This is my reply to Aeryncrichton's fanfic challenge for John, Aeryn and chocolate body paint.
Aeryn sat on the end of my bed, buckling her boots up. "Chocolate. Body. Paint." She said very deliberately. "Did I pronounce it properly? You paint it on your lovers body and then lick it off."
I stared at Aeryn. "Aer, I know what it is. I just don't ever remember mentioning it to you."
She busied herself with a boot. "You didn't. You told Chiana all about it when you got so drunk at Chang Mai. I just thought if you thought it was important enough to discuss with her, you'd want to do that with me." Aeryn's pronunciation of the word "her" left me in no doubt she had another word in mind. Many other words.
How do I get into these things? I decided I had to try to get out it. "To begin with, I did not get drunk. I was told the beer was five per cent alcohol, tops. No one thought to mention that the other ninety-five percent was the local version of loco weed. Secondly, chocolate is a human delicacy. No one in, probably, this entire galaxy has ever heard of chocolate, except me. Thirdly, Aeryn..."
Aeryn suddenly stood up. "I've heard of chocolate. And I think I'm developing a splitting headache. I'm going to lie down." Aeryn promptly walked out of my room before I could say or do anything. I pulled my pants up and ran out after her. "Chocolate body paint? Sure. No problemo." She ignored me.
I knew enough to go to the source of my problems. I caught Pip just as she was walking off of Moya onto the promenade of the space station we had docked at. With one arm around her waist, I hauled her over to a nice solid wall and plunked her down with both my arms pinning her.
She got right off to a fine start. "John, he's lying. I was in another part of Moya entirely. I am being accused based solely on circumstantial evidence. You know...."
"It's a she, Pip. I'm here to talk about Aeryn."
Before I could say anything else, she dug down into her bodice and pulled out a small metal medallion of some sort. She held it out to me. "Frell. I know better than to expect you to understand where she's concerned. Not that she'd ever miss her old weapons qualifications badge. It's been in the back of her drawer for cycles now. It might as well not exist for all..."
I grabbed to medallion and put it in my pocket. "Pip! If Aeryn ever finds you in her room she'll kill you. Are you farbot?"
Pip smiled hugely. "Do you know what she keeps in that dirty clothes hamper? Not in it, exactly. Taped to the lid? Well, the next time she's on all fours on her bed, and she starts giggling, you might ask her..."
"Pip!" I screamed. "You've been watching us? How could you?"
Chiana smiled and ran one hand along my jaw. "You two are very entertaining."
I had to change the subject fast. I made a time out sign with my hands. "Okay, Pip. That's enough. I have to talk to you. Did you tell Aeryn about chocolate body paint?"
Pip nodded vigorously. "You bet. It sounded so very kinkoid. It raised my opinion of you humans immeasurably. I thought she'd like to try it some time."
"Great." I said. "I'll be sure to introduce you to Hugh Hefner once we're back on Earth. But Aeryn wants a little chocolate body paint right now. Doesn't she realize it's an Earth commodity? You can't just buy it out here?"
Pip gave me one of her "Poor frelling Earthman" looks. I was getting to know that look pretty well. "John, Aeryn loves you, right?" I nodded. "And you love Aeryn?"
"Pip, that's two things I already know. Care to try for three?"
That did not good. She just smiled. "Aeryn's a Sebacean ex-Peacekeeper and you're a human explorer."
"Four in a row. Maybe Aeryn would like to know about her marksmanship merit badge." I threatened.
She kept smiling. "And maybe everyone would like to know about what Aeryn has in the hamper?" Before I could get angrier, she started making sense. "We've had nothing happen to us for a half a cycle. The worst was the transport of the smelly livestock, right?" I nodded, remembering that fiasco.
"Aeryn loves you and she wants you to know she loves you. She wants to treat you like a female human would treat her lover. Since there are no human females around for comparison, she wants to know what you say or think about everything and anything. And if human females show their love by licking chocolate body paint off their males, then that's what Aeryn wants. Being Aeryn, she doesn't realize it's impractical."
I leaned away form Pip. "It's not impractical, it's impossible."
Pip giggled. "You're wrong there, Johnny. What do you see out there?"
I followed her gaze. "A honking big space station orbiting a huge commerce planet. A regular Mall of the Uncharted Territories."
