Hell Hath No Fury...
Summary: Is an android capable of jealousy?
Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.
Old Earth Poet (1670 - 1729)
It ate at him - - especially during the long nights as he gazed up at the darkened ceiling of his quarters. Why Doyle? What does it mean? And Dylan had no answers to those questions.
When he had been injured by the near catastrophic meltdown of the exotic matter drive - - when Elysian had taunted him with the cryptic words - - evas are fees, see you cave - - save Seefra evacuees - - his subconscious had turned to Doyle for comfort in the madness. Doyle! Not Beka, not Rommie or Trance - - or even Sara. Why Doyle? And then she had so innocently spoken the words that had seared his actions into his soul: "I read once that humans learn a lot about themselves from their dreams; about how they feel. Did you learn anything about your feelings?"
And what could he say to that really?
And so he was silent, but the images festered in his brain: being stuck in the windowless prison with Doyle day after day, with nothing but bread and water to eat - - and waking to find Doyle leaning over him; kissing Doyle, pressing his lips to hers in that same prison; wrapping his arms about her body as they lay at the edge of the thin pool of water, waiting for the tesseract field to rescue them; hearing Rhade say hello to Sara and turning to find that she was Doyle and not Sara at all.
So many memories - - memories of dreams - - just dreams - - and Doyle was intertwined in most. Most, but not all. Never forget that. Not all
He had fought his way back - - back to the pain of the heart surgery and the reality of saving the Seefra evacuees - - back to the uncertainty of his feelings and thoughts. But what exactly did this prove? Nothing, nothing at all.
Dylan tossed back the last of the Terrelian Brandy from the snifter he had been cradling in his hands and then gently set the glass on his desk where it winked accusingly in the dim light from overhead. "Damn it. Why can't it just be easy for once?"
Captain? Andromeda's voice cut into his thoughts.
"Yes, Andromeda?" He sighed softly at the interruption.
Is everything all right? I noticed a slight spike in your bios, Captain.
Dylan smiled. "Yes, Andromeda. Everything is fine. Thank you."
There was a slight hesitation. You're welcome, Captain.
Dylan sighed again and ran his hands through his hair. "Andromeda, engage privacy mode."
Aye, Captain. Privacy mode engaged.
Was there a hint of a pout in her words? She so hated to be cut off from any part of the ship or crew, but Dylan found he needed to keep his distance from Andromeda since the incident. Hell, he was keeping Rommie at arms' length as well, feeling almost as if he'd betrayed her somehow. Dylan shook his head at the random thought and poured another snifter of brandy before picking up the picture of he and Sara.
"So why did I see Doyle's face instead of yours, Sara? What does it mean? Or were things just so messed up that it really meant nothing at all?"
The answers weren't to be found in the bottom of the snifter of brandy - - or in the much larger bottle. Maybe there was no answer to that question. Dylan frowned as that thought reared its ugly head and hissed at him. "Damn."
Doyle punched in the code to open the door to the machine shop - - and nothing happened. She growled under her breath, tossed her hair and tried again. Her hand fisted tightly and she closed her eyes. When she spoke her voice was surprisingly unaffected by the events of the past few minutes.
"Andromeda, open machine shop eight." Doyle stood before the door with her hands on her hips. The door remained closed. "Andromeda?" There was no answer from the ship and Doyle growled softly.
"What's up, Doyle Babe?" Harper grinned as he snuck up behind the android, his voice making her jump slightly.
Whirling on him quickly, she pouted and stopped just shy of stomping her foot. "I can't seem to get into the machine shop. The codes aren't working - - and Andromeda won't answer me."
"Really?" Harper ran his hands through his unruly mop of hair, making it stand up even more, if that were possible. "Hmm, I wonder what's going on." He punched the code into the keypad, risking a glance at Doyle when the code failed to open the door. His hand snaked into his pants' pocket quickly, pulling a long slender cable out. It unwound itself and hung from his nimble fingers as he inserted one long, shiny metal end into his own data port. He smiled reassuringly at Doyle before running the cable between his fingers to find the opposite end and plugging it into the control panel. His eyes closed and his brow creased just before a grin split his face - - and the offending door slid open nearly silently.
Harper opened his eyes and turned to look at Doyle, who just glared at him before stomping into the machine shop. "Um - - Doyle? Don't let the door close behind you. I'm not sure what's wrong but something seems to have happened to the codes and I'll need to reset them."
