by The Bard, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Summary: Aeryn and John, temporarily stranded on a planet, are forced to come to terms with their relationship.
Spoilers: Takes place after Season 3 ends.
Disclaimers: Farscape and its characters is the property of Henson Company, Hallmark Entertainment and the Sci-Fi Channel. PREDATOR is the property of 20th Century Fox. All other characters and story concept is the property of Donald A. Jessop. All characters used here are for entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement is intended and no monetary compensation has been received.
It was an uneasy silence amongst the crew of the Moya as they sat down for an evening meal. They had come together as a crew again only recently and everyone was still feeling the pain of separation. The silence that hung over them was that of long lost friends with much to say, but unable, unwilling to speak. The table was filled with food, but most of the crew, Rygel excluded, were only picking at their food, putting the occasional morsel in their mouths, enough to satisfy the illusion of eating.
Instead of the food, most of their attention was focused on the two individuals at either end of the curved table: Commander John Crichton and Officer Aeryn Sun. They both ate slowly and deliberately, not savouring the food, but eating for survival. The spark and energy that they both normally exuded seemed held in abeyance, a coiled spring, waiting for release. The conversations and playfulness normally exhibited by the rest of the crew was conspicuously absent. Even Rygel was silent, from both ends.
Pilot broke the uncomfortable silence. "I hate to interrupt, but we have a minor emergency with Moya."
"What is it?" Crichton asked, his tone and his eyes, asking for a distraction from the tortuous meal. He stood up quickly, not wanting the pretence of the dinner to slow him down.
"Moya is experiencing a … rash. This rash is adversely affecting her propulsion and navigation systems. Without treatment she will be unable to Starburst or perform any evasive manoeuvres." Pilot seemed hesitant when talking about the problem, but considering what Moya had done for the crew over the cycles, there was nothing they wouldn’t do for her.
"What do we need to cure her Pilot?" Aeryn asked. She too wanted to escape from the torturous silence of the dinner. Her eyes flashed with a desire for action, to overcome the nervous homecoming. She was a soldier and not used to diplomacy. Action, swift and decisive, was what she was bred for and what she desired.
"Moya requires a large amount of Thallion Oxide to be applied to the rash, but my inventory indicates that we do not have any."
"Where can we get some?"
"Moya says that there is a commerce planet just four arns away, on the other side of this system, that should be able to supply us with the necessary quantity. Her rash is severely affecting her systems and she is unable to go there herself."
Pilot paused for moment before continuing. It was almost as if he were reading from a script. "Unfortunately, the inhabitants of the planet are rather xenophobic in nature, accepting only Sebaceans. This means that you, Aeryn Sun and you, Commander Crichton, will need to travel there together to retrieve the necessary medicine."
The room fell silent as Aeryn and Crichton looked at each other. The tension between the two was obvious, and Pilot’s statement had not only increased the pressure, but it had provided the catalyst for change. The gathering of crewmates had not been without discomfort, in particular for Aeryn and Crichton. Unspoken words lay between the two and no one felt safe bringing up the topic. The relationship between Aeryn and Crichton, as private as it was, was known to all aboard the ship, but no one knew the extent to which each was suffering. The only one who would have know, Zhaan, was only a part of their memories and not of the crew.
"Well," Crichton said starting to move. "Come on, Aeryn, let’s get this show on the road and get some diaper rash cream for Moya." He walked out of the room with his usual determined stride. Aeryn paused for a brief second before she followed, no less determined.
"I must warn you, Commander Crichton, that the ion storms in the neighbourhood may have an effect on the transport pod."
"What kind of ‘effect’ Pilot?" Crichton asked as he buckled himself in and started the pre-flight check.
"Temporary draining of the fuel cells may cause the cells to short circuit and the transport pod to lose power. If you are near a planet at the time it would be advisable to land using the backup systems until the ion storm is over and the fuel cells can be recharged with the solar panels or replaced."
