Disclaimer: All characters or references to Andromeda belong to Tribune Entertainment, not me.
Story Rating: R (my usual disturbing, emotionally tragic stuff. Sorry)
Summary: After having an extremely bad day, Tyr is sent over the edge by Harper and takes out his anger on him, consequently shattering the fragile trust which had developed between the two.
Tyr strode down the corridor towards his quarters, annoyance and fury radiating from him. He clenched his jaw, his hands balled up in tight fists. He resisted the strong urge to rip the panels off the walls he was striding past. He forced himself to take a deep breath. Ripping things apart was not going to help, he thought to himself rationally.
Turning the corner, he approached his quarters. He stormed past a droid which shrunk back as he passed by it. He glared up at the ceiling. Stupid, paranoid ship. Like he was going to take his frustration and anger out on a metallic robot.
Reaching his quarters, he punched in the access code into the panel and waited, tense and frusterated.
Nothing happened. His door remained closed.
Growling, he glared at the door, and slammed his hand against the panel. The door remained closed. His patience snapped.
"Ship!" He roared. "Open this door immediately or so help me I will rip you to pieces with my bare hands!"
The door slid open.
Grumbling under his breath, he strode into his quarters. Running a hand through his long hair, he forced himself to take a calming breath. He closed his eyes.
Whatever happened now, it couldn't possibly make his day any worse than it already was.
He thought back to that morning.
To start with, the stupid ship had somehow messed up her environmental controls and his shower had turned from a mild nice lukewarm to a shocking freezing cold in a matter of seconds.
Next, the arms dealer he had arranged a meeting with had double crossed him. He had known the idiotic man for years and had often traded and bought weapons from him. This time, Tyr had wanted to buy a new Gauss rifle from him. The man had declared that he didn't have one in stock, but if Tyr would give him the money, he could zip on over to Infinity Atoll where he could buy one from a 'less than reputable' source.
Under normal circumstances, Tyr would have never agreed, but seeing how he had known the man for years and he had never previously gone back on his word and the fact that the money he was asking for was a small amount, Tyr agreed.
The next day, he had contacted the man, only to hear from one of his cronnies that the lying bastard had left in the middle of the night with Tyr's money, heading in a direction which wasn't anywhere near Infinity.
Tyr had not only lost one of his most trusted weapons dealers, but he had been swindled. He, Tyr Anasazi, had been swindled. It had enraged him and he had wanted to fly after the thieving coward and strangle him with his own bare hands, but of course, Dylan had intervened. Told him not to get himself riled up over it and to just forget about it.
Tyr snorted. He had been swindled, and Dylan wanted him to just forget about it. Idiot.
After that heated debate between him and his intellectually challenged captain had ended, Tyr had marched down to the gym where he kept his punching bag to relieve some of his anger and frusterations. He walked through the doors, only to discover that the bag wasn't there.
Dylan had decided it was getting too worn out so he had decided to buy another one. But of course, first they had to throw the old one out. Dylan had given him a small smile and apologized, but Tyr had been hard pressed not to strangle him right then and there, and he silently wished Dylan was thankful that a viewscreen separated them or he might just have broken every bone in Dylan's body.
Tyr clenched his jaw again and closed his eyes. What a day.
He forced himself to breathe and felt a small burning within his chest. That burning came from the pent up frustration and anger he was holding in. He swallowed hard and unclenched his fists. If he made it through today without killing someone, he ruefully thought to himself, Dylan should give him a medal. A big one. Preferably one with a punching bag hanging on the end of it.
Tyr slowly opened his eyes and ran another shaking hand through his hair. His eyes quietly roamed around his quarters, anger quietly glimmering in their dark depths. But as he stared around at his belongings, he grew a little calmer. Everything was exactly where he had left it. His bed, his drawers, his carpet. Everything. At least his quarters were still completely under his control.
A tiny smile tugged on the side of his lips as he turned and quietly glanced over his weapons rack. Another thing that belonged to him. And only to him.
His eyes skimmed over his weapons, all hanging there on their hooks, their dark metal shining in the dim light.
He glanced over them one by one. His eyes jumping from hook to hook, he found a small glimmer of pride erupting within him. The collection was impressive. And well taken care of. Tyr had seen to that.
He stepped forward so he could see all of them.
Taking in a deep breath which still grated on that burning in his chest, but felt slightly better than the previous ones did, he finally let his eyes roam the last few hooks.
All of which held gleaming weapons of immense power.
Suddenly, his breath caught in his throat and his eyes widened.
All except one.
The last hook was empty. It was so far back and so crammed in a dark corner that Tyr knew he would have easily missed it if he wouldn't have looked closely.
His eyes narrowed and anger flooded him again. He clenched his jaw.
Someone had stolen one of his weapons. He knew exactly which it had been. It hadn't been very expensive or powerful or large, but it was still his gun. It was his. And somebody had taken it.
He took two large strides across the room and crouched down in front of the hook.
Touching it lightly with his fingers, he brought his fingers up to his nose and smelt them.
Were it anybody else's smell, it would have taken Tyr a few minutes to determine exactly who it was.
But there was only one person on board this ship who smelled of bitter grease, sickeningly sweet Sparky Cola and a tinge of acidic apprehension.
Tyr's eyes narrowed and he gritted his teeth. Clenching his hands into fists, he stood up. How dare that impudent little beast sneak into his quarters without his permission, and then steal one of his guns? How dare he?
Anger was making Tyr shake and his nostrils flared as his eyes smoldered with rage.
Abruptly, he turned around and marched out of his quarters, striding down the corridors towards command.
Along the way, his anger was only fuelled on by Harper's impudence. How dare he? And on this day too? The one day that things weren't going the way he wanted them to? The one day?
Clenching his jaw so hard he thought his teeth might shatter, he strode towards command. The door quietly hissed open in front of him and he stood there in the open doorway, shaking with anger and fury.
His glaring eyes quickly skimmed over the people standing in the room. Beka had spun around when she heard him enter and was staring at him, confusion and a slight hint of apprehension in her eyes as she saw the towering, angry Nietzschean.
"Uh, Tyr? You okay?" she asked, trying to keep her voice light.
He ignored her. He wasn't looking for her. His eyes roamed around the room and he quickly spotted him.
Crouching in front of an open panel, he was so absorbed with tinkering around with some wiring that he hadn't heard Tyr come in.
Tyr slowly strode towards him, his anger growing with each passing step. How dare he just crouch there, fiddling around with some wires, when he had stolen from him?
Harper's eyebrows were creased with concentration as his fingers twisted around the wires infront of him. Reaching down, he fished around in his worn leather tool belt until he found his soldering wand. Turning it on, he quickly welded the two wires together. Switching it off, he tugged it back into his tool belt and then leaned back on his heels, looking at his work with a small, proud smile on his face.
Tyr came to a halt, a few feet away from him, waiting for him to feel his presence. He watched his face carefully.
The pride shone there quietly, before that old sixth sense within him alerted him that there was danger nearby.
Harper had told Tyr some time ago how all people living on slave planets developed this sixth sense about Nietzscheans after a while. It wasn't that they could smell them, or see them. They could just feel them. Sense them.
Whenever a Nietzschean was close by, that sixth sense within them would prickle. Tyr had dryly commented about what would happen if the sense was ever wrong. Harper hadn't smiled and had quietly told him that the sense was never wrong.
The pride abruptly slid off his face, and he jerked his head up and stared up at Tyr.
It took him only seconds to register the anger and pent up fury within the towering Nietzschean. His eyes widened and the blood drained from his face. His body immediately tensed up, going into an instinctual survivor mode.