Doyle waved Harper away without even turning around. "Yeah - - whatever, Harper. I'll just be a minute."
"Oh - - okay then. I don't have time to reset the codes right now but I'll be sure to do it later." Harper ducked his head again and turned to leave, mumbling under his breath about ungrateful androids.
Doyle went about her business, retrieving the object she had come for and then turning just as the doors whisked shut.
"Andromeda?" Harper frowned as he walked down the corridor.
"Were the entry codes changed for machine shop eight?"
Not that I'm aware of, Harper.
"Hmm, I couldn't get in before and had to hack into your system. Could you run a diagnostic for me, please?"
"Um " He rubbed the back of his neck. "Didn't you hear Doyle calling to you before?"
Doyle? No - - I was running through a diagnostic for Rommie until you called.
"Thank you, Andromeda."
You're welcome, Harper.
Something in the ship's voice sounded off - - but that wasn't possible, was it? Harper shook his head as he briefly contemplated the idea of Andromeda having something against Doyle - - and then he dismissed the idea as ludicrous. After all Andromeda was a warship
It was hours later when Harper walked onto the command deck. After quickly looking around he walked over to Rommie.
"Hey, Rom-Doll. Have you seen Doyle around?"
Rommie looked up from the computer screen and blinked once. "No, Harper. Why? Did you lose her?"
Harper frowned as he digested Rommie's response. It wasn't the words that were off - - it was the tone. "Rommie? Do you know where Doyle is?"
Another blink. "Yes Harper." She continued to work at the console.
Harper sighed loudly. "Rommie!"
This time, Rommie looked up at him. "What is it, Harper? I'm trying to get some work done."
Harper mentally counted to five as Rommie watched with big round eyes. "Rommie, would you please tell me where Doyle is?"
"Doyle is in machine shop eight."
"Machine shop eight? But - - oh never mind." Harper hustled off the bridge, mentally chewing on the fact that he'd left Doyle in that machine shop over four hours previously. What could she possibly be up to in there that would take this amount of time?
She paced - - she fumed - - and she screamed into the silence of the empty room.
"Andromeda! Open the door! Now!"
Doyle paced in front of the sealed door - - sure she could almost hear the ship laughing at her.
Suddenly the machine shop door whisked open, revealing Harper standing in the corridor. He frowned.
"Doyle? What are you doing in here?"
She brandished a nano-welder. "Looking for this."
He blinked stupidly before opening and closing his mouth, much like a fish out of water. Then he sighed and rubbed his head. "I know I'm going to regret this but, Doyle? Have you been in here for the past four hours looking for a nano-welder?"
"It would appear so, Harper." She flounced out of the machine shop then, not stopping to explain to Harper that she hadn't been able to get out of the machine shop without his assistance. It seemed that Andromeda wasn't listening to her today - - and it was beginning to make her very angry.
Harper watched her leave then turned and looked around the machine shop at all the tools lining the various workbenches. Even without walking into the room any further than the doorway, he could see at least three nano-welders lying in plain sight. He shook his head and walked out of the machine shop, letting the door close softly behind him.
The android looked up from her place on the command deck. "Yes Beka?"
"Have you seen Doyle today?"
Rommie blinked. "No."
Beka bit the inside of her cheek and frowned. "Oh."
Rommie rolled her eyes and sighed softly. "Is there some problem, Beka?"
"Well - - I just passed Doyle in the corridor and she nearly growled at me when I said hello." She leaned against the console beside Rommie and tapped her fingers; an old nervous habit that manifested when she was thinking hard about something. "It was just so unlike her - - I was curious to know if you'd noticed her acting - - off."
"Haven't noticed a thing, Beka. Sorry I can't help."
"That's okay, Rommie. Maybe Dylan knows something - - or Trance."
"Maybe." Rommie looked up. "Do you mind if I get back to work?"
Beka pushed away from the console and straightened her shirt. "Still running diagnostics on Andromeda's systems then?"
Beka frowned. "Um - - okay. Sorry I bothered you."
"Um hmm," Rommie sing-songed as she went back to work; silently dismissing Beka from the command deck and from her thoughts.
As Beka walked way, she missed the small smile that fleetingly graced Rommie's lips.
