The Diaries Chapter 55

Maru's Database Records Archive: Epilogue (10088 – Present Day)

Specific Time: Direct continuation of the prologue record

"A starship's soul exists within their captain's heart."

- Eureka Maru

Harper seemed to be taking forever fixing my slipstream drive. I don't really mind. I don't see nearly enough of my engineer, except when we go out on a crazy suicide mission and then I'm too busy forcing my old sensors to work and keeping my AG generator running to spend any time watching Harper or talking to him.

Right away, I can tell something is bothering him. He's too quiet and too withdrawn. He isn't chattering nonstop about what he's been doing in the past few days. I briefly consider spitting out a damage report and asking him what's wrong, but I figure he'll either tell me, or Beka or Rev will come along and coax him into saying something.

When he's finally done with the drive, he smiles sadly as he gives it a pat. Then he slowly walks to the kitchen, grabs a beer out of the fridge and then walks back to engineering.

As soon as he enters the room and starts heading back to the drive, I know where he's going.

He crawls behind the drive and pulls his knees up to his chest. Reaching down, he pulls his knife out of his pant leg—which he still carries with him everywhere he goes—and knocks the lid off the bottle. Then he sits there, enveloped in a sullen silence while he sips the yellow, bubbly liquid.

About twenty minutes of this eerily quiet solitude pass before I see Beka enter the cargo bay and head towards me. I open the airlock for her and she jumps up, calling Harper's name. When she gets no response, she frowns.

She leans back out of my airlock and asks Andromeda if she's sure Harper didn't go back to his quarters or engineering. My good, reliable, High Guard friend reassures Beka that Harper must still be on me, since she can't detect him anywhere else.

Beka frowns and pulls her head back in. I shut the airlock behind her with a whine and she slowly strides down the corridor. She stops and glances into the crew quarters and then her quarters, finding them both empty. She even peers into the medical room, but that bed is empty too. Finally, she get to engineering and slowly walks in, the door swishing open before her.

She steps inside and carefully glances around. "Harper? Are you in here? Did you fix the drive?"

When she doesn't get an answer, she frowns, immediately knowing that something was wrong. She quickly strides towards the drive and ducks around it.

Immediately spying her sullen, quiet engineer, she frowns. Harper doesn't even acknowledge her presence and continues staring at the bottle in his hands. Beka sighs and runs a hand through her hair.

"Alright, shove over."

Without a word, Harper moves over a bit and Beka sits down beside him, pulling her knees up and looking at him quietly.

They sit in silence, neither of them moving or saying anything, until Harper gives the bottle in his hands a faint, sad smile.

"Well, this is it, boss. Tomorrow it'll have been five years." He whispers.

Beka frowns. "Five years since what? Since you cleaned up your quarters?"

Harper continues smiling sadly and won't look at her. "No." he whispers softly. "Five years since you let me stay. Your lease on me ends tomorrow."

Her eyes widen and she curses quietly. "Oh, my God, I completely forgot!"

He continues smiling sadly, quietly picking at the label on the bottle. "I haven't, boss."

She continued gaping at the back of my slipstream drive, her thoughts miles away. "Wow." She breathes. "I can't believe it's been five years." She whispers.

She turns her head and stares at the person sitting next to her. As she stares at him, her thoughts drift back to the day she met Seamus Harper. How much they had both changed since then!

He had been the scrawny, terrified, filthy, starving earther with a bad attitude who refused to wear shoes, had never had a shower before, ate with his hands, never talked and could hardly speak common coherently. She had been the untrusting, tough red head, who never loved anyone and never let anyone love her because she knew that if she opened her heart to someone, she'd only end up getting hurt.

How they had both changed! Harper had changed from that snarling, terrified, skinny mudfoot into a smart, kind hearted, young spacer who wasn't afraid to laugh and believe in the people around him from time to time. Beka had changed from that tough, bitter, no nonsense cargo hauler into an understanding, lovable captain who had learned how to put aside her own feelings and quick anger in order to understand the earther she had voluntarily stuck herself with.

She smiled as she remembered everything that had happened between the two of them. True, the past five years hadn't been easy. They had lost people they cared about and she had been forced to throw out the one person she had truly ever loved. Time and time again, she had had to adjust her life to try and make a mudfoot fit into it, because she had willingly pulled a huge responsibility onto her shoulders, and she would stop at nothing to care for that responsibility. It really hadn't been easy.

She remembered the many fights they'd had when they'd hissed, snarled and sworn at each other, earther and spacer values and beliefs constantly clashing. It had taken them a while, but gradually, they had learned to listen to each other before yelling and to try and understand where the other was coming from. She smiled quietly. Rev had been right. Spacers and earthers were never meant to live together. They were simply too different and their lives were too different. But somehow, they had made it work. Through years of heartache, anger, frustration and tears, they had slowly learned how to cooperate with each other and become friends, and even family. She quietly let herself drift down memory lane, remembering little snatches of things.