"Tyr. Nice to see you." He squeaked out, forcing a faint smile on his pale face.
Tyr didn't smile back, only kept on staring down at him.
Harper swallowed. Hard.
"You stole from me, boy." He said, his simmering anger evident in his quiet words.
Harper heard it. Or felt it. Maybe both. He gave the Nietzschean another faint smile.
"Oh, that. I can explain. You see, it was all a misunderstanding. Well, not really. You see, I'll replace it. I'll get you another one, I promise. You see, last week, I was on shore leave and well, I went to this bar, see, and I decided to play some cards. Gambling, you know. And, well, I thought I was going to win, and that it wouldn't be a problem that I didn't have any money on me, but you see, then things didn't go my way, exactly. You see," he swallowed, hardly stopping to catch breath between his nervous stammerings. "You see, I lost. Badly. And well, the guy I was playing against said he wasn't interested in money anyway, cause he was an arms dealer, see? So he asks me if I had any interesting guns, and I said no, but I said you did. And, well, to make a long story short, he said he'd kill me if I didn't get him one of your guns, so I did. But, I only took a small one, one which I know you don't particularily care about, and I was going to replace it. And I am. Next space port we stop at, I'm jumping out and getting you another one. A brand new one. I can even modify it for you if you want." He stammered out, his voice shaking.
Tyr glared down at him, completely unmoved by the fearful stammering and the nervous glances around the room. He crossed his arms.
"So tell me, how do your pathetic little short comings at playing cards and your idiocy of making bets when you have nothing to bet, make up for the fact that you stole from me?"
Harper gaped up at him, not knowing what to say. Tyr glared down at him, daring him to repeat his pitiful story again. Harper knew better. His hand drifted down to his tool belt and Tyr saw him rummaging around there, searching for something to use as a weapon.
"Uhm," Harper mumbled, his terrified eyes darting around the room, looking for a way out.
That infuriated Tyr even more. Not only was the little bastard a thief, but he was also a coward.
His anger went into over drive. "You stole from me!" he roared down at the cowering human.
"I know, Tyr. And I'm really sorry. I promise it won't happen again. I told you how it happened. I just—"
"You told me, but that doesn't change the fact that you stole from me!"
Harper's eyes widened as he stared up at the towering, furious Nietzschean who looked like he was going to snap at any moment. Harper had seen too many of these Nietzscheans not to know what was coming. His eyes darted over to the door.
"Alright, well, if you're not interested in hearing my story again, I'll just crawl on over to that door over there and make myself invisi—"
Tyr's patience snapped. All of his anger—anger at Dylan, anger at the arms dealer, anger at the stupid ship and his shower, anger at the snivelling coward crouching by his feet—they all flew together and for a moment, dark spots of rage danced before his eyes and before he was completely aware of what he was doing, he drew his hand in and hit Harper across the face.
The backhand blow was so hard that it flung Harper across the floor and slammed him against the far wall. He landed in a small heap on the ground. He didn't move.
Slowly, those black spots faded from Tyr's vision and he started breathing again.
Suddenly, he noticed the heavy silence of the entire room. He noticed his hand, still outstretched, the back of it stinging slightly from the force of the hit. He raised his eyes and stared at the unmoving figure lying on the floor in front of him.
He stared dumbly at his hand and then at the still figure. He had hit Harper. He had hit Harper. He blinked. It didn't completely register.
But what did register was the sound of a force lance being charged up.
He turned his head and saw Beka standing there, her force lance pointing straight at him, and behind it, her eyes, filled with anger and something that resembled hate glimmering in their blue depths.
"Get out." She whispered. The anger in those words was enough to nearly kill Tyr right then and there.
He blinked at her, still momentarily stunned. He had hit Harper.
Beka clenched her jaw. "Tyr, if you don't get your Nietzschean ass off this command deck in the next two seconds, I will shot you and I won't blink an eye about it. Now, get out."
Tyr glanced back over at the still figure lying on the ground, and he heard Beka taking another step towards him, the lance shaking in her hands.
"I mean it, Tyr! Get out now! And if you so much as glance at him on your way out, I'll shot you in the back!" she screamed, her patience having been snapped by her simmering anger.
Still stunned, Tyr tore his eyes off of the small human lying on the ground and quietly turned and walked out of command.
He was hardly aware of Beka's force lance following him every step of the way out, and the only coherent thought which flickered through his stunned mind was that he had hit him. He had hit Harper.
Tyr slowly walked down the corridors. Where he was walking he neither knew nor cared about. His mind was still back in command.
As soon as he had walked through the door, he had meant to walk back to his quarters, but something made him stop and look back.
Beka had immediately dropped her force lance, letting it land with a clatter on the floor and had leapt over the railing and run to Harper's side.
Crouching down beside him, she'd gently touched his cheek.
"Harper? Seamus? You with me?" she asked, her voice quiet and concerned.
Harper groaned and slowly rolled over onto his back. He lay there, blinking up at the ceiling and Beka's worried face, until he suddenly remembered.
His eyes widened, the blood drained from his face again and he twisted on the ground and just about leapt up, but Beka stopped him.
"Harper! It's okay. He's gone."
Breathing hard, Harper's wide eyes glanced around the room. Tyr immediately drew back in the shadows, knowing that Harper's poor eyesight wouldn't be able to detect him. He wanted to leave, and knew he should, but something was holding him back.
Tyr stared at Harper's eyes as he searched the room.
They were unnaturally bright, the blue in them being more intense than it usually was. But this wasn't from happiness or smugness, but from fear. Tyr could see it in his eyes. Pure, sick fear.
Tyr could smell it too.
In Harper's sweat, there was that undeniable scent of fear.
Still breathing hard, Harper slowly forced his eyes to focus on Beka again once he had made sure there really wasn't anybody in the room.
"He's gone?" he whispered, his voice tense and choked with fear.
Beka nodded, her hand on his arm still holding him back. "He's gone. Don't worry."
Harper nodded. "Okay," He stammered. He nodded again and tried to smile. "Okay."
Beka bit her lip. "No, it's not okay, Harper. He hit you. He had no right to do that."
Harper blinked at her and then a shaky smile flickered across his pale face.
"Beka, course he's got the right. I'm a kludge, he's an Uber. He can do anything he wants. It's the rules."
Beka clenched her jaws. "Harper, that's not true, and you know it. Those might have been the rules on earth, but they're not the rules up here. I've told you that a million times. Up here, nobody—no matter who or what they are—has any right to hit you. Nobody. You hearing me?"
Harper gave her that smile again. That smile she couldn't stand. The smile that made him seem so much older than he really was. The smile filled with pity, not for himself, but for her.
Pity because she didn't understand the mysterious ways the universe dealt with people like him.
"Beka, we've been over this before." He said quietly. "I told you a long time ago that the universe hates people like me, and we both know it. I don't know why, I don't think anybody knows, but it's the way things are. I know, you thought that if you took me away from earth that things would change and that the rules wouldn't apply to me anymore, but they do." He gave her a shaky laugh. "I'll admit, I thought things were changing too. I thought the universe was being kind enough for the first time in my entire life by just ignoring me and letting me blend in with everybody else. But apparently, I was wrong. Beka, I don't like it any more than you do, but it's the way things are. It's the rules, and nobody can change them."
Beka shook her head forcefully. "No, Harper! It doesn't have to be like that! Harper, I know I've tried hammering this into your head a million times over these years, but I'll say it again. You've got just as many rights as I do and everybody else on this ship. Nobody has any right to treat you like garbage. Nobody. Nobody has any right to lay a hand on you when you don't want them to, Harper. Nobody."
