Author's Notes: This story is set sometime after Home on the Remains and contains spoilers for both the first and second seasons, especially Crackers Don't Matter. Of course, all the characters in here belong to the SciFi Channel and Henson Studios. If anyone else would like to archive this, please e-mail me for permission. Feedback is very welcome.
Cold. So damn cold.
"Crichton. Can you hear me? Please respond."
John blinked his eyes furiously as the starfield blurred. He felt like hell. That is, if hell was cold. He was shivering and his body felt like it had been through a steam press.
The voice finally registered. John swallowed and winced at the sudden pain. His throat couldn't have been more raw if it had been scoured with a Brillo pad. He flipped his com switch.
"I'm here, Pilot."
"Commander. Your course is rather erratic. Is something wrong?"
"Nope, but I seem to have picked up..." A coughing fit seized him. He wanted to curl up in a ball until it passed, but there was the small problem of piloting his module to consider. He struggled to suppress the coughs and keep a straight course. It didn't help matters any that the universe decided to start spinning. At this rate, he'd more likely dock with a nearby asteroid instead of Moya. As the spasm slacked off, he struggled to speak. This time, his throat was on fire.
"Pilot," he croaked. "I'm in...bad shape. Can you..." the rest was cut off by another spate of coughing.
"Engaging docking field now, Commander." Pilot's voice was full of concern. "I'll have Zhaan meet you in the docking bay."
"Thanks, Pi...*cough-cough-cough*" He felt the docking field grip his module, so, this time, John did curl up as much as possible to splint his abused chest muscles with his arms. His head throbbed, his body ached and it was so, so cold.
Aeryn sprinted through Moya's corridors toward the maintenance bay. "D'Argo! What's going on?" she asked as the Luxan joined her at a junction.
"I have no idea," he responded. "Pilot just said that there's something wrong with Crichton."
"Frell! I knew we shouldn't have let him go down to that planet alone."
"Always looking for modifications for that module of his. We should have scrapped the thing long ago."
The pair slowed as they entered the maintenance bay. Zhaan was already waiting at the doors. "Status, Pilot?" she asked.
"I'm bringing him in now. He's...stopped responding to comms."
"Goddess protect him."
"Zhaan." Aeryn said grabbed her arm. "What happened to Crichton?"
"He seems to have contracted an illness while on the planet."
"But...we found those inoculations in the storage locker. He's had all of them. How could he get sick?"
The Delvian shook her head and went back to checking her equipment. "He's not Sebacean. Perhaps they didn't confer full immunity. Or perhaps this is a new disease not covered by the inoculations."
"Yotz!! A new disease?!" Rygel had come to see what the fuss was about and had caught the last. "Don't let him in here! He'll infect us all!"
"Shut up, your Lowness," D'Argo growled.
"Do you want to get killed?!"
"If you don't shut up, I'll rip your earbrows off and feed them to you!"
Rygel looked at him with outrage and turned his throne around. "I'll be on the opposite side of Moya, if you don't mind," he said over his shoulder as he floated out the door. "And anyone with sense will join me."
Aeryn watched his retreating back with unconcealed contempt. "I'd rather court the Gresnach Plague."
"Rygel does have a point," Zhaan said thoughtfully. "Perhaps we should take precautions. I'm in the least risk. Delvians do not get the same diseases as animal life. You could isolate the two of us in here."
Aeryn chewed her lower lip for a second. "Pilot, can you isolate this room to use as quarantine?"
Pilot's image in the monitor shook its head. "I'm afraid not, Officer Sun. Moya's live support systems are interconnected. I can cut off life support to that room, but I believe that would not be suitable for your purposes."
"That answers that question," D'Argo said grimly. "Looks like we take the risk together."
"Opening bay doors now."
The three rushed through the doors as soon as there was room to pass. Crichton's module was ominously quiet where it rested on the floor next to the Prowler.
