Harper Learns
By: Jaimi


Rated: R (for swearing)

Disclaimer: Nothing and no one that appears on Andromeda belongs to me. They belong to Gene Roddenberry, Tribune Entertainment and all the other lucky people like that.

Author's Note: A HUGE THANK YOU goes out to Nevermore for Beta Reading this and giving very helpful suggestions
and advice. It went from being in pretty sad shape, to well, this (not bad)! Hope you like it. Please R&R!

Trance watched with sad eyes as Harper worked diligently on his latest project. Of course that wasn't the sad part. The sad part was his obvious avoidance of her, and the hurt and betrayal that still shone strongly in his beautiful blue eyes. He'd refused to acknowledge her presence when she walked into engineering. It was the same today as it had been for the past three days.

He hadn't said one word to her, and the crew had noticed. They questioned Trance, offered to talk to him for her, but she refused. She insisted it was her problem, and hers alone. It would only alienate Harper further if the rest of the crew were to get in between them. She didn't want that. Harper needed somebody, and if it wasn't her then she would be damned before she came between him and the rest of his friends.

She leaned back against the smooth steel of a bulkhead, waiting, hoping, but always knowing she would get nothing from him. She sighed, thinking to herself, wondering how she was ever going to repair the damage she'd done to their once-perfect friendship. A single tear slipped down her cheek, unnoticed to her.

Harper noticed, as he watched her reflection in the dull gleam of a metal cover he was putting back into place. His heart ached to reach to her, to wipe the tear from her beautiful face and kiss her sadness away. However, the thought of what she'd done came rushing back, and the fleeting look of sympathy vanished. It was replaced by the blank mask that everyone had grown accustomed to the past few days, but intensely disliked. Gone were his sly comments and witty words. The only jokes told were those by Dylan and Beka, both whom lacked Harper's comedic flavor. The atmosphere was tense aboard Andromeda, and no one knew how to fix it.

Dylan's voice interrupted their straying thoughts. "Harper and Trance, we need you on the bridge, NOW!"

Harper jumped to his feet, and with barely a sideways glance he headed for the door. Feeling thoroughly defeated by things she could not control, Trance sighed deeply and slowly struggled to her feet, only to slip on a stray tool Harper had left behind, falling right back down again. She tried to hide a sob, as the past few days caught up with her at this, and she gave up. She buried her face in her knees, crying quietly after the door hissed shut.

Harper stopped at the door, hearing the clatter of some tool he'd left lying around. He turned his head to see a distraught Trance, legs and tail at different angles, leaning back on her hands. Pain pinched at his heart as she sobbed, pulling her long legs up, and wrapping her arms around her knees, face hidden by her arms. The door hissed shut after no move was made of him to leave. He willed himself to turn away and leave her there; she was a big girl, she could get up by herself, and she didn't deserve his help... But at the sight of her shoulders shaking with silent sobs, his hardened exterior crumbled. He couldn't do it. Despite all he'd been through in his life, and even the recent bout of anguish, his heart hadn't hardened enough...it probably never would. Beneath that tough, standoffish cover of his beat the heart of a kind, caring person. True, he'd let few people in, and had truly cared for very few in his life. He was a good person who wouldn't turn his back on someone who was suffering. And it just so happened that the someone who was suffering was someone whom he cared for more than words could say, and he hated that.

Why? She'd hurt him. For no valid reason she hurt him. She'd betrayed him, but he couldn't hate her, he just couldn't. He could ignore her, pretend she wasn't there, that he didn't care... but it was an act, a well cemented act. He could never stop loving her, or the others. If it should kill him, he never could.

He banged his fist into the broad archway, frustrated at his lack of control. A few more steps and he could do it... but he couldn't. He turned back toward her, taking deep breaths, careful to avoid her eyes.

Trance jumped at the sound of flesh and bone connecting with metal. She looked up to see a frustrated Harper standing there, then he turned toward her, eyes on the ground. He slowly made his way over. She stared in shock as he offered her his hand. After a moment, she tentatively lifted her hand to his and he carefully pulled her to her feet, kicking the offending tool out of the way. Then he gave her a gentle shove toward the door. She said nothing, afraid of ruining this small advance, and continued on to the bridge, Harper following behind her.