Harper gave her that smile again. Beka was torn between starting to sob from frustration and anger and strangling Harper until that smile was flung from his face.
"If nobody has any right to do whatever they want with me, then how come the entire universe still goes ahead and does that?" he asked quietly.
Beka gaped at him. For the first time in a long time she was speechless.
So was Tyr. Standing there, hidden in the shadows, he stared at Harper, at a completely loss of thoughts.
Silently turning around, Tyr walked down the hallway, wanting nothing more than to get away from that eerie smile, and that gnawing feeling of guilt and something else which was chewing at his gut.
Tyr clenched his jaw as he strode down the corridor. Absentmindly, he rubbed the back of his hand which was still slightly stinging from the force of the hit.
Images and words swirling around his mind.
Harper lying motionless on the floor. Beka pointing her shaking force lance at him. The sick fear in Harper's eyes. That eerie smile on his face.
"I'm a kludge, he's an Uber. He can do anything he wants."
"It's the rules, and nobody can change them."
Harper's words kept running through his mind.
He ran a frustrated hand through his hair. Damn it. Why the hell was this bothering him this much? He'd never been squeamish about hitting anybody, even if they worked with him. He'd never hesitated to beat the hell out of someone who had gone behind his back or was threatening him, and he'd never backed down from smacking someone around when they were annoying him or being a nuisance.
So why did this bother him so much?
He reached the end of the corridor and found himself facing a door. He glanced around. He'd reached the Obs deck.
Turning around, he started walking back down the corridor the way he had come.
Damn it! Why was this gnawing away at him?
It was just Harper, and it hadn't even been a very hard hit. Okay, Tyr remembered seeing the swelling and the faint outlines of a bruise forming on the boy's jawbone and the faint little trace of blood underneath it where one of his bone blades had accidently grazed him a bit, but still. Tyr knew that the boy had had much worse done to him before by a Nietzschean. Hell, he'd probably forget about it by morning.
So why couldn't he forget about it?
Swearing, he clenched his hand into a fist and punched the wall he was walking past. The dull thud echoed around him.
Damn it. He neither had the time or patience for this sentimental waste of time.
But deep down, he knew why this bothered him so badly. Why there was a huge difference between hitting Harper and hitting anybody else.
Because Harper was a part of this crew. This little tag team of misfits and social outcasts whom Tyr had not only grown alarmingly attached to, but, a small part of him considered them his pride.
He knew it was ridiculous. None of them were Nietzschean, none of them dealt with life the way a Nietzschean would, but yet, they were all he had.
He smiled bitterly.
A stubborn, fiercely independent and fiery first officer whose past had left her with a weary and cautious mind, yet her heart was still too trusting and too loyal for her own damn good.
An equally stubborn captain whose blind idealism was only slightly less infuriating than his annoying habit of throwing his life out the window in suicide missions and impossible quests, all the while, smiling at everyone involved.
A mysterious golden doctor who could be childish and naïve one moment and dictate the actions of everyone around her the next, and who knew much more than she ever told and who could do much more than she ever did.
A stubborn and tough ship whose avatar form only helped to enhance these features and whose loyalty to her crew was only rivalled by her warship qualitities.
And lastly, a cocky and loud mudfoot engineer whose past, just like the universe, constantly demanded that he break down and give up but who refused to give in and covered his pain with a wide smile and a sparkle in those blue eyes.
Tyr chuckled bitterly. They were his pride.
No matter how bothersome and irritating they were, they were still his pride. He wasn't quite sure when he had come to accept this, but he knew that he had subconsciously accepted it quite a while ago.
There had been many hints. After he had choosen this…crew over his own wife and a chance to become a part of a pride again, he had never thought about it at the time.
After he had declined Elsbett's offer of marriage to stay with this…crew, he had never stopped to ask himself why.
Over the past two years, he had quietly grown to accept the fact that these people were his pride and he would stay and protect them all no matter the cost and no matter how long it might take. He knew he'd fly to the ends of the universe to keep them safe and he'd fight to his last breath to protect them, and yes, even risk his own life to ensure their survival.
It had hit him in the face with stunning reality the day he had saved Harper's life and nearly lost his own. The fact that he was willing to risk his own life to save the likes of a person who he wouldn't even have justified with a glance two years ago painfully pointed out how attached he had gotten to these people.
This was why this entire mess bothered him so much. He had not only hurt one of his crewmates, but he had hurt a member of his pride. Granted, Harper deserved it at the time, but Tyr knew that he had gone too far.
When he had first decided to stay onboard, he knew that he was living amongst people who either feared Nietzscheans from experience, or from reputation. He had made it a point to never be unnecessarily aggressive around them and was always careful to act respectful towards any of them, even the Magog.
Harper had been the hardest. Tyr had smelt the fear on him the minute he had laid eyes on him. Harper had been careful not to show it, and for days after that, went around with a smile on his face, fooling Beka into thinking that he was okay with living with a Nietzschean.
But Tyr knew it was a lie. He smelt the fear and apprehension radiating from him for days. Tyr knew right away he was dealing with a person who had been hurt by Nietzscheans. Badly.
He also knew that if he would ever get Harper to trust him and accept him, he would have to be careful around him.
And he had.
Always careful not to sneak up on him unintentionally or spook him, Tyr made it a habit to clatter around with junk or even drag his boots on the floor when coming up behind him.
He rarely yelled at him and even in moments where Harper's hysterical paranoia was about to get them killed, Tyr always tried to be gentle with him and sooth his fears as best as a Nietzschean possibly could when his life was threatened.
He had been careful with the bone blades too. He had seen the fear in Harper's eyes whenever Tyr raised his arms around him and felt him jerking away from him. Tyr had no idea what the boy had seen other Nietzscheans doing with their blades, but from the whispered stories he'd heard in bars and the fear in Harper's eyes, Tyr knew it wasn't pleasant or painless. So Tyr always made it a point not to bring the blades near him.
He had done all these things as quietly and as discreetly as possible and he doubted anyone, excluding the Magog, had noticed.
And it had worked.
Harper had slowly grown to trust him. He had stopped jumping and jerking away when Tyr entered a room and had stopped following his every move with wary eyes. He had even found the courage to laugh and swear at Tyr when the latter was growling at him and had him in a headlock.
Tyr smiled. He hadn't thought it possible two years ago, but now Harper trusted him. It was an unspoken promise between them that they respected each other's space and that Harper always tried to rein in his hysterics and his fears and think rationally for Tyr's sake, and Tyr never spooked him or hurt him. It had been their silent agreement and had led to Harper trusting him.
Tyr briefly closed his eyes. Now, that trust had been destroyed by one single act.
He remembered the fear in Harper's eyes. That same fear which had shone in them for months after they met. That fear which had been put there by Nietzscheans who had treated him the same way Tyr had.
"I'm a kludge, he's an Uber. He can do anything he wants."
"It's the rules, and nobody can change them."
He sighed heavily. Those words came rushing back to him, painfully reminding him that the silent trust between the two of them was now broken.
Harper now thought of him the same way he thought of all Nietzscheans.
People to be feared and hated and always obeyed.
"I'm a kludge, he's an Uber. He can do anything he wants."
"It's the rules, and nobody can change them."
Damn it. In that one small moment where he had lost control, he had lost Harper's trust as well. With anybody else, Tyr knew he could get it back relatively easily, but Harper had grown up rarely trusting anybody and once he did trust someone—which was rare and far in between—and that trust was broken, it could never be repaired again.