"Right. And if there's chocolate of any sort around, it'll be here. And if it's here, or any reasonable facsimile, I'll find it."
I should have been suspicious. It almost sounded reasonable. I reached for my wallet. "I'll give you some cash, Pip, to..."
She had already slipped under my arm and was headed for the promenade. She turned and waved to me. "My treat. I feel responsible for this, John"
"I feel responsible for this, John."
Pip hung a metra in the air in the grasp of a being built on the order of an upright Kodiak bear with an extra set of upper arms. The effect of the teeth and claws were somewhat offset by the well-cut business suit and the restrained manner.
"This female informs me she is acting on your behalf, Sir?" He rumbled.
"She's a friend." I finally answered.
"And you asked her to procure a, um, sample of my wares?"
"That's not what I said, John." Pip yelled. She swung around at the end of a huge paw trying to get a kick in. "I said you might be interested. It's chocolate body paint, John. Says so right on the label of the can. I just forgot I had it on me when I left his frelling store."
I sighed. "How much?"
"In addition to the item, I have had to close my establishment and pursue a common thief. There's a loss of business involved, you see." He still sounded restrained. F
ew of Pips victims did.
"Loss of business?" Screamed Chiana. "Your business gets lost when they see your ugly face."
"Pip! Sit on it!" I turned back to the business monster. "How much?"
He looked at me appraisingly. "A thousand of Currency."
"A thousand! Two hundred is robbery. John, he's cheating you." Pip wailed.
I looked him in the eye. "How much for just the can and you keep her?"
He laughed. "Two thousand of Currency."
Although Pip's pride took a beating I bought my chocolate body paint for Aeryn. I opened the can and took a look. It looked like chocolate. I put in a finger and tasted it. "Paint? Paint! I paid a thousand for brown frelling paint?" Pip was nowhere to be seen.
I tracked Rygel down in the central chamber, feeding his face, as usual.
"Yo, Sparky. You're up on the price of everything and the value of nothing, maybe you can help me out."
Rygel absorbed another marjule. "I heard your absurd conversation with Chiana. If you were a true male, you'd have your female out scouring the galaxy for luxuries to your own taste. You wouldn't care what she felt, or even acknowledge that she felt anything but gratitude for being able to serve you. I couldn't possibly lower myself to your level to assist you in such an endeavor." Rygel headed off on his throne sled.
"May a pack of ravenous vorlags find your secret food stash, Guido." I called after him.
No question who I'd go to next.
"D'Argo, I didn't even say anything." How could he say no before I opened my mouth?
"No, John. I have never heard of chocolate or anything even vaguely resembling it". D'Argo went back to working on his ship.
I sat down, being careful not to touch anything. "Lo'laan was a Sebacean. You have to have some idea of what she liked. Liked to eat? Liked to wear? Liked to drink? You gotta help me here, man. Aeryn is expecting chocolate body paint and there's none in Mother Hubbard's cupboard."
D'Argo turned and put on his "serious friend" face. "John, all I can tell you is..." Suddenly he smiled.
"Hold up, Big Guy, you just had an idea. I know it. Come on, D'Arg." I whined. I admit it, I whined.
D'Argo carefully wiped the smile off his face. "I saw something Lo'laan liked in a shop near here. Lo'laan was a Sebacean, but not a Peacekeeper. Aeryn is an ex-Peacekeeper and I have no idea what she is now. She might hate it. I advise you to simply tell Aeryn there is none of this chocolate body paint available."
I gave D'Argo my most sincere smile. He shuddered. "Oh, frell. You won't go away until I show you, will you?"
In a quarter of an arn we were in a trendy perfume shop in one of the better shopping districts of the station. D'Argo handed me a long silver cylinder. "This is what Lo'laan used to love."
I started to fool with the top. "How does it work?" At the same time D'Argo yelled for me to look out, a huge spray of perfume shot across the shop and hit a customer. I headed over to apologize when I found myself flying across the shop. Fortunately, my fall was broken by a metal display case. As I lay there, I heard someone yelling.
"You verkeitis! How dare you try to seduce my mate!"
Naturally, he was big, covered in chitinous scales and angry. I had yet to inadvertently insult anyone smaller than me in the Uncharted Territories. Luckily, D'Argo knew how to handle him. He grabbed a large floppy ear and twisted. "My friend here made a mistake. A common enough experience with him. But he did not try to seduce your mate."