Trance hummed a little tune as she worked in the hydroponics garden. Digging in the soil always made her feel better somehow - - closer to the elements of the universe. It was one time when she could think clearly - - when all the pieces of the various puzzles seemed to coalesce and she could see the convergent paths most clearly. The humming just helped her to focus on whatever problem she was trying to work through at the moment, helping her to unravel the threads in her mind.
"Um hm?" She looked up to see Beka standing over her. A smile lit her face as she slapped her hands together a couple of times to dislodge the dirt clinging to them. "Hi, Beka." She stood and began wiping her hands on a scrap of cloth she kept handy while working in the dirt. "What's up?"
Beka looked away for a moment, unsure of how to approach the problem that she wasn't even sure was a real problem at all. Ah, damn just spit it out, Valentine! She took a deep breath. "Um, Trance?"
"Have you noticed anything - - weird about Doyle?"
Trance frowned. "Weird how?"
"Well, she's acting funny. She nearly growled at me a few minutes ago and all I did was say hi to her!"
Trance frowned. How do I say this without making more of it than is really there? She thought for a moment before speaking. "I think Doyle is having a few issues with trying to fit into the crew, Beka. I'm aware of the problem and I think it's something Doyle will have to work out on her own."
Beka wasn't buying it. "Why would Doyle have trouble fitting in? She as been a tremendous help to us all, both on Seefra and since."
Trance smiled. "Beka - - just give it time, okay? I'm sure everything will work out."
Trance stopped her tirade by simply putting her hand gently on Beka's arm. "Beka, please, trust me on this. Just give her some time."
Beka glared at Trance for a moment before sighing loudly and walking out of the hydroponics garden, muttering.
Trance smiled again as she watched her leave. Then she sighed. "I sure hope they straighten things out soon. I really don't want to be the one to have to go to Dylan with all this - - especially with all he has on his mind these days."
Dylan looked up and stretched, grimacing slightly as his stiff muscles pulled, before picking up his glass and leaning back in his chair again. "Mr. Harper. What can I do for you?"
Harper fidgeted, scratching his neck nervously, before speaking. "Um, Boss? I " He cleared his throat.
"Harper - - tonight." Dylan sighed loudly as he rubbed the spot on his forehead that was throbbing again.
"Right." He took a deep breath, risked a quick glance at Dylan and plunged ahead. "I think Andromeda has something against Doyle."
That got Dylan's attention. His head whipped up and he stared at Harper nearly a full minute as his mouth opened and closed a couple of times, before he burst out laughing. After a couple of huge guffaws and a deep breath to regain some semblance of control he set his glass down, leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers under his chin.
Harper fidgeted and blushed.
When Dylan finally found his voice he spoke slowly and carefully as if explaining something very complicated to a small child, or an idiot, Harper thought.
"Harper Andromeda is a war ship. She simply can't have something against Doyle." The tone of his voice made Harper want to melt and sink down through the floor just to disappear.
"But Dylan " He knew he was whining and he cringed as he heard his own voice.
"Harper!" Dylan held up his hand for silence. "Stop - - just listen to yourself. Andromeda is a ship - - a computer. She hasn't been programmed with feelings and so she can't have anything against Doyle."
"But " At Dylan's renewed glare he stopped speaking and sighed eloquently. "Gotcha. But Dylan?"
"What is it now?"
"If it's not Andromeda making Doyle miserable then who is it? And who is sabotaging the ship against her?"
"Sabotage? Are you sure, Harper?" Dylan visibly bristled at the thought of someone - - anyone - - messing with the Andromeda.
"Well, the security codes were changed to the machine shop this morning - - and Andromeda was conveniently running diagnostics and couldn't help Doyle when she needed it "
Dylan smiled. "That doesn't make it sabotage, Harper."
The engineer bristled. "No - - it doesn't, does it? But then, something weird is going on - - you can't deny it."
Dylan sighed again as he shook his head. "I'm not trying to deny anything, Harper. I just don't see any sinister undertones to anything you've just told me."
"Will you at least talk to Rommie about this then?"
Dylan barely contained his gasp. Talk to Rommie? There was no way he could face her yet. He wasn't a stupid man - - no matter that Beka had repeatedly accused him of being dense where Rommie was concerned. He was well aware of Rommie's growing infatuation with him, and silently cursed Harper for adding in the emotions to her programming. Not that he really would deny her those emotions - - but he was her Captain! It was against all protocols to pursue anything more than a professional relationship with her. And Rommie's feelings only made it more difficult for him - - given the current circumstances.