Tyr glanced up as Beka strode into the Observation deck. She skid to a halt and her body tensed as soon as she saw him.
She put her hands on her hips and glared at him.
Tyr absentmindly traced a scratch on the railing he was leaning on.
"Is the boy alright?" he asked, trying to break the icy silence between them.
Beka glared at him. "Physically, well, you nearly broke his jaw. Emotionally, I won't even try to answer you."
Tyr sighed and wearily rubbed his eyes with his hands.
"Beka, I know you don't believe me, but I didn't mean to lose control like that."
"Lose control? You hit him, Tyr," Beka said, crossing her arms across her chest.
Tyr turned around and looked at her. "I realize that." He said quietly. That infuriated Beka.
Icy anger glimmered in her eyes.
"Well, for someone who so completely understands the situation, you can sure fuck things up pretty quickly." She hissed.
Tyr looked down at the floor and sighed. "Beka, I told you, I didn't mean to lose control like that—"
Beka held up a swift hand. "You know what, Tyr? I really don't want to hear it. Those pitiful whining little Uber excuses of yours. I don't want to hear it. The bottom line is, you hit Harper."
Tyr was about to reply until he realized he had nothing to say so he kept his mouth shut. He kept on staring at the floor, avoiding Beka's icy glare as the silence between them grew.
Suddenly, Beka swore and ran a hand through her hair.
"Damn it, Tyr!" she cried, anger seeping into her voice now. "I know you weren't in the best of moods and that what Harper did was pretty dumb, but you had no right to hit him. Absolutely no right." She walked closer to him, her anger simmering. "Tyr, if you feel the need to hit someone, if that'll make you feel like a bigger man, then hit me. Hell, you can even hit Dylan, or Rommie or Trance, although the latter will probably slit your throat two seconds later. But you don't hit Harper." She said, her voice growing quieter. "Do you understand me, Tyr? You can hit me all you like. Feel free to break every bone in my face and turn my body into mush. Anyday, anytime. But you don't hit Harper. Am I understood?"
Tyr glanced up at her. He didn't nod but apparently the expression on his face was enough for her.
The anger seeped out of her as quickly as it had come. She ran another hand through her hair, this time, her hand shaking not from anger but from weariness.
Taking a deep breath, she turned away from him and walked to the railing. She leaned on it and covered her face with her shaking hands.
That silence engulfed them once more.
Finally, Beka sighed. "Tyr, you have no idea how badly you messed everything up, do you?" she asked quietly.
Tyr glanced at her. "I know that any amount of trust I had built with the boy is now gone and will probably never be repaired." He answered quietly.
Beka laughed harshly. "Your damn trust? You see? Typical Nietzschean. Typical fucking Nietzschean behavior! Only caring about how this affects you, only caring about how it puts a dent in your life." She whirled around and stared at him. "Yeah Tyr, this is why I said you have no idea how badly you messed things up. Because you really don't."
She stared at him, searching his face for any indication that he understood what she was talking about. When she didn't find it, she dropped her gaze to the floor and turned back to lean on the railing.
She sighed again and wearily rubbed her eyes with her hands. Clasping her hands, she lightly leaned them on the railing and stared out into the black night sprinkled with stars.
"It took me more than a year until he let me touch him, you know. It was the worst when I first met him, when I first let him stay. Up until then, he'd had almost nobody in his life who was ever kind to him. Everybody, no matter if they were human or Nietzschean, they only came near him when they wanted one of two things. Either he had something they wanted, like food or shoes or something else and they'd either take it or first beat him up and then take it from him. Or they wanted sex." Beka swallowed hard and traced the same scratch on the railing that Tyr had traced only moments ago. "They take that too. Either the easy way, or the hard way. It didn't matter. Everyone was like that down there. It was the only way to survive. You either took or you gave. There isn't any sharing. Everybody in Harper's life was like that. His former boss was. You know what the asshole gave me before I took Harper with me?" Beka laughed bitterly. "He handed me a lead pipe and told me that beating Harper with it always seemed to make him become more motivated about working. Told me to use it as many times as I wanted. Said it was what he'd been doing for years and it never failed to work," Beka whispered, sadness etched in her words.
Tyr didn't say anything. It was one of the few instances in his life when he had no idea what to say. Beka didn't even notice.
"For those first few months he wouldn't let anybody near him. If someone accidently sneaked up behind him, he'd whip around, grab whatever was closest as a weapon and take a swing at the person before he even saw who it was. Nearly broke my jaw a few times." She smiled softly. "He was so damn jumpy. Always kept his eye on everybody who was around him and if they moved a little too close to him, he'd pull himself into the nearest corner or edge down the corridor. Even during dinner he wouldn't let anybody near him. I'd brush his hand when I'm reaching for my cup and he'd yank his hand back as if I'd burned him. It took me nearly a year, Tyr. Nearly a year until he let me touch him. Never mind hug him. No. I mean just little things like brushing his hand without him jerking away or wiping a smudge off his cheek. Just little things like that. It took me nearly a year." She swallowed hard, tears choking her words and threatening to escape. "He's been hurt so badly, Tyr. I just wanted to teach him that hands don't only inflict pain but that they can be kind too. And these past few years, it's been working. He's happy and he feels safe. Two things which he'd hardly ever had on earth. And most of all, he trusts us. Harper never trusts anybody, you know that. Much less a Nietzschean and a Magog. But he does. At least, until now." She shoved herself off the railing, her voice hard. She turned around and glared at Tyr through tear brimmed eyes. "Congratulations, Tyr. You not only broke his trust, but you destroyed the feeling of security he's been living with here. Now, who the hell knows how long it'll take me until I can get it back? Never mind until he can trust anyone else again? Maybe he won't. After all, I promised him that nobody on this ship would ever hurt him. Now, I've been proven wrong. And by the way, do you know where Harper is now? He's drunk and sleeping in an access tunnel with a knife in his hand. Congratulations, Tyr. Amazing job. One little bout of Nietzschean stupidity and insensitivity and you've ruined Harper's life." She shook her head. "You're really an insensitive bastard, you know that?" she hissed.
She turned around and was about to storm out of the room, until something occurred to her and she spun back around.
She gave him a bitter smile. "Now, Mr. Anasazi, I really hope for your sake that you understand a little better how badly you've messed up now. Or does that fucking genetically enhanced mind of yours not leave enough room for thinking, only for stupidity and hurting people?" she whispered, her voice catching in her throat as tears seeped from beneath her eyelids.
With that, she spun around and stormed out of the room, angry tears pouring down her face, leaving Tyr standing in the empty room, staring after her.
Tyr slowly jogged down the corridors, breathing hard. It was in the middle of the night but he had just lain in bed, tossing and turning until he finally got fed up and had decided that running around the ships corridors until he was exhausted would force him to get some sleep.
He rounded the corner, his feet thumping on the metal grating beneath his feet. A fine sheen of sweat covered his face.
The last few days had been horrible. On an emotional level at least. It seemed that everyone else had gotten wind of what had happened, since Trance glared at Tyr whenever she saw him, the ship refused to speak with him and even Dylan gave him the cold shoulder. Beka, well, if looks could kill, he wouldn't have had to life through these last few days.
The only consolation he had was that he hadn't done any permanent damage to Harper. He had been worried about his jaw, but Trance said it had only been bruised and would be alright. The scratch on his chin would heal too.
But even though the wounds on the surface were healing, the wounds beneath them were still painful and fresh and it didn't seem like Harper would be able to heal them. Again.
Harper was jumpier than ever. Whenever anybody entered a room, he would whip around, his eyes wide, and his hand going down to his toolbelt to pull out his nanowelder as a weapon.
