Title: Bounty (sequel to Prides & Prejudices)
Author: AKA Jipster
Archive: Only Command Deck
Disclaimer: I don't own what no longer exists sob
Rating: PG-13
Setting/Season: Late Season 4
Spoilers: Abridging the Devils Divide/A Symmetry Of Imperfection/The Dissonant Interval and the first story Prides & Prejudices
Warnings: Violence, torture, angst a plenty, sexual themes later on
Comments/Feedback: Please, love to know what you think

Summary: After the events of Prides & Prejudices, Harper has been left blind and crippled in one arm, now he has to return to some sense of normality to resume his work on the Andromeda with the World Ship only weeks away, but it's never easy.

A/N: Alternative universe, with some nods towards cannon – sequel to the first story 'Prides & Prejudices' that can be found at 'the Command Deck dot com' under my author name, but can be read as a standalone story.

Part 1

"Crap!"

Beka raised her eyebrows on hearing a couple of minor bangs, and then paused for a moment before entering the machine shop, she crossed her arms as she finally entered and saw Harper rubbing his neck.

"Problem?" Beka asked casually, seeing Seamus Harper now stretching his shoulders.

"Gee, let me think," Harper angrily returned, as he swung around to face the blonde captain's direction. "I can't see, that's a bit of a problem," Harper seethed. "Oh and I can't use this freaking hand, and now," he gestured to the small device in his good hand. "I've blown the transmitter, I'm back to being wired up if I want to see anything," he stressed with frustration and threw the device across the shop. "Sparky?" Harper then demanded, more than asked.

"To your right, about three o'clock," Beka offered, and Harper moved his good hand, patting the surface until he located and opened the can, quickly taking a couple of gulps. "Better?" Beka asked.

Harper sighed, composing himself. "Wire?" Harper spoke without acknowledging her question, but his voice was a little softer now, almost embarrassed sounding.

Beka showed a degree of patience and understanding, as she moved over to the banks of computers and grabbed the wire, and with care she stepped behind Harper and brought the jack to his port. "Ready?"

"Ready," Harper confirmed, his voice low now. Seconds later, Harper turned around to face Beka and meekly smiled. "Thanks," he sighed, his sight partially returned via his port and the ships sensors.

"So the glasses?" Beka asked as she picked the remains up, knowing that she had only just got use to seeing Harper wearing these, she considered sadly.

"Fixable," Harper stated, and then frowned. "But the remote transmitter for the port that makes them work, that's caput and now somewhere over there in the never to be seen again part of the workshop," he then realised with a sigh, having thrown it in his fit of anger.

"You can build another right?" Beka asked, now with some concern.

Harper didn't appear too optimistic to her question. "Beka, I have so many other things to do with that world ship on our doorstop, and you know Dylan isn't exactly my biggest fan right now, maybe being confined to the workshop isn't so bad right now."

Beka frowned, the mobile transmitter had become Harper's lifeline, his hope, it worked with the glasses into which he had a built in small self contained camera system and that had allowed Harper to lead a semi normal life since his return from Yussuf's clutches, and he had even been able to leave the ship to go on missions. The small cameras were positioned within the glasses to his eye line and had worked a treat, giving Harper actual perspective vision, but without it, he was confined once again to the ship and could only see when he was jacked in via the wire, rendering him blind at all other times again.

Trance was still treating his injured eyes, but there was still only a slim chance that his sight would return, weapon kickback injuries were tricky to treat but Trance was not one to give up, and she often called Harper to the med deck for new or improved treatments but so far nothing had worked.

The mobile transmitter had become his lifeline, and was basically a modified wireless jack, and had been the key to the short term solution for his blindness. Harper had somehow amended it to carry the amount of information required to give him sight, picking up the transmissions from the glasses straight to the transmitter jacked into his port, and that fed the information to his brain, giving him the stable connection he needed to see.

The more standard mobile jack connectors were unable to keep a strong constant link, and when he was relying on it for sight he didn't appreciate the pictures continuing to cut out when he was near high voltage appliances. As the engineer, that was a major downside but he had been able to fix it, until the transmitter and the glasses were broken during the last mission he went on.

Beka frowned again on remembering that last mission, but she decided to push Harper into fixing the problem, rather than accepting defeat, as he had come so far in the past six weeks since he had lost his sight. For a long while during that time Beka had been concerned that Harper wouldn't bounce back, but she couldn't accept that Harper would give up, even though he had lost so much to Yussuf and the past six weeks had not been easy for him.

