Pretty Things
by Jessie

Part 7

Disclaimer, etc. in Part 1.

Authors Note: Thanks to every one who's given feedback. I really appreciate it and hope you continue to do so. Also, the title *will* be explained soon. Promise.

***

Harper watched helplessly as emotion after emotion crossed Trance's already troubled features. He faced the same amount of indecision as she, though neither of them knew it. Did he move to comfort her? Did he joke around and try to get a smile out of her?

He too had no idea what to do or if anything he did would have any effect whatsoever. He was at a loss, and he remained that way for several seconds as he watched her and listened to her mumble about not being 'mean' enough and how it was all her fault.

Whatever 'it' was.

Should he take another step forward? Should he take hold of her again, in the hopes of proving his resolve to her? But that previous action had been to stop her from pacing, and she was still at the moment, so what excuse did he now have for touching her?

His confusion only deepened as she took a step back, then forward- as if she were working her way up to the active pacing she had been involved in earlier.

"What's wrong?" He finally asked her hesitantly, knowing that this sort of thing did not come naturally to him and, so, worrying over how soon he would be screwing it up.

Still- he had to do something.

Hadn't that been the point of this whole trip? Hadn't the entire reason for all of this- for wandering around the space station, calling in favors and bribing merchants to find the location of Trance- been to fix things?

The girl looked ready to cry, and she wanted to. She wanted to just let the tears come, but she wouldn't let Harper see that- couldn't let him see that. Somehow having him see her cry would make it all suddenly much more real.

So she turned away from him and moved to sit in the chair at the helm, just in case a few rogue tears managed to make their way down her cheeks.

"Hey." Harper started, following her determinedly.

But then he stopped just behind the chair, awkwardly debating whether or not putting a hand on her shoulder- in a gesture of comfort- would be a good idea.

After a few seconds of odd expressions and the occasional attempt to reach out for her, but then pulling back as he thought better of it, he decided to risk it.

They were friends. It was a friendly gesture. It was okay, he told himself.

Trance stiffened slightly at the action, and a frown replaced Harper's original expression as he wondered if he had made the wrong choice.

But it was only that Trance had been surprised by the appearance of his hand on her bare shoulder. After the initial shock of Seamus Harper actually expressing concern through physical contact had worn off, she relaxed a little, and so did he, relieved that he hadn't just caused an embarrassing situation.

"I should have been more mean." She choked a little on her words- the same words she had been repeating over and over again.

He couldn't see her expression from behind the chair, so he decided to take another risk, and moved in front of her, than leaned against a console so that she was eye level with him.

"You *should* have listened to Dylan and stayed put on the Andromeda."

"I should have . . ."

"Trance, you were plenty mean. Hell, you probably even scared Tyr half to death when you turned on him yesterday with that 'get a life' speech." This won a small smile from the girl, but it didn't last long.

"I . . ." She trailed off, this time without the need of him to interrupt her.

"Come on- let's turn this boat around and get your ass home before Dylan has a hernia." Harper started to get up, but she stopped him with her voice.

"No! We can't turn around." He gave her a confused look.

"Okay." He said slowly, trying to understand what she was telling him.

"We can't turn around." She reiterated, but his puzzled expression didn't change.

"I'm not getting it- we outa gas or something?"

"I . . ." She started to try to form an answer that both of them could be happy with, but didn't get very far before he interrupted her with his fast-paced speech.

"Or are you still on this 'I'm running away and not telling any one why' kick? Cause I gotta tell you- this hasn't exactly been a 'walk in the park' sort of experience. And that whole pissed off act you were going for? -not a good way to win friends."

"But . . ." Only he wouldn't let her speak.

"No 'if's, 'and's or 'but's about it. I'm not going anywhere until you figure out that you're off your rocker and decide to head on back to 'Daddy Dylan'. It's as simple as that Trance babe."

"I wish it were as simple as that." Her forlorn response caught him off guard. So much so, that he lost his train of thought and looked rather startled that she hadn't just immediately given in to his demands.

"What do you mean?" He asked- because he knew she was expecting him to ask it.

Trance took in a deep breath. Her eyes wandered down to look at her own hands, which clung together in her lap, as though they could somehow save each other.

"We're almost there." She said quietly. "It's too late." And she knew she'd have to tell him something.

*

Beka glanced back at the two other crewmen beside herself who were on the main deck. Three crewmen if you counted Rommie. It was sometimes hard to know whether to refer to her as the ship, a member of the small but close-knit crew, or both.

Sighing, she caught Dylan doing the same from his place near the artificial intelligence across the room. She wanted to yell at him- about more than one thing- but she supposed he had enough on his mind at the moment. She needed to remember that. She needed to remember that things weren't always as easy as he made them appear to be. He was probably tearing himself up inside about this latest little mishap.

'Or not.' She thought to herself with a smirk as she watched Dylan glance around the bridge with something of a cocky smile plastered over his face.

That man was infuriating

Tyr, however, was even less receptive than she of this bit of self-confidence from their Captain. He rolled his eyes and offered what very well could have been an actual 'grunt' of disapproval.