When Dylan had tried to put his hand on his shoulder when showing him something, Harper had flinched and jerked away from him as if Dylan had scalded him. But with Tyr, it was the worst.
With the others, it was just his paranoia and his instincts making him jumpy. With Tyr, it was different. Whenever they happened to be in the same room, Harper would either leave or would pull himself as far away from him as possible and never let Tyr out of his sight. Tyr found it unnerving to be working and to feel those steady, terrified blue eyes digging into him, warily following his every move.
If he would round a corner and come within a few meters of him, the blood would drain from Harper's face and his eyes would widen as sick fear filled them. He'd either scramble backwards, slithering out of his way as gracefully as an alley cat, or if he was cornered, he'd crouch down, shaking from fear, the stench of terror so strong from him that Tyr was surprised nobody else could smell it. In those rare occassions, Tyr would swiftly back away from him, leaving Harper crouching on the floor, shaking and staring after him with fear and hatred in his eyes.
Beneath that fear, Tyr could see his anger, see the hatred. It coursed through his veins barely masked by the fear. It got stronger when he was drunk. Those times, his fear would recede slightly and the anger and hatred would take over. In these times, Tyr quickly backed away from him, but more out of fear for himself than Harper. He could see the hatred shining in Harper's eyes and knew that Harper would kill him with his bare hands if he came any closer. He wasn't taking any chances.
Tyr swore quietly as he jogged down the corridors. This was all his damn fault. Harper was a terrified, paranoid mess and it was all his fault.
Shaking his head, he rounded another corner. His breathing got the better of him and his legs started shaking. He realized he'd been running for nearly an hour. Slowing down, he walked down the corridor, breathing hard.
He was breathing so hard that he nearly missed it. He was passing by one of the access tunnels in the wall when he heard it.
A faint, mewling sound. Tyr frowned and forced his breathing to slow down so he could hear it.
The sound was definitely coming from the tunnel.
Tyr walked over and squinted into the dark depth of the tunnel. The dim light from the corridor threw some faint traces of light into the tunnel, but it was still pretty dark.
But as soon as Tyr saw the huddled figure lying in the far end of the tunnel, he knew who it was.
He could smell the strong stench of alcohol from where he stood and he knew that Harper was drunk. Sniffing again, Tyr caught another familiar scent in the air. A scent which he had gotten to know extremely well these past few days.
Tyr leaned further into tunnel, squinting and trying to see if there was anybody else in the tunnel who might be scaring Harper. But the tunnel was empty. All except for a few empty beer bottles and Dylan's rum bottle, and the curled up, shaking form sleeping in the corner.
Tyr frowned as he looked at him.
He was curled up tightly, his knees drawn up to his chest and his hands balled up into tight fists. He was fast asleep, Tyr could hear that from his heart beat. He was twitching in his sleep, the tiny muscles in his face jumping and his lips trembled. Tiny, mewling sounds escaped him and a film of sweat covered his face and drenched the shirt he was sleeping in.
He was having a nightmare. Tyr was about to leap into the tunnel and shake the boy awake and order him to go to bed, but suddenly remembered, and knew that waking Harper up to being in a small tight tunnel with a Nietzschean inches away from him would probably either give him a heart attack or make him attack Tyr. Tyr didn't like either scenario.
As he watched the small figure squirming on the floor, Tyr bit his lip.
The nightmare was getting worse. The twitching was getting stronger and his leg struck out as if he was trying to kick something or someone away. A sob caught in his throat and his faint cries grew louder as hysterical fear seeped into his mumbled words. His face paled and Tyr could see the fear on his face. His mumbled, frantic cries were completely incoherent, but the only clear word Tyr could fish out of the jumbled mess of cries and sobs was "No." Over and over again, tears seeping through his closed eye lids, curling himself up into a tighter ball, trying in vain to protect himself from whoever was hurting him, he cried out that one word.
His cries rose and his struggles increased until suddenly, he went stiff and silent. A few moments later, he tried curling himself up even tighter, sobbing quietly now, muttering over and over again "No." The word wasn't angry now. It was pleading.
Tyr stared at Harper. He had realized only moments ago with a sickening lurch what Harper was remembering in his nightmare. What was being done to him.
The bile rose in Tyr's throat and such a surge of violent rage swept through him that he nearly ripped the panels off the wall he was standing beside.
He clenched his jaw and briefly closed his eyes.
How dare anybody do that to someone else? How dare someone else use someone like that? How dare they?
But inwardly, he knew. Although there was the faint possibility that it had been a group of sick and twisted humans, but most probably, it had been Nietzscheans.
"I'm a kludge, he's an Uber. He can do anything he wants."
"It's the rules, and nobody can change them."
As anger gnawed away at him, he forced himself to push those thoughts aside and focus his attentions back to the sobbing, terrified person lying curled up a few meters away from him. There was no way he could go near him now.
He bit his lip. But he couldn't leave him like this either. Lost in a torment of nightmares he couldn't escape from. No. He couldn't just leave. He owed him that.
Quietly, he asked the ship to get Beka right away.
Moments later, Tyr heard frantic running coming down the corridor and Beka's heavy breathing.
"Which tunnel, Rommie?" Beka called out, gasping for breath.
"This one." Tyr called over quietly.
Beka rounded the corner and skid to a halt when she saw him standing there. She immediately put her hands to her hips where she usually had her force lance, but then quickly realized that she was only wearing her boxers and a shirt and that she wasn't armed.
She walked towards him, anger and hatred glimmering in her eyes.
"Get away from him. Now," She hissed.
Tyr slowly stepped back from the tunnel.
Glancing at him one last time, Beka pushed past him and leapt into the tunnel, from where Harper's pleading sobs still carried out to them.
Beka crawled along the tunnel, pushing empty bottles out of her way until she reached Harper.
Pushing a strand of hair out of her face, she stared down at the shaking, sobbing figure lying before her.
"Oh, Harper," She breathed, her voice catching on the lump in her throat. As soon as she saw him lying there, curled up in a tiny ball, tears streaming down his face and his lips mumbling that one word which she had heard so many times from him on nights like this, she knew what he was dreaming about.
Leaning over, she lightly touched him on the shoulder.
He was so caught up in his nightmare that he didn't feel her at first. Usually he was the lightest sleeper she had ever encountered, but when he was in his past's clutches, it was harder to pull him back to the present.
"Harper." She whispered, shaking him a little harder.
Slowly, his eyes fluttered open. Still sobbing, tears streaming from his wide open, terrified blue eyes, he glanced around himself. One of his hands uncurled itself and he frantically felt around for his knife.
Beka gently caught his hand. "Harper, it's me. It's Beka," She whispered, staring into his eyes.
He stared at her, his eyes terrified. He jerked back from her and curled up in a tighter ball and shook his head and whispered that one word again. "No."
Beka leaned back, giving him a little space. Meanwhile, she gently tried to coax him out of his darkness.
"Seamus, it's me here. It's Beka. You with me, Seamus?" she whispered.
Slowly, his sobs grew quieter and he blinked at her as some of the fear receded from his eyes and recognition filled them. He swallowed.
"Beka?" he whispered, the word was choked with tears, but a faint hint of relief was in it.
She nodded. "Yeah. It's me. It's okay. You're alright."
Harper quickly glanced around himself. "Where did they go?"
Beka briefly closed her eyes. It was always the same. His faceless tormentors followed him into the waking world after she woke him.
"They're not here, Seamus. You're safe. You're okay. Nobody here is going to hurt you." She whispered.