Dylan stared down at his desk. "I can't, Harper." He could feel his face heat as he spoke those words and as he heard Harper's sharp intake of breath.
"You can't? Or won't?"
How could he explain that he was avoiding Rommie; that even looking at her made him feel even guiltier for having dreamed of Doyle while undergoing the surgery?
Harper stared, growled softly under his breath and then stalked off, leaving Dylan staring after him as the door shut quietly.
"Is everyone crazy around here?" Dylan muttered under his breath as he poured another drink. "Or just me?"
"Dylan! I need to talk to you." Beka came to a halt just inside the door. She jumped as the doors whisked shut just behind her.
He was leaned back in his chair, his long legs stretched out in front of him, booted feet propped on the desk, his eyes steadily staring into the glass of amber liquid he clutched in his hands.
He sighed, not taking his eyes from the brandy swirling in the glass. "Yes, Beka?"
"Um are you?" She rubbed the back of her neck nervously.
"What, Beka? Am I what?"
Beka looked stricken. Damn, he isn't going to make this easy for me. "Are you - - able to talk?" She nodded toward the nearly empty bottle on his desk.
Dylan knew what she was really asking and he was steamed. Go ahead and ask, Beka. Am I drunk? Not yet, but not for lack of trying! "And just what do we need to talk about, Beka?"
She cringed at his condescending tone of voice and instinctively pulled her shoulders back and lifted her chin as she cleared her throat.
"Doyle - - and Rommie - - and Harper."
Dylan nearly choked on his mouthful of brandy, which didn't go unnoticed by Beka.
"Look! You've been really preoccupied since your injury and the surgery. Rommie thinks you're mad at her - - hell you haven't spoken ten words to her in weeks! Harper is still trying to get in Doyle's pants, which is making Rommie even more angry and upset. And Doyle " She took a deep breath.
"And Doyle?" He cringed as he said her name and Beka rounded on him.
"See? You can't even talk about her without making a face! What is wrong here? Why isn't she being accepted as part of this crew?" Beka paced. "You - - Rommie. Damn it, Dylan. Doyle was a huge help to us on Seefra. Even you can't deny that! And what does she get for her troubles? Nothing but grief! I tell you, Dylan - - she's going to take a hike if people don't start making her feel welcome."
Dylan opened his mouth to respond just as Beka turned on her heel and stormed out of his quarters. Instead he picked up his glass and saluted the now empty room. "Well, that went well."
Harper and Doyle were standing by the large window on the Obs Deck when Rommie walked in. She had been walking aimlessly - - and thinking - - and hadn't been paying attention to anything other than the need to be alone. The pair occupying the room didn't look up as the door whisked open and then shut again.
They were talking softly and Rommie didn't hear them but, when she looked up, Doyle was smiling at something Harper said. She responded - - he blushed - - and then Doyle reached out and put her hand gently against his cheek.
Rommie fumed! Instinctively she knew that Harper had built Doyle to be his plaything - - his girlfriend, if you will. She also knew that he had used parts of her - - bits and pieces salvaged from her destroyed android body - - in her creation, keeping Rommie's face separate and apart. For three long years she had languished in a kind of limbo - - angry and confused and hating the humans who had deserted her.
And now his play-toy was on board the Andromeda - - being flaunted under her very nose. Was she really supposed to just take it? Harper had built her - - Rommie! He was infatuated with her - - not that she wanted him in that way, but still.
A soft growl made Harper and Doyle both look around.
Harper smiled. "Rom-Doll! What brings you in here?"
Rommie growled, louder this time, turned on her heel and stalked off the Obs Deck.
Doyle turned to Harper. "See what I told you, Harper? I will never be a part of this crew - - no matter how much you may want it."
"That's not true!" He looked at Doyle's crumpled composure and sighed, thinking she just might be right. "Doyle, if you really want to fit in here you have to try to fix this with Rommie."
"And just how do you propose that I do that, Harper?"
The sarcasm dripping from her words made him flinch but he held his ground. "Go after her, Doyle. If you don't work this out now you never will."
