Nightmares and Darkness
By Jessie

Summary: A response to doxymom's "5 minute fanfic challenge three". I thought it sounded like fun, but as soon as I started writing, the story got away from me and ended up taking about fifteen minutes (well- seventeen if you wanna be exact) It involves Harper and a recurring nightmare. Enjoy :)

Archive: You want it? Go ahead and take it. Just let me know where it's going.

Disclaimer: Andromeda, its characters and situations belong to other people. If I were making money off this story, I'd be more shocked than any one.

Authors Note: Feedback is a good thing. Don't make me beg ;)

***

Ghosts crept across his body, and he felt the warm energy of his fear sweep over him. This was the nightmare that kept him awake nights. This was the dream that made him cry out in the darkness, sweat and tears competing with each other for domain over his face, as adrenaline pumped though his veins.

It was the same dream that he'd been having for four years.

Harper sat up in bed, breathing heavily and trying to wipe away the emotions from his face with a shake of his head. He ran a hand through his hair and tried to forget the dream- the ghosts- but they were harder to get rid of tonight than they usually were. Usually all it took was the thought of something else. He'd make a list, in his head, of all the projects he needed to complete. Or all the areas of the ship he'd yet to explore.

Tonight, however, those ghosts refused to leave so easily.

He closed his eyes, still sitting up in bed, and took in a deep breath. There were no such thing as ghosts and people coming back from the dead. Hell- even if it was possible, why would any one want to? Why would any one want to give up the after life- whatever it turned out to be- for the hellhole that was this universe?

How many atrocities had he seen in his life so far? He couldn't begin to count, but figured, in that awkward way that his mind worked after a nightmare, that there was enough of them to keep any one, once dead, from coming back.

Harper swallowed and nodded his head at the logic of it all. Yes, there was a logic to it. There were no such things as ghosts.

He felt silly and immature for having believed something so ridiculous. Even if it was only for a moment. Even if the only reason the idea had come to him at all was because of that dream. That awful dream.

He would have done anything to get rid of it.

He remembered the first time the dream had come, and it was almost as if he could still hear the blood-curdling scream that he had let out afterwards. If he'd been less sober, he would have insisted that the sound still echoed in his ears, and was part of the reason that he couldn't sleep most nights.

He knew, however, that the one and only reason was the dream.

He thought back, again, to that first night, and the outright terror that had filled him all through it. Beka had come to him, woken by the scream, and had waited by his bed until morning. They never talked about it. But it was the true beginning of their friendship.

At several other times he'd woken up screaming or crying, and she would rush to his side like before, make a seat for herself on the floor, and hold his hand until he'd calmed down. He remembered falling asleep with her on the floor by his bed, and then dreaming about her. A comforting dream that he wished was more common than the nightmare. In it, she'd turned into his mother. And he'd felt safe, for the first time in his life.

Harper opened his eyes and stared into the darkness in front of him. The memories, though nearly as gut wrenching, were slowly making the images of the ghosts disappear from his mind. So he kept at it, trying to remember other details- other moments- from his life on the Maru.

After a few weeks, slowly, Beka had stopped coming to his side every time the nightmare hit. It wasn't because she didn't care; it was because he was learning to control his fear. And Beka was one of those rare people who could sense things like that; who knew when she was needed, and when she wasn't.

He remembered when Rev had first come aboard, and the fear that had accompanied him. 'How could he work beside a Magog?' He remembered thinking. But, within a few days, it was as if they had always worked alongside one another.

A week after Rev's arrival, he'd had the dream again. For some reason it had been worse that night than it had been for some time. Beka had come to his side once again, never saying a word. Never needing to.

He remembered glancing up, in the dim light, and seeing Rev Bem's face staring back at him. The Magog had tried to ask what was wrong- and what he could do to help- but Beka silenced him with a cough and a look, and the Wayist had said nothing about it from then on.

Harper didn't know if Beka had said something to Rev about it afterwards, and didn't really care. All that had mattered was that Rev knew enough to leave him alone, and not to show his face during any other similar night.

When Trance had come on board, he had, for the first time, been worried about the dream. He dreaded falling asleep at night, just as he had for years- but now it was different. Two people had already seen the effects of the nightmare, and he didn't want any one else seeing him so vulnerable. It was one thing to trust Beka. And he had trusted Rev because he'd had to. But it was quite another thing to let some one as mysterious as this new ES officer into that part of his life.

Eventually, though, he'd had to sleep. And as soon as his eyes had closed, there the ghosts were. The dead family and friends, all crying out to him. Pleading with him. Blaming him.

He had cried out softly as he awoke. Too softly for Beka to hear: after three years he'd learned to keep his sobs down to a whisper so as not to make her worry. But it was not too softly for the ears of certain other crewmen.

Lying in bed, tears and sweat streaking down his cheeks, he'd heard a sound in the darkness that had made him take in a breath suddenly. Trance came, hesitantly, forward.

But he didn't let out the held breath. She may have been a more welcomed sight than ghosts, but this was exactly the sort of situation he had been hoping to avoid.

The girl paused for a moment, simply standing there, staring at him. Shadows concealed whatever expression her face held. After a long silence, she had wordlessly, taken another step forward and knelt before him.

Harper steadied his breathing on this newest night, and bit his lip at the tremor that racked his body. The fear was still there; but he focused on the memory. He brought back the feeling of that night, the vision of Trance in the darkness, kneeling beside him.

His heart had raced and he'd finally had to start breathing again. His body trembled with the conflict presented to it: was it the dream, or Trance that he now felt fear for?

The night was illusive in his mind. He still wondered if it had been real, but didn't care at the moment. He needed it to fall back on. Needed some form of comfort, even if it was from two years ago.

He and Trance had barely known each other. She'd only been on the Maru for little more than a week, though they were quickly becoming friends. And then, there she was, by his side, just as Beka had often been. Only it was different with Trance. Because the girl wasn't trying to take the place of his mother; she was just trying to be there for him.

Harper took in another deep breath, keeping his eyes trained on the darkness around him. His ears on the silence. No matter how loud he screamed there was no one on the Andromeda who would hear it and come to him in the night. And maybe that was a good thing. Maybe he needed the solitude.

But he missed Beka's presence. And he missed Trance's as well.

He slowly laid his head on the pillow and brought back to mind the image of Trance at his bedside. The feeling of her hand touching his brow, and then resting on his arm.

The memory brought a small sense of peace. The world had been right for that moment when Trance had touched him. And he felt that same feeling now, at the thought of it.

It was okay. He could relax now. The dream was gone. And, in its place, there was the vision of the girl. Instead of ghosts, his thoughts were filled with the memory of her touch. And he wished he could be back, on that night on the Maru.

He wished that the nightmare would leave him. After so many years, and so many miracles- Beka, Rev, Trance, the Andromeda- he felt certain that the dream would have left him. But apparently his past was not as easily erased as he would have liked.

He sighed heavily, and tried to fall back asleep.

In the darkness, he imagined a girl at his bedside. She held his hand through the night.



The End.