"Thank you for your concern, Pilot. Seeing as how my flying ability seems to be below that of Sebacean children, however, I’ll let Aeryn do the honors." Aeryn Sun glanced at him momentarily before asking Pilot to open the hanger doors. Within microts they were away from Moya.
"Now, Aeryn, you had to admit that the look on the guys face was funny when you told him you wanted four barrels of Thallion Oxide. He must think that an entire city has diaper rash." Crichton smiled at the memory, but Aeryn remained stone faced. Her attention was on flying the transport pod and, as much as she wanted to, she wasn’t listening to the story.
Crichton looked at her sadly and the smile melted from his lips. Images of her smiling passed through his mind, but they didn’t match the woman who was beside him now. This woman was cold, impervious to emotions: a Peacekeeper. Her flying was precise, not a wasted movement, and the ship responded smoothly to her skill. She was in her element, but there was something missing, something that had reduced her to an automaton. The woman he had grown to love seemed locked inside.
Crichton recalled previous trips in a transport pod, with Aeryn, including one where she had to kill him and then resuscitate him. The thought of her warm lips on his made him close his eyes for a moment and smile inwardly at the memory. That memory was soon lifted from his mind, however, as Pilot spoke to them from Moya.
"Officer Sun", said Pilot. "There is an ion storm directly in your path to Moya. I recommend that you go closer to the planet and hope that the magnetic field deflects some of the storms intensity."
"Thank you, Pilot", said Aeryn. "I am adjusting my course to avoid the storm."
The warning had come too late, however, as the ship touched the edge of the storm and caused sparks to fly from the equipment. The ship was tossed as if it were a raft on a raging sea. The violent movements made his head hurt, but Aeryn swiftly and surely guided them away from the storm and into the upper atmosphere of a cloud covered planet. They were buffeted by the storm, but gradually the pummelling was reduced and the ship seemed to be flying smoother as the tenuous strands of the atmosphere deflected the intensity of the storm into pyrotechnic displays of light.
Pilot evaluated the information that Moya was feeding him from her sensors.
"Should we do it?" Pilot asked Moya. "Aeryn is a good pilot, but this will still be dangerous. Should we end our charade now or let it continue?" Pilot paused to listen to Moya’s response.
"I concur", he said, "something does need to be done." With that Pilot activated a circuit…
The short-circuiting of the fuel cells surprised both Crichton and Aeryn, particularly since most of the storm seemed to be over. But the acrid smoke and the sparking were real, as was the loss of manoeuvrability. The ship dipped deeper into the planets atmosphere and raced below the cloud cover. This world, the world they were crashing on, had no sizeable land masses, only green topped islands that stuck out from the ocean like pimples on a teenager. The trick would be to land close to an island, but not hit the rocky outcroppings.
John quickly appraised the situation and in his mind saw only one hope for salvation. "Come on, baby, land this thing," he said to Aeryn. While she didn’t respond directly, she took a deep breath and gripped the controls harder. It was now time to justify all of the comments she had made about his flying ability.
The ship dipped lower, racing above the wave tops. The emergency power cells came on line and the ship started to respond to the desperate attempts by Aeryn to control their headlong flight. Gradually the ship seemed to stabilize, not dropping any farther, but not climbing higher, either. As they approached a nearby island the waves started to crash upon the rocks located near the shore line. They had almost made it when one of the waves seemed to leap up at their craft and snag the front of the transport pod, turning them into a giant, hurtling hunk of metal.
Skip. Skip. SLAM,
"They’ve landed, Moya, initial telemetry indicates that they are alive. Let’s hope that they make it safely through the night. I’ll start the countdown. Twenty arns and counting."
Crichton looked at the transport pod as it lay on the sand, its front suspension legs buried deep in the soft white sand of the beach and white smoke from the fuel cells billowing out the door. "I guess I wasn’t lying to Pilot when I said that you could land anything that flies." He looked at Aeryn. "Thanks."
"Don’t thank me yet, Crichton. If we can’t get the fuel cells recharged and get in touch with Moya, I’m not sure you’re going to like living here."
