Entanglements: Sequel to Gardening Tips

BY : Lursa_and_BeTor
Category: 1 through F > Andromeda
Dragon prints: 4483
Disclaimer: I do not own Andromeda, nor any of the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.


Harper stares down at the tesseract based device in his hand. Hohne would have been ecstatic. It was small, not even filling the palm of his hand. It looked more like a piece of elegant jewelry, a broach perhaps, rather than a dangerous thing, capable of bending and warping space and time. Tiny gold lights blink amiably from the glossy black metal. All that remained was for the tesseract bomb to be delivered to Tyr; to be armed and dropped where it would do the most good, or harm depending on how you looked at it.

He carefully fits the tiny weapon into a slim protective case and tucks it into a pocket of his cargo pants. It will not lehis his care until he gives it to Tyr’s messenger. Harper leans against his worktable. It is odd the way things suddenly seemed sharper, clearer in his mind afterwards…after they had faced off against the Abyss in that odd battlefield of mind and will but whose mind and will?

The door hisses open and Trance leans against the frame. Her dark eyes flicker curiously over the room and then settle on him. “Harper, you’ve been working late?”

“Yeah. Had a few repairs I had to finish up.” Harper pretends to straiten the jumble of tools, refusing to meet those dark eyes. Those eyes were the only part of her that still reminded him of his former friend. He had never been able to feel comfortable with the hard gold version of Trance. He still missed his purple princess.

“I haven’t seen much of you lately.” Trance smiles, hard and bright. Her skin glitters briefly under the lights.

Harper shrugs and steps away from the worktable. Where were some of those Terazed kids when you needed them? A couple of them would limit the conversation nicely. “Beeny.” y.”

Trance walks over to the worktable and eyes the haphazard array of tools and parts. “What have you been doing? I don’t see any project.”

“What have I been doing?” Harper stares at her. What does she think he has been doing? Does she suspect what he has been working on or is this idle curiosity? Perhaps he can fend it off with a little snarkiness. “What are you doing? Checking to see if I’m working? I was thinking.”

“About what?”

Harper glances sidelong at Trance. “That stuff that happened when we faced off against the Living Lava Lamp.”

“You should use a more respectful tone, Harper.” Trance turns sharply and frowns at him.

“What are you talking about? I don’t have to show that thing anything but disrespect.” Harper taps his tool belt with nervous fingers. Several of the tools would serve as a weapon if needed. The look in those dark eyes reminds him of the time when Trance threatened to kill both him and Gerentex.at iat is with you, anyway? It’s the god of the Magog not the Divine.”

“When you’re dealing with a being of such immense power it’s always better to show it a bit of res.” .” Trance gazes intently at Harper. “It might not like it if you were disrespectful.”

“Yeah, Trance, whatever.” Harper waves his hand dismissively. He walks casually around to the other side of the table, keeping one hand on his belt. “Besides, how’s it gonna know if I’m respectful or not?”

“There are ways and there are ways.”

“Great.” Harper snorts. “Is that another of your cosmic non-answers to everything?”

Trance leans against the table and studies him. “Something is bothering you. Tell me.”

“I just keep thinking about what really happened. We were popping in and out of whatever, or whenever, that place was. I mean how did we do all that stuff?” Harper frowns. Trance kept saying that they were all in her mind when they had faced off against the Spirit of the Abyss and that she was holding them together. That begged the question that if Trance was controlling them; who, or what, was controlling her? Did that mean that nothing had actually happened to Tyr’s simulacrum? Had anything at all actually happened?

Trance shrugs. “Some things I can’t explain to you.”

“Can’t or won’t Trance?” Harper runs a hand through his hair. He feels different but in ways that he can’t quite define…before, he had been working on the tesseract bomb but there had been data gaps in what Tyr remembered from being possessed by the tunnel alien. He had been able to figure out and bridge most of the gaps but the last one…he had been almost finished then he had run into another data gap and no matter how hard he tried, he could not make the needed jump then after…after they had gotten back, he had gone down to Machine Shop Eleven and taken one look at the flexi and suddenly the answer was so easy, so blindingly obvious that he couldn’t imagine he could have found it so difficult a problem to solve. “There’s just something…”

Trance leans further across the table, watching him closely. “What Harper…what is different?”

“I just feel…I don’t know. I can’t explain it. I just feel as if there was a lot more going on than we all realized.” Harper eases back toward the door.