"John!" Aeryn climbed up and looked through the canopy. The human was slumped motionless against the wall of the cockpit. She pounded on the glass. "John! Open up! We need to get you out!" She saw him move slightly, but he made no move toward the release. "Frell!!" Aeryn scrambled over the module looking for the emergency release. "D'Argo, get ready. If I don't find that frelling latch, you'll have to break this thing open."
D'Argo drew his Qualta blade. "When he finds out, we may just see what human hyper-rage is like."
"As long as he's alive to do it, D'Argo," Zhaan responded.
But the question of human hyper-rage would go unanswered as Aeryn found the release. As the canopy lifted, Zhaan practically dove for the unconscious human. "Khalaan bless! He's burning up! Help me get him to the infirmary."
Crais screamed at him just out of reach. His face melted into Scorpius, calmly smiling while PK Barbie turned up the setting on the Aurora Chair. No, it wasn't PK Barbie. It was Aeryn sitting on his chest yelling for his name and regiment. Her voice went squeaky as Rygel floated in, farting helium and dripping explosive sweat. The explosions grew till he saw the inferno of Gammak Base flaming in space.
Gammak Base abruptly flamed out and he was staring into the jump pit on the Clansmen's planet. He watched in horror as Chiana plummeted towards the bottom.
"John? Can you hear me?"
Chiana flew out of the pit to tackle him in the maintenance bay. Sprouts erupted on her face as it morphed into Zhaan's. Zhaan shook his shoulders and looked at him like he was the Blue Plate Special. He desperately fought back.
"John! Wake up!"
Zhaan's face was normal again, and she was looking at him with nothing but concern.
"Zhaan...where..." He doubled over with a coughing fit.
"You're in the infirmary, John. You picked up an illness from the planet."
"What d-d-do I have?" he asked through chattering teeth.
"We're trying to figure that out. Just lie still. How do you feel?"
Zhaan's lips pressed into a thin line. "Your body temperature is elevated, John. I have some medication that should bring it down, but I wasn't sure if I should. I know very little about your species. What should I do?"
The room started spinning, and he fought to stay focused. "How high? Wait... won't get your measurements." He tried to think, an act that was very difficult at that point. "If... zero degrees is the freezing point of water, and one hundred is boiling, where am I?"
Zhaan made some mental calculations. "Thirty-nine point five."
"Thank God for the Celsius scale," he chuckled which triggered another round of coughing. "Thirty-seven is normal. Between thirty-eight and forty...uncomfortable but not in danger. Above forty, bring it down fast. Much above that...brain damage."
"I'll remember. Do you think you can swallow that medicine?"
"And something else? I'm... *cough*... thirsty."
"Of course, John."
Zhaan gently supported him while he swallowed the bitter liquid and the cool juice that followed it. John smiled as she laid him back down. "Thanks, Blue. God! I hurt all over."
"Let the medicine work, John. Rest."
She gently stroked his hair as his eyes closed and he slipped into sleep. Only then did she allow her worry to show. She was working blind here with a patient whose physiology she knew little about and a disease about which she knew even less.
"No we don't have a complaint. It's just that the crewmember who saw you came back extremely sick. Is there anything going around down there?"
The being on the viewscreen bared his teeth in what he intended to be a friendly gesture. It was a rather unsettling thing for Chiana to watch seeing that the teeth in that scale-covered face were needle-sharp.
"I'm so glad you have no complaints about our service. Le'weric's Interstellar Parts has been providing excellent service to Trevilian colonies for the last three hundred cycles...."
"PLEASE!" Chiana cut him off before he could go on about his business again. Crichton had referred to Le'weric as a "velociraptor used-car salesman" before he headed to the planet. She could only assume that it meant "utterly annoying". "My friend was brought in unconscious. Could you frelling tell me what I need to know?!"
The Trevil blinked at her. "Well, nothing that I know of. However, the cyclic epidemic of Summer Fever usually starts around this time. Perhaps that's what he picked up."