"Why not?" said Crichton. "This is much better than the three hour tour that Gilligan took. Look, why don’t you be Ginger, no, wait, Maryanne, I’ll be the Professor, and … No, never mind." The look on Aeryn’s face stopped him. If it had been the usual befuddled look that most of the crew had when he made Earth references he could have continued. Instead, the look of a trapped animal in pain had crossed Aeryn’s face as too many painful memories, locked behind a steel door in her mind, made themselves known, if just for an instant.
"Okay," he said, continuing on as if he hadn’t seen the agony on her face, "let’s make ourselves useful. It’s going to take some time for the transport pod to cool off and get smoke free, and it’s going to take even longer to recharge the fuel cell once the sun sets. As it looks like it is past midday on our little home away from home, we’ve got two priorities that we need to take care of: food and shelter."
"That’s the most sensible thing you’ve said in a cycle, Crichton. You hunt for food and I’ll build the shelter. No, that won’t work. You wouldn’t know what was edible if it came up and put itself in your mouth. You build the shelter and I will be back with the meal." Aeryn turned her back on Chrichton, drew her sidearm, and walked into the vegetation that lined the beach.
He just stared at her as she quickly disappeared from view, knowing that this was not the time to argue with her. He wanted to wish her luck, to remind her not to take chances. Instead, he just whispered a small prayer. "Be careful, Aeryn".
Aeryn walked in a straight line away from the shoreline looking for any signs of animals that could be used for dinner and only started to deviate from that line when she reached the cliff that seemed to surround the only mountain on the island. Well, perhaps not a mountain. Eons of time had worn the mountain down to not much more than a hill. The sun, the rain and the wind had slowly beaten down a once majestic mountain until not much more than a hillock remained.
As she walked she noticed that there were no animals on the ground, in the air or under the trees. This island appeared to be deserted. In an effort to get a better tactical view of the entire island she scouted for, and soon found a path that went up the hill. Although, calling it a path may have been too generous a word, she persevered and soon found herself on the top of the island. She looked out and saw not a single sign of civilization, save the transport pod at the beach. Next to the pod she saw Crichton gathering material for a shelter and she watched him for a moment. She let her guard down for a moment and a flood of emotions came tumbling out, only to be hurled back into seclusion by her indomitable will.
Finished with her survey of the island she descended down the backside of the hill to get a better look at the terrain and to see if she had missed anything in her initial sweep from the top of the hill.
Much like the automaton he had been watching earlier, John Crichton was merely going through the motions. His mind was filled with thoughts of what had been, what could have been and what should have been. All the while he was mechanically picking up branches and large leaves from the trees near the beach.
He didn’t see the large rock like creature at the edge of the forest. Even if he had the creature did not want Crichton to see him. As Crichton moved closer, the creature simply faded away.
She stopped near a small lake, not much more than a swimming pool, which had formed underneath a cliff on the backside of the hill on the island. She bent down and drank from the cool water. Starting to feel the midday heat affect her, she sat down on a large rock that lay in the shade near the edge of the water.
As the rock moved beneath her she jumped to her feet, weapon pointed where she had been sitting. "Frell." The rock that she had sat on seemed to be a very slow moving herbivore, shaped somewhat like a Terrestrial turtle, although Aeryn couldn’t know that. As she watched, a thin head emerged from underneath the rock like carapace and moved slowly towards a tree branch lying on the ground. With exaggerated slowness the head snagged the branch and slowly, very slowly, started chewing on the leaves.
"You’re a Kar-ree aren’t you?" The creature didn’t respond, but continued to chew on the leaves that lay strewn around the ground. An unwanted memory came to mind, of when she was not more than six cycles old and her crèche made their first planetfall and encountered these creatures. Peacekeeper command had ordered the Kar-ree killed, even though none of the children could understand why. Many cycles later the sound of phase pistols shooting at the Kar-ree could still make her shiver.