*****************************************************************************

Dylan said nothing as he watched with interest as his two youngest crewmembers walked onto the bridge together... or relatively so. Harper was trailing behind, but it was the closest he'd come to being near Trance in the last few days. Dylan sighed, frustrated. He hated what had happened between the two, whatever it was. The silence between them was unnerving; he was so used to the friendly bickering or whispered endearments. Harper's cocky flare had all but vanished, and Trance's normally peppy nature had dulled. Her eyes were always sadly trained on the blonde engineer, seemingly waiting for the old Harper to pop back at any moment, but accepting the fact that he wouldn't shine through.

They approached him, looking expectantly for him to tell them what was up.

"Took your time did you?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.

He wasn't really mad, but it would be so nice if his ship was run in partial order once in a while. He knew he had more of a chance restoring the Commonwealth without hassle than getting his rag tag crew to act like...well, a crew...at least a High Guard crew anyway. He sighed, with a slight smile. Despite that, he cared for them all. They each added something to his life, and he felt better knowing he wasn't alone in this strange time. He had these people whom he could proudly call his friends.

Harper looked about to answer when Trance piped up, "Sorry, sir. It was my fault, it won't happen again."

Harper looked at her perplexed, then shook his head.

Dylan smiled, "You don't have to call me "Sir," Trance, I thought we talked about that. Don't worry about it, I'm in too good a mood to be mad."

"Why?" Trance asked for both of them.

"Well, another planet has agreed to sign the Charter. They weren't signed before the fall of the Commonwealth, but I guess we were able to convince them this time around. They're sick of the wars as well."

Trance smiled, her first true smile in the past three days.

"Oh Dylan that's wonderful." She leaned forward to hug him. He gladly accepted, with a laugh.

"Yes, it is. We're doing it ladies and gents, slowly but surely."

Harper couldn't help the twinge of jealousy as Dylan embraced his... his what? Girlfriend? He mentally shook himself. Not anymore. His body tingled, wanting so much to be in Dylan's place, even with it only being a hug between friends.

He forced a smile as Dylan released Trance and looked at him happily. Just because he was miserable didn't mean the rest of his friends had to be.

"Yeah boss, that's great. Congratulations."

"Thank you Mister Harper, but I do believe my crew was a vital help."

They both smiled, knowing they never would have been part of this wild dream if it weren't for Dylan, but neither said anything, just nodded. They may help him, but they wouldn't be doing this without him.

"Well, that said, we're all gonna have a big meal tomorrow night. Rommie is cooking, so it should be pretty good...at least it's not me cooking anyway."

They both couldn't help but snicker, well aware of their captain's cooking talents, or lack thereof. Dylan glared at them for a few moments before turning his narrowed eyes on Beka and Rev. The two of them were also attempting to hide their laughter as they pretended to be interested with whatever was on the screen in front of them.

"We gonna have a big dinner every time a planet signs?" Harper asked, with a grin.

So far, after every signing, and even after the odd official meal with the actual signees, when everyone left and it was just the crew again, they celebrated with a dinner. Turns were taken in the cooking department.

"Yeah, I guess so. Kind of made it into a tradition haven't we?" Dylan replied, turning his attention back to his youngest crewmembers.

Trance nodded happily, "That's good, we need solid traditions on board. Things we can always count on never changing." The moment the words were out of her mouth she regretted them, but Dylan didn't seem to notice as he agreed and then turned to answer a question from Rev.

Trance looked at Harper, guilt written clearly on her face. She felt like a complete hypocrite right then. Harper stared evenly at her, the same look in his eyes from the past three days returning. She ducked her head, then raised her eyes back to his. She opened her mouth to speak, but he roughly shook his head, not wanting to hear her say 'I'm sorry,' and he stalked off the bridge.

Trance sighed sadly and took one last look around the bridge before heading to her quarters. If only he understood...

*****************************************************************************

Trance rounded a corner quickly and nearly ran into Harper, who not only seemed to be seething, but was also quite obviously waiting for her.

She took a step back, alarmed by his furious state.

"What the hell was that?"

She looked at him wide eyed for a moment, then said quietly the only thing she could say. "Sorry."

"SORRY? What the fuck Trance? You tear me heart out and then you stand there happily pronouncing how wonderful solid traditions are, and things never changing and all that other CRAP!"

She narrowed her eyes, "It's not crap Harper, I just..."