He stared at her, apprehension and fear still in his eyes. A single tear ran down his pale face.
She shook her head. "Nobody. And if anybody touches you, I'll shot them myself on the spot."
He nodded quietly before his eyes roamed around the empty tunnel again.
"You sure they're not here anymore?" he whispered.
She nodded, small tears threatening to escape from her eyes.
Harper stared up at her, pain in his eyes. "You know what they did, don't you, Beka?"
She nodded again, clenching her jaw to keep from crying. God, why couldn't she ever do this without crying?
"Yeah, I know." She whispered, reaching down and lightly brushing a strand of sweat streaked hair off his pale forehead.
He frowned up at her. "Why do they always do that, Beka? Why do they always hurt me?" he asked, his words laced with pain and silent pleas for her to give him an answer. "I never did anything to them, Beka. Why does the universe hate me so much, Beka? I never did anything to it. Why do they always hurt me? Always? No matter where I go, no matter how far away you take me, they just find me again and hurt me again."
Tears ran down Beka's face and she started sobbing. His pleading question rammed through her mind until she wanted to scream. Scream because she had no answer.
Looking down at him, she stared at him through tear filled eyes. "I don't know, Seamus. I just don't know. I wish I knew."
He nodded, as if she had just proved him right about something.
When Beka reached up and brushed the tears off her cheeks, Harper looked at her anxiously.
"Will you stay with me, Beka?" he whispered. He swallowed hard. "So when they come back, you can make them go away, or you can ask them why. They never answer me."
Beka mutely nodded, that pain within her threatening to tear her apart if she opened her mouth.
Wordlessly, she stretched out on the cold tunnel floor, her bare legs nearly recoiling from the cold metal. Reaching over, she gently pulled Harper into her arms. He curled up against her and slowly closed his eyes.
Beka gently brushed his tears off his cheeks and gently laid her arms around him, ignoring the metal grating which dug into her side and her arm and the cold which seeped into her bare skin from the floor.
Harper was asleep within minutes, quietly sleeping in Beka's arms, the only safe haven he had ever known.
It took Beka longer to fall asleep. Battling with an overwhelming rage—rage against everybody in Harper's life who had given him these nightmares, and rage against Tyr who had rewoken them—and that suffocating pain which clutched at her heart. That pain which was there everyday because she couldn't help him. Asides from this, she couldn't help him. She couldn't answer that question for him. Hell, she couldn't even keep him safe onboard this ship. The tears came back to her and slowly poured down her face. She cried silently, letting her pain go without a single whimper lest she wake the sleeping person in her arms.
It took Tyr longest to fall asleep. Walking back to his quarters from where he left them in the tunnel, dazed from exhaustion and pain, he fell onto his bed.
Lying there, he was overwhelmed with the same feelings Beka had been. A violent rage against the people who had hurt Harper and were the source of his nightmares and a rage against himself for his stupidity and insensitivity, and that engulfing pain which filled him.
Just like Beka, he succumbed to the pain. Lying there in the dark on his bed, Tyr quietly let the tears stream down his face and fall onto the blanket he was lying on.
He was crying for the pain and the unfair life which this damn uncaring universe had thrown at one of the few people Tyr knew who didn't deserve that.
He too didn't make a sound as he cried and long before his tears were spent, his exhaustion overwhelmed him and he drifted off to sleep.
Tyr was violently thrown forward and he just managed to grab the railing beside his station before he was flung around command.
Beside him, Trance stumbled before grabbing her console to steady herself.
Sirens were blaring all around them, and Rommie was busy screaming at Dylan that her systems weren't going to last much longer.
"I know that, Rommie!" Dylan yelled back in frusteration.
Beka gave him a grim smile as she clutched the controls so hard with her hands that her knuckles were white.
"Touchy, touchy." She screamed over, a small smile on her face.
Tyr rolled his eyes. Apprently Dylan did the same. "We're about to get torn to pieces in a solar storm, and you're making jokes?" Dylan yelled over to her.
Beka grinned, before the ship was caught in another violent hurricane of hot, swirling gas, and she was torn from the controls and flung across the railing and hit the wall.
Tyr's eyes widened when he saw her slam into the wall.
"Beka!" Trance yelled. Despite the shaking of the ship and the blaring of the sirens around them, Trance carefully edged herself away from her console and stumbled across the shaking floor towards Beka's crumbled form lying on the floor.
Dylan leapt over them both and pulled himself over the railing. Reaching up, he grabbed the controls and attempted to yank the ship out of the huge cloud of brewing gas they had gotten caught in.
Tyr punched a button on his console, trying not to stare at Beka to make sure she was still breathing.
"Ship!" Tyr yelled. She didn't respond. Gritting his teeth, he slammed a hand onto his console.
Rommie turned around from where she was standing and blinked at him.
"How is life support?" Tyr yelled over.
Rommie's eyes went distant for a moment, checking her systems, before she looked back at Tyr.
Tyr swore and grabbed onto the railing again as Dylan screamed for them all to hold onto something. In the next moment, the ship was shaken again and bright flashes swirled past them on the viewscreens.
"Andromeda!" Dylan yelled. "Reroute all power to the engines and give me everything you've got!"
Rommie nodded. "Rerouting."
Seconds later, the engines whine increased and Dylan shoved the controls forward.
They shot out of the storm and hurled through normal, black space. Abruptly, Dylan pulled the controls back and they slowed down.
Both Dylan and Tyr gave deep sighs of relief as they watched the storm fading away behind them. Tyr released his tight grip on the railing and Dylan drew a hand across his sweat streaked face.
"God, I'm glad that's over." Dylan breathed.
Tyr only nodded vaguely. He was looking down at the floor where Trance was helping a shaking Beka stand up.
"Are you hurt?" Dylan asked her, concern in his voice.
Beka gave him a shaky smile. "Just busted my entire right arm, but that's okay." She whispered, raw pain in her voice.
Trance gingerly held Beka's crushed arm and yelled for Rommie to have the drones in med deck prepare some morphine.
Seconds after the words were out of Trance's mouth, the lights around them flickered and abruptly died.
The hum of the engines was cut short and the rumbling and vibrations of the ship seized. Rommie's eyes went wide and moments later, she fell over, landing in a heap on the floor.
"What the hell?" Dylan asked, staring around at the sudden darkness.
Tyr frowned as he stared around himself. The only lights in the room were coming from the soft glow of the emergency lights from the corners.
Tyr looked down at his console, which had gone dark.
Beka sighed. "Shit. She must have short circuited something when she shoved all the power to the engines." She winced when she accidently moved her arm.
Trance was looking at her, worry in her pale face. "Well, right now, I don't care if the ship is going to come apart. Right now, we have to get you to med deck and give you something for the pain and splint this arm."
Beka nodded and they slowly started hobbling towards the door.
Once they reached it, Trance started tugging on it. When that didn't help, Tyr wordlessly stepped up beside her. Grabbing the door and gritting his teeth, he slowly pulled it open.
Without a word, Trance pulled Beka through the narrow opening and they disappeared down the darkened corridor.
Tyr stared around himself. He had never seen the ship so dark or heard it so quiet. It was slightly eerie.
Dylan wearily rubbed his eyes with his hand. "Okay, first thing's first. That storm's gonna be crawling after us any moment, and right now, we're a sitting duck. I'll go down to the slipstream core and see if I can get manual control and squeeze some power to the engines. You go and get Harper and help him fix the lights and everything else. I have a sneaking suspicion that life support is going to cut out on us some time soon. I'd prefer to have the ship fixed before that happens."