"Harper, do you remember that being stuck in one place drives you crazy? Remember what happened before?" Beka gestured. "I'm not going back to three am disturbances because you decided in some drunken haze that it would be fun to play drums on my quarter's doors," Beka spoke up again, with a tired air now. "And not having accessible sight, Harper, I'm sure that Dylan will understand if you dedicate some time to fixing your transmitter, and regaining your temporary sight."

Harper just frowned, not looking as convinced as Beka. "You didn't see him, or rather hear him, Beka, I'm on my second strike and I'm not going to do anything to piss the guy off, ok?" Harper explained and moved to the workbench, taking care to check the wire coming from his neck so as not to catch it on anything. "I can't risk losing anything else," he said as an afterthought and with a touch of fear in his voice.

"Harper," Beka frowned. "What happened with the Patriarch, it wasn't entirely your fault, so stop beating yourself up about it."

"And what about Rommie going all shut down on us?" Harper now asked with an argumentative air.

"Another admittedly unfortunate incident," Beka offered, although even she had difficulty sounding convinced.

She simply knew now that what happened in Yussuf's clutches had affected Harper more than she thought it would, he wasn't his old self, he was far from it, but Harper had so much to deal with and she knew he wasn't getting the full care he deserved. With the World Ship and other Commonwealth troubles, she knew that Harper's needs were being neglected but she also knew that he wasn't helping himself.

There was a lot of conflict about him now in the way he worked and talked, he seemed to resent being there a lot of the time and now Dylan had finally lost his patience with him. Dylan needed Harper on board one hundred percent, but he wasn't getting that, and was now reversing his psychology on Harper, but it wasn't working to plan. Harper was now showing even more conflict towards them as a result, Beka could feel that just as much as Dylan had lost faith in Harper, the reverse was rapidly becoming true, but she had to concede that he was also making mistakes, disobeying orders, and he was no longer as reliable.

Was she surprised, did she blame Harper? Beka couldn't, she saw he was suffering and it pained her to see it and not be able to help him, but she could also understand Dylan's need to have an engineer he could trust, and after the time bridge incident, he could no longer trust Harper. They'd all taken Harper's injuries into consideration, they'd all supported him when he convinced them that he could work with his injuries and that they'd never regret it, and he had spectacularly let them all down, but she still couldn't blame him, unlike Dylan.

"Face it, Beka, I'm making mistakes and I'm a freaking liability to this crew," Harper snapped as if reading her mind, whilst bringing her attention back to the present.

Beka watched as Harper focused on some materials on the bench. "What happened would have happened whether you were blind or not, crippled or not, Harper," Beka argued strongly. "The Patriarch kidnapped you, Harper, came after you specifically, and it was your mind, and your thirst for science that made you activate that bridge, nothing else," she insisted with conviction. "And with Andromeda, she simply malfunctioned, and wasn't it something that you did to her program before you were blinded that affected her ability to operate?" she questioned, desperate to get through to her friend. "Its just coincidence and a heap of bad luck, Harper, that's all this is, so please don't let this affect your recovery."

"You can't prove that," Harper stated strongly, in defiance, and in conflict. "And Dylan doesn't exactly agree with your theories."

"Stuff Dylan," Beka stressed now with frustration, this was about Harper not Dylan she seethed to herself. "Who's word is more important to you, his or mine?"

Harper sighed. "I don't want to be thrown off the ship," he simply said, with genuine fear. "I can't survive off of this ship, I need this ship, Beka, you know that," he said with a sorrowful fear about him.

"I know you do, Harper," Beka stepped closer, in understanding and hating that Harper was so dependant now on the Andromeda. "And that's why I have been giving Dylan endless crap about the way he's been treating you lately."

"Do you really blame him?" Harper countered. "We have the freaking world ship just days away and he has some half witted engineer struggling to even see, let alone help him," Harper looked upwards. "He wasted valuable time coming to my rescue, and I know the Commonwealth have been on his back about it, and for what?"

Beka was already shaking her head. "Don't Harper."

"So I could go and screw things right up by giving the Magog future more evolved versions of themselves to add more crap to the fan, yeah, go Harper, way to pay back the faith Dylan put in me, when he thought I was worth rescuing," Harper stressed and put his hands flat on the bench, as he hunched over, letting his head drop to his chest. "I shouldn't have come back here, and you should have left me there with Yussuf, seeing as I can't do anything but muck things up maybe I'm only good for being a stupid slave now."

