* * *
Ro was in Circuitry, again, and not happy about it.
What was with this boat today?
Hadn’t she been down here, this morning in fact, rewiring the
same board she was now rewiring and putting in new relays to replace the
ones that had burnt out? She had other things to be doing, but circuitry continued to
be a pain in her posterior. She
felt like smacking something around and the fact that her best friend was
off doing something totally stupid wasn’t helping things. Ro snarled at the board, angry about the whole thing.
It had been bad enough when Harper had been living at
Dom’s house, but at least that was supposed to have been temporary.
It had been sort of a weird relief when Nelson had laid claim to
the odd little homeless man. Harper
had to be pretty bright to make the hologram, after all, and Harper living
over at the dorms was infinitely better than him being alone at Dom’s
house all day, not to mention a few yards down a hall from her at night.
Then, this afternoon when Ro had taken a short break from the
Seaview’s annoying circuitry, she had run into Dom.
That was usually a good thing, a relaxing thing, but her best
friend seemed to have taken it into her head to be just as frustrating as
the Seaview’s electrical problems.
“Months of not seeing anyone and he
is what you pick?” Ro grumbled under her breath.
“Not one of Lee’s Navy buddies.
Not one of the crew. Not
even Kensington. No, a
homeless man that freaks out at the word ‘doctor.’
That’s what gets you out on a date.
Dominique Bernadette Babin, you are trying to drive me insane right
along with this electrical board!”
“Talking to yourself.
That can’t be a good sign,” came Lee’s voice from behind her.
Ro felt like whacking her head against the board she was working
on. Letting her boyfriend
catch her babbling was the last thing she needed!
“Neither is you being back here in Circuitry.
I thought we had rewired everything already,” Lee commented as
she turned toward him.
“We did,” Ro told him, “But obviously we have a bad
breaker or resistor or something somewhere, because our wiring keeps
Lee frowned. “It’s not Portman’s virus, is it?”
Ro rolled her eyes. “Heaven
forbid. No, it’s something mechanical.
I’m sure of it. I
just haven’t figured out what yet and I’m afraid to run current
through anything for any length of time because then we’ll have more
rewiring to do! Aaurgh! This is
Lee smiled. He had an incredible smile and it took the edge off Ro’s
annoyance. “So you were
cussing out Circuitry, telling everything to behave, were you? I thought I heard you mention Dom’s name and half expected
her to be in here with you.” And
with that, Ro’s frustration was back, full force.
“What?” Lee asked with a laugh, obviously seeing it on her
“Well, she couldn’t very well be here and
out on a date with Harper, now could she?” Ro sniped, not feeling a bit
bad about ratting Dom out at the moment.
Lee’s smile fled with alarming speed.
“Apparently he was an employee for the Institute for all
of five seconds before he asked her out,” Ro groused.
“I can’t believe she accepted.
I mean, you’ve met him! How
does he rate when she says no to Kensington and Riley and Portman... okay,
forget Portman, but really! Half
the guys on the Seaview would kill for a date, but she goes for the short,
skinny, weird guy!”
Lee stood there, looking to be a loss, then seemed to get
angry. “Does the Admiral
know about this little development?”
“I can only assume he does.
He spent the afternoon with Harper after all,” Ro said, crossing
her arms over her chest, feeling pretty vexed herself.
“Of course, the Admiral thinks that Harper is... how did he put
it? Quirky but amusing, I
believe were his exact words. He
probably doesn’t mind that the two of them are out together!
He might have even encourage it!”
“I think the Admiral is still in his office.
I’m going to go talk to him about this,” Lee said, but Ro
caught his arm as he turned to go.
“You can’t,” she told him, when he turned back to her.
“You know that you can’t.
He’ll tell you it’s none of your business and he’d be right.
I’m not happy about it, but then I haven’t liked most of
Dom’s boyfriends. The thing
is, they usually are reclassified as ‘ex’ in fairly short order
because they don’t live up to Dom’s rather high standards.
