Part 38

It felt like he had been travelling, and had been away for a very long while, some place else and he was tired now, but at the same time he felt rested and relaxed, and he was home. Harper opened his eyes but saw nothing, there was nothing to see and panic set in for a moment, he remembered being somewhere with Dani, and then he remembered pain, endless tormented pain, but he had no idea where he was now. There was something however that he did begin to pick up, a familiarity that also incorporated a feeling of safety.

"Harper?" Trance's voice then appeared from nowhere, but Harper couldn't speak as his thoughts contemplated this new information, how could he respond when he felt a sudden disappointment deep within, a betrayal? Now he felt guilty for feeling disappointment when he was hearing his close friend's voice for the first time after nearly a week of hell, a voice he trusted.

Harper could feel that something was covering his eyes, and it was soothing. He tried to find something to say but his mind was filled with the realisation that Dani had left him, probably alone, she had done that, she had walked away and left him, and the despair was felt deep inside.

"Harper, speak to me, can you hear me?" Trance persisted.

"Please, don't tell me he's deaf as well," Beka's concerned voice now sounded, and Harper felt his stomach twist. He was home, and he was supposed to be happy, but he was torn. He didn't want to be alone again, to go back to just being single old Harper who only fixed ships to get his kicks, he wanted Dani by his side, he needed her touch to calm him. What had she done to him that made him feel like this?

"I have no indication from the scans that his hearing has been affected," Trance continued to speak, her voice laced with concern. "He could be too traumatised to speak, after all that happened to him, Beka, look at him," Trance's voice sounded so sorrowful. "We have to give him time."

Harper felt someone touching his arm but he had no idea who, and he remained silent in his continued torment, even though a part of him wanted to reassure his friends that he was there, that he could hear them but right in that moment he just couldn't. He was still blind, he still couldn't feel his hand and now he felt alone, abandoned, an ex-slave the lowest of the low, and how could he resume his life on the Andromeda without sight and the use of his hand? It was over, the dream had been destroyed, and Harper knew it was the end, he had lost everything.

Beka moved around Harper, looking at him closely, almost believing he could hear them. Looking at her friend her heart sank, his face was beaten, even with the work Trance had already done he still looked rough and his eyes, Beka took a deep breath. She had seen the burn marks around his eyes that confirmed to her what she had already known before Trance had told her of his blindness, she'd seen kick back weapon injuries in her time, and she knew Harper would be lucky to see again. Then his hand, paralysed, possibly beyond repair, and Beka reached down to touch Harper's arm, she had to somehow let him know she was there for him, and nothing would move her.

"Seamus," she spoke softly, Trance had moved away and Beka finally had some time alone with her friend. "Thank you," she began. "I wasn't freed by Yussuf, I was sent to a camp, and because you didn't cause trouble, I remained safe, so thank you," Beka offered, though it felt lame to say something like that, to look at Harper and the injuries he had suffered and here she was thanking him for not doing anything to cause her more harm.

To Beka's surprise Harper moved his head slightly, a slight flinch in his expression, and she took encouragement from this action. "You're safe now, and you'll be ok, you're home so don't worry about anything, I won't leave you and we'll do everything we can to get you back on your feet, ok?"

As if reading his thoughts, Harper heard Beka, heard her voice and he trusted that voice and it was as if a haze had lifted from his mind in that moment. He needed to hear her words, he needed to believe them, and he started to consider her sentiment. He could feel her touch, and as with Dani he found it comforting, and he needed to feel comfort.

"Beka," Harper spoke, his voice dry.

Beka was quick to react and she took a glass of water from the side and put it to Harper's lips. "Drink, then speak," Beka calmly spoke, and she watched as Harper silently complied. Beka replaced the cup before turning her full attention back to Harper. With his eyes covered by a bandage, it was hard to know what Harper was feeling at that moment, so with her hand she now stroked his hair that was slowly growing from the forced cut, to reassure him that she was right there. "It's good to have you back," she said with honesty.