Chiana sighed in relief. "Thank you, Le'weric. I'll be sure to recommend you to my friends."
"You're very welcome. While you're here, can I interest you in..."
Chiana cut the signal before he could go into another spiel. "Zhaan," she gleefully said into her communicator, "Crichton's got Trevil Summer Fever."
"That's frelling impossible!" Aeryn protested from her seat at the strategy table. "He had the inoculation for that with the rest."
"Not necessarily," said Pilot as his image appeared in the clamshell. "The serum was rather old, if I recall correctly."
"It was still good. Barely, but still within the date."
"Yes, but remember. Crichton is not Sebacean. An older serum which is adequate for your needs may not be able to induce immunity in him."
Aeryn sat silently while she considered this, then rested her head in her hands. "Now what do we do? What's the treatment?"
"I'm afraid there is none. Try to relieve the symptoms and... hope for the best."
"Pilot." Chiana's voice betrayed her fear. "Could he die from this?" Pilot's head bowed for a moment.
"I don't know. The records say that it usually only kills the very old and the very young. But that's data from Sebacean studies. With Crichton..."
Aeryn stared at the table. "Frell."
Smoke. Light. Glare that nearly blinded him even through the goggles he wore. John slashed at the power cables and dodged T'raltixx's blasts as the rage inside him continued to build.
"The liiiiiight! I need more liiiight!!! You cannot stop me, Crichton!"
He quickly converted the Qualta blade into its rifle mode and blasted T'raltixx off the wall.
"Go on! Kill me! But there are thousands more just like me. We will find another Leviathan to make our light! And when we do, we'll spread like a plague! We'll rise from our dormancy and kill you all!!!!"
"I told them it was a mistake bringing you on board!"
He didn't even bother converting the sword. He stabbed down into the helpless alien's gut and coldly twisted the blade.
He looked up, surprised.
"What the hell are you doing?!"
It was his father. His father looking at him with utter shock and horror. "You killed him. You didn't give him a chance!"
The light was suddenly gone, but his father was still there. John looked down. T'raltixx's corpse lay at his feet. The strange colored blood had somehow splashed up to coat his hands.
"Dad... I didn't have a choice... "
Jack Crichton looked down at the floor again. "You killed all of them!"
John followed his gaze. Larraq and Hassan. Their corpses also littered the ground, their dead eyes open in accusation. "Dad... it wasn't like that... " Blood was running down his hands and dripping to the floor in a steady rain.
"No," his father's voice now filled with disgust. "I didn't raise this. I didn't raise my son to be a killer!"
Panic filled John's heart. He violently rubbed his hands on his pants to get the blood off. "Dad, I'm not... .
"You're not my son! I don't know you! I don't know yoooouuuu!!!" His father's form faded into the shadows, leaving him with his victims and blood that would not come off.
"Dad! No! Come back!"
D'Argo started out of the doze he had fallen into. John was sitting bolt upright in his bed, his eyes wide open in panic.
"Dad! Please! I'm not like that! I had to." The human started to sob. "I had to."
D'Argo scrambled over to the bed, but John acted like he didn't see him. Tears fell down his face as he wiped desperately at his hands. D'Argo hit his comm. "Zhaan, you'd better get down here. Crichton's hallucinating."
"Try to keep him calm, D'Argo. I'm on my way."
The Luxan sighed and tried to get the human's attention.
"John," he said, quietly but insistantly. "John, what's wrong?"
The human finally seemed to see him. "It won't come off," he said in a helpless, childlike voice. He raised his hands to D'Argo. "I can't get the blood off."
"John, there's nothing there."
"Can't you see it?!"
D'Argo breathed a sigh of relief as Zhaan walked in with the medicine. "John, I want you to drink this. It will help."
They managed to coax the whole dose into John along with a cup of concentrated nutrients that they hoped would up keep his strength. But the helpless look on his friend's face as he drifted back to sleep cut him to the heart.