Tyr nodded. Dylan looked around himself. "I can't for the life of me remember where I put those damn emergency flashlights. Are you alright finding your way through the dark without them?"
Tyr nodded again. "My night vision is good enough. I won't be able to distinguish between a red wire and a green one, but at least I'll be able to find engineering. Harper's night vision is almost as good as mine so we won't have a problem."
Dylan nodded wearily. Tyr was about to turn and squeeze through the narrow opening in the door, when Dylan called him back.
Tyr looked back at him, surprised that the weariness and exhaustion in Dylan's face had been replaced with a dead seriousness.
"Tyr, I'm dead tired right now so I'm only going to say this once, but I want you to know that I'm so serious about what I'm going to say that I'll kill you if you don't listen." He held up a finger and pointed it at Tyr. "If you lay one hand on Harper, I will find you and kill you with my bare hands. I promise you that. Understood?" His voice was quiet but dead serious.
Tyr silently nodded. He knew, as well as Dylan did that he was serious.
Dylan dropped his hand and wearily ran it through his hair. Tyr turned and squeezed through the door and started making his way down the dark corridor towards engineering.
Behind him, he could hear Dylan squeezing through the door and turn down the other hallway, slowly edging his way towards the slipstream core.
Tyr stared around himself, piercing through the darkness with his eyes until he found the ladder. Walking over to it, he carefully grabbed it and swung himself onto the deck below. The same darkness engulfed him. Squinting through the black surrounding him, he quickly jogged down the corridor.
As he ran, he realized that he had always taken the quiet hum of the engines and the bright lights of the corridors for granted. Everything around him was so quiet and still that he found it eerie.
Finally, he found the door to engineering.
It was open a tiny crack. He quietly stepped up to it and sniffed the air coming out of the room.
Alcohol. Alcohol and fear. Harper was definitely in there. And he was drunk.
Badly by the smell of it.
Tyr grabbed the door and strained and tugged on it until he had wrenched it open far enough for him to step through.
The stench from within engulfed him as he stood in the open door. He had been about to barge in, grab Harper and throttle him to soberness and then get him to fix everything, but he stopped himself.
He stared through the darkness, glancing around the edges of tables and underneath various machines strewn all around. He didn't see Harper. He didn't hear him either.
He wasn't surprised. After years of living on earth, Harper knew how to make himself disappear without a trace and fade into solid walls and darkness like an alley cat. He knew how to melt into hidden corners and into ceiling struts well enough to even evade detection from Nietzschean eyes.
Tyr waited. He didn't hear a sound coming from the room. He didn't even hear Harper breathing. He knew Harper was holding his breath.
He'd heard stories about how people on slave planets escaped being scrounged up by roaming slavers, even if those slavers were Nietzscheans. They'd simply fade away into the background and curl up and stop breathing. That way, nobody could see them, or hear them, and if they didn't breath, chances were that most of their body was fighting towards getting more oxygen and had stopped remembering to be scared. This was so that the slavers wouldn't be able to smell their fear.
Well, Harper was good. Very good. Tyr couldn't see him, or hear him. The only reason he knew he was in the room was because he could smell the fear which surrounded him.
Tyr didn't move. He had no idea if Harper was hiding on the ceiling somewhere and would jump down and slit his throat as soon as he walked in, so he stood where he was. He knew Harper was extremely drunk and that trying to reason with him would be futile. But, he could always try.
"Harper?" he quietly called into the dark, silent room. "You know I'm here, Harper. Even if you can't see me from where you are, you know I'm here. Obviously you realized that the ship broke down a few minutes ago and that's why the lights are out. I'm not trying to scare you, Harper. Here's the thing. I can't fix the lights by myself, and I need your help to do it. The faster you come out from where ever you are, the faster we can fix the lights and the faster I'll go away and leave you in peace." He tried to keep his words gentle and soothing, trying to sooth Harper's fear.
Silence met his quiet words. Then: "Go to hell," Came the hissed, terrified response from somewhere within the room.
Tyr's eyes roamed around and finally he spied a small shape shifting ever so slightly in the corner behind the workbench. If he hadn't been looking at the right spot, he would have missed the movement, it was so slight.
He moved a step further into the room, now reassured that Harper wasn't hiding on the doorframe or somewhere. The stench of fear and alcohol grew stronger as Tyr stepped closer to the huddled form. Tyr found himself cursing his perfect sense of smell.
"Harper, you're very drunk right now and you're not thinking clearly. If you want, you can stand up right where you are and fix the lights from where you are. I can see the wires right behind your head—"
"Fuck off, Uber." His voice was panicked now as he saw Tyr stepping closer to him.
Tyr stopped. "Harper—"
"No. Go to hell," He hissed. When Tyr took another step forward, irritation now started to seep into him no matter how badly he tried to suppress it, Harper's panic increased.
"Leave me alone! Don't touch me!" He snarled, sick fear etched in his words. Tyr could see him curling up and squish himself as tightly as possible into the corner.
Tyr stopped again. "Harper, I am not going to hurt you. I won't even touch you."
"Liar!" The hissed, drunken words interupted his soothing voice. "That's what all you Ubers say, ain't it? 'Don't worry', 'I won't hurt you', it's always the same shit. Then when you get close enough, you get to have your little fun." He spat, hatred and anger seeping into his hysterical voice.
Tyr stepped a little closer. He was now just a few meters from Harper's shaking form.
"Shut up! I don't wanna hear anymore of your crap. I've listened to you bastards all my life and even when I did everything you wanted me to, you still hurt me. And why? Cause I'm a little kludge and that's all we're good for, isn't it?" The snarled, drunken words caused shivers to run up and down Tyr's back.
"Harper, I'm not—"
"Fuck off! Don't come near me!"
Tyr had meant to take step closer, but then realized that this was hopeless and he took a step back, raising his hands to show Harper he wasn't hiding anything.
But it was too late.
He had come too close and thrown Harper's panic into a frenzy. Harper madly groped around the floor and his hands closed around something. Before Tyr could squint and determine what it was, he heard the unmistakable whine of the safey being turned off on a gun.
Instinctively, Tyr ducked and Harper madly shot into the empty air where Tyr had been standing only moments ago.
Tyr knew that Harper couldn't aim worth crap with the amount of alcohol dancing around his mind, but he wasn't taking any chances. He could already feel Harper jerking his hands up to fire again.
Tyr lunged forward, catching Harper off guard. Harper had sat up and pushed himself off the wall before firing, so now when Tyr slammed into him, Harper reeled backwards and hit the floor.
Tyr's outstretched hand had shoved the hand clutching the gun upwards, and when Tyr landed on him, he kept that arm pressed to the ground, not hard enough to hurt him, but hard enough so that Harper couldn't yank free and fire again. At this range, even a drunken Harper wouldn't miss.
Although the blow momentarily knocked the breath out of him, his fear and old instincts immediately kicked him back to the present. He wildly started struggling against Tyr.
He yanked his free hand up and tried to push Tyr off him, but when that proved to be futile, Harper curled his fingers into claws and swiped at Tyr's eyes. Tyr just managed to jerk back, but he felt his nails grazing his cheek. Tyr didn't doubt that he hadn't pulled back, he might have lost an eye.
Realizing he had missed, Harper hissed and snarled and tried to grab a fistful of Tyr's hair to pull him off, but Tyr grabbed his hand and gently forced it onto the floor.
Harper kept on struggling against him, his eyes wide and terrified and the fear engulfing Tyr so badly he thought he might choke. Spitting and swearing in hysterical gasps of air, Harper wrenched at his arms and his legs, which Tyr was holding immobile with one of his knees. Squirming desperately, Harper continued to struggle wildly, the fear in him nearly making him hysterical when he realized he couldn't get free. The remaining color drained from his face and he stared wide eyed up at Tyr, but he didn't give up.