"Well, my friend, what would you taste like roasted over an open flame?" Aeryn sighed. "I don’t think that I’m hungry enough to find out. It looks like Crichton and I will be sharing food cubes tonight, unless I can find something else to eat." She holstered her weapon and took one last look at the rock creature. "A skin of rock. That would come in quite handy right about now."
She turned, and with a resigned walk she went back to the beach to see where she would be spending night. As she walked away the creature stopped chewing and watched Aeryn retreat back the way she had come. Even if she had stayed behind she probably wouldn’t have heard the creature whisper a single word. "Hurt."
"Do you think twenty arns was enough? … I agree, Moya, the dangers we face mean that we couldn’t spend more time here, but I wonder if we will have accomplished anything."
Pilot checked a few readouts and confirmed things with Moya. "It looks like the tracer on the ship is still working, so even if they can’t get the ship working again in twenty arns we should still be able to find them."
Crichton was busy adding the final touches to his shelter. He had collected enough branches and leaves to make a crude, but functional lean-to. While it wouldn’t protect them from anything other than a light rain, it made him feel better to have had something to do. He found some brightly coloured flowers nearby and felt inspired to create a small vase out of sand and mud in the middle of the lean-to. He then placed the flowers in the vase. "Kind of a homey touch," he muttered to himself.
Aeryn came through the vegetation just as he was starting a fire. "Where’s supper?" he said in his bright, cheerful voice. In response she held up two, coconut like objects that seem to ooze juice. "Ugh. Maybe one night without food will make me appreciate food cubes."
The sun was starting to set and the warmth in the air soon disappeared. John added more wood to the fire he had started in an effort to fight back the cool air. Indeed, within the circle of light the fire cast a spell of warmth that softened the mood and filled the air with a sense of relaxation. At least, that is what John thought. Aeryn, on the other hand, sat stiffly near the fire, her back to a tall tree and her eyes constantly looking outward from the light. She was on guard, but whether it was from him or something else, he couldn’t tell.
"Come on, Aeryn, relax. The fiercest thing I’ve seen all day is you. Why not just sit back, relax and veg out." He moved over to sit down next to her, but she tightened up, like a wild animal trapped in a corner. He could sense her heightened anxiety and backed away, sitting down next to another tree, but looking away from the fire and looking towards her.
"Back on Earth I always dreamed of going on vacation to the Caribbean or some other sun filled paradise. I always envisioned myself on a beach, with a beautiful woman, the fire roaring and me with a big grin on my face. It never happened, however. I became too busy with my career, with my plans, to ever take a real vacation. And the only person I ever wanted to take to the islands didn’t necessarily want to go with me." Crichton paused, hoping that Aeryn would open up, but the soldier remained in place, eyes searching for the enemy, or an escape route.
"Talk to me Aeryn."
"What about?" came the terse reply.
"About … us, about you, about me. About what we do or don’t have together." She stared at him without responding, her jaws held together by a will of steel. She wanted to talk. She wanted to make the pain in her mind go away, but her jaws refused to let her speak.
"OK, Aeryn, if you won’t talk about it, I will. I’ve cared for you for far too long to let you go, so here goes, I’m going to bare my soul." John sat up straighter, as if that would give him additional strength. "Have you heard sounds from my bedroom late at night? Strange sounds?"
Aeryn looked at him, with disgust written across her face, but her curiosity quickly took over. She nodded her head. A small nod, as if embarrassed to admit that she had heard any noises.
"It’s not me and the female of the week." A look of relief washed over Aeryn’s face, but it was quickly replaced by Peacekeeper calm. "It’s just me, waking up from my nightmares and smothering my screams. Every night I have dreams of you and I, and what may have happened and what might become. But in every dream I have I lose you, Aeryn. I lose you and I lie there in my bed with my pillow over my face, screaming until I lose my voice."
John hung his head and his voice softened. Aeryn leaned forward to hear him over the crackling of the fire that was starting to burn low. "Don’t you think that what is happening hurts me, just as much as it hurts you? I’ve lost you in my dreams a thousand times and I have lost you in my life a thousand more. And right now, right this instant, is just another reminder that I’ve lost you again."