"I'm a killer. Because of this place... I'm a killer."
"Hezmana, I hope he recovers from this soon," the burly Luxan said. "You're a fighter, John, not a killer. Don't give up."
"Now where did I leave the ground Kalean spiceberry?"
"Well, don't you look domestic."
Rygel spun his throne around to see Chiana leaning against the door of the galley. The little Nebri looked quite amused. He collected his dignity around him like a robe.
"I'll have you know that cooking is a high and respected art in the Hynerian Empire. Any Dominar worth his throne is an expert in the culinary arts. We usually do not need to practice it, but I can cook a feast worthy of the gods."
The girl had the audacity to snicker. "At least this masterpiece isn't discoloring the walls with its fumes like the last one." She sniffed the air as she walked to the refrigeration unit. "In fact, it smells quite good."
Rygel turned back to the simmering pot. "What the yotz are you doing here, anyway?"
"Just getting a snack before taking my shift with Crichton."
"What the frell is taking so long with him? It's been over a solar day."
Chiana slammed the door of the compartment and glared at him. "Summer Fever isn't just the sniffles, Your Lordship. In case you haven't noticed, Crichton isn't from around here. What's just an inconvenience for us might be fatal for him."
Rygel looked down, cowed. "How is he doing?" he finally asked. Chiana snorted as she placed her food on the table, but relented at the look on his face.
"He's still delirious," she said between bites. "Temperature keeps going up and down, but the medicine is keeping it out of the danger level. The cough is still very bad. Zhaan's setting up some kind of humidifier to make breathing easier for him."
"Have you been able to get him to eat anything?"
Chiana regarded her last bite of food before answering. "Only liquids. He's just not coherent long enough to try solid food. He'd choke."
The Hynerian nodded and started ladling the stuff he was cooking into a carry jar. "In that case, take him some of this. I've made more than I can eat."
"What is that stuff anyway?"
"Er'krec soup. My nursemaid... " he cut himself off, but the Nebri's ears perked up.
"Your nursemaid what?"
"She used to make it for me... when I was sick."
"Rygel!" Chiana's face lit up with a delighted grin. "You really do care about him."
"The yotz I do!" He angrily thrust the jar into her hands. "I just want him well so he won't be such a frelling pain in the eema!"
Chiana chuckled. "Don't worry, Rygel. I won't tell anyone."
She got up but paused at the door. "Yet... "
"Why you... " She had already vanished down the corridor. "Annoying little tralk."
John swam out of confused dreams and immediately wished he hadn't. His whole body ached. Each breath brought knife-like pains under his ribs. Hot one minute, cold the next and he was so very thirsty. He carefully turned his head. Someone was sitting in the chair next to his bed. Someone with light hair. The face blurred before him and resolved into...
"Oh, God! Gilina."
Chiana looked over at him. "John?"
Tears once again streamed from those haunted, blue eyes. "Gilina, I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry."
Frell, she thought, he's seeing things again.
He seized her arm in a death grip. "Please forgive me."
What the yotz! I might as well...
Chiana knelt down by the bed and laid her free hand along his burning cheek. "What is it, John? What should I forgive you for?"
John's face twisted with anguish. "You risked everything for me. You gave everything... you died because you loved me! And... I couldn't give you what you wanted." His sobs sent him into another coughing fit. "Damn it, Gilina! When you were dying, I couldn't even pretend and make you feel better! I was too wrapped up in my own pain from that damned Chair!" He let go of her arm and reached up to touch her face. "God knows, I never meant to fall in love with Aeryn, and I never wanted to hurt you."
"Shhhh... " Chiana soothed him. "I knew, John. I knew all along. From the moment we met again at Gammak Base, I knew that you didn't love me. But I chose this, John. I chose to help you. I needed to do that as much as you needed my help."
Forgive me for putting words in your mouth, Gilina. It's all for a good cause.
