Summary: Everything's fixed… right?
Disclaimer: Tribune owns all rights to Andromeda.
Spoilers: References to events of the fourth and fifth seasons.
Setting: End of "The Heart of the Journey, Part 2".
Feedback: Praise and constructive criticism welcome.
Archive: Ask first and I'll probably say yes.
Author's Note: I got a couple of Harper's lines from this in my head and had to write the rest of the story! Mostly just fun, though I have to say that it was more fun after I realized that the whole not-writing-in-present-tense rule begged to be broken for this one.
Merry Go Round
By B.L.A. the Mouse
Tarn Vedra is open to space travel again. The Commonwealth is rebuilt. The Abyss is defeated. And on the starship Andromeda, her captain and crew stand on Command deck glorying in their victory, achieved after so many years of defeats.
As they congratulate each other, a small and inexplicable "pop!" echoes through the room, interrupting them and drawing everyone's attention to an equally inexplicable blue glow gathering at the front. The focus manages to be in the center of the small group, coalescing into slipstream-like tendrils as everyone takes a step (or two or three) back. They seem to hover, waving almost obscenely at the crew for a moment before a figure takes shape in the center. Abruptly the glow vanishes as the tesseract closes, leaving behind Harper. Another one.
"Oh, I am so good!" he crows. "No police box, no DeLorean, not even a black hole. Ten years, no waiting!"
On closer inspection, this Harper seems older than the one standing next to Doyle. A few of the blond hairs are turning grey, the corners of his eyes contemplate crows' feet, and a careful look at his waist reveals it to be slightly thicker under the t-shirt. His enthusiasm, apparently, has returned over the time away from Seefra and the threat of the Magog.
Dylan recovers the power of speech. Sort of. "What?"
"Oh, hey." He squints. "Nah, sorry, like you better with the grey. Seriously, don't try dyeing it."
He turns. "Beka! Oh, wow, I'd forgotten the braids. Look good, though. And Rhade. I'd forgotten the grunge look, too. Ew." He gets to… himself. "And, as always, a handsome devil. That I remember."
"Thanks." Their Harper recovers from his shock. "And not to seem ungrateful or anything, but who the hell are you and why do you look like me?"
"Because I am you, of course. You remember that idea we had- oh, about five or six years ago for you now- with the Alice strings and the tesseracts and the holes in time?"
"The ones that were tearing everything apart, you mean? The one that we shelved because it was destroying space as we know it? That idea?"
The older Harper waves a hand dismissively. He seems to have temporarily forgotten everyone else. "Just a tiny, infinitesimal problem with the math." He emphasizes the size with pinched fingers. The other hand is holding a sheaf of flexies; no one's quite sure whether he came through with them or they only appeared now that they notice them. "Just had to use some of the theory from that psycho's time bridge to fix it. The problem with that is that I've only got a few minutes left. Well, that and the timeline thing, potential futures, yadda yadda yadda, Trance's whole thing."
"Why isn't she the one that came through, then?" Rommie is studying them intently, trying to reconcile the two Harpers.
"Dunno. She wouldn't tell me. Might be an interesting story, though."
"Okay." Beka shook her hair back from her face, crossed her arms. She doesn't trust this one bit. "So, uh, how do we know you are who you say you are?"
He leans toward her and beckons, and she reluctantly moves forward so he can whisper. Rhade and the androids catch only some of it, nothing definitive, but whatever he tells her clears the hostile expression from her face as they both straighten. "It's Harper," she says with certainty.
"What did he tell you?" Dylan asks, looking between the two.
"One of those things that we were never going to talk about again." She's glaring at the present Harper, cutting him off apparently not having been sufficient.
"All right, you're… Harper." Dylan is still trying to make sense of it, but is willing to run with it for now. "Why are you here, then? Everything seems to be fixed for now."
"Big picture fixed? Mostly. Little picture fixed? Not so much. These," he waves the flexis, "are going to make it all better. With love from yourselves, carefully edited by Trance." He nods to the golden girl. "And the first one goes to her." Ceremonially he passes the top one in the stack to her. She immediately flicks it on and starts skimming.
"Well?" Rhade snaps. Realizing that he's been holding his breath makes him testy.
She looks straight at him in a fashion that makes him feel momentarily childish. "Listen to him," she says simply before returning to her own flexi.
"Who next? Ah, Rhade." Harper extends to flexi.
Rhade doesn't take it, instead crossing his arms and staring. "What happens?"
