Crichton in Love

By Bob Hutchinson (UCSBDad)
Copyright 2001

Disclaimer: The characters and situations of Farscape are owned by Larry, the Razor Tooth Vorlag. Argue with him about this.
Time: Sometime in Season Three. There is only one John and he knows Aeryn loves him.
Rating: No matter what Aeryn thinks, this is strictly "G".
Archiving: Good idea.

John Crichton was a happy man. No leather-clad sociopaths had tried to steal any part of his brain lately. There were no alien critters skulking around Moya's corridors waiting to gobble him up. Not a single alien scientist was trying to make him a science project today. And Aeryn Sun loved him.

John idly wondered when things were going to turn to dren. As if in answer, a loud, metal-melting scream echoed down Moya's corridors.

"Dren!" He mumbled to himself, as he started running to Jool's quarters.

He skidded to a halt outside Jool's cell. The Interion was standing there, screaming her head off, wrapped in a towel and dripping wet.

"Jool. Easy there. What's wrong?"

Jool was too busy screaming to notice John, so he grabbed her by the shoulder and spun he around, yelling her name.

She noticed him. "Where the frell have you been, John? Where? It almost got me, not that you care. Not that anyone cares. Why should you care? All you care about is getting back to your silly Earp. This whole frelling ship..."

Crichton had had enough. "Jool! Shut up!" he screamed.

The redheaded woman shut up.

Crichton looked beyond her into her quarters. Everything seemed in order.

"Okay, Jool. What's the matter now? The DRDs not bowing when you pass? Food not cooked properly? Did someone put a frelling chip in your frelling head?"

Jool tried to look haughty. "There's no need to be unpleasant, Crichton."

John smiled. "Good. I'll just be on my way then. Have a nice day."

John had actually turned and taken two steps before Jool reacted.

"Wait. There's a thingy in my shower."

John turned back to face her. "A thingy? Is that an Interion technical description I'm unfamiliar with?"

Jool grabbed John's hand and dragged him into her quarters. "It's in the shower. Look."

John stopped at the entrance to the bathroom and drew his pistol. He motioned for Jool to stand back. Then he carefully slipped into the bathroom, quickly pushed the curtain to one side and peered into the shower stall over Wynona's sights.

Hanging from the back of the shower was a gray tentacle. It pointed one end at John, as if examining him. John heard a familiar hum and looked down to see a yellow DRD.

John turned on his comm badge. "Pilot, what the frell is the thingy in Jool's shower?"

"Only a small bio-mechanical error, Commander Crichton." Pilot sounded slightly embarrassed.

"Pilot, is that anything like a thingy?" Crichton waited for a split microt. "No, don't answer that, Pilot. Just tell me what that thing is in there.'

"I was trying to Commander. On the other side of Jool's shower is a conduit for waste material."

"Garbage?" John interrupted.

Pilot sighed. "Garbage, if you insist. The tentacles usually grow into the conduit and help to move the waste material along. This one some how grew out from the conduit and into Jool's shower."

John scratched his head and smiled. "Sort of like an ingrown hair, I guess Pilot?"

Pilot had no idea what an ingrown hair was, but he agreed.

Jool leaned down and yelled at the DRD. "Pilot, I want that thing out of my shower and I want it out right now."

"I get the picture, Jool." John stuck his head in the shower. "How do we get this out, Pilot? Do you want me to take a shot at it?"

"No Commander, I have another DRD on the other side of the wall. He'll cut the tentacle off at the base and you can pull it through the wall and place it in the waste receptacle. "

John grasped the tentacle and gave it a tentative pull. His hands slid off at once.

"Pilot, there's some sort of goo on the tentacle."

"Yes, Commander. The goo is actually a rather interesting variation on Moya's...."

"Okay, Pilot. No school today." John turned to Jool. "Jool, hand me a towel or something."

Jool promptly took off the towel she had on and handed it to John. John quickly turned around, but not before confirming Jool was a natural redhead.

"Jool, dammit. Get some clothes on."

Jool stared down at herself in shock and ran to the other side of her quarters, where she grabbed a short robe and carried it back to the bathroom. She didn't bother to put it on until she was back in the bathroom.

Aeryn Sun had heard a scream form the general direction of Jool's quarters and walked in that direction. Whatever had caused the Interion woman to scream probably was trivial. Just as she approached Jool's cell she saw the naked redhead sprint across her cell and then go right back carrying something. She stood outside the cell where she could hear, but not see into the bathroom. What happened next shocked her.

"Okay, are you ready, Jool?" Said the voice of John Crichton.

"Do you really expect me to do this, John?"

"Yes, Jool. You have to do something to justify your existence around here."

"Oh, all right! What do you want me to do?"

"Just grab it and pull."

"You expect me to actually touch it?"

"It's not the worst thing you could have to do. Suppose it was Rygel and not me." John smiled at the thought of the Dominar trying to pull the tentacle out. Assuming he'd even try. Suddenly, he heard a low humming from the other side of the wall. That must be the DRD cutting the tentacle loose.

"Here we go. Give it everything you've got, Jool."

Suddenly, the tentacle started to whip around in the shower stall.

"Wait, Crichton. It's too frelling big. I can't get a grip on it."

The tentacle pulled loose and tried to pull itself back into the wall.

"Crichton. There, there, there. Now, now, now. Crichton, Crichton, Crichton." Shrieked Jool.

"Whooo hooooo!" John yelled as the tentacle started to come loose.

John finally pulled the tentacle out of the wall, with little help from Jool. He carried it out of her quarters and to the nearest waste receptacle.

Aeryn Sun saw none of this. She had stormed away from the Interion's quarters and was striding down one of Moya's corridors. She finally stopped at a dead end and began mechanically checking the neural cluster she found herself in. It took her almost two arns to run a routine check that should have taken a quarter of an arn.

With a million conflicting thoughts roaring through her mind, she started back to the center of the ship.

John Crichton had cleaned himself up and was headed to the hangar to do a little work on his Farscape module when he heard a woman screaming for the second time that day. But this time it wasn't Jool.

"Frelling dren. Where the frell is everyone? D'Argo? John? Rygel? Stark? Jool? Aeryn? Where the frell is everyone?"

"Hi, Pip. What's up?" Said John to Pip's legs. The rest of her was hidden under a huge vat.

"I'm still frelling three Hynerian donkeys, Crichton. Can you help?"

John stood on his tiptoes and looked over the edge of the vat. Scattered on the bottom was a selection of tools and spare parts. John knelt down and peered at Chiana.

"Sure. What are you trying to do, Pip?"

"I got tired of hand washing the clothes. So I decided to build a clothes cleaner using the vat."

John smiled. "Looks more like a clothes shredder from what I saw."

"Well, it isn't done yet, Crichton. Will you frelling help me?"

"Okay, okay. What do you need?" John tried not to laugh.

Chiana wriggled around under the vat. "I crawled down here to check the power couplings on the bottom of the vat. All of a sudden something snapped closed under me and snagged the back of my jacket. There isn't enough room down here to either reach behind me and unsnag the jacket or take the jacket off and crawl out."

John got on his hands and knees and peered at Chiana. Wondering how Pip got into situations like this, he crawled under the vat, too.

Chiana turned to him. "Now don't be tearing this jacket, Crichton. It's my very favorite."

John ran his hand under the Nebari's back. He could just feel where some component of Moya's had closed on the back of the jacket. But, no matter how he tried, he couldn't get the leverage he needed to pull the jacket loose.

"Okay, Pip. I'm going to have to climb on top of you. Then I can reach around you and unsnag your jacket."

Chiana giggled. "I should have thought of this before."

"You know, maybe I'd better get Aeryn to shoot holes in the vat so you'll have more room."

Chiana became serious. "Okay, John, I'll be a good girl."

"That'll be the day." John muttered under his breath.

