Noble Truths

By A. J. Matthews
Copyright 1999

Author's Note:
Don't steal this - o.k.? This is fanfic. I don't own any of these characters or anything else here, certainly not Angulimala. Feedback is greatly appreciated.

Rated: PG

Spoilers for "Rhapsody in Blue" & "That Old Black Magic"

Archiving: If you want it, just ask me.

It was late into what passed for night on Moya. John Crichton lay in his bed, his head aching, unable to sleep. The events that had transpired that day on "the New Moon of Delvia" had taken a lot out of him, but nowhere near as much as they had taken out of Zhaan.

I should never have gone along with her 'union' with that bitch Tahleen. But how was I to know she could rob Zhaan of something she didn't want to freely give? Zhaan, Zhaan, why didn't you tell me that could happen? I'd have dragged you back to the transport kicking and screaming! Or didn't you know either...

John's thoughts were interrupted by a soft knock on the door to his chamber. Looking up he saw Zhaan's silhouette outlined by the lights in the corridor.

"I sensed you were awake, John. I was unable to sleep either. May I come in?"

"Yeah, just a second," he said pulling on a shirt before he turned on a light. He motioned for Zhaan to sit on what passed for his only chair.

"John, I just wanted to thank you again for saving me today. You put yourself at terrible risk on my behalf. I feel I owe you a great debt that I don't know how I'll ever be able to repay."

"Hey, look, you don't owe me anything. I'm not keeping score here. Besides, you saved me from Maldis, remember? And at a pretty steep cost to yourself... Consider us even if that will make you feel any better."

John paused for a moment and then added, "I only wish I had stopped you earlier."

"There was nothing more you could have done. I was a victim of my own misplaced trust and blind hopes."

"There is one thing I'd like to know, though. Why did you choose me to help you make your decision about the union?"

"None of the others have the open mind about Delvians or the Seek that you do. You heard D'Argo's and Aeyrn's opinions for yourself... I also know you are a caring, thoughtful, moral person."

"That's probably the nicest thing anyone's said to me since I got here."

She smiled and nodded her head slightly to one side. "Then I should have said it long ago."

"I wasn't really frightened of uniting with you, you know. I trusted you to look after me and you did. What really scared me was when you questioned your ability to pull yourself away from the insanity again."

"Even now I don't know if I have the strength to succeed in the long term, John. I don't know if the tear has been properly mended or merely poorly patched."

"And that frightens you."

"Very much."

"I don't blame you. It would terrify anyone. Is there anything we can do to help you?"

"I don't know."

"Well, I do know that you've got a group of people here who care about you. Who are here for you if you need us. Who will do for you whatever we can and maybe even some things we can't. Before, the first time you saved yourself from the insanity, you were on your own. Just remember it's different this time."

"Were you Delvian I would say your heart would make you a wonderful Pa'u."

John laughed, "No, I don't think I'm made of the right stuff for that sort of thing."

"I was a savage before I joined the Seek. Your standing is already much higher than that."

Her words sparked a memory for John.

"Can I tell you a story?"

"A story?" Zhaan asked, somewhat surprised.

"Yeah. It's from one of Earth's religions. A friend of mine who belongs to it told it to me once. I think you'd appreciate it right now."

"Very well. I believe your expression is 'I'm all ears.'"

John smiled. "This story took place over 2000 cycles ago in a place called India. It's about a guy named Angulimala. He liked to rob and kill people traveling on the roads between villages. He was what we humans nowadays call a serial killer. He even wore a necklace made out his victims' fingers."

"How lovely."

"Yeah, I know. Anyway, one day this guy happened upon one of Earth's great spiritual teachers as he was out walking. He was awestruck with this man's serenity and compassion. The teacher told him to give up his killing and follow his teaching, but Angulimala answered that he had gone too far down the path of savagery to turn back."

"What did this teacher tell him?"

"He told him to simply put down his hatred and to begin anew by vowing to serve others."

"And did he?"

"In the end he became this teacher's most devoted adherent to non-violence and gentleness."

Zhaan considered this for a moment. "That was quite a story, John. Tell me, what was this teacher's name."

"He's called the Buddha."

"What was the core of his teaching?"

"Hmmm... If I remember correctly, my friend told me that his basic teaching consisted of things called the Noble Truths."

"Do you recall what they are?"

John searched his memory. "I think the first one is that life is characterized by suffering."

"I'm sorry, John, but that doesn't strike me as a very inspiring message."

"Yeah, but the only other Truth I remember is that you can free yourself from suffering."

Zhaan smiled. "It is good to be reminded that one has friends to draw strength from and that redemption is available to us all." She rose to leave. "Thank you, John. Your words tonight have been a great comfort to me."

"No charge, ma'am. Stop back again anytime and be sure to tell all your friends."

After she left John looked under his bed at the box he had put Zhaan's Pa'u robes in.

When she's ready she'll be glad these weren't left behind.

He turned off the light and finally was able to get to sleep.