"You haven’t lost me, Crichton, I’m right here."
"You may be physically here, Aeryn, but I’ve lost you here." John paused to point to his heart, his watery eyes reflecting the firelight. "I’ve lost your heart and I don’t know what I can do to get it back. I love you Aeryn Sun. I love you more each passing day and that just makes the ache in my heart that much harder to take."
"Don’t you see, Crichton," came the sniffling reply, "don’t you see that I failed. I told your father that I would protect you and I failed. I let you die and there was nothing I could do to stop it."
"That wasn’t me, Aeryn, that was the other John Crichton."
"But that’s the problem, Crichton, it was you. I fell in love with John Crichton cycles ago. I saw John Crichton die just recently. The man I fell in love with is you. And the man that died was you. He did exactly what you would do. If you and he were switched at the beginning, you would sacrifice yourself again, and I can’t live with that."
"I’m not going to die on you, Aeryn. I promise."
"Don’t make promises you can’t keep. When you left the Royal Planet in a transport pod, Counsellor Tyno said to me that the hardest thing was being left behind. He was right. I’m a Peacekeeper: born and bred to fight. Our relationships are short because we never know if we’ll see each other again. Being close to you these past few cycles has broken one of the foundations of who I was, who I am. I can’t handle this. I just can’t."
John leaned over to get closer to her. "You’re not a Peacekeeper anymore, Aeryn. Remember what I said when we were trying to escape from Crais the first time? You talked about your duty, your breeding and what you were. I told you at that time ‘You can be more’. You are more, Aeryn Sun. You are more than the sum of your breeding, and your training. You are much more than anyone could have imagined. You stopped being a Peacekeeper when you came aboard Moya. I fell in love with you when I first saw you, Aeryn. I fell in love and have been in love ever since. And I will be in love with you forever more." He reached out to hold her hand, but she jerked as if his touch was burning her.
Scrambling to her feet she started to run away from the circle of light.
The noise from Rygel’s suspensor chair made Pilot look up from his tasks.
"You're not telling us everything"
Pilot looked at him. "What have I neglected to tell you?"
"I found the Thallion Oxide in stores. We didn't run out."
"Thank you for telling my Rygel. I shall update my inventory and get the DRDs to start spreading the ointment."
"There's something going on and I'm going to find out."
"Please keep me informed."
As Rygel left, Pilot muttered "10 arns to go."
John stood with his back to the fire and his face looking outward over the dark ocean. The twin moons orbiting this planet did not reflect a lot of light from the distant sun, but there was enough light from the stars and his fire to let him see the waves crashing on some distant rocks. Unbidden an old song from his youth came to mind. Without knowing it he started to quietly sing it, subtly changing the words "You know, I wish that I had Johnnie's girl,/I wish that I had Johnnie's girl/Where can I find a woman like that?"
"Give her time, John", said a voice to one side. He turned, expecting to see Harvey, but saw himself instead.
"Just who the frell are you?"
"Relax, John, just think of this as you visiting yourself from the Great Beyond." The figure stood there, looking slightly out of focus and transparent, as if it were a bad copy.
"Oh, great. First Harvey and now you. Just how frelled am I?"
"Relax, John, I came to talk about Aeryn, but I don’t have much time."
"Well I don’t want to talk about her." He picked up a small rock that lay near his feat and tried to skip the stone across the water. Maybe it was the smoke from the fire. Maybe it was the water in his eyes. Or, maybe it was the shaking of his hand as he threw it. Whatever the cause, the rock sailed through the air and landed with a plop in the water. "Damn, I used to be able to do that as a kid."
He felt the copy of himself come up behind him and put his hand on his shoulder. He jerked away from the touch, much the same as Aeryn had done to him less than an arn before. Two steps away he stopped, but he didn’t look back.
"John, we have to talk about Aeryn. What she’s going through is tough to handle."