Doyle stared into his eyes for a few minutes longer before lowering her eyes and nodding. Without looking up again, she walked off the Obs Deck, hurrying to catch up with Rommie.
Doyle searched the usual places but to no avail. Rommie was no where to be found - - and it wasn't as if the Andromeda was giving her any information - - so after about a hour she gave up trying to find her and sought her solace in hydroponics.
"Trance! I'm sorry - - I didn't know anyone would be here." Doyle turned to leave.
"Wait, Doyle - - please." Trance stood from where she was pruning some flowers back and wiped her hands on her trousers.
"What is it, Trance?"
Trance smiled. "Nothing - - I just thought you might want to talk."
Doyle cocked her head slightly. "Talk? What would you like to talk about, Trance?"
Again she smiled. "You."
At this, Doyle frowned. "Me? Why would you want to talk about me?"
"Come sit with me, Doyle." Trance sat on one of the benches and patted the space next to her.
Doyle rolled her eyes before sitting next to Trance.
The silence stretched for a couple of minutes before Doyle sighed. "Trance? Why are we sitting here?"
"No special reason. I like this place, don't you?"
Doyle looked around at the lush greenery surrounding them and shrugged. "It's - - nice, I guess."
"It's one of the most important parts of this ship, Doyle."
"Really? Plants - - important?"
"They produce the oxygen we breathe, provide the food we eat."
Doyle nodded slowly. "Ah - - humanoids."
Trance smiled down at her lap. "Yes - - humanoids. They are also very soothing, don't you think?"
"Soothing?" Doyle frowned. "How so?"
"Well, they're pretty to look at. And, more importantly, it's very quiet in here. It's peaceful - - and soothing." She leaned toward Doyle until their shoulders were a mere breath away from each other. "That's why I spend so much time in here."
Doyle nodded, not really sure she understood everything Trance was trying to tell her.
"Sometimes you need to find the one place you belong. The hydroponics garden is that place for me. It's where I can sit and think - - without being interrupted or bothered. It's where I feel the most comfortable." Trance looked at Doyle. "Have you found your place yet, Doyle?"
"What place, Trance?"
Again Trance smiled. "The place where you belong."
Doyle frowned as she shook her head. "I don't think so."
"Then you need to keep looking."
Dylan knocked back another glass of brandy, savoring the heat as it burned its way to his stomach. His hand shook slightly as he pushed aside the now empty bottle and picked up the unopened one. Just one more. The brandy helped him think.
The door alarm chirped and he ignored it, taking another gulp of the amber liquid in his glass.
"Damn." He sighed, knowing it was useless to ignore this one. "Come!"
The door slid open and in stepped his visitor. She frowned as she watched him pour another glass of brandy.
"Hey Trance. What brings you to my quarters at this late hour?" Dylan leaned back in his chair, cradling the glass of brandy in his hands, warming the liquid with his body heat.
Trance shook her head. "What are you doing, Dylan?"
He grinned up at her, noting her look of distress and dismissing it as unimportant. "What does it look like I'm doing, Trance?"
She smiled at his slightly slurred speech, knowing he was on the way to becoming quite inebriated. "Well Dylan, it looks to me like you're determined to get drunk this evening." She gestured toward a chair. "Mind if I sit?"
He frowned for a moment, not wanting any company. Then he shrugged, realizing that Trance would say her piece, no matter whether he let her sit or not. "Might as well be comfortable, Trance."
She pulled the chair over to the desk and sat in it, angling herself so she was facing Dylan across the expanse of the desk. Her eyes roamed over his face and body for a minute, taking in the slight tremor in his hands, the stubble on his chin and the haunted look in his eyes.
"Your dreams still haunting you, Dylan?"
He looked up at her for a moment before silently lifting the snifter and bringing it to his lips, finishing off the brandy in one gulp. As he reached for the bottle to refill his glass Trance spoke again.
"Do you really think you need more of that, Dylan?"
He looked up at her then, anger evident in his eyes for just a second, before they became blank again, expressionless. "Would you care to join me, Trance?"
She stared for a moment before nodding. "Sure, Dylan. Thanks."
He hesitated and then grinned. Holding on to the desk for support, he stood. He turned carefully and made his way to the wet bar, retrieving a second glass. Once back at the desk he sat and then poured Trance a drink.