"Andromeda?" Harper simply asked.

"You're home," Beka confirmed.

"How long?" Harper needed to know how long it had been since Dani had left him.

"We found you yesterday, Dylan got the information from Dani," Beka spoke and saw the needy reaction from Harper to that girl's name, his body tensing slightly. "She left you in some ditch, you could have been found by anyone but thankfully Dylan reached you in time," Beka affectionately continued to stroke his hair. "But it was close, and we almost lost Rhade to Yussuf, he only just made it back, but none of that matters now that we're all back on board the Andromeda," Beka explained, it all seemed to have happened so quickly. "Dani is no longer your problem, ok? She was messing with your head all along, of that I have no doubt," she added with a touch of bitterness that once again she had seen a girl take advantage of her friend. "I never want that name mentioned again, we'll just forget about her," Beka instructed. "I'm so sorry I pushed you into helping me with her," she added with obvious regret.

Harper moved his head to the side, and realised that somewhere along the line Dani had fallen out of favour again with Beka, and his heart sank. Not only had he lost Dani, but now Beka would do everything in her power to force him to forget and move on, but Harper wasn't ready for that, and he had nothing to move on to, his life was worthless and over.

"Seamus?" Beka now prompted him to react. "I know you've been through hell but you're safe now, amongst friends."

Harper couldn't give her anything that she needed from him, and his unseeing eyes stared blankly, under the bandage and giving nothing away as to what he was feeling inside, the hurt, pain and confusions. He heard Beka continued to talk, idle chat now before Trance would return soon to no doubt run more tests, Harper no longer cared as he sunk deeper into his own depression and despair.

Dylan cut the communication and the Commonwealth insignia appeared on screen to signal that the line was gone. With a frown he sat back, having just received another grilling for being distracted by the main threat, the world ship was coming ever closer and he had even less time now to prepare.

"Andromeda, update me on Harper," Dylan now spoke.

"No change," Andromeda returned, and appeared in holographic form. "He is still blind, has no use of his left hand and is not reacting to any of the crew, we suspect he is aware of us but chooses to remain in his own thoughts."

"What is that?" Dylan asked with confusion. "Depression, trauma?" he questioned.

"Possibly both," Andromeda suggested. "His injuries were extreme and even now we have no way of knowing if he will make a full recovery, or a recovery of any kind."

"I don't believe that Mr Harper is a lost cause," Dylan stated firmly.

"Trance is working around the clock to try and fix the problems," Andromeda returned.

Dylan got to his feet and heard the door chime sound, and he looked at Andromeda for confirmation of who was waiting.

"Beka wishes to speak to you," Andromeda revealed and then on Dylan's gesture she opened the door for the blonde captain.

"Dylan," Beka greeted, she looked tired, harassed and on a mission as she strode into the room. "I want to speak to you about Harper."

Dylan nodded towards Andromeda who blinked out of sight and he offered a seat to Beka, but remained standing himself.

"Go on," Dylan requested, as Beka sat down.

Beka seemed to consider her words before speaking. "I want confirmation that Harper still has a place on this crew."

"Why wouldn't he?" Dylan asked, he was a little surprised by the question, the thought that Harper would not resume duties at some point hadn't even occurred to him.

"He's blind, crippled, traumatised," Beka reeled off. "I just need to know that you are in no way doubting him."

"Not at all, I have full faith in Harper to bounce back from this, Trance tells me that she can help him, and I trust her," Dylan assured Beka. "So right now he's blind, but we have the resources on board to give him the support he'll need, so long as he's willing to make the adjustment."

Beka frowned. "That's what I'm afraid of, Dylan," she sighed now. "He seems to have no desire to help himself, he's uttered just a few words since waking up and half the time I have no idea if he is awake or not."

"Give him time," Dylan advised.

"I just fear that he's going to do something stupid," Beka admitted. "Remember how he was after the infestation, and now imagine it ten times worse and we have Harper right this moment on med deck."