"What SHE’S going through is tough? Do you want to know what tough is? I find the only woman I have every truly loved, only to lose her to myself. When you died I was happy. Sad. Confused. I saw you as something that was between Aeryn and I. I was right. You see, she fell in love with me. Not you, but me. And then you come along and swept her off her feet. I lost her. Again. I keep losing her, but this time I’m scared that I’m never going to get her back." He threw another rock at the ocean, as if to throw his anger away with it.
"You’re right, John, she fell in love with us back when we were just a single person. That soon changed, however, and we all changed. For better or for worse, we all changed."
John stayed focused on the waves coming in. He knew that what he was telling himself was true, but that didn’t stop the pain, didn’t make the hurt go away.
"You have to give her time," his ghostly counterpart continued. "She’s gone through a lot, but she’s growing, changing. Peacekeepers normally don’t mate for life, John. It’s foreign to them. Give her some room to breathe. Remember what Chiana told us ‘Fast on the body and slow on the soul’. This is one of those ‘slow’ times"
John Crichton looked back at the image that flickered slightly in the light of the fire. He saw himself. A slightly bedraggled version of himself, but what did he expect from a dead person? "Do I have a choice?"
He turned back to look at the waves crashing against the shore and didn’t bother listening for an answer. He failed to see that as his doppelganger disappeared, so did the Kar-ree that had been at the edge of camp.
Aeryn had run hard through the night, as if Scorpius himself were pursuing her. When she stopped, she found herself on the top of the hill that overlooked the beach where the transporter pod lay in the sand. She looked down at the beach and found the campfire that Crichton had built. Standing between fire and the water, Crichton stood staring out at the ocean, watching the sky turn brighter in the distance. Dawn was approaching, but was still some time in coming.
She stood near the edge of the cliff that surrounded the hill at this point. Dangerously close. One more step and this would be over. One more step and she would be free. But, no, she couldn’t, wouldn’t do that. Such an act was cowardice, and no matter what happened, she was not a coward.
She sensed him first. A presence she had felt before; something warm and comforting. A hand rested itself on her shoulder and she reached up to hold it. It felt so warm and so good. "Hello, John," she said, without turning around. Fearful that by looking into his face once more she would not be able to retain her composure.
"Hello, Aeryn. So what brings you here?"
"I’m running away, John, couldn’t you tell?"
"That’s not like you. Aren’t you suppose to be the soldier that can face anything? Defeat anything? Hell, I’m positive you could whip my butt anytime you wanted."
"My courage has left me," she said, sitting down on the edge of the precipice. Her feet were dangling in mid-air, but she felt no fear of the height. She’d had plenty of experience climbing in her youth and was considered quite good at it, even though she’d had little opportunity recently. She sat there and her feet measured the beat of her heart with their rhythm.
John Crichton sat down beside her. Her John Crichton: the same man to whom she had given her heart. The same man who had given his life to save others. The man she had loved and the man she had lost.
"My courage has left me, John. I don’t want to lose you again."
"I hate to tell you, babe, but you lost me a long time ago."
"No, no, no. Not you. Him." She pointed down at the beach at the other John Crichton, still standing at the edge of the circle of light, throwing the occasional rock into the water. Even though he was so far away, she could feel him. Almost sense his thoughts, his moods, his feelings. "I’m scared of losing him. You. You’re one and the same and that frustrates me so much."
"You haven’t lost me, Aeryn. Granted, I did bite the Big One, but I’m still here," and he reached out and touched her on the forehead. "And here." This time he reached out to where he thought her heart was. While not entirely accurate, she understood. "We’re different, him and I: two branches off the same tree. But there is one thing that we do have in common, we both love the same woman."
"Every time I see Crichton I think of you and I can’t bear to remember what happened. We could have been so happy together. We were…perfect for each other." She paused for a moment as images of her and John passed through her mind. She took a deep breath and let it out before she continued. "Why are you here, John? What do you want from me?"