John pulled himself on top of Chiana. There was barely enough room for the two of them to breathe. John wriggled around on top of her and Chiana spread her legs to give him a little more room. John had just gotten both his arms around Chiana when disaster struck. One of the power couplings on the bottom of the vat was nudged out of its conduit and swung against John and Chiana. The power jolted the two, causing John to grunt and Chiana to squeal and both of them to jerk. The jerking motion pushed the coupling away briefly and then it swung back and hit the two of them again. Grunt. Squeal. Jerk. Grunt. Squeal. Jerk. Grunt. Squeal. Jerk.

Aeryn Sun followed the strange sounds. Suddenly, she saw a familiar pair of black Peacekeeper pants between a familiar pair of slim leather-clad legs. The sounds and motions were also familiar.

"Pip, you have to grab it and put it back in." Crichton screamed as the coupling hit the two again.

"Me? Isn't that your department, John?"

"In case you haven't noticed, my hands are busy, Pip."

"All right, I'll do it. But can you finish this off once I do? I have things to do." Chiana said between squeals.

"I'm doing the best I can, Chi. But there's only so much I can do by myself."

Chiana grabbed the live power coupling and showed it back in the conduit. "Frell. It's back in, John."

John laughed. "What ever we did, Moya must have decided to let go of your jacket. You're free, Pip."

John and Chiana slid out from under the vat. Aeryn Sun was long gone.

John continued on to his module, smiling to himself. "At least, " he thought to himself, "Aeryn never gets into dumb situations like Jool and Pip." The smile faded. "No, she only gets into situations where she wonders if she'll ever be able to show love. "

Aeryn sat by the aftmost neural cluster on Moya. The man she loved, John Crichton, had frelled the other two women aboard Moya. In spite of her cycles of training, she had no idea what to do next.

"Officer Sun?"

"Yes, Pilot."

"I have been doing some calculations concerning Moya."

"Is there a problem with Moya, Pilot?" A problem with Moya was something Aeryn could work on. Something she might solve.

"Just an old one, Officer Sun. I believe that the power differential between Moya's bio-mechanoid power and the Peacekeeper defense screen is what keeps causing the screen to malfunction. I believe that if we had a Peacekeeper transformer, something on the order of a Mark 25 or a Mark 27, the screen would function properly."

Aeryn thought for a few microts. "A Mark 27 is too new to show up in any of the places we might buy ex-Peacekeeper equipment, but a Mark 25 is a possibility. "

Pilot brightened. "I'm glad you think so, too, Officer Sun. We will be at Chinni Chenango in two arns. I doubt if there's a better place to look for a Mark 25 than there."

Aeryn brightened, too. She was a professional soldier, protecting Moya and her passengers. That was how she'd react to Crichton. She'd be a consummate professional. She'd never allow her emotions to get in the way of her solemn duty to protect those around her, even Crichton, Chiana and Jool.

Halfway back to the central chamber, she remarked to Moya's walls, "I knew that if I refused to act on my love for John that he might go elsewhere. I knew that and I accepted it. I just didn't know it would hurt so frelling much."

Two arns later John Crichton boarded the transport pod headed for Chinni Chenango's surface and took his customary place across from Aeryn in the co-pilot's chair.

"Ready, Aeryn?"

Aeryn turned to him coldly. "D'Argo will be co-pilot for this run."

John smiled back at her. "Nah, no need. I can handle it. Let the big fella look at the tourist sights."

Aeryn carefully controlled her emotions. "Crichton are you frelling deaf? I said D'Argo will be co-pilot for this run."

John was surprised, but saw no reason to bother D'Argo. "Look, Aeryn...."

"Look nothing. This is a major planet. It has over six hundred frelling interstellar freighters in orbit and a couple of frelling thousand cargo lighters servicing them. Not to mention hundreds of passenger ferries, patrol ships, rescue and recovery craft and any number of mining ships from the outer gas giants. Now get in the frelling back of the frelling pod and send D'Argo here."

Aeryn realized she was screaming at Crichton by the end of her statement, but continued to glare at him. John left.

"D'Argo, can you take over for me at co-pilot? And Aeryn is a little testy today."

"Today?" grumbled the Luxan.

John settled down across from Jool and Chiana. Stark was back aboard Moya keeping an eye on Rygel. John thought that it might be a good idea to get a nice present for Aeryn on the planet. He had a feeling Aeryn had been under a lot of strain lately. The more he thought about it, the more he realized how much of a strain Aeryn was under. She always felt it was her job to defend Moya and her passengers against whatever the Universe threw at them. And the Universe had been throwing a lot of high heat lately.

Oh, sure, Aeryn wasn't all alone, but she acted like she was the only one around to protect Moya. John knew Aeryn loved him, but also knew she didn't trust his abilities in a fight. She considered D'Argo rash and Chiana self- centered. Her opinions of Jool, Stark and Rygel as combatants wasn't worth thinking about. John decided that was a lot for one beautiful set of Sebacean shoulders to carry.

John decided that today was going to be Aeryn Sun Appreciation Day as far as he was concerned.

Aeryn landed the transport pod gently in the exact center of its assigned parking space. The passengers quickly debarked and headed off for a day on a thriving and wealthy commerce planet.

"Aeryn," John called, "I'll go with you. Maybe we can have a little fun. A nice meal, maybe."

Aeryn turned on John, her eyes blazing with anger. She visibly calmed herself down and then spoke to John. "Crichton, I have to locate a very expensive and difficult to find piece of Peacekeeper hardware. If I do find it, it'll be a miracle if it's in perfect working order. I'll have to tear it down and try to buy spare parts and make repairs on the spot. The last thing I have any time for is human "fun." Is that clear? Now just leave me alone."

Aeryn started to walk off, but John fell in beside her. "No problem, I'll just tag along and help out."

Aeryn stopped in mid-stride. "Crichton. Go. Now! Before I hurt you. Just frelling leave me alone for a while."

Aeryn stomped off and this time John didn't follow her. She knew she was acting like anything but a calm and controlled professional, but John's remark about fun had unexpectedly hurt. Did he expect her to recreate with him, too?

John let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. Aeryn, for some reason, was really pissed at him. Well, he'd put up with worse for Aeryn and he'd put up with this. Suddenly, a brilliant thought came to him. After all, John Crichton is good with women. A gift. A nice gift for Aeryn, with a nice little speech from one John Crichton apologizing for whatever he'd done wrong.

John set off through the stalls and shops of the commerce planet to search for the perfect gift. Three arns later he was tired and giftless. Aeryn had very simple tastes. She had never liked anything he had suggested she buy. She didn't like clothing, or jewelry, or furniture, or nice paintings to hang in her quarters, or even Sinatra CDs. The only things she liked to buy were weapons. John had once watched Aeryn reduce a Luxan arms merchant to sullen rage with her criticism of his weaponry. Aeryn would be insulted by the gift of a weapon that didn't meet her high standards. John had looked at several gunsmiths, but found nothing he could be sure Aeryn would like.

"Try my sweet melons, Peacekeeper?"

John's concentration was broken by a tall slender woman offering him a slice of melon. She was dressed from head to toe in a voluminous gown so that only her black eyes were visible.

"I have the very best melons, Peacekeeper. Come and try them. Come and buy them."

John had missed breakfast that morning and was hungry. Maybe Aeryn would appreciate a nice melon. He tried a blood red melon that wasn't too bad and a deep purple melon that was too bad. Then he tried the green melon.

"Hey! This tastes just like a honeydew melon back home. I'll take all you have. Wrap em up."

The woman smiled. "I have only three in the freezing unit in the back of my stall, but you are more than welcome to them."

She led John into the back of her stall where she knelt in front of a contraption that looked like a cross between an old fashioned washing machine and a step ladder. Suddenly, the woman shrieked and leapt back from her freezing unit.

"A K' Brot. They're poisonous. Please, step on it. Please, quickly."