“Perhaps not.” Trance’s voice is cold and clipped.

“Okay. Just asking. No need to bite my head off.” Harper moves closer to the door. He feels different in other ways too. His libido had suddenly gone into overdrive. When they had been standing together in the corridor after their little visit to the Abyss, he had been so intensely aroused it had been all he could do not to grab Rhade, despite Beka’s presence, and…he knew from the startled look in those black eyes that Rhade noticed the sudden, intense desire. He had not even been able to wait until they got to his room or Rhade’s room. He had just shoved the Nietzschean in the nearest access tunnel and…the experience had been overwhelmingly pleasurable.

“You’ve developed an interesting relationship with Rhade.” Trance tilts her head to one side. “Trading one Nietzschean for another?”

No way is he taking the bait on that. Any discussion of Rhade will open the way for a discussion of Tyr. He is not opening that door to her. Harper smiles brightly at her. “Nah. I just enjoy spending time with the guy.”

Every encounter since then had been the same way…intense, almost sharp-edged desire followed by a sparkling cascade of pleasuhat hat was almost too much. He had gone from reluctantly accepting the necessity of Rhade’s attentions to seeking, demanding them with great frequency. He didn’t remember ever being into discovery fantasies…well, there was that one time but that hadn’t been his fantasy, he had just gone along with it to get up that blonde’s short skirt. But now…he had taken Rhade in access tunnels, on the Obs Deck, in the mess, in hydroponics…even on Dylan’s glasstop conference room table with its little frosted High Guard emblem.

Trance laughs, soft and arch. “Oh. ‘Spending time’…is that what it’s called now?”

“Okay.” Harper flings a bland smile over his shoulder and walks through the doorway. “Been great but I gotta go.”

“Harper,” Trance calls after him. “I’m here whenever you need to talk.”

“Yeah. I’ll keep that in mind.”

&&&


“I wish I could hit the waves.” Harper strolls through the crowd, listening to the cheerful music flowing across the beachfront shopping arcade. He breathes in deeply, savoring the sharp salt scent of the ocean. He pauses to stare longingly out at the green-blue shimmer of water curling in frothy waves over the beach. Maybe later, he will get a chance to try them out.

“Hit the waves?” Rhade lifts a quizzical brow.

“Yeah, you know, surf.”

“Ah, yes…your hobby.” Rhade frowns. The Progenitor’s instructions on that activity were firm. No surfing for the Second Consort. Period. “I regret we don’t have the time to allow for that activity, Harper.”

“Any idea who this contact could be?” Harper reluctantly turns away from the ocean to survey the scanty clad, sunburned tourists roaming beneath the welcome shade of the pale blue awnings stretched between the pastel colored shops and restaurants. Most of them were humans but there was a sprinkling of Nietzscheans and other aliens. Nietzscheans were apparently common enough visitors that Rhade, hovering next to him like a dark shadow, was drawing little attention.

“No idea.” Rhade squints in the bright sunlight as he studies the crowd idling around them.

“Then how are we supposed to know who to trust?” Harper grouses as he glances at Telemachus. Rhade’s black tee shirt and black pants make him look like a crow in a parrot convention, Harper thinks with a shake of his head. His own orange and yellow shirt, patterned with palm trees was much more cheerful and fit nicely with the bright holiday shades the other tourists were sporting. Harper tucks his hands into the deep pockets of his black cargo pants. Yes, sir, just one more tourist. Nothing to see here.

“I’m sure the Progenitor selected someone we’ll recognize.” Rhade answers quietly.

“So our contact could be anyone.” Harper rocks back on his heels as he looks around. His gaze locks onto a group of Nietzscheans eating at the sidewalk café. Are they…? He tilts his head thoughtfully. Nothing stands out about them. Perhaps Tyr would pick a human instead of a Nietzschean? Or a Than? “Or anything.”

Rhade glances at Harper. “Yes.”

Harper frowns. The only instructions that he had been sent said that he would immediately recognize the messenger. He wishes that Tyr had been more specific; given him a sign, a secret handshake, a magic decoder ring, something. Well, there was a magic word but he would have preferred more concrete evidence.

“What the hell is Beka doing here?” Harper turns as Beka is heading toward him. She stands out as much as Rhade does in her slashed black shirt and pants. Her blond head is tilted at coy angle and her lips are curved in flirtatious smile aimed at the tall, fair man walking beside her. Oh, shit. That’s not a man…it’s…it’s, damn it, how could Tyr send him!