Before D'Argo had a chance to roar again, the mate grabbed the other ear. "Honestly, Flamjin! I can't take you anyplace without you shaming me. Seduce me, indeed!"
Flamjin left, with his mate pulling on one ear, mumbling apologies to all concerned. D'Argo and I were left to face the shop owner.
"That was a very expensive perfume." He began.
"Pallisette is not that expensive." D'Argo began.
The owner just pointed to three broken bottles where I had landed. D'Argo started to argue that the damage wasn't my fault, but I had had enough. A quarter of an arn later, I limped back to Moya, down twelve hundred more in Currency.
"I'm going to see Jool about my back, D'Argo. Thanks, pal." I headed for Jool's lab and D'Argo went back towards his ship, muttering something that didn't sound much like "Let's do this again sometime."
I hobbled into Jool's lab and crawled up onto her examining table. She was used to seeing me come in for repairs after being beaten up. She pulled my shirt up and started prodding me with an instrument she must keep in a freezer.
"Human's can't be related to Interons. The dullest Interon would have seen what Aeryn really wants."
I decided I could wait to find out how stupid I had been. It didn't work. She told me anyway. "All Aeryn wants is to be treated as if she were a human female. Considering she's a former Peacekeeper, I can't decide if that's a step up or down. But, Aeryn sees that human males get things for their lovers that both can enjoy. That's all she wants, something for you two to enjoy together."
Suddenly my back was better and I almost had a way out of my problem with Aeryn. I got up and stretched. Everything felt fine.
"You're a great doctor, Jool. I feel great. But I have no idea what to get that we both would enjoy."
She smiled at me. "Luckily, you have an Interon to help. I have a loaf of Parraquoi bread. It's a Sebacean delicacy that's usually reserved for senior officers. An Officer, like Aeryn might eat a small piece after a great victory in celebration. Certainly she'd never have a whole loaf to share with one person."
Jool walked over to a storage container and tool out a large, round flat piece of bread. It was about the size of a large deep-dish pizza. Having tried alien delicacies before, I cautiously leaned over and smelled it. Cinnamon, maybe. With a little vanilla. I pulled off a small piece from the bottom and tasted it. "This is good. This is really good, Jool. Thanks." Suddenly I remembered my manners. "What do I owe you?"
Jool smiled. "You owe me one, human."
I walked into my quarters and stopped in surprise. There in my bed was Aeryn, sound asleep. I tiptoed in and started to undress as quietly as I could. I should have known I was dealing with a Commando trained ex-Peacekeeper.
"John? Is that you?" Since she was looking straight at me, I figured she knew it was. I finished undressing and put on a clean pair of Calvins. I knelt beside Aeryn. "I got us something, Honey. A loaf of.."
"Parraquoi bread?" Aeryn backed up off the bed entirely. "John, I'm allergic to Parraquoi bread. I get this horrible rash. Please put it away. Out of the room if you can."
Somehow I knew hat would happen when I took the loaf outside into the corridor. "Knock yourself out. Rygel." I said tossing the bread unto his lap. He just smiled and sped off. "May ravenous vorlags devour your food supplies, human."
I came back in and slid in next to Aeryn. I spent the next quarter of an arn explaining what had happened to me from Pip's thievery to Rygel's gluttony. At the end of it, Aeryn had her head buried in my arms. I almost thought she might be thinking about crying.
"John, I'm so sorry. All I wanted to do was share something nice with you. I never meant to put you to so much trouble. Please forgive me."
I am a sucker for Aeryn Sun. No question about it. "Honey, there's nothing to forgive. I just went a little overboard, that's all. And you share everything with me that's at all important as it is."
We lay there like that for a half an arn. Finally Aeryn spoke. "John, a salesman came by today and left a sample for us. I thought you might like it." She reached under the bed and brought out a small bottle. She took the lid off and dipped her finger in it. She held it out for me to lick. It was thick and sweet like honey, but had a taste of peppermint or something like that. Maybe a little lemon, too. I put a little dab on my chin and she licked it off and gave me a huge smile when she was done. She lifted her black tee over her head and started dripping it down from her shoulder. Then she lay back and I started licking again.
"John, can we buy some more of this tomorrow?" Aeryn murmured.
By the time I could answer, we had both forgotten the question.
A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread--and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness--
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!
From the Rubiyats of Omar Khayyam