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Night Watch

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Soft breaths. 

He counted them from where he leaned in the doorway, watching the chest rise and fall evenly under the blanket. 

Much different than what it was only hours ago.  Was it still the same day it all happened? 

Rios rubbed his face and glanced down at his watch. 

11:52pm. Yup. Still the same day. 

There was a shift in the bed and a soft mumbled groan that could have been in Romulan, but it was too muffled to truly discern. 

Rios tensed in the doorway, until... yup, the soft breathing continued and he relaxed again. 

He tried not to let the day's events squirm their way back into his mind, but the more he tried to get the images out of his head, the more prominent they became, until finally, he couldn't take it anymore and his feet found their way to the doorframe he was now leaning on. Counting breaths from the occupant of the room.

The occupant who almost died today. 

The image of green blood all over his hands popped unbidden into his mind again and he rubbed his face in an effort to erase them. Looking back up into the room to remind himself that yes, he was there, and he was still breathing. 

It was supposed to be a quick meeting with a client. Nothing, absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. Just a normal guy who needed some things moved to the next planet over. Simple. Easy.  Wouldn't even take a day to do, but it was a trap. The most terrifying part, it wasn't a trap for him, but for the one he was watching over tonight right now. 

Damn Tal Shiar.

At least that is who they so boldly claimed to be even if the Romulan officials denied ever being involved. He never knew Picard could be so colorful with his language when that call went down. He’s pretty sure he saw a nod of approval from one of the other admirals on the Federation side. Needless to say, it was a tense meeting after that, ending with the decree that the kid was now under Federation protection, if they so much as breathed on him they would know about it.  The Romulans didn't even seem to care.  Bastards. Leaving one of their own like that, all because whatever plot they had to get him derailed fantastically. Raffi is still convinced they weren't actually trying to kill him, but recruit him somehow. Elnor, for his part, was decidedly quiet throughout the whole meeting, still dressed in the clothes from sickbay and staring at the floor. He went to bed immediately after without so much as a ‘goodnight’. Apparently the self proclaimed Tal Shiar didn't anticipate what kind of a fight he would put up...or know he would throw himself in front of Rios like that. 

Damn kid.

It was just him and the kid to follow the client to the storehouse. The whole crew actually came down to the planet and they all met up with him at a local pub.  Nothing out of the ordinary. They had a quick lunch before sealing the deal. The fake client was friendly enough and took an interest in Elnor, claiming he doesn't get to meet too many Romulans. 

“Can he come with us?” He had asked pointing at Elnor, “I've got an item or two he might be interested in.” 

Why did he agree to that? He should have made an excuse to leave him with the others. He would have been safer with them, with Soji, oh damn...Soji. The image of her stricken face filtered into his mind and he immediately pushed it back out. 

The damn fake client kept up a conversation with the kid about Romulan culture as they walked to the storehouse. Rios should have known something was up right then. He was still kicking himself for it. 

Once inside they went to inspect and confirm the cargo, which jackass fake client claimed to be in the next aisle, but they never made it.  Rios recognized the clicks and whines of various weapons all around him and he'd never seen Elnor pull his sword so fast in his life. He took up a defensive position beside him. 

They were surrounded and there were quite a few of them. Maybe they did know what they were getting themselves into. The kid did cause quite the racket on the borg cube after all. It was bound to gain their attention. 

He barely remembers what the conversation that ensued was even about, he just remembers the shock on both their faces when they claimed to be Tal Shiar and had come for Elnor and nothing else. 

“Like hell you are!”

“Leave him and we’ll let you go.” One of them demanded. 

“Like hell I will!”

And that's when he tossed the flash grenade. Rios knew better than to never be prepared for a fight. At least he had that going for him. 

His hand was inching toward it during the conversation and judging by the subtle shift in Elnor’s stance he knew he figured out what he was going to do. 

Smart kid.

They both immediately covered their eyes as the flash went off and chaos ensued. Elnor wasted no time in clearing a path for them as Rios called for a transport with his comm, pulling his phaser and firing wherever he could.  He remembers running for the door, it happened so fast, they were almost there before the first shots rang out from the recovering Romulans. They actually made it outside and both turned to see how many were following and that's when it happened.