"That bad?" Dylan asked, having not realised the full extent of Harper's mind set. "What do you want me to do?"

"Go visit him, Dylan," Beka asked. "He's tired of listening to me and Trance, and whether he believes us or not, he needs to hear it from you," Beka requested. "We need something to snap him out of his self exile, and we think you can do that."

Dylan wasn't totally surprised, as ships captain he had often been called upon in the past, before the fall, to give encouraging pats on backs to low morale crew, in fact he made it his mission to not have to wait to be asked, and know who needed that informal friendly chat. A twist in his gut revealed his guilt that he had not realised sooner that he could help Harper, and he moved to the door.

"Let's go talk to him now," Dylan simply said, and Beka stood up to walk with him to med deck.

"Thanks for doing this," Beka spoke as they walked.

"You don't have to thank me, I should have visited him sooner, I just didn't want to get in the way," Dylan admitted, and then remembered finding Harper and the shock he had felt on seeing the engineer in the small alcove, hidden so well from the surrounding area, Dani had chosen a good hiding place, so good that Dylan had almost missed him and had taken a while to find Harper.

"It shook you up, didn't it?" Beka then glanced at Dylan and she knew that she was right. "Finding Harper in the state you did."

Dylan tried to look calm but it was clear that he had been shocked. "I was expecting a few bruises, maybe some weight loss, I wasn't surprised to see him unconscious, but I wasn't expecting quite the damage he sustained."

"Those marks all over his body, he got the rougher deal with the acid showers," Beka spoke from experience. "He got more beatings, I don't think there was any let up from the Nietzscheans in their treatment of Harper."

Dylan took a deep breath, the reality too much to comprehend. "Is he free of the slave tag?"

"Someone removed the chip, not with much care but he's clean," Beka returned. "It's going to leave a mark," she sighed and shook her head, and she struggled for a moment, knowing what that mark would mean to Harper.

"Beka?" Dylan questioned not understanding her sudden sadness.

"If he wants to die, if he has suicidal thoughts, you know, I wouldn't blame him right this minute," Beka reasoned, her voice shallow.

"He has so much to live for, Beka," Dylan tried to object.

"I know that," Beka was quick to speak. "I know that he can bounce back, he's amazing like that but it's convincing him that he can," Beka offered and then frowned. "I've heard him speak, Dylan, about slaves and about his own views on them and now he's been one of them, this is going to take a lot of work to bring him back from."

"His prejudices," Dylan remembered. "Well we'll just have to keep working on him until he realises that he can bounce back from this," Dylan spoke and then put a hand on Beka's shoulder. "I think Harper will be fine, I know he gets down but he'll be ok, and he has the best people possible looking after him, in Trance and you," Dylan smiled on seeing Beka's reaction, she seemed to take comfort in his words.

They walked onto Med Deck and before they reached Harper, they both suddenly became aware of the battle stations alert sounding, and Rhade's voice quickly came over the ship wide communications.

"We are under attack, ten ships have just entered the system, all Yussuf pride and they are demanding the return of their slave, Seamus Harper," Rhade's voice sounded with urgency.

"This will have to wait, sorry," Dylan offered to Beka, and quickly turned on his heels. "I'm on my way, Rhade, let them know that they have no slave named Seamus Harper, he's commonwealth and no slave, and let them know that with volley of missiles."

Beka watched Dylan race out of command, and his sentiments in his reaction warmed her, and as she looked over to Harper, she caught his head for a moment turned to her direction, before he resumed looking upwards. With a sigh, Beka knew she had to assist on command, even though Dylan hadn't requested it, and she left med deck with a heavy heart, but all too ready to beat the crap out of Yussuf's ships.

The room was dark and intimidating, she was alone and had never felt it so much before, and she didn't know why. There was pain, a slight pain in her head and she struggled to remember something that she knew was important.

