Waiting for the Light
Disclaimer: I don't own any of them. This is just for fun.
Season: Early Season 3 then veers AU
Author's note: This is the first Andromeda story I started, and it will probably end up being the last one I finish. It has taken years (yes, I said years) to write this story. Over that time, my writing has changed. I hope it has changed for the better, but I'm not the one to judge. I could go back and edit this story heavily, but I find I don't want to. My writing might not consistently be what I wish it was in this work, and some parts might make me cringe to read today, but this story is more than just a fan-fiction now. It's a portion of my life, spread out in words. I see how I've changed and grown through its paragraphs, both as a writer and as a person. Fixing everything would erase that history, so I'm going to leave it as it is, with the exception of a few edits to correct typos, spelling, and fix my opening quotes into a consistent pattern.
Thank you to those who have read and reviewed this over the years. You have given me some of my most precious memories, as well as the encouragement to continue to write.
This story was also triggered in part by one written by SparkyCola titled "Lose the Earring, Kid." Check it out, it's awesome.
Sometimes to know where you're going you have to face where you've been. Sometimes to know the true meaning of friendship, you have to take a journey in the dark…
I have lived an undirected life,
A cloudy way I know,
The only way I knew.
Still the things I've done,
In fact each and every one,
Are the way that I was taught to run.
I am waitin' for the light to shine, I'm waitin' for the light to shine.
I have lived in the darkness for so long, I am waitin' for the light to shine.
- Roger Miller, Big River
The room was quiet and dark, its dim lights casting the plain grey walls into shadows, giving it a solemn feeling. A quick glance around and any observer would have assumed the place was empty, but sometimes the eyes can be tricked. Sitting silently on his couch, lost in thought, the room's occupant was indeed present, at least in body.
Sighing quietly, Captain Dylan Hunt unconsciously took a sip from his cup of coffee, his mind still miles away. The last mission, though stressful and a bit annoying, had been a success and at the moment, the universe seemed willing to give them a break. No one was shooting at, shouting at, or slugging at them for the time being, which was just fine with him. As much as he craved action, a little down-time now and then never did any harm.
Shifting slightly, his thoughts returned to the last mission as if drawn by invisible strings. It hadn't been all that unusual, just the standard rescue mission with impossible odds and last minute timing. Andromeda being needed elsewhere, Beka, Harper, and he had gone down in the Maru to rescue a small band of colonists before the mountain they had unwisely chosen as their home blew its top. Amid falling ash, soot, and baseball-sized chunks of rock, the three had managed to get everyone onboard before an encore performance of Pompeii was staged. Besides enduring complaints about the damage those "blasted" rocks had done to the Maru, Dylan had thought they were home free.
Too bad it's never easy.
Deciding they hadn't had enough excitement, one of the refugees had proceeded to go into labor with the Andromeda still at least three hours away. Beka had quickly, almost frantically, declared herself completely useless in the area of delivering babies and strapped herself into the pilot's chair with a look promising severe bodily harm to any who tried to remove her.
Somehow, Dylan was not surprised by this.
But he was by what occurred next.
Desperately racking his brain for emergency medical procedures that had been stashed away since his academy days (and for him, that was a long time ago), he tried to contain his panic. Save worlds from unhinged mad-men with demonic plans, win battles outnumbered twenty to one, out-talk corrupt politicians, these things he could do. Deliver babies? That was a little out of his league. Where was Trance when you needed her? This was one situation he had no idea how to take charge of.
And then suddenly, he'd realized he didn't have to.
While he'd been arguing with Beka and himself, Harper had quietly stepped in and taken charge. And it was the "quietly" part that had surprised him almost as much as the taking charge. With a calmness and a gentleness he would never have associated with the hyperactive engineer, Harper took the situation right in stride. Shoving his astonishment aside to be dealt with later, Dylan accepted Harper's orders without complaint. By the time they docked with Andromeda three hours and forty-five minutes later, Dylan was exhausted and the Maru's passenger list had gone up by one.
It was only after all their guests had been provided for, and mother and child were safely in Trance's gifted hands, that Dylan slowed down long enough to resume his astonishment, which quickly turned to frustration. Harper was his mechanic, his engineer, his friend. Harper talked too fast, rarely thought first, and could whip a miracle out of thin air faster than you could say "now." Harper liked women, but they seldom liked him. He drank too much caffeine, never got enough sleep, and was fiercely loyal to his friends. Harper was like an annoying kid brother, you dream of peace and quiet, but it only takes you about five-point-two minutes to realize you miss him when he's gone. After three years working with the young man, Dylan thought he knew him, thought he had him pegged. So how the heck had he blindsided him like he did today? He was frustrated, not at Harper, but at himself and wondering if he really knew his crew as well as he thought he did.
Almost without realizing it, Dylan had found himself entering the Maru where he knew Harper would still be checking the ship for any damage they might have received on the trip. Walking into the engine room, he greeted Harper's cheery "hey Boss" with a like reply and willingly engaged in small talk for a while as Harper gathered up his tools.
They left the ship and hanger together and at the door Dylan couldn't resist any longer. After telling Harper he'd handled the emergency very well, he'd asked him where he ever learned how to play midwife.
An innocent question, or at least it had seemed like it at the time. One simple little question, and yet it was the reason he was still sitting here, in the dark, hours after the mission was over. No wait, that wasn't quite true. It wasn't the question that caused this bout of reflection but rather the answer.
Dylan had asked the question with a grin, expecting a cocky reply about how "the Harper was good." He had been slightly surprised to suddenly find himself the subject of a very searching look from his young friend. After a moment, Harper had turned away and started toward his machine shop. The answer was murmured so quietly Dylan wasn't even sure it was meant to be said out loud, but the words hung in the air around him just the same, sucking his breath away.
"You can learn a lot as a slave."