Harper probably won’t last long either.”
“And what, exactly, makes these boyfriends ‘ex’s?”
Lee asked, obviously looking to hurry Harper down that path.
“Usually they do something she doesn’t like.
Lying to her is a good way to get bounced.
So is picking on her faith, which goes hand in hand with trying to
get around ‘no’ as far as sex is concerned,” Ro said.
“So the fact that he’s homeless and penniless and that
no one really knows anything about him means absolutely nothing,” Lee
“Ah, but you forget, Harper isn’t homeless anymore
because he lives at the Institute. I’m
pretty sure the Admiral pays his engineers here extremely well,” Ro
reminded him. “And he and
Dom spent lots of time together the past few days, and most of that they
spent talking. If anyone
knows anything about Harper, it’s Dom.”
“If he told her anything even close to the truth,” Lee
said, plainly thinking the opposite was the case.
“I think I’m going to give my friend Barry at ONI a call and
see if he has better luck than Dom’s sister with looking into Harper’s
“Look, I think Harper is strange and I think Dom is nuts
for going out on a date with him, but that doesn’t make him a bad
person,” Ro said, suddenly regretting, at least in part, giving Harper a
rough time behind his back. “Don’t
get carried away with this, Lee.”
“I won’t,” Lee promised.
“But I still think Harper is hiding something.
Something major. Believe
me, if Barry comes up with anything unsavory about Harper, it’s better
that everyone finds out about it now, before people start getting too
attached to him. I have the
feeling that things are not going to go well for Harper tomorrow.
Not well at all.” He
kissed Ro on the cheek, then left Circuitry, probably to go make his
Ro frowned as she watched him go.
He was going to get carried away with this, she just knew it.
Sighing, she turned back to the board she had been working on.
When Lee was as sure about something as he was that his instincts
were correct about Harper, he just kept going at it. That meant that Harper was not going to have a very good day
tomorrow whether Lee’s friend found anything or not. She could feel a headache coming on. Maybe the date wouldn’t go well and then Dom wouldn’t be
in the middle of things, making it worse.
No, she thought, tomorrow was not going to be a good day at all for
Harper’s boots were tied together and hanging over his
left shoulder as he and Dom walked barefoot along the wet sand not far
from her house. He was a
little cold because he had given her his shirt to keep her warm in the
wind, so he was only wearing his undershirt, but he didn’t mind the
chill in the air. Her left
arm was around his waist, his right around her shoulders, and her warmth
and closeness were making him feel almost drunk despite his not having
touched a drop of alcohol all night.
He couldn’t remember ever having been this happy and the best
part was that this was only the beginning.
He couldn’t believe how much things had changed since the first
time he’d walked over this very sand not so very long ago.
They had gotten some food at a sidewalk cart that served the
best tasting Japanese food that Harper had ever had.
Dom had told him about her first days at the Institute, as if to
compare notes with his, not that he had gotten to tell her about his day
before they finished eating. They
had walked a bit more and had found a place that had swing music played by
a live band and Harper had been in his glory.
They had danced until they were both exhausted.
After that, they had gone back to Dom’s house to watch a VCR tape
that she had rented, but Harper had been too excited and happy to sit
still, so they had gone for a walk under the stars instead.
He told her about his day, finally, as they strolled leisurely
along, complete with embarrassing doctor visit and landing on his face in
front of Portman, then programing and car driving lessons and the
Harper found himself wanting to tell her everything about
himself again. It was
beginning to bother him that she didn’t know the truth about him, the
whole truth. It wasn’t like
he had lied about anything other than when and where he’d been born. Dunwich didn’t exist in this time. He’d checked. Still,
it was starting to feel like he was lying in not telling her more and he
didn’t want to do that. He
was starting to agree with the many times that Beka had told him that he
had never really known what love was.