Crichton sighed. "Why couldn't I love you? You certainly deserved it."
"Let it go, John. Let me go. Don't spoil your love for Aeryn with regrets about me. She certainly deserves love."
"She does, but... " his eyes closed and his voice thickened with weariness. "There may be ice-skating in hell before she returns mine."
Chiana leaned over and gently kissed his forehead. "She will, and soon. Rest now and stop trying to carry the blame for everything on your shoulders. The universe doesn't revolve around you. The rest of us are responsible for our own decisions."
"Really... think she will?" he murmured as he drifted off again.
Oh, yes, she will. That is, if I have anything to say about it.
Aeryn put down the writing stylet and rubbed her eyes. Pilot had plotted a course to the closest commerce planet, and she'd spent the last two days going through the inoculations in storage trying to see which ones Crichton might have to retake, provided he survived this illness. She had spent much of the time kicking herself for shortsightedness. She knew very well that his species was vastly different from her own even though they looked practically identical on the surface. Perhaps that was what lulled her into a false sense of security. She picked up the last ampoule and checked the date.
Another one that's too close, frell it! He's lucky he's made it this far.
She added Verecin Muscle Lock to the list and scowled at it. Five diseases ranging from the annoying to the fatal for which they must find inoculations. Well, there was nothing else she could do till they reached their destination. Chiana and Zhaan had the next couple of shifts watching John, and she was hungry. Aeryn put the supplies away and tucked the list into a pocket as she headed to the central chamber.
The ex-Peacekeeper rolled her eyes as the Nebri slinked down the corridor to her. "Chiana. I thought you were with Crichton."
"I was." There was that annoying smile again. "Zhaan just took over. I was headed to the central chamber to see if there was any of that soup Rygel made left."
"Knowing Rygel, I doubt it."
"Oh, well, there's other stuff." Her smile grew wider as Aeryn's stomach growled loud enough for her to hear. "And you need it. Come on."
Aeryn looked at her sharply. Chiana was up to something, space knew what. The Nebri cocked her head in that way that infuriated Aeryn. "Come on, Aeryn. I won't bite."
Aeryn rolled her eyes up to the ceiling and let out a heavy breath. "Alright, then."
There was no doubt about it. Chiana was up to something, but what? Aeryn kept looking sideways at her while they ate. The Nebri was toying with her food more than eating it, but she wasn't talking about anything serious. How could she just rattle about such petty things when John... She shoved that thought away.
"... and, oh! Guess what Rygel was doing earlier. That soup I was talking about. He was making it for John. Some kind of Hynerian folk remedy."
Now that was a surprise. "The little slug actually did something for someone other than himself? I'm surprised he didn't drop dead from the strain."
"I know." Chiana's grin was pure mischief now. "Who knows? It might actually work. John does seem to be doing better, by the way. With that humidifier going, his breathing's not as labored, even if it is like breathing in a swamp for the rest of us." She paused to toss a bit of fruit into the air and catch it in her mouth. "You know," she continued, "John has to be one of the most interesting males I've met in my... travels."
Aeryn turned her attention back to her food. "And I'm sure you have plenty to compare to."
"Of course I do, and I'm proud of it." She leaned back in her chair and stretched slowly. "But he's the first one who turned an offer for a friendly frell with me."
Aeryn was half out of her seat before she caught herself. Chiana just sat there grinning as she got a hold of herself. What was happening to her control?
"Didn't he tell you? Before he and D'Argo left to take care of Gammak Base, I... " There was that sly look again. "Well, I wanted to thank him. For helping me, you know?"
Aeryn got her dishes and carried them over to the cleaner just barely keeping her temper in check. "Is that the only way you can think of to thank a man?" she almost snarled. Chiana just kept grinning.
"Well, I've found that it's one of the more... appreciated... ways. Anyway, he turned me down. Very nicely, I might add, but he wouldn't have it." She looked at Aeryn from under half-closed eyelids. "It seems that he can only give himself were he's already given his heart. It wasn't to me. It wasn't even to Gilina."