"Uh, I'm not sure you want to-"
"What. Happens? I have my wife back, my children, what can possibly be so bad?"
"I'm guessing you haven't told her about Louisa?"
By now everyone, even Trance, is watching Rhade, and he shifts uncomfortably under the scrutiny. "If I had decided to take a second wife-"
Beka scoffs. "He hasn't told her."
"Yup, and probably not about Lunah or any of his other women. Or, for that matter, the drinking and everything else he's been doing the last couple of years. Which might explain why she leaves him when-"
Rhade snarls, grabs the flexi, and stalks out of Command.
"And me?" Rommie straightens. "What happens to me? Do I die in battle?" She looks as if she might relish the thought.
Harper shakes his head. "Mothballed. With plans to turn you into a museum and your avatar as a tour guide. Here." He pulls her flexi from the pile. "We think that if you get started now we can stop that before it even gains momentum. It's too far in our time, they've already reset your personality." That visibly bothers him.
"Oh." Her screen image looks on as the android takes the flexi, blinking out as her physical form walks to the door.
"Aren't I included in that?" Doyle asks, confused. "Since I had the link? Where are my instructions?"
Harper dramatically fans out the flexis, demonstrating incontrovertibly that there are only three more, then sets them down and steps toward her. The current Harper tenses and Beka and Dylan prepare to move, but all he does is draw her head down so he can gently kiss her forehead. "I don't care what your reasons are," he says, ineffably sad, "there is nothing for you in the Aeneas system." Quietly he steps back and retrieves the flexis, letting everyone else digest that. The younger Harper steps up to Doyle and rests a hand on her arm.
"Why wasn't I with her?" The anger in his voice is directed at himself.
"I wasn't there." Without another word, Harper passes himself a flexi; he and Doyle escort each other out of the room, not turning it on yet.
Now only Beka and Dylan are standing with Trance. Harper turns to his first captain, but before he gets a word out she says, "No."
"Wait, what?" This was not the reaction he was expecting.
"I don't want to know. It can't possibly be that bad."
He waves the remaining flexis again. "Are you sure? You'll think so in about ten years."
Now she adopts a defensive stance. "I'm still around to think so, aren't I?"
"Okay, fine, I'll just go back and tell you that your younger self didn't think getting hitched to some Nietzschean overlord was a big deal."
She wavers, but recovers. "I could deal with that."
"Including having kids and co-wives."
Beka pales but stands firm.
"Even after he has the Maru melted down for scrap."
After she has fled, flexi in hand, to her beloved ship, Harper turns to Dylan. "Don't tell me that you're going to argue, too."
"I don't know, this just seems petty. Personal lives, when right outside this ship we have what we set out to do. A safer universe, a renewed Commonwealth…" Dylan spreads his hands. "If the greater good is served, I see no reason to be concerned with whether I develop arthritis." He grins foolishly. "Unless it's maybe a recommendation for where to go for a nice, long, well-deserved vacation."
Harper snorts. "You could say it is. If you take your own advice about that you might not end up getting divorced."
Dylan raises an eyebrow. "I get married?"
"Yup. To one of the hottest women I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. And you have a cute little boy about yea tall." Harper indicates somewhere around his waist.
Both eyebrows are up now. "And why am I getting divorced? A wife, a child… I can't imagine-"
"Your son isn't your wife's."
"Yeah." He gives Dylan a second to process that, then goes on. "Besides, it's not all personal stuff. Even with the Commonwealth, there's a lot of work still to get everything back into shape. You already know this Commonwealth's not all it's cracked up to be. Ten years from now you're working a desk. They're trying to force you into early retirement. They want to get rid of you, Dylan, because you're the annoying guy that wants to make them semi-accountable for at least the messes they've made themselves."
They look at each other for a long moment before Trance puts a hand on Dylan's arm. "Take it," she urges quietly. "You know it's the right thing to do." He glances over at her, then extends a hand for the final flexi.
Not saying anything else, he leaves Command for his office, already looking at the screen. Trance hurries after him, but stops halfway up the ramp to mouth silent thanks before exiting. Harper accepts with a nod.
He stretches, lacing the fingers of his now-empty hands together and raising them high over his head, then looks around the Command deck he remembers. He sighs, then produces a device from a pocket and presses a button. He tells the silent bulkheads, as the blue light of a tesseract forms around him, "Round and round and round it goes."
The tesseract collapses on an empty deck.