He thought maybe that was changing and he didn’t want it to end
because he’d done something stupid.
And telling Dom the truth might be just the answer to the
problem of how to break things to the Admiral.
After spending the day with him, Harper knew Admiral Nelson was a
great guy, the best! He just
didn’t want Nelson to hear ‘I’m from the future,’ then have the
Admiral shoot him on principle. Neither
of them would be happy about that in the end, he was sure.
Dom was the solution to the whole dilemma, Harper knew she was.
He’d tell her the truth and she’d tell him it was no big deal
and give him that little head shake and laugh that she gave him when she
thought he was being silly. Then,
tomorrow, she’d meet him at the Institute and she’d tell the Admiral
and everything would be great. He
just had to figure out how to tell Dom and all his troubles would be over.
“So, it wasn’t so bad seeing a doctor after all, was
it?” Dom asked, hugging him gently as he finished his tale of what had
gone on before they met up in the lobby, making other thoughts sink to the
back of his mind for the moment.
“I’m not in a hurry to do it again, but he wants me to
go back in a day or two, after he’s had a chance to run some tests and
stuff, so he can poke me some more. He
seemed to think that I was getting a cold or something because he said my
lungs sounded funny. I should
have told him that they’re just natural comedians, but I was too busy
trying not to faint,” Harper said, drawing strength from her embrace.
He still wasn’t thrilled with the idea of someone practicing what
passed for medicine in this era on him, but it was all he had and it
seemed to make Dom and the Admiral happy, so he’d endure it.
Doctor Jamieson didn’t seem like a bad guy, really.
He just had to keep the doctor away from his port and they’d get
“Hardy har,” Dom said, then squeezed him gently against
her. “Seriously, you
aren’t feeling like you might be coming down with something?”
She sounded suddenly concerned.
It wasn’t the first time, of course, but this time, Harper hoped
it was because his health had become more personal to her.
He thought maybe it was. After
all, Dom had been slyly slipping in compliments all night, like that he
was a good dancer even in heavy boots, that he had the cutest dimples when
he smiled, how intelligent he must be if the Admiral was so enthusiastic
about his joining and staying at the Institute.
She had him feeling so up that he had kissed her once on the cheek
when she’d said the last thing back at the food cart.
She hadn’t slapped him, which happened far too often in the past
when he’d done the same thing under relatively the same circumstances.
Still, it wasn’t a real kiss in Harper’s mind. He was still waiting for the perfect moment for that and if
there was any justice in the universe, that moment would come soon.
“No, I feel great,” Harper told her and it was the
truth. Usually, for a woman
to be this close and cuddly with him, she either had to be drunk or wanted
him to do something he normally wouldn’t for her.
Dom fit neither of those descriptions, which made Harper feel
flattered and incredibly lucky.
“You sure are acting that way,” Dom said.
He squeezed her gently and she returned the gesture and rested her
head on his shoulder, making Harper feel even better.
They walked along the shoreline in silence for a moment, then Dom
said, “So, even with the bad start, it sounds like you had a pretty
awesome day all around.”
“Sure did,” Harper sighed in agreement, forgetting about
the tense moments and knowing that tomorrow would be even better once he
told Dom the truth and all that got straightened out.
Life was going to be so freaking wonderful.
It certainly was at the moment.
“So why was it only just about your best day ever?
Just because of a couple impolite comments and a physical.”
stuff didn’t matter. It’s
just, there was one thing missing.”
Harper stopped and turned to look full at her.
Dom smiled at him, her features soft and lovely in the moonlight as
she waited for his answer. He
didn’t make her wait long, because he pulled her to him and kissed her
tenderly. When he didn’t
get pushed away or socked in the gut, he hugged her closer and kissed her
more deeply. Finally, when
their lips parted, Harper looked into her eyes, and he whispered, “Now
it’s my best day ever,” and kissed her again.
That she kissed him back made what he’d said even more true.
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