Dani then heard the light knock at her door and looked up to see Kane now leaning into the door frame. There was a moment of silence, and Dani could see Kane looking at her carefully before he spoke.

"How are you feeling?" Kane asked softly.

"Ok, I think," Dani responded.

"You're sounding a lot more like yourself," Kane observed and slowly moved forward.

"I don't understand," Dani spoke now, confusion clear in her expression. "I was on the Andromeda, and now," she began until Kane silenced her.

"We rescued you, it was a close call but we got you back," Kane answered. "You'll remember the details soon enough."

"The ship was under attack, I was in a corridor, it was falling apart around us, he was trying to help me," Dani remembered, her memories felt more sketchy than usual, but she couldn't understand why.

Kane sighed on hearing her mention someone on the ship, the he Kane guessed referred to the kludge Dani had fallen for, the reason why she was now like this again, with her mind scrambled to Yussuf's will. "Dani, you know better than to try and force your memories, relax and let's start planning our next mission."

"What happened to the Andromeda?" Dani asked.

"We got lucky," Kane partly smiled. "Just a couple of hours ago it was reported that the Andromeda had been destroyed, we took one last run at it for what they did to you."

Dani showed sudden sadness, though Kane suspected she didn't really know why, but he knew it was possible that in the coming days she would remember what she had with the kludge she called Shay.

"No one survived?" Dani asked her voice low.

"No one," Kane confirmed, and he showed her a pre-prepared flexi that showed the Andromeda exploding under an attack by Yussuf's best fighters. "So you are to put it all behind you now and move on to the next mission, we're going to make you low key for a while, its clear by the commonwealth's interest in you that you are in danger, so don't be surprised if you're doing a lot of underground work for the next few months."

Dani just nodded her head, as if to understand, but Kane knew that she was still fighting the procedure that the doctor had happily reassigned to her brain. Inside he too felt sadness of a different kind, Dani was an intriguing addition to the Yussuf pride, a spark of difference to the people around him, and he always enjoyed spending time with her, and it was sad to see her returning back to the confused individual again.

"You better prep me for my next mission then," Dani then announced, as if finding her feet again, shaking away the confusion in a blink of an eye, and Kane now knew that their Dani had truly been returned to them.

Beka walked into Harper's quarters and stopped, she wasn't sure what she had been expecting but a small part of her just wanted to see Harper back on his feet, working away at something or other, smiling that cheeky grin as he tried to think up new ways to get Trance or Rommie to take him up on his advances. Instead she saw Harper alone, caught up in his own thoughts and ignoring the outside world, sat in a chair in his quarters, unmoving, unseeing, he hadn't even been able to raise a smile to Trance for freeing him from the confines of the med deck.

It was tough to look at him, his eyes open but not able to see her, and Beka found herself wondering what it was truly like to be without sight. His eyes stared at the ground, unmoving, just staring and only occasionally blinking. Since Trance had removed the dressing, it had unnerved Beka to be able to see his eyes, knowing he couldn't see with them himself. The burns around his eyes from the weapon discharge had all but healed, Harper was looking as fresh faced as she remembered him, but his hand was still paralysed and encased in a custom built cast to protect it, and his eyes, Beka could only frown.

She could hear the music, Harper had his head phones covering his ears and it was loud enough that Beka could almost catch the tune he was listening to. Beka shook her head, wondering if Harper was trying to ruin his hearing along with his sight, but his actions only further proved to her that Harper was trying to escape his existence by tuning himself out. With the music blaring, Harper had no way of acknowledging the real world and it hurt her to see him like this, so willing to give up and let go.

Beka then caught the whiff of alcohol and she quickly moved to the box by Harper's side. He wasn't so useless as to not be able to find his stash of beer in his quarters and she inwardly cursed Trance for not checking his room first, and now that she was closer to Harper, Beka could tell from his sitting position that he was the worse for wear.

