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Little Give and Take, A

by Viridian5

Date: Friday, October 11, 2002 9:00 PM

     "A Little Give and Take"
     By Viridian5
     10/9/02
     FANDOM: Andromeda
     RATING: PG-13. 
     SPOILERS: "The Widening Gyre," "Immaculate Perception," and
     "If the Wheel Is Fixed." 
     SUMMARY: In the aftermath, Harper and Tyr try to pick up the
     pieces.
     ARCHIVAL/DISTRIBUTION: Anywhere, as long as you ask me
     first.
     FEEDBACK: can be sent to Viridian5@aol.com
     DISCLAIMERS: All things _Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda_
     belong to Gene Roddenberry's estate, Tribune Entertainment
     Company, and Fireworks. None of them are mine at all, and
     I'm putting them back when I'm done with them, though I
     can't promise that they won't be disturbed in the process.
     No infringement intended.
     NOTES: Because somebody had to do it.

"A Little Give and Take"
By Viridian5

When Harper found Tyr on obs deck, he couldn't stop staring at Tyr's naked forearms no matter how hard he tried, though at least Tyr, looking through the windows, wouldn't see the staring. Not only were the Nietzschean arm spurs gone, they were gone without a trace, without a scar, without even the indication that Tyr's bone structure beneath and through the skin had once been different. It gave Harper the shudders.

He wondered sometimes if they could ever really be sure that they'd gotten the real Beka and Tyr back from the tunnel. Bad thought, but thinking the bad thoughts nobody else wanted to consider was just about part of Harper's job description. He didn't know if that would be worse than the thought that something had taken Tyr, remade him, and broken his mind in the process.

Harper refused to believe that Tyr could be permanently broken. Not Tyr, not the guy who'd survived the slaughter of his Pride and slowly dug his way out from inside a collapsed mine tunnel. Tyr just needed time and other stuff, and Harper, other stuff provider extraordinaire, intended to offer his services.

"I know you're there, Harper," Tyr said softly. "I do not want company."

At least the Nietzschean senses remained intact.

"You know, I heard somebody else say that thing about not wanting company a few times about a year ago. You might know the guy: blond, brilliant, reasonably handsome, thought he was gonna be eaten alive from the inside by Magog larvae? If I recall correctly, you didn't listen to him."

Tyr still hadn't turned to face Harper. "Then this is... vengeance?"

Harper sat down next to him. "No."

Up close, the missing spurs nagged at Harper even more, and not in all the ways people would expect. Over the last year he'd come to kind of consider Tyr part of his family, but even then there'd be times when he'd see those Nietzschean spurs out of the corner of his eye and freak on the inside, getting that fight or flight "enemy!" rush of adrenaline, and he'd have to remind himself that this was Tyr, a guy he wouldn't necessarily want to turn his back to--though Harper had on a few occasions--but not an enemy. Now Tyr didn't have them anymore, and he looked human, suddenly unobjectionable to Harper's Earth-trained instincts.

Tyr had to find it really objectionable. It had to be like waking up to find out that your dick was missing. And Tyr might be one of the less bigoted Nietzscheans Harper had ever known, but looking like a kludge had to really burn him.

So Harper wouldn't mention them. Loaded topic. Besides, Harper had his own famous issues, which could muddy the water.

"I did not return alone," Tyr said, still looking out the windows into space.

If Harper had to talk to Tyr's shoulder, so be it. He understood. When he'd hosted the damned Magog larvae, he'd gone through raw times when he hadn't wanted people looking at his face either. He hadn't always known if he could hold himself together under scrutiny, or why he should even try.

"Beka, Trance, and Rommie are having a slumber party on the Maru. With candlelight even. I offered to make it a foursome, but they threw pillows at me and told me that no Y chromosomes were allowed there." Beka had come back weird in a different way, but she didn't seem to have suffered as badly as Tyr had. Harper hoped she wasn't just putting up a good front. "Not that you're second best, but I didn't get a chance to say howdy to Beka when she first got back and I wanted to fix that."

"I'm told... that when I first walked onto the bridge you flung yourself at me and hugged my arm." Tyr finally turned to face at Harper. His eyes....

The last time Harper had seen eyes like that, he'd been crouching besides this dog that'd gotten hit by one of the Ubers' speeders. It was bleeding out all over the place, and even a kid could see that its back had been broken. Its survival instincts engaged, it didn't make a sound, but its dark eyes had been full of pain and confusion. It hadn't even seen the speeder, hadn't known what hit it. One of the other kids mercy killed it, and the finders had a slightly larger than usual meal that night.

Tyr's eyes looked like that, and you could see right into the darkness in his head through them. This new Tyr worried the hell out of him.

Harper had to fix him somehow. Had to. "If I tried to hug your neck, I might have brought you down. Neither of us would have looked dignified. I was worried. 'Sides, it's not the first time I flung myself at you. It's rude disappearing and making me think you might be dead twice in such a short period of time, so don't do it again."

Tyr's face twitched. "I see."

"You know..." Harper took a breath, "it really helped me last year when you confirmed that the ship really did stink of Magog for weeks after the attack. I know Trance thought she was helping me by saying the smell was all in my head, but it just made me feel like my mind was betraying me along with my body. You told me that I had acute senses, and maybe that's why I survived Earth. I know how it can feel better to know the truth, no matter how bad it might be, than not to know what's going on, and I wish I could help you there with what you've got going on."

"Where there's life, there's hope," Tyr said softly, without anything that sounded like conviction.

"I think I remember hearing that from somebody. Sometimes hearing it made me want to shove a nanowelder up your ass, but we all have bad days. But, you know, it helped eventually." When Tyr didn't say anything in response for a few minutes, Harper said, "I could just work nearby while staying silent."

"You could remain silent."

Tyr knew he could, had even seen for himself that Harper could alternate motormouthed runs of words and brittle cheer with thick, loaded silences, so this had to be Tyr trying to play back a little. A good sign. Harper smiled and replied, "I've been silent for whole minutes at a time."

"I am astounded by your sacrifice."

"I'm noble like that. So what I figure is that I could do a little work quietly, and, you know, if you want to talk at me or even start a conversation, that would be cool."

"Would it?"

"Sure." Harper unwrapped his parts and tools, then laid them out on the cloth and started to work, occasionally sliding his eyes in Tyr's direction to see how he was.

After a small eternity, Tyr asked, "What are you building?"

"A bomb. A very small but powerful one."

Tyr almost smiled. A little. "I thought as much. I identified the makings of one."

Yet asked anyway, making this a possible attempt at a conversation. "Not everybody is as hip to what bomb parts look like as you are. You know, I have a story about that, about a guy who didn't recognize bomb parts. It involves theft and deceit and threats and rampant self-interest and the like. You might enjoy it."

Tyr's eyes looked a little less full, a little less dark. Hopefully that applied to his brain too. "Regale me." He almost managed his usual tone of command.

It was a start.

THE END


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