Aeryn gripped the edge of the cabinet and stared out the window. If Chiana hadn't been between her and the door she'd already have left. But, she didn't want the Nebri to see what was on her face.
"And, when he does give his heart, he doesn't go half-way. Little things like impossible odds and certain death don't matter to him."
Frell, she's enjoying this, Aeryn seethed inwardly.
Chiana rose and walked up behind Aeryn, her head rolling around in that slow manner of hers. "You know, the woman he gives his heart to has got to be one of the most fortunate in the galaxy," she purred. "That is, if she realizes what she has."
Aeryn put all her attention into keeping her emotions out of her face, then turned around.
"This is really none of your business, Chiana."
"No, it isn't." She leaned against one of the chairs. "But when has that ever stopped me?"
"Well, if you'll excuse me, there are some things I need to take care of before my shift with Crichton."
"Of course, Aeryn," she said as she shifted to let Aeryn pass. "But, Aeryn, I'd be careful not to wait too long if I were you."
Aeryn resisted the urge to topple a few chairs as she left.
Dren! Where has my control gone? And why can't that chalk-faced twit leave me alone?
Aeryn looked up from her printout toward the bed. Three days and John's fever still burned. Three days of waiting till he was somewhat awake to try to get medicine and fluids down his throat. Three days of listening to him moan and sometimes shout in his delirium. Three days of being worried sick.
Frell, he's so much like Velorek.
Aeryn winced as the memory surfaced once again. The first time she had loved. The first time she had even thought of a life beyond the next Prowler patrol. The first time and what she thought would be the last when she threw it away.
So much alike...
When John unknowingly echoed Velorek's challenge for her to "be more", she didn't dare refuse. The universe is not known for giving second chances. If she refused this one, there would be no third. And nothing else for her besides a pulse rifle blast to the head.
So much alike and so different.
Velorek had been what she'd considered foolishly compassionate. John Crichton, however, surpassed him completely. Clever, adaptable, with an almost frightening resourcefulness and a sense of humor that never let up, annoying as that was at times. And, at the same time, he was curiously vulnerable. Aeryn tried to turn her attention back to her printout. What she felt now for John and what she had felt for Velorek was a frag cannon to a handgun. And that's what scared her so much. Her feelings for Velorek had brought her so much pain. How much more pain was in store if she acknowledged her feelings for John?
"... .uurrhhhh... "
Aeryn looked up. John seemed to be waking again. With a sigh, she collected the medicine and another beaker of nutrient concentrate. She slipped an arm under his shoulders to lift him up and held the cup to his lips.
"John, wake up. You need to drink this."
He didn't open his eyes as she poured the fluid down his throat, but, as she laid him back down, they flickered open and looked past her at the room.
"D. K... ."
"Dekay? Who the frell's Dekay?"
"I'm sorry man, I'm trying."
Great, there he goes talking to ghosts again.
John wanted to sit up and hug his best friend when he saw him at the foot of his bed, but he didn't have the strength to even try.
"Hey, bro. When are you going to get home, anyway? We're waiting for you."
"I'm sorry, man. I'm trying."
"Well, don't give up. I can't wait to see you."
"John dropped his eyes. "I'm not sure if you'd like what you see. I've... changed."
D.K. snorted in derision. "Of course you did. Out in space who knows how many light-years from earth, you'd have to change to just survive." He leaned down with one side of his mouth turned up in a crooked smile. "The important part of you hasn't changed. And that's what counts. I swear, if you keep this up, you'll beat out X-Men comics for angsting. Now, the important questions. Have you met any sexy space babes out there?"
"One track mind."
"At least it's a route with great scenery. Tell."
"I have met someone... "
"... you'd like her, D.K. She's a... powerful woman. The strongest woman I've ever met."
Aeryn looked questioningly at John. Was he...