Of all people, why this one? Why? Harper stiffens, his eyes narrowing with annoyance. He flicks a sidelong glance at Rhade. If his comforter’s sudden stillness and rigid expression is anything to go by, Rhade is equally thrilled with the new arrival. Harper shakes his head as he watches the approaching couple. “No. No, no, no. Tell me that’s not who I think it is. Tell me that’s not Charlemagne Bolivar. Tell me it’s not.”

Rhade crosses his arms over his chest. His bone blades flutter restlessly before settling back down. A soft, displeased growl escapes him as he stares at the lithe blond Nietzschean. “It is the First Consort.”

“I can’t believe Tyr sent him,” Harper grumbles.

“He may not be our contact, Harper. Although it would be a logical choice.”

Harper scowls as his gaze collides with Charlemagne’s assessing stare. “Oh, yeah? In what alternate universe?”

Charlemagne says something to Beka who turns and smiles widely as she spots Harper. She waves. “Harper! Hey, Harper!”

Harper forces a smile to his lips and waves back as Charlemagne and Beka stroll closer. Might as well get this over with. The sooner he verifies that Charlemagne is the contact, the sooner he can ditch Goldie Über. “Beka.”

“Look who I found vacationing here?” Beka smiles brightly as she stops in front of them. She pats Charlemagne’s arm. “Did you get to meet the Archduke when he was on the Andromeda?”

“Sorta.” Harper nods coolly as he looks up to meet amused ice blue eyes. Charlemagne looks annoyingly cool, handsome and sleek in gauzy white shirt over matching pants.

“And you would be that little human engineer, correct? Hudson, was it?”
Charlemagne tilts his head, openly studying the small human. What did Tyr see in this kludge to make the Progenitor elevate it to Second Consort? So the human is some kind of engineering genius and intelligence is always sexy but one doesn’t raise just anyone to that kind of status. He breathes in, sorting Harper’s scent from the others on the salt laden breeze. Pleasant enough but so is that of the dark Nietzschean looming uneasily next to the human

“Harper. The name’s Harper.” The human manages a creditable snarl.

Oh, the little man is ruffled, is he? Good. Charlemagne deepens the note of dismissive boredom in his voice. “Oh, yes, of course it is.”

Charlemagne turns his attention to the darkly handsome Nietzschean. An Alpha, of course, Tyr would hardly send anything less. He hadn’t seen this one around either his court or Tyr’s. Where had Tyr found him? “And who are you?”

Rhade takes a reluctant step forward and offers his bone blades in greeting. “Lieutenant Commander Telemachus Rhade of the Andromeda Ascendant.”

“Of course you are.” Charlemagne’s gaze flicks briefly from Rhade to Harper and back as he languidly returns the gesture. His nostrils flare as he tests the air. Ah, the Alpha’s scent is edgy with a mix of nervousness, barely repressed aggression and, oh, my, a tinge of reluctant arousal. How amusing.

Beka’s com unit beeps. She glances at it and sighs. “Sorry guys. I’ve got to get back to the Maru. See you back on the ship.”

Good riddance. Now that the excess baggage is out of the way, they can get down to business. How will the human take the news? Charlemagne slants a speculative look at Harper. Will Harper resist the Progenitor’s orders?

“Why are you here?” Harper turns and starts walking through the crowd. He glances at the ocean with open longing.

“I’ve been instructed to transport you and your…companion…to specific coordinates.” Charlemagne strolls beside the smaller man. He spares a quick look over his shoulder, checking the locations of his men planted in the crowd. Far enough away to be discreet; close enough to come swiftly if he requires it. His gaze drifts thoughtfully over Rhade trailing closely behind Harper. “And the device, of course.”

“Whose instructions?” Harper asks quietly, still staring out at the ocean.

Charlemagne looks down his nose at the small human. Surely the kludge knows better than to think that just anyone can give him orders? No. Tyr wouldn’t be interested in even a casual dalliance with a stupid person much select one as his consort. The kludge is testing him. And the Second Consort is not as calm as he is trying to appear. The kludge’s scent is dark with anger and tension. “Tyr sent me.”

“Prove it.” Harper stops walking. He turns sharply to face Charlemagne. The vivid eyes glitter with determination. “Now, before I go any further.”