"Just what? Only feel it should apply when suitable for you? You know, I knew we shouldn't have taken on the...the relationship we had. I knew you didn't know what love is. You thought you'd just take this stupid human for a ride, right? Have your fun then drop him like a bad habit? I'll bet the men of your species are the real 'tradition' keepers right? Or do they dig the whole love em' dump em' thing, huh? Is that the big dirty secret about your people? They're arrogant, self-righteous, think they can play with human emotions, huh?" Harper's blue eyes blazed, daring her to deny it.

Trance stared at him in shock, tears brimming in her eyes. At his last comment she raised her hand to slap him, but knowing his hurtful words would gouge a reaction, he grabbed her wrist before she could strike him. He pushed her back against the corridor wall, leaning in close, breathing hard. He held her wrist tightly, but she didn't budge as he stared into her eyes, his narrowed as he hissed out, "Is that it?"

She willed the tears away as she stared back, and jutted her chin out in defiance.

"I'm sorry I hurt you Harper, but don't you dare judge me or my people based on that. I never wanted... I didn't... but I can't... okay? I just can't."

He gazed at her confused but still angry. "Just tell me. Tell me why."

"I..." She couldn't...he would never understand. It was better this way. So she settled for the only thing left, as much as it killed her, it was all she had. "You're right," she sighed in defeat. "I don't know what love is...I'm not in love with you." She tore her eyes away from the new flood of pain filling his normally bright, gentle blue eyes. "I'm sorry, I thought I did." She whispered.

He stared at her in disbelief as he pulled away, releasing her wrist which she immediately began rubbing feeling back into. He hadn't meant what he'd said to her, those hurtful words were meant to get her to open up...but this was not what he'd expected. Not at all.

"I... I... Just do me a favor, and stay away from me Trance, because no matter what, I think I have some sickness, because I still love you...I wouldn't want you to catch it." He sobbed out, angry, hurt, confused, betrayed...feeling like he'd lost his best friend...and he had.

She began sobbing at these words. It hurt so much, he was being so honest with her, and she... What could she do? Nothing. She slid to the floor sobbing as the familiar sound of the love of her life walking away in pain again echoed down the now empty corridor.

***********************************************************************

Tears coursed down Harper's cheeks unchecked as he shoved an unlucky stray chair over in his quarters. He let his frustrations out, swiping equipment from a tabletop, punching his fist against the hard steel wall. Dammit, how could he have been so stupid? He should have known, should have listened to his gut instinct...should have known better than to think he was good enough, that he deserved someone as amazing as Trance. She was way out of his league. He belonged to the bar girls and the sleazy hookers.

He cried out in both physical and emotional pain as he broke a glass in his hand, holding as tightly as the clenching pain in his heart. He broke down, sobbing uncontrollably, sinking to his knees. It hurt so much. After losing so many people in his life, he had shut himself down. By letting the rest of the crew in, especially Trance, he had realized how much he'd missed the feelings of love and belonging.

***********************************************************************

Trance lay among her sea of blue silk, crying softly to herself. What was she going to do?

*Nothing* She started at the sound of her father's advisor's voice in her head. And spun around to see him emerge from nowhere. *You are to come back home now, Mistress, your father feels these humans are having ill effects on you.*

*What? That's not fair, he said...*

*He said you could journey a bit of the galaxy for a while, but you were to come back when he beckoned and marry whomever he felt would make a good husband for you. And I should think you'll be pleased with his choice.*

*Marry? I'm not marrying anyone...from...from our world...*

*Young lady, you'll do as your father wishes...* He paused, looking at her for a moment, while accessing her memories from her time with Beka and the others. *Oh dear, what were you thinking? You can't be involved with a human, it is against our entire being... They drove us out, young one. You must forget all about these people. I noticed your father in quite a foul mood when he asked me to bring you home cursing humans and their devious minds. No wonder, it seems one has entrapped you as well in his vile web...*

Trance bristled, "How dare you!" She shouted out loud, tears dried from her eyes, burning anger replaced them. "You can't talk about my friends like that, about Harper like that. You don't know them or him. I thought you of all our people would...would..." Fresh tears spilled over. The elder man's expression softened.