"Seamus," Beka said under her breath, knowing that there was no way he could hear her. "I'm willing to bet this was not on Trance's medical list for drugs for you to consume," she continued talking to herself, checking the empty bottles. "Ok, soldier," Beka then declared and she lightly touched Harper's hand, she was annoyed with him but not enough to give the guy a heart attack with any sudden movements around him, he'd have no idea she was there, and that she was so close.

"Seamus, time to give the music a rest," Beka announced still holding his hand, and then she moved her hands to his headphones, all the while making it clear what her intention was, and she was glad to see little resistance to her removing the music from his ears.

Harper now closed his eyes to the silence, and Beka waited to see if he would offer any further reaction. When he didn't, Beka took hold of his hand again and began to talk, like she had been doing since he had first woken up.

"Harper, drink is not the answer," Beka said with care, bringing her hand to his face, the only contact she could make now was actual physical touch and she made that she did so with care. "We need you, Harper, you may find that hard to believe but we do."

Harper seemed agitated by her presence but he didn't push her away or resist her touch. "Please, Seamus, now you're up and on your feet again, I need you to look at Rommie, we've tried to figure out the problem but we can't get her operational."

"Problem with Rommie?" Harper suddenly spoke, and Beka was caught out by his sudden attention to her, after so many hours of silence.

"She overloaded, whilst saving my butt from the prison camp," Beka explained.

"Prison camp?" Harper repeated, showing how much he had zoned out, and not listened to her rambles.

Beka sensed a break through, and saw his confusion to her words and persisted. "Harper, will you check Rommie for me, I know your still sick, still recovering," Beka looked at him with a frown. "Still drunk," she added. "But there must be something you can do to help Rommie."

Harper brought his good hand up to his head, obviously starting to feel some of the effects of the drink he had consumed. "I don't know," Harper then admitted, as doubt seeped into his actions, he was becoming hesitant.

So little words, but they hurt Beka a lot, it was not often that Harper gave up before at least trying. Feeling a static buzz momentarily beside her, Beka glanced around to see that she had been joined by Andromeda's hologram self.

"Harper," Rommie spoke clearly, and Harper seemed to sit up slightly to the new voice, it had thrown him slightly. "I need my avatar, we all need my avatar and you can help, you just don't see it yet."

"Yeah, being blind is a bit of a bitch," Harper partly snapped, as he huddled up again in his chair, cutting himself off once more with his body language.

"Rommie needs you, Harper," Beka persisted.

"Well what about me?" Harper suddenly found some strength in his voice. "Who do I need, why don't I tell you who I need?" Harper stopped suddenly as images of Dani consumed him, enough to make Harper unable to finish his words. Even though he couldn't see, he slowly began to guess the reactions his outburst had had on Beka and Holo Rommie.

"Your friends, Harper, you need us, that's all," Beka spoke sincerely.

Harper's hand began to rub his forehead, a nervous action and it soon became clearer that his emotions were rising. His face began to crease, and Harper's body slightly shook as Beka heard the first stifled sobs from her friend.

"Seamus," Beka said with fondness, and she knew that she had never seen him like this, Beka glanced at Rommie and it was enough of a sign that she wished the hologram to leave, and give them privacy. Beka moved beside Harper, and she wrapped her arms around him, settling down beside him. "It's going to be ok, I promise, don't give up, please," Beka spoke, her own emotions wavering in reaction to seeing her friend like this.

"I loved her," Harper spoke softly, his voice racked with emotion, speaking between uncontrolled sobs. "I didn't want to leave, I wanted to stay, I didn't want to come back, I didn't care," he admitted between breaths, as the tears continued to fall and in that moment Beka couldn't help but feel as though she was comforting a child, as Seamus let go of his emotions in her comforting hold.

His confession of love almost killed her to hear, had he not seen what Dani had done to him, and now he was talking of love? Beka held him tighter, knowing now they had more of a task on their hands, she had never seen Harper so cut up about a girl before, and she feared it like nothing else at that moment.

