Summary: While being caught between Beka and Tyr can be awkward, there are some aspects of it that Harper wouldn't change for the world. Part three of three.

Pairings: Harper/OFC, Beka/Tyr

Disclaimer: Tribune owns all rights to Andromeda.

Rating: PG.

Spoilers: None.

Setting: Set after the events of parts one and two, "The Space Between" and "Across the Divide". Those diverge from canon around the second season.

Feedback: Praise and constructive criticism welcome.

Archive: Ask first and I'll probably say yes.

Author's Note: This one is a little more cheerful than the previous two, but only so much. Again, can be read without reading the previous sections, but it would make a lot more sense if you do.

The Kodiak Cycle: In the Middle

By B.L.A. the Mouse

Harper moved carefully to resettle himself more comfortably in the rocking chair while not disturbing Gaia. Scylla wouldn't be in to take her until the rest of the kids were down for the night, and he definitely didn't want to wake her before then. At a month old, she was still distrustful of sleep, and any time they could lull her into it in the noisy, crowded rooms allotted them he wasn't going to interrupt it if he could help it. Even moreso today, after he'd spent the day helping wrangle not only his older five but the two Valentine-Anasazis and assorted others, especially since the only other adult had been Beka. God love her, but she was not a "little kid" person.

As a result, Harper was more than ready for sleep and only waiting for everyone else, but Gaia didn't care about that. Of course, she hadn't spent the day riding herd on seven-plus children and probably wouldn't until she had children of her own. It was an odd thought, the baby that he held having babies. It was bad enough that Adam had started noticing girls. Not that the boy had said anything about it, but Harper recognized the looks he'd been giving the oldest Westmoreland girl from his own days on the outskirts of Boston.

"I feel old," he sighed. Immediately thinking better of it, he checked Gaia to make sure he hadn't disturbed her. Fortunately, her only response was to flicker her eyelids before letting out a sigh of her own and relaxing a little bit in his arms.

It was still hard to believe that he had six kids sometimes. Those times were very occasional, given that he was almost always with one or more of them. Wrestling with Adam or Frank, though they were quickly getting above his weight class; teaching Sev math or Tina how to fight dirty; cuddling with Dee or bouncing Gaia just to give Scylla a break; not to mention them frequently hanging around his lab if he were working on something non-dangerous.

Of course, he was still better than Beka. It seemed like she could never really accept her kids as being, well, hers. The way she looked when Alex greeted her every time, for one, like she was always surprised to have a teenage half-Nietzschean hugging her. Or today: They'd taken the kids to a field outside the main settlement, one being allowed to lie fallow this year, and set them loose. With several of their kids' friends tagging along, it had turned into a grand, mostly-friendly melee. His Dee and Beka's Izzy had dropped out of the game early and joined Beka and Harper where they sat in a supervisory capacity under a nearby tree. Dee, being only three and still in need of an afternoon nap some days, had crawled into his lap. Izzy was always inclined to imitate her friend and promptly did the same to Beka, who looked nothing less than shocked. She'd relaxed into it after a minute, easing into it as her daughter did, but that was the way she reacted to almost everything her children did, especially displays of affection.

When he thought about it— not that he had much chance or inclination to— he wondered why. Alex wasn't that odd, as he'd been a surprise, but after more than a decade he'd've thought that Beka would have adjusted. Plus, he thought Izzy'd been intentional. At least, something Beka had said while she was pregnant made him think so. Of course, he wasn't sure how much of anything Beka did when it came to Tyr was intentional. If more of it was, then maybe everything wouldn't have ended up like this, with the kids spending less than half their time with their mom, Beka bouncing between Tyr and men she met off-planet, Tyr looking like he'd been punched in the gut whenever Beka left again or turned him down. You wouldn't get the man to admit it in a thousand years, but he loved Beka. Not swoony, sappy, chocolates-on-Valentine's (hah)-day love, but deep-down need-her love. He wouldn't jump in front of a bullet for her, no Nietzschean would, but he'd sure as hell do it for their kids. Plus, he'd (probably) intentionally fathered Izzy. If Harper had picked up anything about the softer side of Nietzscheans, it was that repeat conceptions were a pretty good sign of commitment, if not outright affection. Not an iron-clad guarantee, but a good sign.

He doubted Beka saw it that way, though, even if she realized that particular cultural quirk at all. He sighed again at the thought. He felt bad for Tyr. Felt bad for both of them, really, stuck in what seemed to be the same cross-purposes, cross-cultural pattern, but more for Tyr. Harper wished Beka would either fish or cut bait rather than keep torturing the worm like that. Bad analogy, especially the part with Tyr as a worm, but truth. He hated being caught between them like this, both of them his friends and employers past and present.

So far the only good thing about this whole mess was his family, Scylla and the kids, from Adam down to little Gaia. He definitely hadn't known what he was getting into the night Scylla took him by the hand and— well. It was only supposed to be one night, a good time for him and some genius DNA for them, but he hadn't been able to stay away after seeing Adam for the first time. If he knew then what he knew now, when Scylla asked him again… But he'd still have done the same thing. He may have been more impressed that she'd asked him again, but that was it. After all, she was beautiful, and she wanted him, and one more baby would be a good thing, with how amazing it was to see Adam grow… And that was more or less how he— they— had ended up with six, though he still wasn't sure about the part where he'd ended up wearing an armband and living in a Nietzschean pride. The whole thing had just sort of happened.

And to be honest, if she were to come to him in a few months, sometime after they were sleeping through the night again, and tell him she wanted a seventh, he'd probably agree in a heartbeat. He was maybe even a little disappointed that she'd said no more babies, at least for a couple of years. Not because of the whole Nietzschean drive for children, not for him, but because she was beautiful, and wanted Harper, and it was amazing to see Adam and Franklin and Roosevelt and Valentina and Deirdre and Gaia grow…

Yeah, if it were up to him, they'd probably end up with an even dozen.

He could, if he wanted to. At the same time she'd issued the baby moratorium, Scylla had informed him that if he chose to take another wife she wouldn't object. He'd about had to pick his jaw up off the floor at that little announcement. It had taken a lot of convincing before she believed that he was happy with "just" one wife and six kids. He had never even dreamed he'd have that many, let alone more. He'd thought, maybe, that she was even happy that he'd refused. At least, she'd been more enthusiastic than usual that night.

And with that pleasant memory, Scylla ducked through the door into their small bedroom. He'd been kind-of hearing the noises of the rest of the household settling down from their usual dull roar, but not really been paying attention beyond monitoring it for signs of crisis. Now he realized that, while he could hear some conversation from the boys' room, that was it. "They're all in bed?"

"They all are, yes." She came to stand in front of him, tall and gorgeous, and reached for Gaia. Harper gave her up, a little reluctantly, and immediately stood so she could have the chair to feed the baby. The transfer had disturbed her just enough to start her pursing her lips and turning her head; Harper had figured out a long time ago that when that happened they didn't have long before she started to wail and wake the others, and that was not something he wanted when he was this tired. Scylla slid easily into the seat and he moved to the bed to sit. The chair barely fit in their room, but he'd wanted it there to make it easier for her when she'd gotten pregnant with Frank. That had been a surprise to her, but not as much as when he'd told her that he wanted to share their bed all the time, when he first moved to the pride permanently, but she'd adjusted to his Human quirks just as much as he'd adjusted to living with Nietzscheans. Maybe someday his friends would have that, too. Until then, he'd be content with his own.

The End