Old Soldier

By Aon Scail
Copyright 2000

DISCLAIMER AND OWNERSHIP NOTES: "Farscape" and its characters are owned by TPTB. I intend to reap no monetary reward for this fan fic. It's just for fun. I'm just borrowing the characters and I promise to return them when I'm done.

Copyright 2000 by James Marshall
RATING: G
ARCHIVING: If you want this, please ask and I'll send you my permission. Kitsah, of course, has permission to archive (on her site) anything of mine that she wants.
BETA-READERS: none (you've been warned)
SPOILERS: just a few bits, nothing major
NOTES: Just a quick little story I wrote, set in the unknown future.

Aeryn moved slowly through Moya's passageways. There was little to do, but she had begun these nightly "patrols" too many years ago to stop, even now that she was alone on the Leviathan. Too many years ....

"Why do you do it, Aeryn?"

She turned at the sound of his voice. She had thought he was asleep. "Do what?"

"Every night, you prowl around Moya like an old soldier, like you're on guard duty or something, even though you're not in the army any more."

"In a way, I am."

"But there's no need for it. Pilot would tell us if there were something wrong. The DRDs never sleep. So why?" When she hesitated, he added, "Talk to me."

It seemed he was *always* talking ... to them ... at them ... at the universe in general ... into that small box. She had so often wanted to scream at him to shut up. Now, she would give almost anything to hear his voice again.

She paused by the room that had been his, back before they had shared their living quarters. None of his things were there, of course. It was here, though, that she could most clearly remember his voice, with the forever-odd accent as interpreted by the translator microbes, and the phrases that defied translation. This was where he would talk into the recording device, making messages for his father and his friend, never daring to admit to himself that they would probably never be delivered. He'd even tried to get her to leave a message for her own father, that one time.

Standing outside his old quarters, she knew that it was when he talked into that small grayish box that he let his guard down ... and it was at those times, when she was within earshot but unseen, that she learned the most about the human.

"... and that's Aeryn for you ... and my infamous luck with women," he said. "It turns out that I remind her a lot of the first man she ever loved. No wonder she seems hot and cold with me. I mean, here I am, the 'deficient' species by their standards, but saving their lives, but I remind her of a Sebacean she loved, but we *do* share something of our own ... I think. I don't know, Dad. I wish I could ask you about when you met Mom, when you knew that she was the one you wanted to spend the rest of your life with. I ...."

A voice from his comm badge interrupted him. "John Crichton."

He turned off the recorder. "Yeah, Pilot?"

"There appears to be a problem with the secondary scanning system you were ... examining ... earlier. I would appreciate it if you would assist me and the DRDs in restoring the system to its original configuration."

John sighed, then grinned. "I *knew* that I shouldn't have had any pieces left over when I finished putting it back together." He put away his recorder and headed for the door.

"What?!"

"*Kidding*, Pilot. Kidding. It was just a joke. I'll go take a look." He paused a moment and looked down the passageway before shaking his head, turning and heading for Command.

He'd almost caught her that time, Aeryn mused as she moved away, continuing her patrol. Just before she rounded the corner, though, she saw a familiar DRD roll to a stop outside those same quarters, faded blue "electrical tape" around one of its eyestalks. Unable to help herself, she smiled, remembering.

"John?"

"Yeah, Aeryn?"

"Why is that DRD always hanging around our quarters?"

"What? Oh, him. That's just Rover."

"*Rover*?"

"Yeah," he replied, a little sheepishly. "When I first arrived here, it was the DRD I accidentally damaged with the canopy of my module. After we got away from the PeaceKeepers, I fixed the damaged eyestalk with the roll of electrical tape in my onboard repair kit."

"You can tell me what 'electrical tape' is, later. Why is that DRD *here*?"

"I'm not entirely sure. It tends to hang around me when it's not doing its scheduled repair work. Kinda like a hunting dog that hangs around its owner even when it's not hunting. Pilot says he's never seen this kind of attachment in a DRD before, although they're about as close to Artificial Intelligence as you can get without being truly intelligent." At Aeryn's look, he warned, "No jokes."

"Did I say anything?" she asked, smiling.

He smiled back. "No, but you were gonna. Anyway, I could've called it Cyclops, or Pirate or Old Blue, but I figured I'd just call it Rover, since that's what it does all day ... roves around the ship, doing its job."

"But why is it *here*?"

He shrugged. "I guess it likes me." He walked over and put his arms around her. "But not the way *you* like me."

Their exchange quickly became more nonverbal, until Aeryn said, "Not until you send 'Rover' away. I don't like that way it keeps ... watching us."

John laughed as he went to have a "talk" with the DRD.

Aeryn paused and adjusted her ponytail. Her once-raven hair was now steely gray and the years had etched themselves on her face ... so much pain ... and joy ... and just plain *time*. So many years ... so much had happened. She remembered the last time she'd seen him, promising to be back soon ... a simple supply run to yet another uncharted planet, deep in the Territories. They had lost Chiana years earlier on another "simple run" and Rygel had finally been killed by his greed, having tried to swindle the wrong alien. D'Argo had made contact with a Luxan patrol that was also lost in the Uncharted Territories and, after much debate, had elected to join them rather than stay with Moya. Aeryn had wanted to go with John and Zhaan, but the world was too hot for her to survive more than a few arns, and they would need at least a few days to acquire everything they needed.

And now she was alone on Moya, with only Pilot for company. And shared DNA or no shared DNA, there was only so much she and Pilot could talk about.

"Aeryn," Pilot's voice came over her comm badge. "Report to the docking bay immediately."

Her hand reflexively going to the sidearm she'd worn her entire life, she moved briskly toward the bay. "On my way, Pilot. Make sure everything is secure."

"John!"

"Aeryn!"

They embraced and their kiss was long and passionate. Age and time had not dimmed their love for each other, only deepened and strengthened it. "Miss me?" he asked, smiling. "I was only gone for a week."

"It seemed like ... forever."