Trance lifted her glass. "A toast, Dylan?"
"A toast?" He blinked slowly and then lifted his glass. "Sure - - why not?"
"To the future - - wherever it may lead us."
Dylan frowned. He knew Trance. He knew her words often had hidden meanings. Tonight, however, he was not in the mood to try to decipher them. Instead he saluted her with his glass and repeated her words. "To the future."
They drank, both emptying their glasses.
Trance nodded. "Sure, why not?"
They drank again and this time, when Trance set her glass down, she covered it with her hand. "I've had enough, thanks."
Dylan frowned at her for a moment before shrugging. "Sure thing - - Trance."
"I think you've had enough too, Dylan." Her words were softly spoken but they carried enough power to pierce the fog currently occupying his brain.
Dylan looked at Trance and then at the half-empty bottle of brandy. "Why do you say that, Trance?" His brow furrowed in concentration as he contemplated his empty glass.
Trance smiled. "If you drink it all tonight, what will you drink tomorrow?"
"Um - - more brandy?" He grinned, pleased with his answer.
Trance reached out and corked the bottle of brandy, ignoring Dylan's frown at her actions. "You need to go to bed, Dylan. It's been a long day."
"I don't think I'm going to sleep any more, Trance."
She smiled. "Really?"
He nodded slowly. "If I don't sleep I can't dream."
Poor Dylan, she thought. "Why don't I help you get ready for bed, Dylan?" she said, as she helped him to stand and gently steered him towards his sleeping quarters.
He pulled away from her and headed into the bathroom, mumbling, "Be right back."
Trance had folded back the coverlet on his bed and fluffed his pillow by the time Dylan re-emerged from the bathroom. He had changed into his sleep pants and was yawning widely as he walked back into the room.
Dylan sat on the edge of the bed and looked up at Trance. "Thanks, Trance."
"For what, Dylan?"
He smiled and swung his legs up on the bed. Settling himself under the covers, he closed his eyes and was asleep almost immediately.
Trance smiled as she turned away. "Andromeda, diminish illumination, please."
The lights were extinguished as the door closed behind Trance.
Dylan stretched; cringing against the illumination in his quarters as he cracked open his eyelids. "Andromeda," he croaked before stopping and licking his over-dry lips. His tongue felt two sizes too big for his mouth and he was dry. Water. I need water. He swung his legs over the side of the bed and sat on the edge, holding his head in his hands.
Dylan winced at the voice. "Shh. Illumination at half, Andromeda."
The lights dimmed and he sighed as he gave himself a silent order to remember to change the automatic settings on the lighting in his quarters. Dylan got to his feet, wincing again at the pounding at his temples, and shuffled out to the wet bar and poured himself a tall glass of water. He leaned against the bar, propping himself on one hand as he sipped at the water.
Dylan sighed. Damn, I don't think I've felt like this since my academy days. I guess this is what it's like to get old. It used to take at least a full bottle to get a hangover like this one! He looked over at his desk and shuddered as he took in the sight of one empty brandy bottle - - and another less than half full. Well, that explains that! It's a wonder I even woke up this morning.
A light tapping sound at his door made him frown. "Yes?"
The door whisked open, revealing a smiling Trance. She held up a hypo-spray as she whispered, "I thought you might have need of this, Dylan."
He flinched, even though her words were spoken very quietly. "And just what is that, Trance?"
"Just an analgesic, Dylan." She smiled again and stepped forward. "It will help with the headache."
He sighed and bared his neck to her. She took advantage of his cooperative mood and moved in quickly to administer the medication. Everyone knew Dylan hated needles of any kind and administering medications usually entailed trickery of some sort - - either that or Dylan being unconscious. This was a bonus she wasn't prepared to pass up.
Dylan sighed contentedly as the drugs hit his system and began to wash away his pounding headache and aching muscles. "Thanks " He cleared his throat. "Thanks, Trance." The drugs may have helped the headache, but they didn't do anything for the lingering effects of the dehydration from the alcohol. He picked up his glass of water and took a long drink.
"You're welcome, Dylan."
Trance watched him for a minute, until Dylan grimaced and sighed.
"What is it, Trance?" He rubbed his hand through his hair, mussing it slightly.
"Just thinking - - about what you were running from."
"I'm not in the mood for cryptic today."