She tensed momentarily.

Ever since they had left the space port she had felt fidgety and apprehensive- glad to be gone, yet nervous none the less. But she chalked it up to a result of the events that had happened directly before their departure.

The alien ship dealer had been less than eager to talk, cursing them between lectures about a merchant's moral code and the trust between himself and his customers that he didn't dare violate.

Luckily, it was a short-lived sermon, as he suddenly became quite amiable at the sight of Tyr's cold glare and the concealed weapon in the Nietzschean's jacket.

Dylan hadn't been too fond of his weapon's officer's means of getting information, but the Captain hadn't reprimanded him either, instead directing his emotions on the alien.

It turned out that Trance wasn't as inept as she might appear to be, 'cause one way or another she had secured the money to purchase a ship with almost as much speed and maneuverability as the Andromeda.

Apparently she had taken off in it. 'To where?' was the question. However, the dealer had been quite adamant that he neither knew nor cared.

There was one piece of information, though, that Beka couldn't seem to get over. It had been turning in her head ever since the merchant had said it, and she wondered if Dylan was thinking the same thing. Why had Harper . . . how had he . . .

Even after so much time had passed since the thought was first introduced, she couldn't form the question.

The alien had said that Harper had threatened his life. That the young man had cornered him with a pulse pistol the size of his arm that was obviously black market, and had threatened to kill him for information on Trance's whereabouts. Had even come close to shooting off a leg before the dealer caved and told him where Trance's new ship was docked.

Beka shook her head at the idea. Maybe the merchant had been lying. But than- maybe not. She knew Seamus had had a rough life, but somehow she couldn't picture him in such a cold-blooded scene as that of the one the alien had drawn for her.

In the back of her mind, though, she realized exactly what was causing all of this anxiety. And it wasn't the cold-bloodedness of whatever Harper had done- though that was proving much easier to think about than this other fear. What really made her nervous, and kept her thoughts cryptic, was the idea of the lengths her engineer had gone to for this girl.

Whatever his reasoning, the ending couldn't be good.

But she pushed the unpleasant thoughts aside and concentrated on piloting, watching Rommie's facial expressions change with each movement of Beka's hands, as if the avatar could actually feel every tiny twist and turn of the ship.

Dylan glanced, again, at every one in the room with a self-assured look on his face that begged to be challenged. Beka would have been happy to oblige, but was beaten to the punch.

"This is ludicrous." Tyr commented leaning against his console. Dylan turned to face the man fully, an expression of curiosity and bemusement on his face.

The Nietzschean made a noise that sounded somewhat like another grunt- or perhaps what was supposed to be a menacing growl- before elaborating.

"If you had simply let me restrain that girl until we had left the space station, none of this would have happened." At this, Beka smirked, more at the fact that she wanted to agree with him, than at the absurdity of the idea.

Tyr went on. "It's not bad enough that our main instigator of medical treatment is now gone- which the Andromeda and the rest of us might have made up for on our own with the basic knowledge we've acquired- but now our engineer is gone as well. And none of us onboard are well versed in mechanics enough to be able to replace him."

He paused for a moment to sneer, but Dylan kept quiet. "So now we're forced to go on this wild goose chase in search of two people who obviously don't want to be found- all the while *hoping* nothing happens to this ship or that AI- since there's no one on board who knows how to repair them." Tyr sneered yet again, and Beka wondered if the expression was unique to Nietzscheans since she had never met any one who could pull it off so effectively.

Dylan waited a moment to make sure Tyr was done, than took a step forward.

Beka braced herself for a speech. And she could see Tyr do the same.

"You're right."

"He's what?" Beka jerked her head around to get a good look at the man she thought she had had all figured out. Tyr also stared at him in confusion.

Dylan shrugged a little in acquiescence. "You're right Tyr. You're both right." He glanced at Beka than back at the Nietzschean. "Not about the tying Trance up part- that's definitely not a good idea. But I shouldn't have let her leave. And not just because we need her to perform her duties on this ship. But because she's a valued member of this crew. As is Harper. I shouldn't have let her leave because that's not how this ship works.

"I was caught off guard by her, and I panicked. But that's no excuse. I can promise you that it won't happen again. And that I'm going to fix this mistake right now. We will get them back. Both of them."

"All right." Tyr spoke slowly and uncertainly, his eyebrows raised in disbelief over the idea of Dylan admitting to being wrong.

"Uh, hate to ruin the moment and everything," Beka spoke up from the helm. "But just cause you're all fired up about this, doesn't mean we're ever actually going to find them. Do I need to remind either of you that we have no clue where to even start looking?"

Dylan let a small grin take hold of his features, before pushing it back. "Don't you know I always have something up my sleeve?

"Tell me you know what you're doing." Beka tried for sarcastic, but settled for slightly apprehensive yet teasing.

"I have a plan." Dylan grinned again in that way that he has and Beka put a hand to her head.

"Oh God."

"Here we go." Tyr remarked under his breath.

TBC