The K'Brot weaved slowly towards John. It looked like a large spider with about twice the usual number of legs. He didn't know how poisonous it was, but if it couldn't move any faster than that, he'd crush it easily. He stepped down on it. He looked down at his boot and saw the K'Brot's legs starting to pull itself along the bottom of his boot.

"The K'Brot's body is armored. You have to step on his head to kill it. Please, please, quickly. " The woman screamed.

John put his weight on the foot that held the K'Brot down and waited until the K'Brot's head peeked around the end of his boot. The little beast's ugly head peeped over the end of John's boot. John put all of his weight on the foot holding the K'Brot down and slowly aimed the other heavy boot at the thing's head. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the woman swinging something the K'Brot.

John screamed as the heavy wooden pole smashed down onto his feet and, incidentally, decapitated the K'Brot. He hopped backwards and then forwards. The melon seller reached out to steady him, not realizing the pole was still in her hands. John took a vicious blow to the jaw and staggered back. He slammed into one of the main supports of the woman's stall. He had just started to clear his head when a heavy iron pot, dislodged by the blow to the support, toppled from it's perch and landed on John's head. With the pot firmly jammed on top of his head and blocking his vision, John staggered towards the melon seller. She pulled the pot off of John's head, but overbalanced herself and the two toppled onto floor.

The first thing John realized was that his face was nestled between two large, round breasts. He had somehow pulled the woman's robe down when they fell. The second thing he realized was that they were not alone. Just beyond the woman was a familiar pair of black boots, black leather pants, a black tank top and a pair of furious blue eyes.

"I thought you might be in trouble, Crichton. Obviously I was seriously mistaken."

The melon seller always interested in making a sale, smiled brightly. "Would you like to sample my melons, Peacekeeper? Your companion said they are exactly like the ones on your ship."

Death and destruction danced in Aeryn Sun's eyes. "Oh they are, are they? Well, my companion knows more about melons than I do. Although there are some melons he'll never sample." Aeryn spun around and stormed out of the stall.

John scrambled to his feet, helped the melon seller up, and tried to help her rearrange her dress without doing anything he'd regret with Aeryn, paid for the melons he'd damaged and took off after Aeryn.

"Aeryn," he shouted to the Sebacean's rapidly disappearing back. "She thought I was a Peacekeeper. She thought I ate honey dew melons on a Peacekeeper command carrier. I wasn't talking about your melons! Nothing happened, trust me."

Aeryn turned a corner and disappeared down a side street.

"Nothing happened." John mumbled.

John spent the next arn trudging through the marketplace, but couldn't find Aeryn. Finally he decided he would have to stop for food. "Can't keep up with the Captain of the Peacekeeper Olympic Team if I don't eat," he thought to himself.

"Yo, Energizer Bunny, " John called to a large pink being.

"Affirm, Keeper of Peace. You have needs the day has not met? You wish go falkir some cadall?"

"Just lunch. Where can you recommend for lunch?"

"Loo-nsh?" The being looked quite puzzled.

John decided he'd better keep this simple. "Food." He rubbed his stomach and pantomimed putting something in his mouth and then smiled. The pink being reached over and began to rub John's stomach.

"Whoa, big fella." John said, pushing a large pink hand away. "I need to eat." He opened his mouth and chewed vigorously. "Eat. Food. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die?"

Suddenly the being smiled. "Ead, d'rk en b'mar? Ead, d'rk en b'mar?" he kept repeating the words and smiling at John. Then he turned and pointed. "Mafvi's. Blue roof. Top floor. Ead. d'rk en b'mar."

John smiled back and headed off to what he hoped was Mafvi's restaurant. He climbed a set of rickety stairs to the second floor, hoping that this was one of those great little places the tourists hadn't ruined yet. He walked inside and found almost total darkness. A waitress appeared at his right.

"Greetings, Peacekeeper. We exist to fulfill your every wish. Anything you desire, we will provide."

John laughed. "Great. I'll have a giant pepperoni pizza, a beer and gallon of chocolate ice cream."

The waitress laughed back. "What ever your desires, Peacekeeper."

She leaned against John who suddenly discovered she was wearing only a very brief diaphanous dress. He knew Aeryn wasn't going to be happy to find he'd eaten at the local equivalent of Hooters. He found his eyes becoming accustomed to the dark and made a further discovery. He was in a place Aeryn would disapprove of a lot more than a slightly risqué restaurant. The other waitresses were busy serving themselves to the other patrons.

John stepped back from the woman. "I think I've made a mistake."

"A mistake, Peacekeeper?" the woman replied breathlessly.

"Yeah, a big mistake. Now if you'll pardon me, I'll be..."

Suddenly a pair of arms like steel wrapped around him and a woman's voice bellowed in his ear. "The Peacekeeper has made an error and needs a pardon? The Peacekeeper needs to be punished then, doesn't he?"

A third woman appeared in front of John. "A very bad Peacekeeper who needs to be disciplined, harshly."

John struggled to free himself. "No, I'm not a Peacekeeper. I get all the discipline I need from being on the same ship with one. She's an ex-Peacekeeper, really. Wait!"

John was lifted off his feet and one woman started taking off his boots as the other reached down the front of his pants. "He is a very wicked Peacekeeper. He hasn't been the least aroused."

With both boots off, two women pulled down his leather pants and then his Calvins. They stood back to admire John. One appraised John professionally and announced to her companions. "We can skip the hot oil baths on this one, I think, and move straight to the hot sand and ice."

John struggled and screamed at the woman holding him. All his strength wasn't enough to make her even break a sweat. Suddenly John sagged limply. "Frell. The chip. My brain is on fire, get help. I need a doctor. I'm dying. Please." John followed that with a piteous whimper.

The three women weren't accustomed to passive Peacekeepers. The one holding John set him down while the other two looked at each other. Neither wanted to be responsible for a dead customer.

John headed toward he hoped was a window. Better yet, it was a balcony. "I want to die looking at the sun. I want to see the sky," he moaned.

The heavily muscled woman reached out to him. "We don't want anyone dying here with the customers, Peacekeeper." she whispered," I'll carry you to a room in the back..."

John lowered his shoulder and shoved. The woman fell on her behind and John raced out onto the balcony. He easily hopped down to a small garden, over a small fence and found himself in a small lane. It took an astonished glance from a passer by for him to remember he was naked from the waist down. He blushed furiously and backed away into a solid wall. A furry, warm wall.

"Hello, not-Peacekeeper." Said the vorlag, who courteously curled his bushy tail around John to cover his nakedness.

"Hello, vorlag." John replied.

"Crichton!" Screamed a familiar and not unexpected voice.

John turned to face Aeryn Sun. Several expressions fought for dominance on Aeryn's face. All of them promised endless woe for John Crichton.

"Peacekeeper." Bellowed a familiar voice above him. "Your energetic frolics and unheard of antics have exhausted the last of my ladies. Mafvi's House of Extreme Pleasures cannot satiate you. We apologize humbly and beg forgiveness. We return your clothes. Farewell and good hunting, Peacekeeper."

The woman who had held John, dressed in a very abbreviated version of Peacekeeper leathers, motioned to another woman who tossed John's clothes at his feet.

Aeryn turned on her heel and strode off. John called after her. "I can explain, Aeryn. Let me get my clothes on and I'll explain."

By the time John was dressed, Aeryn was nowhere to be seen. John leaned back against a wall, a real wall this time, not a vorlag, and tried to understand how this day had turned into such a disaster. He turned to the vorlag, still sitting quietly.

"Why did that woman say all of those things about me? Why the frell did she do that?"

The vorlag shrugged. "You were unhappy with the service at Mafvi's?"

"I didn't want the service at Mafvi's, not any of it. I thought I was going to a restaurant for some food. Now my girl thinks I'm, er, well she isn't happy."

The vorlag avoided laughing at the unfortunate not-Peacekeeper. "It would be very bad publicity for Mafvi's if a customer were so unhappy that he leaped out a window while half dressed. Her competitors would be happy to spread such a tale far and wide. This way she can spread it about that you introduced all sort of new and bizarre Peacekeeper tricks, but in the process wore out the ladies. People will come from all over the city to hear of such. You'll be famous by tomorrow."