*Oh child. I love you as though you were my own. You've always been my favorite. So brave, so independent, but your fascination with other species, with the galaxies, and your constant rebellion against your own people, your father. Well, dear, it's taking a toll on this old fairy. I can't keep covering for you, I can't keep convincing your father to allow you more freedom. Besides dear, you've had your fun. Don't you want to marry and have children? You're by far the most beautiful fairy among our people. Many of the young males have been striving to impress your father...*

Trance made a face, *I don't want to marry any of them.*

*You must, my dear. You have no choice, you know that... You've always known that. You seem to think this human and you could wed, but your father would never allow it. Humans are not worthy of a fairy's love, not since... Not since long ago, when they drove us out, forgot us, carried on and stopped believing in magic, love and harmony. They forced us to leave a planet that had always been our home, and re-settle somewhere far away and hidden. This young man you care so much for will forget you with time, he will give up and move on with his life...*

*But what if he didn't, hmmm? What if... What if he searched for me, and found me... Would you help me convince my father then, to let me leave our world, and be with him and our friends forever?*

The man's green face registered shock. *You would leave your people forever? Dearest, you're immortal, forever is a long time...*

Trance shook her head, her face serious. She looked her old friend and mentor in the eyes. *No, not if I'm not immortal.*

*But...* His eyes widened in realization. *Oh child, you feel such strong love for this human. He could never be worthy of you, or feel the same way for you.*

*How do you know? You don't know him. He does...and he would find me, and come after me... I know it. Please, when he does, will you help me?*

The man sighed sadly, *I fear you have no more than false hope child, but because I care for you so, I will promise you that if he should find you, I will help you. But my dear, please, don't get yourself too worked up. No one... No human has ever found the new world, and certainly no human has risked so much to find it...all for the love of a fairy...*

Trance nodded, but refused to believe that. She had to talk to Harper before she left, she had to get through to him.

*Please, give me an hour. I must say goodbye to my friends.*

The old fairy nodded, smiling. *Always the sweet one, aren't you? These humans were blessed to have you with them. I shall meet you back here in an hour. I don't think your powers are strong enough yet for you to transport yourself back home.*

She nodded, and he disappeared. Quickly, she jumped to her feet and raced out of her quarters.

*********************************************************************

The corridors were dark, night time was simulated aboard the ship. Trance was glad, it made it easier. First she went to see Tyr. The Nietzschean was sound asleep, but even in his sleep he looked ready to fight. She smiled down at him, closing her eyes. She concentrated, and in a soothing voice bid farewell in his mind. He mumbled, and she made out a soft, "Gby grl." She giggled, then turned and left.

Next she went to Rev's room. The Magog was snoring loudly, and Trance had to stifle a laugh as she approached him. She leaned over his curled up frame, lightly hugging him as she entered his mind and said goodbye. From his disgruntled snort, she made out "Don't go..." She smiled sadly, stepping away from him. She would miss them all so much, but Harper could help her. He could. He would. If he wanted to...if he still loved her. She had to believe he did.

Next was Beka. She smiled fondly at her boss and friend. Beka was so good to her. She hated to leave her without a good luck charm. "But I'll be back," she whispered reassuringly in her ear, knowing Beka could hear her but wouldn't wake up. She gently squeezed Beka's hand before heading to Dylan's quarters.

Dylan lay on his stomach, snoring slightly, mumbling in his sleep. "My crew...Beka...our crew...whatever..." Trance smiled, rolling her eyes, she leaned forward, placing a soft kiss on her Captain and friend's temple, sending him an affectionate good bye telepathically before hurrying away as he muttered a little louder.

"Trance?... where?....miss you...." He trailed off as she quietly shut the door.

With a deep breath she headed for Harper's room. She would say goodbye to Rommie just before she left. She didn't want her alerting everyone.

Trance stood looking down at Harper, asleep, sprawled out on his bed. One of his hands was wrapped up tightly by a towel, dried blood showing in blotches. Her brow furrowed in worry as she sat down on the edge of the bed and took his hand in hers. She carefully unwrapped it, mindful not to wake him. She inspected it closely, taking in all the wounded areas before she covered his hand with both hers and closed her eyes in concentration. A soft green light glowed from her hands and a little of her color paled. She was a slightly lighter purple, her energy having been drained from healing her friend. With a gasp, she opened her eyes and inspected his now healed hand. She smiled, then jumped, startled as Harper's voice cut through her thoughts.