Tyr thought it was like trying to fight an alley cat. Harper hissed and swore at him, tearing at his arms until Tyr had to release them slightly or else Harper would have broken his own wrists, and Harper even spat at him, but Tyr sensed it coming and flinched out of the way.
Tyr patiently waited for Harper to calm down. He knew that the moment he let him go, Harper would either start firing again with his gun or grab something out of his toolbelt and stab Tyr with it.
Finally, the fight seeped out of Harper. Exhaustion and the alcohol within him made him weaker than he normally was, and he slowly surrendered. But not the way Tyr had hoped.
Tyr had hoped that Harper would slowly come to his senses and realize who he was fighting and then snap out of his drunken haze. But what actually happened was far from what Tyr had expected.
The curses and snarls died on Harper's lips and his rigid arms went slack beneath Tyr's gentle grip. Gasping for breath, Harper stared at him, his eyes still panicked and scared, but beneath it, there was a glimmer of pleading.
"No. Please no," he whispered, his voice thin and sounding years younger than he was. Tears brimmed his eyes, whose intense blue stare dug into Tyr's eyes. "Please don't. Not again," He pleaded.
With a sickening lurch, Tyr realized what Harper was thinking. What others in his position had done.
A shudder went down his back.
Quickly, he let go of Harper's wrists and rolled off him. He crouched down beside him, but shuffled backwards slightly, giving Harper space.
Harper lay there for a moment, sobbing quietly, his mind not yet registering that the threat was gone. Finally, he quickly glanced around himself and then swiftly curled himself up into a little ball, his back to the wall, his wide eyes staring at the Tyr who was crouching down before him.
Harper sniffed, his eyes confused. "Why'd you listen? Ubers never listen to kludges." He asked, his voice still scared and unsure. Apparently this had never happened to him before.
Tyr quietly looked at him through the darkness which still surrounded them.
"Because I'm not like the others, Harper. I don't want to hurt you."
Harper frowned at him. "Why? It's what all Ubers want. It's the only reason we exist. So Ubers can do what they want with us."
Tyr clenched his jaw as fury rose within him. He had never come to the point of hating his own kind, but he was getting damn close to it.
"Harper, don't listen to what they say. They're wrong. They're sick and twisted beings who don't deserve to live, never mind have the power they have. Don't listen to them." He said, his voice as quiet and gentle as if he were talking to a child. In many respects, he was. "You don't exist to fulfill someone else's sick desires, Harper, you exist because you're a human being and you deserve to live your own life, like everyone else."
The fear was slightly receeding from Harper's eyes, but the cautious wariness was still there. Harper was staring at him, unmoving, his eyes never leaving Tyr's, but his hand had drifted down to his toolbelt, ready to defend himself the moment Tyr moved.
Tyr didn't take his eyes off of Harper's and tried to keep himself as still as possible.
"Harper, they're wrong about a lot of things. Not only about your existence, but about your rights. You've the same rights as anybody else in this universe, no matter who they might be. And nobody, not even Nietzscheans have the right to take those from you. Nobody has any right to hurt another being, Seamus, unless that being threatens them somehow. Nobody." He said quietly, calling Harper by his first name for the first time in two years. Harper noticed. He shifted slightly, his wary eyes momentarily drifting onto the floor, but then going back to staring at Tyr.
"You mean they don't got the right to do what they want? They ain't got the right to hurt me?" he whispered.
Tyr slowly shook his head. "No, Harper. Nobody has any right to hurt another being unless, as I said, there is a reason for it." Seeing the disbelief in Harper's eyes, Tyr quickly fished around for an example. "That applies even to Magog. If a young, wounded Magog were in this room right now and if it were incapable of defending itself or of harming anybody, then nobody has any right to shot it. Maybe to put it out of its misery, but to senselessly kill something when it isn't threatening you is wrong. Do you understand me? Nobody has the right to hurt you, or lay a hand on you when you say no."
Harper stared at him. He had heard all of this before. Having it relentlessly hammered into his head by Beka or Rev, or even Rommie in the middle of the night when he had woken up alone. But it had never meant anything. Their words sounded empty to him. Sure, they could spout out all that stuff, but they didn't understand. None of them did. That's why Harper had never allowed himself to belief it.
But now, a Nietzschean was saying those same things. A Nietzschean who not only understood but also knew what Harper had been through. These words weren't empty.
A slow understanding and acceptance flickered in his eyes. The panic and fear vanished and he sat up, leaning against the wall, pulling his knees up to his chest. He stared, owlishly at Tyr.
"You mean that?"
Tyr nodded. "Yes, I do. Every word of it. And we're not leaving this room until I have finally gotten you to understand that too. Captain Valentine has been trying to hammer this into your head for years already, but apparently, she just never used the right words."
Harper stared at him. Tyr could see the years fading away from him. The long years of listening to the insane ramblings of insane Nietzscheans who screamed them at him and hurt him until they were burned into his mind, forever encased there, slowly faded away and were replaced by Tyr's words. And Beka's words.
Gradually, he started understanding what she had been trying to explain to him though all those nights when she soothingly rubbed his back or held him in her arms, trying to coax him out of his nightmares.
"They were wrong?" Harper whispered.
Tyr nodded again. "Yes, they were. They abused their power, Harper. Badly. They had no right to do what they did—no right to do what they're still doing—but this chaotic and uncaring universe doesn't have the time to right every wrong which is committed. You know that."
Harper slowly nodded, his eyes drifting to the floor.
A long silence settled between them. Harper sat there, his knees drawn up to his chest, his eyes staring at the floor and his mind reeling with past memories and pain and new hope and understanding. Tyr crouched beside him, not moving.
Finally, Harper glanced up at him and gave him a wobbly grin which was a faint ghost of his usual smirks.
"Okay. I'm okay now."
Tyr chuckled softly. "No, you're not. You won't be for a while, but at least now you can start healing. It won't happen overnight, and you know it. Healing takes time."
Harper smiled. "Yeah. Rome wasn't built in a day."
Tyr frowned. "What?"
Harper waved a limp hand at him. "Never mind."
Before another silence could encase them, Harper pushed himself off the floor and tugged his toolbelt straight. He glanced around the darkness of the still ship.
"Man, Rommie's a mess." He said, quietly.
Tyr slowly stood up and pointed at the console between them. "I imagine you can fix the lights quickly enough. Although the two of us are used to living in the darkness, I doubt others on this ship will appreciate it."
Harper smiled and shuffled over to the console. He felt around his toolbelt and struggled to wrap his fingers around his nanowelder.
He shook his head and smiled apologetically. "Sorry about the uncoordinatedness. I'm a tiny bit drunk still."
Tyr laughed. "If this is a tiny bit, I'd hate to see what a lot looks like."
Tyr held out his hand and Harper handed him the nanowelder. He didn't step over to Harper's side of the console, but calmly went to work from the other side.
Wordlessly, they went to working on the console. When Tyr was finished on his side, instead of moving over to Harper's side and getting too close, he fished around the floor for another tool and turned around to the wall.
Harper remained where he was, tinkering around with the console.
Those unspoken rules between them were back and Tyr knew that he would never break them again.
And maybe, after some more time had passed, maybe that fragile trust between them would grow again. Tyr smiled to himself. It was a strange trust. So rare in this universe and so fragile that it could easily be broken with one single act.
But Tyr knew it meant more to him than he would ever let on.