John groaned. "Great. I'll be the Larry Flynt of the Uncharted Territories. Just what I need."

Suddenly he remembered something. "You vorlags have great noses, right? Can you tell me where the ex-Peacekeeper lady who was here is right now?"

The vorlag sniffed. "She's in the general vicinity of the Ship Fitters Quarter, but there are too many strong odors in that area. I can't be precise. And as the name implies, the Quarter takes up almost one fourth of the City. I doubt you'll find her."

"Thanks anyway. Look, can you at least give me the name of a reasonable place to eat? Someplace where I won't get in any trouble?"

The vorlag walked John to the end of the lane. "Podri's is just at the other side of the square. The yellow building with the blue door. I eat there myself almost daily."

John thanked the vorlag and crossed the square. He decided to watch Podri's for a while before going in. The patrons seemed to be families, but in the Uncharted Territories it was often hard to tell. John walked in and stood just inside the door. An older man, presumably Podri, cooked in the back. Two young girls served the food. Neither seemed to have any desire to make John Crichton any more famous for his sexual prowess than he already was. John quietly sat down at a table where he could see all the entrances.

"May I be of assistance, Peacekeeper?" said the older girl politely. She handed John a menu that he could barely read. John looked around at the other diners.

"Um, I'll have some of those blue beans and a little of the thinly sliced meat."

"Excellent choice, Peacekeeper." Said Kanri, privately appalled that anyone would mix furvish beans with ciboo meat. She started to walk away.

"Wait a microt. I'd like something to drink. What do you have?"

The girl rattled off a list of drinks that John had never heard of.

"Just give me something sweet, okay?"

The girl continued to smile. "Swee'eet?"

John nodded.

Kanri walked over to her father. "The Peacekeeper wants swee'eet, Father."

Podri leaned out from behind the stove to look at John. "Swee'eet the Peacekeeper wants, then swee'eet the Peacekeeper will get. "

Kanri ladled beans onto a plate and added the meat while her father reached far back in the pantry to pull out a dusty bottle and a thimble sized glass. Podri leaned out again and looked John over carefully, then poured the tiny glass almost half full. Kanri put everything on a tray and delivered it to John's table.

"Hold it, miss, I'll need a big glass for a meal this size."

Kanri was shocked that the Peacekeeper would consider imbibing so much swee'eet, but managed to keep her shock out of her voice. After all, even in the Uncharted Territories, the customer is always right, as long as he can pay. She took the tiny glass back and explained to her father what the Peacekeeper had asked for.

Again he poked his head out from behind his stove to address John. "A large glass, Peacekeeper?" Said Podri, certain his daughter had misunderstood.

"Right, a big one, thanks." Replied John.

Podri shrugged and poured a large glass full of the swee'eet and brought it back to John's table.

John thanked her and took a large sip. He was surprised that it wasn't at all sweet. It was tasty though, and relaxing. Really relaxing. John could feel his cares evaporating. He couldn't feel his mouth, though. The numbness spread from his mouth to the rest of his body in a split microt and he quietly passed out.

Podri walked over to examine the Peacekeeper slumbering in the corner of the dining room. He lifted John's eyelid and confirmed he was still alive. "Well, a satisfied customer sleeping off a wonderful lunch will be a good advertisement, I suppose."

John slept through the lunch period and on into dinner. Finally, well after dark, the last customer was ushered out and John still slept on.

Basri, the youngest sister, examined John. "Well, we'll have to toss him out. He can't stay here all night. "

Kanri snorted. "Shows how much you know. The Night Watch will fine us for throwing a customer out in this condition. He has to stay until he wakes up."

Podri agreed. "The Peacekeeper must stay. Help me get him to bed, girls."

Kanri and Basri looked at the narrow stairway that led to their father's bedroom. "He's much too heavy to get up the stairs, Father. We'll have to leave him where he is."

It was Podri's turn to snort. "He'll sleep in your bed on the back porch. We can charge him for sleeping in a bed. You girls can sleep in the kitchen for the night."

In no time at all, Crichton was tucked into bed and the two sisters were wrapped in blankets on the cold, hard kitchen floor.

"Kanri, are you asleep?" called Basri.

"Of course not. Who could sleep like this," grumped the older girl.

"I miss our bed. Why do we have to sleep here?"

"We don't," decided Kanri. "Come on, we'll sleep with the Peacekeeper. There's plenty of room, and he won't wake up for a weeken, I bet."

Basri was old enough to know that sharing a bed with a man had some sort of significance, but she was too young to know exactly what that was. "Are you sure? What if Father catches us?"

Kanri giggled. "He never gets up until well after we get up."

The two girls crept to their back porch and slid in on either side of the still sleeping John Crichton.

Early the next morning John awoke to the sound of familiar voices.

"I'm surprised you're concerned with Crichton after what you say he did yesterday, " grumbled D'Argo.

"I'm a professional soldier and I do my duty no matter what. " Aeryn replied.

John was just prying his eyelids open as he heard the door to the back porch open.

"He's sleeping peacefully right here, Peacekeeper," said Podri.

"Crichton?" said a surprised D'Argo.

"Crichton!" roared Aeryn Sun.

"Kanri! Basri!" shouted Podri.

John sat up groggily in bed. A large number of unpleasant facts became apparent all at once. He was in bed with two young girls, he had no clothes on and Aeryn looked like she'd decided not to kill him because she couldn't think of a painful enough death for him.

"Remember, Peacekeeper, you should tip us for our excellent service." chirped Basri.

"Aeryn." John croaked, his mouth feeling like Rygel had held a party there. "I can explain."

But Aeryn was headed for the door.

"D'Argo, find my damned pants. I have got to explain this to Aeryn."

D'Argo looked down at his friend. "I won't be a party to your death, which is what will happen if Aeryn sees you anytime soon."

D'Argo headed for the door, but then turned to speak to his friend. "They are a little young, John," he said, shaking his head.

By the time John got his clothes back, explained to Podri that nothing had happened and unwillingly paid for a nights lodging, both Aeryn and D'Argo were long gone.

John walked through the markets of Chinni Chenango with no idea what to do next. How could he explain to Aeryn that he was an innocent victim of circumstances three times running? John was so upset, he walked into another being, almost knocking him down.

"Sorry." John called after the being, who scuttled off, glad that one of the infamous Peacekeepers was feeling apologetic. .

"Frelling Peacekeeper dren," came a voice.

John turned. A group of four young humanoids lounged against a fountain.

"Frelling Peacekeeper dren," repeated their leader, his voice slightly slurred and weaving slightly on his feet. His friends laughed and advanced towards John. Two had clubs and the leader pulled out a wicked looking knife.

John drew Wynona. "You don't want to die today, so turn around and vamoose, hombres."

The four stopped, but they were too angry or too stoned to decide what to do next and just stood there. John carefully aimed Wynona in front of their feet and pulled the trigger. To his shock, only a small amount of charged Chakon oil spat out of Wynona and landed almost on his feet.

With reflexes that would have done credit to a trained commando, John ran for it. After a couple of microts the four youths took after him. Peacekeepers aren't popular and John found that people in the marketplace blocked his way, put obstacles in his path and called out to the mob following him if they fell too far behind. Mob? Yes, at least a dozen beings now chased John through the market.

John ducked into a large inn. A glance at the scowls and grimaces on the faces of the patrons in the barroom convinced him he hadn't found a meeting of the Peacekeeper Fan Club. He dashed up the stairs as the first of the mob entered the inn. He opened the first door he came to and ran in, slamming it behind him and locking it.

He turned just in time to hear a female scream.

"By the Goddess. My husband has hired a Peacekeeper to kill us." The attractive and expensive looking lady in the bed, with metallic silver hair, grabbed her purse and started throwing currency at John, pleading for him to spare her. Her lover grabbed his clothes and jumped out the window.