It was a few minutes later that Beka chose to respond, having allowed Harper to allow his troubled mind clear through his emotions. "Harper, you're free now and whatever happened in the past week, I know it's been close to your personal hell."

"No," Harper surprised Beka by objecting so calmly. "The past week has been the best week," he countered, with a slightly ironic if emotionless laugh.

"Harper, stop messing with me," Beka lightly requested, but she was unsure of whether he was being sarcastic or truthful.

"Seriously," Harper simply said to answer her, quietly and without explanation.

"Harper, how can you say that?" Beka questioned. "You do not look like a man who has just lived the best week of his life."

"I look like a man who's lost everything," Harper said coldly.

"But you haven't," Beka insisted and she moved around slightly, so that she could face Harper now. "You have us, Harper, and you have this ship, and more importantly you have your freedom."

"What good is freedom to me?" Harper argued.

Beka wanted to both cry and yell with frustration, but resisted the urge. She lightly ran her hand through his hair again, showing him as much affection as she dared, as she moved closer. "Harper, talk to me, tell me what they did to you."

Harper immediately made noises that clearly told Beka he wasn't prepared to talk as he squirmed slightly from her touch, and he looked away with his face wearing a scowl.

"When you arrived here, you were pretty beat up," Beka remembered. "It seemed you experienced a lot more than just the cleansing and lashing after I left," Beka spoke, trying to encourage Harper to take up the rest.

"I was a slave," Harper simply said, his voice harsh sounding, a touch of shame about his body language now. Beka put her hand on his shoulder, comforting him as best she could. "I just did what they said," he offered awkwardly, and with defeat in his voice. "I tried my best," he added with a shrug.

"You didn't fight it?" Beka asked, a little taken aback, she had simply imagined that Harper would have fought the decision to make him a slave.

"Why bother? No one listens to slaves, to us, no one cares what we think," Harper spoke, all the while facing away from her, and his voice carried a tone she hadn't heard before in Harper. It was a tone that seemed to speak from experience, bad experience but it was the first time she had ever heard Harper refer to himself as a slave and that shook her.

Harper was now biting as his nails, clearly uncomfortable as he spoke but he made no movement to move away or stop the discussion.

"Harper, I'm listening to you, and you are not a slave, being tagged for a few days does not make you a slave, Seamus," Beka said with determination.

"Once a slave always a slave," Harper simply responded.

"Listen to me," Beka now instructed with force. "Seamus Harper is not a slave, you got unlucky, tagged for a few days unfairly, but you are not a slave, you have to believe that!" Beka stressed loudly.

"Is that an order?" Harper asked and his voice was laced with bitterness, and Beka found that his tone had almost caused her to slap him, but she managed to stop herself just before she went through with it.

Taking a moment to calm down, Beka frowned. "Harper, I can only help you so much, the rest is up to you, you have to help yourself before you can do anything else and this attitude, it's going to send you down, not up."

Harper's expression changed slightly, but not enough for Beka to be convinced that he was taking her advice.

"Look, I know you're in pain, and that you have experienced I don't what at the hands of Yussuf and his friends," Beka gestured helplessly. "I was there too for a time, so I know this first hand and have the scars on my back to prove it," she stated and noted Harper reacting to the last bit. "But you're back now, whether you like it or not and we are not going to let you simply kill yourself because of that tyrants work, so don't expect us to just leave you alone."

Harper took a deep breath, noticeably more sober now and able to sit up as he adjusted his sitting position. Slowly and with some effort, shrugging away Beka's attempts to help him, Harper got to his feet. Unsteady at first, lacking the confidence he needed, Harper moved slowly forward, his feet and hands reaching out to detect any obstructions before him, until he reached Beka who simply held onto his arms to acknowledge him.

"You see that?" Harper then asked with defiance in his voice.

"That was great, Harper, you did that, the first steps," Beka encouraged, it was the most that she had seen him move since his return.