"Aeryn, you’ve needed time to heal, but you also need to live. The life that all of us, all of you, lead on Moya is dangerous, seemingly more so by the cycle. You have a chance at creating a new life with someone and you shouldn’t throw that away. It’s a gift that few people get once, much less twice. I got my second chance when Zhaan brought you back to me. Now you’ve got yours. It’s destiny, babe, but you’ve still got to grab it."
The tears started trickling down the face of Aeryn Sun, as she changed from Peacekeeper to wounded soul. The crying continued as the image of John Crichton reached around her and hugged her from behind. She leaned back into him and slowly, the tears stopped flowing, at least on the outside.
"You once told me that one of the strengths of a Peacekeeper was courage. Courage isn’t just facing what you know; it’s also facing what you don’t know. There’s a lot to be said for being safe, for knowing what tomorrow will bring. But the greatest feeling of all is facing tomorrow, not knowing what will happen."
"I love you, John."
"Love you, Aeryn."
She stood up and stepped away from the edge. With one quick glance at the John Crichton that she had loved, she went down the hill and started back towards the camp, her feet heavy with the lateness of the night, but her heart lighter.
As the image of John Crichton faded, the Kar-ree hidden amongst the trees could be heard whispering quietly, "Love you Aeryn."
He’d gotten no sleep last night, nor did he feel that he could have. His love life had been a mess on Earth and it appeared that it was going to be the same no matter where he went in the Galaxy. The sun was coming up and he needed to deploy the solar collectors in order to recharge the fuel cells.
Before he started with his list of tasks for the day he tried the comms once more, but failed to get a response from Pilot. "Where are those idiots?" he said quietly to himself.
Pilot heard Crichton calling, but he didn’t respond. "One arn to go, Moya. Let’s hope that we’re successful."
The smoke had cleared out of the transporter pod and the fuel cells were recharging, thanks to the solar panels that he had deployed. He lay on his back underneath the main console rewiring the comms system and checking the power levels. He reached out, trying to find the soldering gun, but his outstretched hand couldn’t find it.
"Looking for this?" said a warm voice.
He looked up. Standing in front of him stood Aeryn, holding the soldering gun in her hand. She seemed more relaxed than she had the previous night and he couldn’t help notice the hint of a smile on her lips. "Actually, yeah. Unless of course, you’d like to do it."
"Move over, Crichton, let me take a look," Aeryn sighed.
Crichton moved over so that Aeryn could get underneath. "Yes ma’am. Don’t want to get you angry. Hell, I’m positive you could whip my butt anytime you wanted."
Aeryn whipped her head around to look at him as her thoughts were suspended in a moment of time. She saw, for the first time, overlaid on each other, her past, her present and her future. In all of these, this man, this human, played an important role. While she didn’t know what the future would hold, she knew that she had been given a second chance to love. Zhaan had brought her back once for a second chance at life. Crichton had brought her back for a second chance at love.
As quick as it happened, that moment of time slipped away, leaving nothing but a whisper in her mind and warmth in her heart.
"Let me take a look at this, John" Aeryn said as she lay on her back underneath the console.
"Hey. You called me John."
"That’s your name, isn’t it?"
"Yeah", he said, a big goofy grin spreading over his face. "I guess it is."
"You realize this will never work," Aeryn said softly, moments later.
"Huh? What?" John broke out in an instant sweat, fearful of what Aeryn would say.
"I said this would never work. You’ve got the comms hooked into propulsion. Every time we ‘step on the gas’ we’ll be broadcasting our position to the universe. Sometimes, I just don’t know where your head is."
"Here goes, Moya, let’s hope it worked. Pilot to Commander Crichton, can you hear me?"
The transporter pod had been unloaded but the crew of Moya was still in the maintenance bay. Everybody was eager to find out what had happened after they had crashed on the planet, but neither John nor Aeryn said anything more than: "We talked, we worked, we got back home."
Frustrated at the lack of response they started to disperse through the ship. John and Aeryn started walking towards Command. As they walked down the passageway Aeryn reached over and gently held John’s hand. She didn’t want to let her second chance get away.