"How did you do that?"

She opened her mouth, then shut it. With a sigh, she whispered, "I can't tell you much, but you just have to trust me okay?"

He looked at her oddly, but nodded slowly. She crawled closer to him, on the bed as he sat up, leaning back against the wall, legs crossed. He watched her warily, as she approached. He struggled to appear nonchalant, but his eyes betrayed his nervousness and confusion. His back was rigid, and his gaze darted between her, the wall and his recently healed hand.

She sat next to him, turning to face him. "Harper, I... I don't have much time, and..." She took a deep breath. There was so much she had to tell him, so much he had to understand, and she only had a few minutes left. "I love you!" She blurted out.

He looked at her angrily before getting to his feet and walking away toward the viewport in his quarters. She wasn't surprised, but her time was running short. She got up and ran over to him; his back was turned to her.

"Please?" She begged, pulling his arms from their crossed position over his chest and clutched his hands. He stared down at their entwined fingers, his face once again a blank mask, but he made no move to pull away. "Please just listen...I DO love you, Harper. I do. What I said before was out of fear... For you... But, but there may be a way. I have someone on my side...well, sort of, but only if you come through for me." She suddenly looked sad. "I don't really have a right to expect you to. I've hurt you so much...but Harper, if you love me, if you really want us to be together, there may be a way... Maybe. It's no guarantee. So I guess, it's up to you if you're willing to take the risk. But Harper if you don't love me, I mean, don't ...because even though I'll miss you all, it would never be worth the risk... I mean-"

She was cut off, as Normaf's voice echoed through her mind.

*Your time is up. Come along little one.*

She sighed in frustration. She had to think quick, this was her last chance. "They're making me come home...I don't want to go, but I have no choice... If you find it in your heart to forgive me, then remember this."

Leaning forward she didn't give him a chance to protest as she placed seven gentle kisses on what seemed random areas of his face. Then finally her lips settled on his own and he froze. His mind and body fighting each other in a silent war. The kiss was gentle and sweet. All too soon it was over and she leaned to whisper in his ear. "Even big boys have beauty hidden deep within. You have to believe it's there to find it... To find me."

His body stood rooted to the spot as she stepped away, backing towards the door. Before she turned to go she smiled tearfully at him, "I love you." Then she stepped out of his quarters and the door hissed shut behind her.

Several moments passed as Harper attempted to absorb what had just happened. Trance was leaving? His mind battled itself as a million different thoughts raced through his head. His heart thudded painfully in his chest at the thought of never seeing Trance again. But what did it matter, he didn't care anymore. Why should he? He squeezed his eyes shut, attempting to will away the thoughts of her tender kisses, the feel of her soft curves against him, the memories of her gentle laugh and her thoughtful ways. 'Stop it!' His mind screamed. 'She betrayed you.' Did she? 'Or I am I just to stubborn and to afraid to risk listening to her, to believing her.' The thought was hesitant, almost hopeful. But he quickly banished it. 'I don't care anymore.' With a determined grunt he turned and stalked back to his bed. Plopping down far away from where she had been seated earlier, he silently wished for deep undisturbed sleep to overtake him.

**********************************************************************

"Good bye Rommie!" Trance said, standing in front of the terminal in her quarters, Normaf off to the side.

"Trance? Where are you going? My sensors picked you up running around all night....are you all right? Who's that?"

Trance smiled at the all the questions Rommie was firing at her. No doubt trying to stall her while she woke Dylan.

"I'm all right... I'm going away for a bit." She couldn't say home, it just wasn't anymore, the Andromeda was. "And this is my friend Normaf." Normaf nodded, eyeing the computer terminal with avid curiosity.

"Well... Why? Why are you going away? Are you coming back? When? How long will you be gone?"

Trance laughed half-heartedly, hearing footsteps echoing down the corridor outside.

"You're very good at distracting, Rommie, but I really have to go. Tell everyone I love them, k?" She paused, then whispered, with an affectionate tap on the screen. "Bye!"

And then she was gone. Not two seconds later, the door hissed open and Dylan rushed in.

"Where-? Trance? Rommie where is she?"

Rommie looked distraught. "She's gone."

TBC...

Chapter 2 Coming...ummmm...when I get it written!

Jaimi Copyright@2001