"Yeah," Harper mocked. "And when the Magog swarm ships come out of the slip stream, attach themselves to the hull, and I need to get from command to the slip stream drive to save our sorry asses, I'll be a great freaking help won't I?" he snapped angrily.

Beka closed her eyes, thankful that Harper couldn't see her reaction to his words, as she tried to think of a response, and finally it dawned on her. "I thought you were a freaking genius, Harper," Beka stated with authority. "I thought you could do anything?"

"Yeah, with working eyes and working hands," Harper argued, ready for the fight but with some hesitation to Beka's reaction, he had thought his argument was strong enough.

Beka shifted her hands to his shoulders, needing to get his attention. "You, Harper, you have beaten the odds before so why not now? You made time travel possible, you made enough gadgets to make this ship survive countless times when it shouldn't have, but you can't make yourself see again, you can't work around a healing hand?" Beka questioned, her voice daring him to object. "Think, Harper, think, and you know there's a way and I bet that brain of yours has already thought up theories, you wouldn't be Seamus Harper if it hadn't."

Harper shifted in Beka's hold. "Maybe," he admitted awkwardly, but seemed to want to stay in denial to her words.

"I knew it," Beka declared with joy. "So what's keeping you from trying out your theories?"

Harper looked down suddenly, and then he glanced at Beka. "Would you," he began but stopped, he was clearly uncomfortable asking.

"How about I take you to the machine shop and you can make a start on those theories?" Beka offered, knowing it was what Harper was having difficulty asking.

"They might not work," Harper then spoke, the doubt returning, but Beka was already leading him from his quarters.

"Then at least you can say you tried, and if you don't mind being labelled a failure than so long as your happy, I'll be happy," Beka stated, allowing some mind games into proceedings. "I just refused to see you not even try," she added and they continued to walk, Beka then showed her surprise when Harper instinctively made the turn towards the machine shop without her prompt at a corridor junction. "Harper, do you even need me to guide you?" she asked.

Harper stopped and seemed to catch up with himself, and his expression showed that he had only just realised what he had done. "I guess I've done this walk a lot," he offered, a little shocked now. "I was picturing it in my head, I just knew to turn there," he added with disbelief.

Beka embraced Harper now affectionately. "Which only further proves that this is not as bad as you think, you can get through this, Harper, but you have to want it and I know you can do this."

"I'll get back to you on that, I'm not sure what I want," Harper spoke evenly, and something deep down seemed to tell him that Beka didn't like that answer, he could almost sense her frown. "But I'll work on that too," he added with resignation.

"We all need you Harper, and if Yussuf hadn't rudely interrupted us yesterday with his stupid circus act games, Dylan would have told you the same thing," Beka assured him. "And Rommie needs you more than anything right now, so do what you can, that's all we ask."

Harper nodded his head, knowing that he was slowly coming around to Beka's way of thinking however stubborn he tried to remain about it, he liked his depression, it was all snug and warm but the reality was unrelenting, and he knew that he wouldn't be allowed to just disappear. Beka was right, he could fix this temporarily, and he did have some options to try, and the basics of those plans were already figured out in his head. He wouldn't be Seamus Harper if they weren't already there inside him, ready, planned, formulated and ready to be processed.

With a new strength, that was slowly building Seamus Harper knew that he may only have the one working hand, but he had done many a job with the one hand on a sparky cola before, and deep down he knew that he could do this, Harper suddenly began to brighten.

"Harper?" Beka's voice spoke up with slight concern at his silence.

"I'm good," Harper offered, and even found the briefest of smiles. "I'll go fix things, do what I always do, save your butts and mine," he mocked now. "Go give Rommie some new lines," he shrugged.

Beka couldn't help the beaming smile in reaction, smiling and joking in such quick succession could only mean that Harper had turned a corner, in more ways than one, and she only wished that Harper could have seen her reaction for himself, she put her arm around his shoulders and they continued to walk towards the machine shop allowing the past week, and the mission, to stay firmly behind them.

The end