"Lady, I'm not here to kill you. I'm running from a mob." John yelled at her.

On cue, the mob started pounding on the door and screamed for the Peacekeeper to come out and die like a man. John headed for the window, but before he got there, the sounds from outside the door changed.

"Ruffians. Riff raff. How dare you enter my inn? I run a respectable inn here, " came the angry bellow from outside.

John decided to risk a peek into the hallway. The inn's owner, descended from a race related to elephants, was throwing the mob out single handedly. The original mob leader was held in his trunk and being pounded against the walls as the innkeeper walked down the hall. One mob member was under each massive arm and with each step he slammed their heads together. Anyone who got in the way of his massive feet was kicked downstairs in a hurry.

John listened to the commotion recede as the innkeeper took the mob outside and pummeled them, demanding payment for damages to his inn and reputation. John let out a breath and leaned back against the door and smiled. Too late, he realized he was smiling right at the woman on the bed.

"Hello, Peacekeeper." She smiled and patted the bed beside her.

John groaned and went over to explain that he was neither a hired killer or a gigolo and thereby saved his life. A high pitched whine made John turn just in time to see piece of the door get sliced away.

"I know you're in there with your lover, Sefia. I've taken all I ever intend to. Prepare to die!"

The woman shrugged. "My husband has delusions of adequacy at times. I'm afraid you'll have to shoot him, Peacekeeper."

John headed for the window as the rest of the door was whittled away. "Lady, I'm not a hired killer. Now if you have any sense, follow me out the window and go home. Call the cops about your husband."

With that, John jumped out the window into an alleyway below, landing in front of a startled Aeryn Sun.

"Aeryn, am I ever glad to see you. We need to talk."

"Yoo hoo, Peacekeeper. Catch me, please, " came a voice from above. John looked up just in time to put out his arms and catch the silver haired woman.

While John struggled to put down the naked woman, Aeryn tried to say something, but found herself too angry and upset to do anything more than turn and walk away. Two uninjured mob members who had hung around entered the alley in front of Aeryn.

"Going to run, too, Peacekeeper?" snarled one.

Aeryn calmly pantak jabbed the two and went on her way.

"Aeryn! Wait, Aeryn, I can explain." As John got to the end of the alley, he saw a man with what looked suspiciously like a high tech chain saw leave the inn and start looking around.

"Sefia! Where are you, you trelk?" That was enough to send John back down the alleyway.

Sefia had put on a flimsy dressing gown and was checking her makeup. She looked up as John came back down the alley.

"If my husband didn't hire you to kill me and Bordo, why did you burst in on us?" A slow smile spread over her face. "Did you see something you liked and just couldn't wait?" She walked towards John and John promptly backed up.

"Sefia, you trelk. I have you two now," came a voice from the end of the alley.

"Frell." John muttered.

"This way, Peacekeeper." Sefia took Johns arm and led him down the alley and into a small shed just past the inn.

John tried to pull away." Lady, this place couldn't keep out a determined kitten, let alone Leatherface back there. We have to get out of here."

The silver haired woman just pointed over John's shoulder to a car parked in the shed. "That's what I had in mind, Peacekeeper. You are a Peacekeeper aren't you? You seem to be so...."

"Reasonable? Sane? Non-psychotic? " John grumbled. But the car interested him. It was longer that his 'Vette at home, but it was little more than a frame, four wheels and huge glass bubble to hold the passengers. The engine, where ever it was, had to be miniscule.

Sefia clapped and a door opened in the side. She slid in the front seat and motioned John to get in behind a set of levers John figured were the controls. He sat trying to figure them out for a few microts until Sefia tapped a button on top of the left lever. The engine purred softly. John grasped the levers and pushed them forward. Nothing happened.

"The pedal on the left makes it go, the one on the right stops it and the levers are to steer with. You can't be a Peacekeeper. None of them are so inept."

"Sorry, Miss Daisy. " John smiled apologetically and sideswiped a parked truck. "Oops."

Sefia stared at John then turned and looked deliberately out the window. John drove until he reached a wide, well traveled street. Sefia gestured for him to keep going.

"So, tell me. What will you do when you get home and Ricky tells you you're in a lot of trouble?"

Sefia didn't understand the reference, but she did understand the question. "Mine was an arranged marriage. Combining my family's aquacultural holdings with my husband's banking interests. The family made an error as my husband and his useless bank have been a drain on our resources. My family is in the process of terminating this wretched mis-alliance. When they hear of his insane jealousy, they'll put a stop to it. He is so tiresome. I have no trouble with him having as many lovers as he wants. What is his problem?"

"Life is hard and then you die." John commented.

"Oh, joy." Sefia smiled and started to stand. Ahead was her husband, without his chain saw. Too many people around and probably too many cops, John thought.

Sefia stood up on the car seat and faced away from he husband. Then she lifted her dressing gown around her hips and leaned back against the glass.

John saw her husband's face become suffused with rage. Then he saw Aeryn Sun staring at the woman's butt and John's face.

"Oh shit." John slammed on the brakes. He opened the door and found himself face to face with a gigantic purple lizard carrying a load of crates on his back.

"Hey, pal. You wanna move that heap? I got deliveries to make here. Okay?" Bellowed the lizard.

John tried his smile on the lizard. "Look, I have to get back to that young lady. It's a matter of life and death, mine."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Look, pal, I'm late and I ain't gonna get later." The lizard pushed his huge head into the open door, blocking John's path.

"Okay, Barney. Give me a microt." John slid back behind the controls of the car and moved to the side of the street.

"You can't abandon me!" shrieked Sefia. "I can't drive. Stop. Come back here, Peacekeeper. Come back, I say," Sefia kept screaming at him as he headed in the direction he thought Aeryn had been heading.

In a few microts he realized he had no idea where Aeryn was. He asked directions and headed back to the marketplace. In no time, he started to see the stalls and shops of the market. He searched for Aeryn Sun, but found an argument, instead.

He turned a corner and almost walked into the two beings yelling at each other on the sidewalk.

"Listen you old hag. I work at night. That means I sleep in the day. And I can't sleep if you're screaming at the top of your frelling lungs trying to sell your frelling skanthas, now can I?" The male was a rotund, green skinned being that looked like a cross between a turtle and an egret.

"You needn't yell and be impolite, young being. I have every right to sell my goods in my shop and I intend to continue doing so. I have no other means of livelihood." The woman was vaguely humanoid and old. She was wrinkled and bent and her voice broke when she spoke.

Without any further comment, the male grabbed her and shoved her against the wall. "I' m going to explain this to you one more time, so as you understand it." He drew back his fist.

"Hold it. Just frelling hold it." John yelled.

The male turned to face John. "This is none of your business, Peacekeeper. I was just trying to..."

"I'll tell you what the Peacekeeper's business is. Right now, it's you, Leonardo. Now scram." John slid his hand down to the Wynona's butt, hoping she'd function this time if he had to shoot.

Leonardo looked briefly like he might try something. Then he turned and stomped back into his dwelling. "Frelling Peacekeepers." He muttered under his breath.

"Peacekeeper, I don't know how I'll ever pay you. I do have a few skanthas here, but they're hardly..."

John cut her off with a smile. "No problem. I'll just be on my way. Glad I could help."

He turned and started to walk away, but the woman called to him.

"Please, Peacekeeper. That brute has been harassing me for....Oh, Dear."

John turned back around to see the old lady slumped against the wall. He rushed to her side.

"What's wrong. What can I do?"

The old woman straightened slightly. "I'm just short of breath. My medications are upstairs. If you could help me? I just live above the shop."

John nodded and took her arm, guiding her to a rickety set of stairs. The stairs creaked and groaned under the weight of the two of them. When John stepped onto the small landing at the top he felt it sag badly under him. John opened the door and pulled the woman in. She gestured to a small blue bottle on a rickety table. John handed it to her and she took a small sip.