"Okay then. You can't hide from your problems in a bottle, Dylan. Some day - - and soon - - you will have to face those problems or they will tear this crew apart piece by piece."
Having said that, Trance turned on her heel and left Dylan's quarters. Once the door had shut behind her Dylan swore softly, before shaking his head and heading to the bathroom. He really needed a nice long shower this morning.
About an hour later Dylan walked onto the Command Deck, freshly showered and feeling moderately more human than he had when he awoke that morning. Beka was working at the pilot's station and smiled at him briefly before lowering her head to her tasks again.
He nodded and went to work at the communication station, pulling up any pending messages and sorting through them. There were a number of messages for his crewmembers that he bypassed with merely a cursory glance before he isolated those for himself. These he dumped into a data file and began to go through them one by one, reading and deleting most of them. Messages that required his response were filed back into the computer to be accessed and answered at his desk later.
It was tedious work and he was happy when he noticed he was nearing the end. Why do I leave these to pile up? I know Andromeda would alert me to messages of any import, but I shouldn't allow the others to languish so long before addressing them. It just makes it harder to get through them later - - like today.
Dylan looked up, rubbing the back of his neck, just as Harper stormed onto the Command Deck. He winced as the engineer let loose with a string of profanity.
"Mr. Harper! Do you mind?"
Harper looked up and blushed. "Sorry, Dylan - - Beka. I didn't realize you were here."
Beka stretched. "What's wrong, Harper?"
He sighed dramatically. "It's Rommie - - and Doyle."
"What about them?" Beka asked, before looking to Dylan to gauge his reaction. If she noticed he looked a little pale she gave no sign before turning back to face Harper again.
"Well - - Doyle came to me last night." He looked up to see an incredulous look on Beka's face. He smiled and waved her away. "No - - not like that." He cleared his throat. "She came to me - - to talk."
"Talk." Beka crossed her arms on her chest and leaned back against the console directly behind her, inviting Harper to continue.
"Yeah. She - - she's doesn't think she fits in here. She says that no one likes her - - and that we don't want her around." He risked a glance at Dylan only to see him sidling away, refusing to meet his eyes.
Beka clenched her jaw and turned to Dylan. "See? It's what I was trying to tell you last night only you wouldn't listen!"
Dylan lifted his gaze to hers guiltily. "I know, Beka."
"And just what do you plan to do about it?" She glared at him, silently daring him to try to wrangle out of it this time.
He opened his mouth - - not quite sure what exactly he was going to say - - and all hell broke loose.
Rommie stalked onto the Command Deck, waving her hand dismissively as she passed through the open doorway. The door whisked shut behind her - - right in the face of Doyle, who had been following right on her heels and had obviously been trying to gain her attention.
"Rommie! Open this door, dammit!"
Rommie hummed under her breath as she moved to her station. Once there she lifted her eyes and, seeing the incredulous stares of her crewmembers, she frowned.
"What?" She blinked, keeping her face calmly neutral.
Dylan sighed as he rubbed his temples. "Open the door, Rommie."
Rommie frowned and the door opened. Doyle stalked onto the Command Deck, obviously extremely upset.
Rommie watched her approach with a perfectly blank face.
Doyle fumed at Rommie's apparent serenity. "Damn it, Rommie! Why can't you just talk to me?"
"Talk? You want to talk - - here?"
Doyle braced her hands on her hips. "If that's what it takes. I tried to talk to you in private but you wouldn't stop to listen to me."
Rommie looked away. Dylan took that moment to step forward.
"Harper - - Beka?" They looked to him reluctantly. "Leave us."
"But!" The word was spoken nearly simultaneously.
"Now! Rhade is approaching. I've cleared him for hangar bay seven. See if he needs any help."
Harper pouted and Beka looked mutinous. "Right," they mumbled.
The slip fighter was barely in the hangar before Rhade noticed it being pressurized and the doors opening. He exited the craft, looking up at the people walking toward him.
"Hey gang. Why the warm welcome?"
Beka and Harper just stared. It was Trance who stepped forward. "Welcome back, Rhade."
He looked around before shrugging. "Thanks, Trance. So what's going on?"
Trance smiled. "Dylan, Rommie and Doyle are talking on the Command Deck so we thought we'd come and help you unpack."
Rhade laughed. "Well, it's about time. Come on - - I've got a ton of supplies here. You might as well make yourselves useful."