Charlemagne glances at Rhade. The Alpha is hovering over his charge. Ummm, the Alpha’s manner is decidedly possessive. Someone has forgotten his place in the scheme of things. Tyr will not be pleased. Charlemagne offers a bland smile over the kludge’s head. “Is he always so argumentative?”

“Always.” Rhade nods. His dark eyes are wary and suspicious.

“Come back to my ship and I’ll show you the message.” Charlemagne turns to walk away. He looks over his shoulder as he realizes that neither Harper nor Rhade have moved. Should have known it wouldn’t be that easy. He tries a mildly bored tone, “Oh come on. I’m not going to hurt you.”

Harper trades a long look with Rhade then meets Charlemagne’s gaze. His pale face is set in obstinate lines. Charlemagne raises his gaze to the Alpha…Rhade’s scent is so intriguing, the way it dances back and forth between anger, aggression, fear and desire. He might ask Tyr for Rhade…perhaps even drop a hint about the Alpha’s inappropriate possessiveness.

Charlemagne waits, raising an eyebrow as neither one of them moves. He sighs elaborately and slides a hand under his shirt. He pauses, laughing as Rhade glides protectively in front of Harper. Charlemagne pulls a flexi from beneath his shirt and reaches around Rhade, offering it to Harper. “He said you would demand proof. I had no idea you’d be so distrustful of me. We want the same thing, after all.”

“Yes. We do.” Harper holds Charlemagne’s gaze.

The glint in the vivid blue depths makes Charlemagne remember lying abed with Tyr as the Progenitor casually recounts how Harper had invented the weapon that destroyed the Nietzschean fleet at the Battle of Witch Head. The point of the story had been a delicate warning that Harper was not one to be trifled with lightly, which, of course, had only made the Second Consort all the more interesting.

Harper studies the flexi for a long moment. He looks up and nods curtly. “It appears to be authentic. Okay, lead on.”

Charlemagne turns and walks on. He glances down at the human pattering along beside him. The device must be fairly small if it is concealed on the Second Consort’s person, even allowing for the human’s preference for baggy clothing. “Do you have the device with you?”

“Of course, I do.” Harper’s voice is crisp with annoyance; his quick sidelong look full of suspicion.

He has nothing better to do. Might as well annoy the Second Consort a little more. Charlemagne sighs loudly as if the whole matter is simply too tedious for words. He loads his tone with exaggerated patience. “Where is it? Is it in some bag you will need to transport to the ship? Is it somewhere safe?”

“It’s safe.”

Good unrevealing answer. So the human has control enough not to be provoked into showing too much to an opponent. Harper might manage well enough at Tyr’s court. How will the human respond to intimidation? Charlemagne pivots, planting himself directly in front of the human. He infuses his face and manner the icy menace. “Let me see it.”

Harper glares and holds his ground. “Sorry. Only Tyr sees the device before it’s deployed.”

“Very well.” Charlemagne grins and spins away, strolling toward his waiting ship. Harper is becoming more interesting by the moment. Even the strange spiky hairstyle is beginning to seem weirdly compelling. Rhade, on the other hand…even conceding that possibility of having to defend one consort from another is sufficient reason for a certain twitchiness on Rhade’s part, Harper’s pet comforter seems delightfully skittish. Oh, yes. He is definitely going to bring Rhade’s unfortunate possessiveness to Tyr’s attention and ask for Rhade for himself.

“So, where’s your ship?” Harper demands impatiently as they walk through the landing area.

Charlemagne tilts his head toward a sleek vessel. “This way.”

&&&


“Are you still awake, Harper?” Rhade cuddles the human close. The beds on Charlemagne’s ship are very comfortable and very large. Large enough to provide plenty of room for Harper’s inventive claiming of him in every position that had occurred to the Second Consort.

“Um hmmm.” Harper stirs but doesn’t open his eyes.

Rhade stifles the stirring of irritation at Harper’s disinterested murmur. Did Harper fall asleep on the Progenitor every time after sex? Still, sleepy or not, there is something that the Second Consort should know; a custom that he doubted that Harper was aware of. “There’s something I need to tell you about. If we defeat the Magog…”

Harper opens one eye and glares at Rhade. “WHEN we defeat them.”

“Of course, when we defeat the Magog, there will be a gathering to celebrate the Progenitor’s victory.”