"Oh, that's so much better, Peacekeeper." She breathed a noticeable sigh of relief. "Oh, can you just shut the door, please."

John used a little too much force and accidentally slammed the door. The building groaned loudly and he could feel it starting to sag and then to topple. The old woman screamed and grabbed onto John. It took about five microts for the building to sag all the way into the street. John was lying on top of the old lady who had her skinny arms and legs wrapped around him and was endlessly repeating "Praise the Goddess. Praise the Goddess. Praise the Goddess."

John didn't even have to look up. He knew what had happened and who would be there.

"Crichton. You are despicable. She's old enough to be your frelling grandmother." Aeryn Sun turned on her heel and walked away.

John managed to pry the old lady off of him and tossed her some currency. Then he took off after Aeryn. Surprisingly, he caught sight of her walking slowly along on the other side of a large square. John raced through the crowd, pushing people aside, yelling apologies, but always keeping the slender, black clad, raven haired Sebacean in sight. Finally he caught up with her and grabbed her arm, spinning her around.

"Dammit, I love you."

He was rewarded with a brilliant smile that reached almost all the way to the woman's yellow eyes.

" Well, 'course, ya do, love. But ya have to square it with Lopo over there. He's ma man, ya know."

"Frell," was all John Crichton could think of to say.

"Sure 'nuff, love. Soon's you square it with Lopo."

A hulking brute that seemed to be descended from a long line of lobsters approached, clicking his enormous claws together.

John smiled at the two. "Look, there's been a mistake, here. I didn't intend for this to happen. I mean not a business deal. You see, I was looking for a black clad, dark haired...."

Lopo interrupted him. "Oh, and you thought you'd get some for free because you're a Peacekeeper? Thought you'd cheat a poor working man, eh?"

"Working man?" John knew he'd said the wrong thing as soon as the words wee out of his mouth. He leaped back just in time to keep a claw from taking off his head. The only thing that saved John from the second claw was that Lopo never tried a second, backing off and expecting John to draw on him. John decided against bluffing with a malfunctioning Wynona and took off, seeking shelter in a restaurant.

Lopo and his girl ran after him, but stopped at the door, concerned about the number of potential witnesses to mayhem. Lopo growled at John. "Frelling Peacekeeper. Think you can just take a woman any time you frelling want."

"He certainly does. You wouldn't believe how many he's had in such a short time. I hope you've kept track, Crichton. You may have set some sort of record."

John turned. There was Aeryn Sun was sitting at a table just starting dinner. "Aeryn. Am I ever glad to see you. Look, we need to talk. You see..."

Aeryn cut him off. "Talking leads to kissing as I recall. But in your case, it appears that everything leads to kissing and much, much more. Please leave." Aeryn tried to ignore John and go back to her meal.

Before John could reply, another voice interrupted him.

"Is this being bothering you, ma'am?"

John was confronted by a tall, skinny mottled blue being who was apparently the head waiter.

"Bug off, Alphonse. I'm talking to the lady."

"No you're not, Crichton. I have no interest in the Universe in talking to you."

Lopo, seeing that things were turning against the male Peacekeeper, started edging through the door.

"Aeryn, please. We have to...."

"We have to do nothing, Crichton. Leave. Now."

John saw some movement out of the corner of his eye and turned back to the waiter, pushing out with one hand. To his shock he found he had a handful of a very large, purple female breast.

"You pervert!" screamed the waitress, delivering a slap that sent John to the floor. It took John a microt to decide that ducking out the back door was his best option. He was mildly surprised to find the restaurant had one and he escaped. For now.

John wandered around the market place wondering how he was ever going to explain this to Aeryn. Nothing came to mind.

He was so preoccupied he almost ran into a group from the mob that had chased him into the inn and into his trouble with Sefia earlier that day. Three mob members we easily recognizable by their bruises and bandages. There were a dozen more reinforcements armed with clubs and knives asking shopkeepers very pointed questions about the whereabouts of a male Peacekeeper. John faded back into the shadows and slunk away.

A quarter of an arn later, he sat down on a curb and took out Wynona.

"Okay, girl. Let's see what's wrong with you. Can you say "aah?"

"If she could, I'd be amazed, Peacekeeper."

John jumped up, and looked over the new arrival. She was definitely young, beautiful and female. John had an instant premonition of disaster. She wore red skirt slit from her ankles to the top of her thighs and a black tank top. Her hair was an alternating checkerboard of black and red.

"Look, lady, I'm not looking for any trouble. I just need a little time to repair Wynona here. Okay?"

The woman smiled. A warm friendly smile. John could feel a fiasco coming. "You name your weapon? That is unusual for a Peacekeeper."

"I'm an unusual ex-Peacekeeper. I just need a little time here."

"Well, Unusual Ex-Peacekeeper, you need either a lot of time or an expert. And I'm just who you need."

"You're a weapons expert? In that get up?"

Luckily the woman took that as a challenge and not an insult. "My father is Wedzy the Gunsmith. I'm Calla. My father is not in our shop, but I assure you I can repair your weapon."

John looked around. It was starting to get dark. A working Wynona would be a godsend getting back to the transport pod through a darkened city. After a microt's thought, John holstered Wynona and followed the woman into her shop.

Inside, she expertly field stripped Wynona and put the parts out on a counter. "Here's your problem. A worn main piston assembly."

John picked up the part and examined it. "Looks okay to me."

"Of course it looks okay to you. And, it doesn't work does it?" She started rummaging in a drawer.

From across the street, Aeryn Sun had watched the woman approach John and entice him into her establishment. What Crichton did was his business and certainly none of Aeryn's, but it was her duty to protect all the members of Moya's crew. Only the Goddess knew what trouble Crichton might be getting into with that woman. If she could protect Rygel, she should be able to protect even Crichton. She silently crossed the street and took up a position just outside the door where she could hear, but not see what happened inside.

"Are you sure you know what you're doing here?" Aeryn heard John say.

The woman laughed. "I may not be an expert on Peacekeepers, but I think your equipment is pretty much like everyone else's."

She took out a new main piston assembly and slid it into Wynona. "See, nothing to it. It slides in and slides out. In and out. In and out. You try it."

John took his pistol and slid the new assembly in and out. "Yeah. In and out. Nothing to it. How much do I owe you?"

"You're certain you're satisfied?" The woman laughed slightly.

Aeryn turned and ran down the street and turned sharply into an alley. She didn't notice John when he walked past whistling happily as the sun set.

With a newly functional Wynona riding on his hip, John had no fears of running into the mob that had chased him earlier that day. Of course, he came to a small square and found a dozen mob members waiting for him.

"Peacekeeper! The Goddess did answer our prayers." They started towards John and then stopped as John pulled out Wynona.

The leader grinned at John. "It didn't work last time, Peacekeeper. We have no fear of you now."

John aimed over their heads and pulled the trigger. Wynona fired, but the new piston jammed in the open position and the entire chakon oil cartridge fired in one gigantic burst.

A house in Wynona's way burst into flames. Lights started coming on in the neighborhood and people poured out of their houses to see what, or who, had set a house on fire.

John holstered Wynona and ran for his life before anyone else could react. For once, luck was with him. He dodged into an empty market stall and the mob, angry homeowners and assorted layabouts roared past him and into the night.

"Don't even think about it, Peacekeeper. You'd never draw your weapon in time."

John turned and faced a young woman. With dark hair and eyes, she could have been Sebacean or even human. She wore a long black dress, a white long sleeved blouse and a shawl around her head. The illusion of being human died when she opened her mouth and showed her fangs.

John dropped his hand to Wynona.

"I'm a govan, Peacekeeper, a vampire to you. One move and I'll suck out all your blood and leave you as my slave for eternity. Cross me, and you die a more horrible death than your Living Death."

John took his hand off of Wynona and smiled. "Nice try, lady, but I've met govans before. (A Passage of Arms) You have no magic powers and your teeth were evolved to suck the juice out of plants. You're a vegetarian vampire. Now be a good little girl and scoot."