Once the slip fighter was unloaded and the supplies stowed away in the various storerooms and supply lockers the crew headed toward the Command Deck, eager to witness the outcome of the discussion between Rommie and Doyle.
The door was shut - - and apparently locked - - when they got there, but raised voices could be heard.
"Wow, sounds like the discussion is progressing nicely," Harper smirked.
Trance winced. "Yeah, poor Dylan."
Beka whirled on her. "Poor Dylan? All of this could have been avoided if poor Dylan had just confronted this problem days, no weeks, ago!"
"Now, Beka. That's not fair. Doyle and Rommie needed to have this talk - - and they needed to do it on their own time."
"Sure, Trance. Stick up for the Boss," Harper groused.
Rhade stepped up and slapped Harper on the back of the head. "Knock it off. You both know Trance is right. This has been festering since Seefra and no amount of prodding would have hastened it along."
"Yeah, yeah "
Dylan leaned against the science station, his arms crossed over his chest. Things had progressed from outright screeching at each other to some actual conversation and he could finally hear his own thoughts again.
They had gotten past the 'Harper made you to replace me' and the 'no one around here has even tried to let me fit in, least of all you' and had progressed to 'this is my ship' and 'you and Andromeda have been making my life here miserable'.
Once it had gotten that far, the decibel level had decreased somewhat and Dylan pushed himself away from the console to stand closer to the two androids. "Are you two quite finished? Look you two. You're both important members of this crew."
He took Rommie by the arms and pulled her around to face him. "Rommie, no one can take your place here. You are part of this ship. You belong here at my side. Do you remember what I once told you - - another time that you were debating your existence? You are the air that I breathe, Rommie. I couldn't do this without you."
Rommie smiled. "And after the Pax you told me that you were my heart. Thank you, Dylan, for reminding me that I belong here."
He kissed her gently on her brow and turned to Doyle. "And as for you."
She flinched as he took her by the arms, much as he had done with Rommie. "Doyle, you were made by Harper to fill a void in his life after he thought the Andromeda was destroyed. You were made using pieces of Rommie - - and wound up with some of her memories to boot, as I'm sure you remember. Without you, I'm not sure there would have been a Harper to bring back to the Andromeda. And yet we haven't welcomed you as we should have - - we're all guilty of that." He looked over at Rommie. "You are a part of this crew, Doyle. Anything else is up to you."
She looked to Rommie and then back to Dylan before squirming out of his grasp. "Thank you, Dylan. And I appreciate your words too, Rommie. Truce?" She smiled and held out her hand.
Rommie frowned for a moment and turned away. Dylan stepped forward, blocking her path of retreat.
"Rommie, I need you to do this. I need you to stop picking on Doyle."
Rommie looked up at him. "Yes, Captain." She couldn't go against a direct order from Dylan. Sighing, she turned and held out her hand.
Doyle stared at her a moment before putting her hand in Rommie's.
"Truce." Saying the words, Rommie turned on her heel and walked away, leaving Dylan and Doyle staring after her.
Doyle sighed. "Well, that didn't go as I'd hoped."
"Don't worry, Doyle. She'll come around."
Doyle nodded and turned away to stare at the view screen.
Dylan turned away and walked away, unsure of what to say to her. He stepped into the corridor and nearly walked into his crewmembers who were staring after a quickly retreating Rommie.
He smiled. "Have a nice trip, Rhade?"
Rhade turned to face him, smiling. "Yes, Dylan. Very profitable too."
"Well, why don't you come to my quarters and we can discuss your trip?"
The two men walked off together, leaving the others to stare at their retreating backs.
It was Harper who finally spoke up. "Well, damn. What do you suppose happened in there?" He gestured over his shoulder toward the Command Deck.
Beka shrugged and Trance just smiled sadly before heading away from them, leaving Beka and Harper staring after her.
"Hey, you know something!" Beka headed down the corridor at a jog, determined to get some answers from Trance.
Harper turned and quietly entered the Command Deck, walking up to stand behind Doyle. She leaned back against him and he wrapped his arms around her slender form.
"I'm not sure it was wise to bring me here, Harper. I'm not sure I can stay."
Harper just held onto her as they stared at the screen before them, unsure of what exactly had happened here and not sure of what he could say to change her mind.