dylan finally fell asleep.
-Seamus Zelazny Harper, are you still dreaming? Harper wondered sleepily. He seemed to remember his dreams taking a strange turn last night. He nuzzled the warm chest he was resting against. He was suddenly fully awake. The nuzzle having triggered someone to pull him closer. Dylan, oh shit, it hadn't been a dream. Harper bit his lip hard to keep himself from fighting the hold Dylan had on him. Come to think of it, this wasn't too bad. He turned his head to check the chrono - well, he'd slept ok for around three hours straight. Wow, that was more than normally. He wondered if Dylan would kick him out if he tried something as personal as Dylan was doing right now, rubbing against Harper's leg, making him breathe a little faster. - Ah, to hell with that, Harper thought, - you're still too tired anyway ,but he could plan for the morning - a good nights sleep worked wonders on his twisted mind. Harpers lips curved into a wicked grin, oh yeah, he'd try in the morning, what did he have to loose? The little bastards still lay dormant in his belly, but who knew for how long? - Harper, he told himself, - you may as well get some if there's the slightest chance. He breathed in Dylan's scent, sneakily slipping his arm around Dylan's body and up the back of his shirt.
Dylan shifted slightly, mumbling incoherently in his sleep, pressing harder against Harper's leg. - Oh god, Harper thought, biting his lip again as he just barely made out the sound of his own name in Dylan's mumbles. He was dreaming about him. Harper relaxed a little, muffling a yawn into Dylan's chest. - Sleep, he told himself, - then take advantage of Dylan. He sniggered sleepily as he made the list. This was much better than the access tunnel.
Dylan writhed, fingers clenching the sheets, lost between dream and wakefulness. Lips kissing his belly, tongue circling his navel, leaving a trail of wetness as it moved lower. When someone suddenly swallowed his cock, he sat up, awake. "Harper." It came out rather forced.
A hand shot up, pushing him back down again, snaking up under his shirt and coming to a rest teasingly close to his right nipple. For a moment Dylan lost all focus, as Harper finished him off with teeth, tongue and lips, Dylan almost tearing the sheets, moaning and involuntarily thrusting into Harper's mouth.
"Oh god, Harper," Dylan whispered, voice trembling.
"Admit it, the best you've had in more than 300 years," Harper's voice sounding much closer to his old self than it had in a long time.
Dylan laughed shakily, pulling Harper up next to him, examining his face closely. This was completely irresponsible, considering the state he'd found Harper in last night.
"Well?" His hyperactive engineer sounded impatient, eyes glittering.
Before Dylan could answer, Harper dove in for a kiss. A long, sweet and exploring one. It was hard to concentrate with Harper sucking his tongue, making needy noises. The kiss became more demanding and so did Harper's rubbing against his thigh Somewhere along the way Dylan's mind seemed to short-circuit, he tugged at the shirt Harper was wearing, his shirt really.
Somehow they managed to get out of their shirts fast enough to hardly let go of each other, Dylan could still taste himself in Harper's mouth and was already getting hard again. He shifted to pull Harper on top of him, being rewarded with a long moan into his mouth as their erections were pressed together.
Harper pushed Dylan's under pants the rest of the way off with his feet, grinding against him in the process. Dylan couldn't blame Harper for being impatient, but this had to be good, not just fast. He reached between them, fingers folded around them both, the other hand resting on the small of Harper's back. He could see first surprise, then a smug grin as he slid his hand lower.
Harper buried his face in Dylan's neck when they started moving. He moaned as Dylan's hips arched up, and started babbling nonsense into Dylan's ear.
Dylan couldn't make out half of it and none made any sense, but he took it for approval since Harper didn't stop, didn't slow down. He arched again and pressed Harper closer when they both came.
"I'll take that as a yes," Harper panted, resting his head on Dylan's chest.
Dylan sighed, nuzzling Harper's hair. "A definite yes," he answered, he may as well be truthful now that there was no turning back.
"If you have trouble sleeping again..." Dylan began, stealing a kiss, then another, "the access tunnel shouldn't be your first choice."
Harper felt his face heat, wondering if Dylan had figured out why of all the access tunnels he'd chosen this one, the one closest to his captain's quarters.
Dylan nodded, he knew and felt - weirdly smug - he knew Harper had chosen a place where he could hide and feel safe, as close as he could get to him.
Harper seemed to be considering Dylan's offer. "Does that mean this wasn't a one-night-stand?" he asked with a laugh, though Dylan could see need for an answer in his eyes.
"If I have to, I'll have Rommie monitor you, and alert me if you have bad dreams again," he caressed the skin below the data port, making Harper shiver, "I'd be there as fast as possible."
"I could lock my quarter," Harper tried to sound indignant, but failed.
"I'll override any lock," Dylan said seriously.
"Guh, I think my brain just shut down," Harper laughed, genuine mirth now, rubbing his spiky hair against Dylan's chin.
"You need another bath," Dylan looked at the chrono, "we've got plenty of time before our shifts begin."
"You need a bath too," Harper leered up an him. "And we do have plenty of time before the shift, as you so nicely pointed out."
Dylan tried to give the blonde a disapproving look, but couldn't help laughing at Harper's open invitation to round two.
"Rommie," he said instead, "would you have a 'droid bring down some clothes for Mr. Harper?"
"Yes Dylan, they will be here shortly." Only the barest hint of curiosity in her voice.
The bath was good, both of them taking it slow now, this time plain necking and kissing. When they finally stepped out again, a 'droid had dropped off a fresh set of clothes for Harper. "Nice choice," Dylan commented Rommie's choice. Harper's grey and black jumpsuit, "my favourite," he smiled.
"Oh," Harper raised an eyebrow. "I wasn't aware of you having favourites when it came to my choice of dressing."
"It is nice and tight compared to your baggy, orange trousers."
"Hey, I like the baggy ones," Harper pouted, though not quite getting rid of a smug light in his eyes. "Plenty of room," he grinned.
"Oh, is that why you wear them around me so often?" Dylan leaned in to kiss him, feeling the heat rise to Harper's face.
"Uh-oh, complete melt-down," Harper gasped. "I should go now, or we'll never be able to start shift on time. Besides you're getting too good at anticipating my babble."
"You think anyone would notice if we're a little late?" Dylan took a step back, ruffling Harper's hair, making it look even wilder.
"Beka would," Harper frowned, "and I'm afraid what she'd do if she knew about this."
"Should I be worried?" Dylan asked, moving reluctantly away from Harper to go make some coffee.
"I don't know," Harper said, "she'll either kick your ass for doing this to me," grinning as Dylan shot him a warning look, "never mind I started it." He chuckled, "or she might kick my ass for doing you, but I doubt it, or she'll think this is really cute, and try to torture details out of me."
"And you'll tell her?" Dylan came over again, pulling him close for another kiss.
"Not," Harper panted when he let go again, "in a million years." He laughed suddenly, "besides, it'll kill her to suspect what we're doing, but not knowing just what goes on behind closed doors."
Dylan went to pour them both coffee, hiding a silly smile, his engineer was corrupting him, most definitely; he wouldn't interfere with Harper's annoying Beka, cruel as it may seem, it actually sounded like fun.
They finally parted outside Dylan's quarters, one last kiss good-bye - at least for now. Harper saluted him, a broad grin on his face, much closer to the good old Harper than he'd seen in a long time. He suspected, as he watched his engineer leave him to go to the machine shop, that his own face held a rather silly grin, but he didn't care, as long as he could wipe it off before running into any of his other crew members.
For the first time in what seemed like forever, he was looking forward to going off shift, to spent time with someone instead of just brooding in his quarters.