“Rios! Look out!” He remembers an arm pushing him aside and suddenly Elnor was in front of him just as a couple of Romulans threw something in their direction.  He heard a sickening sound of multiple thuds hitting flesh and watched as Elnor staggered backwards into him. 

“YOU FOOLS!” He heard yelling from the Romulans but didn't pay them any heed as he caught Elnor in his arms, watching in fear as he sank to the ground, going limp in his arms. Rios pulled him up closer and saw what it was that caused his collapse. At least four small throwing knives protruding from his chest.  

Rios couldn't think, he vaguely remembered his comm going off and yelling to go to sickbay, the familiar lights of a transport enveloping them before the Romulans could catch up.  He remembers sickbay coming into view and looked back down to Elnor again and the sight made his blood run cold. He was limp in his arms, blood coming from every wound, his mouth was slightly slacked open and eyes half closed in a fixed stare. His head hanging back limply over his cradling arm.  

He wasn't breathing. 

He was sure he wailed out in agony, but didn't want to try to remember.  His mind went fuzzy as he tried to process what happened. Someone pried him away as outlines of people bent over his still form on the floor. He saw Soji run past him with the most stricken face he’s ever seen as he was led out of the way and sat in a chair. He could hear the EMH talking fast and shuffling around quickly behind him. Someone was calling his name and he slowly looked up to stare into the worried face of Agnes. 

“Rios!...Rios are you all right?” He blinked at her and then looked down at his hands, immediately regretting it as they were covered in green blood. Agnes grabbed his hands and set about cleaning him up and checking him over all the while talking to him. He didn't hear though, his ears were set to the sounds behind him as the EMH seemed to become more frantic. 

And then he heard it. 

A shuddering breath that silenced the room.

Rios let out a gasp he didn't realize he was holding. The silence lasted for a split second before the EMH was back to shuffling around and talking quickly, but the familiar beep of a heart rate pervaded the tense environment of the room.  Rios closed his eyes and focused on the comforting knowledge of what it meant. 

He heard a soft rustle from behind him and he was quickly pulled from his thoughts to turn towards the sound. 

Soji was standing there in her long robe. She had a small look of surprise and confusion on her face. Rios only smiled at her and beckoned her over to come closer. They both stood in the doorway as they observed Elnor again. 

“How long have you been standing here?” She whispered to him after a few moments.  Rios looked at his watch again.

12:01am. 

“Not long.” He replied quietly, straightening up from the doorway and folding his arms about him.  They continued to watch in silence for a few more moments until Rios finally turned from the room. He shifted toward Soji to see a look of mild concern on her face.

“It’s alright.” He whispered, “I know how much you care about him.”  Soji’s head snapped up to him and her mouth opened as if to explain herself, but Rios waved her off before she could get a word out. 

“No. Really. I'm glad you came out here.” He glanced back into the room then looked back to her, “just don't keep him up all night alright.”  He couldn't help but chuckle at the blush that creeped onto her face before walking off.  

“Goodnight.” He whispered teasingly over his shoulder, earning a mock glare from the girl, a smile hidden behind it. 

Rios sighed and ran his hands through his hair as he approached his room. Now he felt well enough to go back to sleep knowing someone else was taking over his unsaid night watch.  Just as he was going to go through the doors they suddenly opened and he all but ran into Agnes. 

“Rios! Wher...where did you go? Are you alright?”  She placed her hands on his chest as if to reassure herself that he was. He sniggered at her as he raised his hands to cover hers and smiled, “yeah,...yeah I'm fine.  I just…I went to check on him. That's all.” He could see the relief flood through her face as she nodded at him, “ok...is he…?”

“He's fine. Sleeping like a baby.”

She smiled wider and nodded again.  She then took his hands and started to pull him back into the room, “Then you should probably come back to bed, just saying.”  Rios smiled wider and allowed himself to be pulled inside and into her arms, leaning down for a gentle kiss.

“Yes I suppose I should.” 

It is a new day after all.