The woman stared at John for a few microts. She pushed the shawl off of her head and lowered her head. "Please shoot me in the head, Peacekeeper. I have money, you can take it from my corpse in return for a quick, clean death."

She stood there waiting while John tried to figure out what he had gotten into this time. Finally she raised her head and stared at John.

"I have no more money Peacekeeper. Those in the mob will swarm over me and kill me. You'll get no currency from them. Kill me and be quick about it."

John leaned back against a wall. "Okay, I know there's a good explanation for this, but I'm just too frelling tired to think of it. Your turn, Pandora."

The woman took a step closer to John and stared hard at him, as if trying to solve a remarkably complex puzzle. John had seen that look before.

"I'm a govan. Everyone in the Uncharted Territories thinks we're monsters who dabble in the Deathly Arts and commit foul perversions on any unlucky enough to fall into our hands. Here, since our supposed powers are at their height at night, we can only walk abroad in daylight, when the sun burns our skin and blinds our eyes. To be abroad at night is death for us. I'm a healer and needed medicine for a patient. I tried too hard to get the medications and now will pay for my error with my life. Surely you know the government will pay a bounty for my head. I have some currency to pay for a clean death, so shoot Peacekeeper. You'll get no better offer." She put her head down again and calmly waited for death.

"Don't call me Shirley." John mumbled. Both stood stock still and waited for something to happen. Nothing did.

Finally John spoke. "Lady, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not in a killing mood. I won't be any time soon, either. Just take off and go home."

She snorted. "Go home. Did you somehow miss the howling mob that passed here? How am I to get home without them tearing me apart?"

John walked to the other side of the market stall and stuck his head out. He walked down a short alley and found a well-lit square filled with late night diners and drinkers. He walked back to the stall.

"Okay, just walk out the back and take off. Not a mob in sight."

She rolled her eyes. "No, no mob, just the fine people of this planet who caused the laws against us to be issued. Doubtlessly a member of the Watch is there as well, wondering if a small bounty will come his way tonight. Looking for a woman wearing a long black skirt, a white blouse and a black shawl. No one but govans dress so. You are the most foolish Peacekeeper I have ever heard of."

John thought for a few microts. "What's your name?"

"Sillissi. Yours?"

"John Crichton. Trust me, I have a plan. How far is it to your home, the 'hood or whatever you call it?"

Sillissi pointed to the lights. "Across the square and then down a street and then into an alley. We have an entrance there."

"It's underground, then?"

She nodded.

"Okay, Sillissi. Stay right here while I go shopping." Off he went.

John came back to the stall with a handful of large, brightly colored shawls.

"Okay, Sillissi, are you wearing any underwear?" He shuddered as soon as he realized what he'd said.

"Wait! I didn't mean that the way it sounded."

Sillissi had sighed and started to undress. Now she stopped.

"Look, Sillissi. Take off your skirt. I'll carry it all folded up. If anyone notices they'll think it's just some more black Peacekeeper clothing. Fold a shawl into a triangle and tie it over one hip. Put another shawl on the other hip. Put one shawl over your blouse, and one over your head. Keep your mouth closed and you'll look enough like a Sebacean woman to fool anyone who'll want to check a nasty old Peacekeeper and his date closely. I can turn around if you want. I won't peek."

Sillissi started taking off her skirt. "Unnecessary, Peacekeeper." She was wearing what looked suspiciously like a pair of Calvins. John wondered if he had started a fashion trend in the Uncharted Territories.

A few microts later, a Peacekeeper and his trelk stepped out into the crowded square, attracting no attention. Sillissi kept her mouth firmly closed and had one arm clutching on to John. But the other wandered all over John while she giggled.

John scanned the crowd for trouble and found it in a pair of cold, angry blue eyes. John quickly decided against bringing Aeryn in on his problem. As mad as she was at him, she'd probably do nothing but call attention to John and the govan. Regretfully, John walked on by Aeryn. He didn't see the anger turn to sadness in Aeryn's eyes.

In no time at all, they were through the square and down the street. John looked carefully around and then they ducked into the alley.

"Whew, safe at last." John smiled.

"Not yet, Peacekeeper. You will be safe as soon as I kill the govan."

John could see a huge shape at the end of the alley. He drew Wynona.

"Vamoose, pal. You aren't killing anyone."

A surprisingly high pitched giggle came from the killer.

"Your weapon is useless. I saw it fire a cartridge all at once. Your main piston will be firmly jammed in the open position now. If you had loaded another chakon oil cartridge, you'd overload the chamber and blow yourself up."

"You think you're so damned smart, don't you." John tried to think of something to keep him occupied and keep the govan alive. Nothing was coming to mind.

The killer giggled again. "I'm a professional, Peacekeeper. It's my job to be smart."

A blur flashed past John's eyes and struck the killer's head with a nasty thunk. He toppled over soundlessly. From above him John heard a lower pitched giggle.

"It's not my job to be smart, not-Peacekeeper. I accidentally dropped a roof tile on that being. I am a very foolish vorlag, am I not?"

John waved to his new friend and continued down the alley. In microts, John and Sillissi were safe under ground.

Sillissi led John out into a large underground chamber where her people were gathered. John created quite a stir, and from the sound of it, none of it was favorable. He found himself surrounded by govans.

An elderly govan woman hobbled over to stare at John and Sillissi. "A Peacekeeper? You allowed a Peacekeeper to force you to bring him here? Are you mad, girl? You should have died first."

Sillissi explained what had happened. Nobody looked like they were buying any, John thought, but no one wanted to call Sillissi a liar, either.

The old govan woman looked John up and down. "A kindly, helpful Peacekeeper? What's your game, Peacekeeper? If you hope to leave here alive, tell me."

"Game? Baseball! A new Peacekeeper league. We believe in a level playing field, with no Astro Turf. We have never accepted the designated hitter and never will. We think bats that aren't made of wood are an abomination. And ball park beer shouldn't cost as much as a payment for your car. Argue all you want. I'm outta here."

John started to walk in what he hoped was the direction of the exit.

Sillissi put a hand on his arm. "Peacekeeper, you'd never find your way to the surface without a guide and no one will go up after dark. Too many people know where the entrances to our home are and hang around hoping to catch an unwary govan. Follow me."

In a few microts John found himself in a comfortably furnished home that almost reminded him of Earth. Sillissi pointed him to a bed and he gratefully fell on it. Then he noticed Sillissi was starting to undress.

"Sillissi, what are you doing?" Not that he didn't have a pretty good idea.

"The least I can do for you is recreate with you." Sillissi had her blouse off and was starting on the first of her shawls.

John sat up. "Sillissi, that's not necessary. As a matter of fact it's a bad idea. I am a very unusual Peacekeeper. Unique, I think I've been called. I have a girl friend. Her name is Aeryn and I love her very much. And I won't recreate with anyone but her." John continued under his breath. "And damn little of that."

Sillissi stood for a moment and then started putting her blouse back on. "Really, if you don't want to recreate with me, just say so. You don't have to make up some silly lie."

She left and John leaned back on the bed. "I am good with women. Really I am. I'm just in a little slump."

Unknown to John, Aeryn Sun and three of his friends were busily trying to find him. Aeryn and D'Argo stood outside the main entrance to the govan ghetto, interrogating a member of the Watch. Jool stood by trying to look like she knew how to use the pulse rifle she held and Chiana stared into the tunnel-like entrance to the underground ghetto.

The Watchman was sweating heavily. He hated working with Peacekeepers. "Yes, Lady Peacekeeper. In addition to your sighting, a vorlag said he smelled a "not-Peacekeeper" and a govan pass by his abode. Always wondered about vorlags, myself. Too frelling easy in who they befriend. Vorlags have helped govans before this, I know. Can't prove it, but I frelling well know it. If it were up to me, I'd go see that vorlag.."

"And end up as vorlag dung." D'Argo finished.