Sitting on the floor in the crewquarters and teaching Harper how to tie his laces and having him declare his bows were prettier than hers. Convincing Harper to sleep on his mattress by touching his cheek and showing him that he wasn't as dirty as Nietzscheans had always made him believe he was. Yelling at Harper for having stolen her CD from that store he'd gone to and finally calming down enough to explain to him why stealing was wrong when you had the money. Having that client storming off the Maru and yelling about pressing charges when Harper had suggested sleeping with him in exchange for getting paid ahead of time and then suffering through a huge fight filled with the usual misunderstandings until they finally explained to each other why they had said the things they'd said. Teaching Harper how to eat with utensils and then having Bobby sitting there with a shocked look on his face as Harper proudly cut his pancakes with that tiny smile on his face. Yelling at each other after Harper didn't care about having killed that thief who had crept onboard in the middle of the night until they both calmed down enough to talk it out and finally understand why Harper had done what he'd done and why he didn't care and why Beka wanted him to care. Taking Harper to the beach on that planet and wading through the water with him and watching his joy at seeing unpolluted, sparkling water, and later, learning how to surf in it. Bailing Harper out of jail and putting up with the warden's prejudiced, hateful attitude about earthers. Confronting a scared, hurt Harper about Bobby hitting him and having him denying it until Beka finally threw Bobby out, having chosen between Harper and the love of her life. Having Harper hold her while she sat in the storage closet, crying over Bobby having left. Staying up for days at a time while she cared for Harper after he had gotten his port installed and then struggling through the days of recovery and the excrutiating pain they brought. Confronting Harper about his drinking after Vex had died and then crying together in the corridor, holding each other. Making cookies with Vex and Harper in the kitchen and laughing when they threw cookie dough at each other and Harper had run off with the carton.

Beka smiled quietly as tears filled her eyes. Nope, it hadn't been easy. Just like Vex had said, it was a huge responsibility, but just like she remembered telling Vex the day she decided to let Harper stay, she hadn't regretted the decision back then, and still didn't.

She turned and stared at the person sitting beside her. He'd gained a lot of weight, wore his boots all the time and had her dad's and Vex's toolbelt firmly belted around his waist, and the light glinted off the silver port in his neck, but asides, from that, he still looked pretty much the same as he had the day Beka had opened my airlock and found him standing there, staring at her with that blank look and telling her she could call him whatever she wanted.

He glanced at her and frowned at her tears. "You alright, boss?"

She nodded and sniffed. Reaching out, she gently ruffled his hair. When he didn't scowl in irritation, she frowned through her tears. "Alright, tell me what's wrong. And don't you dare shrug, or I'll throw you into the boiler."

Harper smiled faintly. "That old threat still stands, huh?"

"And it always will. Now, come on, tell me what's wrong. I know your lease ends tomorrow, but I don't get what the big deal is. We're going to contact Theseus again and tell him I want to renew the contract, I'll give him my precious three thrones and take out another five year contract."

He slowly turned and stared at her. "You serious? You want me to stay?" he breathed.

Beka stared at him as if he had lost his mind. "You're actually asking me that?" she laughed weakly, nearly choking on her tears. "Seamus, of course I want you to stay. I want you to stay the next five years and the ones after that and after that until the day we die. You're my family, Harper, and I love you."

He stared at her. "Are you sure, boss? I mean, the last five years have been the best of my entire life, but I—" His voice trailed off.

She leaned closer. "You what?" When he didn't answer, she gently poked him in the ribs.

He took a deep breath and leaned his head back, his eyes staring at the back of my drive.

"I just don't think it's fair for you anymore, boss. You've spent the last five years rearranging your life to fit me into it. You've given up everything for me and given me everything I've ever wanted and you've never complained about it. You've given me a life, Beka. Not just any life, but a life I was never meant to live. And for all that, I've never given you anything in return. I just thought that getting rid of me would be a way of giving you something b—"

She reached out and put a finger on his lips. "Don't you dare finish that sentence because that's the biggest load of bull I've ever heard. Yes, I've given up a lot for you, shorty, and yes I've never complained about it. But you were wrong about never having given me something in return. You have. A lot. You taught me to look at the universe differently. You taught me about responsibility and understanding. You taught me to never take things for granted. And most importantly, you've taught me that I can trust you and for that, I'll always be grateful."

He stared at her. "You mean that?"

She nodded, tears briming her eyes again. "Yes, I do. We've both given each other a lot, Seamus. And we had to. We both know that this wasn't supposed to work. Spacers and earthers aren't meant to live together, never mind become a trusting family. But we did it. We both had to make some sacrifices, we both had to let go of some past feelings and beliefs, and yes, we had our share of misunderstandings and nasty fights, but we did it. And you know what's the most important part of it all? If I would go back and do it all over again, if I could go back to that day when we decided whether or not to stop at earth to pick up those supplies from Keeler, then I would. I'd do it all over again, Seamus and I wouldn't do anything differently. I don't regret any of it, Harper, and neither should you."

His eyes had filled with tears by now and he bit his lip as they slowly streamed down his face.

He smiled quietly through his tears. "I don't deserve you, you know. I never have."

She smiled through her own tears. "If you're going to look at it that way, I don't deserve you either. But that's never put a dent between us, has it? We're family, Seamus and we're never going to be separated, no matter what anybody—even what some Uber—says. I'll fight just as dirty as any earther tomorrow and I'll even blow up earth if I have to, but I'm not going to lose my shorty. I'm never going to lose you, you hear?"

Harper nodded quietly before bursting out in a sob and grabbing Beka in a fierce hug. They clutched each other, crying into each others shoulders, quietly rocking back and forth.

Finally, they pulled apart, laughing quietly at their tear streaked faces and wiping each others and their own faces.

Then Beka crawled out from behind the drive and stretched. She grimaced. "Why you can't hide in a nice, open space is beyond me." She muttered.

Harper rolled his eyes as he crawled out after her and held his bottle in his hands. "Spacers." He muttered.

Beka laughed and gently wapped him on the back of the head. Then she put an arm around his shoulders and he put his arm around her waist and they walked out of engineering, still chuckling.

They slowly walked down my corridor, a spacer and an earther. Two people who were never meant to live together.

Yet, somehow, despite incredible odds and a chaotic universe, these two had made it work.

End of Relevant Memory Archives