“Fine, great, a party. What’s the big deal?” Harper yawns and rolls over onto his stomach, spreading his compact frame across the white sheets. He claims a pillow and snuggles into it.

“We will have to be present for the Celebration.” Rhade gazes down at Harper, smugly admiring the limp sprawl that spoke of satiation and relaxation. He had exhausted the Second Consort. Rhade’s pleased smile fades as his eyes follow the line of Harper’s spine to the Kodiak tattoo hovering just above the human’s cleft.

“Why does it sound like you just said that with a capital ‘c’?” Harper stirs and opens both eyes to stare warily at Rhade. Now what? Every time he got comfortable with something, the Nietzscheans sprang another damn weird thing on him. First Tyr asks him to be a consort and then confesses to being addictive. He agrees to it and the next thing he fiout out is that Tyr is the Progenitor and had to go off and save the universe and by the way, he will have to fuck a strange Nietzschean in order to manage his little addiction problem. Now, he’s just kinda gotten used to accepting Rhade in his bed and all indications are that some new weirdness is about to be unleashed.

Rhade strokes Harper’s back. “Because it is one of the most important events before we reach the home world.”

Not good. Rhade only does the back stroking thing when he is trying to be soothing. Harper rolls over on his back and frowns up at Rhade. “What are you not telling me?”

“It is something that holds…significance for all Nietzscheans.” Rhade leans down and lightly kisses Harper. “It is considered an honor to receive an invitation to participate.”

“Participate?” Harper’s frown deepens as Rhade’s warm lips move over his cheek. A Nietzschean celebration…he could handle the usual party scene…food, drinks, music, maybe some dancing. Yeah, he wouldn’t mind dancing with some Nietzschean babes. That might not be so bad, especially if they wear one of those teeny tiny skirts like Elssbet used to twitch around in. Still, it probably won’t be something that easy. Not the way his internal Nietzschean weird-o-rama meter is shrieking.

“Yes.” Rhade murmurs against his throat.

Harper sighs. He absently combs his fingers through Rhade’s thick black hair. “Okay, I know I’m going to regret asking this, but define ‘participate’?”
“All parties take an active role in the celebration.”

Harper rolls his eyes. That is pretty much inherent in the word ‘participate’. How exactly is he expected to participate in this celebration thing? Stand around and smile? Kill something? He tightens his grip and pulls Rhade’s head back so that he can see the Nietzschean’s face. “And that means what? Sparring…what?”

Rhade takes a deep breath but makes no reply. The dark eyes reflect both amusement and worry.

Harper tugs sharply on the short black hair. His eyes narrow with irritation. “Okay. Is it me or did you not say anything because I still don’t get the big deal.”

“It’s going to be…intense.”

“What to you mean by ‘intense’?” Harper slides his hand down to Rhade’s chest and pushes the Nietzschean back down on the bed.

“It is a very…public viewing of a usually very private act.”

“Wait.” Harper sits up, all sleepiness gone. His eyes are wide with appalled alarm. “You’re talking sex, right?”

“Cct.”ct.”

This doesn’t sound good. Harper stares down at Rhade. He has to participate…how exactly? Watch? Hand out awards? M.C.? Surely Tyr would not expect him to really put on a floorshow for a crowd of Nietzscheans. On the other hand, there had been a time when he would never have believed that Tyr would expect him to permit Rhade in his bed. Look how wrong he had been on that one. “How public? Like you and me and Tyr and…ewwww…the Goldie Über?”

“Actually it will be more like the Progenitor, the First Consort, you…and the entire command contingent of Alpha Rha Rhade finishes in a rush.

“What!” Harper flops back down, closing his eyes tight against the images of Tyr and Charlemagne and, oh, shit, him in front of a crowd. Just when he thought that Nietzschean culture could not get any weirder. “An orgy? You’re talking about a full-on, fucking orgy?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, I am so not doing that.” Harper scoots up on the pillows. Great. He’s been longing to be back with Tyr again and now this. They are certainly going to have plenty to discuss when he reaches Tyr’s flagship. “There is absolutely no way I’m going to do something like that.”

“This is really something you should discuss with the Progenitor.” Rhade responds quietly. He leans forward and kisses Harper’s shoulder.

“I will.” Harper turns over on his side and punches his pillows. “Just as soon as I get a chance.”


TBC


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