Aeryn broke in to try to keep the conversation pointed in a useful direction. "You're positive when he comes out, it'll be from this entrance?"

The Watchman scratched his head. "They have other entrances, but they won't use 'em in daylight for fear of having 'em discovered. That is, if Officer Crichton comes out. That govan woman is probably doing unspeakable things to his body right now."

"And vice versa." Aeryn muttered. The Watchman shrugged and walked off.

Chiana appeared silently next to Aeryn. "Are you and John having some sort of trouble?"

Aeryn avoided Chiana's eyes. "I am perfectly capable of handling any problem with Crichton in a professional manner, Chiana."

"I just thought that if you needed any help, I might be able to suggest..."

Aeryn cut the Nabari off. " I said I don't need any help, Chiana."

Chiana shrugged and walked off. Aeryn silently congratulated herself on her professionalism in not shooting the little trelk.

John's friends settled down for a long night of waiting for something to happen.

As dawn was breaking, John saw his friends waiting at the tunnel entrance and ran to greet them, leaving Sillissi behind, momentarily.

"Am I ever glad to see you guys. You won't believe what happened last night."

"I'm sure we won't." Aeryn snorted. Then she turned to the Watchman. "Thank you for your assistance in recovering our lost crewman. It's time we left, I think." With that, she turned and headed for the spaceport.

"Aeryn, wait." Before John could take a step, Sillissi threw her arms around his neck and kissed him.

"That's for last night, John. I'll never forget you."

John muttered a few indistinct "thank yous" and then ran after Aeryn.

"Aeryn. I can explain. Really, I can. You just have to give me a chance."

Aeryn stopped. Keeping her eyes carefully focused on her boots, she spoke quietly to John. "I'm glad you can explain. Now I sincerely hope you can find someone who wants to listen to your frelling explanations, since I don't. Now if you will excuse me, I have a lot of work to do when we get back aboard Moya."

Aeryn walked on leaving John staring at her.

John followed her at a distance back to the spaceport. He figured it would be best to give Aeryn a chance to cool down. To cool way down.

Aeryn reached their transport pod first and opened the cargo hatch, standing in it and waiting for the rest of the crew.

Then John Crichton saw disaster heading his way. Three beautiful Sebacean women, with gorgeous blue eyes and long, dark hair came out of a passageway and headed straight for him. They were laughing and smiling, and worse, wearing short, filmy dresses. John knew that somehow their clothing would come adrift just as they reached him, they would fall on top of him accidentally, but in the most compromising of positions. They'd probably all think he was some long lost boyfriend, too. John closed his eyes and waited for the catastrophe to occur. After a few microts he couldn't stand the tension and opened his eyes again. The three Sebacean women had passed him and were still fully clothed and upright. Aeryn had disappeared into the pod.

John smiled. Maybe his luck was changing. He entered the transport pod.

"Aeryn. Let me co-pilot. You really have to let me explain."

"Crichton, D'Argo is the co-pilot." Aeryn yelled back from the cockpit. "You need to make sure our new transformer doesn't shift position."

So, D'Argo rode back up to Moya sitting next to Aeryn and John sat with a large, lumpy piece of machinery that didn't shift position, but did manage to leak several sticky and odiferous fluids on him.

Back on Moya, Aeryn came back to the cargo area of the pod and began unlashing the new transformer and discussing with Pilot how it should be installed. She pointedly ignored John.

"Um, I think I need a bath to get this goo off of me. I'll see everybody later, okay?" The only "everybody" John wanted to hear from ignored him as he headed for his quarters.

No sooner was John gone than Aeryn's sharp eyes caught sight of Jool's pulse rifle. "Jool, what the frell happened to your weapon."

The Interion looked down at her weapon wondering what the frell the ex-Peacekeeper had found to complain about now. "What?"

Aeryn walked over and grabbed her pulse rifle. "It's covered with frelling red, curly hair. "

"So, I shed. And it isn't covered with hair. There aren't more than twenty-five on it, thirty at the most."

Aeryn glared at Jool. "Well, any one of those hairs could jam the weapon and make it useless. Field strip your weapon and make sure it's functional."

"Field strip?" Jool asked.

Aeryn started to field strip the pulse rifle. "With all of your education, you'd think you'd be able to do something around here."

Jool felt insulted. "Look, I may have frelled up and panicked when John had to help me in the shower, but I think I did pretty well down on the planet for someone with no combat training. I mean at least I looked..."

"What do you mean, panicked and John had to help you in the shower." Aeryn interrupted.

Jool hadn't quite figured out the relationship between the ex-Peacekeeper and the human, but she had a good idea they were more than just shipmates. "Well, nothing happened. Some tentacle just accidentally grew into my shower stall and groped me when I went to take a shower. I screamed and John came. He and Pilot took care of it. If you don't believe me, just ask Pilot."

Aeryn finished re-assembling the weapon and handed it back to Jool. "Now put that back in the armory and don't let any hair get on it in the mean time."

Jool thankfully headed for the armory and Aeryn headed for a clamshell to contact Pilot.

"Pilot, did anything happen in Jool's quarters just before we arrived at the last commerce planet?"

Pilot's face appeared in the clamshell. "There was a minor problem, but I didn't think it was necessary to advise the entire crew. A tentacle from a waste disposal chute grew into Jool's shower. Commander Crichton and a DRD managed to sort out the problem. I have a recording if you wish to see."

Aeryn nodded and Pilot played a recording of John helping Jool rid her shower of an unwanted tentacle. Aeryn couldn't help but smile at how fast John turned away when Jool handed him her towel.

When it was over, Pilot's face re-appeared on the clamshell. "I'm sorry if this has caused further problems, Officer Sun. What exactly is the matter? I can have a full crew of DRDs on hand where ever the problem is."

"No, Pilot. I'm afraid I made a mistake. I saw Jool running around in her quarters with no clothes on and heard some things that made me believe that John and Jool had, er, recreated together. There have been a few other things that lead me to believe he's recreated with other women."

Pilot stared at Aeryn. "I don't pretend to fully understand your relationship with Commander Crichton, but I don't believe that he would ever do anything to hurt you. And he would know how much recreating with another would hurt you. What did he say when you asked for an explanation?"

Aeryn stared at her feet. "I refused to listen to his explanation. I was too angry. And too hurt."

"Well, I think you should ask Commander Crichton about this at once, Officer Sun."

John peeked into the central chamber. Everyone had used their time on the planet to buy delicacies that reminded them of home. Everybody but John Crichton. They had all finished their meals and gone about their business. John slipped into the central chamber and grabbed some crackers and what he hoped was a dark brown form of cheese.

He heard Aeryn clear her throat behind him. She had a tray of Sebacean food and a drink bottle.

"Hi, Aeryn. Look, I can leave if you'd rather eat alone."

Aeryn shook her head. "I thought you had recreated with Jool in her quarters just before we got to the last planet. But Pilot showed me the records of what happened. I owe you an apology for that."

John breathed a sigh of relief. "Aeryn, I never had sex with any of those women. Please, just give me a chance to explain.

Aeryn stared at him. "You can explain everything? From you and Chiana under that tub to the govan woman?'

John smiled and leaned back. "My problems all began when I fell hopelessly in love with a beautiful, stubborn, courageous, obstinate, compassionate, obdurate and did I mention absolutely gorgeous ex-Peacekeeper. After not frelling Jool, I was walking around, minding my own business, when I heard Chiana crying for help. Being a good guy....."

Aeryn Sun raised her drink bottle to her lips to hide her smile.


"It was a dark and stormy night......"

"No, no, that's not right."
"I know, "Call me Ishmael."
"No, still not right.
"Ah. I know..."
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
"Oh, hello. It's me, Larry the razor tooth vorlag. I'm busy writing a new fanfic with my friend UCSBdad. We had so much fun writing the last one. I just can't wait. "
"Let's see now, "To be or not to be. That is the question?"