Title: Perks, 1/1 PG
Author: Maddie
Response to a five minute challenge on Andromeda Fan Fic: Begin the fic with the first word of (perks, friends, exhaustion), include all three words and write for five minutes with no editing. (may edit afterwards)
Spoilers: Ourobourus (spelling?)
Feedback: Always welcome.
Disclaimer: The characters and other inhabitants of the Andromeda univers are not mine, but the plot belongs to me.



Perks can some in many sizes, shapes, colors, sexes, depending on what you call a perk and what you're being rewarded for. Perks can be as simple as friends who cares at the end of a long day when the only message your body sends is one of exhaustion and frustration. Seamus Harper lay on his back in an unknown conduit repairing an unknown communications line. He had stopped knowing what he was doing almost eight hours ago when his body passed the point of being exhausted and moved into the tenuous realm between total fatigue and death. He couldn't remember when he'd ;ast slept, eaten or even paused long enough for a drink. He did remember that when he first signed on Andromeda, the simple thought of his own quarters with a working shower and an endless supply of food seemed all the perk he would ever need. But over the past two years he found he had more than paid the price for any little extras he might have gained. He'd paid in lost sleep. He'd paid in sweat. He'd even paid in blood. This was the first time he'd truly paid with grief.

One too many battles fought and nearly lost without a casualty until, how many days ago? He couldn't remember. He wasn't' even sure this time line was the time line he was in three days ago. All he remembered was the Perseids, and his desperate need to rid himself of the Magog grubs slowly gnawing away at his insides. He hadn't cared who paid the price as long as he was free of the parasites, the gut twisting pain, and the inescapable death sentence. In the end, he had lost his best friend.

Strangest part was he didn't even know she was his best friend until she'd walked through a shimmer of time distortion and never come back. And he wasn't happy with who had come in her place. He mourned the old Trance, his friend. This new Trance scared him as much as the old Trance intrigued him. This new incarnation barely even looked like the Trance he now admitted he loved. The purple sparkle was gone, replaced with bronze and tougher than anything he ever imagined Trance could be. And that scared him. He could deal with the old Trance and her little girl innocence, but he couldn't deal with this one. And yet she said she was still his friend. Still his friend. He couldn't face that. Not yet. He was glad he had an endless amount of repair work to do. He could hide himself in the conduits for months and never have to face her, until she came looking.


Her voice echoed through the conduit. So much about her had changed but the voice was the same. If he closed his eyes, and wished real hard, maybe his sparkly purple friend would return.

"Harper." Her soft voice was followed by a softer touch on his shoulder. "I brought you something to eat. I was wondering if you were all right."

Perks, Harper thought with his eyes closed. Maybe, if he tried hard enough, he could still find a few he could appreciate.

He opened his eyes. No purple, but a smile. Wishes don't come true, he told himself, but sometimes you can learn to live with the new.