He chuckled weakly. "Trying that with Aeryn would lose you a few teeth... "
Frell! Aeryn silently thanked whatever powers were out there that no one else was here. Fortunately, John was drifting off.
"... you bet I would. If I can't have her with me, I won't stay on Earth... for long... "
Those last words hit Aeryn like a sledgehammer. She remembered quite well their experiences on the false Earth. The... closeness... she and John had shared. More importantly, John had been willing to turn against his own kind to help his friends.
He would give up his home... for me?
Aeryn had faced death countless times with the Peacekeepers and later on the run with the fugitives, but she had never been so afraid as she was at this point. But, maybe... just maybe... it was worth the risk.
Aeryn jumped as she felt the touch on her shoulder. It took a moment to realize where she was.
"Zhaan. I must have drifted off."
The Delvian smiled at her. "I assumed as much. Go get some sleep. I'm here to relieve you."
"Right. If I fell asleep that easily, I need more rest." Aeryn got up and walked out of the infirmary, but paused at the door. Zhaan looked at her curiously as she gazed at John.
"Is something wrong?"
Aeryn abruptly shook herself. "Nothing besides what we're already dealing with," she said as she left.
Zhaan frowned a little at that cryptic remark, but dismissed it as not immediately important. She checked to make sure the medicines were ready, felt John's brow and then settled in to meditate while she waited. Half an arn later, she stopped her chant abruptly. Something... some change had called her out of the half-trance. She looked down at him. The sheets were soaked with sweat, but his skin, when she felt it, was cool. Zhaan smiled and switched on her com to tell everyone the good news. His fever had broken.
"Well, Dad, I seem to have dodged a bullet out here. Well, not quite dodged it, but at least I'm still alive. I'm recording this from my bed. Zhaan says I'm to stay here for at least two more days or she'll break both my legs. It seems I've finally run into some form of space flu. Had my friends quite worried. I don't blame them. If I had been think coherently, I'd have been worried, too."
John paused the tape when he felt a cough coming. It wasn't as bad as before, but it was persistent and quite annoying.
"As it is," he continued, "I'm feeling just well enough to appreciate how much I hate being sick. Of course, being waited on by some of the loveliest females in the Uncharted Territories has its perks, but all in all, I'd rather get out of this damned room. The last time I tried, D'Argo was waiting just outside my door with that tongue of his ready to knock me back out."
John sighed and looked out his window. "One of the things I hate most about being sick is that I have all this free time for introspection. I've been looking at myself very hard, and realizing how I've changed since that fateful day when I woke up on the other side of the galaxy is... rather unpleasant. Frankly, Dad, I'm not sure what you'd think of your son now. My only excuse is that this is what I had become to in order to survive. I hope that will be enough if I ever get back home."
John heard steps coming toward his room and switched off his tape recorder. He settled back in the pillows as Aeryn walked in with a tray.
"How are you feeling?" she asked.
"Like hell. And if I don't get out of this room soon, I'm going to lose my mind."
Aeryn grinned. "Well, if you have the energy to gripe, you must be recovering. Hungry?"
Aeryn set the tray down and helped him get comfortable. But, when everything was ready, she seemed reluctant to leave.
"Uh... I promise to clean my plate," Crichton said. "You don't have to watch me."
She shook her head. "It's not that, John. It's just... "
"Remember when you found that recording of... what happened to the old Pilot?"
How could I forget! he thought.
"Yes, I do."
"And how we talked about me... keeping distance between the two of us?"
John nodded. Aeryn bit her lip for a moment before continuing. "I just wanted to say... well, your first priority is to recover, but... " She looked into his eyes. "I'm... tired of keeping my distance."
John was completely caught off guard. Before he could respond, Aeryn got up and headed for the door. "Call if you need anything," she said as she left.
He sat there in shock for a moment before reaching for his tape recorder.
"Dad, I've just been given an incredible incentive to get better..."