Beka reached out and placed a hand on Harper's back and noticed the slight flinch, through the thin material of his shirt she could still feeling the healing scars that had been inflicted on him at the hand of Yussuf's pride and she took care not to further aggravate them with her comforting touch.

"Harper we know it's been tough, the past six weeks have been one thing after another for you since you returned with these injuries, but you have to give it more time," Beka encouraged, allowing Harper a small amount of self pity time.

"If you haven't noticed, Beka, time isn't something that we have a lot of," Harper sighed.

"You've been doing great, and you were almost back to normal with those glasses, so please just give them one more chance, please, for me?" Beka pleaded.

"So instead of the Patriarch, the advanced Magog can break them and in one action completely blind me again rendering me helpless, and make me dependant on them so this time I follow their orders or become a mother to their kids?" Harper protested, he moved away from the Beka with anger, and to a console against the wall. "Beka, I really appreciate it that you keep taking out time for a loser like me, but really, I'm not worth it, maybe once but now, I'm just a corpse waiting to happen, and that's just the truth, nothing more."

"You are not a liability, Harper," Beka insisted, and inside she was raging about the events that had occurred to further crush Harper's spirit, he had been slowly coming around after the events and horrors of his time with Yussuf's pride, and then the Patriarch had turned up, forcing Harper to work on some time bridge that Harper succeeded with, sending Harper crashing into Dylan's bad books.

Beka now sighed, she knew deep down that he had needed little encouragement to work on that bridge, to prove his genius and his worth, but a part of her also wondered if maybe he was spiralling out of control, if he was on some death wish, or some mission to turn all those who care about his sorry ass, against him, starting with Dylan.

"Maybe you need to get a refill from Dylan," Harper soon spoke up again, having considered Beka's words. "He'll soon refresh your memory about me, about how I can't be trusted, how I've let the side down," Harper complained as he started working on something, and it was unnerving to watch him work but for different reasons to not trusting him.

His eyes still blind, were looking past the object he had in his hands on the workbench, and Harper was forced to use the ships sensors to focus and see the object before him, from angles that were not from his eyes perspective but various views from around the workshop, Rommie's eyes almost. Beka could only watch with both sadness and respect, seeing Harper confined to the one area force to work like this, so dependant on one wire to hook him into the seeing world but he was not giving up, and she knew he wasn't giving himself enough credit for his own efforts.

A yelp from Harper caused Beka to rush forward and she saw a fresh burn from the welder marking the top side of his hand. "Stop Harper," Beka encouraged. "Let me see."

"It's nothing, it's just the dead hand," Harper attempted to dismiss.

"No, Harper, you felt that," Beka realised. "I heard you react, and if it this hand is still completely paralysed and dead, you wouldn't have felt it like you did," Beka stressed and grabbed the hand, still encased in a protective cast.

"Some of the feeling started to return yesterday," he shrugged. "It's no big deal, Trance knows about it but I still can't move my fingers," Harper complained.

"But it's obviously healing," Beka exclaimed with some joy.

"Not if I keep welding it to my latest pet projects," Harper reasoned, mocking his efforts with anger.

Beka smirked. "Why did you do that exactly?" she teased, trying to lighten his mood slightly, trying to find something of her old Harper in his response.

"Yeah, like I did it on purpose," Harper attempted to play along but it sounded bitter more than joking.

Harper then hesitated, and Beka saw the doubt immediately, he had no idea to what extent the damage was that he had done to his hand, and he was relying on her to let him know what to do about it, without wanting to ask.

"We should get this looked at, it looks painful," Beka finally suggested with care.

Harper seemed agitated by her recommendation. "That means disconnecting, that means eternal darkness, and it means finding my way to Med Deck without the lights on," Harper explained with frustration clear.

"It means that when this hand heals, it'll be in some sort of condition that you might be able to use it again," Beka stated firmly. "Look, I'll come with you, make the journey a little bit easier, ok?"

Reluctantly Harper agreed and with a heavy sigh, he closed his eyes and disconnected himself from the ship, and he was plunged immediately back into the darkness that he had grown to despise. Beka's arm snaked around his shoulders, bringing small comfort, and they began to walk together.

TBC